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Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week June 25, 2017

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A holding post today… Garibaldy is otherwise engaged, but getting the ball rolling here’s RDE’s thoughts on people who don’t like the DUP’s politics (or aspects of same). 

I don’t wish to be mean to [Stephen] Rea and [Caroline] Lucas, for they are merely reflecting a section of British and Irish opinion that is so exhausted from expressing tolerance towards terrorists that they’re dying for targets they can despise without guilt.

 

You know you’re getting old…  June 25, 2017

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…when Daniel Day Lewis retires – albeit at a good decade earlier than most of us will. Never my favourite actor, though I have to admit to liking There Will Be Blood – but I do agree with this point made in this overview here in the Guardian of his career… 

 

…my favourite Day-Lewis roles are not his Lincoln or Christy Brown. I loved the sheer sinuous sexiness and subversion of his gay ex-fascist street-fighter punk Johnny Burfoot in My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), scripted by Hanif Kureishi and directed by Stephen Frears.

That’s a fantastic film and with a depth and complexity (politically too) that foreshadows some of what we’ve seen in more contemporary times.

Life is strange… June 25, 2017

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This looks kind of cool, Life is Strange – a third person adventure/mystery game. Anyone play it? 

The game’s plot focuses on Max Caulfield, a photography student who discovers that she has the ability to rewind time at any moment, leading her every choice to enact the butterfly effect. After having foreseen an approaching storm, Max must take on the responsibility to prevent it from destroying her town. The player’s actions will adjust the narrative as it unfolds, and reshape it once allowed to travel back in time. Fetch quests and making environmental changes represent the forms of puzzle solving in addition to using branching choices for conversation.

DVDs… over? And how that changes ownership of programmes in the future… June 24, 2017

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This is telling… from the IT, a report that RTÉ is thinking about no longer producing DVDs of its programmes. Why?

“The market has moved on, probably faster than any of us predicted,” Mr O’Reilly [RTE group commercial director] said.

“In the UK, there are still good distribution channels. You can go and buy a CD or come across one, whereas in Ireland now you really have Tower in Dublin and about a dozen Golden Discs, and after that it is Lidl, Aldi and Tesco.”

It is true, that’s a very very small number of outlets and Lidl and Aldi don’t have constant stocks but instead rotate in and out merchandise for Christmas, Father’s Day, and so on. Nor according to O’Reilly are sales online of physical media doing the business.

 

This is arguably worse again…

The BBC’s decision to close the BBC Store, a digital download service that offered programmes on a buy-and-keep basis, was “astounding”, he said. The move, announced last month, came just 18 months after it was launched.

“I thank god that we didn’t invest heavily in that area. The theory was that the public would move to buying programmes for downloading onto their laptops or iPads. It was a kind of iTunes for video content.”

But they couldn’t compete with the subscription services.

I’m not hugely surprised. In CEX which sells second had DVDs there’s been an appreciable decline in DVDs available in the past twelve months. Tower is still very well stocked. But economies of scale presumably make selling RTÉ programmes on DVD just too expensive.

And where do we wind up?

 

The trend suggests that audiences may find it frustrating if they want to keep permanent hold of particular titles.

“It is going to be difficult to own certain things in the future, because you may be only able to rent them.”

This has certain implications, doesn’t it, in regard to transmission of Irish focused television materials if they are unavailable permanently. Sure, the UK is fine, and the US too, massive markets. But here, not so great.

And yet another example of how ownership changes, how we all – effectively – are being pushed to the 21st century equivalent of the company store.

Stealth geek June 24, 2017

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I only heard the term ‘stealth geek’ on a Babylon 5 podcast the other day. Which kind of disproves any sense that I might be a stealth geek despite it being completely unfamiliar to me. But I find it a brilliant term…

For a definition look no further than here… 

A person who has many of the internal qualities of a geek, however does not look or act like a geek.

A geek who has developed social skills.

If you want to know if the hot guy is a stealth geek, the ask him about Star Trek or Mac vs. PC.

 

Hmmm… both topics I have opinions on – though I’m agnostic in respect of the conflict between proponents of the two competing computing camps (even as a user mostly of Mac).

And:

Stealth Geek is a geek who processes more information, on average, in a better way, despite the fact the knowledge he processes isn’t necessarily useful. The fact someone is a geek is “Stealthed” until someone within earshot of the “Stealth Geek” mentions video games, PCs, consoles, software, roleplaying games or some other such “uncool” item, at which point the “Stealth Geek” drops “Stealth Mode” and his geekiness spews out.

Most “Stealth Geeks” fit in with the popular crowd and bash geeks who don’t seem “cool” right off the bat, at least initially.

I used to think Warian was cool, but he’s a stealth geek.

But isn’t that true of many enthusiasts or fans? You don’t tend to wax lyric in crowds of people who aren’t into something you necessarily are but you do with likeminded people. Kind of courtesy, isn’t it?

 

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Kelly Lee Owens June 24, 2017

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For those who like electronic music Welsh based Kelly Lee Owen’s eponymous album released a couple of months ago is well worth a listen. It manages the neat trick of being both nuanced and yet immediately approachable merging techno, dance and near ambient sounds with a – perhaps surprisingly – pop sensibility to good effect. There’s something about the slightly detached sung/spoken vocals (her own for the most part but from Jenny Hval on Anxi) that crop up in tandem to the instrumentation that is extremely compelling.

I’m particularly fond of Evolution and its none more dubstep bass but… Anxi is pretty great, and so is 8 (not on the videos below) which travels through an engaging soundscape. But CBM, Lucid, they’re all good. Playing this album a lot.

By the way, those who have seen the tv series Occupied will recognise the (supposed) Norwegian government buildings in the background of the Throwing Lines.

Evolution

Throwing Lines

Anxi

CBM

Pride 2017 Parade Dublin June 24, 2017

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Has a different route this year due to Luas works, starting in St. Stephens Green and going to Smithfield. Details here. Assembles 11 on, starts at 2 pm. Weather improving – should be a great afternoon.

Brexit duties and VAT…  June 23, 2017

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Well now, here’s a piece in the Irish Times that points to the brave new world post-Brexit that those who shop online from the UK are about to enter. A world of higher costs – fantastically higher costs, due to VAT and customs. Those of us who purchase DVDs from the US will probably be aware of this. Already that’s a bit of a nightmare. I get a few bits and bobs a year from secondspin.com and having been caught once I have to make sure that what I buy accords to the following:

How much will these extra duties be? That will depend on the type of goods you purchase, and whether they exceed the exemption limits.

Goods delivered by post under the value of €22 won’t incur VAT, for example. And when it comes to customs, goods won’t incur such a charge if the value is under €150.

But goods worth in excess of €22 will incur VAT at 23 per cent, and, as O’Loughlin notes, consumers have no way of offsetting this.

In other words one has to ensure that an order is less than €22 in value in order to avoid VAT – actually the functioning rate is €26.08 since VAT is only collected on goods where the VAT liability is less than or equal to €6. With the euro/dollar exchange rate that can be achieved on some second hand goods. But keep in mind postage is part of this as well. There’s further complexities in terms of some goods where there is no relief on VAT.

But look, away from my woes, and perhaps yours too, there’s this much more serious set of points, starting in relation to sales from the North:

Whether small Northern Ireland-based businesses will be willing and/or able to cope with the additional costs and administrative burdens in selling to the South remains to be seen.

“A lot of this sort of trade will just cease,” says O’Loughlin. “It may be too cumbersome and difficult to trade.”

Great. And then there’s this:

With a potential mark-up of 35 per cent on clothes and duties of as much as 50 per cent on food, the future of UK retailers in Ireland looks uncertain – and it won’t be just online. After all, UK bricks and mortar retailers selling their goods in the Republic will be bringing them in from the UK, which will incur duties and VAT.

“The market is going to have to consider to see if it’s worthwhile,” says O’Loughlin.

This could be particularly true of British supermarkets, where duties can be as high as 50 per cent on food, even if most food is zero rated. Whether the Irish market can absorb such inflation remains to be seen.

And for all one has issues with the “high-streetification” (to coin a phrase) of this land there is the basic simple issue of jobs being lost. Potentially lots of jobs. Tesco alone employs 14,000 workers in the Republic and is reckoned by some to be the largest employer in the state.

As always I wonder did any of those promoting Brexit do a cost benefit ratio analysis on all this in terms of impacts on actual existing workers?

‘Posh schooled’ ‘cliques’ and the ‘ordinary member of the public’ leading this state… June 23, 2017

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Reading a headline in the IT that Leo Varadkar was right to defend Whelan court move I made a mental bet with myself that the author of the piece would have the initials SC. And so it was, Stephen Collins who writes what is effectively a defence of the status quo in relation to the Whelan appointment.

First he exculpates Varadkar from responsibility.

He managed to cope with the first assault on his position reasonably well, given that he was on a sticky wicket over the way the former attorney-general Máire Whelan was appointed to the judiciary on the last day of former taoiseach Enda Kenny’s tenure.

Then suggests that he was forced into what he did…

Varadkar was left to carry the can for what was essentially his predecessor’s final act. He was in a no-win position but made the decision to defend the appointment and try to move on to next business as quickly as possible.

And then argues there was no alternative.

In the circumstances it was the right option because any sign of a wobble or second thoughts would have made a bad situation worse. Look what happened to May when she panicked in the face of criticism and abandoned her election manifesto in the middle of the British general election campaign.

Er. Come again? It’s hardly like and like.

There’s more. Not least a defence of Whelan against the ‘arrogant’ ‘posh schooled’ ‘cliques’ of the Law Library which seems breathtakingly beside the point.

Interestingly Collins dismisses the idea that this is like the Whelehan appointment in 1994 arguing…

…there is a crucial political difference between the two cases. The Labour members of cabinet walked out when Whelehan’s nomination was proposed but Fianna Fáil went ahead regardless and the party lost power as a result.

First Collins throws in some diversionary stuff…

In the current case the Independent Ministers Shane Ross and Finian McGrath accepted the decision and because of that are as committed to it as their Fine Gael colleagues.

And then glides over the single most proximate point…

Given that the controversy wasn’t of his making, although he was a member of the cabinet which signed off on the appointment, Varadkar put up a stout defence in the Dáil over the past two days.

Meanwhile, on another aspect entirely, this is priceless…

Varadkar had an easier time dealing with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, who attempted to embarrass him for expressing childlike excitement at going into 10 Downing Street on Monday. His observation that it reminded him of the scene in the film Love Actually, when fictional prime minister Hugh Grant waltzed down the stairs of the building was picked up in the international media.

While some of his colleagues cringed with embarrassment at Varadkar’s remark its gaucheness actually reflected one of the key reasons for his popularity to date. He responds to situations like an ordinary member of the public rather than a professional politician.

What popularity? The man has never been tested in a General Election as leader of a party. The polling evidence to date suggests no swing to FG. This is near enough entirely a media construct. And as for ‘posh schooled’ cliques…

From the Queen’s speech…  June 23, 2017

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A priority will be to build a more united country, strengthening the social, economic and cultural bonds between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

My government will work in cooperation with the devolved administrations, and it will work with all of the parties in Northern Ireland to support the return of devolved government.

What cultural bonds in particular and what about where such cultural bonds are non-existent or aren’t held by those who live in those areas? How does that work? How does one build a more ‘united’ country where a significant number in both Scotland and NI don’t want a more united country? Presumably a sop to the DUP.

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