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What Kind Of Week Has It Been? 18 January, 2013

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The Unhonoured Gift Voucher of News

This week Kevin Ward steps into the disquietingly warm yet comfy seat briefly vacated by Mr. Paddy Duffy. You can troll him vilely at https://twitter.com/WildState

Upon learning today that Blockbuster was to enter administration ("Give us a P45, please Bob! - oh, right, not that one"), acting as the next luckless domino after HMV, all I could think of was the extinction of the dinosaurs. Or more accurately, their falling to the ground one after the other as presented in popular entertainment. CRASH! There goes Diplodocus. BOOM! Oh, Stegasaurus, you were always my favourite! Both companies can be said to be similar in that they've suffered due to massive changes in how the customer procures his filmed and recorded entertainment, while those who had hitched their wagons to the dvd/cd model are immoveably stuck in the past, concrete boots and all. In perhaps as little as five years, the idea of going to a store and paying to rent a movie or buying a physical copy of a record may strike many as being terribly quaint, if it doesn't already appear that way to the youth of today, with their downloads and torrents and YOLO-laden argot that sounds to my ears like an idioglossia.

Whatever one's view of their respective business models, the potential loss of so many jobs (HMV Ireland appears to be liquidation-threatened to a greater extent than the British arm) means that this isn't really the time to archly point out like a common Geoff Shreeves where a venerable institution like HMV went so wrong. Nor would it be particularly helpful to complain to the floor staff about one's gift vouchers being worth as much as a crudely-drawn piece of paper with 'GIFT VOWCHER - WORTH SEVERAL MONIES' scrawled on it. That nice young lady with the facial piercings and pink hair that disappeared into the storeroom and came back with the dvd you wanted to get your sister for her birthday that one time, it wasn't her decision to continue to issue vouchers in bad faith. You've got a loss of fifty quids' worth of potential merchandise on your hands, she could well be signing-on pretty soon. Taking the law into one's hands in order to get restitution is an understandable reaction, but, y'know, it's still theft. On the one hand, unsecured creditors swiping goods off the shelf to make good their vouchers is being cheered, but I thought when it came to Irish government and bank debt we were supposed to burn the unsecured creditors and if that wipes the eyes of those holding the notes, then so be it. Make up your mind, Ireland.

We learned this week that Irish rappers don't have beefs with their rivals, they have a combination of beef, horse and pork. I had occasion to go to Tesco earlier, and specifically went to have a look at where their frozen burgers were until yesterday. All that's there now is empty space and significant price reductions on the untainted frozen burgers. Not that I was tempted, for some reason. While frozen burgers may not be at the premium end of the market, all consumers deserve to know exactly what they're paying for and serving to their families, no matter whether they shop at Fallon & Byrne or Iceland. Should it emerge that this is an issue of lower prices being paid by the big supermarkets leading to lower standards from their suppliers, this could easily turn out to be an unwanted blow to Irish agriculture, similar to the 2008 pork scare. The actions of the shortcut-taking few will end up tarring all beef farmers and producers with the same brush. We may be strangely relaxed about coley being passed off as cod, but you'd imagine that the frozen beef burgers on the shelf wouldn't ideally be a grab-bag of various animals. That's what the United Left Alliance/Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil is for (delete according to your individual political shading).