Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Butcher of Drogheda?

Oh I know this headline could be seen in the Star or even the Daily IRISH Mail (shudder) but I think it needs to be said.  The Lourdes Hospital Inquiry - An Inquiry into peripartum hysterectomy at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda can be viewed here.

129 women had peripartum hysterectomies (removal of womb following a caeserean birth) when most consultant obstetricians would maybe perform 10 in their lifetime.

Michael Neary survived as a consultant because others would not speak out. He survived because he was a powerful man operating on women who were having babies or otherwise in positions where they could not speak out. He was deemed to know best. Other obstetricians also were involved in the cover up because getting one Irish doctor to speak out against another is impossible. This was also a doctor who feared blood?

Nobody shouted stop and many womens lives have been ruined by his actions.  Files are missing and the statute of limitations has passed for many women. But this is not about money or compensation as no amount could adequately compensate for the needless losses faced by these women.

And if the patients were male and it was some major part of their anatomy involved would questions have been raised sooner and something done?  In listening to medical ethicists speaking today I was reminded that Harold Shipman’s victims were mainly female.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Sky News seeks out Brokeback Mountain

Ian Woods, Sky News US Correspondent, has been to Wyoming in search of gay cowboys.  He found some and he found a lot of homophobia too. ‘None of that sort of thing around here. Only in Hollywood .’ And anyway the film is only about sheppards not cowboys as there were no cattle involved!

Woods also reflects on Matthew Sheppard, the gay man from Wyoming viciously murdered in a homophobic attack eight years ago. The full video report is available here.

Keano for captain?

Robbie Keane for new Irish Captain? Oh dear…the player with the perennially packed suitcase and over stamped football passport is expected to lead the Irish Team in their match on Wednesday.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Quality, consumption and citizen journalism

Ah we are back to the quality blogging debate and this time it’s coming from one of our own.

Piaras Kelly says that the only thing that yesterdays reportage/coverage of the riots did was to ‘highlight the line between the mainstream media and citizen reporters.’

He continues

‘More importantly, just as people legitimately added their thoughts to the days events, there were plenty of idiots who gave their mindless two cents matching the stupidity of those on the streets.’

Does this mean that all MSM reporting is without idiocy and stupidity? What significant contribution do people like Brendan O’Connor (reg. required) make to our understanding of yesterdays events? (Did he really meet an Iraqi on O’Connell Street yesterday?) Are blog readers devoid of intellect in separating the crap from the good stuff?

We had to wait until 6 p.m. for the national broadcaster to show pictures of what happened yesterday lunchtime. There is no doubt they had difficulty in covering yesterdays events and were attacked by some of the rioters. Sky News had reports yesterday afternoon – at least at 4.15 from the screen caps Red Mum had.

And most of the RTE coverage was journalists interviewing journalists or politicians. There was very little coverage of the opinion of local people on what they saw apart from one person on Nassau Street as there were no RTE cameras present when the cars were torched – but there were citizen journalists and someone from Newstalk.

As yesterday was Saturday we did not have Joe Duffy taking calls from people at or near the incident (citizen journalism in another form surely?) or (shudder) Philip Boucher Hayes breathing heavily as he ran about the place for 5-7 live.

I doubt that many people see blogging/flickr photo uploading or the videos on Youtube as any sort of complete replacement of reportage by MSM. What was significant about yesterday was that people turned to blogs to see what people were saying or experiencing. Also many bloggers seemed to have been around town when this occurred and could provide witness accounts and opinion. Others provided links to these and others still commented on the occurrences, both the causes and effects. (Something many bloggers had been doing in the weeks before the March took place.)  

Only recently Roger Greene (Newstalk 106, Media Matters) was questioning quality control and legitimacy of Irish blogs when dealing with legal issues and the Irish Blog Awards in an item on blogging. What I thought about yesterday when commenting on the arrival of Irish blogs as a medium for information on a significant event was the fact that there were different voices there. Other perspectives, with an immediacy that print or many broadcast media outlets were not feeding. Roger Greene did not reflect on this on his programme today and I suppose I did not expect him to eat any humble pie. There is a self enforced ‘quality control’ in terms of the veracity of information amongst citizen journalists/bloggers – something that is rarely reflected on but which I take great interest in observing.

I’m not inviting the Irish blogging community to get all anal and reflective or indeed to become involved in a massive back slapping exercise. I have been reflexive about my own media consumption and reaction to yesterday in terms of where I turned to when in need of information or perspective on the events. And as a sociologist I do have an interest in how we consume/produce information.

If you wanted to see what Charlie Bird or other reporters had to say then you waited till the news bulletin or you turned on your radio or maybe you went to Irishblogs.ie or your RSS feed or indeed if you were like me you combined all 3.  

I do think that waving the quality banner with regards to blogging is rather old hat or ‘ostrich head in sand  like’ and makes assumptions about the quality/consumption of MSM outlets that are overgenerous. (RTE’s web stats yesterday would make for  interesting analysis) And I wonder about the linkages between the profession of PR and the MSM. Flag waving for blog potential in business and marketing terms by PR professionals is well under way, however it would seem that MSM and others are far more reluctant to let the flags be raised when it comes to citizen journalism. I would be interested in Piaras’s thoughts on the coverage of other ‘moments’ by the blogsphere. The next Irish General Election for example?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Blogs step up to be counted

Some of the blogging today has been outstanding in terms of reportage and photography. The Irish ‘sphere came of age today. The numbers of bloggers around with cameras was considerable. I could not possibly round up the blog coverage today – Auds has a very good summary of what is out there in terms of blogging.

Well done also to Newstalk for being a true Dublin station and providing information and advice and comment on what was happening and where. Sitting watching the Ireland vs. Wales Women’s 6 Nations Match in Donnybrook one could hear the constant stream of sirens heading for town from the Garda station opposite the ground. Turning on the radio on my mobile whilst watching the match Newstalk was the only station covering the ongoing situation.

Some thoughts and questions…..

  1. The Route
The Garden of Remembrance, past the GPO and on to the Dail? Ah lads were you having a laugh? And with Orange Marching Bands too?

And a length of route that would be impossible to police in terms of the breath of the streets. Lets not forget the building site which had bricks and shovels and other implements available. The fences were useless and bent over as easy as the foil container that contained my boiled rice for dinner tonight.

2. The Policing Levels

300 Gardai? Anti Globalisation protests get helicopters, water cannon and cancellation of police leave. Who ever thought going low key was the best way given the route to be taken (and the bands!) needs to answer some questions.

3. The divide and weaken concept.

When corralling rioters down the quays it would be a good idea to keep an eye on them and stop them getting over Capel Street bridge and up to storm Jervis Street Shopping Centre. All hell broke loose there and Newstalk was even there to report on it and on the Gardai’s late arrival on the scene.

4. Na Fianna Eireann – the youth wing of RSF

Is it a proscribed organisation yet – how much do we know about it?

5. Call off the 1916 commemoration now Bertie – it’ll look like some sort of victory parade.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Manuel's Stimulation

Does anyone one read Manuel Estimulo’s blog in Spanglish? I mean when you read the blog do you put on a Manuel type accent as you read it for added effect?

Am I really losing it? Well I cracked up completely reading this morning’s entry on the new Cardinal from Toledo.

Ryan Tubridy is a heterosexual

Ryan Tubridy is straight. This might not be an earth shattering fact for you over your coffee this morning. But Ryan seems to make a regular effort to indicate he is not gay – sort of backs to wall type jokes whenever there are mentions of homosexuality or things of a queer nature.

You know Ryan it’s not funny. Yesterday mornings sarcastic reference to Brokeback Mountain and whether you would be at the top of the queue to see it or not spoke volumes about your attitudes to gay people. I am sure you have loads of friends who are gay etc and I don’t need to hear about them. What I want to hear is you stopping making jokes about us or at our expense.

Thank you…

And yes maybe this has more to do with straight men and their attitudes to films like Brokeback Mountain. Oh get over yourselves. If you don’t like it grand…go and watch something else instead we don’t need to hear about how ‘not gay’ you are.

Update: On the mornings show Ryan seems to have been taken to task by other listeners on his comments. I will listen to it later and provide a transcript.

Update 2:

Ryan this morning read out two letters one pro Brokeback Mountain and one against it. One of the letters critiqued the movie and said that the gay community held the movie up as a trophy of some sort and are touch about it – which is an interesting point worthy of further. Ryan did not comment

In then moving on to introduce the Willie Nelson track 'Cowboys are frequently fond of each other' Ryan Said

Sometimes I feel I have to preface when I am going to crack a joke sometimes on the show, People find it hard to distinguish on occasion between humour and serious comment. So When I say that I going play Willie Nelson, a little taste of it, Willie Nelson wrote a song, I think back in the 80’s, we mentioned it a few weeks ago and it was released on Valentines Day.

It has been very well received and it’s a bit of fun it goes like this…..

And he played about half of the track and invited feedback.

Now I don’t think Ryan really gets why people have a problem with him joking about gay themed movies or songs. As it turns out people want the whole song played and it has gone down very well.

Ryan's jokes about gay things or his rapid claims that he is 'not like that' or 'that way inclined' on both his radio and tv shows are beginning to irritate – it’s not just me that is narked about it. He needs to see his heterosexual privilege and give up on the easy targets and if I hear the words 'PC gone mad' in relation to it then he really is not getting the point and does not know how childish he sounds.

In fact ah...I meant...ehh....

Trevor Sargent should get himself into internal party bother more often. Yesterday’s leaders questions provided us with more mirth and amusement and the Berties/From St. Lukes blogger should really come out of retirement soon!!! We need you.

I include the full exchanges here between Mr.Sargent and Bertie Ahern yesterday. They were talking about the Mahon Tribunal - a subject I was going to blog about (The amnesia is really bad in Leinster House, I suggest someone call a neurologist quick and surely Don Lydon who is a psychologist would have some ideas on how to cure it?)

Anyway back to yesterdays leaders questions. Bertie got his words mixed up again – can you spot where? What you won’t see here is Mary Harney giving him a verbal elbow in the ribs to correct his confusion over condemning and condoning….priceless. Miriam Lord regales us with her view from the press gallery here. (Registration required)

Mr. Sargent: The Taoiseach is aware that every day commuters, parents, children, carers, all members of our society, are affected by a legacy of bad planning. We have greater car dependency than any other country one cares to mention, greater congestion costing business billions of euro, and lack of local amenities on new housing estates. The dispersed low density sprawl is a legacy of bad planning. Does the Taoiseach accept that much of that legacy is connected with a history of Fianna Fáil corruption and abuse of power, especially on Dublin City Council?

The Taoiseach suspected some of this and set up an inquiry into allegations of corruption in Fianna Fáil. Following the newspaper reports this morning, how will the Taoiseach explain the chronic amnesia from which his lieutenants, Deputy Wright and Senator Lydon, suffer? Is there something wrong with the water in Fianna Fáil offices or is it a case, as many suspect, that Fianna Fáil is a haven for aspiring wide boys?

Before the Taoiseach sets up another inquiry will he tell us what he
plans to do with the revelations about Deputy Wright and Senator

An Ceann Comhairle: These matters are before a tribunal and in accordance with Standing Order 56 it is not appropriate to run a parallel tribunal in here.

Mr. Sargent: I would not do that. I am asking the Taoiseach about his own inquiry to which Deputy Wright and Senator Lydon told untruths. Senator Lydon kept the Taoiseach in the dark about a €7,000 donation——

An Ceann Comhairle: These matters are before a tribunal and I ask the Deputy——

Mr. Sargent: I absolutely understand that.

Mr. Eamon Ryan: It is an internal Fianna Fáil inquiry.

Mr. Sargent: Deputy Wright kept the Taoiseach in the dark about a €5,000 donation and another of €500 in 1997.

An Ceann Comhairle: Standing Order 56 does not allow discussion of matters before the tribunal.

Mr. Sargent: I am asking the Taoiseach what does he condone. That is my job here: to question the Taoiseach. I will not refer, as the Ceann Comhairle did, to a tribunal. I am simply asking the Taoiseach what he condones. Does he condone bribery, corruption and bad planning? Does he have a policy on telling untruths to a party inquiry and will he ask these two Members to step aside or does he have any standards worth talking about at all? That is a valid question for the Taoiseach. We are talking about his party and his members who lied to him.

Mr. Gormley: Hear, hear.

An Ceann Comhairle: It is not a practice of the House to——

The Taoiseach: I never condemn wrongdoing in any area.

Mr. Sargent: The Taoiseach never condemns wrongdoing.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: The Taoiseach will meet himself coming back.

The Taoiseach: Condone. I never condone wrongdoing. We set up the Moriarty tribunal to inquire into payments to politicians.

Mr. Boyle: The House set up the tribunal.

The Taoiseach: We set up the Mahon tribunal to inquire into irregularities in the planning process, and many other inquiries, to get to the bottom of any wrongdoing going on anywhere, including in Dublin County Council. That is the position of the Government and of my party, as Deputy Sargent knows very well.

Mr. Sargent: I am asking about the Taoiseach’s inquiry.

The Taoiseach: I will fill Deputy Sargent in on my inquiry when he
fills me in on his inquiry into chemical shares.


Mr. Sargent: That is fair enough. The Taoiseach can tell me about it.

Mr. Boyle: What does the Taoiseach need to know?

Mr. Sargent: I would like to take the Taoiseach up on his offer to tell me about his inquiry.

Mr. O’Donoghue: The fox in the hen house.

Mr. Sargent: Is it credible for the Taoiseach to have a Deputy who has no recollection of receiving, cashing or having in his account a cheque for €5,000? Is it credible for the Taoiseach to accept that a Senator can take €7,000 from a property owner benefiting from a major rezoning cash windfall?

An Ceann Comhairle: Once again, I point out that these are matters before a tribunal.

Mr. Eamon Ryan: It is an internal Fianna Fáil inquiry.

Mr. Sargent: The internal inquiry conducted by Fianna Fáil is not before the tribunal.

An Ceann Comhairle: These matters are before a tribunal.

Mr. Sargent: I do not want things to fall between stools. I want to make sure that Fianna Fáil answers for what is within the Dáil remit and for which Fianna Fáil has taken responsibility.We are talking about a Senator who, with other Fianna Fáil, and some Fine Gael, councillors, was apoplectic when I asked a basic question in 1993 as to whether any councillor on Dublin City Council received a cheque. He was so poplectic that he held me in a headlock and went to grab a £100 cheque sent to the Green Party. Is that acceptable behaviour within the Taoiseach’s party? Is he going to do anything about it? Will he expel these members or sever his links with white collar crime? What must one do to be thrown out of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party? Maybe the Taoiseach can answer that.

The Taoiseach: I am certainly sorry if one of my party members caught
Deputy Sargent in a headlock in 1993. Had I been there I would have stopped him.

Mr. O’Dea: It was Giant Haystacks.

Mr. Eamon Ryan: The Taoiseach was too busy signing blank cheques at the time.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: This is a serious issue.

The Taoiseach: This Government totally condemns any kind of wrongdoing.

Mr. Gormley: What is the Taoiseach going to do about those guys?

The Taoiseach: We have dealt with these matters in the appropriate way by setting up an inquiry.

Mr. Eamon Ryan: The Taoiseach will do nothing.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: This is not funny.

Mr. J. Higgins: Corruption is not funny.

No Red Cap for Drumcondra

So there will be no red cap for Archbishop Martin in Pope Benidict’s first consistory. Auds reflected earlier this week that Martin’s pronouncements since arriving in Dublin were ‘on the safe side of wibbly wobbly wonders’! This will be one of the rare occasions (I think) when Auds and I will generally agree on something.

Many lgbt activists/individuals viewed Martin’s arrival  in Dublin with great suspicion given his track record as Vatican ambassador to the UN. However since arriving he has lent support to recognition of same sex relationships and condemned violence against lesbians and gay men (the latter pronouncement made during a homily given at a mass to mark the passing of John Paul II.)  He also told Ursula Halligan on TV3 recently that the most asked question put to him by young people is about why the church hates gay people and that the Church has to work on the impression given on their opinions on the issue.

I still don’t trust him probably as much as Auds does not like him for his wibbly wobbly moments. But I also don’t envy him his job and look forward to seeing how his continuing efforts to involve the laity in the running of the church evolve in years to come. And also the forthcoming investigation into the way the church handled child sexual abuse in Dublin will also see new challenges for him as the acts of his predecessors are uncovered.  I noted somewhere earlier this week that new claims  of abuse are still being reported to the commission.

Taking the high road....

It had passed me by that the Love Ulster march was coming to Dublin this Saturday. (Reminds self to make sure I am in Donnybrook early for Ireland versus Wales Women’s 6 nations match…)

Am sure many bloggers have written extensively on the issue already. From a queer point of view I suppose I don’t mind them marching here if they will leave the LGBT community alone when they have their Pride dander in Belfast. Fair deal?  (Some hope?)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

US Supreme Court starts getting busy

No you are reading Maman Poulet not Mental Meanderings. In its first religious freedom ruling under the Roberts era, the US Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a small South American religious sect could keep drinking a hallucinogenic tea as part of its religious observance.  The court also indicated it will consider the constitutionality of banning a type of late-term abortion – that did not take long did it?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Please Sir, Damien Needs some more….

information on who is attending the Irish Blog Awards. It seems his idea took wings and (flu) flew. (Guess who is getting visitors to her blog regarding bird flu – with a name like Maman Poulet I suppose it had to happen)

Damien needs to book a new venue so if you are going register your information /intention here.

Did you hear the one about the blogging Hungarian Prime Minister?

No? Well Ferenc Gyurcsány has made a name  for himself for his take off of  Love Actually which has spread far and wide. It seems he is a blogging Prime Minister too  and not a bad one at that according to Eric D’Amato. Unfortunately the blog is in Hungarian (well it’s fortunate for his electorate but you know what I mean for the rest of us!)

It did get me to thinking about Bertie’s blog.

‘Eh this morning I decided to put on da blue anorak. I also had cornflakes with dat new soya milk.’

In fact I think before long we might get a Bertie pisstake blog…I may not write it but I am claiming I had the idea first….

Monday, February 20, 2006

O2 like to talk...until their coverage drops the call anyway

Ring Ring….(Nokia tune…)

Male: Hello is that Maman Poulet?

MP: Yes

Male: Hi MP, this is Lorcan from O2. I am ringing to tell you some good news that there is a reduction in the cost of text messages to 7.5cent per text.

MP: Uh huh

Lorcan: So that is a reduction from 12 or 13 cent to 7.5 percent and will save you about €5 a month.

MP: Well I am on a package with a set number of texts.

Lorcan: Yes Active 250.

MP: So why are you ringing me to tell me there is a reduction?

Lorcan: Oh we are just ringing to let you know it is cheaper.

Beep – call drops…

Lorcan does not ring back.

If anyone knows why O2 need to ring me to tell me texting got cheaper when I am signed up to a contract/package for at least the next 13 months and can’t get out of it please let me know. And Lorcan feel free to ring me back any time…

'Sphere Too small for blogging about sex?

EWI asks where the Irish sex bloggers are? As someone  who started off her blog reading by delving into sex blogs and blogs about sexuality, this area could be one of my Mastermind specialist subjects but for the past 6-8 months I have to say I have gone off the boil in my reading of sex blogs.  I was an avid reader of Belle de Jour and then she went and got a book deal. I still pop into Amorous Propensities which is an intelligent round up of stories and trends regarding sexuality (the blogger also writes another blog about his second hand bookstore and the second hand book trade which I find interesting!) Girl with a one track mind is a frequently nominated Best British Blog nominee and excellent writer.

Is it too easy to speculate that the dearth of  Irish sex blogs is due to the usual Irish problem? Everyone knows everyone and someone would find out sooner or later who they were and there would be lots of anxst and intrigue  in the comments sections and elsewhere. In terms of writing and the personal nature of blogging, blogs about sex and experiences of sexuality can be very moving and/or very funny, providing thought provoking reflections and stories and chronicling an aspect of life we would not hear about elsewhere.

I can hear the snorts from here from those who think this sort of thing should be kept in the bedroom. No-one asked us to read them but it’s interesting to think that they are out there and some of them have great things to say.

(PS. If you are an Irish blogger blogging about sex speak up in the comments (if you want to that is!)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Kevin Myers Porn Collection

I doubt many Irish Times readers thought they would be reading about mutual masturbation over their cornflakes this morning.(subs. req.) In an attempt to explain why there can be no such thing as gay marriage Myers divulges his understanding of lesbian sex.

For if same-sex couples can have marriages, can they have annulments on the grounds of non-consummation? Can they also have grounds for divorce, such as adultery? But what are consummation and adultery for lesbians, when they cannot have intercourse, and their sexual activity is, in essence, mutual masturbation? Are we to take sodomy as legal consummation for male homosexuals? And should homosexuals of either sex expect or sue for alimony if one divorces the other? Anomalies, anomalies: the inevitable consequence of pretending that wheat-fields are mountain ranges.

This got me to wondering about the contents of Kevin Myers porn collection if one exists. Or how exactly he knows what sexual activity between two women might be composed of? Sure don’t we eat chocolate, toast and discuss the finer point of needlework?  I am sure in the coming days Kevin will get many a lesson in lesbian sexual activity – all of them unasked for but that’s what one gets for making assumptions that one’s mountain ranges are any better than the wheat field over the valley.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

BBC and blogging

  • I am not sure how much coverage Paul Reynold’s (The BBC one not the RTE one) article on blogs has received in Irish outlets but I do think Roger Greene of Newstalk 106 should have a read.

  • A tip for insomniacs and mp3 downloaders – every Monday night/Tuesday morning – from about 2am, there is an excellent dip into blogging and podcasting by the people behind Up all Night. Up All Night is BBC Radio 5’s programme which focuses on news  from around the world as well as the UK. I have been listening to it for years. The feature on blogging and podcasting takes a look at how the weeks main issues are handled by bloggers and podcasters. There are also features on new blogging technology and general discussion of the genre.

You can read about the contents of each weeks slot here, and download the latest show to listen to here. Again important listening material for Roger and the team behind Newstalk’s Media Matters.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cruise gets ready to sue (again!)

Andrew Morton (he of books on Diana of Wales and others) is writing a book on Tom Cruise! According to Hollywood.com via Queerday the lawsuit threats are already flying as Morton has hired a private eye (and part time porn star!) to do some digging on the rumours.

So that episode of South Park can't be seen again anywhere ever (even via the internet it seems). And Morton who's books are generally well researched and not that wide of the mark is being threatened if he publishes a letter issued by Cruise's lawyers regarding Cruise's daliances. But he could of course publish every rumour and say they were rumours and false - it would be good to have them all together in one place like. :-)

Shuffling the Juniors

The surprise appointment of Mary Wallace to a junior ministry at the Department of Agriculture and Food will no doubt have tongues wagging in Leinster House and a few sore heads north of the Liffey. The East Meath TD and alleged refusnik Dail attendee following her demotement in 2002 was the jawdropper name in Bertie's announcement this afternoon.

Wallace's tenure in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and her stewardship of the failed first draft of the Disability Bill did not have the whisperers mentioning her name in recent weeks. However her seat is more vulnerable than Pat Carey's , Sean Haughey's or that of Jim Glennon.

So yet again Bertie pulls a surprise out of the hat and rewards on basis of numbers rather than effort?

The ID Card Debate

Given the votes in the House of Commons on this issue tonight I wondered when the last big debate took place in Ireland on Identification Cards. Now I have not bothered to search yet but I am sure McDowell has spoken somewhere recently on his intentions in this regard. And of course if the UK are going to have them then we must to - parity of esteem, Good Friday Agreement (so can we have full civil partnership too please) and oh yes the 'War on Terrorism' - even if we are still a neutral country. (Did you hear the moustachio saying that when he announced our defence forces participation in the battlegroups - I choked a bit more than usual.)

Now I have participated in debates on ID cards and whether they are a good thing for nearly 20 years. I am still undecided. I believe that if they are introduced they should not be compulsory and one should not have to carry them with you at all times and I would have issues with the type of information kept on them. Thats just for starters.

So how do bloggers feel about it? (Oooh look the next blog debate!)

The Cheney Questions

So the VP of the USA shoots someone - that person is in Intensive Care still but stable. It took 21 hours before anyone outside the group/White House knew about it. The story being asked by the MSM in the USA is why did it take so long and who is managing the story (and why)? Watch the White House Press Secretary, Scott McCelland take a few interesting questions and not really provide many answers. Crooks and Liars again has the footage.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

MSM and blogging

Just finished listening to Sarah and Damien on Media Matters on Newstalk. Dear god we bloggers are the lowest of the low, unregulated guns for hire according to Roger Greene. Now given the opposition to regulation and a press council, pot kettle, calling and black comes to mind. But he is a broadcaster so is regulated. Or maybe just afraid? Fair play to 1169 and counting for getting their plug in for a vote - unfortunate that Roger mucked up your text with another of an anti islamist!

Rachel Allen recipe search inducing stats

Given that I have been off line a bit lately and not blogged for 4 days, my stats are bubbling away nicely. It would seem the Rachel factor is at it again. All UK based visitors searching for Rachel Allen's recipes and this surge began as her programme ended on BBC1 yesterday. Now if you, dear recipe searching reader, were to let me know which recipe from yesterdays programme you wanted, I might oblige in the same way I did last week with the smoked salmon pate recipe. (You know bibliocook for someone who is not a fan of Rachels I am being very patient don't you think?) And I can't bear the thought of food at the moment too - but for services to the blogosphere...

Balding Watch

I am currently indisposed but am blessed that this lurgy coincides with the commencement of the Winter Olympics. And a major international sporting event on the BBC means the start of Clare Balding watch. As one of the two known Irish bloggers who would be watching Clare (clue ...) What is going on with the skirts?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

MS Word blogger tool

Anyone else use MS Word for blogger tool? I had it installed but it disappeared – I can't find the tool bar anywhere – I reinstalled it but it still is not be found. It's doing my head in!!


Political eulogies are speeches which fascinate me. Having watched the funeral and celebration of the life of Rosa Parks last year I was already aware of the way in which many leaders/activists are remembered in funeral services in the USA - in particular those from African American communities and evangelical faiths. These memories often expound on the opinion of the deceased on the issues which affect their communities today. I have been to several funerals which were political events in the fact that those speaking chose the event to speak about a persons life and remark on the battles that they faced or controversies caused. In fact it was with the blessing of the friends and families that these remarks are often made.

There is controversy, nay outrage at the remarks of certain speakers at the funeral of Coretta Scott King yesterday which I did not have the opportunity to watch live online. I do not think that Mrs Scott King would have a problem at all with the remarks of those speakers. Interesting that GWB was present for some of the funeral. (and was he welcome at that of Rosa Parks? or too afraid to go so close to Katrina?) (It is ok to go to some of the event as it can often take all day to hold.)

MSNBC's Countdown has more footage of the speakers present and Reverend Joseph Lowery and President Jimmy Carter were not the only ones to put the life of Mrs. Scott King into prayer and political context and you can see the clips here thanks to Crooks and Liars. In particular I was moved by the presence and song of Maya Angelou and will search to see her eulogy in full online somewhere else today.

Update: Decoracy Now has a 24 minute report on the eulogies inlcuding Maya Angelou here

And Michael is sure to have all the answers...

Last night or earlier this morning to be more exact, I was writing but had the TV on for company and noted what I thought was an ad for Ryanair. However as it went on I realised it was not any ad that Ryanair would put out if it did TV advertising. (But Michael would probably say that all publicity is good publicity) It seems that the Channel 4 Dispatches team have done it again - the promo for the programme is excellent in terms of the way it draws you in, try and catch it if you can.

From the Channel 4 website - Programme will air Monday 13th 20.00

A major undercover investigation into the way in which Ryanair, one of the largest and most successful low-cost airlines, operates. Two Dispatches reporters spent five months secretly filming the airline's training programme and onboard flights as members of the cabin crew. What they found may make you think twice about flying Ryanair again. The undercover footage reveals what takes place behind the scenes: security lapses, dirty aircrafts, pilots complaining about the hours they have to fly and exhausted cabin crew. The cynical staff attitudes towards passengers and their welfare are also unmasked in Ryanair: Caught Napping . Prod/ Dir: Karen Edwards; Exec Prod: Steve Boulton; Prod Co: Steve Boulton Productions

No meme from me

I do not believe its necessary to map out the Irish blogosphere according to political viewpoint. (Sorry RR I won't be taking up the meme) While it is of interest to note blogs which are written by certain groups which other people might find interesting – legal bloggers, music bloggers, lesbian and gay bloggers etc., I don't see why its so urgent to know how someone votes or which war they supported or not.

Richard Waghorne in his questioning of the make up of the Irish blogosphere is concerned at the awards and prominence given to them and what that says about Irish bloggers. And maybe even who got nominated and who did not? It is my understanding that the nomination process was if you got nominated you got onto the long list.

Also he queries the fact that there are many politically motivated gay people (overrepresented?) in Irish blogging. (I think there are about 6 or 7 of us and not all of them would even say that they are politically motivated!) This deserves a whole reply in itself. But quickly I would say that lesbians and gay men have been seen to be early adopters in many new technologies, new music, fashion, food and other consumables. Also the internet has been extremely important in providing ways for lesbians and gay men to meet each other and garner information about health, rights, culture, media etc due to the lack of power and resources and dominance of heterosexual imagery/culture in other media forms.

However I would definitely contest any notion that there is an over representation of gay bloggers in the blogosphere as a whole. But it might be that we are more noticed because our sexual orientation is important to us as our rights are denied, our sexuality is often assumed to be heterosexual because that’s what everyone else is. Heterosexual bloggers don't face automatic assumptions about their lives and expectations that lesbian and gay bloggers face. (And we might be more noticed because we're absolutely fabulous!)

I also contest that any potential liberal nature of blogging in Ireland is a threat to the future of blogging. In fact I would think that bloggers in Ireland are developing new ways of thinking and communicating about issues and concerns. This area is one which political parties elsewhere have seen to be important in informing and monitoring as others turn to the net for news and away from traditional sources. (In sociological terms I would think this is a prime example of a New Social Movement – great area for a PhD if there are any people out there screaming out for potential thesis topics.)

I could for example say that I believe there are a lot more nationalist bloggers in the Irish blogosphere then I think there are in society but that might be just the circles I move in and it really does not bother me either way. It could be because they post more, use the colour green in their blog templates (unless you are United Ireland and have gone blue to get noticed) and put up more pics of Gerry Adams than your average blogger but that's their choice. If I want to know more about a blogger I think its more important to read their blog and maybe have a look at who is in their blog roll than to see a meme saying who they vote for or would vote for.

We blog because we can do, its democracy in so far if you have a computer, are literate, have an internet connection and can publish to a blog then you are out there saying your thing on what ever. If people then read what you say, comment on it, think about it or even ignore it then well and good. When blogs start making news or creating news we'll know that bloggers in Ireland are making impact and indeed they have already. But many people don't blog so that they will be noticed or to get a job or a speaking gig or to boost the CV. They also do not blog to bring down the government or end someone's career or leak a story or blow the whistle. There is nothing stopping anyone from blogging from any political persuasion. And there is nothing stopping any blogger from being recognised and awarded for their efforts either. (We might reflect that bloggers are unrepresentative of the nation in terms of the fact that one has to be fairly literate to blog and have computer and internet access – in fact that might be far more useful than where you put your number one on the ballot paper.)

The systems which have been developed to set up the Irish Blog Awards have been more than transparent and inclusive and indeed quite representative of the Irish blogsphere in terms of the bloggers nominated and blogs nominated. Being non-diverse is something I think one could not pin on blogging Ireland by my perusal of the nominations list.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Number crunching - how ailing are you?

Bertie needs a lesson in the language of disability – he talks about 'impairments' and 'ailments'. I don't have the flu Bertie. Is it too much to think about your Department and other government departments as the ones being disabled rather than focusing on the people within and how disabled they are and if there are enough of them there. (And this mini moan goes out to the political leaders who were asking the questions too)

Ah will wait for him to say how lucky we people with 'ailments' are to be working in government buildings and there are so many of us and some are blind, some are deaf and guess what some even use wheelchairs! He did not have the numbers to hand but it would have been fun to see how we are classified. I will put up the transcript later. (Thanks to Fiona for the tip off – have been watching him live online taking questions about the quota for civil servants with a disability.)

The meaning of life....(well who's blogging and who cares about who's blogging)

Hmmm is the irish blogosphere representative? Who cares? Why should it be? Do we need to be like the blogsphere in the USA? How representative is the blogosphere in the USA really? Does anyone in the USA care either? Why are those who query the representativity of the Irish blogsophere worried?

A sociologist thinks... took me an hour in Liffey Valley to think that! Hence why sociologists are poor.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Marital Harmony - Blogging style

Do Blogs break up marriages? Hmmm one of the points covered in Damien’s interview on the latest Ireland Digital Podcast about the Irish Blog Awards. Given my beloved does not know what a blog is I think I’m safe (for the moment anyway!) Oh and the Eurovision gets a mention too. No ‘You’re a Star’ voting with cars covered in Vote X Blog etc for the IBA’s yet then.    If blogging and politics come up in other interviews Damien might mention the forthcoming Irish Election Blog?

The Daily IRISH Mail

So the Irish Daily Mail or the Daily IRISH Mail hit the streets today. It looks just like Ireland on Sunday. ‘Get a new Mail in YOUR Life’ screams the headline banner. I get enough spam already thanks!

So I picked up my free copy – the only type of copy of this I will ever pick up. And thumbed through it. So Brenda Power – ‘the face of family values’, David Quinn ‘defying the consensus’ and Mary Ellen Synon ‘always controversial’ are amongst the Irish columnists. Joining them will be joy of joys, Richard Littlejohn, ‘Makes you laugh out loud’. Snort…..

You know impartial journalism and reporting will not be the standard that the Daily IRISH Mail will be adhering to. ‘With the writers who say what you think...not what you’re told to think’.  So then Mary, Brenda, David and Richard won’t be telling us what they think then? Not on your nelly….

So dying to see what David (Social Affairs Editor) Quinn was going to give us on our first day of the Daily IRISH Mail, I rushed to page 7. Here we go – Emily O’ Reilly is back going to Mass again.  ‘Why a former scourge of the Catholic Church is Attending Mass again. Emily calls for a return to God after ‘Ireland’s 10-year bender’

Now David is not really one for investigative journalism. I would contend that without the publication he previously edited, The Irish Catholic, and The Voice, David would be a bit stuck for copy. He gives us a rehash of the article that appeared in The Voice and also points us to the editorial where Emily is thanked for ‘helping frame the debate about the sort of society we want to be.’

Ah yes Emily who previously wrote books including The Masterminds of the Right has returned to the fold so that’s ok then. Maybe the right don’t exist – or maybe there are no masterminds anymore? Tune in to Maman Poulet to find out more and mind you don’t choke when you see the Daily IRISH Mail ad on the TV telling you about it’s love of family values.

Update: Twenty Major was fairly spot on in his predictions, Planet Potato, and Blog Snorkeller join in with a look at today’s edition.

Who's Free Speech is it anyway?

So the ‘Christians’ are all lining up saying that the cartoons should have been published and they are all in favour of free speech. Included in this group is John Waters who was on Eamon Dunphy’s programme on Newstalk 106 (mp3 available) this morning stating his Christian belief and background. In fact he says every Irish newspaper should publish the cartoons to support democracy and free speech.  

Oh I so look forward to the next gay kiss in Fair City or the next time a gay person appears on TV to talk about their life and the discrimination they face, and hearing that these Christian advocates stand up for our free speech too.  Susan Philips, a former Wicklow County Councillor and leading Church of Ireland social issues fundamentalist/rent a mouth is now a research student in UCD studying militant religions. However on Liveline today she rang in as an ordinary caller, Susan, with indications of her academic affiliations but not her personal involvement in the church. I would think this would be important information to give given she was criticising Islam.

More on the so called rise of Christianophobia and the calls for respect for Christians rights later.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Voting opens at the Irish blog awards

The long lists are up here and some eejit (s) (lovely people really) nominated me. Anyway vote early but not often or Damien won't be pleased. The shortlists (5 in each category) will then head for a judging panel and the awards are to be held in Buswells (') on March 11.

It would seem that the awards and sponsorship are gathering steam and there is a press release going out too. Thanks to Damien for all the hard work and I look forward to tea and sangwiches or a g&t on the night.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Rachel Allen's Smoked Salmon Paté

Several more visitors from UK based surfers googling for Rachel Allen ‘s smoked salmon paté recipe and one request later, here is the recipe!

Rachel Allen’s Smoked Salmon Paté (from Rachel’s Favourite Food for Friends, 2005 -  Gill and Macmillian)

This is a delicious paté that makes a little smoked salmon go a long way. Left-over scraps of smoked salmon are perfect for it, and it will keep for a week in the fridge, I love it  on crusty white of brown bread or crackers. It is also lovely served on little crostini for a party.

100g (4oz) good smoked salmon
50g (2oz) cream cheese
150g (6oz) crème fraiche
1 tbsp lemon juice
pepper, and tiny pinch of salt
1tsp chopped fennel – optional

In a food processor, whiz up the smoked salmon, then add the cream cheese and the créme fraiche. Empty into a bowl and fold in the lemon juice, salt (you might not need any), pepper and chopped fennel, if using.

NOTE: Sometimes I fry 50g (2oz) sliced or chopped smoked salmon in ½ tsp butter for 1 minute, till it is cooked; put it on a plate to cool. When it’s cool, I flake it up with a fork and fold it into the paté. This makes a really good, slightly rustic Smoked Salmon Paté.

Google and Maman Poulet might be your friends

Lots of searches ending up here this morning for Rachel Allen’s recipe for Smoked Salmon Pate. This must have been on her programme on the BBC before lunch today.

Now I don’t have the recipe on the blog but might be tempted to type it up if you leave a comment in the comments section! (Have not read or opened the book since I got it for Christmas)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Tenacious blogging

One of the wonders of blogging that I most enjoy is that one click and you are very far away or maybe very closeby in terms of enjoying and identifying and learning from a blog author. So today I clicked on Queerfilter (a lgbt blog aggregator) and clicked on a random link and ended up here.

One Tenacious Baby Mama blogs from Canada, the blog description reads
this is a critical, anti-oppression, anti-authoritarian, sex positive, Black conscious, queer, feminist pregnancy and birth blog from hell. a multi- faceted message in a bottle set adrift by a pregnant lefty prepped to birth a new future in plain sight.
Its great stuff, the picture wallpaper makes it hard to read. This post on the passing of Coretta Scott King caught my eye in particular.  I will be back to read more.

Post of the week

There’s a new kind of black person that’s supposed not to complain about racism anymore because it’s considered un-American and a downer, who can comfortably be a warmonger, an enthusiastic capitalist at any price. In some contexts, to talk about racism these days is almost as rude as eating with your mouth open or farting in public. This new black person can easily vote for Bush, can talk about making money and not flinch about where the money comes from, can be gay and conservative, and can have contempt for other black people, calling them lazy and unwilling to work. He believes the only problem with our schools is black children unwilling to learn; she convinces herself that the reason for an economic crisis in America is poor people who aren’t willing to face reality and help themselves.

Max Gordon marks Black History Month in the US writing for his blog and Saipience Magazine, (an online magazine for black gay men) about the fact than many black people don’t think racism is a problem anymore  – It’s worth reading every syllable. (If you wish to read more of Max’s writing out check out his blog profile – he seems to open a new blog for each article? – I particularly like this article on Mary Cheney, outing and the word ‘lesbian’. )

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Smash Hits smashed

I am supposed to be on light house cleaning induced blogging but I could not let this go unremarked. Next week sees the publication of the last issue of Smash hits. The Guardian reports that changes in the needs and opinions of the discerning 11 to 14 year old girl readership mean that there were less tribal followings of the magazine which in the past has propped up sales. (East 17 versus Take That which side are you on - that sort of thing.)

Also advertising had changed with a lot less spend by drink and other 'unhealthy' consumables in these magazines. The role of mobile media and the internet is also a factor in the magazines demise. Possibly the demise of the single as a lot to do with its passing - didn't we buy Smash Hits to learn the words as well as ogle the pecs (and other body features) of our fave stars?

The Guardian neglects the significance of the magazines young gay male readership - which was considerable - hidden between the pages of Roy of the Rovers or something else.

Calling the MSM to account and how to do it

There was an interesting lunch at the National Press Club in Washington last week between some prominent bloggers and journalists from the Mainstream Media. Deborah Howell, the ombudsman from the Washington Post, made a surprise appearance at the lunch. You can read accounts of the lunch and subsequent responses here, and here . What is interesting is the hurt expressed by Howell at the response of bloggers and commenters on her blog to her failure to get Wapo writers to correct their assertions that Abramoff made direct donations to Democrat Politicians. (The executive editor of the Washington Post – Jim Brady,  closed the comment section and accused the commenters and bloggers of offensive language and hate/violent speech etc.)  Interesting philosophical point of note – can words be violent?

Jukeboxgrad has an interesting post here on the history of the issue and how it was managed and also lists issues which remain unanswered after the Wapo/Howell/Brady incident. I have to say I am more interested in the incident than the issue which fuelled it – ie. the way in which bloggers and commenters respond to the mainstream media and the way in which the MSM dismisses the blogosphere. The Washington Post have even had a panel on ‘interactivity ethics’!!! God forbid that readers read stuff and bite back!

Whilst the debates between bloggers and representatives of the MSM on which sector is better/more accurate/more objective and indeed bloggers calling journalists to account for their privilege/lack of accountability are not new, I am interested in the way in which the two interact. Given the development of the Irish blogosphere and the impending election here (longest campaign ever) it will be interesting to observe if a similar situation of conflict between the blog world and D’olier St./Talbot Street would ever come to pass.

Irish columnists in MSM rarely blog or have a facility for readers to comment on what they write beyond the letters to the editor page. However I think we are seeing an increase in bloggers taking columnists and their arguments to task – and a good example of this is Fiona’s post on Ronan Mullens latest article.

Women and Politics

This could get as interesting (if not more so) as the women and blogging theme a while back.) Infactah is calling on women to change their attitudes to politics and current affairs and stop watching Sex and the City and the like. Read more here. Oh you are very brave Colm, or very foolish...or neither. :-)More later.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Wonkette returns...

Ana Marie Cox (the orignal wonkette!) returned last night for live blogging of the State of the Union. You can read it here, so much better that watching it.