Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Future for Irish Farming

Governments in the west spend over $300 billion a year on farm subsidies. Think about that figure. Imagine what could be done if that figure was invested in health care in the third world? But not also is it diverting finds that could be used for better means it also hurts people in poorer countries. These people can produce food cheaper then we can but because governments can subsidies their producers who subsequently dump their product on the global market lowering prices and dening these countries a way to trade their way out of poverty. We all know the argument and their is a large movement to reduce these and despite Ireland’s and France’s wishes eventually the EU will decided to reduce CAP and import subsidies. EU commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel recently said

“the only one direction in which import tariffs will move in future – sooner or later – and that is downwards”

So what do we do to prepare.

The first thing we do is ban GM crops. Yes I know it is a radical thing to say and yes I agree totally that it is perfectly safe and good. Some times resident here James McInerney and senior lecturer in Bioinformatics in NUI Maynooth has one or two good posts about the issue on his blog. So why then if I believe that it is good that I believe it should be banned. Basically for the same reason that mobile phone protests happen.

Mobile phone masts are safe. I have posted the reason here before it is basic physics. However hear the word radiation and people think Chernobyl and think of radiation burns they have seen in movies and TV, they see mutant turtles . There has been research done on this.

People care more and more about what they eat and choose organic food because it is healthier. Thing is there is little actual scientific evidence to prove that it is healtier. Indeed on whether the extra cost is merit for health reasons this paper from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture said

This paper examines whether the dollar value of health benefits that consumers derive from organic food could account for the price premiums they pay. Price and sales data from realized transactions are inadequate to reveal consumer preferences for health benefits. Our exploratory alternative method estimates the value of health benefits to a hypothetical consumer who assesses risks as risk assessors do and values a unit reduction in all fatal risks equally, regardless of the source of any risk. Under these assumptions, our estimates of the value of health benefits derived from substituting an organic diet for a conventionally produced diet approach zero.

Yet another report said that people are willing to pay up to 50% more for organic food. The majority of people do in fact believe it is better for them. The myth exists, is believed and has created a booming market. Reason is people read it in newspapers, see celebs talking about it and more importantly don’t really browse a scientific journal of an evening. So this gives us an opportunity for a wee bit of exploitation.

The various groups that go on about Frankenstein food can do Irish farmers a favour. In this weeks economist there is an article about Swiss Cheese. Basically their cheese was highly subsidies and protected and they have decided to stop all that and open it to the market. Why because they see it as beneficial. They are looking at the growing middle classes in India and China and see that there is a market for high class stuff. Instead of trying to sell Swiss people expense imitations of French cheese they would sell the Chinese up-market versions of there own cheese. People like the authentic, unusual and as I think Sarah Carey said there is status in expensive food. So these people are realising that the closed market in food cannot continue that the free market is coming and the only we to survive with our higher living standards is to have better more expensive products. And by better I mean what is thought to be better.

If we can market Ireland as the GM-Free organic isle then suddenly we can up the price of our produce. We will have well-off dinner parties in China and New York going (imagine posh accents) well I only ever use Irish food is just so much more natural loike (yes D4 is everywhere) . We can’t compete with the poorer nations indeed we probably should not. But there is no reason we can’t aim for the top.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The loss of innocence

I loved MacGyver as a kid. Maybe one of the biggest reasons I became a physicist. So after CK showed the clip in his top Friday I felt nostalgic and watched an episode. Alas on watching it I noted it was factually incorrect. This scene is from the pilot. Note it was mentioned that the laser was a 10,000 watt CO2 laser. So can you spot what is with it.

Alas two things wrong with that. 1. CO2 lasers are in the far infra-red so he couldn't have seen it with smoke. Unless it brunt the smoke molecules ionising them which is possible but not what I say they were thinking of. 2. But worst of all the prism in the Binoculars if 10,000 watt laser light shined on it would probably melt. Mirrors or not 100% reflective they are around 98% (considering the Laser is in the infra-red and the binoculars built for the visible this would be even less) that means that 2% of the laser is absorbed by the mirror. No a normal mirror will be damaged with a 200 watt laser at its designed wavelength. So imagine a laser 50 times more powerful laser at a non-designed wavelength. The mirror would probably have a hole in it very quickly.

Still great stuff just when I was a kid I enjoyed it for its coolness, now I enjoy it for pointing out errors.

Design Your own Homepage

So I have been adding links to my newly registered Netvibes homepage. A page full of modules, essentially snapshots of each of the sites I visit daily as well as a google search function, rolling updates from the news sites I visit, a link to Youtube, an email wizard and a calendar. I fully intend on adding other streams in the next while, to a page you can name and design in your own tastes. Have a look see if it's something that could be of use to you, it strikes me as a great way of simplifying daily web activity.



I while back I posted a post about the divide in American politics and how it could be a Civil war. Here are the comments I got.
Tom Jolly said...

I'll be on the blue side and my wife will be on the red side. Hopefully the two sides can hash out their differences in religion, corporate ownership of politicians, the environment, and just what the heck a Patriot really is. In isolated spots, it's already come to bloodshed, the real question is how to circumvent the next Civil War before Bush forces the issue.

Anonymous said...

The blue state voter represents a paternalistic government that will intrude on every aspect of a person's God-given freedoms. They do the work of Karl Marx and strongly believe that they should be in power SINCE they know hwat is best for the people. Bring it on.

Anonymous said...

I'll be on the red. And yes, I do believe this will occur. It's far too late to stop the slide. And no, Tom. I don't think we can hash this out. We're just oceans apart on the matters that do matter. Sad, but true.

Anonymous said...

I would fight blue, but you're crazy if you think it will be a cold war. People grow tired of watching and waiting.

Anonymous said...

Yep, this is going to happen but it will not be two governmental factions fighting. It will be the liberal government fighting the armed citizens representing the conservatives. Liberal citizens, after all, don't believe in private gun ownership. Yes, this is why the liberals want to take guns away from citizens.

Anonymous said...

No way around it...its cival war. I'll be on who's ever side wins. don't matter to me. Blue or Red or Green or what-ever. I may even ask those illeagles if i can stay in Mexico whiles I let the true patriots win. Who are the true patriots? The only ones who can call themself true patriots are the winners. The losers will lose their rigth to be called patriots. HURRAY! HURRAY! for the patriots....have fun!

Anonymous said...

Its coming - to late - sides have been chosen - and their stances have hardened. Blue all the way!

Anonymous said...

I'm ready to blast any red wanna-be.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry. We'll be waiting for you too show!!!

Anonymous said...

It't not going to be a war between the red and the blue. On one side we are going to have the Poor and the Middle Class and on the other side we are going to have the Rich Corporations and their mercs. Most people don't care enough about politics to actually fight about red and blue BS!

Anonymous said...

"It't not going to be a war between the red and the blue. On one side we are going to have the Poor and the Middle Class and on the other side we are going to have the Rich Corporations and their mercs." In order for that to be true you'd have to get the Red rank & file to recognize that they have aligned themselves with the folks who are eating their lunches. See "What's Wrong with Kansas" and "Don't Think of an Elephant" for details. As much sense as it makes that the Red regulars will "get it" all the time I've spent talking to/blogging with them I see no signs they will recognize their leaders as economic overlords who could care less about any of the issues the average Red does; all the elites want is more and bigger tax breaks and corporate welfare than everyone else. So it seems the divide will not be along strict class lines. It will be those who recognize and are willing to fight against the warfare being conducted by the rich through the Republican Party and those who are rich, those who knowingly support the rich and those who don't understand that they are supporting those who would steal from them if they got half a chance. (I say this from many years experience in corporate boardrooms, FYI).

Anonymous said...

Hah, I can no longer even LOOK at a leftist without extreme hatred welling up inside me. If I were you, I'd be planning to leave US soil...

Anonymous said...

leaving U.S soil , we were the ones who stood up n fought the British. The radical liberals founded this country you ignorant fool. educate yourself and then come to a better conclusion. seriously how do people like you even have the ability to read or write?.. liberals would unite and the reds would only care about themselves in the end , its true , its the message they send.

Anonymous said...

Go red all the way. The next civil war will not be republicans against liberals. It will indeed be the revived Confederate States of America fighting the North.

Anonymous said...

and what exactly do the revived red states stand for you fool. we pay for all of your shit anyway you poor bastard for every dollar you contribute to federal taxes you get around a dollar and change, get a college education and then come to me when you can defend yourself. the north including cali wouldn't waste its time with people like you, honestly what do people like you contribute to the good of America. The North should have let you go along time ago.. good luck with that..

Anonymous said...

Nobody is going to fight anyone because you cant pull yourselves away from cable news and the internet. If you could you would see your in a pretty darn good place to be.And besides red would whomp a not on blues head and we all know it.So relax and drive carfull folks.

Anonymous said...

It's coming. I think it will be more of a revolution than a civil war. Illegal immigration may be a catalyst or more gun control. Who knows what will spark it?, but the powder keg is ready. Those targeted by the red states will include left wing journalists, wacked out educators, and various do-gooder activists. Our country was not founded on socialism, and that will be the reason we will fight. The Blue staters will take one step too many, and we will finally rise up against their ridiculous demands. If a civil war is going to be prevented, the liberals will finally have to respect our freedom, but they won't. They feel they know better. So it war will come. Government of benevolent dictators will have to get out of our wallets, gun cabinets, doctors' offices, kids' classrooms, refrigerators, cars, medicine cabinets, churches and faces. The person who said the USA was founded by radical liberals was talking of today's liberal who have implemented speech codes on college campuses.

Anonymous said...

so maybe its ok to yell fire in the next movie theater you go to .. ..rather than have a civil war we should just let all the red states go for a year of two and see how they do by themselves with as little government as possible.I know the blue states wouldn't mind not having to pay for people that resist the things that help them.So you can all hang your m-16's from your back window and pick your rotten teeth because going to the doctor once a year is just another way of the government trying to pull a fast one on you right? now that you have that extra 200$ you can buy some fake teeth and maybe a new gun rack too! make sure you sit on your porch and keep away the gays and woman who think twice about your morals too! don't want them around ..

Anonymous said...

Wow, you guys realy hate each other. As a foreign observer though, if I had to pick a side I wanted to win it would have to be the Blue states. Rednecks are kind of ignorant, repulsive and emotionaly and intellectualy stunted so having them win would not be a good thing for America. On the plus side a civil war would certainly pick the spirits up of the Iraqi people who would be all over your misery and suffering through the internet. A taste of your own medicine would do them and you a lot good. Not many of you can plead innocent on this one because as I recall your nation's support for war was pretty overwhelming out of fear of defying the wise one Mr. Bush and also of being called anti-american. I guess in the land of the Brave its best to abandon your pprinciples and hide behind your blanket, I mean your flag where its warm, cozy and safe. After all, the war with Iraq was a pretty easy thing to support since the only civilian blood to be spilt would be Iraqi blood since all of the fighting was going to be done on Iraqi soil. I Wonder how much support for the war there would have been if the war was to be fought on American soil with American blood being spilt? I have a pretty good idea that the yellow streak inside of you would have prevailed and the possibility of WMD's inside of Iraq would would become spinelessly insignificant. If there is to be a civil war in the states, it would not be the tradegy that it once would have been. Your nation has lost its way. Time to tear down and rebuild. I believe this is best.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Top 6 Friday: TV Titles

So the hours of my life I am spending on compiling lists like these is borderig on unhealthy. Nevertheless this one was good fun. The programmes in question may not have endured the ravages of time or our sophisticated tastes but these opening credits have left a legacy all of their own. There are no very recent entries, that 'The Sopranos', 'Friends' and 'The Simpsons' have famous opening titles is hardly a revelation and no matter how funny it seems when played in some dive of a club the 'Baywatch' theme will not appear.

6. 'Twin Peaks': A bleak, infusing piece of music to accompany standard establishing shots for a TV show that was anything but standard.

5. 'X-Men' (animated) This one has to go in for me, it almost took from the rest of the episode if I arrived too late to catch this opening, a big score setting the scene for a big adventure.

4. 'MacGyver': This has to be the first choice for most people when in a conversation about such matters.

3. In the same vein 'The A-Team' has attained classic status.

2. 'Glenroe' - so this video lets down the whole list but if we're aiming for shows that were benchmarks of a time we have a rose tinted perspective on, Glenroe, 8.30 on Sunday evenings has to be here. The video really does suck though.

1. 'The Wonder Years' - as soon as I was reminded of this opening I knew it belonged at the top of the list.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sally to leave 'Home and Away'

There are few constants in life, but Sally Fletcher in Home and Away has been one of them - a character on our screens for close to 20 years now in a show that replaces cast members like normal people change socks. Ranking along the likes of the Duckworths and J.R. Ewing, Sally is up there in the instantly recognisable character hall of fame. This is true no matter how much you have fallen out of touch with the soap or have become too cool to admit to its charm! Kate Ritchie is a major celebrity in Australia, as are the entire cast of 'Home and Away', plasterd across the front of magazines a plenty when I was there last year and so too the soap built to a huge cliffhanger in which Sally was stabbed at the Christmas break as we were leaving (surely some reader knows what I am talking about?!). Anyway, today brings the sad news of Ritchies departure, the end of an era and speculation as to how her character will leave. RTE covers the story here. In other news the Comptroller and Auditor released his Annual Report for 2006 today.

The One to Watch: 'The Running Mate'

'The West Wing' meets parish pump politics tonight in a new programme, 'The Running Mate' beginning a run on TG4. Lead by Don Wycherley (Bachelors Walk) and Frank Kelly (Father Ted) the premise is a local politician willing to go to any lengths to win a constituency seat. TG4 are masters in scheduling, smart promos and great gems of movies, so some home produced fare is more than welcome.

Tonight (Wednesday), TG4, 9.30 pm

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

We need more housing

Conor made some interesting points on the nature of incentives to build houses pointing out the amount of empty houses that are in the country sighting.

The national average for unoccupied housings is 12.1% - and it’s 15% when holiday homes are added into the picture. For example, there’s 45,000 empty housing units in Dublin (25,000 in Dublin city council area alone). In Meath, over 6,000 housing units empty ; In Carlow, over 2,000 ; In Kildare, 6,700, and so on. And not one of these is a holiday home. How is Leitrim, with over 22% of its housing units empty,

That of course sounds bad however a few things are worth noting. For instance take the average housing stock figures. In Ireland we have 410 units per 1000 which is below the EU average of 465. Why is this the case? I would imagine the fact that we have a young population is a factor here. Many people living in shared accommodation who will in the coming years be getting married and moving into homes to start families. Where as now many houses in cities have 3-4 adults in the them, many soon will be looking for just 2. Resulting in an increase in the demand for housing. This can be seen in the fact that with its ageing population Germany has 8.2% empty housing and 474 units per 1000. It would seem strange that with our ageing and migration trends into Ireland that we will not require the Units per 1000 to increase to the EU average. When our demographics hits Germany’s current surely we will need the same amount of units. That in many ways means we still need more housing. Remember our pope children are just turning 27 with Irelands’s changing attitudes and the average age of mothers having their first child at 28.6 we are probably only reaching the peak of our baby boomers nesting.

However Conor’s points are indeed valid. While we may indeed more housing in the future then we currently have. Is it being put in the right place’s. Is Leitrim going to increase that much i.e 22%? I am not sure maybe it is optimisitic governments targets on regional developement. But the idea that we have too many houses on average looking at the rest of Europe it seems we are not over housed but indeed under housed and with the CSO projecting a the population to grow by 1.6% per year up to 2016 to 4,854,000 while much of Europe’s growth being less if not negative we probably have to have a greater then EU average build rate for another few years to insure that we have the housing stock to house this increase in population. Of course this does not mean the Irish property mania is justified just that we need to build for a few more years.

However with our build rate probably not that much longer.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Nessun Dorma

I don't think the moment has passed for an appreciation of Nessun Dorma, the late Luciano Pavarottis signature theme for those of us uniniated in the ways of such fine music. Having listened to it aplenty over the past few weeks, it struck me I have no idea what the song is about. A random bit of googling lead to this description which sets the scene nicely, essentially the piece is an aria the final act of Giacomo Puccini's Opera Turandot. It is sung by the Prince, Calaf, as a challenge to Princess Turandot who has proclaimed that everyone in her kingdom shall spend a sleepless night attempting to find out the name of this unknown prince. Calaf challenges her that, if his name cannot be discovered by morning, the emotionally cold Princess will marry him. In his aria, Calaf indicates his certainty that their efforts to discover his name will be in vain. Pavarotti in his final performance closed the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics by singing the song, which ends with the victorious line "At dawn, I shall win!" The Youtube clip I chose has Pavorotti performing beneath the Eiffel Tower, though wherever you watched there is no doubt you would be both transformed and transfixed by such a show stopper.

The World Today

The Guardian offers a helpful description of the progression of events in Burma, one of too many conflicts I have a superficial understanding of, and one which is mightily fascinating to have barefooted, normally happy to chant, monks leading the protests. Read on here.

Robert Fisk covers an issue, which though not a priority in the face of ongoing loss of human life, is nevertheless a sorry portrayal of the nadir of human behavious going on in Iraq, as over 10, 000 archaelogical sites are demolished and looted. We can't begin to imagine the history we are loosing in place of the current sorry entry in history books going on there now.

Finally, the New York Times coverage, of Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia University amid substantial protest. He chose to endear himself to the crowd by questioning why Palestinians were made to suffer because of the Holocaust, by stating there were no homosexuals in his country and also indicating his intention to visit the site of the Twin Towers.

The other David MacWilliams

One of my favs

Friday, September 21, 2007

Top 6 Friday: Hangover Types

6. The delayed hangover is perhaps the most vicious of all, you wake, a bit bleary eyed maybe but on collating your faculties you realise there is no pain, no rumbling, no intense burning weight labouring on your head. The day proceeds however and come the 11 o’clock mark, terror strikes, you suddenly realise you are John Hurt and that you did not escape your trip out without bringing back an evil species that has bode its time but now is going to go Hiroshima on your ass. This is truly the most suffering alcohol can induce, giving you hope only to rip it away with crushing brutality.

5. The guilty hangover is my speciality, during college I felt a disgrace for the lectures I would have missed, the carpets I would have puked on and the girls I would have made an ass of myself over so that I would throw myself into getting over the pain bit and proceeding to finish essays, organise notes or generally achieve something within a shorter period of time than normal so as to compensate myself for the lost hours and brain cells. Now out in the big bad world, the guilt trips have become more intense and existential - what could you have done with the money?, why couldn’t you put such energy into your work?, what are you achieving?

4. Then there is the unfair one. No while I think all hangovers are unfair, (why must we be punished for wanting to have a bit of fun?), nevertheless it is all the worse, when for instance on a Sunday night you are particularly restrained or you have something on the next day that you are conscious of so you withhold on the debauchery. Yet the morning light or more likely alarm clock brings with it the symptoms of being fed a vat of Jack Daniels intravenously so that you may as well have gone and gotten bladdered beyond recognition. Where is the justice? Though I am firmly standing up against the mantra of what’s the point in having one or two pints, people who can’t appreciate a social pint are not people I like to keep company with.

3. So there is the classic, though importantly people usually fall under two categories here - head sick or stomach sick and each to varying degrees, whether it be unable to lift your head to unable to leave the bathroom. Water may be too difficult to hold down, light may be too difficult to tolerate or you may simply have a headache or rumbling belly. I am usually awoken by a head ache, Dublin for some reason though has brought with it an extremely susceptible stomach, so that I am cursed nowadays with the double whammy hangover. So too everyone has their own cures to these standard assaults on our body - Club Orange, a salty Irish breakfast, spicy food, toast, enter as appropriate……………..

2. Up next is an outright punishment - tiredness, a disruption to drinking, a walk home or some such event which begins the sobering effect brings on the hangover before you ever hit the hay let alone have some refrain to enjoy the alcohol buzz before the morning decides to rear it’s ugly head. Why?

1. Then there is the ‘oh god, what did I do?’ hangover. As well as any of the pressures the hangover may be putting on the respective ends of your body, you may wake and have no recollection of anything, it may take time for you to realize what day it is and what event you have slept in for but more damagingly you will have no notion of what you did, where you were, what time you got home. Reaching for your wallet, phone you look for clues as to what you may have to account for later in the day. The fear of the unknown adds immeasurably to any hangover, you wait cautiously for the post mortem to begin, anxious as to the look on peoples faces the first time you see them. This is the hangover with repercussions.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Movie Review: 'Evening'

How often are we presented with a story of fleeting glances turned to intense moments of passion, with our protagonists caught up in a world where their love cannot survive against the odds dictated by the world around them? Following my viewing of 'Evening' I can offer an answer of at least once too often. Based on the novel of the same name written by Susan Minot, the film is littered with a cast of established and trustworthy players, the only problem being not one plays or portrays an appealing character the audience can root for. The story is set around a woman, Ann, in the fading days of her life, revisiting an ill-fated weekend during which she attends the nuptials of her college friend. Played respectively by Vanessa Redgrave and Claire Danes, a sense of forboding is established from the off, as we follow Ann back into the events of that weekend as her grown daughters (Toni Collette and Natasha Richardson) sit by her bed trying to decipher the elderly lady's ramblings as well as the lives they will be left with on her passing. As premises go, it doesn't inspire confidence, either in the originality or potential stakes.

Tragic love needs to convince and while their is no doubt as to its inevitability in the paint by numbers story there is never a spark of credible rapport between Ann and Harris, played by Danes and Patrick Wilson. While Danes plays the most evolved character she lacks consistency, making decisions and reprimands that may have made sense in the overall story of the novel but here seem the strung together actions of a self-centred and blinded person. The elderly Ann is even less impressive a person, swooning after a boy in her final hours. Reflecting is all good and well, however the boy in question never resembles the enigmatic solid man we would expect to be the cause of such an instant attraction, however impeccably tanned and able an actor Wilson is. The most telling scene in the entire movie is a scene in which Meryl Streep’s character looks pitifully on her ailing friend – this variance in perspectives gives new insight to the story of that weekend. As for each cut away to the modern story, they feel like pointless intrusions of soap opera dialogue and 'Oirish' night nurses. Flawed characters often draw demand the audience’s attention and earn our empathy, the people at play here however seem untrue, more so people put in place to deliver dialogue which propels a weak story forward.

As for the story, there are glaciers which move faster. The slow, lamentable rambling pace of the movie, coupled with the already sombre tone means there is no energy on screen, at one point I honestly groaned at how long it took Toni Collette to walk into a room. A picture postcard, rustic setting is somehow muted and uninspiring with such milquetoast performances going on in the foreground. The gorgeous settings for the movie if anything only add to the sense of detachment from anything onscreen. There are noble intentions, and apt ideas raised as these women reflect on mistakes they may have made in an attempt to make peace with them. However none of the delivery resonates or has any level of insight to indicate we are watching anything more that an over long lazily plotted soap.

'Kings' Official Irish Selection for Best Foreign Language

The Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) has announced that Tom Collins’s Kings, starring Colm Meaney, Donal O’Kelly and Brendan Conroy, has been officially selected by an independent IFTA jury for submission to the 80th Academy Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film category. This is the first time that an Irish language film is being submitted from Ireland. The submission and jury process is co-ordinated by the Irish Film and Television Academy. The American Academy accepts one foreign language film from each eligible country for consideration under this category and will announce their selection of five foreign language films on January 22nd 2008.

The film was shot in Belfast, London and Dublin in 2006, and tells the story of a group of young men who in the mid 1970s left the west of Ireland, bound for London, filled with ambition for a better life in a place where they could be kings. Thirty years on they meet to mark the passing of the youngest of the group. For some of them, those thirty years have been hard. The film is resoundly bleak but still is powerful viewing. It is released today so do consider it.

Also I would not be surprised if 'Once' made an appearance on a list of films which may garner a nomination come the Spring, particularly for Original Soundtrack. It has become the film that could Stateside, doing great business over there.

Pointless News Story of the Week

I'm sure it was important to somebody that records be kept of sightings of strange objects in the sky and indeed todays story in the Irish Times reports that such a dossier was kept by the Defence Forces until 1984. So too it must have seemed important to someone in the Times to give up time and money to request this dossier under the Freedom of Information Act. Damp squib comes to mind when looking at the eventual details which emerged!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sitting at my laptop.......

Tuesday night...sitting at the laptop...brain numbing project to have done by too small and messy to jump around...air guitar from your chair recommended!

The One to Watch: The Naked Election

Tonight on RTE 1, The Naked Election looks back on the experiences of 9 candidates in the run up to the election this past summer. Obviously the promos running on RTE are designed to promote but nevertheless they look good and the programme may deliver some interesting insight.

Tonight (Tuesday), 10.15 RTE 1

Colbert on Honor

Hat tip Godwhacker

Monday, September 17, 2007

The two types of terrorist

In the London times last week Daniel Finkelstein wrote an article disputing the fact that it was possible to spend your way out of terrorism that solving social inequality and poverty will not solve stop terrorism.

A study of the country of origin of terrorists reveals that lower-income countries are no more likely to produce terrorists and, crucially for the Brown hypothesis, “we find no significant impact of GDP growth on the frequency of international terrorism”. Furthermore “neither the overall literacy rate nor the female literacy rate appeared to have any effect”.

There is a small flaws in that theory which is to put all terrorism into one boat. To me there is two types of terrorist the idealist and the pragmatist. While they cross over somewhat one set of terrorist is more motivated by one then the other and this might help explain why

Suicide bombers from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were less than half as likely to come from families below the poverty line as an average Palestinian. Less than 15 per cent of Palestinians have more than a high-school degree, while almost 60 per cent of the suicide bombers did.

The difference between the two types of terrorist is motivation. Take the IRA, they started out fundamentally from the fact that there was widespread discrimination and that to end it British occupation had to end. The aftermath of that happening while thought of did not really matter that much. For the mass majority of supports might like a 32 county socialist country if the 32 country bit was achieved they would not take up arms again to achieve the socialist aspect of it. That is the pragmatist.

Now take Hamas while they are fighting for similar things as the IRA i.e. the end of an occupation. They do care about the outcome. Looking at their battles with Fatah it is clear that a simply free Palestine is not good enough it has to be a very certain kind of Palestine is desired. This is the idealist.

Idealism comes from idea’s and the way that idea’s spread fastest in this world is though learning. Think about it who is more likely to be picketing in Rossport at the moment. Someone who has gone to college and read Noam Chomsky, Marx and other such works or someone who rather spends the evening in the pub watch United. Now I know these are generalisation but you get my point.

So is it any wonder that the suicide bombers are more educated while the IRA members tend to come from working class districts?

Now this of course does not tell us what we can do to solve terrorism but it does raise some interesting questions. Can the lessons of one place be used in another? Does this mean that Sinn Fein going around the world as peace keepers is anyway useful at all?

The article in the Times is based on a book What Makes a Terrorist: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism By Alan B. Krueger something I think I should add to my book list. His idea as articulated in this article.

According to Krueger, the polls indicate that those with at least moderate wealth and education, relative to their nations' standards, are more likely to be confident enough in their beliefs to attempt to enact political change, even through illegitimate and violent avenues.

The poor and uneducated, meanwhile, are less likely to even voice a neutral political view when asked. Simply expanding access to education without reforming content, warns Krueger, may actually have the unintended effect of promoting terrorism.

Now this of course does not tell us what we can do to solve terrorism but it does raise some interesting questions. Can the lessons of one place be used in another? Does this mean that Sinn Fein going around the world as peace keepers is anyway useful at all? Is it possible that while it is possible to engage with the pragmatic terrorists and deal with their concerns that when dealing with idealist terrorist it is not possible to deal with them?

The book I am currently reading is God's Terrorists: The Wahhabi Cult and Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad. It tells the story of the Wahhabi group. One of the interesting parts of it was describing the Indian Mutiny where some of the British forces Mutinied and joined by some locals rebelled. One of the points was that the Wahhabi’s who were well educated could garner support from the non-educated where by they could manipulate their beliefs and make them do the bidding of the Wahhabi’s. This still happens to this day where the intellectual elite can dominate the daily discourse and spin.

Anyway I have waffled on a bit here so I will try to finish up. The idealist terrorist comes from a place of learning of idea’s. But without the network below they, they are limited in what they can do (Even though large scale attacks like 9/11 are possible) by what support they get. If you want to limit terrorism you need to open up ideas. You need people to hear the whole of the story not just there side but the others side as well, without bias. You need freedom was Bush would say. Only the pragmatist can be bought off the idealists can only be contained.

Here is something I totally missed

Israel hit suspected Syrian nuclear sites last week. I really need to read the news more

Politics in Ireland

Politics in Ireland is an aggregator for blog posts

The Emmys

RTE give a good summary here of the winners at last nights Emmys.

Friday, September 14, 2007

marriage breakdown

The Irish Times goes for the tabloid headline today with Marriage breakdown up 500% in last 20 years. I know I go on about it again but will somebody please give journalists a course in statistics. 500% rise suggests that Ireland in recent years has turned into a haven of marriage breakdown with kids abandoned left right and centre. But 500% rise of a small number is still a small rise. Now lets look at the actually number 13 per cent. 13 per cent of marriages break down. This compares to the EU divorce rate of 40% (if you consider that not all breakdowns will result in divorce some just separation figures 2002 Belgium has a 76% divorce rate by the way :shock: ) .Our breakdown rate is 3 times below the EU average. Or maybe to put into percentages the EU average is 300% bigger then the Irish average. Considering the boom time we have had for the past 10 years or so. The fact that we are far below the EU average tells me that it is not as big a deal as the rest of the EU. Despite what the Iona Institute would like you to think the fabric of society is not disappearing with the collapse of the catholic church.

One more thing.

The number of lone parents is up 80 per cent since 1986, the report adds, with 190,000 lone parents now resident in the country.

According to the census lone parents are 169,700

Top 6 Friday: Those great bits of movie dialogue (Modern)

I may aswell be trying to empty the ocean in trying to pick just six selections that would satisfy everyone’s favourite bits of dialogue. Even as I write entries from movies such as ‘The American President’, ‘The Big Lebowski’ and ‘Fight Club’ are running through my head but as ever I will stay true to my instincts and present the list that means the most to me. There are some criteria, these are not exchanges between characters, they are just well written dialogue delivered with panache and neither are they catch phrases or one-liners and the courtroom scene from ‘A Few Good Men’ is excluded because it has been done to death. I realise also I have not even ventured outside of the 90s, so clearly there is room for expansion of the topic.

6. Pop quiz hotshot. There’s a bomb on a bus. Once the bomb goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?

The great premise of 90s action movies

5. Never, never, interrupt me, okay? Not if there's a fire, not even if you hear the sound of a thud from my home and one week later there's a smell coming from there that can only be a decaying human body and you have to hold a hanky to your face because the stench is so thick that you think you're going to faint. Even then, don't come knocking. Or, if it's election night, and you're excited and you wanna celebrate because some fudgepacker that you date has been elected the first queer president of the United States and he's going to have you down to Camp David, and you want someone to share the moment with. Even then, don't knock. Not on this door. Not for ANY reason. Do you get me, sweetheart?

Jack Nicholson in what all romantic comedies should be like, ‘As Good as it Gets’

4. Wait a minute. Robin Hood steals money from my pocket, forcing me to hurt the public, and they love him for it? That’s it then. Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas

Alan Rickman, the villain and the best thing about ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’

3. The only true currency in this bankrupt world... is what you share with someone else when you're uncool.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, putting motion to Cameron Crowe’s poetry in ‘Almost Famous’

2. My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife, and I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.

Russell Croew entertains us in ‘Gladiator’

1. I'm a schoolteacher. I teach English composition... in this little town called Adley, Pennsylvania. The last eleven years, I've been at Thomas Alva Edison High School. I was a coach of the baseball team in the springtime. Back home, I tell people what I do for a living and they think well, now that figures. But over here, it's a big, a big mystery. So, I guess I've changed some. Sometimes I wonder if I've changed so much my wife is even going to recognise me, whenever it is that I get back to her. And how I'll ever be able to tell her about days like today. Ah, Ryan. I don't know anything about Ryan. I don't care. The man means nothing to me. It's just a name. But if... You know if going to Rumelle and finding him so that he can go home. If that earns me the right to get back to my wife, then that's my mission. You want to leave? You want to go off and fight the war? All right. All right. I won't stop you. I'll even put in the paperwork. I just know that every man I kill the farther away from home I feel.

Tom Hanks, the everyman at war in 'Saving Private Ryan'

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Where do you go to my lovely

I always like songs that have a story behind them. Maybe it goes back to the traditional Irish storytelling thing. Or maybe they are just nice. Here is one of my favourites. Where Do You Go To My Lovely by Peter Sarstedt

There are many theories about who the song is about, Sophie Loren being one person mentioned. But I prefer not to know and like to see this women in the jet set that talks like Marlene Dietrich And you dances like Zizi Jeanmaire, with clothes made by Balmain and diamonds and pearls in her hair. But even though she came from the back streets of Naples is not happy with all this. Beautiful

Techno Contraption News

The IE Domain Registry has announced the relaxation of registering personal '.ie' domain names for individuals.

Therefore, from Wednesday, October 31, individuals will be able register their personal domains, as long at they can prove a claim to the domain name and have a 'substantive connection to the island of Ireland'.

The announcement means that sole traders, professionals, politicians, and trademark holders who have not registered their '.ie' internet addresses have seven weeks in which to rectify the situation. Link to the registry site here.

For those of you who have websites up and running, you may wish to nomiate your site for a Golden Spider award, an annual event honouring Irish individuals and organisations for their outstanding achievements online and celebrate the successes of the Irish

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dublin Castle

I’m sure I’ve been there before, though I don’t have any concrete memories to ascertain this fact, so to begin I will say to day was my first time in Dublin Castle. Viewing its entrance on Dame Street it seems something unsubstantial could be held behind it, this is far from the truth though as within my brief stroll around I uncovered a kind of fortressed community hosting public hearings, shielding the financial security of the state, gardens offering respite from the grey outside, old and new architecture cobbled together to serve any number of functions including in my case a conference centre. The conference added little of note to my life, other than a workplace psychologist informing her audience that feeling of exhaustion so many of us suffer from first thing in the morning is now termed TAT (Tired All the Time) and we can allieve this by setting aside time for ourselves in the day. Like Simons post below I like a bit of quiet time spent by myself during the day, now that it is a recommended acronym bearing ailment solution I feel quiet time has been turned into an extra thing to do every day - is nothing safe from these people who get paid to preach common sense?

Anyway, a chance to escape presented itself so I chose to venture to the lower courtyard and visit the sitting Payments Tribunal, one of the species on which I somehow wrote 10, 000 words on a lifetime ago. It almost seems you are walking towards a service entrance, the only clue you have as to something of note is the gaggle of photographers behind a barrier. Walking up to the door I pass a lady putting the finishing touches on the chalk painting that may be used to give a sense of proceedings in tomorrows broadsheets. Inside is pretty bog standard, a large room with cylinder shaped vents traversing the ceiling, I proceeded to join the almost add to the almost full set of seats set out for the public, Joe Higgins amongst having spotted Charlie Bird in the press section and no one of note, tome at least, in the legal representatives area. At the top of the room Judge Mahon presides, though his only words during my short stint there was to discuss and announce a break. In front of him sit a mixture of individuals, presumably the over paid legal representatives of much notoriety, examining the documents under examination on screens in front of them, said documents also projected on a screen for the public to view.

The extent of the hearing I was there for was confirming the findings, or lack thereof, by AIB regarding the origin currency of a number of amounts. However I managed to position myself I could not fully make out the faces of the questioner, determined to confirm every line of text written in front of him, nor the person in box, who specialised in one word answers. What was being achieved in this particular session was beyond me and it affirmed many of the examples of inefficiency I came across, researching the tribunals such as reading the entire volume of texts into record, procedure winning out over expediency. A strange and motley crew surrounded me, a mix of ages and gender, each possibly waiting for an unexpected turn of events. My day won’t allow me venture over tomorrow and Thursday I’d doubt there is little point going to see Bertie’s performance. The room seemed tired to me, perhaps it is the calm before the storm of the next few days. Whatever the weather it was intriguing to venture in and see this Tribunal, like the restaurant at the end of the universe, somehow about to tip over the edge but never quite doing so. Maybe this week will bring change.

Party Like it's 1999 in Ethiopia

Happy New Year to any Ethiopian readers. While for the rest of us today is 11 September 2007, in Ethiopia, which runs on a unique Coptic calendar more than seven years behind our Gregorian calendar, it is a far more auspicious day: New Year's Eve, 1999. The Coptic Orthodox Church, founded in AD451, has more than 15 million members, mainly in Egypt. It broke away from the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches following the Council of Chalcedon, when the Coptics took a different position on a doctrinal issue – the nature of Christ. Coptics maintain Jesus has a purely divine nature and never became human. There is an informative page here on the history of the calendar. Look for coverage of a huge celebration througout the country, with a concert in Adis Ababa at its centrepiece. So too I'm sure there is plenty written on the state of the country and its people at this benchmark.

Last meals in Texas

A list of last meals eaten by inmates executed in Texas. A lot of burgers there.

Monday, September 10, 2007

President Bartlett

I can't remember the last time I met someone interesting or had someone at least say something interesting in my presence. Maybe its the company I am keeping these days but I'm particularly uninspired by my surrounds and in danger of feeling unfulfilled. So I turn to President Bartlett and the single scene that made me sit up and become a fan of 'The West Wing'. And who says who can't learn anything from TV.

I envy Smokers

You know sometimes I envy smokers. True they smell and are slowly killing themselves. But they are able to sit outside on a day like this on their own and not have people wonder what they are doing. I spend a lot of my time in a dark room on my own for hours a day only leaving to go home or lunch and it can make one go a bit crazy. (I listened to Derek Mooney today who had Eddie Hobbs on). So I like the idea of just sitting out side for a wee bit. But if you don't have a fag in your hand. People thinks its strange.

Then again I don't smell.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

What Labour must do if they want 30 seats

Recently I posted in response to Eamon Gilmore proclaim that Labour could get 30 seats an animation from Father Ted basically saying he was in cloud cuckoo land. But if he wants to win 30 seats he need only build on the foundation the Pat Rabbitte laid in Janurary 2006 when he said

“There are 40 million or so Poles after all, so it is an issue [ed. work permits] we have to have a look at.”

During the election Labour were the only party to try to vaguely get the anti-immigration vote with that statement. It didn’t work for them for 2 reasons.

1. It was in the Irish Times.

2. They didn’t stick with it.

Labour often wonder why they have lost the ground on being the working class party to Fianna Fail and usually the reason is a.) People are stupid or B.) Fianna Fail civil war type reasons. The reason is The Irish Times. The Irish Times is the news paper for the upper classes (what other paper cover Leinster schools rugby as much) with the columnists such as Vincent Browne coming from a private school background. Which is nothing to be ashamed of but if you are going to create a party for the working class don’t base your moral compass of the writings of the upper class. It comes across as patronising and up its own ass. If you want to see what matters to the working class (god I hate these terms) you have to see the issues that really effect these people not what Fintan O’Toole would have you think they are. Putting that statement in the Times was useless the average person who is effected by immigration does not read the Irish Times they probably heard it through other sources of media with Pat Rabbitee’s attempts to dilute it.

Eamonn Gilmore in a recent interview came out with the normal vacuous buzzwords saying “target voters on issues they feel strongly on”. On the doorsteps of the last election one of the big issues that people felt strongly about is also one of the issues the parties are ignoring. If Labour really want to “target voters on issues they feel strongly on” then immigration has to be part of their program not the current isn’t great approach but an approach that is suspicious of it.

None of the parties have come next to near an anti-immigration policy in recent years certainly not as close as Pat Rabittee did in that interview. The citizenship referendum did little to deal with this issue for people. It mearly tidied up a high court judgement. It is the amount of Eastern Europeas in the country that frighten people. The PD’s and Fianna Fail decided to let them in with out the need for work permits something that worries alot of people. They fear for their future, they fear displacement, they fear that no-go ghettoes will spring up, that the Paris riots of a few years ago will happen in Ireland, they fear that Al-Qaeda will spring up. These are real fear that people fear and feel more strongly about then IRFU/FAI must not be allowed prostitute name of Lansdowne Road.They the poles are going to come into the country and take their jobs. Leading to a race to the bottom. Labour talk about this issue but never offer the solution the people want. They don’t want more labour inspectors they want immergration curtailed they want work permits, they want reduced numbers of immigrants. This is the base that Pat Rabbitee tapped into back in January with his interview. Problem was it was in the Irish Times and he was forced to back down and not push it further. I wager if he listened to the word on the street rather then read the newspaper he said it in he would have realised that there were a lot of votes in it.

Kevin Myres summed up the public sentiment out there yesterday.

Naturally, in this unprincipled liberal Ireland, for the Catholic Church to insist that Catholic schools have a primary duty to educate Catholics is nowadays both racist and sectarian. But of course, no one on RTE would ever dream of proposing that Islamic madrasahs should take in Jewish, Catholic or Hindu pupils: in the new Ireland, the only people who are expected to bend their own rules are the Irish Catholic majority.

That’s is how many people feel and no one is speaking for them. They are being ignored by the political establishment. They don’t care about Shannon or speeches about terrorism in the European parliament. When Michael D Higgins goes on about Dept of Justice continues draconian and regressive policy on immigration. They don’t like it, they see Labour as the Irish Times readers party, where immigration brings multicultural delights of foreign food, world music and colour to the streets where they see unemployment. Labour go on about their history of Jim Larkin and James Connelly speaking for the voiceless but now they speak for the people with the biggest voices and ignore the voiceless.

I have posted before about displacement of Irish workers by foreign workers and how it is not really happening. But that does not matter in the end of the day because the fear exists the votes exist and it is being ignored. If Labour want to get more seats they need to realise this. This is where the growth area is in Irish politics. This is where the vast suede of untapped public opinion exists not in Scandinavian social democracy. Immigration it is a dirty word to talk about but on the streets, in taxis and in the pub it is one of the big issues the issue no one wants to talk about. I am not talking BNP type policies just policies to place controls on immigration.

If Labour want to build the party base they can always build on the legacy of Pat Rabbitee’s speech and talk about work permits. It would be far more effective in getting seats and represent more of the people they claim to represent then twirling to freedom. The question is are they willing to abandon their middle to upper class base for votes? Personally I wouldn’t vote for such a party but heck I wouldn’t for Labour anyway so that doesn’t matter but many people would and it would be listening to the ignored electorate which Gilmore seems to want to do. .

Pavarotti Passes

Find here a link to a nicely concise TIME article on the life of Luciano Pavarotti.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Hare Coursing

There is a bit of a clash between the Greens and Fianna Fail at the moment about Hare coursing. I have never gone hare coursing but I have participated in the catching of hares when I was a kid. Me and a cousin jumped in the back of a van. Were brought to a bog and with a load of people walking in a line across a bog shouting. Frighting the hares down to the other end of the bog to where they were netted. Now hares a furry and cuddly and cutsy pie so people don’t like to think of them being chased down by a pack of baying hounds. But as Limerick West Fianna Fáil TD John Cregan says

Trapping the hares helps to control high densities of the animal which many landowners consider agricultural pests.

Now obviously coursing has got sweet feck all to do with pest control.

For 1 now that dogs or muzzled most hares do not die. If pest control was really the aim of the project then giving a park ranger a shot gun would be far more effective. So lets have less of the bullshit it is a sport nothing more nothing less. So the question is should it be banned?

John Cregan says

Hare coursing, which is thoroughly humane, is particularly popular in West Limerick and hares are very numerous around the countryside.

Now I doubt Mr Cregan would consider being chased by a couple of dogs as particularly humane but is it any more in humane as horse racing? How often do we hear about horse’s being put down each year after a race? Many horses after they have been raced and are to old to race anymore are put down and their meat shipped to France. Hares if they survive the ordeal are released back in the wild at the point where they were captured and are rarely coursed more then once a year. Horses on the other hand get a small man sitting on them for half a year beating the shite out of them with a whip for a mile or 2. So is it really much more cruel then horse racing?

In the end of the day I would probably say that hare coursing is cruel and I would favour a ban. While the object in Irish coursing is to count the amount of times a dog can “turn” a hare (how many times a dog can get the hare to change course) rather then the English catch a hare method. It is unnecessary cruelty. But on the scale of things it is not that bad certainly no where near fox hunting in cruelty where the object is to kill. Maybe we should be wondering about horse racing as well as to me it seems pretty similar on the cruelty stakes and possibly greater on death stakes (if anyone has stats on horse deaths please let me know). But horse racing is growing in popularity coursing is not. And no body is calling to ban on horse racing. Too fashionable I guess.

The reason that John Gormley is having pressure applied to him on this issue is that coursing means votes. Even though 68% of people polled wanted it banned I would wager that 32% is far more passionate about it then the 68%. Banning it wouldn’t get many votes (might save a few of the Greens votes hence why Gormley should really push this for the sake of the party) but it certainly would lose a few votes for Fianna Fail. Few would have a ban on coursing as a priority when voting but certainly removing a ban on coursing would have votes. I guess that is democracy for you give the people what they really want not just what they kinda want.

Life Hacker

I must say the name of this website suggests some underground network of hackers stealing identities but the site actually has much more noble aims. It lists various ways of improving how we work and live by making suggestions as to small changes or methods we can utilise, inparticular, IT utilities, to be more efficient and gain more enjoyment. I was recommended the site during a conversation on how I'm generally trying to improve on my efficiency at work and also having bankrupted myself with a laptop in the past week I want to get full use out of it other than just Youtubing! Have a browse, its

Monday, September 03, 2007

Gilmore after the Greens

I got a feeling that Labour are going to focus all their energies on the Green party. If they are to get the 30 seats that he wants they will need to destroy the other parties of the left and take their seats. One of the first steps to this is talking about the Iraq war.

He stated, “There is something twisted about a Government policy that allows Shannon to be used to wage an immoral and illegal war while what used to be our national airline will no longer accommodate the people of the Mid-West region in taking flights to London.”

Now aside from the fact that he is ignoring UN resolution 1511 which supports the presents of the coalition forces in Iraq and makes what he wants to do is go against the UN (heck why let the truth get in the way of a good pull quote) and that the Greens were not part of the government when it was without an UN resolution. It certainly is aimed at taking the Green anti-Iraq base. Things is outside of politico circles. Is shannon an issue for anyone anymore? Is their a large part of the electorate who will vote on this issue. Looking at the last election where the “Anti-Shannon warport ” block lost seats. I think not.

No one cares about Iraq it is all terrible and stuf but no one is going to vote on it. For 2 reasons 1. Don’t care. 2. Shannon airport loses money and the flights land in Germany instead and go on to Iraq anyway achieving nothing. If this is how Labour are trying to revive themselves they need to think harder. How did they let the greens get in, in the late 90’s early 00’s that is what they have to think about.

The Greens got in on a rising tide of environmental awareness (environmental fashion in some cases as well) . They had the brand name people associated them with the environment and they did well. Labour floundered stuck back in the brand of unions. In a time of record employment, big spending and authenticity being fashionable brand environment works brand union does not. Preaching on the high moral ground about Iraq and going I told you so on Shannon while it might gain you plaudits from politicos on web just annoys people and makes you appear smug to people who don’t care and know what you said before privatisation.

This is not the way to win 30 seats. It is not even the way to win Green seats.

More Indy

Shia (pronounced Shy-a, don't you know) Le Beouf looks mighty out of his depth here, however comfortable his hand sits on Spielbergs shoulder. Maybe its his meek attempt to grow facial hair surrounded by a famously bearded man and such stalwarts of masculinity as Ford. With Marion Ravenwood returning to the fold and a teaser poster showing the lost ark of the first entry, it looks like the story is set to bring things full circle.

Who's on first Base

One of the first Sketchs and still hilarious.

Abbott and Costello's Who's on First.

Freak shows

2 years ago on this blog I wrote the following.

Possible the most famous off all physicist but yet how many people can tell you what hawking radiation is. I have just come from a lecture given by then man about information loss in black holes in the university of Barcelona. Now I have a degree in physics and possible more importantly fluent in English and I understood little of what he said due to 1 it was high mathematical in nature and 2 He is quiet difficult to understand. And I am sure(not wanting to boast) that I was probably one of the most fluent in English in the audience. Yet he had the audience captivated. But I still wonder is the captivation due to the fact that he is explaining convolution of non-trivial topological solutions are the fact that he is unable to communicate save for moving 2 fingers. So I am left wondering the age of big brother are people captivated by the strange or the sublime.? Feel free to leave yeer thoughts.

I was reminded by this again when I saw an add on More 4 for a show called the worlds smallest people. The show was about Primordial dwarfism people who in essence don’t grow and remain small. Now the show was tagged about their struggle for life etc. But is that really it’s draw? Or is it just the modern day freak show. The same freaks as the old days but just dressed up in away that can let people feel good about it fooling themselves into thinking that they are learning about their struggles instead of just staring?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Dahm RTE

Trying to watch the All-Ireland on but it keeps cutting out. Did anyone load test this?

First Class

As I write this I am sitting in First class on the eurostar. As the old saying goes it was far from First Class on the Eurostar I was raised but due to the fact my worked booked me in late I ended up here. It is strange I do not feel at my ease here. As if I have tricked my way in here. Like the 10 year old that sneaks into the 15s film to spend the whole time watching to see if they will be kicked out and not actually enjoying the movie. As I was served my Summer Salad and my duck pie. I feel sub conscience. Like Leanord De Caprico in Titanic I am not sure of the portcol of what I should do.

Take the wine. I was offered some wine with my meal. Now my instinct was to neck it. Feck the plastic glass I am on a shaky train it is the safest option. But I felt the need to use the plastic cup and indeed I did spill some as my pouring coincided unfortunately with a bump in the tracks.

For all my right wing leans I do porcesases a dis-like of the rich. I should probably be a class warrior aiming to bring down these but I am not I favour policies that favour the very people who I dis-like. Maybe dis-like is a strong word. My English is possibly not sufficient enough to explain my feelings on the matter. But seeing the D4 heads of this world shopping in local markets and voting Labour I somewhat seem to think that they are trying to invade the turf of the rest of us. I a kind of slumming it with the masses trip to laugh about at their dinner parties. Telling anecdotes of paricoical nature of the rest of the people. In essence believing that they think that they are better then me. Yet the only person I know from that part of the world is a genuinely nice person who I have nothing but good things to say about. So maybe it is me that has the problem. Feck it is probably me who does have the problem.

The thing is that class has changed. A while back on Dublin Opinion there was a heated discussion on the point of whether class exists or not. My argument was that class is a function of wealth nothing more. The ability to further ones self with finciall means nothing more. A building developer who loves a few pints and the local GAA team can be above the class of someone from D4 who chose to own a small book store. That the cultural leanings of the person did not matter. Others argued that class was more then mear financial. It was a certain status that looked down on people that did not have that status regardless of money. The HiCos as McDreamy would term them. Despite my belief in my argument my heart is at the other side (just been given a hot towel what the shite is this for?) I do see the divided being on non-monetary means. I do some how believe that the opposite is the case that Class exists and money and achievement can not break it down.

But I am a scientist I believe in logic and proof. For all the D4 book shop owning learnings the son of the Builder is going to have more money at his back when he moves on in the world. He can have everything he wants while the D4 book shop owners child for all their leanings may struggle (save Grandma comes along with money.) The majority of class is in peoples minds. We are no different we may start off at different levels but with access to education anyone can achieve what they want in this world. And we should not let the fear of the old order makes us fear where we are. We are where we are do to merit and in the of the day that is all that matters. In a free market with adequate education provision we are all equal.

Up bringing does not matter. If you work on the stock market you are measure by you ability not by you upbring. Whether you say “Loike Fintan” or “ ya langer” at the end of the day your performance is all that matter and as I type I take heart in that. Who cares if the guy beside me turns down everything that separates first class to the rest to read his theatre review magazine feck it I am sculling my complementary can of Kronenberg.

The One to Possibly Consider Watching*: 'The Tudors'

*This segment is usually called 'The One to Watch', confidently recommending you watch Jonathan Rhys Meyers though is a step I'm not willing to take.

The Tudors, the latest HBO exercise in ‘take a historic period and add lots of sex’, begins Tuesday night on TV3. I considered auditioning for work as an extra on the second series which is currently filming in Ireland, unfortunately the requirement to make a 4 month commitment with no guarantee of living above the bread line meant my background career was very short lived. The equine looking Jonathan Rhys Meyers heads up the cast as a young Henry VIII with no doubt many a familiar Irish face filling out the support. Good reviews, high viewership and Emmy awards are the basis for recommending the show, lots of pretty people getting nekid is the reason people will probably watch. TV3 are silly though, they are putting it up against the endlessly whiny, yet inexplicably popular Grey’s Anatomy on RTE 2. Your choices therefore are insecure pretty people having relations with scant regard for medical fact or self-involved pretty people having relations with no doubt scant regard for historical fact.

Don’t doubt for a minute though that your time will be well spent watching Nigella Lawson who returns with a new cookery series Monday night at 8.30 on BBC 2, now that’s must- see – TV.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Dossing Times DVD of the Month

DVD for September: 'Harold and Maude'

People are strange, no matter how self-aware we like to think we are there are strange instinctive ways we act that our brains will totally justify, though of course to others we may as well be conducting an orchestra of beavers our logic is so askew. Take Harold, a death obsessed teenager, he spends his time constructing suicide attempts and attending random funerals. He does this not for his mothers benefit but instead for some other distorted purpose never made entirely clear. Though we can confidently feel this stems from the extremely stifled upbringing he has very likely endured at the hands of his mother, the story puts its focus on a young man giving Wednesday and Pugsley Addams a run for their money in the unhealthy obsession stakes. Then of course there is Maude, approaching her 80th birthday she is brimming with life, acting with scant regard for the formalities of how people live their lives, let alone the law, she would be organising the protests at Shannon, Tara and Guantanemo in a contemporary story. A fleeting shot towards the end of the story gives a glimpse into the reason for her view on life but as with Harold, explanations are not important. We meet both as they are and the journey of the film is how their relationship grows and the importance they take on in each others lives.

Harold and Maude obviously enough drive the story, the strange company we are keeping puts you simultaneously at ease and on edge. The story is laced with humour – of the blackest assortment – Harold’s mother attempting to find a suitable suitor for her son, Maude evading the law and the reaction of a number of people to a decision Harold makes late in the film. The humour cannot help but endear us to the duo and humour done so well can only make any film all the richer. With black humour though comes a warning label, its very purpose is to offer relief or a knowing acerbic commentary on a real situation – we must still return to the eventual impact the behaviour illicted by these people will have on their lives. The cult following or cult status label put on movies like ‘Harold and Maude’ comes from the strange connections a select few find in the darker moments and the potent drops of humour throughout – the quirky, eccentric characters, the kitsch charm of the setting and ultimate ‘not knowing what to make of it all-ness’ (clearly for want of a better word) create a worthy viewing experience.

Part of any well-balanced movie experience is of course the soundtrack and Cat Stevens ably provides the complete soundtrack here, it was an unexpected treat. Ricky Gervais owes him.