Saturday, March 10, 2007

So women's rights is political now is it?

Strange that the BCI would find that a campaign to ensure that female babies are allowed the same opportunities as male babies is deemed political and can't be broadcast. The people trying to change the government is political and wrong apparently but the government trying to change the people is non-political and A-OK! See that ad below and make up your own mind.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Monaghan car crash - Lives lived and lost in vain

As part of Damien Blakes efforts to highlight the problem of road deaths I created this post back in October. The event that prompted this was the deaths of five young men in Monaghan in a head on collision.

There were other posts from many other bloggers under the technorati tag of .At the time my own particular take on the situation was on the relative disparity in coverage given to the crash when it happens compared to that given to the inquest or the uncovering of the causes which tends to happen much later. Others commented on other aspects of this crash or road safety more generally. One in particular Sarah Carey received quite strong condemnation for having the insensitivity to voice an opinion about the circumstances when the cause of the crash had still to be determined at an inquest. Yet she was not alone in being attacked for having an opinion. Indeed, some folks took it upon themselves, and it appears have done so again, to try and intimidate people from commenting on this incident. Well, I said my piece at the time and I'm saying it again now. And I'm not going to be shut up or go away.

Let us start with some facts. At the inquest held this past week we were told that both drivers involved were substantially over the alcohol limit, were driving at speeds which would not have been appropriate during daylight not to mind 2am at night and at least one of the drivers didn’t have his seatbelt on.

Pathologist Dr John Ryan said that CiarĂ¡n Hagan had a blood-alcohol level of 201mgs per 100ml and a urine-alcohol level of 253mgs. He was driving alone in his Blue Golf, and it was he that crossed the road, he was doing 100km per at 2am on a road that allows for 80km maximum during daylight.

Dermot Thornton had a blood-alcohol of 147mgs per cent and urine-alcohol level of 196mgs per cent. He was driving the Red Golf at 125 km with the 3 passengers on a road that allows for 80km during the daylight. The blood and urine levels of both drivers would indicate that both had what is euphemistically “a good bit to drink”.

No one has said as much but it is plain that since one of the cars crossed over the median of the road to travel in the opposite at speed towards the other car that both drivers were engaged in reckless and irresponsible behaviour by speeding and driving while drunk. Whether both or one of them was playing "chicken" according to what it is generally understand to be chicken doesn't matter. They could have been blindfolded and naked, playing the banjo for all the difference it makes. They were hammered and driving dangerously at night. 201mg for 100ml of blood is blind fucking drunk in anyone's language.

I appreciate that this is a terrible loss for the families and friends of those concerned. Yet, we do everyone a disservice if we allow that to blind us to the wrongness of their behaviour. Imagine for moment that these two cars had not met each other but instead if they had each individually encountered some stone cold sober couple with their children in their car returning from a wedding. Those would be the innocents not either of these two drivers.

We will change no one's behaviour while we persist in honouring the dead who did not die with honour. We have as a nation a terrible tendency to view such deaths as if they were something that had simply come upon the people concerned. These lads were not struck down by a terrible disease. They were their own victims. The Japanese as a nation have a similarly self evidently stupid attitude to WWII acting as if it was some awful thing that happened and which they were simply innocent bystanders in instead of something they had been active participants involved in.

If it was a member of my family I would be angry with them for being so fucking stupid. I wouldn’t love them any less but I would be angry and disappointed with them and I would not seek to defend what they had done.

Some would say that the rest of us should try to do something so that their deaths might not be in vain. We can’t do that. Their deaths were in vain, will always be in vain and nothing anyone does can change that. They did not intend to die but they did know what they were doing and their deaths are a waste. And people who waste are…. We should not seek to honour them. We should have sympathy for the families but not for the men themselves. It is vanity and self indulgence that led to these deaths. At the time of the crash many said that we should not be so quick to pass judgement. Well, now we’ve had the inquest where are the apologies for attacking those who pointed out what was reckless and dangerous behaviour?

Did they deserve to die? No. However, they did not deserve to kill anyone else either. It would not be right to say they killed themselves but it would seem correct to say that they killed each other. If society has any blame in this it is the local society that they were apart of that glorifies racing about the place at speed. And this has nothing to do with rallying or loving cars. The Scots and Scandinavians have strong rallying traditions and nowhere near our level of road deaths perhaps because they have the cop on or respect for the lives of others to know not to drive as these lads did on a public road.

We as a nation need to think more about the lives we can still save rather than those that are gone. We can't simply leave people alone in their grief while those who continue to drive as these young men did are killing people up and down the country. These young men may have loved life but they evidently had little respect for the lives of others.

If they chose to buy some land and race about on it and end up killing themselves then it would be one thing. However, when you behave as they did on a public road then don't expect me to weep for your passing.

It was noted that the deceased had all been loved by their families, neighbours and friends and that their deaths had left a huge void in the community. I can understand your friends and family missing you but truth be told I’m not sure why anyone else should. Or why we should be expected to mourn the loss of people we never knew. When you really love someone you know they have faults but love them anyway, to try and hide such faults when they have contributed to their own deaths is truly to do a service to the dead.

We’ve had the inquest and the relative silence of the press has been deafening. Where is the strong media focus now that we do know the factors involved in this shameful lose of life? The reason for highlighting the reckless behaviour at the time is the chance we might have the most effect on those who might do the same. It is far too late once the sudden horror has passed. Not much point in seeing Charlie Bird on the roadside or getting the big Sunday paper coverage now.

You can find the Irish Times coverage of the inquest here and from the Independent here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Beyond Proctor & Gamble

Over on Irishelection Simon of the dossing times has made a good point about how we need to see past the current problems in Irish manufacturing to what the solution might be to the wider problem of having sustainable economy growth.

One aspect I would pick up on is the availability of low cost warehouse style office space something that is still shockingly expensive in Ireland no matter where you go to look for it. Part of that is the result of we not having a previous manufacturing base that left hollowed out shells of buildings. Of course the people in Stanford didn’t really need to worry about heating that much but the fact is that it is more profitable to leave much space lie empty that lease it out.

Also, the point of FDI was to use it as a boost to the economy while we were supposed to be spending the money in ramping the economy up for the move to the model you suggest, much like some doing overtime or working in a crap job while they went to night school or saved to pay for an expensive course. Instead I would contend that the government has squandered all the money we the people earned on the societal equivalent of plasma screens and PS3’s.

State socialism vs. Naked Capitalism

I've tried to sum things up before but I think the paragraphs below come closest to expressing my view on the failings of the soviet union.

The problem for the soviet style socialism was that it ignored and was in turn undermined by human nature, while capitalism for all it's faults uses human nature as the engine to make it work. Socialism tries to change human nature, capitalism uses it.

It is more straightforward and easier to try and make a pure capitalist system work in a more equitable manner than to get a socialist system which may be more equitable in theory to work at all.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

See - I really was there.

I'm the one in the middle looking for an escape route if I was to snatch an award and run for it.

Frakking RSI

I woke early on Monday morning with a shocking pain in my right arm and nothing I did would make it go away. Took some Solpadeine and while it dulled it, it didn't leave. After some thought I ended up get a shot in the arm from a doc ( and at what cost!). Probably it was cortisone but I didn't ask. It was not a pleasant experience at all and I've gone and bought myself a wrist support thingy, and I'm going to source a proper chair for the table the computer is on so I can make sure I'm at the right height. Hopefully, just a warning scare and nothing more. I have an aunt who got very bad arthritis in her late thirties so there is possible something lurking in the genes.

I was thinking that I should be claiming that I didn't win because my v'cast was too controversial. That somehow the government moved to have it and Mr. PotatoHead suppressed. I don't believe that at all. The winning entry was much more of a video that mine and I can see why the judges went with it. Actually, I'm not even sure if a v'cast belongs in a Blog awards. However, I wasn't going to make that point while I was still in with a chance to win.

In more political news the prospect of jobs losses at P&G at Nenagh should be sending alarm bells ringing at the department of Trade and Industry. Though whether there is anyone home to hear those bells is an open question. Michael Martin only does the good news I guess. My previous post on Dell is beginning to seem worryingly prescient.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Irish Blog awards - no prize for moi.

The Irish blog awards passed off peacefully, I would generally agree with most of the winners. The event itself was excellently organised, had very classy prizes and bottles of Champers for the winners too! Major kudos to Mulley and his team, they were very professional throughout.

One thing I did think was lacking was a certain loquaciousness in the acceptance speeches. Seriously folks, have you no mothers to thank? There was a very pretty press person from the IT who was hoping for good copy from the awards and who I suspect I insulted by asking if she was a cub reporter. I was very much intending to make up for my gaff by providing as much quotable material as possible if I got the chance. Sadly, it was not to be. I was going try and that the academy. Also, I had entertained hopes of getting a chance to appeal for votes for the Seanad but instead had to do it person by person.

I suppose it is more evidence that blogging allows a platform for folks who wouldn't dream of hopping up on a stage and gasbagging it away for ten minutes. The mix of people was great, not just a 20something sausage fest type gathering. Folks over 30 and ladies too. It was all very convivial.

While I didn't win for Video cast I did get complimented by twentymajor which is kind of the blogging equivalent of missing out on the best short live action movie Oscar only for a big time director to tell ya that he liked how you shot the action sequence.