Rural Broadband Access in Ireland: The Lunatics have taken over the Asylum

Back in May 2015 we listened with interest to a representative of Eircom,(Now Eir) discussing broadband access in Ireland, explaining to a radio interviewer how they were going to work with Government on the roll out of high speed broadband to all and sundry in rural Ireland. The programme to be supported by the exchequer. Apparently we have about 700,000 people who have built their houses so far from civilisation that it will take up to €10,000 of Taxpayers money to connect some of them to Broadband. This is the point to call Stop!

Broadband accessThere are a significant number of this 700,000 who, with the acquiescence of the planning system, decided to build their detached little “South Fork” pastiche home up on “The Hill” or down the winding “Boreen” as far away from their neighbours as possible. Of course they now expect to have all public services provided by the taxpayer, including a Hospital or a least an Ambulance at the end of their winding driveway.

We have a real case of the chickens coming home to roost here, these Baby Boomers and Tiger wannabes who wanted to live far away from their neighbours as possible, certainly refusing to think about the possibility of living next door to some smelly neighbours in a Town or Village, have now discovered that they made a bit of a mistake and they want the rest of us to pay for it. As far as I am concerned they can take a hike.

The policy of allowing individuals to build their homes anywhere that suited them and demand that the community follow their stupid decision with services should never have happened and needs to stop and in fact be reversed.

At the same time as having to deal with these self inflicted hermits, we have our Towns and Villages dying for lack of population, with services closing because of lack of support.

This is my solution. All housing must be built within a reasonable distance of either a Town or Village that provides what we regard as “public services” I suggest that the distance to the centre of the Town or Village should be that which a reasonably fit sixty year old can walk within 45 minutes.(about 5k)

We then use taxpayers money to subsidise public services to the same level as those available in larger conurbations within the designated catchment area of the Town or Village.

If you live outside the catchment area because that’s where you built your dream home, you pay the full economic cost of your own folly and our hard earned taxes can be used for more useful purposes.

€10,000 to connect someone to Broadband, The Lunatics have taken over the asylum…….

Halloween Jack O’Lantern

Halloween Jack O'LanternTwenty four year old David Harrison, educated at Blackrock College and recently graduated from UCD with a first class honours “Master of Law” degree had journeyed to the deep Northside of Dublin to meet some of his college friends in Kavanagh’s Pub, Prospect Square Phibsborough. Kavanagh’s is more famously known as “The Grave Diggers” because of its proximity to the eastern wall of Glasnevin Cemetery, so close in fact that legend has it that in times past pints of porter were passed through a hole in the pub wall to the gravediggers in the cemetery, hence the name.

The location was chosen to begin creating the evening’s atmosphere, which was to culminate in a Halloween party at another friend’s house on St Teresa’s Road, also in close proximity to the graveyard. The theme for the party was all things zombies and the animals that might feed on them.

David being a rather superior person was not dressed in anything that would resemble a zombie, his nod to the party being that he brought a doctor’s white coat and stethoscope with him to don later.

During the course of the evening with large quantities of Guinness being consumed, the proximity of the graveyard and the Halloween Jack O ’Lantern made from turnips, rather than the imported American pumpkins concept, the conversation turned to the subject of the afterlife and the connection between the living and the dead being celebrated on Halloween, or Samhain as it was known in ancient Celtic times. David being a complete non believer in anything to do with the afterlife, God, or any other type of spirit or ghost was loudly poo pooing the concept when he was interrupted by Anthony Kavanagh, the fourth generation owner of the pub, who assured him that there was definitely a connection between the living and the dead and that he and his staff were so convinced of this that the pub would be closing at 11:30pm sharp, as no one wanted to be on the premises after twelve O’clock.

This early closure had been the practice at the pub since his great grandfather’s time when, on a number of all hollow’s eves, alcohol, that was definitely not consumed by paying customers on the premises, disappeared from whisky bottles and beer kegs.  Bottles of whiskey that would normally produce forty “small ones” per bottle would be empty after serving thirty measures. A keg of Guinness containing one hundred pints of stout would run empty after the serving of sixty pints. The most unnerving thing was that anyone who was on the premises after twelve midnight would have the same songs rattling around in their head, as if they had heard them sung, songs that were never sung by any person in the pub. There was obviously a celebration going on in some parallel world that could not be seen but was breaking through the dimension that separates the living world from the world of those who have passed on. Possible proof of the ancient Celtic belief that it was on this night that the two worlds came closest to each other as they travelled through eternity and sometimes collided, with the actions of those who had passed on, but not yet reached their final resting place, being subliminally experienced but not seen.

On being questioned as to why the pub used turnips for their Jack O ‘Lanterns instead of the modern pumpkins? Anthony explained that it was because legend also had it that, because of their size, they represented the skulls of those who were sacrificed to please the Gods of Samhain in ancient times.

The more Guinness David consumed the more obnoxious he became, loudly denouncing what he called the primitive beliefs of the obviously uneducated underclasses that normally frequented the pub. The more sanguine of the elderly regular patrons just regarded him as a toffy nosed git from the south side but the rest of the pub had more sinister thoughts and eventually he was challenged to put his bottle where his very loud mouth was and go spend the night in the graveyard, silently hoping that he might die by falling into an already open grave.

With the confidence of a spoiled brat and six pints of Guinness inside him he took up the challenge and agreed to climb over the railings into the Graveyard when the pub closed.

There was a number of graveyard workers drinking in Kavanagh’s that night and, as people were leaving, they stopped David and advised him strongly about going into the graveyard after midnight. No gravedigger would ever go there during the hours of darkness as they regularly found evidence of sacrificial activity when they opened the graveyard in the mornings on certain days of the month, mostly coinciding with a full moon or some ancient witchcraft anniversary day. While they had never found a human body, there was enough remaining evidence to suggest that it happened and hiding the sacrificed remains would obviously not be too difficult in a graveyard with a million graves.

His friends also tried to dissuade him but to no avail, the more they pleaded with him to give up the escapade the more he shouted his derision about those who believed in ghosts and pishogues so they finally left him as he climbed over the railings and dropped onto the grass in the graveyard at one minute to midnight.

The street lights faintly illuminated an area of about thirty feet from the railings and he could see a copse of trees to his right. Walking toward the trees he saw a large oak tree with a low lying heavy branch that would possibly afford some shelter. When he reached it he discovered that the gentle curve of the branch as it left the tree was wide enough to be used as a reasonably comfortable reclining sitting place. He settled in and, with the super confidence of the non believer and eight pints of Guinness, fell asleep.

He was not long asleep when a very full bladder insisted that it be emptied. Waking, he rolled groggily from the branch to a standing position and relieved himself against the tree. The sound of his stream of liquid hitting the tree was strangely muted and the steam, instead of rising, sank slowly to the ground and lay there, floating slowly along the grass. Readjusting his clothing, he is now fully awake and realises that something has changed dramatically since he had gone asleep.

A perfunctory look at his watch to get some idea of how long he had been asleep changed to a stare of disquiet when the watch showed twelve midnight with no movement of the second hand. Taking his smartphone from his pocket his disquiet turned to a concern when the on/off switch had no effect on the dark, blank screen. Pulling his shoulders back and staring around with mock confidence he notices that the area is lit by a strange diffused greyish pink light, as if a distant rising moon was shining and reflecting off the underneath of low hanging clouds, bathing the place in a light that he felt as much as saw. His confidence rapidly dissipates when he looks left towards the graveyard railings to find instead the extremity of his vision, beyond which there was only blackness, the street lights, Kavanagh’s pub and the buildings around it, no longer visible.

With a nervous laugh he looks to his right and a shiver of freight runs through his body when he sees a big slightly stooped figure dressed in a loose fitting, hooded, full length, jet black cassock. He laughs out loud and shouts “ Get the fuck outa here ye bunch of messers, I don’t know how you’re doing this but fair play to ye, ye got me, let’s go to the party”. The figure in black turns his head slowly. His chalk white face, burning burgundy eyes and pure evil grin showing gnarled stained teeth freezes the blood in David’s veins and he passes out, falling backwards on the ground.

He wakes up for the second time that night and the scene in front of him fills him with such terror he tries unsuccessfully to will his mind to let him pass out again. The figure in black, now in full view, is standing over the naked body of a man face down on the slab of a concrete chest tomb, acting as a sacrificial altar. On the other side of the tomb there are three dog like creatures, not hyenas or wolves but a hybrid of both, huge heads and teeth with massive shoulders and chests and the low slinking stance of a hyena, staring expectantly at the figure in black, mouths slightly open, saliva dripping from their jaws. The figure in Black is at least one and a half times the size of a normal man, his huge hands and chalk white face the only things visible. The nail on his right index finger, two inches long, slightly curved with the edges sharpened like a razor blade, is shaped like a teaspoon, glowing silver white in the diffused light. Perched on a nearby headstone is a huge, black, bird, like a raven but twice the size with a long hooked beak, staring at the scene with unblinking eyes.

The figure in black looks at David and grins widely, showing his gnarled discoloured teeth. He raises his right hand to the sky so that David can see the finger nail that is now glowing on the end of his index finger, reaches around the body lying on the slab and with one swift circular movement cuts through the skin the whole way around the neck. The body has obviously been dead for a number of hours as there is no bleeding, just a brownish red line along the cut. He calls to the Raven with a harsh rasping “CAW” deep in his throat.  The raven flies from its perch and clamps its sharp talons on both sides of the head and with one mighty flap of his huge wings flies backwards, pulling the skin from the skull with a ripping sound like an opening Velcro fastener. The Raven drops the skin in front of the dog like creatures, who remain motionless until the figure in black gives a commanding bark and they devour it in seconds.

A swift twist and pull separates the head from the torso. He pushes the body from the slab, barks a command and the dog like creatures consume it with ferocious snarling, tearing and ripping, breaking and crunching the bones with a sound like heavy boots on gravel.

He sits down slowly on the slab. The raven flutters its feathers expectantly as he turns the severed head to look at where the face used to be. He looks at the raven with a knowing smile and flicks the right eye from the skull with his long index fingernail. The raven catches and swallows it before it hits the ground, hovers on open wings and repeats the catch and swallow as the left eye is flicked from the skull.

Standing watching this, David has become catatonic, his screaming mind refusing to believe what he is seeing he sinks to the ground and curls up in a foetal position, puts his thumb in his mouth and whimpers for his mother.

Meanwhile, the figure in black extends his index finger in front of him and stares at it until it glows bright red. He jambs it into the skull about an inch above the nose and with a circular motion burns through the bone and removes the top of the skull, throwing it to the dog like creatures.

Taking the skull in his huge left hand he calls to the raven with a gentle “caw”. The raven lands on his right forearm and dips its beak into the cavity.  It takes it about thirty minutes to clean every piece of brain and skin from the skull.

Taking a small candle from his cloak he places it in the now empty skull and pausing, he stares at his finger nail until it glows red again, lights the candle and places the Halloween Jack O’Lantern skull in the middle of the stone slab. Turning, with a bundle of clothes under his arm, including a doctors white coat and statoscope, the Black bird on his shoulder, the dog like creatures around him like presidential outriders, he walks to a nearby mausoleum and they disappear inside, walking through the door as if it wasn’t there.

David’s friends were both surprised and impressed when he hadn’t come back to the party house and decided to walk over to the graveyard when it opened at nine o’clock the following morning. Still drunk, the noise they made laughing and joking loudly as they came through the gate woke David, who jumped up and ran towards them in delight and relief that he had survived the night, even if his nightmare had scarred him half to death. To his surprise they walked straight passed him and stood looking at the Jack o ’Lantern that was still glowing faintly on one of the graveyard chest tombs. He shouted at them, “Hey guys, I’m right here, stop fucking messing, I won the bet, I stayed here all night”

They left the graveyard deciding that David had gone home rather than admit that he didn’t stay the night and lost the bet.

© Brendan Palmer October 2017

Time does not run out, it rises as water in a well. Sister Stan.

Inkslingers Writers Group: Saturday 24th June 2017
The prompt: Time does not run out, it rises as water in a well. Sister Stan. (Stanislaus)

I took a whimsical look at the possibility that yesterday is also tomorrow……

The latest News from the Astrophysicist Community is that Gravity, as we have known it, may not in fact exist. Until that is proven I will stick with Einstein’s theory that time is suspect and that gravity may bend time. In fact, for what follows, I will assume that gravity does bend time.

Now, to take a time trip back to the Math classes at school or, as we knew it then, arithmetic classes, it being before the advent of American television. We know from those arithmetic classes, more correctly geometry, that a straight line can travel to infinity but any small constant curve will change it to an eventual closed circle. Transferring this mathematical fact to physics; if gravity bends time, which I have already decided it does, time is therefore a circle and the Nano second that has just passed is in fact also somewhere in the future at the same time.

Of course, the amount that gravity bends time, if it does, is miniscule in the context of the time that has already passed since the big bang, which we know is about 13.5 billion years. Not knowing how much longer the continuum we measure as time will continue into the future, the fact that my immediate past is also sometime in the future is totally irrelevant because the amount of time I have been allocated as a self-aware, carbon-based life form is so small in comparison, I will never reach that future point.

Let us, for the purpose of argument, postulate that that the time circle is 5 billion years; how does that sit with the concept of history repeating itself and the fact that we are currently existing in some people’s past while at the same time also existing in some people’s future?

Perhaps this is an explanation as to why some people think they have lived before, they somehow have the ability to access the time continuum at a point in time that’s both the past and the future. Perhaps it even explains “Déjà vu” or, as we would say in English “already seen”.

It may be that Sister Stanislaus was referring to how people use their time but it could also be that she is one of those people who have unexplained insights into the workings of the cosmos.

One way or the other, time marches on, waits for no-one and will continue to march on long after I have discovered what happens when my personal clock stops ticking.

Fixing Nursing Homes and Delayed Hospital Discharge Issues

This is an extract from an email doing the rounds in 2011, the concept still has some validity today.

In order to fix the problem of mistreatment of the elderly in nursing homes and to immediately provide about 2700 extra places, freeing up those beds occupied by delayed discharge from hospitals…..
Move all the elderly into our jails and the criminals into nursing homes.

The pensioners would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.
They’d also receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc.
They would have constant video monitoring so if assistance was needed they’d have immediate help.
Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be washed and ironed as needed.
There would be a guard to check on them every 20 minutes and staff to bring their meals and snacks to their cell.
They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.
They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counselling, pool and education.
Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ’s and legal aid would be free, on request.
There would be private, secure rooms for all, with an exercise outdoor yard, with gardens for anyone who felt the need to exercise.
Each senior could have a PC a TV radio and daily phone calls,
There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and all guards would have a code of conduct that would have to be strictly adhered to.

 

Elderly man in nursing home

 

The criminals would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised day and night. Lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week; live in a tiny room and pay €800.00 per week without any hope of ever getting out.

Some good ideas there Leo…..

The Christian Brothers Leather

Irish Christian Brothers strap
The Christian Brothers ‘leather’ a mass produced circa 30cm (one foot) length of leather that had old pennies sewn into their several layers. ‘Six of the best’ on each outstretched hand would have you numb for ten or fifteen minutes before the excruciating pain kicked in.

 

Irish Water and Our Mind Numbingly Incompetent Politicians

Free Irish WaterThe Irish Water debacle shows just how mind numbingly incompetent our politicians are. Remember when they were in control of the telephone system? There was a two year waiting list for a telephone, if you could get one in the first place.  Can you imagine the state we would be in if these incompetents were in control of our Electricity, Gas, Internet or Phone systems.

We need a single water utility and people need to pay for the water they use and yes disconnection should be an option. If there are ability to pay issues, that can be dealt with through the Social Welfare system.

Like the ESB, Irish Water needs to be independent of the politicians we are unfortunately saddled with in this wonderful little Republic.

Of course we need the politicians to create this change, back to the headline in this post……

Basically our politicians have created their very own Cute Hoors Ground Hog Day

Leadership! What leadership?

Incompetant Politiciana and Iris Water

Trying to Govern the Ungovernable Who Want Free Water With Cute Hoors Muddying the Water

Free Tap WaterIt would appear that one of the biggest problems the powers that be have in getting a single water utility up and running and having people pay for what they use, is the fact that a serious amount of people in this country think that the water that comes out of their tap, and the water that’s used to flush away their human waste is directly connected to the amount of water that falls from the sky.

Dublin Water Resevoir
They then make the leap that gathering the water into reservoirs that will hold enough to guarantee a constant supply, cleaning it from contaminants to make it potable (for those with a challenged lexicon, it means making it drinkable) and then managing the vast majority of the water again as it flows through the waste system and must be cleaned before being released back into the environment, somehow costs nothing.

 

Who would envy an incoming Government who have to try Govern the Ungovernable? Especially when one of the informal supporters of the minority Government, having come back in from the cold have instantly reverted to their standard Cute Hoor way of doing things.

 

Dublin Water Treatment Plant

Dublin Water Treatment Plant

 

 

Closing the city down when there is an accident on the M50

I passed north bound on the M50 at 8:35 on the morning of the 11th November the first of the recent M50 accidents. At that time, 3 hours 15 minutes after the accident, the only thing that was left on the roadway was the vehicles that were involved, the CSI team and another team of Garda managing the closure of the M50 at the N3 off ramp

An Irish Times picture shows that the outside lane (and most of the centre lane) was free of any obstruction
M50 Accident 11th November 2015

As far as I am concerned there is no reason why this one lane could not have been opened. There were enough police managing the closure to make this possible safely.

I would challenge the CSI team to tell us what extra they could discover from this outside lane, in the five hours following this picture been taken that they did not get in the previous 3 hours. Those numbers may not be perfectly accurate but I think people get my drift.

Accidents where people die need to be properly investigated and as one lady commented on radio last week, while we might have been delayed, we got to our destination alive and well so I am not advocating a lessening of CSI activity, I just think that the CSI team should include someone who focus is on the efficiency of the investigation in the context of getting the road open again.

A City Boy on Farming 17 Bees : To Bee or not to Bee and the Survival of Mankind

Originally posted to the Irish Executives Bloggers in Residence on 22nd October 2015

I have always thought of bees as one of those things that could trigger a human catastrophe if they disappeared, up there on a scale of destruction with the loss of the Amazon Rain Forest or the various warm sea currents around the globe. The concept being that certain things we take for granted could disappear and start an irreversible chain reaction that would make the planet uninhabitable for humans.

The recently published “All Ireland Pollinator report” prompted me to investigate the importance of bees to our agriculture and our existence in general

The first results of the investigation produced the following quote attributed to Einstein

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”

A pretty stark prediction by someone as eminent as Einstein (I will return to this later) is a serious call to action especially when the facts suggest that we are on the slippery slope to pollinator extinction. So, with The Sword of Damocles in the air further research on the current position of pollinators was needed.

Globally bee keepers are reporting a decline of between 30% and 50% in the honeybee population. In Ireland it is estimated that 30% of bee species face extinction including three species specific to Ireland. The EU Commission report on 2000 species of bees shows that 9% are threatened with extinction.

So what’s causing the decline? The main and most obvious cause is due to habitat loss of hedgerows and wild meadows as a result of intensification in farming and the increase in the use of pesticides. There is also the issue of intensive farming of the honeybee as the main commercial pollinator of choice. It is the farmed honeybee that is most under attack from pesticides and colony diseases. Another cause of loss of habitat is urban development and climate change

So, is Einstein’s prediction correct, when the bees go, we have four years left? Well, first off, Einstein never said any such thing. This looks like a classic case of a useful quote’s being invented and put into the mouth of a famous person to add credence. (pic is photo shopped). There is some justification for using this kind of comment going back as far a Darwin, who mentioned the importance of the connection between bees and man. Since then some version of the importance of bees to our continued existence has been regularly quoted and obviously expanded until the quote arbitrarily attributed to Einstein eventually evolved. (Darwin, Evolution…..)

Interestingly the first version of the exact quote comes from Ireland when, in 1966 “The Irish Beekeeper” printed a remark attributed to Einstein that gave a time limit for mankind quoting Abeilles et fleurs.
“Professor Einstein, the learned scientist, once calculated that if all bees disappeared off the earth, four years later all humans would also have disappeared. Abeilles et fleurs, June, 1965.”
(full story from an investigation by “Quote Investigator” )

The most “Authoritative study” I could find on the subject concluded that primary food production, and especially our staple foods, is independent of insect pollination. Sixty percent of global food production comes from crops that do not depend on animal pollination, although our diet would be dramatically impacted upon as 35% of crops depend on pollinators.

Thirty five percent is still a significant number and bees and other pollinating insects play an essential role in our ecosystems. The annual worldwide economic value of bees’ pollination work has been estimated around €265 billion. So from a purely economic point of view we need the bees.

While our imminent extinction following the loss of bees is not a reality, we do need to make some changes to protect the 35% of our food chain that is dependent on pollinators and particularly bees.

Apart from our food, the psychological impact on humans if flowers disappeared might be a bigger problem than the loss of certain foodstuffs. Who has not enjoyed the pleasure of a summer afternoon in a garden awash with colour from flowers and the lazy hum of bees as they gather nectar in the warm, heavy sunshine?

What about honey and all the wonderful benefits it bestows on our daily existence? Bees are the only insect that produces food eaten by man and honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water; and it’s the only food that contains “pinocembrin”, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.

So, we know we have a problem, it may not be as big as some of the scaremongering types would like us to believe but it is a problem that needs addressing. Of course one of the most important things about fixing problems is knowing that we have one in the first place. Now that we know, what are we going to do about it?

The actions set out in the “All Ireland Pollinator Plan” are certainly a good place to start.

Their main recommendations are
Plant patches of urban areas with wildflowers.
Incorporate pollinator friendly plants into gardens.
Allow lawn weeds to flower.
Incorporate wildflower strips within cropped fields.
Allow field margins to grow wild
Incorporate clovers into grass-dominated swards.
Incorporate artificial solitary bee nests into urban gardens

Farmers can help by taking on board the replanting of biodiversity friendly hedgerows and wild flower strips between fields. There is a major question about the effect of the pesticides used in intensive farming on pollinators and while there is some argument about this, there certainly seems to be some cause and effect so farmers need to consider embracing more ecological management systems for crop management. The “BurrenLIFE programme” is a good example of farming methods in harmony with the environment

Government and local authorities can help by establishing bee friendly habitats along roadways and other public areas.

Individual householders can help by considering bee friendly initiatives for our gardens. Some good suggestions in “Gardening & Bees”

There are a huge amount of articles to read on the relationship between humans and bees. I liked this one by Eimear Chaomhánach a lot “The Bee, its Keeper and Produce, in Irish and other Folk Traditions”

Bees have been around for millions of years, by all accounts they are a very resilient life form so I don’t think we are in any immediate danger of destroying them completely and we certainly are not facing a four years to extinction scenario for the human race but perhaps recognising and addressing the problems our bee partners are having will lead us to a more sustainable way of managing our interaction with our mother, Earth.


Brendan Palmer is a Director of Electronic Recycling
Unit 20, Jamestown Business Pk. Finglas, Dublin 11