Monday, July 31, 2006

Not very interesting public opinion poll released by makers of health drinks.

In news of primordial importance, James Blunt has polled fourth in a list of the "most annoying things". The survey was carried out by Lactofree, makers of health drinks. According to the adults interviewed, the singer is more annoying than traffic wardens and hangovers. Other people who made the list include Celebrity Big Brother couple Chantelle and Preston (9th), Carol Vorderman (11th) and Abi Titmuss (18th). The singer did not finish top though, Blunt's three saving graces being cold callers, caravans and queue jumpers.

The Top 20 Most Annoying Things:

Cold callers (I have done the job myself and know of its difficulties but have also had Eircom block the calls from my home phone)

2. Caravans (When they are on the road, or to stay in?)

3. Queue jumpers

4. James Blunt (He also made it onto People's 50 Most Beautiful people this year!)

5. Traffic wardens

6. Tailgaters

7. Brown nosers

8. Chantelle and Preston (A position surely reserved fro next years BB winners)

9. Ex-smokers (They're not as annoying as smokers were around the time of the smoking ban demanding their right to choose)

10. Noisy neighbours

11. Hangovers (The true bane of my life)

12. Carol Vorderman (She strikes me as a woman as many people love as hate)

13. Loud mobile users

14. Men in flip-flops (An issue for Tuathal I know)

15. Paper cuts

16. Bad hair days

17. Breaking wind

18. Abi Titmuss (Why do the public even give over their thoughts to whether such people are annoying or not?)

19. Off milk (Pay attention to 'best by' dates)

20. Being put on hold (Should be higher)

The Joys of Public Transport

A bus Strike in Limerick. There is one or two buses running but if you don't manage to find one of them and need them to get to work you are f**k. I guess you better get a taxi and people wonder why people drive and do not take public transport.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The world needs more Neo-Cons.

It could be said that the left is inspired by Gandhi and the right Churchill. While Churchill may not be remembered to fondly in this country for his creation of the Black and tans. But else where in the world he is remember for standing up to the evil that was Hitler. The left will look at how Gandhi brought about the fall of the british empire in India. Neither story is quiet correct. Stalin has a lot to do with the fall of Hitler and the British Empire was weak when India left. Non the less there is much validity to both claims about how to effect change in the world.

Basically I suppose the difference could be seen as Foreign Intervention vs Domestic Intervention. I.e war vs peace. The neo-con view is very much in the war bracket that you have to bomb your way to peace. Peace through superior fire power. While the left believes you can walk to change the world and that war is never justified and never will bring change to a country. But looking at the documentary "the children of North Korea" I think it is clear that when a regime has got hold of the people like that only foreign power has the ability to make change.

The power in protest lies in the morality of the people in power. i.e. That if 1000s march the government will not fire repeatedly on the people and will listen. Also that the government is open to foreign criticism that if they do fire that the international condemnation will be deafening and the government will be forced to act. The reason why the orange revolution worked in Ukraine was because the government were not tyrants they were not willing to crush the protestors.

In recent years 3 million have died of hunger in North Korea. Yet the government has not asked for help. A government that is willing to turn a blind eye to the deaths of millions would think little about ordering the deaths of protestors. North Korea is not willing to listen to the international community and it is so secretive that it could massacre millions and no one would know.

So the only option left is the military option is the Neo-Con option regime change by force. So who is going to do it. Previously one of the big obstacles to doing this was China. China being a one time ally of North Korea meant that invading North Korea might mean war with China. However China’s attitude is changing. In the last few days they have frozen North Korean assets and signed the UN resolution condemning the recent missile tests. It is generally felt that China is the country best placed to influence Pyongyang (although Chavez is getting pally). This maybe be the start of the world beginning to realise that something has to be done to solve the problem that is North Korea and that can start with removing the source of the problem the Dear Leader Kim Jong-il. But the country that is needed to act to save the children is the United States, which is bogged down in Iraq and been constantly ridiculed by people who want human rights but are not willing to extend them to places that will require violence to implement the necessary change.

But taking down North Korea’s regime will not be easy as U.S. Army General Burwell Bell told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 7

North Korea has the world's fourth-largest armed force with more than 1.2 million active-duty personnel and more than 5 million in reserves, Bell said. More than 70 percent of its active duty combat forces are deployed within 50 miles of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that divides North Korea from South Korea, he said.

The North's 100,000-man special operations forces are the world's largest and are well funded, Bell said. "Tough, well trained, and profoundly loyal, these forces are engaged in strategic reconnaissance and illicit activities in support of the regime," the general said.

What North Korea's military lacks in quality, it makes up for in quantity: with more than 1,600 aircraft, 700 ships and the world's largest submarine fleet, Pyongyang is capable of launching operations against the Republic of Korea and other nations in the region with little or no warning, Bell said.

But remember that Iraq had the 4th largest army in the World at the time of the Gulf War and it was defeated in 100 hours. But what one must remember is that North Korea is not the tank loving flat land of Iraq and the also there is not the religious fundamentalism in present day Iraq.

So basically the choice for saving the lives of the children in the documentary is pound the tools of repression that Kim Jong-il uses with Migs and F-16s or we can light some candles on Graffton Street and sing Give peace a chance. What do you think will work best? Maybe we need to start singing “Give war a chance

sicilian notes in the indo

sicilian notes in the indo for this post.

North Korea Documentary

Just Watch

Posts on Irish Election

Have posted a few things on Irish Innocent until voting Fine Gael. and Green Party Education stops at 8? Also check Keiths update of my design, tis very snazzy. If you spot any errors feel free past them on we are constantly trying to check for bugs on the site.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Emm. Peas in a pod.

Last week I wrote this about dell leaving Limerick Then this week in the Limerick Leader. DELL DENY 3000 JOBS IN DANGER. With references to the plant in Lodz which I talked about and references about the recent share price drop. Emm is this a case of great minds think alike? Here is a post I wrote in November on the Poland plant.

Jon Stewart `Hurts the Country,

From Bloomberg. Jon Stewart `Hurts the Country,' Science Finds: Andrew Ferguson Have to say as someone who follows the news I have to say I quiet enjoy the daily show and I don't need to say anything else to justify my enjoyment. Maybe the guy wishes more listened to him.

Funny signs

check out Irish Positive Discrimination

Friday, July 28, 2006

Where is the Anti-War movement now

Chavez hails Russian arms deals
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has again thanked Russia for supplying his country with weapons, despite objections from the United States. Speaking in Moscow, Mr Chavez said there had been "extraordinary progress" in military ties between the two sides.
Sorry for the lack of big posts this week but I have been busy but here is a quick post. Much of this is going through Shannon. Yet do people protest at this? I have heard nothing why? Because these Anti-war protesters are anti-American. Indeed if they were truly anti-war and protested this as well I would have more respect for them even if I didn't agree. But also many of them are left-wing and love that Chavez is using the oil money for the poor of South American.
Russian officials say Moscow's arms sales to Venezuela are now worth more than $3bn (£1.6bn), including a new deal for fighter jets and helicopters.
Oh Wait maybe he is not quiet the egalitarian they think he is.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Fox news discover Geiger counters

One of the funniest things I have watched in a while.It should be in the featured section of there videos. They bring in this guy to talk about dirty bombs. (They don't really work) and he talks about this device that the government should give every housewife. What is this device that the fox news presenters thinks "it's like a Geiger counter".? Yes you guessed it is a Geiger counter. The guy then shows that a Geiger counter works and fines a source of radiation in the studio. Man talk about money for nothing but something tells me he ain't getting any chicks for free

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Northern Ireland shock. A good idea

Seems that Northern Ireland is doing something to deal with the over dependence on imported fuel. Now if only we could match this. From Belfast Telegraph
Solar roof panels are to become compulsory on all new houses in Northern Ireland from April 2008, the Secretary of State announced today. Peter Hain - who disclosed that he had cut his own energy bill in half by installing panels on his home in Wales - said he was committed to "green energy". Mr Hain announced the proposed change to building regulations in Northern Ireland as he launched an £8m renewable energy household programme. The grant aid, part of the Government's £59m renewable energy fund, will help 4,000 householders to install renewable energy systems in their homes.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Vid of the Day

Simon Pegg and Bill Bailey

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fantasy Football

Karlos of A Northsider On The South Terrace is running a fantasy football game. I joined up . Why don't you. Who will be the top Blogger/ Blog reader by May?

People of Science, People of Faith, Ideology and Stem Cells

One thing I have started notice is how science is used to justify peoples arguments. Science is about the search for the undeniable truth. It is above morals it just right. But now it is started to be brought in by people to justify their ideology but when it disagrees with their ideology they ignore it.

The classic example is intelligent design. Intelligent design has 2 main arguments. The first one is that the likelihood that human beings evolved and Earth was created has a probability of about 13 billion to 1 and thus could not happen. Now if you don’t see the obvious problem with that. It is this. If you play a game of cards and hold about 13 cards in your hand the likelihood of you holding those exact 13 cards in the order in your hand is about the same as the probability of evolution yet you do hold those cards in your hands. Saying something is improbable does nothing to prove it is impossible. The other big argument is that something are some complex that they must have a designer. Now the main definition of science is that a theory must be provable simply saying is too complex to be. But to use that as an argument it has to be proved that it is to complex and it has been shown that it is possible for complex systems to develop. To complex is a nice sounds bite put it is just that a sound bite. The argument for intelligent design is not about science it is about perceived morals

But the ignoring of science is not just a past time of conservatives. Liberals do the same thing. The big question about abortion is when does life begin. Liberals will debate the issue not on science but on perceived morals abandoning the science they use to debate the intelligent design debate on. It is about the woman’s right to choose not on whether science says that a embryo or a foetus is a life. They refuse to answer the question of where life begins. To answer the question of where life begins or not you have to provide a specific point that can be said that here life begins before there is not life. Many of the liberals would support abortion up to something like 20 weeks. But that is a truly arbitrary point derived from an unscientific definition of a week as 7 rotations of the earth. If you are going to limit the time in which an abortion can take place. Means you believe at a point that a life is a life. Thus you have to define that point in absolute terms. Whether that is conception, implantation or when certain feature is created. This is what should be the point chosen not something arbitrary based on society not science.

So that brings us to the latest controversy stem cells. So firstly I will talk about my own views of stem cell research. Much of the debate in relation to embryos in Abortion is that at that point life is inevitable presuming nothing bad happens (miscarriage etc) . Yet with stem cells they are coming from unused embryos and thus unless they are going to be put into a womb they are not going to be life no matter what happens. It is potential life not inevitable life. A slim difference possibly but still a difference. The debate of the Iraq war justifies the deaths of innocent lives in Iraq by saying that they are taking innocent life to save innocent life. Saying that killing 1000s to save millions is justified. Yet the people who make this argument are often the people who do not support stem cells saying you cannot take innocent life to save innocent life. So I am supportive of stem cells.

Now Auds makes a very strong argument against stem cells on the grounds that adult stem cells are better and she being a doctor I will take her word on that matter. However the banning of stem cells research funding in America was not based on that fact that one avenue of research is better then another. Would a government ban research into 3 colour white Light Emitting Diodes as blue and yellow phospours ones or at the moment better. Of course not the government know little about science. Bush himself is a business grad. The ban is based on the ethical side of the debate. When scientist are free from government interference they are going to focus investigation on the best avenue and until they investigate all avenues will they know which is better. Would Auds favour a ban on research into GM-crops (as many people who favour stem cell research would) Somehow I doubt it.

Science doesn’t lend itself to morals. Morals can be contradictor science cannot. Science is based on truth, ideology and morals are based on faith.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Orange Coalition is gone

Over a year and a half ago the people in the Ukraine rose up in a peaceful orange revolution and the orange coalition took power in a wave of joyous optimism. One of the blogs I link to Orange Ukraine. Has the heading “Launched into the free world lets see can it fly.” A line filled with hope and optimism that a country can finally break free of the embrace of decline and soar to new heights of freedom.

So when I read this quote from the blog last week.

Orange coalition: it's gone. Attempts to try and bring it back will not succeed, and so there is no use in carrying on.

I was saddened. The background to this has been the breaking apart of the orange coalition and the recent election that produced no definitive winner. After all that fighting, after all that hope, political ego has brought possibly the countries best chance of achieving something to naught.

Read the rest of the bloggers post about the likely outcomes here.

Loony Left ?

From Andrew Sullivan about the refusal of some gay rights groups to endorse or participate in the July 19 vigil for two executed gay teens in Iran.
Money quote from Ettelbrick:
"In the U.S. we are acculturated to stepping in and taking action. That's not how other countries do it and it certainly doesn't work when dealing with Iran. Condoleeza Rice can't just tell Iran to stop executing gay people. We know now that bringing change in human rights means being globally sensitive ... One of the things that came out of the meeting was a question: Is our intent to make ourselves feel good or to affect change? If it is to really affect change, then we need to talk to more people from Iran to understand their environment, we then, as a nation, need to look at our own policies such as the death penalty, and see how they are affecting the situation over there."
So the real problem in Iran is ... America's death penalty. You really cannot make this insanity up.
Funny :)

Jon Stewart on Lebanon

Always funny and insightful Jon Stewart. Hat tip (Extra Extra) On the American media's coverage of the impact.

Israeli blog

Interesting Israeli blog I came across. Israeli Mom. Interesting pieces on shiite voice in the Leb. and Israeli planning permission.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Dublin should twin with Beirut as sign of solidarity

Cllr Eric Byrne wants Dublin to twin with Beirut as a sign of solidarity. Really what is this going to achieve. Should Dublin twin with Haifa as well. How about Baidoa. Better thing to do is join up with MacDara's protest march. However don't forget the other side.
Nahariya resident Andre Zilensky who, with the air raid sirens blaring on Tuesday afternoon, raced toward a bomb shelter with milk for his four-year-old daughter. He never arrived, killed in sight of his wife and others who watched from the shelter's doorway, by a Katyusha rocket strike.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

John McCain

John McCain on a podcast. One of the best politicians in America a straight shooter. However his support for gun control is worrying.

Edit: Doh! the above should read his lack of support for gun control.

Selfish Politics.

Politics in this country is at most times selfish. We are increasingly driven by greed and that is not necessarily a good thing. Now I know many of ye are going finally after all this time Simon has renounced his evil low tax ways and joined the shiny happy world of Socialism That I am going to start writing about the joys of a planned economy and such like. However sorry to disappoint you I am not I am talking about things like Child care.

The big issue around the time of the local elections was child care provision. The people were up in arms about the cost of child care about how parents were spending so much money on crèches. Yet how much of the debate was centred on the most important issue of child care. The Child.

Increasing numbers of our children are being raised by crèche workers. Parents claim they have to work jobs and put their kids in crèches to pay for their high mortgages. Yet with the high cost of child care and travel are they really saving money. Also why are so few people willing to do what our parents did. Buy/build the house with four walls and then furnish it over years. People now are getting huge morgages and loans and a good portion of it is going to make sure the Plasma TV is installed before they moved in. And indeed does this even matter.

The one thing that we should of learned after the Ferns report was that we should never take our child’s safety for granted. Not saying that crèche workers are doing what the priest did. But that same attitude where children’s safety comes secondary to other consideration is dangerous attitude to get into.

The debate we should be having is. What effect is the fact that the countries children are being raised by people who are not their parents. Is it good or bad (there are arguments on both sides.) Should we be encouraging a parent to stay at home with the children. Doesn’t have to be the mother indeed could be both with different days off. Could be helped with the roll out of broadband to enable teleworking. These are the issues that should be debated. Instead the debate is about how much money should the government be giving people for child care. That is selfish.

Take Foreign policy. One of the greatest black marks on recent European history was the Balkans. Europe stood ideally by as thousands were slaughtered. Why? Because in one case China vetoed UN action because one of the countries (I think Macedonia) recognised Taiwan. Ireland could not do anything because of our Triple Lock system. The system that many in this country love. Why because it makes us look moral. But what is moral about letting thousands die in Kosovo? What kind of a country lets anothers perceived “internal” politics dictate ours. I am not calling for us to invade Iraq or anything. But wouldn’t the moral thing be for Ireland to do what the elected representatives of this republic and not what China decides we should do. Alas we do not want to suffer the consequences of war, the cost, the lives most of all I think we don’t want to be disliked by anyone even Milosevic. That is Selfish.

Likewise the call for school league table is selfish. Parents know that a good school is about the ability to raise children potential not a joining together of similar class and intellectual children. Yet school league tables do just that. They tell not what school is the best but what school has the best pupils. The reason is often class and status. Again Selfish.

The above three are merely 3 examples of loads.

And before anyone says ah but selfishness is what the right is all about us socialist are about sharing. Sorry but I have to disagree. What do you hear from most socialists? Calling for the government too tax them more or for others to be taxed more. They are being greedy with others money. Humans are not good enough to be socialists hence why I believe the rights model works best. It embraces human nature warts and all.

I am so asking for a bollicking :)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A summer evening by the Shannon.

I went for a nice cycle this evening took some photos by the Shannon. Click to enlarge

What is proportionate response

Much of the talk around Israel’s action is about non proportionate response. But what is proportionate. Considering the amount of missile’s Hezbollah launches against Israel. Is proportionality a function of capability and armament rather then moral intent. If Hezbollah launch 500 missiles what is the moral proportional response. 500 missiles or what ever will equal the Hezbollah missiles effects. Every Hezbollah missile is sent with the intent to kill does the fact that they are not as deadly due to design compared to Israeli F-16s make them less blame worthy?

Is proportionate response measured on a moral or a numerical level.?

Vote in the Battle of the Eighties bands

So who will you vote for

See this is what you called Eurovision Gold. Seriously. This is no Armi and Danny.

Or Blondie

First person to point out that ABBA were 70s gets a medal.

Update: Blondie got 100% of the vote.

Monday, July 17, 2006

New blog

I see there is a new pro-America pro Israel blog in Ireland. Manhattan Notes. Strange that two most pro-Israeli blogs are both called "geographical place" notes. What's next Tel Aviv notes? :)

Anyway it is nice to see different opinions on the blogosphere. When someone of my views is called a neo-con you know the blogosphere is a bit to the left. Alas Manhattan Notes has turned off comments. Which is a pity.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

David McWilliams scaremongering must be replaced by hard thinking

David McWilliams in his latest column in the Sunday Business Post. Talks about Nuclear. One line he says is.
how do the opponents of nuclear power think our sun and stars generate their energy, which dictates our natural environment, if not from nuclear fusion?
Now anyone with a basic knowledge of Leaving Cert Physics knows the difference between Nuclear Fission and Nuclear Fusion. Also I think most environmentalists would be in favor of Nuclear Fusion. Alas Fusion as a source of energy is very much in the experimental phase. With many thinking that it may never work. Nuclear Fission is a totally different concept. Other points
Roche made a big deal of this the other day. He is tapping into a deep fear that we all have about being contaminated by proximity to nuclear waste - which, incidentally, can be buried easily - again because of the efficiency of the process in the first place.
Buried easily my arse. The British estimate that it will take up to 50 years to build a proper facility. And the American's facility is also highly controversial and going to cost between 50 -100 billion. Not what I would say is easy.

Now I think that Nuclear is quiet safe and new technologies like Pebble Bed reactors are great. But simply put Nuclear doesn't make sense for so many more reasons. Surely David being an economist could write a good piece purely on the economics of Nuclear. Instead of dancing around the issue to go on about the greens.

Here is my take on Nuclear.

RTE does live sport

RTE have live online coverage of the Munster Gaelic Football Final replay at the moment. If you are not Irish check it out and see what one of our national games are like. The reason it is on is due to the Dublin Offaly game is on at the same time. Where a crowd of 83,000 are watching in Croke Park. Click here to see the match.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Wee Daniel puts Germaine Greer in her place

Who thought Daniel could out manoeuvre an internationally famous critic and feminist Germaine Greer. The pancake comment is great.

You can watch her own interview here.

On the show itself not sure it is Miriam's thing. She is our best current affairs presenter and take most politicans to task. Light entertainment is not her thing.

Israel Gaza the leb etc

So here I go into the murky waters that is commenting on Israel and Palestine. The points of view on the Irish blogosphere vary from disturbing

What's infuriating about this manufactured crisis is the question of accountability, and the manner in which it is presented by the international Zionist media.

To the simplistic pro-Palestine

Israeli bastards…2 soldiers kidnapped = all-out war?

To the Israeli greatness line

This is a tough time for Israelis and they deserve support. It's to be hoped our government will have the decency not to pretend that some false moral equivalence exists between the parties, will recognise the offensive, terrorist nature of the enemy and the defensive nature of Israel's actions, and will support an embattled democracy at a testing moment.

To the this a picture of a guys office been hit by Israeli jets

See MacDara's place of work after an israeli jet struck the airport

So where do I stand on the whole issue?

In 2000 Israel pulled out of Lebanon to the agreed border leaving the country altogether unlike the Syrians who pulled out later due to mass protests. A few months ago the Israelis pulled out of Gaza, used it’s own troops to remove settlers and renounced any claim to the strip. So what happened. While the state of the Gaza strip was far from perfect. It was a starting point and that is all that is needed. Was the IRA ceasefire perfect in 97. No but it was good enough for people to work towards a better future.

Yet in this case missiles still rained in from Gaza into Israel and terrorists attacked Israeli troops in Israel kidnapping 1 and killing two. Like wise while Israel had stated that it recognised Lebanon’s border and complied with UN resolution about it. Hezbollah launched unprovoked attacks against Israel, kidnapping two soldiers.

So what does this suggest. The Hezbollah incident is more easier to define. The plain and simple truth it that Hezbollah don’t want the Jews in Israel and this is basically a continuation of this. (Although this guy who probably knows more then me see it as more complicated in a very good piece)

The Gaza incident is not as easy to define. There certainly is an prevalence of anti-Judaism (Anti-Semitism is anti anyone from the region.) in Gaza that would fuel much of this but also the recent attacks on a beach in Gaza, whether against terrorist or not would have fuelled a lot of anti Israeli sentiment in Gaza and lead to support for the recent incidents.

So what is Israel to do? They have a right to defend themselves, they can’t sit ideally by and watch its citizens being attacked daily and not do anything they have to secure their future. However I think they are failing.

The thing that killed of democratic nationalism in the North of Ireland as a force in the 1970s. Was Bloody Sunday. Until then the IRA’s support was fairly limited. Then the British opened fire on peaceful protestors killing 13. People lost all hope in the ability for a peaceful realisation of their aspirations. They want back to what has been the only thing to succeed since Daniel O’Connell in giving Irish people freedom, armed struggle. Even before that when the British first came to the North they were welcomed as liberators from the Unionist tyranny. So what happened. A small number of IRA people started fighting, the British responded too harshly brought in internment and suddenly they were no longer the liberators but the enemy.

This is the going to be the result of Israelis latest campaign. While being fought to secure it’s people it wouldn’t. It is simply going to bolster the power of the terrorists. It is stories like this that

More than 30,000 children suffer from malnutrition, and this number will increase as diarrhea spreads because of the limited supply of clean water and food contamination.

That cause people to abandon peace, to abandon belief in fairness to go to the extremes.

For instance the person who wrote the above also said.

So while Gazans endure Israel's rainstorm, most want the soldier held -- not harmed -- until the women and children are released.

Now as Alan Dershowitz on Huffingting Post said

Every single prisoner held by Israel has judicial review available to him or her and some have won release, every one of them has access to Red Cross visitation, can communicate with family, and has a known whereabout.

The above writer is Mona El-Farra a physician and human rights advocate in the Gaza Strip who blogs here. I presume that she is sincere about Human rights but when someone like that advocates that rights of a person can be curtailed. (Remember a belief in rights in absolute, there is no gray area in rights, rights are not changeable in times of war. Indeed in times of war they are at their most important.) Then you know that opinion is going in a direction that is going to only empower the extremists more. The same goes for Lebanon before it was a country finally on the up. Now it has been sent back a few years. This is only going to aid Hezbollah.

So what was Israel to do? It can’t give into terror, yet it shouldn’t radicalise the moderates. I can’t tell you what the Israelis should have done to both protect itself and win the hearts and minds. But I fear now they have only strengthen the terrorists.

Friday, July 14, 2006

You thought Brian Kennedy was bad II

I give you Armi and Danny

and someone else

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Is fair trade fair on the future?

Of late I have been reading the fine blog Green La Girl. Basically she spends her time discussing various free trade products and environmental policies and it is a good read. However it has got me thinking about fair trade products.

Lets face it your coffee from your favourite blend probably is the result of some poor unfortunate uneducated person in some god forsaken country with little chance of progress in their lives picking beans.

I am supportive of fair trade products in 1 respect but against it in another. My support is derived from the fact that this is giving poor people more money then they have at the moment and make their life a little easier which is a very noble thing. Also it is a very successful brand and if people choose to buy the fair trade product then fair play to the people who produce it.

My reasons for being against it is because the reason that the price of fair trade goods are higher is because people are paying extra not on the basis of a better quality product (all though in some cases it is) but because of the moral message behind it. In essence it is a form of charity. Now do get me wrong there is nothing wrong with charity but I often do wonder are we making a bad situation worse.

For many of these countries they are using coffee banana’s etc as cash crops and they are the sole provider of many jobs. Despite the use of fair trade products and fair pricing one simple fact is going to remain. It is not economically viable for that many people to survive on small farm holdings. (Remember what happened in Ireland when one crop failed) These people are simply never going to make enough money to have a comfortable life where their children can have a decent stab at life.

If the prices are bad then maybe people will be forced to leave farming and go into areas that are economically viable. Look at Ireland and the effects that an over reliance on farming caused. We simply did not have the means to pull our selves out of the quagmire of poverty. With Fair trade this practice is being sustained and while it is good in the short term I have to wonder is it consigning people in third world countries to the charity of the richer nations in the longer term. Surely our objective should be to let themselves lift themselves out of poverty. Agriculture is not going to do this. What happens when the oil runs out and the cost of shipping goods comes exorbitant. The sale of cash crops will drop and without alternatives what then? Instead of agricultural subsidies we should be encouraging free trade and education.

The Leb

When I saw the recent news from the leb. The first thought that came into my head was a crap and the thought in my head is still that. Israel was attacked in a unprovoked incident. So they have to respond and need support. However where does porpotionate response stop and over the top reaction begin. I don't know the answer to that. All I say is that I hope macdara stays safe. Interesting comments on his blog
There is currently a lot of Concern in Beirut with the local population both nervous and angry at the unfolding events. In Hezbollah areas Macdara can see fireworks being let off in what he assumes is celebration of the capture. Only in Lebanon would you see fire works being let of if full daylight.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Why I Blog.

There is a bit of a debate on the nature of political blogging in Ireland at the moment. So here I think I shall lay down my thoughts on the subject.

Why do I blog. First thing you should know about me is I like a good scrappy debate and blogging lets me do this. But the real reason I do it is because it gives me something to do. What else would I be doing at this time if I didn’t have my blog watching TV probably. Einstein once explained relativity like so. "If you are talking to a pretty girl an hour seems like a minute, if you are sitting on a hot stove a minute seems like an hour. "

The difference with TV is you get the time dilation of talking to the girl with the accomplishment of the stove.

With Blogging you are also wasting time but you are learning as you go. You are getting to know your own beliefs. It makes you think about them something I rarely ever did before.

Now considering that I designed the site and am the largest contributor. You would think that I would be one of the biggest fans of the site. And believe that it has the ability to really be a force in the next election. But in reality it doesn’t. Not due to anything to do with the quality of the writing which is very well written or the quality of the arguments. It is due to the fact that blogging as a force will not take of in Ireland for now. What has fuelled it in America has been division. Ideological division. When you think that the liberal socialist greens could go into power with the Right wing conservative Fine Gael. You begin to realise this will not happen in Ireland. Without this divide people will not be driven to find alternatives to the mainstream media to back up their side. Division leads argument, consensus leads to apathy. We vote for managers not ideas and who wants to dissect what a manger does. They are either good or bad.

As for Richard assertion that most bloggers post wouldn’t get past editors. Well considering some of the tripe that gets into papers these days (This is not a dig at Richard before anyone says anything) you have to wonder. Is there any editors in this country? But that is not the point of blogging. Blogging will never replace the media. It will mearly replace the letters pages. Where the really people get to air their views.

I probably do suffer delusions of grandeur and get a kick out of being asked on to a radio show. But I know deep down it is simply just that a delusions. My paltry readership is never going to make me a force for change. But still I get a kick out of it and in the end of the day that is all that matters.

Britain and the Nuclear.

Britain is going Nuclear I see. I guess this is going to bring the debate back up again. Some have like Peter Nolan already started. Anyway I put my views here before. On the matter of tons of concrete a Nuclear waste dump in the Former East Germany is being contracted with 4 million tons of concrete. However here is an interesting quote from a Californian report.
To review, nuclear power plants built in the 1970’s used 40 metric tons of steel, and 190 cubic meters of concrete, for each megawatt of average capacity. For comparison, modern wind energy systems, with good wind conditions, take 460 metric tons of steel and 870 cubic meters of concrete per megawatt. Modern central-station coal plants take 98 metric tons of steel 160 and cubic meters of concrete—almost double the material needed to build nuclear power plants. This is due to the massive size of coal plant boilers and pollution control equipment. Conversely, natural gas combined cycle plants take 3.3 metric tons of steel and 27 cubic meters of concrete—explaining why natural gas is such an attractive fuel, if it is cheap. But what about new nuclear construction? Here are some of the results of our U.C. Berkeley study. [SLIDE 5] The nuclear power plants that we built in the 1970’s were very efficient in their use of steel and concrete. In response to the Three Mile Island accident, however, “bloat” occurred in the designs of new, evolutionary reactors, with steel and concrete inputs increasing by 25 to 50 percent. This is the case for the ABWR, first built in Japan in the 1990’s, and for the EPR, the new European plant design which be built in Finland.
However don't forget the concrete used in storage.

Britian and the Nuclear.

Britian is going Nuclear I see. I guess this is going to bring the debate back up again. Some have already started. Anyway I put my views here before.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Getting a rise

Richard has posted a piece I guess in an attempt to get a rise out of some people. The article is We Can Do Without Irish . Makes me want to write a post about we can do without classical music or arts subjects. :)

Monday, July 10, 2006

I'm sorry for my hackery

I have noticed of late some of my posts is turning into partisan hackery. Now I am not saying that what I am writing is what I don’t believe in because it is. But instead of addressing an issue I am addressing the party that is doing so. I am becoming everything I hate about politicians and many columnist I am becoming economical with the truth.

I am not sure the first post that got me into to this vain of hackery but I am pretty sure it was in response to something posted about Iraq or socialism that was also one sided and I felt I needed to balance out the issue by going to the other side off the argument and that is the fundamental flaw in politics today. People feel the need to argue.

We are told watching the likes of Questions and Answers that we are watching a debate but we are not we are watching an argument. But sides instead of moving to a consensus on an issue often end up moving to the extremes of their positions to defend them.

Take the classic Israel Palestine argument. Few people I guess would fully support Israel’s actions. I mean what kind of nation used the water supply as a weapon in the arsenal of the Ministry of Defence. Yet when you read some people talking about Palestine and Hamas. Their support for the Palestinians is so absolute that they cannot see that Israel have a right to defend their own citizens from terrorist attacks and instead of simply ignoring the jibs and try to articulate my position I feel the need to be somewhat dis-honest in my arguments and descend into the normal sound bites of the pro-Israel lobby. I am not lying about my position I am being selective in my position.

This happens so much in Irish and world politics in is debasing the very institutions they are. During the debate on the Statuary rape crisis. When we really needed the Dail to be the be the legislators to put politics behind them and discuss the issues and the ideas need to fix this. What did we get? We got people playing partisan politics with the issue. Not debating the issue but arguing about who is to blame, vying for the sound bit of the day.

And many of us fall for this, we fall into the partisan trap we go beyond our views because we feel the need to balance the argument and in doing so we become a parody of ourselves. We come the very thing that the parties wants us to become unthinking soldiers to the cause.

So what happens we end up in an election where the issue is. Who will be the next leader is the question not what should the next leader do. We don’t have issue we have faces. Spin and hackery disguised as debate. And people wonder why young people are apathetic to politics

Here is my pledge to you. I will lay my arguments out as honestly as I can and not allow the spin of the politicians blind me. (at least till next week anyway)

Jon Stewart.

I think this was posted before but anyway this must be watched again and again.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Could Labour and Sinn Fein join up.

There has been much talk of late of Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail getting in bed together. But what of the more obvious join up of Sinn Fein and Labour they both already agree in awarding terrorism.

Recently Labour brought forward a motion.

That Seanad Éireann,

—noting with alarm the deteriorating relations between Israel and the Palestinian people,

—convinced that violence in this situation is both morally unjustified and politically counter productive,

—nevertheless recognises the disproportionate burden of suffering inflicted on the Palestinian people by the actions of the Government and armed forces of Israel and the clear signs that the democratically elected government of the Palestinian territories has made considerable concessions to Israel and therefore calls for:

1) an immediate relaxation of the EU embargo on dealing with the democratically elected government of Palestinian Territories or failing that, the application of appropriate sanctions against Israel in the light of its repeated and persistent defiance of UN resolutions and breaches of international law,

2) an immediate and unequivocal cease fire by all parties to the conflict, and

3) immediate negotiations between Israel and the democratically elected government of the Palestinian Territories leading to an internationally recognised Palestinian State on the entire territory occupied in 1967 with its capital in Jerusalem.”

SO lets look at this motion. Firstly the noting with alarm bit. What started all this in Palestine? Islamic terrorists kidnapping an Israeli solider. Now does anyone notice that when Labour talk about America kidnapping people to render them to Gitmo. It is wrong (and it is) yet when it is carried out by a terrorist group that targets civilians. (The fact that this guy was a solider is a bit of unusual for Hamas) they believe they should be rewarded.

Firstly the embargo was put on Hamas because they are a terrorist organisation they agree with killing people. They now agree with kidnapping someone. Or to put it in terms that might make Labour angry. Hamas approve of rendereding a prisoner. So basically a group carries out a terrorist act and Labour believes they should get what they want. That certainly is one area that Labour and Sinn Fein can agree on.

On point two I have no problem with unless of course the return of the solider is part of that agreement which seemingly happened after the motion.

On point 3 I have to say this is very funny. “negotiations between Israel and the democratically elected government of the Palestinian Territories” excellent stuff couldn’t agree more the table is a better way then rendering to solve problems. However they also say “with its capital in Jerusalem” now one of the very major issues if not the biggest with the middle east is the issue of Jerusalem. Yet Labour seem not to believe that this the major issue of the conflict should be negotiated that it should be dictated to the Israeli people that they are going to lose the thing that means the most to them. How very democratic. Now I don’t pretend to know the solution to the Middle East but one thing I do know is that the situation with Jerusalem is going to have be negotiated not set as a pre-condition.

Now I could go into the Left wingness of Labour and Sinn Fein and where they agree or indeed the Offical IRA connections to Labour. To suggest some future coming together but I think that Labour belief in awarding terrorism and Sinn Fein support for terrorism. Suggest that the moral barrier (terrorism) that blocks Sinn Fein from the other parties in the Dail may well be a smaller barrier for Labour.

North Korea.

So North Korea is lauching missiles. Richard asks what should America do and I have to say the answer is difficult. While blowing them to kingdom come seems appriopiate. It seems wrong to punish the people for the acts of the regime. Also which is better that the missile destroyed itself showing that the North Korean scientists are useless or blow it out of the sky and show that America will protect the South and Japan but allowing the Koreans to go on about imperialist dogs with the likes of Indymedia saying that while Nuclear is bad North Korea has a right to long range nuclear missiles as the evil Darth Bush has them might strenghten the regime. So what to do. I simply have no idea.

With the North Korean project being so fragile by all accounts. A few small scales strikes would do the trick. But America must error on the side of small so as to not create a backlash against South Korea or piss off China that much.

Public transport.

Public transport.

I have to wonder do people who continually advocate the need for public transport actually use public transport. I do and I have to say it is an absolutely shambolic service filled with atrocious dedication to service.

The timetable is for all intensive purposes a suggestion. Three days this week I took buses across Limerick site in the evening. It in evolved getting connecting bus. So every bus is suppose to arrive at the bus stop every ten minutes. 4 times the bus I was waiting over 30 minutes for a bus. The other 2 times I was waiting 20 minutes. Statistically the average wait for a bus every ten minutes is 5 minutes.

A private bus company would never run that kind of timetable. Because simply it would not stay in business treating its customers like crap. But because we have a state system in Ireland where quality of service is secondary to union agreements we have the majority of people travelling in cars.

Because of this. Bus Eireann know the people who need the bus don’t matter as they have no choice but to wait 30 minutes for the bus because they don’t have cars. So what do they do. They arrive 30 minutes late arrive with a smelly, badly kept bus and pile people on and over charge them for the privilege. Why offer competitive pricing when you have customers who are forced to take the service.

Yet again the remnants of socialism punishes the week the people who can’t afford a car (or waiting for the test). And the only solution to help the poor privatisation of Bus Eireann is not considered as privatisation is considered a bad word by the car driving class.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

July 4th

For most of the world today was Tuesday. But for the yanks it was independence day. So to any of my American readers. Happy Independance day.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Movie Review: Superman Returns?

I'm lucky enough to be based in New Zealand at the moment where 'Superman Returns' has been released so I offer you my review of a movie I have been looking forward to for a long time now. The review contains no spoilers as to plot points but does refer to specific elements.

‘Superman Returns’ sees the return in every sense of the word of Superman to the big screen. Since 1938 his symbol has perhaps become one of the most instantly recognisable in the world and despite numerous incarnations in popular culture the 1978 ‘Superman: The Movie’ has attained classic status, acting as a template for not alone every subsequent comic book adaptation but adventure movies. Following a long gestation period (a follow up was first cited in 1990) Brian Singer took over his dream project of bringing Superman to modern audiences. Following an extensive search, he cast a nobody, Brandon Routh as the Man of Steel, reunited with Kevin Spacey having seen him win an Oscar after directing him in ‘The Usual Suspects’ to play villain Lex Luthor and based on Spacey’s recommendation cast Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane.

The movie is a tribute to the original Richard Donner film, character traits such as Lois’ inability to spell, a retreading of an original joke about Luthor’s father telling him to ’get out’ and Clark tumbling through revolving doors are each plucked directly from ‘Superman’. The movie also enshrines its retro feel with cameos from Jack Larson (a bartender in an early scene, who played Jimmy Olsen in the original ‘50s serial) and Noel Neill (appearing as an elderly lady in the first scene who played Lois Lane in the same series). My favourite is a replication of the cover of Action Comics No. 1 in which Superman first appears, holding a car over his head having stopped it from going awry in downtown Metropolis.

The look of the movie is astounding. Metropolis is created anew, no longer New York renamed as in the original. It is both modern and characterful with the Daily Planet building presiding over its skyline, its globe serves as a striking backdrop to the movies most romantic and conflicted scene. The effects are excellent. The trailers at first lead me to believe this would be a very stylised movie so much so that I was concerned if I felt the basic surroundings were not real, I would certainly not believe the effects were real. Fortunately they were striking and breath taking- the much hyped plane rescue and the execution of Luthor’s plan are both seamless and gel perfectly with the epic world saving tone which a Superman movie demands.

Importantly even on his return to earth and return to duty so many of his rescues are viewed on TV screens in the Daily Planet. The story remains an intimate one, focusing on the characters we know so well. The immediately obvious characters are Superman and Clark, both defined and invested with Christopher Reeve-like nobility by Routh. Routh’s Clark is not as goofy as Reeve’s, though in fairness he does not get enough screen time to be more fumbling, he largely spends his time trying to re-establish himself with a distracted Lois. His Superman channels Reeve to a much greater extent, but this is in no way an impersonation, the character of Superman is just that- a character, created by Clark that must be restrained and reliable and an actor knowing this cannot be seen to invest the hero with some great variance in character. I realise he may be seen as a monotone character, all clean living and moralistic but the great challenge for this movie was to describe the context to this hero. The time given to the truest version of this man, Clark at home on the Kent farm is far too limited and left me feeling short-changed.

From the gallery of recognisable characters, Lois is the only character other than Superman to have appeared since the very first Superman comic book. The decisions of Lois Lane leading up to the events of and during the movie have a significant impact on not just the movie but the entire Superman mythology. Kate Bosworth portrays a much deeper Lois than Margot Kidder of the original, she is bitter and confused, now has a family to care for and hasn’t forgotten her intrepid reporter roots. She spends a lot of time reacting to the consequences of her choices, involved much more in events surrounding Superman which left me longing for more of the humour and charm of Lois and Clark scenes from the original. As for Lex, I was surprised at the similarities with the Gene Hackman character, he still works underground and interacts with a limited number of characters rather than the esteemed business man of the comics (where he has become President of the US!). Also just as with Hackman, there is thankfully no verbose monologue of the archetypal villain, he is a man of action, every scene is a progression of his plan and upon encountering Superman he strikes instantly where we get to see Spacey deliver his unique viciousness. The man thinks big but this is slightly undermined by some sequences where he seems like little more than a petty criminal.

There is so much going on in the movie, a convoluted romance, a crisis of identity, a villains masterminding and a resolution to these issues that at times the respective elements feel neglected. You can’t help but feel disengaged from the intensity of some scenes when there is needless chopping back and forth between different settings to show people reacting to events unfolding. Additionally, Singer casts a net of broad ideas over the story. This is respectful of the characters and Singer is a true fan to lend such substance to the story. In dealing with issues such as Superman’s relevance in a world that has survived without him for 5 years and Superman’s isolation the movies final spectacle merely serves as a precursor to their resolution. The effect is that the movie works too hard to be a resolution of ideas that could have been dealt with in the confines of a more tightly structured story. The ending is heartfelt but dissatisfying. Revelations and realisations could have been littered throughout the body of the movie, adding intensity to the building crisis.

I could write twice as much again on this movie, those who know me know my fascination with Superman. I have to skim over but want to mention the final shot of his mother in a crowd towards the end of the movie, a shot of pens rearranging themselves in a holder and the framing of Lois in a hospital towards the end- attention to detail in such a big picture always impresses me. For me Superman is the hero, he is the good guy. Too often he is disregarded for being a linear, boring character and indeed in life as in art people are drawn to darker edgier characters whom we feel reflect our own complexities or we love to hate. This movie goes someway toward correcting this misinterpretation. This man has chosen to use his immense powers for good, never the easier option and in seeking to protect some semblance of a normal life borders on scizophrenia. Superman has had to reassert himself by impressing us all over again in a world full of limitless movie innovation and satisfying a more intelligent movie going audience. This movie has done this masterfully, it is not without its flaws but it commands our respect and entertains.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The news is there is no news.

Headline on ABC news site. England Fans Exit World Cup Quietly

It says alot when the headline is nothing happened. Imagine the same from Iraq.

Exclusive on CNN. Nobody got blown up today.

A money saving Idea.

Here is a new idea about how the state can save some money. Make public sector workers tax free.

So how would this work. The public sector in Ireland accounts for about 257,013 people or roughly 13% of the workers in this state. Now their wages are coming straight from the government coffers. Their incomes are then taxed at the standard rate compared to everyone else’s thus a certain amount of their income goes straight back into the hands of the government. However during this process their tax affairs have to go through the taxman. This creates a large amount of resources being spent on merely managing taxing the states money. The state is making no money on this. It is in fact losing money on this as it is deploying resources on internal money.

So what I suggest is that the government make public sector workers tax free workers. Thus reducing the resources and money spent by the revenue commissioners. However their wage levels will be reduced to the point where their pay level is equal to their current net-pay level. The people working will see no difference. They will still be getting the same amount of money into their back pockets. However the state will see a gain as they will not have to spend the resources on taxing their own money.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Move over Bono Bush is here

Hat tip Auds.

Top 6 Foreign movies.

Now my interpretation of films is probably not as good as most peoples. I find it difficult to articulate the nuances of a film unlike CK. or Sinead Gleason. However I do like film. So here is my top 6 foreign language films.

Hard Boiled. Possibly the most crazily violent film ever. Chow young fat blows the crap out of hospital. Great Stuff.

Three Colours White. Quiet simply a masterpiece of cinema. The white in the title stands for equality. And is about how inequality can exist between people. From Imdb.

Premise: Little Polish guy living in Paris, an adorable and prize-winning hair dresser, is divorced by his beautiful French wife, whom he loves passionately, because of his impotence. She is unhappy with him, VERY unhappy. She takes everything from him but a trunk and even calls the gendarmes and pretends he is burning down what is now her salon after he fails her one last time. I guess this is the ultimate fury from a woman scorned, although he sure wishes he wasn't scorning her.
He ends up on his knees in the Metro playing his comb for francs to get enough to eat. Then he arranges to get sent back to Poland in the trunk. After some mishaps he makes his fortune.

City of God. Set in the slums of Rio film offers an unflinching look at violence and crime.

Tsotsi. Set in South Africa this story of crime and redemption is a must see. It asks the question of who is the victim and tries to show the humanity in even the worst people. Also the depiction of the townships in South Africa is gut wrenching and you are left wondering is life getting better.

Das Boot. Possibly the greatest war movie ever. Certainly the greatest sub drama anyway. The movie shows the harrowing lives of a U-boot crew. From the peaks of happiness to the depths of despair. Never in a movie will you be wishing the Nazi’s to win. But in this you do. In fairness the crew are portrayed as soldiers who care little for the Nazi’s and are merely fighting for their country. Often we seem to forget that the Germans were people to and that more then anything I think is the lesson from the film. That we have to remember how ever vicious the enemy may seem they are still people motivated by many of the same reasons.

Downfall. It depicts the last days in Hitler’s bunker. Simply put. Staring insanity in the face. Truly a spectacular picture.

So what is everyone else’s favourite films.