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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Stop, please! No more irony!

I am suffering from an overdose of irony.

Evening Herald columnist and stay-at-home mom Suzanne Power has an especially pertinent title to her column this week.

It's been titled: "So look, stranger, don't bore me with your sad life and pathetic small talk."

I'm still not sure if this title refers to her article, which of course is the usual oul shite about men being crap, daytime TV and bodily functions - in other words, the same oul shite EVERY stay-at-home mommy columnist writes about.

In fact, I suspect it may be a comment from a wry editor or sub-editor forced to read this drivel as they put it on the page.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

United Kingdom of Big Brother

CCTV cameras everywhere.

Corrupt police permitted to stop and search anyone they choose without need of suspicion, and arrest them and hold them for months on end without charge.

Endless databases of information about members of the public held by the authorities in insecure environments, including laptops left on trains or in taxis.

Criminal sanctions for not submitting your data to the databases.

Firearms and watercannons used routinely to suppress legitimate protests.

Authorities retaining DNA evidence supplied by suspects subsequently found to be innocent, including from children, despite being told by Europe to stop it.

A leader without a mandate who was not elected by the people, running a government that has no support, implementing laws that the people oppose and ignoring the will of the people on issues they care about.

And now the latest crackdown on civil liberties, the latest suppression of dissent in Big Brother Britain - Cops can break into your home and tear down protest posters.

Britain is now little better than an open prison.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Poison Pens Six: Feminist columnist wants to ban men

No knee jerks with such predictable, goose-stepping precision as that of a feminist when men deign to comment on female health issues.

The not-so-hidden subtext of such reactions is generally that men should STFU about women's health issues entirely, the patriarchal scumbags.

In this context, one can of course understand that British hack Melanie Reid (medical qualification: X -X chromosomes) is infinitely more qualified than a certain Dr Denis Walsh (medical qualifications: associate professor in midwifery at Nottingham University) to comment on childbirth (scroll to bottom, past the other shite she's written this week.)

Dr Walsh has opined that women are having too many epidurals these days. Not so controversial, you might have thought, to suggest that too many dangerous spinal injections for pregnant women during labour should perhaps be discouraged.

But that would be to disregard the righteous wrath of people like Melanie Reid, who, like Caroline Simons in a very different context, is apparently supremely qualified for everything by virtue of her possession of a functioning womb.

Let's start by reminding ourselves that Melanie is, first of all, a HUGE fan of medicalising pregnancy and birth as much as possible. Not for her the hippy nonsense of homebirths or that sort of delinquent behaviour. No, no. Mel wants hospitals, and caesareans, and drugs. And she wants everyone else to want that too.

Bear in mind, she's expressed some extremely strange opinions in the past. Probably the most bizarre before today was when she went on BBC Radio to talk about how caring for the elderly is bad for them and people should just let their elderly senile parents die alone of hypothermia like she did.

So let's ignore her prescriptive preaching, since it actually serves to strip pregnant women of choice. Let's ignore also her nonsense about what nasty people medics are for encouraging women to breastfeed. Let's instead focus on her latest bout of uterus-focused lunacy - men can't talk about pregnancy or childbirth because men don't have wombs.

Dr Denis Walsh is a midwife. Not just any old midwife, though. He teaches other midwives. He teaches them so well that he is now a professor of midwifery. He's been in the childbirth game for decades, and has seen the rates of epidurals rising rapidly, and he's concerned.

He's concerned because epidurals are risky, and because they lead to women needing hormones to boost their contractions, which has god knows what effect on the children. As the good doc says, we've no idea what the long-term effects of this will be.

He also reckons that there are a load of other pain relief options for women in labour. And he'd know, because he's a professor of midwifery and this is his subject of expertise.

But that's not good enough for Mel. She's got a womb, so clearly she is way more qualified to discuss such matters than Dr Walsh. In fact, she reckons that he should be sacked from his job for the sole crime of being a man - him and every other male midwife.

Let's imagine for a moment that I said: "Look here, this Melanie Reid is a pretty piss-poor journalist. Here she is criticising experts who know way more than she does. She's clearly not qualified to be doing her job. In fact, it's unnatural for her to be doing it at all. For centuries we relied on men to be journalists. All women should be banned from journalism because it's unnatural."

I take it the flaws in that argument would be evident to all. So now let's look at what Melanie has to say about Dr Walsh. (You might want to settle down and get the popcorn out for this - such spectacular nonsense rarely gets a public outing):

"There’s simply no point trying to be reasonable about this. Dr Walsh either wants women to suffer or he thinks being controversial is a good career move. Either way, this is the midwifery equivalent of bombing women back to the Stone Age. Personally speaking, I’d rather take my chances with the Taleban [sic] than inhabit a system run by Dr Walsh and his kind.

And incidentally, don’t you think men should be banned from becoming midwives? If we’re talking tradition, after all, a male midwife is even more unnatural than a pain-free childbirth."

She has no intention of being reasonable.
She'd rather receive pregnancy and labour care from the Taliban than a professor of midwifery in one of the safest countries in the Western World to give birth.
She considers his sage advice that less epidurals be used as akin to being bombed into the stone age.
She wants men to be banned from a job that many do well, saving little lives each day, purely on the basis of their gender.

Shrill? Yup. Unscientific? Yup. Kneejerk? Yup. Preposterous? Yup.

I have a little suggestion of my own, if we're in the business of proposing that people be banned from stuff. Melanie Reid should be banned from writing about childbirth, or medicine, or health, or men ever again, since she clearly has only frothing-mouthed feminist cant to contribute.

In fact, perhaps we should consider a breeding ban for Mel too. After all, she clearly doesn't like the way women are given options and advice and care when giving birth in Britain, and she clearly hates the fact that men are allowed to perform some of these tasks. And do we really want someone with such bizarre opinions in control of kids, even her own?

If she falls pregnant accidentally, we could of course refer her to the Afghani health service and those Taliban midwives - you know the ones, all dressed in black with zero education, living in squalor and under genuine male oppression - that she rates so highly.

Melanie Reid, take a bow for being the stupidest cow in British newspapers this week.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Poison Pens Five: HOLD THE FRONT PAGE!!!!

'Journalist asks question at press conference shocker!'

Seriously, I'm not making this up. About four national newspapers have all covered this non-story.

A journalist went to a press conference, plucked up the courage to ask a question, got an answer, then left.

I mean, OMG!!! All those scary old dudes there, asking about, like football and stuff. No wonder plucky Lisa has her hand totally to her chest in shock at what she's done (while posing for a photo, natch.) She, like, TOTALLY asked a question at a press conference?

I know! Like, who knew journalists did that? She should get a medal or something. Probably Fianna Fail are already tapping her up to run in the next general election.

Let's remind ourselves - this chick went to university. She trained as a journalist. Her daddy was a journalist before her. So she's seen her dad do this, she's educated and trained to do it. Why is it so shocking that she went as a journalist to a press conference and asked a question? It's her JOB to do that!

What so-fucking-what yawnathon will the Irish media treat us to next? 'Man rose early and drove electric cart to deliver milk'? 'Sun expected to rise in the East tomorrow morning'? 'Moon disappointingly not made of cream cheese'?

The media rightly get it in the neck sometimes for their sense of whats worthy of reporting and what isn't. People see endless tabloid headlines about Jade Goody, or Jordan, or David Beckham, and despair.

But this article is a spectacular classic of an even more debased genre - journalists puffing themselves and each other.

People do their jobs everyday without expectation of public acknowledgement, and many people do a damn sight more important work than asking Cristiano Ronaldo about his shorts.

Where are their articles?

People who perform surgery, fly airplanes, teach children or cure cancer, take note. Here's what a REALLY difficult job is like:

"It was mortifying from my point of view," said Lisa Cannon, "but at the end of the day that's what I was sent there to do."

Well done for spotting that, love. Yes, you went to a press conference and did your job. Congrats. Do we have to read about it in the paper everytime you do your job properly?

"It was a pretty difficult interview because I couldn't ask him any of the questions I really wanted to but I'm glad I did it," she continued.

Oh, hold on a minute. She didn't ask any of the questions she wanted to? Why not? Isn't asking some questions the sum total of her task? What stopped her? Did someone overpower her and clamp a chloroform cloth over her mouth before she could get the words out?

Perhaps she didn't do her job so well after all, if she couldn't ask questions at a press conference when your job is to do exactly that.

I don't mean to knock the girl - she's probably very nice and might well be generally excellent at her job, which I understand involves talking about clothes and make-up a lot on TV3. And it wasn't her decision to put this tripe into the national press.

My only questions remain for the national press themselves:

Why should the public give a fuck about this?

What is it doing in a newspaper?

How many 'Journalist did their job' stories do you reckon you could print before gangs of brain surgeons, airline pilots, firemen, nurses, teachers and other actually relevant people storm your newsroom and gag the lot of you with chloroform cloths?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Dude at Masada

I met the Dude again recently. He's a friend of a friend I don't see much.

The Dude is a lovely fella of Israeli background and has spent quite some time there. He may even have done military service. He's also Jewish. We tend not to talk much about Israel because we tend not to agree on much about that topic.

But I was a little drunk, and I told him I have a picture of Masada up on my wall.

JC: I swear, it hangs above my desk next to the Buddha. I have it there to remind me that Israel fell before and will again.

Dude: That's hilarious. When Israelis visit, they climb to the summit and swear that they'll never let Masada fall again. Everyone in the army has to during their training. But others who aren't in the military will come of their own accord. Even Jews from other countries come and climb up to Masada to swear. It's like an allegiance to Israel.

JC: Really? Is that why they all climb up to the top when there's a perfectly good cable car running all the way to the summit?

Dude: That's for the tourists. I bet you took the cable car. Most young people will climb up the serpent's path. It's a good old hike, but it only takes an hour or so. Only lazy foreigners ever take the cable car.

JC: Or people who don't attribute any mystical significance to marching up a mountain in the desert at dawn when you can get a lift.

Dude: You did take the cable car!

JC: Might have.

Dude: And that's why Israel is here to stay, mate. We can talk about Israel and you'll be passionate and I'll be passionate. You have your opinion and I have mine.
But at the end of the day, it's Israelis who are prepared to march up the mountain in the desert for what they believe in. If you're not prepared to march up the mountain too, how can you expect to overcome those who are?

JC: Were you ever at Masada yourself?

Dude: I took the girlfriend there when I went to visit my parents last year. She loved it.

JC: Well, it is pretty spectacular. How long did it take you to walk the serpent's path?

Dude: She was wearing heels and we had to get back to Tel Aviv later that day.

JC: Cable car's comfy, isn't it?

Dude: So what if I took the path of least resistance that day? You can't climb mountains every morning.

JC: Sooner or later, everyone's got to take the cable car. There was an old fella from the US who took the car up with me when I was there. His daughter was some sort of professor, and he was on crutches, but she left him with me and went to climb.

Dude: But she climbed! She came from America and climbed Masada. The old men can take the cable car as long as there are still younger, stronger people to climb the path. That's why they built the cable car - so that old people could get up there and experience the place.

JC: In summary, people climb the mountain so that there can be a cable car?

Dude: It's the Middle East. People kill themselves and others so that they can live freely. Why are you still trying to make it make sense?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lies, damned lies and TD expenses

Just a quick post to point out the further contempt in which Irish politicians hold their electorate.

In a brief moment of lucidity, Justice Minister Brian Lenihan decided to deal with the issue of dodgy TD expense claims by asking them to swipe a card in and out of the building.

This of course has the additional value of letting security know instantly who's in Leinster House and who isn't at any given time, which would be sort of important in a crisis, like a fire.

The response of one (sadly unnamed) TD in the Irish Independent?

"Can you imagine a member of parliament with a constitutional role having to swipe in as if he were a factory worker?"

To which, the answer from the majority of the people is undoubtedly, 'Yes, we can imagine it. But we don't want to imagine it. We want to see it done. Sign in and out so we can find out how much work you actually do, and let's see how many of you have been fiddling your expenses up until now.'

"What if a fella comes up on a Monday night and decides to go straight to his or her hotel," continued our anonymous TD. "Is he meant to swipe his card first in the Dail?"

Yes. That's the system, gobshite.

You get a card, you swipe it when you go to work and when you leave. You want to go to Dublin late on Monday night and crash out in your hotel room? Fire away. No one is stopping you. But don't expect us to pay you for going to a hotel and lying down!

It's the tone that is objectionable, the self-entitlement that oozes from every word. Scratch the surface further, and you hear of how FF members of the committee that made this recommendation to Minister Lenihan have been continually lobbied by their own party on this issue.

Bottom line is that the Leinster House mob don't want to lose their lucrative expenses and daily allowances that they can currently claim for whether they're entitled or not, because no one checks TD claims.

Earlier this year, the Sunday Mirror did. They found that Beverly Cooper-Flynn had claimed enough mileage in one year to drive the circumference of Planet Earth twice! This clearly did not actually happen, so one can only conclude that Deputy Flynn has got away with yet another lucky and undeserved payday at the taxpayer's expense.

Which is ironic, given her previous job was helping Bank of Ireland customers avoid paying tax. In different ways, Flynn has been screwing us all for years.

Or how about Bertie Ahern claiming mileage (he doesn't drive, has no licence, and as former Taoiseach already has a state Merc and driver on call 24-7) and overnight allowances (he lives in the North inner city, ffs)? Ahern's expenses claims are now about as plausible as his tax status, which continues to make no sense to anyone, least of all the Revenue Commission.

Jackie Healy-Rae also claimed thousands upon thousands of euro in mileage - yet the paper photographed him getting the train! And as a pensioner, he is entitled to travel for free anyway!

The fact is that the honour system can not be used any longer, because it is demonstrable that our TDs don't have any honour.

We need to save money - lots of money - from the state expenditure. Parliamentary remuneration has to stay top of the list. They shouldn't get to take a penny of us without hurting themselves first, because it was them and not the rest of us that scrapped banking legislation, fuelled property speculation and that blew our economy apart.

And we have to start with their expenses, the massive pay cheques they effectively sign for themselves each year without scrutiny.

Let the fuckers sign into work every day or not be paid. Let them produce receipts for everything or receive no expenses.

It's the very least they could do, and Lenihan is utterly right to demand this of them.

Friday, July 10, 2009

JC Skinner's letter on Lisbon

Dear Irish Turkeys,

Please do not vote in favour of Christmas.

The assurances of a happy festive season for all coming from our human partners in Europe have no binding legal basis.

This is the exact same Turkey-murdering Christmas that we rejected previously. No aspect of the celebration has been altered. It is also 95% identical to previous Christmases rejected by Turkeys in Holland and France.

Vote Yes or get stuffed is the message from Brussels. However the reality, my dear turkeys, is that if you vote Yes you WILL be stuffed, for good.

All the best,

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Ireland's debt clock

Ticking down to the midnight hour when the IMF turn us all back into peasants, I bring you...

Ireland's debt clock!