Keep on truckin’

September 14th, 2006

It’s Ireland in September 2006 and you are a self-employed driver in an open market.  There’s a stack of unavoidable, ever-increasing bills on your hall floor - EazyPass, road tax, insurance and an eye-watering invoice for fuel - and you know that every single one of your competitors/colleagues have to suck this up, too.  Appealing to the regulator for a break is pointless and your client base will never accede to a demand for a steep rise in the cost of your hire.  The end of your rope is in sight, so what does your trade association cry out for: traffic blockades, lobbying TDs, strikes?  Not so much, no.  Those heirs of Larkin and Connolly in the taxi business could learn so much about positive PR from their comrades in the forty-footers. 

The Daily Wail

September 11th, 2006

I’ve never been too impressed with the Oirish Daily Mail but this particular op-ed about how awful things are in contemporary Ireland plumbed new depths of reactionary conservatism:

You don’t need me to tell you that Ireland has changed significantly over the last ten years and that among the changes wrought has been higher density living. As apartment complexes have risen up and spread across our urban geography, we find ourselves living at closer quarters for longer, especially as we watch bijou artisans cottages with postage stamp gardens and reasonable postal codes disappear rapidly over the horizon of affordability. Tensions are inevitable.

[…]

Perhaps you’re living next to a flat which the Department of Social and Family Affairs has inveigled an unscupulous or, worse, innocent dupe of a landlord to fill with tracksuit-wearing howayas whose daily toil it is to smoke crack until all hours of the morning, interminably listening to a looped Aslan EP at deafening volume while their “burds” top up the household income with a little light prostitution. And your life is a Dantean purgatory.

In an increasingly urbanised and high-density Ireland, noise disputes are becoming more and more prevalent. And serious. Apart from the stress and nauseating worry which can result, what are the chances that the fifth time in as many nights that you pop down the corridor to have a word with those Latvian young fellas about the all-night techno parties which are keeping your wife and new-born child in a state of constant, mewling wakefulness, especially your wife, you’ll be bringing along your baseball bat?

Did I say Daily Mail? Sorry, got mixed up there. It was…

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Is it April Fools Day in South America?

August 31st, 2006

In the southern hemisphere, it’s spring. That’s the only possible explanation I have for the news that Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, two of Argentina’s best performers at the World cup and teammates at Corinthians in Brazil (not to mention two who would adorn Manchester United, Arsenal or even Chelsea) are set for Upton Park, apparently on a season long loan. Scratch that, it’s a “permanent” deal. Yeah right. Until Chelsea assess how effective the pair are in the premiership. Look out for their transfers across London next summer, or even as early as January.

Lagos: Lusitanian littoral leave

August 25th, 2006

Just got back from two weeks holiday in Lagos, Portugal (not to be confused with Lagos, Nigeria!). I didn’t announce my departure this time partly because I hadn’t posted much/at all in the preceding week and partly because there’s now sufficient personal information here on my weblog for the enterprising burglar to find and empty my house during the promised period of absence.

Over at Foreign Dispatches a couple of weeks ago, to a post on camera recommendations, I commented that someone who was interested in a single piece of light equipment for snapshots might, rather than purchase a camera, do well to trade their current phone for the Sony Ericsson k750i which features a 2mp camera - sufficient resolution for display on a 1600 x 1200 high res computer monitor, which is where, I’d guess, the vast majority of quotidian digital photographs are ever shown. I made the mistake of choosing a Motorola V3 over the k750i back in January and after much frustration finally reversed that decision a few weeks ago and have become quite evangelical about this phone, far superior to the V3 even setting aside its camera function.

So, I thought I’d put my money where my mouth is and use it (my wife’s Ixus had finally given up the ghost, so she took my Fuji Finepix Z2) for the holiday snaps:

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You can put a bit of butter on the spuds there André

August 25th, 2006

Abiola suggests that one can determine much of a society’s merits by its attitudes towards extranational dating:

I believe one can tell a great deal about the true nature of a society by the way its men behave upon seeing or hearing of “outsiders” (however defined) becomeing involved with “their” women: do they find it a matter of no great interest and keep going about their business, or does each and every instance of an outsider openly cavorting with female members of the in-group set the local gutter press on the trail for blood?

This put me in mind of a popular advertising campaign here in the 1980s for Kerrygold butter which featured an Irish woman bringing her French paramour home to meet the parents. Their initial suspicion gave way to an invite for dinner, in preparation of which the gallant Gallic gentleman offered “Ees zer sumsink I can elp?”

Mercifully manipulate mere marionettes

August 3rd, 2006

Brilliant stuff. Dilbert author, Scott Adams sure hopes there is a shady conspiracy:

My favorite conspiracy theory is the one that says the world is being run by a handful of ultra-rich capitalists, and that our elected governments are mere puppets. I sure hope it’s true. Otherwise my survival depends on hordes of clueless goobers electing competent leaders. That’s about as likely as a dog pissing the Mona Lisa into a snow bank.

The only way I can get to sleep at night is by imagining a secret cabal of highly competent puppetmasters who are handling the important decisions while our elected politicians debate flag burning and the definition of marriage.

[…]

I know some of you will say that it’s obvious that corporate money influences the government. But that’s not enough to make me feel comfortable. I want to know there’s an actual meeting of the puppetmasters every Thursday at 3 pm…

[via Hit and Run]

A straw worth clutching

July 27th, 2006

It’s been a miserable summer for United fans. Few of our players performed well at the World cup and one of those wants to leave. David Gill rashly promised to try and complete all transfer business before the tournament and yet, not a single player has arrived. Spurs are haggling over the sale of Michael Carrick, a gifted midfielder but one whose addition to the squad doesn’t so much solve an existing problem - the absence of a defensive/box to box midfielder - as create a new one - although he is considered to be a defensive midfielder, he is more of a deep-lying playmaker who rarely tackles, a kind of Geordie Pirlo. “El Niño”, Fernando Torres announces that he is to stay at Atletico for another year after months of feverish, although mostly Spanish, speculation that he was Old-Trafford-bound. Normally, I take speculation with a pinch of salt, especially from the likes of the Mirror, but with such slim pickings these days, I’m going to hope and pray that they’ve fluked onto the truth this time in claiming that United are negotating the transfer of Javier Mascherano. The Argentine, plying his trade at Corinthians in Brazil, was outstanding at Germany and has all the attributes United need in midfield: an excellent tackler, basically holds the midfield together to provide a platform for Riquelme, but he is also a skilful passer and shows great energy and commitment - an Heinze in the engine room - and is still only 22. This is a transfer I could get excited about.

Who says the age of romance is dead?

July 27th, 2006

Dr Auds relates a heartwarming tale:

I was called at 5am to re-site a cannula in a patient who has no veins left anywhere – except the side of her foot where she can’t reach to inject – so I spend ages putting it in for her urgent antibiotics – at 10am I walk by – see security removing a man from the ward – turns out he’s the boyfriend, he brought her in heroin – she shot up through MY line in the toilet and then proceeded to have rather noisy intercourse with him in same eerily blue lit toilet before being interrupted by security.

Got Neuticles

July 26th, 2006

More on Neutrality from Planet Potato:

We were neutral because we could afford to be. Because other countries would have sent their young people off to die to defend our culture and our way of life. Because we were on the far flung end of Europe, and if the Soviets made it that far we’d have no chance anyway. We did it because we are selfish and cowardly.

If you are walking on the street and you see someone being mugged you might turn a blind eye . You might decide not to intervene because you don’t like violence. Because you’re a pacifist. Because it’s not your problem and you’re not on the receiving end. Really whatever rationality you wrap your decision in you are just trying to avoid the thought that you do it because you are afraid and would rather be a coward. Ultimately this is the same as when we proclaim ourselves as “neutral” and brag about the policy, when in reality we should be ashamed of our position.

Rehashing 2000

July 26th, 2006

By the way: Kip Esquire patiently explains why it wouldn’t have mattered if Al Gore had won the popular vote, even though he probably didn’t:

This is, of course, utter nonsense. Al Gore did not win the popular vote — the outcome of the popular vote will never be known, since many places with undisputed polling place victories never counted their absentee ballots or their disputed votes (what today we call “provisional ballots”). And let’s not forget the “snowbird voter” fraud in Florida that almost allowed Gore to steal the 2000 election from Bush.

Far more to the point — why should make it any difference if Al Gore did indeed win the popular vote? The candidates did not wage a popular vote campaign — they waged an Electoral College campaign. The popular vote was, therefore, wholly irrelevant.

How would the vote have played out if the Electoral College had not existed and a popular vote was in place from the outset? Who knows? The candidates would have traveled differently, spent their money differently, postured and positioned themselves differently. And so on.

It would be akin to saying that, even though Player A won the tennis match, Player B made fewer unforced errors. So what? They weren’t having an “unforced error” contest; they were having a tennis match. So too with presidential elections — you can’t “win” or “lose” a contest that was never fought.