Monday, July 26, 2004


I'm in Montreal this morning. I've never been here before. Walked around a good bit yesterday. I was surprised by the large numbers of homeless/begging people here. Hadn't anticipated anything like that. Totally different from what I remember of Toronto (1990).

One other thing I've noticed is that there's a greater formality here than there is in the US or even Ontario. Probably the French influence. I guess I hadn't really expected that.

I'm curious to see if I detect any over anti-American attitudes in my short stay. I've seen a couple of tee shirts with Presdient Bush's face and the word "Terrorist" beneath, but that's about all. The fact that I can't speak or read French will probably make it harder to know what people think.

I'm going to see the Mets here tonight. Unfortunately, the beloved hometown team has been playing pretty badly the past two weeks. I hope they can win this game, at least.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Low carb?

I'm pretty slow to spot trends and fashions. So, when my wife mentioned that everything is "low carb" in America this year, I didn't know what she was talking about. But, then, I opened my eyes and what do I see? Everything is low carb in America this year.

I had heard of the Atkins diet, but I just dismiss that sort of nonsense. Obviously not everyone does. So far I've seen low carb beer, low carb ice cream, low carb bagels and what looks like entire supermarkets given over to "low carb".

I'm guessing this fad hasn't really taken hold in Ireland.

Why do these ridiculous ideas gain such currency? Why can't people just eat normally and get off their fat rear-ends every so often?


Last week as I was driving out of Boston along the Massachusetts Turnpike, absolutely NOBODY was obeying the 45MPH speed limit that applies in work zones. In fact, the traffic was moving at a nice 70+.

Maybe the Mass Pike should be twinned with the M11?

Monday, July 12, 2004

Break time

Vacation time is here. Blogging will be light for the next couple of weeks or so, but I will try to do some blogging just so you don't forget me.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Independent & Kerry?

I was letting my mind wander again after reading that election monitor article (see below) in this morning's Irish Independent. I was wondering if those 500 Florida votes had gone the other way in 2000 if Global Exchange would be seeking monitors?

Then I started wondering how that article ended up in the Irish Independent. And, then I just wondered (and no more than that, I assure you) how well Tony O'Reilly knows Theresa Heinz Kerry. After all, he was the CEO at Heinz for nearly 20 years and took over as Chairman after the death of Henry Heinz in 1987.

Of course, I've wondered about Tony O'Reilly and his newspapers before.

Wanna monitor US election?

What a joke! Today's Irish Independent has an article by Tim Kingston of Global Exchange in which he's asking for international help in "rebuilding civic trust in America". He's seeking election monitors.


It's not clear who pays for the monitors' trips to the US, but I suppose it can't hurt to apply (here's what you need to do to apply). I think it would be great for loads and loads of people who reject this nonsense to apply just so that Global Exchange are overwhelmed in reviewing applications. And, if you happen to get selected maybe you'll get a free trip to the US. It's a farce anyway, so I wouldn't worry about taking your "responsibilities" seriously.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Buying Uranium in Africa

After the 2003 State of the Union, the Bush team came under pressure because of the President's reference to the Niger uranium claim (the President actually said "Africa", not Niger).

Well, the British have concluded that the intelligence was sound {this link will self-destruct in 60 secs} and that Iraq was part of a uranium smuggling operation in Niger.

So, the Bush team is off the hook on this one, yes?


There are still BIG questions regarding this matter. Such as
  • Why didn't they consider that someone might circulate a forgery in order to create confusion to cover-up their smuggling?
  • How are we dealing with intelligence that comes from our "allies" such as the British, Italians or even the French?
  • Why did they send that guy Wilson to investigate this claim? He obviously wasn't that reliable?
I think this revelation supports Blair. Sure, it's easy now to say that Saddam (apparently) had no nuke program, but in early 2003 we didn't know Libya had one nor did we know that Iran's was so advanced. Look at S. Korea, the Clinton admin thought that they had resolved that one in 1994.

So, erring on the side of caution - that is, Saddam is a bad guy, he wants nukes and he'll eventually get & use them even if only as a threat - seems reasonable to me. But blowing off your allies, falling for a 11 year-old's trick (don't these guys have children, if they did they'd really understand duplicitousness) and sending an ambassador to do a spy's job is nearly dereliction of duty.


The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.

Does this word describe what I saw when I watched two people swimming in the Irish Sea this afternoon? One was a man of about 60 or so and the other a young guy, 18-22. The air temperature is in the low 60s F (about 17C), but there is a wind of about 50MPH blowing in off the sea. It was pretty chilly there in my jeans and tee shirt. It was down right freezing just thinking about getting in.

Actually, maybe this is what I saw.

Anti-Americanism in Ireland -- could it affect US investment here?

{continuing what I started here.}

Two quotes from Stanage's article are a good place to start this one.

Bill Flynn, chairman of Mutual Of America:
"The attitudes in Ireland [towards America] are really changing the whole situation," he said. "There are conversations going on in any number of corporate boardrooms in America at the moment, where they are threatening to pull out of Ireland.

"Someone who I know personally is advising everyone to get out of Ireland because of all this, and he would previously have been very supportive."
Prominent Irish businessman in New York:
"Business people are there to make money," he said. "If I was a shareholder in a company that moved in or out of a country for political reasons, and endangered profits in the process, I'd have serious questions.

"In one way, Bertie [Ahern]'s almost sycophantic attitude to Bush is unnecessary - it's not going to affect business decisions one way or another."
Of course, the prominent Irish businessman is right that "business people are there to make money", but he's also missing part of the picture.

A lot of business is like personal relationships. Where a company locates overseas should be a decision based on perfect information as to which location will be the most profitable.

Well, the problem here is the "perfect information" because that just doesn't exist. A man should marry the woman who's going to make him happiest, but unless he accurately takes into account all the factors that will determine his happiness in the years to come and then reviews all potential brides for their suitability he's acting on imperfect knowledge.

The same goes for any corporate board or top level management. They cannot have perfect information and, therefore, they are susceptible to other influences such as suggestions from people they trust. This is where many people in Ireland fail to appreciate the extent to which Irish-American dominance at the top of corporate America helped tilt the balance in Ireland's favor for many investment decisions.

These people, like Bill Flynn, were genuine advocates for Ireland's cause. Flynn was the friend who arranged the blind date with a woman he thinks you'll like. If these people are alienated, it will have an impact on Ireland's ability to attract US investment. How great an impact is the question.

Anti-Americanism in Ireland

I haven't written much lately. No good reason.

Part of my problem is that over the weekend there was quite a bit on the radio and in the papers about anti-Americanism and whether it exists in Ireland, what it is, etc. I've been thinking about this on and off for 3 years now, have written about it and still it's hard to pin down. This past weekend has only started me off obsessing about this topic again.

When I re-read my Jan '03 article from the Irish Voice, I don' think I've actually nailed it, but when I try to pin-point what's not quite right, I'm unsure. Defining anti-Americanism is not that easy.

This weekend Niall Stanage provided some food for thought by way of comments from various people. I think each of these comments does add something to the discussion.

One thing that's definitely true is that anti-Americanism is not like racism or anti-Semitism. Individual Americans have nothing to fear in Ireland. Nobody is actually targeting Americans for physical or even verbal abuse. Americans will be treated at least as well here as in the US. In other words, if you're an obnoxious so and so, nobody wants you in New York, Miami or Peoria. Same goes for Dublin or Limerick. If you're polite and pleasant people will fall over you here.

There are real dangers for Americans here, particularly in the cities, but these dangers are generally greater in any US city.

I actually don't think a blog is the right place to tackle this topic, but I'll try and hit a few points over the next few days. Maybe I should write a book.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Conservative punks

When I was in college I was a fan of punk music. I wouldn't have ever described myself as a 'punk', but I listened to a lot of punk music (we're not talking the hardcore stuff here). Lest you get the wrong idea, I knew much less about punk music or music generally than I knew about baseball (or sports generally) or politics.

Still, I liked punk music. Politically I was generally a world away from my favorite punk bands. I was once called the squarest Clash fan on the planet by a friend who couldn't believe I owned all the Clash's albums and was a Reaganite. I even bought The Clash's Sandinista.

Today's Guardian has an article about the "pro-Bush" punks. I had assumed that punk music was now in the "reunion tour" phase of existence, but it seems new punk bands are still coming on the scene. Not only are new punk bands out there, but there are young punks willing to be identified as supporting the Republican Party.

{I hadn't realized that Johnny Ramone was a Reaganite. If only his views on baseball were as agreeable.}

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Zeyad's cousin

Back in January, I mentioned the death of Zeyad's cousin. Zeyad writes one of my favorite blogs, Healing Iraq.

On Saturday, Zeyad posted an update. Four soldiers have been charged in the drowning death of Zeyad's cousin.

It's not a happy ending, it couldn't be, and it's not over. But it does appear as if justice will be done, which is the most that could have been expected.


Gerry Ryan interviewed Walid Shoebat this morning. I had never heard of Shoebat before, but he from his web site it's obvious he has some profile in the US.

I was only able to hear part of it (it should be available on the Ryan Show's web site later today.) What I heard was very interesting, although I'm sure some people were enraged by what he had to say.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Good vs Evil -- this Saturday

If you have digital television in Britain or Ireland, you should be able to see Saturday evening's broadcast of the New York Mets against the Evil Empire. First pitch is at 6:15. NASN is making the channel available for free to all digital television subscribers as part of its July 4 celebration (and subscripton drive).

UDPATE 9am Sunday: The White Hats pull out the victory! (Although they were actually wearing black hats.)

Oil price

I haven't mentioned Peter's blog The Black Line (or at least, I don't think I have). I read Peter's blog every chance I get because his perspective is so different from what I find in most of the mainstream press.

I don't know what Peter does for a day job, but he seems to know a helluva lot about oil. Peter and Tony make me wary of talking about the topic for fear that I'll make a fool of myself, but here goes.

I've been thinking about the high(er) price of oil the past few weeks and what I perceive to be a fairly laid back attitude to this development by the Bush Administration. Despite the fact that theoretically high gas prices are a sure vote loser, the Bush team seems none-too-worried about this.

Here's my amateur explanation as to why.
  1. Saudi Arabia - the Saudi economy has gone to hell over the past 10+ years due to low oil prices. Sure, long term they have to do something to encourage people to create wealth and not just cash in on the wealth under the sand, but the higher prices we're seeing at the moment will help the Saudis buy some quiet while they deal with the discontented rabble that is swelling the ranks of the Islamic terrorists.
  2. Russia - there's no doubt that George Bush's friend's life is made easier by higher oil prices. I wonder if American equanimity in the face of these higher prices explains Putin's revelation about his warning before last year's invasion.
  3. Iraq - every barrel of oil coming out of Iraq is selling for more than was expected in the budgeting for reconstruction of Iraq. The less that costs, the easier it will be for Bush to cast the policy in a favorable light.
  4. China - the Chinese use lots and lots of oil. And, when it comes to production, they use it less efficiently than Americans. So, although the higher oil prices hurt American business, Chinese businesses are hurting more. A little dampening down of the Chinese economy would help keep China from challenging the US anytime soon.
  5. Kyoto - despite what is generally assumed, the Bush Administration has made a lot of noise about Kyoto, but not formally abrogated (is that the right word? & I'm looking for a link that discusses this) the treaty. Higher gas prices will reduce emissions as people simply drive, fly, produce less than they would if oil were $10 per barrel. This development is a bone to throw to the EU, which is not faring all that well with Kyoto compliance itself.
I'm sure that somehow the value of the dollar figures in this, but I haven't been able to get my head around that one. It may undermine all I've written above - I'm not sure. It's just what I've been thinking about the past few days.

Backing Nader

Some Republicans are helping get Nader on the ballot and/or contributing to his campaign. One such donor is Richard Egan, former Ambassador to Ireland.

These Republicans obviously believe that Nader will be a help to them. Obviously, anything goes in politics, but this strategy projects a "Bush is going to lose" mentality.

The Boston Globe doesn't entertain the possibility that Egan has switched allegiances from Bush to Kerry. I presume they're right about that.