Monday, January 24, 2011

One Man One Vote:Sounding a Fresh Note?

Those familiar with my general blog postings will recall a recent little verse where I attempted to poke fun at those, largely academics and media pundits, who seem to be adamant about running for election to the new Dail (Irish Parliament) as a means of changing our government processes for the good of the populace in Ireland. While I don’t wish to pour cold water, as it were, on their obviously genuinely heartfelt zeal for change, I would like to once again question the real value of such an exercise. My own view is that current Dail procedures do not cater for or indeed in any way facilitate genuine democratic contributions from non government parties or groupings at all. In fact, they don’t really encourage much genuine contributions from even those elected within the government party itself. Thus, small groupings, even of committed and well educated ideologues of economic academia, are unlikely to have any real say in government policy unless like previous crews of motley independents they happen to hold the ‘balance of power’ in the Dail. Thus I feel that the declared ambition for forging real change within the current or even promised Dail structures is at best naive and probably total folly.

Perhaps a more viable approach would be to reform rather than replace the ‘upper’ house not as a discredited ‘Seanad’ for banal exchanges lacking any obvious positive value in composition of or contribution from it’s members. Rather I feel that it should be replaced by perhaps four ‘Forum’ structures where the general public would elect a small group of say 7 to 10 people to sit on committees to forge policies and clear recommendations in the areas of Physical Environment, Economics, Arts/Culture and Social Policy. In the spirit of the current Dail committees such as the one on Financial Accountability, these Forum groups could publish key policies and clear objectives for reform of our society in the face of the current economic recession. Thus, instead of simply engaging as a loose alliance of pressure groupings which can easily be marginalised in the Dail, these elected Forum members could actually publish real policy documents and contribute clears objectives for change. Furthermore, the public at large could readily assess whether the government was prepared to act upon these recommendations within the Dail itself.

There is no doubt that our country has reached a sorry state of crisis and it is easy to detect an almost tangible sense of despair throughout Ireland. However, rather than simply engage with a discredited process and within the current restrictive government structures, I feel that a more refined and viable solution for channelling this reform commitment is necessary. In this respect, mass rallies of the populace or indeed pressure groups within the Dail, have limited opportunity for developing and refining real initiatives for change. What is need is a means of shedding more light rather than heat on alternative options and my hope is that this small blog discourse will in some small way contribute positively to this process.

In ending I have added a photo of the Girolamo Savonarola statue from Ferrara, Italy to this blog as I feel that the life and indeed temporary popularity of this 15th century Dominican friar may well have a parallel to some reforming zealots of our own age. Let us not forget therefore that those who do not learn from history are likely to repeat it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Adverse Irish Voting Options in the Twitter Age: Simply Academic?

Charles Darwin says man has evolved to date by a process of natural selection
Which unfortunately in Ireland will not apply in the forthcoming Dail Election
For many economic windbags and TV economic pundits are now intending to stand
With a singular vanity and sense of entitlement to help save our endangered land.

Fresh from stormy encounters and political tirades on the VB soap box on TV3
They have totally forgotten what happened to the dreams of such as George Lee
To save the Nation they will put personal ambition and celebrity status to one side
For their total opposition to the banking bailout and IMF folly they simply can’t hide.

Yes it’s time they say to replace banal candidates, admittedly part of a local community
And give new ones with a celebrity focus or academic knowledge a proper opportunity
We should of course kindly overlook the fact that they have represented no one before
Except perhaps their own egos but let’s not dwell on that or else we will seem a bore.

Indeed we may not even need a dated ballot box process as a means of voter selection
When to an X Factor political TV show and voting system their should be no objection
And to those dull politicians who may be discouraged and feel this banal and absurd
They don’t even need to sing or dance as this was no problem for those like Jedward.

Yes, it’s high time that existing politicians and the general public got with the new show
As only the treatises of newspaper columnists or academic scholars are really in the know
All politicians should be required to be on Facebook or at least Twitter like a connoisseur
As a firm basis for communicating with the electorate or putting their views out there.

Policies should be rationalised and confined to not than 140 characters as a Tweet
As an acceptable means of reaching and keeping the attention of the Man on the Street.
For our social media skills have now left us like Albert Reynolds as a one page Man
So we don’t really wish to wade through the lengthy chapters of any Economic Plan

And we certainly don’t want to turn up in numbers at political rallies no matter where
No, we would much prefer to stay in the local pub and tweet its location on Foursquare
In fact this whole Election business is already becoming tiresome and a boring distraction
For despite appalling mismanagement, is their any point in changing the current faction.

But wait, do we really want academics in ivory towers to run our country on our behalf
For we may be disgruntled with politics as currently practiced, but we really aren’t daft,
So go and vote on March 11th and give a local candidate of your choice your number one
For as you can see upon reflection, the alternative may be much worse, when all is said and done.

Note: This is a purely fictional verse written for amusement only.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Secret Search for Twitter Tweeting Celebrity Status

I’ve a secret to relate that some of you will consider quite lame
For I have to admit that deep down inside I want to seek fame
Of course I don’t mean the showy, vulgar and bling filled kind
As I’m sure you’ve already deduced I’m not out of my mind.

I’ve no wish to repeat the celebrity crisis of a rocking Rolling Stone
For when I comes to getting my Satisfaction I prefer to seek it alone
And tabloid reported TV angst of stars like those from Lost and Glee
Does not hold water or make me jealous of them as you’ll soon see.

No, the fame I seek is more modest and might be found on my local RTE
I could be interviewed by SamanthaLibreri or do a soccer commercial for Wii
But so far my great talent has gone sadly unnoticed which is more the pity
For strange to relate I can’t even get a walk on part in such as Fair City.

Are my celebrity ambitions too high, should they be abandoned with finality?
Perhaps when all is said and done I should simply seek to be a Personality.
I am riven with doubt, I cannot sleep and have had recourse to a sleeping pill
In fact things are now so bad I may only achieve fame by appearing on Dr Phil

Should I appear on X Factor or American Idol or is this banal and totally absurd
I know I can’t sing or dance but this was no problem for those like Jedward.
I must not get discouraged or falter in my upward trajectory towards success
And may even like Louis W have to consider Botox to get out of this mess.

If I could only bake like TheIrishMother I could front my own TV cookery show
Or expound the quick wit of Bloowriter I could join Oprah Winfrey in the know
And the knowledge of Womenwhowine would allow me to guest as a connoisseur
If I could write like efloraross and Linda_grimes I could put a TV script out there.

Perhaps I could provide a comic turn like tawnafenske which would surely amuse
Or even relate old stories and gags from ValOD1 without appearing to be obtuse
But OMG my anxiety at lack of recognition is causing me to develop a stutter
Or is it just that I have overindulged in almond cakes made by runningonbutter.

Yes it’s true that I’m becoming desperate and have totally lost my celebrity way
In fact I’m considering a name change of distinction like that of demerybakersaye
There seems to be no ready answer to my dilemma and my world is so full of care
I’ll even agree to take part in a photo shoot with Annie Liebovitz for Vanity Fair.

But alas, my celebrity recognition doesn’t stretch this far and hence here is the wrench
When it comes to self projection, I’m more comfortable acting like 2GirlsonaBench.
So I’ll take the advice of hlane, and replace celebrity focus with a fond home pet,
And consider all this vain ramblings about celebrity status as being just, well, wet!

So I now feel cleansed and rejuvenated to be rid of the silly celebrity focus,
For as most of you know, its main ingredient is just so much hocus pocus.
No, I’ll now strive in my new life to having a Personality instead of becoming one
Which I’m sure you’ll agree is actually more balanced and a better recipe for fun.

Note: This is a purely fictional verse written for amusement only.

Gullible's Travel with Child Cherubs and Lucky Lanterns.

Let’s face it, for those even vaguely familiar with the works of the renowned Irish writer, one Jonathan Swift, my wife and I would be classified among the Brogingnags Tribe. This is not to say that our physical presence alone represents a particularly giant like stature as indeed my good wife hardly breaks the five foot five height level. Rather it has to do with the fact that after spending a great deal of our lives devoted to rearing our small clan of little persons, in our case two ‘divine’ young daughters, we now seem far removed from this development stage and have become more attuned to adult company and grown up individuals. This has had a ‘knock on’ (perhaps not an ideal choice of words!) affect on the decor and disposition of our household which has now the studied grace and quiet refinement of a little well tended museum. However, since our youngest daughter presented us with two lovely grandchildren in recent years, the ‘knock on’ factor affecting our house has indeed become more pronounced.

On each recent visit by these adorable boys to our humble abode, I have noticed a significant and increasing shift in power and perspective from the ‘giants’ to the ‘little’ people. This process reached its zenith during our last festive season at Christmas when the whole house was taken over by two child cherubs, aged a mere 6 and 3, respectively. Long treasured items of any token value had to be quickly moved to higher shelves while two marauding young pirates gave full rein to their childish enthusiasm and zest for life. At first I thought that I could contain or even channel this seemingly endless energy surge but soon realised that any such thoughts were misplaced and extremely gullible on my part. I could hear my inner self advising me to ‘go with the flow’ and indeed I decided to ‘play along’ with the new power sweeping the house from top to bottom. I soon realised that I needed to travel lightly if I was to make any positive contribution to the ever-changing ‘toy story’ being lived out in the house. Thus, Thomas the Tank Engine tracks had to be quickly laid by me and batteries inserted in engines for the three year old while long forgotten Lego ships had to be retrieved from the attic and football gear set out for the 6 year old. The hens never had it so good as they were constantly fed by their two new admirers and eggs collected and replaced so that each fellow could retrieve his own egg from the hens nest when he was ‘ready’. I noticed that I was now spending a great deal of the day lying prone at floor level so as best to interact with the new ‘low’ profile visitors Thus the whole character of the house was changed completely into a virtual ‘Lilliput’ by our new proteges during the festive season and our previous status as formal Brogingnags was thoroughly banished by the arrival of Hurricane Cherub.

This domestic transformation was an exhilarating if somewhat exhausting experience and our little friends left with their parents for Clifden for a few days ostensibly to show them new sights but really I feel more to give us time to recover our ‘wits’. However, I am delighted to say that they returned for New Year’s Eve when we decided to have a lantern flying celebration in the garden. There was great smoke and sparkles produced as the two boys and all their grown up relatives ran around the garden. Then we released our ‘lucky’ lanterns into the night sky with each of the two boys expressing a wish for the New Year. The wish was supposed to be kept a closely guarded secret but the younger James simply shouted ‘Happy’ as his wish and continued chasing madly about in his usual way. This was a lovely ‘Roswell’ like moment as I believe that such lanterns rise so high that some people have reported them as flying saucers in parts of Ireland.

At midnight we watched the amazing fireworks display on Sky TV from London and Sean (6) managed to stay awake just long enough to drink (water in his case) to our health. When he retired his parents related two little stories about the boys which warrant retelling in a short version below:

James (3) is fully ‘potty’ trained but does need a little help sometimes cleaning himself. So his Mum would call into to him at times and ask him if he needed any help. However, on one occasion when she herself was using the toilet, suddenly in came James and sat down on the small metal waste bin. Can I help you he says or get you a tissue! He was told unceremoniously to leave immediately but we all had a good laugh at his initiative!

Sean (6) was being left into school by his dad when they stopped at a traffic light. ‘what’s feckin’ wrong’ said Sean. His dad was visibly taken aback at what he considered to be Sean’s foul language and began to chastise him. However, Sean just pointed at the bus passing where the words ‘what’s feckin wrong’ were emblazoned on the side. So much for teaching children to read and thus they both saw the funny side of this story.

As you can see we had an amazing Festive Season with both our two daughters, their partners and of course with our wonderful grandchildren. My wife and I have decided as a New Year resolution to ‘lighten up’ and be guided by the new young spirit ‘sweeping’ the house. Indeed this was the only kind of sweeping that could be done while they were there. In fact the whole house resembled a dwelling after a tsunami when they returned to Dublin but the lovely memories lingered long after the dust had settled.

So the motto of this blog is never to fully loose touch with the innocence and joy of youth however old you get. And you can take it from this person’s ‘Gullible Travels’ that it will all prove worthwhile in the end.
Note: Photos of children and extended family have been omitted to protect their privacy.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Add Verse Tweeting Solutions to New Year Resolutions

Like many I’m left feeling bloated at this early time of year
From overindulgence in turkey, iced cake and bottled beer
But be not aghast for I have just found some clever solutions
By recourse to a few inconsequential New Year resolutions.

First I will resolve to give up all food with high carbohydrate fat
And instead of constantly coveting it, simply feed it to the cat.
Wine and beer will be a thing of the past along with black stout,
For I think you will agree with me, there’s too much of it about.

At the crack of dawn I will rise with vitality and head to the gym,
To prove that a stringent exercise regime for me is not just a whim.
After pumping iron, lifting weights and running on the treadmill
I will return with taut muscles for which sorry wimps would kill.

My wife will be in awe and be left like a dumbfounded Lady Ga Ga
For she'll begin to realise that other women now covet her Mr Da Da
For I shall soon have the vigour and vim of someone half my age
Just as soon as I make headway with the long list on this short page

But wait what’s this little morsel so alone on this Christmas plate
Surely disposing of a little left over slice of cake would not grate,
take away or even diminish in any way my new found fervour and fun
For I can just as easily start tomorrow with an early morning run.

Perhaps a glass of wine and a last chocolate would also not go amiss
For after all, a too rigid code could be deemed to be taking the piss.
And what if my lovely wife is not impressed by my new body build
Upon reflection, a more modest workout schedule might better be willed.

And giving up alcohol entirely could be deemed antisocial and even mean
And I must be considerate enough to think of others in any new regime
So maybe I am being a bit too ambitious in my list of New Year resolutions
For I know my wife would settle for freshness and daily water ablutions.

I must also save my strength for Twitter messages and dedications Foursquare
As strict resolutions could make me calorie deficient, so I refuse to go there.
You see I can’t rely for tweeting on cups of strong coffee or bubble and squeak
As with little food or drink I could have a problem going to the bog or taking a leak.

So what on earth will I do to improve my health and my personal appeal?
I suppose I could reduce my pints consumed or drink water with each meal
I could even walk to the shop on occasion and perhaps eat less fatty food
But total abstinence is undesirable and could leave one in a bad mood.

So at last I am now resolved to be fitter in starting a new Twitter Day,
As no new extreme change will be needed to tweet in a positive way
So here’s wishing all my followers the best New Year Fortune and Fun
For resolutions are no substitute for a real life when all is said and done.

So what’s the overriding message of this tweeting blog post?
About a decision not to change radically but simply to coast
Well if you want real happiness instead of living by a fine line
Just accentuate your positive vibes, drink up and you’ll do just fine.

Not every good fortune in this Year depends upon ambitions so lofty
Especially those undertaken at haste in case one is dubbed a fat softie,
I myself embarked on these unreal resolutions because of a foolish bet
So I now ask My Lord to please make me hale and hearty, but just not yet.

Note: This is a purely fictional verse written for amusement only.