Thursday, April 30, 2009

Parking at the airport

By the way, it's gotten much cheaper to park at Dublin Airport. QuickPark is now charging €5 per day , down from €7.50 and the DAA is charging €4.50 for long-term parking (if you book online).

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

For the love of God, no

I don't think we need to strengthen the blasphemy laws in Ireland. I think anyone who feels strongly will not be so unsettled by the wild rantings of some loon or supposed comic to want to see prosecutions.
“Blasphemous matter” is defined as matter “that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion; and he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.”
Well, this would be an invitation for cranks and the eternally offended to waste all sorts of police time and resources on nothing. Honestly, I sometimes have a hard time reconciling our Christian devotion to the martyrs with our over-sensitive prickly skin nowadays. It seems to me that someone telling a disrespectful joke or even spouting ugly bigotry is not on a par with getting thrown into the ring with some hungry lion.

We don't need blasphemy laws. We need to toughen up, turn the other cheek and - if you want, I guess - boycott & petition. Oh yeah, and pray for the one who offends you. (I often wonder if the Catholic League in New York issued a press release calling on all Catholics to pray for whoever is being offensive if that wouldn't be more effective than expressing outrage.)

And, given all that's going on in Europe at the moment, this is exactly the wrong time to be introducing this legislation. Publications that want to reproduce the Danish cartoons should be entitled to do so. Booksellers who want to sell The Satanic Verses should be able to without fear of prosecution (or worse, of course).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Saturday at the airport

Obviously I'm not surprised by all the reports that air travel is down, but still I was taken aback by how quiet Dublin Airport was this past Saturday. A year ago I'd have seen loads of men - mostly men - going to soccer games in England, and of course others going wherever. But on Saturday the airport was very quiet. I didn't see many people heading over to see the big clubs. Maybe it was the flight schedules and I missed them or maybe the games were not easy to get to or whatever, but the number of Manchester United, Liverpool & Chelsea fans I saw was way down on what I anticipated.

Craven Cottage

On Saturday I spent a few hours at Craven Cottage in London watching Fulham FC against Stoke City. I'm not a huge soccer fan and I heard the game described as "terrible" and "dour," but I enjoyed it. There are things that I really liked about how soccer fans are treated that I wish baseball would incorporate.

First, no loud music. A few tunes before kick-off, but nothing else and even that music was far from the ear-shattering volume favored by the Mets (at Shea, not sure about the new place).

Second, it was warm(ish) on Saturday and I was sitting directly in the sun (in the Johnny Haynes Stand). I had to buy some water. Went to the counter expecting to be fleeced and was pleasantly surprised to learn that my 2 bottles of water only set me back £3 (about $4.40). The same two bottles of water will set you back $7.50 at Citi Field (and $10!! at the new Yankee Stadium). Later I bought a hot dog, fries and soda (No, not for me!) for £5.50 ($8). Don't know what that might cost at Citi Field, but I doubt I'd have much change left from my twenty.

Next, the Mets tore down Shea Stadium (and the Yankees Yankee Stadium) because the facilities were old, etc. I don't know how the regulars at Craven Cottage feel, but I loved the old feel to the place. The wooden benches, the brick walls and narrow passageways under the stand. My only complaint is the bathrooms were a little too basic for my delicate American sensibilities.

I would recommend that any American who wants to see an EPL game and has time in London find their way to Craven Cottage. It's not hard to get to and tickets aren't as difficult to get as those to see any of the big name clubs. (And, I have to say, I was far from the only American at the game. I couldn't get over how many Yanks were there. There were a number sitting in the area around where I was.)

And, also good was the final score: Fulham 1 Stoke City 0. My new favorite club (I've been clubless since Wimbledon abandoned South London).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mullen & the wedding invite

No, I wasn't expecting an invite to the former Ambassador's wedding in Celbridge over the weekend. If he wasn't inclined to ask me over for a bite on Thanksgiving Day or to crack open a beer or two on Super Bowl Sunday I hardly expected Tom Foley to invite me to his and his new bride's big day.
Good luck, Mr. Ambassador, and if you happen to run into Dan Rooney on your travels you could lie and tell him that we met regularly and that I'm great company.
What I want to say about Ambassador Foley's wedding is what was Larry Mullen doing there? Back in December he said he "cringes" when he sees Bono hanging around with the two "war criminals" George Bush & Tony Blair. Well, if George Bush is a "war criminal" why would you be friendly with his appointed representative in Ireland? I could be wrong, but I kind of doubt that Mullen was a friend of Foley's before Foley took up his post here, which was long after the 2003 Iraq War.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Night Court

I was called for jury duty recently. I wouldn't have minded doing it, but I couldn't. I work for myself and simply could not afford to take the time out. I wrote asking to be excused and I was. Life when you're self-employed.

That self-employed people cannot take the time to serve on juries is obvious, but what if the numbers who are self-employed starts to rise rapidly. David McWilliams says the recovery will be "freelance driven, and not employee driven," that people will take work where they see opportunities, mostly on a temporary basis. I agree, but if we're going to be a nation of freelancers then our juries are going to suffer.

Juries will be composed of the unemployed, the occasional remaining employee in a big company and retired people. Nobody else will be able to afford to serve. If we want a jury of peers it seems to me we might have to change the way the jury trial system works. For a starter, we should have evening and night trials. Being at court for 4pm is a lot less of a problem than being there at 9am.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Did Grobbelaar throw the 'game'

Last night - for reasons that even I can't explain - I found myself watching the last few minutes of Hell's Kitchen. I listened to former Liverpool goalie Bruce Grobbelaar talking about how he wanted to be 'fired' because he wanted to get back to his wife. It sounded great, especially to the women who he was leaving behind as contestants. They were very emotional at hearing his words.

Then a minute or two later I heard him being interviewed and the woman from the BBC innocently dropped in that Gobbelaar was "the bookies' favorite." I thought to myself, "Hmm. Wasn't Grobbelaar once in a bit of hot water over accusations that he had "fixed" matches back in the early 90s? Is it possible that Bruce had a wager on someone other than himself to win Hell's Kitchen? Is it possible he 'fixed the match'?"

I doubt he did, but I was laughing at the thought of it. He actually came across as a really nice guy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On Your Feet!

Okay, that's enough laying around doin' nuttin. Time to get this going again.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

MLB.com - awful

MLB.com. Whoever runs that has to be among the dumbest people in business anywhere.

For reasons that I can't fathom, they decided that we needed an "upgrade" to the audio player that has worked just great the past 4 years (or more - can't remember). I don't know what we needed upgraded because basically all us Gameday Audio subscribers wanted was what we had. We could listen to the games when they were live or we could listen to the games from the "archive", which meant any game that was over for at least 45 minutes.

That is how I listen. I tune in first thing in the morning to hear the previous night's Met game. Until this season.

Now we have an "upgraded player" that works - sometimes - that's missing the few features that were useful (like pause if you have to go to the bathroom & fast forward to skip the ads) and has somehow delayed the archiving of the games so that what used to take 45 minutes now takes more than 8 hours.

I used to believe that MLB.com had one of the most successful online subscription businesses going, but this is really stupid. I had considered forking out a lot extra for online t.v., but the way they've treated their customers this year has turned me off the idea. In fact, since I can't listen to the games in the morning as I used to I'm not sure I'll bother with the audio subscription.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cut CSPE

Budget cuts may mean that secondary schools will have to reduce the number of courses they can offer. Here's a suggestion: scrap CSPE. It is almost entirely propaganda and a joke. It's demise would save money and save students from learning a lot of gar-baage.

I'm sure there are other course that could be cut with zero effect on students' education (actually, cutting stuff like CSPE will be a net gain to students). Will have to think about it.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Bailout Budget

There were all sorts of names applied to yesterday's budget. It was called a mini-budget, a supplemental budget, I even saw "crisis" budget once or twice. It should have been called the "bailout" budget because that's what it was. We're now being asked to bailout the government for its profligacy. There is no other way to see this.

If Brian Cowen and his ministers had any honor at all, they'd have called an election after delivering the budget. They deserve to be unemployed just as surely as any bank boss that they've derided recently. I still can't get over the chutzpah of Lenihan basically calling for Michael Fingleton's head while taking no responsibility on himself (or the Taoiseach, in particular) for the current state of the public finances.

If Brian Cowen was a manager of a sports team he'd have been ousted long ago. But, not only is he holding on to his job, but he's going to make sure that we pay for his mistakes.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Sisters make you happy?

Hmm. What to make of this? "Sisters spread happiness while brothers breed distress, experts believe." Or this? "Having a sister makes you happier and more optimistic, say psychologists."

I grew up without sisters. Three brothers, but no sisters. Well, my sister was born when I was half way through my freshman year in college, so I didn't really "grow up" with her. And, apparently this makes it hard for me to cope with my problems. Could be true. I'm still not coping with the Mets of '06, '07 & '08, but like leaves on a tree I can't help returning in the spring. More problems in '09, undoubtedly and I'll probably still have trouble coping.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

My vote counts!

The votes are counted and Tedisco 59 votes behind in the race to fill the House seat vacated by Kirsten Gillibrand, who's gone to the Senate, but it's not over yet because they have to count the absentee ballots. My vote is one of those.

{I can't believe that there are at least 5,000 absentee ballots to be counted. Sounds like a lot to me.}