Thursday, September 30, 2004

Au revoir Montréal

I was in Montreal in July to see the Expos and Mets. I knew at the time that it was probably the Expos' last season there. There was a feeling of death about Olympic Stadium.

Still, I was a little surprised when I saw that the Expos were officially relocating to Washington next spring. The Expos played their last game in Montréal last night.

Montreal Expos 1969-2004

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Jury service

I never saw an Irish jury summons until today. It had me scratching my head, to be honest.
63.49? What sort of bizarre figure is that? I realize it's £50 in old money, but couldn't they have rounded it up to at least 63.50?

It seems awfully low to me. I don't think it would be worth it to show up for jury duty if all you risk losing is 63.49. For how many people is that a day's wage?

I also don't understand why these people are excused "as of right":
  • a person in Holy Orders, a regular minister of a religious denomination or community, nuns
  • doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives
  • veterinarians
  • heads of health boards
  • school principals and any teacher the school claims is needed
  • whole-time students
  • licensed pilots
I'm not saying there aren't good explanations for some (or even all) of these, but there's something really annoying about this. Why is the head of a health board (he's not an active surgeon, presumably) excused but the head of a big department in a large company is not? Why shouldn't someone who's self-employed be excused? I'd bet the head of the health board would be paid for the missed week, but the self-employed person will not.

They use the "new math" at the Times Union

First the quote:
Soares, who won the Democratic primary by an official tally of 14,909 votes to Clyne's 9,741, was meeting with Attorney General Eliot Spitzer on Monday and did not attend the news conference.

. . . Though he lost the primary by a ratio of 2 to 1, Clyne, 44, will be on the Nov. 2 general election ballot as the nominee of the Independence Party. He said Monday he has no intention of dropping out, even as McEneny and others said it was the right thing to do for party unity.
To be honest, I don't really care who won the Democratic primary for Albany County District Attorney, but why is this journalist claiming that 14,909 is two thirds of 24,650? By my reckoning, it works out at just over 60%. A sizable victory, certainly, but not 2 to 1. Maybe 5 to 3 didn't sound as good?

I presume the journalist's shoddy math is not related to the fact that the Times Union endorsed Mr. Soares in the primary?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Who's your daddy?

I wasn't going to mention this, but I can't get it out of my head. Who is the D-U-M-B-E-S-T man in all of baseball?

How about Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez?
What can I say – just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy. I can't find a way to beat them at this point. ... They're that good. They're that hot right now – at least against me. I wish they would disappear and not come back.
For any sportsman to make such a comment is bad. For a player on a team that has to face the Yankees 19 times a season, it's stupid. But, for a member of the Red Sox to say that is like telling everyone in Boston to 'just shut up and take your beating'.

Peace train

Okay, I may have been too hasty regarding Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) last week. In fact, I may have been wr*&$. Wait, let me try that again. I may have been wro$-. Obviously, something's up with the keyboard, but you get the point.

Anyway, if this article (reg. required) from Sunday's London Times is accurate, Islam didn't actually support the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. He simply supported a "letter campaign requesting the book's publisher to withdraw support", which is somewhat less odious than calling for the man to be killed. {Actually, it's way, way different and I have no problem with such a protest at all.}

I'm sure his political views wouldn't always find favor with me, but
[r]ecently he admitted he had become too partisan, citing Muhammad Ali as another Muslim convert whose radicalism was tempered by time. "There's always a zealous period," he said. "I used to want to rebel against everything, and that was great. After that, you get back to the job of living."

. . . Islam was extremely vocal in his condemnation of the September 11 bombings in New York and Washington, affirming his duty to make clear that such acts of "incomprehensible carnage" had nothing to do with Islamic belief. He also spoke out against other recent terrorist outrages.
Having read this, I'll cut him some slack.

What are US interests?

Last Monday's editorial in the Taipei Times questions if the US government, particularly the State Department, knows what's in the best interests of the United States.

As the editorial points out, a NY Times report (about Taiwanese spying allegations) earlier had highlighted Taiwan's problem.
"I don't know of any senior officials who are pro-Taiwan," one former senior State Department official said.

He and others said Foreign Service officers largely viewed some Taiwanese officials' struggle to stay separate from China as a distraction, when the truly important relationship for the United States is China.

Carl W. Ford Jr., an assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research until he retired last year, worked directly with Mr. Keyser. He agreed that few if any State Department officials were openly pro-Taiwan.

He added that a handful of them "are at least neutral."

"And Don was very much down the middle. That did set him apart from the others."
Okay, I think if someone working in the State Department was spying for Taiwan, then throw the book at him. But, what on Earth is going on in the State Department? Isn't the State Department supposed to be pro-US? Why are there people who are "pro" China working there?

I can understand how there may be people who work hard to maintain strong ties with China, but a realistic view is that, at best, China is a rival to America in Asia, if not globally. Why would we turn our backs on some of the few friends we have in the region for the dubious benefit of the Chinese government's favor?

Friday, September 24, 2004

Poet-president takes over TV

When I saw this headline on the Daily Telegraph's web site, I thought that I had missed Michael D. Higgins being elected. It sometimes happens that big events pass me by, so I was only a little surprised when I thought we'd had an election for President and I had missed it. And, that Michael D. would take over TV for poetry readings (only his own, of course) if he were elected President is as certain as night following day.

Alas, Michael D. has not been elected (and won't be, apparently). The story has to do with President Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan, who is "interested in poetry, philosophy, history and music", according to Turkmenistan's Washington Embassy. He is also a man of great humility having decided not to appoint himself President for life and not to receive the title of the greatest Turkmenian writer. {The Daily Telegraph is somewhat disparaging of Mr. Niyazov, but really, shouldn't all nations have a national holiday celebrating their leader's favorite fruit?}

Sounds like Mr. Niyazov and Michael D. have so much in common. Maybe Michael D. could succeed Mr. Niyazov in Turkmenistan?

Christian comedy - who knew?

Over the past 30 months, the Christian Comedy Association has grown from 40 to 300 members. Yes, you read that right – the Christian Comedy Association. There are even dedicated Christian comedy clubs.
In the past year, several Christian venues, including the Skyline in Oklahoma City and Synergy in Beltsville, Md., have opened, occasionally drawing big crowds. "We just want to provide an outlet for performers who are using their talent for Him, and to provide an alternative for college-area young adults," says Erik Sellin, director of Synergy, an 80-seat club that opened in July.
I don't know what to make of this, but obviously it's not a bad thing. It sure is surprising, though.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Fastest growing city in Europe

Galway. Read all about it in today's Independent.

The new 'Sandy Koufax'

Last week I wondered where Sandy Koufax had gone following the decisions of two Israeli teams to play their UEFA-scheduled soccer games on Rosh Hashanah.

Maybe Shawn Green of the Los Angeles Dodgers is the new 'Koufax'? Green will not play at least one of two games this weekend (Friday night or Saturday afternoon) because it's Yom Kippur. Green is not particularly religious.
"It's something I feel is an important thing to do," Green said at the time, "partly as a representative of the Jewish community and as far as my being a role model in sports for Jewish kids, to basically say that baseball, or anything, isn't bigger than your religion and your roots."
The fact that he's not religious makes his decision all the more laudable. He may not be religious, but he is a public Jewish figure and he feels an obligation to those Jews who are religious. By not playing even one of the games this weekend (and they're BIG games) he's showing respect for those Jews who are religious, something that neither UEFA nor the Israeli teams managed to do.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Kicking the Taiwanese

China's bullying of Taiwan continues apace. Last week China - again - thwarted Taiwan's attempt to join the UN. 93 countries, including France, Germany, Britain, & Italy (don't know about Ireland) spoke against Taiwan's efforts to join. At least the British offered some praise before they damned Taiwan for another year.

China also successfully completed an Olympic double in Greece. First, Greece caved in to Chinese threats and removed all ads that the Taiwanese government was running on billboards in Athens during the Olympics. Now, well, let Tim Lehmann tell it.
China's efforts to thwart Taiwan aren't limited to high politics, either. Elsewhere, in Greece, China couldn't resist the opportunity to interfere with Taiwan's participation in the world of international sport. Taiwan's first lady, Wu Shu-jen, arrived in Athens a week ago Sunday with the intention of leading Taiwan's delegation at the opening ceremonies of the 2004 Paralympic Games, a parallel event to the Olympics dedicated to athletes with disabilities. Wu, the emeritus president of the Chinese Taipei Paralympic Committee (CPTC), has been paralyzed from the waist down since 1985.
And, just to round off the week, China also forced UNESCO to change its mind about a painting for its International Day of Peace stamp. The painting, which was done by a 13 year old Taiwanese boy, was offensive because it included a small Taiwanese flag.

Welcoming Muslims

Should Turkey be admitted to the EU? According to today's Guardian, there are a lot of Europeans who say 'NO, this is not what we won the Battle of Vienna for'.

Moon Shadow

Cat Stevens is being followed by more than just a moon shadow these days. It seems the Feds are also keeping a close watch on him.

I remember back when the Salman Rushdie fatwa was new (ahh, the innocence of those care free days) I heard a parody of Moon Shadow on the radio in New York which went along the lines of "Rushdie's being followed by an Ayatollah -- Khomeini, Khomeini". It was great. Stevens, of course, supported the Ayatollah's fatwa, which is why I have little sympathy for him today.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

ISP woes

My ISP let me down AGAIN this morning, which explains the late update for the Newshound.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Polls - Schmolls

Interesting column by Jimmy Breslin yesterday. He notes that none of the polling companies actually calls people on cell phones.

Now, Breslin being Breslin, he takes what might be a barely interesting angle on statistical sampling and turns it into a diatribe against the polling companies and those media outlets that use polls. Breslin notes that there are nearly 170m cell phone owners in the US and none of them has been polled.

Breslin quotes John Zogby who says he doesn't use telephone polls anymore because they're outdated. Unfortunately, he doesn't reveal what method Zogby does use. I'm curious.

Breslin doesn't deal with a few obvious follow-on questions such as (a) what percentage of cell phone owners are of voting age? (if it's anything like Ireland, I'd say about half) and (b) what percentage of cell phone owners don't have a land-line?

And, what about the Do Not Call Registry? Polls "with no commercial purpose" are exempt from the Registry, but is it possible that people on the Registry's list are not as receptive to polls now? Or is it possible that some polling organizations are shying away from calling people listed with the Registry?

Undeniably, Breslin raises an interesting point about the polls. Are we getting skewed data? Are the polling companies selling us short because addressing these concerns would be too costly and too involved?

Obviously, we won't know until after the votes are counted, but these sorts of questions should be causing both campaigns at least some concern.

"Sometimes stingy"???

Dennis Yusko writing in today's Albany Times Union , refers to the town I grew up in as "sometimes stingy". The article is about yesterday's vote to approve an increase in property taxes to pay for a new library.
The facility proposed for Moe Road marked a successful turnaround for the library's Board of Trustees, which last year saw the sometimes stingy district reject a 68,000-square-foot facility.
The new library will be 55,000 square feet. The "old library" was only built in 1980 and extended to its current 18,600 square feet in 1990. The population of Clifton Park is about 33,000. How big a library does a town need? How often should tax-payers be called upon to pony up for a new library?

These questions never enter Mr. Yusko's mind. All he sees is an electorate that needed to be told "try again" when the new library proposal was rejected the first time.

Yusko's swipe at the people of Clifton Park is so common in journalism on both sides of the Atlantic. Not only is Yusko putting in his own opinion, unnecessarily, but he's doing so in a snide way. I really wish the people of Clifton Park would boycott the Times Union.

If you're a long-standing Bruce fan . . .

You should check in with Chris at alt tag on a regular basis. Chris is in the middle of a now nearly one-year-old revelation.

Before 2003, Bruce Springsteen was just another name to Chris, another singer she occasionally heard on the radio. Now she is, I guess the word is ... obsessed. I worry about her. I don't think she's made it to Freehold yet (she hasn't mentioned it on the blog, anyway), but that can't be far away. Soon she'll be quitting her job to fly to NJ to hang out near where Bruce gets his oil changed.

For anyone who's been a fan for a long time it's like watching a child wonder the first time he throws a rock that makes ripples in a pool. You just sit back and smile at it all.

Bush a "cutie"?

Well, I've seen that in various places on the web in the past day or two. I'm obviously no judge, but apparently some women are taken by pictures of the young George W. from his National Guard days. Apparently, Bush beats Kerry in the "who's better looking in military duds" contest.

Maybe all this National Guard stuff is actually helping the Bush campaign?

Kerry's voters don't like him

That's the essence of Dick Morris's column in yesterday's NY Post and as far as I can make out from friends of mine, that's pretty much the truth. (My friends are all liberal northeasterners and most of them are pretty negative about Kerry's chances too, for whatever that's worth.)

Whether that fact is as important as Morris claims is hard to know. Just because people don't like him as a candidate doesn't mean that Kerry still won't get their votes. Also, Morris casually advises that all "Bush has to do is to persuade a few Kerry voters to stop disliking him, and he can get their votes". Well, I'm not convinced that it's all that easy for a sitting President to change anyone's mind after 4 years. The public knows him now and if someone doesn't like him, they don't like him.

Ryder Cup this weekend!


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Nine Innings From Ground Zero

Great article in today's NY Times about a documentary that deals with the end of the 2001 baseball season, when rooting for the Yankees was almost acceptable.

I wonder if RTE or the BBC will pick up this television program?

"Now that was good hockey!"

Yes it was Trish. I still think the semi-final game between the Czech Republic and Canada was more exciting, but last night's final was pretty good too. In fact, as long as you weren't watching the Americans, most of the tournament was pretty good.

Canada rules the world (of hockey). The Canadians won last night's final, but the Finns can hold their heads high. They played very well and nearly eeked it out. Only black spot for Finland was the soft second goal let in by Miikka Kiprusoff.

By the way, the actual "World Cup" is ridiculously ugly. Probably the ugliest trophy in all of sports.

Where have you gone Sandy Koufax?

That's the headline on this article in today's Jerusalem Post and it refers to
Sandy Koufax, one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. Koufax refused to pitch on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, even when that meant missing a World Series game.

Sunset this evening is the start of Rosh Hashanah. Yet three Israeli teams are playing in UEFA competitions tonight and tomorrow night. Only one of the three - Sakhnin - "made a legitimate attempt to have the date of his team's game switched". And Sakhnin is an Israeli-Arab team.

Obviously, this phenomenon of ignoring big religious occasions for sporting events is not restricted to Jews. I remember when some Christians tried to make an issue out of playing games on Good Friday. Their concerns were swept aside by the sports money behemoth.

Still, the fact that at the time this article was written "Tel Aviv had sold only 15,000 of the 42,000 tickets for the Munich match, while Haifa sold less than 2,000 for its game" gives me hope that Israel's Jews are aware that they stand to lose more by discarding these major dates in their religious calendar than they do by ignoring anything UEFA has to offer.

For more about this game and the controversey surrounding Bayern Munich's Iranian player who refused to make the trip because it is forbidden in Iranian law, see Jon.

Go Peggy!

Great to see my old college friend, Margaret Walsh (she was Peggy in college), win her primary election contest yesterday. She'll now represent the Democrats in November in the election for Albany County Family Court Judge. I'm assuming that as a Democrat running for an elected position in Albany Peggy's just about a shoo in now.
In other races, Margaret T. Walsh beat John J. Reilly, 11,408 to 9,738, to secure the Democratic nomination for the Albany County Family Court Judge seat.
Those numbers were based on 99 percent of the countywide results.
Walsh, 39, is a part-time Albany County assistant public defender who also has a private practice.
She has 14 years experience as a family court lawyer and said she is looking to use that knowledge to ensure that at-risk children who enter her courtroom are protected.
"There's been a tremendous momentum that I think reflects people's perception of the political establishment here in Albany, so I'm not surprised (by the victory)," said Walsh. "This is a job I want, not for political reasons, but because it's one I'm qualified for and love."
Reilly was the party's choice for the $119,800-a-year judgeship.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Electric typewriters

The world wide web is just amazing at times. You can find information on absolutely anything.

The other day, Dick mentioned the now famous (infamous?) memos from CBS's 60 Minutes II last Wednesday. I joined in the comments, where there was a lot of activity. Dick then posted an update the next day.

All of that is a by the way, because what really amazed me is the level of effort this guy put in to his checks on the IBM Selectric Composer and whether Lt. Col. Killian could have used such a machine to produce his memo. The conclusion is that even if Lt. Col. Killian had a state of the art machine (about $20K in today's terms) and was able to use it like a typesetter, he couldn't have produced those memos on it.

And, if you're interested in what these machines looked like - not the one mentioned in the paragraph above - here's a good start. The guy who runs this site says his politics are "anyone but Bush", but he's convinced the memos were done with MS-WORD.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Iraqi civil war?

On Saturday, I was watching The McLaughlin Group discuss the possibility of a civil war in Iraq and a thought struck me. Not a happy thought, but a thought. Is a civil war in Iraq necessarily a bad thing for American strategic objectives?

Obviously, the best solution would be if all the armed resistance and terrorism stopped and a totally political process was allowed to run its course. If this occurred, I believe the Iraqi people would be immensely better off and they would see the end of American troops in their towns and cities much sooner.

But, what if Iraq does slide into civil war, what then? Obviously, all the neighboring states would (more) openly side with the Iraqi population segment of their choosing. Iran would back the Shia and Saudi Arabia would probably back the Sunni. Other Arab states (& possibly even other, non-Arab Islamic states) would also contribute. The Kurds might be the big losers, but hopefully the US would assist them as they have been the most pro-American segment of the Iraqi population.

This would be a nightmare scenario for the Iraqi people, but it would eventually have to end and probably with some form of power-sharing agreement (assuming that the US would not allow Iran to win outright). While the war might be Lebanon-like, the end result will not be. Iraq is too big and potentially powerful for any of the other regional powers to allow one neighbor to dominate Iraq (as Syria does in Lebanon).

Another possible outcome would be some form of partition, but that would require consigning large minorities to probable tyrannical rule from their former enemies. Seems unlikely as does the idea that either the Shia or the Sunni will cede Baghdad.

Any power-sharing arrangement will have to be some form of democracy, possibly under some agreed figure-head monarch. And, if it's a success, it may be even more powerful in undermining the other corrupt, tyrannical regimes in the region as it will have been born in the Arab world rather than in Washington & London.

Like I said, this is just a thought I had over the weekend. I couldn't shake off the notion that when the strategists in the US & UK were pondering the possibilities of war with Iraq they had this same idea and decided that the worst option was the status quo.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

What a game!

24 hours after the disappointing US-Finland game (Finland won 2-1, but that wasn't the reason the game was disappointing), Canada and the Czech Republic played a game worthy of a World Cup Final. The Canadians won 4-3 in Sudden Death OT, but the Czechs are probably feeling like they'd done enough to win. Regardless, it was the first great game of the tournament and one of the best I've ever seen.

I sincerely doubt the 'slow-em-down' Finns (these guys are the opposite of 'Flying Finns') will (a) allow for such an exciting contest in Tuesday's final and (b) be able to contain the Canadians for more than half a game. I expect Canada to win the final going away.


The M50 is going to be widened to three lanes each direction. Well, duh!

I remember back in 1993 when the M50 was new I was talking to a man who worked for the ESB. {I was doing a short contract there at the time.} I told him that I thought the M50 should have been built with three lanes. He said there was no reason as we'd never have enough cars to fill even the two lanes. I said that it would take seven years to fill the road, making vague reference to something I once heard about highways in America.

Now, the authorities are about to expand the M50 to three lanes. Well, before they waste their money and time, I'd like to recommend that they expand it to 4 lanes each way. The reason? The city has grown far faster than anyone might have foreseen and there's no reason to suspect it won't do a good bit of growing yet. It's going to take 6 years to complete this project. I would guess that less than a year or two after they finish they'll be wishing they went for an 8-lane highway.

I have the same feeling about the Luas. Lots of people are proclaiming that the Luas is a big success because so many people are using it. Well, maybe that's not such a sign of success as a sign that a city of so many millions needs a proper rail infrastructure. I think the Luas should have been a full train service and I think we'll regret the decision to go for the half-measure in the not too distant future.

My God, they PRAY

This morning's Sunday Herald has the following headline: Bush and Blair 'said prayers together'. You just know the person who came up with that found the whole idea more distasteful than if Bush and Blair had gone to a brothel together.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

3 years on

I can't think of anything to say this year that I didn't say last year. Last year, I was new to blogging and I spit out a lot on September 11.

I'm still obsessed by the day, however. It's probably not healthy. I can't explain why I'm obsessed, but then again I don't feel any need to explain or justify my obsession. It just is.

I want to buy and read the 9/11 Commission report - just haven't gotten around to it yet. I watch all the television programs during the "September 11" season. Yes, there's definitely a "September 11" season, culminating today.

I read everything I can, especially if it's written by Jim Dwyer.

Still, I can't avoid 'moving on'. Each year the feelings are a little less intense. Normal, I'm sure. And, I don't feel guilty about that either. That's what is supposed to happen with the passage of time.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Irish Tribute web site

I remember back in the fall of 2001 while I was filling in some of the blanks on the Irish Tribute web site I was wondering
  1. Are the tone and content appropriate?
  2. Will the families appreciate this or resent it?
  3. How long will the site remain?
  4. Will it grow dated after a while?
Fortunately, the tone and content were appropriate. This was borne out by the the number of friends & family members who added their own tributes to the individual pages. And, obviously, I can't say how long the site will remain, but at least three years anyway.

My concerns about the site withstanding the passage of time have also been allayed. Tributes are still being added. Stephen Mulderry's page is a good case in point.

I didn't know Stephen, but I knew his brother Peter, who lived down the hall from me in college. When I think about Pete I remember a tall, bright, good-looking guy with a big smile on his face and a nice, crisp jump-shot to boot. Pete was the sort of guy you would never wish anything bad on.

When I saw Stephen's obituary in one of the Albany papers and realized he was Pete's brother I wondered about Stephen's page on the Irish Tribute site. What would the Mulderrys think?

This past May I got my answer when Mrs. Mulderry, Pete & Stephen's mother, added her own gracious words to Stephen's page.

The internet can be cold and soulless, full of malicious content. Undoubtedly it aided those who carried out the attacks on September 11.

At the same time, it can be the Irish Tribute site - a living memorial in a way that no carved stone or metal can ever be. A place where everyday people can express real love in public and where we, the public, can read such words and be up-lifted.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

By the way

Anyone who believes sports isn't educational isn't paying attention. I remember when I was 15 or so the great Peter Stastny was playing for the Quebec Nordiques. Stastny was always referred to as the "Czech" star or whatever. When he was long enough in the league (and comfortable in English & French) Stastny announced that he and his brothers, Anton & Marian, were not "Czechs", but "Slovaks". That was the first inkling I had that some of the countries of Central Europe were not all that stable.


Watching the US beat Russia in the World Cup of Hockey I couldn't help think back to the days when CCCP on a hockey jersey meant something great to watch.

Today's Russian team does have players who can skate, pass & shoot, but understandably not the teamwork that the old Soviet teams had. I rooted against those teams, but I also loved watching them play - especially on the bigger European rinks.

Yes, I'm glad the US beat Russia the other night, but the hockey fan in me was really hoping that somehow this Russian team might gel like the Soviet teams from the old days and we'd end up with a truly great final between Russia and Canada.

Electroral vote

I cannot remember whether I mentioned this map before, but it's kind of fun for the politically obsessed.


I don't know what's going on, but two posts I made yesterday apparently never made it to this site. Blogger must have been unwell. The comments provider, Haloscan, is also not faring well lately.

Anyway, just as well that yesterday evening's post was lost as I had predicted an Ireland win in the game against Switzerland (ended 1-1).

Monday, September 06, 2004

Oldest ally?

On CNN yesterday (may have been Saturday) I heard the Dutch ambassador to the US say that the Netherlands was the first country to recognize the US after the Declaration of Independence in 1776. I hadn't heard that before. {This page says that Ragusa was the first country to recognize the US, but whatever.}

The Ambassador calmly stated that the Netherlands was neither bribed nor coerced into joining the "coalition of the willing" in Iraq. John Kerry apparently referred to the coalition partners as 'coerced' and 'bribed' back in March.

The President used this against Kerry in his speech last Thursday, but some Koreans are miffed that the President didn't explicitly mention S. Korea as a member of the coalition.


The official death toll is now 394 and could go higher. This has pre-occupied me all weekend, not Bill Clinton's health (despite what I've written below), the Presidential election or Hurricane Frances.

I have to admit I was surprised that Beslan didn't feature more prominently during Mass yesterday. I was also surprised that the Hockey World Cup game between Russia and Canada went ahead on Saturday night.

Clinton's heart troubles

Dick says he's heard it all, but I've seen a lot more outrageous comments about politicians (especially President Clinton) in my time. All I was trying to say was the Clinton's heart surgery may have been more timed than he was letting on. {I knew one man who waited 5 months to have the same operation, which is why I was wondering. This was in the pre-angioplasty days, however.}

When I wrote that all I had heard was that he was going to have emergency surgery on Saturday, but Hillary wasn't canceling her engagements in upstate NY. Now, I either misheard or that was misreported on the news because Hillary did cancel her engagements after she explained why during her visit to a State Fair in Syracuse on Friday.

But, the timing couldn't have been better. By Friday morning, Clinton would have sensed the change in the momentum from the convention and probably seen some early polling data showing Kerry's campaign was in trouble. {It's also possible that Clinton never wanted to campaign for John Kerry and the convention and polls were not a consideration.}

"Clinton had agreed to campaign for Kerry in the two months before the Nov. 2 general election". And, that is exactly where we were when this announcement regarding his health was made. If the doctors told him that he had a heart problem and had to address it soon, it's possible he could have chosen a date that coincided with the end of his book promotion tour and the beginning of his campaign commitment.

Conjecture? Absolutely. Groundless? More than likely, but still not the most scandalous suggestion ever made about President Clinton.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Too cynical?

Maybe this notion is already all over the web, but I just can't shake the feeling that Bill Clinton's heart surgery was well timed. I don't doubt that he has a problem with a blockage in his arteries, but there's just this part of me that won't stop thinking he may actually have angioplasty, but we'll never know. Angioplasty would allow for a much quicker recovery and would allow him to continue campaigning for Kerry.

I suspect that Clinton knows that John Kerry's campaign is doomed and he doesn't want to be associated with it. This medical alert gets him off the hook.

By the way, I think I should add that in no way would I wish any ill on Bill Clinton. If he's as unwell as the reports seem to indicate, then of course I hope he makes a full recovery. And, if he's not so unwell then I admire his political acumen.

Friday, September 03, 2004


Just watching the news as it unfolds from S. Russia. I hope the sick feeling in my stomach is not right. I pray hundreds of children and their parents aren't dead by the end of today. This is the worst feeling I've had since September 11.

UPDATE 6:40pm: I knew I wasn't wrong. There was something about the scene and the intial reports that had convinced me that this was a disaster. The BBC is reporting that at least 150 people have died. But, it's probably worse than that.
Aslanbek Aslakhanov, an aide to Mr Putin who has just arrived in the region, said the death toll would be considerably higher than 150.
I'm sure later on I'll cool off, but right now all I feel is hate for the people who did this. I don't care if the Russian special forces may have bungled the operation - they shouldn't have had to do this in the first place. And, I'll be honest, I'm not that clear as to what's going on in Chechnya, but I sincerely doubt the Russians have deliberately targeted a school full of children.

The only way to go is down

That's what Paddy Jordan of the Irish Brewer's Association had to say about falling alcohol sales in Ireland.
Ireland has the highest consumption levels for alcohol in the EU and when you’re at the top, there is only one way to go.
It's terrible to think that so prestigious a title – Europe's Top Drinkers – may be lost.

Hard to believe that a decade ago Ireland was near the bottom in alcohol consumption.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

That's just not cricket

No, it's baseball, but you would be forgiven if you misunderstood when you saw the scoreline. The Yankees lost 22-0. At home, in front of 51,000 fans. To Cleveland.

The Germans call this Schadenfreude.


Truth is, I don't much care for the conventions. I paid zero attention to the Democrats' convention (other than to check how it affected traffic patterns around Logan Airport as I was flying out of Boston on their last night). And, I'm paying nearly the same attention to the Republicans' convention.

However, I felt a little satisfaction when I saw a report that Arnold Schwarzenegger mentioned Soviet rule in Austria in his speech last night. When I was in college, I took a history course* called European Diplomatic History 1914-Present. Anyway, as part of that course I did a major project on the Austrian State Treaty of 1955 and the post-war reunification of Austria as a neutral nation. Since the day I finished that project, I've felt a little like that treaty and the period leading up to it were in some way 'mine'.

* Anyone who says Irish education is better than American education cannot mean third level - too specialized here. I got courses in history, religion, English, etc. as part of my math degree. Here a math major studies math, and math only.

Drifting towards independence?

Or is Taiwan drifting towards confrontation? Now the opposition KMT party is moving towards a referendum policy in order to avoid being marginalized.

Meanwhile, the government is going with a 'hard sell' in an effort to become a UN member. Of course, they really do have to sort out if they are rejoining or joining. The former is out of the question as China has replaced Taiwan as the representative of the people of China. So, Taiwan needs to first state clearly that they are bidding to join in their own right as a separate nation and will make no claim to represent the people of mainland China.