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Showing posts from 2003

Signs and Realities

During my last rather debauched weekend, in between bomb-disposal like cleaning up of my flat after an impromptu party, and watching the entire second half of the 3rd series of "Xena" on DVD, I had a few thoughts about reality, or unreality.

Actually it was triggered by an interesting article in WIRED about the writings of Phillip K. Dick. One of the main themes running through Dick's work is the uncertainty of reality - i.e. how do we know that reality is real? The concept was something that came from a really odd weekend. Something happened that was unexepcted. I had just been wallowing in the self pity of not having achieved something and suddenly, bang! It literally walked through the door and handed itself to me on a plate. It turned out that the situation as I preceived it was not in fact the true case. What seemed to be the truth was not, in fact, the truth.

What to me seemed like another dismal failure was in fact a towering triumph. Only it didn't in…

The end of an era for the Sema Group

Back in mid 2000 I got a job working for a very large computer corporation supporting laptops over the phone for corporate customers. It wasn't well paid, and we were badly managed and operationally impotent, however, it was an introduction into the more interesting world of the companies who were buying from us. Although the Sema Group were not my customer, I got to know them so well that I had contacts who didn't even have to phone me.

Its not often I write about work or work related issues, but this one is dear to my heart. When I returned to Ireland in June 2002 a job was badly needed and I spotted that oilfield giant Schlumberger was opening a service centre in Cork. Keen to locate myself outside Dublin to eliminate the bad memories of better times and an extremely destructive relationship, I applied enthusiastically - Schlumberger were one of my main customers in my previous job and I gathered they would be good to work for. To my surprise I then discovered that a y…

At Last - some Sanity

One of my favourite political footballs over the last few years has been the widespread abuse of the Supplementary Welfare Benefit rent supplement system. Basically this is the Irish government's half hearted version of Housing Benefit (for those, like myself, conversant with the UK benefits system). However, it does not have a statutory basis, which means it is up to the chaos and whimsy of the Health Boards, who seem to vacillate between giving out housing benefits to those who have quite reasonable housing alternatives and so don't need it at all, or else refuse quite reasonable cases on the most ludicrous of grounds.

Let me tell you my tale of the SWA private renter. These scumbags make up 1/3 of the private rental population in Ireland, and they - ironically - not the landlords, have singlehandedly managed to ruin the system for the rest of us, who remember, are paying out of our own pocket (as well as subsidising them). You think this sounds miserable? Let me tell …

Who's what?

Del LaGrace Volcano

Today I give to you the beautiful art work of Del La Grace Volcano, the London based photographer. I first encountered Del's work in the pages of Scene Out, the now defunct northern queer monthly. Also back in the good old days of my student times in early 90s TCD in Dublin, it was possible to get piblications such as Quim and a fabuluous left wing queer mag the name of which I forget. Between these pages were the exquisite and utterly beautiful photos of Della Grace as he was then known. Most memorable was a series of pictures which appropriated gay male porn (the Tom of Finland genre), with its sleek muscular images transposed alongside classical Grecian images of beauty. Della dressed up girls as boys, moustache-ieod, leather-clad, and for its time - quite a first - girls wearing harnesses and dildos. This was long before the big strap on craze which really only started two years ago. (Like many women, I was - and still am - mesmerised with the joys of…

We Love . . .

Shag
1960s cartoon style art. There's also a link to buy some trez cool t-shirts. Found the link on the Ursula 1000 website.


Original Jazz Classics - for posting a large hulk of their back catalogue for cheap download at www.emusic.com


Linc - for allowing me to vent my spleen on the truly awful Cork scene. (I'm patiently waiting to be lynched.)


The Afterlife - No, this athiest hasn't picked up a belief. Its a site for fans of Tom Robbins. I'm currently reading Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.

Of course, my favourite of all is the coolly logical drift of poorly translated English:

"Today, 20-Oct-2003, at 3 a.m. Moscow time was disabled Plenexis Moscow
satellite gateway.
The reason - underground floor of the building where is located teleport
was submerged by water and electrical power facilities was disabled."

It sounds so much like the linguistic flow of German or even Gaelic. I love the way that non-Latin languages separate the verb and the object. "Ha…

The Great CES Scheme Scam finally sees the end of the day . . .

Back in my college days, a great scam was thought up by the government in order to provide vitally needed job placements for long term unemployed people. The CES/Fas scheme gave people 20 hours per week work at a better rate than the then enumployment payment would have gived them, while allowing them to keep the side benefits of being unemployed ("discretionary" payments such as rent allowance).

This was back in the days when like many graduates, I worked a string of part time jobs, with an income that amounted to less than 60% of the "average" in order to make ends meet. It was back in the bad old days of creches than paid a miserly £1.50 per hour and cafes that paid £2.50 per hour - and remember that this was still taxable! At the time, I remember seeing job advertisements seeking people with between 5 and 10 years experience for relatively modest roles. Graduate unemployment was huge - it took me 6 years between graduation in 1994 and 2000 to get a full t…

Satanists at large in Kilkenny!

Paranoia Outbreak of the week - the UVF, Kilkenny covens, missing persons and Satanic Born Again Christians!


I've found the most bizarre conspiracy site in Ireland, by one Jim Cairns, formerly of South Antrim. My Cairns, formerly a resident of South Antrim, fled for the south after a failed UVF abduction. From there he started not only noticing large amounts of Satanic activity in Kilkenny, where he settled, but also a link between born again Christians and Satanism (?). Brings a whole new meaning to the notion of being saved!

Somehow, he's also managed to link this to the 90 or so missing persons cases, and the high suicide rate in Kilkenny. A rather peculiar site, it does reference the case of poor Dean Lyons, the unfortunately heroin addict who was wrongfully jailed in 1997 for the Grangegorman murders, which he couldn't have committed. Poor "Dino" spent 9 months in jail before being released. He later died in jail in the UK.

I found the link interesting…

Gramophone Awards Musings

I didn't actually manage to view or listen to the Gramophone awards last night, so today I faithfully visited the Gramophone website to see what happened while I spent my day cleaning cheap records I bought for €1-2 each in and around the second hand shops of MacCurtain St (including some rather rare old Decca LXT and SXL records). It seems that they have awarded a prize to Sir Clifford Curzon. How strange, I thought, since it appears that Sir Clifford has been no more since 1982. I searched the web in order to find out if he has in fact done a Lord Lucan, but alas it seems that Sir Clifford is indeed pushing up the daisies.

With regard to a former Gramophone lifetime achievement winner, Martha Argerich, I found this bizarre website. The Martha Argerich Conspiracy.
I thought this was remarkably interesting. The writer has a hypothesis that Martha Argerich and Mitsuko Uchida are indeed the one person, Martha "undergoes artistic transformation to perform in the inimitable …

My Pension

I thought I'd like to introduce you all to my pension. Its with (as I just found out for myself this week just before I threw out the brochure) a company called Becketts. They are a Cork based company and use the word "corporate" a lot on their website.

Now I happen to understand what the middle class civil servants on €50k+ per year didn't when they thought up what they thought was a very clever idea and called it a PRSA. This incidentally, is virtually identical to a stakeholder pension in the UK. Anyway, my unique insight is that a pension is far more expensive for somebody on the lower tax band (which means any single person earning less than €28,000 per annum with no extra allowances) than it is for those on higher tax bands, who get far more generous tax breaks for having a pension.

A second point is that one of the reason why many companies don't have a pension scheme is that in order for the scheme to be officially recognised as a company scheme and th…
My latest escapade is the holy grail of bachelorette-hood. I've decided not to bother seeking a serious relationship and seek only the joyous pleasures of the flesh. But hey, I heard you say, "in Cork? (Of all places)." Well yes, but I've figured out that the only way to do this is to avoid the notoriously sad Cork scene.

So I've rejoined the big bad world of online dating - with a difference. Instead of seeking out the fellow out gal, I've decided to explore the seedier world of the enthusiastically up for it brigade in their natural habitat of the small ad - the bi-curious. I've figured out that since most of these women are otherwise affiliated, they won't want a relationship. And so I get to have my cake and eat it. Well, that's if anybody actually replies to my ad . . .
Well, I've finally managed to fix my modem, and a phone line connnected, so now I can yak away to my heart's content!

(Go on . . . admit how much you've missed me . . .)

Firstly, I've got to do something about the main page and take off all the crap. Yes, I'm going ad-free. I never got paid for it anything, so no point in free advertising. (However, if you do want to advertise, and its legal and the bucks are worthwhile . . .)

So, first things first. I've discovered this FABULOUS band or whatever they think of themselves as - Ursula 1000. They are a NY based DJ outfit from what I can make out from their website at http://www.ursula1000.com. But if you have an Emusic account (oh don't tell me you don't? For a mere $9.99 per month which is barely €9 or a little more than the price of two pints of Stella Artois in the Bodega, you can download legally released tracks from, how shall I say it, eclectic labels. I'd advise you to look at it. Aside …