Is Bono A C***?

Mike McCaughan delivers an entertaining intro
Mike McCaughan delivered the intro

I mean, one shouldn’t just assume.

Or to put the question more precisely, is the supposed anti-poverty campaigner actually promoting neoliberal global exploitation? This fair question is asked by journalist Harry Browne in The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power), which got its Galway launch tonight in good old Charlie Byrne’s bookshop.

As I understand it, the thesis is that Bono has become the poster child for what is sometimes referred to as the “conscience consumer”. This is the sort of person who chooses a credit card because it gives some tiny percentage of each transaction to charity, who is ready to make the world a better place just as long as they don’t have to get involved personally.

Through being rich and powerful, and associating with the rich and powerful, Bono has come to promote the idea that the rich and powerful will save the world. Despite all the evidence to the contrary so far. It’s an interesting argument, and given his odder actions and pronouncements – see links below – I am inclined to think it’s true.

Is it? Read the book and let me know. College is back and I have about fifty others to get through right now.

Painted Into A Corner

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I think I’m lost

You’re finally clearing out the shed or the cupboard under the stairs – what do you always find? One unfinished tin of every single colour paint you’ve ever used. These things build up – indeed it’s actually illegal just to throw them away. Paint is hazardous waste now. Hazardous to whom or what I am unclear, but I can sort of imagine why it shouldn’t just be poured down the drain. If nothing else, the sewers would look a mess. So what can you do with it?

If you live in Galway City, the simple answer is: Nothing. There is no way of legally disposing of a tin of paint. The city used to offer a facility, but that’s closed temporarily. Temporarily since last October. I quote from the City Council site:

In the interim people are encouraged to use up all paints, clean container thoroughly at which point the empty clean container can be placed in the household recycling bin.

So I did one gatepost in blue, the other two-thirds orange and one-third cream. Then I removed the dried paint residue from those tins with a gallon of white spirit, four hours scrubbing, and some fire. There were still quite a few tins left though and I was getting tired. Was there nowhere else?

I looked to the county, and found that all Galway has turned its recycling over to local commercial interest Barna Waste. Who of course charge for disposal – not a great advert for our new property taxes that, but at least there’s somewhere to go. According to the website, the nearest facility is in Tuam – a town about twenty miles away. But where exactly in Tuam?

I turn to Google maps, but no combination of terms like Tuam, Galway, County, Council, hazardous, waste, disposal and recycling found anything. Well, you don’t expect Google Maps to know where everything in the world is. OK you do. What drove me nuts though is that most searches returned just a single result – every one of them a commercial entity, and frequently nothing whatsoever to do with waste disposal. It was, in short, about as useful as a slap in the face. There have been a lot of changes with Google Maps recently, and I’m not sure they’re for the better.

Much of the blame though must go to Barna Waste. They have a lovely website, with nice pictures of all the kinds of rubbish you can bring to any of their luxurious dumps across the county. Nowhere though do they actually give addresses for any of these, other than their home base. The County Council meanwhile hides the address on a Word document you have to download – and even then the sum total of information is “Athenry Rd”, a seventeen-mile route. So perhaps it’s not surprising that Google has no freaking idea where this place is. Took me half an hour of driving around to find it myself.

By which time it was closed, of course.

Addresses, people. Put addresses on your websites if you want people to visit. I know we live in the Internet age, but some things still actually need to be physically moved. Crap especially.

Brighter Days In Ireland

Irish tradition.Hurling
Father and child playing hurling on the beach, or uneven duel with cudgels (Photo credit: Godo-Godaj)

A hot day in Ireland – more special than Christmas. That feast arrives once a year, like it or not. Hot weather is significantly less dependable. If it comes at all, you know not the day nor the hour. Where the wind and the water currents of the Atlantic collide with land, weather is about as predictable as a fruit machine. So hot days are precious.

Which is why I gave up any idea of getting work done and went swimming. I had no choice.

It was lovely at the lake. The water hasn’t got very warm yet, but it was fine for swimming. Mostly young people there, throwing themselves and each other in. Some had brought hurls and sliotars (hurling balls) and were practising in the water. The ball landed near me at one stage and I threw it back – or tried. Ever thrown something while floating in water? It’s weird, and largely unsuccessful. I was throwing myself backwards as much as the ball forwards. Embarrassing.

I was impressed though by this positive attitude. Galway lost the Leinster Championship final yesterday, to underdogs Dublin. (No Galway isn’t in Leinster – it’s a long story.) Some might have wanted to forget about hurling for a while after that, but here these young guys were not just practising, but apparently developing an entirely new tactical approach that involves flooding the pitch to a depth of over two metres.

It may be romantic optimism brought on by the weather, but I see hope for the future in that.

Coffee Break

McCamridges2The window of McCambridge’s is one of the great places in Galway to have coffee. Looking onto the main shopping thoroughfare, it combines all that’s best about walking around town with all that’s best about sitting inside not doing that.

With our weather – and the last time I was here I watched a wooden forklift pallet being blown down the road – it’s a priceless resource.

The name of that thoroughfare by the way is Shop Street. I’ve always liked the excessive literalness of that. The adjoining High Street meanwhile is full of pubs. All we really need is for the banks to be down Arsehole Avenue.

But I must stop avoiding the issue, I’m here to apologise. This has been one of the longest breaks I’ve ever taken from writing here. What siren has lured me away with her haunted song? I’ll tell you honestly. Flagrant geekery. Part of the time it’s been Java. Not the coffee, the programming language. Part of the time it’s been Linux. All of it, in short,  stuff that most people neither understand nor – and here’s the really tricky part – particularly want to understand.

So writing about them in an entertaining way may be a little tricky. But  I will give it a  go.

Hello World

Protesting in Frankfurt

It’s something of a tradition that the simplest possible program, and therefore the first one you’ll ever write, is one that prints out “Hello World“. It’s cute and sweet because it makes the computer seem intelligent and aware – if only just.

I know how it feels. So I’m dropping by here to say hello to the world. I haven’t seen much of it, living as I am in a tunnel of projects and meetings and assignments. And yes, programming.

Also, to say that if you’re in Galway now’s your chance to march with the lovely people from Ballyhea in their ongoing protest against giving all our money to reckless and irresponsible bankers. You know, the ones I went to Frankfurt with. And when I say march, to be honest it’s more a saunter. Despite the seriousness of the issue it’s as good-humoured a protest as you’re likely to find. They’re forming up at the station corner of Eyre Square at 10:45. I urge you to join in.

Further details of this and other protest venues on Bondwatch Ireland.

And for the record, my first attempt at a program printed out “Hello Golfcart”.

It’s a little buggy.

Tuam Raider

Tuam. Not the worst for traffic

Well here I am in sunny Tuam, for the first time really since I passed my driving test. Yes I’m sorry Tuam, I admit it, I used you. People say it’s easier here than in Galway city. After the fact, I’m not so sure. Galway traffic is insane at rush hour it’s true, but Tuam was then going through an interminable process of roadworks, diversions, temporary traffic lights and tailbacks. And though Galway has imposing roundabouts, Tuam has far too many of those ridiculous mini-roundabouts that transform a simple honest junction into a revolving door. Also, some trick signage; my instructor introduced me to a way you could fail your test without even trying. At one junction there’s a yield sign, so naturally you stop if there’s oncoming traffic. If there is no oncoming traffic, you fail your test.

How come? Because there’s a STOP line marked on the road – presumably left there from a time before the junction was demoted to a mere yield. But the indicator of the greater hazard overrides the lesser, so if you went through without stopping you’re breaking a stop sign, an instant fail, even though there’s no stop sign there. OK, it’s not part of any known test route, they’re not actually out to trick you with legal ambiguities. But with all those diversions in place, you never know your luck.

I’ve just passed a restaurant called Cré na Cille. It’s named after quite a famous novel by Máirtín Ó Cadhain, sometimes called “The Irish language Ulysses“. One  problem though. Literally, the title means “Graveyard Soil”.

I wonder what their specials are.

Speaking of tests, we have our first one coming up on the MSc course already. Well it’s a project, for the Data Analysis and Project Management module, but we will be marked on it. We’ve two weeks to get a proposal together, which includes assembling a team, creating a proposal, even devising a contract to sign for ourselves. It’s not something I mind doing, it’s just that before I do I could probably use a few lessons in, you know, project management. And data analysis.

We’ve had just two so far. I only have the sketchiest idea of what the course is even about. Project management and data analysis – you might as well say “All that businessy-computery stuff.” So I literally don’t know where to begin. I have no idea at all of what would make a good project. Or even a feasible project.

And as a part-time student, I’ve very little idea about a team either. The full-timers meet much more, and many of them will have been undergraduates together. Us part-timers meet literally one day a week. Some of us might be able to get together socially, but most not. So I’ve volunteered to create a forum or bulletin board for us, so we at least have some level of virtual presence.

I’ve done forum admin before, but I’ve never actually set one up from scratch. It’s not hard though – not at least if you rent some web space that supports the necessary technologies. I set one up last night in fact. And in the light of what I learned by doing that, I’ll be setting it up all over again today. I’m also going to suggest we create a spreadsheet of our strengths, weaknesses, and other factors, centralising the information we need to assemble project teams. A database, if you will.

Huh. Maybe I have a project idea after all.

Or would that be a metaproject?