Posted by Jason O on Mar 9, 2014 in Movies/TV/DVDs
“The Goo” is a five episode comedy web series written by and starring Stephen Jones and Dave Fleming.
It’s the story of two young Dublin buckos about town in pursuit of the ultimate Goo night. It’s funny, but more importantly it’s got charm and authenticity.
You can see the first four episodes here. Get gooing.
Posted by Jason O on Mar 4, 2014 in European Union
, Not quite serious.
The White House.
President Frank Underwood rises from his seat to greet EU Council President and former Danish Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg Christensen.
Frank: ”Birgitte, my God, look at you, it’s youngah you’re gettin’!”
Birgitte: “Thank you Frank, you can take the syrup as poured,”
The President smiles at his EU counterpart, and directs her to a sofa.
Frank: “Would you like a snack, Birgitte? Perhaps some ribs, or maybe I could tempt you to join me in an iced tea?”
Birgitte: ”Actually, I would like an apple, if that’s possible?”
Frank: “An apple? How sensible of you.” (sotto voce to camera: “An apple! How European!”)
Frank presses a button on his desk.
Frank: “Maria, can we get President of the European Council of the European Union Nyborg (glance to camera) one of our delicious South Carolina apples?”
He then sits across from Birgitte.
Frank: ”Birgitte, I don’t mind telling you, It’s hard enough tryin’ to keep the Kremlin from spoiling the front patio when you guys over there in the European Union can’t agree on lunch, never mind a position on the Ukraine. I’ve seen better organised herds of arthritic cats.”
Birgitte: “I agree, but I think we can come to a common position…”
Frank: ”When? When he’s in Kiev? Riga? Warsaw? Birgitte, I grew up with guys like our friend Vladimir. He’s a pretty straight guy, but he’ll only be straight with people he regards as equals. Whilst you guys are debating whether to cancel his subscription to G20 magazine, this guy is gonna keep helpin’ himself to your lunch money. You can win his respect alright: (Frank raps his heavy ring on the coffee table). With the stick. Maybe not used, but ready to be used.”
Birgitte: ”I agree Frank. I’m a nice caring European liberal, but I know a fascist when I see one. I just think we need a little outside the box thinking.”
Frank: “Go on.”
Birgitte: ”I’ve spent two days assembling a peacekeeping force. Denmark, Poland, Germany, France, Belgium and Luxembourg for a start…”
Frank: ”Luxembourg? Does Luxembourg even have tanks?”
Birgitte: ”They have anti-tank missiles and professional well-trained soldiers who know how to use them, Frank, and a Luxembourgish missile will take the turret off a Russian tank just as effectively as an American one. It’s a small force, Frank, just 160 vehicles. But I also have been studying this…”
Birgitte handed a file to the President. He opened it.
Frank: ”Public tenders for various building projects across Europe and the US. I don’t…”
Birgitte: “Look at who is bidding on them.”
Frank reads on, smiles to himself, then turns to the camera: (“The Chinese are bidding on all these. Two Chinese firms in particular, both owned by members of the Chinese Military Commission. I Like the way her Nordic mind works!”)
Frank: ”You’re thinking of a pincer movement, aren’t you madame President?”
Birgitte smiles slightly.
Birgitte: “NATO command tell me that the Chinese have a major exercise planned for the Russian border for three weeks from now. Of course, if they were to suddenly mobilise and bring the exercise forward.”
Frank: ”Even the Kremlin doesn’t want to be worrying about an EU force entering the Ukraine…”
Birgitte: “A small but well-equipped peacekeeping force with US support available if needed, at the invitation of the Ukraine government,”
Frank: ”Of course. At the same time a million heavily armed Chinese are testing their shiny new armoured personnel carriers and fighter bombers on their Eastern flank.”
Birgitte: “We’ll have to convince the Ukrainians to respect the Russian minority, of course, and perhaps devolve some autonomy to the Crimea and some other regions, but we leave the Kremlin very clear as to our lunch money.”
Frank: ”That we do, madame President. Let me see what happened to your apple. I wonder did they send someone to South Carolina to pick it!”
Posted by Jason O on Mar 4, 2014 in European Union
, Not quite serious.
Clinking of glass.
Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council: Good morning colleagues, welcome to our beautiful new European External Action Service Headquarters, to this crisis meeting on the Ukraine. As you can see, we have everything we need, including WiFi and a really big screen…
Belgium: What’s the code for the WiFI?
Herman: J-a-c-q-u-e-s-d-e-l-o-r-s. Now, watch this.
The President pulls out a remote control, and activates the giant screen. It lights up with very
impressive maps and moving icons. Collective oohs and awws from around the room.
Herman: Good, isn’t it? We got a great price too. And this Japanese guy installed it for us. Now, you can see here the disposition of every Russian tank division facing Europe, live by satellite feed.
Sweden: Where are our tanks?
Netherlands: We have tanks?
Herman: Most of them are on blocks in a garage outside Leipzig. Something about their carbon emissions.
France: Why aren’t our tanks on the map?
Herman: The Americans won’t show us. They say it’s need to know only. Anyway, now, we all agree that we need to do something about the Ukraine.
Ireland: Sorry, Herman, is there any chance there’s some money in this for Ireland?
Ireland: Right, well in that case I have to get to a funeral in Loughlinstown. Let us know how you get on. Oh, if you need to know Ireland’s position on any of this defence stuff (slides iPhone across the table) just press that button there. We’ve an app now. See yez lads!
Herman presses the button on the iPhone.
Pierce Brosnan’s voice says, with very clear
diction: War is bad. The United Nations is lovely. Kittens are lovely. Have you ever considered visiting Ireland? Or perhaps investing in Ireland?
Herman: Right, now, we need to consider economic sanctions.
United Kingdom: Now, let’s not be too hasty. Alexander Ivanovich, the young man who brings me my instruct…my coffee every morning says that we have to be very careful. If we impose sanctions it could affect house prices in Central London. Londoners might be able to afford some of them.
Belgium (as he changes his shirt,
showing of his smooth tanned,
lithe body): Surely there’s more to the British economy than Central London?
United Kingdom: Doctor Who?
Luxembourg: Should we consider…
Herman: I’m sorry, who are you?
Luxembourg: I’m the Prime Minister of Luxembourg.
Herman: Where’s Jean-Claude?
Luxembourg: Over there, trying to look in the window.
Herman: That’s Alex Salmond.
Luxembourg: No, beside him.
Herman: Oh, I see. Hi Jean Claude!
The Council waves at Jean Claude Juncker.
He waves back. Alex Salmond waves too, slightly over enthusiastically.
Herman: Right, so we’ve no consensus on economic sanctions. What about diplomatic sanctions? Freeze Visas?
Finland: Given that we have to live beside them, and you lot are who we have to rely on if it all kicks off, I’d prefer not to poke them with a stick.
Poland: We have to do something. It’s the Crimea today. It’ll be Talinn tomorrow.
Estonia screams and runs from the room.
Herman: We could kick them out of the G8?
France: Maybe cancel their Netflix subscription. The NSA say that Putin hasn’t got to the last episode of House of Cards yet.
Germany: How do you know?
France: We…have our ways. The Americans are very nice to us now since we started chasing crazies around Africa.
Herman: Is the Netflix account in Putin’s name?
France: Eh, no.
Germany: Whose name is on the credit card then?
France: David Cameron.
United Kingdom: They made me!
Herman: What about sending the Kremlin a very sternly worded letter? How do we get a letter to them anyway? Does anyone know any Russians?
Germany: Does Gerhard Schroeder count?
United Kingdom: When you say sternly…
Ireland: War! Booooooooooo! Did you know Ryanair flies from every major….
And so on.
The local elections continue to cause mayhem in the constituency, which always makes me laugh when one considers the relative powerlessness of county councillors. They have the power to call for, urge, and yearn for things. All very Danielle Steele. Of course, let’s be honest: for the parties, the local elections are basically a taxpayer funded run out for the general election, and a chance to separate the doers, the talkers, the poseurs, and the actually insane.
In the Feckerstown ward convention last night, Cllr. William Jennings Hanrahan, a henchman for my constituency colleague, arch-enemy, all-round devious bastard and throbbing verucca on my political big toe, Senator Maurice The Gimp Mahaffy, was waxing lyrical about his devotion to the party. For 48 eight long laws-of-physics breaking minutes he went on about his devotion to Fine Gael, and how as a young man he’d fallen to his knees to remove chewing gum from Liam Cosgrave’s shoe during the 1976 Ballyfermot by-election, and how his wish, when The Lord Our God called him, that perhaps someone would sprinkle a handful of soil from Beal na Blath over his casket, so that he may rest if only slightly close to greatness.
When the ballots were counted, he missed the last place by 5 votes. He was out of his seat, big red pudding face on him, accusing all and sundry of conspiracies and agendas, jabbing a finger at the young woman who had won the nomination of “dangling her female wiles”, before announcing that the party could f**k itself, and storming out. He could be heard on the corridor screaming at a young crony for Lucinda Creighton’s mobile number.
Watching the various “campaigns” for the European Parliament, I pretty much reckon that most Irish candidates could happily be running for a seat in Hell: “Fianna Fail candidate Cian Browley has pledged that he intends to secure as much funding as possible from Hell and the various Satanic Development Programmes. “I’m confident that there is funding available for local projects including new changing rooms for St. Jude’s. Will we have to pledge allegiance to Satan and all his evil works? Ah, here, I’ve no interest in all that high falutin’ nonsense. All I know is that the young lads of St. Jude’s won’t be getting poison ivy from the bushes around their Careful Nows, and that’s all I’m interested in. Does it bother me that Hitler and Jimmy Saville are in the same parliamentary group as me? Sure, that’s a typical Irish Times question, that is. Typical. I can tell ye this: Hitler voted for the new interpretative centre in Feckerstown which will have all the tourists in the town, and that’s the main thing. No, I don’t remember if I voted for his motion supporting the extermination of Untermenschen. Mind your own feckin’ business!”
Hanrahan announced that due to the radical feminists and homosexuals who have seized control of the party of Michael Collins and Liam “Keep ‘em rollin’ in the aisles” Cosgrave, he has launched his campaign to put himself before the people as an Independent Cumman ns nGaedheal/League of Youth candidate. He announced this, from the basket of a hot air balloon he had borrowed from his brother in law, under a giant rubber balloon (he’s not short a few quid, Hanrahan) in the shape of his face. Although he hadn’t planned on becoming airborne, a gust of wind caught the balloon, lifting it up with the Cllr and his crony in the basket, leading to an string of expletives through the megaphone as the basket was repeatedly lifted and bounced off the main street as the wind dragged it along. The balloon proceeded to break free, and as it slowly deflated it continued down the street, the cllr’s giant facsimile twisting and buckling. Children, animals and senior citizens were sent screaming. A young child holding a puppy with a sore leg was snatched out of harm’s way by Lucinda Creighton who had turned up to watch the proceedings, and I’m pretty sure when she started running towards the child I could hear that de-de-de noise the Six Million Dollar Man used to make.
Anyway, the marauding orb was only stopped when a passing Garda Armed Response Unit skidded to a halt and deflated it with 48 rounds from a Heckler and Koch submachine gun. That’ll be a fun day in GSOC.
Arthur Henchy TD has represented Kildare East since 1981. He has occasionally turned up at Oireachtas committees having actually read the legislation. He also borrowed the odd book off Garrett, and read it too.
Posted by Jason O on Mar 3, 2014 in European Union
If you want an idea as to how pathetic the Ukraine crisis is making the EU look, consider the following two figures. €90 billion, and €274 billion. These are defence spending figures from 2012 of the Russian Federation and the combined European Union. In that order. Yeah, that’s right: in 2012 the EU spent over three times on defence what Russia spent. Yet is there anyone who believes that the EU has anything more than a fraction of Russia’s military capability?
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not some sort of chickenhawk that thinks everything is solved by sending in the marines. But if there is one thing history has thought us, it’s that Russia will negotiate in good faith with forces it regards as its equal, and it does not regard the EU as an equal.
The problem is that Russia may indeed have our measure, and realise that this generation of European leaders can pretty much have sand kicked in their faces as long as the Russians don’t invade Poland (no, not the Baltics. I think we’d actually cede them. And probably Finland too. Maybe not a direct invasion, but certainly airspace incursions and cyber attacks.)
I’m not talking about defence free-loaders like Ireland who don’t actually matter when things get this serious anyway. After all, how many times was the Ukraine crisis mentioned at the Ard Fheis of our governing party this week? This is a matter for the grown ups.
By the grown ups, I mean the Americans, and even they can’t be relied upon to defend a continent with little interest in defending itself.
Europe needs a leader who can stand up and say what needs to be said: Europe needs a de facto army, and it needs it now, and if that means something as theatrically dramatic as moving a Polish, German and French armour division to the Ukraine border, if only to show that Europe still have some claws, so be it. It’ll come as a surprise to many Europeans that Europe actually has tanks, so no harm reminding the Kremlin. I’m not an armchair general, by the way. There may be an easier way of sending a signal to Moscow, but it has to be said, and it has to be clear: Europe will not roll over.
As for that leader? Poland’s foreign minister Radek Sikorski could be the man.
One thing is certain: if Europe is not willing to stand up to Russia as an equal, we might as well ask Putin for his Swiss bank account number. I’m not convinced that that’s not the most likely outcome, either.
Posted by Jason O on Mar 2, 2014 in European Union
A piece I wrote here last November for Atlantic-Community.org about European defence. Seems a bit relevant these days.
Posted by Jason O on Feb 28, 2014 in Movies/TV/DVDs
, Not quite serious.
A time traveller from the 20th Century wouldn’t initially notice it. Arriving on 24th Century Earth, capital of the United Federation of Planets, they’d find a society at peace, where poverty and material want had been banished at least a hundred years ago, and where self improvement would be the stated driving goal of humanity.
They’d see passionate political debate on the web, and and would vote in free elections to elect both Earth’s various federal and national governments (Earth still would be nominally divided into nations and regional unions, but really just for local administrative and cultural purposes) and also the President and Council of the United Federation of Planets. They’d also notice the pervasive presence of Starfleet personnel pretty much everywhere, with its nebulous duty of interstellar exploration but also defence of the UFP member states. They’d find it rare to encounter a family that did not have someone serving in “the fleet”, and it would be a source of pride to the family. Then there’s the presence of the great commanders of Starfleet history, from Archer to Kirk to Picard to Janeway, heroes used by the UFP and Earth’s government to unite the people in a multicultural bond of respect and tolerance.
Finally, they’d notice the economy, or rather, the lack of it: The fact that energy supply, which powers the molecule manipulating replicators in every home and workplace that creates everything from starship components to breakfast to new shoes, decides everything, and that energy supply is 100% controlled by the state.
There is no poverty. Everybody gets a comfortable home. Everyone is entitled to a de facto career of their choice. Choose to enroll in Starfleet, or just be a sculptor. Want to try running a restaurant? Sure, just apply at your local council for a space (the state owns all the property) and they’ll find you somewhere to set up, and off you go. It doesn’t have to make any money, obviously, because what would you need money for anyway? The state doesn’t mind what you do, yet this is the open secret that never gets discussed.
What happens to the bums, to the people who don’t want to be Starfleet ensigns or run restaurants or write holodeck dramas? What do they do? The answer is: nothing. They get allocated their home same as everybody else and can while their days away looking at the window if they wish. The state doesn’t care. Who gets the nice apartment overlooking San Francisco Bay? Whomever wins the lottery when an apartment becomes free, that’s who. Want to live on the upper east side of Manhattan? Put your name on the list, and good luck.
But try to become rich, and it’s a different ballgame. First of all, it’s impossible on Earth. How can you be rich if you can’t own anything. That’s not to say that people don’t regard this house or that apartment as “their” homes or businesses, and they are as long as you need them. But you don’t own them, and so you can’t acquire them as an asset. Set up a business? Sure. Just don’t have prices. After all, you don’t have costs. Why would you do it, so? Why do people like being praised for a play they wrote, or a painting they painted, or a fabulous cake they baked. Because of pride, and that is what drives economic activity on post-scarcity Earth. The great inventors, writers, chefs of Earth live in nice homes, but no nicer than anyone else’s. But they are lauded in the media for their efforts, and that’s their reward. Robots can keep the sewers clean.
But try to advocate a return to private property, and watch the walls close in. The United Earth Party, which wins every election on Earth, keeps an eye on these things. Start advocating private property or the accumulation of wealth and find that you’re just not invited onto the major news shows. Remarks will be made about how perhaps you’d be happy with the Ferengis. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of humans in particular live and thrive in that ultra-capitalist society. But don’t think you can push that nonsense here in paradise.
It’s when you look closer at the political structure on Earth you can see the dark corners. The United Earth Party, which seized control of the war scarred Earth after the Third World War, is all about tolerance and benevolence, but only by its definition. It’s the only party permitted, although its primary elections are open to all. Turnout in elections, however, tends to be around the 20% threshold, but it would be inaccurate to call it repression. The truth is, most humans have better things to do with their time. Then there’s the debates. Within the party, debate on the local issues (should we build a new bridge/transporter station/metro?) is vigorously debated. Interstellar policy is also a source of great exchanges. Should Bajor be permitted to join the Federation? Perhaps a defence treaty with the Klingon Empire? Are our defences strong enough facing the Romulans? Should Starfleet be building actually warships? And of course, the ever present threat of the Borg. Primary debates within the UEP will be open and passionate. But do not dare raise the issue of Earth’s economic settlement, because settlement denial is instant political poison. Support private property and wealth acquisition? Do you want another civil war on Earth? Do you like the idea of little children dying from radiation poisoning? Well, do you?
It’s not a secret, but it’s not openly discussed that New Zealand houses Earth’s largest prison. Most of the inmates are violent criminals, but one section holds those citizens who just would not accept the economic settlement. Those convicted of the violent advocacy of Capitalism. It’ll get you 20 years in an admittedly very comfortable prison, but a prison all the same.
Then there’s the class structure on Earth, which does get talked about, but really only in the chattering classes and academic journals. Firstly, bear in mind that classes on Earth are not based on creed or wealth or race. Racism of any form will get you banged up faster than you can say “Vulcans go home!”. The class structure is based on meritocratic ability. Really smart people end up as Federation scientists, or diplomats, or Starfleet officers. Indeed, pretty much every Starfleet officer is an accomplished scientist in their own right. The intellectual cream of Earth rises to the top, and effectively runs human society (and the United Federation of Planets. The human domination of the UFP is a source of muttering in member states off world, although most planets marvel at the human capacity for diplomacy). One former Klingon Ambassador to Earth referred to Starfleet Academy as a “studfarm where Earth’s high achieving cream meet, procreate, and their high achieving genes create the next self-replicating generation of high achievers.” It’s no surprise that the number of Starfleet recruits whose parents were also officers in rising every year.
As for the other 97% of humans, they just get on with their daily lives. Some work, some spend a lifetime studying, some just watch holodeck dramas all day, or just enjoy the view.
Just another day in paradise.
With the locals hurtling towards us, the tension between the candidates is becoming palpable. Two candidates in the constituency got into a punch up recently, accusing each other of plagiarism. One was running as “A Fresh New Voice for the Local Area”, and got his nose out of joint with the other fella who was running as “The Local Area’s New Fresh Voice.” Apparently the fracas was only broken up when a member of the public, watching the spectacle, asked them a question about how they’d specifically cut the Local Property Tax. The two of them immediately hared it down the street, one of them shouting to her that “that’s a very interesting question” just as he turned the corner and ran away.
Sitting in the parliamentary party meeting last week I wondered was I the only person alarmed at the fact the Leo Varadkar’s ringtone is the theme from “Dexter”?
GSOC shenanigans continue, and as usual, nobody wants to admit what we’re all thinking. We’re all afraid of the Guards, and don’t want to poke at this too closely. What’s the big message coming from this affair? Don’t be a Garda whistleblower, because there’s a a fair to middlin’ chance you’ll end up being painted as the baddie of the piece. The reality is that the culture within the force needs to be shook up, and the only way to do that, as it is with everything in Ireland, is to bring in someone from outside the country, that is, someone who isn’t someone’s cousin or brother in law. In short, we need a Finnish or Canadian Commissioner. But that takes guts. Does J Edgar Shatter have the stones? We’ll see.
Watching the European Elections candidates emerging. God forbid a European issue should rear its ugly head. I bumped into a candidate recently, and asked him about Ukraine. He looked at me painfully for a second, then relaxed. “Oh, I know this one. That’s a country, isn’t it? Is that the one at war with Kiev?”.
As usual, the Most Sophisticated Electorate In The World approaches the issue as to who we send to Brussels with their usual Wizard of Oz mindset, that is, it doesn’t really matter who we send as some clever bucko is behind a curtain somewhere making all the real decisions anyway. And so, we’ll send our usual Liquorice Allsorts selection: one or two who actually know something about the EU, one or two who are basically Super TDs and are going out to speak on behalf of either fish or cattle, one certified nut case, one who will run on issues that have nothing to do with the EU at all, one who will promise to send for all his constituents once he’s settled in, and at least one who we’re giving a job to out of pure sympathy. Grand little country.
Arthur Henchy TD was first elected for Kildare East in 1981. A solid Garret man, he’s been known to read the odd draft bill before voting on it.
Posted by Jason O on Feb 23, 2014 in Irish Politics
, Not quite serious.
“Of course,” They blurt out, like a verbal innoculation, “I’m not racist. I don’t care whether someone is red, yellow, black, brown or blue. But we need to look after our own first!” They then expand on their deep, deep concern about the homeless, poverty, and how, of course, we must help the Third World, but only after we have solved ALL our own problems first. Poverty, disease, cellulite, the length of time it takes to get a sandwich in O’Briens, once we have fixed all those problems, then we can worry about the rest. Curiously, the compassionate racist doesn’t have any time to actually donate to charities helping “our own.”
In fact, he, or more recently, she, tends to have had no problem stepping over the homeless until there were different coloured faces appearing on the streets, and now she’s concerned. She goes to mass, of course, and is a good Catholic, although not happy with rumours about the new parish priest being black. She’s no problem with that, just that she doesn’t think it would be “appropriate” for the area. If she’d ever met Jesus she’d almost certainly be onto the Garda National Immigration Bureau to report a scruffy looking Palestinian Jew who is certainly up to no good. I mean, look at all that bread and fishes he’s giving out? Who’s paying for that, hmm?
Posted by Jason O on Feb 19, 2014 in Irish Politics
I’m always interested in the effect new technology has on the political system. What’s particularly interesting is the fact that much of this technology, especially social media, has increased the potential of politics to be so much more personal. It’s so much easier, for example, to connect on a one to one basis with politicians.
Yet Irish candidates are still conservative creatures, who put door-to-door canvassing at the top of the campaigning pyramid, the Golden Calf of electioneering. Most still believe, almost certainly correctly, that canvassing is the most effective way of securing first preference votes.
Perhaps voters need to take advantage of that? Imagine if you asked a candidate a specific question, and filmed his/her response on your phone? Wouldn’t that be a fine way to hold them to account?
Of course, they would have a right to refuse to be filmed, and that must be respected.
But a candidate who refuses to go on the record with his/her pledges? Well, as a voter, you can come to your own conclusions about their integrity.
As to the questions? I can think of two which would be great fun to ask on the record:
1. Are you going to run for the Dail?
2. Will you vote to cut local spending to fund a property tax cut, as you will have the power to do? If yes, what local service will you vote to cut?
Just a thought.