Fade Street →

Jesus, the country is fucked.

It’s a far cry from Glenroe, I’ll tell you that much.

The Lisbon Treaty

It’s time for everyone’s favourite hot-button topic: the Lisbon treaty. Fun times ahead!

My cousin, who occasionally reads this blog (hello!), was telling me about the reason he voted ‘no’ during the last referendum. Or rather, the reason he would have voted ‘no’ if he had actually been registered to vote.

“I’d have voted no because the government wanted me to vote yes.”

It’s an interesting reason, but not that unusual. Lots of people voted/are voting ‘no’ simply because they want to “stick it” to a government that they are increasingly mistrustful and resentful of. The Irish people feel like their government isn’t actually on their side. For example, many people argue that NAMA is designed to bail out the bankers at the expense of the taxpayer. Photos from the recent Dail debate don’t really help us to feel like there’s any reason to doubt that. And when you get overblown, selfish and mercenary fucksocks like Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary (pictured here with a personal message for you) coming out in support of the “yes” campaign, well, that just confirms people’s suspicions. We’ve all seen his vision for the airline of the future, why should we presume that he would want anything less for the people of his country? Professor of comparative political behavior at Trinity College, Michael Marsh, points out “for some people, the intervention of big business confirms that this is not good for workers.”

So why would my cousin vote ‘no’ a second time (again, if he was on the register)?

“I’d vote no because I really hate that thing of ‘You got a referendum and you MADE THE WRONG CHOICE. Now try again.'”

It’s true that the referendum is basically the same as it was the last time. What’s changed is the fact that Ireland has secured a number of legal guarantees regarding a number of the core issues that caused people to vote ‘no’ last time. It means that the Lisbon treaty does not and cannot affect Ireland’s constitution on the subjects of security, defense and right to life. Ignore these militant (read: demented nutball) anti-Lisbon groups who say that, no, this is not the case and that these “guarantees” are “as useful as a politician’s promise, and just as easily broken.” Coir still insist that Lisbon would introduce abortion laws. On the other hand, the Irish Bishops say that this is not the case, and Irish people can vote either way in good conscience. Now, which group would you turn to for your moral guidance?

A ‘no’ result would fuck us. And we’re talking the terrifying hard pounding of a prison rape, not the gentle, tender feathery stroking we’ve experienced in the last year. But as well as the effect it would have on Ireland and its economy, imagine what it would do to Europe. Everyone’s favourite little megalomaniacal midget, Berlusconi, has been once again throwing around the idea of creating a ‘two tier’ Europe, where some animals are more equal than others. This from a man who threatened to block all EU business unless Commission spokespeople STFU about Italy’s immigration policies. Can you imagine what happens if there’s a ‘no’ result and Ireland takes his place as the red-headed stepchild of Europe? Ouch.

The other reason lots of people voted ‘no’ in the first referendum was because they said that it was too complicated. In a way, this is a fair point, I’ve always believed in the idea of not signing my name to a contract I don’t fully understand. But it’s been a year since people first became aware of the Lisbon treaty and this isn’t a viable excuse any more. If you don’t understand the contract, you owe it to yourself and the person whose contract it is to go off and figure it out. As Owen Corrigan put it in his article in the Tribune, this made last year’s ‘no’ result “less a triumph of democracy for the voters of a ruggedly independent state, and more a triumph of ignorance in the face of reason, rationality and responsibility.” (Seriously, if you read nothing else in this whole campaign, I urge you to read this article.)

In the end though, I guess a lot of people will vote based less on the issues and more on ridiculous external factors, like who is encouraging you to vote what way. Sure, Michael O’Leary wants you to vote ‘yes,’ but David Icke, the ‘I am the son of God and the world is ruled by giant lizards’ guy wants you to ‘no.' Think about that.

Manhunt 2 and Censorship

I’ve been pretty busy for the past few days and I’m still catching up with the stuff that happened last week. Like the Manhunt 2 furore.

For those of you that don’t know/care, last week, the Irish Film Censor’s Office decided to make a prohibition order against the upcoming game, Manhunt 2, making it the first videogame ever banned in Ireland. A moot point, since over in the US, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board gave Manhunt 2 an Adults Only (AO) rating and the three console manufacturers have said that they will not allow AO-rated games to be released for their systems.

”Civil Liberties”

Anyway, you can can imagine the the reactions the the IFCO’s decision. An anonymous commenter on IT Law Ireland:

So lets ban any story, film, news report which contains violence and go about life in ignorance, as they want us to. God help us all, next thing banned will be the great sculpture of David done by Michelangelo because it contains nudity.

. And naturally, boards.ie went into hysterics. My favourite quote from the 7-page long Manhunt 2 thread being:

Personally, I think the idea of completely banning any game from a country is an outrage, and a blatant infringement of civil liberty.

That still makes me giggle.

Strangely, I find myself agreeing with the censor. In their statement regarding the prohibition order, they said

IFCO recognizes that in certain films, DVDs and video games, strong graphic violence may be a justifiable element within the overall context of the work. However, in the case of Manhunt 2, IFCO believes that there is no such context, and the level of gross, unrelenting and gratuitous violence is unacceptable.

And you know what? This all sounds perfectly reasonable to me. John Kelleher has proven himself to be an extremely liberal censor, and prohibition orders are typically reserved for the most hardcore porno. Think about it like this - this is the film censor that let Hostel through. This means that Hostel, one of the most brutal exercises in Gorenography I have ever seen, has more of a context for its violence than Manhunt 2. (For reference, here is their ruling - ‘strong’ across the board.)

I also agree with the censor because I am not convinced that, on its own, classification of movies or games is an effective way of preventing children from being exposed to indecent material - I just don’t think it actually works. As someone who was exposed to a ridiculous amount of horror films as a child (thanks, Gar, for letting me watch the Exorcist at age 5), I believe that if you don’t want children being exposed to something, you should make it as difficult as possible for them to get their hands on it. In most cases, by banning it.

This goes double for videogames, where lazy parents often dismiss the graphic content of games simply because they are ‘games’ and will happily buy Grand Theft Auto for their 10-year old just to keep him quiet for a few hours.

Hardware Solution

The big “however” at the end of all this is that all this could be easily avoided if the rating system was used in conjunction with parental controls. These days, most media-playing devices (including modern games consoles) have parental controls built in. If you want to watch a movie or play a game above a certain age-rating, you have to enter a password. But the problem here is that hardly anyone uses these parental controls because hardly anyone knows about them.

Maybe it’s time they were turned on by default, and bugger the inconvenience?

Airport Leprechauns

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Just before the real summer hits and people start heading off to somewhere nice for their holidays, I thought I better give a little shout-out to the Airport Leprechauns on Flickr, which cheers me right up every time I look at it. If you want to join, just take a snap of yourself wearing a leprechaun hat or beard the next time you’re in the airport and and put it in the group!

Happy Bloomsday! →

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STATELY, PLUMP BUCK MULLIGAN CAME FROM THE STAIRHEAD, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him by the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned: ...

Oh, fuck it. Read the rest on Project Gutenberg.

I’ve never read Ulysses, and at this rate, I probably never will. Still though, as Sean Hughes says, “Great preface”.

Ireland: it seems to be going okay, like →

The guy at 02:30 is my hero. Instead of renewing Dan and Becs, RTE should just give this guy a weekly show where he can sit in a comfy chair and dispense his words of comfort and wisdom.

all your eggs in one basket

Poor Hosting365.

They suffered a massive power failure today which meant that a large number of their customers' sites were unavailable for around four hours. Right now, their status blog entry detailing this problem (and how the repairs are coming along) has 159 comments.

Most of these comments are of the frustrated-yet-understanding variety. A worrying number of them are terrifyingly puffed-up with their own sense of self-importance. And far too many are threatening to move their operations to another hosting provider.

Having worked as a system/network administrator for a while, I know exactly what Ed and the guys at Hosting365 are going through, so I sympathise completely. I’ve had those awful days where the worst thing that could possibly happen actually happens and you’ve got angry customers demanding a full report on how the problem happened, what steps you will be taking to fix the problem and how you will prevent this happening in the future while you’re focusing all of your efforts on just restoring a basic level of service. Horrible days, to be sure, but they have their uses.

To those people who are thinking of moving away from Hosting365 I say: stop. If I was using Hosting365, I would not switch to Blacknight now precisely because Blacknight haven’t suffered from something like this – yet. Whereas, I’ll bet you €100 that, after today, Hosting365 will be putting all of their attention into their reliability, focusing how to make sure that something like this never happens again.

And to those people that are complaining about their mission-critical services running on Hosting365, I say: well, I don’t know what to say without sounding rude. I’ll just say that if I was a reseller and it was my ass on the line, I’d make sure that my ass was covered. From a business perspective, a secondary server (from a different hosting company) is cheap as chips and worth its weight in gold when your primary server suffers from extended downtime.

Perspective →

Four weeks ago: Working at a computer for twelve hours a day, I’d go home and watch some really shit movie until the early hours of the morning. I’d go to sleep full of junk food and self-loathing.

Today: After Italian class, I walked home in the sunshine, sat down beside the Pantheon and finished the Agatha Christie book I’d been reading (I’m 28 and never had time to read Agatha Christie before). Then I went home, ironed my girlfriend’s suit pants and monogrammed handkerchief, and got myself ready for dinner with the Irish president.

I don’t feel very different.

Breathtaking Irish short movie released online

Lonely Sky Nick Ryan, producer on Ruairi Robinson’s “Silent City”, has released the full version of his film “A Lonely Sky” online. Starring Keir Dullea (of 2001: A Space Odyssey) it tells the story of a pilot in 1947 trying to break the sound barrier.

As with Silent City, I’m completely blown away by the amount of work everyone seems to have put into this short movie and the scale and quality of the results. Congratulations to everyone involved.

While you’re at it, you should check out Nick Ryan’s portfolio, for videos of the ads and other short films he’s directed.

When is Dublin 7 NOT Dublin 7? When it's Dublin 8

Did you know that, despite being on the north side of the Liffey (where the odd numbered post-codes live), the Phoenix Park is actually in Dublin 8? And it’s not for the reason you might think. Thus spoke Wikipedia:

"There is a very simple, practical reason why the Phoenix Park is in Dublin 8 and it has nothing whatever to do with snobbery but with practicality.

Long before there were postal codes the James’s St Postal Sorting Office looked after the Phoenix Park because it was considered to be closer and more convenient than Phibsborough (Dublin 7). James’s St continued in this role when the postal codes were introduced so Dublin 8 it had to be."

This interesting fact courtesy of a 20-minute argument in Morelli’s chipper on Thomas Street that almost ended in a fist-fight.