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Friday, August 28, 2009

How to end clamping

A Frenchman told me tonight how to prevent clamping from taking hold in your neighbourhood.

Buy superglue, and keep it on your person.

The next time you see clampers immobilising some poor bugger's car, just wander past the clamper van and squirt a whack of the superglue in the lock. Do as many doors as you can.

According to the Frenchman, in his town (he didn't specify and I didn't ask, sorry), when they introduced clamping, everyone armed themselves with superglue.

Within a matter of weeks, the clamping was cancelled, due to the cost of replacing locks on their own vehicles.

Obviously, this is not legal. And I'm not suggesting that the spineless citizens of Dublin should follow suit in defending their liberties against clampers as the French have.

But wouldn't it be fantastic if they did?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The REAL danger of music piracy

I read Seanachie's piece on home taping with interest and a degree of nostalgia.

What person, anywhere on Earth, who's currently aged between 25 and 50, DIDN'T make a mix tape, or record a live concert off the radio, after all?

And he's absolutely right - home taping didn't kill music at all.

He makes an interesting point (borrowed from AquariumDrinker) about the development of CDs. Basically, we can now acknowledge that the compact disc format brought us nowhere as consumers, but was a great payday for the record companies.

CDs couldn't record, were fragile, looked rubbish and cost more. What mugs we were for buying into that one.

I recall in the early Nineties visiting a factory in the West of Dublin where they made CDs. They had just installed a facility for making a whole new thing called DVDs. I was intrigued, and a bit impressed.

Until they showed me a DVD and it looked exactly like a CD, only double-sided. Now, I wasn't impressed.

"This is the same technology, right? You've basically taken two CD surfaces and put them back to back, haven't you?", I asked.

Effectively, with a little additional information compression and creation of further storage space, that's what they had done. The factory manager looked a little guilty and sheepish.

"We nearly didn't open this facility," he told me in confidence. "But a lot of money has been spent on this format worldwide. The music and entertainment industry are going to get behind it anyway. I reckon we'll get five years out of it."

"What happens then?" I asked in all innocence.

"The future is no media at all," he laughed. "Things will be stored virtually and you'll just download them onto your stereo or TV when you want them."

That was the first time I encountered the concept of digital media storage in the home. The industry knew it was coming a decade before it properly did, but they just had to squeeze one last tired media format out there in the hope that we'd all be mugs and buy all our albums all over again for the third time (or perhaps replace all our VHS and Beta tapes with shiny DVDs.)

Of course, with its business model predicated on soon-to-be-defunct product, that factory no longer exists today.

But it reminded me that we owe these industries no loyalty. The entertainments industry and their pals at Sony and the other format creators have systematically and cynically been ripping off the public for decades, selling them one set of Emperor's new clothes after another.

CDs were shit, so were CD-Rs, so were DVDs, so were DVD-Rs, so were... you get my point. It was all a delaying tactic (a lucrative one, too) aimed at preventing the dawn of the digital virtual storage era.

Now we're in that era, they've returned to a previous position - the mantra that piracy kills music (or film, or whatever) coupled with preposterous law suits against individuals worldwide.

Memo to those industries: suing your customers is not a smart business model.

As a result, there's been a predictable backlash, and now we're seeing 'Pirate Parties' sprouting politically in different nations. This is of concern, but not to the big entertainment industries. This is of massive concern to writers, painters, musicians - artists themselves.

On the one hand we have Google seeking to digitise and publish online every book they can lay their hands on. First they started with out of copyright books. Now they don't seem to care what they digitise. They've offered a crappy deal to authors who can take it or leave it. Google doesn't give a shit for creator's rights. They want to own literature, and that's what they're intent on doing.

In this regard, buzzing flies like the Pirate Party (basically a load of 'no to everything' anarchists) become extremely useful idiots for entities like Google. As the pirates agitate against copyright and intellectual property ownership, they seem to resemble a grassroots campaign that backs all Google's arguments.

See here, says Google. Look at these misguided European hippies. But say, perhaps they're right? Perhaps no one should be able to own intellectual property that they created? Why isn't every book in the planet free to all?

The real danger of music piracy is not that people make copies of things for their own enjoyment.

The real danger of music piracy is that it has led to the situation where we now find ourselves with music firms suing their own customers, and the public backlash against that is being used by multinational corporations to erode the concept of copyright so that they can steal the world's literature.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The sound of sirens

Hello sirens, my old friend,
I'm on the Northside once again.
Because when I was in Clonskeagh,
a gentle quiet came over me.
Now the Northside skangers are yelling in the night,
about some shite,
amid the sound
of sirens.

In restless dreams I walk alone,
through hordes of drunken Gaa-head clones,
neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp,
when my kidney was stabbed by the knife
of some junky skite.
Oh what a fright,
amid the sound
of sirens.

And in the naked light I saw
Eighty thousand boggers, maybe more.
People drinking without speaking,
People puking and then pissing,
People throwing their shite in my front garden,
They all dared,
despite the sound
of sirens.

You fool, they said, don't you know
the Northside's full of crazy Joes.
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach you.
But their words like silent raindrops fell,
and were lost,
amid the sound
of sirens.

And the people drink and bray,
and piss and puke outside all day.
Perhaps I should have heard the warnings,
Resident protests seem habit-forming.
And the signs say that they'll clamp you
right outside your own door,
by tenement halls,
amid the sound
of sirens.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Trapped in Dublin

Are they trying to trap us here?

First the security chimps at Dublin airport go on an unofficial work to rule, preventing nearly 100 passengers from getting to their flights before they departed.

Then the main train line to the North mysteriously falls into the sea.

And there is a strike on at Dublin Port that could start affecting passenger ferries at any time.

Already it costs money to leave Dublin via motorway, and of course, with the Greens in government, that will keep rising.

Are they trying to stop us from leaving so that we'll be forced to pay their preposterous new taxes in the Autumn?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The grumpy parent's Q+A

BBC's online magazine asked readers to answer ten of the most common difficult questions that children ask. They didn't publish my suggested answers for some strange reason, so I reproduce them here instead:

1) Why don't all the fish die when lightning hits the sea?

Why don't you go swimming during the next thunderstorm and ask them?

2) How much does the sky weigh?

Who fucking cares? Do your homework! That is one of your homework questions? Meh. I'm getting you moved into Ordinary Maths next term.

3) Why can't people leave other people alone?

Are we talking about kids in your school or strange smelly old men in grubby white vans?

4) Why are birds not electrocuted when they land on electricity wires?

They wear tiny wellies, obviously. Tiny invisible wellies.

5) What is time?

The thing you're never on.

6) Why is the Moon sometimes out in the day and sometimes at night?

Because it's not subject to my curfew. Now get your sorry ass back inside the house!

7) Why did God let my kitten die?

He hates you, of course. Actually, God didn't let your kitten die. There is no God. Must've been you who killed it. And no, you can't get a puppy to replace it.

8) Why do I like pink?

Because you're gay. Your mother's heart is broken, by the way.

9) Why is water wet?

It's not as wet as you, with your pink and your kittens and what not.

10) Why does my best friend have two dads?

He doesn't. He has a dad and a mum like anyone else. But his mum left when she found out his dad was a batty boy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Take your medicine

Anyone else see the egghead student whining in the Indo today about not getting into medicine?

Some privileged 17 year old from Tipp got a load of A1s in her leaving certificate but failed the aptitude test for medicine which they introduced this year.

Now she's in the national press moaning her hole off about how terribly unfair it all is, since last year her top grades would have secured her a place in any of Ireland's medical schools.

Talk about missing the point.

We've had years of only the very bookish students being permitted to study medicine and, do you know what? It didn't improve our health service in the slightest.

In fact, the doctors themselves have been complaining that the system was promoting eggheads into medicine rather than people who actually had a vocation to be doctors. The Irish Medical Organisation has been pleading for changes to the system for years.

So now we finally have a system that says you still need something massive like 520 points in the leaving cert, but also demands that you pass a test designed to see if you're suited to being a doctor. Good news for all.

Except for whining Marie Claire McGrath. She blew the aptitude test after aceing her leaving cert. In short, she's been found out in a standardised test not to be a suitable candidate for medicine. The test itself examines specifically "a candidate's logical reasoning, problem solving and social skills." We'll come back to that in a minute.

Marie Claire clearly feels entitled to study medicine. So entitled that she's moaning in the media. You can't blame her for feeling entitled. Unkie is a well-off doctor and she'd like to be too. She tactically dropped subjects and changed schools (to one in Cork!) in order to max her chances of passing these exams.

She's also the kind of person who gives up easily. Having blamed the HPAT test for her own failing of it, she now 'doesn't know what she wants to do', but is not considering repeating the aptitude test for medicine.

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't want doctors who give up and whine at the first moment of failure. I want doctors who stay the course and get people well - who are prepared to fight, in other words.

I also don't want doctors who are so nakedly ambitious and self-entitled. Marie Claire's idea of problem solving isn't to retake the test or rethink her suitability for medicine. It's to complain in the national media. The test, she feels, is at fault rather than her. That's a major breakdown in logic: the test failed her; she didn't fail the test.

I don't know what her social skills are like, but if they're like her logical reasoning and her problem solving, it's not a bit of wonder that she flunked the aptitude test for medicine.

The whole point of the new medical entry system was to weed out the unsocial, self-entitled, egghead medics and replace them with warm caring human beings with a drive to help people. That's what the aptitude test is for, and it looks like it worked perfectly on this occasion.

Perhaps Marie Claire, a 17 year old girl who apparently 'dreams of working as a GP' since she was a kid, should take her medicine and go and do something else with her life.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Radio Telefis England

RTE are a joke. Let us count the ways...

They hoover up the licence fee yet ram the airwaves full of ads too

They spunk the proceeds on preposterous wages for eejits like Gerry Ryan

They settled actions for millions with people like Beverly Cooper Flynn and Monica Leech when they could and should have insisted on getting every penny back for their coffers

They can't do comedy at all

They're riven with internal politics, with half the organisation seeming to be plotting against the other half at any given time

But for me the main reason RTE are a joke is because of their slavish forelock tugging to all things English all the time. The newsroom acts like independence never happened, banging on about the royals and British 'celebs' all the time.

But the greatest disgrace is their sports department. Not for nothing is RTE known among League of Ireland fans as Radio Telefis England.

In recent weeks, we've seen stunning performances from local clubs in the qualifying rounds of European football. Bohemians narrowly robbed of victory against Trappatoni's former club, Red Bull Salzburg.

Derry City's mighty giant-killing run. Or best of all, St Pats Athletic's stunning performances that has brought them to the very brink of the group stages of the Europa Cup, formerly known as the UEFA Cup.

Pats' performance in Russia was so remote that only 3 fans were able to travel to witness it. Thank God, then, for RTE, the national broadcaster, who picked up the live rights from the Russians and broadcast the game to the fans back home.

Did they fuck. They didn't even cover it on radio.

The national team played its first ever game in Limerick yesterday. The national football team in an international friendly against Australia. You'd think people who couldn't get down to Limerick might want to watch that on TV. Well, they did. And they had to watch it on Setanta, because once again RTE couldn't give a shite for broadcasting Irish football.

Wait another few days though. Wait till the showpony parade of the English Premiership begins again, with all the hype and all the money. Wait for RTE to start tugging its forelock and giving a foreign football league more coverage than it gets from the national broadcaster in that foreign country.

Throw in their Celtic fixation and blanket coverage of British clubs in European competition, and you'd think that you were watching a British broadcaster, such is their sports coverage.

They've even been covering English test cricket on their news bulletins recently! I've no problem with cricket being covered - Ireland is a new test nation after all. So why don't they cover OUR IRISH team instead of a foreign one?

RTE - Radio Telefis England. They're probably already orgasming at the thought of covering our 'home' Olympics in 2012. In London, of course.

Friday, August 07, 2009


Courtesy of Amhran Nua, I bring you the unofficial guide to NAMA (click for big):

Monday, August 03, 2009

Keep your daughter off the pole

Those were the wise words of Chris Rock to all fathers everywhere. The one duty of a father, he said, was to keep their daughter away from a career stripping.

It's probably redundant to add, keep her out of porn too. That's sort of implicit in what he said. Yet increasingly, the San Fernando Valley in California is inundated with girls who think that they might have found a back door to fame by whoring themselves on camera.

I was watching a documentary the other night about Ron Jeremy, the world's best known male porn star, and I found it tragicomic, poignant and ultimately depressing.

Here's a man who is engaging, warm, friendly and self-deprecating. A man from a good New York Jewish family, who works like a navvy even at 50 plus. A man who many other men believe has had the best life in the world.

Yet he's lonely, depressive, and ultimately frustrated in his lifetime ambition to make it in mainstream movies as an actor.

That got me thinking: if that's how life ended up for the industry's success story, how did others fare in porn? Then I found this blog, which tracks porn stars after their career. And the answer to my question was revealed. And it was frightening.

Sure, Stormy Daniels is running for Senate and Jenna Jameson is a millionairess. But what about all the others? Let's start with Chasey Lain, who was once so well known that she had a top 10 hit written about her.

Now a crackpipe ho. Pretty tragic. But she's still alive. Which is more than can be said for:

Billy London: murdered, his head and feet found in a dumpster
Marilyn Chambers: heart attack after taking prescription meds
Bryan Kocis: murdered by two other gay porn actors
Buck Adams: repeated heart attacks caused by drug and alcohol abuse led to his death at 52
David Wasserman: suicide
Missy: dead of a drug overdose at 41
Anastasia Blue: dead, apparently from drug use
Megan Lee: suicide by gunshot wound at 26
Melba Bruce: dead in her thirties in mysterious circumstances
Miyouki Asou: suicide at 22, believing porn had ruined her life
Paige Summers: drug overdose at 27
Star Stowe: murdered by a serial killer at 41
Elisa Bridges: drug overdose at 28
Dorothy Stratten: murdered
Lea de Mae: died of brain cancer at 27
Kathy Harcourt: found shot in the head, possibly self-inflicted
Vanessa Freeman: murdered at 30 by her boyfriend
Angela Devi: suicide by hanging at 30
Naughtia Childs: found dead at bottom of a stairwell, either suicide, murder or accidental death while tripping on LSD
Trinity Loren: overdosed at 34
Rene Bond: dead at 44 from liver cirrhosis
Rebecca Steele: died penniless in a motel room from a drug overdose at 42, while suffering from full-blown AIDS
Taylor Summers: murdered by photographer in possible snuff movie shoot
Terri Diver: dead at 29 from a drug overdose
Sheridan: wiped out in car crash at 20
Lolo Ferrari: died from 'mechanical suffocation' at 4o, husband spent time in prison for it.
Lisa de Leeuw: dead from AIDS at 34
Eva Lux: heroin overdose at 32
Britney Madison: died in car crash at 21
Chanel Price: overdosed at 35
Zoe Zane: murdered aged 18
Cal Jammer: shot himself aged 34
Haley Paige: dead of an overdose, boyfriend committed suicide before he could be questioned as to whether he had murdered her
Nancee Kellee: hanged herself
Alex Jordan: found hanging in her own closet, suicide or auto-erotic asphyxiation suspected
Savannah: shot herself aged 23
Julie Robbins: died in a car crash possibly caused by her being impaired at the wheel aged 26
Linda Wong: drug overdose at 36
Kristi Lynn: died in a car crash, suspected to be drunk at the time of driving
Shauna Grant: shot herself aged 20
Chloe Jones: died penniless of liver failure caused by alcohol and Vicodin abuse aged 29
Jon Dough: Suicide by deliberate overdose aged 43

And others are alive, but clearly damaged:

Kay Parker: believes she's been alive for 6,000 years.
Lori Michaels: faked her own death to avoid porn fan stalkers
Houston: former drug addict, cancer sufferer, now a Christian, sacked from her job because of her porn past
Alisandra: arrested for employing underage girls as strippers
Janine Lindemulder: jailed for tax evasion and lost custody of her kid
Tommy Saxx: jailed for credit card fraud
Fleur Brown: crack addict, jailed for trying to sell the virginity of a 13 year old
Hyapatia Lee: suffering from multiple personality disorder following the trauma of her porno experience
Jack Venice: jailed for raping a college girl
Max Hardcore: jailed for over three years for abusing women in his videos
Tony Eveready: jailed for possession of cocaine and guns
Danielle Rush: crippled in a car crash
Barbara Dare: broke and living with her parents in her late 40s
JR Carrington: a prostitute in a Nevada brothel
Marilyn Starr: convicted and jailed for insider trading
Melissa Walker: jailed for attempted murder

I probably didn't need to reproduce so many names. But I wanted to counter any charge that I was cherrypicking horror stories here.

Sure, some porno stars get out alive and relatively well. Though who knows what's going on inside their heads?

But this lengthy list of casualties has some common threads running through it: drug abuse, suicide, criminality, suspect car accidents, murder.

Given the small number of porn stars, and the incredibly young ages some of these people died at, it seems to me that one of the best ways to preserve your life to a respectable age would be to avoid porno as a career choice.

Let's go back to Chasey Lain before I finish. She was the subject of the Bloodhound Gang's 1990 hit 'Ballad of Chasey Lain' in 1990. But nearly two decades on, she's still apparently doing porn, when her crackpipe addiction permits her to perform.

She has a son. She's still not even 40. But like others on this list, she'll be dead or jailed soon enough, judging by the video above.

I'm no prude and I'm not judgemental. I'm not a big fan of porno generally. It's monotonous and sort of gross sometimes. But it's not a $10 billion industry for nothing. People like it and buy it and use it all the time.

Someone's making that $10 billion, but it's clearly not the performers. Not those who died through murder or suicide or overdose. Not those in jail, or ill, or mad. Not even relatively successful and affluent people like Ron Jeremy or Jenna Jameson.

And whoever's making the money clearly doesn't give a shit for the performers, who to them are as dispensible as the tissues they wipe down their sets with when their done filming.

I recently came across a campaign against cocaine which berated coke users for being 'selfish' because something like 3 square metres of rainforest is cleared to produce every gram or so of the drug.

What a species of people we are, who care more for trees than we do for people.

Porno can be bad for people who consume it, since it can become addictive and replace genuine affection and sexuality in people's lives.

But it is far more destructive to those who perform in it. When will we see an anti-porn campaign that is based, not on Christian disgust or feminist outrage, but on genuine concern for the people being damaged by the industry?

Do we really care more for Brazilian trees than we do for flesh and blood people?