Digest – May 10 2010

InDigestion, see below.

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This story is nuts (“Anglo boss ‘was told to keep quiet'” – Sunday Times). I think the people have shell-shock from the constant stream of similar stories coming out of Anglo and the Department of Finance. “Oh, that again? Heh. Yeah.”

Irish Times business podcast feature on public sector reform in Minnesota is interesting.

May 5th; Singing the sash, May 7th; singing the blues, from Slugger.

Abigail Rieley on the moment the jury returned the verdict in the trial of David Curran and Sean Keogh for the murder of two Polish men. Touching.

Dierdre O’Shaughnessy of the Cork Independent writes from Port Au Prince.

The most mundane aspects of life are here: women wash clothes in small basins of water distributed from tankers; they cook whatever food they have outside their tents at small camp fires; they hang clothing to dry on their tarps.

Cracker of an opinion piece from Patrick Freyne on the back page of the Sunday Tribune.

Yet, apart from a public sector march here or there, a once-off kerfuffle over medical cards for pensioners, and four million late night pub-rants, the Irish public have been very, very compliant. In Iceland, the populace responded to their economic clusterf*ck by descending on their houses of parliament banging pots and pans. In America, right-wing groups protest against their own healthcare interests with a network of gun-toting “Tea-Parties”. Here the public sector demonstrated their anger at pay-cuts by refusing to answer a few phones while the rest of us express our rage at a huge bank-bailout and the failure of our institutions by working harder (take that, banks!).

Faced with the same problems as Greece (and we have some of the same problems) I think we actually would resort to a campaign of dirty looks. We expect our politicians to guess how we feel, like the passive aggressive spouse in a sitcom called That’s Ireland! (“What do you want now, honey?” asks the Dáil shrugging its shoulders. “Is it a medical card? Is it a new road? I just can’t tell!” Cue laughter from the studio audience in the bond markets).

Feature on prostitution in Ireland by Conor Lally in The Irish Times.

WORLD

Interesting philosophical article on Green – capitalised first letter – thinking, by an environmentalist who now sees himself as a green (lower case). Centered around arguments made in the book by Stewert Brand ‘Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto’

Brand finally begins addressing what Greens have dignified with a grand title: the Precautionary Principle. That sliver of vacuous pedantry, Brand acknowledges, has become “deliberately one-sided, a rejection of what is called risk balancing,” a single-minded determination “to prevent all the harm we can.” Or imagined harm. As the precautious mind-set calcified, “evidence of harm disappeared as a precautionary principle trigger, and science was explicitly devalued.” The Old Greens followed the science only when its predictions fit with a narrative of “decay,” “decline,” and “disaster.” This was a “formula for paralysis.” The New Brand supports the “freedom to try things,” subject to “ceaseless, fine-grained monitoring.”

Very sensible piece by Alfie McKenzie, the 14 year old who voted in British elections. Pedantic note: It irks me when people refer to David Cameron as ‘Dave’ though. Unhealthy over-familiarity. Like anyone in his personal life actually calls him ‘Dave’… but large parts of the media do now. Eating Eton-veiling spin. Similarly with writing just ‘Bertie’ instead of Bertie Ahern.

Stephen Fry on the election stalemate thingy over there.

One of the most puzzling features of the current unstoppable wave of political punditry that is flooding all channels and outlets at the moment (including this one of course) is the peculiar propensity of commentators to feel qualified to extrapolate from the election results the Manifest Will of Britain.  “The people have voted for change”, “The people have told Gordon Brown that he has got to go” , “The people are saying that they don’t really trust any one party”, “The people have said that they want Parliament reformed, the tea room in the House of Commons redecorated, new carpeting in the women’s lavatory of the House of Lords and a vegetarian option in the canteen.”  What fevered branch of electoral hermeneutics allows any such interpretations on the basis of the summing of millions of individual’s single votes I cannot imagine. It is possible that people do want real change, but a single cross next to a single name is no way to deduce it.

What comes next for Europe and the euro following the Greek crisis? Jim Stewert lays out the possible outcomes.

Kinda past its sell-by date now, but this piece by George Monbiot of the Guardian was gutsy and worth reading even post-election.

This government blocked a ceasefire in the Lebanon; sacked Britain’s ambassador to Uzbekistan after he complained that the regime was boiling its prisoners to death; gave aid to a Colombian military that collaborates with fascist death squads; announced a policy of pre-emptive nuclear war; and decided to waste our money on replacing Trident. But worse, far worse than any of this, it launched an illegal war in which hundreds of thousands have died. This is the government that colleagues of mine on the Guardian want to save.

There’s a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii that colonises the brains of rats, altering their behaviour to attract them to the scent of their predators. The rats seek out cats and get eaten, allowing the parasite to keep circulating. This is New Labour. It has colonised a movement that fought for social justice, distribution and decency, rewired its brain and delivered it to the fat cats who were once its enemies.

Short but sweet post on Palin, oil and idiocy by P O’Neill.

Cool bit of contextual journalism by Paul Rademacher – Google Maps plug-in required. Screengrab and explanation by Matt Yglesias.

Oilspill

OTHER

What is Kay Burley at? She’s off her head. See below. Via Paul Bradshaw on OJB (interesting discussion there).

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