I Read The Views Today

There’s a conflict playing out across the world, the war on truth. The battle between the truth and the truth we are most comfortable with has maybe never been so inflamed. It is exacerbated by infighting, finger pointing and pointless regrets on (dare I say it) both sides.

That our newspapers have become viewspapers is only a small part of the problem. It was Elaine Byrne who pointed out that there were “14 men and 1 woman in the Irish Times opinion pages”. A closer examination found there was 5 pro-government pieces and one mildly critical one.

(Slight digression; there was also one Sinn Fein “they haven’t gone away” piece. It really is time that that headline went away).

The attacks on traditional media haven’t helped. Mainstream Media, in the main, does a good job reporting the news. The fact that both Left and Right decry RTE as biased is not a bad thing.

But it is in the Op-eds and commentator class that the biases are most on display. The viewspapers are nothing more than a pressure valve. Words of comfort or rage depending on your socioeconomic standing.

The often discussed marketplace for ideas is a closed shop of simplistic and often factually inaccurate noise. Words that hiss and bubble, but seldom make real trouble.

Those who want to do some real reporting, like Tom Lyons did recently, find themselves subjected to injunctions signed off by none other than the Taoiseach himself. There’s a word for a leader of a country who interferes in the freedom of the press, isn’t there?

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Have a read of what Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar tweeted. All of it is a comforting truth to anyone in the top 36% of the socioeconomic ladder. It pays no heed to the bottom 64%; the cohort who may or may not be aware that while what the Taoiseach tweeted is true, so is the fact that we have the highest gross income inequality in the EU, the highest number of people (including 3,333 children) homeless in the history of the state, the highest hospital waiting lists in the history of the state and, in the context of the storms that are becoming more frequent in Ireland, a government that has made no progress in reaching our 2020 climate change goals.

Truth versus Comfortable Truth.

Ibec came out with a report this morning telling us that we’ve never had it so good. This lobby group has proclaimed that the boom is about to get boomier and we are supposed to be ecstatic. Of course, the normal “don’t ask for a pay rise or you’ll kill competitiveness” caveat was attached. The economy, they gleefully report, will come in at 5.9% growth. The real earnings (note not average wage), they less gleefully report, are up 2.2%.

Comfortable Truth: the economy is doing well. Truth: this isn’t translating equally well into people’s lives. In fact, the gap between economic growth and wage growth has widened since 2015.

In 2018 I said(egotistically?)that I’d help join the dots. Sadly, and ironically, my desire to do so means I must ape the behaviour of those Viewspapers that I complained about at the outset. I must put forward the Uncomfortable Truth.

The uncomfortable truth is that, in this viewspaper era, there are no facts left anymore, only interpretations. But please, don’t take my word for it, or anyone else’s for that matter.

Tony Groves January 2018

Simon McGarr #DataScientist Ep 21 pt2

Welcome to part 2 of our chat with Lawyer and Data Specialist, Simon McGarr. This, in our opinion, is the definitive conversation on the topic of personal data and the Public Services Card.

This part covers the PSC Card, the Demographics of the Pope’s Children and a very important, VERY IMPORTANT, statistical method of tackling societal issues. Make sure you stay tuned in for a special message from Simon at the end.

Knowledge is power – France is Bacon?

Simon McGarr #TuppenceWorth ECP Ep.21 Pt1

Tony and Martin are delighted (Martin is very excited) to be joined in the tortoise shack by solicitor at McGarr Solicitors, Director at Data Compliance Europe, blogger at tuppenceworth.ie and twitter pot stirrer Mr Simon McGarr!

Given the importance of this podcast we decided to split it into two parts. In the first 45mins Simon deals with what Data is, what the law requires of the State and whether a satisfactory explanation has been given for the mandatory, but not compulsory Public Services Card. There’s also a neat story about how using Freedom of Information requests can reveal secrets that are EXEMPT from FOI requests.

Part 2 is coming soon.

Simon McGarr #TuppenceWorth Episode 21 Trailer

Tony and Martin are delighted (Martin is very excited) to be joined in the tortoise shack by solicitor at McGarr Solicitors, Director at Data Compliance Europe, blogger at tuppenceworth.ie and twitter pot stirrer Mr Simon McGarr!

This is just a quick trailer about Data Protection, Charlie Haughey, State Secrets and Shergar!

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Anne-Marie McNally #SocItToDem ECP Ep. 20

Martin & Tony are delighted to be joined in the tortoise shack by Political Director and Social Democrat Representative for Dublin Mid West, Anne-Marie McNally. Anne-Marie is the creator of the #LockedOutGen that we’ve discussed on the pod previously and is someone who has spent her career, in and out of politics joining the dots between politics and what happens in our everyday lives.

They discuss:
The #LockedOutGen and those left behind by the Republic of Opportunity
The #SocDem alternatives and bringing sustainable thinking in politics.
#JoinTheDots and making politics matter everyday
#StormEleanor and the Climate Change Spin Cycle
Anne-Marie tells us why she thinks education is the silver bullet to inequality
We finish with giving their predictions for the next election!

Some strong language, but none from Anne-Marie, she was a complete lady!

Frankie Gaffney #NewYearRevolutions ECP Ep. 19

Tony and Martin are joined in the tortoise shack by Author, Linguist, constant voice for inner city youth and one of our preeminent smart arse’s, Frankie Gaffney. Frankie, while no stranger to controversy, is for my money, one of the most sincere voices around and his calls for unity come from a desire for a better society.

They discuss:
Inequality and the #LockedOutGen
Joining the Dots in 2018.
Left Unity and why Frankie is much more optimistic for 2018.
Social Media: bullying vs debating.
The Labour Party’s road to perdition or redemption.
A very Young Fine Gael Christmas.
We finish with a linguistic view of the Disney Channel accent!

Strong language and bad jokes throughout.

Ken Foxe, ECP Ep:6

Re-posting the Ken Foxe podcast. This is a terrific chat with one of the countries best investigative journalists and holder of the title of “the most irritating man in Ireland”.

This is a must listen for anyone interested in peeling back the layers of bureaucracy and getting to the truth of the story.

Strong language and immature themes.

Ken Foxe and the lads