Present Tense »

  • Next up, Bosco does Bertie…

    April 28, 2008 @ 10:31 am | by Shane Hegarty

    This is brilliant mash-up between Rainbow and Newsnight’s London mayoral candidates’ debate.

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  • Saturday column: Hopelessly Lost in Lisbon

    April 26, 2008 @ 8:04 am | by Shane Hegarty

    EVERY ONCE IN a while an issue comes along that is of great importance to the State and its citizens, which must be discussed openly and about which the people will ultimately have their say.

    But which just happens to be so dry that people’s eyelids involuntarily droop at the very mention of it, their brains rebel 30 seconds into every debate, and their breath quickens when anyone asks them for their opinion. Because they realise that, yes, it’s a terrifically important issue – it just happens to be really hard to pay attention.

    You’ll have guessed by now that this is a column about the Lisbon treaty. (more…)

  • Disproving the idea that television is worse than it used to be

    April 25, 2008 @ 4:38 pm | by Shane Hegarty

    Two slices of RTÉ’s promos, and the ads it ran, from 1986.

    In the first, gasp at the flecky RTÉ logo, marvel at the way that mime was considered an effective sales technique, be astonished at how the Lucozade ad makes the drink look better than crack cocaine, and weep with nostalgia at how the ad break ends with those cardboard ads that used to be accompanied by a voiceover. Such a shame they’re gone. How else can men’s clothes stores in Birr get a slot on RTÉ TV now? One of these is even crooked. Nice touch.

    In the second, check out the Bank Holiday Monday viewing on RTÉ2. These days, they’d just give you a some sort of Gerry Ryan Hitlist. Gerry Ryan’s Haircut Hitlist or Gerry Ryan’s Property Show Hitlist or Gerry Ryan’s Bad Television Shows Presented By Gerry Ryan Hitlist. Maybe 1986 wasn’t so bad after all.

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  • God: working in ever-mysterious ways

    @ 10:29 am | by Shane Hegarty

    pio.jpgAs you may be aware by now they’ve dug up Padre Pio, given him a bit of plastic surgery, and stuck him on display.

    His face was reconstructed with a lifelike silicone mask of the type used in wax museums because it was apparently too decomposed to show when the body was exhumed.

    “He seems like he is sleeping. Even if they had to re-do the face, its better remembering him this way than looking at a slab of cold marble,” said Domenico Masone, deputy mayor of Pietralcina, the town where Padre Pio was born.

    You know, people say that Scientology is weird, but when you see something like this you realise it just needs time to settle in and become accepted as being as normal/weird as the older religions.

    Although, it’ll have to up its game to corpse-digging levels if it truly wants to compete with the giants.

  • Your DIY guide to Irish etiquette

    @ 9:58 am | by Shane Hegarty

    On an old post about a somewhat bizarre guide to Irish etiquette, Charlton from Singapore has left a comment:

    Hello, I come from Singapore and i’m currently doing an assignment in which i will have to know more about Ireland’s social etiquette. I would greatly appreciate it if any Ireland people could enlighten me on this aspect. Thanks!

    He leaves an e-mail address on the comment, but here’s a chance to compile our own guide to Irish etiquette right here. We’ll split the publisher’s advance 80/20.

    OK, 75/25. I can’t go any lower than that.

    The floor is yours.

  • Teaching journalism

    April 24, 2008 @ 7:12 pm | by Shane Hegarty

    Eoin Bassett has posted a comment in the previous thread on teaching journalism, but he has also posted on his own blog about his experiences of teaching a couple of modules of a part-time Diploma of Journalism. It’s interesting stuff, and while I’m posting an edited chunk here, it’s well worth reading the full post.

    The students:

    I learnt you cannot teach people to write, particularly if they do not read. In fact, you cannot really teach people, you can only facilitate them learning. Talented people, such as those who got published, will generally succeed even if you’re rubbish at teaching, and the untalented will remain pretty much as you found them, though with perhaps a better appreciation of punctuation. (more…)

  • Press release of the day

    @ 12:20 pm | by Shane Hegarty

    Spot the odd one out:

    Host of renowned national and international authors to attend the Irish Book Awards 2008

    Among those confirmed to attend include Gráinne Seoige, Ireland AM’s Sinead Desmond, rugby star Trevor Brennan, budding author Kathryn Thomas, and Man Booker winning author Anne Enright

  • Not drinking up time yet

    @ 10:10 am | by Shane Hegarty

    With no surprise whatsoever, the Government’s new laws on alcohol turn out to be weaker than a non-alcoholic Becks. In fact, this is pretty much the wussiest attempt at dealing with the alcohol problem that could have been managed. A snip at the off-licence hours, a move to remove booze from open sale in convenience stores, a few CCTV cameras outside nightclubs, and a promise to actually enforce legislation already passed that allow on-the-spot fines, and seizing of alcohol on the street.

    And, thankfully, they’re cracking down on theatre licences. Well, by cracking down they mean they’ll make it harder for them to get one. Thank God they’re finally hitting those theatres hard. Dens of iniquity the lot of them. Especially those specialising in early European avant-garde. Louts.

    So, a pointless exercise all round. They listened to the recommendations of the Alcohol Advisory Group, and then went ahead and ignored several of them. The Government goes on about changing this country’s attitude to alcohol, but it’s unable to change its own attitude to publicans and the drinks industry.

    And it means that in a week that a HSE report gave some stark facts about the impact of alcohol in Ireland, the drinks industry will continue its mealy-mouthed defence of itself. It claims it is responsible in all it does, when it continues to target young drinkers through sponsorship and multi-coloured rocket fuel. Frankly, when you have the drink industry and vintners welcoming legislation aimed at tackling the alcohol problem, you can be sure it has nothing to do with their own changing attitudes and more to do with how watered down the legislation is.

  • Laughing at Liverpool’s own goal

    April 23, 2008 @ 2:28 pm | by Shane Hegarty

    The problem with last night’s match was that some of us didn’t know which team we wanted to lose more. But thanks to John Arne Riise’s own goal at the death, neutrals got a good laugh at the end of a turgid game.

    Phil Thompson isn’t neutral, but is an ex-Liverpool legend and can these days be found as one of those strange breed of commentators who watch matches on a hidden screen and relay what’s happening. He was doing it for Sky Sports News last night, and at least one person was watching because Thompson’s priceless reaction to Riise’s goal is now up on YouTube.

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  • And one place to avoid…

    @ 10:22 am | by Shane Hegarty

    Was in Galway last weekend for the first time in over a year, and couldn’t get over how shabby – bordering on crappy – Eyre Square looks.

    It’s only a couple of years since its revamp, which itself caused major disruption to the city. And what’s the result? Balding grass. Wilting, brown shrubbery. An ugly zig-zag of paths. And a terrible, rusty-looking sculpture in a fountain at the top end, which is supposed to be based on the Galway hooker, but from ground level it looks pointless and aged and redolent of the problems of public sculptures which are inoffensive to the point of being bland.

    Maybe it’ll look better as the summer brings out its colour, but right now it’s drab and uninviting and soulless.

  • 16 Irish things to see before you die: Fair City set left off list

    @ 9:11 am | by Shane Hegarty

    The book 1001 Historic Sites You Must See Before You Die has 16 Irish entries. They are:

    Blarney Castle, Co Cork
    Clonmacnoise, Co Offaly
    Derry town walls, Derry
    Dublin Castle
    General Post Office, Dublin
    Grave of WB Yeats, Drumcliff, Co Sligo
    Guinness Brewery, Dublin
    Hill of Tara, Co Meath
    Jerpoint Abbey, near Thomastown, Co Kilkenny
    Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin
    Newgrange, near Drogheda, Co Meath
    Old Jameson Whiskey Distillery, Dublin
    Oscar Wilde’s house, Dublin
    Prospect Cemetery, Dublin
    Rock of Cashel, Co Tipperary
    Trinity College Dublin

    All predictable enough, although I have a soft spot for the Gallarus Oratory in Kerry. And while Trinity makes it, it’s unfair on UCD. That really should be seen before you die, just so you can say you’ve seen the ugliest university campus on the planet.

  • Obama’s rapid reaction force

    April 22, 2008 @ 1:12 pm | by Shane Hegarty

    According to Slate, Barack Obama took only five-and-a-half hours to react to a Hillary Clinton ad this week.

    11: 15 a.m.: Clinton campaign e-mails: “NEW AD: Clinton Campaign Unveils New Ad Asking Voters, ‘Who Do You Think Has What it Takes?’ ”

    4:49 p.m.: Obama campaign e-mails: “AD RESPONSE TO CLINTON FEAR AD”

    His is called: ‘He Has What It Takes’. You can watch them below.
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  • O’Connell St’s ‘Park in the Sky’

    @ 9:20 am | by Shane Hegarty

    carlton.jpgThe Carlton site on Dublin’s O’Connell St, long promised its revamp, has finally got some plans – and the ‘Park in the Sky’ is the headline feature. 13 storeys above street level, the top will be reached by a funicular (“summit” is used in reports, but that’s a bit strong).

    According to Frank McDonald today:

    So there is scope to put in not just one, but two internal streets connecting O’Connell Street with Moore Street and Henry Street.

    At their junction, the tallest element would rise up 13 storeys, with a glazed canopy on the front over a “hydroponic wall” of vegetation similar to what French architect Jean Nouvel did on the Quai Branly in Paris. This would provide green space on an otherwise arid street.

    The internal streets, though covered by a “rainscreen”, would be open to the public 24 hours a day, unlike the malls of a conventional shopping centre. They would also serve the purpose of providing a new route between the Henry Street area and Parnell Square.

    (You can see Nouvel’s scheme here.)

    It looks pretty good on paper, although remains open to the planning laws, construction and Dubliner’s inevitavable attempts to vandalise it. And it could prove to be a revitalisation of O’Connell St. Or yet another plan that will fail to lift a street whose soul has long been blighted by a combination that includes plastic shopfronts, Dr Quirkey’s and chewing gum.

  • The national sport…

    April 21, 2008 @ 11:44 am | by Shane Hegarty

    …is waving at TV cameras. And the RTÉ report from yesterday’s Tipperary v Galway match features a world class display from several individuals, and clearly confirms our place as the world leaders at edging into shot.

    As ever, most of the wavers are kids (including an impressive nipple-rubbing display at the very end), but there is the all-important quota of middle-aged men getting a slice of the action so they can get a cheer in the pub later in the evening.

    Watch it (from exactly 2 minutes in) here.

    Feel your national pride swell.

  • Saturday column: Deathwatch

    @ 9:27 am | by Shane Hegarty

    If you were so inclined, you could get up this morning, turn on the television and watch women giving birth for the rest of the day.

    You would have a selection of channels on which to watch it, and a variety of methods.

    Water births, standing births, Caesarean sections, emergency births, routine births, American births and British births.

    You will not be able to watch deaths. You will not be able to find entire channels dedicated to helping people face up to the end of their life. There are none that offer advice to family or friends; that follow the last moments of the terminally ill so that you might better appreciate how it will be when your time comes. Death happens about 150,000 times a day, and will happen to each of us. But there is no Death Channel. (more…)

  • Microsoft destroys Springsteen’s legacy

    April 17, 2008 @ 8:59 am | by Shane Hegarty

    Brock Landers has pointed us towards this Microsoft internal video about how great Vista SP1 is. The payoff lines:
    “Wow, Microsoft’s sales team rocks!”
    “And we’re gonna keep rockin’ with SP1″

    Dress down Fridays must be a hoot in there.

    Be warned, many PC users may feel a sudden urge to throw their computer out of the nearest window.

    UPDATE: Microsoft says that it is a spoof aimed at “building staff morale”. Not sure where the news is in this, as it’s clearly a spoof. Just a terrible one.

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  • What I learned from the government’s “Preparing for Major Emergencies” booklet

    @ 8:25 am | by Shane Hegarty

    1) The information finally landed through my door this morning, six years after the iodine tablets didn’t. So that’s a good start.

    2) It’s called Preparing for Major Emergencies: An Introduction. Is there a more in-depth course I should be taking? ‘Ebola 101′ or ‘Everything You Wanted To Know About Shoe Bombers But Are Afraid to Ask’.

    3) If an emergency happens, and I pick it up upside down and get the Irish-language version, then I’m in big trouble.

    4) If I study it in Irish, though, do I automatically get a 10 per cent bonus chance of survival?

    5) In most emergencies, you are advised to stay in and listen and watch broadcasts. This is going to be bad for us, but great for RTÉ’s ratings.

    6) Nobody should “attempt heroic rescues in hazardous circumstances”. This is code for: “it’s every man for himself!”.

    7) There is no mention of zombies.

    8 ) I’m taking the piss out of it now, but when my house is struck by a radioactive plane full of Spanish Flu victims, I’ll wish I’d taken it more seriously.

    9) The gist of the booklet: in case of emergency, just seek out Willie O’Dea. He knows what to do.

  • Blowing up Dublin. Again.

    April 16, 2008 @ 8:48 pm | by Shane Hegarty

    As Jazz Biscuit spotted already, there’s been a full follow up to the teaser on YouTube which showed Poolbeg power station being flown into by a plane. It’s made by Luke Leslie and David Lester. If you’re in an office, be warned. As the continuity announcers say, there is bad language in heavy southside accents from the start.

    The short posted after it is also by DLMFilms. Defending Chavez does not blow anything up. In fact it’s only two people arguing about Hugo Chavez.

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  • Good morning, fellow Anglospherish…

    @ 8:23 am | by Shane Hegarty

    From Tory MEP Daniel Hannan’s blog in The Telegraph comes a post, “The Borders of the Anglosphere“:

    The Anglosphere, for anyone who still doesn’t know, is a modern name for the community of free, democratic, English-speaking nations. Where the EU is based on state-to-state accords, the Anglosphere is chiefly formed of organic links between businesses, independent institutions and citizens. The characteristics of the Anglosphere are parliamentary government, free elections, an independent judiciary, a limited state and the common law.

    So, who qualifies? While the borders of Europe are endlessly disputed, there is far less debate about which countries are in the Anglosphere. The US and Canada, obviously, Britain and Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. But then who? Some Commonwealth states qualify on almost all the criteria. Singapore isn’t exactly multi-party, and is a tad authoritarian, but it is clearly a country based on the rule of law and the separation of powers. Sri Lanka gets in, I’d have thought, plus the more stable Carribbean states. Gibraltar, of course, and the Falkland Islands. But all these are tiddlers. Is the Anglosphere white man’s club, with a couple of hangers-on?

    The answer depends on whether we include India. If we do, whites and Christians are a small minority of the Anglosphere population. So, do we?


    It continues here.

  • Reading someone else who’s read Cecelia Ahern so you don’t have to

    April 15, 2008 @ 6:31 pm | by Shane Hegarty

    The consistently brilliant Digested Read in the Guardian picked Cecelia Ahern’s latest book Thanks for the Memories, and the results are typically caustic.

    My heart races when I see him. Suddenly I know all about art history and am fluent in three languages I’ve never spoken before. Could it be that this is the man whose blood was donated to me? Could he be Mr Right?

    “Bejaysus, Joycie,” my da says that evening. “You don’t seem in the slightest bit bothered about acquiring all these new skills.”

    “Don’t let it worry you,” I laugh. “No one ever got poor by overestimating the reader’s intelligence for rom-com chick lit. How else could anyone possibly guess I had been given Justin’s blood unless I acquired some of his characteristics?”

    “You’re right,” he nods. “But how are you feeling about the baby?”

    “What baby? All that matters now is that we go and have a series of ever more improbable near-miss encounters with Justin in Dublin and London before we finally get together.”

    The writer of the Digested Read, John Crace ends it with this:

    “Oh Justin,” I sob, holding him tight. “There’s just so much I don’t understand. Like how someone can get away with a plot as poor as this.”

    Aherns and poor plots? It’s probably something the British don’t understand as well as we do.

    (Thanks to Haggis for the tip-off)

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