Showing posts from 2011


It's interesting to see how 2011 has panned out and although I don't buy into the myth that the market will find its own balance and taxes are the big evil, I was rather surprised to see that tourism has picked up quite a lot over the last year.

Surprised because I do find that for a log of the sector, prices have gravitated back towards the extortionate prices of 5 years ago, for everything from room prices to food. Even the lowliest bnb now charges 10 euro minimum for breakfast, which makes that 45 buck room look decidedly more pricey. Similarly, free parking is thing of the past and other things have rapidly crept back while service is poorer than ever.

One laughable feature is gentrification through price. Food and quality doesn't change but a marketing uplift creates an illusion that quality is up to match a new higher price, which in fact hasn't changed! One of the dirty tricks of the Celtic tiger.

Another one that's come back with a bang is leaving the 17 ye…

Priory Hall, the apartment crash, Daft hypes again, and all that

2 interesting ones from this month:

First, have come up with yet another celebrity economist love-in, the usual blatant manipulation of statistics for the usual covert attempts to reignite the fear and panic so typical of the height of the boom. Early in the summer it was using UCD students to strike terror into the heart of 17 year old kids and their parents coming to college (curious, isn't it, when you consider the massive cut to students living up to 30 miles away who now presumably cannot even dare to think about living in Dublin or another university town, never mind paying the pretend increases which I doubt really materialised?) This time it was the usual about increases in rent. 0.1% to be precise. I was going to add a point to the usual celebrity economists blog that 0.1% of 800 a month is 80c, but I decided not to bother. On the flip side, rents in Dublin and Cork are indeed on the way back up - although thankfully not as bad as it was in early 2007…

Why "great employer" reports are a sham

One of the things I've got to see as a contractor is how shitty some workplaces actually are. You get to experience first hand places that have gone to the point that they are no longer allowed to hire permanent staff, and naturally, such a move is a foreboding one that hardly reflects intelligent or practical business or HR practice. Hiring freezes are fine if you are genuinely downsizing, but its now quite common in places where aggressive growth is still occuring. The gap is filled by the usual suspects: outsourcing, offshoring, and the dirtiest of dirty words: contractors. Some are so bad that they even set limits on the length of time contractors can work on continuous assignment, so of course, those workers cannot qualify for the normal protections of equality legislation.

Of course sometimes these workers get paid more, sometimes far more, than the ghost employees they replace. For example, my client sends me out on assignment for a rate almost 3 times my daily rate. …

Xtreamer Ultra review

I subscribe to iBood and ever since I got my grubby paws on a fabulous iomega iStor with 4TB for under 300 euro, I've found it difficult to resist their bargains. My most recent purchase was a South Korean designed HTPC, the Xtreamer Ultra. You can buy these direct, and take the hit from the An Post tax gougers (I really love how they charge you for collecting your taxes and duties!) or buy from a European reseller.

Anyway, the package is attractive, even if you consider the flaws which I will describe later on. The hardware is nVidia ion based with Intel 525 cpu, and it comes with a very generous 4GB of ram installed. There are 6 usb slots, onboard DVI and hdmi sockets (and a vga converter kindly included), a MCE remote control, a very interesting remote control mini keyboard with touchpad, and finally, a 8GB usb key with a Ubunutu based distro, dedicated startup profiles configured for XMBC and Boxee, and finally, a simple Nas distro. Drivers and a few extra apps are includ…

Bailing out wealthy homeowners: the uncomfortable truth

The startling article from the Guardian published in June 2011 went almost unnoticed and unheeded in Ireland. It was a little article which entirely tore apart the myth that Ireland's hotels are the cheapest in Europe, forced to reduce prices by hostile receivers in predatory bailed out banks. Nobody in Ireland reported this Eurostat report. Conor Pope's Pricewatch column remains, aside from a small number of radio shows, the only newspost to persistently monitor the state of consumer prices in Ireland. Ineeded there is regular reporting on the impacts of mortgage interest rate changes in various media outlets, but information is based on guesswork, anecdotal evidence and sometimes downright spin.

For example there is no central, reliable source of information on the exact borrowings and financial status of mortgage holders in Ireland, aside from that held by the banks themselves. This effectively means that there are no independent reliable sources of assessment on the i…

When homophobic sins come back to haunt . . .

I was shocked last week to discover that somebody is organising a womens night in the Turks Head. I even discovered that they had a night in May, from here. From similar posts on and the style I recognise from somebody who is a real menace on the scene. A self appointed "expert" who pushes a vision of identitity which to be honest is a blinkered ideology that could be quite harmful to people in that position, who really has no credentials aside from life experience, but this is dangerous as this is a highly sensitive issue that needs deep care when dicsussing.

The sad reality is that anybody can appoint themselves as an activist and get into organisations to push talks, seminars, presentations etc. People really don't know better and a lot of harm can be done. It does seem that a couple of organisations have been willing to block this kind of pushy activism and its unfortunate that its crawled into the social scene with little resistance.

The facts on the …

10 hints to get your ass off the dole

1. Be realistic about the jobs you seek

2. Apply for what you really want to do

3. Don't over estimate your skills - unless you have undertaken further study or done full time volunteer work using them, they will have deterioriated and in many cases will have dated.

4. Be prepared for discriminatory attitudes and persistent mythical beliefs - you will find that it suits some people to invent a set of beliefs to justify your situation

5. Don't get weighed down by rejection - somebody was better, thats all. Likewise, the past is the past, don't harbour a grudge against your old employer, its gone and they've forgotten you.

6. Use every contact and meeting as an opportunity to gain experience and always look for feedback

7. Work on your individual applications - don't just carpet bomb employers in your area with a generalised CV

8. Build relationships with recruiters who work for multiple clients - they may be useful later on

9. If you were lucky enough to have had an…

BelongTo and their wonderful work


You might have seen this excellent piece on the Internet lately and if not, please watch it, and tell all of your friends.

Some of the activists who act in our name seem go have forgotten that what underpins concepts like legal recognition of gay relationships is an environment where gay people can live without fear and intimidation. Sone if the activists scoff at and are dismissive of the fact that we are hugely understated in so much of modern life, not merely because of misplaced fear, bug because of an explicit lack of protection under the law.

The key setting fir this is in schools, and this where BelongTo has taken a roots up approach. They are absolutely correct in taking this approach, as any teacher who attempted to do so would be potentially exposing themselves to actions that would legally include sacking. It is to the credit of BelongTo that they do not merely sneer and leave unsupported teachers to f…

Media tidbits

Some interesting tidbits in the papers this week. Boy do I love the fact that one of my minor achievements here was setting up a little regular service to pull news quotes into the company homepage (all about ourselves of course). Of course it merely pulls everything that has even a vague mention so words like "interconnector" trigger a hit.

Anyway this Monday (In the Examiner, p4) saw another 17 properties sent to the grim repo man. One greedy little f**er of an investor had 28 properties, was taking rent, and basically then not paying the mortgages. According to his solicitor he had "seen the light and put a few on the market last Friday". I really feel for this greedy prick's tenants, guys like him are precisely why "we are where we are."

The Indo continued its slide into the Daily Mail's territory with a piece on how some gobshite things he's great for not doing his bit. Apparently the idiot who wrote the snipped on p15 about how he …

Ireland's Future

I find it bemusing and frustrating sometimes when listening to media whining about our new government. It seemed to me that they were written off as a failure long before the election was even announced. "Just the same" went the old broken down record player so many times. The astonishing thing was how persistently, polls appeared to indicated that Enda Kenny was not favoured for Taoiseach, yet FG, nearly 10 years after an election wipeout that nearly crushed the party permanently, was closer than ever before to an overall majority. How could it be?I think there is huge media bias against Kenny. He's hugely the antithesis of the media-friendly leader. He is not particular charismatic, in fact he's plainly unexciting. And uninterested in licking the boots of the media or putting on a show. And the media love, in particular, being lauded.Nowhere is this more obvious than in the case of the largest Sunday broadsheet editor, a former republican sympathiser turned unionis…

The scandalous case of the Ballymun mother who froze to death

Sometimes I wonder if I am living in a parallel universe to certain sections of the media. Today I was having lunch with a friend on a flying visit to Cork and we were talking about the ongoing scandal of how the media is currently singing the woes of mortgagees and those poor Section 23 Investors (God love them sure!) in arrears at the expense of the catastrophe that is silently taking place in the rented sector without anybody actually noticing. We know of certainly a fair few cases now where somebody has been forced to gived up a tenant and move in with family (hoping and praying that it will work out) because redundancy and the limitations of the SWA RA system have basically shut them in realistic terms, out of housing.

But I wasn't prepared for the dreadful case of Rachel Peavoy, who died of hypothermia in her Ballymun flat on 11th Jan, despite serious efforts to get the council to fix the heating. Apparently, the council refused to turn on the heating simply because the s…

Laurie Penny is looking for a bit of help

Laurie Penny, the very fine writer who writes for various good UK publications, is offering a small income for some research work. Her ad is here. While I don't always agree with her, her writing is very well thought out and a welcome breath of fresh air from the often highly biased writing of many political commentators on both sides of the fence.

Her blog is well worth a read if you have time.

The Forgotten People

I have to say that unlike lots of people, my anger was raised about a 1000 millibars by the shock annoucement during the week that the taxation provisions for civil partnership were simply unceremoniously dumped from the Finance Bill. I am quite sure than 80% of people in Ireland somehow managed to quietly slide this event out of their brains, but a small few of us are very angry indeed.

Now to be honest with you, I'm no huge fan of CP, indeed I think much of the campaign towards legal recognition of gay relationships is part of a huge and caustic conservatism in the gay world, whose main message is "we are just as unchallenging as you" and no, we don't do polyamory, serial monogamy and we are just as good as you at pretending that there is no kink and excitement in our sex lives. Meanwhile there is a quiet but persistent campaign in gay society to marginalise and exclude anybody who represents the old, sex-friendly, non-monogamy friendly movement of non conformist…