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A time for icicles to hang and the shepherd to blow his nail

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Harsh winters of 2009/2010: No sign of a repeat . . . yet.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

There I was the other night among a court of the elders in the local hostelry finding myself being heavily castigated for allegedly not having any knowledge of the horrible Winter of snow, icicles, frost and all things arctic that lies ahead of us for the season of darkness.

Maybe the big chill will arrive, but after all, we are coming into wintertime when we expect to turn on the oil heating regularly and keep the stove topped up with all kinds of stuff that the Greens don’t like us burning, such as turf, firewood or coal.

TheSo how much store, if any, should we place on the long term forecasts, whether they be scientifically based or leaning more towards the realms of quackery. It’s probably a case of ‘you pays your money and you takes your choice’.

Weather forecasting is neither a simple nor an exact science and when I hear of people ‘swearing by’ some of the long term forecasts, I wonder how organisations like the British Met Service, whose budget extends to hundreds of millions, are often hard pressed to get an accurate forecast for five days ahead.

Last month, the UK Met Office announced that they were spending €97 million on a super-computer (super by the way is apparently new buzz word) to be built in Exeter next Spring and to be up and running by September 2015.

The UK Met. Office have got all excited about their new piece of gadgetry, predicting that it will give them ‘more precision, more detail and more accuracy in their forecasts for the next day, the next week, the next month and even the next century’.

Now that’s one side of the meteorological coin, but over recent days as I was doing a small trawl through the net, I came across a piece last month on a little community radio station in Roscommon, called Ros FM, where they had a lengthy interview with one Ken Ring, the famous New Zealand pseudo/scientific long range weather forecaster.

After the UK Met. Office had announced their decision to spend €97 million on this computer of mind boggling power, Mr. Ring from the heart of New Zealand, was predicting a very wet day in Roscommon next June, but he reassured his audience that most of the rain would fall during the night hours. How’s that for long term accuracy by just taking a peep at the moon every now and then . . . enough to send any self-respecting meteorologist on a skite of drink!

Anyway it made for very interesting listening, regardless of what store we put on his prediction, as he went through month by month what was ahead of us between now and the end of 2015. In quick summary, Mr. Ring predicted (in early October), that November would generally be wettish and dull with a snow risk in the last three days; the first two weeks of December would continue cold with a snow risk although no White Christmas will follow, but our coldest spell of the year would come after the festive season and into the first three weeks of January.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

 

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway 2020 defenders’ mortifying muscle memory 

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

It’s amazing how quickly people try to re-write history. If Galway 2020 happened, say, 20 years ago, you could maybe blame fading memory to make allowances for the maroon-tinted glasses of those who defend it to the hilt.

But Galway’s term as European Capital of Culture concluded not 20 weeks ago, and the ‘see no evil, hear no evil’ brigade are out in force with propaganda that would make Donald Trump blush.

The defenders of Galway 2020 usually fall into two categories. There are people who work or worked for the organisation directly or indirectly and/or who contributed to winning the prestigious designation. And there are those who are deluded. Some fall into both categories – deluded and with a vested interest in Galway 2020’s reputation.

It matters not that the latest criticism of the ill-fated – and extremely expensive – project was contained in an official Government report, compiled by an office with impeccable credibility, the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Be it bar-stool commentary or analysis of the CA&G, the reaction to criticism is always the same. The defenders metaphorically stick index fingers in both ears, close their eyes and chant: “Yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah”. This would be fine if it wasn’t the taxpayer who’s had to pick up the tab.

It’s like the defenders of Galway 2020 have an inbuilt muscle memory. They’ve spent so long defending Galway 2020 that, no matter what the new charge is, their memory system automatically kicks in.

And while the muscle memory that instinctively compels them to defend is, through repetitive use, as sharp as ever, their actual memories are mortifyingly short. Or maybe they’ve selective memory. Or both.

The few – and they’re getting fewer – who defend Galway 2020 often spout the narrative that but for the Covid-19 pandemic it would’ve been brilliant.

And to a casual observer, someone who never heard of Galway 2020 and its litany of problems from day one, maybe that explanation seems plausible. But the argument does not hold water.

The C&AG last week highlighted how Galway 2020 had planned to raise €6.8 million from the private sector. This figure was used in the bid book to persuade judges to give Galway the designation.

In the end, it managed to raise just €400,000 in cash, plus €500,000 in “in-kind” support.

Defenders’ muscle memory kicked in and they said, “Ah, but the pandemic, how could you raise money during Covid?”.

This deliberately ignores Galway 2020’s own bid book, which promised to raise €4 million from the private sector pre-Covid in 2017, 2018 and 2019. It didn’t materialise, which shows the projected income from businesses was overinflated, or the private sector had reservations about supporting this project long before Covid.

This is just one implied criticism in the C&AG report, which doesn’t even mention the non-appointment of a Business Engagement Director, whose job – if the appointment had proceeded – would’ve been to tap the private sector for money.

Maybe the defenders should read the C&AG report. It might help to de-programme their mortifying muscle memory.

(Photo: The scene at South Park at the same time as the Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture opening ceremony).

This is a shortened preview version of Bradley Bytes. To read more, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Homework only goes to prove parents haven’t all the answers

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Anyone fortunate enough to be a parent will always remember the moment when their child transitioned from unqualified hero worship to thinking that ma and da, if not quite clowns, at least possessed feet of clay.

And that moment often coincided with the time you could no longer make head nor tail of their homework.

You were grand with addition and subtraction, even multiplication and basic division – but when theorems or algebra or physics or foreign languages came into the equation, suddenly your infallible status took a nosedive straight into the nearest bin.

The consolation is that we are not alone – because most parents admit they’ve forgotten even the basics from their schooldays, leaving them cruelly exposed when the teenagers come looking for help.

A recent UK survey asked 1,500 parents aged over 30 what they had forgotten from their schooldays.

Top of the list was algebra – forgotten by half of them – followed by trigonometry and Pythagoras’s Theorem. About a third of respondents could no longer remember how to do long division – or name ten or more elements from the periodic table.

A quarter didn’t know the difference between an isosceles and a scalene triangle, and almost a fifth had forgotten how to use a protractor. Most of those probably thought a compass was for pricking the back of the student sitting in front of you.

Other classroom classics now lost in the sands of time included a failure to recognise cloud formations, identifying an oxbow lake, remembering quotes from Shakespeare, or explaining the difference between volts and amps.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Budget throws up history of drama on Dáil’s longest day

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The longest day...Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

It’s the biggest set-piece of the year in Irish politics, the one day of the political calendar when the Dáil chamber is full to the brim. And no matter how much the body politic is bludgeoned, Budget Day remains special.

There are some years in which the budgets are pass-remarkable but, then again, there are some years in which the budgets are just bloody remarkable.

In modern times none can really touch the drama of Charlie McCreevy’s announcement of decentralisation in December 2003. If it were to be done today, people would nod all round and say that’s a sensible enough proposal. But back then the notion of tens of thousands of public servants making an exodus from Dublin to the provinces was unfathomable and unthinkable.

The 2007 Budget was something else to behold. It was the middle of the Celtic Tiger and there were concerns that the economy was overheating to a point that the boiler was about to explode – even if nobody fully realised it at the time. More critically there was an election to be won.

At the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis before the election Bertie Ahern read out a shopping list of giveaways, harking back to the infamous Fianna Fáil manifesto of 30 years beforehand.

Ahern had been before the Planning Tribunal to explain political contributions and hand-outs he himself had got from his friends. The feelgood budget helped divert some of the heat away – and ultimately, it was enough to win the party a historic third term in government.

By the following spring, Ahern was gone and by that summer everything had ‘come to a shuddering halt’, to employ the phrase of the late Brian Lenihan Junior. Giveaway budgets tend to come back and bite you in the nether regions.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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