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Topics - Eamonnca1

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General discussion / The US policing crisis thread
« on: April 28, 2015, 07:10:37 AM »
Just read an article in the Atlantic about so-called "rough rides." Apparently there's a plethora of nicknames for the practice of cuffing someone, throwing him in the back of a van, not strapping him in, and then driving around like a maniac to rough the victim up. "Bringing him to the front" is the act of sudden braking to slam him against the front panel, also known as a "screen test." In Philly they call them "nickel rides" after amusement park rides. If they've got that many names for it then it's a good bet that it's a fairly common practice.

For all this talk of condemning the rioting in Baltimore, which you have to do, I feel a bit uncomfortable with this American culture of hero worship for anyone in a uniform. If someone serves in the military you have to refer to them as a "hero" and thank him for his service, even if you know nothing about him or what he did when he was on tour. You don't know if he spent his time as a mechanic in the base or shooting up civilians on the street. And I certainly don't get this habit some people have of saying "I support the police." As far as I'm concerned I'll be grateful for when they do a good job the same way I'm grateful to the waitress who gives good service that I'm paying for.

I'd make an exception maybe for the likes of firemen since they're not generally armed and not in much of a position to abuse any power. But this doctrine of porcine infallibility makes me very uncomfortable and it will be America's undoing if they don't do a better job of policing the policemen.

General discussion / China
« on: April 14, 2015, 09:37:58 PM »
Some amazing acts of defiance here. This is what you call holding out for the best possible deal!

GAA Discussion / Rule idea for Gaelic football wrt high fielding
« on: April 03, 2015, 08:01:31 PM »
Idea - The “flying mark” or the “555 timer” rule:

  • Ball is kicked a distance longer than 20 meters.
  • Players go up, one of them makes a catch.
  • Player who makes the catch cannot be tackled for another 5 seconds, and his opponents have 5 seconds to put 5 meters between themselves and the point where the catch was made. Failure to comply by any one player results in a free to the man who made the catch, and the free has to be taken from the hands immediately. 


  • Incentivizes longer kicks
  • Rewards high fielding
  • Discourages blanket defenses
  • Blanket defenses can now only happen with shorter range passes (usually hand passes), so it’s a disincentive to overly rely on the hand pass
  • The five second rule incentivizes the catching player to quickly get rid of the ball, or start making a run if he has room.
    Keeps the game flowing without necessarily the interruptions you get in Ozzie Rules where there is a free awarded regardless


  • How do you measure five meters in the heat of a game? Could be one more thing for referees to remember when they’re already loaded with responsibilities.
  • If the catching player holds onto the ball, everyone has to start counting to five to be able to tell when he can be tackled again. Adds another level of complication to the game, but we might be able to live with that.


General discussion / Sci Fi
« on: April 03, 2015, 07:42:44 AM »
This week I discovered that Blakes 7 is on YouTube. I think it's all up there. My productivity has plummeted and binge-watching has commenced. I never saw all of it the first time around either, so I'm seeing all the early episodes for the first time. Superb writing and acting. I wish the BBC or someone would do what they did for Star Trek TOS and re-do the special effects for the space shots.

General discussion / 2015 UK general election
« on: March 26, 2015, 09:12:04 PM »
PMQs was good crack yesterday. Funny so so much of the media missed the rise of the SNP over the years.

General discussion / The dress
« on: February 27, 2015, 08:06:04 PM »
It's gold and white, so it is.

General discussion / Polygamy
« on: February 26, 2015, 12:30:21 AM »
I say legalize it.

General discussion / US Media
« on: February 12, 2015, 02:48:06 AM »
If Fox News were held to the same standard that Brian Williams is being held to now, they'd have to fire the entire staff.

As for Jon Stewart, I don't think this is the end of an era at all. He has effectively created a whole new genre. Colbert had a good run on his own show. John Oliver's just hired another load of investigative journalists for his show. I hear Larry Wilmore has his own thing going with his new show. Two critically acclaimed spinoffs and another probably underway. Established as a launch pad for comedy careers. Not a bad record.

What I like about the Daily Show spinoffs is they're all unique.  Colbert was a caricature of a blow-hard conservative TV pundit who's absorbed by his own righteousness. Last Week Tonight takes complex issues and presents them clearly and hilariously with a long segment that still manages to keep your attention. (Dunno what Larry Wilmore's show is like yet because I haven't seen it.)

A lot of variety in there compared to the standard late night US TV shows which all seem to have the exact same format. (Live band makes a big deal about the presenter, lead singer/musician of the band banters with the presenter once in a while, presenter starts with a stand-up routine monologue discussing the issues of the day, lists the guests, then brings them on one at a time. Presenter sits behind a desk on the right with a big fake classic microphone on it, guest sits on a chair on the left. Each show is identical. I can't even remember which one is which TBH.) 

The Daily Show crowd has been nothing if not innovative. It'll be interesting to see how it evolves now. And I can't say I blame Stewart for getting burned out.

General discussion / Australian politics
« on: February 06, 2015, 07:14:25 AM »
There's a bit of crack now down under. Looks like that wingnut Tony Abbott could be on his way out. I'm not familiar with whoever's lining up to replace him but surely anybody would be an improvement on that intellectual zero.

General discussion / Anybody know anything about violins?
« on: February 01, 2015, 04:39:49 AM »
I'm interested in learning to play the violin, wanna take lessons and all.

I was in a music shop today asking about them. From the homework I'd done on youtube I was under the impression that you could pick up something of a reasonable enough entry-level standard for between $50 and $100. The shop didn't have anything for less than $550, and the fella reckoned that anything you see on eBay or Craigslist for less than $400 is going to be utter crap, hard to tune, won't sound right etc.

I have every reason to believe him because it chimes with the advice I give to people who ask me about bicycles, I tell them anything less than $900 is false economy for it'll be a shite riding experience and probably put you off the sport.

So, any violinists out there? Should I invest about $400 in a good violin? Would a cheap-and-nasty model make it harder for me to learn?

General discussion / Anime / manga
« on: January 24, 2015, 09:37:33 AM »
Any anime fans in the house?

I just re-watched all of Cowboy Bebop. Watched it once several years ago and was blown away then. Watched it all again over the last few weeks and was even more blown away this time. I'm still reeling from the ending two days later. Such incredible writing. It's amazing how you can feel for characters that are that well developed even though they're "just drawings". Great sci-fi concepts too.

The movie wasn't bad either. Not as dark as the TV episodes but the opening scene is up there with anything Tarentino could produce.

GAA Discussion / Attempt to scrap the hooter: typical GAA defeatism?
« on: January 22, 2015, 09:43:23 PM »
By all accounts the hooter system, which congress has approved twice, is to be scrapped before it was even implemented if Central Council has its way. Is it just me or is the GAA one of the most defeatist organizations out there? Ladies football has had the hooter for years. So have plenty of other sports. What is it with this giving up before we even reach the first hurdle and scrapping projects at the first sign of problems? Gawd!

On a related note, when the LGFA comes under the GAA umbrella, the organization will become a lot more progressive. It'll be the biggest change to the character of the association in its history, mark my words. If Camogie ever comes under the GAA wing then that'll make things even better.

General discussion / Why communism doesn't work.
« on: January 13, 2015, 08:44:20 AM »
Someone asked me why communism tends towards dictatorship so I'll do my best to answer.

The commie system started off well intentioned, with technocratic government elected by a hierarchy of small committees. The problem with technocratic government is that someone still has to decide who's qualified to be leader. So in the beginning everything might be fine and dandy as everyone sets about building the socialist order. But over time, without the checks and balances of universal suffrage, committees gradually get filled with people who rise to the top on the strength of their personal connections and ability to bribe rather than on the strength of their qualifications.

With democracy, a larger number of people are involved in the decision-making process, hence the chances of making an error are smaller. The chances aren't eliminated of course (cough cough, George W Bush, cough) but incompetent people usually rise to the top of democratic systems because of failures in the electoral process. In the case of George W "shit for brains" Bush it was the electoral college and his brother in Florida that got him into office. In the case of the lunatic asylum of the GOP-controlled House of Representatives it's down to a combination of Democrat apathy in the mid-term elections, and blatant gerrymandering that would have made the unionists in 1960s Derry jealous. In the case of Tony Abbott in Australia it's down to the vagueries of parliamentary systems that can throw up some odd choices of Prime Minister from time to time (cough cough John Bruton cough). But in a parliamentary system it's a lot easier to get rid of a bad leader since you can have confidence votes.

The bottom line is all systems are prone to a certain amount of corruption, it's just that democracy is better equipped to cope with it, whereas a technocratic system is a dictator's paradise since it's very hard to dislodge bad people once they get in.

That's my theory anyway. I have a lot of theories...

GAA Discussion / Comparing GAA players to pro players
« on: December 11, 2014, 08:08:00 PM »

Eamonn Sweeney: Describing GAA players as elite or world class is just waffle

It's a long time since I've seen anything as dispiriting as the reaction to Stephen Hunt's article in this paper last week.

The Ireland midfielder wrote a good piece suggesting, among other things, that GAA players would have difficulty adapting to the lifestyle of a professional footballer. This was, in part, a reaction to a typically ludicrous piece of blather by Joe Brolly which stated that as role models for young people, soccer players were far inferior to GAA stars. By comparison, Hunt was measured and intelligent and unlike, for example, Jerry Kiernan in the past, wasn't disrespectful towards GAA players.

However, it's apparent that there are plenty of people out there who regard anything other than 100 per cent hero worship of the GAA and its players as a form of heresy. Which is a bit of an irony considering that they usually feel entitled to bang on about the moral inferiority of soccer at the drop of a hat. So Hunt suffered a lot of witless abuse on the web which continued even after he had the decency to go on RTé radio and explain what was obvious from the get-go anyway, that he wasn't slagging off GAA players but making a point about the difference between the lives of amateur and professional sportsmen.

What was really disappointing was to see past and present inter-county players getting in on the act. Mattie Forde, for example, called Hunt a "wally," and mocked him for playing with Ipswich Town. Considering that Ipswich are currently second in the Championship, we can only deduce that Forde believes playing for Wexford footballers was the equivalent of playing for Manchester United. Or perhaps Barcelona. Mayo wing-back Colm Boyle called Hunt a "clown" while Kilkenny hurling corner-back Paul Murphy and Monaghan midfielder Dick Clerkin joined in the whinefest.

But the inconvenient truth is that, from a sporting point of view, Stephen Hunt has achieved a great deal more than the people who slagged him off. He is in his 15th year as a professional footballer in a career which saw him play several seasons in the Premier League during which he acquitted himself well.

It's worth pondering exactly what that says about Hunt and his talent. We are talking about a man who went overseas and carved out a career in one of the strongest professional sports leagues in the world. Soccer is the most popular game in England, a country with roughly 10 times the population of Ireland. In fact, anyone who's ever watched a bit of non-league soccer over there will note the amount of really excellent players who didn't make the grade. The pool of talent is deep.

VIDEO: panel discuss Stephen Hunt comments
00:00 / 04:31
Add in the fact that the most talented young footballers in Scotland, Wales and the two Irelands are seeking a living there. And not just them but players from all over Europe and, increasingly, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Making a career in English football is extraordinarily difficult. It's not the same as getting picked for Mayo or Kilkenny or even Wexford.

I love Gaelic football and hurling, the former especially. I've defended it numerous times in this column against the growing band of cynics who suggest the game is going to hell in a handcart and boring the life out of the spectators, Joe Brolly being a prime example. The sad thing is that the players who let rip at Stephen Hunt are admirable sportsmen in their own right.

Yet I suspect that the problem here is what we might term The Forde Delusion, the idea that because the crowds at GAA games are so big, the hurling and football championships are on the same level as the Premier League.

And that's simply not true. How could it be? Major soccer leagues attract the best players from all over the world. Gaelic football and hurling, on the other hand, are played in one small country. By comparison to soccer or rugby or golf or tennis or a hundred other sports, the pool of talent is exceptionally shallow. Which is only as you'd expect in the world's 121st biggest nation.

I don't mean to diminish Gaelic games by noting this, just to put these sports we love into some kind of global context. There are wonderful things about the GAA - the passionate support, the exciting nature of the games, the link between club and county, the strength of the parish structure. But there is no point in pretending that its players are in the same class as professional footballers.

Gaelic footballers and hurlers are amateurs, wonderfully hard-working and dedicated amateurs, but amateurs nonetheless. This may sound obvious but the hordes attacking Stephen Hunt seem to have forgotten that the man inhabits an entirely different sporting universe from the one where GAA stars do their thing.

Personally, I think many top footballers and hurlers would flourish were their games professional. But we'll never know that because the fact of the games being restricted at a serious level to one small island means professionalism probably won't ever happen. GAA players are amateurs, by and large, not because they want to maintain a healthy life/work balance but because there's nobody out there willing to pay them.

There are demands associated with holding down a job and playing a part-time game as well but the demands of professional sport are even higher. The average professional soccer player will play around four times as many matches as a GAA player in a season. And the professional is subject to a pressure the amateur sportsman will never have to cope with, the knowledge that should he perform badly his job is in jeopardy. There are few working environments more ruthless than that of professional football. Of the many talented youngsters who leave this country to try and make it in the pro game, only a handful succeed.

There are some GAA fans and perhaps some players too who labour under the notion that if inter-county players turned to soccer they'd make it in England no bother. But when you look at how few players from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland make the big time, the lunacy of the idea that there are hundreds of potential professional footballers knocking around this country is apparent.

That's unless you believe that GAA players are a kind of a master race. Which, I'm afraid to say, probably isn't the case. I know that in the current climate this may be something of a controversial statement.

The advantage someone like Stephen Hunt has is that he knows exactly how good he is because he has been tested by international competition. Whereas the slight lack of reality among certain GAA people about hurling and football's standing results from the fact that the games take place inside something of a bubble. The parochial nature of the Association is its great strength but it can also be a weakness.

It's striking, for example, how many inter-county players live and work pretty close to where they were born. In the circumstances it's easy to develop a somewhat exaggerated sense of your own worth particularly when the likes of me are banging on how about how great you are.

A real top-class sportsman proves it internationally. We wouldn't think as much of Brian O'Driscoll if his biggest test had come in annual jousts against Munster, of Seán Kelly if he'd stayed at home and won a few Rás Tailteanns or Roy Keane if he'd never ventured beyond the League of Ireland. It's not the fault of GAA players that they don't have an international stage to perform on but in its absence describing them as 'world-class' or 'elite', which does happen from time to time, is just waffle.

So is the idea that amateur players can be just as fit and accomplished as professionals. Again this depends on the idea of the GAA as some kind of miracle-working organisation. In reality, the gap between our players and those from Australian rules in terms of conditioning is pretty obvious when they compete. And Australian rules, being a one-nation sport, is hardly in the top bracket internationally.

Gaelic games are wonderful for what they are but there's no point pretending they're in the same ballpark as major professional sports. That pretence just means that when someone like Stephen Hunt introduces a bit of truth into the conversation he's treated like a curly-headed Salman Rushdie. Maybe it's time to grow up a small bit.

Little love behind new dating game

They don't get much wrong in Kerry. In his report to tomorrow's annual convention, county secretary Peter Twiss hits the nail on the head as regards the GAA's crack-brained idea to finish all competitions within a single calendar year.

Twiss notes: "By insisting that the All-Ireland club championships be completed by the end of a calendar year, there will be no option but to shorten the life span of county championships and reduce the number of games. What is progressive about this? I don't know."

People have been calling for changes to improve the lot of the ordinary club players who seem of late to have been assigned a back seat by the Association. But the calendar year proposal is the change no-one asked for. Have you ever heard anyone say, "What we need is for the All-Ireland club finals to be switched from St Patrick's Day to December?" Club players are looking for extra games in June, not in the run-up to Christmas.

One justification of the proposal is that it will save provincial champions the hassle of having to continue training in the New Year. But, even taking junior and intermediate competitions into account, this directly involves a mere 24 clubs whereas many more than that will be adversely affected by the telescoping of the season. And it's not certain if you're actually doing the clubs in the last four much of a favour anyway. Did Kilmallock and Austin Stacks, for example, think after their epic Munster campaigns that it would be great to have two more games in December? Or did they welcome the chance to regroup?

The biggest argument against the proposed change is that it will spell the end for one of the great occasions in the GAA calendar, the club final double-bill in Croke Park on St Patrick's Day. It's ironic that an organisation which spends so much time and energy trying to get spectators in to competitions like the Railway Cup and the international rules, that no-one is really interested in, is prepared to dispose of an occasion whose popularity has grown organically over the years.

In any event the calendar year proposal won't solve the big problems which bedevil the association at grassroots level, that of club players condemned to inaction in the summer months because gutless county boards cave in to the demands of grasping inter-county managers, and of county championships turned into elongated blitzes as though they're merely an afterthought.

Hopefully, more counties will join Kerry in voicing their opposition to this scheme. It's a common lament of Croke Park media groupies that Central Council are prevented from passing visionary proposals because they're forced to get the assent of the great unwashed at Congress.

But, as Twiss points out, "It is good to have reviews and fresh thinking but the people left to solve the day-to-day issues with fixtures - ie the CCCs around the country and at provincial and national level - should be consulted a lot more before ideas become policy."

Supporting change just because it's change is every bit as silly as opposing it for the same reason.

Just say no folks.

Nuanced debate lost in cyberspace

One thing which struck me looking at the reaction to Stephen Hunt's column was how remarkably bad-tempered it was and how reluctant the partisans on both sides were to admit their opponents had any point at all. On one side you had people blustering that Hunt hated the GAA and was a crap player who played a crap sport. And on the other you had lads going on about 'bog ball,' in an equally insufferable manner.

There was nothing unusual about this. Colm O'Rourke's column about the Gaelic Players Association a couple of weeks back met with a similar response. It wasn't enough for people to disagree with O'Rourke, he had to be the enemy. Instead of addressing, and if possible disproving, the points he made it was easier, and lazier, to dismiss him with a one-line insult.

One of the great things about this country used to be the ability of two people to argue the toss, at length and with some passion, about sport but to remain civilised about it. I wonder sometimes if that day is gone or if it's just the internet which has become the domain of the bully and the blowhard. Perhaps a man who's got one eye on his work and the other on a comment section or message board doesn't really have the time or inclination to examine both sides of an argument. The truncated nature of Twitter communication certainly doesn't lend itself to nuance.

Online GAA arguments aren't the only ones which suffer from a consistently dyspeptic tone. Pretty much any debate about Roy Keane degenerates into a slanging match between those who regard Keane as a 'traitor' and those who see him as a noble warrior fearlessly prosecuting the war against mediocrity. One side thinks everything Keane does is right, the other that everything he does is wrong. The fact that Keane might be right sometimes and wrong sometimes doesn't occur to either of them.

But with the Season of Goodwill coming up perhaps it's time for combatants to engage in an internet version of that football game from the Pipes of Peace video. Consider the possibility that the person arguing against you might be doing so in good faith. And for God's sake don't insist that you deserve an apology because someone wrote something you disagree with. That's just childish.

Above all, think on these words from the great 17th century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, "With regard to human affairs, not to laugh, not to cry, not to become indignant, but to understand." Because that lad you're berating on the internet might be right and you might be wrong.

It's possible you know.

I thought I was going to get angry at this when I read the headline, but when I read the article there's a lot to agree with. We definitely have an inflated sense of our importance in the GAA and a lack of perspective concerning our place in the sporting world. On the other hand I've always found it a bit pointless comparing GAA players to players of other sports. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison. GAA players adapt to the structures and conditions that they operate in, English Premier League players do likewise. It's like comparing a Formula 1 car to a rally car. They're built for completely different purposes and there's no such thing as one being "better" than the other.

Gaelic football has its points. Hurling has its action speed and skill. Soccer has its grace and suspense. I'm sure fans of cricket find their game exciting just like baseball fans do. These are all great sports in their own right and there's nothing to be gained from getting into a game of one-upmanship. Can't we all just get along?

GAA Discussion / Your earliest memories of the GAA
« on: November 13, 2014, 06:36:26 PM »
Sitting at a match between Armagh and Fermanagh in Irvinestown.  Would have been early 80s, maybe late 70s.  I remember my brothers getting all excited because Fermanagh was getting bate. My dad, a Fermanagh man, was sitting behind us with his mates. One of them gave me a sweet every time Fermanagh scored but he didn't succeed in getting me to shout against Armagh!

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