Slugger blogburst…

Kicking off, Mark notes that given Iceland was top of last year’s UN Human Development Index and Ireland was number five perhaps those countries at 2, 3, and 4 should worry next….- Whilst Northern Irish politicians are meeting with Gordon Brown today are ignoring some of the populist hand outs they’ve provided the middle classes (and the elderly) in the last year or two, Gerard is suggesting the Republic’s politicians take a long hard look at huge revenues that have flowed into third level education and argues it may be time to cut hard in a sector that has become burdensomely unresponsive for a rapidly downsizing economy:

…the demands of a 21st century economy like Ireland’s requires that we do produce people with the right mix of education, training and skills to meet the changing labour force needs of businesses. But there is no reason why that task needs to be channelled through institutions little changed in a thousand years. Initiatives such as iTunes University have been shown to get better results than the plain old lecture hall and notes variety. Tie that into changing workplace practices (look out for a surge in internships, apprenticeships and sabbaticals) and you can begin to see how third level education could be more effectively delivered in the workplace rather than on the campus.

– Chekov argues it is time for Unionists to break free from habits of political behaviour that bind them to regressive forms of nationalist behaviour…

– Stephen tells Iain, we’re a party, dumb ass

– Yay, Horseman’s just proved the impossible improbable unlikely, again… There are more nationalists than unionists (readers of newspapers)… What Horse fails to account for is the fact that many unionists (and nationalists) read papers that are not headquartered in Northern Ireland…

– Worth coming back to this in detail, but World by Storm has done a careful reckoning on Peadar Kirkby’s big idea (and taken up as a minor theme at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis) that there be a Progressive alliance in the next election:

in a way there’s a depressing aspect to seeing that list drawn up, which we could loosely term ‘progressive’, because it indicates how relatively narrow the left base is, and – and this is hardly a surprise – how difficult it would be to rely on elements within that base, considering an history of internecine warfare and competition.

– And in case you think we’re focusing too much on the negatives south of the border, Spintered doesn’t rate British chances of getting out this in one piece (someone ought to have told the Downing Street delegation):

…if there’s any major economy heading up shit creek at a rate of knots, it’s the Brits. It helps, you know, to have something fundamentally sound you can fall back on. The Chinese and Japanese and Germans have economies that make stuff – there may not be many buyers, but they do still have the capacity. The Russians have their natural resources. The Yanks, if nothing else, have a currency everybody else wants.

And what does Gordon Brown have? On Radio Galloway you often hear George growling, “Brown’s got no balls. He’s got no balls except Ed Balls.” To be honest, he ain’t got much else in the way of industrial capacity or natural resources. That’s why all you’re getting from Alistair Darling, who obviously doesn’t remember much about crisis economics from his Marxist-Leninist days, can only come out with populist gestures on bank bonuses and crackpot schemes to reflate the housing bubble.

And on a day of some sadness, Anthony remembers one of the happiest of his

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty