Thursday, November 23, 2006

Irish Living

Number 1: There's a European Court case going on at the moment (today) which could end up giving a judgment that people buying alcohol or tobacco in other European countries should only pay the duty of THAT country, and not their own. Basically it will mean, if it passes, that you could order cartons of cigarettes from Latvia, where they are 7 times cheaper than here, and have them delivered without having to pay excise. Or you could order bottles of vodka from Spain, where they cost a third of the price, and have them sent to your over-priced Irish home. You can buy crates of wine from France, where they are about an eight of the price, and have it all delivered without having to pay our over-the-top Irish duty. So fingers crossed on that judgment, eh? Of course, all the governments are arguing the case on health grounds - i.e., it's detrimental to people's health to have access to that much drink and cancer-sticks, so they're only protecting us from ourselves by charging such high prices!!

Nothing to do with the 2 billion a year Ireland makes on alcohol and ciggies duty, oh no!

Number 2: The M50 was so bad last night that people were abandoning their cars and peeing in ditches, or running out of petrol and having to just leave the car! One person took three hours to get three miles. Another woman, who I heard on the radio, left Clondalkin at 5.10, and got to her house in Bray at 8.45 that night. How nuts is that?!?! People were going absolutely crazy, and it was all because of a hole in the road to fix a burst water main.........'emergency' works, that just HAD to be done at rush hour!!
Even though they knew about it Tuesday evening.

They informed the GardaĆ­, but didn't think to tell AA roadwatch or the radio stations, so that people could be warned to avoid the area.

There'll be murder over this!! When will this country catch on to the continental/better way of doing things – roadworks during the night, when there’s no mental traffic!! How much traffic-jams/sanity/deaths would THAT save?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I'm a terrible person.

I wonder does anyone else play psychological games on public transport, to while away the boring commute? You know the kind – a crowded Luas/Train/Bus, and people start to get a little antsy. The leaner – the ignorant git who refuses to hold on to any bar, and just leans against your back. I like to allow the leaning, and then step suddenly to the side. They stumble backwards, and look embarrassed…success. I also enjoy the seat-race, when a seat becomes free equidistant from you and the opposition, and a race-that-pretends-not-to-be-a-race begins as you both move nonchalantly towards it. I could go on, but you get the gist of my sad little world, and that’s really not what this moan is about.

I travel the Luas – Sandyford line, the nightmare run. I’m about to say something terrible, something that will have most people thinking I am a prejudice toad – but this is my only section-of-society-that-I-can’t-stand flaw, I swear! I have a thing about Southsiders…I dislike them on sight, and they are ‘guilty until proven innocent’ as far as being decent people is concerned. I have friends who would be considered Southsiders, but it took some time for us to actually make it to friendship – some time, and some serious effort!

Now, I’m not talking about people from the South of Dublin when I say Southsiders, because ‘Southsiders’ can come from anywhere outside of this postal code – Smithfield, Swords, Wicklow Town, Meath. I’m talking about that West-Brit class of people who say ‘Dort’ instead of Dart, ‘Gorda’ instead of Garda and consider six inches of make-up, heavily-straightened-then-tousled hair, orange tan, and Ugg boots with O’Neills tracksuits the height of style. Those morons typified by their slavish regard for labelled clothes, and their air of money. The type of people who talk very loudly to each other about Fiachra and Marie-Claire, and what they got up to at this, like, totally crazy party they all went to Sunday night. The ones who buy SUV’s for a life in the centre of the city, and proceed to cause traffic every morning by driving their precious one child half a mile to school. Where does this accent come from? What is wrong with their brains that they can’t get past the most superficial of conversation topics? Why do they consider the GHD to be a must-have in any make-up bag?

I have to stand with them every day on the Luas, people who make my skin crawl with their total disregard for world events, or even for happenings in their own country. So sickeningly benign in their superficial lives, they look forward to a life of ease – prep school, followed by Trinners-for-Winners, followed by a year out to travel (paid for by Daddy) so that they can, like, totally see the world, you know? and really live like common people, followed by marriage to a surgeon/dentist/financier/stockbroker for the women, or blond, fake-tanned, lady-what-lunches for the men. It’s a world that beggars my belief totally – how someone can move through life so totally convinced of their own importance, yet contributing nothing to the world around them. Paying lip service to charity and democracy, while simultaneously slipping bribes to the council to add a second extension to their house, and pricing the rest of us out of the property market by buying third and fourth homes. Their world is one of selfishness and artifice, and they will be first against the wall when the revolution comes.

And then I won’t have to squash up next to them on my Luas journey.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Funny thing is, I'm not even afraid of spiders

The Story of my Morning

Alarm goes off at 5.50, I turn it off and go back to sleep. Alarm goes off at 6.00. I wake up, lay in bed thinking 'God, it's getting late, I'd better get up since I still have to wash my hair'.

Alarm goes off at 6.05, and I am pleasantly surprised, because I thought it was later.

Get towel, and go up to the bathroom. Have a bath in bathroom, with shower, so that you can kneel beside the bath and just wash your hair with the shower head when you are too lazy/cold/frightened to have a full shower.

This is my plan.

Bunch of towels lying over the bath from previous users. One of them is lying inside the bath, and will get wet if I wash my hair. I grab this offending towel with just a touch of annoyance and pull it out of the bath. HUGE black thing flips into the air and nearly lands on me, but just misses and falls back on the rest of the towels. I look down to see what it is. At the precise moment where screeching horror music would kick in, I see that it's a GIGANTIC black spider...and I mean huge! Pretty much the same size, if not bigger, than the one that almost knifed me in my sitting room a few weeks ago.

The kind of spider that looks like it traps small aeroplanes in its web instead of flies.

I let out a blood-curdling scream but, since my parents dwell in a completely different part of the house, nobody comes to my rescue. I go to get a magazine to kill the spider, even though it would be like swatting a small dog. I return to the bathroom and stand on the toilet so that he can't run out of the towels, over my bare feet, and up my pyjama leg. I have the distinct impression that if this were to happen, I might actually die of panic. I try to swat him with the magazine, but the towels are cushioning the blow, and I can't get a clear hit. It seems like I'm just angering him. Suddenly, one of my whacks glances, and he bounces off, nearly landing on the toilet with me. I slip in my efforts not to let his hairy leggy body touch me, and nearly fall off the toilet, which suddenly seems unnaturally high.

I can't take it anymore. I throw all the towels onto the ground in a wild hysteria, with him hopefully trapped in their folds, then give the soft bundle a few quick stamps. I manically intake breath, then run out of the bathroom and slam the door, never to return.

I am forced to take a shower in my parents en suite.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Bono the Tax Avoider? Who needs a superhero name...!!

Courtesy of

"Bono, Tax Avoider: The hypocrisy of U2"

A familiar paradox about leftist celebrities in the entertainment industry is that their embrace of progressivism almost never includes a wholehearted embrace of progressive taxation, i.e., the principle that the richer you get, the larger the percentage of your income you ought to pay in taxes. The latest example is U2's Bono, a committed and unusually sophisticated anti-poverty crusader who is taking surprisingly little heat for the decision by his band, U2, to relocate its music-publishing business from Ireland to the Netherlands in order to shelter its song writing royalties from taxation.

The irony was stated in admirably stark terms by Bloomberg's Fergal O'Brien, who reported on Oct. 16:

Bono, the rock star and campaigner against Third World debt, is asking the Irish government to contribute more to Africa. At the same time, he's reducing tax payments that could help fund that aid.

"Preventing the poorest of the poor from selling their products while we sing the virtues of the free market ... that's a justice issue," Bono said at a prayer breakfast attended by President Bush, Jordan's King Abdullah, and various members of Congress earlier this year. Preaching this sort of thing has made Bono a perennial candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. He continued:

Holding children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents ... that's a justice issue. Withholding life-saving medicines out of deference to the Office of Patents ... that's a justice issue.

And relocating your business offshore in order to avoid paying taxes to the Republic of Ireland, where poverty is higher than in almost any other developed nation? Bono's hypocrisy seems even more naked when you consider that Ireland is a tax haven for artists. In June 2005, Bono (who was born in Dublin) told the Belfast Telegraph:

Our publishing, which is about one third of our income, we have tax breaks on, and that's great and that's encouraged us to stay in Ireland and if that changes, it's not going to affect anything for U2. ...

Six months later, Ireland's finance minister announced a ceiling of $319,000 on tax-free incomes, and six months after that, U2 opened its Amsterdam office. The relocation of U2's music publishing will halve taxes on the band's song writing royalties, which already reportedly total $286 million. Although Bono has declined to comment on the move, the band's lead guitarist, David "the Edge" Evans, said, "Of course we're trying to be tax-efficient. Who doesn't want to be tax-efficient?'" Writing in the Observer, Nick Cohen noted that Evans "sounded as edgy as a plump accountant in the 19th hole."

U2's tax-shelter scheme caused uproar in Ireland when the story broke there in August. But it's scarcely raised a ripple in the United States. A conservative would argue that's because in this country, we don't begrudge a man the opportunity to keep what he earns off the sweat of his brow (or even off the sweat of someone else's brow) ... even if that man spends half his time trying to goad governments into spending more to alleviate poverty. But a liberal could answer that in the United States, we are so used to seeing rich people avoid taxation that even a wealthy hypocrite who shelters his cash abroad can no longer qualify as news.

Posted November 4, 2006