Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Almost time to start burning books.
It seems to me that the Post Office expects us to send e-mails and/or text messages rather than sending a letter.
When I was learning to drive, I turned in at our local curling club to make a U-Turn. I was in a hurry to get right out of there because I had no idea what went on in that building and was afraid someone I know would see me coming out. I can't remember what I imagined, but ice, stones and brooms wasn't it.
I don't think there's anywhere to curl in Ireland, but it seems there is an Irish Curling Association.
I've read both books and there seems little doubt that Brown borrowed heavily from Baigent & Leigh's book. (Interesting that the third member of their team, Henry Lincoln, doesn't seem to be involved in the law suit.) Still, weren't they just setting the record straight? I suspect that they're just raging with envy because Brown had the good sense to take their work of 'history' and turn it into a big money maker as fiction.
If you want the details and the political reactions/implications of what happened on Saturday, go to the Newshound. If you're looking for blog coverage, go to Slugger O'Toole. Dick from Back Seat Drivers was there and he posted some pictures. I haven't had time to go through the blogs in any detail, but I'm sure that Saturday's 'events' are well covered.
Monday, February 27, 2006
Great idea, but shouldn't the game be played at the Baseball Ground?
Saturday, February 25, 2006
I've heard a few people compare Iraq with Lebanon. However, what rarely gets mentioned is that Lebanon was a Christian vs Muslim battle - the Lebanese Christians didn't have a large sympathetic population in neighboring states.
I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel on the Iraqis yet. I still believe a national unity government is possible and that common sense will keep the bulk of Iraqis working towards a peaceful and prosperous future. But, that scenario sure doesn't look inevitable this week.
Friday, February 24, 2006
By far, these guys (men's and women's teams) were America's classiest competitors at the Games. You can keep your sulky speed skaters, fussy figure skaters, snarky skiers, silly snow-boarders and haughty hockey players. The curlers - all the teams - are a throwback to what I remember about the Olympics from when I was a kid.
According to the Sunday Independent's poll 65% of people polled answered "Yes" to this question.
President McAleese told the Saudis that Irish people 'abhorred' the cartoons. Does that represent your opinion?And, no matter how hard the Sunday Independent tries to say otherwise, the Irish people abhorred the cartoons and felt the President was right to say so in Saudi Arabia.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Dubai was the first Middle East government to accept the U.S. Container Security Initiative as policy to screen all containers for security hazards before heading to America. In May 2005, Dubai signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to prevent nuclear materials from passing through its ports. It also installed radiation-detecting equipment — evidence of a commitment to invest in technology. In October 2005, the UAE Central Bank directed banks and financial institutions in the country to tighten their internal systems and controls in their fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.I think the biggest difficulty for all of us who are NOT in the know is to assess the UAE's efforts to provide assistance in the War on Terror. However, Ijaz's description of the UAE does sound an awful lot like the ideal we'd like to see achieved in Iraq, no?
These are not the actions of a terror-sponsoring state.
It seems patently hypocritical that America wants democracy in the Middle East, champions capitalism and global integration, pushes for reform, transparency, and anti-corruption practices in business, and then turns around and tells those who are practicing what America preaches, Sorry, we think you folks are a bunch of terrorists, so we don't want you on our shores and don't trust you running our ports.
Until yesterday Canada was having a pretty good games. They're fifth in the medals table. But, yesterday the Canadian hockey team was knocked out of the tournament in the quarterfinals. No Canadian medal in hockey, a sport that is pretty close to their national religion. I don't even think the US losing in baseball would come close.
Now, hopefully, the National Hockey League will realize the folly of letting its players take part in the Olympics. Let the Olympics be for amateur players or those from minor leagues.
The only people having a worse Olympics than the Canadian hockey team are the Canadian and American television companies that are broadcasting the games.
President Bush is getting it from those on the right and those on the left because he won't stop the sale. Mayor O'Malley of Baltimore has essentially said, "Give me British ports or give me death" while speaking about the port where the Star Spangled Banner was written.
First of all, I think it would probably be easier for al Qaeda to infiltrate a British company and gather useful intelligence than it will be to do so with an Arab company in charge. That company still wants to make money and they will be aware that everyone's going to be watching them closely. Second, the US Coast Guard & Customs authorities are still responsible for security at the ports.
Now there are people who just don't trust Arabs/Muslims and they're not happy about this deal. I can understand their reasoning. What I can't understand is how someone can be in favor our big nation-building project in Iraq, but at the same time think that your A-Rabs are just not trustworthy.
I also can't understand how those who get all riled up about racial profiling aren't just a little squeamish about their fear-mongering regarding Arab business owners, who will more than likely be thousands of miles away from the US on an everyday basis. If Arabs can't own a business formerly owned by a British company, how can they be trusted as members of the armed forces, police, etc.?
Why would anyone use the word 'airforce' in that question? I don't understand that. Is there some political motivation?
The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor (no 'u'), but was it the Japanese airforce? I don't know. What if a kid knows enough to know that the attack was by the Japanese Navy and believes the air force is a separate entity from the navy. That's pretty much the language used today. Some kids might easily answer FALSE and I think you could make a good argument that they are correct.
Now I could get all nit-picky and say the answer must be FALSE because Russia was not an independent state at the time, but a part of the USSR. Okay, this is a test for 14 & 15 year-old kids so I'll let that go. Let's assume they mean the USSR where they say Russia. Is it true or false?
The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 essentially made the Soviets and Germans allies. Ask the Finns. Ask the Poles, who were allies of the British and French when the Soviets jointly occupied Poland with Germany. So, I think TRUE could be considered right.
But, of course, after June 22, 1941 the Soviets and Germans were definitely not allies so FALSE is also right.
I wonder what would have happened if a kid had answered BOTH. I'm sure whoever set the exam was expecting a 'FALSE', but I'd also like to bet that few of our Polish immigrants would accept that as correct. Their children might just argue with the exam board.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
After all, curling's advantages are many and great. It is a sport for normal people, not freaks of nature. Physical fitness is not of paramount importance nerve, poise, and judgment count for much more. There's no recourse to performance-enhancing drugs, unless you count a pre-match shot of whisky. And I'd like to think maturity helps.
On that note, curling is a sport in which character counts. Yes, you need courage and skill, but it's considered poor form not to buy drinks for your vanquished opponents. Showboating is frowned upon. There's no trash-talking.
It's not easy being so courageous. I'll be checking under my car and looking over my shoulder for a while. I'm sure my neighbors will look at me suspiciously, such is the support for Guantanamo around here. And, don't talk to me about rendition flights. One or two people in this area go around with laser pens marking out those who they deem to be ready for the CIA to scoop up and ship off to Diego Garcia or wherever.
What do you mean that it's hardly brave to parrot what just about every talking head on the radio or t.v. has been saying for months/years? Only this week I heard someone compliment David Norris on the bravery of his call for an end to CIA torture flights through Shannon. Surely my call is no less "brave".
I've probably exceeded this limit a couple of times, although I'm not sure how it really works. If I buy clothes that cost €200 in the US, but then wear them before I pack them up and fly back, they couldn't be valued at €200. I mean, used clothes are barely worth anything, right?
Also, it seems to me that it would be very hard for the customs authorities to be sure that the iPod or digital video camera you're bringing into the country hadn't left with you a few days earlier. I carry a laptop computer with me when I travel. How are the customs authorities supposed to know if I bought it here or in the US? (For the record, I bought it here)
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
I was thinking about this the other day. Why is non-nationals the term of choice rather than the more traditional 'immigrants'. Does 'immigrant' have negative connotations?
Or does this have something to do with the fact that many immigrants are nationals? I figure I'm an immigrant - I moved here from another country to take up permanent residence - yet I am not a non-national as I was born a citizen of Ireland thanks to the fact my mother is Irish. Maybe the north plays a part in this too? I really don't know.
Anyway, I've heard a few people use the term with disdain. A non-national, an immigrant, a blow-in a rose by any other name . . .
Yesterday's Irish Examiner provided some numbers regarding the number of road accdents and deaths involving non-nationals. 800 serious accidents last year involved non-nationals and 15 of the 63 deaths this year have been non-nationals. Of course, 5 of those were thanks to that one horrific crash over the weekend.
Had the Examiner told us how many "serious accidents" there were in total for all of 2005 it would have been possible to evaluate whether non-nationals were involved in a greater number of serious accidents than their numbers would lead us to expect.
Given the age profile and numbers of non-nationals here, I'm not sure that there is a statistically significant figure here.
The picture shown here by the Times doesn't really capture it. This one is better. I'm sure he was just glad she couldn't possibly have concealed any weapons in her skimpy costume.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Anyway, I saw some curling over the weekend. You know you're dealing with a minor sport when both US teams come from the same small town, Bemidji, Minnesota (population 11,917). They're all members of the same Curling Club.
One of the best things about curling is that the teams wear mikes so we can hear them strategizing and communicating during the action. I love listening to the British curlers, particularly the men. I can't understand most of what they're saying, yet I know they're speaking English. The Scottish accents are nearly impenetrable, for me at any rate. I think I understood more of what the Finns were saying to one another during yesterday's game.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Saturday, February 18, 2006
I have never had any moral compunctions in my life about the launching of the nuclear age. I attribute my own presence here today to the atomic bomb.Whenever the topic of those bombs is raised in any discussion here, there's rarely any dissent from the "using those bombs was immoral" perspective. McInerney's story is not atypical of allied servicemen in the Pacific in the summer of '45. Thousands, perhaps millions of their lives and those of Japanese soldiers and civilians were probably saved by the decision to use the atomic bomb.
There's just a lot of mythology out there about how various countries behaved during the war. People forget that Fascist Italy and Franco's Spain were arguably the best Jewish safe-havens in Europe (in Italy, that is, until 1943 when the Nazis took over).I've never heard anything like this before.
Either snowboarding is a real sport that deserves the attention of sports fans or it's professional wrestling - fun pretending to be a sport. Jacobellis may have been having fun, but she was not being an Olympian. I'm glad she lost.
When Matt Cooper was finished with him, I said to myself well that's my quota for listening to the insane today. Then, I went over my quota.
A few minutes later, Cooper was talking to some woman who went on and on about how some ferrets were psychologically traumatized during a t.v. show on RTE earlier in the week. They weren't injured or anything, but they did have to race against one another. This is what psychologically traumatized them. They "aren't used to studio lights, crowds", etc. They aren't trained to perform. ETC. A stupid show, without doubt, but listening to this woman I had the feeling she wanted the show's producer's prosecuted. After about 5 minutes of her whining, I started wishing the Irish Muslim convert would come back on.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Thursday, February 16, 2006
I solved the problem and it's got something to do with Microsoft's automatic update feature, which they changed last summer. So long as I don't allow Microsoft to automatically update my PC, but rather go to update.microsoft.com and get Microsoft to scan my system for necessary updates, I don't get that clock problem. Weird, huh?
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Zakaira talks about one of my favorite topics - demographics - and drops in a common solution, which is to let old people work longer. However, Zakaira notes that unemployment among old people is already low and that any attempt at changing the retirement age leads to protests.
All of which is true, but even if a large number of people worked past today's retirement dates and stayed in employment until 70 or more, it would not change the fact that old people are more conservative and less dynamic than young people. Young people are more likely to take risks, start new businesses, challenge the established order.
Immigration is the only solution, but the problem with that is that it will be mostly Muslims who come to fill the void. And, it's looking increasingly likely that rather than a gradual change in society as Muslims alter the political balance, the 'native' Europeans will hold rigidly to what they have until there's some form of revolution.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Abhor. That's the word President McAleese used yesterday in Saudi Arabia in her remarks on the cartoon controversy.
We abhor the publication of those provocative cartoons. They were designed to provoke, they were designed to be rude and they were designed to enflame. They did all of those things," she said.I'm sure she's right the use of violence, but I'm not sure that most Irish people do abhor the publication of those cartoons. I'd like to see a poll on that one.
"But equally I would say that our Muslim community share with the Irish community generally an abhorrance of the use of violence in the expression of anger and hurt," Ms McAleese said.
Friday, February 10, 2006
These guys are half my age. Shouldn't I be looking for the Tony Bennett albums now?
I heard some guy on the radio yesterday insisting that it tasted the same. That's beside the point. You just don't do this. Brewed first in 1759. They got it right then.
I don't really like all these professional athletes at the games, but just the same I know I'll be glued to the hockey when it's on. At least there'll be plenty of Rangers this year, including 4 on the Czech team.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
I'm now reading another novel, The Cold Six Thousand by James Ellroy. Why do people keep giving me these conspiracy theory novels (this one's about the Kennedy assassination). Opus Dei did it.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Age: (1-18; 19-30; 31-45; 46-60; 60+) 31-45
Nationality: American & Irish dual
Country of residence: Ireland
How would you describe your political philosophy? Government: keep it local, keep it small
Level of education (primary; post-primary; third-level; graduate; professional) Graduate
If you were to vote on party lines which party would you choose (Ireland)? Fianna Fail/PD's, maybe. Every time I've voted here I've gone for independents.
If you were to vote on party lines which party would you choose (UK)? UKIP
If you were to vote on party lines which party would you choose (USA)? Republican, although the Republicans have shown themselves to be just as fond of BIG government as the Democrats. And, the party I'd choose at the Federal level might not be the party I'd go for at the local level. The two big American political parties are less rigidly controlled than are British or Irish political parties.
Where do you stand on the EU? I'm not really opposed to the EU in principle, but I think the current model of top down integration and excessive centralization is doomed.
Did you support the invasion of Afghanistan? Yes.
Did you support the invasion of Iraq? Yes, but I was opposed to the first Gulf War. I saw the 2003 invasion as finishing the bad job that was done in 1991, whch was then left to fester for over a decade.
Do you continue to support either or both of those conflicts? Both, but I'm losing patience with this whole nation-building thing.
What do you believe is the single biggest issue facing Irish politics? Hard to say. Everything seems peachy right now.
What do you believe is the single biggest issue facing European politics? Demographics. Not enough babies being born, excessive dependence on the future generations to provide for the elderly through state pensions, which means dependence on large numbers of (mostly Muslim) immigrants. I still believe Muslims can be good citizens in a democracy, but possibly not the kind of democracy we're used to in Europe.
What do you believe is the single biggest issue facing international politics? Nuclear terrorism
Are you, have you ever been, and do you ever wish to be involved in politics in a party political manner? I've never really been involved. I've thought about it, but never did anything about it.
Who would you have voted for in the past US Presidential Election? I voted for Bush by postal vote.
The $415 million federal study involved nearly 49,000 women ages 50 to 79 who were followed for eight years. In the end, those assigned to a low-fat diet had the same rates of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks and strokes as those who ate whatever they pleased, researchers are reporting today.I know I've seen something along these lines before, but this sounds like a pretty comprehensive study.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
It was always the political cartoon that got me into the most trouble. One could thunder away in the editorials, but the power of the political cartoon invariably overshadowed whatever the paper's position might be. Often, the cartoon got more reaction from irony-challenged readers who would be outraged about whatever, or whomever, we had poked political fun at that day. I used to envy my counterpart at The New York Times because that newspaper doesn't run political cartoons.
- I can't tell you how many times I heard or read that freedom of speech is a cherished right in Europe. If this is true, why wasn't there a greater outcry when the Swedish Pentecostal Minister was convicted and sentenced to a month in jail for a sermon he gave, which was later published, on homosexuality? He was eventually acquitted when the Swedish Supreme Court ruled in his favor. Sweden isn't the only country with such hate speech statutes. There are legal limits to freedom of speech in Europe and I think Muslims can justly ask why bigotry towards Islam is allowed, but not towards homosexuality.
- On the other hand, I heard a few references to Muslims living "under siege" in Europe, particularly following September 11 and the attacks in Madrid & London. Under siege? I don't think so. Muslims are still moving to the EU from other, mostly Muslim, states. What people freely choose to live "under siege"? It seems to me that for the most part Europeans have been extremely tolerant.
- Cartoons published in the Middle East can be vile (found through Jon). The anti-semitism is repugnant. Any Muslim being interviewed about the Danish cartoons should be forced to confront these and denounce them. I heard this raised a couple of times with Muslim commentators, but the issue was dropped too easily. And, each time I heard it raised the Muslim guest changed tack to talk about Jesus. How could any interviewer let that go?
Monday, February 06, 2006
I arrived at 6:45. That's quarter to seven on a Sunday morning. And, I was eighth.
That tells you how few pools there are in the area. Fortunately, I got one of the 15 places on offer.
Friday, February 03, 2006
The problem is, clearly, that Tourism Ireland has failed to properly promote our unique dedication to the art of lap dancing. Centuries of Catholic oppression sought to purge Ireland of this ancient Celtic art form. Now that we've broken free of our priestly chains we can reclaim our druidic past. Lap dancing is that past.
From my perspective, there are so many of these places here now - Do they outnumber pubs yet? - that another one hardly seems like a big deal. Yet, I am totally on the side of the residents. I'd be driven spare if a lap dancing club opened a few yards from my family home. No matter how 'classy' such an operation is, it's still sleazy.
Maybe the local residents should try emulating actor Stephen Baldwin, who vowed to 'destroy the lives' of the patrons of a sex shop that's due to open near his home in Nyack, NY.
Once the smut shop opens in a few months, the 39-year-old star of "The Usual Suspects" plans to photograph patrons' license plates and run their names in the local newspaper to shame them from ever returning.Of course, the residents near Stringfellow's will probably not have the same opportunity to photograph license plates, but I would think that photographing those who are coming and going should be possible.
"We're going to notch it up and notch it up until we run this guy out of business," Baldwin told The Post last night.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Yet, why shouldn't people seek out 'deals' in their medical treatment?
I'll admit to not shopping around much myself, although I did once call a number of different doctors and ask what they charge for check-ups. Obviously price is not the only criteria, but why shouldn't patients inquire about cost if they've identified two or more doctors/dentists/hospitals/whatever whose competence is essentially equal as far as the patient can determine?
Perhaps someday when I need a colonoscopy (probably not a lunch time link) I'll call a few doctors and ask them what's their best cash price.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
I mean, okay they can get American, Israeli and even British flags easily enough. I'm sure there are some French flags to hand. But, Danish flags? I can tell you that if I was given responsibility for organizing a flag burning of the Danish flag, it would take me some time to locate one.
What if the Slovenians were the offenders? Would they be able to get a Slovenian flag as quickly? What if someone official in Saint Pierre and Miquelon gave offense? Surely that flag would take a few days to reproduce.