Friday, January 09, 2009

Duffy vs. Carmel

With all the attention Duffy has gotten over the last twelve months, it is worth remember those who have travelled the same ground but without the same level of coolness. Not that she doesn't deserve it but there can be a tendency by the more youthful to believe such voices came out of the blue. About two decades back we had Carmel who sadly in my view was overly tagged as simple easy listening.

Carmel - Sally

Carmel - Bad Day

So Duffy isn't the first nasally twanged chanteuse we've had to delight us.

Click below for Duffy's: Rain on your Parade (Polydor have disabled embedding from YouTube) for comparison.

Imagine if Carmel had had a Mark Ronson type around at the time to produce her stuff.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Why Barry Andrews is wrong on Cloynes

Last night in Vincent Browne, minster with responsibility for children, Barry Andrews said that the state could stand over the schools that the Bishop of Cloyne is patron of. I'm sure this is news to Eileen O'Keeffe who found when she sued because she was abused while attending primary school that the state doesn't in fact want to stand over the safety of children in our national schools. Schools that others such as bishops are patrons of and which many parish priests are the chairs of boards of management. Where is the standing over that the minister talks about?

What needs to happen is that the state should thank the religious for their work over the decades and then take all national schools into state ownership. This would have almost no day to day impact other than that of the state being the body properly charged with ensuring the safety of children.

I am not on a DHS watch list!

I got a mail and I thought I'd try out the new authorisation system for entry for the US. It has the largest (and let it be said one the most poorly laid out) warning messages I've ever seen. I've worked on a considerable number of software projects and you should have seen how some of the warning messages looked, especially once they'd been localised to confirm to the legal lie of the land where they were being sold but this one beats them all hands down.

Seriously, are paragraphs illegal at the department of Homeland Security? Is there a tariff on excess spacing? There again my brief engagement with the IRS taught me that the US government likes its text to be dense and filled with foreboding.

Still the thing hops along at a decent pace once you've got all the details typed in, and it came back rather quickly (perhaps too quickly) saying I'm authorised to travel to the US. Not necessarily that I will get in mind this isn't the visa application process but at least I can get on the plane.

While I can understand the mindset behind this I still think it is the wrong approach, seriously minded terrorists are just going to nick someone's passport. It's a bit like the question on the form that asks if you are or were a member of the Nazi government of Germany or one of her clients states.

I also think that we in Europe should have done what the Brazilians did and instigate reciprocal arrangements with the US, oif they want our credit card details then we should ask for theirs. Also, what is this about the 'DHS may conduct monitoring activities with further notice', are they going to access my PC on the quiet? Given that I'm in a country surely that is illegal?

Ten Irish political predictions for 2009

Taking my key from Cllr Forde, my ten predictions at random are

1. Fianna Fail to fail to overtake FG in European Parliamentary representation. They could even lose in Dublin though it is unlikely, fact is I think Labour are more vulnerable.
2. Obama's first foreign policy military crisis will involve an attack on US territory but not the continental US. Guam or somewhere like that.
3. Greece continues to suffer from serious civil unrest. A national government or even a military coup could be in prospect
4. Ireland fail to qualify for the Soccer World Cup.
5. Lisbon Treaty is passed in November by 55% to 45%
6. Irish Unemployment for 2009 peaks at 11%. but then stabilises at that level rather than significantly falling back.
7. Teachers and ESB workers strike.
8. The waning of immigration
9. Anglo Irish ceases to exist as it is taking into state control. BOI and AIB bob along. Eventually I expect RBOS or Santander or even a sovereign investment fund, someone foreign at least, to hoover up a lot of the smaller banks including Anglo. Oddly enough this leads to the emergence of a genuine 3rd player in Irish banking
10. FG to do the double in Dublin South and Central! Those elections to be held the same day as the European and local elections.

A modest possible solution to the middle East.

I've always thought that the only way forward would be one that required both states that would emerge post a settlement to actively guarantee the integrity and security of the other and to defend it. In the light of current events I believe we should move rapidly to entrench this idea.

It's probably the Philip K .Dick influence in my thinking and it even sounds a teeny bit nuts to me but one idea that has potential could be for both states to randomly select some of its own people (and let's not stop with just adults, include everyone. After all no one is being that selective at the moment) by lottery. Then say if a suicide bomber from the Palestinian side kills X number of Israelis then the Palestinian authority would execute the same number of Palestinians. Naturally, this would also operate in the opposite direction of course. For every Palestinian killed in the course of this particular security operation such as Operation Rolling Blunder or whatever they are calling the current then Israeli should be prepared to execute the same number of Israelis, after all isn't Israel's long term security worth a few hundred lives? and who better to pay for it then other Israelis.

Think of it, it would be like Instant Karma! Let's beat the recession by cutting out the middlemen of mayhem. There would be no more terrorism if the state was killing its own people.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Beverly Cooper Flynn - because she's not worth it.

A bit of storm (composed of unsavoury farmyard material) has blown up over the weekend concerning the revelation that Deputy Flynn (FF) will receive an allowance of almost 50K per year because she was elected as an independent deputy in 2007. What appears not to have been so deeply probed so far is the validity of her standing as an independent.

I seem to recall that she made much of her FF involvement and her long history with the Micheal O'Morain Cumann during the course of the campaign. "Asked if in the event of a hung Dail, where Fine Gael-Labour was one vote short of forming a government, would she vote for her fellow Mayoman, Enda Kenny, as Taoiseach, she said her sole concern was to get herself elected. "If I found myself in that situation, I would do what is in the best interest," she added, reminding me of her Fianna Fail background."

Also, as you can read here it was reported prior to the 2007 election that FF HQ were threatening party members with expulsion if they supported her, note if they were threatening them with expulsion then that means they were still members of the party. So how was she an independent if nominated by members of political party?

I think this is worth giving the Western People and the county offices a call tomorrow looking for a copy of the nomination form for deputy Flynn for 2007. Then I'm going to go looking for FF to provide membership lists for Mayo for the last decade and I'm going to compare the two. If she was nominated by people who were in fact members of FF. FF did disband branches in Castlebar after her departure but it is not 100% clear if they actually voided the membership of those people). If the people who nominated her were still de facto members of FF then her entitlement to this allowance is in question.

Greyfield sites required

People have been commenting on the predictions, trends, pointers towards the future whatever you want to call it article by Karlin Lillington in the IT last Friday. Some of comment seems to me at least a tad overly sensitive but that could be more for other reasons than the mere content of this particular piece.

My own few cents is that I reckon two of the likely trends in the probable upcoming consolidations and the need for better support for new enterprises are very much related. Consolidation typically leads to lay-offs and hence people with redundancy cheques. It's not a fun time for anyone yet for those who are still young enough and willing to live on ramen for a while (perhaps less encumbered with dependents might be a better way of saying it) this might represent a chance to make a break for it.

The fixed costs associated with going out on your own should (and I admit that is a 'should' not a 'will') be lower now than 4/5 years ago in terms of office space and some other costs. We've loads of empty buildings lying around which the banks should be forcing developers to open up to start ups for short term leases at least. And it would give the banks some cash from those currently dead developments, and provide us with a local version of the brownfield sites in other countries. Let's call them greyfield sites (just think of all that bare concrete!), we have loads of them but there is no pressure on the developers to put them to use. There again maybe only some people in the blogosphere are allowed to call for the risk takers to sieze the opportunities that are still out there.