You hear lots of stuff about how utterly inadequate, mismanaged and generally shambolic the Irish health service is. Those stories are unfortunately true, the experiences of my direct family speak to that. That’s why I was so pleasantly surprised by Naas General Hospital this morning. I’m suffering from a very bad chest infection at the moment which my doctor fears has developed into pneumonia. So he sent me to Naas for a chest X-Ray. I got there at 8:40, was seen by 9:10 and on my way home by 9:20. The place was clean, efficiently run and the staff were very nice. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I’d gone in expecting the worst, that’s why I had my laptop, 3G card and iPod with me. As it happens I barely had time to check my email!

Lets hope this is a sign of the things to come and not just an isolated case of efficiency in the Irish health system.

[tags]Ireland, healthcare[/tags]

It actually brightened my day a bit to see that the Australian PM has apologised to the Aboriginal people for their abuse at the hands of previous governments. Here’s the money quote:

“We apologize for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.”

I really hope we see more of this kind of thing. I really wish the British royal family and government would do the same with regard to Ireland. Particularly for the penal laws and the famine they caused by taking all the grain grown in Ireland while the Irish people starved due to the failure of potatoes. There is still a lot of resentment of the English bubbling away under the surface here in Ireland. As an immigrant I didn’t understand this at first but each time I ask why I get the same answer, that the English did terrible things here for which they have never apologised. My argument would have been that no one alive today actually did any of these terrible things. However, the institutions that did are still with us, and the leaders of those institutions need to apologise for the past sins of the institution they represent. This is particularly true in the case of the monarchy which is a hereditary system. Within an aristocratic system the great deeds of ancestors entitle you to privilage, so, if you inherit the glory you should also inherit the sins.

I very much doubt I’ll live to see the English apologise, but it would be nice.

What is it with the RIAA that they believe that the way to get more customer loyalty is to sue their customers? Do they think people LIKE being sued? How exactly does criminalising, alienating, and literally prosecuting your customers possibly help business? I know record chiefs are out of touch with reality some what but the RIAA seem to be from an entirely different planet. They just don’t get it. I thought I’d seen it all, but I was wrong. Now the RIAA are litigating against people who rip CDs they bought legally for purely personal use. That, apparently is now also illegal and worthy of the RIAA’s wrath. Yup, us nice people who pay for our music and want to put it on our MP3 players are now targets for litigation too. Man, I can really feel my love for the music industry growing. For more check out this article from the Washington Post.

[tags]RIAA, ass-hats[/tags]

As I write this I’m on holidays in Belgium with my family and I’ve made it my business to find out as much as I can about both the current political crisis in Belgium and the long history behind this crisis reaching right back to the formation of Belgium in 1830. Ultimately the big question has to be whether or not we are seeing the beginning of the end of Belgium, at least as we know it. Although I did most of my growing up in Ireland and consider myself to be Irish in many ways, I was not born either in Ireland of from even one Irish parent. Instead I was born in Belgium from two Belgian parents, or, to be more precise, in Flanders from two Flemish parents. It’s important that you know this because despite my best efforts some Flemish bias will probably creep into this article.

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There was a time when I was one of those freedom of speech nuts who felt I had a right to stick my ore in everywhere, including the comments on other people’s blogs. You know, confusing the non-existent right not to be edited on other people’s websites with the right to free speech. Thankfully I’ve grown up a bit in recent years. Freedom of speech is very important, absolutely vital, but it does not include a right to effectively deface other people’s expressions of their right to free speech with your own rantings. As long as people are free to set up their own blogs you will have true freedom of speech. Don’t just take my word for that. Far wiser people than I have come to the same conclusions. The following articles make interesting reading:

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I recently watched a documentary about the events of 9-11 which looked at a group of people you never hear talked about any more. I remember them because these people did get mentioned in some early live broadcasts as that terrible day’s events were begining to un-fold. However, in the hours and days that followed they were mentioned less and less. And now, over five years on, they are almost never mentioned at all. They seem to have been wiped from our collective memories of that day and to mention them has almost become a taboo, particularly within America. I am talking about ‘the jumpers’, those people who were trapped above the impact zone of both towers with no hope what-so-ever of escape who appear to have taken their destiny into their own hands, and jumped. The documentary was called “The Falling Man” or something like that, and it was all about a picture of one of these people snapped by a photographer which was given that caption. That one picture came to represent all those who appear to have jumped. The falling man became their icon.

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People didn’t seen averse to my posting links to interesting articles I’d recently read so here’s another batch to tickle your fancy. These range from serious and thought-provoking to playful and humorous.

  • We’ll start with a thought-provoking article about Linux. This is one that some of you are bound to disagree with but I think Walt Mossberg is right, Linux is getting better but it’s not yet ready for novice users – Linux’s Free System Is Now Easier to Use, But Not for Everyone
  • While we’re on the topic of technology I came across a fantastic essay by one of my hero’s Stephen Fry on smart phones. I had no idea Stephen was such a technophile! This is a very long but a very well written, thoughtful, and humorous look at why none of the supposed iPhone killers actually are iPhone killers – Device and Desires
  • Before we more on to other matters here’s one more technology article. One I find rather humorous. According to Steven Frank from Panic Software Macs make better Windows machines than regular PCs! – Macs Really Do Run Windows Better
  • Now on to a totally different subject, light pollution. I came across a fantastic article about it in the New Yourker this week. That article is long, but very well written and touches off all the issues including energy savings, the ways in which much modern ‘security’ lighting actually helps the criminals and of course the wonders of the night sky which we are depriving our selves of needlessly – The Dark Side
  • Finally, some light entertainment in the form of a fantastic parody of the last Harry Potter book – Potterdammerung

A lot of other bloggers do posts where they just list interesting articles they’ve read. It’s not something I’ve really considered before. However, I’ve recently started coming across some excellent articles that I think are worth sharing. So, I’m gonna give it a go. Consider this a trial. If you’re a regular reader let me know whether or not you’d be interested in reading more posts like this one by leaving a comment.

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I get very grumpy when a person who has spread hate and misery in the name of God dies and people suddenly feel the need to say all sorts of nice things about him and pretend he never blamed 911 on gays and pagans. It’s OK not to be sad when some people die! Not all people are good! Some people are right royal sh*ts! And I’m not going to pretend to be sorry to see the back of them! Anyhow, I could rant on and on about all the really crappy things Gerry Falwell has done in the name of a supposedly loving God but I know I could never do it as well as Bill Maher, so I’ll let him do it 🙂

Well, what with the election being just around the corner the door-step brigade are out in force. I just had Fine Gael at the door and can’t believe their ineptitude. These people sure didn’t leave me with the impression that they had the where-with-all to run the country. Here’s how the exchange went:

Me: So why should I vote for Fine Geal?

Fine Gael: Ah … sure why not?

Me: *stare in amazement*

Had they been able to follow that up with any sort of real answer I wouldn’t mind. But instead they just gave me some literature. When I started asking questions they looked at their copy of the register, realised that only one male was registered to vote in the house, and that he was a Fine Gael member. They then got suspicious and stopped answering us! Instead they then asked to speak to people by name. I pointed out that none of them lived here anymore. They told us we obviously couldn’t vote because we weren’t on the register. I pointed out that all it meant was that we would not be voting in this constituency but they didn’t seem to care. They couldn’t get away quick enough.

All in all a poor show. What makes parties think that sending out plebs with no ability to discuss policies with potential voters around to smile and make small-talk will win votes?

[tags]Ireland, Politics, General Election, Fine Gael[/tags]

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