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Showing posts from 2010

Lip Service

I have to admit that Lip Service is gradually growing on me. I wasn't keen on the first couple of episodes, simply because I found so many of the characters unlikeable. I found Cat annoying, her copper girlfriend boring, Frankie is just too much of an Anglicised Shane from the L-Word to be real, and Tess, well, Tess was the more likeable, if too blatantly desperate.

As for the male characters. Oh dear. I find Jay particularly grating: on the whole gangs of gay women tend not to hang around guys who don't really respect women, though of course there are always exceptions. Tess's adoring hanger-on, on the other hand, is very true to life. I do know lots of fairly ordinary, decent guys who hang adoringly around girls who they can't ever have, not out of some mixture of ego and creepy perversion but simply because they just adore those women.

But the series has deepened. I felt the characters were a little shallow and the plotlines a little obvious in the first epis…

The Empower/FETAC scandal is the tip of the iceberg

Two years ago I was invited by an acquaintance to a training day run for the benefit of trainees at a large state department. A critical resource, which I won't go into, to protect the identity of those in powers of influence, for reasons which will become clear.

The acquaintance, after years of operating a very poorly managed sole tradership, had undergone some years of what I can best describe as a life transformation, and appeared to now be trying to make a career out of her experiences, possibly in the hope of offsetting an ailing business (which as I recently discovered, basically charges nearly 160 euros for domestic services which you can do yourself for free - I won't go into any more detail).

I stood in horror, as the acquaintance basically retold her life story, over and over, alongside numerous incorrect "scientific facts" that are not facts at all (the particular subject has 2 well cited studies, but the vast majority of references to them clearly show t…

Is it just me or is the campaign over IRFU tickets hypocrisy?

This week IRFU announced their new ticket prices to a cackle of disapproval. With the new Landsdowne Rd just christened, it seems that even a standard ticket in the new stadium for the vast majority of rugby games will set you back 100 euros a ticket. To make it tougher again, IRFU is selling tickets only as packages which means to get to the autumn series you will need to fork out 340 euro. For two people travelling together (most fans don't go it alone) you are hence talking 680 euros, plus possibly hotels, petrol, food, drink, the works.

We figured out it is probably cheaper to get a room for 2 at the nearby Four Seasons Hotel and watch the whole thing in spectacular rugby from just a stones throw away.

But hang on a minute now, only a few months ago, the IRFU had managed to goad a gullible public into backing its campaign against plans to force them to not merely sell off TV rights to the highest bidder, thus forcing fans to either go to games, purchase very expensive TV pa…

Finding a sweet spot

Well finally, things worked out. Just 5 weeks after I got let go, I've found myself and extremely lucrative contract in Dublin. Not in Cork, sadly, so the chapter will have to close on some of that life for the time being, but its on the kind of salary that I only ever dreamed I'd get a year or two ago, never mind now.

I am in the lucky situation of facing a situation at the end of this year where potentially I will have taken home an extra 12,000 euro over and above what I expected to earn. I am very close to being not only entirely debt free, but debt free AND earning a good income.

Now without wanting to brag, it was extremely hard work.

I took two pieces of advice:
firstly, the wonderful Grahame MacLoed "Ignore Everybody."

Entrepeneurship is the big buzzword in Ireland. Unfortunately its really the new black - i.e. the substitute for what David McWilliams wonderfully calls "property porn" - basically, asset milking.

Except of course, its even worse.

Silicon Valley Is Dead - a critique and why Ireland's current plans are doomed to failure

Silicon Valley Is Dead

This article explores the problematic relationship between technical innovation as a driver of economic success, and the question of depending on such innovation to rejuvenate job growth. As the article suggests, it doesn't work that way: much of the manufacturing that lies behind such innovation has long since vanished from the US, even hugely successful companies like Apple now only have 25,000 employees remaining in the entire US. Compare that to Siemens in Germany, which still employs 126,000 out of its total of 420,000 in the Fatherland. In comparison, Apple has only 34,000 employees in total - most of the manufacturing and supply chain management is entirely outsourced and offshored.

The initial few paragraphs discuss the trend whereby most industries in Silicon Valley have experienced about a 20% net drop in total employment over the last decade, although the average wage has rised. The writer points out that what is often forgotten is manufacturing, wh…

More on the real world

You know, there are times when I wonder is there two worlds in Ireland - one a make believe world, in which developers, FF politicians, NAMA employees, bankers, high end public sector employees and slumlords live, and another, in which the rest of us live.

Today, while investigating on yet another job prospect, which happens to be extremely well paid, I looked a little into pensions.  I eventually found myself on the spectacularly poor PS website on pensions, which was really shocking, but this took the biscuit:

"Target Audiences


The National Pensions Awareness Campaign focuses on the general public and particularly those sectors of the population as identified in the CSO (Central Statistics Office) Pensions Surveys and Updates as having consistently low pension interaction and coverage. These areas where pension awareness and action are low include:



Hospitality – the lowest level of pension coverage of all sectors and highest level of respondents who admitted to having limited kn…

Cowboys proliferate in recessionary times

I had a spot of time this morning to peruse one of our wonderful freesheets, in North Dublin, the Northside People.  Its poorly written in places, but the small ads are amusing.  Until I started noticing just how many of them were obvious advertising desperation by poorly thought out businesses offering rubbishy or poor services.

For example I discovered one ad for piano lessons.  As once upon a time I was a piano teacher I was curious.  What was the background of the tutor, what they were charging, etc?  Just out of interest.  I might ad I was a triple diploma-ed (all 3 teaching diplomas - 2 on pipe organ and 1 on piano) music graduate with quite a bit of experience.  I was aware of what one of my employers aptly described as "Minnie in her parlour" - offering lessons at what appears to be a professional service for cheap, but in reality is just 4th rate.  Anyway the person offering this advertised themselves as a player of piano and piano accordion, and boasted of coming f…

Getting real

One thing I find really annoying is the patronising comments you see on places like boards.ie where some idiot who got laid off and got a job in 3 days tries to patronise the other 450,000 people on the dole who are finding things much harder.

Here are some gems:
"How can you be so picky?" (this was to a number of people who either are getting no reply or getting interviews but not an offer)
"You are getting 6 interviews a week and still no job?" (i.e. "you are lying" or "you are some kind of dumb person really" - actually I've had about 5 telephone and about 5 f2f interviews but no offers as yet - that unfortunately is a symptom of how tough it is, not how dumb or unbelieveable I am - and I know this because most of my colleagues have not yet managed to get a single interview)
"Why are you happy with turning 15 applications into 3 interviews? You should be turning 15 applications into 15 interviews?" (this has to be the most dumb …

The World out there

Its been quite refreshing and also in a sense a little shocking to live for 3 weeks now in the twilight zone after paid employment, collecting modest but gladly received little payments from the state. I knew redundancy was eventually going to head my way, I just didn't know when. When I started my last job it was on the same day that a bunch of guys in a different dept were being laid off. And 2 of us started that day. I knew full well that a company that refuses to consider its existing employees for new roles is a company that one day is going to drop you right off its payroll. It was just a question of when, not if. In the end I think I went out on the 5th round of layoffs in under 4 years, 2 of which my role was euphemistically "at risk" - corporatespeak for "you are fucked sooner or later."

I very briefly signed on in the UK into a regime like something from a 3rd world banana republic and this shaped my expectations. In particular, my experience o…

Job Scare

I actually had a job scare last week. You know the kind - not that nice warm fuzzy kind where you get offered an equal or better paid job somewhere decent that doesn't cause midnight phone calls, 50 hour weeks of unpaid overtime or months of nit-picking pain. It was where I currently work. I do love how these roles suddenly materialize out of nowhere.

Well it was the best bum deal I'd seen yet. In addition to losing your payoff, but keeping your job the deal was this: in return for being the bestest out of 4 peoples, you get no payrise (there's been no rise either for 2 years now) and are labelled as "senior" even if you are junior - which basically means back to decades of 50 hour weeks, ignominy and non-recognition.

So I decided to do a little math.

Anyway I deducted my "direct cost of employment" - i.e. what I pay to rent a flat, pay the bills, a tank of petrol and basic going-to-work stuff off what I currently earn, and then the savings of being…

A few words on Mayor Dara Murphy and his superflex/recession crap

Lovely for those who do not live in the real world to imagine an unreality like this.

PS I’m being laid off next week. I’m moving back in with my mum at the age of 37.

I have two words for Mayor Murphy, and the second one is “you.”

Redundancy for non unemployed people

Well you probably know it by now. You bump into somebody casually, and ask them how things are, between wondering why they are round about at 2pm as you thought they'd a really busy job. "Well," says your acquaintance, "actually I've been let go and have had no luck finding another job." Gosh. You were not really expecting that one. And don't know what to say. So you brush some kind of postive comment up, and are shocked when suddenly your pal gets visibly perturbed, or just makes some rapid excuse and leaves. Well here is a tip on how to avoid this kind of embarrasing scenario.

1. Don't trivialise or try to dress up the unemployed persons misfortune as something great. Don't try to tell somebody that its a blessing in disguise (yes its wonderful when your income drops by nearly 70% and you have to move back in with your mum at the age of 37) or that it might be "for the best." Thats just not understanding the very severe conse…

North Strand Bombing (25 of 57)

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North Strand Bombing (25 of 57)
Originally uploaded by Dublin City Public Libraries Interesting photo. My mum had two aunts who were living on the North Strand at the time, one lost an eye but the other wasn't seriously injured. They lived to a ripe old age and only passed away around 10-15 years ago on Phillipsburgh Ave in Fairview.
The damage is quite astonishing considering there were only 4 bombs.

Cocktails - Wellington's Nightcap

The name is simply down to the name of the road I live on currently, which is named after the Duke himself - Wellesley Terrace.

I had a bottle of Hungarian Palinka - brandy basically, which was so awful to drink by itself I didn't know what to do with it. Looked up cocktail recipies, and found there was nothing much using lemon, triple sec or grendaine. Found a few using sugar syrup - good way of getting around the horrible bitterness of Hungarian liquor in general.

Anway here goes:

1 part apricot palinka or other brandy
1 part sugar syrup - basically just half water, half sugar
Lots of ice
Dash of grenadine

Shake the palinka and syrup in a cocktail shaker and strain over ice.
Add grenadine to taste.

Thats it.

Finding It Tough

This week was a tough week. After 2 months job searching in the Cork area all I've managed to cough up is one single interview, of which I have yet to receive an outcome. Even then, its a company that I am more than a tad uneasy about, since they have laid off people in other divisions in recent months, offshoring jobs to low cost locations - thats exactly what I am in right now so understandably I'm more than a little uncomfortable going straight into a job where I could very well find myself in the same scenario in 2 or 3 years time. That said, its not gone that far yet, and might not either.

Anyway, I've moved onto Plan B which is spreading the jobsearch more evenly to the rest of Ireland, which to be honest wasn't hard, as I don't think there are any agencies left down here for me to harass or companies advertising openings that I know of. I've also chased up a few leads but no luck there so far. So now looking at Dublin, which might turn out to be more…

I'm qualified, get me out of here

I do have one or two little subscritions to a few "junk"-ish mailing lists, some of which purport to sell courses, seminars and various other webinars telling people all kinds of things - but mainly "get rich quick" schemes, pseudo self-help gimmicks, and finally online marketing as well as various kinds of business advice for would-be entrepeneurs.

It is, suffice to say, reasonable to expect that such entrepeneurship has always existed, although in recent years its moved away from graduates running consultancies, to what quite frankly now is rank amateurs giving - at about 10 times the cost - the same advice you can get from a book.

I am a big fan of What color is your parachute, a simple but effective book which effectively reteaches job seekers not only how to find a job but how to figure out what they are looking for in the first place. I discovered it during a very educational 13 weeks of unemployment in London in 2001, during which the main challenges were kee…

Still stranded due to volanic ash?

Got back from Gran Canaria via a "creative route" - after I initially found the only web option available to me after my flight EI783 on 11th May was cancelled was the 18th May, I figured out it was worth checking out other options.

Initially I checked out Ryanair and Easyjet - one had availablity to Dublin and the other to the UK but at an eyewatering 270 euros. So I though - why not check out Thomson - and discovered I could get to Belfast for just 140 euros. I then got a bus into Belfast and another bus to Dublin airport (cost around 25-30 euros). But had I not had the benefit of internet service at my hotel, I'd have been screwed.

My flight was due to leave at 19:40 on Tuesday but I only got info from Aer Lingus at 14:00. Now bear in mind most people would already have checked out of their hotels. I had to book another night in the hotel costing me 43 euros (rather fortunate as I am sure other places were not so cheap considering its one of the better places in PD…

A bigot is a bigot is a bigot

Today Gordon Brown got a swipe from the meeja for describing an elderly lady who had just made the usual semi-guarded, ignorant sideswipe at immigrant as a bigot.

Isn't there something terribly wrong with a society that pretends that its ok to spout misinformation, generally based on prejudiced perception and a bit of old fashioned jealousy, but its not ok to call a spade a spade and tell those people what they are?

I mean, if you try to challenge this ignorant perception at all, then suddenly you're in the wrong.

Its basically down to this:
Loads of immigrants are here "illegally"
They are getting loads off the state
Britsh/Irish/Europeans [take your pick] are not getting these "benefits"

Its as simple as this lads.
1. If you haven't got a valid visa you'll more than likely be turned away at the arrival gates and put back on the next flight, unless of course some dodgy trafficker has promised you a job, followed it up with rape and drugging, and shoved you…

My letter of complaint to RTE should anybody wish to use it as a basis

Sir/Madam:

Writing to express my concern about a very harmful organization being effectively allowed a voice on Pat Kenny's radio programme - Core Issues.

This group practice reparative therapy and are based in Northern Ireland. While the speaker this morning was softly spoken and gentle about his approach this concealed a considerable level of potentially harmful practice by this group whose website openly mentions their connection to the American group Exodus International. Their document at http://www.core-issues.org/uploads/Documents/core%20version%205.2%20December%202007.pdf describes potential clients as "sexually damaged" and constantly mentions co-dependency. The organiser today is not an accredited psychiatrist, but a Theologian. Another link at http://www.core-issues.org/uploads/CorebroSeminarUpdate%282%29.pdf describes Mike as studying "psychodrama". I had a quick check up on this and it appears that the accrediation body has an ethical code which…

Shame on RTE for giving "ex gay ministry" a voice

Today Pat Kenny had an ex gay ministry that is trying to break into Ireland after years of being discredited in the US. You can listen here.

You might be aware of an organization called SCOTT which is trying to inform people to stop this very dangerous and harmful movement from getting a foothold in Ireland. They can be contacted here. In addition, there is a considerable level of evidence as to the harm done to vulnerable and even not so vulnerable people by these charlatans, some of whom pose as legitimate counsellors simply out to help people achieve their objectives in life.

Even Pat Kenny asked a sensible question: is encouraging gay men to marry women who quite possibly are hetero deeply unfair? This was glossed over by the speaker as if somehow, it wasn't really of any consequence. Of course, in the world of Christian fundamentalism, women don't have a sexuality so you can throw any old crap at them. Brian Finnegan was wasted on this argument: he didn't put up t…

Vocanic Plumes

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One of my great passions in life used to be plane crashes. Yeah. Towards the latter (dying) days of my last relationship, I spent whole evenings obsessively watching Seconds from Disaster, Air Crash Investigation, and anything else I could find regarding the phenomenon. I can probably tell you anything you want to know about the Ethopia disaster, the Tenerife air crash, Tuskar Rock, or the problems associated with the Comet from the 1950s. And then there was my personal favourite: BA flight 9.

It is tantamount to my old obsession that when I heard the news of the volcanic plume floating gently south from Iceland over the British Isles, my immediately thoughts were of flight 9. This was a long haul flight which took off from Kuala Lumpur (one of my favourite cities in Asia) en route to Melbourne via Perth. A few hours into the flight, the pilots noticed St Elmos fire in the cockpit. Next thing, engine 4 powered off, and while the flight engineer was battling it, engine 3 followed…

Fame & Humanity

Moving swiftly on from gorgeous meteorologists . . . well actually, kind of onto a related topic. Thanks to Dr Petra Boynton, the psychologist, sex educator and academic who tweeted about it, I read a very touching piece by Gia Milinovich, who is married to Dr Brian Cox, the ex D:Ream member who is now an academic and tv scientist, thanks in no small part to my own academic alma mater, the Open University (yeah, I'm more attached to the OU than I am to my former one of TCD, but thats a blog for another day). While many of the OU-sponsored BBC science and humanities programmes are often presented by slightly geeky academics, Cox's prior life on Top of the Pops has turned him a massive sex symbol for de laydeez.

Well, unfortunately for them, Cox is married to the very charming and herself rather attractive Gia. But it doesn't stop unthinking fans from not considering her feelings when posting away goodo on forums. And really this comes back to what I said in an earlier bl…

Representing a 360 degree view of Queer Realities

This piece is an extended version of a comment I posted on the LGBTPOV blog on the insane case of Joe Mannetti, an ex porn performer and bear who was removed from his position in GLIDE in LA for having previously acted in porn. It is believed that this was done at the behest of a complaint from one of the lesbians in the organization and taken as representative of a split between the "new school" activism which is perceived as prudish and aping heterocentric mores and the "old school" which fought hard to represent hard-to-represent groups such as those living with HIV, sex workers, those who used saunas and more marginal people within the bigger family.

As I'm familiar with the LA scene I am kinda shocked that this has happened here as the women's scene there is probably one of the most progressive in the world in terms of age, culture, style, lifestyle choices and sociality. The best example of this is the Dinah Shore weekends - there are at least 3 or 4…