Monday, July 30, 2007

Weight issues

You know, I think young Irish women and girls are actually heavier than young American women and girls - at least those in the part of the US where I was the past two weeks (I've been told that people are heavier in the mid-western and southern states).

I have no stats on this, merely my own observation, but I think it could be true. It's close anyway, which can't be good for the long term health of Irish women. (And, it's women & girls that seem comparable. I don't think Irish men and boys are nearly as heavy as their American counterparts.)

The fact that the girls and young women may have already achieved parity is not good. Too many Americans are overweight and Irish people are catching up on them so quickly that the 'fat American' jokes no longer make any sense to me (and you still hear them). There are so many overweight young women and girls here that it's shocking.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Becks in LA

I sort of knew that there'd be some publicity surrounding David Beckham's arrival in Los Angeles for the Galaxy, but I hadn't grasped how big it would be. Or how distorted a view of Beckham the average American has.

Each American I talked to about Beckham seemed to think that Beckham was essentially Pele all over again. Each of them was surprised when I explained that Beckham has never even been the best player on any of the teams he's been on, let alone the best player in the world.

Granted none of these folks was a soccer fan or cared that much, but that's the point. These are the people that the MLS is hoping to attract - sports fans and others who, the league hopes, will pay attention to the MLS. But, if Beckham can't lift the league it will be a big media bust and that's all anyone will know about it.

Friday, July 27, 2007


It's two weeks since I was in Philadelphia, but thought I'd post this anyway. Spent Friday night (Jul 13) in Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. This is the first of the new baseball stadiums I've been to and I guess I feel I have to say I liked it. It was clean, spacey, and the sight lines were good.

So, what didn't I like about it? I don't really know. Maybe it was the cleanliness, the wholesome feeling I got from the place or maybe it was just that the game was no good (Phillies won 13-3). Two days later I was at Shea Stadium and was thinking that I'd rather the Mets' new stadium didn't copy the Phillies' too much.

I wish I could put my finger on it, but I think it has to do with the fact that the CBP is so nice that I didn't feel like I was sitting amidst a dangerous, seething mass of blood-thirsty Phillie fans, but rather like I'd accepted an invitation to a picnic hosted by a family I don't belong to. Maybe it was just too pleasant.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Philadelphia here I come

Service around here will be spotty for the next two weeks or so. I'm away. Off to Philadelphia, birthplace of the nation today. I haven't been there in twenty years and I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Get real, Salt Lake

This is not news, although it was to me when I heard this recently. There's a soccer team in the MLS that is known as Real Salt Lake. That's Real as in Real Madrid, pronounced ray-al.

Uggghhhh. This is so stupid as to be embarrassing. DC United was bad enough, but this is 10 times worse. Worse than the Utah Jazz, which I used to think was about as bad as it could get. Are Utahns completely incapable of using their imagination and local references for team names?

I wonder what David Beckham will be thinking when someone asks him about the next game against Real.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


I was disappointed when I learned that Coast was postponed tonight because the tennis ran over. Coast is a fantastic series on the BBC. A bit of history, ecology, geology, economics, and what have you are all thrown in. The best of what the BBC produces.

I only wish I'd seen the first few episodes. I'm hoping for re-runs.

A-Rod's a choker

I'm not much of a tennis fan. Once a year for two weeks I half pay attention. Towards the end of Wimbledon I pay closer attention, but I won't pretend to really know the game. However, I do know sports and I know a choker when I see one. Andy Roddick is one - BIG TIME.

I watched him in the fifth set on Friday and I knew he was going to lose. I've seen that face on other athletes in the past. Guys with talent, but with that look on their face that just says, Loser. Any sports fan knew Roddick didn't have it. I don't know how Jimmy Connors can stand to be near him, let alone coach him. Must frustrate the hell out of him.

And, what's this garbage of calling Andy Roddick "A-Rod"? There's only one A-Rod and he's the official Choker-in-Chief for the NY Yankees. Great, great player with tons of talent, but somehow he always comes up small in the biggest games.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Gore Aid

I can't tell you how disappointed I am that I won't be able to watch Live Earth today. I have a social commitment today that will deny me that pleasure.

I'm only assuming it's on t.v. somewhere because I haven't seen much about it. I was really surprised to see headlines this morning that today's the day. I have no idea who's playing, other than Al Gore, of course.

I can't imagine any presidential candidate having a more elaborate campaign launch than the one Gore's organized today.

Friday, July 06, 2007

London tour

I was in London during the week. The weather was better than expected, which was good. This was the ten cent tour that I booked during Ryanair's big sale.

I was heartened to see so many tourists in London after the failed car bombings last week. I have no way of knowing if tourist numbers are down, but from what I saw tourists seem to be adopting Londoners' "business as usual" motto. There were loads of police walking the streets, but I didn't have the sense that people were edgier than usual.

Sun block

Last night I had to head out just before 9pm. Before I went I caught a short ad on RTE for Prime Time, coming up later in the evening after the news. Apparently Prime Time was going to investigate the shortcomings of sun block.

I knew they weren't intentionally having us on, which was why I couldn't stop laughing to myself while I was on the road. For 45 minutes I was driving in conditions that were more like November than July with the wind, rain and dark clouds. It's been at least six weeks since we had a warm, rain-free day around here. The dangers of inadequate sun block are not high on the list of worries this summer.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Working at home

I just loved this story even though I can't help thinking that these people see themselves as some form of made for tv movie and that's why they still live the way they live. Reggie Willits of the California Angels (yeah, yeah I know, but that's what they were when I was a kid) has a batting cage in his house. Not in a big garage or separate building, but right in the house. I mean, right in the house.
When houseguests open the front door, they see a small bathroom and kitchen on the right, and two sofas and a television set on the left. The floors are covered with Berber carpet. The dining room table is adorned with a vase of flowers. There are no closets.

Toward the back, the pitching machine, the weight room and the master bedroom are clustered together. "I did put in one wall," Reggie said.

When he wants to bat, he pushes aside the sofas to form his personal playing field. He steps inside the net, suspended from the ceiling. If Amber is busy, he hits off a tee.

If she is free, she feeds balls into the pitching machine. Amber stands behind an L-Screen, the kind used to protect batting-practice pitchers. Still, line drives sometimes rip through the screen.

"I know she's taken a few in the helmet," said Mickey Hatcher, the Angels' hitting coach. "But that's part of the game."
His wife's as crazy as he is, but I guess the fact that he's made it to the Major Leagues against the odds will make it all worthwhile.

Of course it "can be denied"

Today's Guardian has an editorial dealing with Blair, Iraq and terrorism. Overall, I think it's a fair editorial. I don't have much faith that a change in tone and language from the new British government will have any appreciable effect on extremists or those who are drawn to them, but the Guardian believes a big British mea culpa "would be a start in altering the conditions in which terrorists recruit".

What struck me was this paragraph.
The prophecy that occupying Iraq meant attacking al-Qaida has proved grimly self-fulfilling. Osama bin Laden's network has become associated with resistance to British and American involvement in Iraq - either directly, or by using the fate of Iraqis as supposed proof of the west's malign intentions towards Muslims. Can it be denied that the invasion encouraged a growth in al-Qaida's threat and influence?
I think it can be denied, but I think I would agree that Britain's involvement in the Iraq war probably deflected al Qaeda's attenion to Britain and away from other places. Before March 2003 the "million dead children" in Iraq was a great rallying cry for bin Laden. It was one of his justifications in his 1996 "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places".

I'm not saying that al Qaeda is less of a threat now thanks to the Iraq war, I'm just not sure how anyone can be so sure what sort of threat al Qaeda would pose if Saddam were still being "contained". We'll never know what al Qaeda might look like today if Saddam were still in power.