Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.


Tag: comment

As it happened: The Dáil debate on the ‘Irish SOPA’

In which Junior Minister Sean Sherlock attempts to defend his proposed through-the-back-door copyright legislation. "The best way of dealing with copyright infringement issues is on a case-by-case basis by means of a judicial process," says the minister. Alas, if only the judgements made so far weren't fundamentally flawed... #link


Stop Ireland’s SOPA

When it rains, it pours.

In the wake of the SOPA/PIPA furore, up bubbles ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement which, as Forbes reports, contains provisions “just as pernicious as anything we saw in SOPA” and has already been signed or ratified by most of the developed world.

What are the consequences? Well, aside from enforcing food and drug patents that are crippling to the developing world, which is bad enough, the agreement also “bypasses the sovereign laws of participating nations, forcing ISPs across the globe to adopt [its] draconian measures.” Oy vey.

If you thought SOPA would break the internet, ACTA is much worse. And it could become law across the global economy without so much as a murmur of opposition.

That’s just super.

Meanwhile, and closer to home, people are kicking up a fuss about a sneaky little piece of legislation that’s been dubbed ‘Ireland’s SOPA’.

TJ McIntyre’s IT Law in Ireland blog has a concise overview of the Government’s plans to legislate for Irish courts to block access to websites accused of copyright infringement (and possibly other things) at their own discretion.

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Marco Ament on 'the next SOPA'

The web censorship bills might be shelved for now, but will no doubt return in this or some other form -- unless there is an aggressive push for campaign finance reform, and a recognition that unless we stop giving money to the MPAA et al, they will keep coming back. #link


Thinking out loud about democracy and its vilification

Three things recently that caught my attention.

First, Family Guy writer Patrick Meighan’s account of his arrest at Occupy LA on 30 November, outlining the tactics employed by police to break up the peaceful protest. Though he backtracks a little at the end, refusing to fully condemn those responsible (a cop-out, and a shame), his story is powerful stuff:

As we sat there, encircled, a separate team of LAPD officers used knives to slice open every personal tent in the park. They forcibly removed anyone sleeping inside, and then yanked out and destroyed any personal property inside those tents, scattering the contents across the park. They then did the same with the communal property of the Occupy LA movement… Note that these were the objects described in subsequent mainstream press reports as “30 tons of garbage” that was “abandoned” by Occupy LA: personal property forcibly stolen from us, destroyed in front of our eyes and then left for maintenance workers to dispose of while we were sent to prison.

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Giving the FBI What It Wants

A digital media academic takes the extreme approach when he learns he's being watched by the Feds. I understand what he's doing, but he's very much missing the point, and doing a disservice to those who don't have his technical nouse. #link


We're all terror suspects now

"They're patting us down now, my friends object, and they're confiscating our contact-lens fluid. They're forcing us to travel with tiny tubes of toothpaste and moving us to wear loafers when usually we'd prefer lace-ups ... I listen to their grousing and think that the one thing the 9/11 attacks have achieved, for those of us who spend too much time in airports, is to make suspicion universal; fear and discomfort are equal-opportunity employers now." #link


A referendum conundrum

It’s a big polling day next Thursday. Not only do we get to elect a new president (you can follow all the #aras11 shenanigans on Twitter), there’s also a by-election here in Dublin West (most notable for the sad fact that Barry Caesar Hunt — that tosser from The Apprentice — is in the running) as well as two constitutional referenda, on the pay of judges and inquiries by the Oireachtas, that have received virtually no significant media coverage in recent weeks. I mean, I read the news online every day and I only found out about them a week ago!

About that second referendum… I’m broadly in favour of the Oireachtas being allowed to conduct its own inquiries into matters of public interest, but this bit about ‘findings which affect a person’s good name’ has me concerned.

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JobBridge to Nowhere

Naming and shaming companies listing jobs under the JobBridge internship scheme that they should be paying people for. #link


The End of WikiLeaks

Analysis of the recent full release of unredacted cables, in what seems to have been a spiteful fit over a dispute with The Guardian. #link


Five myths about Africa

The commenters are right: you can't judge the whole continent based on the South Africa experience alone. But it's important to talk about these things, as there are obvious kernals of universal truth (there is loads of money in Africa, for instance, but it's being spent on weapons and backhanders, not food). #link


Thinking out loud about David Starkey, the England Riots, etc

So this David Starkey thing, eh? “The whites have become black”? Enoch Powell? “Jamaican patois”? That old chestnut about black people who ‘sound white’? Really?

Anyway, one thing that stands out for me from the Starkey furore — apart from the hole-digging of an ignorant man, desperately out of touch and out of depth — is the hypocrisy of his subsequent evisceration by the media. That’s the very same media that can’t look at itself and see how it fuels the very stereotypes that influence such misleading attitudes.

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No limits to the law in NoLa

"Something terrible lies at the heart of New Orleans - a rampant, widespread and apparently uncontrollable brutality on the part of its police force and its prison service." Surely New Orleans isn't the only example of this, even within the US. #link


After the quake

These photos of the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami tell a remarkable story. But maybe a more remarkable one is that of Japan’s resilience in the face of disaster. Even amid all the shocking imagery – roads split down the middle, cars and houses washed away and disintegrated in the surge – I’m not left with the same sense of hopelessness that followed the 2004 Asian tsunami.

The fact is, with an earthquake of that sheer magnitude (now thought to be 9.0), and as bad as things are right now, the situation could’ve been far worse. It’s a testament to good forward planning that they aren’t.

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Yes There Are Grocery Stores in Detroit

Combatting the media's perception of the Motor City as a blight-ridden hellhole with no redeeming qualities. Indeed, there's better grocery shopping in Detroit than in the whole of Dublin FFS. #link


Ireland’s Economic Crisis: What sort of hole are we in and how do we get out?

A smart overview of the fine mess they've got us into. But -- and it's a big but -- it fails to factor in the cost of living (and a rising one at that). One can't honestly compare Ireland's taxation regime with those of other European states without also comparing the cost of day-to-day basics like groceries, public transport, etc which are by all accounts much lower on the continent. #link


David Byrne posits a Marshall Plan for the Middle East

I was thinking of something along these same lines when I first noted this link some months ago: some Americans love to boast about their nation's nobility towards Europe both during and after the Second World War, but their government hasn't demonstrated much of anything like it elsewhere in the world in the 60-plus years since. Isn't it about time they started building things instead of destroying them? #link


How I never quite fell for South Africa

The Guardian's Rory Carroll reflects on his tenure as Africa correspondent, giving a glimpse of the all-too-real dark side of the 'Rainbow Nation'. Having been there (and soon to return) myself, beyond the paths where the tourists tread, I can somewhat identify with his sentiments. #link


Good comment on a MetaFilter thread about the current Middle East crisis

"...I think that regardless of whether the Israeli response is justified, it's definitely downright stupid policy. I think it's also very arguable that the response has been disproportionate at the very least, but like I said, I prefer not to take sides. Regardless, the onus of responsibility is on Israel to [stand down] -- since they do have a professional army under governmental control, unlike Lebanon -- and they're doing everything but taking the high ground. They are actively discouraging the conditions necessary for peace." Agreed. Israel is certainly in a difficult position -- knowing that even if they stop, Hezbollah won't -- but you can't fight fire with a flamethrower. And that's my last word on the matter, because writing about the wrongs of the world makes me too angry and depressed. #link


Israel angry, US wary as Annan peace plan calls for ceasefire

The UN is -- as it has been for the last umpteen years -- hamstrung by the massive (and massively unfair) influence of the US administration; therefore the most Kofi Annan can do at this stage is talk. But while the intent might be honourable, talk is unfortunately cheap, and it's not nearly enough to buy our way out of this mess. #link


Israeli terrorism in Lebanon

A Barbelith thread on the current disaster in the Middle East, to which I have been contributing intermittently. I may have gotten off on the wrong foot with my presumption that paramilitary terrorism was being ignored in favour of singly condemning 'big bad' Israel, but let's not kid ourselves here: while I will never have any sympathy for the likes of Hezbollah and Hamas, I have absolute conviction that the Israeli government and the IDF are also committing acts of terrorism against the citizens of Lebanon (and, yet again, the disenfranchised people of Palestine). It's disproportionate to a morally unjustifiable degree -- and whatever way you want to dress it up, it is and will always be wrong. The cycle of violence has to be stopped. Now. #link


An Duce, RIP

I didn't bother writing anything about Haughey's passing, because John Naughton pretty much says it all. #link


Farms of fear

A recent Sunday Times Magazine story on an extraordinary spate of racism-fuelled killings in South Africa's Limpopo province. If it does only one thing, it shows just how much further the country has to go, socially and economically, before full reconciliation can ever be reached. #link