Friday, March 02, 2007

Got a License to drink - 0018

Another thread popped up on about underage drinking with the suggested solution of reducing the number of off-licenses.

My personal view is that a much better solution is that we should require everyone to have a license to drink (including a test which you can take once over 18!), and should your progeny be found imbibing when too young to do so, that you as parent would lose your license for a period. Might encourage a few parents irrespective of social class to make more of an effort to know where their kids are and what they are up to.

Obtaining the license suits in nicely with my broader opinion which is that we are seriously lacking in Ireland a proper rite of passage into adulthood. I'm not suggesting that we send all lads or lassies at 18 off to some island to kill a animal and smear themselves in its blood but becoming an adult is a messy enough process without the strange absence of an generally accepted social indicator of this important stage in each citizens development.

Irish Blog awards - Fantasy football!

Simply pick your winner and you get 5 points and since we have a running order we can give bonus points for how many in a row you get.

This is the Running order of the Irish blog awards

The Full Shortlist

Best Videocast
* Best Designed Blog
* Best Podcaster
* Best Podcast
* Best Business Blog
* Best News/Current Affairs Blog
* Best Sport & Recreation Blog
* Best Technology Blog/Blogger

* Spot prize raffles *

* Best Use of the Irish Language in a Blog
* Best Newcomer
* Best Personal Blog
* Best Group Blog
* Best Specialist Blog
* Best Political Blog
* Best Music Blog
* Best Arts and Culture Blog
* Best Photo Blog

* eBookers raffle for a holiday*

* Best Contribution to the Irish Bloggersphere
* Most Humorous Post
* Best Blog Post
* Best Blog

Thursday, March 01, 2007

PD Deputy Leader in zombie massacre

Just to remind us all, this is Liz O'Donnell from her website

And to our left this is Liz discussing Irish Overseas Aid policy with Simon Pegg. How blatant can you be in trying to curry the support of young people! Am I right or am I right?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Why Gaybo is right about drugs

Gay Byrne's recent comments about whether we should consider legalising drugs is a interesting contribution to debate that for too long has been stagnant and seems to involve too many people who have a vested interest in the current situation continuing rather than it ending.

Looking at the facts of the premise that he starts from that the "War on drugs" as fought for the last 40/50 years has failed is absolutely correct. Drug consumption has increased and it spans all social and economic classes. We are expending every increasing resources on trying to stop the supply and we devote far more of our resources toward tackling supply compared to demand.

And despite the fact that drugs do affect everyone, it is still the case that the vast majority of those most directly impacted by drugs are those from the most disadvantaged communities, those with the lowest school leaving standard of education and the highest rates of unemployment. Day in, day out, children in these areas are giving a demonstration of the vast monies to be made from breaking the law as they see dealers in the neighbourhoods.

Of every time someone uses drugs they are taking a risk. There again every time you cross the street you are taking a risk, we build pedestrian crossing and education people to know the risks. We do not ban crossing the road.

Of course, Ireland or indeed any number of EU countries acting in concert could not and should not take an unilateral steps to legalise drugs while sharing common travels zones with countries that have not and would not make such a change. However, if there was a joint decision to be made what might that approach look like. I would suggest that it would be very different to that outlined by Patrick Kenny in the Irish Examiner today March 1st

Show or Substance - Noel Whelan

I picked up Noel Whelan's Show or Substance over the weekend. It was more for research than anything else as I'm not completely at ease with being armed with the tools to assess the various party's take on the issues from someone who was so recently a FF candidate and is obviously still very much an advisor to them.

It is hard to tell if he is meant to collecting together the policy positions of all the parties and comparing them especially when no policy for either the PDs or FF is posted separately. Of course, this is natural enough since both are in government they do not have separate policies at this point. Instead, we get the policies of the parties compared to the government's take on things. And there is no real highlighting of inconsistencies, perhaps I was hoping for some better presentation beyond the novel style text, even some bulletin points making it easier for Seamus Public to compare what is said would help.

I'm not finished but I would for the moment note there are a number of factual errors such as the glaring one given the Whelan's professed expertise is the coverage of elections that SF won a council seat in Limerick East in 2004. SF didn't win any city or council seats in Limerick in 2004.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

What's a Binge these days?

I must admit that I have a problem with the alteration in the media mindset of what is a night on the tiles. According to the medical profession a binge is 4 pints or more in a evening. I'm not sure when the medical profession were called in to define a binge but while 4 pints or more may breach some medical barrier it is far from what most people would have viewed as a binge.

I'm not even clear why someone would bother to leave the car at home, get a taxi into somewhere to consume 3 pints over the course of 3/4 hours and then a taxi home. You're spending way more than 50% of your night's out money purely on transportation!

Also, I heard someone from the vintners association on the radio, Newstalk this morning talking about "the billions that is spent on urban transport" and who the rural sector is missing out. It might stun the guy from the vintners but there is far from billions being spent on the running of Dublin Bus or the LUAS and more significantly those services take in a lot of money to get as close as possible to covering their costs. Bus Eireann on the other hand has the bulk of unprofitable rural routes where the bus takes 4/5 pensioners into town for their shopping during the day. No harm in my view but we need some realism about the extent to which those living in an urban setting are already subsiding those living in rural areas.

I'm favourably disposed to doing something to prevent rural decline but falsely claiming that "Billions" are spent running some utopian urban public transport network that patently does not exist is not the way to go about getting people on your side.

After Motorola, is Dell next?

The return of Michael Dell to the helm of the company he founded would seem to herald a renewed focus on lower costs with the target of regaining their position as the No.1 PC company in the world. And what does this mean for Ireland and Limerick in particular?

Despite the protestations that Dell's new plant in Lodz, Poland is for solely for extra capacity and to service new markets it is hard to avoid the nagging suspicion that the intent is to replicate the efficiency of the Limerick plant in a much lower cost environment. A considerable number of the Dell employees in Limerick at present are Polish and this would create a ready made supervisor structure for the Lodz plant should they decide to relocate. It is possible and indeed likely in the event of any relocation that Dell would aim to retain their network research centre which is quite recent and also retain some of the Limerick facilty as a distribution hub for the UK and Ireland. This would still mean job losses running at over a 1,000. Such a event would represent a major indictment of the government's efforts to address competitive costs in the Irish economy and the fact that the lack of competitive pressures has allowed some players in particular sectors to exploit the sweat of others to excess.

Ireland's competitiveness has been eroded over the last 5 years as costs have increased in large part driven by sectors that not, from solicitors to hair dressers, estate agents to restaurants these are the main private sector drivers of increased costs. Yet the state itself stands indited of increasing costs of doing business.

It is hard to avoid a believe that someo commentators can't read beyond the press releases they are given whether by the state or the private sector. When the national broadcaster RTe can't tell the difference between high salaried development jobs being lost at Motorola and new call centre jobs at VMWare you have to question their basic knowledge of the tech sector. The jobs lost at Motorola are those of people with 10/20 years software development experience and somehow RTe are happy to be spun with the notion that call centre/tech support jobs are an adequate replacement.

As someone who comes from a tech background, I've a degree in electronic engineering and a general interest in construction and any aspect of making things, I've always found the lack of awareness when it comes to the technical world that we have to suffer from out friends in the fourth estate worrying.

If someone like Dell were to pull out or begin a process of withdrawal from their manufacturing from Ireland to somewhere like Lodz then I believe it will spell the death knell of Celtic Tiger 1.0. Do we have time or a government with the ability to get CT 2.0 out the door in time to safe our long term growth?