Saturday, August 25, 2007

Brother Garvey, you should not be shocked - ashamed perhaps...

The Village has published the 1962 report from Chaplain Henry Moore to Archbishop McQuaid on conditions at the Christian Brothers-run institution at Artane.  Bruce Arnold, who somehow plugs away at the Independent Group, mentioned this in his column a couple of weeks ago and reminded Archbishop Martin of his commitment to openness - indeed it seems Martin himself was a witness to conditions at the school.

It's interesting that in a modern era when McQuaid is portrayed as something of a tyrant that he seems to have been extremely concerned about Artane and yet somehow powerless to impel the Brothers to improve matters. In this he does not appear to have been assisted by the Department of Education, according to Arnold's more recent dispatch, who it seems had no desire to believe Fr. Moore given that it would have exposed the bureaucracy's inadequate supervision.

I don't know if the GAA have made any mention of their relationship with Artane and the conditions they must now know were suffered by members of the Boys Band which is integral to the history of Croke Park - if someone has info on this I'd appreciate it being left in the comments.

The head of the order, declaring himself "shocked and dismayed" at the release of Moore's report, seems more concerned about throwing doubt on the report, clinging to the Department's inspection reports (there isn't an Irish schoolchild who doesn't know in advance that An Cigire is coming, with consequent temporary smartening up on all fronts) and basically throwing more salt in the wounds of those who endured his former colleagues' dysfunctional regime.

This article by Paddy Doyle sheds some light on the proceedings of the tribunal into the former institutions.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Heinze, we hardly knew you - and now we hate you

If you were a lad growing up in Argentina you might not have fully appreciated the hatred between Liverpool and Manchester United. You become a decent player and get picked up by United after Valladolid and PSG and show some promise at full back - Old Trafford being partial to an "Argentina!" chant since 1998 - and voted fan player of the year in your first season but have awful luck with injury since... but apparently you never noticed how the fans felt about the bin-dippers, how loudly they sang "Gary Neville is a red, he hates Scousers".

You might have remarked on how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now 20LEGEND but there's always the niggle that he used to support the dippers as a kid. Sure we took Rooney but Everton were never as much of an irritant as the other shower. Then there was "big time Charlie" Ince who went from United to Liverpool, but via Inter Milan and a two year gap - and nobody's forgotten Charlie's goal at Anfield in 1999, or forgiven the celebration that followed it.

So you put for a transfer to Liverpool regardless and when refused try to strongarm your way out. Maybe right was on your side with that letter, maybe not, but morally it was always wrong. Now you're out anyway, gone to Real Madrid, hardly a bad posting but remember one thing - if you darken Old Trafford's door in the Champions League, you won't be hated one iota less than if you had actually signed for Liverpool.

Safari yields up Myspace's secrets

Been a bit quiet here lately, mostly because of some lengthy appearences in the comments sections of other blogs, notably Spacing Wire.  However, this was very interesting in the Register today, which referred to this blog post.

While the described method of extracting streamed mp3s to a file is all very interesting (and dubious from a legal standpoint) it does point up the activity monitor as a very interesting aspect of Safari - and a new challenge for the maintainers of trailer and other sites which obfuscate content via Flash and other technologies.

Monday, August 06, 2007

They haven't gone away, you know

While the newspapers have been trumpeting the conclusion of Operation Banner, it has been noted that while the reduced British Army presence (5,000 regulars reduced from a peak of 28,000) is now subordinated to the civil police, they retain powers not available to their counterparts in Britain when they are requested.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Aer Lingus to end Shannon-Heathrow service

This will cause ructions in the West. It had been fairly widely rumoured that Aer Lingus would start flying from Belfast International (BFS-Aldergrove) to Heathrow and that Cork and Shannon might lose a frequency each to free up Heathrow slots. According to RTE Aer Lingus will announce that Shannon will lose all of its Heathrow service which will be redeployed to Belfast.

As long as Clare County Council fails to develop Shannon as an major urban centre and refuses to come to an agreement with Limerick City Council about a boundary shift on the west of the Shannon to expand the city towards Shannon, the catchment will never support the level of service that is wished for and with the improvement in rail and air service from Cork, Kerry and Galway to Dublin that problem is set to get worse rather than better.

Ignatieff and judgement

Michael Ignatieff has a (lengthy, naturally) article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine which is reprinted in the Globe and Mail today. He talks about the difference between academic and political speech - and it's interesting that someone who taught political science admits floundering when confronted with actual politics.
I've learned that good judgment in politics looks different from good judgment in intellectual life. Among intellectuals, judgment is about generalizing and interpreting particular facts as instances of some big idea. In politics, everything is what it is and not another thing. Specifics matter more than generalities. Theory gets in the way.
He quotes Burke who in 1774 told the electors of Bristol that he would never submit his judgement to their opinion. Like most who quote Burke he neglects to mention that Burke did not retain his seat in 1780 due to his (unpopular) support of Catholic emancipation and free trade, and the rest of his parliamentary life was spent in a rotten borough.

He also offers an interesting take on Bush's apparently lack of doubt in his agenda:
It was not merely that the president did not take the care to understand Iraq. He also did not take the care to understand himself. The sense of reality that might have saved him from catastrophe would have taken the form of some warning bell sounding inside, alerting him that he did not know what he was doing. But then, it is doubtful that warning bells had ever sounded in him before. He had led a charmed life, and in charmed lives warning bells do not sound.
Steve V discusses the article further at Far and Wide.

Edit: here's the Star's rather bitter take, which I can't believe is entirely unrelated to the Globe landing the exclusive Canadian rights to the piece. Certainly its characterisation of Ignatieff's regret as "tardy" is cheap, given that Ignatieff is on previous record as having regretted his stance. The article goes into why he adopted that stance and certainly strikes a personal chord since he, like me, saw the 1992 Halabja massacre as a point where the Saddam Hussein regime crossed a line and unlike me had visited the area and seen the aftermath. Certainly we all have acquaintances to various conflicts who colour our view of them and Ignatieff is no different.

It also claims that Americans have no interest in hearing where he regrets his choices, but earlier notes how "a cynic" (Linda McQuaig?) "might suggest Ignatieff continues to look reflexively toward the United States, and where nothing prevents his eventual return. "

A stopped clock is right twice a day

I'm rarely a fan of John Barber but every so often he hits the mark - today he turns his fire on the City of Toronto's multiplying in number and decreasing in effectiveness "integrocrats".
As for David Mullan, the new integrity commissioner Mr. Miller promised, he can talk for 45 minutes before revealing his actual position on the trivia brought before him by squabbling politicians. Through no fault of his own, what was supposed to be a pioneering office with broad responsibilities has become irrelevant. But quiet.
Torontonians paid millions of dollars for a judge to tell them the city needed strict new controls on lobbyists to re-establish the legitimacy of local democracy. But David Miller, mayor at the time, was already on record promising that. Several years and an election later, there is still no lobbyist registry - and the one that council approved but chose not to implement is so riddled with exemptions and carve-outs as to be incomprehensible.

Friday, August 03, 2007

"they're taking pictures, I don't like it"

Michelle Madigan, Associate Producer at NBC Dateline, was outed at the hacker conference Defcon having lied about her position as a member of the press, instead registering as an ordinary attendee. Signing for a press badge entails a code of conduct - i.e. don't try and entrap 13 years olds who are making claims they aren't close to being capable of, and don't endanger the identities of federal agents with ties to the security community. Hidden cameras are a no-no, but it is suspected she was utilising a pin-hole device.

What she and Dateline forgot is that unlike your common or garden paedophile, that show's bread and butter, hackers are wary types and intrusion detection is their stock-in-trade. Some reports indicate Defcon were tipped off by their own source within Dateline. After being offered a press badge four times, Madigan was outed and chose to flee the conference despite an offer to remain - with a badge. Plainly upfront journalism isn't the kind of sensational story she was after.

She gained her own flock of paparazzi en route to her car and hopefully gained an understanding of what having a camera shoved in your face feels like from the opposite side. Here's the video:

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Apparently not an April Fool's Joke - a plan for cable cars down the Liffey

Somehow I missed this back in early 06 but apparently there is a serious proposal to put cable cars through central Dublin above the Liffey. I was for London's Eye and was pleased when it got an extension because while it was visible from a lot of London it never took up much of the vista but there's a bit of a difference between a fairly localised if tall structure and running cables over the river past the Four Courts.

The best part is that this week they are applying for Strategic Infrastructure planning status to fend off pesky objections! Jesus Mary and Joseph - cop on to yourselves lads! A cable car might be an interesting idea to link the north and south sides of Docklands or something but this is just nuts - an unbelievably intrusive visual blight and for what? If you want a view of Dublin go to the Guinness storehouse viewing area, don't go wobbling in the wind over the Ha'Penny bridge and pretend it's a transit mode like the LUAS.

Public wifi insecure - even for secure sites?

The Register reports from the Black Hat Conference that even when surfing to an SSL-encrypted site using public wifi, if not all of the site enforces SSL, enough information can be intercepted to reveal Gmail and other personal websites:
The hack caught our attention because it shatters a common assumption concerning secure surfing on public access points. Up until now, we felt relatively safe using hotspots to access email as long as we logged in with an SSL session. Yes, we knew that any subsequent pages that were not appended by "https" in the address bar were were susceptible to snooping, but intruders still had no way to access the account itself.

Now we know better. Any session that isn't protected from start to finish by SSL is vulnerable to the hack. And because session IDs generated by most sites are valid for an indefinite period, that means intruders could silently access our accounts for years - even if we regularly change our passwords.
The Register suggests the Firefox extension CustomiseGoogle which, among other things, can mandate that rather than some Gmail traffic be encrypted, eliminating the information currently sent "in the clear".

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Harper Tories use Mounties to enforce Bush-style "free speech zone" in Charlottetown

H/t Paul Wells - apparently the press are being confined to a drip feed in a room across the road from the caucus shindig and interlopers to the hotel lobby are being tossed by the RCMP detachment.
While tour bus groups freely wandered the lobby of Charlottetown's Delta Hotel, plainclothes Mounties rebuffed reporters who had convened for the Conservative party's three-day summer strategy session.

“There's a time and a place for the media,” a Mountie told a small knot of print reporters, making it clear the issue was not a matter of security but of communications strategy.

The unnamed officer said he was acting on orders from the Prime Minister's Office.

The reporters were nowhere near the actual caucus meetings, which took place behind a set of closed doors and somewhere down a long hallway in one of the hotel ballrooms. But that was too close for the Conservatives, who set up a media room in a federal building across the street and promised to bring MPs for interviews “where appropriate.”