Oirish to the core

The gubmint here has come up with some pretty cringe-worthy scams in the past to try to raise some cash.

That had that “Gathering” thing in 2013 in the hopes that everyone of Irish descent would come over and get ripped off.  Next year we have the dreaded 1916 commemorations where they hope the country will be flooded with tourists so we can do some more ripping off.  Having stripped the Irish themselves down to the bone, they are trying now obsessed with ripping off foreigners.

One of the more embarrassing enterprises, which I rated 10 out of 10 on the cringe scale was the “Certificate of Irish Heritage” which they introduced a couple of years back.

The concept here was that everyone in the world was desperate to prove they were Irish and would be glad to fork out for a certificate to say that yes, they were indeed Irish even if they weren’t.  For a mere €45 you could buy yourself a bit of paper to hang on your wall in order to impress your unimpressed neighbours.  If you were really insane you could fork out €120 and actually get a frame for the scrap of paper. 

I vaguely remember this thing being launched and how excited Dame Enda was as he envisaged 60 million people who claim Irish descent forking out €120 for his brilliant idea.  He gave one to Barak O’Bama and apparently Tom Cruise got one too which was even more embarrassing than the idea itself.  Why the fuck did they give one to that egotistical midget?  The little prick can’t even fucking act!

Anyhows it transpired that the world’s population were far more intelligent than Dame Enda gave them credit for, and the whole scheme was a dismal failure.  Out of a potential 60 million, a mere 3,000 coughed up.  They have scrapped it, and about fucking time too.

I dread to think what they will dream up next.  A certificate to say that you and all your family were in the GPO during the Easter Rising?  A certificate to prove that you are in fact Shergar?  A remake of “The Quiet Man” starring Tom Cruise and Barak O’Bama?

One good thing to come out of this I suppose is that O’Bama and Cruise are no longer Irish.

As I frequently say – every cloud………..

Driving an unnecessary accident

Back in the Bad Old Days I used to be a commuter.

If you added up all the hours I have spent stuck in stationary traffic on the Stillorgan to Bray road it would probably come to several wasted months of my life.

Naturally, while I was waiting for the car in front of me to shift forward a few inches, I would indulge in some people spotting.  Others would be doing the same, and occasionally I would catch a neighbour’s eye and we would exchange wry grins and use body language to indicate our frustrations with the wanker in front who was causing all the holdups.

I used to see some pretty strange stuff there in those traffic jams.  The commonest sight was the woman [or the odd time, a man] putting on makeup, or the man [or the odd time, a woman] shaving in the rear view mirror.  I have seen people eating cereal out of a bowl, reading the paper or a book, and on one occasion a woman breast-feeding a baby.

Now there has been some “research” into the non-driving habits of our motorists.

Shaving, texting and smoking are some of the most dangerous habits of Irish motorists

Hold on a second!  Has this research examined accidents to see if the driver had been shaving or texting at the time of impact?  No.  It was a fucking survey.  Even worse, it was a “what have you seen other people doing” kind of survey which means absolutely zilch.  Were the cars stationary at the time or were they pelting down the N11 doing The Ton?  We are not told, probably because the respondents weren’t asked.

Assuming they were going flat out on the motorway at the time then those people are obviously knuckle-draggers who shouldn’t be behind the wheel, as shaving, putting on makeup or texting require the participant to take their eye off the road, not for an instant but to stare fixedly at the mirror or screen.  Fucking dangerous to put it mildly, but Darwin will eventually take care of them.

They include smoking for some strange reason.  Presumably whenever people talk about danger, they have to include smoking as it must now be the law.  When an engineer submits plans for a bridge or a dam he has to prove proof that it won’t cause people to smoke?  If a landslide buries a village it must be because someone was smoking?

Anyhows, back to the article.

Now I confess to smoking and on the odd occasion poking my SatNav [though never while driving an unnecessary accident, whatever that means].  I can light my pipe without taking my eyes off the road ahead and will never poke my SatNav while negotiating sharp bends or junctions [it has voice recognition so I don’t do it often anyway], so I can’t see what the danger is supposed to be here?  In fact, lighting my pipe is less of a distraction than looking at the speedometer to see how much I’m exceeding the limit by, so maybe I shouldn’t look at my instrument panel any more?  Sorry, Your Honour, I had no idea I was going 168 at the time as checking my speed would have been a distraction and therefore dangerous?

These days I tend to get very suspicious when I see these “studies”.  What are they up to?  What are they trying to prove? What idiotic fucking law are they going to lobby for?

In the meantime I’m wondering if I will drive an unnecessary accident down to the pub tonight.

The death of a web site

A mere four days ago I made the grave mistake of pondering on the state of this site.

I should have known better.  Never be complacent, for as soon as complacency sets in, the shit is sure to hit the fan.

A couple of nights ago those nice kind people over at WordPress released an update to the software that moves this site along.  Being a conscientious type of person, I applied the update.  In fact I applied it to several sites.

Naturally there were no problems except one – it royally fucked up this site.  For some reason that I am trying to fathom it has introduced a Devil and the Deep Blue Sea problem which only really affects me and none of the other sites.

If I try to reply to a comment, I get the comment box thingy and everything looks fine, but if I try to type in the box, fuck all happens.  No letters, no blinking little cursor, no nothing.  It refuses to acknowledge my existence.

I tracked it down to a plugin that puts those fancy little editing buttons in the comments area, so I disabled it.  Yay!  I can comment again.  But now I can’t scribble out a new post.  I can write on the screen all right but nothing appears.  It’s like writing on white paper with white ink.  

I tried firing up that plugin again and once more I can write new stuff, but I am no longer able to comment again.  So it’s one or the other but not both.  Fuck!

For some reason this weird situation hasn’t affected other sites, just mine.

I think I am going to have to make the terrible decision to re-build the site from scratch.  That involves laying the foundations on another server, painting and decorating it so it looks exactly like the old one and then refurnishing it with all the old posts and comments.  The problem lies in the refurnishing – too little and the site breaks, or too much and the faulty shit is carried over too.

In the meantime I am using a programme called Blogilo to write this.  It is a horrible little pile of wombat’s doos.  It adds a load of crap into my scribbles and doesn’t even do a simple spellcheck, so I’m going to have to examine this with a fine toothcomb before trying to publish it.  Once I publish, there is no going back as I can’t edit it.  I would use Windows Live Writer but it is against my religious principles to go over to Windoze, and anyway I wouldn’t get anything done until it had finished updating sometime tonight.

The only good thing to come out of all this shit is that at last I have found out why the site was posting twice to Twitter.

Every cloud?

Red faces

I have always been a believer in logic with a healthy portion of intuition.

I see these studies cropping up in the meeja and there are times when their findings defy all logic and intuitively I know they are wrong.

Take for example the “studies” which have been flowing out for the last year or so on the topic of e-cigarettes.  Study after study stated that they were “dangerous”, “full of carcinogens” and in some cases were ten times more dangerous than ordinary cigarettes.  We were told that kids were using them and then going on to smoke fags. We were told that they were ineffective for quitting smoking and that the only true path to salvation was through Big Pharma.

Logic and intuition told me that all of this was a steaming pile of bullshit.

Now the Department of Public Health in the UK has come up with the results of their own study.  They have basically spent a fortune discovering what any reasonably intelligent person knew all along.

E-cigarettes are at least 95% “safer” than ordinary cigarettes.

Kids don’t use them as a “gateway” to ordinary smoking.

They have discovered to their horror though that 22% of the population think that electrofags are more dangerous than smoking!  Now how could this possibly be?  How can something harmless be perceived to be so dangerous?  Could it possibly be that that 22% believed all the lies and propaganda that Public Health has been screaming for the last year or so?

I [and many others] have been saying for years that the Tobacco Control Industry has been pumping out lies, obfuscation and propaganda to suit its own ends without regard for the truth or indeed people’s health.  It is a juggernaut that has destroyed so many businesses and in many cases ruined people’s social lives.  It has caused divisions in society and has attempted to stigmatise a fair portion of the public.

My bet is that suddenly we will hear no more “studies” into the harm of e-cigarettes.  All the previous ones will be quietly forgotten.  There will be a lot of backtracking and a lot of “I never said that” or “That’s not what I really meant”.

They were given the rope and they hung themselves.

But why the big turnaround?

Could it be that they realised that their claims sounded foolish in the face of millions of anecdotal stories?  Could it be that they realised that logic and intuition were stacked against their lies “theories”?

Or could it be that they just want e-cigarettes on their side so they can claim the credit for the reductions in smoking?

My little getaway

Last week John Mallon wrote about his Renault 4.

My first car was an Austin Mini.

Austin Mini

I bought it from some acquaintance of my parents back in the early seventies, and to say it was in shit order was giving it credit that wasn't due.

It was my first car though and I didn't give a damn.  It was mine.  All mine.  I loved it.

My Mini was one of the very early models.  All those fancy gizmos like radios, rear window heaters and wing mirrors were all but a future dream.   To say it was basic would be a gross exaggeration.

Starting the car was relatively simple.  You put the key in the lock and twist.  You then press a button on the floor to start the engine.  So far so good.  Assuming the engine is still running [quite a big assumption] you gently ease out the clutch to start moving.  Now if you weren't gentle enough on the clutch the engine would jerk on its mountings, the gear lever would shoot back striking the chassis and knock it out of gear.  It was quite a good anti theft device.

The photograph above is very similar to my banger.  However mine didn't have the chrome stripes over the wheels as they started waving around so I removed them.  The hubcaps were a luxury I couldn't afford to replace.  The paintwork in the photo is suspiciously new looking too, whereas mine lacked shine which was compensated for by large quantities of rust.  I also got tired of removing the radiator grill to access the engine so in the end I just dumped it.

One minor defect the car had when I bought it was that it didn't have any brakes.  This as a minor matter as to stop, it was a case of pumping the brake pedal furiously well in advance of stopping.  I had to revise that tactic though as one night [OK, I had quite a few pints on me] I left it too late to start pumping and smacked into the back of a car at some traffic lights.  I decided to get the breaks fixed.  I brought it to a garage and told 'em I wanted the whole brake system overhauled. 

The next day I collected the car, went to drive home but at the first junction the brake pedal hit the floor.  Pumping was useless and I happily drove into a hedge.  I drove [very fucking slowly] back to the garage, and told the manager to take it for a test drive.  He came back a few minutes later with a very white face and admitted that they hadn't bothered their arses looking at the master cylinder which was completely fucked.  They fixed it.

I drove that car the length and breadth of Ireland and it was a rare journey where the car didn't break down.  At various times I had to strip the cylinder block down at the side of the road, or tie something up with a length of rope. Once I had to drive forty miles with no water in the radiator to find a place that would sell me a hose.  That car taught me everything I needed to know about auto-mechanics and a good deal more.

That car had real personality.  It had moss and ferns growing inside in the little channels that the side windows slid in.  I used to water the ferns in dry weather.  It also liked to keep me guessing and never developed the same fault twice in succession. 

One night it was stolen from outside the pub.  I was gutted.

I got a call from the Law a couple of days later to say they had found it.  Apparently it had been used as a getaway car in some heinous crime or other.  They were probably caught as they tried to fix the starter motor or the clutch or something at the side of the road.  It gave me a laugh anyway – my trusty old banger as a getaway car?!!

One morning I went out to drive into work.

I turned the key in the lock and pressed the button on the floor.  The engine started, sweet as a nut.

I eased up the clutch.

There was a loud thump from the front, followed by complete silence.

I took a look.

The engine mountings had finally given way and the engine in its entirety was now sitting on the driveway.

Somehow, motoring has never quite been the same since.