Monday, March 30, 2009

Locked Public Tennis Courts

I went for a jog this evening and passed some public tennis courts. It was a beautiful evening, the sun was shining, it was a nice temperature but all the courts were empty. The courts were locked! There was a very high fence round them.

I continued my jog and a little while later I saw a couple of children playing tennis on a road. They had no net and indeed no protection from on coming traffic. There weren't too many cars on that particular road and I guess the kids assumed that if one came round the corner they'd probably have enough time to get out of its way.

As a consequence of having locked courts:
* Fewer children in the area will play tennis than would otherwise be the case
* Bored children will get up to mischief rather than play tennis
* Children who do want to play will risk their lives by playing on the road
* Other children who really want to play on a real court will risk their lives by climbing over the high fences which are round the courts, since the gates are locked.
* Those that have the power to lock the courts will get a kick out of the fact that they have the power to prevent children playing.

From an insurance point of view, how can a child be allowed run through a park but not allowed on to a harmless tennis court?

I reckon the people who locked the courts are not stupid, they are just very poorly motivated.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hang the painting not the painter

Memorable art should be edgy, it should captivate the public's interest. We need not insist on it being deferential to the powers that be.

The Cowen paintings which were left in the National Gallery and the Royal Hibernian Academy fit the bill. The two galleries now have a wonderful chance to hang fascinating paintings, with very interesting stories behind them. They have the potential to become their most viewed paintings. The only question is, do the gallery management have the courage to be relevant? Their first step should be to contact the artist and seek his permission to retain the paintings.

One of the great tragedies of art galleries is that not that many people go into them. The vast majority of the population don't step inside a gallery in any given year. By hanging the Cowen paintings curators will see their visitor numbers soar. They can let the public make up their own minds about the artistic merits of the pieces. At the very least, the paintings will bring new people who will then be introduced to the other paintings on the walls.

How often are the paintings in Irish galleries mentioned on the front page of BBC online or in the New York times?

I say hang the paintings on the wall, don't hang the artist.

If there are some haughty senior members of FF who think that we should only ever show groveling respect to our the taoisheach, then send them on an extended visit to North Korea, (at their own expense), so that they can see what happens to a country when all must be obsequious to their dear leader.

If we compare the paintings by Casby, with say a UK broad-sheet political satire cartoon, we then find that in fact Mr Casby was actually being much more kind.

I think the Polish magazine Wprost went too far when it published a doctored photo of Germany's Chancellor Merkel breast feeding the Polish Kaczynski twins. I'll let you the reader decide:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cowen in the Nude

It has come to my attention that RTE, the state broadcaster, has stepped way out of line. They had on their news an item concerning a nude paining of Brian Cowen. They clearly don't understand their role in the state.

I am full of admiration for Michael Kennedy (FF TD), he has been standing up for our dear leader Brian Cowen and has asked the head of RTE, Cathal Goan, to consider his position. Mr Kennedy does indeed mean well. Though he is without a doubt being too soft.

I am very please to read that Goan, has apologised. We have no place in our country for journalism which mocks Mr Cowen. It does not matter that their article was factual, entertaining and of great interest the public.

Some enemies of the state abroad have a great interest in distributing anti-Irish propaganda. The BBC and The Times have both done a great disservice to themselves by publishing stories ridiculing Mr Cowen.

Now our solution is three-fold:
  1. There should be jail sentences for those in the media who are disrespectful to our dear leader
  2. To promote more patriotic journalism, news outlets should send their staff to train in North Korea, where they can learn how to show the sort of deference to a leader that he deserves.
  3. We need to block the internet and publications from abroad. They are full of anti-Irish nonsense and often have nasty hidden agendas. We can learn from China here, they have their great-firewall.

As a first step, to send a clear message, Mr Goan should be sent to an FF gulag in Mayo for the rest of his natural life.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I followed the herd with the intelligence of a sheep

Here is a negative scenario for Ireland, which I'm not necessarily predicting, I'm just saying it is a possibility:
A couple of the banks default, triggering the government guarantee.
On the international money markets no-one wants to buy Irish Government bonds and so the government defaults. Thus no civil servants get paid.
There is then a 'run' on all banks causing the last standing banks to collapse. Then the real fun starts...
With massive deflation bankruptcies soar. When the government eventually gets back on its feet it finds it has massive debts which will take 30 difficult years to pay back.
Huge waves of emigration return and has a result we have hundreds of thousands of empty homes round the country which are worthless and are allowed to fall into ruin.
Just as we had deserted 'famine villages' in future we'll have 'credit crunch villages', those new developments round the country which will be left idle, a reminder of the folly of us all.

As for the blame for all this. Well, it's been caused by idiots, people just like me who bought a flat right at the top of the property market. When it came to understanding the real value of the flat I had followed the herd and used the intelligence of a sheep. We were all fools and kept pushing the property market up and up. We never looked down.

I had read of bubbles in markets before, the Amsterdam tulip bulb mania, the Wall Street bubble in the 1920's and so on. It is so easy to say 'oh those fools'. It is quite a different experience to be one be one of them.

I'm very confident there will be lots more market bubbles to come. It is just a part of human group dynamics. If you ask me how much is a tulip bulb worth, then I say, whatever someone will pay for it. If you can find a dimwit who'll pay you 4 fax oxen for one. Well then that's what is is worth. Looking back now we can see that it certainly is not a sustainable price, but there are fundamental reasons why can never have fore-sight like hind-sight.

One key element of economic markets is uncertainty. If they were predicatable, then they would be fundamentally different. I would never expect a group of gorillas to fully understand and be able to predict the dynamics of their own group interaction. A human, who is more intelligent has a chance to understand the gorillas. But to understand the dynamics of a group of humans, you'd need to be more intelligent than the members. If we had evolved to be more intelligent creatures, then we'd have an even more complex society, one which we still wouldn't be able to fully understand.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Freedom of Speech

It seems to me that one of the significant contributing factors in the Rwanda genocide was RTLM Radio which encouraged hatred and ultimately the slaughter of Tutsis. Though we will never know for sure, had the station been put off the air, I suspect, things would have turned out very much better.

If we always support the freedom of speech, then the radio should have been allow to pump out its calls for genocide.

If we were to ban all broadcasts that promotes violence, then a discussion on whether the US should continue to use military force in Afghanistan would not be allowed.

If we close down media that encourage the law to be broken, then we have stifled discussion on unjust laws.

If we censor pieces that are deemed incitement to hatred, then I would be unable to honestly write my thoughts on the Saudi Religious police who have arrested and charged a 75 year old woman with mingling with two young men, one of who she says she helped raise since he was a baby and the other was delivering some bread. The unfortunate old woman has been sentenced to 40 lashes and prison term. ( see UPI news report )

If we forbid the encouragement of the ethnic cleansing, then the Bible would at the very least need to be edited, removing for example the requests from God that Amalekite men, women, children and infants should be butchered, ( see Samuel Book 1, Chapter 15, verse 3) It cannot be claimed that the Amalekites are entirely a historical people, as the council of advisers in the Reformed Pastafarian Church call are known as the (modern, pacifist, pro-Israeli) Amalekites.

As is often the case, it seems that it is difficult to make up a blanket rule that will sensibly cover all scenarios.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Thoughts and one-liners

Being first is a good start.

Some people blame the media for the sexualisation of teenagers, I blame the pituitary gland.

Its was very sad, the marriage had the most tragic ending of all: one of them died.

All firms will go out of business, but some will out-live you.

People can thrive without being a member of a religion, but religions go extinct without members, so we know who needs whom.

Of all the religions that people have had through the ages, the vast majority are now extinct.

He was so unsuccessful, the women found him unattractive,
she was so successful, the men found her unattractive,
when they met, they both chose celibacy rather than each-other.

Take everything away from a man and he'll still be able to have happy days. Give him everything he wants and he'll still be able to have miserable days.

The military commander did not know the meaning of the word retreat. It lead to awful confusion.

The difference between an expert and an ordinary person is a few words of terminology.

I know what those advertisers are up to, but unfortunately they understand how my mind works so much better than I do theirs.

All that I know of him is what I learnt while making up the wikipedia article about him.

I prefer watching live sport rather than Shakespeare's Hamlet, because the emotions of the players are real rather than faked by actors and I don't know what's going to happen at the end.

If there is a law in the US banning gay couples from forming a marriage contract, then one solution would be to drop an 'r'. Gays could form a (single 'r') mariage contract. So the effect of the law would be to ban gays from using a particular spelling.

To suggest that the responsibility for the problems in Africa is not with the Africans is condescending to them.

I don't watch reality TV, because when I want to hear opinionated, illinformed people talk nonsense, I enjoy meeting my own friends down the pub.

All the other artists were being very different and original, so to blend in and be accepted, I had to do the same.

How to stop a speeding train:

First World war approach:

Get 20,000 men onto the track, packed tightly, each linking arms with their neighbour. Any men who refuse will be shot for cowardice.

Second World war approach:
Bomb the line from a plane, killing many of the passengers and people who live near the track.

The thinking man's approach:
Switch the signal light from green to red.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Free Advertising

I'm a big fan of wikipedia. It is not perfect, it has some flaws, but overall it works incredibly well. Web-users together co-operate and create something amazing.

Following in the footsteps of wikipedia other "wikis" have been launched. i.e. websites whose content is created and edited by the general public. For example there is with is a dictionary. I find quite amusing, it is similary to wikipedia, but it is written from a conservative US perspective.

Now, there are many cities where it is almost impossible to find out the cost of basic services such as dentist or electricians. But what if someone built a wiki which allows people enter the name, address and prices of various services, then suddenly everyone can find out how much the plumbers in their area cost.

Well, such a site exists, it is

From a consumers point of view, it is a great source of information on the prices of services in your area. If you want a table of prices charged by dentists in Ireland or prices of doctor visits in Hong Kong, then is for you.
But because it is a wiki, consumers themselves can input the names, contact details and prices of services. For example, if you've been to a dentist who has obsurdly over-charged you, then you can use to warn the people in your area.

From a small business point of view, effectively offers free advertising. Whether or not the firm has an existing presence on the web, offers a page for free. It is very easy, start by going to the add a new business page, then fill in a form indicating the company contact details, services offered. It is also possible to indicate prices and the company logo can be added as well. Then when the Save page button has been clicked, the page will immediately be available and it will include a map showing the location of the premises, which is worked out using the postal address supplied.