Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Blogger spam filter not working - evidently

Blogger's spam filter is crap, it really is.   This blog gets spam comments in the hundreds every day: and it takes a while to sift through them all just in case there is a valid comment among them.  

Much of the spam is the very same stuff over and over again.  Blogger's filter is supposed to recognise it and put it all into the spam folder.   It's supposed to be trainable and remember what you mark as spam and what you mark as genuine.

As trainable goes, it is more Odie than Lassie

Quite often I get emails from regular readers asking why their comments have not been published.  The reason, invariably, is because Blogger has decided their comments are spam  while designating  the same penis enlargement ones as legitimate, time and time again. (How are they onto me, anyway? I suppose that's targeted marketing for you).

So now, as an experiment, I have activated word verification.  

This uses the CAPTCHA system - unfortunately a Blogger default -  a thing usually so unintelligible that humans cannot read it, never mind spam robots.  

CAPTCHA usually results in a would-be commenter leaving bloody tufts of his/her ripped-out hair in the vicinity of the keyboard... and no comment to boot.  But I notice it seems to have improved, so we'll try it for a while and see how it goes.

Just type in what you see (letters and numbers) without a space in between.  If you get an attempt wrong the next one should be a bit easier to read.  

It's a bit of a pain, but hopefully not too much so.  

You can email me (address to the left somewhere) and let me know how you are getting on.

See below some of the (obviously) spam comments that kept showing up again and again and again.   

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Sunday, 24 March 2013

John Delaney's salary - it's that Irish L'Oréal thing again

Last Friday's 0-0 result away to Sweden wasn't a bad one, and the Irish team played with a level of application last seen under Jack Charlton.  

I wasn't going to bother switching on the TV, to be honest - Republic of Ireland games have been drab, dour affairs under Trapattoni - a manager who can't communicate with his players and whose sell-by-date is well past its time.

The Football Association of Ireland appointed Trapattoni amid much fanfare in May 2008, some thought it a master stroke by John Delaney, head honcho at the FAI.   Ireland qualified for the European Championship finals in 2012, but were humilated at every match in a tough group.  

You would think Delaney capable of master-strokes, given the salary he draws from the FAI, a notoriously inept organisation.  According to Michael Clifford in today's Sunday Times, Delaney's wages amount to €360,000 per annum.   He was previously on €400,000 before straitened times saw staff being laid off and Delaney feeling the pain by taking a pay cut.

€360,000 is still a hell of a lot of money.  The head of Spanish Football Angel Maria Villar, for example, is on €152,000.   Spain, by the way, are the current World Cup and European Championship holders.

Go figure.

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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Pat Rabbitte and Skrine Hill residents on windfarms - contrasting views

It is one thing to make dismissive comments about the phenomenon known as NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yardism), but would you want one of these monstrous wind turbines close to your home?  

I mean, it is one thing to knowingly move into an area with eyes - and ears - open to any potential sources of disturbance in the area; but to live somewhere previously unspoilt, only to have a disturbance plonked right next to you must be hard to take.  

What struck me about the following feature was the genuine distress of the two residents affected by a windfarm constructed nearby - you can see how close in the video - and the genuine arrogance of Pat Rabbitte. 

What, exactly is Pat's definition of "unobstrusive"?  

Not in his backyard, I suppose.

*PS.  Captions are Gombeen Nation's, not RTE's.

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Sunday, 17 March 2013

Alternative Irish national anthem – Happy Paddy's Day!

New version of above video here

A bit late for Paddy's Day but here we go.  The blog's very own revised national anthem.  Four tracks -  drums, bass, rhythm and lead guitar.  Mercifully, no vocals.

Stand up now!

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Thursday, 14 March 2013

Pat Rabbitte and RTE to extend licence fee to those without TV

"...RTE took advertising from the start [in addition to the licence fee].  It was therefore something of a hybrid.

The element of top-down control was a comfort to the political elite as well.  The Lemass government made no bones about its view that RTE should be an arm of the state..."

(A Brief History of Ireland, Land, People, History.  Richard Killeen)

Not surprising then, to find that ex-Stalinist Pat Rabbitte thinks we should all pay an RTE licence fee, even if we do not look at the state broadcaster's mix of light "entertainment' dross and Official Ireland bollocksology.  Even if we do not possess a TV, in fact.  

Broadcast charge to hit all homes – even those with no TV
Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor – 27 February 2013.  Irish Independent  3/12/13 

EVERY household will have to pay a new "broadcasting charge" even if they do not own a television.

The move is intended to take account of the fact that many households are now watching RTE and TG4 programmes on their laptops and smartphones – and do not
need to own a television. But it will also hit households who do not have any computer or television.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte confirmed in the Dail that it was his intention to get every household to pay the new broadcasting charge, even if they did not
own a "device".

"In short, everyone benefits from the availability of these services, regardless of how content is accessed or relayed to the public and, therefore, it is my view that the
cost should be borne by society as a whole," he said.

RTE has estimated that up to 15pc of households do not pay the TV licence fee – even though 99pc of houses have a TV.

It currently gets around €180m per year from the licence fee – and could see this increase by a further €25m if the new broadcasting charge is collected from all households.

Mr Rabbitte said that an independent group was carrying out a value‐for‐money review on the new broadcasting charge, which is due to be completed at the end of next month. It will have to make recommendations on the best way to collect the charge.

In the Dail, Mr Rabbitte did not give any specific commitment about when the charge would be introduced. It is not expected that it will be any higher than the current
TV licence fee of €160 per year.

Currently, the lion's share of the licence fee revenue is given to RTE, which received €183m in 2011. TG4 also gets funding and 7pc of the licence fee is put into a fund
for independent broadcast productions...

Maybe RTE and Rabbitte should embrace the digital age in earnest, and make the station a subscription-only service?  

I, for one, would gladly go without. 

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Sunday, 10 March 2013

Sally Gap drive in(g) rain

Gone fishin'.   Well, the motoring equivalent anyway. 

It's been pretty quiet here on the blog between one thing and another.  One being Gombeen Nation's attempt to go all multimedia, the other being that we live in a mad country and maybe the easiest thing is to just accept it?  Course of least resistance and all that?   Or should that be "curse"?

One good thing I have always said about Dublin - perhaps the only thing - is that it is easy to get the hell out of the place.  Aeons and aeons ago, I discovered that on my old Vespa PX scooter.  Back in the 80s you might see maybe two or three cars all the way from the Pine Forest to Laragh.  It's busier now, especially at the weekends, but during the week - especially outside summer - it is still pretty quiet.  Much of the time you will have the road to yourself.

Back in the 80s, there was one bizarre occurrence when I saw a posse of Garda motorcyclists emerging out of the wilderness towards me.  Motor insurance was incredibly expensive then, of course, and I'm not sure if mine was, erm, up-to-date at the time.  (Let me point out that all  this was 30 years ago, officer).    

To put insurance costs for two-wheelers in 80s Ireland in perspective, consider the following.  My scooter cost me about £700 (Punts).  A year's insurance (third-party only) cost £503.  I was on about £80 a week... before tax.  A lot of young people took their chances.

Anyway, I got a bit of a fright to be honest, but thankfully they were more interested in trying to look like "CHiPS"  to be bothered with a passing young mod on a scooter who was also trying to learn his trade.  

Just a couple of short years after that, I headed off to London, got a job, and bought a brand-new Kawasaki GT 750.   The insurance was £193 for third party fire-and-theft.  And I was suddenly on £10,000.  One thing I did miss, however, was being able to get away from it all - you nearly had to take the motorbike up to Scotland for that.

So, as I've said before, the Military Road is a great place for getting away from it even today.  Its a good place to drive/motorcycle/cycle too,  as you can see what is coming for miles on the undulating roads that wind like asphalt ribbons through the brooding hills.  Poetic, eh?  Or bullshitty - there's a subtle difference.

Getting  away to the Wicklow hills is a great way of  blowing the soot of the city from your soul.   The only downside is the bumps, which seem to be more in number every visit.  The road was, of course, constructed by the British military under the guidance of Charles Cornwallis between 1800-1809, atop blanket bog, so I suppose it is not the best environment for longevity.

According to Michael Fewer's "The Wicklow Military Road", the road was constructed by first excavating, then  "laying down a bed of timber logs, on top of which layers of stones were compacted, and the surface finished in gravel".   Fewer cites a local sheep farmer who saw the road opened up some years ago to a depth of 4 metres, and observed that its base was filled with tightly packed bundles of rushes.  It seemed to work though.

You would think that if Cornwallis and Co. managed such a feat of engineering in the early 19th century, it wouldn't be beyond Wicklow County Council to fill in a few potholes.   But...

Progess, eh?

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Monday, 4 March 2013

Pope job advert - interviews start today

Irish unemployment figures eased marginally over the past six months, according to official CSO statistics.   But there are still plenty of people on the brew and plenty more attending international job fairs, desperate to get work and, as a bonus, get the feck out of this place.  It's like the 80s all over again.

Anyone interested in working abroad could do worse than throw their zucchetto into the ring for the job advertised below.

Note to An Post workers:  you're going to be very busy for the next while..

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Friday, 1 March 2013

Irish government scraps disability grants in the interests of equality

Hypocrisy is one of the most strongly developed qualities here in Ireland.  91 years of mistaking myth and fantasy for fact has seen to that. 

So when kiddies were being buggered by priests, and otherwise tortured by nuns, we didn't have things like divorce or extramarital sex.

Sinful, you see.

And Paddy and Mary happily supplied the human cargo that went to the Magdalene Laundries, the industrial schools, and the Christian Brothers.  And they went to mass at least once a week -  more if they were especially pious.

The bollocksology that was  Dev's 1937 Constitution - which some still consider sacred  - made a language the vast majority of us don't speak (and those who do are English speakers anyway) the state's first official one.

It also claimed jurisdiction over the entire island - something that will never happen as Irish nationalism/"republicanism" ignores the inconvenient existence of a large number of "Prods" up north who don't  subscribe to Catholic/Gaelic identity.   Then it gave the Catholic Church a "special place" in the life of the state. 

Paddy and Mary think they are very trendy indeed, now that they don't go to mass anymore. A bit like  Ming Flanagan thinking smoking pot is oh-so-counterculture.   It was in  the Sixties, Ming.  Get with it, maaaan!   

Paddy and Mary still like the trappings of Mother Church when it comes to weddings and funerals though.  They still can't quite kick the habit.  Or cassock.

You know what we're saying here.  Poor old P&M are always trying to overcome their instilled beliefs to play catch-up with the rest of the world.  The developed part, anyway. 

And what about this?  Enda Kenny and shyster  Minister for Heath James Reilly doing away with disability and mobility allowances without so much as a by-your-leave, rather than extend it to those over 65..  Ostensibly in the interests of equality.  

Let's see how quickly they "roll-out" their replacement scheme, and how many truly vulnerable people lose out in what is most likely another cynical stealth cut.

Irish Independent, 27 February 2013

THE Government has come under intensifying pressure to reverse shock moves to scrap mobility grants for the disabled.

Opposition parties have described the decision that affects around 5,000 people as scandalous and reprehensible, and have demanded an immediate U-turn.

But Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted the schemes were illegal, obsolete and discriminatory, and needed to be replaced with a fairer and more appropriate regime.

"These two schemes - the motorised transport grant and the mobility allowance - are illegal, are not in conformity with the Disability Act, are not in conformity with the Equal Status Act, and are not in conformity with our constitution," Mr Kenny said.

"We cannot stand over a scheme that is obsolete, that is unfair, that is discriminatory, that is not in compliance with these acts and therefore we have got to deal with it."

Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly had ruled last year that the scheme as it stood was illegal as it was not open to over 65s. She asked for it to be expanded.

The Department of Health accepted the scheme breached equality laws but said it could not afford the €300m to widen eligibility.

Ms O'Reilly publicly criticised Health Minister Dr James Reilly at an Oireachtas committee for refusing to act on her ruling and widen the allowance.

Meanwhile, Age Action warned scrapping the schemes would have a huge impact on thousands of low-income people who depend on them.

Spokesman for the charity Eamon Timmins said the Government must have a replacement allowance lined up for after the last payments are made.

"Failure to have a replacement scheme agreed within four months will result in severe financial hardship 10,000 people with a disability, and this is totally unacceptable," Mr Timmins said.

The Centre for Independent Living said the Government's decision was an attack on the rights of disabled people, and that the move would make them prisoners in their own homes.

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