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Thursday, October 13, 2011

The headline should really have been... um...

Getting the Irish Times via RSS as I do, I occasionally suffer some slight bemusement when I see a headline without context (I've sort-of mentioned this phenomenon previously). The headline on this particular occasion — Over 51,000 illegal drugs seized — caused confusion for slightly different reasons; I just assumed (but wasn't entirely sure) that it was a bad headline.

"Pah!" quoth I to no one in particular. "Fifty thousand drugs? Surely not. They must mean €50 000 worth of drugs, or perhaps fifty thousand, er..."

Okay, that's why they did it. There was no pithy way (that sprung to my mind) of saying "tablets or other similar items". The nearest I could manage was "units of illegal drugs", and that could generously be described as "inelegant" in the context of a headline.

So the sub ed failed in his job, and gave us a crappy headline.

Except he didn't.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I agree with The Bloodhound Gang

Did you know about google's ? I just found out myself, but it could well have been around for a while. It's a fascinating page, and one that lets our searchy friends help us find out all about topics that we love. Try it out. I'll wait.

So you're back... welcome. Now that you've typed in 'unicorns' or whatever the hell it is that you like, you're probably quite impressed. The thing is, though, you're probably wondering what other people are typing in. Because those others are on the internet. And that in all probability means that they're horrible, horrible people.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Your Majesty is Like a Stream of Bat's Piss

The Irish Times has a breaking news RSS feed that, I must confess, is quite annoying; sports results count as breaking news these days. In terms of Irish news it's far from the worst; that accolade belongs to and its insistence on including drivel about celebrity diets in its top stories. But the sports thing annoys me, inasmuch as I have practically no interest in sport.

I say 'practically' as I periodically watch Formula 1 Grands Prix. Every once in a while I'll watch the entire season, and possibly keep it up for three years or so. I almost did this year, but as soon as the first race was over the result made it into the headline. The fucking headline. The thing I see which makes me decide whether I'll read the story.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I don't care

So LOL has made it into the dictionary. BFD.

I have a lot of problems with LOL as an acronym (or, for the minority, an initialism), but as for making it into the dictionary, it was inevitable. The BBC tells us that language purists are up in arms, but what does that tell us? That language purists are dicks? We all knew that already.

What's Wrong with Dog Day Afternoon?

Sidney Lumet died yesterday (as I write this). He's made some great films over the years, including Serpico, Network, The Anderson Tapes and many others that I really enjoyed.

Yet when IMDB reported his death, at the time of this typing 3,000 people had clicked the facebook 'like' button.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Game the Whole Family Can Play

I've recently discovered an interesting game, and one that I've been playing for a while now without realising it. It's best played with an RSS feed, but there's a simpler version, too, suitable for younger readers.

The source of this game is the rather entertaining Out of Context Science, which offers a highly selective quote from various papers or articles. The game? Just guess what the quote refers to.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Soon... Soon...

A couple of news stories that seem entirely unrelated caught my eye in the last day or so. In one of its increasingly-frequent moments of press-release-publishing vacuity, reports that... well, just read the headline.

It's nonsense, of course. The very words 'online survey' are enough to confirm that. The only distressing part of the story is that it seems that 67% of respondents took it seriously. But why is it nonsense? Why shouldn't we treat it seriously? The country has a long history of believing such things. In fact, in the introduction to his Book of Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry published a little over a hundred years ago, WB Yeats recounts his asking a Sligo man if he believed in fairies. "Sure, amn't I annoyed with them", was the answer.

Even today, such beliefs still exist, but for most people the belief is in a magic man who lived two thousand years ago rather than wee folk sitting on pots of gold. There is some hope, though.

The BBC is reporting that Ireland is one of nine countries in which religion will in time become extinct. One's first thought is, of course, that in time it should become extinct everywhere; we can only assume that they mean the relatively near future. Reading the paper they cited (pdf) was to a certain extent futile for one as lacking in erudition as I, but I was able to glean a certain amount from it; enough that I think they were being optimistic, but not overly so. Furthermore, in the specific case of Ireland, there are also other reasons for thinking that it might be a distinct possibility.

There's no doubt that the church has always been in a powerful position in Ireland, but it was really only with the advent of the Free State that they were directly able to affect policy (one thinks immediately of Dev and his relationship with Archbishop John Charles McQuaid). And although their behind-the-scenes power gradually decreased, it's really only since the turn of the millennium that they've seen their temporal -- not to mention moral -- authority diminish significantly.

And now we find ourselves in a position where Fianna Fáil, a party that's corrupt to its core, yet one that has ruled more or less continuously since the days of De Valera, has been eviscerated. Curiously, this was only peripherally related to their pernicious greed, and more to do with their staggering incompetence.

Could the church suffer a similar fate? It certainly deserves to. As more and more details of their atrocities come out, it becomes more and more obvious that any hand-wringing or mealy-mouthed apologies are intended only to save the church's position (or 'special position', as the constitution had it until 1972). If the details hadn't become so public via the church's many victims, would it have volunteered them? The can hardly be a single individual in the state who thinks it would.

And so, coupled with the appetite for change (genuine change, and not the vacuous change espoused by the former opposition), there's the distinct possibility that the rate of abandonment will accelerate. The generation currently in school could well be the last to grow up in a state where the church controls most primary and secondary education, where the church is seen as an arbiter of morality rather than a malevolent organisation dedicated to the protection of rapists, where the prevailing thought is "suffer little children to come unto me" rather than simply "suffer, little children".

All this is cold comfort, of course, to the church's thousands of victims. Enlightenment was always going to come at a price, but it's unlikely that even the most pessimistic expected it to be this high.