Saturday, January 24, 2009

Politicians and commentators are very fond of banging on about the knowledge economy, the importance of broadband roll out (note to Minister Ryan, Macedonia already has 100% wireless broadband penetration) and embracing IT.

But with a nod to the old saying of dressing up mutton as lamb, compare the website of zombie bank, of which I am now a reluctant part owner, Anglo Irish, worth about minus €10 billion to the company with the most expensive stock in the world, A single share costing $86,250!, Berkshire Hathaway worth €133 billion.

Its obvious auld Warren isn't spending the wonga on web designers.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm just saying like

Just an observation, but scroll down and see on the right hand side of the page of The Irish Times and you'll notice the most popular online story is a sub headline stating "Property Developer found dead at home".

Interesting whatever caused the herd, particularly give the events of the day, to have such an interest in that one.

I could suggest that the same people were somewhat disappointed it wasn't one of the big names. Hmmm.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Its stinks

How come everything that is being done by the Govt either reeks of gross incompetence or has a whiff of corruption about it.

This morning it emerged that draft legalisation published by the Govt on the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank is to be amended. The change is that a clause that stated that people with deposits of more than 20 million are not allowed to withdraw that money if they owe more than 20 million.

It was a clever clause in a piece of legislation that, I presume, aimed to ensure that the huge debtors of the bank, who now owe the money to the state, cannot flee with some cash will owing a pile more.

The government however removed the clause and left chief blusterer Martin Mansergh on RTE today to explain why. As is his style he created a lot of heat and little light.

Its claimed that the Attorney General advised that the draft clause was "unnecessary". This is a peculiar word as the Attorney Generals role is to "provide the highest standard of legal services to the Government". His job is the provision of legal advice to the Government on the constitutionality of a bill.

Now "unnecessary" is not a word that really could be used when providing advice on the constitutionality of proposed law. Unnecessary is a political opinion not a legal position.

Either the clause is unconstitutional or its not - the AG's opinion that he thinks it "unnecessary" is irrelevant.

More and more its becoming apparent that the operation of Anglo Irish Bank has little to do with bad management or over aggressive lending but a corrupt company designed to exploit cheap credit. An impotent regulatory regime facilitated by a interested networks of compliant friends in the politics, the media and in the construction industry made it possible.

On a related note Irish Bank shares had another fiasco of a day. BoI shares today cost 34c in February 2007 they would cost €18.53. AiB can be yours tomorrow for 60c in Feb 2007 a share would have cost you €23.95.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Irish house prices to fall by 80%

My reaction rhymes with clucking bells.

Story here, commentary here, here and here.

And just for auld time sake - lets reflect on the words of wisdom from Brendan O'Connor of the Sunday Independent who in July 2007 advised us "The smart, ballsy guys are buying up property right now".

I am safe in the knowledge that I am not the only one, whose birth year is an even or odd number, who hopes that Brendan took his own financial advice.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Israel's allies

Phew, looks like Israel might come out of this ok.

Remember Joe the Plumber?

Well he has arrived in the promised land and is angry about the terror that Israel citizens are subjected to.

In the Jerusalem Post today, Joe empathises with those citizens of Sderot who can't do normal things like "get soap in their eyes" as they may have to flee to their basements.

Read about other minor inconveniences the people of south east Israel are subjected to and Joe's advice .

Next week Joe tackles the challenge of alchemy.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Another day another Sindo

Ireland's most inaccurate paper, The Sunday Independent, tends to snub its nose at such concepts as evidence and facts.

During the last general election they aggressively supported Bertie Ahern, and called for the various Tribunals investigating criminal behaviour by politicians and others to be shut down.

As recently as July 2007 were claiming that it was the time to buy property. Property has gone down about 20% in real terms since that little nugget of advice.

You get the feeling that they have a Millwall supporters attitude, 'everyone hates us and we don't care', but it appears that increasingly this attitude extends to its own sizable readership.

Yet despite all these readers and associated revenue, it appears that none of their journalists can count.

In today's edition they publish a poll. The presentation and commentary of which is both unbelievable and hilarious.

They report that the Lisbon Treaty will be passed by 55% Yes, 37% No and with 15% undecided.

That a total of 107%!

They also report that the state of the parties is;
Fianna Fail - 28%
Fine Gael - 27%
Labour - 18%
Greens - 2%
Sinn Féin - 2%
PDs - doesn't say
Don't Know - Doesn't say.

This adds up to 77%. They have either failed to re-distribute the don't knows, the PDs have had a phoenix like revival or the polling company simply has no idea what a proper political poll is supposed to look like.

The poll was carried out, allegedly, by a company called Quantum Research International Inc, who goggled leads to these, they appear to be one of those armies for hire. A search of Ireland's registered companies uncovers these guys.

A thread on is quite indicative of the esteem that the Sindo is held in by its peers.

The Sunday Independent isn't subtle with its political agenda and that its prerogative, what is unacceptable for a paper with its resources is amateurish polling and sloppy analysis and then broadcasting that as news.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A must read

Cynical, jaded, defeated romantic, like to round off a evening out with a good sneer, think that the Blacks in the Jacks issue of the Slate was the most misunderstood piece of Irish satire since Gullivers Travels?

Well then subscribe to My Little Piebald, a weekly wickedly contemptuous look at Dublin.

This weeks highlight include news that;

For 125 years, the GAA has dominated
Irish sporting culture, and the Late Late Show
returns tomorrow with a fitting tribute in which
Z-listers like Brush Shields, The Saw Doctors,
Tommy Fleming and Nob Nation's Oliver Callan
talk about their love of these primitive games

and a event guide with advice such as;

--Natty Wailer, The Button Factory. In a breathtaking
display of false advertising, it is claimed that 'Natty Wailer'
toured with Bob Marley and The Wailers. However, Ian
Wynter never got within a Camberwell Carrot of gigging
with Marley, and in fact played keyboards with a Wailers
spin-off in the 90s.

Send a mail to for your weekly dose.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

So to no-one's real surprise computer maker Dell announce that they will be firing 1,900 workers from their Limerick plant.

Fired not downsized, outsourced, laid off, migrated, cut, transferred, offshored, consolidated or any other linguistic distortion.

This is a complete disaster for the City. Dell itself is the country's biggest employer and adds about 5% to the states GDP. Those clever people in Economicsland reckon that every one job in Dell supports another four jobs in the area.

Somewhere between 6,000 - 10,000 jobs will be lost in the City over the next 12 months as the firings progress. This in a city and suburbs with a population of only 97,000. The equivalent impact would be like Dublin losing up to 100,000 jobs.

I was listening to Radio 1's Drivetime and as a guest they had on Dr Ed Walsh from the University of Limerick. Now I don't really know much about Eddy, from time to time he appears on TV and seems a tad pompous.

Pompous in itself is harmelss enough and this man is an actual rocket scientist who holds four honorory doctorates as well as a gilt edged CV.

Despite this it seems that Eddy's ego has got the better of him and has succumbed to that irritating habit of the American right where you simplify complex problems to force a ideological point.

In the interview Dr Walsh claimed that Dell moved to Poland as "our public service is too bloated" that "public servants need to take a 30% cut", that it was wrong that "a waitress in Dublin gets 20% higher wage than one in Copenhagen".

The interview exposed a couple of things about Walsh; one a complete ignorance of what caused wages to increase to the point that we priced ourselves out of the labour market and secondly a twisted understanding the effect that globalisation has had on manufacturing trends.

Given that Poland's average weekly wage is less than €180 a week what does Walsh recomneded - that we drive wages down to a level to compete with the Poles?

Here is a man with multiple degrees and qualifications coming out of his ears and he blames the massive loss of jobs on the fact that Tracey in Dublin gets paid 1 euro more an hour than Trina from Copenhagen.

Walsh is obviously bright but from reviewing some of his TV appearances it appears that he has reduced himself to blurting obnoxious statements in order to maintain a public profile.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Books as pressie's

Christmas is a time not for family but books, as we get older, the books get harder and generally more challenging.

This year brought me;

Dreams from my Father, Barack Obama. - Sis in Law.

The Third Chimpanzee, Jared Diamond. - El Wifo.

The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson. - Alma, my sister in law bought this.

The Whisperers, Orlando Figes - Brudda.

The Gods That Failed - Larry Elliot and Dan Ferguson. - Brudda2.

One Hit Wonderland, Tony Hawks - Mudda.

I'm not sure I can read the Obama book, I have a bit of a prejudice against the guy - I blame the media who sold him as the messiah - but I kinda think he is a bit of a tonic salesman. I hope I'm wrong. I really hope I'm wrong.

Halfway through Niall Ferguson's book, its a cracker of a read, uncomfortable as I am with some of Ferguson's opinions, his interpretation of Pinochet's Chile is very neo conish.

There is a welcome glut of readable books on economics and the economy out now. So no excuse for us lefties bumbling our way through interviews that involve the economy, leaving listeners with visions of bread queues, Bulgarian trainers and badly dyed hair.

Jared Diamond's writing to date has been genius and Guns, Germs and Steel a personal bible, his follow up, Collapse a warning that most likely will go unheeded.

As for Tony Hawks, the comedian not the, looks too old to be skateboarding , stakeboarder, I'll get around to him - his book a 'mmm what small book will I take for this reasonably long journey that I don't mind if I lose'.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Crystal ball redux

Going out on a limb on this one a bit, but hey its Tuesday.

Serena Maneesh, a Norwegian band whose productivity compares to Chad's, are set to release the follow up to their debut album in 2009.

Their debut was a cracker and as all great albums slowly burned it way in people stereos, ipods and what nots.

They managed to get that delicate balance between making a racket and constructing a piece of beauty. Thats the difference between My Bloody Valentine (Racket) and Rollerskate Skinny (Beauty).

Its all about the layering (and skinny jeans).

This album will be huge in 2009.

For previous musicial predictions see this post

Monday, January 5, 2009

Urban Myths

I've always been curious on how urban myths start. Well I think I have found one in gestation.

A trade union offical, Michael Kilcoyne, who is also Vice Chairperson of the Consumers Association of Ireland claimed in the Belfast Telegraph on Friday 2nd Jan that on a couple of Polish building sites have signs saying "No Irish Need Apply".

The story doesn't specify at what site in which towns these signs appear and do not carry a picture of these signs. Indeed the claims of Mr Kilcoyne are comfortably vague in that he claims that "it had recently been brought to his attention that No Irish signs" were appearing. Meaning that he has also not seen these signs and equally can't be specific on where they are.

Indeed it could have been brought to his attenton by a drunk in a pub or a complete madman.

The story then was picked up by RTE, Newstalk, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times all with no additonal detail or specificity.

There is also a thread on it on,, and various other blogs and fora. Even Wikipedia has it included in its page on anti-Irish racism.

The claim is absurd on a number of levels not least the fact that Poland's winters mean construction is on hold for three months and there would be no need to have either signs up at hibernating sites or a requirement for walk in labourers, as the full workforce will return in March.

As confidently as I can state this story is utter rubbish I can equally be as confident that I will hear about the "no Irish signs in Poland" for the next few years on any discussion on immigration.

A little bit of digging reveals that the Michael Kilcoyne of SIPTU and the Consumer Association of Ireland, is the same as the Castlebar Town Councillor. With local elections only six months away perhaps Cllr Kilcoyne regards the publicity he is getting on this claim far more important than its accuracy.

Friday, January 2, 2009

You are not alone

This blog started in May 08 and in that time I managed 54 posts, less than I hoped, and up until the end of the year had 19,709 visitors. The busiest time was two weeks around the end of October. The most popular posts were about Sarah Palin.

I've had visits from 128 countries/territories.

My top 10 visitor origins were from;

USA - 7,751
UK - 1,825
France - 1,662
Ireland - 1,591
Canada - 1,114
Germany - 1,103
Poland - 655
Spain - 487
Sweden - 306

Single visitors include those from Gabon, Kosova and Papua New Guinea. I recieved no visitors from countries including North Korea, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Yemen, Mongolia and most of Africa.

For 2009 I want to post a minimum of 150 times and fill in the rest of the globe.

All figures are from Google Analytics

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Predictions for 2009

Ten random predictions for 2009.

1. Fianna Fail lose their Dublin European seat.
2. Somali becomes Obama's first foreign policy military intervention.
3. Bangladesh suffers from serious civil unrest.
4. Ireland qualify for the Soccer World Cup.
5. Lisbon Treaty is passed in October.
6. Irish Unemployment reaches 12%.
7. Teachers and ESB workers strike.
8. Emergence of Irish neo nazi gangs.
9. Anglo Irish ceases to exist and BOI and AIB merge.
10.Labour win the Dublin South bye election.

over to you.....