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cavehillred AT yahoo.co.uk

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.