Tuesday, 23 December 2008

This is cool

Robot toilet paper holder;

link from boingboing, gadget from here

It's Christmas - that means it's time for ...

A hate speech!

Pope Benedict said today that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.

Pretty much every blog I visit is commenting on this and with good reason. It's so mind blowingly ignorant/hateful/stupid/weird/etc/etc that I was taken aback when I heard it.

Today many in the media will howl in protest at the man, but tomorrow he and his superstition will still be "respected" (It's one of the great* religions - don't ya know!?)

* great : Def, 'Very large in size.' but when refering to religions usually is taken to imply 'august'

Monday, 22 December 2008

The Root Cause Of The Economic Catastrophe

lifted wholesale from SeeingTheForest;

Everyone understands that the root cause of this economic catastrophe was corporate money's influence on our politics. Corporations are able to concentrate money. We, the People let them do that because it enables them to undertake large-scale projects. But currently executives can access that money and use it to influence politics through bribery and/or manipulating public opinion. Deregulation, unfair tax codes, loss of consumer and worker protections and decades of falling wages and benefits have been the result -- hardly in the interest of the public.

Until we stop allowing use of corporate money to influence politcians and the public these problems will only increase.

When are we going to come to grips with that?

On a 2nd Lisbon Referendum

IMAGINE IF the Government lost a general election but refused to concede defeat. Imagine if they said that while respecting the outcome, they believed that the electorate failed to understand the issues, were misled by opposition parties and manipulated by the media. Imagine if they decided to re-run the election, threatening international isolation and economic collapse if the electorate refused to change their mind.

(sounds like Zimbabwe to me)

The above quote is from Mary Lou McDonald in todays Irish Times.

Compare and contrast this simple statement to the blatter offered by Dick Roche (and to be fair, almost everyone else in "offical" Ireland).

the fact of the matter is, your vote means nothing.

The bush Legacy

Too good not to repost;

thanks to SeeingTheForest for the link

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Guns, Germs & Steel, & Europe

I read Guns, Germs and Steel over the summer and found it very interesting and, as we're facing into another Lisbon vote, I'm reminded again of one of Diamonds theories as to why Europe rose to dominance in the past few hundred years after centuries in the Dark Ages;
Diamond also touches very briefly on why the dominant powers of the last 500 years have been West European rather than East Asian (especially China). The Asian areas in which major civilizations arose had geographical features conducive to the formation of large, stable, isolated empires which faced no external pressure to correct policies that led to stagnation. On the other hand Europe's many natural barriers divided it into competing nation-states and this competition forced the European nations to encourage innovation and avoid technological stagnation.[1]

Hurray For Ireland!

We get to vote for the Lisbon treaty again!!

While the other sucker countries of the E.U. didn't get to vote at all, Ireland shows everybody whose boss by getting to vote twice!

In olden times democracy's used to vote on things once, or for elections, once every few years but not any more!

Now, thanks to the new improved "E.U. Democracy 2.0" (patent pending) most people don't even need to vote but if, due to pesky constitutional requirements, this can't be avoided the question can be put again and again, each time with even more terrifying predictions of calamity, until the correct result is obtained!

The new "E.U. Democracy 2.0" comes packed with features;
a) A compliant press
b) Scowling E.U. bureaucrats
c) Denunciation pack filled with zingers to put those troublesome 'loons' in their place
d) The 'Vague Assurances' quote card set and
e) The "this is real democracy in action" Mad Libs prep.

Also included are 100's of pages of an unintelligible treaty that no one really understands.

So what are we waiting for?
Let's get voting.
Don't worry about the result, we can always be asked again...

David McWilliams Sez We're Doomed

You know, it's true. Everyone is saying It Went Wrong So Quickly, I had this very conversation with a Taxi driver on Saturday. The problem, as far as Ireland is concerned, stems from...

[snip] easy credit. If we look at the activities of the three largest banks in the country since 2004, we see that they all nearly doubled their loan books, funnelling money into the country.

To achieve these rates of credit growth, they abandoned all sense of banking decorum and borrowed heavily abroad. As a result, domestic spending went through the roof and Irish inflation rocketed. The prices of everything rose; as did wages. This massive increase in Irish costs was ironically most easily gauged by free-spending Irish tourists complaining to Joe Duffy about the great value they could get in Spain in comparison to home. The difference between a dinner for two in Spain and the same in Athlone, became the staple conversation of the new Irish middle class.

All this disparity was telling you was that Ireland was pricing itself out of the world market. We could only keep the show on the road by borrowing even more of other people's money we didn't have, to buy stuff we didn't need.


Joseph E. Stiglitz on the Credit Crunch

He gives 5 reasons for the crunch, but they can be summed up as follows;

The truth is most of the individual mistakes boil down to just one: a belief that markets are self-adjusting and that the role of government should be minimal

A Guide to Critical Thinking

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Great and Telling Tales

Two of a series of short and interesting videos.

This first one deals with the brain. It's amazing to think that until quite recently they didn't know what it was for.

This one deals with the notion of Golden Ages - something very many people seem to take very seriously. A few years ago in a pub I reckoned that this was the best era yet for "mankind" I was roundly attacked and regaled with tales of parents idyllic lives pre-1950's. For me it sounded like ignorance was indeed bliss.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

A Message from the Auto Industry

Socialism for the rich continues unabated ...

from BoingBoing

Monday, 8 December 2008

Stupid Ban on Veritas Ad

A friend challenged me to post about this as it's to do with "the other side", but the truth is I'm for free speech in general and I can't see any reason why Veritas should not be allowed to advertise openly.

Publisher Veritas was barred from promoting religious presents and urging people to buy a gift with meaning under strict rules policed by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland.

The watchdog claimed mentioning Christmas during an on-air advert and reading out the website address could cause offense.


What we have here is a case of the seemingly most important right - The right NOT to be offended - trumping all other rights. It's absolute madness! If someone (who?) is offended by an advert mentioning Christmas they can go fuck themselves as far as I'm concerned.

(Jesus it feels weird siding the loons)

Star Wars: Steam Punk

I admit - I nearly wet myself.


Friday, 5 December 2008

Prop 8; The Musical

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Man made 'out of body experience'

fascinating stuff this;

Brain scientists have succeeded in fooling people into thinking they are inside the body of another person or a plastic dummy.

The out-of-body experience - which is surprisingly easy to induce - will help researchers to understand how the human brain constructs a sense of physical self.


A better bailout system

ok, more more for this morning

Mitchell and Webb : Viewe Comment

An excellent sketch of a growing problem

Working From Home

A few of my friends work from home, this video explains a lot.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Santa's Wonderland Update

Following on from my earlier post - it was meant to look like this.


It just made me laugh

I have no reason to post this picture except that I really liked it.

I've lifted it from Mikes Weekly Skeptic Rant who's blog is often entertaining and usually funny.

Sounds like Fr Ted

In what sounds like a scene from Fr. Ted, an English company offered a Winter Wonderland completed with real log cabins, a nativity scene, husky dogs and other animals, as well as a "bustling" Christmas market for the bargain price of £25 per person, click on the link to see what that gets ya these days. has to been seen to be believed.


Behold the Christmas market!

Marvel at the wonderful animals in their natural environment!

Thank god Rome was cancelled

I never thought I would say that!

Rome was a great mini series and, at the time, I was disappointed that there wasn't going to be a third season. Today, however, I read this -
Heller [the shows creator] said. “The second was going to end with death of Brutus. Third and fourth season would be set in Egypt. Fifth was going to be the rise of the messiah in Palestine. But because we got the heads-up that the second season would be it, I telescoped the third and fourth season into the second one, which accounts for the blazing speed we go through history near the end. There’s certainly more than enough history to go around.”
I cannot imagine a more asinine direction to take this show in, it's up there with Darth Vader being a whiney git and Indian Jones meeting aliens, Oops, sorry, I mean "Interdimensional Beings". I can't imagine anyone seriously interested in the show would have wanted it do delve into some sort of sword and sorcery magic adventure complete with zombies and talking animals. Christ! what a maddening idea! Thank god Rome was cancelled.


Monday, 1 December 2008

3 great quotes

Noam Chomsky:
[T]he commissars, the secular priesthood, the state ideologists…I think it is an extremely corrupt group. I think this is also the group that is the most subject to effective indoctrination, tends to have the least understanding of what is happening in the world, in fact, tends to have a sort of institutionalized stupidity.

Mark Twain:

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.

George Orwell:

Whether the British ruling class are wicked or merely stupid is one of the most difficult questions of our time.

thanks to This Modern World

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel

Is it just me or did the patriotism dial just get turned up a notch over the weekend?

Perhaps the sight of 3 hour tailbacks heading into Newry over the weekend had the government, retailers and publicans scrambling over each other to hit the panic switches.

Now, I have long since realised that the governing classes in Ireland are far from what might be termed "leaders" but even I have been surprised by the doe eyed bewilderment exhibited as they shrug their shoulders and mutter something about patriotism under their breaths.

Indeed, in Ireland at least, patriotism is being redefined as
Pay more tax, accept high prices, expect poor public services, never get sick
It's remarkable how "one way" this patriotism appears. During the Celtic Tiger days prices went though the roof and the price-unconscious Irish where only too happy to pay. Needless to say there where no patriotic calls for price restrained back then. But now the worm has turn, people have less money, huge mortgages and unsecure jobs. They are angry, worried and looking for someone to blame and that list is long.

I personally think there has been huge damage done to the image of "Ireland Inc" as perceived by the people who live here. Everyone now "knows" that goods are cheep in Northern Ireland and so they will plan their spending accordingly. So even if (big IF) an Irish retailer (of whatever strip) sees sense and stops price gouging it will take quite a while before the message spreads and the natives return.

Quality Reporting in the Irish Times

When so many people rely on the both RTE and the Irish Times to "inform" them about the world it's worrying that even the simplest of tasks, i.e writing a profile of a living Irish man, is beyond them;
Just got a long letter from Journalist Brian Boyd, where he details the research that went into his profile of me in the Irish Times. He’s genuinely upset that I don’t like it, and he feels that the story is close enough to the truth to make my many objections to it moot. I disagree, because I believe that a fact is either true or it’s not, just as someone is either pregnant or not.