Monday, May 30, 2005
Sorry Bertie but you have a bigger obligation to the Irish people. Your obligations to the Constitution are secondary! You are an elected representative of the Irish people. You have to put the Constitution to a referendum, accept the decision, and represent that decision abroad to the best of your abilities regardless of your personal opinions. If you cannot do that then you should have taken the job as EU President when you had the chance.
France was the second referendum on the European constitution. Spain already voted and the result was "largely positive" (that's the phrase used in the press release but 77% in favor seems Very Positive to me). The rest of the nations that have ratified the constitution have done so at government level and not by putting the matter to the public vote. Therefore the EU press statement following the French result states that 49% of the population of the EU have ratified the constitution.
To me the French result actually devalues the Yes results in those countries. The French government was willing to ratify the treaty, it was the French people who were against it. How do we know the true opinions of the people in the countries that have ratified the treaty already if they haven't been allowed vote?
One commentator on TV last night (I believe it was Louis Michel one of the EU commissioners, but I may be mistaken there were so many commentators on last night) said that the treaty process could only be stopped by a unanimous vote. That is not how it is supposed to be. The treaty was supposed to be passed by a unanimous vote.
While I am basically in favor of the EU I am growing concerned at the way those in Brussels seem to have become disconnected from the people. They are pushing ahead with EU expansion and integration, with the best of intentions, but without fully understanding that people are not an enthused. People are still nationalistic, they like to protect what they have and they want to maintain their own individual identity. Pushing them now to accept a more integrated EU may actually end up undoing previous work and set the whole process back years.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Unfortunately I watched the match at home. Damn I wish I'd gone to the pub, but I admit it, I didn't expect Liverpool to win. By the time things got interesting there was no way I would leave the TV for a run to the pub. Apparently last night Dublin city center was like a suburb of Liverpool. Groups of fans singing You'll Never Walk Alone, grown men crying and strangers hugging each other.
Liverpool were awful in the 1st half. It was embarrassing. 3 goals down to AC Milan and they were lucky that was all they let in.
2nd half a different Liverpool team ran out, scoring 3 goals in 15 minutes, while AC Milan looked shell-shocked.
Extra time, Dudek suddenly switches on and makes a double save.
Penalties, the double save obviously boosted Dudek as he saves two penalties to win the Champions League for Liverpool.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Now the National Parents Council is calling on parents to boycott the school bus service until seatbelts are fitted. This seems to be letting the government off lightly. They can now stall on the seatbelt issue with crash reports, safety reviews, tender processes, staggered roll out, with the knowledge that at any time they will be able to cancel a bus service and blame lack of interest.
The real shame of the situation is that while school children are packed onto unsafe busses the government ministers responsible for the sorry state of this service are driving around in cars renowned for their safety, Volvo and Mercedes
Here is the relevant passage from the dail debate
There are currently 50 State cars, including spares and presidential vehicles. It is necessary to maintain spares to cater for emergencies, such as accidents or breakdowns and servicing. The following makes and models, including spares, form part of the ministerial fleet: Mercedes E320; Mercedes E280; Mercedes E240; Saab 9-5 SE 2.0; Volvo S80 ; Volvo S70 T5; Opel Vectra 2.2 ; Lexus GS 300 Executive; and Rolls Royce Silver Wraith .
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Friday, May 20, 2005
Firstly I'll get my complaint out of the way. The only problem with the movie is Hayden Christensen Anakin. Basically he is a still a spoiled sulky teenager who leaves you wondering why the Jedi Council gave him a lightsaber and a starfighter instead of packing him off to his little garage on Tatooine with "I am a Prat" engraved on his forehead by Mace Windus lightsaber. His scenes with Padme lack any chemistry and they seem to have to keep repeating "I love you. No I love you. But I love you more" in order to convince the audience that he would actually have had the chance to father Luke and Leia.
Now that aside the rest of the movie is brilliant. Yoda gets alot more screen time! Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine is truely evil while keeping an outward image of a really nice guy. His "Emperor" scenes could have been filmed 20 years ago straight after he finished Return of the Jedi . Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa is great, I wish he was a larger character in the first two. Natalie Portman is under used, spending most of her time struggling through the awkward love scenes or staring out windows.
The real star is Ewan McGregor. Obi Wan rocks. He has taken a young Obi Wan Kenobi and turned him into a young Alec Guinness while at the same time making the character his own. Several times the other Jedi make you wonder how they protected the Galaxy for 1000 years, but when Obi Wan appears in a room full of enemies, throws out a couple of one liners and then hacks everyone to bits you see exactly how it could be done.
Star Wars fans already know the general plot to this movie, the questions that need to be answered, and the things that need to be done before the prequels can link in with the original trilogy. But knowing what will happen doesnt weaken the movie, if anything those are some of the best scenes. George Lucas has been planning them for 30 years.
Something tells me the force is still strong with the Star Wars franchise.
Lesson for Microsoft 2# Cameras are everywhere.
But to be honest I dont think it makes much of a difference, the console isnt due out til Christmas and even that may be an ambitious plan. So long as it does what they say it can people will buy it.
The best bit is the desk fan being used to cool the box. Billions of dollars in R&D and it still comes down to someone grabbing a $20 fan off their desk.
I didn't watch Eurovision last night, I went to Star Wars instead (more about that later today) and to be honest I wouldn't have watched it anyway, the only bit I ever watched was the voting and I haven't watched that for years. However I'm told Eurovision is now made up of 40 countries each of which allows their public to vote instead of using the old jury of experts system and that the four big countries (England, France, Germany and Spain) will always be allowed into the final no matter how badly they do.
I have two opinions on this.
Firstly, or course crap songs win Eurovision and EuroStar. Its not about the song anymore its about what appeals to 13 year olds with mobile phones. Our contestants looked like childrens TV presenters.
Secondly, and maybe this is just the Euro-skeptic in me coming more to the fore with each passing referendum, but to me Eurovision is the image of where I fear the European Union will end up. 40+ countries taking part with three teers of power. On top are England, France and Germany, always guaranteed a say. In the middle are the new member states, getting funds and resources from the EU and clubbing together to vote. At the bottom the older small members, now net contributors having had their victories in the past, but no longer able to influence decisions and instead forever locked out of the real competition.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Conor has since apologised but that isn't good enough for the tabloid editors who, smelling blood, are baying for his resignation. Perhaps they have watched All the Presidents Men too many times and think that in order to be real journalists they have to get a politician to resign. They should be as quick to apply their sense of moral outrage to their own papers, but then they probably wouldn't have any stories left to print.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
The funniest bit was when he compared the night New Labour first came into power in Britain and everyone dancing to the song Things can only get Better to the Ewok celebration at the end of Return of the Jedi, and then preceeded to track the last few years as Labour slides to the Dark Side of the Force. Very good :-)
Monday, May 16, 2005
Friday, May 13, 2005
Obviously he knows that he isnt going to walk out of the room with an apology from the committee and the adoration of the American political establishment. Leaving aside the issue of his guilt or innocence, politically the committee isnt about to accuse a man of being a friend of Saddam one week and apologise the next, it doesnt make for good sound bites. They are more likely to try to brand him as a suporter of an evil dictatorship who has betrayed western civilisation or something.
Now George is a bit of a firebrand, one only had to see his interview with Jeremy Paxman on the night of the British Election to realise that. After a couple of tough questions from the committee members Mr Galloway is likely to tell them exactly what he thinks of them, America, and the war in Iraq, and do so in rather undiplomatic language. One must conclude that this is exactly what Mr Galloway wants, international coverage of him telling the committee where they can stick their questions and their war. His target voters will love it.
Kingdom was a movie I'd been looking forward to for ages, and while it was good I came out of it just a little dissapointed. Two reasons, firstly somehow the movie felt a little jerky and the characters were not as well developed as I would have liked. Surprise, surprise there is a directors cut of the movie that has another hour or so of footage, most of it character based. Now while I like the idea of a DVD that offers more than 2 deleted and unfinished scenes and a trailer for my 25 euros, I do worry that cinema releases are basically going to turn into 2 hour trailers for the upcoming 3 or 4 hour DVD. I paid to go to the cinema to see the movie, I should see the best version possible, not what ever was hacked together by a studio and director who decided the DVD release would be better.
Secondly why do studios insist on saving money by reusing music from other movies? When hundreds of millions are spent on a movie, why not do the music properly? Troy is a prime example of this where music from several other movies was used in scenes where it didnt suit, for example the beach landing scene using music from Enemy at the Gates, a movie about snipers in Stallingrad. In Kingdom at one of the pivitol scenes when Balian is giving an important speech (no spoiler there I hope) they use the music from The 13th Warrior. It suited the scene but just felt like penny pinching.
Still apart from those to small issues I enjoyed Kingdom and would recommend it, at least until the new Star Wars movie comes out.
As for Hitchhikers, well it was amusing. I've never been a fan or even read the book so I didnt know what to expect. The reaction of the people who were fans seems very positive, so I guess its a job well done.
Following Michael Howards announcement that he will resign after the result of yesterdays election the BBC has published a list of the likely candidates for the worst job in British politics. But they missed out the best known Conservative MP, Boris Johnson. A search on the BBC website returns these video clips.
In the aftermath of last weeks election in Britain, it is interesting to view the reactions of the leaders of the 3 main political parties. Despite winning the election the Labour party lost 47 seats and Tony Blair looks like a kid who got scolded by the Queen this morning when he went to be officially asked to form a government. Michael Howard dragged the Conservatives out of their political grave and gave helped them win 31 more seats, he's already resigned. Finally, Charles Kennedy while pointing out that winning 10 extra seats was a good result for the Liberal Democrats is already facing criticism of his higher taxation policies and concern that while winning seats from Labour they lost seats to their real rivals, the Conservatives. I’m reminded of the saying that if you reach a decision that upsets all sides its probably a fair decision.