Archive for February 17th, 2010

Baulk To Joe

I’ve lost count of the times my neighbours have recommended that I call Joe Duffy to resolve a whole range of problems, ranging from telephone bills to potholes to hospital conditions. One neighbour of mine says, proudly, that every time he calls the council about something, he threatens that if they fail to address the matter he will be straight on to Joe Duffy. It as though Joe Duffy were a public instrument of terror to be brought to bear on the evil forces of state and big business. But he -it- is nothing of the sort. Duffy’s programme perpetuates a sense of the little man or woman getting ground down by these forces, but unable to do anything about it apart from call Joe Duffy, as though it were a matter of petitioning a benevolent prince. Its function is to induce despair, not alleviate it, by presenting the existing state of affairs as a fait accompli, with only Jooooe Duffaaigghhh to turn to.

The Books of Evidence

The Irish Times – Letters

Madam, – There is a solution to the recycling of schoolbooks issue which was raised by Trevor Matthews (February 13th).

I am a parent of three school children and I have set up a free web site called This service allows families to buy, sell, or exchange used college and school books from each other. Thousands of families already use it.

In addition, the “Freeze School Book List” campaign is under way. If we can persuade teachers to freeze last year’s school book lists and re-use them again this year, it will assist considerably towards helping families all over Ireland re-use their school books and thus save money in every community throughout the country. – Yours, etc,


Rathmiles Avenue,


Co Laois.

All very laudable, but I came through an education system in which parents did not pay directly for school books: the cost was borne through general taxation. This has left me at a disadvantage in understanding why schools cannot procure these books directly, retain them and pass them down from year to year. Do citizens here object to contributing to the education of other people’s children or something?

Unintended Consequences

Ackerman: Goldstone Standard Could be Trouble for U.S. | The New York Observer

“I would contend that on any given month during the war in Iraq and the war in Afgahnistan and Pakistan, in one month probably more innocent civilians are killed by American troops – unintended consequences – than in the whole Gaza incursion.

“And if the international community thinks that they can condemn Israel and accuse it of war crimes, based on the Goldstone Report, which is intended to delegitimize the very existence of the state of Israel, than it’s not just Israeli soldiers and Israeli officials, but the very president of the United States or any American soldier, if they decide to apply those same standards to us or anybody else, that’s in danger of being arrested, locked up, and put on trial in the Hague, for the same thing Israel is being accused of right now.”

Whether Ackerman’s contention is true I have no idea, and no doubt his own definition of what constitutes an innocent civilian informs this contention. However, many civilians are being killed by NATO and US forces, and it would be an excellent thing indeed if the Goldstone Report were put to the use he foresees, however unlikely.

As for the ‘unintended consequences’: if you launch a missile into a civilian population, it will probably kill civilians as a consequence. To say that civilian death is an unintended consequence in these circumstances is like saying that getting drunk was an unintended consequence of necking a bottle of whiskey in one, because you only wanted to savour the taste and had no plans to get drunk.

Just A Few Nukes Lying About The Place

Clinton warns of new nuclear arms race – The Irish Times – Tue, Feb 16, 2010

“If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, that hope disappears,” she said, “because then other countries which feel threatened by Iran will say to themselves, ‘If Iran has a nuclear weapon, I better get one, too, in order to protect my people.’

“Then you have a nuclear arms race in the region,” she said.

A graduate of the college, Dalai M. Khayat, said in an interview after Clinton departed she was pleased that Clinton had come, but saw some of her responses to audience members as “not that fulfilling.”

Khayat said she was a bit disappointed that Clinton had not responded fully to a student who had asked why Israel should not be forced to give up its nuclear weapons, given U.S. opposition to a nuclear Iran. Israel has not formally declared itself a nuclear power but is widely believed to have a relatively small arsenal of weapons.

Clinton had said the US wants to see the entire Middle East free of nuclear weapons, but she did not mention Israel.

A relatively small arsenal…of nukes? Well that’s ok then. And it’s not as if Israel has ever attacked another country, so there’s no reason for anyone else to get one on account of that.

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February 2010