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Bertie’s Parallel Universe


And they laughed at me for being such a big fan of Stargate! Ha! I bet they’re sniggering on the other side of their faces now that scientists have discovered an earth-like planet only 50 million light-years away, orbiting the Sol-like star, Mu Arae.

See? See??


I suspect this discovery is more significant than the scientists realise. I suspect, in fact, that they have discovered the home-world of our esteemed and beloved Prime Citizen, Bertie Ahern.

Jaysus, dat was some ride.


Why do I think this? Well, it seems to be our nearest Earth-like neighbour, its gravity is such that its inhabitants are likely to be short, thick-boned and squat. Furthermore, to judge by what our Prime Citizen said yesterday, he can’t possibly be from Planet Earth, but must come from a parallel reality just slightly skaw-ways of our own. The Bertieverse.

Did you hear the shit he was talking about the electronic voting machines? I’m sure everybody remembers the e-voting debacle presided over by Bertie’s moronic minister for some-crap-or-other Martin Cullen. No? Oh, really?

Well, it was like this. They bought a big pile of computers from this Dutch company called NEDAP. They were special computers you see, and all you had to do was push buttons to select whoever you wanted to see elected. This was great for Bertie, cos, see, it meant Ireland was all modern, see, not like in the dark old days when we made a mark on an old-fashioned piece of paper with an old-fashioned pencil. Oh, and an old-fashioned pile of votes in a box that you could count again if you thought somebody was attempting electoral fraud, but that would never happen in our modern democracy, would it? Not according to Bertie, anyway.

OK. So here we had these special computers which were really just PCs with no keyboards, and they were programmed with this special Dutch software, but the special Dutch programmers wouldn’t let our people see the special Dutch source code, even though we were paying for it, and our civil servants said No bother, Boss. That’s fine!!

The fucking fools.

What? You call that a voting machine???

So they used it in a couple of elections. Oh, did I mention PR? No? Silly me. Unlike, say, in Britain, we don’t have a first-past-the-post electoral system. No. We have the single transferable vote: proportional representation. Which means that the NEDAP software has to do all sorts of things it isn’t used to, like tranferring surpluses, and lots more besides, and it’s very important to be sure it’s doing it right. But of course, as we couldn’t look at the code, we couldn’t really tell.

Now, people started to object to this. They started to say, well how the fuck do I know my vote was counted at all? Where’s the paper trail? they started to say. And where’s the verification of the software, they asked.

That was when Bertie called us Luddites.


Bertie Ahern: Soldier, Statesman, Poet and now Software Expert, found himself confident in dismissing all the IT professionals who spoke out and questioned the new Dutch voting system. All the people who were concerned to protect our democracy, Bertie found himself able to dismiss as Luddites. Not to mention people like myself, who aren’t IT professionals but aren’t stupid either.

Minister Martin Cullen explains his plans for the system

What do you think happened? There was such a public clamour, the government had to set up a commission of investigation. And what do you think the commission found? Yup. The whole thing is a crock of shit – that’s what it found.

So the special Dutch machines went into storage, where they remain, and so far the whole ridiculous saga has cost €62 million. How about that? But I’m not finished. After the commission reported, a Dutch team used the data it produced to hack the very same machines in Holland, proving that the system was far from secure and could easily be subverted by any unscrupulous person with sufficient access to it.

NEDAP’s chief software engineer arrives from Holland

Now. Fast forward to yesterday, when Bertie told the world that Ireland was the laughing stock of Europe for using paper and pencil to hold elections. He was embarrassed because the French had used e-voting in their presidential elections, and we were still stuck in the distant past.

What Bertie either neglected to say, or didn’t know, was this.

The French used mostly paper and pencil, except for a pilot test on 1.5 million voters.

They used three different suppliers of machines on trial, including NEDAP.

They weren’t operating a proportional representation system like ours, but a straight first-past-the-post system.

There’s great concern in France about electronic voting due to the same worries as we have here in Ireland.

I dunno. Push a button, see what happens!

Now. Did Bertie acknowledge any of this? No.

When asked by the Opposition politicians about the waste of money on a useless system, did he hold his hands up and say Sorry, lads. We made a shit of it?


Well then, did he blame his idiot minister, Cullen the fool, for wasting €62 million of taxpayers’ money?

Eh, that would be a No.

Who do you think Bertie blamed for wasting all that money?

That’s right. In spite of the fact that an independent government-appointed commission reported that it’s a big pile of crap, he blamed the Opposition politicians for objecting to the system. He didn’t blame the people who bought it without knowing what the hell they were doing. Oh no. By speaking out against a flawed, anti-democratic system that was riddled with weaknesses and open to electoral fraud, the Opposition were somehow responsible for wasting all that money. They were supposed to let Bertie implement this big pile of wombat-droppings so he could strut around in front of his urbane European colleagues and feel a little less like the thick lumpenprole he is. And the rest of us were supposed to lie down and shut the fuck up. Bertie knew best.

Were the cretin Cullen or his civil servants responsible at all? Ah God no.

This my friends, is a terminal case of hubris. This is a man who has forgotten that he is only a man and not the Sun King. Now, unfortunately, we have as an Opposition a crowd of complete muppets, so I don’t know what to advise you. I suggest you vote everybody out.

Eh, let’s see. Just hit B for Bertie, right?

This ludicrous outburst by the Prime Citizen reminds me of something else. Did you know that you can walk into a bookie’s office now and you can watch a computer-generated horse race, with little cartoon horses and jockeys running around a make-believe track, all coming out of a computer chip? I swear to you, it’s true. Maybe that’s how Bertie would like to see our elections.

Our new President: Vlad the Impaler.

This is the planet Bertie inhabits.

This is Bertual Reality.


See also

The Power of Belief




I was listening to an item on the news about a new report from the Comptroller and Auditor General. This report is about hospital [tag]consultants[/tag], or more particularly about whether we’re getting value for money from them. A very topical matter indeed in this country.

I googled it and and found the report, entitled Medical Consultants Contract.

Here’s an extract:

General Finding

The failure to evolve and implement a model that integrates responsibility for resources, activities and outcomes was a factor that contributed to the failure to activate the key terms of the 1997 contract in regard to monitoring commitments and clinical audit.

Overall, any new contractual arrangements need to specify the administrative and governance changes that are required to achieve effective implementation and be underpinned by a change management drive. Moreover, it would be desirable that the arrangements provide for a verification process to ensure that the agreed change envisaged is delivered in accordance with action plans tailored to the circumstances of individual hospitals.



The really depressing thing is that the report probably contains a lot of valuable information, and I’ll have to wade through this kind of lazy shit writing to find out what it says.


Crime Favourites Politics popular culture

The big bridge and the little mouse

Would you like to hear the story of the great big bridge and the tiny little mouse? OK then. Settle in and pull up those cosy covers while I tell you the story.

You see, what happened was this. Once upon a time, the government built a road from one side of the great big city to the other. They pulled and they dragged. Then they dragged and they pulled. They huffed and they puffed and then they banged and they walloped. After years and years they were nearly finished.

My what a fine road we’ve built, said Road Inspector Toad.

Yes indeed, said Bridge Minister Rat. A very fine road indeed.

Haw haw haw, laughed Road Inspector Toad.

Ho Ho Ho, chuckled Bridge Minister Rat.

But a little field-mouse happened to be passing and heard their conversation.

Excuse me, said the field mouse.

Ho Ho Ho, chuckled Bridge Minister Rat

Haw haw haw, laughed Road Inspector Toad.

Excuse me please, said the field mouse.

Bridge Minister Rat and Road Inspector Toad both dried their eyes and gazed down at the trembling little field mouse.

What? roared Road Inspector Toad.

Good heavens! bellowed Bridge Minister Rat.

I was just wondering, said the timid little mouse, for he was truly scared of the two great road builders, but why did you leave out the bit in the middle?

Haw haw haw, chuckled Road Inspector Toad.

Ho Ho Ho, laughed Bridge Minister Rat. What a silly little mouse you are! We didn’t leave out anything.

No? hesitated the mouse, more confused than ever.

Why, no, smiled Road Inspector Toad. Don’t you know anything?

Well, I am only a field-mouse, said Mouse.

Of course you are, said Rat. Well, little fellow, our friends the Toll Monkeys will finish it off for us.

They will? asked Mouse, his eyes wide with wonder.

They certainly will, nodded Rat and Toad. And then every carter and wagoner who crosses the bridge will be so grateful that they’ll give the Toll Monkeys bananas for the rest of their lives.

Oh, said Mouse. But couldn’t you just finish the little bit of road yourselves? After all, the people are hungry and maybe some poor carter won’t have a banana to give the Toll Monkeys.

Ho Ho Ho, chuckled Bridge Minister Rat.

Haw haw haw, laughed Road Inspector Toad. Finish it ourselves? Where would that leave the Toll Monkeys? What fine friends we would be to leave the Toll Monkeys with no bananas. Now be off with you!

Oh, said the field-mouse. Well, goodbye then.

Ho Ho Ho, chuckled Bridge Minister Rat.

Haw haw haw, laughed Road Inspector Toad.

Years and years and years later, the little field mouse was passing by the bridge again when suddenly there was a loud FLOP! and a huge banana skin landed at his feet. He looked up, startled, and there he saw a troop of toll monkeys cavorting in the tree-tops. Each of them was carrying a sack of bananas.

Excuse me, said the old field mouse.

Hee hee hee, screamed the toll monkeys. Hee hee hee heeeeee!!!!!

Excuse me? repeated the field mouse.

A cheeky monkey swung down from his branch and picked up the little field mouse.

You talkin to me? Are you talkin to me?

Oh, said the field mouse, it’s nothing really. It’s just that I never saw you here before.

Yeah, said the toll monkey. Me an’ da guys done a real sweet deal wit da Rat an’ da Toad. See, we gets to keep loads an’ loadsa bananas an’ we don’t never have to work da bridge no more, but we still gets loadsa bananas. Ain’t dat da sweetest thing ya ever seen?

The field mouse nodded, uncertainly. I see. So, does this mean people don’t have to give you bananas any more to cross the bridge?

The toll monkey guffawed and slapped his thigh. Yuk yuk yuk, what a stoopid little field mouse ya is. Look over there on da bridge. Ya see the big line of carts and wagons?

The field mouse stared and scrunched up his eyes and stared some more.

Well, said the monkey, you’ll never guess what.

What? said the mouse.

That’s the Rat’s guys and the Toad’s mob, an’ ya know what they’re doin?

No, said Mouse.

They’re collectin’ the bananas for us, so’s we don’t hafta do nuttin at all no more, an’ still we gets all da bananas. Ain’t dat sweet?

And with that, the monkey was gone, back up his tree, leaving the puzzled old field mouse shaking his head.


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