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cavehillred AT yahoo.co.uk

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Hogmanay

Yes, it's been a while.

Sorry about that.

I was busy though, if that helps.

During my blogging mini-hiatus, I became aware of the following facts, which I will offer to you without further comment:

1. Ryanair claim to be the world's 'on-time' airline, but they only achieve their on time targets by adding forty minutes to the scheduled journey, to account for the fact that they are invariably a half hour late leaving.

2. If people try to kill you by blowing themselves up near to you, chances are that they are determined enough for another of them to try a second time. Change jobs, up your security and leave the country. Don't hang around for an election you won't live to see.

3. We's all in big economic doo-doo now. I expect housing to fall calamitously in price in 2008, especially in micro-bubbles like Northern Ireland and the commuterland in the Pale. Sell now, or remortgage on a fixed rate if you haven't already and don't plan on moving for half a decade, when your house will be worth half as much.

4. I don't care how many times they do it, or where they do it, or the fact we're all supposed to feel warm and gooey inside when they do it. Everytime I see Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness gurning their hideous grins at each other like smitten teens, I feel nauseous.

5. Writing a book is solitary, boring, and takes a helluva lot of hours out of your free time. It also requires discipline, inspiration and a functioning computer.

6. I got a sat-nav for Christmas. But what I really wanted was one of those electronic devices that emit noise only gangs of surly ne'er-do-well teenagers can hear.

7. Texting people is not the same as calling or writing a card or letter. I'm a bad and cheapskate friend in this regard.

8. Big open plan houses are expensive to heat in a rising oil market. So is driving a large family saloon. So why did I only start doing both this year?

9. A chest infection is a handy way of clearing your lungs of all the gunk that smoking normally deposits in there.

10. My peers all started having babies in earnest this year. Fourteen years into my own parenthood project, I'm not inclined to start from scratch again. I admire the courage and energy of my friends, but having seen the road ahead of them, I don't intend to walk it twice.

Happy Hogmanay. Let's all meet up here again next year for pints, right?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Haven't we suffered enough already?

What did the poor people of the six counties ever do to deserve this?

Seriously, we couldn't all have been concentration camp guards in a previous life...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Print your own money!

Running a bit short for Xmas? Why not print your own money?

Just be sure not to get too stroppy when people who know what proper money looks like, such as, erm, bank tellers, decide not to cash it for you.

Better off going with lower denominations and passing them in Tesco like everyone else, dude.

Oops, I've said too much...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Problem Parties

According to Stormont's Deputy First Minister Marty McFly, the SDLP and the UUP have become 'problem parties.'

Please, stop! My sides are hurting too much here!

We have a DUP/Sinn Fein coalition which has copperfastened water charges, sought to defend funding the UDA, tried to privatise the Giant's Causeway and are now forcing through a cut in heating grants to pensioners by refusing to expand Margaret Ritchie's budget.

Remember, prior to their belated conversions to peaceful democracy, both of these parties were heavily connected to paramilitary terror organisations. Both contributed to the prolongation of three decades of conflict during their existence. Both eradicated prospects for peace and reconciliation for all that time.

But, because they refused to sign off on a budget that will hurt the elderly, the vulnerable and those with special needs, apparently it is the SDLP and the UUP who are the problem parties!

Welcome to Northern Ireland, people.

You really couldn't make it up.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Harney's not the only one should quit

Of course, Mary Harney should quit as Minister for Health with immediate effect. Her performance in the role has been little short of diabolical.

But it is worth recalling, as 97 more women fret about their cancer results, that there is a concept often cited by our Teflon Taoiseach known as collective cabinet responsibility.

They're all responsible for this mess we call a health service. All of them. Some of them are particularly responsible. Some of them, you could say, are more responsible than others.

On this list from the Department of Health, you can see that the two front runners to replace Bertie Ahern as Fianna Fail leader (and de facto Taoiseach of the nation) are BOTH former health ministers.

It is worth remembering how Micheal Martin, as health minister, commissioned over 200 reports which were not subsequently acted on while simultaneously robbing nursing home patients of up to €2 billion which the state had to pay back.

The senior civil servant in the Department said that he had told Micheal Martin about this scandal and had even given him the file in Martin's office. Martin denied this utterly. The file has never been found since, needless to say. Martin remains a cabinet minister. The civil servant moved sideways to the Higher Education Authority.

Brian Cowen, who charmingly called the Department of Health 'Angola', due to the amount of political landmines to be found underfoot, was also Minister for Health for three years. His time in Hawkins House is notable by its lack of anything notable. He didn't do a thing, tiptoeing around hoping no bombs went off until he could scamper for the safety of another Department.

If you were to believe some people, the Irish health system is permanently a wreck, unfixable and always was. This is nonsense.

A potted history of Irish health would run something like this:

The churches ran health provision forever, then the state, having missed the opportunity to create a National Health Service like the UK have, finally and belatedly intervened and the health boards were created in 1970.

Things remained okay for a while, then Charles Haughey slashed a quarter of all hospital beds, because we all had to tighten our belts.

Since then, those beds, that infrastructure, has never been replaced, while the population has exploded. In the Eighties, the scandals began. Organ retentions, blood infections, the lies, the spin. This was the period when the administrators came to power in health. But at least they were monitored by public representatives on the health boards.

When Mary Harney rationalised the health boards into the HSE, in itself not a bad idea, she made two massive errors. Firstly, she eradicated the ability of people to be elected to monitor the administrators. All of a sudden, no one was watching the watchmen.

Then she vowed that no jobs would be lost. The result was that we now have up to eight times as many health administrators as are needed, most aren't doing anything to justify their salaries, and none of them can be sacked.

This led directly to scandals varying from the millions upon millions spent on IT projects that either didn't work or didn't exist to the fact that neither Harney nor her overpaid mudguard Brendan Drumm even knew about the 97 more women whose cancer tests were wrong until yesterday.

By all means, by any means necessary, Mary Harney should quit with immediate effect. Her poodle Drumm, the €400,000 man, must also go.

But so should those who share collective cabinet responsibility for this unholy mess costing Irish lives. I'd start with Martin and Cowen, who have both directly contributed to the ongoing horror. But I wouldn't end there.

Ahern himself interfered in the decision of where to place the national children's hospital by making public statements, with the result that it went to the Mater, in his constituency, and his former employer.

Cullen ensured that Waterford would not get public radiotherapy but a privatised system instead. He even turned the sod on the site of their private hospital for them.

The entire cabinet share responsibility for the beleaguered state of our health service. If any one of them had a single shred of honour, they'd leave now.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We're all experts now

I've been watching some Irish television.

Yes, the weather really has been that bad.

On Monday, I caught the blogosphere's art guru Sinead Gleeson on the Seoige and O'Shea show. That's the one on in the afternoon, where flustered guests try not to stare too hard at Grainne's legs and bosoms (see above), while Joe O'Shea stutters at them.

Sinead was on as an expert guest, but she wasn't talking about Ireland's arts scene. No, she was on to discuss how people in Ireland today have so little idea of geography that they'd be lucky to find Tallaght if there weren't big signs on the M50 carpark to tell them.

No offence, Sinead (who, for those who missed it, is surprisingly foxy for an internet geek and art wonk), but when did you become (as billed) a 'social commentator' with special interest in secondary school geography education? Is there a night class you can do in that?

Needless to say, Sinead performed admirably in her role. But I am getting fed up with all sorts of people being rolled out on telly purporting to be experts in things they're not. Can anyone be a telly expert now? Are daytime viewers so moronic that they actually still consider talking heads to be authorities on anything?

Actually, don't answer that. I was one of those soldiers on Monday afternoon. Damn rain, I really need to get out more.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Twelve things I hate about Christmas

12. Christmas music: the nadir of music. "Santa Baby", "Jingle Bell Rock", "When a Child is Born." I rest my case.

11. Christmas carols: what a load of maudlin twaddle most of them are, and in bizarrely archaic language too. "Here we come a-wassailing." What does that even mean? Try wassailing near me and I'll box the head off you.

10. Christmas Trees: let's all mow down junk forests and store them in our living rooms till they go mouldy. Not to mention all the other waste and excess. Drinking twice your blood volume in alcohol in a fortnight? Nice.

9. Christmas Cards: twee overpriced Hallmark visions of Victorian England have what exactly to do with the birth of a Jewish religious leader in Palestine 2000 years ago? And why is it such a fucking insult if I don't send one to someone who I haven't spoken to in five years or physically seen in over ten?

8. Christmas pudding: more calories than McDonald's, the constituency of dried vomit, the colour of a Guinness turd, made and left to sit for two months before consumption. Who eats this shit? And what the fuck is suet?

7. Christmas office parties, that begin in October and continue until February in Ireland, making it impossible to go out for over four months without encountering drunk loons wearing tinsel while making out with their boss.

6. Christmas telly: who really wants to see the same old films again? Various James Bonds, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, It's a Wonderful Life, etc, etc. Not to mention all the festively seasoned bullcrap like The Santa Clause and so on. It's groundhog viewing year after year.

5. People who fly back to Ireland from abroad just for Christmas. Are you mad? It's fucking cold and wet here in December! Come in August instead, you prick. And if we really cared to hear all about your life in San Diego, we'd have gone to visit. And we didn't, so shut up about it.

4. All the people you want to be working, like plumbers, government departments or GPs, are off work for a fortnight. Yet Tescos are open 24 hours a day so that you can buy extra tinsel or another turkey.

3. Eating turkey meat for three days straight. Is Christmas sponsored by Bernard Mathews or something?

2. All the pricks who light up their houses like an explosion in a fairy lights factory. Didn't you morons ever hear about conserving energy? And why has decking the front of your house in millions of stupid lights become like a cold war, so that people are now spending thousands on it just to outdo their equally moronic neighbours? Keep this shit up and we'll eventually all be visible from space, flashing different primary colours in a monotonous pattern.

1. Christmas presents. Kriss Kringle is such an obvious out for people on a budget that to suggest it is akin to admitting you're skint. Which leaves buying a ton of crap people don't want for a load of people you don't care about. Which leaves most of us skint and unfulfilled, but the retailers very pleased indeed at knocking out so many bottles of bad perfume, novelty socks and so on at a premium price.

So you lot can fucking keep Christmas. I'm off to Tehran or Islamabad this December instead.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

National Digout Day

Please go to the website of National Digout Day. Your leader needs you.


Because he's worth it, of course.

After all, he doesn't have a yacht or a personal jet. Poor deprived Diddums.

Happy Christmas Shopping!

Spending on Christmas is set to grow by 7% this year, despite the economic downturn.

Remember, accrue more credit card debt or Santa and the elves will be displeased!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Radio Silence

Apologies for the radio silence. I'm taking part in Nanowrimo - National Novel Writing Month. Normal service will be resumed once the magnum opus is complete.

15,000 words down, only 35,000 to go.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

All adverts are lies

All adverts are lies. Let's ponder that for a moment.

Okay, we'll return to that later.

Meanwhile, Consumers International (who are unsurprisingly an international consumers organisation) have unveiled their list of the crappest products on the market worldwide.

Top of the tree are sleeping pills marketed at Japanese kids, closely followed by Coca Cola's tap water masquerading as spring water, Kelloggs' sugary breakfast cereals that pretend to be healthy, and shit Chinese toys sold by Mattell that fell apart and were full of lead.

Now, let's drop the shit toys from the list. What's so wrong with sleeping pills? Did they poison people? Did they not work and instead, like being sold cocaine instead of mogadon, they kept kids awake? No. They worked fine. They just weren't properly advertised.

And what's wrong with selling tap water? If people are prepared to pay a quid for something they can get out of a tap, bully for you (or in this instance, Coca Cola) for parting fools from their money. It's not like the tap water is bad for you.

Incidentally, Coke pull the same stunt in Ireland. Deep River Rock, the water you wear, is also the water you get out of a tap in Belfast. True.

As for Kelloggs' breakfasts, well, no doubt they're not the sort of thing that Mr Kellogg had in mind when he set up his healthfood company back in the Nineteenth century. But they're not bad products. They're simply sugary products that should be considered akin to sweets, desserts and other things that kids should only have in moderation.

So what do all these things have in common? They're not bad products, despite what Consumers International say (apart from Mattell's shit Chinese toys, which are genuinely bad products.) They're actually bad marketing.

Let's return to where I came in. All advertising is lies. It is. The next commercial break that comes along in your evening's telly watching, analyse the lies you're being peddled.

"Because you're worth it?" Says who? Worth what? Worth it how? What does it even mean?

Don't read into it, simply dismiss it as the lie it actually is - the lie that these mass-produced, morally dubious cosmetics products are somehow 'elite' and you are part of that elite and entitled to these unlikely expressions of luxury lifestyle.

There's the crux of the ad (not the science bit, which is total bollocks) and it's a fundamental lie.

Same with any of them, all of them in fact. All adverts are lies. Lies designed to part you from your money for something you don't need.

I previously highlighted my plan to fine companies 50% of profits if they can't prove their advertising claims. I still stand by that as a plan to universally improve the existence of pretty much every human being on the planet (apart from advertising execs and marketing scum, who we all know aren't human at all.)

Having established that all ads are lies, it's time to return to the bad products list and rap the knuckles of the Consumers International people for failing to notice that these are bad marketing stunts, not bad products, and also for failing to notice genuinely bad products out there.

Ryanair flights, for example. 'Booking fees' for concerts. Premium rate phone lines, especially on customer support lines. Ringtones. Dry cleaning. Luas tickets. Fianna Fail governments.

These are really shit products, and I hope to see them on the next Consumers International list, rather than products that are actually legitimate, but are merely the subject of bad marketing lies.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Kill off the marathon cult

Today I got penned into the house by a horde of marathon runners. It was a bit like being stuck in the house on the 12th of July in the North, only without the sectarian banging of drums and alcoholism present.

However, the sense of smug and unwarranted superiority emanating from the sweaty, heaving throng of middle management jogging bores in shorts was just as potent as that which comes from an Orange Order march.

What is it that makes people, in this age of the combustion engine, want to run pointlessly for over 26 miles? Furthermore, why the fuck do they have to run past my doorstep and block the city up while they do it?

Fair enough, when Pheidippides first legged it from the site of the Battle of Marathon to Athens, he had a reason. He wanted to tell his pals that they had defeated the mighty Persians.

However, today’s numpties running in gorilla outfits or dressed as French waiters may be interested to learn that Pheidippides dropped dead on arrival in Athens.

No silver paper cape for him, no medal or commemorative T-shirt. No sense of palpable achievement. Just heart palpitations, the ironic words ‘Victory is ours!’ and then death.

Sadly, health science and medicine have improved somewhat in the past 25 centuries. Nowadays, even beer-bellied middle-aged men undergoing midlife crises can be cajoled to jog for 26 and a bit miles without death ensuing. More's the pity.

But that doesn’t mean that marathon running is good for you. It isn’t. The impact on the joints alone means that marathon running does more harm than good. Face it, the lesson of Pheidippides is that running for that distance is bad for you.

Of course, we live in a free society. If people insist on trying to add some challenge to their humdrum existences by running endlessly around various cities, who am I to try and stop them?

But can someone please explain to me the point of closing off the entire city for most of a day to let this cult of jogging loons have freedom of the roads?

It might be a bank holiday, but some people have work to go to, you know.

Others just want to go out and enjoy their day off without having to traverse their way through endless Garda diversions.

Diversions which have been judiciously placed to ensure freedom of the city for the jogging nutters and utter frustration for those who have lives and want to travel across town in order to live them.

In short, there’s no good reason to pen people into their homes in order to facilitate this cult of crazies in their lung-busting attempts to kill themselves slowly.

If there must be a Dublin Marathon, let’s have it at four in the morning over the Christmas holidays when it will cause least interruption to the rest of us.

Oh, and let the cars on the road at the same time. At least, with the addition of a goodly few festive drink-drivers weaving their way drunkenly at night and at speed through throngs of mongs in shorts, the Marathon might finally become a spectator sport I’d want to watch.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Pyjamas are our culture" - deadbeat Belfast single mum

According to the denizens of Divis Flats in Belfast, wearing pyjamas all day long, whether in bed or at the shops, is 'their culture.'

Jesus wept! It's the culture of these bet-looking harridans to scare the rest of us by appearing in public places wearing their spunk-stained bed clothing, is it?

This bizarre sartorial tradition emanates from two separate sources, one geographical and one relating to the predominant character trait in Divis.

The pyjama phenomenon first was noted in Dublin some years back. It has since been spotted across the British Isles, wherever chavs, spides, knackers and millies congregate.

The other place it stems from is the total fucking laziness of people too indolent even to change their clothes once a day.

It is generally a female phenomenon, whereby women of any age, although usually young single mothers on welfare, don't bother changing their clothes in the morning when they leave the house.

This phenomenon is not to be confused with similar incidents of public pyjama wearing across the globe, such as in Shanghai (where pyjamas are a legitimate form of public dress) or among Michigan students (because we all know students are lazy wastes of space.)

But it is part of a growing phenomenon of scumbags the world over not bothering to change out of their bedclothes when forced to leave their hovels, either to sign on the dole, collect the child benefit or buy more fags and booze.

Here's Americans at it (probably because they can't fit into normal clothes anymore.) And this phenomenon is long-established in the crappier parts of British and Irish cities. Many moons ago, the Dublin community blog highlighted the prevalence of public pjs in the fair city.

But until now, it has always been acknowledged that wearing pyjamas in public was a sad and tragic event related to deprivation, akin to begging on the street or drinking meths in the park.

Even the deluded attempts of some fashionistas to 'do' public pjs ironically backfired when the public rightly said 'Eeewwww!"

This isn't the first time that right-thinking normal people have objected to the public sight of septic belly-piercings poking out from the pasty white spare tyres of flab that the bedroom flannels have failed to cover up.

A few months ago, a Belfast school principal also objected to the sight of fifty of these welfare mums turning up at his school each morning wearing whatever they slept in.

But only the beleaguered people of West Belfast, the official MOST OPPRESSED PEOPLE EVER, could turn public expressions of slovenly laziness into a culture, and transform a polite request for them to dress properly in public into a fascist attempt to silence their freedom of cultural expression.

Can't we just cull them? Darwin would thank us.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bye Bye, Stan

Steven Staunton (pictured right in his Aston Villa pomp) is going to be sacked as Ireland manager today for being rubbish! Hurrah!

However, apparently the FAI are skint and can't afford a decent manager, so they're going to give the job to David O'Leary instead. Boo!

Can't we just give Irish football to someone who could manage it properly, like the GAA or the nuns?

These bollixes just keep breaking my heart.

On a more positive note, if you google 'Steve Staunton', my now legendary post 'What is Steve Staunton?' is the second from top result after Stan's wiki page.

Please link now to 'What is Steve Staunton?' and let's make it number one!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Ulster-Scots Scam

DUP Minister Edwin Poots (the lad who looks like the FA Cup, on the right) has gone back on the St Andrews Agreement by refusing point-blank to introduce an Irish Language Bill for Northern Ireland.

Now, I don’t speak Irish and don’t intend to learn it. And I’m pretty disgusted at the amount of money pissed away on it in the Republic, where children for generations have been tortured by being forced to read about Kerry islander grannies with depression in a language that almost no one uses in day-to-day situations.

And don’t get me started on the jobs ring-fenced for Irish speakers, the subsidised TV station, the civil service sinecures and the ridiculous legal and police profession language requirements.

But it is a real language, and part of the heritage of this island, so if people want to learn it, they should be permitted to. And if it was part of the St Andrews Agreement to introduce the same sort of protection for Irish in the North, then that’s the deal and it ought to be introduced.

However, I’m prepared to back the Pootster on this one if in turn he’s prepared to put a bullet into the merry scam that is Ulster-Scots. Ulster-Scots is a random collection of some antiquated dialectal words masquerading as a language in order to line the pockets of those who propagate it.

It has existed for less than 20 years, yet draws down millions in state funding North and South. Kill off the Ulster-Scots scam, Edwin, and I’ll support your plan to cancel an Irish Language Bill.

You'd be hard pushed to find a bigger linguistics bore than me, frankly. I love languages and linguistics. But Ulster-Scots is not a language at all. While Irish is an actual language with thousands of years of recorded history, Ulster-Scots is simply an excuse to extort money from the EU, and the Irish and UK governments.

Let’s look at some examples of this alleged language:

Here’s a nice poem.

And here, for those non-existent people who don’t speak English in Northern Ireland, is some crucial information about water charges in Ulster-Scots.

Someone made a tidy bit of state funding out of ‘translating’ that little number. And this is how the scam goes.

A Scottish comedian on the television one time described Ulster Scots as a mixture of "English and Buckfast", and now I reckon you can see why.

Ulster-Scots, according to its own proponents, is a photocopy of Middle Lallans, a Scottish dialect of English once used by poet Rabbie Burns. It’s a fine literary tongue, but nothing to do with Northern Ireland, where between zero (the number of native speakers the EU found when they came looking) and 2% of people speak it.

In fact, there is a local dialect in Northern Ireland. Middle Ulster English is the language of the North, the rich dialectal linguistic and literary heritage that has been underfunded and ignored while chancers, perverts, bigots and buffoons defraud the Exchequer to the tune of millions for their taxi rides and their trips to sexually abuse American kids.

In case you didn’t know the fine people behind the Ulster-Scots scam, let me introduce them to you: Former Ulster-Scots Agency chief exec Stan Mallon got busted for trying to line up sex with a 14 year old in the United States. He claimed, risibly, that heart tablets made him want to have sex with a child. That makes him a pervert in my book.

Current chief exec George Patton was formerly Worshipful Brother George Patton of the Orange Order, and was prominent in defending the disgraceful scenes at Drumcree. That makes him a bigot in my book.

And John Laird himself is responsible for no end of lunacy, from taking taxis to Dublin from Belfast at taxpayers expense because 'wearing my kilt could get me attacked on the train' to organising Lambeg drumming sessions in the House of Lords. He's a definite loon in my book.

The establishment of Ulster-Scots is the result of fake mythology by Ian Adamson which has been discredited, that was created as an origin tale for Ulster Unionists in order to provide a separateness from the rest of Ireland.

Funding sought for Irish under the GFA led to John Laird and his merry gang of chancers, perverts and bigots abusing that situation to pay for their taxi bill.

They've now been left with a task of manufacturing a language out of a Scottish dialect (not a local one, of which there is one, lying around unfunded and unloved) in order to justify their stipends.

The net result is a ton of money lost to exchequers North and South (ie us, the taxpayers, covering John Laird's kilts and taxi bills) with no justification whatsoever.

I know many, many Ulster people, from dissident Republican to Loyalists, and none of them give a crap about this nonsense except for those who are directly employed in the Ulster-Scots industry. And it is an industry. No one sees this as an 'integral part' of anyone's culture. It was invented to get funding for sinecures via the Good Friday Agreement.

Now, there is a case for doing something to highlight the Scottish heritage in Northern Ireland. Just as there is a case for highlighting Irish heritage in Scotland. And I'm also enormously in favour of people finding out what their actual heritage is in Ireland. It's vastly more complex and interesting than what they think it is, I tend to find.

But the Hamilton Montgomery plantation (and yes, it WAS a plantation, not a settlement) has bugger all to do with this linguistic sleight of hand that funds Lord Laird and his pervert, bigot and loon cronies. Those people who came to Ulster from Scotland at the time of the plantation spoke English in a Scottish dialect.

Some of that was passed down, some of it wasn't. But using some obsolete words does not a language make. If I say Gadzooks does that make Elizabethan English a viable current language separate from modern English?

Ulster-Scots didn't exist until Lord Laird saw an opportunity to graft a language onto Ian Adamson's Cruithin mythology in order to extort money from the British and Irish exchequers to fund his taxi bills. But it's no more a language than Scouse or Nortsoide Dubbalinese is. In fact it’s much less, because it was entirely fabricated.

This is not some 'Ulster Unionist' claim for parity of linguistic esteem except insofar that a tiny coterie of wideboys led by Laird decided to make use of the GFA to make a tidy profit by creating sinecures for perverts and bigots.

Furthermore, while hiring perverts and bigots to run the show has done them no favours, it is the sheer fact that Ulster-Scots was invented, and is based on a lie that it is a long-lost, suppressed language of the Ulster people, that truly discredits its continued funding.

So come on, Edwin. Show some real political bravery and cancel the funding of this pathetic farce.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Palestine Ghetto Wall

Another eye-opening visual comparison from Fionn MacCool from Politics.ie. This one reveals the direct similarities between the Jewish ghetto in Nazi-occupied Warsaw in 1940 and the Israeli apartheid wall running through the West Bank today.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Happy Unbirthday

My favourite bit of Alice in Wonderland was always the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, so reminiscent in its chaos and suppressed aggression of Skinner family dinners when I was a youth.

What people often forget is that the Hatter is celebrating his unbirthday, which he rightly points out is a much more sensible thing to do than to note the passing of another uneventful year since birth.

Today is indeed my unbirthday and I intend to celebrate it later.

However, it would be lax not to note that this little blog is a year old today. Yup, one year and 209 posts since we began, tens of thousands of readers, a couple of Irish blog award nominations, and a lot of ground covered already.

On the other hand, there remains an exponential growth in things to be angry about in today's Ireland, so I've no intention of stopping now.

But tomorrow is another day. Now is time to celebrate, and I want to mark the passing of my unbirthday by buying a car.

So, what should the Skinnermobile be? Any suggestions as to model and make? Four doors good, two doors bad? Gas guzzler or eco-freaky electric lawnmower?

Or should I just wait til next year for the new Delorean to come out?

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Worst airline ever

I had a great conversation with a colleague yesterday who had the ignominious experience of being treated like a terrorist by Delta Airlines in JFK airport last week.

In short, she was isolated, searched, her bags examined for explosives, her shoes forensically tested and all the while provided with neither courtesy, respect nor explanation for the behaviour.

What she then witnessed on the plane home, in terms of treatment of passengers, was beyond belief. She has now vowed never to travel with Delta again.

It got me thinking about producing a shit-list of airlines that people refuse to fly with.

I have previously mentioned why Ryanair are scumbags. Obviously they're on my list. But top is a surprise entrant, Iberia. Spain's national carrier has now severely buggered me about on three separate occasions.

Firstly, on a flight to Mexico, a man died in the row behind me, and the aircraft staff attempted to deny this and cover it up. They even brought in paramedics when we landed to stage a charade of attempting to revive the hours-dead corpse.

Then there was a shouting match when they overbooked the flight home. They threatened to bump me off the plane I had booked onto, refused to provide overnight accommodation and suggested I stay in the airport.

Finally, on a flight to Pamplona in Spain via Madrid, they actually sold me the ticket then cancelled the route on the same day, so I arrived in Madrid having bought the ticket only hours earlier to be informed that I would now be flown to Bilbao instead!

That trip got worse when they ferried us by cab to Pamplona, and the cabbie refused to let me off, en route to the airport, at where I wanted to go. Obviously, when we then arrived at Pamplona airport at 11pm at night, and the whole place was shut, he had a captive market in ferrying me back to where he had previously whizzed past, charging me €50 for the privilege.

So that's my nomination. Iberia are the worst airline ever. What's your worst airline flight ever, and what airline would you never fly with again?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Grass up this nonce

This piece of walking faeces has been raping young boys for years and posting the pictures for other perverts on the internet.

Interpol are very keen on finding him, so much so that for the first time ever they've publicised the pictures of him.

If you know this man, or know where he is, or can identify him in any way, please contact your local cops ASAP.

Or, if you prefer, simply torture the prick to death, since he clearly doesn't deserve to live. No jury on the planet would convict you for doing that.

Eco-idiots, plane and simple

Eco-morons are currently preventing passengers at Manchester Airport domestic terminal from getting onto planes.

These delusional hobbits apparently believe that stopping people from going about their business (businesspeople being far and away the biggest travellers on domestic flights) is going to convert millions to their 'return to the Middle Ages' ethos.

Perhaps they should have turned their attention to the low-cost airlines that ply routes abroad instead, since that is where the bulk of so-called 'binge-flying' actually takes place.

But that would make sense, and these morons rarely make sense. As one astute London blogger has spotted, the last time these freaks held a protest, they protested in the wrong place.

Instead of targetting Easyjet, instead they targetted a completely different company. And now we see them, arm in arm in armtubes, blockading the wrong terminal at an airport.

The best thing about global warming is the prospect that these idiots will fry.

Friday, October 05, 2007

When is torture not torture?

When it's conducted by the American government, of course!

If I kidnapped you and held you against your will, slapped you repeatedly about the head, held you in freezing conditions and plunged your head regularly under water threatening drowning, you wouldn't be best pleased.

In fact, you might well describe such behaviour as torture.

And it would be, as long as I'm not a member of American security forces. If I was, then I could slap you around the head all I want, deprive you of sleep, humiliate you, keep you in freezing cold conditions, and simulate drowning by holding you underwater as much as I liked.

And it would only be 'taking action to protect the American people from further attack.' And I would be a 'highly trained professional interrogator', not the medieval torturer you thought I was.

Glad to have cleared that up for you all.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I always tell the truth, even when I lie.

Is there any other possible explanation for Bertie's continuing, conflicting, fairytales about his financial dealings?

Thanks to Armchair Activist from Politics.ie for the photoshop!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Juntas don't vote for voting rights for all

Trocaire director Justin Kilcullen has called on the Irish Olympic Committee to consider a boycott of the Beijing games in protest at the Chinese authority's tacit refusal to put pressure on their fellow-travelling Military Junta in Burma.

At the Burma Action protest in Dublin on Saturday, Mr Kilcullen stated that the Olympics had gone to China in the hope that holding such an open and global event would encourage the Chinese Communist Party to move faster on providing basic human rights to the citizens of China.

"However China hasn’t kept up its side of the contract," he said, and who can disagree?

I've written before about how China has denied its people even access to information about themselves and the regime they suffer under, by firewalling the internet.

Their pals in Burma have gone one step further and switched net access off throughout the country in the hope of preventing images of their brutality leaking to media outlets outside of Burma.

I've spoken in the past about how China has abused its military might by occupying a sovereign nation's territory and seeking to wipe them out culturally and politically.

Of course, The Karen people of Northern Burma might well see a parallel there in their own fate. They have fought an intermittent insurgency against the illegal military junta for years. They have reaped genocide as their reward.

I've even highlighted how China has behaved in exactly the same way to its own internal demands for democracy as the Burmese Junta are doing now - with military force and the shooting of unarmed, peaceful protesters.

It is therefore foolish to expect such a regime to exert pressure on an identical one to encourage a democratic process. Turkeys don't vote for Christmas, and military juntas don't vote for voting rights for all.

Nevertheless, as I wrote last week, the Chinese are in a major quandary on this one. They cannot be seen overtly supporting the suppression of a people's demand for freedom, especially by such an internationally unpopular regime.

The world has spoken in relation to Burma, but it must keep speaking out if the UN mission to Burma is to achieve anything. It must also keep speaking out in order to force change in Burma, not only for the benefit of the people of Burma, the Burmese, the Karen, the other ethnic minorities.

It must keep speaking out because only when Burma is free of this horror, can we hold out a slender sliver of hope for the people of Tibet, for the people of China itself, all of whom yearn for their own sovereignty and for democracy, for human rights and freedom.

So for all of those reasons, we should support Trocaire's call for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hairstyles are more important than politics

According to Irishwomen, that is.

An Irish Times survey (subs required) has revealed that politics is the least important thing in my female contemporaries' lives. Only 9% rank politics as very important to them.

Financial independence was considered to be the second most important thing to women. Hardly surprising in a society only half a generation from when women couldn't work after marriage in the state sector and when divorce was illegal.

But the fact that hairstyles and personal grooming were considered more important, not only than politics, but also more important than friends or financial security, more important than ANYTHING ELSE in fact, is a bit of an eye-opener.

Since men aren't considered worthy of polling in and of themselves, we won't get to see a similar poll of male attitudes. But I suspect that a similar poll would see men put family and friends top of any list of interests (closely followed by sport, sex and of course politics.)

These findings may seem obvious to bloggers like FlirtySomething, who have long berated my tedious ranting about the state of politics in Ireland, but all I can say is that they were pretty surprising to me.

Further revelations from the strange land of the Irish female psyche are promised by the IT tomorrow and on Saturday. I for one cannot wait.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ethnic Cleansing in Ireland and Israel

Fionn Mac Cool, a poster on Ireland's leading political discussion forum politics.ie as opposed to the mythical giant whose causeway is being privatised by the DUP, made the following eye-opening pictorial comparison between Ireland and Israel.

I think the pictures say it all really.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Labour's not working

I went to a Labour Party meeting last weekend. It was the first time I'd ever done so.

Now for the first time ever, I understand why they are the half-party in a two and a half party system. The party's internal systems are stuck in the stone age.

I also now realise the reason why no social democratic party has ever been elected to govern in Ireland (unlike pretty much EVERY other European country).

It's because the only viable left-wing party in Ireland (no, the Marxist Revolutionary former terrorist Sinn Fein don't count) has never, EVER, got its act together.

And after a single meeting taster, I'm not entirely convinced that they ever will, despite the undoubted talent that exists within the party.

Recently I met with a local councillor who, after a few years in Labour, left and joined the Greens instead. They cited the internal politics as the reason for their departure.

I appreciate the need for Labour to look inwards at this time of new leadership, and decide where they want to go and what else they need to change.

But while the party's internal rhetoric remains ideological cant and internecine rivalries, Fianna Fail will continue to mop up the natural left-wing vote in Ireland, while Sinn Fein and the Greens nibble at it too. But it's a vote that by rights ought to belong to Labour.

Burmese Days

If you were a military junta that had dominated your populace by terror for decades, you'd be pretty unhappy to see your neighbouring puppet junta facing democracy protests from hundreds of thousands of civilians and religious monks.

And if you had a major world event to put on within twelve months, which you hope to use to whitewash and normalise your regime in the eyes of the world, then you'd be panicking over what to do.

Pity the poor Chinese government. Do they assist the Burmese military in viciously suppressing the demands for democracy, risking a worldwide reaction, or do they leave well alone, and risk seeing another protest in Tiananmen Square next week?

Actually, don't pity them. Instead, offer your support to the Burmese demands for democracy. Petition your local representatives. Email Bertie Ahern (he might get a chance to read them after he's finished spoofing to the Mahon Tribunal).

Congratulations are due to Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern for speaking out in favour of Burmese democracy. Ireland needs to support this burgeoning revolution. We need to call for the release of Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi now.

Otherwise, it might look like we're a bunch of racists who only support democracy when it's nice white Europeans asking for it. Nice white Europeans who we can get to come and serve us coffee for minimum wage in Dublin afterwards.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Everyone waits for the madman to die

Last month, I went to the land where everyone is waiting for one madman to die.

It is also one of the most beautiful countries it has ever been my privilege to visit, populated by one of the most friendly peoples in the world.

I took Mini-Skinner with me. We went to a beautiful safari lodge where each night, as we sat on the veranda for dinner, literally dozens of elephants came to drink at the watering hole below us. Amazingly, there were only two other guests in the lodge.

We visited the nearby world heritage site, a spectacular place of awesome natural beauty that was almost deserted. We stared, awestruck, at one of the greatest natural wonders on Earth, appreciating the famous statement about it that 'Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.'

We went to the local craft market, where we were besieged by craft workers, desperate to sell their excellent work at almost any price, including swapping beautifully carved statues for the grubby, sweaty baseball cap on my head.

I changed one dollar into local currency, just for a souvenir. The country itself runs on what little foreign exchange it can lay its hands on. I got a 100,000 note in the local currency for my single dollar. I was actually short-changed, as the rate was around 260,000 that day. It's a lot more now.

Of course, I was in Zimbabwe, a country of immense natural resources, stunning scenery, amazing wildlife and wonderful people. A country that has been brought to the edge of ruin by one madman, Robert Mugabe.

Thanks to this syphilitic maniac who runs the country like his personal fiefdom, Zimbabwe is now suffering major social difficulties, international isolation and possibly the worst case of hyper-inflation ever seen, and that's including pre-Nazi Germany.

According to the International Crisis Group, which monitors world crises, Zimbabwe is now close to collapse. A quarter of the population has already fled the country, including almost all of the brightest and best, like the doctors, the academics, and the entrepreneurs, not to mention the white farmers. The inflation rate is expected to top 1.5 million per cent.

Tens of thousands of people have been murdered or incarcerated by his Zanu-PF thugs. The opposition parties are regularly intimidated, independent media discouraged by lengthy prison sentences, and the poor cleared from their shanties just as the whites have been murdered on their farms.

Even the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, himself black African born, is now calling for sanctions against Mugabe's regime in order to force the maniac to stand down.

There is an apocryphal story, possibly untrue but likely true, that when George Bush senior was calling a halt to the first Gulf War in 1991, he contacted John Major to ask that all British forces inside Iraq pull back to Kuwait.

Apparently, an SAS troop reported back that they were in Tikrit province, close to Saddam's family compound, and wished to know should they assassinate the Iraqi dictator first, or simply pull back.

History might have been very different if Saddam had been removed then. Perhaps the 1.2 million excess deaths in Iraq since the US occupation began might not have occurred.

But whether that tale is true or not, given the inability of Zimbabwe's neighbours, especially Thabo Mbeki's South Africa, to put manners on the madman, perhaps it is time for Britain to send the SAS deathsquad in to hasten the end of the man who seems intent on killing his country before syphilis kills him.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

All roads lead to Skin Flicks

Sorry about the continuing radio silence. This is the sole fault of BT. Send them mouldy kippers in the mail for me, if you can.

Hence I'm still reliant on begging, borrowing or stealing net access when I can for the foreseeable.

But on this brief interlude in the interweb world, I've discovered more disturbing numpties are coming to this blog than ever before.

Here's a taster of some of the most common, yet bizarre search engine topics that have, sadly, led people to me:

"Glenda Gilson nude" is a perennial favourite. Mate, if she wasn't nude here the first time you looked, why do you keep persevering? Even if I had nude pictures of the eyebrow bint, I'd burn them. The mere thought of it makes my eyebrows rise.

"Dali rulings on the property values in ireland" - Never knew Salvador was a follower of the Irish property scene. But given how surreal the prices are, perhaps I ought to have realised this before.

"Suicide note blog"- seriously, things aren't that bad!

From the 'You don't say?' school of internet research I've received visits from people looking for:

"trouble on the terracing leeds united"
"americans are stupid"
"romanian gypsies move to ireland"
"bad thing having a baby"
"leah betts died of drugs"
and "man utd fans trouble liverpool"

Glad to be of service to all you people seeking confirmation of the bleeding obvious.

From the extremely disturbing end of the sexual spectrum, I've been visited by freaks looking for:

"belfast transvestites"
"michel platini nude"
"nude mad mullah photo"
"posh english boy pussy"
and "looking for a girl in cavan for sex"

Serves me right for calling the blog 'Skin Flicks', I guess.

But each and everyone is welcome! Hopefully, one day soon, I'll even have some decent political commentary back to entertain you all. In the meantime, look at the pretty picture of a kitten above.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Swearing Lady leaves Gombeen Nation

I'd like to give a shout out to the new blog on the block Gombeen Nation, who comes dripping with bile and legitimate anger about topics as diverse as the Irish Language industry and Padraig Pearse's latent (or is that blatant?) homosexuality.

Clearly an angry man after my own heart, he's one who'll go far, assuming the death threats from Gaelgeoiri don't succeed.

On the flip-side, I have to acknowledge much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the blogosphere (and that's just from me) at the apparently imminent retirement of everyone's favourite Profanist, The Swearing Lady, pictured right, swearing as usual.

Her tales from the Arse End of Ireland will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

NI bigots advise Iraqi bigots on peace

The world, with its constant ability to astound and amaze with wonderful ironies, has managed an absolute beauty of the genre this week.

The sectarian leaders overseeing the internecine bloodbath in Iraq have sought the help of Sinn Fein and the DUP in learning to overcome their differences.

Yes, when you find yourself embroiled in a bloody conflict between two communities who look the same, speak the same and worship the same God in marginally different ways, the people you need to help find a way out of the horror are obviously those who managed to sustain an identical conflict for three decades past its sell-by date!

Getting advice on creating peace from Martin McGuinness is like getting lessons in bedside manners from Dr Harold Shipman. And being taught about mutual respect and cross-community engagement by Jeffrey Donaldson is akin to being tutored in multiculturalism by Adolf Hitler.

If the Iraqis, already beleaguered by the ongoing occupation of their country by Britain and the United States, really needed some advice from Ulster politicians, surely the people to send were Nobel laureates John Hume and David Trimble?

The fact that those loons McGuinness and Donaldson were sent not only underlines the pointlessness of the exercise, but also confirms it as nothing more than a junket for those whose attention ought to be on the tanking Northern Irish economy instead.

PS I am very keen to let known my thoughts on Africa, and have plenty of pics to accompany the ranting. However, ongoing net deprivation in the burbs continues to frustrate. Please stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dear Respectful One

Okay, so I've moved house but the interweb has yet to follow, so updates will continue to be at best sporadic until technology catches up with my new life in the Southside suburbs.

In the meantime, my recent love affair with Africa, of which I hope to blog about real soon, has taken a dent this morning when I received the following 419-Scam mail.

I am, apparently, a 'respectful one' (shows that Mary Mark, some sort of African hermaphrodite perhaps?, doesn't really know me).

I'm also still a bit bamboozled by the verb 'eructed'. Can anyone cast any light on this word, or is it merely some portmanteau nonsense forged in the illiterate minds of the netscammers of old Abidjan town?

Just when you start getting a degree of positivity and hope about the dark continent, along come the scumbags of West Africa to remind you of why the place continues to be a disaster area in the first place.

"From mary mark"
Subject: Dear Respectful one,
To:Send an Instant Message mm_mary46@yahoo.ca
Dear Respectful one,

I am totally convinced to write you in reference of the transfer of ( 4.5 U S$ )to your account for onward investment (industries) in your country. Though we have not met before but I strongly believe that one has to confiding in someone to succeed sometimes in life. There is this amount of Four Million, five hundred thousand U.S dollars ($4.500, 000.00) which my late Father (LateMr.T.Williams Mark) deposited for me in a private finance and storage firm here in Abidjan before he was assassinated by some unknown hoodlums in on going political
war here .

Because of recent political/civil war eructed here, I decided to invest this money in your country or anywhere safe enough outside Africa for security and political reasons.

I want you to help me to transfer this fund to your country for investment purposes on the followings below:

1). Telecommunication.
2). Automobile manufacturing.
3). Five star hotel.
If you can be of assistance to us, we will be pleased to offer to you the 20% Of this total fund (indicated above).

Further details will be made known to you on confirmation of your interest to assist me . Your urgent reply will be highly appreciated.

Thanking you and God bless.
Mary Mark."

God bless you too, Mary Mark. Now go shove your scam up your hole. I'm tempted to scambait you, but really couldn't be arsed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Out of Africa

I'm still alive. The leopards and lions and hippos and crazies didn't get me, so I'll be back blogging shortly, by the start of next week at the latest.

Photos and commentary to follow

Hope you're all enjoying the rain!

(Sorry for being evil, but it's hard to resist.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Takin' a break

Everyone's gotta take a break sometime.

I'll be back by the end of the month, hopefully with a new look for the site.

Be good, y'all.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The boom keeps getting boomer!

As if the ongoing housing market collapse wasn't enough, now the government have the following little problem of rising unemployment to contend with.

Most concerning is the fact that these jobs are being lost in the services sector, the area we were supposed to excel in after abandoning our manufacturing base and most of our agriculture to elsewhere.

There is now a sizeable segment within Fianna Fail who appear to be unhappy at the prospect of having to clean up the economic mess they themselves created. For them, the smarter move would have been to lose the last election, and then cast Fine Gael and Labour as a bust coalition once again.

Thanks to the hubris of Bertie and his unshakeable desire for a third term, they're now stuck with having to deal with falling house prices and rising unemployment, while trying to keep the three mutually unintelligible aspects of their coalition - the Greens, the PDs and the FF genepool independents - all happy.

It's gonna end in tears.

But for Bertie, sure he can just hand the poisoned chalice over to the anointed successor and vanish, a la Tonee B-liar, off towards a happy twilight on the international statesman equivalent of the chicken and chips circuit.

Rumour is he fancies the Euro-presidency. Nice work if you can get it. So for Bert, the boom just keeps on getting boomer, just as long as he can keep nasty Justice Mahon away from his financial details.

For the rest of us, falling house prices, significant unemployment, inflation and economic difficulties lie ahead.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

You couldn't make it up

Straight from the 'fact is stranger than fiction' winter collection, we bring you prestige couturier Louis Vuitton's latest supermodel - Mikhail Gorbachev.

Yes, the former Soviet Union supremo, the head of the Communist bloc, is now modelling for a French fashion house.

God bless Champagne Socialism, eh?

On a separate note, moving house is a total pain in the hole.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Safe home, and don't forget these other 5,000 troops

As 38 years of Operation Banner comes to an end, perhaps we can finally put the spectre of the troubles behind us and move forward.

Then again, it would be a lot easier to do that if it weren't for the 5,000 British troops remaining in the North of Ireland even though the UK government has 'no strategic interest' in the place.

I'm no cornerboy republican, but this looks like more games with language from the British government to me. If 5,000 troops remain on Irish soil, then it's still under occupation. If 5,000 troops remain, then the operation is still ongoing. No PR spin can change those realities.

I look forward to the day when ALL the paramilitary organisations lay down their arms (are you listening, UDA?) and when ALL the British troops have withdrawn from the North of Ireland.

At that point, it might finally become possible for people to speak to each other, listen to each other, and create a democratic society moving forward without the baleful influence of the British military, their Loyalist proxies, or their Republican enemies.

Until then, it's a case of 'Slan Abhaile' to those troops leaving, and 'Can you take your 5,000 mates with you, please?'

Below is one of many murals depicting the theme of this very day. This one, by renowned artist Robert Ballagh, was done in Derry in the mid-Nineties. But similar images have graced walls in the Short Strand, Falls and Ardoyne areas of Belfast.

Monday, July 30, 2007

You are now entering Gay Derry

The past two Friday nights, I've ended up in a gay bar. Fair play to my same-sexed compadres, they do know how to throw a party and keep a bar open a reasonable length of time.

I'm not gay myself, and I have some reservations about the wisdom of attributing the term 'marriage' to a gay union. I'm also not convinced about the necessity for gay people to adopt kids. But these aren't major issues for me. I've got gay friends and we tend to talk about other things.

Mind you, the North of Ireland has rarely been a friendly place for homosexuals, so it is to be welcomed (even if it is hideously garish, dahlings) that 'Free Derry Corner' has been painted pink in support of gay pride week.

Of course, openness to the gay community has not always been the hallmark of all of the North's main political traditions. Who can forget Ian Paisley's campaign over gay rights in the Seventies? (Clue: he wasn't in favour.) Or more recently, his son's expression of personal disgust at gay people?

So it was perhaps not surprising that two posters on Politics.ie decided to imagine what a gay eye for another notorious Northern Irish mural might result in!

St333ve goes for the subtle pastel look above, while Lenster Hauser prefers a more edgy and contemporary vision below!

Bergman finds Bergman films too depressing

While reading about the death of Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman at the age of 89, I came across this brief review of his career in the Guardian.

As it explains:

"In later years, Bergman rarely left his home on the Swedish island of Faro and a reputation as a recluse, a stern old magus locked away from all but his nearest and dearest.

In the course of a rare interview in 2004, he admitted that his own personal favourites of his films were Winter Light, Persona and Cries and Whispers.

However, he added that he rarely watched any of his movies because he now found them 'too depressing.'"

How odd. I never realised I had something in common with Ingmar Bergman. But I do. I found his films to be too depressing to watch also.

Anyone seen the Simpsons movie yet?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Who did it come from and why?

Okay, now that we've cleared that up, only two questions remain to be answered.

Who gave Ireland's Prime Minister $45,000 in 1994, and why has he been making up implausible stories about the payment?

When the girlfriend and supersecretary of Bertie Ahern, Celia Larkin (right), dropped into his office at St Lukes in December 1994, at his request, to pick up a suitcase full of cash and take it to the AIB bank and deposit it, where had the money come from?

Who gave Bertie such a massive sum of American currency, in cash, a sum he has consistently blustered and given ever-changing and bizarre explanations for? And more importantly, why?

Let's recall that Bertie, formerly a Finance Minister who didn't have a bank account, the allegedly qualified accountant who signed blank cheques for his mentor, corrupt former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey, initially claimed that this cash was an amount that his landlord Michael Wall had given him in order to refurbish the house he was renting.

Of course, such an amount to refurbish a relatively new home is bizarre to begin with. To have your landlord hand it over to you in foreign currency banknotes is stranger again. Since Bertie was signing so many blank ones for Charlie, you'd think these people might have heard of cheques.

For that landlord to subsequently sell the house to his tenant only a couple of years later, after ploughing £30,000 STG into it, makes virtually no financial sense whatsoever, especially since he sold it to Bertie for only £140,000 punts and had only owned the home for a couple of years, during which it seems Bertie was renting it the whole time.

Remember, this is only ONE of the strange payments Bertie received in cash at that time. Let's not forget the two whiprounds totalling £8,000 punts that he got from businessmen pals in Manchester. Or the debts of honour, totalling £39,000 punts he received but never repaid until this all became public in 2006?

Then there is the £50,000 punts he had apparently saved up between 1987 and 1994, despite having no bank account in that period.

Now that we know that the £30,000 STG house improvement donation from Michael Wall doesn't add up, the question remains, who did give Bertie that money, which appears to be $45,000? Was Bertie receiving large undeclared cash donations from American interests?

And more importantly, why?

Sadly, like the end of season cliffhanger, we've now got to wait for months for the answer. Tune into the Tribunal in the Autumn to find out.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chinese bad habits

The Chinese government are telling their people to quit their bad habits in advance of next year's Olympics in Beijing.

Reuters reports that citizens are being warned not to swear, spit or litter, and to learn how to queue in a line properly.

Such a terrible pity that it's not the other way round. I've little doubt that the Chinese people would only love to tell the Government to quit their bad habits, which are a lot more serious that clearing your throat in public or failing to line up neatly.

Invading sovereign nations like Tibet and subjugating them, for example. That's a very nasty habit of the Chinese Communist Party.

Or stifling all dissent by murdering or incarcerating anyone who dares protest against any aspect of the regime. That's a very nasty habit dating back to the time of that crazy old psychopath, Chairman Mao.

Starving the people in needless famines, that's probably the most nasty of the habits of the Chinese one-party government. They've done it repeatedly too, causing tens of millions of deaths.

And rewriting history to suit their own ends, so that everything they don't like, such as the KMT's leading role in defeating the Japanese during the war, or the Tiananmen Square democracy massacre of 1989, gets airbrushed out of their history. That's a tremendously nasty habit right there.

There are plenty of bad habits that ought to be corrected before China is permitted to hold a global event like the Olympics. But spitting and swearing are the least of them, I'd suggest.

Boycott the Beijing Olympics.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Get your kids off Myspace

It's now time to get your kids off Myspace.

After various US states forced the Rupert Murdoch-owned firm to identify convicted sex offenders with profiles on the social networking site, they were horrified to discover that nearly 30,000 perverts had profiles on the site, which is popular with teens and even younger kids.

This is after Myspace had already removed 7,000 profiles of convicted sex offenders from the site. And this figure only includes American sex offenders, not those from any other country.

What's even more concerning is that word about using Myspace to contact underage kids seems to have gone out among the pervert world. How else to explain the quadrupling of the number of sex offenders on the site in the past two months?

Its rival in Ireland and the UK, Bebo, seems to be somewhat more serious when it comes to online safety of the underage. They appointed Irishwoman Dr Rachel O'Connell as their safety officer some time ago, and this week they introduced a set of educational resources to promote the safe and responsible use of social networking across its user community.

Which is not to say that I'd recommend permitting your children to spend hours unattended on any social networking site. But kids will be kids, and if they must be on a site like this, then it's clearly safer that they use Bebo.

And of course, it's of the utmost importance that parents involve themselves in their children's online lives, and inform themselves about the risks involved. Nothing makes a child safer in any walk of life than their feeling able to speak to and confide in their parents about everything.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Time for a new immigration and asylum system

So finally the authorities have started removing the Roma who had been living in their own faeces on a motorway roundabout, seeking to extort free money and housing from the Irish taxpayer.

News reports have revealed how these people, with no visible means of support, had nevertheless been banking four figure sums in Western Union accounts. Either that money came from begging, such as I have already highlighted, or from out-and-out robbery.

Comments by Gardai in some news reports suggest the latter, in the form of handbag snatching, is the most likely source of much of the income they obtained.

The Romanian embassy is appalled by the behaviour of these people. They have repeatedly said so in public too. The Irish authorities have done their best for them, repeatedly offering them free flights home, healthcare, social services assistance, and even going so far as to take into care three at-risk children from the camp, which is soiled by the collective faeces of over 100 gypsies.

But none of that is sufficient for these people, who gravitated here from France and Spain seeking free housing and dole outs of funds from the Irish state, seeking to claim asylum (even though no EU citizen can claim asylum in another EU state) and demand the same lengthy list of freebies that other nationals have eagerly came here to receive.

To achieve that aim of a free life at our expense, these people robbed, begged, refused their children education and lived in their own filth. That is child abuse, pure and simple. While the women and children should be heading back to Bucharest, the menfolk ought to be doing prison time for those repeated acts of child abuse. But they won't. If we can get them onto a plane we'll be lucky.

As for the 38 refusing to leave, prison is now the preferred option. Warrants should be issued for their arrests on child abuse charges. Investigations by Revenue and the Gardai into the source of their incomes should proceed, and charges forwarded to the DPP in relation to tax evasion and theft.

The Romanian government should receive the bill for this. They have behaved honourably, but issuing handwringing statements is insufficient. Perhaps if they were forced to pay for the behaviour of their nationals, they would start taking this issue much more seriously.

This country showed good grace and the desire to help others repeatedly in the recent past and has seen that grace abused by criminals from all over the world. We've had 97% of Nigerian nationals who sought asylum proven to be liars. We've seen hundreds of cases of asylum seekers breaking the law in Ireland once given the chance of a new life here.

This shouldn't surprise anyone, except perhaps the bleeding heart professional vested interests of the likes of Pavee Point and the Refugee Council. After all, it isn't cheap to get to Ireland from Romania or Nigeria. Only the criminal classes can generally afford to travel. Those in real need of asylum, the people of Darfur, or Uganda, or Cambodia aren't coming. They can't afford it.

And with the accession of the Eastern EU states, we've seen the influx of Roma gypsies, who don't want to work, but are happy to live in their own squalor, use their children to beg with menaces, are suspected thieves and known to be fond of resolving disputes with large knives.

People forget we didn't have to open the doors to these people. We didn't have to permit large scale abuse of the asylum system. We showed hospitality and saw it repeatedly and systematically abused on a massive scale.

I propose we shut down all asylum programmes with immediate effect, and refuse entry to the state to anyone who shows up without the correct travel documentation.

In place of the current system, which has shown its flaws and inability to keep up with the scammers, I suggest we take two Aer Lingus planes and fly them to places with known and proven need.

Let us prove our dedication to the asylum process by removing ourselves from all current conventions and conducting an emergency intervention programme in actual warzones. Let us fly planes to Darfur, to the Ivory Coast, to Uganda, and to the other places at actual war (unlike Nigeria or Romania) and give a new life in Ireland to people who actually deserve it.

In most of the places on the planet where people have the greatest need of asylum, Irish charity workers are already on the ground. We should consult these NGO workers to establish who ought to be given the chance of a new life in Ireland and use them to establish screening processes to keep out criminals.

Then we can rest assured that we really are doing our bit to assist the most unfortunate. Unlike these thieving Roma chancers or the scamming Nigerians we foolishly let in thus far.