Thursday, May 31, 2007

iPhone no iPod?

One of the things that made the iPod so successful was that any one could pick it up and use it without ever reading a manual or asking anything more than where is the on button. The scroll wheel was a stroke of genius. Now it looks like the up coming iPhone is going for a somewhat different approach. Steve Jobs was interviewed at a conference called D and said
Once you actually use this magical display there's no going back. We actually think we have a better keyboard. It takes a few days of getting used to, but I bet you dinner that after a few days of using it you'll be convinced. It takes a week -- you have to learn how to trust it. When you learn how to trust it, you'll fly.
Thats a bit brave since many people will pick up the iPhone in a shop, play with it for a few minutes and make a decision *not* to buy one because they cant use it and don't want to spend a week playing with it before they can txt their friends or call people easily.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Birr in Birr

RTE weather forecast from Met Eireann just told the nation that ground temperatures fell to -7C in Birr last night. Pretty messed up for the end of May.

Over Taxed

The Government has announced that tax revenue for last year was 3.7 billion more than estimated. In case your wondering, given 4,239,848 as the population of Ireland last year that means the Government took €872.67 an extra for every man woman and child in the country. If you then take into account the fact that the number of people employed in Ireland last year was actually 2,017,000 then they took €1834.40 from each worker that they did not need to take to meet their targets.

I know that the extra is not tax taken directly from each individual PAYE tax payers. It comes from extra employment, corporation tax and a continued clamp down on tax evasion but it shows that they could have afforded to take less from PAYE workers as a whole.

And don't feed me the "it goes to help the less fortunate in society" line. It will go to fund civil servant benchmarking and other pay demands where the public sector already get paid an average of €275 per week more than workers in industry. Yes I realise that even in the public sector not everyone is well paid, but every badly paid worker can probably point to several well paid, under worked, and over promoted managers and supervisors who will benefit more from benchmarking than they will themselves.

Look at it another way if your bank overcharged you by €1834.40 and then boasted about it wouldn't you want your money back and then change banks? Shame that when it comes to the government we don't apply the same logic.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Dying to be on Reality TV?

I saw this story today.
A Dutch broadcaster is standing by its decision to air a reality show in which a terminally ill woman selects a recipient for her kidneys from three contestants.

On 'The Big Donor' this Friday, a 37-year-old woman will choose from three people with kidney problems.

Her choice will be based on the contestants' history, profile and conversations with their families and friends.

Viewers will be able to send text messages advising her during the 80-minute show.
How sick can TV get? I guess now the only place left to take Reality TV is to take 3 condemmed prisoners and allow the viewers to text in and select which one to kill live on TV.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Close election

It's shaping up to be

Fianna Fail - 78
Rainbow coalition - 77
Let the seduction of the independents begin. A metro for Kilgarvan from Jackie Healy Rae? A party membership card for Beverly Cooper Flynn?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Bad day for Noel O'Gara

Noel O'Gara the business man that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago appears to have failed in his attempt to win a Dail seat. Noel was so determined to get ahead in politics he decided to run in 4 constituencies. So far with 3 results in it's not looking good for poor Noel, especially since RTE commentators always pointed out his vote results with a giggle when they were announced.

Dublin South East - 27
Roscommon-South Leitrim - 66
Longford-Westmeath - 84
Laois-Offaly - ??

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say he will not be topping the poll in Laois-Offaly either.

Update: Noel got 45 votes in Laois-Offaly. I'm guessing he's preparing his "my period in public life is over" speech like Michael McDowell.

McDowell out of Public Life

Michael McDowell, Tánaiste, Minister for Justice and leader of the Progressive Democrats has lost his seat in the general election. McDowell is a man who is disliked by many for his hardline policies but personally I think he will be a loss to the political system. What ever you think about his policies he was probably one of the more capable politicians in the Dail and he was not afraid to be controversial. I believe he always did what he believed to be best for the State.

When friends of mine used to argue and complain about McDowell I could always shut them up by asking "Who would you rather have in office, McDowell or Martin Cullen". Even the most rabid Fine Gael supporter would always express a clear preference for McDowell. Today McDowell lost his seat and Cullen topped his poll, there is no justice in the world of politics.

Personally I was disappointed with his handling of the Justice Department. He focus on high level issues may have been important but I think more urgent issues on the streets have been overlooked and organised crime, gun crime and anti-social behavior have all worsened under his term as Minister.

Still in my opinion his retirement from public life will be a loss to the state. I would love to have seen McDowell speaking from the opposition benches in full flow and without the restraint of a department.

South Tipp

My old home constituency is shaping up to be quite interesting. Bertie parachuted in Dr Martin Mansergh which I thought was a bad idea cause Mansergh is about as appealing to the rural vote as a dose of foot and mouth.

But it now looks like it could have been a master stroke, Mansergh stands a chance of getting elected. If he can keep Seamus Healy this side of the winning line until about the 4th count then I think he'll pick up a bunch of Siobhan Ambrose votes and jsut pass Healy at the finish line, but it's going to be really close and depends on a chunk of Phil Prendergasts Labour votes going to Fine Gael.

It's another sign of why Bertie is winning this election when everyone else thought he hadn't a snow balls chance in hell.

Update 26-May: Looks like Mansergh won the third seat by 60 votes in the 8th count. However it's gone to a recount and I hear Healy is taking legal advice.


I love the tallies, they add a bit of tension and interest to an otherwise long and boring task of counting votes. It will be a real shame when e-voting replaces the tension of the paper count and we get the result of the election 30 minutes after the voting ends.

RTE has a web page dedicated to the tallies. It doesn't give a breakdown by candidate but it's beginning to look very good for Fianna Fail. There wont be much of a change for the next 5 years. I hope Bertie doesn't view it as a "steady as she goes" vote and just reappoint his old cabinet.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Number 1

I noticed something mildly amusing last night, Dec's Rambling is the number 1 result for the google search "fianna fail promises". Fianna Fail themselves are in second spot. Lol, well it's not a bad post for Fianna Fail, more a joke and it's actually more about Fine Gael.

As for the main Number 1 of the day, well I voted this morning on my to work. Number 1 went to, shudder, the Green Party, 2 to Fine Gael, 3 to Labour. God help me. I'll probably be disowned now. After growing up in a Fianna Fail family my betrayal will probably see me eating election poster ash next Christmas. My view is that it was time to cut out the dead wood of the party so I see it as a good thing.

I worked my way through the list and I gave the three FF candidates some low preferences that probably wont be counted but you never know may just sneak one of them in at the end. It was a bit of a shame since the FF candidates in my constituency were not the worst of the bunch. I didn't have the opportunity to vote for people like Martin Cullen, then I could have skipped the preference completely. Well I'm looking forward to spending the next 2 to 5 years bitching and complaining as much about the FG/Lab/Green government as I did about the FF/PD one, fingers crossed. Hopefully then we will see a revitalised, energetic and inspired Fianna Fail that has gotten back in touch with the common people rising from the ashes to win the 2010 election (yeah, I'm giving a FG/Lab/Green coalition no more than 3 years)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Prison Break Irish Style

A prisoner escaped from Mountjoy yesterday by simply leaving his work detail. Juan Carlos Melgar Alba, from Bolivian is a convicted drug dealer but was out of prison with two other prisoners and two prison officers to help restore an old house into an art studio in Ballymun, as part of the prison's programme to "give something back to the community". Well now they have given something back all right, a drug dealer.

But of course it is not the fault of the Irish Prison Service. They were as surprised as anyone when the convicted Bolivian drug dealer ran away from his work detail because "He was behaving very, very well in prison". Course he was, he wanted to get on the work detail to get outside and escape. Probably got the idea from Prison Break, which he probably watched on a flat screen TV in his cell. Jesus, he didn't even need to be as clever about it or dig a hole or climb a wall like the guys on TV, the prison authorities let him out. I wonder if he'll get to see season 2 on Bolivian television before we get it in Ireland?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

HSE to cut 1000 front line jobs?

Ok, now here is yet another reason to vote for change. Newstalk today reported that 1000 front line jobs will go in the Health Service. Not admin staff, not managers but front line, patient facing staff. Sure they are reviewing the admin positions, but they have already identified the cuts in front line staff.

The main losses will be in St James' Hospital in Dublin where 34 posts will go, Tallaght Hospital is to lose 33 posts and Beaumont Hospital will lose 27 posts. Among some of the other losses...Cork University Hospital is to lose 25 posts, University College Hospital Galway will lose 23, ambulances services will be hit and four posts will be lost at Our Lady's Hospice in Harolds Cross.

Over the last two years they have increased the number of admin staff by 7% to around 11,000. That increase would have gone a long way towards covering the 1000 layoffs now required in front line positions. I suppose they need the admin staff to manage the layoffs in a controlled manner, maybe hire a PR consultant or two as well just to spin it a little in the media and arrange a few bonus schemes to reward the managers for achieving their budget targets.

If this government can in one week offer contracts worth €250,000 per year to 68 hospital consultants while at the same time planning to lay off 11 staff members in St Michael's House and 13 in Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children then we'd better all go check that our health insurance premiums are paid up...

Oh La La-bour

At last someone brings the Irish Election around to Europe. Shame its just a Michael D Higgins poster in France, but when you've filled every lamp post in Ireland why not look abroad.

[via Irish Election]

Profanity Rules

I sent an email to a friend of mine working in a major corporation in Dublin. At one point in the email I casually used the phrase "pissed off". A few minutes later I got an email from him asking me to try again removing any "profanity".

He had received an email from the mail filter saying the email was blocked

Reason: This email has violated the PROFANITY rules.

Hmm, I can understand the need at a corporate level to frown on the use of bad language but actually implementing rules like that in email could impact business. In my experience sales people are some of the most profane on the planet, the phrase "pissed off" would be their polite way of telling their 5 year old daughter daddy had a bad day in work. If they need to reword and resend every email sent in the heat of negotiating a deal then it's going to wear out more than a few blackberries.

It's political correctness gone a little mad, especially on incoming emails. Sure by all means you can try to stop your employees sending profanities to external people, they are using your email, they represent your company. But enforcing a corporate opinion on the language used by people outside your company is more than a little annoying.

Last Day of Campaign

Today is the last day of the election campaign, tomorrow being a rest day for the nation to contemplate what edjit gets their vote. I see Sinn Fein already have their band wagon in full flow. Already this morning there have been two women on the Gerry Ryan show spouting the Sinn Fein radio mantra.

"I come from a working class area and the only politician I ever see is -insert random SF candidate here- from Sinn Fein helping the children. But, -insert first name of radio interviewer here-, I'm not a Sinn Fein member, I vote for the party I think is best."

The media fall for it every time and give these muppets free air time for party political broadcasts.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Last week of election

So we are into the last week of Election 2007. Shame really because in my opinion the election proper hasn't actually gotten started yet. The media are treating it like a new TV show that they are desperate to improve the ratings on. Experienced political commentators are calling it the most exciting election in years and encouraging people to tune in at X hour to see the latest poll results. Pardon my French, but bollocks.

It's been an awful election. Topics are not being addressed, issued are ignored, problems glossed over. Every news program the media devote just 5 or 10 minutes to topics like crime, education and health and no time to Europe or immigration. The rest of the hour is devoted to personality discussions, debates about leaks, and worst of all reports on what other journalists said. Some days it seems like I'm hearing more about what Vincent Browne said or did in a press conference than what the party leaders said. The media is reporting the media and their own polls more than the politicians. It's like they are afraid of being accused of being unbalanced if they cover the issues of real concern today. I've had just one canvasser call, I don't particularly want to talk to canvassers but I think the candidates would show some interest in my vote. I've only seen one candidate in the flesh and that was Enda Kenny walking down Grafton Street.

It's come down to the last few days and no one has impressed me enough to earn my vote. People have lost it, sometimes for stupid reasons like putting up too many posters. Others because I wouldn't trust their party to govern a chicken coup coop (update: woops, bit of a Freudian slip) without stealing eggs and at least one because I realize voting for them is the equivalent of burning my voting card.

So who will I vote for? I personally don't like the way the country is headed. I like where we've been, the Celtic Tiger was good for most people, but things have changed. 10 years in power is too long for any party. In another 5 will any deputies in the opposition have ministerial experience? Will any of their deputies have even sat on the government benches? I think it's their turn while they still have some experience to do the job. So I'm voting for the Alliance for Change, hopefully I wont regret it but I think if things don't change course then the Ireland of 2012 will be sad place of longer commutes, poor and expensive health care, over crowded schools, half finished transport links, warehouses of failed projects, tribunals of lawyers and a country where only the civil service have jobs.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The ABBA Election

Heard on the radio yesterday that this is the ABBA election, Anyone But Bertie Ahern


Friday, May 18, 2007

No More Neighbours

One less soap opera on TV. Neighbours has finally been banished from my television. BBC has lost the rights to show Neighbours with Channel 5 paying around £300 million. I don't think Channel 5 is available on cable in Ireland so happy days.

I wonder if we could flog them Fairly Shitty?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Debate

The debate is on. Berties eyes look tired and a little bored, he keeps staring down or away from the others at the table when talking about his finances. Enda looks a little nervous, isn't speaking with confidence, keeps stumbling over his words, tries to throw out memorized anecdotes about meeting people in trouble, Bertie interrupts him and throws him off his stride. It's depressing that the final overall result of a tight general election could turn on the outcome of this debate.

Update 22:18 - Bertie is getting into his stride on medical care. He is throwing numbers and statistics out. Enda is responds with ideals, programs and contracts. Bertie is speaking louder than Enda so when they argue Bertie comes out on top. Enda is having problems, shaking his head, getting overwhelmed, Bertie can see this, smiles and gets into his stride.

Update 22:22 - Miriam O'Callahan came closest to landing a blow with her "we've never been richer, when was the moment to spend more money on things like cystic fibrosis". Enda seemed to take some heart from that and gets off the ropes to fight back. Still getting talked down.

Update 22:30 - Onto finance, bound to be a strong area for Bertie. Enda talks about restoring competitiveness. Tries another anecdote about a small company, Bertie jumps in and stops him dead starts talking about successful industries. Bertie keeps talking about what has been done and how good things are now. Enda tries to talk about what needs to be done in the future. Bertie keeps talking, Miriam has to let Enda in.

Update 22:34 - Enda attacks Bertie for things Fianna Fail left out of their costings. Bertie hits back with the costs of the Fine Gael/Labour budget being 5.8 billion nearly 3 billion over whats available. Enda insists he's wrong and responds with more figures. Enda seems to be getting into this topic. Attacks Bertie on the broken promises. Miriam has to put her hand on him to stop him talking. About time he got angry :-)

Update 22:39 - Bertie attacks Enda on tax cuts. Enda responds with stamp duty. Bertie says FF is the party that made the construction industry. Enda responds saying FF is the party that benefited from the construction industry. Bertie brings it back to FG's tax cuts being for the well off not for the lower earners. Enda tries to bring it back to Stamp duty. There are two different debates going on.

Update 22:46 - Crime. Bertie says crime is down, more Gardai, more prison places, Asbos, criminal justice bill. Enda responds with statistics on serious crime. Miriam hits him with the fact that the figures are wrong. Woops. Bertie points out that Jim O'Keefe quoted different crime figures. Asks why is Enda against Thornton Hall prison, why did he freeze prison places last time he was in government. Suddenly Enda is loosing on crime. Bertie accusing Enda of talking over him, bit rich that.

Update 22:52 - Bertie pointing out Enda has not allocated money for 1000 of his proposed 2000 new gardai. Enda says the current government left the money unspent from the last allocation, Bertie points out those 1000 Gardai are in training this year. Bertie smiling knows he's caught Enda off guard (no pun intended). Bertie says crime figures here are getting talked up.

Update 23:02 - Quality of Life and education. Miriam raises commuting times and people not happy. Bertie talks about 2 Metro Lines and 7 Luas. Enda points out it was supposed to be built now. Bertie says you cannot just ignore the rights of local people. Enda talks about family life suffering, bad planning, no schools. Bertie interrupts him again. Class sizes are an issue. Bertie says 20:1 is the target and it has been achieved in disadvantages areas. Enda points out it is a broken promise. Enda raises the issue of education for autism Bertie looks a bit annoyed.

Time is up now it's closing addresses.

Enda didn't loose badly but I think he did loose. He was a little nervous and uncomfortable, got talked down too often, stuttered over his points a bit. Bertie came out ahead, more confident and competent but a little arrogant, I thought, and he looked like he wasn't all that interested.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Check the Register

I had a canvaser call last night. Poor woman, I kind of felt sorry for her as she tried to tell me why I should vote for Tom Kitt from Fianna Fail. Instead of hitting every door in the estate they were targeting only the registered voters. When I answered the door she asked for me by name. Now why I find that interesting is the fact that it clearly means I am on the register for Dublin South. However I am not on the Check the Register website. I mentioned this to a friend of mine and he said that exactly the same thing had happened to him, on the register but not on the computer.

After all the hype this service gets, the rock the vote campaign and the trouble surrounding the removal of voters from the register it turns out this is just another great government IT project that does not work. Typical.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Just saw an advert on BBC for a show about fear of buttons. I never there was such a thing. It's called Koumpounophobia. Now there's a name and a half.

BBC and Scientology

Two groups you don't want to annoy BBC and Scientology :-) . Last night I watched the BBC Panorama documentary Scientology and Me and I was struck by one thing, the two main characters looked like they were trying to reenact the scene from A Few Good Men. I expected John Sweeney to shout "you cant handle the truth" while Tommy Davis spent most of the documentary looked like a bad Tom Cruise impersonator.

Here is the BBC side

And here is the scientology version

My opinion, Sweeney knew exactly what he was doing when he dropped the cult word before asking another question, that was obvious. He wanted to get Davis angry on camera, film the response and spice up the story. On the other hand Tommy Davis was doing exactly the same thing when he kept stepping into Sweeney's personal space, following him around, filming him and waiting at his hotel. Silly really, it ended up looking like a personal vendetta being played out on a respected TV station. Both organisations could probably do with sending other people out to meet each other next time.

Monday, May 14, 2007

5 Points

Bloody Albania, spoiling the perfection.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Vote NewsTalk

Newstalk have gotten into the election poster dogfight by putting election style posters on bus shelters in Donnybrook (and Cork). This follows Taytos campaign, which is more annoying and rather questionable.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Batt O'Keeffe podcast

A couple of weeks ago Tom Rafferty Tom Raftery (update: jaysis, I spelt Toms name wrong, spotted it this morning the moment I looked at my blog, sorry Tom ;-) ) asked on his blog for questions that would be put to Minister of State Batt O'Keefe in a series of podcasts. I posted some questions but I didn't really expect them to be asked and certainly not asked as I had written them. I expected someone would mix the questions together and come up with a set of general questions that would cover the same topics in a shorter amount of time.

Turns out I was wrong. The podcast is up and the questions were put to Batt directly as they appeared on Tom's blog and he answered them. I don't agree with his answer about Ministers not being responsible for the failure of the NRA and local authorities, after all it's the Minister who assigns the projects, the Minister who allocates tax payers funds and the Minister who will take credit for the project if it succeeds. But I have to say fair play to him for being willing to take questions directly from the blogging community, most other Ministers run screaming for a PR consultant when they spot someone with a list of questions.

London To Sydney by Bus

Yesterday evening as I sat on a crappy, crowded and late Dublin bus spending almost an hour travelling just a short distance into the city centre I was listening to Matt Cooper on Today FM when he introduced a guest who is running a new bus service, from London to Sydney.

Called the Oz Bus (sure to cause some confusion with backpackers in Australia as the Oz Experience Bus was commonly referred to as the Oz Bus) this provides a bus trip experience that travels from London to Sydney over land most of the way apart from a few boat trips in Indonesia and one short flight from East Timor to Darwin. It goes through 20 countries and sees things like the Taj Mahal and MT Everest Base Camp. I suppose it's perfect for those conscious of their carbon footprint and looking for adventure but not so good for those looking for a quick and cheap trip to Australia since it takes 12 weeks and costs £3750.

Still for those who believe the journey is as important as the destination this is pretty much perfect. The super version of the Oz Experience type bus. Though having to spend 12 weeks on a bus with a small group of other people could be an amazing experience or the worst type of hell depending on how you get on with the other people on the trip. If I had the money and the time to spend I'd consider it as a novel way to go back to Australia and see lots more of the world on the way.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Multiple Candidate has a posting revealing that Noel O'Gara is to stand for election. O'Gara is a, lets say colourful (and I mean that in an amused way), business man who managed to buy the freehold for Dartmouth Square in Dublin for €10,000 in 2005 and now wants to build a car park and apartments on it or sell it to the council for €100 million.

The situation in Dartmouth Square is a bloody disgrace with both sides messing around and nothing getting sorted. The thing about it is that while O'Garas stunts are annoying and obviously intended to piss off the council and the locals in order to get the maximum payment for the land it would appear that he is the legal owner of the square or the council would have kicked his ass out by now. The council themselves messed up when they refused to buy the freehold and instead leased the park from the previous owner. I hope someone got fired for that mistake, but I doubt it, union regulations probably mean he's been promoted.

Anyway, now according to, O'Gara is running for election, not just in Dublin South East where the park is situated but also in Laois-Offaly, Roscommon-South Leitrim and Longford-Westmeath. That raises some interesting questions. First can someone actually stand for election in more than one constituency? I suppose so, after all if O'Gara is good at anything it's spotting loopholes and opportunities (2 acres of prime land in Dublin selling for €10,000 was the worlds biggest opportunity). Next this is unlikely but what happens if O'Gara or any candidate got elected to the Dail from multiple constituencies. Would they be allowed to represent multiple constituencies or would they be forced to pick one and have a by-election in the others? If they could keep all their seats then in theory could we have a situation where someone got enough seats to form their own political party, or even in an extremely theoretical case form their own one person government? Silly I know but I'm curious.

Strictly speaking article 16.2 of the constitution could stop one member of parliament representing multiple constituencies
The number of members shall from time to time be fixed by law, but the total number of members of Dáil Éireann shall not be fixed at less than one member for each thirty thousand of the population, or at more than one member for each twenty thousand of the population.

But the wonderful thing about this is the government themselves have already ignored this article and allowed the election to go ahead despite census figures that show that many constituencies are misrepresented in the Dáil.

UPDATE 25-May: Things are not looking good for Noel, check his results here...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Squealing Politicians

The Taoiseach obviously has some serious questions to answer about his finances and why mysterious amounts of money appear in bank accounts linked to him. This is important information because if the leader of this state is getting payments from his "friends" in the business and property development world then no matter what he says about it just being friends giving him a hand out of financial trouble there is an obvious conflict of interest. Especially in light of the property boom that Berties government has allowed to overheat turning property developers into multi millionaires while burdening the average public with massive debts and pricing many people on the average industrial wage out of the market.

At the same time the discussion over the last couple of days has switched from asking is Bertie corrupt or just a man with great friends to asking who squealed. What have the leaders of our country become? Kids in the school yard fighting over who told teacher or the mafia honoring some code of silence and looking for someone to blame when the don gets picked up by the cops?
I don't care who leaked the story. I do care about who paid what to who and got what favours in return. When Bertie answers those questions and if we decide he is innocent of any wrong doing or corruption then we can hunt down the person who tried to blacken a good man's name. If he is proven to be guilty then perhaps we should be handing out medals instead.

Fianna Fail promises

Fianna Fail launched it's ’Now The Next Steps’ election manifesto last week (I still hate that bloody slogan). One thing stood out for me, the promise of new ’retirement villages’. All I could hear was Charlton Heston's voice in the back of my mind screaming "Soylent Green!" ;-)

Though in the interest of balance I find Enda Kennys "contract" with the people of Ireland almost as funny. Enda promising to not seek re-election as Taoiseach if he failed to deliver is a real promise to nothing since I don't believe any Fine Gael leader has ever won two elections in a row and I don't see Fine Gael avoiding their now traditional bout of regicide should they loose an election no matter how successful or popular Enda would be as Taoiseach.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Limerick Riverfest

I went down to Limerick for a family weekend. As part of the bank holiday weekend there was a festival called Riverfest on in the city. It looked liked a good festival in a good location laid out around the city and the quays. There were lots of stands selling food and drink from around the world, both to eat there or bring home. I did buy 3 bottles of French cider but only 2 survived the rest of the day, the third one got smashed when the handle came off the box. French producer seemed to get a whole street to themselves.

It was pretty interesting and crowded so it looks like it was a success. It reminded me of the Festival of World Cultures that was held in Dun Laoghaire last year, I must keep an eye out for that this year.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Crabs for Dinner

I was out last night and feeling a little adventerous I ordered BBQ crab. I havent eaten enough fish or seafood lately so I thought some would be nice. However for some reason it didnt dawn on me that the bloody things would still be in their shells and would look as if 20 minutes earlier they had been happily crawling around the bottom of a fish tank. I realised I was in trouble when the waiter showed up with a crab version of a nut cracker, a weird long spoon type thing, a big bowl of water and a stack of napkins. The nice civilized dinner was about to turn into something cavemanish.

After a brief attempt to figure out if there was a way to get into the shells without cracking, crunching, tearing and ripping I resorted to using my hands. Sure, maybe there is a technique and an etiquete, but no one taught it in the old Christian Brothers school or in the computer lab in college. To the best of my knowledge I had some how made it through 30 odd years of life without eating anything out of it's own exoskeleton.

If the crab itself wasn't messy enough the BBQ feature added a nice dirty texture to my fingers. The only way to eat it was to just not care how it looked. Still it was nice food once I dug it out and I will happily eat it again, though probably not as part of a romantic diner.

Scaring the blackbirds

I just heard the Irish entry for the Eurovision on The Late Late Show. Well lets just say there is no fear we will having to host the European singing hordes next year. The band is called Dervish and sounded like some drunk karaoke group from a late bar in Galway. Lyrics are about scaring blackbirds and stopping the spring, but what can you expect from a song written by a journalist instead of a songwriter.

That said RTE are getting into the online community thing and have made it available as an MP3 download so have to give them credit for that at least. Why do we still waste money on this whole circus, we don't need anymore European integration?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Blood in the Water

Today the launch of the Fianna Fail election manifesto was overshadowed by an exchange between Vincent Browne and Bertie Ahern. The Taoiseach sounded annoyed and under pressure while a Fianna Fail representative tried to silence Vincent leading to comparisons with Charlie Haughey. Nothing I can write here can do justice to the exchange but RTE has provided the exchange in a handy real player stream.

Bookmaker Paddy Power has cut the odds on Brian Cowen becoming the next Taoiseach from 25 to 1 down to 8 to 1. Are the sharks circling for Bertie?

British Spiders

Some of us are viewing the forthcoming doom of global warming as an opportunity rather than a problem. For example Irish farmers could stop growing sugar beat and start producing bananas. Tired of that old pint of Guinness? Wait a few years and then try a nice chardonnay from Château Guinness.

Still it's not all happy days for those of us living in cold damp Ireland. Looks like global warming is giving poisonous spiders a chance to survive in England. Just in Dorset at the moment but the false widow spider is starting to make progress North and East. Once England falls then I suppose Wales Scotland will follow and eventually good old Ireland. Still since most Irish have spent a few months dodging funnel-webs, red-backs and white-tail (my personal favourite with it's possibly flesh eating venom) spiders in Australia then a couple of little false widows shouldn't cause much concern. :-)

[via The Register]

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Stamp Duty Issue

Why didnt Bertie Ahern review the stamp duty tax that is adding 10s of thousands onto the burden of buying a house for many people in Ireland? Because Bertie lives in a world where stamp duty is a sum of money that the landlord and the person selling the house gives to the girlfriend of the person buying the house while, of course, asking for nothing in return.

The announcement came as the Taoiseach confirmed separately that his former partner Celia Larkin received £30,000 from a Manchester businessman, who subsequently sold Mr Ahern his house.
Mr Ahern described the payment by Michael Wall to Ms Larkin as totally appropriate, adding that it was for the refurbishment of the house, which they were renting at the time, and was also a “stamp duty issue”.

Jesus, if I lived in Berties world I'd be upping stamp duty, get several girlfriends and move into as many houses as I could manage. Then just wait for the stamp duty to roll in. :-)

I'm having a heart attack

Bloody hell, bloody hell. Why do Liverpool always so this to me. Winning on penalties against Chelsea, bloody hell. Ok now lets win the final in 90 minutes lads cause I don't think I could survive another 120 minutes and a penalty shootout. Still brilliant, bloody brilliant :-)

And everyone has to take a certain amount of pleasure in the specials ones awful week :-)