Author Archive for Damien Foley


They made me play sports

Hello friends. I realise I previously said here that I’m not interested in any more personal blogging, but I figured one or two posts are justified, just to let you know what’s going on.

First of all, the new blogs are coming (two, at the moment). I’m working the format and on a couple of initial posts. When I first moved here there was no internet access in my apartment, but this has been sorted now so things should be moving along swiftly.

As for Korea, it’s all working out rather nicely. It will surely not have escaped notice that I’ve been very vague about the job I’m doing here. This is because I wasn’t entirely sure myself. Of course it’s teaching English. Let’s face it, it’s is the only skill an Asian company would look to the West for. However, I wasn’t being hired by any kind of school or college, but a power plant, and I wasn’t certain what they’d be doing with an English teacher. As it turns out, this particular plant has an in-house academy for teaching new recruits, and this is where I fit in. My fellow teachers (or “instructors”) are all engineering and energy geniuses, and then there’s me. I feel like Homer Simpson. They gave me my own office, which I’ve dubbed Sector 7-G.

Anyway, you might be aware of the value many Asian companies place in recreational activities in the workplace. This is not like the beanbags and game-consoles that places like Google and Pixar are known for. They like to organise team activities that encourage physical development and teamwork skills. And so yesterday we were given the afternoon off to partake in some sporting activities together.

For those of you unaware, I hate sports. To me its little more than effort wasted on activities that solve nothing and that nobody should really care about. Why kick a football when you could be figuring out how to change the oil in your car? It’s an attitude I’ve found to be problematic here. When I’m being introduced to people, they tend to ask what sports I like. No one even thinks to ask if I like sports to begin with, that’s just assumed, and because I’m terrified of offending my host culture I have to lie and name some game I haven’t even thought about since I was fifteen.

And so yesterday I found myself forced onto the playing fields. I honestly wouldn’t have minded as much if I was playing soccer or something that normal people play (and would also allow me to hang around in full-back doing nothing). But no, we had to tennis. TENNIS, for fuck sake! I’ve already pointed out that I hate all sports so it’s probably redundant to mention my hatred of tennis, yet there’s something particularly loathsome about this game. Whenever an ardent sports fan takes offence to my prejudice, I simply make reference to tennis and somehow my stance feels justified. Since golf was largely democratised, tennis remains the last pursuit of smug, upper-middle class twits. It’s also the only sport that can be legitimately described as creepy. I mean, what’s with those cultish white uniforms professional players always wear, like they’re all shooting a boyband video or something? You can’t tell me that’s right. After tennis, the only ignominy left is cricket.

Needless to say, I didn’t do very well. The only thing I could hope for was that I’d be so bad that they’d never ask me to play again. No such luck. Comments afterwards centred my potential and how much better I’ll do next time, platitudes I hope are bullshit. I really don’t want to be good at tennis.

So that’s my new job. I’m polluting the environment and playing tennis. It’s a good thing the PDs broke up our I’d joining them next.


We should all be “examing our position”

I’ve been following the publication of the Dublin Archdiocese report from Asia. This may sound insensitive, but I find it somewhat refreshing the Irish media is discussing actual news (Christ, I was glad to be out of the country for the Thierry Henry affair).

As for the report itself, it’s of course horrifying. Much has been said about it by men and women more learned than I, so I’m not going to pretend I have some insight to the affair. However, I would like to express my alarm at my own reaction. The most shocking aspect for me is how unshocked I remain. It’s not that I don’t find the details revealed by the report disgusting, because I do, but I find that I’m as disgusted this week as I was last week, or last year, or the first time I heard the phrase “a few bad apples”.

I wasn’t even shocked when I read this on Twenty’s blog, and after thinking about it for a while I realised my indifference is informed by the same idiocy that lead 98FM to use that picture. Whereas the church’s omnipotence was once a constant presence in the back of the minds of Irish people, it has now simply been replaced by the abuses perpetrated by that church. We know it without acknowledging it. We tut to ourselves while reading our papers, thinking how awful the whole thing was. We moan that bishops should resign, but that’s not going to atone for our own complicities.

There’s a silver lining to 98FM’s horrifying insensitivity, in that highlights a general absence of the one response to the report that’s needed the most, a recognition that real people were affected and remain affected by this abuse. This is not an attack against anyone. As I say, I’m as guilty of this as anyone. The horror we think we feel today is largely just a self-serving excuse we dreamt up to tell ourselves it can never happen again, but is this really true? Have we really learned anything? As much as I hate hypothetical comparisons, I think this one is apt. Imagine if a private company with access to children were guilty of the cover-ups that the church is charged with. Would we be satisfied with weedy calls for CEOs to resign? The fuck we would. These people, these guardians of moral authority, are directly complicit in possibly the most heinous crime that can be visited on children. I normally wouldn’t support Twenty’s tabloid proclamations, but he’s right on this one. These people should be prosecuted. Resignation isn’t good enough.

Then again, prosecution isn’t good enough either. That’s not going to sooth our own conscience.


Saturday is not Thursday

No matter how infuriating this might be, it’s still quite hilarious. Well done, Mr Stewart.

And while we’re discussing Glenn Beck, here’s what he used to think about American healthcare, back in the CNN days.

Now? Well…


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.


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.


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’


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?