Thursday, July 31, 2003

GM Foods

Sinn Fein is opposed to the introduction of GM crops in Ireland, north or south.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Global warming is a "weapon of mass destruction"

So says the former head of the UK Met office, Sir John Houghton. I have trouble taking this sort of argument seriously. Of course, Aine Lawlor and her guest use this platform for more "Bush-bashing", which instantly tells me that this has little to do with serious science.

I am willing to accept that the Earth may very well be warming, but how much of this is man-made? The Earth was warmer in 1200 than it is now. Greenland was actually green - had more arable land than the UK. So what happened? When I went to Newgrange, I discovered that Ireland used to have much warmer, drier summers 5000 years ago.

The Earth warms and cools and my gut tells me that nearly all of this change that we may now be experiencing is natural. I have never heard any serious discussion of the possibility that global warming is an entirely natural event.

Last week's "dire warning" said that Ireland's east coast would experience warmer, drier summers. I'm sweating already at the thought of it. Imagine not needing a sweatshirt in July? How will we survive?

Feeney's college donations

Billionaire (although I suspect he's given away so much that he's no longer a billionaire) Charles Feeney has decided to discontinue his donations to Irish colleges & universities.

This is only slightly related, but it does bother me that American tax-payers can make tax free donations to Irish universities, but Irish taxpayers cannot make tax free gifts to American colleges and universities. This despite the fact that Irish tax-payers can make tax free donations to Irish universities. I think I'm going to start lobbying Congress until fair play is brought in for us Irish-resident graduates of US colleges.

Aer Lingus

Like most people in Ireland, I enjoy complaining about Aer Lingus whenever I can. My wife and I have had some fairly bad experiences traveling with the national airline. However, I would like to congratulate them on the dramatic fall in their fares over the past year or so. I think Aer Lingus is now the cheapest airline on the N. Atlantic. Americans can get to Ireland and back for as little as $200. For reasons I've never understood, the jouney in the opposite direction is always more. Still, I've seen fares as low as €228 round-trip to Boston for this autumn. That is less than half what we paid to go to the US after we first moved here in the early 1990's.

Sure service has suffered somewhat (particularly at Kennedy Airport), but it's still better than most airlines.

Now if only they would reinstate the half fare for children (which was eliminated only a few weeks ago and replaced with a 25% reduction for all children under 12) . . .

Tuesday, July 29, 2003


Great to see Kevin Myers (Irish Times, Friday, only available via subscription) commenting on the use of the word "assassination" TWICE by RTE [note: need RealPlayer] when discussing deaths of Uday & Qusay during Morning Ireland last Thursday. I was afraid I was the only one annoyed by that word.

Qusay & Uday - Victims? K. Flanagan of the Evening Herald thinks so!

Interesting day last Friday. I bought the Evening Herald and went to the barber's to get a hair cut. While waiting for the hair cut, I read a column by Kevin Flanagan that says a lot about what annoys me about the Irish media. It's not available online, so here is a key snippet:

"Surely modern anti-terrorist warfare has the means to disable four males (one a 14-year-old teenager) so they can be taken into custody and face justice - or has someone higher up decreed that the only justice they will face is a bullet?"

I don't know what this guy is talking about. First of all, he seems to have watched way too many James Bond movies. What "means" could he be talking about? Maybe they could have used the same gas the Russians used in the theatre in Moscow, but if I had been in the unit approaching that house I would have assumed that whoever was inside would have had gas masks.

And, from all I've read of what happened in Mosul last week, the 101st Airborne did give Saddam's sons a chance to surrender, but they opted for a firefight. If they had really cared about the 14 year old in their midst, they would have sent him out before fighting to the death.

He then goes on to talk about Nuremburg as if all those Germans who were tried were arrested by unarmed members of the Gardai.

But, then I got my haircut. And, the barber said to me that it was a great thing that those two (Saddam's sons) were dead. When I told him that it sometimes was a little uncomfortable being American here, he asked "Why, when 99% of the people here agree with what the British and Americans have done in Iraq".

I think his figure is exaggerated, but it has been my suspicion for a while that the anti-American attitude of the Irish media is not really reflective of the general population. Unfortunately, I think it is reflective of the Dublin middle class, but maybe of not much else.

Thanks to Com Reg

I've been toying with this idea for a few months, but wanted to wait until I got a cheaper internet connection. My monthly bills of over €150 are now reduced to €25 by the introduction of "flat rate" internet services. Thank you to the Communications Regulator for finally breaking the Eircom stranglehold.