Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bloody bloggers

Are bloggers journalists?

I'm not making some egotistical claim to purveyance of the truth, far from it. My blog is an exercise in venting, and if people choose to look at it, so be it.

There are, however, numerous so-called "citizen journalists", inevitably driven by one political agenda or another to put their opinions on display for the edification of others. The Drudge Report, The Huffington Post, even IndyMedia if you're looking for an example closer to home - all of them see themselves as heroic rebels against the "established order" and its vested interests.

That's not to say that their finger-wagging and eagerness to hop aboard the good ship Moral Highground are entirely unfounded aspirations. Yes, of course, mainstream media are riddled with vested interests. Journalists self-censor for fear of their jobs or offending their own political leanings. Objectivity has merely become an excercise into how best to hide one's own personal bias towards a story. Some do so successfully (see The Irish Times), some not so (see every tabloid this side of eternity).

This is where blogs fail fundamentally. Opinion is blogging and blogging is opinion. Bloggers don't make their opinions a secret. It's a spice they gladly add to their concoction.

But is it really a failure? It can be argued that this is what people have come to expect of news, or rather, what they want of their news sources; an opinion which supports their own, or a counter-arguement that they can tut over disapprovingly and remark at what rubbish it is. We don't see news as something to challenge us anymore. We take it as a comfort blanket to re-inforce our own opinions. We're happy in our information provincialism. You'll never catch a liberal reading The Daily Mail, nor will you see the local landlord perusing his copy of The Guardian as he engages on the next leg of his hunt for the local darkies.

So is objectivity the sole characteristic that sets apart journalists and bloggers? Or has it come to a point where it is little more than snobbery on behalf of journalists and indignation on behalf of bloggers?

Sure, aren't we all journalists nowadays?

Clearing out the clutter

Rather than clog this up with my vainglorious attempts at creative writing, I've transferred them to a new blog, Bríosca Briste. You may now breathe a sigh of relief that it's stored away where no-one can find it. As one does with toxic waste.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Germans are a funny sort

Germans can find my letterbox only when they want me to pay them money, it seems.

My European Health Insurance Card has been lost to the ages and my Yeah Yeah Yeahs ticket nearly suffered a similar fate, but for the efforts of one stalwart postman, who managed not to leave the ticket in my letterbox, but rather left me a little blue slip, informing me that the letter containing the prized ticket was mine to have - if I came to pick it up in the post office.

It seems like a set-up which could descend into a cavalcade of hilarious misadventures, but the truth is far more banal. I showed up, signed for the ticket (hence why they couldn't just deliver it to me the old-fashioned way) and I was on my merry way. Karen O in Koln, here I come.

In reference to my opening sentence, that was a misadventure far more whimsical and, well, misadventurous than my Yeah Yeah Yeahs ticket debacle. Cast our minds back to my first week here, nay, my first proper night's sessioning here. Ten shots of an unquantifiable liquid later, and the next thing I know, I'm awake outside the door of my flat, sans clés, impossibly hungover.

One drunken conversation/beration from my Hausmeister later, I've a new set of keys, with the ominous warning that "this is the last key you will get" delivered in broken English. You know, so it sounds far more sinister.

Bed is good, so Eric fall into bed. Eric get knock on door. Keys in hand of nice lady. Bugger.

A week later, the one item of post I've been able to receive successfully since I got here arrives. It's a bill, for €220. Seems they don't take too kindly to losing keys 'round these parts. Alas, this isn't as dramatic as it sounds. I presented the "first they were lost and now they are found" keys to the relevant authorities, and my financial obligation to them was stricken from the record.


there's a great black wave in the middle of the sea for me

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What I did on my summer holidays

Well, I may as well call my ten-day old soujourn back to Irish shores
just that,considering it's the only holidays of any description I'll
get. Bloody German education system...

Ten days of catching up, drinking up, toying, tinkering, talking and
tittering in Clonmel, Dublin, Limerick and beyond. Actually, sorry,
that's all three of them. Didn't seem as impressive on their own,

Clonmel brought me back to my usual comforts; decent pints,
poker and four people in one bed. Cheers for shoving me via
Leyla out of the bed, Hally. Last time I put your drunken ass
to bed. Never mind, I took your money a few days later.
Home cooking is always a great draw. Bacon and chicken?
Surely you can't be serious? I am serious, and don't call her
Shirley. She's Anne, she's my mother and she's lovely.

My fractured relationship with Dublin continues. Tuesday
and Thursday she was a bad, bad bitch. But I have my new
laptop and my iPod is fixed, so even in her misery, she's a
goddess. Don't kiss me now sweetheart, I'll see you soon.
Saturday night was a joy. Annexed into wonderful new
company and all that. Apparently I'm writing to my local
TD after that night, Orna. At least, that's what my
fogged-up memories tell me.

Limerick, she was short and sweet, but she was beautiful.
It may have been men against boys, and so it shall be in the
first warm weekend of May when we show them what a real
All-Ireland semi-final looks like, but we can't all have as much
fun as Fiona. Steady, now.

I'm back now. Thanks for having me. I'll see you all again soon,
no doubt.

It was lovely.

when I'm with her, I'm the richest man in the town

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fuck you Australia

Forgive me for gloating, but I feel a need to do so in this instance.

The ELVs are dead.

At least, the vast majority of the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) trialled by rugby's governing body, the International Rugby Board (IRB) this year have been deemed a complete failure, and rightly so.

These botched experiments combined to transform the game of rugby union into a grotesque spectacle of kick and chase, one which disgusted hardcored fans and turned off potential newcomers. Why some were admittedly successful, as I shall go on to discuss later, the vast majority failed immesurably and are rightly being consigned to history's scrapyard.

Chief among these atrocities was the attempted introduction of the law whereby the rolling maul could be pulled down so long as an effort was made to do so between the hips and the shoulders of the opposition, an action previously unthinkable under the previous laws of the game. Firstly, this law removed one of the great spectacles of the game, the rolling maul, whereby forwards could truly exert their power, suck in opposition defenders and free up space for backs to pull off attacking moves. Secondly, this variation was never properly policed. Opposition defenders constantly sought to nullify the maul by pulling down the opposition via the legs or head of the opposition. It was doomed to failure and rejection from the very beginning and has rightfully been jettisoned.

The lineout was another area of the game which the powers that be decided to tamper with unnecessarily. By removing the restrictions on numbers in the lineout, whereby both teams originally were required to have an equal number of players present, they removed the role of the lineout as an effective contest. Defending teams could move players out to the backline to nullfiy an opposition attack or pack the lineout to make contesting opposition ball an easier task. The original excuse was that the lineout would become an easier task for referees. As a referee myself, I can safely say that the lineout was never a difficult area of the game to adjudicate. Yet another folly which the IRB has come to realise, thankfully.

Those recommendations among the ELVs which will be implemented are for the best, chief among them being the introduction of a 5m offside line at the scrum. This allows for backlines from both sides to pull off setpiece moves to great effect and allows both number eights a wonderfully open platform of attack. While I would have some reservations about the acceptance of the rule which dictates that a kick directly into touch from a pass back into the 22m area will result in a lineout from where the ball was kicked, I do not see it as a rule which will fundamentally influence the game for the worst.

So, there you have it. Rugby will not be changed for the worst. Fuck you, Australia.