Posted by: gaiusc | 23 November, 2012

Eamon O’Dwyer and lovely girls dancing at the crossroads

By now, we’ve all heard of the awful death of Savita Halappanavar and the efforts of her husband, Praveen, to get some answers as to what happened. Without knowing the specifics of the case, it’s difficult to judge what may or may not have happened. Hopefully the new HIQA inquiry will cast some light on this sad affair but with the news that the HSE have no record of the termination requests, I’m not especially confident that it will be anything other than the usual Irish whataboutery, obfuscation and eventual whitewash.

What I would like to do is bring some attention to some writing purporting to be from Eamon O’Dwyer, Professor, emeritus, of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, National University of
Ireland, Galway. For those who are not aware, “Professor emeritus” is the title given to retired professors and for the moment, it would probably be safe to assume that the fact of him being a professor at the same hospital Savita died at is nothing more than an unfortunate coincidence. The article appears to date from shortly after the 2002 referendum.

There’s a blog you can view at the FIAMC website (World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations) which purports to be written by Professor O’Dwyer and what he has to say is rather interesting.

It starts off as an overly romantic ode to early and middle-ages Christian Ireland and it’s effect on the practice of medicine but in common with an awful lot of Irish history, once you get to the Penal Laws, the tone starts to change. It becomes less about the intertwining of faith and ordinary life and more about how secular medical ethics are in his opinion fundamentally flawed.

 These colleges, now independent Universities, continue to produce graduates of the highest calibre. At the same time, one would have to say — as a former dean of a medical faculty — that ethics does not rate highly in the undergraduate curriculum.

He also brings attention to The Offences Against the Person Act, 1861, which is still in force in this country today and makes it clear that deliberation termination of a pregnancy is a felony.

It’s when he starts talking about the 1974 Supreme Court case effectively legalising contraceptives in Ireland that things start coming off the rails a bit and the article starts to veer into the sneering smugness that fundamentalists do so well.

I stated earlier that Ireland was a Catholic country, with 94 per cent of the population in a recent census describing themselves as Roman Catholic.
Unfortunately, we appear to lack the fortitude which enabled our ancestors steadfastly to remain Catholic in word and deed; many nowadays are what might be called al a carte Catholics.

This is followed by a trite insinuation that the trials of modern life, common to all countries, are because we are not going to mass every Sunday.

While the Country has never been so affluent, with more people gainfully employed than ever before in our history, there has been a significant increase in drug addiction, crimes of violence, suicide, especially among young men, and at the same time a decline in religious observance.

Sure, things were much better when we were dirt poor, had rampant emigration and priests could bugger children in peace & quiet and he follows this up with the fallacy that we’re out to persecute the poor old church as well as a nice black/white tarring of folk on the abortion issue.

The truth is that, the Church is being subjected to a new persecution; devout Catholics tend to be ridiculed by their fellows and the media, while those who espouse the rights of the unborn child are apt to be labelled fundamentalist.

It’s probably a bit trite to have to state that abortion is a thorny issue and that views on it are a very personal matter. Irish people have gone to the polls a number of times on abortion and when you wade past the legalistic mumbo jumbo, the answer that comes back is startlingly clear. Irish people don’t want unlimited abortions but neither do they want an unlimited ban on abortion. This is the ultimate strawman argument from the likes of Ronan Mullen, William Binchy and Eamon O’Dwyer. Irish people were given the chance to ban abortion if suicide of the mother was a risk and they rejected it. They were also given the chance to restrict travel rights for women to prevent any chance of them travelling abroad and they rejected that too.

It’s pretty clear that O’Dwyer thinks that he knows better than the Irish people and that the real tragedy of an appalling case featuring a 14 year old girl raped by a neighbour is that she wasn’t forced to bear the foetus to full term. He then refers to the “disbelief” that Irish people might want to change their own constitution and not only did the Irish people vote to reject the appalling prospect of a 14 year old girl being forced to give birth to the product of a heinous crime, they did it by a 2:1 ratio. On that same day, the electorate voted yes to allow the “right to travel” and “freedom to obtain information on abortion services outside the state”. There can be no argument with the will of the Irish people about this. He then refers to “increasing popular pressure that the decision in the X-case judgment be rolled back”. Does this mean that the 65% of the electorate who voted to uphold the X-case decision suddenly changed their minds? And so a 4th referendum was held, this one attempting to overturn the X-case decision. This proposed 25th amendment was more complex than the previously rejected 12th amendment but again it was rejected by the Irish people, albeit by a smaller margin than the 1992 vote.

That’s the background so now back to O’Dwyer and he’s busy characterising “all abortions, almost” carried out in England and Wales as “social abortions”. He is also bemoaning sex education to young people and seems to have trouble with the notion that understanding something about sex would help prevent unsafe sex. It’s rather cheeky of him complaining about a figure of 30% of teenagers having unprotected sex but sure, isn’t he against them having protected sex too?

We have failed to tackle the problem of crisis pregnancies — six thousand young women travel to the United Kingdom each year for abortion. These are social abortions where, for one reason or another, the pregnancy is unwanted.

What exactly would O’Dwyer propose? A moral police force checking up on people having sex? Well we tried that already but it fell apart, one of the reasons being the moral police force having their own problems with sex that wasn’t just morally dubious but highly illegal and the cultural dark age that enveloped the country.

He also contradicts himself:

However, if the truth be told there are no medical indications for abortion in a properly managed pregnancy.

And

While, for the present, abortions are not being carried out in Ireland there is, at the same time, one induced abortion for every eight births.

You can’t go from saying that abortions are never medically necessary and that only two have occurred in the state since the X-case and then state that 1 pregnancy in 9 is terminated by induction. But I guess he gives himself just enough wriggle room by saying “properly managed pregnancy.

Anyway, he finishes his article with a lovely line about us needing to be reconverted and brought back into the bosom of the mother church.

As you see, in many ways, Ireland needs help! Perhaps we require another St. Patrick to reconvert us to proper Christian values?

If I was able to ask him, I would have a few questions for Professor O’Dwyer and they would be:

“How is forcing a 14 year old child to gestate for 9 months and then give birth to the product of an awful crime compatible with Christian values?”

“Would Jesus do that to the girl?”

The trouble with having people like this in authority is that they are in a position to influence others towards their own black/white worldview of what constitutes “right”. O’Dwyer is clearly out of step with the thinking of Irish people but insists that only his view can be right and the worst part of it is that other doctors may have been intimidated out of rational thinking by the sheer weight of authority behind authority figures like O’Dwyer.

Posted by: gaiusc | 9 April, 2012

Hunger Games: a Tea Party love letter?

I watched this last week and was expecting it to be cack but it’s actually only half cack. It’s simplistic and juvenile but in fairness, that’s what the books are too and you can hardly blame the filmmakers for sticking with the same target audience as the folk who bought the books.
It is also by turns thrilling and gripping. Jennifer Lawrence, as Katniss, is definitely going to be a star and manages to ground some of the daftness. The set pieces where the hunter becomes the hunted and then hunter again are what will ensure that the film appeals to something other than the Twilight fanbase. Stanley Tucci is fabulously oily as the presenter of the TV show that accompanies the “Games”. Lenny Kravitz might seem to be something of a gimmick casting but he does well as the fashionista who mentors Katniss.
But is that Twilight fanbase the only audience the film is going to appeal to?
Whether by accident or design, Gary Ross may actually have made a modern Tea Party wish fulfillment fantasy, that deliberately or accidentally plays on the various neuroses that afflict this most regressive of movements.

A couple of things that got me wondering about this:
-District 12 is dirt poor, rough as hell, low-skilled manual labouring and thoroughly white. It’s clearly meant to draw parallels with blue-collar heavy-industrial America. They are rednecks and they are clearly the good guys.
-District 11 is dirt poor, rough as hell, low-skilled manual labouring and thoroughly black. It’s clearly meant to draw parallels with rural America. They are good guys because you couldn’t possibly get away with showing black people as bad guys. However, even that concession to political correctness seems to have upset some folk who maintain that the roles should have been cast by white actors, despite the descriptions in the book clearly being of non-white people.
-Capitol is depicted as a little bit gay and it’s clear that they are very bad guys. It’s okay to show gays as bad guys when your target audience are rednecks.
-The district 1, 2, 3 kids are depicted as basically toffs. I bet they speak French, go to Ivy League colleges (if they survive obviously), are fabulously rich and would vote democrat if there were elections in this world. They are also quite bad guys too. This is also fine because rednecks hate them too, especially the speaking French bit.

Is anybody else picking up a bit of a homophobic, class (elites) warfare, tea party, redneck-values-are-good-values vibe off the film?

Posted by: gaiusc | 25 November, 2011

Inside of Titanic rendered using Crysis 3 graphics engine

Now all I need is Santa to bring me a computer capable of running this!

Posted by: gaiusc | 18 November, 2011

The James St pub crawl

Now that Christmas is just around the corner, my thoughts are turning towards a good pub crawl. For something completely different, how about a James St pub crawl?

Having a look at google maps. Start with:

  1. Carrigans (yes yes I know it’s on Old Kilmainham road);
  2. then Kennys Lounge opposite the hospital;
  3. admire the nice architecture on the way to the Malt House (if open-looked boarded up last time I passed);
  4. then across the road to The Tram where the Luas heads down the hill to Heuston;
  5. Ryans coming up to the brewery;
  6. McGruders after the brewery (not sure if that’s still there);
  7. Handel’s (which has been re-opened);
  8. onto Thomas St proper now, The Clock Pub;
  9. Nashs;
  10. Tom Kennedys past Vicar St;
  11. The Thomas House (looks like a rocker bar);
  12. The Pale coming up towards Christchurch;
  13. The Lord Edward (next to Burdocks in case you’re in need of solid fuel)
  14. and finally finishing up in the Bull & Castle.

That’s 14 but I’m fairly sure the Malt House and McGruders are closed so that gives us 12 pubs of Christmas.
Takers?

Posted by: gaiusc | 13 September, 2011

M & L Szechuan Chinese Restaurant

Got taken here by a couple who were familiar with the place and have eaten there loads of times since. The location is great, if a little hard to find for the first time. The prices are superb value. As for the food, it’s the most authentic Chinese food I’ve had since I was actually in China. Some of the dishes can be very spicy so if you’re not a huge fan of spices, play safe. Sea bass is very very good. It can be a little noisy & boisterous sometimes and that staff can be a little abrupt when under pressure but that’s part of the appeal of the place for me. It’s a perfect place for when you have a gang of people with no booking and you need grub on the spot.

Posted by: gaiusc | 13 September, 2011

The Winding Stair restaurant

We were there before but I wasn’t feeling well at the time so we wanted to give the Winding Stair another shot and sad to say, it doesn’t really measure up.

We went for the set menu. I had the pork chop main with chicken terrine starter. Herself had the lamb round main with asparagus and cherry tomato tartlet starter. My starter was fine and the pork chop was lovely but the lamb round was a big disappointment. There was no flavour to it whatsoever.

The atmosphere is always bustling and the view of the river is nice. The service is adequate. I love the decor and the pressed wood menus. Considering that the pre-theater menu is not especially good value, the wine is much too expensive. The cheapest (non-bargain bin) wine is €25 and it’s muck. I wouldn’t pay a tenner for it in the supermarket. I appreciate what the Winding Stair is trying to do. In a world of ethnic restaurants, the Winding Stair is offering authentic Irish cusine but the value & execution lets it down.

Posted by: gaiusc | 2 June, 2010

Splinter Cell in the Mediterranean

Anybody been playing this new game?
I’m after getting stuck on one of the missions and I just can’t seem to get it right.

Basically, I’m a super-soldier in the Israeli special forces equipped with more firepower than Robocop and more tech gear than the Apple product development lab.

I’ve breezed through earlier missions, which included bulldozing houses in Gaza, dropping smart bombs on highways in Lebanon and expelling Palestinians from their houses in the West Bank.

Now this mission is really bugging me. Basically, a load of ships are trying to break the blockade on Gaza and we have to stop them. There are six ships and I can take the first five with no bother but the sixth one with a few hundred civilians on board is the problem. Please help me understand what I’m doing wrong:

-I’m kind of in a hurry to get the good stuff so I rush right in but I think I saw a warning message about the ships being in “international waters”. I’m not sure what this is really. It immediately causes me to earn minus points. What’s happening here? Am I supposed to wait until the ships enter Israeli/Gaza waters? That’s really boring though. Why can’t we just annex the Eastern Med to make it Israeli waterspace?

-I’m dropping down from a helicopter in the middle of the night to cause maximum confusion but I’m immediately getting attacked by hundreds of people wielding clubs. Apparently shooting them fails the mission, which is a bit dumb because it’s like Left 4 Dead but not being allowed to kill the zombies. Would I be better off carrying out my attack in daytime? Is my problem the sounds of gunfire before boarding that makes the people on board nervous and instantly attack me?

-Apparently, there’s unlockable side-missions which involve executing terrorists in foreign nations but using the passports of citizens in European countries. No matter what I do, those nations end up hating me. What on earth am I doing wrong?

-On the strategic level in the game, I was able to select what items should be restricted from going into Gaza as part of the blockade. I clicked on “coriander” and “instant coffee” for the laugh but I think this might be causing me to suffer a diplomatic relations hit. What do you guys reckon?

It’s really annoying me that I can’t get through this mission. Why on earth are the people on the sixth ship fighting back? You’d swear we were pirates or something!

Back in July, I looked at the curious case of Ned O’Keeffe who has come up with a new and novel approach to winning elections.

Under our current proportional representation system, we vote the people we most want in a dail seat in order of preference. We then get a situation where (in theory) 51% of voters can disenfranchise the other 49%. For instance, Ned O’Keeffe (who got 12% of the poll) stated that he will work against the interests of those impertinent voters who failed to prostrate themselves at his feet (presumably the remaining 88% of the constituents).

How about doing it in a different way that would inject some humility into our public representatives?

Instead of voting for whom we want to take a seat, we instead vote those who we absolutely do not want to represent us. Last candidates standing get in.

The Greeks were onto something with their notion of ostrakon.
Divisive polarising politicians would be out the door before you know it. It would mean that gombeens like John O’Donoghue would have to watch their step because if they alienate enough people, they lose their seat. Currently corrupt politicians rarely worry about losing their seats because they only need a relatively small number of votes to retain their seat. The Beverly Cooper-Flynn’s and Michael Lowery’s of the world retain their seats because they cultivate enough numbskulls who continue to vote for them and not worry about anybody else.

Of course, the other simpler (but much less exciting) option would be to have less TD’s.

Posted by: gaiusc | 24 November, 2009

iTunes 9 and trashing iPod classics

In case, you’re wondering what the hell this is all about. Link.
The short version is that iTunes 9 is killing iPods, mainly iPod classics but there have been reports of dud Nanos as well and a mate reports a dud Shuffle. My sister is one of the unlucky people and her video iPod has stopped working. I promised her that I’d have a look online to see if any solutions were available. There’s plenty of anger & frustration in the Apple Support forums. It’s not definite and I’m waiting on my sister to test it but a possible solution was suggested and I’ve summarised it below. My sister tested it last night and got it working after some time.

  • You need to find a computer with iTunes 8 installed or even better, a computer with no iTunes at all.
  • If there’s no iTunes on the machine, install iTunes 8, which can be found here. You’re bound to have a friend or relative who hasn’t updated their copy of iTunes. Look for technophobes!
  • You could try uninstalling iTunes 9 and then installing iTunes 8 but apparently it’s difficult to remove it fully.
  • When you find a suitable machine, whatever you do, do not allow it to upgrade to iTunes 9.
  • You need to disable “automatic sync” and you do this from edit>preferences and then the devices tab.
  • Put the iPod in “disc mode”.
  • Then select “update”. This takes a while. It took my sister 2 hours.
  • Now you have the task of copying your music library to that machine. It’s tedious but if it saves your music collection, it’ll be worth it.

Some info on on the whole process here (and where original credit is due for this method before my sister tested it and I added her feedback).
Good luck and feel free to use the comments section to leave feedback, suggestions or just have a good rant.

Posted by: gaiusc | 22 October, 2009

Money saving tips – mobile phones

In these recessionary times, it pays to watch the pennies and where they end up. One of the things that really jumped out at me from my bank statement was my monthly phone bill. This was around the same time as I was looking to change my phone and I looked at upgrade options. Needless to say, I was not particularly impressed by the price of phones on offer and in a state of shock when I saw the price plans. O2 and the others might think that handing over €600 a year in after-tax pay is perfectly reasonable but I’d much rather spend that money on something more worthwhile. I immediately looked at changing to Vodafone, Meteor and 3 but their billpay options were not all that attractive either.

It was then that Ms Gaius suggested “pay as you go” and I had a look at it. I mainly text people and phonecalls are kept to a minimum and sure enough, I found the perfect solution where all texts to all Irish mobiles were free for only €20 every 30 days. Any phonecalls that need to be made can be made out of that €20.

Considering that I was spending approx €60 a month on phone bills, getting that expense down to €20 a month for the same service is pretty good business. The lesson is that big savings can be made if you’re prepared to look around and not accept the first thing that’s offered to you.

Note: at the time of writing Vodafone no longer seem to have a similar price plan but they did about a month ago. Meteor also have a “€20 and text whoever you like” price plan.

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