ONE LITTLE SECRET of my life involves my local newsagent who gives me a major price break when I chose to get wet newspapers. And are they wet today! I returned from his cash till with a pile of wet pulp and €10 of unexpected spare change this morning (see photo at left). The Sunday papers tell the story of my current neighbourhood--flooding today and more country roads under water tomorrow.  Now, into the soggy papers, using a time-worn Nokia 9500 to type some thoughts.
Why Parents Should Subscribe to Family Musings. A few weeks ago, missing Irish teenager Amy Fitzpatrick wrote on a friend's Bebo page, "Oii i Need 2 See Yooh B4 Wednesday Im Goin 2 Ireland so Kann we Meet Up or Sumtin". She posted a new e-mail address and then vanished from home. There are easy ways of scraping web trails and if parents are so inclined, they could keep communications open with teenaged offspring (challenging) or lurk and learn the lay of the land. Both approaches have significant privacy issues. Now the police in two countries are trawling Bebo in search of a runaway's motivations and plans. 
Seats for Flight Risk. Some eyebrows were raised
when the Nick Leeson of Irish solicitors was not required to turn in
his passport. The solicitor, Michael Lynn, has now missed several court
hearings investigating how he managed to secure multiple mortgages on
dozens of properties. Not having a passport would not have prevented
Llynn from leaving Ireland aboard a Netjet plane. He hold 50 hours of
travel time in the executive jet service. Having used and co-ordinated
that kind of service, I know how easy it is to arrive with undeclared
passengers. People can avail of this service to keep their days of in-country residence in line with national standards. Britney Spears did it last week when trying to throw off paparazzi.
It's why people have time shares in executive jets. 
Our Letter to a GP. In order to get an appointment with any one of the four GPs we prefer to see in Cashel, we have to write an essay explaining why we should be added to the already-bursting books of our nearest family doctor. The facts that a town lane bears my wife's maiden name, that I am certifiable New Irish and that several extended family are buried inside the Rock of Cashel does not help our case. 
Irish economy headed down now. We live on a building site. The number of breakfast roll wrappers blowing in the breeze next to our front door has markedly declined since early December. Some of the faces attending the Tipperary Institute information evenings are sun-weathered from months on scaffolding. Exchequer taking are down for the past quarter and it is not because of late filing of income tax. Tighten up. And enjoy a reduction in the rate of inflation--if you don't have to drive. 
Should Irish Directly Elect Taoiseagh? I think Irish politics would be better served with direct election of the Taoiseach and direct elections of town mayors. I draw my conclusion from the enthusiastic questions I get from friends following the American primaries. And sure enough, there are Irish connections in the campaigns. Today we can reveal that presidential hopeful Barack Obama--a cross between Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln--is descended from a shoemaker in Moneygall, Co Offaly. 
The cost of going green. When my household budget tightens next year, I will avoid high-cost replacements like CFL bulbs. When pension benefits do not stretch to cover the rising cost of electricity, those who cannot afford electric heat or light will not care about technical arguments. Ireland needs to open a real debate on nuclear power. Ireland needs to subdue local scenery advocates when they object to wind turbines on higher elevations. Irish economic growth is decelerating. Altruistic attitudes about power and scenery will decline as well. 
One yer bike. From Adrian Weckler comes good advice on Dublin traffic. "The answer could be a two wheeler that is plugged in. Lucan-based Electro Quads offers a 1500w and 2000w EQQ electric moped, which can travel up to 110km on a single charge at speeds up to 70km per hour. Electroquads can be all-terrain monster wheels if you desire. Meanwhile Madbikes offers an electric scooter" for €800. 
Connecting Diagnoses. I like commercial ultrasound clinics because they are the first movers in the march towards diagnostic screens being connected to medical professionals online. 
Irish public servants need to respect frugality. Wage-setting reports gave Irish civil servants a comfy number several years ago, making the Irish Exchequer into an ATM for thousands of public servants. The nonsensical benchmarking giveaway has finally stuttered to a halt and that is good news for real taxpayers. 
1. Nick O'Donoghue -- "Floody Hell" in the Irish Sunday Mirror,
13 January 2008. I buy red tops when their DVDs help me converse
outside my normal circles. Today, an enclosed DVD on the sinking of the
Titanic will be worth a social cup of coffee in Henry's of Cashel. The
proprietor lets free coffee lubricate an American perspective on
2a. Pat Flanagan -- "Cops Search Amy's Laptop for her abductor" on the front page of the Irish Sunday Mirror, 13 January 2008.
2b. Mark Tighe -- "Website clue to fate of missing Irish girl" on the front page of The Sunday Times, 13 January 2008.
2c. Ann Mooney -- "Mother: 'I would never do anything to hurt my Amy'" in the Irish Mail on Sunday, 13 January 2008.
2d. Mick McCaffrey -- "From rumour to farce but still no sign of Amy" in the Sunday Tribune, 13 January 2008.
3. Michael O'Farrell -- "It's not the banks Lynn should be scared of" in the Irish Mail on Sunday, 13 January 2008.
4. Isabel Hayes -- "Chronic shortage of GP doctors putting patients' lives at risk" in The Sunday Tribune, 13 January 2008.
5a. Conor McMorrow -- "Expert points to apprenticeships fall-off as indicator of downturn" in the Sunday Tribune News, 13 January 2008.
5b. Una Mullally -- "Vacant housing doubled in Ireland" in the Sunday Tribune News, 13 January 2008.
6. Shane Coleman -- "Obama a shoe-in says Moneygall, while Irish-born journalist leads his campaign in the Sunday Tribune International, 13 January 2008.
7. Nick Cohen -- "Blame the greens when the lights go off" in The Observer, 13 January 2008.
8a. Adrian Weckler -- "Best of business tech 2008" in Computers in Business, 13 January 2008.
8b. Adrian Weckler -- "Have tech will travel" in Computers in Business, 13 January 2008. Adrian continues wasting time in Facebook in the SBP's main pages.
9. Jennifer O'Leary-- "Commercial ultrasound clinics" in The Sunday Business Post Agenda , 13 January 2008.
10. Colm McCarthy -- "Public sector already overpaid" in The Sunday Business Post Agenda , 13 January 2008.
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