Oct 2006

Unrealistic expectations

I must be the only person in Ireland who doesn’t give a flying feck about Bertie’s loans. Quite how the issue has dominated the national media for two weeks now is completely beyond me. For those who haven’t been following it; it seems our current taoiseach got a few off-the-record “loans” when he was in personal financial difficulty back in the early 1990s. Initially the government tried to prevent a corruption inquiry from investigating these loans, which was actually the worst thing that occurred in my view (seeking to abuse their political power to secure preferential treatment).

During the investigation a few other things turned up; but basically it’s all roughly in the same ballpark… over a decade ago, to get him through some money-problems, Bertie accepted a few thousand quid that – in retrospect – he probably shouldn’t have. This has been seized upon by every opposition politician as an opportunity to publicly link Bertie and the idea of “corruption” in the eyes of the electorate.

Here’s my thing… there have been more important things to talk about for the past two weeks than Bertie making a bad decision 12 years ago. These ridiculous ideas in the media that Bertie’s loans “strike at the very heart of democracy” and they represent a “vital issue of public trust” are just that… ridiculous ideas. Of course Bertie Ahern is corrupt and untrustworthy. Anyone, here in 2006, who is still labouring under the delusion that any politician should be trusted needs a serious talking to. Maybe one of those “stop acting so hysterically” slaps. Politicians are a bunch of liars and cheats and should be regarded as The Enemy until further notice. OK?

Sheesh. Some people.

Leave a comment  |  Posted in: Opinion

Oct 2006

Privatising Aer Lingus (redux)

Y’know, way back in April I argued that privatising Aer Lingus was an absurd idea. It would essentially be trading an important public asset for a small increase in wealth for the already wealthy. Aer Lingus was a successful public service, doing roughly what the people of Ireland needed of it. It was under our control and had a legal obligation to serve our needs. How could we possibly expect to improve on that by putting it under someone else’s control and giving it a legal obligation to serve their needs?

It makes no sense to me. I guess most people believe that the needs of wealthy investors will tend to coincide with the needs of the average member of the Irish population. That’s not an article of faith I share.

Of course, there was one way the Irish government and their policy of selling off the family silver could screw over the Irish people even more than floating Aer Lingus… they could flog it to Ryanair for a bargain-basement price. You gotta love Bertie; he’s found a way to do both.

Yes folks; it seems that Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, has authorised the purchase of 16% of Aer Lingus and put in a bid for controlling interest. He’s paying 27% above the floatation price. So the people with the money to invest in Aer Lingus have made 27% on their money in a little over one week. And unless Aer Lingus has done something remarkable during that week to make their value soar, it poses the question of why the Irish people had their goods sold off at a price substantially lower than someone is obviously willing to pay.

Did the investors need that 27% more than the Irish people needed Aer Lingus? Let’s hope so. Because it’s gone for good. And people fond of flying Ryanair will be happy to hear that it comes in two colours now.

2 comments  |  Posted in: Opinion

Oct 2006

Brokeback to the future and incoming traffic

Deconstruction and postmodernism have a lot to answer for. Modern culture is shredding itself into smaller and smaller pieces, and recycling the sludge into a myriad new and unexpected shapes. From Hakim Bey’s wonderful essay, Immediatism

With the disappearance of a “mainstream” and therefore of an “avant-garde” in the arts, it has been noticed that all the more advanced and intense art-experiences have become recuperable almost instantly by the media, and are thus rendered into trash like all other trash in the ghostly world of commodities. Now, “Trash”, as the term was redefined in, let’s say, in Baltimore in the 1970s, can be good fun — as a sort of ironic take on a sort of inadvertent folkultur that surrounds and pervades the more unconscious regions of popular sensibility — which in turn is produced in part by the Spectacle. “Trash” was once a fresh concept, with radical potential. By now, however, amidst the ruins of Post-Modernism, it has finally begun to stink. Ironic frivolity finally becomes disgusting. Is it possible now to BE SERIOUS BUT NOT SOBER? (Note: The New Sobriety is of course simply the flip-side of the New Frivolity. Chic neo-puritanism carries the taint of Reaction, in just the same way that postmodernist philisophical irony and despair lead to Reaction. The Purge Society is the same as the Binge Society. After the “12 steps” of trendy renunciation in the ’90s, all that remains is the 13th step of the gallows. Irony may have become boring, but self-mutilation was never more than an abyss. Down with frivolity — Down with sobriety.) Everything delicate and beautiful, from Surrealism to Breakdancing, ends up as fodder for McDeath’s ads; 15 minutes later, all the magic has been sucked out, and the art itself dead as a dried locust. The media-wizards, who are nothing if not postmodernists, have even begun to feed on the vitality of “Trash,” like vultures regurgitating and reconsuming the same carrion, in an obscene ecstasy of self-referentiality. Which way to the Egress?

Hakim Bey | Immediatism

… to fanvids on YouTube in less than ten years. Even as art gets recycled as cynical capitalist propaganda, so nuggets of gold still manage to show up on the slagheap. Whatever else YouTube produces, though, has it already reached its own particular zenith? Is it soon to be replaced by the next big thing? Can it ever possibly top Brokeback To The Future? I think not.

It seems that even the most prescient of cultural commentators will soon be out of a job. No sooner do you suggest a potential direction for humanity, than you get rebuffed with a “they tried that in Japan for a while, everyone hated the shoes”. And what passes for culture is mostly commentary these days anyway. Reading some of the stuff that Leary wrote in the late 60s is like being transported to a weird alternate reality. He was perceptive enough to recognise the potential that lay in computers and communications technology. So his descriptions of the early 21st century can be eerily accurate in some ways. But then he’ll describe the social revolution he sees approaching and it all descends into a flowery psychedelic utopia. By the 1990’s it will be considered natural and, indeed, almost a social obligation for couples to take LSD together prior to getting married and raising a family. After all, argues Leary, how could you possibly know whether someone is “right” for you until you’ve tripped together?

How indeed.


I noticed that my cannabis prohibition piece got a mention on Tim Worstall‘s weekly BritBlog roundup. This fact came to my attention when my traffic shot up over the weekend. Of course, none of them stayed very long and I don’t expect I pick up much return visitors that way, but nice of them to stop by all the same.

Also visiting recently were some people from google, and I’m pleased to note that one of them arrived here having typed “i want a wank quick”. Of course, of all the sites on the internet, I suspect this wasn’t the one he was looking for. And on the same theme, it appears that some poor chap was hoping I’d advise him on “best way to wank”. I mean, what are you supposed to say? Avoid sandpaper? It’s hardly rocket science, kid.

The theme that generates most google hits is the carbon dioxide emissions of planes versus coaches. Which pleases me, as I know those people are finding the info they’re looking for (the blog post they arrive at has some basic introductory data and links to an authoritative PDF). I’m less clear, however, whether the person who arrived looking for “groovy multiple mocks” was happy with the information they found. And was the person who wanted “explain quiet thinking” any the wiser for having visited? Quiet thinking? Are there really people out there somewhere… thinking too loudly? And I’d love to think that I helped the person who searched for “weird wacky tourist travel strange unusual signs places road trip united states”, but sadly I doubt I did. Maybe next year.

As for the two folk who searched for “bollocks” and arrived at my blog, can I just say; “fuck you too!”

2 comments  |  Posted in: Media » Video