Not surprisingly, media comment has focused on the somewhat surprising and Jesuitical findings of Bill Shipsey in his report on the Fyffes insider trading scandal.  I can’t really add anything useful on the substantive issues, but I am puzzled that nobody has raised the question of why Mr Shipsey took 18 months to produce his report.  Have we all become so used to the laughably slow pace exemplified by the Moriarty and other tribunals that we think that 18 months isn’t so bad?

This was an investigation with  relatively narrow terms of reference.  So allow say a month to meet and interview people, another 2 months (at most) to collate and review the results, a month to write up draft findings, a month to allow relevant people to see those draft findings, and another month to process their responses.  Say 6 months at the outside.  What was he doing for the other year?

Can anybody help me on this?  Was the slow pace deliberate?  Were interviewees uncooperative? Was Mr Shipsey slacking off?   I would like to know.

Forty shades of fog

24 January, 2010

The Irish Times is considered by many, including itself presumably, to be the Paper of Record.  I suppose the standard of journalism in the IT is the least worst of all the Irish newspapers (although its business coverage is often not as good as that of the Irish/Sunday Independent).

But where on earth does the Irish Times get its 5-day weather forecast for Ireland?

Below is typical of what is on offer.  Almost every day, we are led to believe, starts with the country shrouded in fog. 

Now I’m prepared to admit that early morning fog can occasionally be experienced in Ireland, although I suspect that its incidence is less than a couple of days per month on average.  The Irish Times would have us believe that it happens at least 4 days out of 5.

This is so daft that I have to assume that it’s part of a cunning plan on the part of the IT to entice sentimental foreigners to visit Ireland.  After all, the sort of thing that many of them expect to come across, besides freckled red-haired children running barefoot through the countryside, are mist-shrouded castles, and the plaintive moos of cattle as they gather in foggy fields.

I wonder if the plan is working….

No pipe did hum, no battle drum
Did sound its dread tattoo
But the Angelus bell o’er the Liffey’s swell
Rang out in the foggy dew.


I see that Facebook has teamed up with McAfee to offer all users six months of free protection using McAfee’s Internet Security suite.   If my own experience is anything to go by, Facebook users would be well advised to approach such an offer with caution.

I’m not an expert on the technical aspects of anti-virus software, or the relative merits of different products.  But I believe McAfee uses unacceptable techniques to drive through annual renewal of their service once they have your credit card details.  They deliberately make it awkward to cancel the automatic renewal.

In the USA, McAfee and Symantec were heavily fined by the New York Attorney General for such dodgy behaviour:

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There was an interesting comment piece in the Financial Times  a few days ago called “Why Greece will have to leave the Eurozone”.  The writer was Desmond Lachman who is a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.  The AEI is conservative think-tank, whose Board of Trustees is graced by the presence of Dick Cheney, amongst others.

As a commentator, Mr Lachman doesn’t appear to be a loose cannon or a right-wing nutcase.  He is a former managing director and economic strategist at Salomon Smith Barney and also served as deputy director in the IMF’s Policy Development and Review Department.  And the FT is hardly a fringe publication.

The thrust of Mr Lachman’s article is set out in the first paragraph, Read the rest of this entry »

In the UK, a Treasury Committee has published a series of reports into the banking crisis.

In Iceland, the report of a parliamentary committee on the banking collapse is due in a few weeks.  The report will apportion blame for the crisis.

In the United States, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission will tomorrow “hold its first public hearing, in which the Commission will begin its thorough examination of the root causes of the crisis…”    The Commission has the ability to subpoena documents and witnesses for testimony.

In Ireland, the Government does nothing. 

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There’s a fantastic opinion piece in today’s Irish Times by Simon Jenkins, entitled “World in the grip of nuclear paranoia”.  It discusses two new books.

The first book, Radiation and Reason , is by an Oxford professor of physics, Wade Allison. It narrates the history and nature of nuclear radiation, culminating in an attack on the obsessive safety levels governing nuclear energy. These overstate the true risk, in Allison’s view, by up to 500 times, thus rendering nuclear prohibitively expensive and endangering the combat of global warming.

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Bertie’s Buke

7 January, 2010

I see lots of comment in the media and the blogosphere about Bertie getting artists’ tax exemption for his autobiography (sic) – Bertie Ahern: The Autobiography.

Something else: the cover photograph on the buke. Is Bertie normally tie-less? What is this mode of (un)dress saying? I’m a cool guy who doesn’t have to wear a tie any more? I’m a regular Dub who wouldn’t wear a tie unless he had to? I’m a rich geezer now so I’ll dress as I damn well like?

Just wondering. I don’t often wear a tie myself, but Bertie looks odd in this particular photo without one.

Maybe he’s getting used to this style – they don’t allow prisoners to wear ties in jail as far as I know.