Apple Stole My Music. No, Seriously.

vellumatlanta

“The software is functioning as intended,” said Amber.
“Wait,” I asked, “so it’s supposed to delete my personal files from my internal hard drive without asking my permission?”
“Yes,” she replied.

Angry man crashing laptop Maybe I’m Not Pressing the Keys Hard Enough.

I had just explained to Amber that 122 GB of music files were missing from my laptop. I’d already visited the online forum, I said, and they were no help. Although several people had described problems similar to mine, they were all dismissed by condescending “gurus” who simply said that we had mislocated our files (I had the free drive space to prove that wasn’t the case) or that we must have accidentally deleted the files ourselves (we hadn’t). Amber explained that I should blow off these dismissive “solutions” offered online because Apple employees don’t officially use the forums—evidently, that honor is reserved for lost, frustrated people like me, and (at…

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What does it take?

Perhaps it “big pharma” that was responsible for Prendeville’s infamous aeroplane episode…

Passive Impressions

There is a broadcaster in Cork, Neil Prendeville, who has no problem promoting pseudoscience and instilling fear into people during his radio programme. He regularly invites a guest, Michael O’Doherty, whom he calls a medical professional, onto his show to expound on vaccines and antibiotics. O’Doherty has no medical qualifications. He is a quack healer whose shtick seems to be that natural is good, that the body is capable of healing itself without the need for modern medicine.

This stuff is dangerous. It is simply not true to say that our bodies are able to deal with every illness that comes along. The flu, a common disease, kills millions of people every year. Before modern medicine, deaths from smallpox, measles and TB were common. They are much less so now because of vaccines, antibiotics and antivirals. Where is the evidence for the great natural panaceas they keep talking about? In…

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Journalism, 2016-style

The Irish Times used to be “the paper of record.”  Everything of import got reported, stories of interest and relevance got investigated and published.

Now, they race to the bottom.  “Are miracles happening on the streets of Coleraine?” is the headline on an article that they published last Friday. It’s essentially a completely uncritical puff-piece for a lying charlatan who claims that faith-healing cures cancer.

The charlatan-in-chief claims his “faith-healing” has cured cancer and can make a person’s short leg physically grow “longer right before everyone’s eyes.”

Because that’s not a conjurer’s trick that’s been exposed many times before.

Good job, Irish Times.

RTÉ is the state broadcaster, with a public service obligation to report the news.

In theory, it’s subject to the BAI and its edicts on fairness and balance that saw, for example, every bigot in the country given “equal time” during the Marriage Referendum so that they could tell gay, bi and lesbian people that they were less than human, or paying “compensation” to homophobes for being called homophobes.

You’d imagine they’d try to be balanced and fair in election coverage.

But apparently they were justified in playing a clip all day showing an “apolitical” “small businessman” accosting Mary Lou McDonald while she canvassed, accusing her of “punishing” taxpayers.

Only problem: the “apolitical” “small businessman” was very quickly identified on social media as Fergus Crawford, brother of a former FG TD Seymour Crawford, and an investment banker, CEO of Sarasin & Partners, and prior to that spent 12 years with ACC Bank…

RTÉ continued to run the story after this was pointed out. The journalist in question, Martina FitzGerald, has still not pulled the tweet or issued a correction, despite dozens of requests to do so.

In which I tell you how your religion works

Couldn’t put it better myself…

Infinitefreetime.com

christianity_versus_other_religions_blog-horngsawI am not a Christian.  That fact has probably been perfectly clear for a very long time; it doesn’t take a whole lot of reading around here to figure it out.

What may be less clear to non long-time visitors: Chances are I know way more about Christianity than you do.  Is that a guarantee?  No, not at all.  But most of you don’t have a Master’s degree in Biblical studies.  I do.  And I got it from one of the best divinity schools in the country.  So chances are I know more about Christianity and Western religion in general than you do.

I’ve been thinking about Jesus a lot in the last few days.  Maybe I should go full wanker here and call him Yeshua, or something, to rid him of some of the cruft that’s accumulated over the past 2000 years, but the point is I’ve spent a…

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Ouch

Seems I’m not the only person who has been doing a #kenringwatch – the Clare People newspaper has been keeping an eye on the Kiwi cointosser too.  No link to the story (not been able to find the article online) but it merits three minutes of Neil Delamere’s time on the Anton Savage Show, here (starting at 55:30). Ouch.

#redacted

The background:
The hashtag #redacted has been trending in Ireland for the last few days, because [redacted], the Irish Silvio Berlusconi, obtained an injunction – the full content of which remains secret! – to prevent RTÉ from broadcasting a documentary which, in part, looked at his financial dealings.

Catherine Murphy, independent TD for Kildare North, attempted to raise this in the Dáil, and was ruled out of order.

She introduced a Private Members Bill.

Speeches given in the Dáil are Constitutionally protected, subject to parliamentary privilege.

Article 15.12 of the Irish Constitution provides as follows:
All official reports and publications of the Oireachtas or of either House thereof and utterances made in either House wherever published shall be privileged.

RTÉ, the state broadcaster, will not report on the content of that speech, because of [redacted]’s injunction. Many newspapers, likewise, have not reported the contents. (Er, I should point out, [redacted] owns many Irish newspapers. And broadcasting outlets. Did I mention the Irish Silvio Berlusconi?)

Other outlets – broadsheet.ie, Village magazine, for example – did.

At least some other outlets are apparently going to court next week, to clarify the terms of the secret injunction and to ask the court, pretty please, if it’s all right to report on the contents of a speech given in Dáil Éireann.

This… is pretty serious. The phrase “constitutional crisis” has been mentioned, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration.

In other news, entirely unrelated to [redacted] the Dáil will shortly debate a bill limiting ownership of Irish media by any one individual to 20%. Reportedly, this will not effect Denis O’Brien.

The speech:

“This bill extends the functions and powers, or seeks to extend the functions and powers of the C & AG [Comptroller and Auditor General] to cover IBRC. It was the Taoiseach that first suggested that the C & AG review the Siteserv sale’s process and it was then pointed out to him that IBRC does not come within his remit.”

“With this Bill, I’m attempting to address that problem by broadening the remit of the C & AG. The reason I’m anticipating the need to involve the C & AG, if not a full Commission of Investigation, which may well be a better option, is because I believe the Government have got this badly wrong, not least because most of the key players in the Siteserv saga have links with KPMG and its eventual purchaser and vice versa, is a web of connections and conflicts, that requires outside eyes to unravel.

I have no doubt that the special liquidator [Kieran Wallace] is more than capable of doing such a review but his direct involvement in the sale process, and his relationship with the eventual purchaser of Siteserv, and his current actions in the High Court, in supporting Mr O’Brien versus RTE, place him in a position where there is, at the very least, a perceived conflict of interest, if not an actual conflict of interest.
The review is not confined to Siteserv but it is the transaction that prompted a review. I would worry about the transactions that have been excluded from the review, given that what we now know, that in the final months before prom night, the relationship between the department and IBRC had completely broken down.
“If deals were being done without the knowledge or input of the minister then we need to know what they were. We are now aware for example that the former CEO of IBRC made verbal agreements with Denis O’Brien to allow him to extend the terms of his already expired loans.

We also know that the verbal agreement was never escalated to the credit committee for approval. I’m led to believe, and I would welcome the minister clarifying, the rates applicable at this time, that the extension also attracted some extremely favourable interest terms.

I understand that Mr O’Brien was enjoying a rate of around 1.25%, when IBRC, and arguably, when IBRC could, and arguably should have been charging 7.5%. We are talking about outstanding sums here that are upwards of €500million. The interest rate applied is not an insignificant issue for the public interest.

We also know that Denis O’Brien felt confident enough, in his dealings with IBRC that he could write to Kieran Wallace, as the special liquidator and demand that the same favourable terms extended to him by way of a verbal agreement could be continued.

We now have Kieran Wallace, who’s been appointed by the Government to conduct a review into the IBRC review, actually joining with IBRC and Denis O’Brien in the High Court and seeking to injunct the information I’ve outlined from coming into the public domain – surely that alone represents a conflict.

In FOI documents released to me, the minister, his officials and the Central Bank and even the Troika acknowledge that IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank, is no ordinary bank and there’s a significant public interest because the bank had been fully nationalised and was in wind-down mode.

They all accept that this is the people’s money that we’re dealing with and that there can be no dispute regarding the public interest in this. The same FOI materials detail incidences where the minister can specifically intervene, and issue an ministerial order that material matters have significant interest. Included in these material matters are incidences that are outside the ordinary course of business.

I would argue that what I’ve outlined out here regarding verbal deals, extensions, etc, are outside the normal course of business and I would ask the minister to exercise his right to intervene in the current proceedings and defend the public interest.

“I’ve a motion on the order papers, signed by the majority of the Opposition – 45 members have signed it and more are welcome to – calling for a debate into the proposed review. When I tried to raise it on the order of business, I was silenced and I was told to take it up with my Whip. I am the Whip of the Technical Group and I did raise it at the weekly Whip’s meeting.

The Government Chief Whip told me that they would not be altering the KPMG review, the Government would not be giving time to debate this issue and suggested that we use Private Members’ time.

It’s not just an Opposition issue, minister. This is an issue for all in this house. It’s an issue of serious public concern where there is public money involved and I know, if you got your hands on maybe and extra €20million, I don’t think you’d have to think too hard on how to spend that money. I urge the Government to reconsider this and give the Bill and the motion the time they deserve. I believe this is in the public interest. Thank you.”

Note: The above can be found archived on kildarestreet.com. I would link to the speech on the official Oireachtas website, but they still use Lotus Notes for their back-end database (in 2015! I know!), so searches don’t work well and are liable to failure.

Further reading/viewing:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+BernieGoldbach/posts/f5kKMh5cfPG
http://www.broadsheet.ie/tag/siteserv/
And, er… Twitter. Facebook. politics.ie… But not in the newspapers. They’re still #redacted

The Marriage Equality Referendum

On Friday 22nd May, we’re being asked to vote on a referendum that, if passed, will insert this clause into the Constitution of Ireland:

Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.

So, same-sex marriage, then.

This will “redefine marriage”, say the opponents. No, it won’t, say the proponents.

For what it’s worth, I think it will. And I’m ok with that.

What, exactly, is wrong with redefining marriage? We’ve done it, regularly, constantly, throughout history, especially over the last couple of centuries.

The last time we redefined marriage in Ireland was in 1995. We redefined marriage as being a permanent union between husband and wife, up until the point one or both of them didn’t want it to be permanent anymore. A margin of 9,000 people in a referendum decided that a woman didn’t have to stay married to an abusive husband, a man didn’t have to stay married to a wife who’d left him, or – get this – a couple who’d fallen out of love could separate and try to find happiness elsewhere. Novel, huh?

The time before that, in 1990, we redefined marriage to say a husband was not allowed to rape his wife. Ireland, so progressive.

The time before that was to change the age at which children could get married. To sixteen. (Note that it was raised to sixteen – it had been 14 for a boy and 12 for a girl. (This Bill to do this was passed in 1972 but didn’t come into effect until 1975, apparently.)

Then there’s the whole arranged marriage thing (Peig, anyone?), and consent, and women-being-used-as-property, and so on, going back through history.

The point is – we redefine marriage all the time. All of the redefinitions we’ve had recently? Improvements, in my opinion.

The “this redefines marriage!” argument is but one of the many shoals of red herrings that have been bandied about over the last couple of months. There may be valid reasons for voting No (although I’ve not heard one cogent argument yet), but this isn’t one of them. And there are many wonderful, genuine, heartfelt, egalitarian, humanitarian – just human – reasons for voting Yes.

I’ll be voting Yes on Friday. Please join me.

(I’ll hopefully be writing about this again between now and Friday (though I’ll be out canvassing most nights, so no promises – but in the meantime, please have a read of the wonderful Izzy Kamikaze’s blog!)

#MarRef #YesEquality #IWill