hawkwing_lb: (Default)
...interview the surviving nuns and inmates of the Tuam "Mother and Baby Home," and let's have the truth of where the dead children are buried - and why they were denied the dignity of proper remembrance.

Catherine Corless uncovered the fact that 796 children died over a period of 30 years while their care was the responsibility of the Tuam "Mother and Baby Home" run by the Bons Secours order of nursing nuns. There are no burial records for any of these children, nor did Corless find any indication that they'd been interred in local cemeteries.

That their bodies were interred in a septic tank is speculation.

This takes nothing away from the horror of the mortality statistics and the picture they paint of the neglect and indeed the evil committed by the Catholic Church while it masqueraded in the guise of moral righteousness. The Tuam "Mother and Baby Home" is only one of dozens, if not hundreds, that operated in Ireland during the 20th century. Corless' research is a drop in the bucket.

An immense bucket, filled the the bodies of the dead.















Further reading:

Tuam: What Lies Beneath
No country for young women: honour crimes and infanticide in Ireland
Midwife's memoir reveals the horror of Mother and Baby Home in Bessborough, Cork
Amnesty International calls for urgent investigation

ETA: Many of these links via @nwbrux
hawkwing_lb: (Bear CM weep for the entire world)
Greece: austerity cannot prevent depression.

Krugman: "ECB suggests that it’s quite likely that the confidence fairy will make everything OK."

Indications suggest holders of Greek bonds will take a 60% cut. Downside: indications suggest that the Right-Thinking People consider Greece a special case - which demonstrates rigid and limited thinking.

Oh, and everyone wants to smack Berlusconi.

Meanwhile, in the UK, a Guardian poll suggests that almost half of British voters would support a withdrawal from the EU, rising fees bring about a 12% drop in university applications, and St. Paul's cathedral claims Occupy! protestors are costing it £20,000/day in lost revenue.

Back home, our presidential frontrunners include a smugly forgettable septegenarian leprechaun, an even smugger Old Boys' Clubber with a shiny bullet for a head, and the smuggest of the lot, a self-aggrandising former terrorist with the face of an alcoholic tomato.

Yah, I no can has respect for really bad election posters.

The candidates. (Unfair to Norris, and over-generous to Davis, but otherwise a decent assessment.)

And "That's a lot of piss": new ways to cut costs.

Oh, and the Irish Times has launched a new section of its website called, "Generation Emigration."

Fun times, my friends. Fun times.
hawkwing_lb: (sunset dreamed)
Tonight, thinking of Libya.

The world changes. Sometimes by inches, but it changes. bismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm - For the protestors' sake, I hope that God really is both compassionate and merciful. Because what Gaddafi's been doing certainly isn't.

hawkwing_lb: (sunset dreamed)
Tonight, thinking of Libya.

The world changes. Sometimes by inches, but it changes. bismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm - For the protestors' sake, I hope that God really is both compassionate and merciful. Because what Gaddafi's been doing certainly isn't.

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Yesterday, the Civil Partnership Bill passed the Dáil without a vote.

It passed the Dáil without a vote because all the sitting parties support the Bill. And while it doesn't go nearly as far as I'd like, and while some TDs from down the country have made comments that make me want to shake them -

By the end of the year, we'll have a Civil Partnership Act.

Most of the time, I want to shake my country until it can start behaving in a sensible fashion. But occasionally, very occasionally, it does make me hopeful.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Yesterday, the Civil Partnership Bill passed the Dáil without a vote.

It passed the Dáil without a vote because all the sitting parties support the Bill. And while it doesn't go nearly as far as I'd like, and while some TDs from down the country have made comments that make me want to shake them -

By the end of the year, we'll have a Civil Partnership Act.

Most of the time, I want to shake my country until it can start behaving in a sensible fashion. But occasionally, very occasionally, it does make me hopeful.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
It is a fact all but universally acknowledged that the government of Ireland is morally and intellectually bankrupt, and has been for some time.

It is beyond obvious that the future of the citizens of this country is being mortgaged to the interests of a restricted political class which comprises bankers, developers, and politicians. The present fiscal policy of this country is deflationary and irresponsible, designed to reduce necessary services, increase unemployment, and preserve or exacerbate the present set of social inequalities.

I'd rather not attribute to malice what can be laid at the feet of incompetence. Incompetence is the word for what happened during the boom years, when successive Fianna Fáil governments under the soi-disant leadership of Bertie Ahern squandered record surpluses and dragged their feet instead of putting in place much-needed improvements to transport, education, health and community services. This? This is being done with malice aforethought. Alan Dukes is now in charge of Anglo-Irish Bank, for fuck's sake. Richie Boucher is in charge of Bank of Ireland. Brian Cowen, the former Finance Minister who presided over much of the squandering, the Taoiseach who has never lead his party in a general election, is in charge of the country.

This is not democracy. And it's not responsible government, either.

I'd hate to suggest this is all Fianna Fáil's fault. It's not. It's their responsibility - or it would be, if there was any indication that they understood the meaning of the word - but they have been aided by a series of spineless coalition partners; first the Progressive Democrats of unmourned memory, and lately the Greens - who, despite their high-minded talk, seem just as easily swayed as anyone else by the promise of a government car and a ministerial pension. The parties of the opposition, Fine Gael and Labour, are equally devoid of imagination or responsibility. They do not stand for anything. They do not, even, when it matters, stand against. It would be trivially easy to oppose the current Fianna Fáil policies on their merits. To propose a plan of investment in the citizens of this country, rather than the albatrosses around our necks.

Yet the opposition is not alone in failing to oppose. The comfortable echo-chamber of the state broadcaster, RTÉ, has fallen down on its mandate to educate and inform. The airwaves are full of talking heads, but how many of them have the guts to treat the public as though we're capable of understanding what's been done?

We've been sold. Like cattle: our only purpose is to profit in the pockets of our political masters. This is why, instead of investing in our citizenry when the bubble burst, Cowen and Lenihan rushed to shore up the banks and their cosy relationship with the developers, with the money class. This is why, instead of measures to counter unemployment, instead of preservation of the services we so badly need, we have the National Asset Management Agency and billions upon billions of euro pumped into the unsustainable system that brought us here in the first place.

I will allow that banks are necessary. To a degree. But preserving them at any cost? That's folly. Worse, it's the kind of folly that could ruin us for years to come.

For all the talk of the profits of the boom years, many of us - most of us - were just getting by. Sure, maybe we had a new(ish) car and maybe a holiday a year that we'd never been able to afford before, maybe we had a nice house (and a nasty mortgage), but the people keeping a family on 40-60K year weren't making out like bandits. And the people keeping a family on less than that certainly weren't.

In 2008, the average starting salary for a university graduate in Ireland was 27K. I don't have data for the median back then, but today, looking at the jobs advertised on my university's careers website, the range is more like 22-26K. The handful that are located in Ireland and mention salaries, that is. In 2006, the average annual wage or salary for employees in a small business was €32,453. The average salary in larger enterprises was €44,794 per annum. Cite. Of course, in 2006, unemployment was half what it is today. And in real terms, wages haven't increased. With levies and all the rest of the shit that's gone on, they've - at best, for the working and middle class - remained static. In general, they've decreased.

If they haven't, for those who've lost their employment, gone away entirely.

At the same time, mst people's major asset, their house, has depreciated significantly. In some cases they're left with a mortgage worth twice or more what their property is, and with no way short of defaulting out of their present state of negative equity.

In short, if you weren't comfortable wealthy before things went arse over head - sucks to be you. Enjoy your financial insecurity, suckers. And if you were living right on the edge of your moderate means - you're fucked. No, seriously. You're fucked.

For the foreseeable future, things aren't going to get better. The direction the government has taken us in is going to make things worse for us ordinary citizens. And worse could get very bad indeed for the significant proportion of this country - on the order of a sixth of the population - living at or below the poverty line.

This is not the time to blame immigration. This is not the time to turn on our neighbours and our friends. This is not the time to blame the EU, or the international markets. No. This started at home. This started in a culture of political cronyism and corruption that goes all the way back to Jack Lynch and Charlie Haughey, if not further. And I am done with it.

I'm graduating this year - always providing I don't fuck it up at the last minute - from a university than consistently places in the top 200 for research in the world. I'll come out with a good degree and no place to use it. At the same time, the company that employs the parent is attempting to increase its (still very healthy) profit margins by forcing through 'reforms'. In the course of this, there's a significant possibility that the parent will be done out of her job. A necessary job which entails excruciating shiftwork, and which barely covers our overhead as a household.

I love this country. But there's no place in it for me, or for many of my graduating cohort. Those of us who can't scrape together the means to enter a postgrad programme in the hopes that things will look better from the perspective of a higher degree are already making plans to (and I quote) "collect enough unemployment benefit to pay for flights out of the country." Because if we stay, our options are so very, very limited.

I love this country. But there's no place in it for people who believe in justice, transparency, or equality. There is no place in it for people who believe bishops should keep their noses out of legislation, and politicians should keep their hands out of the till. (Saith TD Jim McDaid: "Cutting TDs' salaries will open them up to corruption." Indeed, Jim. For sure, you're all paragons who'd never dream of taking an envelope under the table right now.)

I've been following politics since before I came of age to vote. At least, as much as I could stand to follow. Time and again I've been told how little I - or anyone like me - matter to the people who run our country. Time and again they lie with straight faces, and they don't even bother with plausible lies. The dog ate my homework is not an excuse.

When the political classes so clearly fail to respect the people who elected them, whose interests they are at least supposed to pretend to care about, it becomes very hard - impossible - to respect the political process. This is what political apathy is made of. This, right here. This is what the flip side to apathy, violent protest, is made of. Right here. Because if we cannot change things with our voices, if things continue to deteriorate, there might be a day when people try to speak with more than voice and voting booth.

I really, really hope things get better before that point. But there are already a lot of people in this country with very little to lose. And most of us will leave, if we can. Because there's nothing here for us, and no real hope that there will be.

I don't know how to change the system. But I know it has to be changed. Because if it doesn't change -

If it doesn't change, then tell me. Why did our great-grandparents spend so much blood and passion and godforsaken effort to achieve the right to self-government? Why the fuck do we bother to remember them, if we're content to be governed by bloated parasites who care only for themselves?

Answer me that, if you can.

And if you can't, I'll see you in Sweden in a few years' time. Or Denmark, or Canada. Somewhere that isn't here.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
It is a fact all but universally acknowledged that the government of Ireland is morally and intellectually bankrupt, and has been for some time.

It is beyond obvious that the future of the citizens of this country is being mortgaged to the interests of a restricted political class which comprises bankers, developers, and politicians. The present fiscal policy of this country is deflationary and irresponsible, designed to reduce necessary services, increase unemployment, and preserve or exacerbate the present set of social inequalities.

I'd rather not attribute to malice what can be laid at the feet of incompetence. Incompetence is the word for what happened during the boom years, when successive Fianna Fáil governments under the soi-disant leadership of Bertie Ahern squandered record surpluses and dragged their feet instead of putting in place much-needed improvements to transport, education, health and community services. This? This is being done with malice aforethought. Alan Dukes is now in charge of Anglo-Irish Bank, for fuck's sake. Richie Boucher is in charge of Bank of Ireland. Brian Cowen, the former Finance Minister who presided over much of the squandering, the Taoiseach who has never lead his party in a general election, is in charge of the country.

This is not democracy. And it's not responsible government, either.

I'd hate to suggest this is all Fianna Fáil's fault. It's not. It's their responsibility - or it would be, if there was any indication that they understood the meaning of the word - but they have been aided by a series of spineless coalition partners; first the Progressive Democrats of unmourned memory, and lately the Greens - who, despite their high-minded talk, seem just as easily swayed as anyone else by the promise of a government car and a ministerial pension. The parties of the opposition, Fine Gael and Labour, are equally devoid of imagination or responsibility. They do not stand for anything. They do not, even, when it matters, stand against. It would be trivially easy to oppose the current Fianna Fáil policies on their merits. To propose a plan of investment in the citizens of this country, rather than the albatrosses around our necks.

Yet the opposition is not alone in failing to oppose. The comfortable echo-chamber of the state broadcaster, RTÉ, has fallen down on its mandate to educate and inform. The airwaves are full of talking heads, but how many of them have the guts to treat the public as though we're capable of understanding what's been done?

We've been sold. Like cattle: our only purpose is to profit in the pockets of our political masters. This is why, instead of investing in our citizenry when the bubble burst, Cowen and Lenihan rushed to shore up the banks and their cosy relationship with the developers, with the money class. This is why, instead of measures to counter unemployment, instead of preservation of the services we so badly need, we have the National Asset Management Agency and billions upon billions of euro pumped into the unsustainable system that brought us here in the first place.

I will allow that banks are necessary. To a degree. But preserving them at any cost? That's folly. Worse, it's the kind of folly that could ruin us for years to come.

For all the talk of the profits of the boom years, many of us - most of us - were just getting by. Sure, maybe we had a new(ish) car and maybe a holiday a year that we'd never been able to afford before, maybe we had a nice house (and a nasty mortgage), but the people keeping a family on 40-60K year weren't making out like bandits. And the people keeping a family on less than that certainly weren't.

In 2008, the average starting salary for a university graduate in Ireland was 27K. I don't have data for the median back then, but today, looking at the jobs advertised on my university's careers website, the range is more like 22-26K. The handful that are located in Ireland and mention salaries, that is. In 2006, the average annual wage or salary for employees in a small business was €32,453. The average salary in larger enterprises was €44,794 per annum. Cite. Of course, in 2006, unemployment was half what it is today. And in real terms, wages haven't increased. With levies and all the rest of the shit that's gone on, they've - at best, for the working and middle class - remained static. In general, they've decreased.

If they haven't, for those who've lost their employment, gone away entirely.

At the same time, mst people's major asset, their house, has depreciated significantly. In some cases they're left with a mortgage worth twice or more what their property is, and with no way short of defaulting out of their present state of negative equity.

In short, if you weren't comfortable wealthy before things went arse over head - sucks to be you. Enjoy your financial insecurity, suckers. And if you were living right on the edge of your moderate means - you're fucked. No, seriously. You're fucked.

For the foreseeable future, things aren't going to get better. The direction the government has taken us in is going to make things worse for us ordinary citizens. And worse could get very bad indeed for the significant proportion of this country - on the order of a sixth of the population - living at or below the poverty line.

This is not the time to blame immigration. This is not the time to turn on our neighbours and our friends. This is not the time to blame the EU, or the international markets. No. This started at home. This started in a culture of political cronyism and corruption that goes all the way back to Jack Lynch and Charlie Haughey, if not further. And I am done with it.

I'm graduating this year - always providing I don't fuck it up at the last minute - from a university than consistently places in the top 200 for research in the world. I'll come out with a good degree and no place to use it. At the same time, the company that employs the parent is attempting to increase its (still very healthy) profit margins by forcing through 'reforms'. In the course of this, there's a significant possibility that the parent will be done out of her job. A necessary job which entails excruciating shiftwork, and which barely covers our overhead as a household.

I love this country. But there's no place in it for me, or for many of my graduating cohort. Those of us who can't scrape together the means to enter a postgrad programme in the hopes that things will look better from the perspective of a higher degree are already making plans to (and I quote) "collect enough unemployment benefit to pay for flights out of the country." Because if we stay, our options are so very, very limited.

I love this country. But there's no place in it for people who believe in justice, transparency, or equality. There is no place in it for people who believe bishops should keep their noses out of legislation, and politicians should keep their hands out of the till. (Saith TD Jim McDaid: "Cutting TDs' salaries will open them up to corruption." Indeed, Jim. For sure, you're all paragons who'd never dream of taking an envelope under the table right now.)

I've been following politics since before I came of age to vote. At least, as much as I could stand to follow. Time and again I've been told how little I - or anyone like me - matter to the people who run our country. Time and again they lie with straight faces, and they don't even bother with plausible lies. The dog ate my homework is not an excuse.

When the political classes so clearly fail to respect the people who elected them, whose interests they are at least supposed to pretend to care about, it becomes very hard - impossible - to respect the political process. This is what political apathy is made of. This, right here. This is what the flip side to apathy, violent protest, is made of. Right here. Because if we cannot change things with our voices, if things continue to deteriorate, there might be a day when people try to speak with more than voice and voting booth.

I really, really hope things get better before that point. But there are already a lot of people in this country with very little to lose. And most of us will leave, if we can. Because there's nothing here for us, and no real hope that there will be.

I don't know how to change the system. But I know it has to be changed. Because if it doesn't change -

If it doesn't change, then tell me. Why did our great-grandparents spend so much blood and passion and godforsaken effort to achieve the right to self-government? Why the fuck do we bother to remember them, if we're content to be governed by bloated parasites who care only for themselves?

Answer me that, if you can.

And if you can't, I'll see you in Sweden in a few years' time. Or Denmark, or Canada. Somewhere that isn't here.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
"The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law, but the state, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself."

- Lord Justice Laws.




In other news: two exams down. Two to go.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
"The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law, but the state, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself."

- Lord Justice Laws.




In other news: two exams down. Two to go.
hawkwing_lb: (Criminal Minds JJ what you had to do)
I realised a thing today.

I'll always think of myself as Irish. But I am beyond done with the general tone of the culture here.

I realise I spend most of my time in a very unusual environment. In my religions and theology and ancient history classes, I'm surrounded by geeks, by people who value knowledge for the sake of knowledge and not necessarily for its functionality. Half my Greek class is gay. There are fellow atheists, and other non-Christian types, and the odd person or two who'll start a conversation about slash and fanfic. Even the well-muscled boys at the wall are physics and engineering postgrads. The internets are full of congenial types, and trollishness can (mostly) be avoided.

And then I stick my nose back out into the land of middle-income middle-class Ireland, and the stupid, it burns. I mean, I'm clever, but I'm no genius. I know stuff, but not nearly enough. I understand some, but sometimes I'm thick as two short planks about things, but when I fuck up and be an insensitive ass, I do try to do better when it's pointed out to me, you know?

But it takes effort, or it ought to, to be that self-satisfied in one's lack of knowledge and lack of desire to acquire it, as so many people are. I mean, I don't expect people to be perfect? But when I walk past a busstop and I hear a knot of people talking about fags and lesbos and Nigerians -

It makes me very angry. People of a certain age have the excuse of unfamiliarity: the world's changed a lot since they were young, and it's very hard to let go of the things you grew up assuming were true (I should know: I got myself a whole raft of Catholic hangups about sex that most Catholics don't even get anymore), but guys, you're young. But not that young. You don't have that excuse.

And don't even get me started about the newspaper opinion writers. Who get paid for their offensive bullshit, even if it's not as obvious.

Okay, enough venting.

It just annoyed me more than usual today, because I had some great conversations with good people about identity and social constructions thereof in the context of the Roman and Greek world. About how you can't see history as always progress and how historical people are not any less intelligent because the lens through which they viewed the world, the things which they accepted as self-evident, are utterly/mostly/very/slightly different to ours. About how you can't romanticise history, but you can't see it all as mud and disease and war and death, either. About how we are not necessarily better than our forebears, even if we are different in ways that we see as good.

Nor can we say we're not better, of course: as I said to K., history'd be a fine place to visit, but if someone invents a magic time machine, I'd be stopping off for a sex-change before taking a trip back to have a look at my much-loved Greeks and Romans.

But that sort of thing carries over. And once you learn to look at things in context, to insert yourself as far as possible into the mindset of a Hellenistic Greek or a 1st century Roman or a Judean living in Egypt to better understand how they look at the world and what mattered to them, it's kind of hard to un-learn that, or to fail to apply it to the world around you. There are no absolutes, only people. And understanding context is everything.
hawkwing_lb: (Criminal Minds JJ what you had to do)
I realised a thing today.

I'll always think of myself as Irish. But I am beyond done with the general tone of the culture here.

I realise I spend most of my time in a very unusual environment. In my religions and theology and ancient history classes, I'm surrounded by geeks, by people who value knowledge for the sake of knowledge and not necessarily for its functionality. Half my Greek class is gay. There are fellow atheists, and other non-Christian types, and the odd person or two who'll start a conversation about slash and fanfic. Even the well-muscled boys at the wall are physics and engineering postgrads. The internets are full of congenial types, and trollishness can (mostly) be avoided.

And then I stick my nose back out into the land of middle-income middle-class Ireland, and the stupid, it burns. I mean, I'm clever, but I'm no genius. I know stuff, but not nearly enough. I understand some, but sometimes I'm thick as two short planks about things, but when I fuck up and be an insensitive ass, I do try to do better when it's pointed out to me, you know?

But it takes effort, or it ought to, to be that self-satisfied in one's lack of knowledge and lack of desire to acquire it, as so many people are. I mean, I don't expect people to be perfect? But when I walk past a busstop and I hear a knot of people talking about fags and lesbos and Nigerians -

It makes me very angry. People of a certain age have the excuse of unfamiliarity: the world's changed a lot since they were young, and it's very hard to let go of the things you grew up assuming were true (I should know: I got myself a whole raft of Catholic hangups about sex that most Catholics don't even get anymore), but guys, you're young. But not that young. You don't have that excuse.

And don't even get me started about the newspaper opinion writers. Who get paid for their offensive bullshit, even if it's not as obvious.

Okay, enough venting.

It just annoyed me more than usual today, because I had some great conversations with good people about identity and social constructions thereof in the context of the Roman and Greek world. About how you can't see history as always progress and how historical people are not any less intelligent because the lens through which they viewed the world, the things which they accepted as self-evident, are utterly/mostly/very/slightly different to ours. About how you can't romanticise history, but you can't see it all as mud and disease and war and death, either. About how we are not necessarily better than our forebears, even if we are different in ways that we see as good.

Nor can we say we're not better, of course: as I said to K., history'd be a fine place to visit, but if someone invents a magic time machine, I'd be stopping off for a sex-change before taking a trip back to have a look at my much-loved Greeks and Romans.

But that sort of thing carries over. And once you learn to look at things in context, to insert yourself as far as possible into the mindset of a Hellenistic Greek or a 1st century Roman or a Judean living in Egypt to better understand how they look at the world and what mattered to them, it's kind of hard to un-learn that, or to fail to apply it to the world around you. There are no absolutes, only people. And understanding context is everything.

News

Aug. 2nd, 2007 09:40 pm
hawkwing_lb: (Criminal Minds JJ what you had to do)
Progress on Duellist has slowed to not even a crawl.

I'd be unhappy about this, save for the fact that the cause of this minor disappointment is the reason why I actually have a paycheck and the possibility - make that extreme likelihood - of a foreign holiday sometime next year.

This is the good news.

#

On TuesdayI read an article that appalled me:
Anger as gaping gulf in wealth revealed

Actually, I read two. I can't find the second one, but it links a growing number of racist incidents to the ever-widening wealth gap.

I don't blame people for being poor, ignorant and resentful. I do blame them for being stupid. Guess what? You're not hard-off because "those damn immigrants are stealing our jobs and benefits and sponging off the state." You're hard-off because, you know what?

Your government is failing you. And has been failing you since the early eighties, at least, but most egregiously so in the last decade.

Because in the last decade, they've had the revenue to address the problems endemic to the education system - which is pretty much the number one factor in whether or not people have access to anything but unskilled minimum wage jobs - and in the health system. They've had the revenue to put in place support systems to help people who fall into poverty, or who've never managed to claw their way out.

They've had the revenue for decent child support, decent sex education programmes, decent retraining programmes, decent damn near everything.

What did they do instead?

Tax breaks.

Over-budget transport projects that don't work nearly as well as they ought.

Over-budget projects that never got off the ground.

Pork for the denizens of the Galway Races party tent.

That's right. They've helped the rich get richer - which includes significant pay rises for their own selves, though that, while emblematic of the larger political mindset, is in reality perhaps the least problemmatical of the many fuckups they've committed and assisted in committing - while letting everyone else get poorer.

For those of us who aren't among the 33,000 millonaires this country can boast - guess what?

They don't give a shit.

And guess what, mates?

These lads who don't give a shit for you?

You voted for them, suckers.

Three fucking times.

News

Aug. 2nd, 2007 09:40 pm
hawkwing_lb: (Criminal Minds JJ what you had to do)
Progress on Duellist has slowed to not even a crawl.

I'd be unhappy about this, save for the fact that the cause of this minor disappointment is the reason why I actually have a paycheck and the possibility - make that extreme likelihood - of a foreign holiday sometime next year.

This is the good news.

#

On TuesdayI read an article that appalled me:
Anger as gaping gulf in wealth revealed

Actually, I read two. I can't find the second one, but it links a growing number of racist incidents to the ever-widening wealth gap.

I don't blame people for being poor, ignorant and resentful. I do blame them for being stupid. Guess what? You're not hard-off because "those damn immigrants are stealing our jobs and benefits and sponging off the state." You're hard-off because, you know what?

Your government is failing you. And has been failing you since the early eighties, at least, but most egregiously so in the last decade.

Because in the last decade, they've had the revenue to address the problems endemic to the education system - which is pretty much the number one factor in whether or not people have access to anything but unskilled minimum wage jobs - and in the health system. They've had the revenue to put in place support systems to help people who fall into poverty, or who've never managed to claw their way out.

They've had the revenue for decent child support, decent sex education programmes, decent retraining programmes, decent damn near everything.

What did they do instead?

Tax breaks.

Over-budget transport projects that don't work nearly as well as they ought.

Over-budget projects that never got off the ground.

Pork for the denizens of the Galway Races party tent.

That's right. They've helped the rich get richer - which includes significant pay rises for their own selves, though that, while emblematic of the larger political mindset, is in reality perhaps the least problemmatical of the many fuckups they've committed and assisted in committing - while letting everyone else get poorer.

For those of us who aren't among the 33,000 millonaires this country can boast - guess what?

They don't give a shit.

And guess what, mates?

These lads who don't give a shit for you?

You voted for them, suckers.

Three fucking times.
hawkwing_lb: (Criminal Minds JJ what you had to do)
My country is small and globally insignificant. Our news reports largely concern themselves with parochial things: even those provided by our nearest neighbour rarely do more than cover a handful of high-noise-content international news.

This isn't high-noise news. It will hardly been noticed, unless people start making noise - a lot of noise.

Most of us don't know it, but we are presently watching a nation teeter on the brink of tyranny.

The process by which a society moves towards fascism is an incremental one, and hard to see unless one steps back and really looks. Because what seemed outrageous last year is accepted as the norm this one: what would once have been unthinkable becomes barely noticed.

http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2007/07/are-we-there-yet.html

And by the time you realise the process is underway, it seems too late, too hard to stop.

I'm not embarrassed to say I'm afraid for the United States.

And of it.
hawkwing_lb: (Criminal Minds JJ what you had to do)
My country is small and globally insignificant. Our news reports largely concern themselves with parochial things: even those provided by our nearest neighbour rarely do more than cover a handful of high-noise-content international news.

This isn't high-noise news. It will hardly been noticed, unless people start making noise - a lot of noise.

Most of us don't know it, but we are presently watching a nation teeter on the brink of tyranny.

The process by which a society moves towards fascism is an incremental one, and hard to see unless one steps back and really looks. Because what seemed outrageous last year is accepted as the norm this one: what would once have been unthinkable becomes barely noticed.

http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2007/07/are-we-there-yet.html

And by the time you realise the process is underway, it seems too late, too hard to stop.

I'm not embarrassed to say I'm afraid for the United States.

And of it.
hawkwing_lb: (Swan At World's End)
Really not happy today.

I was yesterday, due to the strange confluence of a number of unusually good things happening. There were books, and friends, and good food. Really good food.

Today, I woke up to discover that my laptop is fucked.

And then I read the paper.

The Health Services Executive directed the Gardaí to prevent a seventeen-year-old woman from leaving the country. The young woman isn't a criminal. She's four months pregnant with a fetus suffering from anencephaly - a fetus that won't survive more than a handful of days after birth - and because she is under a temporary care order (state, or in this case HSE, standing in loco parentis), she is being prevented from leaving the country in order to obtain an abortion unless she convinces a psychiatrist that she's suicidal.

But she's not suicidal, and won't say she is. (Of course, if she admits to being suicidal, the HSE would then admit her to a psychiatric ward and keep her there until after she gave birth. Which would probably not have the best effect on anyone's mental health.)

The AG says the HSE has overstepped their authority by issuing directions to the Gardaí, and preventing the woman from travelling. But that hasn't stopped the AG from appointing a lawyer to 'defend the interests of the unborn' in the courtroom.

If this had happened to someone who was not in the care of the state, none of this would be happening. If they could afford to travel to England, and their personal ethics didn't get in the way, then off they'd go. But because this young woman told a social worker, and the social worker told the HSE -

Well. Some days I despise my country. The level of hypocrisy is appalling.

Does anybody think that it's acceptable to simply export our abortions? To treat it like we treat planning decisions, with a wink and a nudge and a blind eye turned to hypocrisy? As long as the middle class and the rich can have their cake and eat it, too - can have their public disapproval, and their private infelicities, where abortion is concerned -

Oh, fuck it. And did I mention that not one of the parties running in the elections, including the Greens, is talking up green energy? No?

Lying liars who tell lies. They're all of them hypocritical fuckers. Yes, and their little dogs, too.
hawkwing_lb: (Swan At World's End)
Really not happy today.

I was yesterday, due to the strange confluence of a number of unusually good things happening. There were books, and friends, and good food. Really good food.

Today, I woke up to discover that my laptop is fucked.

And then I read the paper.

The Health Services Executive directed the Gardaí to prevent a seventeen-year-old woman from leaving the country. The young woman isn't a criminal. She's four months pregnant with a fetus suffering from anencephaly - a fetus that won't survive more than a handful of days after birth - and because she is under a temporary care order (state, or in this case HSE, standing in loco parentis), she is being prevented from leaving the country in order to obtain an abortion unless she convinces a psychiatrist that she's suicidal.

But she's not suicidal, and won't say she is. (Of course, if she admits to being suicidal, the HSE would then admit her to a psychiatric ward and keep her there until after she gave birth. Which would probably not have the best effect on anyone's mental health.)

The AG says the HSE has overstepped their authority by issuing directions to the Gardaí, and preventing the woman from travelling. But that hasn't stopped the AG from appointing a lawyer to 'defend the interests of the unborn' in the courtroom.

If this had happened to someone who was not in the care of the state, none of this would be happening. If they could afford to travel to England, and their personal ethics didn't get in the way, then off they'd go. But because this young woman told a social worker, and the social worker told the HSE -

Well. Some days I despise my country. The level of hypocrisy is appalling.

Does anybody think that it's acceptable to simply export our abortions? To treat it like we treat planning decisions, with a wink and a nudge and a blind eye turned to hypocrisy? As long as the middle class and the rich can have their cake and eat it, too - can have their public disapproval, and their private infelicities, where abortion is concerned -

Oh, fuck it. And did I mention that not one of the parties running in the elections, including the Greens, is talking up green energy? No?

Lying liars who tell lies. They're all of them hypocritical fuckers. Yes, and their little dogs, too.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Some things, I don't think about. Some things, I don't talk about.

Sometimes that's because I don't know. Sometimes it's because I don't care, or because I'm burned out from caring. Sometimes, it feels like appropriating someone else's issues, or griefs, or concerns. I'd make an appallingly bad journalist in this day and age. Probably in any.

Reading the blog coverage of the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre, the one thing that jumps out at me is the way the issue of gun control keeps coming up, again and again and again.

Let me just say that the US attitude to killing weapons purely baffles me. Whatever about owning hunting weapons, and keeping guns for sport shooting at a range - but then, I come from a place where even the general run of the police force are unarmed, and the only civilians who carry guns make the majority of their income from criminal enterprises. Yeah, we have armed crime, and gun murder - there're quite a few serious weapons floating around, particularly since (according to rumour) the IRA offloaded some of theirs during the ceasefire, and some more before disarmament. But I digress.

One of the arguments I see coming up on these discussions on gun control, from the pro-gun side, is the need for the populace to be able to protect themselves from the government. Or more specifically, the potential tyranny or oppression of the government.

You hear that noise there? That was my head exploding.

I mean, I consider myself a cynic of the first water. Government - even democratic government - exists to a) make money for politicians and civil servants, and b) grudgingly provide those services to its citizens it can't get out of. It'll happily fuck over anyone who can't buy themselves a TD - or at least a county councillor or three. It's a broken system, and the only reason it still exists is that while nearly everybody dislikes it, no one can agree on how to fix it.

But if you're worried you'll need guns to defend yourself from your own elected representives, then your system is not merely broken, but seriously, dangerously dysfunctional. Either that or you're on the paranoid side of the sanity division.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

Maybe I'm biased, living a few kilometres down the road from Nor'n Ireland. Thirty years of the troubles and some of the most innovative bomb-making techniques around, and the guys fighting against what they saw as the 'tyranny' of British rule didn't win. (Note: achieving détente is not winning.)

Or maybe I'm biased, having a good understanding of my own country's founding mythology and knowing just how skewed it is. We didn't win our war of independence. David Lloyd George offered a pretty shitty compromise (although probably he thought it generous), and that only because his domestic public opinion was against a war of suppression in Ireland.

And those are instances of relatively united forces - in the IRA's case, with significant external funding and an extremely well-developed support network - facing a 'foreign' enemy. If your own government is prepared to turn the big guns on you regardless of public opinion, then small arms aren't going to help you. (Well, they might help you fight a civil war that lasts for a few decades and leaves no one all that much better off. But I really don't consider that helping.)

So can someone explain to this very puzzled European why some USians think guns are a good thing to have? And why that's a good argument for having them?
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Some things, I don't think about. Some things, I don't talk about.

Sometimes that's because I don't know. Sometimes it's because I don't care, or because I'm burned out from caring. Sometimes, it feels like appropriating someone else's issues, or griefs, or concerns. I'd make an appallingly bad journalist in this day and age. Probably in any.

Reading the blog coverage of the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre, the one thing that jumps out at me is the way the issue of gun control keeps coming up, again and again and again.

Let me just say that the US attitude to killing weapons purely baffles me. Whatever about owning hunting weapons, and keeping guns for sport shooting at a range - but then, I come from a place where even the general run of the police force are unarmed, and the only civilians who carry guns make the majority of their income from criminal enterprises. Yeah, we have armed crime, and gun murder - there're quite a few serious weapons floating around, particularly since (according to rumour) the IRA offloaded some of theirs during the ceasefire, and some more before disarmament. But I digress.

One of the arguments I see coming up on these discussions on gun control, from the pro-gun side, is the need for the populace to be able to protect themselves from the government. Or more specifically, the potential tyranny or oppression of the government.

You hear that noise there? That was my head exploding.

I mean, I consider myself a cynic of the first water. Government - even democratic government - exists to a) make money for politicians and civil servants, and b) grudgingly provide those services to its citizens it can't get out of. It'll happily fuck over anyone who can't buy themselves a TD - or at least a county councillor or three. It's a broken system, and the only reason it still exists is that while nearly everybody dislikes it, no one can agree on how to fix it.

But if you're worried you'll need guns to defend yourself from your own elected representives, then your system is not merely broken, but seriously, dangerously dysfunctional. Either that or you're on the paranoid side of the sanity division.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

Maybe I'm biased, living a few kilometres down the road from Nor'n Ireland. Thirty years of the troubles and some of the most innovative bomb-making techniques around, and the guys fighting against what they saw as the 'tyranny' of British rule didn't win. (Note: achieving détente is not winning.)

Or maybe I'm biased, having a good understanding of my own country's founding mythology and knowing just how skewed it is. We didn't win our war of independence. David Lloyd George offered a pretty shitty compromise (although probably he thought it generous), and that only because his domestic public opinion was against a war of suppression in Ireland.

And those are instances of relatively united forces - in the IRA's case, with significant external funding and an extremely well-developed support network - facing a 'foreign' enemy. If your own government is prepared to turn the big guns on you regardless of public opinion, then small arms aren't going to help you. (Well, they might help you fight a civil war that lasts for a few decades and leaves no one all that much better off. But I really don't consider that helping.)

So can someone explain to this very puzzled European why some USians think guns are a good thing to have? And why that's a good argument for having them?

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