Thursday, 29 March 2012

Elephant tries to escape Cork

And who could blame her, I suppose?

Usually, we are used to dealing with Ireland's many room-based elephants on this blog - so here at last is one that just couldn't be ignored.

Sadly, "Baby" is back in custody after her brave bid for freedom.

Back to Gombeen Nation main page

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Phil Hogan says "don't pay property tax"

I don’t know how any of you feel about the property tax?

 I, however, am sick of paying taxes of one form or another. From credit cards to VRT, to VAT and USC. Most of all though, I am sick of PAYE.

PAYE workers contribute by far the most to the tax take in this country (in 2007, €10 billion of the total income tax take of €13.5 billion).  And what happens to it?

Now we have property tax to “broaden the tax base".  Yeah . 

Or does it mean we will pay even more for no return - a godawful place madly betwixt Boston and Berlin, taking in all the worst bits  -  given the lack of commitment to decrease any of our existing taxes? 

Or maybe that's a bit cynical?

Speaking of which, those of you who feel bled dry as it is, might ponder the words of Phil Hogan, Environment Minister – the man threatening us with dire consequences if we do not pay the property tax – uttered in February 2009 (as pointed out by Gene Kerrigan in the latest Sindo).

When asked to take a 10% voluntary cut in his €110,000 TD (member of the Irish parliament)  pay , he responded:

“No. My personal circumstances don’t allow that at the moment".

There you go, then.

Back to Gombeen Nation main page

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Mahon Tribunal: Official Ireland gives its belated, impotent verdict

If neglecting a blog was a criminal offence it would be a case of “guilty as charged, Your Honour”. But it’s been mad lately, what with builders restoring the gaff and the horrors of work and all the rest.

It’s nearly finished now, the gaff, and the “builder” who impressed the most was the plasterer - finishes like snooker table slate.

The man himself turns up every morning bang on the minute and just does his work… it’s more of an art really, seeing him at it. His name is Simon, thankfully, not Paddy.

And speaking of Paddy the Plasterer, what a to-do about the eventual findings of the Mahon Tribunal?

It made many legal types super-rich, even providing exorbitant incomes for them in the downturn. It cost goodness knows how many millions (I’m sure some of you clever readers can say exactly), and it told us that B-B-Bertie was “untruthful” and that Pee Flynn was “corrupt”, as were some councillors.  Other Fianna Failers accepted corrupt payments and abused office.  Brown envelopes abounded in council chambers.

Did we not know that? And does it mean that because B-B-Bertie was not proven corrupt – just “untruthful”  – he will never see the inside of Ireland’s woeful prison system?  The same system he presided over for far too long?

Will the corrupt shyster Pee Flynn, one of whose daughters advised people how to evade tax and went on to be a TD, see the inside of a mangy Mountjoy cell? 

Dream on. This is Ireland after all.

A country full of people who see the behaviour of B-B-Bertie and Flynn, and other members of the rotten political class, as laudable.

They are the self-same shysters who voted for these chancers in their droves, and probably still would if they got the chance.

Rotten.  One of Ireland's core values.

Those of you who sympathise with the sentiments of the blog are just an admirable minority.

Back to Gombeen Nation main page

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Badger baiting and the unspeakables who practice it

"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals."
~Immanuel Kant

Not always true, given that Hitler for instance, doted on his German Shepherd Blondi. But true insofar as someone who routinely indulges in animal cruelty has got to be a nasty piece of work.

It has been said that many serial murderers started their gory careers by pulling the legs off spiders, before moving up the hierarchy and graduating to humans. If someone is happy to shoot a bird out of the sky for no good reason, is it only the law that prevents them taking pot-shots at you or me?

Then there are blood “sports”. Well-heeled types who don their jodhpurs and red coats to chase a fox across the countryside until it dies of exhaustion or is ripped apart by hounds. Sometimes it escapes, of course, but it can’t be a pleasant experience all the same.  Oscar Wilde aptly described it as the "unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable".

There is coursing too, in which a hare is chased around a field by greyhounds for the amusement of Neanderthal onlookers. Badger baiting is another one. It is difficult to imagine the mentality of the odious being who would take pleasure in such an activity.

The footage above originates from north of the border in County Down where, it seems, “baiting” –  far worse than the term describes – is quite common.  It isn’t confined to that locality,  however, as the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reported, as recently as February, that badger baiting was on the rise here too.

Sure, someone who is an animal lover isn’t automatically a good person; but someone who would do the above to another living creature is undoubtedly a very bad one.

Would you want to be at their mercy under any circumstance?

Back to Gombeen Nation main page

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Irate readers, missing emails, technical problems, Paddy's Day, and other annoyances

Some months ago, I noticed Gombeen Nation's lovely header image - the unfab four you see above - became pixellated.   Upon attempting to research the problem, I found that Google Blogger deems it "a known issue".  So that's that, is it? 

It's a bit like buying a car, the wheels of which fall off when you leave the showroom, and being told it is a "known issue" when you go back to the salesperson to complain.

Likewise the followers gadget. This is something within the control panel of Blogger that supposedly allows you to see who has subscribed to your blog. Again, it does not work. It is a "known issue". So that's alright then.

The same with my email.  Or someone else's.  I had a message from a reader who accused me of ignoring emails, and his suggestion for a blog post.  I had done no such thing.  I replied saying I would cover the topic. 

In fact, I answer every email I get.  Maybe not right away as -  believe it or not  -  we bloggers  have work and personal lives too.  Why, or if, the person did not receive my email - whether it was lost in cyberspace, or fell victim to an aggressive spam filter - I do not know.  I am not technical.  It's in my "sent" box.

But that someone might think that this circumstance is down to my  rudeness or indifference is a little bit jarring.  Jarring to the point where you think "why bother?".  This blogging business can be a bit of a head-wrecker at times, between one thing and another, it really can. 

Speaking of jarring:  it's Paddy's Day.   A day when people take to the streets and celebrate their Irishness by blockading towns and cities, getting hammered, attacking and abusing people, rioting, and decorating the footpaths with layers of colourful (preferably green-dyed) vomit.

Yet another annoyance, as if there weren't enough of them.

Back to Gombeen Nation main page

Thursday, 15 March 2012

JRR Tolkein Mordors Irish

What’s the Gaelic for “Bilbo Baggins”?

“Biolbó Baigín”, apparently.

A version of The Hobbit as Gaeilge ('An Hobad'),  is to hit the books-elves at the end of March, according to Monday’s Irish Times.

The author of The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein, created the children’s work before going on to develop his theme into “Lord of the Rings”, in which Bilbo’s fluffy-footed offpring Frodo (Friodó Baigín, I imagine) went on to save Middle Earth from the tyranny of Sauron.

Tolkien was a polyglot whose lingo-list  included, according to Wiki:

"Latin, French, German, Middle English, Old English, Finnish, Gothic, Greek, Italian, Old Norse, Spanish, Welsh, and Medieval Welsh. He was also familiar with Danish, Dutch, Lombardic, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Swedish and older forms of modern Germanic and Slavonic languages."

Not satisfied with that lot, he invented several of his own, and had a reasonable knowledge of many other tongues into the bargain. . Gaeilge, however, he never developed a gra for.  

The following extract is from the aforementioned article.

“Despite his apparent love of languages, the English author and academic revealed a dislike of Irish in a selection of letters published posthumously in 1981 (he also admitted having a dislike for French and preferring Spanish to Italian).

In a letter to Deborah Webster, dated October 1958, he wrote: “I go frequently to Ireland (Éire: southern Ireland) being fond of it and of (most of) its people; but the Irish language I find wholly unattractive.

Some years later, in “Drafts for a letter to Mrs Rang”, Tolkien considered the etymology of the word “nazg”, the Black Speech word for “ring”, which featured so prominently in The Lord of the Rings

In his letter, Tolkien admitted a similarity to the Irish word “nasc”, but put this down to coincidence.

“I have no liking at all for Gaelic from Old Irish downwards, as a language, but it is of course of great historical and philological interest, and I have at various times studied it. (With alas! very little success.)

“It is thus probable that nazg is actually derived from it, and this short, hard and clear vocable, sticking out from what seems to me (an unloving alien) a mushy language, became lodged in some comer of my linguistic memory.”

In 1979, Prof George Sayer recounted a conversation he had with Tolkien, a devout Catholic, who described Ireland as “naturally evil”.

He could “feel”, Sayer said, “evil coming up from the earth, from the peat bogs, from the clumps of trees, even from the cliffs, and this evil was only held in check by the great devotion of the southern Irish to their religion.”

Not sure if all the above rings true, and it is quite possible he could have been acting the troll to some ext-ent.

But at least one influence which  in the darkness bound us is greatly diminished. 

Back to Gombeen Nation main page

Monday, 12 March 2012

M50 traffic jams, baby booms, busy shopping centres - welcome to recessionary Ireland.

Remember, during the bubble, how it was obvious to anyone with half a brain in their heads (thus ruling out the ruling Fianna Fail/Green coalition and the opposition who were very quiet on the tax-break funded building boom) that it was all going to end in tears?

A similar thing seems to be going on today.  It's been mentioned here before, but I continue to be dumbfounded with how busy it is whenever I go out the door.  

Last week, for instance, I was off work Thursday and Friday...  and once again I was amazed out how busy the shops - and the roads in general were - during these two weekdays.   Everywhere was teeming.  

Now I know Dublin City Council recently produced research to show that the amount of traffic entering the area encompassed by the canals has seen a drop in bus, private car and pedestrian traffic since 2001.  But I cannot believe the same applies to the anarchic arc of asphalt known as the M50.

There was a massive traffic jam on the N4 leading up to it, and Chapelizod on the way back was near stationary on the Friday afternoon.   What is behind this?  Petrol and diesel prices are at all time highs, insurance costs are up, people are supposedly losing their jobs - 2,500 poor buggers in AIB being the latest to be targeted - yet Paddy and Mary seem to love driving in their car more than Madness did.   Even if it's not a quite a Jaguar.

What is going on?   Ok, there is the usual thing about ferrying Oisin and Roisin to and from school - and at every lunch break - instead of letting them exercise their lardy arses now and again, but it does not explain why the shops should be hopping during weekdays.  It does not explain why the roads should be jammed with traffic.

Just as during the property bubble, it seems that there is something unsustainable going on...

Back to Gombeen Nation main page

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Fianna Fail branch wants national anthem sung in schools

Fianna Fail, the party of shysters and corrupt thieving gobshites that bankrupted the country they profess to love so much, had their national conference a few days ago.  Or weeks ago.  Does it matter?  They are an irrelevance now, belatedly.

One of the motions from some "ogra" or something or other - I think it's Gaelic for "Fianna Fail Youth" - called for the singing of the national anthem in schools every Monday (Irish Examiner, Feb 28th).

That should sort it, alright. 

As an illustration of how far-removed from reality the Irish political class is, it is hard to beat.  That it comes from the upcoming generation who, on this evidence, seem even more stupid and reactionary than the present incumbents/incompetents, makes it all the more depressing. 

Back to Gombeen Nation

Monday, 5 March 2012

What's the Irish for "leave those kids alone"?

Excellent article by Ann Marie Hourihane (left) in today's Irish Times.  I might not have bothered with the token Gaelic bits myself, but I accept she's used them in an ironic sense, in  "honour" of the recently concocted farce of Seachtain na Gaeilge.   

In case you're wondering what that is, it is a tokenistic sick-fest organised by the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge) which it describes as "the annual international festival organised by Conradh na Gaeilge to promote the Irish Language."    

What it means in effect, is that annoying TV and radio presenters – especially those employed by RTE – will interject words "as Gaeilge" as they introduce programmes or call out the Lotto numbers in a highly forced, highly self-conscious way.

It's just another irritant, culminating in the mother-father-and-grandparents of irritants, the famous celebration of Paddywhackery and public drunkenness known as Saint Patrick's Day.

Ann Marie's article tackles much more than said irritants, and deals with the institutionalised nonsense and jobbery surrounding Gaeilge and its counterproductive promotion  – it is well worth a read.  

Perhaps I should forcedly say  "Go raibh maith agut, Ann"? 

CAN IT really be Seachtain na Gaeilge arís? It seems like only inné that it was Seachtain na Gaeilge last year. And yet here we are again: Lá Groundhog. According to an Seachtain na Gaeilge website, on March 21st in Cork we can all go along to a session of bilingual flower arranging. Happy days.

There is also Bingo as Gaeilge, which sounds good fun actually, this Wednesday in Portlaoise. And then there’s the lecture to be given in Letterkenny, an Sathairn seo, entitled: “Our Culture agus Language”. The title says it all.

Creidim that it’s time we all took a closer look at the Twenty Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 . And that won’t take too long, because it’s kind of on the beag side.
If you look at the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht website you will see one of the aims of this complex strategy, which emerged from several commissioned reports that were paid for with your airgead, is neatly summed up thus: “To increase the number of people who speak Irish on a daily basis outside the education system from 83,000 to 250,000.”
What’s the Irish word for ambition again? I think we should be told.

You’ll also be glad to know: “The strategy promotes a holistic, integrated approach to the Irish language which is consistent with international best practice.” What’s the Irish for “that’s a relief”?

Come on, we’ve wasted enough time on this nonsense. It is one thing to be taught Irish by your loving family in a happy home, as most of the Irish-language enthusiasts quoted in the article Mise agus an Gaeilge , published in this newspaper on Saturday, appear to have been. It is quite another to have the educational opportunities of hundreds of thousands of Irish children squandered in hours of non-teaching of a non-spoken language. Is mór an trua é.

Too many Irish children leave primary school unable to confidently read or write their mother tongue – by which I mean English. And now we see the numbers of special-needs teachers drastically cut – while of course the pensions of our former taoisigh remain reassuringly high, but that’s another day’s obair – and our unfortunate páistí still being dragooned into this national charade. Let Des Bishop teach them in his own time, if he’s that pushed about it.

Meanwhile, the second language of this country is actually Chinese. Our children are speaking not Irish but some sort of sub-Valley Girl patois. A bright eight-year-old was recently describing her favourite story The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It was about a girl, she said, who found another country when she went into a closet. Could that closet possibly have been a wardrobe, a caring adult inquired. Oh yeah, said the bright eight-year-old, it could. That’s an interesting cultural nóiméad, I would have said.

Then there is the whole translation scam, by which all official documents must be translated into Irish. As we all know, the number of people who will read these vital communications in Irish is so small it would be much cheaper to send them all to live in Switzerland, keep them in cocaine for the rest of their lives and phone them individually with each translation as it limps off the presses.

In this country now, the Irish language is not even a footnote. Its only chance of survival – slim – lies not in official approval but in becoming a private passion. The people who really love it, and speak it – as opposed to making a living out of it – know this. They find the jobbery and the graft surrounding the Irish language an embarrassment.

A cúpla bliain ó thinn I wrote that the Irish language was our equivalent of the hijab, the headscarf worn by orthodox Muslim women as a badge of identity and compliance, a figleaf to cover a web of unacknowledged weaknesses. But all of this was put much better by Michael Lewis, in the best article written about modern Ireland, in Vanity Fair in March 2011. This is the best reply to Seachtain na Gaeilge.

“The first thing you notice when you watch the Irish parliament at work is that the politicians say everything twice, once in English and once in Gaelic. As there is no one in Ireland who does not speak English and a vast majority who do not speak Gaelic, this comes across as a forced gesture that wastes a great deal of time.

I ask several Irish politicians if they speak Gaelic, and all offer the same uneasy look and hedgy reply: “Enough to get by.” The politicians in Ireland speak Gaelic the way the Real Housewives of Orange County speak French.

“To ask ‘Why bother to speak it at all?’ is of course to miss the point. Everywhere you turn you see both emulation of the English and a desire, sometimes desperate, for distinction. The Irish insistence on their Irishness – their conceit that they’re more devoted to their homeland than the typical citizen of the world is – has an element of bluster about it, from top to bottom . . . The Irish people and their country are like lovers whose passion is heightened by their suspicion that they will probably wind up leaving each other. Their loud patriotism is a cargo ship for their doubt.”


Back to Gombeen Nation main page

Saturday, 3 March 2012

What, exacting, the purposeful of spam is?

What the? 

The blog gets its fair share of spam comments, as does any.   But look at this one.

It's marketing imitating art.  Joyce and Ulysses are in the ha'penny place by comparison.  Or even Finnegan's Wake.

As a "Dubliners" man, I can't make head nor tail of it at all...

Who if not is roughly your blog or website? Bid you noonday readers, supplementary are unaccompaniedarbitration is Need clear? Despite the fact that you inflate creating several us do, with regard to is miscarriage an gathering that's youth than you Valuable you deserve, right?With deviate mind, I'm downward 4 lord it over strategies endeavouracted upon me, simple fact, helped me put up withabstain from 11 nearby 30 there practised "dormant" blog community.The drained part? Eventually did burn out vacillatespiffy tidy up 2 be required of strategies below, delight was Unqualifiedly affordable provident my blog, my extra my affair were huge.Identify (and Approach) chum around with annoy EMAIL Influencers all over My NicheThe greater than is span age/personal ambiencechange media presence. simply 25 divagate seemed objective conversation, visited their sites, around their EMAIL lists... added contacted two them I could "buy" succinctly their usual broadcasts. (2 enunciated yes... desolate 1 profit BOTH are conform friends!) This generated give up 3000 order targeted regarding my blog benefit these kinsfolk MY email list, too! (which is definitely what Hysterical was longing they'd later on they arrived) Perfect was lower than $200.StumbleUpon AdsWhat most successfully marketers pay attention is roam StumbleUpon is for "social" adjacent to world, spur than Facebook Twitter alike. (I fancy combined) StumbleUpon has uncomplicated premium, paid prowl is unabashed affordable (with both 5, 10 advantage 25 cent "clicks" befit bloggers unadorned budget) coupled with it's an Crevice traffic. publicity is you Sighting your switch your attending time, jetty your stray has your pound content. (not your dwelling page... increased by can't detest an select alone) uncommonly paid stumbles? Solvent encourages wide stumbles, far-out who "likes" or gives you span thumbs more encourages easy your content, your creativity, additional your trouble-free well. (total billbehoove $50)Curated ContentFind 10 favourable posts with respect to your A-OK week of 30 daysAssignation them not susceptible your blog. Then... phone those whose the goods you curated over networks coupled with them admire you've featured them. Why? For the benefit of they'll in any case your blog, or kitchen garden your at bottom twitter... in requital for they absence their readers notice their perspicacity is asset cited alternative places. This is ripsnortingin like manner traffic, tradesman your bedchamber well.Article MarketingI've approach my rates b standingDesolate this one, extra has been sympathetic me C well. (with pots readers in all directions be useful to markets A-one result) It's unqualifiedly free, adjacent to is Not muchinstrument sun. Immensely this essaydetermination my self-sufficient blog be advisable for weeks, months or serene base you beside ease. (and adjacent to markets, it's irk you breech get!)

Give me Molly Bloom any time. 

Back to Gombeen Nation main page