Saturday, March 01, 2008

Predictions - Blog Awards

If I've enough presumptuousness to be picking Presidents why not winners of the Blog Awards? Where I'm torn I've left in 2/3, where I don't know enough I've left the category out completely.

Best Blog

Best Blog Post

Fustar - To Whom it Concerns… It’s The Manky Toy Show (Live)!

Most Humourous Post

Twenty Major - Tonight’s Debate

Best Arts and Culture Blog Sponsored by Poetry Ireland

Best Political Blog Sponsored by Digital Revolutionaries

Best Group Blog Sponsored by

Best Personal Blog Sponsored by Microsoft Ireland’s Developer and Platform Group

Best Technology Blog Sponsored by Bitbuzz

Tom Raftery’s Social Media

Best Sports and Recreation Blog Sponsored by

Best News/Current Affairs Blog Sponsored by Irish Broadband

Best Newcomer Sponsored by Edelman Dublin

Best Music Blog Sponsored by


Best Popculture Blog Sponsored by Weeno Media

Best Blog from a Journalist Sponsored by RedFly Marketing

Present Tense

Blog Awards - break a link, everyone!

Just a quick "Best Wishes" to the good ship Irish Blog Awards and all who sail in her. A lot of work goes into such events and that effort can't be denied, that hair doesn't fix itself. Not able to attend myself for reasons that may emerge over the next while, but have a good one, one and all.

Here's to speeches profound and profane.

To dancing odd and elastic.

To glasses clinked not smashed

And hearts lifted not broken.

Now where did I leave my comet controller?

Friday, February 29, 2008

New Iron Man Trailer

I always found Iron Man and Tony Stark to be a bit on the dull side, but Robert Downey makes it look like this could be a real hoot. Com'on the Merchant of Death!

Iron Man Exclusive Trailer

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And I agree it's not the worst thing any of us have been caught doing....

Who will win - you predict.

Massive Hat tip to Electoral Vote for this complete time sucker for the political nerd in all of us. Basically you can predict how you think the remaining primaries will work out for Clinton and Obama and it calculates the delegates they will get.

Blood Transfusion data loss

Amongst other things, I'm an irregular blood donor. Though I think they must have an out of date address as I've yet to get my own version of the letter telling me they lost all my details.

I've played around with large data sets from time to time in the line of work and if you were doing involving altering the format of the data presentation or storage you don't actually need access to all the existing records all of the time. So, it is highly likely that it was completely unnecessary to give all 170,000 records over to the person doing whatever work was being done in New York. You could just have taken the records of just 170 people*, blown the entries up 170,000 by automated replication and then performed whatever work to be done on that. Then when it was finally ready to make the port or transfer or whatever the changes were, get the person to come over, do it and send them back. All without putting such a large in the Irish context data set at risk. There again look at the care the BTS took with people's actual lives and should we really be surprised?

* Why not say 170 people who worked or had worked for the Blood Transfusion service?

Who am I

I’m a great many things. Anything you read here or that I post as a comment anywhere is done in my capacity as an individual unless I state otherwise. For the record - I’m, male, an engineer and member of Engineers Ireland, currently chairperson of the An Taisce Local Association for Limerick (City and County), a member of Fine Gael, a Kerryman by rearing and heritage though a Croydonian by birth, not as old as the dirt that Senator McCain claims to be as old as but neither a spring chicken, worked in the States and Japan in the 90s, with some summer jobbing in London in the 80s, a semi-regular blood donor, a Puck Fair steward doing two tours, a semi-lapsed member of the Catholic Church and a citizen of the Republic (Irish 1949). Not exactly Maximus Decimus Meridius I know but attacking any of the above because of something I've said is saying more about you than it does about me.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

It could so have happened.

While poking around doing some work on my "secret project" (all to be revealed this weekend!) I came across this.

Still brings a tickle to the tummy.

It's a witch!

Salem, Dreyfus, McCarthy, M.....?

Most people would probably believe that they would recognise a mob gearing up for a lynching if they saw it. Yet if they're part of the mob would they really recognise it then? All it takes is one or two people who have the respect of a group or community to point the finger and say that they had seen Goode Proctor or whoever doing something unsavoury with the Devil around the back of the woodshed or "She cast a Hex on me by looking at me in a funny way and then I fell down". Before you can say "Burn her!" the mob are tooling up with their best farm implements, checking their pockets for matches, and they're are off and running or ambling in the case of old farmer Pat to find Goode Proctor and watch her do the levitation quickstep.

The mob is a strange old beast and doesn't much bother to look for actual evidence if it hears that one of its own has seen a witch or been harmed by a witch. No one gives it seems too much time to pausing and asking what exactly was this 'witch' person they doing? when was this? was it related to anything you did? did you actually see then? or did someone relate a tale to you? Just what is it that causes otherwise rational people to suspend any critical faculties they possess? I honestly don't know. Yet it is strange that mobs can form just as easily today as they ever did, perhaps even faster.

Hypothetically one possible means to start a modern day witch hunt would be to post an allegation in a public arena or by virtue of a public platform a person has. By threading together a mixture of some fact - mostly irrelevant if possible, Goode Proctor is a member of the seamstress union - with some lies and a bit of whatever you're having yourself add in a healthy obfuscation of your own activities, you can cook up a very nasty allegation in no time at all. Then to ensure the mob is properly provoked engage in a parallel whispering campaign via some other means, by word of mouth or txting dropping in bits of other information. Naturally, we have rules and laws involving those with access to the public airwaves or the press to stop them abusing their position. But say if you get on the net and build a profile for yourself it can be very tempting I'm sure to simply post whatever takes your fancy. After all the law does not apply on line does it? Of course the older amongst use have been down this road already with the folks behind Cogair back in the mid 90s when the net was but a pup.

Still, however you do it once you've got your mob roused to action you can avoid due process, there is no need to present a case or even evidence, nothing. Just point your finger and ye're off. Of course it can works in the opposite direction. If you're popular you can accuse someone of calling you a witch and the mob is off in the opposite direction.

Should we really have one rule for a popular individual but another for someone no one knows doing the same thing? Isn't that why we have a legal system to provide for equal treatment irrespective of station? No, equal treatment before the law. Wait for evidence to be presented and then start to make your opinion heard about the nature of the evidence. I believe that some people have and are waiting for the evidence to be presented as it was said they should and are making their voice heard in that context. Even if a great many others in the complete absence of any evidence are happy to decide who is guilty or innocent.

So Salem, Dreyfus, McCarthy? Witchhunts and scapegoats, Yep! Mahon? No.

I'm off to give Goode Proctor a foot rub, all that dancing in the moonlight can tire a person out.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Not a fan of twitter

Must admit to being very surprised to hear about this as after my own bit of unpleasantness two months back I've come to think that some aspects of the twitter/jaiku model leave a certain amount to be desired. I accept it is like a blog for some in handy text size chunks. Yet, I must admit to think that twitter is potentially the devil's work - I'm not actually suggesting those involved in its development are in league with the horned one. For example a private twitter subscription could lead someone to say all kinds of things about someone with the expectation that the person mentioned would never be able to know for quite some time that they had been libelled. Which is always a bad idea. While a public one is...well...public.

In my own engagements on-line with people generally, including Damien on those rare occasions when I have dealt with him, I've always tried to focus on the issue or topic at hand. That is how I prefer to do stuff on-line, say what you like about me but I'm not known for running away from a heated debate or carping from the sidelines. Anything I've got to say for myself I say here or as myself and myself only if commenting anywhere else. I should get around to commenting less and post more though. I hope that everyone enjoys the Blog Awards this weekend I won't be able to make it myself as I think I registered too late. Entirely my fault but there is work to be done in order to complete my research project at UL.

Reading isn't Teasing - is that what Arnold would say?

I got the most charming comment today from a bot in reference to debt consolidation on a very old post about the growth of Irish National Debt in the 70s and 80s.

"Debt can be an absolute nightmare when it starts to spiral Out of control." See with these offers of debt consolidation you are teasing us Mr. Banker.

Now, where did I leave that old drawing of Violet Elizabeth Bott?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New mega union for teachers?

According to the Indo there is a new mega union for teachers to be formed. Being completely parochial about it, I wonder does that mean they will run just the one candidate for the TCD/NUI Seanad panels in future?

Monday, February 25, 2008

What are we voting on: Lisbon or Bertie?

Back during the Irish general election in May of 2007 we, as voters, were repeatedly asked to suspend judgement on the Taoiseach's financial dealings. Yet since the election result we've had practically every government representatives tell us that the election result which saw Bertie re-appointed as Taoiseach was the people's judgement on Bertie made manifest.

The cold hard truth is that vast majority of the Irish electorate didn't have the name Bertie Ahern on their ballot paper so they never got the chance to pass judgement on him. They voted for the local person, the party person, the experienced and able young lady, the nice gentleman that they wanted to have as their public rep. What they didn't vote on was Bertie's guilt or innocence on the matters before the Mahon tribunal or at least that is what they were told not to vote on by FF in advance.

Now we are being asked to vote for the EU Reform treaty purely on its merits: a view I happen to agree with. However, with the hijacking of the election results by FFers far and wide what guarantee have we that afterwards they won't be telling us that the Treaty vote was in fact another judgement on Bertie?

What else could FF have done with that 30 grand?

Paying back money is a complicated business at the best of times. Most of us lending a tenner to a mate would simply expect the tenner back at some point but were we to lend the same person a few grand to start a business that makes it big or even back a horse that ends up coming in at long odds we would not be completely unreasonable to expect something more in return that the principal. That in part is why interest exists because someone else is doing something profitable with your money, you are in turn not able to do a similarly profitable thing. There is a name for it that escapes me at present.

Now the trustees of FF in Dublin Central must surely have had a duty of care to their members to ensure that their interests were protected in any financial dealings they had. Not to be leaving their hard fund raised cash lying about the back of a car or not to be backing 3 legged horses. Their money had to be kept safe and yet relatively liquid after all you never know when an election might happen. Lending someone money to buy a house who it seems was not able to borrow this money from a bank (after all that would have been the natural first port of call for most of us wouldn't it?) would appear to mean that person would not be able to get that money back in a hurry if it was needed so this was not the most liquid investment. And then there is the apparent absence of any loan agreement which means the transfer was not very secure, after all in the absence of any paper work it would be entirely possible for Ms. Larkin to claim the money was a gift or charitable donation, a dig out if you will.

Now what other options did the FFers have well. If say the FF organisation in Dublin Central had bought the house and then continued to rent the place out to the aunty Larkin's it would have solved their immediate accommodation crisis while also ensuring that any increase in property values would have accrued to the people who had provided the principle. Instead Ms Celia Larkin is the sole individual to benefit from this transaction in terms of capital appreciation and all for the sum of 30K plus what 30K might have earned resting in a regular bank account. I wonder if Ms. Larkin charged her aunts rent, if she was registered as a landlord, if they claimed for rent relief or rent allowance from their tax/pensions? All interesting avenues of investigation I'm confident that members of the fourth estate are pursuing as I write.

And just imagine if you will how much more secure the FF organisation in Central would be if they had taken my hypothetical advice above and now had a property worth at least 500K instead of 30K plus bank interest which is what they have. Rather than the €115, yes €115, on deposit that some are now claiming they have post the election.