Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The One to Watch: 'Heroes'

The 'hot' new show of the year, 'Heroes' begins a run on Channel 6 Thursday night at 9.30. No where near the cult status of 'Lost' it nevertheless has gained a big following and having watched a good chunk of the first season it is very watchable. With continuity, story arcs stretching over weeks and of course cliffhangers it is a show to invest in like '24', 'Lost' and 'Buffy' and more respectful of the audience than self contained shows like the spate of 'CSI' shows that have everything forgotten by next week. It is not of the complexity of 'Lost' which for many is surely a good thing but does build very well on its intriguing premise of ordinary people across the globe developing super powers. It is into its second week on The SciFi Channel.

15 minutes of Youtube

Its everybody's favourite running segment here at Dossing Times.

First, Stephen Colbert on the Bill O'Reilly Factor TV show. Anybody who doesn't know who Stephen Colbert is should definitely check him out. Here he is on Bill's show and Bill just doesn't get the joke.

Next up is a video from the 1940s when the British Army experimented with LSD on their troops.

And finally the Evolution of Dance. One of my personal favourites.

This 15 minutes of Dossing was brought to you by the Dossing Times.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Buffalo Theory

This is the type of logic that makes my day better. Cliff sitting next to Norm at the bar in 'Cheers' explains the grand purpose behind his copious consumption of beer. "Well you see, Norm, it's like this... A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo and when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive drinking of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. And that, Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers."

The Lost Tomb of Jesus

No, this isn't about the title to the new Indiana Jones movie. Instead James Cameron of Titanic and Terminator fame has made a documentary on the subject.

What is it about James Cameron and making films involving famous tombs? Ok, Titanic became a tomb by accident rather than design but you get what I mean. Now James is back with a documentary in which he claims to have found the family grave of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and their son Judah.


James has found a 2000 year old limestone tombs with the remains still inside. The names Mary, Matthew, Jesua son of Joseph, Mary, Jofa, and Judah son of Jesua appear on the tombs. Jesua would be Jesus, Jofa his brother and the second Mary his wife. As for Mary number 1 and Matthew, well we will have to watch the documentary to find out.

The first thing that comes to my mind is 'How would a human being fit into one of those? They're tiny!'. This is one of those strange times when science and religion agrees on something and both sides have dismissed the claims made in the documentary.

Now we all know that Jesus’ foresight wasn’t the best (hence his silence on abortion, homosexuality and stem cell research) and you will hardly be surprised to learn that he forgot to leave a cell swob with which we could conveniently authenticate these remains or indeed the Shroud of Turin. However, the fact that all these names appear on the same tomb is proof, based on the statistical probability, that this is indeed ‘the’ Jesus, his extended family and their final resting place. Nevertheless, James Cameron maintains that this find does not undermine the Christian faith.

So there you have it. Dan Brown was right, kinda. As for James Cameron, well having made the biggest movie in history and a movie where someone from the future attempts to change the past, its only natural that he should combine the two.

Monday, February 26, 2007

They might be Giants

One of those fogotten bands.Birdhouse in your soul

Istanbul, not Constantinopleand a lesson about the Sun. And a favourite of a friend of mine

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Oscars

Unfortunately despite my efforts to see ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’, the best I could muster was a version downloaded through questionable means that had no subtitles and I don’t have time to learn Japanese before Sunday night. There is always room for surprise at the Oscars such as ‘Crash’ bucking ‘Brokeback Mountains’ winning streak last year to take Best Picture but I am going to go out on a limb and declare that it will not win. So based on what I’ve seen I am going to pitch my tent in ‘The Departed’ camp. It will not win because of nostalgia or because of a sense of owing to Scorsese (this will come with the Best Director award I am sure) but it should win simply because it is the most accomplished of the nominated films. I’m sure there is technical brilliance behind the flawless recreation of events but for me ‘The Queen’ is all about performance and ‘Babel’ just was not as important or emotive as it would lay claim to being. So in a toss up between ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ and ‘The Departed’, I am leaning towards ‘The Departed’ knowing the Academy does not traditionally favour comedies and also that ultimately while ‘Little Miss’ was so entertaining the film as a whole wouldn’t match the class of ‘The Departed’. I will not be taking bets.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Oscar 5: 'The Queen'

The premise of ‘The Queen’ struck me in the same vein as last years films examining 9/11 – why, what could they achieve? Whether it be a biographical effort or a historic recreation, the filmmakers will still strive to make a commercially successful, dramatic piece and this requires taking liberties with how events unfolded. This could turn badly sour if done in poor taste or not portrayed in a way the people remember. The events of 9/11 and the outpouring of grief following the death of Princess Diana are vivid moments in recent history, any movie must be careful in judging how public feeling has evolved since then.
Straight up the events we know so well are here recreated vividly, intercut with archive footage. However when we enter into the backrooms of Balmoral or No. 10, the film looses its impact as we can never rest easy that these conversations would have ever been held or these emotions were expressed. We can of course read the press surrounding the film and watch the documentary on the DVD to see how much research went into the private actions of the Royal family but if we are to take the viewing experience alone on its merits, which is the truest way of reviewing it, the scenes do not convince in their authenticity. The scenes feel contrived so that they can never permeate enough in their attempt to show the stulted relationships of the Windsor’s. Almost as the pitch perfect recreation of public moments undermines the quieter moments, Helen Mirren’s outstanding performance as Elizabeth II only serves to make the underdeveloped supporting characters stick out like a sore thumb. Other than flashes of Diana, the Tony Blair character gets the most screen time. He seems to be in a remake of the Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes where Dr. Watson is the true sleuth and pays a cheeky chappy dunce to play the part of a suave detective. I am well aware he is infamously surrounded by masters of spin but the man here resembles nothing of presence that Blair conveyed when first elected. As for The Queen Mother and Prince Philip and Prince Charles they are one dimensional and in the case of the latter two poorly cast – why go to the trouble of showing the human side of the Queen and negate it by surrounding her with tabloid cardboard cutouts. The less said about Cherie Blair the better.

Without doubt the film belongs to Helen Mirren, playing a woman who’s life is not her own. She will win the Oscar this year not for an impersonation or an evocation, she literally is the Queen. After she has become the Queen she brings an entire other layer of acting to play, playing doubt and frustration and quiet suffering. Similar to ‘Babel’ this is a film about people in a time of crisis and their failure to communicate, stumped by loss. In Helen Mirren’s subtle performance though we have all the emotional impact displayed that ‘Babel’ tried to string together to lesser effect. So I am pleasantly surprised by ‘The Queen’, it does add dimensions to familiar events, giving context to a world of superficial graces and uninvited expectations that we don’t understand, so that while it doesn’t always ring through resoundly, as we sit in our sitting rooms watching this family in their sitting room there is a sense of solace

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Dossing Times recommends....

I like to do my bit for society whenever I can and therefore I would like to announce that the Science of Sleep is now in Irish cinemas, at last. I’m sure that a lot of you know this already, but for anybody that doesn’t, there you go. CK and I had the good fortune to catch this little gem of a love story at the Wellington film festival last year and it was very much a highlight of 2006 for us both. Infact, CK put it in at number 5 in the Dossing Times Top 10 movies of 2006. The movie won’t be to everybody’s tastes an, indeed, during my second viewing of it last night, more people walked out than any other movie I can remember. For this reason, coupled with the fact that it more than stood up to a second viewing, I strongly recommend that anybody looking for something different in the cinema this week checks it out.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Guilty Pleasures

I’m wondering are we allowed more than 1 guilty pleasure? I’m hoping so as I came up with the 5 below without any hesitation and I’m sure any further analysis of my habits might find others. The requisite element seems to be that you enjoy the habit, or programme or apple, cheese and mustard sandwich knowing that adjudicators of fashion and cool would frown deeply on it. There is some sense of consolation in knowing that I am not alone in enjoying some questionable distractions but I am interested in how diverse and out of bounds peoples pleasures go so be sure to post your own.

Home and Away I have been watching the beautiful people of Summer Bay since I was a child and it was a necessary part of the feeling of freedom after finishing homework each evening. I was lucky enough to visit Palm Beach outside Sydney late last year where the famous beach is located and despite some rain that day it is a beautiful place. I am well aware of the cheese factor, the cyclical nature of the drugs, bullying, joining cults storylines and the great socio-geographic anomaly of so many natural disasters and parentless children turning up in the same place but the show is still compulsive viewing in my books and in Alf Stewart we have one of the great characters of soap.

Sugababes Sugababes before they underwent as many line up changes as Happy Days and sold out to catchy pop and cover versions put out some credible and well written pop music. I didn’t like them as much then. Now that they have gone the holy road of pouting at the screen and wearing kinky little skirts I am a big fan. Importantly, for them to remain a guilty pleasure appreciated from afar I can never learn anything of their personal lives or hear them speak as the bubble will burst all too quickly.

Bewitched (The Movie) Normally, this is the type of movie that smacks of laziness and is usually something I would not given a second glance at, especially if I want to uphold the pretentious standards I like to maintain when it comes to movie watching. However a dark evening a while back when funds did not allow activities beyond watching TV, it was my only choice and I committed to giving it a chance, totally sceptical after being subjected to Nicole Kidman’s last foray into remake land, ‘The Stepford Wives’, which was an atrocity. Anyway, it was a charming little film, with the standard romantic comedy elements given just that extra little bit of humour and depth, with great support from people like Michael Caine, Shirley McLaine and the squeaky voiced chick from ‘The West Wing’. Nicole Kidman was gorgeous and Will Ferrell, wonder of wonders was not even just watchable but also enjoyable. They were a great duo and there’s a nice little nod to ‘Singing in the Rain’ in the middle.

Nigella Lawson This woman is lovely, she can cook, talks with an unbelievably flirty upper crust English accent and has a background as a literary editor so surely must be some way intelligent. The episodes of her TV Show have been branded gastroporn, she can lick a spoon like no other entity on the planet and talks about how she likes to cut food into sizeable chunks but realises our mouth mite not be as accommodating as hers. I could devote an entire blog, let alone an entire post to the virtue and sin combo this woman puts on display. I like to be as self-sufficient so she has also served a purpose beyond the purely aesthetic and taught me that hot-coffee poured over ice-cream is the best and easiest way of making a great dessert and that there is no going back after you have boiled bacon in a bottle of Coca Cola! The thing with ‘Lost’ is that all that keeps me coming back is the mystery. I tire of the back stories, I realise they have significance, tie into the larger mystery and they often overlap and are intriguing in their own right but sometimes they just seem given over to dipping into another side of the characters life which I don’t care about, I want to know what the hell is going on. So I go to, a site which gives spoilers for all the main primetime shows coming out of the U.S and the kind people of the site bring together information from other sites, message boards and T.V columns in one handy site. I know its terrible to look at spoilers and in my defence I never did it for shows like ‘The West Wing’ and largely stay away when season finales are coming up but the wait sometimes is just too much and I at least like to know the outline of upcoming episodes. Furthermore I am a great believer in re-watching mystery films a second time to re-appreciate the story that leads up to the revelation. I don’t have time to re-watch each episode of ‘Lost’ so in having an idea of what’s coming up I am really just ensuring I fully experience each episode. I am just being an appreciative viewer.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Minister, the Judge and the Tribunal

The commentary of Michael McDowell and the various other political statements on the Mahon Tribunal does not necessarily cross the line of separation of powers. Though Tribunals are imbued with powers similar to the High Court they are nevertheless a creation of the government and they in turn are entitled to monitor the work of the Tribunal and do have the legislative power to bring them to an end. However this past weeks war of words does smack of exploitation of a sensitive nerve for the public for political expediency.

The issue of solicitors exorbitant rate of pay and the glacial rate of progress in Tribunal hearings has been at issue since The Beef Tribunal. A right of appeal and the protection of individual rights before such Tribunals is imperative to ensuring justice is a part of the Tribunal system so put simply delay is a necessary evil in ensuring we can stand by the outcome of any findings. Oireachtas committees and inquiries held abroad such as the Scott Inquiry in the UK have been outright failures, contested and produce little satisfactory results. Though there are few high profile outcomes from the spate of Tribunals established during the 1990s the fact is that political lobbying has been revolutionised. I won’t rush to saying it has had results, I remember attending a conference where Marion Harkin bemusedly contributed that the practice of paying for planning permission is a national problem and goes on to this day in her constituency and others in the West of the country and the only reason a fuss has been made of the corruption in Dublin, is well because its Dublin. I would stand by Tribunals as the best mechanism to investigate matters of urgent public concern however there is certainly cause for reappraising how Tribunals are run and clear identifiable methods of taking the findings of Tribunal reports and learning a lesson from them. This would certainly allieve public frustration with what seem to be ballooning bureaucratic mazes that seem ultimately to serve little purpose.

It is absolutely of no value to begin criticising the possible cost of a Tribunal and suggest its termination in its 9th year. To have progressed so far and not see it to a proper end would be more of a waste than any other course of action. Not that McDowell has stuck to his guns, he has conceded that the final cost could be closer to the estimate suggested by Judge Mahon, admitting that no one could read the future. Where then did the impetus come from for the original statement? Did the Auditor General present a projection or did a member of the ESRI research the potential cost? – No. It seems he has plucked the figure out of the air and while no one was actually shocked initially that a Tribunal could run to such expense it was absolutely ridiculed by the person who could most ably make such a suggestion – the Tribunals chairman – stating that he felt a figure 700 m less would be more realistic.

Obviously the opposition have played the political manouever card, an option very easily embraced by the public. It’s difficult to swallow though. Only today did the PD’s rebuke the rumblings of the Fine Fail backbencers, which previously brought Mc Dowell’s CafĂ© Bar Licence initiative to an end so then it seems difficult to understand why McDowell would go out on a limb and try to set the ball rolling on bringing the Tribunal to an end so as to avoid any embarassment for Fine Fail in the next module’s hearings. Maybe I am too naive and conflicting with the backbenchers is small fish conflict and McDowell has a more long term game and is speaking out so as to ensure he has partners for a coalition next June. Maybe it was purely rummaging around in the attic of sore points and deciding to make a statement to ensure some pre-publicity for this weekend’s Ard Fheis. There is no denying there was no lead in or pretext to bringing up the Tribunal’s cost, yet bringing it up must have had some purpose. And to tail end the statement with the view that the money could be better spent on education or hospital beds is farcical and an insult to the intelligence of every person in this country. A lack of money has never been the problem with how major services are run, to try and turn the issue into an ‘I care about you all’ type statement is rubbish.

So with around 12 weeks to go this is the type of well though out, issue driven electioneering we can expect. McDowell is better than this, why he is going for unnecessary tabloid type exaggeration is a sad testament to the nature of politics in Ireland.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Where are the left now

Chavez is continuing the become the dictator people always said he would be.
Some private companies are also concerned about President Chavez's intention to make them allow their employees time during the working day to study socialism.
1984 anyone?

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Oscar 5: 'Little Miss Sunshine'

Little Miss Sunshine is the dark horse of the Oscar race. Along with Ryan Gosling’s nomination for Best Actor, its nomination for Best Picture has had a crest of eyebrows furling across the entertainment world. Equally, its won Best Picture at the Producers Guild Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards, wins not to be disregarded as it is ultimately the members of these Guilds who will vote for Best Picture. So wherein lies the appeal of this film in a field numbered by recreations of historic events (‘The Queen’, ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’), epic mood setters (‘Babel’) and stellar thrillers (‘The Departed’).

Put simply, ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ is a refreshing, feel good movie. This is despite the dysfunction and range of difficult topics on screen. Our instinctive description of ‘Little Miss’ is that it is a comedy. It could almost be described as a big screen sitcom, in the spirit of movies such as ‘Groundhog Day’ and ‘The Apartment’ using humour to cushion underlying sadness. Comedy, however, quick to be disregarded or ever get any type of awards recognition is I think the hardest medium to succeed in. It is subjective, entirely a matter of taste and can fall horrendously flat as any stand-up comedian, screen writer or actor can testify.

That is the great achievement of this film. Being pitched to a producer somewhere in Hollywood a few years ago I can only imagine some hybrid term being devised to convey the mix of emotions and themes on display throughout the film. Joss Whedon, the writer of such gems as ‘Toy Story’ and creator of ‘Buffy’, ‘Angel’ and ‘Serenity’ always chooses comedic actors to play supporting roles, firmly believing that having mastered the delivery of a comedic punch-line they are more than equipped to add layers of substance to what would otherwise be forgettable characters. Whedon has yet to put together a bad ensemble of players so I feel, is on to something. In the same vein in ‘Little Miss’ Steve Carrell ably establishes himself as a credible actor, biting and acerbic, convincingly playing moments of comedy, portraying detachment and depths of despair and all the while appealing to the audience. Will Ferrell should take notice. Carrell is on screen with actors that could never be pigeon holed or associated with one role and in making diverse role choices he too is building up a fine body of work. So, beginning with a dinner table scene, which handles exposition and propelling the story in effortless strokes, the story addresses the complexities and hopes of a rich ensemble throwing them into dilemmas and conflicts. The running time is rippled with moments for reflection, laugh out loud humour, tragedy and farce.

Maybe within this wide-net of humour lies the secret to how it has registered with so many. Thankfully this does not dilute the impact of the film or mean any jokes are held back on, which for the bulk of the running time is a good thing. One blemish though, a decision made by the adults in the situation half way through the film which certainly could be justified within their objectives grates a little and I felt didn’t sit well with the rhythm of the film. To its credit, so good is the remainder of the film (and I cannot recall such other strong examples of this), the film re-emerges unscathed.

Consider Alan Arkin’s gems of scenes. They serve as an apt cross section of the films medly style. I’ve been frustrated with the need to lable each of the characters, his being the ‘porn-obsessed grandfather’. In querying his grandsons love-life, quelling his grandaughter’s doubts and keeping secrets he plays an introvert, extrovert, sage experienced man that should just be relished, not relegated to a character type. His character is real, multi-layered and indefinable, like any of us watching. Such attention is given to each of the characters even in making some, particularly Greg Kinnear’s, very unlikeable at times

So too the story is constructed to give time to resolving each character’s arc, this does not necessarily involve story book answers and a sealed envelope of resolution. The title refers to a beauty pageant, an end point of the family’s road trip and its crown, the dream of daughter Olive. An important final stage performance towards the end is an almighty fine scene, fun and uplifting and offers plausible hints of each finding some comfort in their own skin and waking up to some hope

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Blog Awards open

The blog awards voting is open. and we here and Irish Election have been nominated in a few places for some reason. For best blog post. Two posts by me (here and here on the Dublin Riots have gotten a nod. Here and Irish Election got a node for best political blog. Irish election for best group blog. Myself for some reason Best Contribution to the Irish Bloggersphere shared with Cian. Irish Election for Best designed blog and Irish Election for best news/current affairs blog. I swear they were not all votes by me. :) I see Damien Mulley has not appeared in bes contribution category. I can't image him not getting a nod. I call Shenanigans. Is Damien knocking himself out of the race. vote here.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Fact Checking the Fact checkers

In this country I think it would be great to have someone fact check the media. A new group says that they are going to do this. Media Byte. Alas how ever they are not fact checkers they are propagandist. So I will have a look at this article on corrib gas.
the most generous fiscal terms in the world, with no royalties, no state participation, and companies can write off their costs 100% up front.
So we seemingly have the most generous fiscal terms in the world. Might that have to do with the fact that we have one of the worst strike rates for gas in the World with one of the most expensive exploration rates? As for no royalities. Most European countries have no royalties. The Norwegians dropped them a year before we did and the Brits 5 years before we did. No state participation what has that go to do with facts checking or not. As for the companies being able to write off their costs. They can do that as well in many other countries. Like everyones favourite example of petroleum economy Norway.
State benefits will not be accrued until the oil companies begin to pay taxes
That is how most countries make their money from oil such as Norway. I talked about this already here and my sources are there. Most of which are actually sources not just Village clippings.
Shell to Sea' is emphatic enough in it's position. The campaign approves the development of the resource, at sea.
Spending a few paragraphs talk about royalties etc does not really serve your point of saying it is solely about the safety measures.
The Corrib gas project could be worth up to EUR50.4 billion at current market prices.
This estimate was based on a 1998 estimate of the size of the field. Which estimate a size of 6-11 trillion cubic feet. When in fact newer estimates say 1 trillion cubic feet. Or roughly 8 billion or 6 times less then what they say. Surely a media checking blog would check this out. I also note that they use certain news sources to fact check the media. How can you do that. As you are believing that one media source is correct based on pure faith. Hat tip (DL)

The Oscar 5: 'The Departed'

My first cinema experience of a Scorcese movie was ‘Bringing out the Dead’. As ever reviews and commentary harked backed to Scorceses’ glory days. ‘Bringing out the Dead’, a brooding, reflective piece following Nicholas Cage’s loner, New York based ambulance driver inevitably drew comparison with ‘Taxi Driver’. I was impressed with the movie though the reviews were largely negative with the consensus that the movie couldn’t hold a candle to ‘Taxi Driver’, the ultimate benchmark in angsty dysfunction. I delved into Scorceses’ back catalogue from there on and discovering the reverance surrounding the man and was continually disappointed with his recent output. With ‘The Departed’ Scorcese has won back many bygone plaudits, with agreement that returning to familiar ground, the observational thriller, filtered with violence and ideas of loyalty and redemption had worked well.

This is true but there is also the important fact that Scorcese is an eclectic director and has proven himself ably in comedy (‘The King of Comedy’), all ranges of drama (‘The Age of Innocence’, ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’) and even edited ‘Woodstock’. So a return to a ‘Goodfellas’ or ‘Mean Streets’ type set up doesn’t automatically turn up quality. The issue here is he has excellent source material and surrounded himself with quality cast and crew to truly deliver a reminder of his best work. ‘The Departed’ is actually a very simple but classic three-structure tale; (1) establishing the character’s situation, (2) elements spiral out of control isolating the hero and (3) the resolution. Importantly, Scorcese playing with this tried template, ladens the substance of the film with his unique dynamism, thrilling even to those who will have seen the original ‘Internal Affairs’. A world away from sporadic segments of a life to deliver a bio-pic or getting lost in the theatrics of an epic the story touches on key fundamentals. Instilling ideas of rivalry, commitment and honesty the film delivers a master-class on cinematic building blocks. The movie creates a true sense of tension, doing the almost impossible nowadays by delivering genuine shocks, constructing an ensemble of rounded characters and of course punctuating the body of the film with humour.

There is some qualification though. I firmly believe ‘The Twist’ is overrated, it can alienate or insult the audience, negating the pleasure of what went before. I believe much more can be achieved by letting the audience in on what the characters are unaware of. Films created purely for the purpose of a twist with no logical construction negate any sense of story development. ‘The Sixth Sense’ worked well, presenting hints for those who cared to see them, however movies such as ‘The Prestige’ and ‘The Illusionist’ seem to begin with an end point and the other 1 hr 55 minutes and after effect suffer.

‘The Departed’ is somewhat guilty of this, though for the bulk of its running time the audience is one of very few who are let in on the secrets tying the characters together and gripped to see how the web of lies and double-crossing will unfurl. There is however an unsatisfactory pay-off. We’ve committed to these characters and to see secondary characters make moves that change the path of the film at the expense of a final confrontation and resolution can only leave the audience feeling cheated I feel. As ever art is subjective and this may never have been an issue when you saw it, or as is the case with me, there was too much enjoyment on screen throughout the film for this to be fatal.

So overall, the film is resoundly powerful, with a soundtrack of glorious music perfectly suited to the rhythm of each scene. I still remember when watching ‘Bringing out the Dead’ a sequence with Patricia Arquette descending a stairs and how it blurred seamlessly into her opening a door. It was so subtle but struck me for turning this otherwise unremarkable event into a striking little moment. The look too of ‘The Departed’ is unremarkable but is filled with quite moments of style that gel perfectly into the pace of the movie. Talking with a friend about this project of reviewing each of the Best Picture nominees he raised the valid point that ‘The Departed’ may have faded into the cinematic abyss of my mind having seen it a while back now. Once I began writing though I found plenty to adulate and re-appreciated the film all over again and this is worthy praise of a film in itself.

Take the petition

Inspired by this. Here is the petition.

To: Dail Eireann.

We believe that what is good enough for children should be good enough for politicians. Thus we believe that as Enda Kenny wants to bring in Drug testing for secondary school children, that all politicians in the Dail should also submit themselves to drug testing.

Sign the petition here.

Superbowl adds

Anyone that can take the piss out of themselves is ok in my book.

The add the launched the mac.

Michael Jackson 1993.

Lets Test Enda for Drugs

I posted this over on Irish Election. Along with an email I sent enda.

One of the stories in the papers around this time last year was that cocaine was found in the toilets in Leinster House. Yet as of yet Enda Kenny has not called for the drug testing of all members of the Dail. I have not heard him say that he believes that hethe press there to take pictures of him getting tested for drugs. But of course he will never do that will he, because that is against him and it is not very nice to be treated as a criminal. But some how the students of this country are fair g should have his urine sampled? To stop the peer pressure that goes on in Leinster House. Surely if he wants to lead the debate on this issue he should submit himself to a drugs test and have ame in political football.

This latest proposal from Fine Gael is plain crazy. In an interview with RTE he said it was applied in the US and UK. So lets see if it actually does work. The largest survey to date on the Issue (which I could find in 5 minutes on Google) was taken by the University of Michigan in 2003 that tracked 94,000 students in secondary school. Their conclusion.

Data suggest that drug testing, as practiced in recent years in American secondary schools, does not prevent or inhibit student drug use. The two forms of drug testing that are generally assumed to be most promising for reducing student drug use - random testing applied to all students, and testing of athletes - did not produce encouraging results.

Maybe it is just me but “Does not prevent or inhibit student drug use” seems to suggest that it has failed in the USA. So why would it work in Ireland then?

The obvious answer is that it wouldn’t. Kids have been smoking cigarettes behind the bike shed for years. And been caught for years. But that does not stop them. Teachers know who smokes and who does not and that does not stop kids smoking. Random drug testing works in the Army because people are adults and have something to lose i.e. their jobs also why random breath testing works. Kids on the other hand don’t give a f**k about getting caught. Now Enda insists that this is about stopping peer pressure not catching people. But what does he think is going to happen if a child gets tested positive. That child is probably going to be kicked out of the school. Leading to more disadvantage kids losing out, moving onto harder drugs and causing more of what Fine Gael love best, gang land crime.

But what of the cost of actually administrating this policy (apart from the increased crime rate). In a school in Dublin Ohio. The cost of the program per year in the school was $35,000. Which I would guess is close enough to the salary of a teacher in this country. So basically he is saying that instead of one extra teacher per school, we should have drug testing? Also that school in Dublin Ohio stopped testing as it found it did not work and instead hired a drugs counsellor. (at $32,000 a year). In another report by the same people in Michigan university. They said.

Research has shown that the strongest predictor of student drug use is the student attitudes towards drug use and the perceptions of peer use. To prevent harmful student behaviours such as drug use, school policies that address these key values, attitudes , and perceptions may prove more important in drug prevention than drug testing.

Schools are supposed to be a place where children should feel secure, an environment which encourages learning not an environment that treats them like criminals. If you treat them like that then they will only resent that and become what you treat them as.

Remember this is from the party that complains about the governments lack of coherent planning. Has Enda even read the biggest survey on this question or is he running with it because it sounds good? Why does Enda want to implement a policy that the largest study on it says does not work, that will cause more crime and will divert teaching resources away from schools. I have absolute no idea.

On an obviously separate point under 18 year olds don’t have the right to vote. So here is my challenge to Enda. Medical Testing Ireland sells drug testing kits for 13 euro. I will buy Enda Kenny one, if he is willing to take a Drug test himself in front of the camera’s. Because if it is good enough for the youth or Ireland it should be good enough for our politicians.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Climate Change Upon Us

Serving my own selfish ends the aspect of the recent widespread coverage of the progression of climate change that caught my attention is that the Great Barrier Reef is within 10 years of becoming functionally extinct. I never got to see the Coral Reef on a brief sojourn to Australia late last year when I was based in New Zealand so I am strategising how to get back there and then of course quivering about my grandchildren’s future. Overall it has been a week of worrying developments. First up, RTE aired ‘The Day after Tomorrow’ which is bad enough in its own right. In the movie, Dennis Quaid acts as a grim reaper environmentalist warning some reluctant politicians of impending doom only for the climate to actually go hay wire a few days later. The weather has always been used as a villain in disaster movies but now that the events of such a brainless blockbuster could be some way prophetic is very worrying. (And no all you scientists I am not suggesting events would actually unfold in a form anyway similar to the events of the movie, I merely refer to the sense of immediacy and urgency of findings which I will discuss now so bear with me).

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its report this morning warning of rising sea levels, rises in global temperatures and as a consequence stark weather changes. Most notably the report in using the term ‘very likely’ in effect brings to an end the debate on whether or not humans are to cause for global warming. Put simply the way we live is contributing to global warming.

I find talk of minimal changes in temperature and gradual changes in sea level to be very intangible and difficult to relate to and something which doesn’t really convey a sense of threat. The difference with today’s report is that it brings to an end the era of fear mongering or merely being a prophet of doom, it confronts us with a very real threat. All of us and especially countrys in a normally vulnerable position are at more risk than ever. Drastic food shortages, water shortages, entire agricultural livelihoods wiped out – these changes which are bandied about as the results of our carbon emissions are upon us now – not by century’s end or by some other benchmark which really means nothing to us. An entire chapter is devoted to Australia, its worst droughts in history, cracked arid land where wheat once grew, all being endured now during their hottest Summer. The EPA has a nicely put together press release and refers to the central message from the report that scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change is a serious global threat, and it demands an urgent global response

ahh David Quinn.

David Quinn in the Indo rallies against the British governments decision saying that the church and state should be separate.
What has happened in Britain this week is gigantically worrying for anyone for cares a fig about religious freedom, about limiting the scope of the State,
Which I do I worry about freedom and the state. But in fairness he is talking through his ass. He says
The Churches have been told that their adoption agencies cannot prefer heterosexual couples over homosexual couples and therefore must abide by the law, or lose all public funding and have no more children referred to them for placement. This would effectively close them.
Look David if you are going to make the state should not interfere argument and don't then condemn the state for withdrawing its money. If you get paid by the state you play by the states tune. If they want to not be dictated to by the state first get religious organisations to stop taking money from the state and raise there own funds. Till then shut up. You should be free to practice your religion all you want and have all the religious organisations you want. But don't expect me to pay for them through my taxes. See David unlike you I do care about the scope of the state. Alas you don't you care about the scope of the church.