Showing posts from June, 2009

Incredible Rip-Offs at Garages - and ways to smash them

Last year I had to go through the misery that is the NCT. Basically the mechanics of the actual test itself are not so much of a problem as the lead up to it. Especially if you happen to be female, there is perception amongst mechanics (who are almost always in my experience, bar once, of the Y chromosone gender) that as a "stupid girl" you won't know anything about cars and therefore are ripe for the picking for a major price gouge.

Anyway last year I got the car serviced a few weeks before the test itself at an eye-watering rip off of 340 euros (ok it was from a city centre dealership related to the one I'd purchased the car from originally). A day before the test I realised that I'd blown a headlight bulb in the meantime, so I decided to go to what I genuinely, perhaps naively, believed would be a more flat rate deal from a local tyre/service place.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

It started with charging me a depicable 25 euros for a single halogen bulb,…

The Iranian Election results and what they really mean

I am curious when reading the election results in Iran, as a lot of people don't actually realise the structure of Iran's government and what powers presidents do and do not have.

Iran has at least 6 ruling bodies -
- Supreme leader - The Ayatollah, who is responbile directly for most of the critical infrastructure points - i.e. the army, and appoints the judiciary - lifetime appointment made by the Assembly of Experts
- Council of Guardians - 6 religious leaders and 6 members of the judiciary - apointed by the supreme leader but can be vetoed by parliment
- Judiciary - head is appointed by the supreme leader who in turn nominates the rest of the judiciary
- president -elected by people - I think is based on nominations from parliment that must be approved by council of Guardians
- Parliment - the Majlis - elected by the people
- Assembly of Experts - religious leaders elected by public

There is a presidential cabinet made up of presidential nominees but most of them can be ea…

Raleigh's Banksy Clone

Since I live in one of the few non-parking controlled streets in Cork city, which isn't half as wonderful as it seems as the Stolen-Traffic-cone brigade fence off more than half of available spaces, while rent allowance scum suck up most of the remaining parking with their bangers, I was most amused to discover this piece of art made up of ahem . . . acquired traffic cones in Raleigh NC.

I am half considering writing a letter to my newly elected local councillors to ask to see what can be done about people in parking zones physically blocking off what effectively are pieces of public roadway in order to prevent other people from legitimately parking on what they perceive to be their personal bits of road. (Interesting how the €10 p.a. permit charge doesn't get the message into their heads that this isn't actually their personal properly?)

A Tale of Two Tigers

I listened to two different audio podcasts this week - one from the BBC, Olivia O Leary's From Boom to Bust programme on BBC Radio 4 regarding the so-called Tiger economy in Ireland, and the Guardian's daily business podcast which included a very brief discussion on how the bottom 30% of the population gained little from growth in the UK.

You can find both here and here.

The Guardian's discussion was realistic, and Polly is quite right in saying that a huge percentage of the wealth generated went to the top earners, and the differing levels of success and failure Labour had from 1997 in redistribution that wealth. Some other panelists have suggested that those on welfare suffer least from times of recession since their incomes remain static, however debates in Ireland on the level of income replacement of social welfare and indeed, outright cuts in secondary benefits and direct cash payments for some recipients is flatly contradicting this.

O Leary's piece to be honest, …

The Deterioration of Public Buildings in Ireland

4 years ago, a Green party representative declared a "victory" over the defeat of some rather poor plans for the public baths in Dun Laoghaire. The sad reality is that while the very bad plans for the baths were shot down, the area has been let deteriorate into such an appalling state that the so-called victory now seems very hollow indeed. The shocking condition of the baths can be see on the Abandoned Ireland website here. To suggest that this was a victory now seems very hollow indeed considering the appalling state that the buildings have deteriorated into.

I often enjoyed the baths as a kid in the late 1980s and was truly shocked at how bad the conditions have become. The proliferation of hypodermic needs would suggest to me that its only a matter of time before the baths suffer the same ignomious fate as the ill-fated West Pier in Brighton, which was finally destroyed in a fire after a series of structural collapses some years ago, the result of 2 decades of serial …

No to dog fouling!

Originally uploaded by Karol A I was very amused by this thread on Flickr and Passive-Agressive notes. On the road right beside where I live, there is a family I call the "Shitty" family. I call them that because for 11 months a year the family pooch defecates on the pavement across the road to such an extent you simply cannot walk on it.

Now they must have a holiday home or more likely a caravan somewhere, beacuse they seem to disappear for a large chunk of the summer, and since this is Ireland the torrential rain we've had before this week always sweeps away their dogs mess.

This year however, with really fine weather, the smouldering heaps are now white smouldering heaps, but in time, no doubt, they too will be history.

Now my concern here as a neighbour is this -
- why do neighbours not complain?
- there is considerable fuss about illegal parking and "outsider" parking in the area, but nothing on this
- and why do the city council not clean the pavements at l…