Sunday, February 25, 2007
And a wonderful park it is too, and the GAA should be rightly proud to have shown it off to such effect to the world.
The anthems issue, talked up to all sorts of heights by the media, was a non-event, and the real talking points all relate to the quality of the performance on the pitch.
A great day for Irish rugby, Irish sport in general, for the GAA, and indeed, given how the whole island united behind Irishmen of all hues in the home of Gaelic nationalist sport, it's a pretty good day for the Irish nation.
A pretty crappy day for the handful of numpties who saw fit to protest the appearance of England at Croke Park, though, as best evidenced by the idiot above, who seems oblivious to the fact that Glasgow Celtic are a British soccer club, and hence twice as 'foreign' as a 32 county Irish rugby team.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Dear perverts, please leave this blog alone, zip up your trousers, go have a nice cold shower and then get a life, preferably one with a proper actual living woman in it. Thanks, JC.
The hypocrisy of some people is truly astounding. Michael McDowell lambasting other politicians over their dealings with the press, for example. Or Catholic clerics who condemned people as sinners for having sex outside of marriage while raping children themselves.
But among instances of spectacular contemporary hypocrisy above and beyond the call of duty, the biscuit has to go to Madonna, for banning her daughter from even seeing boys until she is 18 years old. (The child is currently only ten.)
She is worried that boys might lead her precious little Lourdes astray. Not half as astray as she herself has wandered in the past, I would suggest.
Let's remind ourselves of Madonna's own track record. She began her career as a nude photographic model in New York as a teenager, having gone through a number of schools due to her rebellious streak.
A trained dancer, she first got into music by shagging a musician with whom she formed a band. Then she formed another band with another 'boyfriend', and recorded some songs.
She got one of those songs released and got signed to a record label. She then recorded her debut album and got another 'boyfriend' to remix it for her. Since then she has shagged her way through Hollywood stars, basketball players and even women in an attempt to remain in the headlines.
She has made two soft-porn coffee table books featuring herself nude. She has children by two separate men, and one she dodgily adopted in Africa away from the child's own father.
Her eldest daughter, over whom she is now so concerned, is known as 'Lola' and 'Lolita' in the family home.
But now that she's a mumsy, huntin' and shootin' English lady of the manor who writes crappy children's books that are as risibly poor as her acting used to be, she's worried about the bad influence of boys on her daughter?
Wait till little Lola cops what you got up to, Madge. I can't think of a worse influence on an impressionable little girl than a tarty Mum who made a mint being a professional tramp, then turned into a hypocritical prude.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
I hate girls who wear make-up. Why? Because it's a lie, just like if I shoved three kilos of sausages down a codpiece it would be a lie.
Like Hamlet said, 'God gave you one face and you make for yourselves another.'
For some examples, see to the right, or else click here to view more examples of what transformations have been achieved with the application of paint.
The combination of alcohol intake (known as beer goggles) and make-up (aka 'slap') has been known to make all sorts of munters look like supermodels, only without that food-avoiding anorexic bodyshape.
This is why I hate girls who wear make-up. It's a blatant trap aimed at deluding drunk men into thinking that some women are better looking than they are.
Why is this bad? Because if a relationship is based on physical attraction alone, it's not going to last long. And if it's based on physical attraction that's not going to last past the hangover and the wet wipes, then the relationship won't survive past breakfast and the walk of shame.
Get over yourselves, ladies. Stop spending fortunes enriching lying bastard cosmetic firms in order to perpetrate your own lies yourselves.
Then you might be surprised to find that the fellas who show an interest in you are actually really interested in you, and not the face you're faking with slap, and then the 'relationship' might have a chance of making it past tomorrow lunchtime.
Plus it makes a nasty mess on the pillow.
This has been a JC Skinner public service announcement.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Thanks to KrayZpaving of Politics.ie for this.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
It comes as no surprise to see that the direct rule paperpushers are seeking to implement a truly outrageous 20% hike in local housing rates.
This of course comes on the back of a previous 12% hike, and the fact that water charges were removed from the rates to be made their own separate charge, the injustice of which I have previously mentioned in recent times.
By my basic maths, if someone was paying around £500 in rates for their average Belfast house (see image) two years ago, then they're looking at a combined rates and water charges bill of somewhere in the region of £790 this year, a whopping increase of over 50% in only two years for a service no better than it was before.
Oh, and of course that would increase to £1,026 by 2009 (a doubling of costs in only four years), and probably by a minimum of 30% or more again in 2010 when houses are again revalued for purposes of assessing these charges.
These increases are not aimed at providing better services to NI householders. The water charge wheeze in fact will almost definitely result in worse service, according to research into previous examples of water provision privatisation in other locales.
No, these charges are simply aimed at reducing Northern Ireland's resource drain on the British taxpayer. In short, London is tiring of us and intends to tax us out of the United Kingdom if necessary.
However, devolved authority in the Assembly would have the power to overturn these appalling attempts to extort money out of people who simply cannot afford it, especially those who are asset-rich and cash-poor as a result of their family homes rocketing in value in recent times.
It is now essential that all the Northern Irish parties come out and categorically state what they think of these arbitrary and scandalous hikes in charges, and what they'll do about them if elected.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Rumours of imminent job cuts at Independent Newspapers are reaching my ears. Hopefully they aren't true, but the rumours do appear to be consistent and substantial.
The Sunday Business Post and Roy Greenslade have already hinted at this, but what I'm hearing is genuinely disturbing.
Is Gavin O'Reilly really intent on outsourcing the production tasks (taking journalistic copy and pictures and turning them into newspaper pages) on his national papers to an office in Armagh, where ad copy is already processed?
Job adverts have already appeared in Armagh, offering salaries approximately half of what staff in Dublin currently receive. And if this is what's going on, then what will happen to the 200 or so production staff set to lose their jobs in Dublin?
Not that the management like it, but the Indo Group is unionised, and I understand that the NUJ may already be involved at this stage.
If jobs are to go, then hopefully the union will be able to negotiate fair settlements for all.
But the scale of these cuts appear to be on a level much higher than had been previously forecast.
And if this is the case, it translates into a further death knell ringing for the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent and Evening Herald, which would be well on their way to becoming mere copy generating shops in the capital, while the backroom work of assembling newspapers is done outside the state.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Whatever happened to good old Robin Hood and taking from the rich to give to the poor?
I ask this in the context of the Irish Labour party proposing tax cuts which will disproportionately benefit the better off. Now we'd expect this from the 1% party, the Progressive Democrats. And sure enough, they didn't disappoint during their conference at the weekend.
Fuhrer McDowell, who had vowed not to engage in what he called 'auction' politics before the election, waved a nice cut in the top rate of income tax to entice his well-heeled, but increasingly vanishing electorate.
Today's Sunday Telegraph, a paper usually considered to be the mouthpiece of the old guard Tories in Britain, has a fascinating little poll in relation to the rich in the UK.
Nearly three-quarters of voters believe that the wallet-busting, multi-million pound bonuses awarded to top earners in the 'City of London' are "excessive" and need to be curbed. The other quarter polled were, I'm guessing from the Torygraph's usual readership, recent recipients of such bonuses.
The poll by ICM also revealed that nearly 70% of people think the gap between the highest paid and average earners is too large, and 43% believe Britain has become more selfish under Tony Blair.
The Loadsamoney stereotype of the city trader, as portrayed above by Harry Enfield, typified the excesses of the Thatcher era. But it has arisen again, only nowadays the stereotype of bling-bling excess materialism is considered a legitimate aspiration rather that worthy of contempt.
When even the Torygraph is complaining about excessive greed, you know that it is appalling in the extreme, especially when social inequity has never been so acute.
In commentary accompanying the stats, one New Labour MP Ian Gibson claimed that senior party colleagues are "very sympathetic to the rich. They have their holidays with them, they are envious of them."
So here's my question. Given that the gap between rich and poor has never been wider, and since Labour in Ireland are proposing tax cuts and Labour in Britain are holidaying with the superrich, who in the hell can I vote for who will promise to tax the have-too-muches and close the gap with the have-nots?
In other words, when even the allegedly left wing parties are playing the tax cuts game, who is the Robin Hood party?
Saturday, February 17, 2007
The Ian Bailey libel action against five newspaper groups has ended suddenly. It seems that the eight year action, which Mr Bailey took when the newspapers suggested he may have been considered a suspect in the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, was settled out of court yesterday.
The newspapers' defence was always that they had not said he was the murderer of Ms du Plantier, but that he was considered a suspect by the Gardai. Bailey sought to argue that they had attempted to pin the blame for the murder upon him.
But following the sudden end of the action yesterday, when the newspapers agreed to pay some of Mr Bailey's costs from a previous action which he lost in the Circuit Court and waived the costs they themselves had been awarded, the allegation that Mr Bailey was a reasonable suspect in the case, for which no one has ever been charged, remains standing.
Cutting through the jargon for a moment, it seems that either Mr Bailey murdered Ms du Plantier or he did not. If he did, then the correct forum for these debates is in the criminal court, not in a long-running libel action. If he did not, then he has been tried in the court of public opinion.
Either way, the call from the newspapers to reform the libel laws is correct. But they should have added that a full review of the competence of the investigating Gardai in this murder case is also necessary.
It is now over a decade since Ms du Plantier's death. The fact that no one has been charged and tried for her murder is yet another indictment of the Gardai. A woman died in hugely dubious circumstances. Ten years on, her family still do not have the facts of her death.
That should not be lost in the legal to-ing and fro-ing between a ruined former hack with a penchant for spousal abuse and the red-tops that fingered him as a likely murderer without his having been convicted of the offence.
Let's pass, for a moment, on the fact that I was watching the 'Late, Late Show' on a Friday night. I shouldn't have been, and I'm truly sorry. I am deeply penitent and can promise you that it will never happen again.
Especially after tonight's episode of 'Pat the Plank Patronises the Plebs' transpired to be a Eurovision special.
Yup, an entire two hours (that felt like two years) devoted to deciding what musical suicide note was going to be this year's official Irish entry to the continent's campest competition.
(Sorry, Alternative Miss Ireland, but your contestants look like a load of marines on the march compared to the rarefied campness of the Eurovision Song Contest.)
So, firstly some obscure trad band from Sligo who tend to sing in Irish had been appointed as this year's sacrificial lamb. Dervish, taking the place of Brian Kennedy who did the odious duty last year, are apparently great stuff in the Ireland-in-aspic Fifties world of Irish traditional music.
But are they going to win the Eurovision? Hell no, but that's the point. After hosting sixteen Eurovision song contests in a row in the Nineties, RTE can no longer afford for Ireland to win the competition. Hence the cunning plan of sending street urchins to represent Ireland in recent years.
But surely, for our collective dignity, someone should have decided against placating the vociferous ego of John Waters, Ireland's most oppressed Renaissance man, by permitting some turgid ode to Euro-socialism that he'd written to be the official entry that Dervish must sing in Helsinki?
For those who have suppressed the memory, Waters threw his rattle out of the pram last year when another turgid ode he'd written was overlooked in favour of one of Brian Kennedy's own compositions. 'Fix!' cried Connacht's most oppressed son, earning the ire of Joe Duffy.
When the announcement was made by Pat the Plank last night that Water's trite song was to be Ireland's entry, there was no whooping or cheering from the bearded one, just the nod of his wise head in acknowledgement that Ireland had at last, a year late, recognised his song-writing genius.
What they actually need to recognise in RTE is that the Eurovision climate has changed now the Berlin Wall is rubble and dust, and all sorts of places that sound like rare diseases can now enter and block-vote for each other.
The result is therefore decided on who puts on the best show on the night.
Last year, the camp competition was won by some Finns dressed up as goblins, roaring bad metal, while so many fireworks went off that they threatened to set fire to half of Athens. Spectacular performance, and a sense of humour, is clearly the way forward.
What we need to do, to retain Ireland's historical Eurovision crown once again, is to round up that Derry lassie from Girls Aloud, put her in a push up bra and bugger all else, and get her to duet some crazed disco pop about group sex in a convent alongside Mary Harney in a nun's habit, while in the background Johnny Logan and Dana fight to the death armed with hurleys.
That's got to be worth douze points.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Ryanair's business model includes cramming so many seats on a plane as to make them utterly uncomfortable for anyone but a midget to sit in. It also involves charging people extortionate taxes and additional levies for 'luxury extras' like baggage and wheelchairs.
They are known in the aviation industry as 'Ryanscare - a fright with every flight' for their fast and loose attitudes to safety procedures during their terrifyingly short turnarounds at poorly equipped regional airports.
And their policy of blaring adverts for crap like scratchcards during red-eye flights is definitely going to result in some sleep-deprived passenger assaulting staff one of these days.
But their latest wheeze is an attempt to steal money which they are not authorised to take from their own customers.
Ryanair have sent out an email to any customers who booked a flight out of the UK before the 7th of December for travel after the 1st of February this year. I've included its full text below.
Basically, because Gordon Brown doubled UK Air Passenger Duty in the last budget, Ryanair are now attempting to levy a further unauthorised charge on these customers.
I booked and paid for such a flight. But now, because Ryanair's business environment was changed in the budget, they want to try and up the price of my flight. Sorry, O'Leary, you thieving scumbag, but we had a deal. You offered a price and I took it.
Just because your business climate changes doesn't give you the right to renege on an agreed price and levy further charges at a later date.
My credit card company has been warned to reject any attempt by you to take any further payment from me for my flight. And if you attempt to do so, I'll be in touch with the Consumer Association and my lawyer.
I urge anyone else who received a similar email to behave likewise.
Here's the text:
In his budget speech on 6th December 2006, the UK Chancellor, Mr Gordon Brown MP, announced his decision to DOUBLE “UK Air Passenger Duty”. This tax grab which is applicable to every passenger departing from a UK airport will generate £1bn. in tax revenues for the UK Government, but will do nothing for the environment.
Unfortunately, as you booked your flight - confirmation number DELETED before the 7th December 2006 with a travel date after the 1st February 2007 (see the below flight details), we have no alternative, in this instance, but to act as the UK Chancellor’s tax collector.
In accordance, with Article 4.2.2 of Ryanair’s General Conditions of Carriage, the additional tax amount required by the UK government will automatically be charged to the credit card or debit card used to pay for this flight booking. These credit/debit card transactions will automatically take place over the next 2 weeks
UK Air Passenger Duty Rates – applicable per person for each departing flight from a UK airport which was booked before the 7th December 2006 for travel from the 1st February 2007 onwards.
£10*(GBP) per person for each UK domestic flight (£20 on a return UK domestic flight)
£10* (GBP) per person for flights from the UK to an EU/EEA airport
£40* (GBP) per person for flights from the UK to an airport outside the EU/EEA – e.g. Morocco
*or local currency equivalent
Ryanair condemns the UK Chancellor’s unfair and regressive tax on ordinary passengers. And we urge you to write to Gordon Brown MP at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yesterday, a conference on transgender, transsexual and transvestite issues was held in Ireland, the first such conference ever held on the island.
You're still okay. Good. Now get this. It was held, not in Dublin or Galway, but in Belfast.
Right, I can see you're sweating a little, looking a bit pale. Okay, take another breath and have a sip of water. Better now? Great. Hold onto the chair. I don't want you falling off when I tell you the next bit.
There were no protests by howling lunatics waving placards with Bible slogans outside.
Oh dear. I'd better get the smelling salts. I knew this would happen.
I'll run through that again in case the first time it seemed too unbelievable.
Yesterday, the Belfast Butterfly Club hosted the Transgender Symmetry conference at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast, and transvestites, transgendered people and transsexuals gathered alongside local politicians, community leaders, health professionals and even the police to discuss gender transition issues.
Even good old Riff Raff, Richard O'Brien himself, was on hand to listen to people debate issues facing young transgendered people and transgendered people in the workplace.
And not one altar-licking nutter was present to damn them all to hell for their loathsome sinning in the eyes of the Lord.
Pinch me, I must be dreaming. Is Northern Ireland on the verge of becoming - gulp! - an open and accepting society?
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
If you're about to send a card to your heart's desire, but are fearful of incurring legal action for sexual harrassment or some other difficulty, this is the Valentine you should send!
A Legally Safe Valentine for 2007
From myself ("the lover") to you ("hereinafter called the lovee"),
Please accept without obligation, implied or implicit, my sincerest expressions of affection on this environmentally conscious, socially responsible, politically correct, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, Valentine’s Day, practised within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.
This is being communicated to you on the 14th February 2007 with due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures or sects, and having regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform or dietary preference of the lovee.
By accepting this expression of affection you are bound by these terms that-* This expression of affection is subject to further clarification or withdrawal
* This expression of affection is freely transferable provided that no alteration shall be made to the original wording and that the proprietary rights of the lover are acknowledged.
* This expression of affection implies no promise by the lover to actually implement any of the wishes unless specifically mentioned in any existing agreement pre-nuptial, post-nuptial or otherwise.
* This expression of affection may not be enforceable in certain jurisdictions and/or the restrictions herein may not be binding upon certain lovees in certain jurisdictions and is revocable at the sole discretion of the lover.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Apparently, the Minister believes that truth is becoming a casualty in the reporting of politics in Ireland. He also warned other politicians against courting cheap headlines.
Obviously the hypocrisy of the man has few limits, if any.
Wasn't it McDowell, after all, who used Dail privilege to accuse prominent investigative reporter Frank Connolly of travelling to Colombia on a false passport, and being involved in a plot to provide FARC guerillas with IRA explosives?
His accusation has been vociferously denied by Connolly and disregarded by the Gardai. But that did not prevent McDowell leaking his non-story to a pet hack at the Irish Independent.
But the end result of this appalling smear was that funding was withdrawn for Connolly's Centre for Public Inquiry, a thinktank unpopular with the government due to their exposure of state and corporate corruption.
It is no coincidence that the man dubbed the 'Mad Mullah' by the Irish Star is no fan of the media. His grubby pawprints are already all over the forthcoming Privacy Bill which is aimed at silencing the media and preventing them from doing exactly the sort of digging into the great and the good that Frank Connolly was so respected for.
He also criminalised crime reporting in a previous instance of seeking to gag the pesky fourth estate, by introducing a five year sentence for Gardai who speak to journalists.
Clearly, McDowell would rather exist in a state where the media did not exist to report on his draconian excesses of power.
One can only hope, for the sake of independent reporting in Ireland, that the electorate throw this demagogue out on his well-heeled ear come the next election.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
The people he should blame are the local politicians who, through their inability to sustain the local Assembly, have permitted the direct rule Ministers to levy this unfair double-taxation charge on the people of Northern Ireland.
Now, with an election coming up, and given that this wheeze was foisted on Northern Ireland by the direct rule wonks of New Labour, you would think that the local parties would be falling over themselves to declare themselves against this levy, which will cost the average household an additional £314 per YEAR.
Strangely, they're not. Sinn Fein have confirmed to me that they have no expressed position on the issue, and the SDLP, whose policy document is available here somewhere, seem negative but non-committal.
The DUP, who in the past claimed to oppose water charges, actually proposed them in their election documentation in 2005. At least one UUP councillor is opposing them, but again there does not appear to be an official party policy one way or the other.
At least there is a grass roots campaign urging people not to pay.
Is it too much to ask that the parties, in advance of the election, come out and tell us whether they oppose these charges or not, and whether they would undo them in the event of coming to power at Stormont, as is their right?
The people deserve to know.
And you're all very welcome!
No, what I mean is the search engine terms people use that result in them finding this little blog about Ireland, politics and my anger issues.
Among the more - ahem - startling routes taken to Skinflicks has to be the lad (I suspect it's a lad) who daily searches Google for 'Posh Spice upskirt' and keeps ending up here. Now, I don't know about you, but I'll leave whatever's up Posh Spice's skirt to David Beckham, thank you very much.
The fella from Birmingham looking for 'Jade Goody big black cocks' this evening must have been a bit disappointed too. People, let me tell you now - I have the ability to see your IP addresses!
So clearly it's time to do a little search engine optimisation, or SEO as the nerds call it. (Don't they love their TLAs?)
Thankfully, the saintly Richard over at Red Cardinal has offered to assist ALL the nominees for the Irish Blog Awards with his expert help in doing the aforementioned SEO. What a legend!
He's asked me to put a little info here to assist him in optimising the search engine terminology so as to hopefully help the right people to find this blog and help the strange people who want to know too much about Jade Goody and Posh Spice to go elsewhere.
So that's what the stuff below is about. No need to comment. And don't forget, lash across to the Irish Blog Awards website and give us an oul vote before Friday, why doncha?
Skinflicks is nominated for best blog, best political blog, best news/current affairs blog, best newcomer, best blog post and most humorous blog post.
It's niche is current affairs and politics.
Target audience is the island of Ireland, politics buffs everywhere, and news junkies.
It's been in existence since October.
And so has the domain, which is a blogger sub-domain really.
Other similar blogs include El Blogador, Slugger O'Toole, Irish Election, Dossing Times and pretty much anything listed here.
We'd like to achieve world domination. Or failing that, at least let more of the Irish political class know we're out there watching their every move.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Whatever your position on the age-old debate about abortion, and few people are ever agnostic on this issue, the news from Portugal today is not good.
Portugal, like Ireland, does not provide for legal abortion. As part of his election platform, Prime Minister Jose Socrates had vowed to introduce abortion on demand up until the tenth week of pregnancy.
But when he put the issue to the Portuguese people, only 40% of the electorate actually voted. In Portugal a referendum has to be voted on by half of the electorate as well as receive a majority of the vote if it is to pass.
That's the law. So the referendum wasn't passed.
Now this wasn't apathy. This happened because many people who oppose abortion in Portugal stayed away from the polls, realising perhaps that the divisive issue was likely to pan out against their position. And so it has occured, with an estimated 60% of those who voted approving the change in law.
But even though Mr Socrates did not receive the endorsement he sought, he has decided to push on with the plan to introduce legalised abortion anyway.
This effectively makes the whole referendum meaningless. If Socrates, clearly not as smart as his ancient Greek namesake, intended to ignore the laws of the country and the will of the people in this manner, why bother wasting the time and effort of holding a vote in the first place?
In other words, like Bertie Ahern, who kept holding referenda in Ireland on the Nice Treaty until the people voted the way he liked, Mr Socrates prefers to ignore the will of his electorate, the people he is supposed to serve, when their opinions get in the way of what he wants to do.
This is the opposite of democracy. This is Salazar all over again. I hope that Portuguese people, no matter what their opinion on the emotive issue of abortion, will unite to reject the fascist tendencies of their allegedly socialist Prime Minister.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
A spanner is a handy technical implement used for tightening up loose connections and to keep moving parts in good working order.
Steve Staunton is therefore not a spanner.
A muppet is one of an ensemble of entertainers who brought delight and joy to people the world over with their wonderful performances over a number of decades.
Steve Staunton is clearly not a muppet.
The gaffer is the person responsible for overseeing the lighting arrangements on the set of a movie, ensuring that illumination is shed both behind the scenes and on the performance that is broadcast to an audience of millions. The gaffer is often responsible for providing a steady source of power during the performance.
By no stretch of the imagination is Steve Staunton the gaffer.
Steve Staunton has presided over a national embarrassment, squandering national assets and demonstrating a hitherto unknown level of incompetence.
He has shown an utter lack of leadership, has failed to come up with even the simplest forward planning and relies on preposterous excuses to remain in his job, despite huge public unhappiness with his complete lack of achievement.
Obviously, Steve Staunton is actually a cabinet minister.
Remember the crazy Paddies who claimed last year that they had accidentally invented a revolutionary source of infinite free energy?
The gist of their claims violate one of the known fundamental physical principles of the universe - that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but can only change form.
After scientists publicly derided their claim, they placed an ad in New Scientist asking for experts to come and examine their technology and either confirm or refute their claims.
Well, they got inundated with responses, and have now commenced that process of validation. The technology even has a snappy name - Orbo - and they've promised to release details of the technology into the public sphere by the end of March.
Either they're stark staring bonkers, or they've happened across a technology that could literally solve the energy crisis overnight, rewrite the laws of physics, and usher man into a whole new era of prosperity, no longer hampered by energy limitations.
And if you look here, you'll see that they don't seem mad. Have the crazy Paddies at Steorn accidentally saved the world? It seems like we'll have to wait until March to find out.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
It seems that the popularity contest that is the Irish Blog Awards is now well and truly underway.
If this pans out like most Irish elections, we can expect plenty of back-stabbing and pavement-pounding between now and February 16th, not to mention large posters stapled to every tree and lamppost on the island, most of them probably of Kav or Dario.
Then, since this is an e-voting exercise, presumably there will be Nora Owen-esque tears from the losers and someone will abscond with €50 million of state funds.
But unlike most Irish elections, which are popularity contests between Tweedledum, Tweedledee and assorted mini-Tweedles, all of whom are the sort of power-crazed middle-aged men you'd flee from in the pub, the candidates for the Irish Blog Awards are really good, mostly.
The long list for each category is up here and a quick perusal of some of the categories reveals the very high standard of Irish blogging across the board.
Skinflicks has been nominated for best blog, best political blog, best news/current affairs blog and best newcomer. Please take the time out to vote for us in any or all of those categories. I'd offer bribes and threats to motivate you except Garda Special Branch have already warned me not to.
This now legendary guide to drinking has been nominated for best blog post overall, and this sad litany of how people name their kids after soft drinks and other horrors has been nominated for most humorous blog post.
Feel free to vote for either of those posts too. Again, sadly I can't give you a few bob for doing so, nor can I promise you that this blog will restore the health service, put more police on our streets, bolster foreign direct investment or put an end to child poverty if elected.
But don't let that stop you. As they say in Fermanagh and parts of Belfast, vote early and vote often!
Northern Ireland has sadly lacked a quality news parody website ever since Newton Emerson closed down the late, lamented Portadown News and moved into his journalism career.
Thankfully, the wonderfully monikered Slartibuckfast has come to the rescue with The Shankill Moaner, and its spin-off publication, The Irish Shinner-Dependent, both of which can be found here.
As a taster, I offer you a sample from the latest edition, based on that age-old contemplation of born-again Christians, 'What would Jesus do?'
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny wants to see random drug testing introduced into Irish schools. I would direct his attention towards Dail Eireann first.
On three separate occasions in the past two years, Irish newspapers have found evidence of cocaine usage in the Dail bar toilets.
First Ireland on Sunday discovered that cocaine had been used in the Dail toilets on Budget day. Then a year later, the Irish Daily Mirror repeated the experiment with the same results. Most recently, the Irish Star tried again, and discovered once again that cocaine had been used in Leinster House.
That's a 100% hit rate for a class A drug. Clearly evidence that if there is one location in Ireland outside of certain Dublin nightclubs that badly needs a randomised drug testing regime, it's Dail Eireann, not Irish secondary schools.
Simon of the Dossing Times has launched a petition calling for Irish politicians to be drug tested. I urge everyone to go and sign it now.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Living in denial seems to be one of the most common pastimes these days.
In fact, it's probably the third most common pastime in Ireland today, behind slumping in front of the telly to watch CSI: Miami and slurping wine with friends while comparing the notional values of their overseas property portfolios.
I thought it might be useful to run through a few known facts that people are living in denial of in Ireland today, just as a reminder and in the vain hope that some people might snap out of their torpor and face up to some of the scary realities that await us all.
Today, we'll kick off with a biggie - the Irish property market.
Irish property prices are about to collapse, because it is the biggest bubble in the global property market bubble. Yes, people have been predicting this for years, and with good reason. It is inevitable. No, it hasn't happened so far, but that just means the crash will be more severe when it occurs, which is very, very soon.
That one bed apartment you bought within a mere hour's commuting distance of Dublin city centre (if you leave for work at 4am) will not continue to inexorably rise from the half million euros you bought it for.
The reason for this is because it is simply not worth anything like that amount in real terms.
Let's look at the fundamentals of this market. Historically, the average family house anywhere was thought to be worth approximately three times the average industrial wage. In Ireland, accommodation now is a factor of around 12 times the average industrial wage.
Also, the US property market has just tanked, and Ireland's exposure to America makes us particularly vulnerable to economic developments there.
Finally, didn't you notice that the only people talking up house prices are those with vested interests in selling them? Auctioneers (recently demonstrated on Prime Time to be utter cowboys), Estate Agents (who increasingly and quietly have been selling their own houses and renting), and newspapers (whose lucrative property sections which shrilly trumpet new developments are dependent on the advertising from those same developers).
Get out now if you can. Banks have already divested themselves both of their own property (HQs and bank branches) and of their property debt. The clever speculators left the Irish market at least a year ago.
This is a pass-the-parcel game where the last one holding the overpriced package will see it explode messily, devastating their finances and personal security.
Indications from data gleaned from popular sales and letting website Daft.ie show that more and more places are on the market longer, being repeatedly listed at ever lower prices and that a full crash is imminent.
There has never been a soft-landing in a bubble market. There wasn't one with Dutch tulips or South Sea stocks, there isn't one in the US housing market now or the London and Tokyo bubbles from previous decades, and there won't be one in Ireland now.
The market will crash, perhaps by as much as 30% in one year. If you are still in doubt, cast an eye over the excellent web analysis conducted at Daftwatch, and the informed discussions on The Property Pin.
Prices in London took the best part of a decade to recover from their crash in the late Eighties. Prices in Tokyo took even longer to recover. Prices in Ireland are more inflated now than either of those markets ever were.
If you've just taken out a large mortgage, you could be trapped in the property you've just bought for a decade or more, in order to avoid negative equity.
If you have a string of properties, each leveraged off the back of notional equity increases in previous properties, you are extremely exposed and could even find yourself close to bankrupcy like this fella.
The party's over and normal rules of engagement are about to resume, people. Which is good in the long term for all those unable to purchase their own dwelling, but very bad news for those seeking to make money by sitting on their backsides.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
I had promised to stop giving out about Ireland's most pointless journalist, and I was doing well, really I was.
Then my attention was drawn to this new horror. No, not her girth. I mean the fact that Newstalk have given Roisin Ingle airtime outside of the wittering women's hour that is the Orla Barry show.
Fair enough, it's scheduled for during my nap between breakfast and the early cross-channel soccer game on a Saturday, so I haven't suffered having to actually listen to the show, mercifully.
But it was bad enough to read that preposterous biog that you just know she wrote herself, thinking it was witty and self-deprecating.
Share my pain, people. Welcome to the bottom of the Irish journalistic barrel:
Weekend Blend with Roisin Ingle is a lifestyle show that combines chat and fun, with a presenter who’s young and fresh and who doesn’t take herself too seriously.
Fresh? Like a melon that gives slightly when you squeeze, do they mean? And what the fuck's a 'lifestyle' show anyway?
'This week, we've got David Norris, Michael McDowell and the O'Hailpin hurlers around the table and they'll be discussing the difficulties of being gay, fascist and Fijian in today's Ireland.'
Lord only knows.
The show will feature a lively cookery slot with Ireland’s top chefs, with tips and advice listener participation.
You heard that right, folks. Live cooking on the radio! Because you wouldn't, y'know, want to actually see whatever this week's refugee from Guibauld's or Locke's was making or how he made it. Much better to fantasise about what it tastes like while Roisin wolfs it down.
A panel of fresh voices will chat about the week’s highlights and lowlights – it will be anything but dull.
I don't believe you. It will be worse than dull. It will be a swill of fictionalised inanity revolving around Roisin's fantasy life, just like her columns are.
We intend to step out of the studio a lot – meeting characters from all walks of life. We want to reinvent the art of story-telling by forming our very own writing club. Watch this space.
Jesus wept! Their own writing club. God only knows what madness will come of that. An assortment of suicide notes and counselling session transcripts masquerading as poems, and interminable yarns about misunderstood singletons in Dublin who meet Mr Right, in the stylee of Cecilia Ahern.
Only worse, if you could imagine it.
But there's more. There's the biog:
Four years ago, she began writing an increasingly popular column in The Irish Times Saturday Magazine with material culled mostly from her own life. She writes important-sounding stuff about relationships, Reality TV and her mother-in-law-in-waiting’s Incredible Bleach Obsession mainly to disguise the fact that she doesn’t have enough opinions on lofty matters of State to fill a page each week.
A little truth in advertising at last!
Last year she put all of the best columns together, wrote an introduction and called the resulting book ‘Pieces of Me’.
Got to get the plug in where you can. Before the publisher pulps all the copies, that is.
Roisin used to like lazy Saturdays but now much prefers getting up at 7am to prepare for her Saturday morning show on Newstalk. Honestly!
Sometimes it seems as if a flock of migrating birds would display more of a sense of individualism and creativity than the entire Irish meeja. It's like the Dail - once you're in, it doesn't matter how crap you are, how many mistakes you make or indeed if, like my other bete noire Eamon Dunphy, you show up to work drunk or cost your employer a fortune through being wrong.
Once you're in the circle, you've got a job for life.
Think back, those of you who can recall, to the times when Saturday morning radio was utterly essential listening in this country. When Dermot Morgan was the only man in Ireland brave enough to take on that total crook Charlie Haughey, and won every week.
A compare-and-contrast exercise of then and now could not be more illustrative of just how far we as a nation have fallen since those heady days, especially in terms of the quality of our media.