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Gorgeous drone footage of Fall farm harvest in County Tipperary, Ireland

Silage is harvested grass or fodder that cows, sheep, and horses munch on fresh throughout the winter.

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Airport security confiscates three year old's fart gun

The eagle-eyed aviation security humans at Dublin Airport prevented a desperate toddler from boarding a flight while in possession of a Despicable Me Fart Blaster: "We don’t make the rules but we apply the rules consistently." (via Lowering the Bar)

Ireland votes on same-sex marriage

reuters-gay-ireland-marriage-gaymarriage

In conservative Ireland, homosexuality remained illegal until 1993. Even divorce only became an option in 1997. But times have changed. The first major international plebiscite on gay marriage is poised to deliver an overwhelming vote in favor of extending the institution to same-sex couples.

"If the Irish can vote “Yes,” the thought goes, anyone can," writes Amy Davidson in The New Yorker. "If they can see how a conservative belief in the institution of marriage and in the unity of families, and an atavistic desire to be present at the wedding of one’s own children, translate into support for same-sex marriage so can, say, Mississippians."

The campaigns, for and against, served to illustrate the broader divisions in Irish society. The No campaign, in particular, made sharp use of fear as a motif, identifying wholesome Catholics as the real victims of intolerance. But the church has paid a high price for its longtime abuses: polls have support for gay marriage at about 70%, though there is some question about the accuracy of polling.

Even if it's close, the pace of change in Ireland has been remarkable. A 2013 International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association map of local support for same-sex relationships put Ireland at only 36%, though it took into account factors other than public opinion. ILGA_2013_map

Here's a "Yes campaign" video:

At least 17 counties, and several U.S. states, have institutionalized same-sex marriage. In the U.S., the Supreme Court recently heart arguments in a case that may effectively settle the matter there.

The results of the Irish referendum are expected to be announced on Saturday.

Photo: Cathal McNaughton

Burning Man temple to heal Ireland's Troubles, IRL and in Minecraft


David Best, who builds the enormous, gorgeous temples at Burning Man each year, created "Temple" in London/derry, where survivors of the Troubles have left memorials to their dead in advance of the temple being burned on Mar 21.

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Irish government retroactively legalizes GCHQ surveillance revealed in Snowden docs

As reported by The Irish Times on Saturday, 6th December; "Foreign law enforcement agencies will be allowed to tap Irish phone calls and intercept emails under a statutory instrument signed into law by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald."

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UK psyops created N. Irish Satanic Panic during the Troubles

During the 1970s, when Northern Ireland was gripped by near-civil-war, British military intelligence staged the evidence of "black masses" in order to create a Satanism panic among the "superstitious" Irish to discredit the paramilitaries.

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Coderdojo: global network of self-directed hacker schools for kids


Glenn sez, "An Irish programmer started with a club in Cork to teach (at no cost) kids aged 5 to 17 how to program. It was such a hit that it's expanded to hundred of cities across 27 countries. CoderDojo has a template that includes self-directed learning with mentors on tap to help out. The notion is to provide kids a productive outlet. Among its successes is an average participation split about halfway between girls and boys in most chapters."

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Irish Freedom of Information amendment will send FOI fees to infinity

Update: Irish TD Stephen Donnelly namechecked this post in the Irish Parliament. Go, Stephen!

Ireland leads the EU in Freedom of Information fees, and they're the only EU nation that charges anything for an introductory query. Now they're raising those fees, potentially to infinity, through a law that charges you €15 per "unit" of government work necessary to answer your query. "Unit" isn't defined (government agencies get to make it up as they go along) and you have no way of predicting in advance how many units of work will go into your query.

This is actually a worsening of the already terrible FOI bill, which allowed Irish bureaucrats to determine reasonableness of queries based on how hard they'd be to answer if concerned records kept on paper -- even if those records were, actually, in a database that could be queried with a few keypresses.

Irish politicians have taken extraordinary measures to protect the state from the people finding out what it's up to. This is alarming on its face, and would be bad news even if Ireland was a paragon of good governance, and not a nation in economic meltdown that is subjecting its people to brutal austerity after being one of the centres of a corrupt investment bubble.

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Irish government updates its Freedom of Information law with exciting new "Computers don't exist" provision

When the Irish government updated its Freedom of Information law, it promised something fit for the computer era. To say it did not deliver is rather an understatement.

The new bill (PDF) says: "the FOI body shall take reasonable steps to search for and extract the records to which the request relates, having due regard to the steps that would be considered reasonable if the records were held in paper format."

Get that? The standard for whether a FOI request is reasonable is whether it would be easy to get if the records were on paper and in a filing cabinet. If the records can be retrieved from a database with one click, but would take a hundred years with a filing cabinet, then the records can remain secret forever, because clicking once is deemed unreasonable.

As Simon McGarr puts it: "The Irish State wishes to uninvent computers.

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Faced with excommunication threat, Irish PM explains separation of church and state to Cardinal


The Catholic Church threatened to excommunicate Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny if he held a scheduled vote on Ireland's new abortion law. He responded:

Everybody’s entitled to their opinion here but as explained to the Cardinal and members of the church my book is the constitution and the constitution is determined by the people. That’s the people’s book. We live in a Republic and I have a duty and responsibility as head of Government to legislate in respect of what the people’s wishes are.

Redditor bleacliath created a great graphic for this quote and posted it to /r/atheism.

Politicians ‘have responsibility’ to legislate on abortion issue

Muppet Danny Boy, the only St Paddy's celebration you need

In what's becoming a regular St Paddy's tradition around here, here's the Muppet Danny Boy you know you want to hear but were afraid to ask for.

Muppet Danny Boy performed by Beaker, Swedish Chef and Animal

Irish flags OK again in Florida

The idiots who run Atlantic Beach, Florida, banned the flying of non-US flags, and even cited a Greek restaurant for displaying one. They have been told. [Reuters]

How to Cheat in the Leaving Certificate: controversial Irish caper film now on YouTube

Graham sez, "Nineties Irish indie feature HOW TO CHEAT IN THE LEAVING CERTIFICATE was recently remastered, and the 1080p telecine created from the original camera negative and is now available in full on YouTube - this film was very controversial in Ireland when first released (see late night Irish TV news report here) and some consider American movie THE PERFECT SCORE an inferior remake.

How To Cheat In The Leaving Certificate (Thanks, Graham!)

Irish town councillor tries to get state-owned piece of art removed from public gallery


Niall de Buitlear sez,

A member of Athlone Town Council is trying to have a state-owned piece of art removed from a public art gallery. The artwork by Shane Cullen features transcripts of messages smuggled in and out of the Long Kesh Prison by members of the IRA in the late 70s and early 80s. The work is part of the collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art and was made in the mid 90s.

Cllr Mark Cooney, of the main government party Fine Gael, tabled a motion calling for the removal of the work from the Luan Gallery, Athlone. Cllr Cooney, compared the work to a piece glorifying Hitler "extolling the merits of exterminating the Jewish population". Cllr Gabrielle McFadden also of Fine Gael supported Cllr Cooney saying that public galleries should not show politically contentious art.

Independent Cllr Sheila Buckley Byrne suggested the matter be referred to the board of Athlone Art and Heritage of which she and at least one other Councillor are members. The Councillors voted in favour of this proposal.

Attempt to Remove Artwork from Luan Gallery, Athlone (Thanks, Niall!)

Girls' crappy fake toy laptop is pink, and half as powerful as boys' crappy fake toy laptop


Claudia, a Dublin-based reader of Sociological Images, clipped this image of a flier for an Irish shop that sells crappy fake toy laptops in gendered versions, with the blue male version getting twice as many "functions" as the pink female version. Gwen at SocImg says, "Also, it looks more like a packet of birth control pills than a laptop."

Girls vs. Boys “Laptops”: Guess Which Does More?

Popemobile available for rent: stags, hen nights, and photo-ops

The 1979 Irish Popemobile, an armoured car designed to exhibit the Pope on his visit, has been through a €60,000 makeover, and is now available for private hire:

According to a promotional pack, the vehicle has 15 seats, including the original “pope’s chair”. Mr Dunning plans to charge up to €300 an hour plus VAT for use of it .

He said the chair used by the pope was kept in his mother’s home in Greenhills, Dublin, while the vehicle’s makeover was completed.

“Nuns over from Rome were in my mother’s house to see it,” he said.

The promotional pack lists a number of possible uses, including “hen and stag [nights], debs and photo calls”.

Debs, hens and stags to make holy show of Popemobile [Irish Times] (via Memex 1.1)

(Image: Irish Times)

Irish president lambastes right wing US radio DJ over the politics of fear

Irish politicians are justly famed for their scathing wit, and if you've ever wondered why, listen to this clip of Irish president Michael D Higgins flaying alive Michael Graham, a US radio host, graduate of Oral Roberts University and supporter of the Tea Party movement. The recording dates to before Higgins won the presidency, but one imagines that political debate in Eire is a lot of fun these days.

From May 2010, an exchange between Michael D Higgins (who was elected President of Ireland last year) and Tea Party-loving radio guy Michael Graham on Irish radio. Full exchange here.

Michael D Higgins v Michael Graham (via Reddit)