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speed limit sign

Can you tell, from the above sign, what the speed limit on this road may be?

Congratulations, you're in the same boat as Irish drivers will be from next summer!

You see, the current Irish speed limits are "silly", because people on narrow, twisty, country roads (we call 'em boreens and they are generally one step up from a sheep track - main difference is if the grass isn't growing in the centre of the road) are booting it at 80 km per hour (at a minimum), which is technically legal, but dangerous:

irish speed limits

So in order to make our roads safer and help our drivers (especially young male drivers, the ones who most love putting the pedal to the metal, although they're not exclusively at fault here), our Minister for Transport (that's Leo Varadkar, in case anyone wants to know to whom they should send the bill for the funeral) has come up with this wizard wheeze.

Thousands of 80kmh speed signs across the country are to be replaced with a black and white alternative which does not contain a numeral.

The signs signify that motorists will be expected to use their own judgment in relation to speed without exceeding a limit of 80kmh.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said the decision is being taken because the 80kmh signs can send out the "wrong message".


So now, if you're on an Irish road and you're wondering "At what speed should I be travelling, and what is the legal limit, and what speeds are any oncoming drivers I encounter likely to be going?", why, it is all up to you, dear driver, to estimate a safe and sensible limit for yourself! And so will all the other drivers be doing! Though there's no guarantee that your estimation and their estimation will match!

Feck it, I knew the Blueshirts were a free enterprise/free market party, but I didn't think it extended to the national roads!

I must admit, I was amused by this suggestion:

* Motorists will be given the option of having an in-car speed warning from their satnav

Looks like we (or rather you, the drivers of Ireland, unlike myself) will be installing the JohnJoe!

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Remember the storm in a teacup over the two Roma children removed from their families because they "didn't look like them" - in other words, there were suspicions that "Gypsies are stealing our White kids"?

Well, the more information that comes out, the better the story gets. And by "better", I mean "worse".

According to this brief news report, in at least one of the cases, the police didn't even contact local social services.

It has emerged that Gardaí did not contact local social workers when they removed a two-year-old Roma boy from his family in Co Westmeath.

A report carried out by the HSE into the case, and the removal of a Roma girl from her family in Dublin, has been handed to the Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

The report has found a breakdown in communication between the Gardaí and the HSE was a contributing factor in the wrongful removal of the toddler.

According to the Sunday Times, officers involved used an emergency helpline to arrange accommodation for the young boy and the HSE was not made aware of his removal until the following morning.

The report, along with a Garda report, will be handed to the Children's Ombudsman who will now carry out her own investigation into both cases.


A breakdown in communication. Yeah, that's one way to describe it. No checking about was this family clients of social services, were there problems identified, was there any report of abuse, nothing - just run in the door and grab the kid because somebody rang up and said "I think that child doesn't look like the alleged parents".

But we can trust Big Brother not to abuse the powers they were given with the 2012 amendment to the Constitution!

Well - as long as you're White, Western, and middle-class, that is. Foreign, native-born but 'underclass' or simply a darker shade of skin than the average - sorry, rights, what rights?
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Remember the case of the Greek Roma couple with the "blonde angel" child that kicked the whole tawdry affair in Ireland off?

Well, news to hand indicates that no, the Greek couple aren't the biological parents.

But it turns out the girl is not a White Christian possibly Eastern European, possibly Northern European child stolen by Gypsies.

Yes, another blue-eyed, blonde-haired, fair-skinned child is ethnically Roma. According to this story, her mother is a Bulgarian Roma woman who was working in Greece as itinerant farm labour (olive picking), and gave over her baby to the couple when it was born because she was too poor to look after it herself.

Which is the story the original couple have been telling all along: they informally 'adopted' the child who was given to them by the mother.

Well, the Bulgarian authorities are trying to charge the birth mother with "child selling" (even though there's no evidence to date that I am aware of that she received any money for her baby) and the Greek authorities have charged the Greek couple with abduction (how well that charge will hold up when all parties claim it was voluntary and consensual exchange, I don't know) and document fraud.

Ah, that last is the kicker. Now we've moved on from "Gypsies stealing our White children" (when the child isn't one of our White children, she's fair-skinned Roma) to "Welfare cheats, dole scroungers, benefit fraud" and Gypsies, tramps and thieves as the Cher song had it.

They have been jailed pending trial, and are also suspected of fraudulently obtaining birth certificates for 14 children.

Greek authorities are trying to work out whether the children all exist, or whether the alleged document fraud was part of a welfare scam.

The couple allegedly received more than €2,500 a month in family benefits.

They insist they were looking after Maria with their own five children after an informally arranged adoption.


Now, maybe there was a scam going on. Maybe they were gaming the system. I have no idea. But at the moment, given the amount of confusion, hysteria, and resurrection of old stereotypes, old canards, and blatant racism as demonstrated in the Greek case and in the two children temporarily taken into care in my own country - I'm taking everything with a sack-full of salt.
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When the investigations have been completed, the reports finally issued, and the press conferences held, here is what I do NOT want to happen:

- Junior or lower-level members of the police and/or health services carrying the can for this

- Scapegoat thrown to the wolves to appease public disquiet

- After the showtrial, move along folks, business as usual

What I DO want:

- An in-depth look at this legislation and any forthcoming legislation, and some concrete definitions on what the hell is a reasonable belief or grounds for suspicion; when can you take children away; when do you leave them with parents; nail it down and don't leave the people working at the coalface dangling in the wind when they have to make decisions on wording that has Supreme Court judges doing fine hair-splitting as to what it means

- Newspapers and television all taking a good hard look at themselves and their responsibility in this (and all of them, not the broadsheets being sniffy about the redtops: they all in their various manners spread around the story of the Greek Roma alleged child abduction)

- Serious consideration of racism in Ireland, not the same old head in the sand approach. This means also recognising that some complaints about certain members of minority groups are valid and not motivated by racism or discrimination. Sometimes person X is a criminal or a risk to the neighbourhood. We need to get a balance between "All X are cheats and thieves!" and "Any X is blamed unfairly because of generations of prejudice!"

- That is going to be one hell of a tough conversation and there will be bad blood on both sides. But we need to have it

- Government and politicians looking at their own part. If you're peddling the notion of "We're pro-business, pro-employment; we want to help you help yourself" and that means making budget cuts, which you then justify as "We're only clearing out the false claimants and the cheats - did you know, by the way, most fraud is carried out by immigrants?" in order to attract the votes of the middle-class/white working-class - then you are part of the problem. You don't get away with dismissing it as over-zealous police when you're the guy or gal with the power of making policy
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There's the story of a rumour going around about the possibility of a new "Star Trek" television series. I was going “Yay!” right up until I read the words “Bob Orci” and then my immediate reaction was “F**k, no!”

Guy whose actual reaction (not alleged, rumoured or imputed to him, but typed out by his own fair hands) to criticism from people who’ve been in the fandom longer than he’s been involved with the franchise is to call them “shitty fans”?

Yeah, that fills me with confidence they won’t make a dog’s dinner of it! I can see it now:

Opening scene of new “Star Trek We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Rules of Grammar” series:

Note: Important that this is to be NEW, original material and characters that is not in any way copying original series or anything that has been done before!!!!

TIM CORK, sexy young blond tearaway but with hidden emotional depths of MANPAIN is gunning his vintage hoverbike (they have hoverbikes in Trek, right? Whatever, it’s all SF!) through the desert, glugging down a (note to continuity: find out what soft drink company will pay the most for product placement here) and blasting out (hmm - what do kids these days listen to? Yeah, some Run DMC, that’s cool!) while a green (nah, done that already) blue (nah, those are the what's their names, starts with an "A", the Andrex? Anyway, we’re not copying the original series JJ says so!) orange with pink spots (oh, yeah, now we’re being original!) sexy alien chick no, twins no, triplets!!! in their skimpiest underwear (note to continuity: find out exactly how much nudity the network will let us get away with on TV) are all over him.

CORK tosses them off the hoverbike and leaves them behind in the sand, calling plaintively after him “Tim, take me with you!” and “You’re the best I’ve ever been with!” and “We’ll never be able to settle for another man again after you!” (note to continuity: will network let us get away with lesbian make-out shot here, if it’s done tastefully and is artistically necessary of course?)

CORK rides his bike up to secure government military base where they’re building the latest, most advanced, one-of-a-kind starship (yeah, he just drives up even though it’s a military base and top-secret project, no-one stops him, we don’t see any security) (yes, they’re building a starship on the ground even though in this universe at this date we should be seeing off-planet bases and orbital space docks because it’s a lot easier to launch your ship once it’s already been built in space rather than try and achieve escape velocity from a planet) and we get shot of him on his hoverbike outside the fence gazing up at the ship that is going to be his one day:

CORK (with intensity and determination and palpable sense of fate and ultimate conviction in his own destiny): That ship is going to be mine one day

CHANGE TO: Interior, sleazy bar/niteclub (you know the type, the cantina on Mos Eisley, for example). CORK hits on snooty chick who’s wearing some kind of uniform (note to continuity: does it have to be recognisably a uniform or can’t we just have a guy standing with her to tell everyone she’s a Starfleet officer-in-training? That way we can get her to wear sexy tight fitting backless dress in some kind of sparkly material - ask Kaplan about what kind is clingiest - with short hem and no sleeves and showing off her cleavage: you know, the kind of conservative buttoned-up gear you’d expect a prudish chick like her to wear). Snooty chick turns him down but this is only because her boyfriend is standing there (also, she’s probably frigid and maybe even a lesbian, because otherwise she would never be able to resist CORK).

Boyfriend is the guy standing beside her telling everyone she’s a Starfleet officer-in-training. He’s an alien, from the planet Bulkan. His name is SPARK and he and CORK get into a fight over snooty chick (note to continuity: remind me to think up appropriate name for her later; after all, she is our main female character! Actually, she's probably going to be our only main female character, but hey - we don't want to confuse audiences with too many women on screen all talking at the one time, do we?)

Interior of bar gets trashed (copy reuse pay homage to bar fight scenes from classic movies, use light touches of humour in scene like guy drinking at table that gets smashed who continues to drink as fight rages around him, guy getting tossed through window, etc.)

CORK and SPARK fight one another to a standstill until they’re the only pair left standing in the wreckage. They are only standing upright because they’re holding each other up, and you can tell it’s been a tough, rough, hard, manly, no-holds-barred fight because CORK has bruising, contusions, blood all over face, fractured ribs and possible concussion, while SPARK has mussed hair. They gaze deeply into one another’s eyes and you can sense the beginnings of a deep, once in a lifetime friendship, the kind of friendship that leads to a legendary partnership that will make history and be renowned in the annals of the Federation, the kind of pairing that not alone makes history, it changes the fate of the galaxy.

(Oh, yeah: the snooty chick is still hanging around as well. Better give her something to do since we’ll have to pay the actress anyway just for showing up on set).

SNOOTY CHICK: Spark, are you okay, baby? I was so worried that even though you have superior strength, faster reflexes, and higher pain tolerance plus advanced martial arts secret techniques from your home world on top of your Starfleet self-defence training, this guy might hurt you when he broke the chair over your head! Oh honey, let me kiss you to show that we are indeed in a relationship and although you’ve just spent the last five minutes gazing silently and intensely into the eyes of another man, both of you clutching on to one another and breathing heavily after rolling around on the floor on top of one another while that blond twink was making his O-face when you were choking him, there is nothing remotely homoerotic in this scene and you are both completely heterosexual!

SPARK: Lieutenant (note to continuity: remind me to insert name for snooty chick here when I think of one), please curb your Human propensity to unseemly displays of emotional indulgence in public.

(Oh yeah, going great so far! Just what this clapped-out old franchise needs: a complete fresh look at its very beginnings, an overhaul and a new angle with all original material and revamped characters!)
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