KILKENNY -- A recurrning theme on the run-up to Christmas 2005 is the giveaway fees earned by Irish PR consultant Monica Leech. No one doubts she's worth every cent of her €1200 daily rate. It's just that (1) the initial awarding of her contract happened without the normal public tendering process, (2) the very competent Drury Communications were engaged in similar services, and (3) at least three civil servants appear to have the same job requirements as Leech. The Sunday Business Post gives the story front page status, as do two of the tabloid papers. The talking points enrichen a course I teach on public relations, so I'm grateful the story appears to be headed to a full run of slow leaking revelations. In some circles, that's tanatmount to a death from 1000 cuts. In the case of Minister Martin Cullen, he gets to explain to eager reporters yet again how his judgment brings value for money for taxpayers.
I wonder if this front page PR issue is a talking point for the Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII). Pat Monague, new director of the PRII, said he wants to extend the services of the PRII to sole practitioners. Leech was a sole trader for months before government regulations made her incorporate and get a tax clearance certificate. Tom Murphy, the blogosphere's voice of Irish PR, has no recent comment on the issue of PR consultants employed by the Irish government. I'm sure Tom has an opinion about it that's more informed than my PR students.
Hard disk turns 50. The computer hard disk will be as old as me next year. I expect to be carrying a hard drive in my pocket, learning ways to maximize battery power and the best use of the space on the drive. I've already outsourced e-mail from my local hard drive. Yahoo! now handles my mail flow and one benefit is that I have more room for sound and video editing on my laptop since I'm not carrying around mail files with bloated attachments.
Christmas landfill. According to Repak, the average Irish household will consume over 20 litres of wine, over 225 litres of beer and soft drinks, and over three kilos of sweets and chocolates this Christmas. Across the country, that will empty more than 20m wine bottles, 106m plastic bottles, 64m cans and 4m sweet boxes. If these are not recycled, 180m recyclable containers could end up in landfill sits around the country.
Stupid Decentralisation. The Irish government remains hell-bent on spending €300,000 per decentralised job as 3,500 workers are to be punted from Dublin to the outlying areas. Some of the jobs will locate within the Dublin commuter belt, meaning people will merely change their commuting patterns, not their residences. Damien Kiberd says, "Surely this money would be better spent on improving transport links around Dublin city and county."
Sound of old radio. Fergus Cassidy reminded me of the sound of an old valve radio. We had one in the kitchen at home. There were times that I thought New York and Chicago radio broadcasters talked through a tin can to get a special audio effect to their broadcasts.
BMW 1-series. Jeremy Clarkson on the BMW 1-series: "The 1-series is crap." He explains why.
The BMW is just plain ugly. It may have the double headlamps and the kidney grille and the Hofmeister kink, but viewed as a whole it looks like a van.
So what about the engine? Well, the petrol version will get you from 0 to 60 in about two hours, so if you want to poke at all, and surely that's the reason why you're buying a BMW, you have to go for the diesel. It's not a bad diesel by any standards,but come on. Wheres the fun in a car that sounds like a canal boat?
So it's slow and ugly and now things really go downhill because thanks to the prop shaft and all the other rear-wheel gubbins, there is no space in the back. And I don't mean that legroom is limited. I mean there is absolutely none at all.
And there's the ride, which thanks to the fitment of run-flat tyres, is intolerable on anything but a kitchen work surface, and the quality of some trim pieces, which will disappoint those who may have expected grantie rather than Plasticinie.
But the worst thing about he 1-series is the prices. You can have a Golf GTI for less, and that, in almost every single way, is a better car.
Prickly holly. I'm perturbed by gurriers on the border wall fence behind the house, so at Christmas time I'm studying all sprigs of holly, noting the ones with the prickliest leaves. I think Ilex aquifolium "Bacciflava" will be my choice. I'm planning on reading Hollies, the Genius Ilex by Fred Galle, to complete my craving to grow a holly wall. Having said that, even more people will come here looking for a "holly wall".
Don't plan to call home. In the early hours of 1 Dec 04, about €100,000 worth of mobile network infrastructure was set ablaze near Fenit, County Kerry. The controviersial equipment formed the centre of long-running community tensions in the area. Locals there, and to the east of my home in County Kilkenny, don't want mobile phone masts. So they tear down fences and burn equipment and are never found.
Don't plan to go home. Niall Stanage meets several illegal aliens living in NYC and listens to Kevin talk about the World Trace Center attack. "One of the things I'll always remember was there there were only two flags flying down at Ground Zero--a tricolour and Old Glory." Stanage also subtly mentions a technique that tends to avoid suspicion--fly from Europe to Florida as it is easier to convince officials you're on a holiday when you land in sunshine.
Borrowing $2bn a day. The US needs to borrow $2 billion a day to cover its spending. David McWilliams explains why that concerns Warren Buffet, Paul Volcker, Peter Petersin, Robert Rubin, and Alan Grenspan. McWilliams thinks the dollar with trade at $1.50 to the euro in 2005. This will make shopping in the Big Apple even better.
Susan Mitchell -- "PR consultant charged double rival's fees" in Sunday Business Post, 12 Dec 04. Tom Murphy, the blogosphere's voice of Irish PR, is at NatterjackPR.com.
Stephen Pritchard -- "Hard disks still under pressure of size after 50 years" in the Sunday Tribune, 12 Dec 04.
Damien Kiberd -- "Private partnership is the right route" in The Sunday Times, 12 Dec 04.
Fergus Cassidy -- "Radio Head" in the Sunday Tribune with a bonus link to "Listen Again" on the BBC website.
Jeremey Clarkson -- "This car is taking BMW into dangerous territory" in the Sunday Times "Motoring" supplement.
Rachel de Thame -- "Not just for Christmas" in The Sunday Times Gardening, 12 Dec 04.
Adrian Weckler -- "No pictures of destroyed masts" in The Sunday Business Post, 12 Dec 04.
Niall Stanage -- "The Irish who dare not come home" in The Sunday Business Post, 12 Dec 04.
David McWilliams -- "Hold onto the sackcloth and ashes" in the Sunday Business Post, 12 Dec 04.