Sunday, August 31, 2003

Coalition must crack-down on Baathists now

That is what Ahmad Chalabi is calling for in this morning's Washington Post. He says it will create short-term resentment, but it must be done.

He also calls for greater Iraqi involvement in security, etc.

"How to talk about Israel"

Long article from this morning's New York Times Magazine on Israel, its support and opposition and some basic history for those who don't know. (The writer claims that the Israelis got their nuclear bomb from France in the 1950's.)

Military industrial complex is "dead"

Who knew? Living in Ireland, watching the wrong shows on television (both British and Irish), listening to the wrong radio programs and reading the wrong newspapers, I hadn't realized that the Pentagon and defense contractors were no longer controlling the US. In fact, I had been led to believe that these folks were driving our march to dominate the world.

Well, it turns out the military industrial complex is not half what it used to be.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Iraqi governing council

An opinion piece in this morning's Arab News is actually encouraging. The writer notes that individual Arab nations have been opening doors to the Iraqi Governing Council and that this is the first step on the road to Arab League recognition. He also acknowledges that the Council is "representative of the real Iraqis" regardless of how it came about.

Given what happened yesterday, the sooner that the Council takes over Iraq's affairs the better. Not that they would have been better able to prevent that attack, but I think they will be better able to carry out the severe crack-down that will be necessary to bring this sort of activity to a close.

Scaring the Irish Times

Bran at Blog-Irish thinks I frightened the Irish Times back to its more comfortable political position (way out left).

USS The Sullivans

The US Navy is commemorating "The Fighting Sullivans" with a visit to West Cork this weekend.

Nice gesture. Only, I'm surprised that Trevor Sargent and Michael D. Higgins aren't down there protesting.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Votes for emigrants

Frank has responded to my note below on why I think votes should be extended to emigrants.

First, I would like to clarify one thing I wrote that Frank (rightly) noted. I cannot be stripped of my citizenship even if I refuse to obey U.S. law. When I wrote "If I want to remain a citizen" I should have added "and not be an outlaw". My only other option is to renounce my American citizenship.

Also, when Frank claims I'm advocating "therapeutic politics" by noting that extending the vote to emigrants will enhance their sense of being valued, I had earlier laid out a case that emigrants act as ambassadors and promoters of the country. This may not always be apparent to people here, but often emigrants are instrumental in driving investment and tourism to Ireland.

I heard a good example of this the other day on the radio. A leading Irish computer games retailer is being bought out by a large American company. This investment is obviously commercially driven, but the fact that this company even considered Ireland for its first European venture was due to the fact that an emigrant was involved in the decision-making process. I know most Irish people would find this difficult to accept, but most Americans (particularly outside the Northeast) have only the vaguest idea as to where Ireland is or what it's like here. My wife was often asked if Ireland was in Europe.

Frank's feelings and my instinct are no real measure of how emigrants might vote. Where those emigrants chose to go to may provide some indication as to how they would vote if they could. I would be surprised if the emigrants who went to the US would vote for greater government intrusion in peoples' lives and/or further European integration, but that's just my own instinct.

Judicial dictatorship

Pat Buchanan believes the US is in the grips of a judicial dictatorship, a tyranny more "odious and tyrannical" than George III.


September 11 Port Authority phone call transcripts released. More from the NY Times.

A hot, hot summer

This morning the skies are grey, the air noticeably cooler and the ground outside is wet. Our "hot, hot summer" is apparently over. Still, with the sun just trying to peek out, I can see the hills are still 40 shades of beige - a sign of just how dry it's been around here.

I swam in the Irish Sea. Normally, I have to be dragged there by my native family, but this summer I willingly went to the beach. I even looked forward to it on a few occasions. My children are suntanned and I haven't seen a sweatshirt since June. It's one to remember. In fact, I'm sure we'll still be talking about the "summer of '03" in 10 years.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Votes for emigrants

Frank is opposed to extending the franchise to emigrants. He believes that there should be no "representation without taxation". A nifty twist on the American revolutionaries slogan, but a poor definition of what citizenship is.

First of all, many emigrants do contribute to their home country's economy. When they return on visits they spend their money in their home country, paying VAT, etc. They often remit sums to family members, which are then spent in the home country (although I suspect this is much less important to the Irish economy than it was 40 or more years ago). Emigrants are also usually great ambassadors/salesmen for their home country.

However, citizenship is about more than taxation and money. Citizenship is tied to your national identity - who you are. Denying an emigrant a vote is nearly the same as denying him his national identity. For that reason, regardless of what party here is endorsing the concept, votes should be extended to all citizens wherever they reside. {NOTE: I doubt the Labour Party would be a big winner if votes were extended to emigrants. My experience is that the number of residents from rural Ireland is disproportionate to their relative population strength here and labour is not as strong in rural Ireland.}

As for Frank's assertion that emigrants don't have to live with the consequences, that's not entirely true. I'm an emigrant from the U.S. If I want to remain a citizen, I have to be willing to serve in the armed forces if called (gets more unlikely by the day). I have to abide by all the laws of the United States with regards to foreign travel (e.g. I cannot go to Cuba without explicit permission). There are taxation laws covering Americans living abroad. All of these laws have consequences for me. I live with those consequences as the price for remaining a citizen. I am entitled to vote in the US. I cannot see why Ireland should be any different.

Extending the vote to Irish emigrants would actually be more of an exercise in reaching out to that mass of ambassadors and letting them know that they're still valued. It can only foster more good feelings for their home country. There should be more for emigrants than the chance to cheer on the national football team every few years.

"de Gaulle" needed

The biggest mistake that the US has committed is not finding someone to be the Iraqi de Gaulle. In 1944 when Paris was liberated (nobody ever claimed Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt were liberated) de Gaulle's army of French exiles led the way through the capital. This gesture solidified his position, but also showed the French people that France was theirs again.

Whether he is the best man for the job or not I can't really say, but Ahmed Chalabi should have been groomed for that role. Had he been at the forefront of an Iraqi exile army taking control of Baghdad (even if the Iraqi army was not really sufficient to take on the entire job) it might have transformed the post-war situation.

Chalabi doesn't believe any more US troops are needed in Iraq. I hope he's right. He wants the Iraqi National Congress to take on a greater role in the security of Iraq. I say, let them have it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

The Guardian & Telegraph

After reading the Times of India and Pakistan Daily Times, the editorials in today's Guardian and Telegraph are instructive. Both papers focus on local issues and causes of conflict and trouble.

Interestingly, Jeevan Deol writing in this morning's Times, puts the bombings in more of a global context than either the Telegraph or Guardian did. He (assuming Jeevan is a man) is more in line with the Pakistan Daily Times editorial today.

Pakistan vs. India

This morning's Pakistan Daily Times has a reasonable editorial on the bombs in Mumbai. There is also more coverage in the main news section.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Pakistan vs. India

It's hard to generalize based on two newspapers, but the lack of any real coverage or comment in the Pakistan Daily Times on the bombings in Mumbai (Bombay) is pretty revealing. In the Times of India, the Deputy Prime Minister said:
our neighbour's war of terrorism against us is directed not only in Jammu and Kashmir as the worldwide impression has it. The analysis and experience of the past shows that the target is not only J&K, Punjab or Delhi alone. There is an attempt to destabilise the whole of India
How can there be so little interest in Pakistan with regards to this story? The Deputy PM also apparently said that it was India's success that was the cause of Pakistan's hostility towards India. Sounds very much like what George W. Bush would have said.

Road safety

Conor Faughnan says we're not taking the issue of road safety seriously. It's hard to disagree with him. Speeding is a problem, but not the only problem.

Roads, including the new motorways, are not designed or built with safety in mind. The M11 bypassing Bray is one of the least safe major roads I've ever traveled on. Entrance ramps are too short. Rain water doesn't drain off properly. There is an insufficient barrier between the lanes of oncoming traffic. And, worst of all, near the northern end of the road there are signs indicating that drivers should reduce their speed to 40mph. Some people obey, but just as many don't. So you have a situation where some people are attempting to go at speeds of 70+ while others are moving at 40.

Votes for emigrants

I've always felt that citizens should be entitled to vote in their country's elections regardless of where they reside. The Irish political consensus has always been that there are too many emigrants and they would destabilize the political process here. Well, if thousands of your people are leaving due to a lack of work, perhaps your political process should be destablized.

When Mary Robinson was elected, I remember thinking how odd it was that none of the thousands of Irish living in NY, Boston or wherever were allowed to vote in that election for a predominantly ceremonial post. Yet, simultaneously, millions of Polish emigrants were lining up outside the Polish embassies and consular offices to cast their ballots for Lech Walesa at a time when Poland was still a communist state.

This week's Irish Echo had the details on the latest the efforts (or lack thereof) to allow emigrants votes in Seanad elections. More endless discussion about allowing citizens to vote in meaningless elections. In Mexico (a country with far more emigrants than Ireland) one state has moved to give emigrants real power.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Irish Times

I have complained about the Irish Times as much as anyone in the past few years, so today I want to compliment the paper. Friday's edition (which I only got around to reading on Sunday) had three excellent columns and was easily worth the purchase price.

(All links below require a subscription.)

First, economist Jim O'Leary from NUI Maynooth had a great, simple explanation of the pluses and minuses of fiscal policy vs. exchange and interest rate policies and the effect EMU has had on our ability to use these to our benefit. If you're an economist, this is probably over-simplified, but I thought it was a great summary.

Second, Edward Walsh, President Emeritus, University of Limerick, on the problems associated with a university system that is totally dominated by the state.

And, third, Kevin Myers on the gloomy, but realistic reasons why Ireland should support the US in the war on terror.

I could be imagining things, but I think that the Irish Times has tacked ever-so-slightly back towards the center (from just left of Mao) in the past couple of months. Maybe it's a hopeful sign?

Computer viruses

Dick picks up on my point that I feel the media is somewhat responsible for the type of virus problems that home PC users suffered. He relates how he used to always warn the home user (his audience) to back up, install patches and updating anti-virus software.

In general, I would read the columns in a newspaper with such advice. I have always updated my virus protection software regularly. However, I never knew that there were viruses that were transmitted other than through e-mail. I hadn't known that this "open port" virus was a possibility, and my virus protection software was no use for such a virus. You need a firewall to prevent such an occurence (I have one now AND I agree with Dick, the more time you're online the more necessary a firewall is).

The problem with this approach is that most home PC owners don't read these columns. Why should they have to? I don't read columns about cars other than when I have to buy a car. Most of the time, I couldn't care less about developments in car technology, etc.

My point with regards to the media is that the average tech writer has so much knowledge that they have almost no feel for the level of ignorance among the general home PC owner. Most of the home users don't want to read the technology pages. They don't want to read about new developments. They're often unable to understand the language in which these articles are written.

I have a camcorder and a VCR. I know that there are a lot of functions that I have never even imagined using. I don't care. I don't have the interest in it. I can do the few things I want to do with those bits of equipment and I'm happy enough with that.

When I bought the camcorder and VCR there was an instruction booklet that helped me do the basics and warn me of any real dangers (such as shorting my equipment, etc.). Considering the potential for causing trouble for yourself, the manufacturers and retailers of both hardware and software are totally deficient when it comes to this sort of customer service.

Dell sold me a PC with a version of Windows that had essentially been recalled. I'm sure Dell would argue differently, but when I go to a car dealer, I presume that all the faults that the manufacturer has identified have been corrected by the dealer before he sells me the car. So, why can't Dell install the latest service packs (at least 2 of which had been out for over a year before I bought my PC) before they ship a Windows 2000 machine?

When the problem is serious enough, all those who bought the car with the problem are asked to come back to the dealer to have the problem remedied. Why can't this happen when you buy a computer? The customer doesn't even have to come back to the shop to have the problem repaired.

When I bought my PC Microsoft made me register with them. There was some waffle about the benefits I would get for registering. Well, the most important benefit would have been Microsoft informing me that its software was continuously reviewed for problems and that I would be notified of all fixes and service packs that I would have to download (should not be presented as an option). This didn't happen.

Instead, Microsoft announces these fixes through press releases that are then rehashed in the technology pages that most of Microsoft's home customers do not read.

As far as I'm concerned, these are shoddy business practices and the media has done a poor job of highlighting this.

Sunday, August 24, 2003


Tom Friedman is good again today. I would never have agreed to support the war if its aim was solely to promote "decent, open, women-friendly, pluralistic governments" in the Middle East. It's a laudable goal, but I just don't think you can ask US soldiers and marines to die for that. But, for Friedman, success requires just that in Iraq.

I supported the war because I accepted that Iraq was a threat to the security of the United States. And, now that the war has been fought I would love to see much of this other goal accomplished, but as long as the threat posed by Iraq doesn't rear up again, something short of that would be acceptable to me.

Just wondering if Friedman would consider Tom McGurk among his list of critics who believe we've "upset some bucolic native culture and natural harmony in Iraq, as if the Baath Party were some colorful local tribe out of National Geographic."

Suicide bombings ordered from Ireland?

This article from Ha'aretz claims that suicide bombings were ordered from Ireland by some of those expelled from the Church of the Nativity? Obviously, I can't make any assessment on the validity of this claim, but my memory tells me that we accepted 2 of those who were holed up in the Church of the Nativity? I'd love to know if the Irish government has investigated these claims.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

10,000 dead in France

I can't understand how so many people have died due to the heat in France. Why don't these people have air-conditioners?

Mark Steyn's take on the French and their apparent lack of concern at the death toll.

BBC web services

The BBC may be forced to shut down some of their web operations. Commercial providers are arguing that the license fee should not be used by the BBC to allow them to compete with them.

How long before someone here begins to take aim at RTE for doing likewise?

If only Saddam were still in power . . .

Clare Short regrets that Saddam is no longer running Iraq. Everything was so peaceful and orderly then.

She's writing in this morning's Guardian about the Hutton inquiry and how it's essentially a distraction from the more important issue, "whether the nation was deceived on the road to war, and where responsibility lies for the continuing chaos and loss of life in Iraq." As an American, I think it's important to know on what basis was the decision made to take the country to war. I would imagine if I were British, my concerns would be similar.

However, given all that we've learned about life under Saddam, I can only conclude that even with the current turmoil, the Iraqi people are better off without hm. Yes, from their perspective, it would have been better had they been able to bring him down through an internal uprising, but considering the slaughter Saddam ordered after previous attempts, I doubt that would have been possible.

Short revisits the notion that Blix should have been given more time. She surely knows that was not possible, but just couldn't accept the responsibility of waging war. You cannot keep a quarter of a million troops sitting idle in the dessert. Once the troop build-up had begun, all parties knew there was a limited window before war. And, Blix only got back into Iraq thanks to that troop build-up. Clare Short knows that as well.

Friday, August 22, 2003

I'm an "idiot"

Adrian Weckler of the Sunday Business Post says I'm an idiot. I beg to differ.

Ciaran Cuffe

Mr. Cuffe of the Green Party has been having some tough times lately. He lost his spokesman role after it turned out he was holding shares in some unethical (if you're a Green that is) companies.

Yesterday, Dick at Backseat Drivers picked up on Cuffe's call for legislation that already exists.

Well, I wouldn't want to further add to his troubles, but I remember back before I started this blog reading an interview with Cuffe in the Sunday Business Post. At the time I read this I remember being surprised that Cuffe was dual citizen between the US and Ireland. {His mother was an American.}

I am also a dual citizen (although I was born in the US and Cuffe was, I believe, born here) and at the time I became an Irish citizen, I had understood that I was essentially banned from holding government office at a national level in Ireland (or anywhere else other than the US).

UPDATE: Aug 24 -- Frank, who knew Ciaran in college, says Cuffe was born in the US, not Ireland. I don't think it matters, really.

Today, I decided to do a little research to see what I could find on the matter. This page from the US State Department is written in that nearly impenetrable government lingo, but it does seem to me that the Department of State should have already adjudicated on Cuffe's citizenship.

Here's what I think is the key paragraph on that page:

Because the Department's administrative practice presumes that U.S. citizens employed in non-policy level positions in a foreign government do not have the requisite intent to relinquish U.S. citizenship, there are no efforts to seek out or adjudicate the citizenship of citizens who fall into this category of employment. On the other hand, because there is no administrative presumption that U.S. citizens who hold policy-level positions in foreign governments necessarily intend to retain their U.S. citizenship, efforts are made to fully adjudicate such cases to determine the individual's intent. (Service in a country's legislative body is considered by the Department to be a policy level position.)

Thursday, August 21, 2003

More on smoking

The smoking issue has really been heating up on the Irish blogs over the past 48 hours. At the Broom of Anger MaBear (a smoker) has weighed in on the side of the ban. Meanwhile, Frank (non-smoker) and Dick (smoker) continue the back and forth arguments for and against the ban.

MaBear has a good description of the culture of smoking in Ireland. The comments on the Broom of Anger are also worth reading.

Here are the key questions, as far as I see them. Do we want to totally stamp out smoking? If yes, how do we go about making that happen?

The answer to the first question for me is easily yes. I don't smoke; I hate the smell of smoke. I find people who smoke less attractive to look at and be around. I derive absolutely no pleasure or benefit of any kind from smoking.

However, there are obviously many people who do derive some pleasure (or other benefit) from smoking. Is it the government's role to dictate that they may no longer enjoy that benefit? I suppose it is to some extent since the government picks up such a large chunk of the health bill. So, I as a taxpayer want the government to do what it can to eliminate the costly effects of smoking. One way to accomplish that is through massive taxes on cigarettes to cover the health costs, which seems to already be the case.

So, although I'd like smoking to disappear, I can live with the fact that for many people this is an example of excessive government intrusion in their lives. To my mind, the government intervenes in our lives all too often. And, possibly too often, my instinct is to react against that intervention. MaBear's comments got me thinking. What should the government's role (if any) be?

MaBear makes the point that this generation is a write off, but that future generations will benefit if they can have smoke-free lives. I can't disagree with that.

If the government were really serious about eliminating the problems of smoking, it would simply ban the sale of cigarettes (and cigars, etc.). The least the government could do is stop selling cigarettes itself. The government owns Aer Rianta, which operates the airports. And, the airports sell a lot of cigarettes - many duty free. Why? Why is the government selling cigarettes duty free or even selling them at all? Aren't duty free sales of cigarettes only encouraging extra consumption of cigarettes?

I'm sure there are a lot of other examples like this.

If the government is going to try and save the future generations from smoking, is a ban on smoking in pubs the place to start? Why not ban the sale of cigarettes in all outlets other than pubs? At least in pubs you (theoretically) already have an "adult" (18+ anyway) clientele? Why should my local newsagent stock cigarettes?

The government is not trying to eliminate smoking for future generations, just impose greater restrictions on how we choose to live our lives (that is, where people can and cannot smoke).

I say again - I can't stand cigarette smoke. I wouldn't want to live with a smoker or work near a smoker. I applaud when private initiative is used to make smoking less socially acceptable. In this case, the government is simply giving into some notion of what's the right thing to do and not making a serious attempt at reducing this country's cigarette addiction.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Smokey bars

Both Jon & Dick at Backseat Drivers have taken up the smoking in restaurants and bars issue.

Frank at Internet Commentator, is pretty much in tune with how I feel about it.

If I were to leave out the rights (and I think the business owner's right to run his business as he sees fit is paramount in this case) and just talk about the product that's being offered, I'd make a big distinction between restaurants and pubs. I hate eating in a smokey environment, but on those occasions when I go out to a pub for a drink, I don't really notice the smoke. Except for the smell. Anyone who doesn't smoke is familiar with the "Wow, the smell of smoke off that shirt, pants, jacket, whatever" feeling that you get when you're back home. It's not pleasant, but I don't get worked up about it either.

For a great description of the smoking ban in New York, read David Teather's article from the Guardian. My favorite quote is about the smell of bars now, ". . . without the smoke to disguise it, you can now smell the bars: an unappealing cocktail of sweaty people, stale beer and vomit."

DSL - do it yourself

I got my DSL through utvinternet. It took two weeks longer than it should have, but so far I'm happy enough.

My advice - if you're going with Eircom, don't pay to have someone install it for you. It's really easy - not as hard as getting a printer to work from my experience. All you have to know is a) how to click in a phone line and b) how to find your CD drive when installing the driver.

Eircom is now offering a "modem not included" connection for €99. I paid the same amount, but got a USB modem included. Unless I'm misreading this page, Eircom is charging an additional €145.20 for a USB modem. Here's a site selling USB DSL modems. None of them costs anywhere near €145. UTVInternet provided - free - the ZyXEL listed here for €95.

Netsource is also cheaper than Eircom. I believe ESATBT is as well. Shop around, don't be afraid, do it yourself.

DSL & Setanta sports

Only 18 months since I first asked Eircom for DSL I have a broadband connection today.

I presume when the newness wears off I'll tire of listening to radio from the US, but until then I'm really enjoying it. AND, next Tuesday, I'll be getting baseball on t.v. thanks to Setanta Sports' NASN.

For me, the world just got a lot smaller.

Smoking ban

I don't smoke. I've never even had a lit cigarette in my mouth. I hate people smoking near me. I have asthma. Yet, I'm opposed to this ban on smoking in pubs. I don't think it matters whether employment will go up or down with this ban. It's just wrong.

Yesterday's Irish Independent had an article that indicated that employment in NYC's bars & restaurants was up on last year despite the ban on smoking. Yes, employment in bars and restaurants is up on the spring of 2002, but an increase could probably have been anticipated anyway. Last spring, NY was still picking up the pieces from September 11. Employment in these industries is still not what it was in 2001.

As a customer, I don't want to eat near people who smoke. I don't think the government needs to ban smoking for me to enjoy my meal smoke free. If a restaurant wants my business then they'd better have a smoke free area and a good ventilation system.

And, like a lot of people who favor the ban on smoking in pubs - I rarely go into them. I have been in a pub 3 or 4 times in 2003. But, from my own observation, those people who are the pubs' best customers are also predominantly smokers. Will these people drink without smoking? Or will they smoke and drink alone at home, and thus, transfer their smoke (and possibly drink) problems from pub to home where other non-smokers will suffer? I suspect the latter.

Post-war Iraq

I was in favor of the war in Iraq, but it was a close run thing. However, it's becoming obvious to me that the Bush administration never really imagined that they would end up going to war without UN approval. While winning the war without the support of the UN was never a problem, the post-war planning obviously went out the window when the UN failed to approve the war.

I haven't got a clue what might work, so Tom Friedman's suggestion sounds as good as any right now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

More on the blackout

Dick O'Brien at backseat drivers has a detailed account of his travels out of NYC last Thursday. I've had some nightmare trips before, but never anything that came anywhere close to what Dick had to endure. That he didn't pull out his ".38" (or whatever firearms were at hand) and let loose in the airport is a testament to his fortitude.

Richard Cohen in today's NY Daily News laments the lack of real anger among New Yorkers over this. I don't know. I don't think it's a bad thing if people are able to accept the blackout for what it was - an inconvenience. However, if it becomes a regular occurrence, that's a different matter.

Ombudsman for Children

"For a long time now, there have been calls for an ombudsman for children" {need RealPlayer}. That's how Aine Lawlor introduced Frances Spillane, of the National Children's Advisory Council to talk about the upcoming interviews for the Ombudsman post. Further on, Ms. Lawlor claimed that the Ombudsman is "a very important role, one that there has been a huge demand for". What?! What huge demand?

I've been a father for all 12 years I've lived in Ireland, I have never once thought to myself that we need an ombudsman for children. I have never even heard anyone suggest that we needed anything of the kind. I obviously don't move in the same circles as those who work in RTE.

And, is it RTE's function to tell me whether a new government role is "important"? I happen to think that an Ombudsman for Children is the opposite of important. Frivolous, intrusive, and potentially anti-family are some of the things I would imagine an Ombudsman for Children will be.

This is the sort of thing that goes on all the time at RTE. RTE is funded by taxpayer's money and they're telling me that spending more taxpayer money is a good thing. They're telling me that the government knows best. I happen not to accept that and resent having to pay to be told that. The sooner the government gets out of providing news the better.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, the interviews for the position of Ombudsman will be conducted in part, by children. Am I the only one living in this state who feels like throwing up when hearing such things? PLEASE!

Newsletter & Mary Robinson

I suspect that the Newsletter has confused the Presidential Marys with this photo.

Winning from the "hard right"

Today, from the Guardian, another article that says so much about columnists who cannot understand why parties on the right win elections. Hugo Young refers to the Bush administration as "hard right" without any "soothing niceties that might make it more electorally attractive to voters who are not Republicans".

It seems the Democrats are trying to gain the center, but those snakeoil salesmen - the Republicans - have moved the center to the right. So, now all the poor Democrats can do is vie with one another for a softer right position.

What a load of nonsense. The political center is where it's always been - right in the middle of the two extremes of left and right. That the American center might be more "to the right" than would be the case for a European electorate does not mean that this election is taking place entirely on the right. That simply makes no sense.

Why does logic and/or mathematics seem to elude so many people who write for newspapers?

Monday, August 18, 2003


The first line of this article is so loaded that I don't know how anyone could take the rest of the article seriously. {Unfortunately, it's in this morning's Irish Times and a subscription is needed to read it.}

The first line reads, "Educated Americans often say rather mournfully that Tony Blair expresses American values and goals better than the current US President." I'm not sure who Anatol Lieven considers to be "educated", but I know plenty of educated Americans who can distinguish between Tony Blair's support in the foreign policy sphere and the type of domestic policies he advocates for Britain. Blair's policies would make him unelectable in the US, probably even in Massachussetts. Of course, it's Lieven's "ignorant masses" who would doom candidate Blair.

Fortunately, the article is so turgid that understanding the point of it is a chore and there isn't any great need to dissect it in detail. I think his point is that Tony Blair should not try to connect himself with Americans' distorted concept of freedom.

The way he links the Balkans, the Taliban and the American south is stomach-churning, however. While the American south has had its problems and for a long time was well short of being a model of freedom and democracy, today's south is nothing like Afghanistan or the Balkans.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Iraq & Arabism

Tom Friedman is a tremendous optimist. He understands the dangers, but somehow always seems to remain hopeful unlike nearly all of his colleagues in journalism. For that reason I always enjoy reading his column, even when I don't agree with him. Today's column on the new Iraq and the Arab world is full of that spirit of optimism.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

"Praying for mere incompetence"

Those words from Friday's NY Daily News editorial sum up how New Yorkers felt when the lights went out on Thursday.

I was 13 when the last big blackout hit NY. I remember being scared and listening to the transistor radio about looting and violence. The difference this time was amazing. I can't account for it, but I would guess a combination of Sep 11 and the fact that the blackout occurred in daylight (thus, allowing people to prepare for total darkness unlike '77) ensured a quiet night.

Nice editorial in the Daily Telegraph this morning.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Fee-paying schools

Frank McGahon over at Internet Commentator believes that Noel Dempsey's proposal on withdrawing the state's money to pay the salaries of teachers in fee-paying schools could be the beginning of the privatiziation of education in this state. If I thought for one minute that was the case, I'd be 100% behind the Minister.

Unfortunately, I see this as the complete opposite. If privatization was the Minister's goal, then something along the lines of what I proposed below would have been a better first step. Offering parents credits that they can use in any school is better than causing a large increase in fees and, thus, forcing many parents to remove their children from the schools they're in. They will then have to send them to the non-fee-paying schools, which only increases the dependence on the state.

If the Minister had offered to make the fees 100% tax deductible when the salaries were withdrawn, then that would have been a bold step towards privatization, but there was no indication that this was on offer either.

The Vatican and GM foods

Seems like the Vatican is ready to endorse the use of GM foods, particularly in the third world. Some bishops in S. Africa and elsewhere seem to be unhappy about this development.

I have a little (and I mean a little) sympathy for the African bishops' claims about the property rights of the seeds, but these are practical problems to overcome. Why not embrace the technology and imagine a future where Africa is the world's hotbed of GM food development? Why can't GM seeds be developed in African labs and universities? Why can't African companies dominate the global market for GM foods. Why does no one ever imagine a future where Africa is the leader in something other than pestilence, death and dependence?

I can see no advantage to keeping Africa as some form of pre-industrial backwater.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Teachers' salaries in private schools

Last week, the Minister for Education, Noel Dempsey, floated the idea that the state should not pay teachers' salaries in schools where fees are charged.

Writing in the Sunday Independent, John O'Keefe suggests that this plan is rooted in justice because ordinary taxpayers shouldn't provide benefits for the rich. Now, I don't know who John O'Keefe believes to be rich, but I know from personal experience that many of the people who send their children to fee-paying schools are not rich.

For a number of reasons, my daughter starts in a fee-paying school in September. We are by no means rich. And, based on observation alone, I doubt any of the dozen or so families in this area whose daughters go to the same school are rich.

People make choices as to what to do with their money. Some choose to pay for what they hope is a superior education (or one that more closely suits their values). Some people with a lot of money choose to send their children to no-fee schools and spend it on second cars or holidays or whatever.

O'Keefe says that the Minister's proposal is a stance for justice. But, I think real justice would see the Minister offer a certain amount in credit to each family to apply to their children's education - wherever they choose to send them. Let each school come to an arrangement with the teachers on salaries & staffing and whether they want to charge additional fees, etc.

I would bet my bottom dollar that if the Minister did implement such a change as he proposed, many parents, inluding us, would have to move our children out of the fee-paying schools to the free schools. I'm not sure there is that much extra capacity in the free schools to handle the burden. If not, then what?

Ronan Mullin goes through the real political difficulties in implementing the Minister's proposal in this morning's Irish Examiner.

Human shield fined

What are the odds on any Irish human shields being fined for breaking Iraqi sanctions? Maybe I should call Paddy Power and ask?

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

EU Constitution

The Washington Times has an article today comparing the US Constitution with the proposed EU Constitution. I haven't paid enough attention to the proposed EU Constitution (who has?), but I think the Charter of Fundamental Rights is a statist's dream.

It seems to me that the extent to which citizens now or in the future want the state in their lives should be up to them and not enshrined in a Constitution that will be nearly impossible to change.

Herb Brooks RIP

Before I realized I had a problem with my laptop this morning, I had typed something up about Herb Brooks. Now I can't remember what I wanted to say, but that those 10 days in Lake Placid are easily my favorite Olympic memories. For Europeans who are used to World Cups, etc., an occasion where the whole nation roots for one team is not that rare. For Americans it pretty much never happens.

The victory over the USSR was one of the most improbable sports stories ever. 20 college guys, most of whom were not that good, gelling perfectly for 2 weeks, culminating in a victory over what was probably the greatest national team ever. Individually, the Soviet players weren't as good as the Canadians, but because they played together all the time they were a tremendous team (the Canadians didn't play as a unit except for the occasional short series with the Soviets).

Then, the game that solidified my impression that Brooks was a great coach of college kids, the 4-2, come from behind win over Finland to win the gold. So many teams will let down after such an amazing victory (as the Americans had on Friday evening), but Brooks was able to get them focussed to finish the job.

I know I'm not the only one, but . . .

Working for yourself can seem a lonely existence when you have a virus problem. My laptop was infected this morning around 7. And, I had places I had to be today, which only adds to the frustration. {For anyone with this virus and doesn't know how to fix, here's an article on that.}

I'm working from the old Windows 95 (too old to be of interest to these virus maniacs, apparently) desktop and everything seems a bit creaky, but at least I can get some things done.

I'm also in the middle of a 90 minute download to fix Windows 2000 on my laptop. If only this problem had arisen after my DSL was installed . . .

Monday, August 11, 2003

Broom of anger

Great to see the Broom of Anger back after their recent "hiatus".

One more thing about Tony O'Reilly . . .

The funny thing is, there are a lot of people in Ireland who have a bee in their bonnet about O'Reilly and his dominance of the Irish newspaper industry. It doesn't really bother me, to be honest. I'm more concerned about being forced as a taxpayer to fund the often anti-American and almost always anti-conservative-American news coverage at RTE.

My impression is that O'Reilly is willing to let the newspapers develop their own editorial lines as long as they're successful as businesses. Still, I've often wondered what people in Irish-America would think if they were aware of how anti-American some of Tony O'Reilly's papers are. I'm thinking mainly of the Sunday Tribune and the Independent (London). Lucky for him that the Tribune is not online and the Independent has recently put most of its comment pieces behind a subscription wall.

More on Wi-Fi & O'Reilly

Dick O'Brien provides a few more details on the problems with Wi-Fi, particularly as an investment and in particular, the business model currently being employed here. He also takes me to task for insinuating that the Independent is soft on Eircom because of T. O'Reilly pressure. He has a point and I was too flippant.

However, it has been my impression that the Sunday Independent in particular, has not subjected Eircom to the same level of scrutiny with regards to its customer satisfaction as it has with other Irish monopolies, dualopolies. (I'm thinking about ESB, Aer Lingus & the banks.)

Again, that's been my impression, which could have more to do with the fact that Eircom's sluggishness in expanding DSL or even providing for a flat-rate 56K internet services was more frustrating for me than anything that ESB, Aer Lingus or the banks were doing.


Only a couple of weeks in business here at the Irish Eagle and already getting support from some of the big hitters in blog world. On Friday, John Derbyshire provided a welcome plug at National Review Online.

Before I started this, I knew that my fellow bloggers were passionate and opinionated, but I had no idea how generous they were. Tips and suggestions are pouring in. Thanks to all of you.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

"Time to trust America"

John Lloyd has a column in Scotland on Sunday with that headline. Rather than cursing America for its global role, he seems to almost find it strange that American taxpayers are willing to spend so much on defense in order to police the world.

Stirring stuff for those of us living in Britain or Ireland who are forever feeling under siege from anti-Americanism in the media. However, I can't imagine his arguments winning over any of those who see nothing but negatives from American dominance.

For those from the US who don't understand the '001' reference at the end of the column, those are the first three digits that must be dialled in order to call the US from Europe.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Now Huntington is news in Britain

I wonder if Mr. Farrell knew he was triggering an "international news" event when he wrote his letter to the Huntington town authorities. It doesn't matter now.

The Daily Telegraph picks up the story this morning with more little snippets of history and a picture of the offending crest. I wish the picture was bigger because I can hardly make it out on my screen.

Checking the town's web site wasn't any use either. I could only find the crest on some merchandise and the images weren't good enough to really see the crest clearly.

However, one thing that struck me when I went to the town's site is the reference to 9/11 in the upper left hand corner of the main page. You just know Huntington was one of those towns that was hit hard that day. The second anniversary is a month away. Makes all this debate over the town crest seem pretty ridiculous.

Camp Delta

This article from the Guardian will not make for enjoyable reading for all those people shedding tears about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

Conditions are apparently far removed from the torture chambers that many people in the media would like us to believe. The mothers of 8 Russian detainees have "begged" Washington not to return their sons to Russia to face terror charges. One detainee wrote home saying, "there is no health resort in Russia that can compare".

I always suspected that the truth of what was going on in Guantanamo was much less harsh than the Pentagon wanted us to believe. The threat of being sent to Gitmo is obviously going to become meaningless if too much of this gets out. Instead, you'll have all sorts of non-combatants surrendering, claiming they're Osama's right-hand man.

The Japanese

I might have been too casual when I referred to Japanese-Americans as having an imagined "lack of commitment" to the American war effort in WWII.

Reader Maureen Mullarkey sent me the following:

It wasn't imaginary, John Fay.

According to a 1948 government report on internment, nearly one third
[5,620 out of a total 16,848] of Japanese-Americans interned renounced
their American citizenship after Pearl Harbor so they could be
repatriated to Japan. Additional thousands of Japanese-Americans in
Japan at the start of the war joined the Japanese war effort and
hundreds even signed up with the Japanese army. [The most infamous was
Tomoya Kawakita, an American citizen who participated in the torture of
American POW's, including survivors of the Bataan Death March.

The groundswell to renounce was so strong that Congress was pressured to
enact a special law [Public Law 405, effective July 1, 1944] allowing
American citizens to renounce citizenship in wartime. Until that date,
it was illegal.

I had thought the number of Japanese-Americans interned was much greater. I may try and find out more on this topic, but for now I wanted to share with you an alternative to what is the "politically correct", acceptable version of this time in our history.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Huntington and Cromwell - again

Today Newsday editorializes on the Huntington crest and Cromwell's lion.

The key sentence in the editorial is, "What's instructive is that town government is so easily captured by the emotional appeal of a vocal few - a tendency that in this case shouldn't bother anyone, but is a poor model for making policy."

I can't disagree with that. However, who determines what is an "emotional appeal of a vocal few" and what is legitimate grievance? I doubt Newsday would use the same argument regarding the NY Saint Patrick's Day Parade, but that is how the whole gays in the parade mess got started. What about the Stars & Bars flying over the S. Carolina State House?

Also, Newsday may not be factually correct in their editorial. They say there's nothing particularly "Cromwellian" about this lion. However, the NY Times report indicates that the lion used in this particular crest was specifically taken from Cromwell's family crest. I don't know how different Cromwell's lion is from the lion generally used to symbolize England.

I would probably agree that this is overblown and the town should not remove the lion, Cromwellian or not. It's representative of the town's heritage. But, if we're going to stop pandering to the "emotional appeals" of the few, we should start with the big things. I would suggest by telling those who want to eliminate the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance to get lost.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Peter King's new novel

Peter King, member of the US House of Representatives, has a new novel out. He was interviewed by Terry Golway for the NY Observer (not sure how long that link will remain valid).

I'm interested in his remarks about the Islamic community in the US. He compares the reactions of the Muslims in the US with the reactions of the Irish Catholics in 19th century America, when they were not very welcome or trusted.

"In speaking to security officials from all levels of government, I’m hearing that they are not getting the cooperation they would like from the Muslim community," Mr. King said. "It seems as though they may be doing well, but they are outside the system. They’re Muslims first."

Reminded that similar accusations were made of Catholics, particularly Irish Catholics, in the mid-19th century, Mr. King made note of the conspicuous Irish presence in the Union Army during the Civil War.

"When the test came, they were eager to prove they were just as American as the nativists," Mr. King said. "That has been true of other groups as well." But, he noted, after Sept. 11, there weren’t many U.S. flags flying along Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, where many Arab-Americans own businesses.

I find this interesting on many levels, but the primary one is the extent to which so many people have emigrated (and I don't think it's just Muslims) to the US in recent years, but who still do not feel American. This is the most unfortunate effect of the culture of ethnicity that has flourished in the recent past. If people living in the US don't feel American first, then that's a big problem. The US is a nation of immigrants and all groups have struggled to become American. It may not be fair or right, but it's always been the case. Nowadays it seems that many people are not interested in becoming American, only living in America.

During WWII, Americans of Japanese descent were made to suffer because of an imagined lack of commitment despite the Japanese-Americans' insistance that they were American first. If King is right (and I suspect he is to a large extent) then things have gone too far the other direction. Immigrants have to want to be American, not just work and sleep there.

In the Irish Sea

Great thing about self-employment (and there are down-sides) is that you can take a few hours off on a sunny, warm day like today and go swimming with the family. Of course, the water is so unbelieveably cold (at least where we go - White Rock, Dalkey, Co. Dublin) that your body is numb for the entire time you're in the water (or for all the time after the shocking pain dies down).

Still, it's refreshing, I suppose.

However, if there's one thing I hate about swimming here, it's the fact that so many middle aged men feel they can swim naked at a public beach. I probably wouldn't care if I weren't bringing my young daughters with me, but it really burns me up. Only a few hundred yards away (towards Dalkey) is a "men's swimming area". Why don't they go there instead? They know families will be coming to White Rock.

I can tolerate the flies (barely), the dogs (doesn't anyone else feel that it's totally unhygenic to bring a dog onto a beach?), the garbage and all the rest, but I can't stand the selfishness (and, I can't help thinking, the exhibitionism) that these guys "display".

More on Wi-Fi

Dick O'Brien at Back Seat Drivers has a better feel for the Wi-Fi problems than I have. He talks about how cheap it is to set up, which is a negative if you're thinking of investing in such developments. The Independent mentioned this too, but because they were referencing Forrester, one of those tech forecasting companies, and talking about 2008, I figured that the Independent was just looking for the negatives. However, assuming Dick has no brief for Eircom, maybe the long-term is not as bright for Wi-Fi as I'd like.

More details on Cromwell & Huntington, Long Island

Newsday has more details and probably a more accurate (locally) story. I should have checked Newsday first seeing as it's a Long Island story.

As for the historical accuracy, I'm not sure how many were killed, etc., but I do wonder if it was the Irishness or Catholicism that offended Cromwell more. I suspect the latter, which seems to have been overlooked in the discussion in Huntington.

More on the Sunday Business Post

(I know, I know, it's Thursday, but I only got around to reading last Sunday's papers last night).

I read the Computers in Business section, which had a feature article on Wi-Fi. For those who don't know, Wi-Fi is basically a means of connecting computers to a network (including the internet) without wires. I've read a lot about this and am considering buying an access point and Wireless card for my laptop. That way my house would be a "hot-spot" and I could surf the internet wherever I am in the house.

However, the gist of the article was about the development of "hot-spots" in airports, hotels, etc. All very positive. The reason I'm bringing this up is because I also only got around to last Thursday's Irish Independent Digital Ireland section. They also had an article on Wi-Fi, but it was negative.

Now, I'm no tech head or anything, but having seen Wi-Fi in action in the US and heard people raving about it, I can't understand the Independent's line on this at all. I know that these kind of theories are tremendous stretches, but my first instinct was to wonder if Wi-Fi represented a threat to Eircom, which is owned by Valentia. And, among Valentia's key investors is Tony O'Reilly, who is also the principal owner of the Irish Independent.

This is how my mind works - sort of like hot-linking on the web. I'm sure there's nothing to it, but still I can't understand the Independent's negative line on Wi-Fi.


I know I've read articles by Niall Stanage before and I've even had e-mails from him with regards to articles of his that have ended up on the Newshound. However, I had no feel for his views (other than with regards to N. Ireland) and was surprised when I read this piece by him in Sunday's Sunday Business Post.

He discusses Europe's view of America in light of a recent poll. I kept waiting for the kicker to come, but what came was a very positive rendering of America's role in the world.

Here's my favorite quote:

The world will always be a violent place. It will always contain dictators, autocrats and murderous opportunists who will seek power and its spoils without regard for the death and suffering of others. And when such malevolent figures arise, they will not, frankly, have their plans thwarted by European do-gooders with a peace flag in one hand and a sheaf of Noam Chomsky essays in the other.

I had stopped buying the SBP for a while as it was really annoying me. If Stanage is a regular there, I will feel safe to return to buying what is, in fact, a must read paper for anyone involved in small business.


A small island nation, bullied by its huge neighbor and looking for friends in the world would be a natural for Ireland, right? Well, it seems not.

Taiwan is again trying to join the UN. I'd love to imagine that the Irish government will back their bid, but I'm sure the government will defer to the EU policy, which is essentially, don't annoy China. It's not right, but I can at least understand the pragmatism of that decision.

But, why is there no Taiwan-Ireland solidarity movement/grouping? If there is one, I've never heard of it.

During the SARS scare, Taiwan was on the WHO's "don't go to list", but not even allowed to benefit from what the WHO was learning because all information had to come through China. Taiwan is not allowed to be a member of the WHO. This is not only wrong, but it has implications for people globally if an advanced democracy like Taiwan cannot fully take part in global information-sharing on possible epidemics.

Cromwell on Long Island

Some residents of Huntington, Long Island are objecting to the use of their crest because it includes Cromwell's lion.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Blogging is hard - II

Another reason blogging is hard is that you have to write clearly & intelligently to be understood by people who don't know you and who may be reading what you write for the first time. But, you also want to write quickly because the blog is a reactive medium. You're not supposed to linger over what you write.

I'm still not sure I'm going to make it in this arena.


Anyone who hasn't done this (blogging), but is thinking about it, should be warned. It's harder than it looks. I had a long comment with link references all typed up this morning, ready to go. But, when I clicked on publish, the page went blank and I realized that blogger was down. Now I can't even remember what it was I had typed or what links I had referenced.

I'll have to consider creating off-line so that I can minimize the chances of that happening again in future.

GM foods

Former British Minister for the Environment, Michael Meacher, writes another anti-GM food piece for the Independent (London) today. He makes reference to Canadian experiences, which if he is to be believed, are all negative.

I have no brief for GM foods or any company that produces them. What bothers me is the fear of science that GM foods has engendered in people and the "certainty" that GM foods are proof that the "end is nigh". Europe was the center for scientific advances for hundreds of years, but it's now slowly becoming center for luddites and others who are just afraid of change.

By all means conduct tests and prove, if possible, whether GM foods are safe or not. The problem is I can't imagine a scientific study that isn't so politically laden that the result is not pre-determined.

I'm sure I have eaten GM foods many, many times while in the US. I haven't noticed any side effects in me nor in my friends and family at home.

Robert Fisk and the Irish Independent

I know I'm not the only one who tires of hearing/reading Robert Fisk going on about all that America doesn't know about the Middle East/Central Asia/Islam. I fully understand that the entire apparatus of the US government couldn't possibly know what Mr. Fisk knows. But, still I do enjoy the occasional anti-Fisk article when it appears in the Irish press. Nearly all of them are by Eoghan Harris in the Sunday Independent, who was at it again this weekend. [UPDATE—Aug 8: However, this one is actually by Eilish O'Hanlon, not Harris. Thank you to Steven for pointing this out to me.]

My only complaint with O'Hanlon's article is that Irish Independent is the Irish newspaper that seems to provide Mr. Fisk with the most space. On Saturday we were blessed with two helpings from the all-knowing one. The first article was about the "Growing Insurrection" in Iraq. Essentially, the Americans don't know what they're doing, but the British do. They're so lucky to have a buffer between them and those Yankee cowboys.

The second article begins with a discussion of Paul Bremer's clothes. This one is about how all American successes in Iraq are illusory. In fact, what looks like a success is always a disguised failure. You have to be really knowledgeable to pick up on those, which of course Fisk is. I like his quoting of an unnamed Iraqi journalist. I could be totally misinformed, but this is either a person (the Iraqi, not Fisk) who took up journalism in the past 4 months or someone who worked under the paternalistic care of Saddam H.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

More on Walsh and Oil

In his Irish Times piece from yesterday (see previous post), Walsh also makes one of those statements that I can just imagine had all the "wise and knowing" Times readers nodding their heads. He quotes a 1945 statement by a member of the US State Department that "petroleum has played a larger part in the external relations of the United States than any other commodity" for most of the 20th century.

Big deal. What other commodity is so vital? And, if any other commodity were more valuable than oil, then the region where it's most easily retrieved would undoubtedly be the focus of all the aggravation that the oil rich areas are now.

However, on a positive note, reading Walsh's column has saved me the time wondering if I should bother trying to listen to his radio program via my new, cheap internet connection.


Maurice Walsh of the BBC had an article (subscription required) in yesterday's Irish Times, which combines obvious facts with sleight of hand that is so common with the BBC.

Mr. Walsh quotes Donald Rumsfeld when he said on 60 Minutes (in response to a point being put to him about war with Iraq being about oil) that it had "literally nothing to do with oil". It's easy to say that Donald Rumsfeld overstepped things somewhat, since the US (& western) interest in the Persian Gulf area is about oil. However, it's also obvious that if Iraq were run by better people than the Baathists, led by a better man than Saddam, there would have been no war.

Oil was a contributing factor, obviously. The fact that Iraq was sitting on such a treasure chest is what made Saddam's threat more serious than the threat of Mugabe or Charles Taylor. And, the price to pay from waiting too long, as has happened with regards to N. Korea, was too great in the case of Iraq where there would have been no leverage whatsoever once Saddam's WMD dreams were fully realized.

WMD & Iraq

This is an interesting article from the Sunday Times about the hunt for WMD in Iraq. The author seems to have little doubt that a WMD program existed in Iraq and that nothing much will be known until Saddam is captured/dead.

And, the writer is not an American stooge (if this web page is accurate), which I think only makes the article more interesting.

N. Ireland tourism

I've been north for short holidays a few times over the past decade. Not as often as I'd like, but as often as I can manage with the family. And, although things are improving, I can't disagree too much with Malachy O'Doherty when it comes to finding places to eat.

My first trip up there was in November 1994. I remember driving from Carrickfergus to the Giants Causeway along the coast. We went through many small towns and not one had a place to eat that my wife felt comfortable with. I was struck by the difference in the experience along the North coast as opposed to the west or south. In Galway, Clare, Kerry, etc., at that time the places to eat were significantly better. And, unfortunately, I think the gap has widened in the intervening period.

The Antrim coast is tremendous and one of this island's real gems. But, the greasy fish & chip shops and bland hotel food are not enough for the modern tourist.

Saturday, August 02, 2003


The Irish Times (sub required) has condemned the Bush administration for not moving fast enough in Liberia. Yet, as this article points out, sometimes letting these things run their course is the best long term answer. I'm not sure if that applies in this case, but I think the analogy of the Irish Civil War is much better than the American Civil War for Mr. Pinkerton's purposes.

What if the British had intervened because the Civil War had proven that the Irish Free State was a failed state? What if the French or the Americans had? Would Ireland be better off today? I don't think so as the same smoldering resentments would have flared up eventually.

Still, I can't imagine civilization returning to W. Africa without foreign intervention. I hope that if the US does send peace keepers that they are not seen as targets. The deaths in Mogadishu are only 10 years ago. But, I think that any intervention will be long-term and not just a few months. I suspect that American involvement in W. Africa will be for a longer period than the US's involvement in Iraq.

Ireland & the euro

During the late 1990s there was a lot of talk about the cause of the Celtic Tiger. As the downturn continues to deepen, it becomes pretty obvious to this non-economist that the biggest influence was the combination of American investment and a favorable exchange rate.

Now that the euro has gained around 35% in value against the dollar in the past 2 years we may see the opposite of a celtic tiger. The effects on tourism are only a small part of the pain we will feel if a strong euro drives American investment to the "sterling" regions.

Uday's double

Every day we learn a little more about life in Iraq under Saddam. I haven't learned anything that has said to me that it really would have been better if Saddam and his family had stayed in power. In fact, if I were a dedicated interventionist, I think I would be feeling guilty that I didn't advocate this change years ago.

Kind of interesting to learn that Uday's double lives here in Dublin (at least part-time). I hadn't come across this before.