Articles, Uncategorized

Flakey MacBook Wifi Finally Resolved for Local Writer

A local man, whose MacBook Pro had, for over a year, been subject to repeated random drops of internet connection, has reported today that he is finally free from the tyranny of bad WiFi.

Patrick Hammond, 29, and a self described “comic books and other stuff writer, gave a candid interview on his elation upon fixing the problem with a simple software update. “When I first got my MacBook it worked fine, across a few different Access Points. I had gone through a few different routers with my internet provider. My first issues began after the “Mavericks” update, which seemed to be influenced by the use of Bluetooth devices. after banishing all Bluetooth, the problem hadn’t resolved itself.”

At this point he began smiling manically, like a man delirious with the exhilaration of new-found freedom.

“I wrote a bash script, and subsequently a cron job, with the specific purposes of doing one simple thing. Pinging my access point. It was shocking to me that this, not inexpensive, machine needed a fix that amounted to constantly keeping some kind of connection alive to the router for any hope of stable WiFi.”

 

This worked, for a while, but after moving to another country, the new router seemed to throw out all the old rules.

“Now a ping would see 5 or 6 packets drop in succession and all internet activity would randomly cease. Sometimes it…it was worse…” Hammond stifled a tear, and looked off wistufully. “I tried everything, resetting the router, completely clearing any WiFi passwords, any saved access points, creating new WiFi locations, turning off airdrop services. Writing more scripts just to try and turn off any similar services that randomly start, because that’s a thing apparently. I fiddled with DNS settings, DHCP leases. Renewing the DHCP lease seemed to work…I…I forced IPv6 into link-local mode…  To try and bypass the DHCP problem, but…it was all for naught… ”

Any imagined success in these efforts was the cruel demons of technology sending out a mirthful false positive, and sure enough, the problem would rear it’s ugly head again.

However, on Saturday evening, Hammond installed Mac OS Sierra, the latest update from Apple inc. Upon install, he gingerly ran a ping, tentatively waiting for the dropped packets. They did not arrive. Or, rather, they did arrive, at his access point. Consistently.

Footage of celebrations on the street emerged after the software update fix was confirmed. Hammond was quoted as saying “I’m as happy as I’ll ever be now!” with a weary smile that betrayed a broken man.

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Articles, Non-Fiction

Refugees

Does the dole really drive someone to cross the mediterranean in a tiny boat, as the right-wingers suggest? Would you do it? Leave your job, home, life, get on a small boat, bound for another country in the hopes of not working and receiving benefits? It’s just more logical to assume that the motivation isn’t economic, as the right-wing rhetoric implies, but out of necessity as every humanitarian group involved has agreed.

The critics also ask why these uppity refugees want to move from where they’ve landed to other countries. Would you stay in a country where you aren’t welcome? Even if it meant you might be stuck in an unknown land illegally? Or worse, be sent back to the war zone? If I were in that situation I would look to go to a country that would be more likely to accept my application and is more welcoming to asylum seekers in general. It is simply common sense for an asylum seeker to look to go to somewhere like Germany, who approve more asylum applications than anyone else. It ignores the many who are settling in other countries, and instead looks to again paint the refugees as sponges. These people were not calling them sponges in 2012 of course, they probably didn’t even know they existed in 2012. They only got interested in global politics when they felt that they might be losing something to the refugees.

“Why are we not giving the money to the homeless, the hungry?” they cry, having suddenly developed a heart for people they most likely didn’t acknowledge until, again, they felt that they might be losing something to the refugees. Lets set aside the fact that this ignores the €19.519.077,00 we received as part of the AMIF, and approx 1m we received as part of the ERF this year alone; if we gave those funds to the homeless, these same people would simply cry out that it should have been put into education, or the water services, or some other place. And, if they are seriously suggesting we appropriate EU funds for our own needs — Since when are we allowed to do what we want with Refugee and Asylum seeker grants? Wouldn’t we then be breaking the law?

As we all know the refugees are all young men intent on causing trouble right? Wrong. According to the UNHCR, about 40% of the refugees are under 11 years old, and the gender split is very close to equal. Images and videos are easy to take out of context and twist, for either left wing or right wing views on this. It’s easy to get a group video of a load of young men, because groups of young men band together, like anywhere else in the world. It is as easy to take a photo that implies that 100% of the people arriving or dying are children.

In a huge group of people you will see crime. In a huge group of ruined, hungry, tired people I would expect to see even more crime. Expecting people to be saints ignores their humanity. It’s a testament to the fact that most are just regular people trying to survive that we haven’t seen more incidents. Either way, refusing to process them and shipping them off on trains, destination unknown, definitely doesn’t solve anything; it just moves the problem elsewhere. There will always be media manipulation from the right and the left, but the cold hard facts are that they’re coming, and they need to be dealt with in accordance with EU law.

Concerns are normal given the severity of the situation, and this is a crisis for all involved, make no mistake.  Yes, in a huge group we are going to get people who we don’t like, for whatever reason, but we still can’t turn our backs on that 40% under 11. There is a gaping chasm between “concerns” and “hatred”, with a certain class of person using the former to justify the latter. Have you noticed a tendency among people to categorise refugees and asylum seekers as migrants recently? All migrants are migrants of course, but it is a very handy rhetorical device designed to diminish the plight of suffering people.

The people who know most about this, like humanitarian groups who are involved, are calling it the biggest humanitarian crisis of the century so far. They are begging countries to take in refugees. I don’t think they’re doing it for the laugh. Maybe it is all some huge conspiracy, and the far right are correct, but I didn’t think it was for Darfur, or Ethiopia or any other crisis for that matter. I think history sides with giving refugees the benefit of the doubt.

Statements are uttered like “Arab countries should take them”, “‘many’ or ‘a lot’ of them are terrorists”, “Cowards! Why aren’t they fighting for their country?” and “why don’t they go back” or the more hilarious variant (given the complete ignorance it betrays) “why can’t they make them stay in their own country?” — These show a complete lack of understanding of both war in general, and the current situation in Syria, and the Middle East. They are also ignoring of course, the many millions of refugees currently in the middle east. Shh, don’t tell them, let them keep ranting on about the failures of other countries while doing nothing themselves. Ah but they’re all fundamentalist ISIS loving terrorists right? Or at least that’s a threat? Have ISIS been known to send members via boat on the worlds most dangerous sea journey? Wouldn’t it be a better idea to fake documents and fly, as they have done in the past? Also, even if every single ISIS member decided to mix with the refugees, it would make them 40’000 out of 4’000’000, 0.1%. Slogans like “Keep Europe Christian” ignore the Christian refugees. Simplifying the demographics of a region with that many different ethnic groups and religions is a recipe for disaster.

I don’t think anyone would do the Libya to Italy, or Turkey to Greece boat ride for the dole. To my mind, the only people willing to make such a journey would be very desperate indeed. There is a common thread on both sides to diminish the humanity of the refugees, by either painting them all as saints or as potential terrorists. In reality they are human, some will make mistakes, some will cause trouble. This is the same of any population, but it’s still not an excuse to let people die. It doesn’t stop us helping refugees currently, and I don’t want it to stop us in the future.

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Flash Fiction

If You Can Make It There

15,000 years travelled and I was finally out of gas. Gas, in this case, consisted of an atomic battery that was, unfortunately, quite impossible to recharge. Until I found another power source I was out of luck, stranded like a castaway on this unfamiliar world. It was strange to see it looking so bleak, lakes black with oily slick, birds were scarce and no human settlements visible. Animals in general seemed to have fled this area, and I was left wandering on a deserted highway with no real idea of what direction to follow. I had been attempting to get from a job I’d completed in the year 4600 to 1510, where I would investigate a cultural revolution which apparently was the origin of the great catastrophe of the twenty-first century. I had broken down early, however, and was now stuck somewhere post-armageddon.

The days passed very slowly. I was staying alive on rations and hydration pills. It took at least three days before I made it to the outskirts of a city. Towering buildings were lined in rows as far as the eye could see, like hundreds of dominos, some collapsed into the adjacent structures. I’d not seen any life and was beginning to think I was alone when I spotted some children darting across the street in front of me. I watched them as they ran into one of the old abandoned monoliths, clearly where they were living now. It was then that I saw him, the wizened old gentleman who was hastily carrying himself on crutches after the children. “Come back!”, he cried.  He waved his arms around in frustration, but they were too quick for him. He collapsed to his knees and held his face in bony old hands.“God damn kids took my last pair of glasses, I can’t see a thing without them.” The old man looked at me imploringly, as if I would produce a replacement. In truth, I had never seen a pair of spectacles outside of the museums.

We exchanged some information, I explained I was a traveller looking for fuel to get home.
“Join the club buddy, everyone’s had it hard since the disaster. You might be waiting a while…”  He confirmed my fears, I was going to be hard pressed to get back to 2580. The man introduced himself as William, and offered to help me find my way to shelter. By careful questioning, so as not to give myself away, I discerned that I had traveled nearly 500 years before the time I call the present. I could scarcely believe this was the same planet. Clearly, the technology to properly deal with waste had not been developed yet. All around were mounds of discarded food, plastics, papers and all kinds of rubbish. William told me that there were areas outside the city where the garbage was buried in the soil itself. “Most of the world is a landfill,” he said.

We found a building that was inhabited and had running water. William advised me to stay while I searched for fuel. I didn’t tell him that the fuel I wanted was most likely buried like those landfills he was so happy about. My new abode was high above the city, and I could see the ocean in the distance. It had encroached on the city somewhat; the water formed channels between what were once giant buildings and it reminded me of some of the books I read on the history of New Venice before my trip. They called it New York back then, New Amsterdam before that. When I looked out toward the sea I could see the head and shoulders of a woman poking out of the water. On her head lay a crown, framing a regal face like a monument to some queen of antiquity. I contemplated how sad she looked, drowning in the sea.

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Articles

A Lovesong for Elliott Smith

I read the words on Elliott’s fan maintained but somewhat official website; “Memorial service to be held for Elliott Smith…” I was checking to see if he was going to be playing in Ireland, which he wasn’t. He wasn’t going to be playing anywhere, ever again.

I had been an Elliott Smith fan for about a year at that point. I was already aping his songs. I probably have been, to some extent, for the entirety of my “career” as a musician. I was young, only sixteen. I still am young I suppose, but it seems like a very long time ago. I feel like a different person, but still the same. I was always slightly melancholy, without even trying. I vomited effortless cynicism and sarcasm.

To that extent, I had found my music. I had found someone who had managed to do the “one guy with a guitar and the truth” thing, and do it sincerely, beautifully. It felt like a piece in a musical puzzle that was defining what I was supposed to do or be. It sounds delusional now. It probably was.

The day I read that he had died, I don’t believe I cried. I probably have done since. I did curse the world, and whatever fates had conspired to end his life. I listened to all of the songs I had downloaded. I had hunted for a year for his work in music shops nearby.

Of course, after he died, they stocked him, in a gesture of rock star myth perpetuation. Why the fuck are people suddenly interested in an artist when they die? All I see are lost albums. I see a man who was thirty six, only eight years older than I am currently, a man who was in the absolute prime of his musical life, despite extreme adversity that included a serious drug habit, and all of the demons that torment so many of us. A guy who could create the bones of what would become “From a Basement on a Hill”, which I would argue is the best posthumous release of all time.

Did I find his songs so sad before he died? Did the allusions to mortality ring so true? I’m not sure; it’s hard to remember. I definitely didn’t think “Needle in the Hay” was a happy song. All I knew was that it was the most beautiful music, not music, sound I had ever heard. It hurts that he will never compose another song, and that countless mediocre bands will live into their seventies. There is no justice in popular taste.

The new documentary, “Heaven Adores You”, will give you some insight into the man. It doesn’t bother with the myth, talks directly to the people who knew him best without becoming too gratuitous. Nobody wants the details on his addictions, bar tabloid trash websites. Find more information on http://www.heavenadoresyou.com.

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Poetry

We

We are the people who sit in dimmed light,
Frantically tapping at the chiclet keys,
Of our very expensive,
Computer which we bought to try,
To guilt ourselves into creation.

We are the people who verify,
The latest edit has made its,
Way down the pipeline, past,
The gatekeepers of content, and,
Out into the light.

We are forgotten updaters, who,
Cut and paste, type,
Backspace, click,
Select,
Delete.

We are the many unknown,
Hitherto, heretofore and henceforth.
Our dent in the universe is,
As small,
As it is colossal.

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thoughts

Changing your mind

Human beings are stubborn creatures. We don’t enjoy the prospect of relinquishing our power in any way. When we decide something, we often dig in our heels and form an opinion that will weather any attempt to change it. In some cases this is harmless, even necessary. We fuse experience with taste and form opinions on all kinds of subjects from an early age. We have favourite colours, characters from books, race car drivers: we discern, and deduce that one thing is more favourable to us than another. There is nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes we decide things that have ramifications beyond ourselves. Sometimes people, through no fault of their own are driven to hold an opinion on something that is rooted in their mindset, their culture, traditions and values inherited from their family and society. However, when these ideas are in conflict with social norms, they are deemed unacceptable and politically incorrect.

For instance, our society is beginning to change values in regards to gender identity and sexuality. Not long ago in Ireland, 1993 to be exact, it was illegal to be a homosexual. Now, we are voting to legalise gay marriage, a step that twenty years ago would have seemed inconceivable. It is a testament to our ability as a culture to collectively change our mind.

Some people find it very hard to change their minds. The idea of recanting on previously held ideals that have served them well throughout the decades is like giving up. They believe that gay people are unnatural. They will often claim benevolence toward members of the LGBT community, and in some way maybe they do tolerate things that are an affront to their own personal beliefs. They fight to maintain the status quo, which they do not want to change for reasons that are usually rather personal.

The people of Scotland were asked recently if they wanted to change their minds about their relationship with the United Kingdom. As a group they decided not to change their minds just yet, although the referendum in itself was an indication of how much their minds have changed over the decades. The idea of an independent Scotland was radical up until relatively recently. Over time, with slow attrition, people have changed their minds. Following the vote, the UK General election saw English people vehemently refusing to change their minds, but saw Scottish people changing their minds about who they wanted to represent them in the House of Commons.

People are changing their minds about drugs. More than ever before, people are recognising that drug addiction is an illness and that that the issue is a social and medical, but not criminal. This view would regard drug addicts as people who should be in treatment instead of a jail cell. The United States has changed its mind about how it approaches psychedelic and entheogenic drugs, allowing research on the positive therapeutic effects, rather than discounting these because of their history of abuse. The United Nations have convened to discuss drug policy in New York and were petitioned by various NGOs and businesses to revise current law and policy.

Beyond the call for a change in how we deal with drug addicts, the Federal Government of the U.S. has had to deal with individual states changing their minds about one drug in particular. In the United States, 23 states have legalised Marijuana in one form or another, and 4 have legalised for recreational use, with more to follow suit next year. The District of Columbia has also legalised for recreational use, sending a very clear message to the White House. Over the next few years it will be interesting to see if minds are changed at the highest level, or if there will be a federal backlash against this divergence from the status quo. The people in the 1930’s who enacted most of the “reefer madness” laws, were changing their minds also. At the time, they probably thought they were being progressive.

It’s easy to dismiss other folks, especially when their idea of reality conflicts with ours, it can make them seem almost non-human, caricatures of people. So, the next time that you come across a person whose views on an issue you deem mind-numbingly anachronistic, belly-achingly backward or soul-crushingly ill informed, remember, they’re humans like you, they just haven’t changed their mind.

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Poetry

The People are Crying – a response to Michael D Higgins’ “The Prophets are Weeping”

Well Michael D, our fine President, wrote a little poem, so I present to you, my response:

Our president sits down to his desk,
He considers the keyboard,
He mulls over his thoughts.
Then, releasing a breath,
He begins to type,
A new work.
The prophets are weeping,
That’s a good hook,
It’s emotive, and inspired.
The people are weeping,
Twenty-eight per cent,
Who live in deprivation.
The people are weeping,
Ninety-nine per cent,
Who have less than you.
The children are crying,
In direct provision.
The families are crying,
In Dublin flats.
The mothers are crying,
Criminals for making a choice.
The people are crying,
No money left.
No.
Money.
Left.
So while you wax poetic,
Excuse the pun,
While you busy yourself,
Writing away,
About this world of terror.
Remember, little man,
You sold out your people,
You are no better.

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