Tourism as if people mattered

Of all the sectors to be impacted by the Covid19 pandemic, tourism has to be the worst.  Cruise ships have been grounded, and in the worst cases, left stranded at seat as public health directives prevented docking at terminals, airlines are running at a tiny fraction of capacity, the business infrastructures that service both reeling from the collision with public health needs. Hotels, bed and breakfasts, AirBNB and pubs in almost all cases have been forced to shut their doors.  Cafes and restaurants mostly the same. Sports stadiums, with seasons stopped before their end of year finals, lie quiet.

There have, of course been silver linings. Some hotels have been repurposed as social distancing friendly accomodation centers for vulnerable populations like homeless people and asylum seekers, though not always with greetings of approval from a cynical public.  Sports centres like Croke Park became, for a while, part of an extensive service of public health testing for the virus.  Local clu…

The Brave new world of COVID19

Like a lot of people I've been working from home since early March. In fact, because the company I work for is Swiss, and because they also have a significant presence in Hong Kong, my employer was wised up to this long before most, so we were sent into social distancing mode back in early March, something many found bewildering. Initially we were told not to intermingle in any of the other 5 or 6 offices in our country, so some were quite annoyed to find themselves barred from the company canteen in the other office around the corner. By the 2nd week of March this had extended to splitting the office into 2 and only 1 group coming to work. By 12th March, we were already about 5 people to a huge room about the size of an average house, and were told the office was closing for us. Everyone in my part of the organisation has a laptop and VPN setup - so we were all sent home indefnitely, but working, on full pay, we got our bonuses in April and the company quietly held its AGM behind…

Racism in the 2019 By elections

[Courtesy of the Irish Times - from Twitter]

I predicted on this blog, many times between 2004 and 2008 that it was only a matter of time before racism would become a political issue to the point that parties who endorsed it explicitly would start to find figures that would start to gain popular support.  That time is now.

Firstly, like many in FG, I am embarrassed and infuriated by Verona Murphy's comments to the Wexford People - there is no "immigrant problem" in Ireland.  We have a significant problem with services and infrastructure which is the result of demographic change - immigration is only a small part of the change and compensated for in other ways. Immigrants themselves rarely create issues, tend to arrive with useful skills and the vast majority are far more productive than the average Irish person.  There is literally tons of studies proving this, so I am not going to link.  I would suggest doing a search on Springer or some reputable research publisher if…

Heanet Raspbian mirror outage

If you live in Ireland and have a raspberry pi, or many open source linux distros, you might have noticed errors with yum or apt updates over the weekend of 21-22. Well so did I and found at least 2 others on regular raspi forums experiencing the same. So I looked up Heanet and found they have a public email for their NOC, so dropped them an email. Seems they had a hardware issue over the weekend and were waiting for a part. It arrived today Monday, and they mailed to let me know that the mirror is up. So if you redirected to another mirror, you can now put it back. Thanks to Craig and Brendan at the NOC for keeping Irish Open Source users happy!

Lyra McKee (1990 - 2019) - in memoriam

On Friday the unthinkable happened, while quickly checking over the news on my phone, the top story told me that Lyra McKee had been murdered in Derry. I didn't even get the second to think "surely some other Lyra McKee" because the photo was unmistakably THE Lyra - the Lyra I'd chatted to online on social media for nearly 5 years, the Lyra who had repeatedly sent kind thoughts whenever she thought I was upset.  The Lyra with whom a couple of times we had tried to meet up while she was quickly visiting Dublin, always falling apart on the day due to messy logistics.  THAT Lyra.

As I never had the choice of disbelief, my immediate instinct was anger: she wasn't just a random bystander, I thought, but someone targeted.  Unfortunately that is a narrative that has crept into many of the press reviews of Lyra.  But as more details came out, it became patently obvious that the target of the shooting was the local police who were policing a staged riot during which local…

LGBT grandstanding and whatnot

Back a few years ago, one of my favourite singers, Joyce DiDonato, made a few headlines outside of the classical music world by dedicating her performance at the Last Night of the Proms to the LGBT community.  Over the previous year, the singer had made a few outspoken interviews criticizing the heavy handed Russian tactics against the LGBT community.  She was not entirely alone, but in at least one interview JDD mentioned having turned down offers of work in Russia on the grounds of continued harassment of that community.

The context of the day was of course, also the annexation of the Crimea and ongoing harangue of the Ukraine.  This was prior to the more notorious political meddling in elections in both the UK and USA, with severe repercussions for the future of democracy still playing out.  So it was a very big surprise to hear that JDD is booked for two concerts in Moscow next week, after all of that.

Russian is as much of an international pariah as ever.  However, with a constan…

eBay nonsense

While many are often critical and sceptical of ebay, etsy and aliexress small ads for fake goods or nonsensical crafting, it is by no means the domain of identitarian crafters or Chinese fraudsters.  I found this auction on eBay, from a respectable Dublin based 2nd hand tech dealer, who otherwise seems to be selling respectable items such as power supplies for 10 year old HP servers and the occasional 2nd hand monitor.  As you can see, it appears to be a sale of a batch of empty iPhone boxes.  Which is rather nonsensical as the only possible value in a box is if you subsequently want to sell the phone.  To be honest, even this justification is dubious as many refurbishers sell over the counter these days, and a box isn't particularly relevant.  But hey, the internet is just as dodgy as ever.