Author Archive for Damien Foley



13
Nov
09

Another rat abandoning this sinking ship

So, I’m off. Long-time readers of this blog might recall a post on Brian Lenihan that I ended by threatening to leave the country. Well, I’m following through on that threat. I’ve been offered a job abroad and I’ve decided to accept it.

A couple of months ago I posted about being offered a job and being told later I wasn’t getting it. It’s this job I’m for which I’m headed. I’ve avoided posting further on this as I didn’t want to jinx it, but I guess I’m safe enough at this stage. The explanation I received on why I was briefly told I’m not getting the job was, frankly, weird, something about mistaking me for English and not wanting to hire an English person. One can be forgiven for thinking something fishy is going on. However, I’ve checked things as much as it is possible to check these things. I’ve talked to embassy people and the agent with whom I arranged the job, and I’ve comfirmed separately that the company exists. I can be certain that the offer is legit and there is an actual job waiting for me.

And so I’m off. The visa is sorted and the plane-ticket is bought, and I’m leaving this weekend. I’m pretty much going as far as I can without resorting to the Australia option (which is good as I can’t imagine a fate worse than living in Australia). I’m leaving behind Ireland and unemployment, and probably this blog. It’s not that I’m abandoning blogging, I’ve really enjoyed it and I have a couple of ideas for new blogs I’d like to try out, but I don’t see myself updating The Unemployed Blog much longer. I suppose I could do an ex-pat Irishman’s blog, but it’s not likely. In all honesty, I’ve become quite bored of personal blogging in the last few months.

I’ll be fleshing out a few concepts due course, and there’ll be a few more updates here, just to let regular readers know what’s happening. In the meantime, if anyone’s passing through South Korea you can stay in my house.

09
Nov
09

To whoever’s Googling my email address

In the last week this blog has received a number of hits from web-searches of my email address. This post is a direct appeal to the person or persons typing my address into a search-engine and getting directed to my site as a result. Please stop. It’s freaking me out. Whatever the reason you’re doing this is, I find it impossible to believe it’s one I’d approve of.

Maybe there is a reasonable and above-board explanation for searching my address, but if it’s a case that you need information on me that I don’t mind imparting you can always just contact me and ask. For fuck sake, you have my address.

08
Nov
09

Rand and the Recession

I have been reading two truly hilarious novels lately. One of these, PG Wodehouse’s Thank You, Jeeves, deserves credit for being intentionally funny. The other, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, not so much.

I bring this up because it’s been well reported that sales of Atlas Shrugged have jumped considerably in light of the recession. So much so that there’s a recent rash of books coming out discussing Rand’s books and the philosophy she professed. Last week’s Economist magazine had an article on her, and there have apparently been rumours in Hollywood that an adaptation is being fast-tracked. Her new popularity is being credited to the recession as the book prophesises an economy grinding to a halt, and a government scramble to fix it which instead makes the whole thing far worse. It is this view that leads me to believe the rest of the world has read a different Atlas Shrugged from the one I have, as the philosophy espoused in my version has been rendered provably wrong by the recession.

Continue reading ‘Rand and the Recession’

06
Nov
09

Mary’s problems

There was a story on the RTE News lunchtime bulletin regarding Mary Harney’s pride in the rollout of the swine flu vaccination. Will Goodbody reported it, and I’m sure the 6:01 bulletin with carry the piece again.

It’s worth seeing, if only because it betrays this government’s attitude to their unpopularity and the country’s current woes. Reporters took the opportunity to quiz her on a number of issues with the HSE, including Brendan Drumm’s 2007 bonus and more especially the report today that a Letterkenny consultant is claiming healthcare cutbacks are leaving him with nothing to do. On the bonus she simply said the matter is dealt with and she’s not discussing it any further. Regarding idle consultants she suggested people should be finding solutions rather than “identifying problems”.

It’s a familiar theme. We’ve been regularly told by Ministers and government TDs that for the good of the country we should focusing on the positive rather than complaining about the negatives. It’s a global phenomenon for incumbent parties in bad times to confuse the good of the country with the good of the government. Still, Mary’s comments are particularly inane. How exactly do we find solutions to anything without identifying the problems first?

02
Nov
09

Gifted Web Writers

Has anyone heard of this outfit? I’m wondering if they contacted anyone else. They emailed me yesterday to tell me that this blog and my writing style meets with their “quality guidelines”, and therefore want to include me in their program and pay me for my posts.

Now if it were simply spam I wouldn’t take any notice, but it’s not. These guys went through some of my recent posts and told me which ones they liked. And it’s not some randomly acquired trickery with bots either; they were able to distinguish between posts that are lengthy rants rather that pointless Youtube links or whatever. This is not the usual $1,000,000 deal from the Nigerian Department of Finance or notice that my email address has won a global lottery. Somebody has taken the time to research me personally and offer me money. They haven’t asked for bank details, but I’m sure that will be the primary request following any follow-up emails.

There is, of course, the possibility that I’m being paranoid, and that this is a legit offer, but I’m not convinced. The email directed me to their website for more information, but all it contains is an “under construction” homepage and a postal address in Israel. Also, this may be unconnected, but at least one person has found this blog through a websearch of my email address.

So, has the Gifted Web Writers program contacted anyone else? Does anybody have any more information on this? Obviously I’m not going to be availing of the offer. If it is legit then they’re going about it in a very dubious manner.

EDIT: ‘Cause I was asked for it.

Dear Damien,

As part of expanding our “Gifted Web Writers” program, we search the net for high quality blogs and gifted web writers. I’ve visited your website and read some of your recent posts, including “The poor farmer”.

Damien, you definitely have a unique and interesting writing style and an intriguing high quality blog. Since you and your blog meet our quality guidelines, we would like to offer you to join our unique and highly rewarding program.

About the program –

The program links our customers with gifted writers like you and pays them for writing short articles. You already do that, so I’m sure you will be happy to be rewarded for your talent. Our program pays at least 15 USD for each article you write, with options for additional payments. We do not ask nor expect you to write ads; rather, we give you complete writing freedom and appreciate your creativity and imagination.

I hope that you find the concept of our program interesting, and would be happy to provide you more information about it. Please email me back and in the mean time feel free to visit our website http://www.giftedwebwriters.com.

If this email does not interest you, I apologize and I will not contact you again.

Sincerely,

27
Oct
09

Spam…from friends

Can someone of a technically-minded nature explain this to me, as it’s beyond my capacities? Yesterday evening I received an email from a girl I knew in college. “Fabulous,” I thought, as I hadn’t heard from her in a while. This is a girl I always had a lot of time for, and I was interested to hear what she’s up to. However, the body of the email was a little weird.

Dear friend,
I am willing to give you a big surprise. I found
a website:  [I removed the link] last week. They mainly sell phones ,
laptops, tvs ,digital cameras and motorbikes. I ordered a tv . now I
have got the product after 5 days. Its quality is very good.
By the
way, they only sell new and original products and their products have
international warranty. Now , they are promoting their products, so
the prices are very competitives. If you need these products, you can
have a look. Don not miss the good chance !
Best wishes!

Clearly it’s spam. Even without the meaningless HTML symbols, I can’t imagine any situation where a girl I haven’t seen in a while would open an email with “I am willing to give you a big surprise”. I checked the website out, and it appears to be some Chinese operation. There were a few bugs. The layout wasn’t bad, but it could be better. I could be legit, but I’m not going to buy anything from it.

This might make be seem foolish, maybe this is a common problem, but I’ve never encountered this before. Is it possible for bots to send spam from legitimate email addresses?

EDIT: This is amazing. I’m now getting Facebook messages from someone I know claiming to be a “cool video”, but is actually a trojan download. What is this?

25
Oct
09

Bizkit the Sleepwalking Dog

I’m sorry for not posting anything in the last few weeks. I’ve been sorting out some major events in my own life, and as such I haven’t been keeping abreast of events of national importance. I’ll tell all later. For now I give you Bizkit (I realise this has been circulating the internet for some months now, but I’ve only just seen it).

12
Oct
09

The poor farmer

I spent the day with protesting farmers. It’s a habit of mine. Whenever I hear of a protest happening someplace I always go down for the craic. You might think this the attitude of a bandwagon revolutionist, and you might be right. In this case, however, the label doesn’t hold, as I find it very hard to muster much sympathy for the farmers’ plight.

Ok, the whole 20 cent per litre of milk, or whatever it is that Glanbia gives them, is hardly fair. But it’s difficult to believe they’re so hard up when they’re parading brand new tractors through half the country. As one guy said to me today, “if they sold all the tractors they could clear the national debt.”

And the IFA are seemingly aware of this contradiction. One of today’s protesters is a friend of my brother. He told me the farmers were instructed to take their oldest, dodgiest tractors to the protest, only some didn’t pick up the message. Incidentally, my brother’s friend is not a farmer. He just works for one occasionally. He was working today. He was actually being paid an hourly rate to attend the protest (and I very much doubt that was declared and taxed accordingly). I ask you, how badly can they really be doing if they can pay people to protest on their behalf?

I ran into John Deasy during my adventure, and he expressed his absolute support for the farmers. “It was farmers who kept this town alive during the 80s,” he told me. Bullshit, of course. This particular town was kept alive by two pharmaceutical plants and a Waterford Crystal factory, but he did get me wondering about certain politicians who are champion the farmers’ cause. I saw placards today stating: “Rural TDs defend farmers,” which I misread as, “Rural TDs depend on farmers,” which few would doubt is true. I can’t help but suspect this is an issue for political reasons rather than unjust milk prices.

28
Sep
09

A season for strange telly ads

Is anyone else bothered by those ads for the Referendum Commission? They pride themselves on being independent and interested only in informing us on the Lisbon treaty, but I find myself wondering if this is entirely true. The points they chose to exemplify in the ads seem to specifically counter claims made by the No side.

I suppose it could be argued that they are obliged to make particular reference to the No side’s claims, as they have been the chief instigators of mistruths in this debate. I’ve certainly been making similar claims here. However, I don’t this a reasonable explanation for these ads. The purpose of the commission is to serve as a resource for people seeking accurate information. If they’re taking it upon themselves chase down perceived untruths, then in naturally follows they have an agenda.

There’s also the downright strange role played by the commission last year. I recall some higher-up claiming they were free to take a side should one camp start taking the piss. In once sense this might be reasonable, but it hardly speaks well of their claim to be independent. I was told too of a press conference they held where one journalist asked a particularly challenging question, and they didn’t have a clue. They spent a good ten minute desperately leafing through books and leaflets. “It was a joy to behold,” was how the journalist who told me about it described it.

I’m not accusing anyone of being biased here. I’m just saying it all seems a bit odd to me. This aside, you know what other ad is bothering me? That Cadbury’s one with the giant anthropomorphised cocoa bean, with its distinctly Africanised features. Now perhaps I’m being over-sensitive, but it seems to me that they’ve gotten a bunch of dancing, slack-jawed black people and stuck them on my telly, seemingly with the expectation that I’d be ok with laughing at them.

27
Sep
09

The “buy Mary a cinema ticket to fix the government” plan

Have you ever encountered such incompetence that you wonder if they’re doing it on purpose? This was my reaction to Rody Molloy’s golden handshake, and the excuses that followed. It’s as if these guys are going out of their way to give the impression they’re bad at being the government, so we’ll happily welcome a European super-state. Or maybe they’re acting like court jesters so that it’ll distract from the shitty economy and help restore consumer confidence. This may sound ridiculous, but is it any more ridiculous than accepting they’re actually that stupid.

It seems Dermot was on the radio yesterday claiming they signed off on the pension as it benefited the taxpayer. And Dubya bombed Iraq for peace. What little faith they have in their own strength that they couldn’t risk a legal battle with Molloy. Brian was today desperately trying to put an end to the story by saying it was all simply in accordance with legislation. The threat of legal action by Molloy is certainly an interesting angle, but more so in my opinion was Cowen’s earlier claim that the payout was within public sector norms. This in the same week he was complaining that public service wages are too high.

No amount of spin will change the popular belief that this was yet another entry to the long list of Coughlin blunders that have embarrassed Cowen’s government. It hasn’t been a good week for Mary, though at this stage it’s impossible to imagine what “good” week for Mary might entail. Still, at least it wasn’t as embarrassing as last week, when she regaled the IDA with the story of how Einstein wrote the Theory of Evolution, truly a comment worthy of the now missed Bushisms. Well, rather than simply whine on the internet, I actually going to help. Conveniently, a Charles Darwin biopic is playing in the cinemas. A ticket is currently making its way to Mary’s office, courtesy of the Unemployed Blog. If it makes this government that bit less incompetent then I’m happy to do it.