Thursday, May 28, 2009

Eoin Ryan and Eibhlin Byrne: proud soldiers of destiny

I posted a while back about Eoin Ryan's election poster in Pearse Station, Dublin, and noted that his allegiance to Fianna Failure was not obvious amidst the EU-blue of it all. It was pointed out here and elsewhere that his website and previous promotional materials are and have been blue, so this time around isn't so much of an exception for him.

Nonetheless, the Fianna Failures are going to great lengths (and to very small typefaces) to minimize associations with their own embarrassment of a party.

And Eoin Ryan is no exception.

This is a mailshot that he and running mate Byrne sent out. Note the large gap on the front where in the past there might have been a Fianna Failure logo. It's not until you open it that you get any mention of Fianna Failure.

Actually, that's not true - there is a mention of the party on the outside, as will be seen below.

Is this tie Fine Gael-y enough?
Blue and yellow and lots of it
We are the toy soldiers of destiny
A proud declaration of allegiance
Sure enough, there it is, down in the right hand corner on the back - a proud declaration of allegiance to the Fianna Failure party. Who said they were hiding it away?

Oh yeah, I did...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Boris Johnson's near thing with a truck

Another reason why cycling needs proper consideration in traffic management, road planning, legislation etc. You can't legislate for freak accidents, but you can plan in such a way that you minimize the risks to individuals when those accidents do happen. Johnson, Lord Adonis (the transport minister) and Kulveer Ranger, London's director of transport, were all cycling along the route of a proposed cycle "super-highway" in London. Yes - planners and politicians actually out on bikes cycling along the route to see and experience it for themselves. Amazing. I wonder how often that happens in Dublin? If anyone spots Noel Dempsey on a bicycle do let me know (and I mean actually out cycling around, not standing beside an Irish Model as part of a promo shoot.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

IADT response

IADT is clearly concerned about the response to their decision to send €162,351.00 abroad and so out of the Irish print and design industries, so concerned that they're effectively sending defensive press releases to half-assed blogs.

On Tuesday, May 19th, I posted about the IADT tender, and on Friday evening, May 22nd, IADT posted their response here as a comment. (I'm assuming it's genuine - it certainly reads like an official response.) Here it is in full:

IADT, as a public service organisation, must tender at EU level for any contracts with a value in excess of Euro 50k and uses the Government eTenders portal for that purpose. On this occasion, IADT was seeking a package of services, including design, print management, volume printing and delivery and was looking for the best solution overall as well as a competitive price. The contract was for services over the next three years. The details of the tender and of the criteria for selection can be viewed at:

http://www.e-tenders.gov.ie/search/show/search_view.aspx?ID=MAY117835

More than 49 bidders expressed an interest and following a rigorous shortlisting and evaluation process, a preferred bidder emerged.

That a Danish company would come out on top reflects the quality of their overall proposal and is not a comment on the standard and quality of design available in Ireland. Many quality Irish design companies compete for business internationally and they can boast some success. IADT also works with Irish design companies, some employers of our own graduates. However, for all jobs, big and small, we must seek quotations and must obtain both quality and value for money.

IADT offers a BA degree in Visual Communications that benchmarks very well internationally. We prepare our graduates for employment at home and internationally - and they do very well. We have no fear of putting ourselves out on the international stage as a college and we have developed links with first class colleges in a number of European countries. Design Communications is an international business.

When we appoint the design/print contract, we will require the company to engage with staff, students and graduates to ensure that our print and other communications are clear and engaging and that we in turn can benefit from the experience of working with them.

22 May, 2009 17:30



Let's take a quick look at that: it's a fine exercise in missing the point in that it makes some nice noises but doesn't actually address the criticisms made.

IADT, as a public service organisation, must tender at EU level for any contracts with a value in excess of Euro 50k
Yes, but my original post noted that it is possible to break contracts down into separate components and thereby ensure that the value of each component does not exceed Euro 50K. Had IADT chosen to do that then the requirement to tender at EU level would not have applied. IADT chose to put the contract together in such a way that EU level tendering was required. That was their decision and they should have the courage to stand over it rather than seeking to give the impression, as this response does, that they had no choice in the matter.

That a Danish company would come out on top reflects the quality of their overall proposal and is not a comment on the standard and quality of design available in Ireland.
This is PR-doublespeak at its finest. It's patently nonsensical but sounds nice. To put it in context, it is preceded by IADT noting that they were "looking for the best solution overall as well as a competitive price", and that they followed "a rigorous shortlisting and evaluation process". So, the Danish company came out on top from a rigorous shortlisting and evaluation process that identified the bidder offering the best overall solution at a competitive price, and yet we're asked to accept that that isn't "a comment on the standard and quality of design available in Ireland". It is, and to suggest otherwise is nonsensical, particularly in relation to a tender that was most heavily weighted towards "Design Capability" (as can be seen on the page helpfully linked to from the IADT's own comment).

IADT also works with Irish design companies, some employers of our own graduates.
And anyone who knows the design scene in Dublin will be able to tell you in pretty plain language which companies have worked with IADT and have made people redundant in recent months. I'm sure the cash that's heading for Denmark would have been useful to those Irish companies.

However, for all jobs, big and small, we must seek quotations and must obtain both quality and value for money.
Blah. You must seek quotations, but you have the power to decide what route to take for those quotations. You only hit the Euro 50k limit if you want to: IADT wanted to. Let's say it yet again: they could have divided the contract up but they chose not to.

IADT offers a BA degree in Visual Communications that benchmarks very well internationally. We prepare our graduates for employment at home and internationally - and they do very well. We have no fear of putting ourselves out on the international stage as a college and we have developed links with first class colleges in a number of European countries.
This is a particularly slithery passage of self-justificatory, aspirational mission-statement-ese. IADT grads are ready for emigration if they want or need (the latter increasingly likely) to go overseas to work in, say, Denmark. The "We have no fear" is particularly good: it tries to cast IADT as a noble and admirable institution rising above the petty insular nationalism of Irish people expressing concern for Irish jobs and industries. It's also a good example of how you can seek to deflect criticism by defending yourself against an accusation that was never made. The question is, however, not about the quality of IADT's graduates or about the internationalism of its aspirations, it's about its decision not to support an Irish industry with which it has (or ought to have) close links.

Design Communications is an international business.

Perhaps if IADT ever seeks donations or other funding, expert advice, professional tutors, external assessors or examiners, or anything of that sort from the Irish print or design industries they will be told to think more internationally. From the online discussions of this whole shambles it seems that at least some IADT graduates will be reluctant to make donations to the college in future.

When we appoint the design/print contract, we will require the company to engage with staff, students and graduates to ensure that our print and other communications are clear and engaging and that we in turn can benefit from the experience of working with them.
And that could be the case whether the contract had been awarded to an Irish or a Danish company. IADT might say that they'd prefer the internationalism of contact with a Danish company, but that would of course not be a comment on the quality of the Irish companies. No, no, not at all...

If the comment left on this blog came from IADT and was intended to address the concerns raised here and on creativeireland's forums then it really hasn't succeeded in doing that. Instead, it has managed to miss the point, contradict itself, and serve it all up with a padding of insipid faux-nobility and the sort of blandly evasive PR-blither that always suggests someone on the defensive but not entirely convinced by their own defence.

Let's be clear - IADT has done nothing illegal. The procedures they followed are all strictly correct. However, they are on dubious moral ground. There are arguments and statements that they might make to defend themselves more effectively, but the comment they've left here is not one of those statements and doesn't make those arguments.

Frankly, it just makes IADT look worse.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fr Morrissey??

This guy was on UTV News last night, possibly discussing the Catholic church's kiddy-fiddling financial cowardice and general moral corruption. I'm not sure what he was on about, to be honest, I was more concerned with considering the following equation:

Morrissey + 20 years + priesthood = this guy...


It's time the tale were told
Of how you took a child
And you made him old
Reel around the fountain

(Apologies for the image quality - they're quick cameraphone shots of the TV screen.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Google censors the nortsoide

This must be a response to concerns about google's streetview being an invasion of privacy or something - either that or the Antos were out burning cars. Either way, it's very useful...

Then again, maybe this is what they mean by cloud computing.

Take a left at the cloud

Clonsilla Cotton Wool Factory

Helpful for navigating in a snowstorm

IADT hypocrisy

Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design & Technology, which trains people for careers in, well, art, design and technology, but more particularly in the provision of design and print services recently tendered for - you guessed it - "Provision of Design and Print Services".

IADT chose to go through etenders, not something they had to do. They could just have got three quotes for the job. If they had divided the total value of the contract - €162,351.00 - then they could have stayed below the EU threshold, but instead they decided to combine it all as one big contract.

The upshot of all this is that a publicly funded Irish educational establishment committed to educating and training people for the Irish design and printing industries has awarded a contract of €162,351.00 to Phoenix Design Aid of Marsvej, Denmark - this at a time when people are being made redundant in those industries in Ireland.

Nice way to set an example and support your own graduates.

UPDATE: This post prompted what appears to be a genuine response from IADT. You can read it, and my comments on it, here.

See the (Fianna) Failure

Fianna Fáil proof your internet browsing experience by installing this handy add-on for Firefox. See The Failure performs an automatic word search on every page you view. When it finds selected keywords, it replaces them with more appropriate ones as you can see in the screenshots and the list below.


Before - After
Fianna Fáil - Fianna Failure
Fianna Fail - Fianna Failure
Brian Cowen - Biffo
Mr. Cowen - Biffo
Mr Cowen - Biffo


Isn't technology great? Get it here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

No, Minister

An open letter to Dermot Ahern and any of his mates who might fancy reading it.

Dear Minister Ahern,

RTÉ is reporting your saying "that Fianna Fáil's poor showing in the latest opinion poll was the price the party has paid for steering the country through difficult economic times."

No, Minister, it's not the price for your party's bravery and leadership, it's the price for your party being outed as a shower of cute hoors, brown-envelope merchants, currency-exchange conmen, e-voting gobshites, fiscal incompetents, property bubble blowers, slick-haired waffle merchants, construction industry towel-boyos, sixteenth-century-stylee god-fearing blasphemy legislators, liars, crooks and general fucking idiots of the very utmost highest order.

And the fact that you think it's all about a public misunderstanding of your nobility and bravery just compounds the sense of fuddle-headed horse-shittery.

Charlie Haughey, Pee Flynn, Beverly Hillbilly Cooper Flynn, Bertie Ahern, Ray Burke, Liam Lawlor... FÁS freeloaders, the shambollocks that is the HSE, the complete failure to regulate effectively the financial sector, etc. etc. and you think the problem is that the electorate doesn't get you? I think that just for once we're in a brief window where the electorate does get Fianna Failure - that's your problem.

Hope you have a lovely summer,

The Skanger

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nice bike theft story

This (from boards.ie) is a good one:

hynesie: I started a thread earlier this week about a bike which was stolen from my back yard last weekend. Biologic came up trumps and posted a link to an ebay auction with a bike of the same description. I had the thread deleted just in case the seller spotted the thread; boards gets indexed really well by google.

I then got the seller to send on some pics of the bike and sure enough it was my bike. I made sure I won the auction, which ended last night, and this morning I went with a garda to pick up my bike.

Stupidly I hadn't kept record of the serial number, but due to some miracle I had kept the box the bike came in which had the serial number printed on it. The serial numbers matched up, I got my bike back and the seller got arrested. Happy days!

Some words of advice: If anybody out there doesn't have a record of the serial number of their bikes then write them down now. Make sure your bikes are always locked, regardless of where they are. I nearly learned both these lessons the hard way.

A big thanks to Biologic for posting the link and the gardai who were great to deal with.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

SF election poster littering

I saw it myself, the Shinners putting their election posters up illegally early. Posters for both Mary Lou, the Euro-election candidate, and for whatever other gormless feckwit is standing up for Ireland and the 'RA in the local election, were being put up at about 7.30pm on Tuesday May 5th all along Coolmine Road in Dublin 15. (I'd just disembarked from a train at the nearby station, so I'm quite sure about the time.)

By law they shouldn't have been up before midnight.

A report in today's Irish-ish Independent says, "Sinn Fein rejected claims MEP Mary Lou McDonald had erected posters illegally. A party spokesperson said: 'I don't believe they are up.'"

Well, they most certainly were up and she (or her campaign) did erect them illegally.

In itself, this might seem a trivial quibble about timing, and we can hardly be surprised that SF-IRA should show a disregard for the law, but it's revealing in that it shows yet again that Irish politicians are more interested in getting themselves elected than in respecting the law or the environment.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Not torture, just invoking an existing fear

Welcome to waterboarding.



You can read what Hitchens had to say about it here. The first water goes on at 3m17s, Hitchens can bear no more at 3m33s: that's 16 seconds.

The CIA did it "83 times in March 2003 against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks" (NY Times).

Saturday, May 02, 2009

(Not) buying Irish at Tesco

The Irish Times reports that Tesco Ireland is keen to start downgrading Irish products in its Irish stores, and to replace them with offerings that more closely match those on the shelves of its British stores.

Contrast that with Tesco Ireland's own "Statements on Current Corporate Responsibility" (http://www.tesco.ie/csr/index.html), in particular the section on "Irish sourcing":
Our policy is to maximise the amount of Irish-produced and Irish-sourced product in our stores, subject to competitive commercial criteria. This policy enables us to meet our customers' expectations of stocking local Irish products and support for the local economy. Customers thus have available a comprehensive range and choice of Irish and international products in our stores.
They'll be needing to edit that bit.

The change will begin in selected stores, with Tesco hoping to "stress test" brand loyalty and to "wean" consumers off "certain products" - the Irish products, presumably. The plan is then to see the change roll out nationwide.

Tesco Ireland also state
we are very aware of our importance to the Irish food industry, being its largest customer. We invest substantial time and expertise in forming long-tem [sic] partnerships with our suppliers, so that their businesses can grow alongside ours.
Presumably that's why one Cork store will be reducing its stock of Barry's Tea. Fear not,
Tesco Ireland has a firm commitment to stock products from Irish suppliers wherever possible.
So it must be that it's just not possible to get Barry's Tea to a shop in Cork, or maybe Cork people don't like Barry's tea. (Yeah...right.)

The Irish Times article says that "a source familiar with the retail giant’s operation confirmed it would be making 'a significant announcement' on Tuesday." What might that be? An extension of their price-matching policy? Will they be accepting Sterling at the tills in the Republic? Will they be selling only in proper British Imperial units, none of your fancy kilogram nonsense? Al Murray as their new marketing face?

Anti-violence is too violent?

Where's the logic here? Keira Knightley appears in a short piece promoting the work of Women's Aid in combating domestic violence against women, then "Clearcast, the company which censors adverts on behalf of Ofcom" (Telegraph) demands cuts because it's too violent to show on TV.

They don't like the bit where he kicks her.

Er, it's a public service film about domestic violence...

Christians for torture

"The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey". So says CNN.
More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. Only 42 percent of people who "seldom or never" go to services agreed.

The sample is small and the range of the survey pretty limited (742 white evangelical Christian Americans - there's a fun barbecue party), but still, what the fuck?? No wonder they all got off on the tortureporn (ooo-scourge-my-pillar-you-naughty-Roman) film made by noted religious nutter and anti-semite Mel Gibson.

If theirs is the sort of religion that Dermot Ahern is going to fine me €100,000 for insulting then there's something very wrong (but then you hardly needed to be told that...).