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Tetro Kornbluth
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« Reply #25 on: September 08, 2007, 07:18:46 pm »
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Really? Must have been misinformed. Sad - I wonder when that was made into law (Tullymander? - though it seems to be alot earlier?) in the early days of the state there were eight seat constituencies in places like Dublin North. With PR-STV we don't need such a decentralized system as we have in the present.

It's actually a legislative requirement, though for the life of me I can't think which Act it is at the moment. Will have to look up some stuff.

The record BTW is a 9-seater, which was Galway from the 4th to the 8th Dáil.
Since the 13th Dáil, all constituencies have been either 3,4 or 5-seaters.

Galway - always going for FF since 1922... and I like Galway City (Despite my earlier sig copied from Uncyclopedia). Sad

An interesting utterly unrelated question here for you Jas to do with the previous referendum on citizenship - which passed ridiculously and to as little fanfair and debate as possible (80-20 in favour of reform): What county recorded the highest and lowest votes in favour? Admittely here we're only talking about a 10 percent difference but the results surprised me quite a lot. (Another interesting aside, the county most in favour had the highest turnout, while those opposed had higher than usual turnouts.)
« Last Edit: September 08, 2007, 07:48:52 pm by Gully Foyle »Logged



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Keith R Laws ‏@Keith_Laws  Feb 4
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« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2007, 07:29:50 pm »
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An interesting utterly unrelated question here for you Jas to do with the previous referendum on citizenship - which passed ridiculously and to as little fanfair and debate as possible (80-20 in favour of reform):

I recall all too well as one of the 20%.

What county recorded the highest and lowest votes in favour? Admittely here we're only talking about a 10 percent difference but the results surprised me quite a lot. (Another interesting aside, both these counties had by far the highest turnouts.)

I seem to recall looking at the results and being surprised to find that it was Sligo which stood out as the most opposed (in a referendum which had remarkably uniform results across the country) - for reasons I couldn't explain then, or now for that matter.

No idea about which county was strongest in support.
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« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2007, 07:38:35 pm »
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http://www.electoralgeography.com/en/countries/i/ireland/2004-referendum-ireland.html

Unsurprisingly Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown was the county council with the highest level of opposition - but passed unusually highly in the other Dublin counties. But as for county level you were right about Sligo, but this I'm trying to figure out (Opposition percentage in bold):

Sligo County 68.95% 73.36% 26.64%
Then..
Donegal County 62.22% 74.65% 25.35%
And..
Leitrim County 75.70% 76.29% 23.71%

But then in the exact same region:
Longford County 71.29% 84.37% 15.63% - lowest level of oppositon.

What happened there Huh
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« Reply #28 on: September 09, 2007, 07:30:32 am »
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http://www.electoralgeography.com/en/countries/i/ireland/2004-referendum-ireland.html

Unsurprisingly Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown was the county council with the highest level of opposition - but passed unusually highly in the other Dublin counties. But as for county level you were right about Sligo, but this I'm trying to figure out (Opposition percentage in bold):

Sligo County 68.95% 73.36% 26.64%
Then..
Donegal County 62.22% 74.65% 25.35%
And..
Leitrim County 75.70% 76.29% 23.71%

But then in the exact same region:
Longford County 71.29% 84.37% 15.63% - lowest level of oppositon.

What happened there Huh

Well the most academic answer I can give you is that Longford is just wierd.
Actually, I'm very surprised by the relatively high support in Donegal, I would've thought they'd be one of the most opposed.

The various referenda are probably the best actual measure of the relative liberalism (or otherwise) across the country, given the remarkable absense of ideology in electoral politics.
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« Reply #29 on: September 09, 2007, 09:16:30 am »
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http://www.electoralgeography.com/en/countries/i/ireland/2004-referendum-ireland.html

Unsurprisingly Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown was the county council with the highest level of opposition - but passed unusually highly in the other Dublin counties. But as for county level you were right about Sligo, but this I'm trying to figure out (Opposition percentage in bold):

Sligo County 68.95% 73.36% 26.64%
Then..
Donegal County 62.22% 74.65% 25.35%
And..
Leitrim County 75.70% 76.29% 23.71%

But then in the exact same region:
Longford County 71.29% 84.37% 15.63% - lowest level of oppositon.

What happened there Huh

Well the most academic answer I can give you is that Longford is just wierd.
Actually, I'm very surprised by the relatively high support in Donegal, I would've thought they'd be one of the most opposed.

The various referenda are probably the best actual measure of the relative liberalism (or otherwise) across the country, given the remarkable absense of ideology in electoral politics.

True. The Abortion referendums are amble examples of that. (In 2002, only four counties voted for 'no' - happily for us it happened to be in counties where most of the people happened to live. The constituency-by-constituency results show this even more closely - it's on the site of the previous link under referendum - 2002.)

EDIT: Also local election results; especially in Dublin are quite very revealing (and show an unusual - for Ireland - level of Class-based voting). I just wish I knew about this link before starting my Redistricting project on International board.

http://www.electionsireland.org/results/local/council.cfm?election=2004L&area=
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« Reply #30 on: September 14, 2007, 03:27:37 pm »
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Significant anniversary in Irish history today, it's 400 years since the Flight of the Earls.

And today the current recognised leader of the Gael is also facing difficult times. Though Mr. Ahern will probably decide not to flee the country, á la O'Neill and O'Donnell, he is undergoing a difficult questioning process at the Mahon Tribunal. Today was his second day before the Tribunal answering questions about his personal finances from the early 90s. No killer blow yet, but he's clearly unable to paint a picture which will satisfy all. And it's not over yet, Day 3 in the hotseat will follow shortly. Watch this space...
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« Reply #31 on: September 14, 2007, 03:32:54 pm »
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"I have become entangled in my own data, and my conclusion stands in direct contradiction to the initial idea from which I started. Proceeding from unlimited freedom, I end with unlimited despotism. I will add, however, that there can be no solution of the social formula except mine."
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« Reply #32 on: September 14, 2007, 03:40:50 pm »
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I saw someone at Dublin Castle (the venue of the Tribunal) wearing a t-shirt which I thought worked well. It said:

Been There
Done That
Bought the Taoiseach
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« Reply #33 on: September 14, 2007, 04:01:37 pm »
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Now that I think of it, in a discussion on this:



on one of the Irish politics discussion sites, someone suggested for here:
"Not Bassett, Just Bertie" - which I thought was quite fitting.
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« Reply #34 on: September 14, 2007, 05:34:55 pm »
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Significant anniversary in Irish history today, it's 400 years since the Flight of the Earls.

And today the current recognised leader of the Gael is also facing difficult times. Though Mr. Ahern will probably decide not to flee the country, á la O'Neill and O'Donnell, he is undergoing a difficult questioning process at the Mahon Tribunal. Today was his second day before the Tribunal answering questions about his personal finances from the early 90s. No killer blow yet, but he's clearly unable to paint a picture which will satisfy all. And it's not over yet, Day 3 in the hotseat will follow shortly. Watch this space...

I can't doubt that even the biggest FF hack (except possibly Eoghan Harris) can not help but admit that this is the most convienent outbreak of amnesia I can ever remember outside of questions which begin "so where were you two last night?"

We also learnt today while Bertie Ahern was minister for Finance he didn't seem to know much details about how wills operate (as apparently he left some mysterious-gotten cash inside his girlfriend's bank account and not his, because "in case he died suddenly and she could get the money".)
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« Reply #35 on: September 22, 2007, 07:18:18 pm »
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The first major opinion poll since the election will be published in the Sunday Business Post this morning - polling for the SBP by RedC as usual.. Overall, not a great deal of change.

The headlines are likely to compare the poll with the General Election figures. Personally, given that RedC released a poll the day before the election - I think those figures offer a better reflection of any trends which may or may not be there. Doing so gives quite different perspectives on how well the the Greens and SF are doing.

23 May24 May23 Sept
RedCElectionRedC
Fianna Fáil3841.640
Fine Gael2627.327
Labour1110.111
Green64.77
Sinn Féin96.96
PD32.73
Other76.66


And on Bertiegate:
Do you believe An Taoiseach's evidence about his personal finances given at the Mahon Tribunal?
Yes: 32
No: 42
DK: 26

Is the Mahon Tribunal right to investigate these matters?
Yes: 50
No: 43
DK: 7

Should An Taoiseach resign if he is found to have lied to the Tribunal?
Yes: 59 [includes 40% of FF voters]
No: 34
DK: 7

The paper also indicates that Ahern is likely to face at least another 5-7 days before the Tribunal answering questions on his finances.
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« Reply #36 on: September 22, 2007, 07:24:06 pm »
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Wow.. I didn't expect Green % to be that high, or maybe It's too early for anyone to make a serious judgement yet. As I said already should the goverment not collapse I suspect that whatever votes the greens will lose from the "sellout" crowd they will gain more in second preferences from FF voters. (Perhaps getting alot of those which ATM go to the PDs; which the below poll doesn't give me much pessissism that they are anything but defunct.)
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« Reply #37 on: September 23, 2007, 09:35:10 am »
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Wow.. I didn't expect Green % to be that high, or maybe It's too early for anyone to make a serious judgement yet. As I said already should the goverment not collapse I suspect that whatever votes the greens will lose from the "sellout" crowd they will gain more in second preferences from FF voters. (Perhaps getting alot of those which ATM go to the PDs; which the below poll doesn't give me much pessissism that they are anything but defunct.)

Up until the election, nobody was really sure how big the respective 'fundie' and 'realo' wings of the party were. The vote to go into government and the Gormley v. McKenna leadership vote give some insight into that as far as the party membership is concerned.

There's no doubt though that they're performing a delicate balancing act. Gormley made comments at the conference this week to the effect that neither he nor Ryan have been inhibited in any way in their ministerial roles by FF - and used as an example his refusal to approve the County Monaghan Development Plan.

I think it's still too early to tell whether the Greens will be able to hold onto their entire base - or whether they'll have to hunt out pastures new. Personally, I think the latter. The whole issue over the Tara motorway thing (with more protests over the past few days by the type of people the Greens would be the natural choice for) highlights the fact that there will be difficult choices for the Greens and they won't always be able to make the decision that would please their voters. If the list of these decision expands too much, thy find themselves in a very precarious position - and if Bertie should fall, then I suspect Brian Cowen wouldn't take a lot of convincing to help show them the door if things got difficult.
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« Reply #38 on: September 26, 2007, 09:49:12 am »
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Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has laid down a motion of no confidence in An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern which will be dealt with later this evening on the first day of the new Dáil term. It will be the first motion of no confidence vote put forward against a Taoiseach since 1994.

Yesterday, the new Labour leader Eamon Gilmore called on Ahern to resign for his failure to properly account for himself before the Mahon Tribunal. The motion is brought for the same reasons. However, it has no real chance of success. I don't see any way in which the coalition partners (PDs, Greens or the rag-tag Indepenedents) will not support Ahern. The move is really just a political stunt to keep the issue in the news and set the terms for the upcoming Dáil term - in which case I think it misjudged.

The Dáil standing orders limit how often these sort of motions can be brought (I think it may be limited to one every 6 months) - so I don't think they should be used unless they have a genuine shot at succeeding. While the Tribunal issue may eventually bring Bertie down, I can only see it happening if the Tribunal lawyers can actually produce solid evidence or if the Tribunal judge gives a fairly damning account of Ahern in the next Tribunal report.
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« Reply #39 on: September 27, 2007, 04:32:58 pm »
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FTR, the government won the confidence vote 81 to 76.

No real surprise. Notably though Ned O'Keefe (FF-Cork East) went AWOL. It's fair to say that O'Keefe isn't Ahern's biggest fan and it'll be interesting to see what consequences may follow. (The other 7 government absentees would appear to have been expected.)

Today however the government won a vote on a motion by a single vote when it appears there was significant absenteeism. The vote was on one of the controversial political stories of the summer - the decision by Aer Lingus to abandon it's Shannon-Heathrow route in favour of Belfast-Heathrow. THe government owning 25% of Aer Lingus faced considerable criticism over their refusal to try and stop the move or even officially oppose it. RTÉ reported than (unlike the confidence motion vote) pairing was in operation. It'll take a while for the full list of voters to appear, but it will be interesting to see whether the FF Mid-Western TDs voted, given their apparant disagreement with the government on this issue.
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« Reply #40 on: September 28, 2007, 06:10:32 pm »
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Turns out the FF Mid-West contingent were all present and correct. In any normal political country, this would represent be the height of hypocracy. Not here though... Angry

Notably, Ned O'Keefe missed this vote as well. The Chief Whip has demanded an explanation...we'll have to wait and see if there's any developments.
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« Reply #41 on: September 28, 2007, 06:11:52 pm »
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I love the "OMG TEH GOVERMENT ALMOST LOST HOW DARE TDs BE INDEPENDENT!!111" reaction.

Which is why:
a) Democracy is really a joke in Ireland.
b) The Parliamentary system is alot of bollocks really.

At least now I have more to watch the blood letting and theatre Mahon Tribunal continue without the media thinking it somehow irrelevant.. Now come on, greenies, time to show some backbone.
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« Reply #42 on: September 28, 2007, 06:30:07 pm »
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I love the "OMG TEH GOVERMENT ALMOST LOST HOW DARE TDs BE INDEPENDENT!!111" reaction.

Which is why:
a) Democracy is really a joke in Ireland.
b) The Parliamentary system is alot of bollocks really.

Considerably stronger language than I'd use, but I have sympathy with these points. The fused executive-legislature in particular bothers me; that and the Seanad's neutered state.

At least now I have more to watch the blood letting and theatre Mahon Tribunal continue without the media thinking it somehow irrelevant.. Now come on, greenies, time to show some backbone.

The Greens have proven they will hold firm. They have now firmly nailed themselves to Bertie and only a smoking gun or the next Mahon report would give them reason to exit.

The decision to bring them into government though clearly paid off this week - otherwise the Government would have found huge difficulty in winning the confidence vote (and would almost certainly have lost the Shannon vote).
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« Reply #43 on: September 28, 2007, 06:49:57 pm »
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I love the "OMG TEH GOVERMENT ALMOST LOST HOW DARE TDs BE INDEPENDENT!!111" reaction.

Which is why:
a) Democracy is really a joke in Ireland.
b) The Parliamentary system is alot of bollocks really.

Considerably stronger language than I'd use, but I have sympathy with these points. The fused executive-legislature in particular bothers me; that and the Seanad's neutered state.

At least now I have more to watch the blood letting and theatre Mahon Tribunal continue without the media thinking it somehow irrelevant.. Now come on, greenies, time to show some backbone.

The Greens have proven they will hold firm. They have now firmly nailed themselves to Bertie and only a smoking gun or the next Mahon report would give them reason to exit.

The decision to bring them into government though clearly paid off this week - otherwise the Government would have found huge difficulty in winning the confidence vote (and would almost certainly have lost the Shannon vote).

Sadly I'd have to agree about the Greens - funny before the election I was thinking of joining the Young Greens.. not a chance of that happening now. Perhaps they should have stuck two minute ads on buddhist meditation.

As for the original point; I'm not even sure that Ireland needs a symbolic executor - but having an obvious leader is such a plus point for the intellectually lazy to focus on (also known as "the Meeja".) One thing about the 2007 Green Party Manifesto which alot of the document the Greens forgot about when going into goverment was a plan to reduce the number TDs to 120 (GOOD LUCK) - Ah well, the more I go on the more I tempted towards Radicalism.
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« Reply #44 on: September 29, 2007, 07:36:25 am »
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Sadly I'd have to agree about the Greens - funny before the election I was thinking of joining the Young Greens.. not a chance of that happening now. Perhaps they should have stuck two minute ads on buddhist meditation.

Grin

As for the original point; I'm not even sure that Ireland needs a symbolic executor - but having an obvious leader is such a plus point for the intellectually lazy to focus on (also known as "the Meeja".) One thing about the 2007 Green Party Manifesto which alot of the document the Greens forgot about when going into goverment was a plan to reduce the number TDs to 120 (GOOD LUCK) - Ah well, the more I go on the more I tempted towards Radicalism.

120 TDs - oh no! Then the quality of the cabinet would surely inevitably decline. If the government had only 60-odd TDs instead of 80-odd (and I use 'odd' intentionally) then goodness knows how many more gormless so-and-soes end up making decisions on educaton and whatnot.
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« Reply #45 on: September 30, 2007, 05:07:18 am »
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Sadly I'd have to agree about the Greens - funny before the election I was thinking of joining the Young Greens.. not a chance of that happening now. Perhaps they should have stuck two minute ads on buddhist meditation.

Grin

As for the original point; I'm not even sure that Ireland needs a symbolic executor - but having an obvious leader is such a plus point for the intellectually lazy to focus on (also known as "the Meeja".) One thing about the 2007 Green Party Manifesto which alot of the document the Greens forgot about when going into goverment was a plan to reduce the number TDs to 120 (GOOD LUCK) - Ah well, the more I go on the more I tempted towards Radicalism.

120 TDs - oh no! Then the quality of the cabinet would surely inevitably decline. If the government had only 60-odd TDs instead of 80-odd (and I use 'odd' intentionally) then goodness knows how many more gormless so-and-soes end up making decisions on educaton and whatnot.

Yes clearly with only 120TDs we would miss some great contributors to democracy such as, say, Michael Mulcahy, Cyprian Brady, Barry Andrews, John Curran, Charlie Flanagan (see I can be biased against FG too. Wink ), All the Waterford TDs, et al.

Wait a minute, what am I talking about - this is Ireland - where your level of political mediocrity is more likely to get you elected. Being a FF TD is a pretty sweet job.. 100,000 a year often for doing near fuck all except being yes men to the goverment but because of the "Keltik Tigah" you won't ever lose your seat unless you're an idiot.. I mean just look at, well, Michael Mulcahy, Cyprian Brady (oooh.. he's on the radio now), Barry Andrews, etc...
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« Reply #46 on: October 01, 2007, 11:09:41 am »
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Yes clearly with only 120TDs we would miss some great contributors to democracy such as, say, Michael Mulcahy, Cyprian Brady, Barry Andrews, John Curran, Charlie Flanagan (see I can be biased against FG too. Wink ), All the Waterford TDs, et al.

I don't disagree that there are multiple members who we could do without. I'm just saying that we'll lose some of the more capable ones too. And the more you cut it by, the more likely one is to have to appoint lower quality candidates to higher offices.

Wait a minute, what am I talking about - this is Ireland - where your level of political mediocrity is more likely to get you elected. Being a FF TD is a pretty sweet job.. 100,000 a year often for doing near fuck all except being yes men to the goverment but because of the "Keltik Tigah" you won't ever lose your seat unless you're an idiot.. I mean just look at, well, Michael Mulcahy, Cyprian Brady (oooh.. he's on the radio now), Barry Andrews, etc...

I don't disagree with this either. I'd have no problem with paying them less, for example. I would say also though that I'd imagine lowering the number of seats would also strengthen the power of the party whip.
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« Reply #47 on: October 20, 2007, 01:28:17 pm »
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I'm going to carry this discussion on education in Ireland over from another thread, mainly so as not to derail the other thread (on the global warming debate).

I suppose it depends on what you expect/want out of an education system. Our system wasn't developed with the aim of producing a large number of citizen philosophers certainly.

Well Obviously. I don't want "Citizen philosophers" - Citizens yes, the basis of our modern civilisation is the idea of constant questioning and participation with the processes which dominate the world around us (the most Irish people do in that regard is vote; if even that and most don't vote on the basis I've just mentioned.) yet the ability to ask questions is not even taught in school. I don't want to spend too long on this as this distracts from the basis of this thread (Though I *Could* bore for Ireland on this topic.) but it seems pretty obvious that the why Global warming is debated has it origins in the way these things are taught in School.

It's more a matter of teaching basic skills with the hope of ending up with at least the semblance of a capable workforce. In primary school the focus is on literacy and numeracy (and on Irish - but this is for cultural and historical reasons more so than for any educational benefit - which isn't to deny that there may be educational benefit to it). In secondary, this process continues with more developed literacy and numeracy skills, languages, and some vocational subjects (sciences; accounting; woodwork; tech graphics; home ec; etc.).

And I think, by and large, the system reaches its primary objective - it does produce a capable workforce.

I didn't say that the system doesn't work in what it's aims are. Just that it's aims are alot of crap - I don't like the idea of entire generations being processed in this way so that they work for some business and consume more.

I think the aim of producing a potential workforce is a legitimate one. It's quite simply necessary for our economy to function. Literacy and numeracy rates are very high. Over half of our young people now go on to third level education. Advancement through the education system is now reasonably meritocratic. I think these are all positives.

I don't think that it's the education system which is responsible for the rise of consumer culture or conspicuous consumption.

Is there any wonder therefore that our Democracy is so degraded

Our levels of electoral turnout aren't bad. We have free and open elections at multiple levels and regular referenda to boot. We have the rule of law; solid Constitutional protections; and human rights legislation.

Sure, I'm not delighted with the current crop of politicans - but the people giveth and the people can taketh away. I don't think I can agree that our democracy is 'degraded'.

and our culture is so mind numbingly dumb?

Is Irish culture dumb?

Anne Enright has just won the Man Booker Prize, just two years after John Banville. Not all that long ago Seamus Heaney won the Nobel for Literature. Of course, I would be writing for quite some time if I was to even just list highly rated Irish writers from times past and indeed present, be they poets, novelists, playrights, etc. We're not lacking in terms of filmmakers, musicians or comedians either. Beyond the arts, we have a strong sporting culture; our own language and our own 'take' on another.

I think as a nation we stand out and this is strongly helped by a strong sense of cultural identity.

Almost quite ancillary to that process, it does allow for a certain amount of 'education' in the meaning which I think you intend, but this is almost circumstantial as it's not really the intent. And with the development of the 'points race', education in this sense will only be hindered as both student and teacher must focus on a fairly rigid structure which becomes much more a test of memory than of intelligence.

No doubt about that on any of the points you've mentioned; Personally I still consider it a great achievement of mine that I just didn't give a Sh!t when coming onto my Junior and Leaving certs unlike all those "Daddy wants to me to do Medicine" types (For the Americans here; getting into a Medicine or law course in Ireland has obscene requirements; The Leaving cert exam is the final exam taken at the end of your final year at Secondary school which alone determines how one makes it into college.) who were usually I found were rather notable of their airheadness despite their getting 500+ Points. The people I would consider most intelligent in School who were often the ones you didn't at all give the system any respect while still playing an active role in the school and had a genuine curiousity about "The Real World" (So not the Rugby Jocks).

In short, Exams are the dumbest possible way in the history of mankind to test intelligence.

A few small points.

I do think that changes should be made to second level education in the country in a number of areas, but one stong point in favour of the points system is that it is a completely objective, impartial system. It's nice to know that it doesn't matter who you are in terms of your family background or class or where you're from or whatever - the CAO computer will treat everyone the same. But I'll certainly agree with you on the lack of definitive correlation between points and intelligence, something that I surprised time and again in college.

Secondly, I don't think many Leaving Cert exam setters would claim that their papers test 'intelligence', they test knowledge in a particular subject area. One's intelligence per se isn't officially tested, but then why should it?
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« Reply #48 on: October 20, 2007, 03:34:12 pm »
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I think the aim of producing a potential workforce is a legitimate one. It's quite simply necessary for our economy to function. Literacy and numeracy rates are very high. Over half of our young people now go on to third level education. Advancement through the education system is now reasonably meritocratic. I think these are all positives.

I never said they weren't positive; just that we should aspire to more than that. It depends on whether we wish to see ourselves more as a society driven by ideals or purely by economic concerns; all goverments over the past 150 years or so have chosen the latter. Though personality from experience I think it's waste of time to have about half of the student population in education after the age of 14 (to pick a rough estimate).. and if we keep the current situation as it is I don't think employers will complain too much on missing out learning Intregal Calculus or Bismarck's Foreign Policy.

But I don't think have such an industrial like system of Education is good for Children or inevitably for Society as a whole. Also those Literacy and Numeracy statistics you state are very relative; how do you define those terms? (I not saying that Ireland has a bad standard here or anything; but statistics in this tend to vary alot on criteria.)

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I don't think that it's the education system which is responsible for the rise of consumer culture or conspicuous consumption.

Not Directly. But in a much more subtle indirect way I would so say.

Let me put this way, each class in a school has a structure and that structure is pretty unchanged from the age of 4 to 18 in the Irish system. That structure is there is a teacher who is the centre of the class who is supposed to be font of the required curriculum (more on that later..) and then there are the children who rarely speak and "recieve" knowledge from the teacher, who generally rewards them somehow if they do well and absconds them if they don't. Now as this is seen as the "natural" way of teaching it may not be seen as a big deal, but there are assumptions in this method here which are very important to point out and it is this that is most often imparted in school as opposed to the "official" curriculum (Most Children forget roughly 80% iirc of all the content they learn in a class once it's over. But here I refer to is the "Hidden Curriculum" - what is learnt without even being recognized; the sort of training you get sitting in a similiar position for 14 years straight.)

1) Authority Figures, like Parents (Here Teachers) are genuinely seen to be the holders of knowledge, knowledge and education is what the teacher gives you.
2) In schools there are textbooks which give out this knowledge; which creates a division between the learning in "School" and "non-school" learning. Textbooks are useless when learning things outside of the school enviorment
3) All Questions have "right" and "wrong" answers which are not to be doubted as they held by the authority figure to be truth; accepting the "right" answer (regardless of whether it is 2+2=4 or to be more nebelous, a good story.) without question is the name of the game. ("The first thing you learn in school is to learn how to lie - HL Mencken) Those who are wrong; perhaps because they are just not interested in the subject or just don't have academic ability in it are often punished - a system where praise (and thus Status; especially towards ones parents who love to have straight A grade child) and derision is often given out by how much you accept what the teacher says. So it's no surprise that the least gifted (or for that matter, the most gifted) get alienated from the system.
4) Our civilisation, which is based on Questions, is not even taught in schools. It's an Authoritian system of knowledge driven mainly by an industrial set up. (Ever noticed how Schools and Offices are often alike? Or Schools and Prisons for that matter?)

Now of course here I'm really referring to the first years of Education which are formative of the rest of Ireland's formal system.

But add to this the Curriculum, We both know about the pointless endavour of Irish and the Cultural\Political reasons behind it. But let's look more closely at how each subject (and that's another thing - that division is totally arbirtary. Another thing you learn in School, History is History, Maths is Maths, English is English, Mechanacial engineering is Mechanacial engineering. And never the twain shall meet. I'm a believer in the idea to have true understanding of anything you need to understand it's history. But this form of Education I'm referring to how has nothing to do with Understanding) is taught and what is taught.

- Maths: Actually I think in the Irish system the teaching of Maths is one of the better things about it as shows coginitive ability at abstract taught and unlike most another subjects can't really be bluffed at an exam. But here again comes into my point about the division of ideas; in Maths education we never shown why Calculus? The idea of learning is divorced from function; while I'm not a fan of the idea that education should be "relevant" in Mediaspeak (in other words, made fit into a way which suits students who cram for exams) I just think that this is yet another example of the idea the system alienates students; many of whom actually are interested in knowing stuff. Not to mention that Maths must be continued till age 18; against the interests of most students. Even from the functional POV this is mass Stupidity; if Children show no ability at Maths why keep them on after say 12 once numerical ability becomes obvious; will they repent once they hit Algebra and decide to become Engineers? Don't be silly.

- History: This is a particular issue of mine; let's take the Junior Cert History Syllabus I did back in 2003 - or to be more precise the exam itself (The paper is here: http://www.examinations.ie/archive/exampapers/2003/JC004ALP1EV.pdf) to keep things simple I gave I kept to the essay questions:

Example A: Write one of three following personal accounts:
- A lord or lady of a Medevil Castle.
- A farmer in Pre-Christian Ireland
- A named Religious reformer.

This is a form of biography; but in the end of Trivial biography. Actually that's 80% of Irish schools teach is trivia. When discussing Luther or Pre-Christian Ireland the textbooks usually went into fairly detailed (for 15 year olds) information about personal lives; but they failed to show why these things matterd; why they should be taught; what is their impact today In other words; it created a totally artifical division between history and the present. The fractured nature of the curriculum (inevitable in such a short space of time) makes this issue even worse. In other words, the majority of information students learn about history is school is mainly the gather of trivia; such as say the lives of Lords and ladies - purely an academic interest - without even the idea of context. I believe History matters too much to be divorced from the modern day world like it is in school (and I won't go into how school textbooks often try to justify Irish Nationalism.. it's not that their wrong per se; but rather that they are ideological at all. But then again I'm against textbooks)

Now I'm running out of space; and I want to watch the Rugby. And I've even explained my starting point. I told you I could bore for Ireland on this topic. If you to learn what I actually stand for and put the above in a much more coherent manner that there is Neil Postman's book Teaching as a subversive activity - 40 years old but still very, very relevant. And to be brief, here is what I am for: The Socratic Method

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Keith R Laws ‏@Keith_Laws  Feb 4
As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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« Reply #49 on: October 20, 2007, 04:19:29 pm »
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South Africa won.. Yay!

Now you may be wondering, But Gully what does that have to do with Consumerism?.. Well.. Quite a bit.

The decisions we make as adults are conditioned by the events and surroundings of our childhood; of which School is clearly an important part (but how important is difficult to determine) and as I have shown imo the two most vital things one learns in school is 1) how to adapt to the social structure; a classroom is like an office, an industrial plant, etc in it's hierachial structure those that succeed are often those who play best to the system (not neccesarily the most intelligent; not even always the most book smart) and 2) the distinction between what is important and what is not is based on trivia (such as the lives of Lord and ladies of manors) and not in any way connected to the tangiable world outside.

Therefore this feeds into consumerism and alienation felt often by those of lesser class as well; okay I don't think it's the main factor for the rise of consumerism or alienation but it does exist. Any system which rewards the ability to think inside the system is almost incestuous; outside ideas are dangerous.. and as schools don't teach the ability to question the world around the students or even engage in it in a serious way then it creates an enviorment of distance between "intellectualism" and "the real world"; which is seen to be highly desirable and whose status in which is often marked by material goods.

Here I quote Postman twice, as he is more eloquent than me on this topic:

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In order to understand what kind of behaviors classrooms promote, one must become accustomed to observing what, in fact, students actually do in them. What students do in a classroom is what they learn (as Dewey would say), and what they learn to do is the classroom's message (as McLuhan would say). Now, what is it that students do in the classroom? Well, mostly they sit and listen to the teacher. Mostly, they are required to believe in authorities, or at least pretend to such belief when they take tests. Mostly they are required to remember. They are almost never required to make observations, formulate definitions, or perform any intellectual operations that go beyond repeating what someone else says is true. They are rarely encouraged to ask substantive questions, although they are permitted to ask about administrative and technical details. (How long should the paper be? Does spelling count? When is the assignment due?) It is practically unheard of for students to play any role in determining what problems are worth studying or what procedures of inquiry ought to be used. Examine the types of questions teachers ask in classrooms, and you will find that most of them are what might technically be called "convergent questions," but what might more simply be called "Guess what I am thinking " questions.

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In plain, what passes for a curriculum in today's schools is little else than a strategy of distraction... It is largely defined to keep students from knowing themselves and their environment in any realistic sense; which is to say, it does not allow inquiry into most of the critical problems that comprise the content of the world outside the school (...one of the main differences between the "advantaged" student and the "disadvantaged" is that the former has an economic stake in giving his attention to the curriculum while the latter does not. In other words, the only relevance of the curriculum for the "advantaged" student is that, if he does what he is told, there will be a tangible payoff.)

And many more here: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Neil_Postman#Teaching_as_a_Subversive_Activity_.281969.29

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Our levels of electoral turnout aren't bad. We have free and open elections at multiple levels and regular referenda to boot. We have the rule of law; solid Constitutional protections; and human rights legislation.

Sure, I'm not delighted with the current crop of politicans - but the people giveth and the people can taketh away. I don't think I can agree that our democracy is 'degraded'.

You are making the fatal (and very common) mistake of confusing elections with Democracy; Democracy is about debate and there is almost none of that in Ireland right now. The business of elections is dominated by Media machines and other Financial interests which often try and shy away from what is known as "The issues" and when "The issues" are confronted by any party it usually ends that all the parties nearly speak from the same hymn sheet.

Watch Questions & Answers much? Then you know what a joke "debate" in this democracy consists of. And if we don't have debate and discussion among the populace about where we are going and what is our function as a society and how it should be ordered than all we doing is handing power over to (an often morally bankrupt) Political class which wields power as is it's will. Which is what has happened all over the western world; and is growing more and more Authoritian. And whatever opposition there is tends to come from extremism (of both left and right) and from Waco-type conspiracists.

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Is Irish culture dumb?

Anne Enright has just won the Man Booker Prize, just two years after John Banville. Not all that long ago Seamus Heaney won the Nobel for Literature. Of course, I would be writing for quite some time if I was to even just list highly rated Irish writers from times past and indeed present, be they poets, novelists, playrights, etc. We're not lacking in terms of filmmakers, musicians or comedians either. Beyond the arts, we have a strong sporting culture; our own language and our own 'take' on another.

I think as a nation we stand out and this is strongly helped by a strong sense of cultural identity.

You are again making another mistake; using high culture as a barometer. When I meant culture I refererred in general to what the average person does with his life outside of the parameters of work, etc - what does (s)he do, what is his\her reason to be and how is this shown in a mass context?. A book by Jordan outsold all the man Booker entries combined in the UK; should I don't think that Enright entirely defines what I am describing.

What I am describing though is mainly RTE and the tabloids and the aforementioned consumerism, and no I don't try to be some patrician who looks down upon the habits of the plebs as inferior to my own (actually that last bit of that second Postman quote is very relevant here.) and I would not consider myself the most "cultured" person myself; far from it. But there are certain cultures which are compitable with democracy and those that are not; Ireland's present values (or even historical ones; replace consumerism with "The Catholic Church") Imo are not compitable to the true idea of Democracy.

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I do think that changes should be made to second level education in the country in a number of areas, but one stong point in favour of the points system is that it is a completely objective, impartial system. It's nice to know that it doesn't matter who you are in terms of your family background or class or where you're from or whatever - the CAO computer will treat everyone the same. But I'll certainly agree with you on the lack of definitive correlation between points and intelligence, something that I surprised time and again in college.

It's Meritocratic only in theory. Anyone whose ever been to a Rugby school on the Southside of Dublin can tell you this easily. Grind Schools, anyone? (Which I despise as they are the opposite of education; though I'm not complaining about how I got a B in leaving cert Classical studies thanks to attending one. Hey, if the system is there to be abused and you have the means..)

Anyway in terms of Class most of the real problems already begin once the baby is out of the womb; never mind schooling.

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Secondly, I don't think many Leaving Cert exam setters would claim that their papers test 'intelligence', they test knowledge in a particular subject area. One's intelligence per se isn't officially tested, but then why should it?

It only tests the ability to regurgitate trivia. Which is sometimes mistaken for intelligence.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2007, 10:03:07 am by Gulliver T. Foyle »Logged



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Keith R Laws ‏@Keith_Laws  Feb 4
As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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