Sunday, April 27, 2008

drugs in sport! does it need to take a chill pill

a presenter on newstalk declared yesterday that love or hate roy keane, you have to admit he's a good manager. this blogger would have thought it was too early to make that pronouncement, but on the love/hate issue, after being a former vitriolic critic, i'm beginning to respect the man.

to backtrack, keane didn't get my back up because of all that "traitor" guff. it was more that the public impression of him, even amongst many of his detectors, seemed skewed. there is a curious
habit in our society to link outspokenness and truthfulness. as if, just because you shout your mouth off about everything under the sun, you couldn't also be telling porkies intermittently. to my eyes keane was a quasi prima donna, who wanted everything his own way and desired everyone to be a clone of him, and who threatened to throw his toys out of the pram if he didn't get his way. now in management keane seems a much more placid figure, understanding of others, ( particularly referees ) and newly endowed, by way of a sun holiday on a road near damascus, that there's more than one way to skin a cat. his behaviour can be seen in stark contrast to his former master alex ferguson & arsene wenger who give the disturbing instruction to formative minds, that an essential part of success is to roar and bawl like man-children at anyone who deigns to cross you.

irish journalist joe humphries has recently published a book in which he laments how seriously sport is viewed in the modern world. after reading some of the reviews some of his criticisms seem a tad po-faced and hyperbolic. however for those of us, in this culture, who have our media choc a bloc with the immature ravings of successful football managers, it's best to pause occasionally and wonder does it have to be this way, and does joe humphries have a point?

the devil's music ( the honky version )

hilarious little bit in village magazine recently by harry browne about music programmes on lyric fm. whilst praising ( rightly ) the jk ensemble, harry had a dig at gay byrne's sunday serenade. gay's main fault was, wait for it, playing jazz that was, well, too white. gay unsuprisingly, being a man of advancing years never took "political correctness 101" which browne has obviously passed with flying colours.

i look forward, in the interests of balance, to browne's cut at d.j's on black u.s stations for not playing enough britpop!

crying because so much dislike is welling up

awful lot of crying going on by rampantly macho men recently. john waters broke down crying when that star in our firmament katy french died. more recently eoghan harris bawled when bertie defended grainne carruth's honour. from memory bertie seemed miffed when ms carruth was taken away from her children by the tribunal on easter thursday ( is that supposed to be a day of rest or something? maybe the taoiseach should blame inadequate child care! )

crying and talking about the act has now become a badge of pride for the erstwhile contributors of the late late. its not enough to break down in tears because of your feelings & beliefs, you have to also tell the world. for you see eoghan & john just feel so deeply & profoundly about their feelings ( mostly about hating "dublin 4 liberals" ) that not to cry would be cheating themselves, and putting an inconvenient veil over their self-righteousness.

adult peer pressure

the cheerleaders of property purchase haven't gone away you know. in one of his frequent esoteric contributions, the leader of the seanad donie cassidy informed that he felt it was incumbent on someone with his experience to tell young people that there is terrific value to be had in the housing market. you might think that uneasiness in the international economy and the drastically changed policies in the lending institutions would instruct our elected representatives that, if the game is not quite up, than at least it has to be put into abeyance for a time. donie's pleadings couldn't be a sign that, because of varying factors, the economy was allowed become incredibly dependant on construction, could it?

the law also in the last few "goldrush years" became an unwelcome irritant to progress. the dail recently debated the refusal of the outgoing minister for finance to close loopholes that allowed builders to avoid huge amounts of stamp duty in recent years. it was seen as politically prudent for the wheels to be kept firmly on the wagon and for the coffers to be deprived.

one of the least talked about public phenomenons of this decade has been that many purchasers have bought title to new property where corners have been cut in providing satisfactory title to new homes. purchasers solicitors know that if they raised too many awkward questions they would be informed that there were plenty of people in the queue under the property ladder only too happy to take their clients place. the existence of this foreboding staighre made purchasers very intolerant of any problems associated to the purchase of their dream home. in all this the law society have been nero like, throwing their arms up in horror at some of the practices, and informing purchasers that they shouldn't accept unfair provisions, whilst in practice doing very little to aid the situation, since a raft of provisions were declared illegal by the high court around 2001.

it may unfortunately be only when these homes start to be sold on in bulk down the track that the fun will really start.

the agonies of service

in one of the many tributes to brain ( Freudian typing slip? ) cowen on his ascension, brian lenihan opined that he shared with the offaly man the agonies on having to slip into their fathers shoes early, having to forsake a burgeoning legal career.

he makes it sound like young fianna fail turks are members of hereditary monarchies who simply have no choice but to serve, and rule over the great unwashed. one just hopes that lenihan( whatever about cowan ) is able at some stage in his life to reconcile himself to the great disruption that occurred, and his selflessness, and accept the lowly station that he occupies in the minister for justice.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

segregation in the arts

i nearly fell of my chair recently when the late review programme on bbc2 reviewed the new r.e.m album. from my memory the only time the irish equivalent the view has reviewed a recording by someone trading in that new fangled rock music, is when they discussed the suitably wizened johnny cash & bob dylan. meanwhile the irish times friday entertainment section the ticket never deign to lower itself by including theatre reviews. this are stored naturally in a more sober section of the newspaper.

so here's a suggestion to try and get more people interested in the arts. end this bizarre exercise in reverse snobbery, and stop pretending that that when it comes to shakespeare & radiohead; never the twain shall meet ( try baz lurmann's romeo & juliet for a start )

this might be a small step, but its a start. however it wont make much of a dent in the phenomenon fintan o'toole recently alluded to. the fact that men don't attend arts events in anything like the numbers as women, and also don't read fiction. whatever about the latter, for some reason men are not disposed to go out in a group to anywhere bar the pub. you notice this not only at your local theatre, but also at speed dating events, where the women are there with their friends, and the men are supping alone at the bar.

a cuckoo in madam's nest

i've always like Irish Times journalist Paul Cullen. with his cutglass south dublin accent and propensity to cycle around dublin he seems to be in many respects the identikit denizen of tara st. he also showed admirable taste in music by being spotted once at a go-betweens concert.

he did however previously show plenty of evidence of thinking outside the box. unlike most in his milieu he supported the 2004 referendum which restricted the rights to irish citizenship. he has also complained about the usefulness of the tribunal system.

however, and my own self-righteousness could be accused of running amok here, he seems to have bitten off more than he can chew with his recent cut at the mahon tribunal's treatment of bertie ahern. it smacked, ultimately of an irish times attempt to go more native, than the natives themselves. its one thing fianna fail ministers engaging in poor debating school rhetoric in favour of the taoiseach, but its quite another for a distinguished journalist to be at it. consider the following;

"three times over the last 11 years, ahern has returned from the polls with a democratic mandate from the voters"
- and does this give him the right to do what he wants? one of the most pernicious devices in the debates of the last few months is the notion of the dictatorship of the 42%. the idea that we now have a quasi first past the post electoral system, which gives the minority a right to dictate to the 58%.

"the unseemly ousting of the taoiseach raises the bar for political rectitude in this country to new heights"
- if they are new heights, it's coming from a spectacular low base. we have previously let haughey, burke ( a decent man hounded, according to bertie ahern ) lawlor etc run amok, whilst under this taoiseach it seems as if all ministers are virtually unsackable )

"but we may not blithely apply the standards of today to that period"
- ah, we can actually. as many commentators have pointed out there were long-standing ethical guidelines for ministers.

it's interesting that cullen, and the taoiseach other defenders, have never for one moment challenged the evidence that has been put forward by the tribunal, nor have they claimed that the fairly obvious insinuations the man from the clapham omnibus would arrive at, are faulty presumptions. instead they have engaged in diversion, obfuscation, and periodic lashes at the tribunal, who they claim to support out of one side of their mouths.

the media just reported the facts, and the taoiseach made the correct decision to resign. and paul cullen would doubtless have lost the "lit & deb" debate.

switching off the olympics

staying with the delightful Chinese government, there was a statement by john o'shea, the head of Goal, recently that irish viewers, as a protest agaisnt the dictatorial regime, should change the channel when the Olympics come on in the summer. an interesting and laudable idea. but one suspects the average sporting fan would have been set a more taxing test of his/her conscience if the football world cup was being held in china. in a previous age, when two men and a dog watched the munster rugby team ( bar the '78 clash against the all blacks which enticed 400,000 to thomand park ) and there was 7 or 8 live soccer matches on the telly annually, the olympics held us in thrall.

back then there was an exotic delight in synchronised swimming & power-lifting ( what a man; what a jerk ) as a diversion from Landmark or Feach, which was on THE OTHER CHANNEL. now i suspect, people are as interested in Man. Utd's pre-season trip to the Orient ( probably not china this year ) as they are in which east african wins the 5000 metres, or which sprinter with west african blood wins at the minimum distance.

john gormley & the importance of a seat at the politburo!

the fact that the Green's leader has got into a spat with the august Chinese government this weekend has settled something in the mind of this confused blogger. previously i wondered that since the party have so completely cast off the ethical principles that underpinned their credo pre the '07 election, there must be something truly of global import behind this. perhaps in increasing the usage of renewable energies, and making changes in car taxation, the greens were trying to dampen down an out of control emerging behemoth economy like china's. if they were, it could be that their actions may strike a positive blow against global warming.

but oddly it actually transpires that john gormley isnt in power in bejing, but is only the minister for the environment in a country of four million people, and that the discarding of much of what he previously held dear, will actually change sweet diddly squat in macro terms. it couldn't be that the party leadership has a little messianic complex could it? or maybe like normal politicians in "civil war" parties they saw an opportunity for personal aggrandisement ( government ) and ran with it.

poor turnout at health protest is heartening news

if the recent march against the malaise in the health service had attracted bumper crowds, it would have pinpointed that vast sections of the population are even more delusional than previously suspected. the fact that there was a paltry turnout reflects the fact that, as recent elections would perhaps show, the public aren't as exercised by its systemic problems as media hysteria, and the understandable comments of patients on the front-line would indicate. its not that there shouldn't be public concern, but if there is, its incumbent that people look at how their own actions affect services.

- electoral system;
people want a better service, but they are unlikely to get it when they wholeheartedly buy into a system, that ensures maximum pressure will ensue so that local services will be maintained. its instructive that fine gael have bought into the H.S.E's centres of excellence but have naturally let local t.d's bleat about the denuding of local services in the north-west & north-east. one of those t.d's being enda kenny, who's predictably populist attitude to the "crisis" wasn't challenged by Eamonn Keane on his Newstalk show, lest it interfere with their hyperbolic agenda!

-public service culture;
many public service voters, who wouldn't want politicians to get any bright ideas, don't have any problems with the atrocious duplication of employment that has occurred in the health service, post the setting up of the H.S.E. junior minister John McGuinness whilst tilting at public service windmills in recent times, naturally directed much of his ire at the H.S.E, whose creation very annoyingly took away politicians sinecures on local health boards.

- pay more taxes;
it may be that the lancing of inefficiency is a greater priority, but there's no doubt that if the population was sufficiently exercised by the cutbacks, they could raise the issue at local t.d's clinic. we know anecdotally that t.d's aren't asked any questions about the Mahon Tribunal when they face the great unwashed, but we may also suspect that joe public doesn't wander in and opine,

" d'know what? considering the crisis in the health service, i'd like to offer to pay more tax, and i would like you, my local representative, to campaign for an increase in taxation at next years local elections!

something else that occurs is that the distaste for centres of excellence, which of course doesn't come from patients like rebecca o' malley, might emanate from relations of the unwell who don't want to travel large distances to visit!

of course the poor turnout at the protest could have been down to congenital laziness.