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Showing posts from April, 2005

Quote of the week

Quote of the week is a brilliant one from Friends of the Earth's energy campaigner Jill Perry:
I'm amazed that people are claiming that the area should be designated a national park. What kind of national park has a motorway running through it?
(from The Guardian, today's edition)

Rip off merchant name and shame

Its not often that I name and shame a rip-off merchant, but here it has to be done.

I purchased a subscription for On Our Backs magazine last autumn, and then discovered that they were on a "hiatus" - that is, temporarily suspending their publishing. Not only that, even though the purchase came via Yahoo shopping, they still had to contact me to get my credit card number. Which is a first (I've been buying online since 1997 and never once has this happened).

I was pretty pissed off when after 4 months they were still publishing nothing, but decided to wait patiently until they started publishing again. Which they did, nearly 7 weeks ago.

Now 7 weeks later, still no subscription. And at this stage, no excuses.
I sent an email both to the sub editor, who originally contacted me about my CC number, and also to their customer service dept. No response.

So today I complained both to their customer services and to Yahoo Shopping. Unfortunately since the transaction is nearly …

Plastic not-so-fantastic

I am sick to the teeth of turning on the TV to find the latest diet of fas plastic surgery being sybtly promoted. Between dreadful programmes like Extreme Makeover, The Swan and the truly dreadful Nip Tuck, I am tired of having peoples apparent "dream come true" stories shoved down my gullet.
The entire cosmetic surgery industry, like its little brother, the multibillion dieting industry has taken affluence related neuroses and turned them into a huge industry. Unlike the dieting industry, however, the disease being treated is not a disease at all. Once of the scarily subtle features of some of the programmes shown is that the subjects are either hideously ugly or actually simply quite plain. It would appear to me that subjects are being carefully hand picked for their likelihood of good results, and not just the challenge.
The Swan is particularly henious as it insinuates that the women were all previous hideously ugly. The formula is simple. Take a plain Jane, put her …
Image
No story caught my eye last year more than than Wolfgang Lolies Santa Project.


No experience I have ever had was as odd as sitting on a 240 bus in Middleton at the roundabout at the end of the Main St and the bus driver pointing out a character in a Santa suit walking accross the road - in mid July. The driver waved to Santa, and Santa obligingly waved back. I mentioned this to my mother in Dublin on the phone and oddly enough my sister had a similar experience. She was getting a bus into town in Drumcondra when the same Santa got on the bus, sat down, made his trip to wherever he was going and got off the bus!Amusing as it may have seemed, in fact Wolfgang was promoting suicide awareness in Ireland. What a novel way to promote a cause.You can read all about Wolfgang's journey here.

Interesting Threshold Study

Threshold have released an extremely interesting study into the feasibility of institutional investment in private rented housing in Ireland.
Sadly, the report is badly tainted by some common assumptions held about private tenants in general. For example only SWA recipient tenants are considered to be "low income." It is not considered that a large proportion of private tenants - possibly even the majority, are in fact on below average incomes. In fact thats very probably why they are in the rented sector in the first place. In property obsessed Ireland, and with high levels of substandard rented property at a price that actually exceeds the cost of a mortgage, it is natural that the aspiration for most tenants is home ownership. Unfortunately the very nature of the Irish private rented sector has made it highly unattractive for all but those who cannot escape it. This point is missed out, not only in the Threshold report, but in almost all commentaries on the sector.
Th…

Snobbery or new highs in vulgarity?

I had the misfortune today of being sent a series of joke photos from a website called "Chavscum". Oh my God some of them would put you off your food. But this one was even worse. If ever there was an advertisement for contraception, this was it.

But it then sent me off thinking about the recent trend in jeering at the tacky and vulgar lapses of taste which the British working class have been descending to. Since the left-leaning years of the 1960s, its generally been cool to be working class. Even songs like Pulp's "Common People" have wonderfully evoked the hipness of the faux working class (or in Jamie Oliver's case "mockney"). Even the general greater London area accent has become "Estuary English", largely as a result of received pronounciation resulting from a large diet of children's TV presenters. This accent has basically diluted a slightly cockneyesque accent into the middle classes. (Having said that myself, I retur…