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


Tag: politics

Boris Johnson, Shady SEO Master?

This kind of ‘reputation management’ is clearly awful but makes perfect sense, and reminds me of an article I read recently about what I believe was the US agricultural giant Cargill, and how it uses SEO tricks to keep its bad press buried on the web, but which I now cannot find (touché). #link


Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil. Traditional folktales never were. What changed?

“Good guy/bad guy narratives might not possess any moral sophistication, but they do promote social stability, and they’re useful for getting people to sign up for armies and fight in wars with other nations. Their values feel like morality, and the association with folklore and mythology lends them a patina of legitimacy, but still, they don’t arise from a moral vision. They are rooted instead in a political vision, which is why they don’t help us deliberate, or think more deeply about the meanings of our actions. Like the original Grimm stories, they’re a political tool designed to bind nations together.” [c/o LinkMachineGo] #link


What do Irish people consider their date of independence?

1916 is when independence was declared. When was it achieved? Arguably, as a society, we’re not quite there yet. I think back to history class in school, reading about how Irish unionists dismissed Parnell with the slogan ‘Home rule is Rome rule’; sectarianism aside, they were right. #link


What Is WWE Doing In Saudi Arabia?

Here's a good breakdown of tomorrow’s Greatest Royal Rumble (a glorified house show, no matter what people will try to tell me) and what it means, politically speaking. It’s no apologia for ‘cultural differences’, as if that’s some organic social contract and oppression of women and minority groups isn’t a top-down strategy for control. #link


Why wouldn’t you vote Yes?

This article really bothers me, and I think it’s mostly to do with couching the movement to repeal the 8th Amendment in terms of ‘debate’ as suits the No side, which in the case of this campaign should be taken in the competitive sense: an art of persuasion, irrespective of facts.

The author, Colleen Brady, writes: “At the minute I feel as though there is no unbiased information readily available for the public. From where I am looking, the information available to people is either swayed one way or another.”

The thing is, this isn’t the Lisbon Treaty. It’s a healthcare issue, it’s a social issue, an awkward negotiation of complex needs. Looking for some kind of elusive, singular ‘objectivity’ is a fool’s errand. There are facts about particular aspects, and there are lies and untruths about same, and that’s all we can deal with. More…


The Great Awokening: What happens to culture in an era of identity politics?

“[Sensitivity] to the experiences of racial, cultural, sexual, and gender identities besides one’s own, and [being] attuned to the injustices that shape our world” is the best definition I’ve seen for the concept of ‘woke’, and this is a good essay about the related societal shift. It is ironic, though, that this article has since been affected by the very shifts it examines; that section about Aziz Ansari’s Master of None doesn’t sit too comfortably today next to the excoriation of Louis CK. #link


A note on impartiality in reporting on the 8th Amendment

And a fair point, too. The 8th doesn't recognise a natural 'right'; it creates and enshrines recognition of a social construct, flying in the face of best medical practice. But in a country where only arseholes tend to be litigious (or can afford to be), RTÉ may not be particularly worried about offending people who can't or won't sue them. #link


I’m not one for conspiracy theories…

…I believe the wrongs of this world are much more banal than we often allow ourselves to accept.

At the same time, I can’t help but see a connection between Fianna Fáil’s no-confidence motion against the Tánaiste, in the midst of an important Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment, and the notion that their TDs represent this country’s most staunchly anti-choice political movement.

(Not that Fine Gael are any better, mind, as they’re two sides of the same coin, but how and ever.)
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The age of banter

When you combine the refusal to take anything seriously with the refusal to take responsibility, this is what you get. #link


Fintan O’Toole: Ireland is still defined by the church’s mindset

O’Toole writes in The Irish Times about the persistence of Ireland’s “moral-industrial complex”. He doesn’t specify it (he brings up housing the homeless in hotels) but what is direct provision if not a direct descendent of the 20th-century institutionalisation of Catholic Ireland’s ‘undesirables’? We still have such a long way to go in this country. See also: Emer O’Toole in the Guardian on the church (and their apologists) feigning shock over the Tuam Babies scandal. #link


The AV Club on metal’s Nazi problem

The headline is unfortunate (the problem is hardly unaddressed; it’s a perennial topic of discussion among metalheads) though the article is a good one. Ah, the moral quandary of separating the art from the artist! But seriously, aside from metal's propensity for permitting transgressive ideas without the attendant responsibility, the article points out the blatant hypocrisy that arises when artists use their art as a platform for their political agenda, even if the art doesn’t relate to it directly. How do you feel about your Burzum records now? #link


The Village Voice: White America has lost its mind

Steven Thrasher nailed it, six years ago. But is it insanity? Or just plain old bigotry? I vote the latter; it explains not only what’s happened in the horror clown’s America since last year, but also the omnishambles of contemporary British socio-politics. [c/o @maura] #link


The Guardian on PPE, ‘the Oxford degree that runs Britain’

A fascinating read about a genuine issue — a single university degree as a training course for the British political class, more or less — that loses its way a bit when it mistakes balance for fairness in giving space to critical right-wing voices without explicit context for their own biases. (That Tariq Ali reference is money, though.) #link


Ta-Nehisi Coates: “I’m a big believer in chaos”

I had expected this to be quaint considering all that’s happened, and will happen, but no, Coates already had the horror clown’s number. It’s also interesting to contrast that with his reaction to the way his book has been received by white people in the US. #link


Inside the Federal Bureau Of Way Too Many Guns

Political pettiness goes far, especially when those responsible can remove themselves enough steps from responsibility so they can sleep at night. Also, isn’t it funny that gun control has virtually disappeared from the agenda as of late? #link


When Student Activists Refuse to Talk to Campus Newspapers

Naivety plus a propensity to compartmentalise the world into easily classifiable categories (intersectionality does not equal mutability, ding ding) is a dangerous equation. Let me put it another way: the media is not the monolith some perceive it to be. You want to be the change you want to see? You can do it through existing channels too, not solely via your own — indeed, the latter is arguably best avoided, because you’re probably blind to your own biases. #link


Will the Left Survive the Millennials?

If the spirit of what she’s saying is sound, Lionel Shriver doesn’t help her case with hyperbole like ‘shrill’, ‘fraught with danger’ and ‘weaponised sensitivity’. (And that headline? Sheesh.) She also (wilfully?) misses the point of what Abdel-Magied was trying to get across, as much as I rolled my eyes at her pained prose: that it’s really no longer acceptable for the relatively privileged to write about others less so, when the latter are given fewer — or no — opportunities to do it themselves. #link


The Rise of Victimhood Culture

I'm not sure using terms like 'victimhood culture' helps, as they seem as needlessly aggressive as the term 'microaggression' is itself. (It's onomatopoeia, isn't it? The word 'aggression' has an aggressive sound and mouth-feel to it.) But that's a distraction from the purpose of this piece. While there is indeed a very real, subtly oppressive quality to the widespread use of terms historically used to diminish society's minorities or quasi-minorities, it's also been contorted into a weapon wielded in a kind of cultural gamesmanship. And that's none more clear than the exchange this article uses as example, where the actual problem, if it exists at all, is lost in the rush to gain sympathy or kudos from peers, which quickly descends into childish sore-loser name-calling. I mean, the sheer irony of believing only one's own intersectionality matters, and if one's 'enemy' claims similar they're acting in bad faith. I'd laugh if it wasn't so depressing. #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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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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