Friday, February 27, 2009

Frank Fahey, Ivor Callely and our moral bankruptcy

Like many the home owner wondering if that leather corner piece was such a good idea, I am as curious as I am admiring of the bravery of Oireachtas members who have built up such extensive property empires in these difficult times. There are two in particular who must be hoping like hell that it doesn't occur to anyone renting from them to suddenly up sticks to pastures new in the middle of the night or even for such tenant types to try push hard for a rent reduction. So Frank Fahey and Ivor Callely the laurels are to you this year for being the most confident and committed of all public reps in placing such faith in the world of property.

Now I'm sure that two such men of the world have taken all necessary measures to limit their overall exposure to the downturn. Both strike me as the type to have followed keenly the works of Lord Archer with his interest in political twists and turns. Now I've been doing some rough calculations (who do you think I am the department of finance, rough is the best I can do) and my guess is that both Frank and Ivor are probably going to err on the side of prudence and cut back on the old expenses in the near future. They might even succumb to temptation and break out the old student favourite of beans on toast as an entrée.

Still as the bank ads say so long as they can keep up the repayments everything should be fine, right? It's not like property ever loses value, is it? Anyway if you happen to find yourself at the FF Ard Fheis this weekend be sure and not to embarrass Frank or Ivor should you see them by buying them a drink, let them save face by buying you one instead. And all with the government and let's face it much of the nation suffering from a degree of moral bankruptcy when it comes to the origins of this financial mess it wouldn't do for anyone else to be letting the side down.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Minister in well reasoned and logical decision shocker

So minister for defence Willie O'Dea says we're not raising the Asgard II and on the balance of the evidence presented it seems like the right decision. The cost is not certain but would be a minimum of €2 million, nor is the outcome certain as it might not be successful and the ship might not be repairable. The alternartive of a new ship should be more seaworthy and in addition more accessible for those people with disablities who might wish to partake. I'd personally like the notion of a wooden ship but i'd like to live in a castle too but I'm not so foolish as to run out and buy one for the sake of it. It is regretable that the ship is lost to us but it was lost when it sank not when this decision was made.

This decision is based on numbers and facts put in the public domain by the minister and likely outcomes and benefits and so on. It's just a pity we can't do the same for big ticket items like the Metro.

Leave that man alone!

Jaysus that post has grown all kinds of legs, and appears to be scuttling across the world and dragging all kinds of folks here from far and wide. So for the record I want to say this I believe in Frank Fahey. I've seen him on the television and people I've spoken with at length have overheard people in conversation, that they know well enough to invite to the afters of their weddings, saying that they have met him and he is 100% real. Yes indeed a real live person. Frank is real.

And I would go further and say I'd be shocked, shocked I tell you if it turned out that someone like Frank Fahey could be in anyway involved with the digout for Anglo Irish or that he would have been himself a member, facilitator, convenor or chief butler to this purported maple ten crowd. I would be absolutely astounded if he were to have so much as helped in the pouring of a cup of tea for such people. Sure anyway Frank is much too busy a man, and much too interested in helping his constituents to be able to do any of that sort of thing. Now I hope I've put that notion to bed.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Desperate Housewives in Space

Ok so this weeks's Battlestar wasn't great in terms of advancing the story and it didn't quite have enough of those Gaius being Gaius moments that we all so love, but I think the description given to me that it is Desperate Housewives in Space is a little harsh. Harsh but with that element of truth that is all too genuinely scary.

Still Lost made up for it in our televisual watching "we're not going to Guam are we?" No Frank we're not.

Are the Irish blog awards fixed?

There is something rotten in the state of DamienMark and the Irish blog awards. I had simply thought it was a harmless bit of nonsense which had some weird quirks and oddities. But that someone could not post during almost the entirely of the period that was stated as a minimum requirement for nomination and yet still win an award is more than odd. That two would do so goes beyond passing strange.

The fact is that no one can independently vouch for the judges because no one outside the inner circle knows who the judges are. The rules or even mere guidelines are lacking to the point of being vapour but even the most lax of rules wouldn't have had two nominees making the short-list for what is meant to be a year's work when they didn't post for most of the year in question. The bald fact is that one of those winners only started to post less than 2 weeks before the deadline, while another took a sabbatical for 8 months only returning to resume posting less than 2 weeks before the deadline.

With this kind of arbitrary inclusion and exclusion it is hard not to see the awards as being more about currying favour and jumping on bandwagons than any sort of real assessment of quality over the course of a year. It's pretty like crowning the league champions on the basis of a few good matches at the end of the season. Having the accolade of being the best for a particular year should mean that you were the best over the course of that period not that you had flashes of excellence here and there. It must be galling for those who lost out that their entire years work wasn't judged to be as good as a few weeks or a couple of months output by someone else.

Then going beyond that we have the peculiar notion that the winner for best newcomer (a nice young lad by all accounts) was heavily promoted by the organiser and his friends.

Then the winner for best blog from a journalist appears to have provided the goodie bags.

That the winner for best current affairs and ultimately the Grand Prix prize for best blog is also a close friend of the organiser shouldn't in the normal run of events be a matter of any concern but with everything else that is going on one can't not mention it. I don't doubt that it is amongst the best in its category but the absolute best?

In the normal run of events, one or or two of the above you could gloss over but all of them? Then you have the all organisational strangeness. Why have no confirmation for registration that people made in December until just 48 hours beforehand? Especially, when you consider that many people had to travel to attend and stay overnight? Why is no confirmation mail sent to those who nominate of their nomination choices so that they have some proof that they did nominate and who they nominated? Why was it that registration for attendance opened weeks in advance of opening the nominations, meaning people who were nominated couldn't register to sit at a event that they should have been the focus of? Why is it that we have no publicly available criteria of what is used for the judging? Why is there no confirmation for people that they applied to be judges? Why is it no one can know who the judges are? I applied to be a judge in 2007 but heard nothing back then, other people I know applied last year but heard nothing back. Yet we're repeatedly told that judging is open to all but that is not true, you can offer to be a judge but the selection of judges is not open. I noticed in my own case some touching on my blog from the judging area of the site -I was longlisted for political blog - a few hours before the short-list was posted. Only one of which actually looked at the archive for the previous year. I wouldn't have had me remotely near the short list but it would be good to know you didn't make it having actually been really reviewed not just glanced at at the last minute. I wonder how much assessment was really made of other the categories, was it as superficial as that?

Again, none of these things on their own is proof of misdeeds, indeed taken together they might still be a matter of mere coincidence but the absence of any transparency about proceedings must naturally lead to questions. The notion of Ceasar's wife being above reproach comes to mind. When the process is secret all efforts should be made to ensure that there can be no inference of wrong doing. It might sound dull but the process matters, it takes from the winners that such a cloud should exist over the process and for no good reason either I can understand.

When it comes to our electoral process we don't have people vote then take the votes into a locked room to be countred by only a few people who appointed by the government and who we never get to see and then at the end a government representative would come out and tell us the result. Everyone would look at that and shout fix. Yet the process for the blog awards is little different. Judges are appointed in secret, they judge in secret, their votes are weighed up in secret.

Sure it's a fun night out for those concerned but so too apparently are 12th July parades and lynchings in the deep south on the 1930s were very good at bringing the community (some of it at least) together. Of course, this is nowhere on that scale but the mentality that will be used to defend it is much the same. A group who enjoy one another company refusing to answer any questions about the process involved because it is just a bit of craic. A bit of craic which leads to business being generated for some of those concerned? That sound like a straightforward business promotion to me.

Needless to say none of the actual nominees are in a position can say anything because the temperamental nature of the host is well established at this stage and the potential consequences of making any kind of critique is there for all to see. Since my card is marked anyway I'm saying it, I've nothing to lose by asking merely questions. The wonder is will we see any answers, or will it be a case of simply attack the man and not deal with the questions.

In answering my own question I would say that "no the awards aren't fixed" but they sure as hell seem broken.

Curtain Twitching and Twitter

In combination with Emerald Discount we've come up a new twitter terminology for tweets that are from those who are the curtain twitchers of rural and small town areas. So if you're twitching back your curtain to be all nosy about what your neighbours are doing and then you twitter about it: that's a sign that you are a twitcher and your tweet is a twitch!