Saturday, March 31, 2007

Danger in sports

What is the most dangerous sport for girls to play? In the US it looks like it might be cheerleading.
Emergency room visits for cheerleading injuries nationwide have more than doubled since the early 1990s, far outpacing the growth in the number of cheerleaders, and the rate of life-threatening injuries has startled researchers. Of 104 catastrophic injuries sustained by female high school and college athletes from 1982 to 2005 — head and spinal trauma that occasionally led to death — more than half resulted from cheerleading, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research. All sports combined did not surpass cheerleading.

Friday, March 30, 2007

What is Iran playing at?

On one level this whole issue between Iran and Britain seems almost laughable. Surely even Ahmadinejad knows that this whole escapade is counter-productive, right? Everyone knows that Iran will release the British sailors and marines eventually. It's just going to take some time. Right?

Yet, when I just look at the whole situation I can see no negatives for Iran in this at all. First, the price of oil is up again, which helps their economy and hurts ours in the west.

Next, they're finding out how much resolve the British have and also, how much resolve other NATO nations and UN Sec. Council nations have. They'd probably want to know how far can they push things without incurring a response that might actually hurt. They're also getting kudos from those who believe the west is a paper tiger and that we lack resolve to take them on.

So far, it seems to me, everything is going swimmingly if you're Ahmadinejad. You might even consider jailing, beating or even executing a hostage just to see what would happen. What would Britain, NATO, the UN do then? My guess is not a whole hell of a lot. Can't risk further "isolating" Iran, can't risk any disruption to the oil supply. Imagine if Venezuela joined Iran in oil-supply retaliation?

We're weak and they know it.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


A friend of mine loaned me a copy of 'Tis by Frank McCourt. I hadn't read Angela's Ashes, but obviously I'd heard a lot about it.

For all sorts of reasons I was determined to not to like 'Tis. I was sure I'd hate it and that I'd find it a chore to read. I was wrong.

It was easy to read and about half way through it I said to myself, "Wow, this isn't bad. A few too many details about things I don't want to know, but overall I'm enjoying this". From what I'd read, I didn't like Frank McCourt, but that didn't mean I didn't enjoy his easy-to-read style or admire his ability to describe mundane happenings and things. I was ready to recommend the book.

Then I don't know what happened. The more I read the less I liked the book. I guess I was expecting to reach a point where he finally stopped whining about his life. I could accept that he had a hard time as a penniless immigrant, that he had to really struggle to get by day-to-day and to attend night school in order to become a teacher. But, once the book became more about his love life and his mother came back on the scene and he was disenchanted with teaching and ... I got fed up.

I finished the book - it was easy-to-read right to the end, but now I'm back reading A Tale of Two Utopias, which I'd only started before I took up 'Tis.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Need to Czech that

How many times tonight has George Hamilton referred to a Slovak player as a Czech?

The (unlit) Golden Arches

Castlebar's town council has (again) refused McDonald's permission to light up its big golden arches sign. This is not a big deal to my mind. If this is what the people of Castlebar want, then fair enough. If McDonald's doesn't like it, they can go elsewhere with their business. Not a major issue, right?

Well, according to today's Irish Examiner some council members on the losing side of the vote don't see it that way.
Labour councillor, Johny Mee, warned that Castlebar would become "the laughing stock of the country" over the refusal of planning permission for the illumination.

… Blackie Gavin, a Fianna Fáil member of Castlebar Town Council, claimed the decision would send out "a very negative view of Castlebar internationally".
"Negative view of Castlebar internationally"? Does he think that tourists from America are going to skip Castlebar once they find out that the McDonald's sign there is not allowed to be illuminated? I sincerely doubt that, unless possibly if they're members of Ray Kroc's family.

When I think back 20 years or so I can see a small black & white wooden McDonald's sign in Ridgefield, CT. Every business that had a sign had to meet the same zoning restrictions. I'm pretty sure McDonald's was one of the businesses that complied with those planning laws. Either way, I don't remember Ridgefield being a "laughing stock" and I'm not sure there were many international repercussions associated with the town's zoning laws.

What I'm trying to say is, if the people of Castlebar want to restrict the lighting on the signs in their town, so long as the restrictions are evenly applied and transparent, I don't see it as a big issue at all.

Happy Birthday to EU

It's fifty years since the Treaty of Rome was signed. The Irish Times published a special section with yesterday's paper to mark the anniversary. I haven't had a chance to read much of it, other than Fintan O'Toole's column on the cover.

I have a lot of problems with the EU as it is today. I think it has unnecessarily involved itself in matters which should have remained the domain of the member states. And, I think it continues to overreach.

There are half a billion people and 27 states in the EU today. And,when you take into account all the legal and cultural differences among - and even within - the various member states it seems pretty obvious to me that the EU should involve itself in only a bare minimum of issues. Tax rates, for example, should not be of concern to the EU.

Still, I'd be lying if I said I was "anti-EU". Despite all those aspects of the EU that drive me nuts, it has played a big part in normalizing relations among the European nations. The fact that the last fifty years have been "a tad" more peaceful than the prior fifty years is thanks to the US, NATO and the EU. The Marshall Plan, NATO and the Treaty of Rome are the basis of today's European peace. We should not just say Happy Birthday to the EU, but we should also thank God for it.

Civilized flying

Back in the old days they had proper table settings, top restaurant type service, cocktail bars, etc., but they never had live in-flight sports on t.v. I hadn't realized that this was going on. I'm looking forward to the day when I can catch two baseball games on a flight between New York and Dublin.

But, as the Times notes, there can be a downside to watching games on a flight, unless you're on a flight with the airline's CEO.
When it arrives at the gate at its destination, the TV screens may be turned off at exactly the wrong moment. Hodas, the Frontier spokesman, said he heard about this from Frontier's chief executive.

"The year before last, Jeff Potter, our C.E.O., was on the plane the evening of the Super Bowl," Hodas said. "They pulled into the gate with three or four minutes left in the game. No one wanted to get off the plane, so Jeff went up to the captain and said, 'Let's just sit until the game's over.' The captain made the announcement, and Jeff, along with everyone else, sat there and watched the end of the game."

Eamon vs Eamonn

The NY Times seems unsure how to spell the first name of their Ireland correspondent. Within the past two days we've had articles by both Eamon Quinn and Eamonn Quinn. I'm working on the assumption that they don't have two different reporters with nearly identical names.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Canary in a coal mine

Good news for Wales. They're opening new coal mines.
Up to 250 jobs are being created at the first deep mines to open in south Wales for three decades.

Unity Mine at Cwmgwrach, in the Neath Valley, is due to begin production within weeks, taking on 60 workers.

Owners of a nearby mine at Aberpergwm say they are close to accessing a large coal reserve, meaning up to 200 more workers will be needed.
I thought coal was just completely out of fashion, but apparently not.
Gerwyn Williams said: "In seven or eight years a lot of things have changed. The price of coal has gone up and Europe is faced with an energy gap.

"We don't think that renewables are going to meet the gap that we've got, so everybody will come back to coal."
Shockingly, there are so few miners in Wales today the company running these new mines might have to recruit Polish miners. Maybe Roddy McDowall is available?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I wanna be the EU Ambassador to the US

It seems almost weekly that I read a book review in the Irish Independent by John Bruton. He sure is getting his reading in. This week he reviews The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World. Sounds interesting.

Why the Cricket World Cup should be called off

This morning's Daily Telegraph claims that Bob Woolmer was poisoned then strangled. The motive for his killing looks increasingly as if it's connected to Woolmer's desire to expose match-fixing AND the Telegraph reports that Woolmer was "told by a trusted friend of suspicious movements in betting markets in Bombay a month before last Saturday's match against Ireland".

That throws ALL of the matches in the world cup into doubt. It's possible that other players and managers were or will be intimidated to do the bidding of those who have large bets on cricket. How could any player or manager doubt the resolve of these people to carry out any threats they might make?

The integrity of this tournament is now in doubt and the sport's authorities should call it off now. At the very least they should postpone all games until the authorities can more clearly explain the motive and how they intend to prevent any other players/coaches from involvement - voluntary or otherwise - with match-fixing.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Price of Irish "land"

There are always loads of stories about Ireland/the Irish - in Ireland, in America, everywhere - in the papers around St. Patrick's Day. This year my favorite is one that just has me shaking my head and asking how I didn't think of this golden idea.

The Auld Sod Export Company, founded by 27-year-old Pat Burke, sells Irish dirt to Irish emigrants and Irish-Americans. 12 ounce bags of dirt go for $15 a bag, although there's a sale during March - 4 bags for $20. They've shipped $2m worth of dirt since November.

Many people buy the bags for throwing over a coffin or on a grave site. One guy bought $100,000 worth of dirt to fill his grave. Another guy spent $148,000 to put under the foundation of his new house.

AAAAAaaaaahhhhhh. I cannot believe I didn't come up with that idea. How could I have missed it? Sheer genius.

Not just rumors

I guess I didn't really believe the rumors because I was genuinely shocked last night to learn that Bob Woolmer had really been murdered. And even though this doesn't compare with Munich, when was the last time a sportsman was murdered at a major sporting event? And, what's even more shocking is that it's generally accepted that he was murdered for some reason that surrounds the sport. Whether it's match-fixing or Pakistan's poor play or a disgruntled player or what, nobody seems to be talking about any other motive. It's really incredible.

So, what will the cricket authorities do? Well, not much it seems. Today's games are going ahead, a decision I find totally bizarre. I thought they'd at least consider canceling the tournament, but they're not even postponing any of the games.

I probably don't even qualify as a casual fan - I've watched a few minutes of the late night highlights, listened to a few minutes of live action on the radio and read some newspaper accounts - but I certainly couldn't care less about the games now.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I(reland) don't like cricket, oh no, …

A few days ago it was just one of those sports stories that fans love. The Irish national cricket team is mostly part-timers – the guys on the team had to take time off work. From what I gather most of them took enough time to see them through the end of this week when their World Cup would be over. They were playing in a group with Zimbabwe, Pakistan and the West Indies. Advancement was never going to happen.

Until - they started the tournament with a tie against Zimbabwe (a true cricketing nation). Great result. Then they beat and eliminated Pakistan, which was stunning. Suddenly the sports pages were full of cricket news.

But then, right there in the middle of the fairytale, something strange happened. The coach of the Pakistan team died. That made the tale a little less joyful. Now it's so much worse. There are rumors that he was murdered, possibly by a disgruntled fan or possibly in some murky match-fixing scandal. It's a big enough story here, bigger in England, but huge in India where cricket is king. The Times of India says "[c]ricket will never be the same again".

That certainly does take some of the excitement out of Ireland's performance. I presume it won't have any effect on the team and that they can just keep going with their good play. They have had to extend their vacations because they're going into a second month of world cup play (is this the longest sporting tournament in the world?), which according to what I heard on the radio this morning, most of them hadn't planned on. Maybe by the time they're all finished we'll have a fairytale ending and a new national flag.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Saint" Patrick's visit

I read in the Chicago Sun-Times that Patrick Fitzgerald, he of the Plame outing investigation, was in Ireland over the weekend, but I didn't see any mention of this in any Irish paper or any television or radio news program. His presence might have been mentioned, but I guess I would have thought there would have been more interest in Fitzgerald's visit.

Just surprised, that's all.


Sorry for the break in the action here. Big doings this past weekend with visitors from afar and family functions, etc. I'm hoping that I can get my head back in this game today.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Coldest day of the winter

I wish I could remember where I read it, but about two or three months ago I read something about Irish forecasters expecting March 19 to be the coldest day of the winter. I can't remember why they believed that, but I thought it had something to do with the moon.

Anyway, I'm not sure if they're right that today is the coldest day of the winter, but it's not far off it.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hating Google

Do people hate Google as much as they hate Microsoft? If not, I'm sure that day is coming. I finally made the effort to try and post something. Google has been trying to force me to use their new blogging system for a long time now and I've resisted. This week they took away my choice in the matter and forced me to adapt to their new system. I suppose I'll eventually get used to it, but I was happy enough with Blogger as it was. I didn't want to change and I didn't want to have to learn anything new.

I don't know if the site will look the same after this, but I guess I have no choice.

Fight the Power.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Give 'em hell, Harry

Finally finished reading Truman over the weekend. Can't recommend it enough. Great book. It's so well written that there are times it's simply un-put-down-able.

When I got to VJ Day I actually stopped for a day or two because I just couldn't imagine how the book could reach those heights again after such a climax. I'm talking about David McCullough's writing more than the events he's describing. I've read other accounts of World War II that rival watching grass grow in excitement.

But, McCullough manages to get it going again for the second climax - Truman's remarkable campaign and victory in the '48 election. I'm not kidding, I was really entertained by the description of Truman's Whistle Stop Campaign.

As for Truman himself, well, I doubt anyone who reads this book fails to admire him. Sure, there were policies he favored that I would never want to see implemented - like his support for national health care - but overall he comes across as a good man who accomplished great things.

There was so much in the book that it's hard to pick out a few highlights, but these titbits stood out for me:
  • Nagasaki - I suppose I should have realized this before, but I never grasped that once Truman gave the go ahead to use the Atomic bomb he left the 'where' and the 'when' up to the military. So, when the war was still going on August 9th - three days after Hiroshima - another bomb was dropped without any input from Truman. It was just a weapon to be used to win the war.

  • Truman was the product of machine politics. He got his start in politics thanks to the Prendergast machine in Kansas City. Truman remained faithful to Tom Prendergast even when he became a political liability. I know I should be horrified by this, but I admired Truman for his loyalty. Truman knew that those who ran the big Democrat machines were corrupt, but he saw more merit in what they did than in the efforts of those who ran the big corporations.

  • And, my favorite anecdote about Bess Truman. Shortly after they had moved into the White House, Mrs. Truman asked the White House butler for 2 old-fashioneds. The first try resulted in Mrs. Truman saying the drinks were no good. So, the next night the butler tried another recipe and this time Mrs. Truman said they were the worst old-fashioneds they'd ever had. "She and the President did not care for fruit punch." The third night he poured a double bourbon on ice and waited for the reaction. "Now that's the way we like our old-fashioneds". Great.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Stamping out the post office

What is the future of (snail) mail? I only found out today that the price of a stamp is now 55c (that's $0.72). That's amazingly expensive for mailing a letter that's going somewhere in Ireland. If you want to mail a letter to Britain or France or the US or Australia, it's 78c ($1.03).

I presume the reason the price has gone so high is that people are just not bothering to post things these days. I'd be annoyed about these rates if I posted more than a dozen letters a year. As it is, all that's really bothering me is that I have two or three books of 48c stamps and three books of 75c stamps and now I need to buy small value stamps in order to use these stamps.

I wonder how much longer we will even have a post office, at least the post office we know now. Surely home deliveries have to be phased out sooner or later. I can't understand why the Post Office hasn't already offered homeowners a financial incentive to give up home delivery in favor of a centralized mail box system at the sorting office.

I probably only receive a half dozen meaningful pieces of mail a month. Yet, the postman passes by my front door every single day. It wouldn't be too much of a burden to have to stop by the sorting office on a weekly basis to collect my mail.

Friday, March 09, 2007

NHL woes

I know I talk mostly about baseball here, but there was a time in my life when I was just as devoted to the New York Rangers as I am to the Mets. The winter was a time for playing and watching hockey. I loved it.

When I got NASN a few years ago I started watching hockey again. Then they had a year long lock-out, which killed my reborn enthusiasm. A few weeks ago I started watching again. And, this morning I decided to listen (on delay) to the game between the Rangers and their Long Island rivals the Islanders. It was an exciting game with a great atmosphere - everything a sports fan loves.

Then this. I only had radio and the description of what happened took the enjoyment away for me. The video's even more shocking.

The fact that the Rangers won hardly mattered. I guess the fact that the thug who attacked his opponent like this cost his team the game is some form of justice, but really he should be kicked out of the league. Any suspension of less than 6 months is ignoring the severity of what he did. If he did that outside of a hockey rink he'd be on his way to prison.

The fact that the victim of Chris Simon's attack seemed to be making light of the incident is irrelevant. Winning is NOT all that matters. If the NHL wants to win fans back they have to stamp out this sort of violence.

The fighting is a little crude, but two men squaring off for a few seconds of powerless punching (very hard to get good drive on skates) is really not that big a deal. It looks worse than it is. This kind of incident is worse than it looks and it looks awful.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Cause & effect

Maybe everyone who contributed to Channel 4's program The Great Global Warming Swindle is a liar, but they're sure good at it. And, they have impressive job titles. Everyone who contributed came across as credible. Whether they were on the level or distorting the truth I can't say.

The safe bet is to side with the IPCC and my gut instinct is to side with the others. I don't buy the alarmism of the "Inconvenient Truth" brigade, mostly because the Earth has been warmer in the past. That doesn't mean that I don't accept that the Earth may well be warming or that there is some possibility that man is responsible for that, I just don't think we're facing the end of the civilized world.

Blame Dublin. Blame London.

Czerwone Jabluszko - a Polish restaurant in Chicago - doesn't sell pierogies like they used to. Not enough Poles are moving to Chicago these days. They're finding life too good in Dublin and London.

Al Gore - American hero?

That was my instant reaction when I read the headline on this article from today's Independent. "Gore calls on EU to take critical role in cutting gas emissions". Gore's taken more seriously in Europe than he is in the US. To that end, he's trying to get the EU to set an example for America on climate change.
The importance of the issues at stake were underlined by Al Gore, the former American vice-president and environmental activist, who said on a visit to Brussels that the EU had an "absolutely critical leadership role to play". Mr Gore argued: "I'm trying to get my country to change its policies but in the meantime the European Union is absolutely key to helping the world make the changes it must."
He won't get elected in 2008 - won't even run - but imagine his campaign in 2012 after he's convinced the EU to commit economic suicide. He can argue that he had single-handedly subdued America's chief rival in the global economy.

He'll romp home elected as a true hero of the twenty-first century.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Libby verdict

Once we knew it was Richard Armitage who had first given Valerie Plame's name to the media, I lost interest in the whole affair. I guess I just assumed everyone else had too, except of course those directly involved in the Libby prosecution.

So, I'm kind of surprised by the 'excitement' in the papers today. The Guardian, in particular, editorialized about the verdict. Under a headline of 'Lies about crimes' the Guardian says,
.... [t]he outing of Ms Plame was a criminal act against the wife of an administration critic. Mr Libby lied about it. He presumably did it to protect Mr Cheney, who wanted to punish the Wilsons. Mr Libby's conviction therefore raises very direct questions about Mr Cheney's own position.

The second reason is because, at bottom, Mr Libby's lies concerned Iraq. The administration wanted to invade Iraq. Mr Cheney, and through him Mr Libby, was not particular about how to do it. When Mr Wilson publicly questioned the weapons of mass destruction case for war he therefore made himself a Cheney enemy. As a consequence, the White House took its revenge on him through his wife. Mr Libby lied to protect not just his boss but his boss's unjust war. That's why yesterday's verdict matters. This affair is not over yet - not by a long chalk.
In fact, it may well be over because Patrick Fitzgerald says he's going back to his day job. And, seeing as there's no prosecution of Richard Armitage, it looks like what we had was lies about no crime, not 'lies about crimes'.

I guess I'm compelled to read loads more now to see if I can find what it is I missed, but this still looks pretty uninteresting.

Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy - tch, tch, tch

Remember poor old Jimmy Murphy who was barred from entering the US by immigration officials because he didn't file the proper paperwork to leave the country while his green card application was being processed? Well, the Limerick Leader provided us with an update over the weekend.

I read this and I thought, that's how to do it Jimmy. That's what you need to do.
Donald Dorn, Jimmy Murphy's lecturer in Ethics in Criminal Justice, was alerted to his student's plight through the Limerick Leader worldwide website. Having read last week's edition, he established contacts with this newspaper. Mr Dorn compiled a case and brought it to the attention of Iowa US Congressman Steve King. Mr King's assistant, Mary Hanlon, has told Mr Dorn that Congressman King will be an advocate for Mr Murphy with the Washington authorities.

In the meantime, the original Limerick Leader report has been shown to Jimmy Murphy's 43 classmates, who are now writing to their US senators, seeking to have their colleague returned to them. Other classes are expected to follow suit.

"There had been rumours around campus, but now we know the real story," said Mr Dorn.

"Jimmy is a very good and very popular student, and he wants to pursue a career in law enforcement, and I have every hope that he will become an officer in Omaha," Mr Dorn told the Limerick Leader this week.
When I finished reading that I thought, well it'll take some time, but it'll come good in the end. Then I read this from Irish Examiner.
At his family home in Newcastle West, he said: "I am going to give it two more weeks and unless I get results I will go on hunger strike outside Government buildings in Dublin and chain myself to the gates.

"I will go back in a coffin if I can't get back to be with my wife. My wife is finding it very tough on her own having to pay a mortgage on one income. My livelihood is also at risk. Even though I put up stamps over the years I worked here before going to the US, the Department of Social Welfare say I cannot draw any allowance."

His wife, who is three months' pregnant, was recently rushed to hospital and Mr Murphy said this was caused by the strain of their separation.

"It is inhuman what they are doing to us. I am still living out of a suit case with my family in Newcastle West. I cannot live like a married man with a child on the way. I am being treated like a tin can or a piece of rubbish on the side of the street."
I know it's hard, but you've got to keep your head. This kind of threat sounds almost deranged. The United States government is not going to be threatened into granting Jimmy a visa to enter the country and they'll be a lot less likely to ever do so if they think he's a lunatic. Someone needs to advise Jimmy to put a sock in it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Irwin Steltzer - not an isolationist by any stretch - thinks the next administration will be forced to adopt a more isolationist policy.
There is an inclination to have our country see to its own interests, and let the rest of the world inherit the whirlwind that is the consequence of the anti-Americanism so rampant during the Bush years. Enough Americans to make politicians take notice are humming a new national tune, Milton Kellem's 'Got along without you before I met you, gonna get along without you now', made famous in 1956 by, of all groups, Patience and Prudence.

The new president, therefore, will be under terrific pressure to devote the nation's military and security resources to the construction of Fortress America. If European governments can't finance their own defence, as indigenous Muslim populations turn multiculturalism into a bad joke, and a newly aggressive Russia exerts pressure on EU foreign and domestic policy, well, that's their problem. They wanted to be rid of American influence, and we are prepared to oblige. They will just have to handle any of those 'events, dear boy, events' that Harold Macmillan so feared, and the 'unknown unknowns' that the much-maligned Donald Rumsfeld warned about. When those crises burst upon the European and world scenes, frantic calls to the White House are likely to produce 'Dial 1 if you never defamed the US, otherwise hang up'.

… The candidate that can tap into this neo-isolationism, who will speak softly and carry a big stick (cf. Teddy Roosevelt), but only for use when American interests — narrowly defined — are threatened, who will make certain that the world does not tread on us (cf. ‘Don’t Tread on Me’, the motto on the famous 1775 Gadsden naval flag first unfurled in battle against the British navy, and revived after 11 September), who will spend millions for defence but not one cent for tribute or the defence of former allies, will tap into the updated, 2008 version of the nation’s glorious history. His wife will be picking the drapes for the White House in January of 2009, unless her husband is revisiting the scene of past triumphs.
I think there's something to what Steltzer's saying here, but I'm not sure it's going to be quite that radical a shift. However, I was surprised by how anti-China Hillary Clinton was the other day. I can easily see how populist protectionism and neo-isolationism can have a good 2008.

Lunar fun

I was surprised the other night that the whole neighborhood wasn't out looking at the lunar eclipse. I know they're not that uncommon, but it's pretty rare that we get such a perfectly clear night. I was pretty much the only person I saw outside, although I got the kids out for a while. The weather couldn't have been better for sky watching. Reminded me of the perfect day we had for the solar eclipse in 1999.

I've read in many places that the moon turned a reddish color. I didn't see that. I wonder if that's thanks to the 500m lumens of street lighting that all neighborhoods in this area seem to have. There was a great picture of the moon in yesterday's Belfast Telegraph.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Home-schooling ist verboten

I'm surprised I haven't heard this story on the news here or seen it in the Irish Times or Independent. I'm not sure if the source is good enough to take all I'm seeing here at face value, but if this is true it's shocking.

Fifteen-year-old Melissa Busekros was being home-schooled by her family in Germany after she achieved disappointing grades in math and latin. The family thought that they could help her do better and save her having to repeat the year seeing as her grades in her other subjects were fine. A tough situation and the family made what I'm sure wasn't an easy decision.

But, home-schooling is illegal in Germany. And when they say illegal, they mean it. It was made illegal in 1938. Yes, he was running the place then and they still enforce this law with zeal.
On the afternoon of the 1st of February, the judge of the Family Court, representatives of the Youth Welfare Office, along with fifteen police officers, marched up to the Busekros home, to haul Melissa off to the Child Psychiatry Unit of the Nuremberg clinic. The judicial decision authorising this also removed Melissa from her parents’ custody, according to her father, Hubert Busekros.This treatment was justified by the psychiatrist’s finding, two days previously, that she was supposedly developmentally delayed by one year and that she suffered from school phobia.
There's a new word to throw around in arguments - a schoolaphobe. Or should that be a Schulephobe?

I first read about this in the Washington Times the other day. {Why no Irish or UK papers? I'm skeptical this could be true, but ...} That this could be happening in the EU with so little fanfare in this EU state makes me wonder what I can expect when we see the wording of the proposed Children's Rights amendment. Will Schulephobes be dealt with in the wording? We'll have to wait and see.

The bullpen coach is using EPO

If the common sense approach makes too much sense then surely someone in a position of power will seek a less sensible approach before long. I don't know if this is an old adage or just my own confused ramblings, but that's about the best description of Major League Baseball that I can come up with after reading this.
A newly released and obtained 5-page memo from Commissioner Selig, outlining the breadth and width of attempts to eradicate drug use in MLB—including steroids—all personnel—players (Major and Minor League), non-players (Major and Minor League), Umpires (MLB), executives (Club front office personnel, managers, coaches, trainers), and the Office of the Commissioner (all employees of the Office of the Commissioner, MLB Enterprises, MLB Properties, MLB International, MLB Productions, and MLB Advanced Media)—will fall under the testing program as the players now currently have: unannounced testing for banned substances, including steroids.
As a fan of the game, I can tell you that it's been my suspicion for a long time that the groundskeepers were using steroids. I mean I've actually seen some of them do a little dance as they drag the infield after the fifth inning. That kind of stamina ain't natural. And the umpires? Well, clearly some of them are using growth hormones, only I think they've mistakenly grabbed the kind used to fatten cattle and not those that help humans grow muscle.

I still don't understand why MLB finds this so difficult. There are plenty of working models out there. WADA is always on hand to advise, etc. There's no need to reinvent the wheel.

This idea of testing all the coaching staff and front office/clubhouse people is a joke. Do we really care if the guy who carries the equipment bag is injecting or ingesting steroids and other strength drugs? No. Only the players matter.

How do Mr. Selig, the owners and the players not understand this simple truth - performance enhancing drugs have the potential to ruin the sport. Sure, when the fans didn't know anything was going on all was (seemed) rosy. But the cat's out of the bag and they have to get serious now.

License fee funds web site

Why does RTE even have a web site? I can see no good reason for RTE to have a web site funded by the license fee. The online rights to RTE's television & radio programming should be available to the highest bidder.

Having said all that, I agree that the new web site is lovely.