Monday, 27 January 2014

Garda whistleblower and penalty points – one law for us and one for them

Some people think very highly of gardai, that they are there to protect us and all the rest.   I must confess that I'm not one... I've only every been inconvenienced by them. 

The first time I was about 8 years old, and awoke to the sound of banging on the door one early morning.  Minutes later, a plain-clothes redneck with his gun holster showing from underneath his substantial lapel was in my – and my brother's – bedroom, blustering the big "Hello lads", in the creepy, voice-of-authority manner that teachers and priests of the time also employed.

The second time I was about sixteen, and had forgotten about a tin of Dandelion Market grass that I had bought months previously.  I'd tried it and thought it was crap, before consigning it to a mantlepiece in one of the empty rooms up the house (we lived in the rented ground-floor flat of a rather dilapidated Georgian building).  

I thought I'd been had, to be honest with you, and the hustler who had sold it to me had given me a tin of thyme.  The bould boys in blue were of another mind, however –  apparently it was the real thing.  They confiscated it, of course.

They were welcome to it, as far as I was concerned.  I thought it was utter rubbish, and felt no effects from it at all.  To this day I can't figure out the fascination with cannabis that many people have, including hick gobshites like Luke "Ming" Flanagan.  

There aren't too many of you, I'm sure, who can boast about their gaff being raided, not once - but twice, during their childhood?  "Why did it happen?" you ask.

Well, we had a very bad time with landlords in Yours Truly's formative days.  On one occasion said landlord even turned up with some heavies and threatened the old man, who was having none of it, to his credit.    I think the old dear then approached some splinter group – possibly Official Sinn Fein (who now make up much of the Labour Party).  

We ended up appearing in their paper, as they took some pictures and highlighted our rather poor living conditions.  Before they did that, though, I had to take down my "Leeds United" pennant from the wall – so much for them being internationalist socialists, eh?  Even an 8-year-old kid could see something odd about that.

Then there was a mad aul'wan who lived down the road, whose hubby was in Portlaoise.   The old dear used to chat to her if she bumped into her in the street.  She was very fond of animals - I remember remarking at the time - but not so much of people, given the IRA's (and loyalist terrorists) penchant for unspeakable atrocities during that awful era.

Maybe speaking to that aul'wan was enough to get the plain-clothes men out of their Cortina a second time, all those years after the first visit?  Who knows?   

To this day I continue to be inconvenienced by them.   You visit any Friday-night city in the UK, and you will be amazed by the amount of fuzz on the beat in potential watering-hole trouble spots.  

Then have a saunter through Temple Bar on a Friday or Saturday night, as scumbags prowl the streets looking to rob and batter drunken revelers.   It really is a frightening place, and those fluorescent yellow jackets are a puzzlingly rare sight amid all the mayhem.

In fact, the only time I regularly see the gardai is when I am in the car, and spot them pointing their laser guns at traffic on roads with inappropriately low speed limits.  Or hiding in the backs of vans with blacked-out windows doing the same thing.  

And is it any wonder that they dedicate so much time and resources into applying aspects of "the law" that they themselves are immune from, if the snippet from a recent Indo article is to be believed?

Garda whistleblower makes new charges over penalty points

25 January 2014

A GARDA whistleblower who is due to give evidence to TDs next week has made a fresh batch of penalty point allegations to the Dail's spending watchdog.

They include claims a garda arranged for the termination of penalty points for 10 members of his own
and extended family.

Several cases where senior gardai allegedly quashed points for other officers are also cited in a letter
from the whistleblower, Sgt Maurice McCabe, to the Public Accounts Committee.

Also highlighted are several instances where senior officers allegedly cancelled fixed notice penalty
charges even though the offences occurred outside of their district.

The new claims come as Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan awaits legal advice from Attorney General Maire Whelan on whether he can stop Sgt McCabe giving evidence to the committee.

Sources close to the commissioner have indicated he does not want to have to seek a High Court
injunction to halt next Thursday's hearing and is hoping that a compromise arrangement can be reached.

The commissioner believes discipline and order within the force will be compromised if a subordinate
officer is allowed give evidence to the Oireachtas.

It looks like the Garda commissioner is here demanding that honesty within the force is to be avoided at all costs, though baulking at a High Court injunction to thwart the enquiry – which even he might see would not go down too well with the public his members like to hassle.

How, even in a rotten counrty like Ireland, can an  an honest copper  who is prepared to give evidence against corrupt colleagues be seen as a threat?    As a catalyst for "a breakdown in discipline and order in the force"  no less?

Bizarre... even by the standards of the place.

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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

CAPTCHA - so illegible that only spammers can make it out

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Just an example of the numerous spam emails the blog gets (and I know we've touched on this before).     Whenever you have spam, of course, you have CAPTCHA – described by Wiki in the following manner:

"CAPTCHA (an acronym for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart") is a type of challenge-response test used in computing to determine whether or not the user is human."    

You'll be familiar with CAPTCHA,  and will no doubt have torn clumps of scalp from your head while trying to decipher it.   

Cracking the revamped  WW2 Enigma code was a huge challenge, until those chaps at Bletchley Park discovered the existence of a fourth rotor on the encryptors of the Kriegsmarine.   But cracking CAPTCHA?  Not a chance (see below).

Even at that size you can't make head nor tail of it. It has become so illegible that humans can no longer make it out.  

Spammers still can, if my inbox is anything to go by.   The other problem is that people post comments that never reach me –  I know this as they've complained their contributions haven't seen the light of day.  

As if the Sisyphean task of the poor blogger was not uphill enough – eclipsed as his/her medium has been by Twitter, Facebook and all the rest – without this rotten software making the gradient even steeper. 

Thing is, CAPTCHA had improved recently – it had become more legible with easier-to-make-out text and a photo containing a number.  Comments came in unimpeded and the spam box grew no bigger... so you have to wonder why they changed it again.

Turning it off isn't an option, as it means my phone would never stop ringing for spam notifications, so it looks like we are stuck with it.  

Sorry for the inconvenience...

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Saturday, 11 January 2014

Beep if you're Irish - Leo Varadkar and road safety

Given that we still have the highest birthrate in the EU, it will come as no surprise to you that so many Irish people are forever on the horn.  But what about in the motoring sense?

In my experience - and I have lived in the UK, worked in Germany and Luxembourg, spent a bit of time in Brussels and driven as far south as Mazarron in Spain and as far east as Halle in Germany - Irish drivers are bloody awful.  Possibly worse than the Belgians.

Despite the country having more roundabouts per square centimetre than a badly chickenpoxed visage has pock-marks,  the Irish don't know how to use them.  "Signal, turn" is an abstract concept for them.  Either that, or they are trying to save the planet, the polar bears and electricity by not using those orange things on the four corners of their automotive conveyances. 

Three lane motorways?  The inside lane is usually left empty, with the exception of trucks - often going at higher velocity than private cars in the middle and rightmost overtaking lanes.

Red lights?  They are like those things matadors wave at bulls, and simply invite a reckless charge. On my miserable little half-hour lunch break in Dublin's city centre, I routinely lose count of how many times I see some arsehole break a red light, when there are pedestrians just about to cross the road, only to get as far as the next set of lights. 

The solution for all these ills from our  transport minister, Leo Varadkar,  is to put average speed cameras on the motorways. Well Leo, it is obvious that only a great mind like yours can qualify for, and get through, seven years of medical college.

But I digress.  Have you - apart from your missing tax money that goes towards financing children's allowances - noticed the latest craze for the horn in Ireland?  It seems the only part of a car's anatomy Paddy and Mary are familiar with is the button in the middle of the steering wheel, which is often used as a kind of retaliatory device.

I've never seen this anywhere else.  It is a relatively new thing that's only become apparent in the past couple of years, and is a sad reflection on  the generation of gobshites that are the future of this fucked-up little country. It's like an auditary affirmation of their utter arseholery, and saves you the trouble of having to consult BoardsDotIE or PoliticsDotIE.

Here's an example.  A few months back I was on the road leading from Clonsilla to Castleknock, when the car in front had to slam on its brakes when some half-wit emerged from a side road.   Understandably, the driver of the car who had averted an accident by hitting the anchors beeped his/her horn.  What was the response from the gobshite who pulled out from the side road?  A contrite wave, a finger pointed to their thick head, an acknowledgement of being in the wrong?     No, of course not  - they beeped their horn back.

Can you think of anything more stupid?   To be honest - and maybe I shouldn't say this - if I had been in the car that had to stop, I might well have followed them to the next set of lights and punched theirs out.  

And that would have done a lot more for road safety in this country  than Leo Varadkar and the RSA ever will.

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Friday, 3 January 2014

Done Deal car for sale – no "Polish" / "foreigners" need apply

This ad, evidently placed in DoneDeal recently by some thick-ignorant gobshite, has – understandably – prompted considerable controversy on the web.  

It was recently taken down by said advertising site, but here is a cache screenshot so you can see it in all its glory, orthographic inaccuracies included.

But is such ignorance so surprising in a country where a senator can proudly declare he will not get into a taxi driven by "an obvious non-national"  and then argue that his comments were "taken out of context"?

Leading by example?

It's shocking how little debate there is about such attitudes, especially as they appear to permeate all levels of Irish society.

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