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where's me country?

Updated: 2017-04-20T17:03:29.269+01:00


Ireland's Media Lens?


From comes news of an Irish experiment akin to the UK's medialens project. Mediabite has the look of 'still under construction' about it but should become an interesting place to go.

Impression is the best form of flattery?

Radio Reminder


If your around with nothing to do listen to Newstalk's Taste programme tonight at 8:45. Ill be on reviewing tomorrow's papers.

Critical Philosophy


In this final semester of my final year, the philosophy and politics courses are weighted toward the recent developments in philosophy etc. Which translates into lots of Derrida, Foucault, Ricouer and "radical" philosophy generally.

I have only been reading it for a week and I wonder (not originally I'm sure) why, for a philosophy of mass emancipation from power and life as a subject, it is so bloody impenetrable to the folk supposed to benefit from its very existence.

I realise that the ideas themselves are never easy as such and their power is in their popularisation by others. I am quite interested in some of these ideas and up for the read, but as a recent review of the Verso series of "Radical Philosophy" suggested, between Jargon and possible western-centric outlook it borders on inaccessible and irrelevant.

Which is a pity.

Radio Appearance


Its getting regular now!! On Newstalk tomorrow on Taste with Fionn Davenport looking at Sunday's front pages. Check it out from 8:45

New Look


The new look is done, thanks the Philip Pankov for the beautful picture. Check his blog out as well as his pictures.

Radio Appearance


I'm due to be on the Wide Angle tomorrow morning on Newstalk. I'll be discussing the politics of the week at around 9:15 with other savoury characters.

Listen live from a Newstalk website.

Shut it you slag


If you havent met them, they are possibly the funniest comedy going. Get it.

Rely on the Youth


Twice this week, it has been driven home to me the value of trusting your youth programme to deliver the goods. Sport is about bringing new talent to the top as much as buying up others top talent and for two massively diverse reasons Munster and Newcastle have done that.

The former, through the pride and confidence of Munster Rugby, has relied on a few new local lads to work out results against Leinster and Connacht. Hurley, Coughlan and (arguably) Manning have show the quality that can be bestowed on a youth system by simply trusting it. Give the young lads the confidence of a team and managers belief and watch the world fall at their feet. I've taken the squids advice and herself (biggest fan I know) has a great present all going well.

Newcastle have a whole team out through injury and the lad David Edgar has come in from the youth team as a right-footed left-back to play fantastically against the in-form winger Ronaldo and score the goal which gave us a 2-2 draw against the Reds. I would have taken it before kick off and after a disappointing Christmas programme, it was a great tonic. Roeder is doing good work with a decimated side and UEFA cup qualification is the best hope for the premiership. He has been forced to trust Huntingdon and Edgar before time (a fate which saw Chopra leave for Cardiff in the long run). Yet alongside Ramage and Taylor the boys suggest that Newcastle may enjoy in a few seasons (for the first time in a decade) a defence worthy of the name.

Youth is where teams are made. While transfers may get you a trophy, youngsters get you success.

West Ham 'Ammered


Predictable headline of the day

Rough ol' Town


I'm a Tralee man myself. Don't know the poor fella who got stabbed but I know the area. I have to say though that I have been travelling back and forth from Dublin to Tralee for nearly three years now thanks to UCD's fabulous Arts programme and I have felt that this place is increasingly dangerous while I haven't felt threatened in the city in ages.

It's hardly just this stretch of countryside that is feeling rougher?

Surely other country towns are becoming typified by violence. Tralee was the first town to have opening hours curtailed by the courts thanks to late-night violence. I have no idea why its happening and as time goes on I have become more distant from the place but nights out here get rougher and news stories get worse.

I am sure a long pontificating post on rural social psychology beckons but I am simply confused by the rapidly changing complexion of my (and presumably others) town as the economy continues to grow. The aggression seems to have turned much nastier. Or am I just getting older?

The Death Penalty


I cant say I have ever been madly disposed to the death penalty, and for me the execution of Saddam represents the most extreme test of the logic of those for and against it. It should transcend the issues which divide people on the Iraq war itself, it goes beyond the questions of legality, ethics, foreign policy and any other angle that people take on the war itself.Those are big questions, agreed, but the idea behind the death penalty is, at heart, far more important. It occurs to me that within the death penalty, we have the general capacity to wage war made particular. As a polity, we are generally seen as conferring on our states the right to wage war in our defence, as far as non-democratic regimes are concerned the lines of authority are quite short and the right to wage war is quite liberally engaged irrespective of the considerations of the wider population. So far nothing new.Consider for a moment though, that in effect the state is given the right to kill as many (or, less often, as little) people as it sees fit in order to achieve its (or our) aims. The relationship however between the killing within the war and the legitimation that is notionally conferred on such wars is often quite blurry. Rarely are we confronted by the lost life, the relatives of the dead or the people who live through the dreadful reality of warfare (and that includes soldiers, press and officers).The state's capacity to dispense death in a war is so broad, so general, that our legitimation of its acts rarely impacts upon us as an act we have sanctioned. Rather it comes to be seen as an inevitable act, in which we merely have observer status. There are surely deep psychological tomes on whether this is a necessary response to the gruesome reality of death or, perhaps more likely, the accurate grasp of reality.The core point remains however that the right to wage war passes from the multitude to the elite in such a fashion that the multitude feel almost no involvement in decisions resulting in war and death. The diversity of casualties and the gravity of war makes it the most contentious thing a democracy can consider engaging in. Yet at the same time it is wrapped in concepts so abstract and practices so general that the translation between the field of battle (be it a city, plain or village) and the people can often break down. The whole thing is simply too big.Yet in the death penalty, the difficulty which surrounds the whole notion of war is neatly transcended thanks to a number of key issues. Foremost among them is the fact that only one is intended to die. In this we now put a face on that which we are allowing the state to destroy. It is impossible to "know" Iraq in any personal sense, it is an entity comprised of a network of people, acts, institutions, cultures etc, yet we may know Saddam. (At this point I want to make clear I'm not defending him, just exploring the issue)Here is where we employ all of the ideas of 'other-ness' and empathy for which human nature is so rightly famed. Within this situation we have distilled the states right to wage death away from the general, unknowable realm of complex entities such as nation-states, to a person. We are not here dealing with the issue of bombing a whole country but of putting a person to death and for that it is almost as powerful an idea.The one who stands before an executioner faces a states power as much as the person caught in a missile attack. It has been decided that today is their day to die and it is has notionally been our function to sanction this. We have done so broadly, committing to the idea. In the case of war it is rare that the idea becomes flesh to any full extent. There are snatches of personality, snatches of stories but almost as a rule, war remains abstract and general. It is discussed in[...]

Reading Contemporary Books


I am planning on doing one of the reviews for Donagh, but I too struggle to recall the books read this year printed in recent times. As soon as exams finish I cant wait to read something contemporary.

If any family are reading this, the Cedar Lounge has a wonderful list of items to choose from.

Everyone's Doing the Oxfam Thing


(As noted elsewhere) They have done a viral marketing video for their shop. It might not be viral but it's a good idea.

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Theme In Progress


Updating the theme, any major bugs let me know.

Like Returning from a Long Journey


I arrive home again. You'll no doubt have noticed this place is up on blocks, can't be helped, and that my contributions to irishelection are of the negligible kind.

I reckon its time to dust this place down since studying for finals is driving me mad. My brain is just about melted and I haven't even begun to get rid of my own mind yet. For all of you deeply concerned at my absence from here, study is going ok. I finished lectures on friday, have two weeks to my first exam (3 in total-all in politics).

Looking forward to some sleep.

This place is likely to become a small respository of thoughts and rantings over the coming months, hopefully I can keep it off mothballs for a while.

ALSO, thanks to Philip for the use of the above photo, I promise to fix the lettering soon.

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On the Radio


Tonight at around 8:45 on Newstalk reviewing tomorrow's papers.

Iraq Inquiry


The want an inquiry into Iraq, let me just save them a little bit of effort.

"The high commanders, drawn from the aristocracy could never prepare for modern war. The have always clung to obsolete methods and weapons because they inevitably saw each war as a repetition of the last. Before the Boer war they prepared for the Zulu war, before 1914 for the Boer war and before our present war for 1914. Event at this moment, hundreds of thousands of english men are being trained with a bayonet, a weapon entirely useless except for opening tins"
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn, 1941.

One could fairly suspect little has changed and that the US could be just as bad.

What Can Bloggers Do?


Damien has responded to my own post at, I like the idea of getting Damien Blake to number one on Google for Fianna Fail, we ought try that. Or the Disillusioned Lefties to number one for the Progressive Democrats. He also has some great ideas for what we can do, and I'll be honest I am only now beginning to realise that bloggers can, and most likely will, have some impact on the next election (although quantifying the impact is not really possible at this stage).

Here are some of my own ideas and I would like others to weigh in here, what if anything, can the actions we prosecute here achieve? Personally I see two levels at which Irish blogging should operate, transparent journalism-reportage of bias and with a point of view. We have opinions and we believe in certain things, our strength is wearing this on our sleeves. We can autocritique reporting because we know things. Blogs are tool for transparency which anyone can use. And the fact-checking element of blogs is something key. I think we are hampered here by two things;

1) There is a great deal of recent data online relating to Irish politics and affairs, but a dearth exists on historical material (unlike the US for example). This hampers some attempts at information gathering.

2) Second is broadband rollout, this affects consumption and participation with blogs and we ought recall what Richard Delevan told us on Saturday-broadband corrodes everything it touches. It can mobilise that critical mass required to garner momentum and strip away the sclerosis of old politics, making both old and new mobile and responsive.

There is a lot of interest (on my end and on the part of politicians) in live blogging. Following them around for a day may not seem all that fun but liveblogging the day brings to light what is truly being said on the doorstep and as Damien points out, we get to assess the time-poverty of politicians. I think it offers huge scope for all of our bloggers in all parts of the country.

What use can organised parties make of this? Is there a Howard Dein out their waiting to mobilise an entire party behind one or other cause? I dont doubt there is a few. Its more than intention though, he has to have luck and timing. The best response in this country has clearly been from Labour (close call with the Greens also good) though that could all change if the other parties got their act together. None have truly gotten on the bandwagon full-time. PDs are badly advised to consider this a waste of time, unless they are deliberately fostering that image of aloofness from the heaving masses body politik.

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The All Ireland. Another Kerry Victory






Roy Keane - New Sunderland Manager?


So sayeth the ever crap Rob Macafferty on Sky Sports.

And the excellent F365 Forummers, any chance of the ol Mackems singing "who was Mick McCarthy"? Just for the irony?

Didnt read the book, sure I remember him slagging Quinn off though

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Wagging The Dog


New blog on the block-not another politics blog!!!

I want to Write About the Leb


I really do. Every night the heart and soul is getting ripped out of the middle east. Last night raises the horrors of past atrocities in Lebanon. We are seeing dangerous willingness to use massive, devastating force against civilians. Innocent women children and men. I refuse to accept that their proximity geographically to Hezbollah makes them in some way complicit. That was the same argument that the black and tans used to terrorise this countryside.

I, like others, want to link to the pictures of children being carried out of their homes, their beds. The last image of a life that has been snuffed out. I cant do it. Their deaths stand as testimony to the worst excesses of war. The complete destruction of the human spirit which occurs in both the victims and the soldiers. Human nature is completely deformed by violence.

Its madness, its criminal and it has to stop.

That we need more violence to ensure a "lasting peace" is both an abuse of logic, morality and language. You need peace to have lasting peace.

I was kindly quoted earlier for a point I want to reiterate over and over;

I think the following from the Beirut Daily Star should be borne in mind by everyone who is watching in horror the unfolding attacks on the civilians in Lebanon.

    Lebanese civilians, who have absolutely no control over the events that are unfolding, and who once again find themselves in the eye of the storm, are now bracing for the very worst. Their darkest fear is that as they helplessly repeat the act of watching history unfold on their land, this time the promise of Lebanon’s resurrection will itself become history.

The soldiers have been taken by Hamas and Hizbollah. Now it is the citizens of both countries that are paying the price. Collective punishment is illegal under Geneva Conventions. In refusing to accept the premise that by simply being lebanese or palestinian one is a terrorist, we must accept that the path to peace lies nowhere near the escalation of violence.

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Question for the Arty Bloggers: Cultural Consumption


Sounds like Im about to get arty and intellectual, well its a challenge to the genuine culture vultures of this blogosphere. Is culture consumed? Or is it existed. Personally I hate the notion of cultural consumption, as if it is some static bought-off-the-shelf commodity rather than the historical emergence of people, ideas, materials, life and contingency.

To all bloggers with an interest in culture etc (not just the ones above since they fit the number of words) I am challenging you serious types to give me a better answer.

EDIT: To satiate your curiosity, its inspired by the blurb for this article at opendemocracy.

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Lebanon and Palestine


I think the following from the Beirut Daily Star should be borne in mind by everyone who is watching in horror the unfolding attacks on the civilians in Lebanon.

Lebanese civilians, who have absolutely no control over the events that are unfolding, and who once again find themselves in the eye of the storm, are now bracing for the very worst. Their darkest fear is that as they helplessly repeat the act of watching history unfold on their land, this time the promise of Lebanon's resurrection will itself become history.

The soldiers have been taken by Hamas and Hizbollah. Now it is the citizens of both countries that are paying the price. Collective punishment is illegal under Geneva Conventions. In refusing to accept the premise that by simply being lebanese or palestinian one is a terrorist, we must accept that the path to peace lies nowhere near the escalation of violence.

Thoughts too with MacDara in the Leb.

This Deliberative Democracy Lark


A while back I spent some time writing about deliberative democracy. A lot of what i was writing was prompted by the work of James Fishkin. The FT Magazine had a piece on his work bringing democracy back to the people and decentralising it in a meaningful and effective way today. If your not familiar with his work or notions of democracy beyond voting give it a go.

Im hoping for a longer post later on how we might use it in Ireland. Promises promises.

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