Thursday, May 31, 2007

Michael, We Hardly Knew Ya!

We live in a strange time when an avuncular, by all accounts old-school politician, a mumbler with questionable educational and ethical background is held out to be the type of politician to aspire towards. Our political climate is one where it is a dangerous move to be associated more with policy than personality. I don’t remember the context, but I do remember during his tenure, whomever he was reprimanding, Michael McDowell criticized ideology. Other than misusing the word ‘ideology’, this is somewhat ironic as in a political system which has never been structured around the traditional political divides, McDowell and the PDs could most readily be placed on the political spectrum. Unfortunately for McDowell, as he took on the mantle of the PD leader, he became the face and a symbol of policies and an attitude which earned widespread negative commentary.

McDowell for me always represented a contrast. Of the three tenets of the title of his Department, the role he adopted most readily was Law Reform. An often unremarked upon role in general conversation, in reforming the private security industry, the advertisement of alcohol and attempting to update criminal justice provisions there at the very least has been a proactive approach to reform and this is to be commended in our most unproductive of Dails. Look deeper though and the meat of the provisions undermine the other roles of his Department - Justice and Equality. Propose an amendment to our Constitution that seeks to tackle ‘citizenship tourism’, that leaves children born to non-nationals without the protection of being a citizen, calling their entitlement to the protections offered by the State into question. Legislate to have our emails, texts and telephone records stored by telecommunication companies and accessible by the Gardai. Attempt to rush through a fundamental overhaul of the criminal justice system in the dying weeks of the Dail with little debate. Respond to the pressures of an influx of asylum seekers by deporting individuals while their children were still at school. Propose closing a Tribunal that would be a few months later hearing of the receipt of payments by your partner in government. This is the policy, then of course there are the tactics, press leaks, throw away insults, accusations thrown at political rivals in seeming panicked efforts to deflate their popularity and all the time any sense of personality comes across as glib and smug. The man doesn’t skimp on providing feeding ground for those who choose to pick over his handy work. So what can we determine about the man - determined to achieve a programme in government at any cost, singularly determined, motivated by ideals stemming from his extensive experience in policy and law or a political drive to succeed or a buffoon no more capable than the least competent backbenchers, with an academic sheen?

One conclusion I comfortably arrive at is that the man is fearless to a point. His will be the legacy of a man who did not have a steam roller of party behind him. Tom Parlon, commenting on McDowell’s resignation, said he was not a man to make friends easily and indeed the bulk of remarks from party colleagues made reference to his ability as a legislator, an orator and a member of Cabinet. Neither had he resounding support from his partners in government, his ‘café-bar’ initiative rejected by FF back-benchers, he in turn showed his own and the PDs go-alone attitude, being disciplined enough to call out the Taoiseach on the facts of his receipt of payments in the lead up to the election. What I’m building towards is the proposition that McDowell is a brave politician, taking steps, making statements, proposing policy changes a world away from the collective responsibility cushioned members of FF, who are each personalities first and policy makers second. Indeed that very reversal of roles is probably the reason McDowell has been so inconsistent in maintaining the support of his constituents.

The title of my post is apt, we knew little of this man, and what was presented was too little the unknown entity and what came through for me was decidedly negative.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Missing Children

This might be the most callous thing I've ever written, and I've deleted and rewritten this sentence 4 times to find the right way, if such a thing exists, of saying I feel the response to the search for Madeline, the British girl abducted while on holidays, lacks perspective.

It strikes me that the work of the Pope could be entirely consumed with meeting the parents of every child that has gone missing since Madeline has been abducted, let alone the countless number of children abducted, exploited, abused and killed every day.

Yet these middle class parents, who have been embraced by the British media, who left their children alone in their holiday apartment, have somehow found themselves entitled to an audience with the Pope. Are my a horrible person to think that parenting skills would be called into question had this family been from an inner-city estate?

Whatever the resolution of this tragedy, lets not lose perspective on the greater, ignored fate of countless, nameless children who will become mere statistics, not garnering a line of text, never mind a headline.

Burning water

Godwacher pointed me in the way of this. A machine the uses radio waves to burn water. Now in essence what he is doing is electrolysis . I.e separating hydrogen and oxegen. With the Hydrogen burning. Indeed that in itself is not very interesting. And can be done in most school labs. The interesting party I find is the use of radio waves to do it. Radio Waves are of a low energy. Well below the energy of visible radiation. So it would seem strange that radio waves could be used as the energy to break apart the hydrogen bonding in the water. Which is 21 kJ/mol (Mole of oxegen about 16 grams.). But certainly not impossible indeed a microwave uses the fact that the frequency causes the water molecules to vibrate violently. With enough power it is probably quiet possible to do this to such a state where the molecule will breakdown. Whether it is more efficient then the other method already out there is of course the question and I can not say as I have no access to his data. But it is quiet interesting. But I doubt it is creating energy from nothing. Looking at the readings on the dials shown on the video. I would guess more energy is being put in then destroyed. Now the question of its use in car is interesting. Personally I can't see it as it would be more efficient to have a tank of hydrogen in the car then to have a tank of water. However it does offer the solution that water is less explosive to store then hydrogen. So perhaps storing it as water is the way for hydrogen cars to go. Here is a patent of his.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

15 minutes of Youtube

Youngest person to have number one. Cleopatra Stratan with Ghita aged 3 she is Romanian and the song is very catchy.

And she does live concerts.

What were you doing at age 3. Her father writes the music and seemingly is quiet popular himself.

Bill Maher on the conservatives and France. Great stuff.

Hell he is so good. Here is another clip


So the most overused term of the past 3 days has to have been ‘squeeze’. Commentators in trying to put logic to the outcome of the election results determined that the public were consumed by the battle for Taoiseach and in feeling this was essentially the choice we were presented with, voted for one or the other, that is Fianna Fail or Fine Gael and consequently squeezed the smaller parties out of contention. To cast a net and ensconce us all in this over simplistic choice is of course rubbish. The most accurate commentary over the weekend has been from John Bowman, for each constituency he commented on as the results rolled out he stated simply the geographical, social and historical factors that would determine how votes would be transferred. It was pragmatic and insightful commentary.

Every representative of the smaller parties, attempting to put reason behind their losses, deemed that the Enda/Bertie debate consumed all and we voted with this battle of wills in mind. Why must our decision making be reduced to insultingly simple levels? Rather than trying to catch the mood of a nation, analysis should have looked at how candidates had canvassed, previous voting patterns, family legacies. There was no concerted effort to clearly elect one alternative, every vote counted, and was part of resurgences, stagnation and destruction. How can they determine the mood of a nation in a world of preferences, recounts and transfers? Commenting on Cork East, the FG Campaign Manager confidently having made his own estimates refused to discount FG as government partners, commenting on Cork East deems that Paul Bradford, current senator, outed from his Dail seat 5 years ago will surely walk it. Cut to John Bowman and he astutley remarks on the strange layout of the constituency and the geographical divide that means Paul Bradford has no chance, the candidates from his area have taken seats during late counts and he will not be receiving transfers from people excluded down in Midleton or Youghal. An understanding of how the constituency works is all that is required, not empty gesticulating.

Elections, like wars, means TV viewership and newspaper sales are up. Bertie Ahern sat opposite Mark Litle last Friday night, subject to more scrutiny than any other sitting Taoiseach, weary and frustrated with the media. He is not alone.

Lost Season Finale

Monday night and the considerate people at RTE 2 are showing the final two episodes of the 3rd series of ‘Lost’ back-to-back. A series of ‘Lost’ can seem like an eternity and yet paradoxically little time has passed on the island. To try and encompass the list of issues that need to be wrapped up is like trying to piss a message in snow in a hurricane. This series has switched focus slightly, giving us information on ‘The Others’ and in particular the characters of Juliet and Ben. Ratings dipped significantly this year in the US, with audiences growing tired of the failure to offer any definite detail as to what the hell is going on. Indeed the highest ratings of the series were for the episode where we see how ‘The Others’ brought about the end of the Dharma Initiative but as with every hint of an answer as many questions and new developments cast as much doubt as ever. ABC has set 2010 as the end date for ‘Lost’ and the show will be structured in the form of 3 sets of 16 episodes. The producers have always claimed to have an ending and they have begun structuring the remaining time left to tell us everything we need to know. Despite the frustration and episodes in which essentially nothing happens, I have faith. Partly because I have invested myself in the show and also because J.J Abrams, the man behind ‘Alias’ is a co-creator and that in itself is as good a recommendation you can get in my eyes. Whether you are a committed fan, a newcomer or an occasional watcher series finales have proven to be ‘Lost’ at its best. Not since ‘Twin Peaks’ has a show of such melodrama, science fiction, fantasy and any other mixture of genres registered on the public’s conscience so much. It was a big year for television the year ‘Lost’ was launched, both it and ‘Desperate Housewives’ have broken the mould of one-off hours of television bringing continuity and series long plots to primetime TV. (I realise ‘24’ was launched prior to these shows but its ratings cannot hold a candle to ‘Lost’ and ‘Housewives’). While ‘Desperate Housewives’ has certainly lost all of its fizzle, ‘Lost’ continues to intrigue and entertain.

Monday, 9 p.m. RTE 2, 2 hour Season Finale.

Friday, May 25, 2007

First Tallies by Constituency

In case you haven't heard is the place to be for minute to minute updates on todays counts. If however you have a job and things to do, here is a link to a comprehensive RTE article setting out the first tallies of the day.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I am doing the Lotto tonight for fear the FG scaremongering is true and Fine Fail will get into bed with SinnFein. Not that I really needed that great an excuse but the money will come in handy for when I am deciding where to flee to on Saturday morning. Plus it's 6 million.

A Labour of Love

Folks, if recent history has thought us anything, it’s that every great man who wants to initiate change must have a sidekick by his side. Look at America where John F Kennedy had his brother Bobby when he brought “Camelot” to the White House in the early 1960’s. George W. Bush had Tony Blair when he created a new and better Iraq. Reagan had Pope John Paul II when he defeated communism. Clinton on the other hand had nobody and he accomplished nothing. Irish history is no exception. With a little help from Arthur Griffiths, Michael Collins single-handedly brought the British Empire to her knees during the War of Independence. Now, almost 90 years later we are once more blessed in this country to have a great man with a sidekick. Enda Kenny, with Pat Rabbitte by his side, is winning the fight against the left and the pseudo-intellectual elites in this country.

Let’s begin with last Wednesdays night where Pat squared up to the number one enemy of this state, Michael McClown. With a devastating body blow, accusing McDowell of being a ‘menopausal Paris Hilton’, Pat knocked the wind out of the intellectual left in this country. The knockout blow was swiftly delivered when Pat explained his joke so that every man woman and child in the country could understand it. Pat doesn’t just do biting wit, he does biting wit for everybody and like a good comedian takes time to explain the joke if needed. Game, set and match for that debate. As if to prove my point, Pat put himself into auto-pilot for the rest of the debate, just repeating the standard party rhetoric over and over.


It’s important to remember that it was McDowell he attacked so effectively. That makes Pat a member of a very unique group who have actually been brave enough to criticise McDowell in public. McDowell thinks he is better than each and every one of us, folks, and that makes him one of the favourite sons of our unfortunately partisan media. It makes him an unpopular target. Pat’s attack on McDowell, was a blow against pseudo-intellectuals everywhere. It was also an attack on the party who introduced risk equalisation into our health insurance, a blatantly far left policy.

It’s not the first time that Pat has had to call McDowell on something. At the start of 2006 Pat was kind enough to urge the Irish people that ‘there are 40 million poles, remember’. He brought up the issue of work permits being introduced for non-EU immigrants here. McDowell has said, to paraphrase, that he wants to personally go to the airport and listen to people’s stories coming into the country but the U.N won’t let him. Stories? What kind of namby pamby approach is that? And since when should the U.N be able to tell our elected officials what to do? I don’t know about you but it’s about time that somebody took a tough line on immigration in this country and stood up to the U.N while they are at it.

Fast forward to the weekend, where Pat consolidated his good work of Wednesday night by delivering a scud-missile to the heart of socialism in this country. ‘Forget it Bertie’. Have 3 words being uttered with more conviction since George H. W. Bush defiantly declared ‘No more taxes’ in 1988? I think not. Pat attacked Bertie, the most famous socialist on this island and the premier pretty boy of our so called media. In under a week he has taken down public enemies number one and two.

See, Pat and his party fight the good fight against the left in this country and to do that you instil equality into the system. A famous maxim of equality states that you should “treat likes alike and unlikes unlike”. The Alliance for Change is committed to the notion that everybody in Ireland is equal. That’s why they don’t want the extra 1000 beds it is claimed co-located hospital could quickly produce. Co-Location would lead to a two-tiered health system and that is something this country does not want.

Accordingly, the programme for government is committed to lowering taxes at all levels even for the rich, a section of our society sometimes shamefully neglected by parties before an election. . (Of course, cutting taxes is nothing new for labour. They were also the first party to give the corporations a sporting chance in this country, lest we forget.) Brian Cowen tried to argue that these tax cuts are a bad thing on Questions and Answers on Monday night. The simple fact of the matter is, it would be hypocritical of Fine Gael and Labour to criticise the two tier health system that would occur under co-located hospitals and then turn around and have a multi-tiered tax system. Of course those on €450,000 per annum should pay as much PRSI as those on €45,000. It would be totally immoral if they paid a penny less and a black eye for equality in this country. The Alliance for Change knows the 3% of the population Cowen was speaking about is every bit the equal of the other 97%.

Confirmation of Labours good work, not just this past week, but throughout the campaign, was unwittingly provided by the now famous Irish “Chimes” poll. Fianna Fail up 5%? Give me a break! Not only does this poll contradict the sentiments Fine Gael and Labour have being hearing on the doorstep, it flatly contradicts the 2 most important opinions of all; those of Enda Kenny and Pat Rabbitte. Enda and Pat know that the opinion poll in their hearts irrefutably claims that the Irish people want a change. They feel it and that’s good enough for me. The Irish Times poll is merely confirmation that victory will be ours on Thursday. The left wing partisan media have panicked and released this barometer of “popular “opinion in an attempt to give the now savaged left (Thanks Pat) a fillup in the days before the election, claiming that Fianna Fail are popular amongst the electorate. Excuse me, but since when has an election been a popularity contest?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Obnoxious Pedant

The Times is carrying the story of a Sinn Fein representative in the new Stormont Assembly going to new lengths to enshrine his political convictions.

He makes pedantry look bad.


The Joker

The picture below is disturbing on a number of levels. The Dark Knight's greatest adversary and some say the greatest comic book villain (I am firmly entrenched in the Lex Luthor camp though) makes his pictorial debut and no doubt will have fanboys and movie fans alike wondering where the follow up to Batman Begins will take us.

Frog Chorus

Late Sunday evening flicking through music channels, I felt a joy not experienced since Christmas when I heard, or in this case saw, Paul McCartney's 'Frog Chorus' on VH1. You cannot imagine my disgust that the video was being played as part of a countdown of the Worst Songs of All Time, and then my repulsion when I spotted a number 1 loitering about in the corner of the screen telling me it had come in first. How can people even speak of this song in the context of anything bad? Its fan - bloody-tastic! I have been know to play it 4 times in a row on pub jukeboxes. Deep bellowing croaky music, operatic flares and positive crowd pleasing sentiment. Dam you faceless music station.

Movie Review: 'Zodiac'

To put words to the story of this film is a flawed exercise. It is an examination that arches over many peoples dealings with the case, with a staggered structure opening with an ‘All the Presidents Men’ type partnership blossoming, (Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jnr.) only for a pair of detectives (the oddly cast but effective combination of Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards) to be introduced well into the running time become the main protagonists, only then to revert to Jake Gyllenhaals obsession with the cases resolution. Lines are not clearly drawn. Time is given over to tense and often brutal murder scenes which are then undermined by the fact we learn so little of the killer and the sense of uncertainty that remains surrounding his actual crimes. They add unnecessarily to the running time and on reflection do not fit the theme of the movie. We discover late in the day this is not a serial killer movie, where we ultimately get to look into his mind and hear of his terrible childhood and the fixations that inspired his style of killing. The focus here is the note writing, the interviews, the volumes of files, and not in the sense of a procedural cop show where everything is wrapped up in 50 minutes but as a representation of the thoroughness and determination of the people caught up in investigating the case and the impact the investigation has on them.

Zodiac opens with the note that the film is based on actual case notes. This distinction makes an important impact on the film. Not making the perusual reference to actual events, and while also taking liberties for dramatic effect and taking time to recreate the era of the crimes, the film is in itself bordering on the obsessive in setting out the minutae of the investigation, cataloguing the progression of time even when there is no real need, so that the audience pores over the evidence as much as the characters. The effect is that we feel the frustration onscreen, hit the brick walls, frown at the bureaucracy and sense the disappointment so that when the time passing onscreen changes from hours to days to weeks to years, we share in the sense of spiraling confusion and likelihood that there will be no answer. This is epitomized in a scene where Jake Gyllenhaal’s character visiting a prisoner linked to the investigation demands she admit to an individuals name, he wants an answer more than anything, even more than the truth, so agonizing has his search been.

Fincher goes big on atmosphere, he always does, fusing a historical recreation and shadow drenched San Francisco, the first part of the film pans around the city in the same gliding fashion the camera does around Jodie Fosters house in ‘Panic Room’, these are not just establishing shots, they are key to imbuing unease and tension. When the ‘certainty’ of the killers actions are gone the tension and questions become psychological, the investigators return to the scene of a crime each anniversary, the passage of time erodes the reason behind their focus, theories are revisited, founded and unfounded. The film does need to keep revisiting the idea of the killer to maintain our anxiety - creeking doors, phone calls, a silly house visit - the commitment of the characters that we meet would I doubt have made wholly entertaining viewing, the natural end to their stories comes in the form of text on screen come the end of the movie, the open ended real life story allows the movie to only go for subtlety in bringing its story to an end. After showing such faithfulness to the progression of the case it could never have sold out in the final reel to finishing with a full stop.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Protests against Chavez

Tens of thousands of people have rallied on the streets of Caracas against Chavez plans to close a TV station. Will the Indymedia of the world support these peoples right to demonstrate. Nope these are neo-con's intent on stopping Chavez's glorious march to utopia. Ahh i miss international politics. Once the Election is over I will return to it.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Don't believe the spin

Folks, its time that somebody spoke out about the axe the Irish media are grinding in this election campaign and I guess that somebody will have to be me. You know, I’ve never really had much time for the media but by calling last nights debate a draw they simply took the biscuit one bite too far. To suggest that the contest last night was even close, let alone ended in a draw is to insult the intelligence of each and every person who watched it. Its just another example of the Far-Left media spin machine, spinning their deceits and attempting to bail out their socialist comrade Bertie. Enda Kenny struck a big blow for the common Irish man last night by blasting Bertie and the intelligentsia out of the water.>

Lets look at the facts of the debate without the spin.

Enda demonstrated leadership, clarity, simplicity, accountability and vision all throughout last nights debate. Health is a prime example of this and lot was made of his performance on health. Enda Kenny set out his plan for the health system in simple terms so everybody could grasp his vision. What is his plan? Simple, to fix the health system and supply 2300 badly needed new beds. How is he going to do it? Simple, by putting it on his Contract for a Better Ireland. Its that simple folks and thats what's been missing for the last 10 years.

On the other hand, Bertie Ahern wanted to get into specifics, quoting figures here there and everywhere trying to peddle the myth that sorting out health is complex. That's depressing and we know better. It’s not complex. it just needs to get done. Old “Figures” Ahern wanted you to think we ordinary Joe’s couldn’t do it without first thinking it through and having a detailed plan. Arrogance, ladies and gentlemen. The lefties said the same thing about America before it sucessfully toppled Saddam, remember.

Illustrating how out of touch he is, Ahern demanded to know how Enda was going to pay for the extra beds. Enda doesn’t do specifics, he doesn’t do nitty gritty. He’s like you and me. Who cares how the health system is fixed, so long as it is fixed? Enda doesn’t and we shouldn’t either. Who cares if Enda can’t explain how he’s going to fund 2300 extra beds? He’s in touch with the common man, and what common man could explain how to pay for 2300 extra beds in the health service? I know I couldn’t. Enda “feels” that he can fix the health system, what more do you want?

I’ve read on this website that Bertie effectively got Enda to admit that cancer patient treatment would have to be cut to pay for the extra beds. This is confusing the issue and the solution. Beds are what’s important in the health system. Cancer patients need beds not treatment folks. Ask yourself, would somebody rather be tucked up nice and snug in bed or would they instead like to get radium or chemo treatment? Its a no brainer.

Demonstrating leadership, vision and simplicity folks, that’s what’s important.

Bertie claimed that Fine Gael's policy for all children under the age of 5 will have free GP visits wouldn’t benefit any child alive in Ireland today. Wait just a second there. Has Bertie got a problem with provisions that benefit unborn children? Come to think of it, has he ever actually told us what side of the abortion debate he comes down on? Can we trust Bertie with the health of our unborn children? With Enda, we can.

And God bless justice spokesperson Jim O’Keeffe. His error on the crime statistics and the confusion it caused afforded Enda the chance to show supreme leadership and, in the near future, accountability within Fine Gael. Is there any better way of demonstrating your leadership qualities than saying “Look, I’m the leader”? That’s what Enda Kenny did last night when questioned on the lack of coherence between himself and his justice spokesperson. Genius, in its simplicity. Accountability within Fine Gael will be aptly illustrated in the coming weeks when Enda Kenny punishes Jim for his error by refusing him a ministry.

And, so what if Fine Gaels spending proposals will cost over 5 billion whilst they only plan to spend 2 billion. What’s wrong with a little optimism? America took an optimist approach to invading Iraq and they crushed Saddam within a few weeks. Besides, its only a difference of 3 billion. That’s only the education budget and everybody keeps telling me how small that is. That’s the cost of 23 days for American troops in Iraq. 23 days out of 4 years is hardly even worth counting. The fact is Enda is dealing in billions and he’s only out by 3. A measly 3 folks. That’s the PD’s share in the opinion polls and so well within the margin of error territory. Its negligible.

Enda Kenny fought the good fight for me and you last night. Its our time now. Time for the common man. The man on the street has been outside looking in for too long. We've long known that he could run the country better than that shower in there at the moment. Last night, Enda Kenny gave the entire country a taste of what common average Joe is like compared to the current Taoiseach. In a weeks time we'll have the common man Taoiseach.

Top 6 Friday: Alternative World Views

1.Using a satellite.

Google Earth

2. Peters Map

I first discovered the merits of this area accurate view of the world on an episode of ‘The West Wing’. This for me is a prime example of how limited our perception of things can be. We accept one view because it is universally accepted but there are often better and truer versions we might not be aware of. Visit this website.

3. Upsidedown View of the World (Left) You spend some time down under, you come to appreciate things from their perspective.

4. CIA World Fact Book Facts, clear and simple, a good starting point for any research.

5. Think Small

See: James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Voyage, The Borrowers, Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

6. Look up and out to the cosmos.( This website catalogues what we should be seeing in our night sky. What a more insightful act than to realise how complex a planet we live on before trying to grasp how little space we occupy on a far grander scale.

What were they watching.

I have to wonder did I watch a different debate to the guys on RTE’s prime time or who write for the Examiner and Irish Times. They called it draws with the Times saying Enda was “confident” . This shocked me so much I had to look the word draw up in the dictionary . and sure enough it was what I thought it meant ” A contest ending without either side winning.”. Now the fact that the poll on the side bar has Miriam getting more votes then Enda suggest to me that this was no draw. Draw would suggest that Enda Gave as good as he got. Enda dodged Bertigate. Clearly he was afraid of what happened last year. Then came the Health debate. Enda could not miss on that one surely not. I mean health service the state it is in. 5 minutes later Bertie had won health. Boxed Enda into the corner virtually admitting he would cut cancer investment. Christ I could do better on Bertie then that. Enda looked defeated. And this was a debate on Health surely his trump card. How could he lose. But lose he did

Then the debate went on to the economy. Could Enda get him on inflation, falling competitiveness, maybe blind him on the issues of ESB prices. Nope he gets nailed on the costings in his manifesto. Bertie knew more about Enda’s manifesto then Enda did. Enda instead went on about universities and bond floatations. Who knows what a bond flotations is. Pure waffle a floundering fish out of water. Then Bertie nails him on his PRSI measures benefiting the rich. Bertie even got to show off his socialist credentials.

Bertie says “We are the party which has made the construction industry.” and the best Enda can come back with “You are also the party which has benefited from the construction industry.”. That the best you can do. That opens so much, slag off planning tribunals, land banks, Galway Races tent etc etc. Then Bertie got to kick Enda’s front bench on crime figures. Bertie was enjoying himself at this stage. Lost the chance to get a blow in there.

Then they went on to quality of life. They bring up the Metro Bertie admits that they did not deliver on their manifesto pledge does Enda use this to attack the FF manifesto by saying something like. “So you promised this but did not deliver so how do can we trust you to deliver anything”

Brings up Education surely can’t lose. But no goes on about dieticians instead of hammering Bertie.

Watching the debate Miriam did more damage to Bertie then Enda did. Maybe that is it maybe the debate they say I mean they are both blond. But I doubt that. The media don’t like Bertie and will say anything to get him to lose. Even confuse Miriam with Enda. As for the outcome of the debate Present Tense summed it up best.

The “great” debate. Oh my God, he killed Kenny!

Kenny lost the chance to look like a Taoiseach As roosta said

“Leaves us with the horrible dilema now…everyone says we need change, but I dont want that useless fecker taking over!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Without A Trace

Fine Gael has started to campaign for the 'release' of the Fianna Fáil Two - Ministers Dick Roche and Martin Cullen - who it says have been banned from the airwaves because focus group research shows they are unpopular. Certainly they are of a breed of politician that ooze incompetence and haven’t progressed their political speak to the same finesse as other politicians so that while others far more ably tell us nothing, these guys talk in empty rhetorical circles.

I still remember listening to a playback of Dick Roches Iodine tablets debacle of an interview with Marian Finucane and my mother laughing thinking it must be some sort of parody of the Minister only for her to be flummoxed that this was actually an elected member of our government who against all the odds was moved to being a Minister of State with responsibility for European Affairs after that verbal meltdown.

Two large cardboard cut-outs of these missing Ministers stood beside the platform at the Fine Gael news briefing, where Director of Organisation Phil Hogan said they hoped by highligting the issue, Dick Roche and Martin Cullen would come out of hiding.

He added they would be disappearing from public view again very quickly after the election in any case.

Enterprise Minister Michéal Martin responded by saying it would be a good idea to provide cardboard cutouts of the Fine Gael front bench would be helpful, as he found it hard to recognise them. Martin shouldn’t be so hasty to jump to their defence. Martin hasn’t exactly been front and centre of this campaign, in my mind his wimpering denial of any knowledge of the Nursing Homes charges will be his legacy and indeed though his seat is far from being under threat his ratings are distinctly down.

Martin added that while senior Fianna Fáil figures attended their news briefings, Fine Gael often put up a press officer and Director of Elections Frank Flannery, who he said would not be elected to anything.

Debate Tonight

The PDs, Labour, Greens and Sinn Fein will take part in a televised debate tonight on PrimeTime (RTE 1, 9.30).

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New Sopranos Episodes Moved to Avoid Clash with Debate

So RTE have moved to spare us deciding between the culmination to a 10 year saga, filled with interesting and shady characters, corrupt dealings and cover ups, lead by a colourful, dangerous and yet somehow very appealing patriarch and on the other channel, the final episodes of ‘The Sopranos’.

Some sort of pseudo-witty play on the scheduling decision was inevitable so I’m just getting it out there. Done.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Rock the Vote

I don't know whether I fall outside the bracket of Young People nowadays but the rockthevote campaign has passed me by despite the celebrities, online presence and events they have organised to encourage younger voters to get out and vote.

Their website is worthy of a browse. (Link)

Orginal vs Cover: Dylan v Hendrix

After Nirvana beating Tori Amos by 66% to 33%, the Originals are finally off the mark. The Covers still lead 2-1 overall and next up is one hell of a battle, All along the Watchtower.

First Original Bob Dylan

Next Jimi Hendrix

As always you can vote here, or on the sidebar.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

28 Weeks Later

Reasons to go see 28 Weeks Later:

It is the sequel to an exceptional film so why not put faith in the makers that they could do it again.

Upon visiting the cinema such faith will be justified, how often does that happen?

All CGI is put to good use, the world around us is put to astounding use, blockbuster hopefuls of the future are you paying attention?

The story is harsh, brutally real, relentless in its pace, a true thrill ride. With so many movies there is always the niggling reality that things will come agood, with this there is true suspense.

Spiderman sucked.

Upon seeing this film you can them put it forward as a sequel that equals the original.

It is a true sensory assault, images, sounds, emotions.

The movie serves as a reminder of what a truly entertaining Summer movie is.

Go now.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

16 minutes of Youtube - Mario Special

Dear Reader,

We here at the Dossing Times don't care much for conventions. We like our reputation as the Mavericks of the blogsphere, always willing to stick it to traditions and norms. We believe in change, we believe it is something to be embraced. Change is the spice of life and is always welcome (except, of course, when that change would place Enda Kenny as Taoiseach)

Here we cement our Rebel status as we bring you 16 minutes of Youtube instead of the normal 15. Even with our convictions, the decision to extend our long running Youtube section by 60 seconds on this one occassion was a tortuous one, and very nearly caused a schism of Lutheran proportions here at Dossing Times. It is a tribute to the courage and faith of my colleagues that I can bring you the very first 16 minutes of Youtube.

We don't just walk to walk, we talk the talk.

Kind Regards

Mario Time
Growing up in the early nineties and being a video game fan, you fell into one of two camps, Nintendo or Sega. We owned a Super Ninetendo and damn if it wasn't awesome. I still maintain that the most fun game I have ever played was the original Super Mario Kart on the Snes. Of course as a Nintendo owner I was also a Mario fan and i spent days of my life trying to finish each of the Mario games from Super Mario right through to Super Mario World (never a fan of baby Mario)....literally days. Anybody who played the games will no doubt know what I'm talking about, they were very addictive and very tricky

At least I thought they were. I obviously wasn't that good, because as these two videos show the games are actually very very easy. These guys are awesome

Some guy finishes Super Mario in 5 minutes...yes 5 minutes. Yes its for real, look at the scores

This is even more impressive as another guy finishes Mario 3 in a mere 11 minutes.

This 16 minutes of dossing was brought to you by the Dossing Times

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Defeat for the HSE

Unsurprisingly, Miss D has won her High Court case and is permitted to travel to the UK to have an abortion without the need for a Court order.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Irish Election Post on BertieGate

As some will have noticed I have been a bit quiet here as I have been blogging over on Irish Election. Here is my latest post.

With all the allegiations floating about Bertie it is a bit hard to remember all of them so here is what I could locate. So I will try a piece together the threads into some sort of narrative as much for myself as you lot. Starting with todays piece in the Indo. McDowell demands answers over US Cash.

TANAISTE Michael McDowell is demanding that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern fully explain a payment of $45,000 allegedly lodged to Celia Larkin’s bank account in 1994.The payment is separate from the so-called Manchester money or the stg£30,000 from Micheal Wall, Mr Ahern’s landlord.

So where would money from the US come from?

The tribunal have been investigating a trip that Bertie Ahern and Albert Reynolds took in 1994 to Los Angles. It was alleged (like everything is in this post I hasten to add) they were scheduled to meet with a US finance broker to discuss plans by Owen O’Callaghan, Liam Lawlor, Frank Dunlop and Architect Ambrose Kelly to develop a football stadium at another site in Balgaddy in Clondalkin. (From Village). Bertie confirmed the meeting in 1994 in the Dail.

In a statement released to the Sunday Independent (I found this after I found the above Dail record. They trawled I googled) in a piece by Jody Corcoran

The spokesperson said: “The Taoiseach has checked this matter. I can confirm that as Minister for Finance, Mr Ahern visited Los Angeles in March 1994 on an official visit. Mr Ahern did meet with representatives of Chilton & O’Connor Ltd, which at this time was a member of the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin. The meeting took place in Los Angeles airport.” The spokesperson added: “The meeting was organised through the office of the Consul General of Ireland, based in San Francisco. Mr Ahern was accompanied at the meeting by officials from the Department of Finance and the IDA.”

At the time the firm was retained by Owen O’Callaghan to work on the project for a stadium Neilstown stadium which was near to the Quarryvale development and planned in around 1994. I think it was going to be home of the FAI. Bertie however seems to have been against this idea. Also in 1994 in three months Owen O’Callaghan gave Fianna Fail €127,000. It was also revealed back in 2000 that Owen O’Callaghan gave 2 substantial cheques to a Fianna Fail councilor Colm McGrath over Quarryvale. From the Indo.

`I am being set up by Mount Street (FF headquarters),” he said. “There is a much bigger story out there involving some people who are now taking the high moral ground. I accept that some of it reflects negatively on me, but there is more to it.”

Another issue around the time was the Golden Island shopping center in Athlone. This was again by Owen O’Callaghan. From the Indo.

Mr Ahern met with O’Callaghan on November 10, 1994; he has said that O’Callaghan “made representations” to him about the Golden Island site. The site was designated for, and subsequently awarded, substantial tax incentives by Ahern just hours before he left office after the collapse of the Fianna Fail-Labour Government on December 14, 1994.

How ever there is nothing to suggest that this involved anything dodgy.

On the issue of Quarryvale. Village supplies this snipt.

Last November, the Planning Tribunal stated in a public hearing that it was investigating an allegation that Bertie Ahern received £30,000 in return for ensuring that Blanchardstown did not receive designation.

Tom Gilmartin has stated in interviews with this reporter in 1998 and 1999, before he submitted a formal statement to the Planning Tribunal, that he had formed a company, Barkhill Ltd, to develop the Liffey Valley site (then Quarryvale) and that Owen O’Callaghan and representatives of AIB joined the board in September 1990. He said that at a board meeting of Barkhill Ltd in 1993 Owen O’Callaghan was asked about the prospect of Blanchardstown obtaining tax designation.

According to Gilmartin, O’Callaghan, who was then his co-partner with AIB in Barkhill, left the board meeting in the AIB headquarters in Ballsbridge and made a call on his mobile phone. When he came back into the room, Tom Gilmartin said Owen O’Callaghan told those present that he was given assurances “from the horses mouth” that Blanchardstown would not get tax designation.

Tom Gilmartin, according to the Planning Tribunal, has claimed that he was told by O’Callaghan that Bertie Ahern later was paid £30,000 (€38,100) for his assistance in the matter. Bertie Ahern has vigorously denied the suggestion.

Another Claim in the tribunal again from the same Village article was this.

On one occasion, Mr Reynolds ordered Bertie Ahern to ensure that files taken from the Department of the Environment to the Department of Finance over a weekend be returned. This followed a complaint to Mr Reynolds by then environment minister Michael Smith about the movement of the sensitive tax designation files.

The Planning Tribunal has heard claims that the files were shown to a group of developers in a Dublin hotel.

Another point in the above village article is that.

The tribunal has also confirmed in public that it is investigating a claim that Bertie Ahern personally received a sum of £50,000 in 1989 from O’Callaghan in connection with the Quarryvale development.

This is similar to the allegation that Dennis “starry” O’Brien made (in fact seems the same as both 1989). Bertie successfully sued O’Brien for damages back in 2000. But why would that be brought back up in the tribunal again 7 years later? Whether this could possibly be the £50,000 that he invested in his house in 1994 is unclear and it would be high guess work to suggest any connection.

This brings us to the Michael Wall allegations. Basically this is happened From the Irish Times

Mr Wall and Mr Ahern have told the tribunal that on December 3rd, 1994, Mr Wall produced £30,000 sterling in cash during a meeting in Mr Ahern’s constituency centre, St Luke’s. Mr Ahern’s then partner, Celia Larkin, was also at the meeting. Mr Ahern put the cash in a safe.

This money along with savings Bertie had himself of £50,000 in 1994 (even though he needed a “dig out” of IR£39,000 a few months previously because of matters arising from his separation.) was invested in the house (a total of £80,000) on a house worth in the region of £108,000 that was recently built. Who owned it is unclear Michael Wall did not buy it until 1995 and Bertie did not buy it until 1997. According to the Irish Times. Bertie suggested it was to do with refurbishment costs and stamp duty issues. But Stamp duty would not have been an issue as he was buying the house. The Rates of Stamp duty in 1995 are here.


not liable











60,001 and over


So the question is what were the Stamp Duty issues? Were they his Stamp Duty issue or Michael Wall’s stamp duty issue or indeed Celia’s stamp duty issue. The £50,000 came according to Vincent Browne in the Sunday Business Post

A total of IR£22,000 from his Manchester and Dublin pals and IR£28,000 from personal savings. But he told us last September that his savings were cleaned out in early 1994 by the marriage settlement. He had used the monies received from his first batch of friends to clear off a bank loan taken to pay his legal bills, so in early 1994, he had no money. Yet, by December, he had savings of IR£28,000 on a net income of only about IR£38,000.

This was at a time when, one assumes, he was paying maintenance for his wife and children, and perhaps paying off the mortgage on the family home as well.

So that is the whole extent that I can find of the financial details of Bertie Ahern that have been mentioned in the Tribunals and newspapers if you know of anything else leave a comment. Hopefully it makes more sense to you now. But makes little sense to me.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Movie Review: 'Spiderman 3'

Strange as it may seem, wracking my brain, Lucasfilm seems to be the only production house that has successfully put out a trilogy of films which have maintained quality and been structurally and thematically sound. Saimi Raimi and co will not be joining those higher echelons of film-making. Part of me does not even want to give time to writing a review such is my frustration but more than any other film lining up to fill out this silly season, Spiderman has earned my respect and so I write.

For the first time, the film is overflowing with villainy, a fatal flaw to anyone who watched Batman become a bit player in his own films. Introducing Venom makes sense considering the darker themes of the movie, but considering the alien ranks amongst the great villains of Spiderman lore we never get a sense of real threat from him. The impact of the alien on Parker is entirely misjudged, we loose sympathy for the hero. Dance routines, wardrobe changes and brushing down your fringe do not a complex character make. Parker comments that he has done terrible things, but he hasn’t really, he never steeps to real depths that would signal this film is of a maturity we expect in these closing chapters. His redemption and the emergence of Venom are rushed and forced. Sandman, who gets a pointless backstory and resolution, gets some set pieces and is then forgotten for large chunks of time and worst of all brought back memories of ‘The Mummy 2’!. Most damaging is that the climax of Parker’s rivalry with Harry Osborn is neglected. Their confrontations are the most intense and dramatic, yet New Goblin is introduced only to be forgotten again for the bulk of the film. We are cheated of a really gripping Greek tragedy style culmination to the relationships that have developed over the past 2 films.

As for the relationship stuff which to Raimi’s credit was never reduced to mere filler previously, there is a sense of going off the rails, MJ Watson has become un appealing and insecure, Aunt May turns up and talks in non-sensical Hallmark cliches and Gwen Stacey is pointlessly introduced when there was a new love interest right across the hall set up in the last film.

Worst of all there is little spectacle, the first confrontation with New Goblin is the best action sequence and a crane gone awry which I though looked awesome initially in trailers was very disappointing and I’m convinced was shortened from the initial clip I saw online. Why the man gets the freedom of the city following a spate of debris crushing people on the street is beyond me.

I spoke earlier about how Spiderman has earned my respect, though there was the obvious 3-deal picture inked, there was always a sense of care and insight that evades other money-spinners. My favourite of the classic story structures is the isolation of the hero, the ripping away of the security and stability surrounding our protagonist setting the scene for the hero to take charge of his situation. I take it as a personal attack that this is what this film could have been. There is no great epic scene where you get the sense of heroism or clarity but instead a feeling that this earnest boy has not grown at all in past events but is a pawn at the discretion of others. That is not a hero.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Dossing Times DVD Club

DVD for May: 'Idiocracy'

I worry that what follows below is too negative and then you as readers will automatically disregard ‘Idiocracy’ at the video shop but I do want to make clear that it is still a movie worth watching and of course commenting on so as to compare notes. I am always interested in how people perceive movies and what they might see in a movie that I might necessarily not. I wouldn’t go as far as saying there are layers of humour in this movie but I do think others might see jokes that I didn’t. Let me know. When writing reviews of cinema releases I don’t believe plot summaries are necessary, firstly to avoid spoilers and of course because pre-publicity and trailers tend to give away all the good stuff so that we are rarely surprised by movies anymore. With the DVD Club I feel a summary is worthwhile, to catch your interest and of course you might not remember the name but may remember the plot point when describing the DVD you are looking for to the shop assistant. Again the premise of this selection is that they will not be front and centre on the shelves.

Idiocracy tells the story of an underachieving man (Luke Wilson), selected for being an entirely average subject matter to be frozen for a year as part of a military experiment. As scientific tests tend to do, events take an unfortunate turn and he wakes up 500 years later at which stage the world has become progressively stupider and he is discovered to be the world’s most intelligent person. The world has turned into a hybrid of all the low-brow, toilet humour, ignorance and shallowness we see around us today. No level of society has escaped unscathed, from the White House down, no underground intelligence group are uncovered, our hero, nothing to write home about in the world of 2005 is the best they’ve got.

The potential is doubtless, that the film was smothered by Fox, partly because of how it lashes back at corporations and product placement, also encourages interest. Unfortunately, the film is never smart enough and flounders along for far too long achieving nothing when it could be filling the screen with jokes. This is especially fatal as the lack of pace and punchlines makes a 75-minute film drag. Elements work, TV loungers also acting as toilet bowls, replacement of water with energy drinks and TV generating to an absolute low (though I see some of the programming of the movie being only a year or so away!). The story doesn’t know what its doing though, the central group are reunited only to be separated and all pace lost again, we know nothing of the hero, his average lifestyle is given passing mention when compared to the time given to military meeting deciding to freeze him and to talk about the female characters is being generous, basically some girls turn up and are wasted.

The main talking point behind this movie is that its directed by Mike Judge, who brought us the underappreciated but ultimately very popular ‘Office Space’ and in the same vein it’s been speculated that ‘Idiocracy’ may join it as a big DVD success with a large cult following. I just don’t feel the movie has enough impact to ingrain itself into the mindset of a generation or demographic the way ‘Office Space’ has. This should line up amongst the curiosity movie that you watch to make your own mind up about, as for repeat viewings and adding to your permanent collection I am not so sure.

Best Scene: Wilson meets his fellow cabinet members in the White House and begins stringing sentences together in a way not all that unfamiliar to today’s world.

Go Further: Mike Judge is also responsible for ‘Beavis and Butthead’, who seem to provide the template for how civilisation has developed in ‘Idiocracy’

As for Luke Wilson, his best performance has to be in ‘The Royal Tennenbaums’, a truly great movie.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Top 6 Friday: List of Lists

Everyone loves a good list, and what better blog to list some of the more interesting sites that will find your time hastily evaporating that the Dossing times.

1. The Forbes Rich List.

Whether we begrudge them or aspire to following their example many column inches are given over to listing the rich elite amongst us. The likelihood of any estimation of their fortunes being anyway accurate is fairly small but nevertheless........

2. American Film Institute 100 This is where I have spent many an hour. These lists are steeped in the classics and I suspect its members make up a large proportion of the Oscar Academy but there is great reading here whether it be rating entire films, characters or lines of dialogue.

3. The FHM Sexiest Women Alive

Self explanatory

4. List of broken FF-PD promises from the FG website

Lists aren't just for Dossing they are also for political manouevering.

5. Channel 4 100 Greatest Series

There have been so many of these programmes it might almost be more interesting to think of what they have not compiled a list of. The entries from each list, covering a broad range of pop culture topics, are listed here.

6. Deadmaneating

Lists of meals people on death row requested int he final hours of their lives. Eeries yes, and not your typical list but still compulsively readable.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Stamp Duty

Fine Fail are expected to chime in with the rest of the choir this morning on Stamp Duty and of course will go one better and propose to backdate the reform of the tax for 1st time buyers. No matter how much distance they have tried to put between this and similar announcements from the other parties the move smacks of hypocrisy in light of throwing the term auction politics around in the last few weeks.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Let Me Be Drunk

A person put it to me that cows go moo, I go drinking. That is true though I contend I do appreciate much more drinks after work or in a beer garden on a Saturday and being home by 10 o’clock than queues, shouting across a bar at people and bouncers. This is probably a symptom of some of the worse days of my life being caused by hangovers (and also wanting a pleasurable life avoiding said queues, hearing problems and angry paid thuggery).

I have done a lot of silly stuff, forgetting chunks and indeed complete black outs are not the exception, they are the rule after a worryingly small amount of drink, I’ve left behind wallets, laptops (both of which I recovered) and people, some of whose carpets I puked on to their mothers eternal frowning upon me as well as waking up not knowing where I am, kissing people I shouldn’t and falling over road works.

So I put it to you all that the problem is not the drinking, the problem is the stopping. I stop drinking, there are things misplaced, I can’t remember how I got home, where things are, what I said to whom and then of course there is the army of anvil grinding monsters marching around my head and the ructions in my stomach. And of course then there is the worry that I have spent the price of a holiday somewhere in Europe without even thinking. Drink should be our natural state. If I had been allowed to be drunk all throughout my childhood think how much happier those happiest of days would have been, my body could have adapted to the alcohol (barley, wheat, water, where’s the bad?) and I could have built up a tolerance so that there would have been no accidents, puking or memory loss if dam society had been more progressive or my parents had been more liberal.

Staying drunk means I would never wake up to harsh realities. All the crap you can face from the daily grind, trying to find a good woman, what people think of you, all can be happily relegated to the back of your mind via an express train sponsored by Carlsberg going one way. That continual happy, hazy, loquacious, free from the strains of the world ease as you sup down a cold pint, why should we give that up. The natural order of things should be to drink to get us through and then once through keep going with staggering ease. God I want a pint so badly as I write.

To those who turn bitter, angry, devious or any other negative personality trait I say dam you for being the kink in my plan for drunk utopia.

Abortion Hearing for Mention Today

Another complicated case for constitutional scholars, the courts and the family to deal with. Girl Seeking Abortion Challenges HSE.