Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Love Paige (aka On The Pull)

I apologise in advance to the person who ambitiously keeps googling "Paige+Harrison+Sex".
(I keep telling him/her that they need to provide a photograph of himself/her partner to have any chance of success!) This post is designed to pull together various strands and comments from the last few days.

As most of you will have gathered by now, I'm not a finisher. Never have been ; Never will be. I have so many good intentions that never get anywhere. Paul Omani has quite rightly pointed out, I'm one for the big challenges. Perhaps it's my French heritage? However, once I can see a solution, I lose all interest. Executing the solution is less important, for me, than conceiving it.

I threw out a sugggestion about setting up a "blog review" meme thingy. Several bloggers said that they'd be up for it. Alas, I've been unable to settle on a single blog to review. I keep reading more and more blogs (which isn't a bad thing). Another idea not executed!

Paul + I previously discussed writing a new constitution and we got as far as a preamble. In the absence of any other encouragement, this thing petered out. Mindful of my habit of rapidly losing interest, I realise I need a new strategy. I need to breakdown the grand challenge to a series of important steps and I need to engage someone with the persistence of my 'Sex-with-Paige' googling friend. So I think we should build up to this consititutional challenge by designing the flag (suggestion here), emblem (suggestions welcomed) and composing a national anthem (one that Brian Kennedy and Northside thugs can sing).

We don't want to get ahead of ourselves!

For a serious analysis of the above topics check out JL, Rinceoir, Redmum, Fiona

Monday, February 27, 2006

Aer Lingus for Dummies

This post was created in response to an excellent analysis by Mark over at From Cork to Toronto and by Omani over at From Bath to Cork with Baby Grace. (what is it with you Munster men?)
Neither are analyses that I would agree totally with but then it is good to talk. However, I'm so bored with this subject I'm going to bury this post into the depths of my blog archives!


Nice analysis. The only problem is that Mark missed my point and didn't really address the non-economic arguments put forward by Omani. I don't object to the sale of Aer Lingus. I just believe that it makes no sense to sell a portion and retain majority control. That is the worst possible option of three. (Sell ; Sell bit ; Hold)

Some minor comments on Mark's well made points.

In fact both Aer Lingus & Ryanair can raise international capital whenever their shareholders approve. If run properly, it should be easier for the former to raise finance (smaller number of shareholders, Govt bond security, etc). The availability of capital is the sole determinant.

O'Leary's placement of firm and tentative aircraft orders in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 was a typically opportunistic and entrepreneurial move. However unless Ryanair quadruples revenues in the intervening years, they will not be able to pay for all these orders. Any rate, the aircraft manufacturers don’t have the capacity to fill the orders. The orders become forward options that will most likely be sold/renegotiated.

As you say, Ryanair operate in a largely deregulated environment ; Aer Lingus (by choice) don’t. This makes the latter less attractive to potential bidders.

As you eloquently describe, Aer Lingus is a tiny player in international air travel and probably not likely to attract the attention of any major aviation player.

The issues with Swissair et al were only partly the national flag. The biggest problem was that as semi-state or state-owned, none of these companies were exposed to the harsh economic realities. They were highly inefficient airlines. Most of the North American airlines (American, US Air, etc) had a similar problem to Aer Lingus. Too many overpaid pilots & crew and not enough passengers. At one point, Aer Lingus had over 300 pilots but only 34 planes. They were in effect the National Aircraft Training Academy that ran commercial flights as a hobby. When passenger growth stagnated, having lived beyond their means, all major airlines were forced into bankruptcy. So while I agree that the Unions played a part in bringing about this calamitous collapse by demanding excessive packages, mis-management by the airline also contributed.

I would suggest that semi-state organisations are highly inefficient and are in effect the compromise that the state chooses to retain control. As an investor, I’d not be too keen on investing in an organisation with such industrial relations issues and a management with such a poor track record.

Retrenchment by Willie Walsh into Airbus aircraft simplified operations but took the company from a duopoly of aircraft suppliers to an effective monopoly supplier. It’s never that good if you cede so much power to the supplier.
The advent of the Airbus’s A380 aircraft (another ludicrous example of economics of diminishing returns) will probably result in at most only 10-15 (max) long haul hubs around the world fed by satellite airports. Gatwick/Heathrow or Charles De Gaulle will most likely be the West European hub.

With an aging fleet and a serious overstaffing, the Heathrow slots are Aer Lingus’s only real assets. And it isn’t clear how liquid these are.

The Shannon stop over masks the fact that soon both it and Dublin will be by-passed in the long haul consolidation. There are barely enough passengers to support direct flights from Dublin to the main US cities. There isn’t enough passenger numbers to justify direct flights to Canada over the winter period.

Dublin can become a key feed to any Western Europe hub. The only real hope for Shannon long term is to offer it self as a cargo-dominated hub close to the main Western Europe hub.

Much has been made of the “turnaround” in Aer Lingus. Clearly Willie Walsh & co made a good start in slashing costs. But claims that Aer Lingus is a profitable airline are a joke. It is very easy for a company to be profitable if it is given its operating assets free and makes no provision to replace them. At $55-60 million per A320 aircraft, it would take Aer Lingus many years to expand its fleet let alone become profitable.

Your points re: inefficiencies of Dublin Airport reinforces my view that state monopolies generally don’t work in economic terms.

However, having ceded control of goods importation by sea to the commercial sector (with disastrous consequences for Ireland Inc.), the country might be advised to retain control over air freight. But it could only reasonably do so in the context of ceding long haul routes.

The introduction and subsequent cancellation of flights from Cork airport by Ryanair show the efficiencies of the market. Commercial companies are not charities. Nor should we expect them to be. Nevertheless, it also highlights that strategic interests of a country (e.g. development of Cork airport) are not best served by the markets. Sometimes the state has to lead and the market follows. If the market thinks an option is attractive, the state has no business trying to compete. Ireland is a very small, open economy.

The emotional attachment to a National airline is generally not an argument that I think stands up to much scrutiny. It would be much cheaper to lease 12 BA flights a week and have them painted in Aer Lingus livery. However, I recognise that not all decisions are made on the basis of economics.

So in balance while I can understand the emotional attachment to Aer Lingus, I think there is a simple choice. (a) Recognise that the National Airline is a piece of strategically important infrastructure (like the National Gallery) and look to minimise costs (drop long haul) while maximising value (expanding access). Or (b) Recognise that no country has any right trying to run an airline - since most airlines can’t – and sell it to the highest bidder. Option 3 (selling part of Aer Lingus) does a disservice to the hard working & misguided people at Aer Lingus is still a stupid option.

Wrap the Flag Around Me, Girls!

My sister, an internationally renowned designer was commissioned to create a new flag for the modern Irish republic. The blankpaige can exclusively reveal (ahead of tonight's launch at Dublin Castle) the final flag design.

The new flag is designed to work at several levels. It meets the design brief of being "eye catching" and "optimistic" and "placing the traditional Ireland in context of new Irish nationalities". Those who are really blinkered can continue to enjoy the tricolour which forms the centre panel of the new flag. Those wishing to take a wider perspective can embrace the new Irish as represented by the yellow and brown panels. Gay & Lesbian groups expressed some concern that they were not adequately represented. However, my sister assures me that pink has been used for stitching (or was it bitching?, I can't remember her exact words) throughout the flag and pink thread is woven into the very fabric. Catholic fundamentalist can also take a narrow perspective that focuses on the Yellow and White papal panels only. Those wishing to "Love Ulster" can focus entirely on the orange panel. Those into symbolism will recognise the delicate white sign of peace at the centre of the flag as well as the black rimmed border with portends trouble ahead. Fittingly there is no place on the flag for any reference to European connection. Late requests to include European Stars and US Dollar symbols were ignored.

Offering the holistic solution and mindful of important corporate branding, my sister suggests that the name "Republic of Ireland" is shortened to "Ire-Land!". There are many reasons for this. (1) The word 'Republic' provokes negative thoughts - e.g. US Republican Senators, Killed by Saddam's Republican Guard, People's Republic of China, etc. (2) It is too long (3) It gets abbreviated to ROI which everyone knows is return on investment (4) It gives the erroneous impression that authority is vested in its people. The word "Ire-Land!" contains three essential elements (a) hint at anger (b) importance of land (3) dynamic energy.

In a show of cronyism, my sister has kindly subcontracted the job of re-writing the Irish Constitution to me and my blogger buddies. Plum contracts are available on submission of a brown envelope.


Slippery Tongue

I was in Manchester for the weekend attending a friend's wedding. Bride wore black, if you must know. The general inability of the English to host a good party was as apparent as ever. Made all the more obvious because, it would seem, they lost a rugby match. The Scots who attended the wedding demonstrated their abilities to party remain undiminished. Probably for the same reason.

On the short flight back, the Easyjet air hostess brought a wry smile to the entire plane with her parting words. You know how airlines have started this policy of subliminal advertising. They have copped on to the fact that a large number of people who use airline transportation are captive in the aircraft while taxi-ing to the terminal building. They repeat some carefully choosen corporate announcement during their end-of-flight message.

Ryanair seem to be trying to replace "no frills" with "Europe's most punctual airline" as the corporate message of choice. Having added 15 minutes to the flying time between Dublin and most English cities, despite leaving 5 minutes late, they can (and do) still insist on announcing "Welcome to Dublin ; 10 minutes ahead of schedule with Europe's most punctual airline". Easyjet, seem to be working the "shortness" and "hastle-free" manner in which they get you to your destination. However, during the return flight from Manchester, the young attendant announced "...Everyone at Easyjet, Europe's hastle-free carrier, hope that you enjoyed your shite....(pause) ...(attendant goes very red). I presume that she was referring to the "short flight" and not passing comment on the English rugby performance!

While I'm on spoonerisms, I was at a funeral once where the priest, a dramatic North Yorkshire giant of a man, gave a moving graveside eulogy. I think he was trying to sum up the decease's place in society and that he was a role model for many. But the words "Shining light" came out as "Lying shite" and sort of ruined the moment.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sometimes I sits and thinks...

Update :
I never seem to be able to express myself properly. This post was an attempt to explain my blog silence reflected that fact that I was enthralled by the number of fabulous posts and hence I had adopted a predominantly "Reading" mode. I've been much touched by the warm expressions of support. You only have yourselves to blame if I blog any more! Big, Big hug to you all.

But most times, I just blog without thinking. You may have noticed the distinct lack of blogging on my part in recent times. No, relax, I've not hit that obligatory (and contagious) "I need some time to be alone" phase so favoured by many bloggers. In fact it's been quite the opposite. I've probably never spent more time in Blog O'Sphere.

The problem (if it is a problem) is that I've spent all my time reading everyone else's fabulous blogs. Boy, but there are some excellent stuff out there. I took the shortlist for the Irish Blog Awards and went surfing. This has seriously impacted upon my work output and my boss has scheduled a "chat" for tomorrow afternoon.

I took part in a fabulous number of "debates" by leaving half-baked comments on a variety of sites. Some have told me to never ping their StatCounter again. Well it's the thought that counts.

But I have been much entertained and educated. Fiona asks a question about having open threads on her blog and started a love-in about the fabulous Garret Fitzgerald. JL has threaded up some of the more topical stories as only he can. Knackered Kaz is saying goodbye to her full-time journalist job and beginning to question the meaning of life. Sarah Carey is being baited for having a second cousin extradited to the States to testify in an Enron case under Terrorist legislation. Omani is making the FT accessible to us all and is beginning to appreciate the brilliant Brian Kennedy. Jen McCann has wowed everyone with a brilliant article and is working on the difficult second post. GingerPixel has writtin a fabulous open letter to another type of red head from Ballybrack.

With all this great stuff, how could a girl possibly compete. My dad says it is better to sit silently in the corner and seem dumb than open one's mouth and confirm it.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Two Unionists walk into a bar..

Depressed by the latest Paisley pop at our most honorable President, I posted the question "What's so difficult about Peace, Love & Understanding?" (Link)

Curly K, Paul, Knackered Kaz, Fence and others transformed this post into something altogether more interesting with their comments. So I've decided to repost this under a more upbeat title. I'm off to think about Dr Ian as a stand-up comic.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Did he really say that?

Riling against Michael McDowell’s plans to establish a Garda Reserve Corp (or “Hobby Bobbies”, as he so colourfully called them), a spokesman for one of the Garda unions demanded to know how the already hard pressed boys & girls in blue could be expected to look after these new recruits. “Who is going to hold their hands?”, he fretted with more than a little concern. “Who is going to pick up the pieces?”, he wanted to know. But he kind of gave the game away when in his fit of pique, he inquired, “Who is going to go into court and cover up for them?”

I’d dare say there are probably sufficient Gardai well enough versed in making false testimony to be able to cobble together a specialist training unit so that we get these new lads and lassies up to speed with such subtleties!

Update :
Maybe he was going down with a touch of the blue flu. Bless his serge socks.

Monday, February 20, 2006

What's So Difficult about Peace, Love & Understanding?

A complete mess

You know how you sometimes lash off a quick comment? You are blemming through Blog O’Sphere at a rate of knots, speed reading words that other folk have agonised over. So many blogs, so many great ideas, so little time. I’ve always been of the opinion that it is rude to pass through too many blogs and not leave a comment. And I’ll admit that sometimes, my quick comment doesn’t quite do justice to the excellent blog that I’ve just read.

Sometimes such haste gets you into big trouble. Now, I don’t mean mis-spelling ‘convenience’ or saying “there” instead of “their” or even, heaven-forbid, split the odd infinitive. No I mean a big trouble. Not quite articulating your thoughts as comprehensively as they deserve so that in their incompleteness you end up leaving your point unmade. So then you’ve no choice but to try to complete the half-job you did in the first place. But second time around, you are in even more haste such that you half-complete your completing comment. This leaves your argument even more precarious. So you’ve no choice but to complete the incomplete completion.

Fine you think. How hard can that be? Well it would be fine, if everyone in the world had stopped blogging, and you’d manage to defy the laws of time and gravity and had read all intervening bloggs. No, this time, you are no less ahead of the game. Still so many blogs, so little time. So you lash off another half-baked comment. In the end, you never get your point made. As everyone knows, despite halving the remaining distance with each post, you never ever make it to the end.

In a characteristically thought-provoking post, Omani discussed President McAleese’s recent Saudi trip. Admitting he probably wasn’t well qualified to comment, he invited comment. I duly obliged. In my mind, the good President isn’t without her faults, but she consistently excels in a difficult job. Before I knew it, I was comparing her favourably with the second best President that we’ve had, President Robinson. I know that it is a defeatist position championing one Mary at the expense of the other. A few posts on, that what I found myself at.

So for the record. I admire the way after Omagh, President McAleese articulate what we couldn’t articulate – those cowardly thugs were no freedom fighters. After 9-11, she said what our left-wing anti-US cool wouldn’t let us say (but couldn’t stop us feel). After the Tsunami, she reflected the collective horror of our country. She’s not without her faults – who is? She has made the odd gaff. But for the very reason she lets her warmth, empathy and compassion show, she makes me proud to have her as a President. And her predecessor was pretty cool also!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Road Rage

My Dad was a labourer. He worked the building sites of London, Leeds and Bradford for many years. A typical homesick Paddy. He married his first love. He worked day and night, six days a week so that Mum and the kids could have a better life. If we'd access to an ESRI report, we'd have probably learned that we were poor. But never once in my childhood did I ever feel anything but fortunate, loved and lavished upon. My Dad still has biceps that that many gym bunnies would die for. But his chest was never fuller than the day my big sister graduated from TCD. It didn't matter what University it was. Here was the first child in the family's history to stay at school beyond the age of twelve. Dad taught his children the value of hard work and the peace and satisfaction that comes from doing an honest day.

So, why do I blog this? Well, I see that Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche plans to introduce a new planning section within An Bord Pleanala to deal with strategic infrastructure projects. See, the thing is we need to speed up the time it takes to build new roads, tunnels and such like. It took 20 years for the nation that concreted Britain from top to bottom to build a short stretch of motorway. The Romans could lay new roads at 10 times the current pace of construction.

This week, bedridden due to an incident with a roller blade, I had occasion to watch some guys tarmac the road outside of my house. A total of 12 vans, trucks and assorted machines were assembled to cover a length of about 400 yards. They began promptly - too promptly - on Monday morning. This evening they completed their task. Not once during the entire process did any of these guys actually set foot on the road. Six shovels unveiled at the start of the project were never touched. There was a machine that poured the tarmac. Two the rolled it. Once that marked it. Two to dig up the grass verges. One to remove the grass verge to the other end of the street where it still lies dumped in a curious mixture of soil and bitumen. The finished article is a disgrace to the construction industry.

I couldn't help wondering how much this whole enterprise cost. I'm sure the coordinated HiVis vests with "On contract to Dun Laoighaire/Rathdown would have cost more than the price of a wheel barrow. I know, 'cos I've seen his work, that with that wheel barrow my Dad would have dug up and removed that grass verge. He'd have done it neatly. He'd have laid and rolled the tarmac with the care of a master craftsman.

We don't need a Strategic Infrastructure Planning body to speed up construction. We just need to value the concept of doing something right the first time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Jobs for the Boys

I had to get new tyres on my little Nissan Micra today. It’s a chore that is getting harder and harder every year. Now those nice young men in Quikfit are a fine and hardworking bunch but God, their attitude to women is positively medieval. Whilst awaiting my turn to be attended to, I watched these boiler-suited adolescents interact with 5 other customers. They were courtesy and respectful at all times to these male clients. I marvelled at how they multitasked too. They answered the constantly ringing telephone, checked stock on their antiquated computer in between nudging 2-3 car jobs closer to completion. I’ve always said that men can’t multitask. This bred are the exception that proves the rule. Unfortunately their greater mental dexterity has come at quite a high price.

I’ve never been so patronised in my whole life. Gus (according to the greasy nametag) inhaled deeply before explaining in baby steps the importance of having my wheels balanced. He also noted that the grooves in my tyres were more than just there for decorative effect. He offered Dunlop, Pirelli and Firestone and enquired in all seriousness that perhaps it would be best to ring my “old man” for advice. The ‘cross treads v radial’ decision wasn’t one to be made without careful consideration and – his tone clearly implied - certainly not by a girlie.

Now, perhaps Quikfit do get their fair share of pathetic dipsy female customers that has seen these guys develop their attitude. But that’s still no excuse. I’m not a petrol-head but the two summers I spent in my uncle’s garage in Galway taught me the basics. I know that a “McPherson Strut” isn’t what Elle does on a Milan catwalk. I know that a “Rack & Pinion” isn’t a wooden frame festooned with bird wings. And a 'Constant Velocity Joint' isn't a even burning cigarette!

I wanted to scream at this spotty, dismissive youth. How dare he! I wanted to tell him that I deserved the same courtesy as he had extended to his male customers. Yes, I had changed a tyre before. I do occasionally check fluid levels in my battery. And the reason that I had darkened his door in the first place was because I recognised that that decorative effect on my tyres was beginning to wear thin!

I wanted to take my business to the FastFit competition down the road but both he and I knew that regardless of the outfit’s name, there really is only one show in town. And it's a man's world!!!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Res Bloggia

I’ve always liked knowing what is topical, fashionable and “in” – be it clothes, music, movies, types of men, etc. I have a compulsive need to pigeon hole, categorise and define. Certainty is most important with me. I realise that as I peruse Blog O’Sphere, this tendency resurfaces time and again. I like looking for connections even if they haven’t been made by individual bloggers.

Now I’m not claiming to be Simon Delaney mapping out mythical chain reactions but it is interesting to observe how what one blogger writes seems to influence others. It is clear that some bloggers are reactionary ; others proactive. Some push the boundaries in terms of subject matter, layout and style ; Others consistently seek to bring posts back to a few “safe” arguments or never stray from their post style or content.

Some bloggers have even established a “corporate” style around their posts. They speak to their audience rather than to themselves. They explain in a benign, parental manner stuff that’s far too complex for a simple lass like me to comprehend without notes. These individuals most probably post from the confines of their work office cubicle. They have probably got a HR policy document on blogging and seek to protect the good name of their employer. Despite their need for personal creativity, it seems that they can’t shake off the shackles of big organisation group think.

Some of the best bloggers (interesting and productive) seem to hit speed bumps and suddenly stop blogging. Those of us who avidly read their work are left like junkies frantically waiting for the next fix.

The more mature blogger, realises that there are stages of blogger evolution and with a wry smile (how do you do “wry” with those smilies? :-} ? :-]) can spot a naïve blogger in a single post. These individuals tend to wear a gentle “been there, blogged that” air, much in the same way as a bachelor uncle wears a dodgy Christmas gift cardigan so as not to offend his nieces.

According to my StatCounter buddy (the pie chart that keeps me sane), one blogger makes regular trips to my blog. Like all the best bloggers, they leave thoughtful, encouraging comments. So encouraging, in fact, that I’m immediately drawn to their blog to seek more wisdom. What I find is an incoherent babble – You know who you are! – and I regret to say, I can never find anything wise or incoherent to say in return.

I’ve notice that some bloggers blog for themselves. The public is just a backdrop that keeps them sharp or grounded. They tolerate my comments with polite disinterest.

Humour tends to be a precarious thing and does not travel well through the ether. Like e-mail, the emphasis gets lost and the gentle good-humoured jibe is often taken up as a gross personal slight.

In short, it’s the variety of bloggers and reasons for blogging which makes Blog O’Sphere such a fascinating place to visit. I’ve been here about 6 months now and I love everything about it. If only those bloggers with a tendency to exaggerate would just sod off!

Operator Error

Would the person from Wisconsin, who keeps searching my blog with the words "Paige + Sex" please provide

(a) his telephone number


(b) A photo of her partner and his telephone number.

I'm unable to process your query further without such information!

Happy St Valentine's Day

Friday, February 10, 2006

Outcry Over Rampant Election Fraud

The Irish Blog Awards are an “undemocratic and fraudulent affront to civil liberty” according to some disgruntled Irish bloggers who are demanding the deployment of international monitors and a complete recount of all election ballots. The dramatic claims were made by several underground dissenters in exclusive interviews with the Blank Paige. Each dissenter was at pains to stress that their disgruntlement did not stem from their failure to be nominated although some acknowledge privately that they regret that they did not nominated themselves.

“On the face of it, Damien Mulley appears to have pulled off a regular, impartial and transparent poll, but this is merely a smokescreen to cover the distortion of the results by blog heavyweights such as Sigla Blog, Progressive Ireland and RedMum” claimed one unnamed source last night.

eLections have always been open to charges of cronyism, however with so much at stake in this ballot, commentators are arguing for the immediate deployment of United Nations or European Union election monitors to ensure that the results are fair and above reproach. Although previous blog awards have been held, this particular election is seen as a defining moment in the development of an Irish Blog O’Sphere constitution. Most observers believe that free and fair elections will reinforce the democratic mandate. However it is feared that dissident bloggers will increase their disruptive tactics in the run up to the election.

The ballot organiser, Mulley has been responsible for this “pathetic charade", another anonymous blogger revealed (under condition of anonymity). “There was this pretence of a nominations round however it’s obvious from the absence of big name bloggers like blankpaige and Rinceor, that all was not right with this ballot”. “There has been gross intimidation and serious obstruction of would-be e’lectorate with some voters finding “Unauthorised Access” and “Access Denied” messages when they went to cast their ballots. In a shocking development, one female blogger was forced to vote for Twenty Major in the category of ‘Most Gratuitous Use of the C-Word’ category.It’s obvious the way some guy called “Richard” who never blogs gets nominated but still tops the poll that something isn’t right.

The final round of voting procedure has also come under question. In this round, an anonymous committee of individuals cast the decisive vote in a procedure similar to that used by the US Electoral College system.


Of course all the above is total rubblish, but when a girl hits ‘blog block’ you have to take drastic action! Congratulations to all who have been nominated. I wish you all the best. I’ve been voting early and often so you should too!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Sometimes you can't make it on your own

Before the (typically sensationalist, completely missing the point) recent expose on Cervical Cancer that was PrimeTime's report, I posted an invite for people to sign up to the Irish Cancer Society's online petition for a national screening service.

It would seem that Mary Harney is well disposed to the concept. However, I've no doubt there will be a million and one task forces, expert reports, working groups and pilot programmes before this becomes a national reality. In the meantime, might I direct you to two excellent posts on the subject from different perspectives. Trixibelle and Omani.

For men who might find this subject makes them squeemish, different but equally thought provoking item has been posted by Rinceor.

Congratulations to U2 on their 5 grammys (grammies?)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Door Bouncers & Floor Bunnies

There was a funny exchange on Matt Cooper’s radio programme last night. Matt interviewed a man and a woman who were both advocates for more females taking on the role of night club bouncers. Both interviewees had worked in the “Entertainment & Hospitality Security” industry for several years. They were keen to challenge the stereotype of a physically large, ugly man with a bad haircut and a poorly fitting suit denying access to would-be patrons on various arbitrary grounds. An attempt was made to convince the listener that the sensitive feminine touch would defuse potentially explosive situations rather than inflame. Stretching the powers of female persuasion to ridiculous extremes, the woman even claimed to be adept at resolving disputes between two women fighting over a guy. It seems her Solomon-like skills stemmed from her ability to project the understanding older sister perspective and her intuitive knowledge that women could be bitches sometimes!

However I was more convinced by the argument that a guy (drunk or otherwise) being approached by another guy (ill-fitting suited or otherwise) is likely to respond to the perceived confrontation in kind. Be it machismo or not wishing to lose face, any of us (who have had to drag our beaus away from certain fracas with door staff) know only too well how such can situations quickly arise. Like two stags in some ancient Highland battle, they lock horns and refuse to concede territory or the suitability of ones footwear.

However what made the whole item incredibly funny was the demonstration of Homo Stagicious in action by Matt Cooper and Jeffery Donaldson in a subsequent interview. I’m a mild mannered woman most of the time, but I’ll admit my heckles do get raised by the evasion tactics employed by some Unionist politicians. Jeffery takes the whole “control of the interview” to a professional level. In his classic ‘buy some time’ routine, he feigned mock indignation at being rudely interrupted by Cooper. For once, Cooper hadn’t been guilty – the radio equivalent of wearing very fashionable designer leisure shoes not scabby runners. But this didn’t stop Donaldson from coming the door heavy. At the earliest opportunity, Cooper responded in kind, he too feigned indignation and locked horns with Bouncer Donaldson. As a result, we never got to hear the DUP man being held to account for the offensive remarks of his party leader about our much loved President. Instead, Matt and Jeffrey proved the point that perhaps a female radio presenter might have brought her feminine charms to bear with better effect. Where is Orla Barry when you need her?

Photo: Colin Thomas 2004

Fiona's Quasi Meme

Gender: female
Age: (1-18; 19-30; 31-45; 46-60; 60+) 19-30
Nationality: Irish
Country of residence: Ireland
Sexual Orientation: Dormant Hetro
Do you have a disability? No
How would you describe your political philosophy? Probably Centre Left or liberal democrat with a small ‘l’ and a large ‘D’
Level of education (primary; post-primary; third-level; graduate; professional) Graduate
If you were to vote on party lines which party would you choose (Ireland)? Progressive Democrat (despite McDowall)
If you were to vote on party lines which party would you choose (UK)? Liberal Democrat (aka New New Labour)
If you were to vote on party lines which party would you choose (USA)? Democrat
Where do you stand on the EU? Support a United States of Europe that allows individual sovereignty. Much of the EU has been positive except the tendency to allow unaccountable bureaucrats to wield too much influence.
Did you support the invasion of Afghanistan? By Russia or by US? No, I’d have preferred if Western Governments had not to have used the country as a pawn in their cold war dance.
Did you support the invasion of Iraq? No. Same answer as above.
Do you continue to support either or both of those conflicts? Based on the fact that one can’t turn the clock back, I would support any effort that eliminates unnecessary human suffering and loss of life.
What do you believe is the single biggest issue facing Irish politics? Institutional racism & rampant consumerism
What do you believe is the single biggest issue facing European politics? Balancing central command that has sufficient global influence with allowing local autonomy.
What do you believe is the single biggest issue facing international politics? Political Terrorism (axes of evil, politics of fear)
Are you, have you ever been, and do you ever wish to be involved in politics in a party political manner? Not now, never have &, I regret to say, probably never will
Who would you have voted for in the past US Presidential Election? Bill Clinton (i.e. spoilt vote by Democrat)

I’ve posted my views on chain letters before. But rather than tag Paige D, Paige E, Paige F, and Paige G., I’ll tag the following four other Irish bloggers; JL, Dunner, Omani, Rinceoir. (Sorry folks!)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Reckless Endangerment

Fiona at Mental Meanderings raises the issue of who is really to blame for the carnage on our roads.

We are a strange nation indeed. As a society we will do anything but face up to our own personal responsibility. We blame the Gardai for not enforcing the law but as Fiona rightly says its all about personal responsibility.

Some idiot tailgated me on the M50 last night flashing furiously his headlights. I was overtaking slower moving traffic at just under the speed limit. I don't know what he expected me to do, but as a result of his aggressive actions, I think he should be charged with dangerous driving. The mobile clamped to his ear during the incident was enough to have a charge of attempted murder preferred.

In the grant scheme of things, responsiblity for the carnage lies
  • Not with the Gardai
  • Not for a non-existant traffic core
  • Not even with the Minister for Justice or Transport
  • Not with our local authority for having different road surfaces or inappropriate speed limits
  • Not with NTR for having infuriating tolls or no crash barriers
  • Not with Mercedes, BMW or Lexus
  • Not with RTE for showing glossy ads of the best built cars in the world

No, the responsibility is first and foremost all our own. Having spent several years living in England, I noticed how a driver who drank was something of a social parriah. In Ireland, such an individual is a regular guy.

Friday, February 03, 2006

What is something I said?

What is it with everyone? Seems that the entire Blog O'Sphere has gone on an extended leave.

Folk are either taking/about to take/just back from a "sabbatical" (
JL, Trixibelle) or they've become a syndicated columnist with a local newspaper (RedMum, Knackered Kaz). More still have mocks or exams of one type or other.

Are folk just busy writing their acceptance speeches for their Irish Blog award?
Has blogger started a parallel universe that doesn't include the blank paige?

If lack of inspiration is your excuse, you could at least comment/abuse/insult me on any of the topics below

Is Fine Gael really a racist party? Beating the System? (
Write your own constitution (

Thursday, February 02, 2006

We've got some nerve!

Two aspects of the Irish mentality have always fascinated me – Our anarchic desire to beat the system and our overwhelming need to be loved by other nations.

If anti-establishment was an Olympic event, we’d be swimming in gold medals. Remember we’re the nation that bankrupted our neighbour’s national health service with our fraudulent occupational incapacitation claims. We drove the Germans to introduce a new currency because of our habit of fooling their vending machines with our lower value Irish coins. We invented guerrilla warfare, boycotting and subverting the English language.

No nation pays more attention to where we are on international lists of the best places to live, the friendliest peoples, ideal location for stag & hen parties, quality of life index, etc that ourselves. Maybe it is because our nearest neighbour seemed for so many years trying to be the least love the world over?

It is in this context that I fail to be impressed by the recent hand-ringing over how Polish people working in Ireland might get their hands on our social welfare allowances (and specifically the grant to parents of children under the age of six to off-set soaring child care costs). You can argue about the economic strategy and if other more direct ways of supporting working parents in Ireland may be more sensible. You can argue that (like the medical cards to all peoples over the age of seventy) the scheme might cost a lot more than we’d bargained for. But do not complain because of the prospect that someone who has had to leave his/her homeland to work in Ireland might “benefit” because they couldn’t afford to bring their child with them. That’s just ignorant and racist and I don’t care how much people protest their true intentions.

It set me thinking (“ogh no”, I hear you groan!). What if we Irish went out Asia and adopted a whole clatter of orphaned children? Of course we’d leave them behind in their squalor and claim the child support grant. If we had any pangs of guilt, we could contribute the couple of euro per month it costs for crèches in Indonesia or the Ukraine but we’d still be quids in. And once they’d reached the age of 6 we could leave the back in the orphanage and claim that we never really bonded with the child leaving us free to start all over again.

This way, we’d win so much international kudos for being a kind and generous nation who put children adoption first. We might even become the No.1 nation for the number of children fostered per capita. And in the process we could wreck the grant system much more impressively than those pathetic hard working Poles.