Friday, April 29, 2005

Ratemyteachers rears its ugly head – again

I know this is going to bore you to tears, but I just can't get over this. Today the Irish Independent has an editorial condemning

The Independent's editorial is bemoaning the fact that Irish children are adding more comments than children in the US & Canada combined.
Irish students are putting more comments about their teachers on the site than their counterparts in the US and Canada combined. This week, the site was claiming that 35,548 teachers in Irish schools had been rated and that total ratings on the site from Ireland were now approaching the half million mark.
Before I get into whether that's true or not, I'd like to ask whether the Independent has played any role in the growth of this site. Seems pretty obvious to me that if the Irish Independent (& other papers too) didn't give this site so much publicity that it would probably have never taken off like it has. Perhaps, just perhaps, if the Independent had ignored this nonsense it would never have become a "monster".

Now, could it possibly be true that Irish children are adding comments at a rate greater than that of American and Canadian children combined? Well, as the Independent notes, more than 35,000 teachers have now been "rated" and nearly 500,000 comments have been added by Irish students. Yesterday 8,000 comments were added.

The figures for the US & Canada are:
  • total teachers rated – just over 1 million
  • total comments added – just under 7.5 million
  • total comments added yesterday – just under 9,000.
So, the total comments added by children across the US and Canada yesterday was basically same as the total added by Irish children. What does this tell us?

Well, it tells me that this is a fad and kids bore of it quickly. If the Independent and the rest of Irish media had just ignored this it would probably have just quietly faded away. Time to give it a rest.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Rehashing the war

The justification for the war is back in the headlines again this week on both sides of the Atlantic. Over here, it's thanks to the leak that compelled the British government to release the advice of the Attorney General on the legality of the war (his full advice here). In the US it's the reemergence of the WMD issue thanks to the publication of the final report of the weapons inspectors.

All of this is somewhat tiresome, but at the same time I think it's good that we have as much information in the public domain as possible. And, it's good that people keep pressuring those with responsibility for making decisions on war or peace to ensure that they justify their decisions properly.

I was in favor of the war, but not for any of the reasons ever put forward by either the US or UK governments. I was in favor of the war because I felt it was the only way out of a bad situation created by some very bad decisions during the 1990s. The 1991* war with Iraq was a disaster because it was inconclusive (a conclusion would have required a new regime in Iraq) and because it tied our hands unnecessarily.

The result of the war was a a sanctions regime enforced by the US & UK and permanent US force in Saudi Arabia. The sanctions regime and the US forces in Saudi, combined with the collapse in oil prices during the 90s, helped fuel anti-Americanism in the Arab world. Additionally, the global conditions that allowed the UN Security Council to agree on the war with Iraq in 1990/91, changed drastically by 2001 and meant the Security Council was now like a pair of hand-cuffs on the US, and especially, the UK by then.

This situation was bad enough, but after September 11 it was unacceptable and required a solution. As far as I was concerned, there were only two possible solutions: abandon the sanctions regime and leave Saddam unchecked or remove him. I thought the former was too risky an option, so I favored the latter. I suspect that the Bush Administration was of the same mind-set, but didn't use that justification because it meant saying publicly that Bush senior was a disaster as a President.

However, they admitted as much with the justifications that they did put forward. Each of them – Saddam's a threat to the region; Saddam has links with terrorists; Saddam wants to acquire WMD, including nukes; Saddam terrorizes his own people – was also true in 1991, only more so. The only justification for the current war that ever made sense to me was that we dug ourselves into a big hole and we need to get out. This is the way out.

* Just to set the record straight, I was opposed to the first Gulf War.

R rated Bruce

I haven't bought Springsteen's new album yet. I'm sure I will, it's just a matter of time. I was all set to get it this week until yesterday, when I got an e-mail from a friend of mine that made me hesitant.

A couple of years ago, my friend and I had discussed how we had both played The Rising for our children. This was their introduction to Springsteen.

Before I knew anything about the new album I had mentioned to my children that I would be getting it and playing it for them. My friend's e-mail knocked me down a bit.

My friend's significantly less up-tight than I am, but he told me that one of the songs is so explicit that he can't play the album with the kids around. With a tip like that I had to go find out for myself. And he's right. I can't play the song Reno for my teen and pre-teen children. The song begins (and, yes, that's my editing in there):
She took off her stockings, I held them to my face.
She had your ankles, I felt filled with grace.
"Two hundred dollars straight in,
Two-fifty up the a**," she smiled and said.
She unbuckled my belt, pulled back her hair,
And sat in front of me on the bed.
She said, "Honey how's that feel, do you want me to go slow?"
My eyes drifted out the window, down to the road below.
Of course, Bruce is an adult writing songs that are not really aimed at the teen market. I have books in the house that are (I'm sure) more explicit than that, but that's not the point.

I had been looking forward to playing the new album for the kids. Now I have to censor Bruce Springsteen. The new album will be like some forbidden fruit, hidden away from the kids until they're old enough to be able to handle such content. Or, maybe, I just won't get it.

How Catholic were the Irish?

Not very, according to this article in this week's Irish Echo. 150 years ago Archbishop Cullen of Dublin and Archbishop Hughes of New York were so distressed by the fact that such a large portion of the Irish population was Catholic in name only that they initiated a "devotional revolution".
In pre-Famine Ireland, for example, only 30 to 40 percent of the population attended Mass and many who identified themselves as Catholic had virtually no knowledge of the faith's dogma and practices. Worse still, many still clung to pre-Christian pagan rituals and beliefs that had never fully died out after Ireland was converted to Christianity by Patrick and his successor missionaries. The response of Cullen and Hughes was to launch a campaign to instill faith, orthodoxy, and obedience among the people, a process historian Emmet Larkin famously dubbed, the "devotional revolution."
Maybe this is a well known fact of Irish history, but I wasn't aware of it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

They was talking good

I was listening to Newstalk this afternoon and heard a retired officer from the Irish National Teachers Organisation defending teachers' work. He cited international statistics on literacy to support his case.

All fine. I wasn't paying that much attention any way.

Ten minutes later during a different report on the same station, a Fine Gael spokesman displayed a complete disregard for the most basic rules of English grammar. This man opted to use only the singular form of any verb regardless of the subject.

Simplifying the language. Pure genius, only I hope that retired teacher had switched off his radio.

Doing background checks

I just went to Google and searched for "Michael E. Sachs". The first item was a site called sells reports about doctors. I didn't buy one, but they do have one available about Dr. Michael Sachs for $7.95. I'd love to know if the Sunday Independent bought one. From the one sample I saw, it looks like they'd have received a fair amount of information from which to build a better profile on Dr. Sachs before getting in too deep with him for their feature story.

This from the Times's article really bothers me
"If this guy is fit to practice medicine in the United States, who are we to say he's not fit to practice?" said Brendan O'Connor, the editor of The Sunday Independent magazine.
It's not a matter of saying whether Dr. Sachs is "fit to practice", but whether he's running the type of medical practice that the Sunday Independent should be promoting (and that is what their article did for Dr. Sachs).

Dr. Sachs

I was surprised that RTE's report on last night's 9:00 news on the death of the Irish woman after plastic surgery in New York made no comment on the part that some Irish newspapers may have played in directing the unfortunate woman, Kay Cregan, towards Dr. Michael Sachs.

RTE's report noted that the New York Medical Examiner is investigating and that "since her death it has emerged that the surgeon has a history of malpractice claims against him". That last phrase is true, but RTE could have indicated that this fact could have emerged before her death. In fact, it could have emerged around the time the Sunday Independent decided to do a big feature on Dr. Sachs

I don't think this is just a matter of RTE scoring some points at the expense of the Sunday Independent. There is a public interest in asking the Sunday Independent about their efforts to check on the background of Dr. Sachs. So far, only the NY Times seems to be asking the questions.

Happy puppy

Bruce Springsteen tickets were hard to get around here when they went on sale recently. All 6,500 tickets were sold in 40 seconds.

Needless to say, I didn't manage to get one. Neither did Chris, but she's since acquired one through eBay. To say the least, she's upbeat about the prospect of her first ever concert.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Kissing the Pope's ring

Sometimes I see things or read comments in the news that surprise me, but when I see no reaction in the media or online I figure that what I've seen isn't all that surprising really. Had just such a reaction on Sunday watching the news on Pope Benedict.

The President's brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, led the US delegation at the Pope's inauguration Mass. I hadn't expected to see Governor Bush kneel to kiss the Pope's ring, but he did. {I can't find a picture of the moment anywhere. This picture, which shows Governor Bush kneeling in front of the Pope, is the nearest I could find.}

When I saw Governor Bush kneel and kiss the Pope's ring my first instinct was, "Wow, what a long way from 1960". Then I remembered reading that there was some upset in Mexico when President Vincente Fox knelt to kiss John Paul II's ring a couple of years ago. I wondered what the press would make of Governor Bush's actions.

At the time I wasn't aware that the President's brother had converted to Catholicism. When I heard that it made his actions more understandable, but I was still convinced that people would be offended that the man leading the official delegation from the US had knelt before the Pope.

But, I was wrong. I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere. Did I just miss the reaction?


DaMarcus Beasley, American soccer player now playing for PSV Eindhoven, apparently never experienced overt racism before his move to Europe.
In his first Eindhoven game, a Champions League qualifier against Red Star Belgrade in Serbia and Montenegro last August, Beasley, who is African-American, was rudely welcomed to European soccer.

"Whenever I got the ball they would whistle, boo and make monkey noises. That was my first real racism experience," Beasley says. "I tried to block it out of my head and play. You have 65,000 people screaming at you and it's only you. It's crazy."

On the road in the Netherlands, Beasley faces similar treatment at times.
Probably says as much about the progress the US has made in combating racism as it does about how far Europe has to go still. Indiana, Beasley's home state, would not have been known as a bastion of tolerance in the past.

I love the fact that Beasley is only 5'7" and 125 lbs.

Kansas City vs New York

I like this little story from today's NY Times. In 1957 former Yankee Billy Martin was playing his first game in the Bronx for his new team, the Kansas City A's. Before the game Cardinal Spellman, who was at the game, called Martin over.
Spellman asked Martin how he liked Kansas City. "Oh, just fine, Your Eminence," Martin answered. The more Martin thought about the prelate's kindly question, though, the gloomier he got. "How do I like it in Kansas City?" Martin mused once he was back on the field. "I wanted to ask him, 'How would you like it in Kansas City?' "

Monday, April 25, 2005

Wi Fi

I know it's not new, but it is to me. I can't believe how easy it was to set up my new Netgear wireless router. My house is a hot spot. I'll be sleeping in a hot spot. Is this like living near a mobile phone mast?

Now to figure out what WEP is . . .

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Using the media

The NY Times takes up the story of the Irish woman who died after having plastic surgery in New York. Sad story, but one with a cautionary tale for the the Irish media.
Examining Mrs. Cregan's knapsack after her death, her family found a folded copy of an article from The Sunday Independent of Ireland. It was a glowing account of a face-lift performed by Dr. Sachs, "a leading cosmetic and facial reconstruction surgeon" in the United States, the article said, with a "highly confidential client list."

. . . Her journey from Ireland to a private operating room in Manhattan offers a cautionary tale about the ability of doctors with tarnished records to promote themselves to trusting patients and the news media's role in abetting these efforts.
The article goes on to explain how Dr. Sachs was featured in the Irish Examiner and on Ireland AM on TV3. Eventually Sachs agreed to do a free face-lift for an Irish woman in exchange for a front page article in the Sunday Independent's magazine.
The result of his agreement with Mrs. Donaghy was a cover article in the Independent's Sunday magazine. "People have been stopping me on the street to tell me how good I look," Mrs. Donaghy was quoted as saying. "I'm having the time of my life." The article gave contact information and a Web site for Dr. Sachs but omitted any mention of the problems he faced.

"If this guy is fit to practice medicine in the United States, who are we to say he's not fit to practice?" said Brendan O'Connor, the editor of The Sunday Independent magazine. But Mr. O'Connor said last week he was unaware of the 33 lawsuits or the restrictions placed on Dr. Sachs by New York State health authorities.
This is especially damning:
Although Mrs. Cregan may not have had the expertise to decode Dr. Sachs's résumé, an Internet search might have revealed his inclusion in The Daily News's list of most sued doctors. A New York State-run Web site,, lists medical malpractice judgments and disciplinary actions against doctors.
Whatever about Mrs. Cregan's internet search, I have to believe that there is someone in the Sunday Independent (& the Examiner and TV3) who could have unearthed this information.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

9/11 Report – Chapter Two

In chapter 2 of the 9/11 Commission Report (did I happen to mention I'm a very slow reader?) Osama bin Laden's worldview is explained and put in historical context. I've read a fair bit about this since September 11, but this report provides a good summary. The second chapter doesn't move as quickly as chapter 1, but it's equally well written and easy to read.

This chapter has most of what I wanted to know on September 12, 2001, essentially:
  1. Who are these people?
  2. What motivates them?
Of course, I knew about the previous attacks – in Somalia, on the World Trade Center '93, Khobar Towers, and the African embassies – yet I never really tried to understand what was happening after any of those attacks. The chapter does an excellent job of illustrating just how much the government really didn't (& still doesn't) know and how much of al Qaeda's development remains a vague fog (at least officially, publicly) for the government.

"John Paul the Straight"?

Perhaps the oddest comment of the past few weeks with regards to the death of John Paul II and election of Benedict XVI was made by Declan Lynch in his Sunday Independent television review column on April 10.
And I can add just a couple of observations to the millions which have already been made. For the past week we have seen perhaps thousands of churchmen on television, we have heard them saying their pieces, and we have observed that the majority of them, if not exactly gay, have a certain indefinable quality of gayness about them.

How do you know ? Ah, you just know.

At first you pass no remarks on it, but there's a sort of a cumulative effect of all this gayness on our screens, all day every day - not that there's anything wrong with it.

The late Pope, by contrast, was made of different stuff. He clearly didn't have a gay bone in his body. Perhaps in some subliminal way this was the basis of all those descriptions of his "vigour", his determination to take the road less travelled.

Pope John Paul the Great was also Pope John Paul the Straight. And by the looks of it, we will not see his like again.

Friday, April 22, 2005

"God's rottweiler"

The other night EWTN had a short interview with Cardinal Pell from Sydney. The questions came from Fr. Neuhaus.

(from memory)
Fr. Neuhaus: . . . do you think there will be a discussion on a married clergy and would you welcome such a discussion?

Cardinal Pell: No, I would not welcome such a discussion . . . And I don't think Pope Benedict will instigate such a discussion.
The emphatic nature of Cardinal Pell's response and his whole manner indicated that he's not a man to be messed with. In fact, if I take some liberties and try to read between the lines, I half suspect that Cardinal Pell is a little concerned that Pope Benedict is not going to be firm enough. I would say he definitely doesn't buy this rottweiler business.


Went to see a girls' basketball final this afternoon. There were probably 150 or so girls from the two schools there to watch the game. I have to say that standing in a gym with 150 girls watching a game is the equivalent of standing at the stage for an AC/DC concert. I have this ringing noise in my ears . . .

At least the right team won and we'll have a happy face at the dinner table tonight.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

More on Benedict XVI

The NY Times finds that there's pretty much nothing to Benedict's "Nazi past".

Gerard Baker has been enjoying the media reaction to Joseph Ratzinger's elevation to the Papacy.
Journalists and pundits for whom the Catholic Church has long been an object of anthropological curiosity fringed with patronising ridicule have really let themselves go since the new pontiff emerged. Indeed most of the coverage I have seen or read could be neatly summarised as: "Cardinals elect Catholic Pope. World in Shock."
Dr. Vincent Twomey provides more insights into what sort of man Joseph Ratzinger is. Twomey studied under Professor Ratzinger at the University in Regensburg, where Twomey was a student in 1971.
He is unprepossessing to meet, his intellectual brilliance and extraordinary memory hidden behind a pleasant demeanour, betrayed only by his piercing eyes and occasional witticism.

Not exactly physically robust, his lifestyle is simple. He never drove a car, and walks to work each day, as he did as professor. He flies economy class. An avid reader, he also enjoys walks in the countryside, and conversation with his friends. He is a man of simple faith and remarkable moral courage, both of which he inherited from his beloved parents.

Joseph Ratzinger is, in the final analysis, a man of prayer - his spiritual writings are refreshing - rooted in the liturgy, the reform of which he has promoted through his recent writings. His celebration of the Requiem Mass reflected both his theory and practice of union with God in Christ.
I remain hopeful and see nothing to fear.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


In the previous centuries, Evangelization mostly meant bringing the gospel to Africa, S. America, wherever. Today, however, much of the Church's efforts are focused on W. Europe & N. America.

This was a big part of John Paul's papacy and I think the Pope Benedict will continue this work. As far as John Paul was concerned many Catholics had drifted so far away from doctrine that they were Catholic in name only. The Gospel had to be brought to them again.

It seems to me that John Paul II was willing to live with a (possibly) much smaller, but stronger Church that is committed to its traditions and doctrines. This small, strong Church would then be in a better position to provide an alternative to today's secularist, relativist world.

It also seems to me that John Paul II essentially decided to skip a generation – the "me" generation – and focus on the next generation. The world youth days were a big part of that. Those young Catholics are to be the Church's evangelizers this century.

That possible trend I noted last week would be part of that. So would the growth of student movements advocating abstinence and reviving Catholic traditions.

Whether these are just blips or the real beginnings of a revival of Orthodoxy among Catholics (in the US & elsewhere) is impossible to say. It's also too early to evaluate whether this approach is the right one, but those Christian Churches that would be called "hard-line" or "conservative" are also the ones experiencing the greatest growth. Something I'm sure that is not lost on Benedict XVI.

Benedict XVI

Wow! Amazing how much nonsense and garbage is in the papers this morning. It's almost like Bush has been elected again.

Most of the columns and editorials are really only nonsensical because they wanted a public campaign and public vote and instead had to make do with pre-election rumors and post-election silence.

Therefore, all they have are the ridiculous references to the Pope's "Hitler Youth" experiences. An example of the garbage is in the editorial from today's Guardian. "[Ratzinger] is a name that will clamp the cold hand of foreboding round the hearts of all who care about the developing world". What? I think the Guardian has taken that 'Panzer Cardinal' stuff to heart and figures that Benedict XVI is going to roll over Africa.

According to this article, Nigerian Catholics are jubilant. Not everyone in the "developing world" is so fearful.

Here's a good article by David Quinn on his meeting with Cardinal Ratzinger in the mid 1990s.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Brokerage party

Canada's Liberal Party has been in power for twelve years and "for almost 80 of the past 109 years". David Frum describes the Liberals' problems in today's NY Times.

Frum says Canada's Liberals are
not a party built around certain policies and principles. They are instead what political scientists call a brokerage party, similar to the old Italian Christian Democrats or India's Congress Party: a political entity without fixed principles or policies that exploits the power of the central state to bribe or bully incompatible constituencies to join together to share the spoils of government.
I think I've heard something similar about Fiann Fáil once or twice.

Cardinal Ratzinger

I wanted to say something about Cardinal Ratzinger's homily yesterday, but I couldn't think of anything really concrete to offer. I didn't find the full text of what he said, so I'm dependent on the newspapers for snippets. I like this quote.
We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognise anything as definitive and has as its highest value one's own ego and one's own desires.
According to the papers Ratzinger's homily was either an impassioned defence of orthodoxy or a campaign speech. My own totally uninformed gut feeling says that Cardinal Ratzinger will not be the next Pope, but we'll see. I will be neither shocked nor disappointed if he is, but I just don't think it'll be him.

I reject the hatchet job that the Sunday Times (London) did on him. Cardinal Ratzinger was in the Hitler Youth and also the German Army. The Times's article also tells us that Ratzinger's 1987 statement on Jews, Jewish history and Jesus was "denounced by critics as 'theological anti-semitism'". I'm no theologian, not even an amateur one, but this article from Jewish Week makes no mention of Ratzinger's anti-semitism and seems to indicate that he has endorsed a major shift in thinking on Jews and the coming Messiah.

As Sam Ser writing in the Jerusalem Post notes, Ratzinger was only 14 when he joined and quit the Hitler Youth and not yet 17 when he deserted the Germany Army. He also points out that Ratzinger believes in Jesus "so strongly that – gasp! – he thinks that everyone, even Jews, should accept him as the messiah". As Ser said, "This is news?!". Ser goes on to say the following about Ratzinger:
If he were truly a Nazi sympathizer, then it would undoubtedly have become evident during the past 60 years. Yet throughout his service in the church, Ratzinger has distinguished himself in the field of Jewish-Catholic relations.

As prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger played an instrumental role in the Vatican's revolutionary reconciliation with the Jews under John Paul II. He personally prepared Memory and Reconciliation, the 2000 document outlining the church's historical "errors" in its treatment of Jews. And as president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, Ratzinger oversaw the preparation of The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible, a milestone theological explanation for the Jews' rejection of Jesus.

If that's theological anti-Semitism, then we should only be so lucky to "suffer" more of the same.
UPDATE: So much for gut feelings. Cardinal Ratzinger is the new Pope. Pope Benedict XVI

Monday, April 18, 2005

What's going on in China?

On the surface, the people of 4 big cities have taken to the streets to protest new history textbooks being used in Japan. At first glance, this isn't much of an issue really and it would be hard to fault the Chinese people for being upset if Japan is down-playing what was done to the Chinese during World War II.

But, dig a little deeper and you start to find that the cracks in Japan-China relations are far deeper than schoolbook renderings of Second World War atrocities. The Chinese are making a big push for a dominant regional, if not global, role. They are in dispute with the Japanese on a range of issues (Taiwan, UN Security Council membership, disputed islands in the East China Sea), threatening the Taiwanese, making new deals with India, Pakistan and Iran.

China's trying to win enough friends to ensure that it's economic growth can continue unfettered while also flexing its regional muscles to keep Japan and Taiwan in their respective boxes. However, the Japanese and Taiwanese are not keen on remaining in their boxes. The Japanese are seeking a bigger role for themselves and the Taiwanese are getting close to declaring their independence from China.

Relations between China and Japan have soured to the point that rumors that Japan might boycott the 2008 Olympics have begun to surface.

The People's Daily (Chinese government run paper) reports that Chinese-Japanese relations are "at a crossroads" according to a Chinese State councilor. What he means is that Japan is not being the pacifist punching bag that the Chinese have grown used to over the past few decades.

It's worth nothing that street protests, such as we have been seeing in China recently, don't take place there without tacit government approval and they may actually being used by the Chinese government to deflect attention from their own failures.

Irish boxing

I'm not a big fan of boxing, but two Irish boxers are making the American news lately. First, Kevin McBride has been announced as Mike Tyson's next opponent. McBride is not expected to beat Tyson, but the Boston Herald explains that McBride's not to be taken lightly either.

The Herald refers to McBride as the "Clones Colossus", but according to the Sunday Life, McBride is from Smithboro (Smithborough?), which I suppose in global terms is close enough.

The New York Times had an article last week about John Duddy, who's from Ireland originally, but now living in New York. According to the Times Duddy is the "city's latest great boxing hope". Duddy found out that being Irish in NY is a big advantage for a boxer because he can always count on a good following. "I never knew how lucky I was to be Irish till I came to America," he said.

So far Duddy, whose father was a successful boxer in Ireland, is 9-0 and looking for a bout with a contender. The next Barry McGuigan, perhaps?


The first soccer game I ever sat down to watch was the 1985 European Cup Final between Liverpool & Juventus. I was on a three week back pack tour of Britain & Ireland and happened to be in a cousins' house that night. They put the t.v. on to watch and I was told that it was "Europe's Superbowl".

Of course, what I saw was just incredible. I'd been to many sporting events in my life to that point and I had never witnessed anything like it. Not even close. I had seen the occasional beer-fueled fist-fight and some bloody noses at Madison Square Garden, but that was the extent of it.

I remember peppering my cousins with all sorts of questions – Why are so many people standing?; Why are they so tightly packed in?; Why aren't they sectioned off?; Why do they sit/stand in large blocks instead of mixed together? – as I tried to understand what was happening. Gradually, as the full horror began to sink in, I was asking fewer questions and getting even fewer answers.

Two and a half hours (or whatever it was) after the scheduled start when they finally kicked off the only question I had was, "Why are the players out there kicking a ball around?". My cousins felt the same way. Figuring that 30+ dead people merited at least a postponement, they switched off the television.

Last night the BBC had a look back at the tragedy in Brussels. They had interviews with players, coaches, fans, government officials and police & medical service personnel. Most of it was fairly straight-forward, but what was most interesting was the footage of the players and fans taken when the game ended. It was as if all that mattered was the game. The Juventus players & fans celebrated even though they all knew something awful had happened earlier. Strange and definitely not a good advertisement for soccer or sports in general.

Twenty years later the one unanswered question I had from 1985 is only partially answered. Mark Lawrensen said that he now realizes he didn't have to play, but at the time he was basically he told that he did. He clearly wasn't thinking straight at the time, but in hindsight I think he regrets that he played.

There was much less regret from the officials who made the decision to play the game. They're still justifying that decision on the grounds that they feared the trouble would be worse. At the time I didn't buy it and it seems even flimsier now.

Is this really possible?

Five months ago I realized that Daniel O'Donnell had something of a following in the US. Now, I read that his recent program on Showtime* was seen by 66m people! Did these people think it was Super Bowl Sunday and just tuned in the wrong channel? What's going on here?

Mary Duff also performed on Daniel's show:
"My knees were knocking, when news of the huge audience numbers began coming in.

"But it illustrates how incredibly popular Daniel is.

"He has, in a very short time, built up a fantastic following in the States - more so than any other Irish or British artist."
I'm still trying to absorb that last statement. From what I see here that statement might be true, which is truly frightening.

UPDATE: Thanks to Richard, I now know that the program wasn't on Showtime, but PBS. And, I also know the "66m viewers" is bogus.

* Just wanted to note that for some reason Showtime doesn't allow people outside the US to view their web site. That strikes me as really odd.

Bush knows his baseball

From today's Washington Post:
[Nationals President Tony] Tavares, who had chatted with President Bush and Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, said Bush was "so up on the game that it's astounding." At one point, he said by way of example, a question arose as to who was the best catcher in the National League.

"I blanked on who catches for the Phillies," Tavares said. "I asked the commissioner. He didn't know. The president said, '[Mike] Lieberthal.' "
Of course, without baseball it's possible that Bush would not be President today.
Mr. Bush also told them that he started paying attention to the Nationals lineup during spring training, that he kept close track of Rangers games (and the Houston Astros and others) via his White House satellite dish and that while he did not know if he would have won the presidency without his experience in baseball, it was a "good question."

Friday, April 15, 2005

9/11 Report

I'm finally getting around to reading the 9/11 Commission Report. I've only read the first chapter, but here are a few quick observations:
  1. I'm amazed how well written it is. I had expected it to be like most government reports - dense and tedious. This report is neither. I was gripped by Chapter One, particularly the initial passages describing what happened to the four aircraft and the attempts to track them (although I don't think there was anything there that I didn't already know). I hadn't anticipated that.

  2. I was surprised at my response. My heart raced and the rage surged through me again. I don't think this is a bad thing. In fact, I think it's good to be reminded of what that day felt like. How innocent the victims were. How innocent we all were. How unprepared the government was.

  3. It was interesting (to me) to learn that that the passengers on Flight 93 probably did prevent a big disaster in Washington. I had always figured that the plane was so much later than the others that it would have been shot down if the passengers hadn't brought it down. Reading this report it seems much more likely that confusion would have prevented the Air Force jets from getting an order to do just that in time to prevent it hitting its target.
I don't know if I'll post lots or little as I read the report. I guess it'll depend on whether anything strikes me that makes me think I should post it here.

Baseball in Croke Park

I never knew until today that there was a baseball game at Croke Park once.
Rather more than fifty years ago, not long after the War, there was a baseball match in Croke Park in aid of the Irish Red Cross.

The teams were American servicemen flown in from Air Force bases in England: the Burtonwood Dodgers and the Mildenhall Yankees.

With them they brought mini-skirted cheerleaders, described memorably by Paddy Purcell as having "whipped the crowd into a frenzy of apathy." The proceedings were boring, the performance dire and the entertainment value nil.
One question that leaps to mind is – 'What made them think that anyone in Ireland would want to see a baseball game'?

I have to admit that I'm a bit dubious about that "mini-skirted cheerleaders" claim seeing as mini-skirts weren't the fashion at the time and cheerleaders are still fairly rare at baseball games. Still, it's possible that a selection of leggy Yanks was brought along in case baseball didn't fill the coffers of the Red Cross.

Of course it was only fair seeing as the All-Ireland Final was played in the Polo Grounds, home of the NY Giants, in 1947.

ICT Expo

I remember when the Information Communication Technologies Expos were something to look forward to. I'm not sure if it's because we're just so blasé about new technologies today or that the people running the Expo have run out of ideas, but this year's Expo was a very poor imitation of the ones I remember from the 1990s. I hadn't been to one recently and I was pretty disappointed yesterday. I was in and out in about 40 minutes.

Working during school

I read a short post by Frank and a couple of comments about the value of part-time work during high school.

I actually think high school classes are far more over-rated than part-time jobs when it comes to educational value. I believe education is a good thing, but comparing my classes – Trigonometry, Literature, American history, Physics – with the lessons I got through work – dealing with people from different backgrounds and ages, handling (somebody else's) money, reporting crimes, cleaning up after filthy people – I have to admit that working was a much more practical education than was school.

During high school I had two jobs: groundskeeper for a shopping center and gas station attendant.

I learned a ton of stuff in both of those jobs, more in the gas station where I was responsible for taking the money and balancing up at night. I did basic bookkeeping for the station and got to make up the bills for the repair work.

Working allowed me to interact with adults in a way I never had before. I didn't call people Mr. or Ms. this or that. I was calling people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and older by their first names for the first time. I was responsible for getting things done in a way I never was (or could have been) at home. These weren't my parents who might yell if I let them down, but would still love me and feed me, etc. These people wouldn't have given a second's thought to cutting me loose if I couldn't handle the position responsibly.

Through my jobs I met people from my town from a whole social strata that I'd never had much interaction with before. Even kids from my school who I didn't know because they were in different classes and not academically inclined or ambitious. A lot of long-haired "metal-heads" used to come in to buy gas or cigarettes and we would talk. I discovered that most of these guys were really nice fellas and a couple of them were fairly smart, but they didn't give a damn about school. It was an eye opener for me to know that not everyone was that worked up about school/college/good jobs.

I'd have learned all this someday, but I've always been glad to have learned these things when I did.

Krauthammer adopts the Nats

Charles Krauthammer has found baseball, again, and is now a fan of the Washington Nationals. At least he's not abandoning the Mets as David Brooks was contemplating last month.

It's an enjoyable article, although I really don't get his light-hearted approach to being a fan. Chopping and changing teams or taking crushing defeats with equanimity is NOT what it's all about. It's about enduring.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Young, conservative and Catholic

The New York Times reports today that this is a growing force in the Church, one that is quite possibly a shock to people who remember Paul VI's election.

This movement is not confined to the US or any one particular country either.
Data from the World Values Survey, gathered by researchers in 58 countries, tends to bear out impressions of a conservative trend. It shows that the "millennial generation" of young Catholics - those born in 1982 or later - has returned to the traditional religious attitudes and behavior of generations born before World War II, said Mark M. Gray, a research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. The values survey, coordinated by the University of Michigan, has been conducted periodically since 1981 by researchers who pool their data and make it available to scholars.

Catholics in the "millennial generation" are more likely to attend Mass weekly, pray every day, feel that religion is important and have a lot of confidence in the church than Catholics in either the Vatican II generation (born 1943 to 1960) or those in the Post-Vatican II generation (1961 to 1981), he said.
All those who think the Church has to "move with the times" just might find that the times have moved right back to the Church.

If this movement is more than just a blip, then I think it will be John Paul II's greatest legacy. Is there a man in the conclave who can keep it going?

Steroids for asthma sufferers

People who suffer from mild asthma are apparently as well off to take their inhaler only when they need it and to skip the prescribed daily steroid dose. Interestingly, the author of the report – results published in the New England Journal of Medicine yesterday – said that many people just stop taking the steroids because either they get no instant relief or they worry about the side-effects.

That's me. I love being in charge of what I take and frequently just opt out of the prescribed steroid (I'm worried I'll test positive when I get my big break and join the Mets). Now I have some science to back me up.

My brother, however, claims that his daily use of the steroid a few years ago "cured" him. He hasn't used his inhaler since and his asthma was a more serious condition than mine. So, I still don't know, but I'll probably keep doing what I've been doing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Malicious comments by students

Somewhat related to the post directly below . . .

Teachers' unions need to accept that the internet is the bathroom wall of the 21st century. I can't believe that the unions are still kicking up about Sure, I can accept that some of them might not like it, but it seems completely counter-productive to be so upset about it. I know that the site could possibly be used to post malicious comments about teachers or even other students, but isn't this just another manifestation of what is commonplace? Malicious talk and malicious graffiti have long been part of the school scene.

I would have thought that what made this web site remarkable is that nearly all the ratings and comments are very positive. Teachers could/should (if they want) incorporate the site into discussions on rights and responsibilities or they could just ignore it.

What I hadn't realized until today was that there's also a section for parents to comment. Found that thanks to the press the teachers' unions keep giving the site. I had actually forgotten about it until today's article.

Blogging notches another big win

Last week RTE's Big Bite featured a discussion on blogging with several Irish bloggers participating.

A big part of the discussion was really an introduction to the whole idea of blogging. I know anyone who has been reading them regularly since the 2000 US Presidential election or September 11, 2001 is probably a little stunned to find that most people in Ireland have never heard of blogs. Nothing has happened here to drag blogging into the mainstream consciousness. It's only a matter of time before that occurs.

When it happens, I expect it will be due to something similar to what's been going on in Canada. The Christian Science Monitor explains how an American blogger forced the Canadian judge who heads a Canadian government inquiry to lift a publication ban. Ed Morrissey of Captains Quarters has been getting the testimony that the judge ordered not to be published and he's been publishing it on his blog.

The inquiry story will not sound unfamiliar to any Irish reader even if the details are not quite the same (government money designated for spending on a specific project somehow ended up in the coffers of the ruling party). We've had so many inquiries over the past decade that I can't even remember all their names or whether there were any days when the testimony was "not to be published".

However, it seems inevitable to me that someday soon some blogger, probably based outside this state, is going to start publishing details about public officials or goings on that are in breach of Irish secrecy or (more likely) libel laws. This issue has arisen a few times in the past with various web sites (including my own on many occasions), but I think the nature of the blogging network will make it a much bigger story.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

iPod One

There's an awful lot (of press, on-line discussion, etc.) about what exactly is on President Bush's iPod thanks to yesterday's NY Times, but I haven't actually been able to find the full 250 song playlist. Is it available on-line?

There's some interest in the fact that the President is listening to My Sharona by The Knack. I suppose we should be grateful that it isn't President Clinton whose iPod has just been found to include My Sharona. I wonder if the President will be adding Good Girls Don't to his playlist?

Cardinal Law

Can anyone offer a reasonable explanation for Cardinal Law's involvement in yesterday's Mass at St. Peter's?

This explanation is just not sufficient for me:
Cardinal Law resigned as archbishop of Boston in December 2002, after nearly a year of devastating disclosures about priests accused of sexual abuse whom he had permitted to remain in parish work. After a year of insisting that resigning was not an option, he stepped down soon after a judge unsealed church records in a court case, including correspondence showing that the cardinal wrote letters praising priests he knew were pedophiles.

The cardinal initially retreated to a convent in Maryland, but he was appointed 11 months ago to become the archpriest of one of Rome's four most prestigious churches, the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

Vatican officials said Cardinal Law was among the prelates chosen to preside over nine days of Masses for John Paul because it is a custom for the archpriest of his basilica to do so.
Some customs should be ignored, particularly when it looks like you're thumbing your nose at the victims of a crime you played a part in. Everything that the last two weeks have been about has been tainted for me and for many others in the US. Why?

"We're looking for a few good men"

Watching a long documentary on John Paul II on Sunday reminded me of my own suggestion that the Church needs to change the style of the priesthood to suit the modern world. The Pope's hard young life prepared him well for the rigors of his life as a priest. That hard young life is not the norm for anyone coming of age in today's Europe or N. America.

The modern (western) world is a great challenge for any priest. "Indulge yourself" is the credo for our times. Rather than shunning, we seem to be embracing the seven deadly sins as virtues. Avoiding temptation is harder now than it's ever been.

In order to prepare men to be priests in these times the Church needs to emphasize, and not deny, how difficult this mission is. The Church needs to recruit tough men.

I remember the Marines (U.S.) used to run ads on t.v. with the slogan, "We're looking for a few good men". Everything about those ads indicated that the men who took up this challenge had to be tough men. That's what the Church needs.

The Church needs tough men and they need a regime suitable for tough men. Seminary life should include a hard physical fitness regime. Mental toughness must also be part of the program. After leaving the seminary priests should be urged to maintain a high level of physical fitness and mental toughness.

Self denial in this age of excess is a difficult calling, but one which I believe will appeal to far more young men than today's half-hearted efforts to attract men to the priesthood.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Stalin & the Pope

How many times have you seen this quote in the past week: "The pope! How many divisions has he got?"? Charles Krauthammer was only one of many who made reference to it.

Well, Eoghan Harris in yesterday's Sunday Independent says Stalin never said any such thing.
In his critique of the Pope, Fintan made a mistake of attribution when he wrote: "John Paul himself was the catalyst for the collapse of the Soviet imperium, providing an ironic answer to Stalin's favourite question about how many divisions the Pope could muster."

Stalin said no such thing. But Fintan is not at fault. Winston Churchill is the flawed source. Following him, the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations wrongly attributes the saying to Stalin. In fact it is a corruption of Napoleon's reply to his envoy to Rome, who had asked him how to treat the Pope: "Treat him as if he had two hundred thousand men."
Could he really be right? Is this most used quote from the past week actually a fabrication?

The Evangelical Pope

The Boston Globe has a good article about the evolution in the relations between Evangelical Protestants and Catholics in the US over the past 40+ years. It's an article that Christiane Amanpour should read. Based on what I heard her say last Thursday about President Bush's presence at the Pope's funeral, I suspect she doesn't seem to realize how much the relationship between Evangelicals and Catholics has changed since the 1960 election.

Pope's Funeral Mass

I watched the Pope's funeral on Friday – twice. First time in the morning I watched RTE, BBC or TV3, whichever station was doing the least talking. Later I watched it again (I missed big chunks of it in the morning due to too many family interruptions) on EWTN. I've watched EWTN more in the past week than in all the weeks combined since it was added to our cable system. It was easily the best station for real insight into the history and tradition of papal funerals and the coming selection process.

It was sort of interesting changing from the RTE to the BBC. The BBC felt a need to explain the Mass much more than RTE did.

My one complaint with all the coverage was the translation. Did we really need that? I was enjoying hearing the Mass in Italian/Latin and didn't need a translation to tell me what was happening. Maybe sub-titles should have been used? I was particularly surprised by EWTN because I think they could assume that most of their viewers are fairly regular Mass attendees, who wouldn't need a translation of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, for example. Didn't Mel Gibson put paid to the notion that we need everything dubbed into English?

Mr. Adams' words

I'm no linguistic expert. Far from it, in fact. I do like the idea that there are rules to grammar, but I can't always remember them. My understanding of the rules is only confused by the fact that they are different in the US from this side of the Atlantic.

On Saturday, the Albany Times Union had an editorial with this for a headline: "Mr. Adams' words". I would have written "Mr. Adams's words".

The body of the Times Union's editorial has it both ways, which is clearly wrong. At least be consistent. The Times Union may not be the NY Times, but it has been around a long time and would, I'd have thought, have more pride than make such a basic error in its editorial.

That's not all that relevant to me, however. What I want to know is, which form is correct?


I'm not a big fan of golf, but last night I figured I'd watch some of the final round from Augusta. The weather and the course were perfect and the golf was about as exciting as golf gets, I presume. Still, I fell asleep sometime after the fifteenth hole and missed what sounds like a great finish. I guess I can't call myself much of a fan, huh?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Dreary Towers of Fenway Park

Belfast native Walter Ellis is now living in New York. However, before he moved to New York Ellis spent enough time in Boston with his family to be given citizenship in Red Sox Nation.

Ellis's introduction to Red Sox Nation was in 2002, but he seems to have fully grasped what it's all about:
In the spring of 2002, six months after my arrival in America, I was inducted by my five Irish-American brothers-in-law, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, into Red Sox Nation. So far as I could judge, this meant being inured to failure and embracing it as a beloved badge of identity. The nation that whinges together stays together.
Ellis paraphrases Churchill's famous speech about the steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone to describe Red Sox fans' suffering, which was ended last October.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Day of Mourning - last word

When I hear young people (or even those my own age) moaning or complaining my instinct is to tell them to 'get a grip, stop whining and get on with it'. Yet, when I hear old people complain, for some inexplicable reason, I'm sympathetic. Probably too much so.

Yesterday I went back on my original view that any National Day of Mourning for John Paul II shouldn't involve a day off. I was swayed by a few conversations I overheard that we should have a full Day of Mourning. However, after reading Frank's comments I'm changing my mind again. I'm also sympathetic to small businesses and I accept that these impromptu holidays are too great a cost.

So, now what?

Right off the Bishops should declare Sunday John Paul II Day. Regardless of whether anyone pays attention or not they should "be not afraid" and stick their necks out. Ask Catholics to refrain from shopping or attending football matches or going to the pub or whatever. Maybe the Bishops will look foolish when nobody seems to pay them any attention, but so what? Catholics should be asked to lobby sporting organizations to cancel all games this Sunday.

I also think the state should declare Sunday John Paul II Day. As I've stated here and here John Paul II was not only a great religious leader, but also a hero of the European Union, which I think should justify state recognition. Mandating that the pubs stay closed as a mark of respect is not too great a step.

I have a question

Should we be alarmed at the extent of Irish investment in overseas property?

I honestly don't have the answer, but I admit that it worries me. I just don't know if my worries are as valid as a fear of flying or are we sleep-walking ourselves into a financial disaster.

I can't quantify it, but I think there's little doubt that the Irish are buying up overseas property at a clip way beyond what you might expect given the size of this country. Little items I stumble on, like this one from the Warsaw Business Journal, make me wonder whether we as a nation are over-extended overseas.
Of the total investment volume in CEE (Central & Eastern European) property, 75 percent came from just four countries: Germany, the US, Ireland and France, with Irish investors expected to make their presence felt even more over the next few years.
What is Ireland doing in that company? The population of France is approximately 13 times that of Ireland. Germany and the US are even bigger. I would expect Ireland to keep company with Norway or Denmark or maybe Belgium, but not the US, Germany & France. The UK's not listed there.

It's not limited to Central & Eastern Europe either. Tune in to any radio station playing pop music and you'll hear ads for property investment opportunities in London, Miami, Cypress, Mediterranean Spain, Turkey, anywhere. How much do Irish investors really know about these property markets? There was an article in the Sunday Business Post advising potential investors as to the ease with which you can fly to your property investments.

The reason I'm worried is that I don't know if our banking system is over-exposed to overseas property markets. I really don't know, but if people are re-mortgaging their homes to buy property overseas then surely our banks will be stuck with a lot of bad debts or even repossessed homes here in the event of any significant change in our economic fortunes.

Isn't this a big part of what happened to the Japanese economy in the early 1990s?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Next Pope?

I really have little idea, but if you're interested Tom at DonegalExpress is rating them.

Tom has everyone's favorite Nigerian, Francis Cardinal Arinze, as a favorite. But, don't jump the gun, Tom hasn't graded them all. He hasn't given us "the skinny" on Dionigi Cardinal Tettamanzi, whom I heard Kieron Wood (formerly of RTE, now of the Sunday Business Post) declare as a good bet. He's co-favorite with Arinze according to Paddy Power.

Young vs. Old

I know I'm rowing back a bit, but I'm beginning to think we should have a full National Day of Mourning on Friday, including the day off. I've been hearing people on the radio and on the street talk about this and older people seem to be scandalized that the country will not come to a halt for a day as a mark of respect for John Paul II.

The old Ireland is dead and gone, no doubt about it. For many of this country's older generation this is almost a defeat, a repudiation of all that they believed and still believe. It seems almost churlish not to grant them this one small victory. From what I've been gathering (and I'm not from here and maybe missed this initially) John Paul II was THE MAN as far as older people are concerned.

No Irish leader (or pop star or writer or anything) generated the respect, no love, that John Paul II seems to have engendered in Irish people of a certain age. It seems to be nearly universal among those who remember Paul VI becoming Pope. And, that's just the point. John Paul II was more than a Pope. He was the "people's Pope".

Of course, old people can honor John Paul II even if the country doesn't close down, but they want the day to be special. They don't want it sullied by crass commercialism, drinking in pubs or football matches.

Ireland is no longer in the grip of the bishops and priests. Making Friday special is not a return to that Ireland nor is it an insult to those of other faiths. Rather, making Friday special is an acknowledgement to all those older people that they are still respected. All those politicians who make noise about adding a few euros to the Old Age Pension (social security) at budget time should recognize that for many old people a proper acknowledgement for John Paul II is worth more than a few euros per month.

Would it be too big a price to pay to give them their day? I don't think so.

Monday, April 04, 2005

EU Constitution and John Paul II's death

The fact that there is no coordinated response (EU-wide Day of Mourning) to honor John Paul II is an illustration of how big an over-reach the EU constitution really is. There is almost no sense of shared experience across borders. Here's one occasion where the EU had an opportunity to have an agreed EU day of recognition for the exceptional contribution to the development of the European Union made by John Paul II and it doesn't even seem to have occurred to anyone that there should be an EU-wide Day of Mourning.

Each nation is marking the passing of John Paul II in its own way, which is exactly why I think the EU project is doomed. Until the people of the EU feel as one nation, their national sentiments will always trump those of the EU as a whole. Things are bad enough now in relatively peaceful, prosperous times, but what happens if we hit hard times? Yugoslavia might be a model for what to expect.

Supranational Day of Mourning

Having thought about it, I don't know if a National Day of Mourning is really appropriate either. It's too small. What should really happen is that the EU should declare Friday an EU-wide Day of Mourning.

Eight of the 25 (and part of another, former E. Germany) member states owe their current status as EU members to John Paul II more than to any other person. I haven't seen any official EU reaction, but failure to acknowledge John Paul II's role in the growth of the EU would be plain wrong.

EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso admitted that John Paul II deserved "the title of the founding father of a united Europe", which is exactly what he is. A National Day of Mourning is too small for John Paul II. He deserves a Supranational Day of Mourning (still without a public holiday, please).

Day of Mourning

Richard's been tracking the debate on whether there should be a National Day of Mourning. I'm all in favor of it, so long as it doesn't mean a day off. The Pope was a massive world presence and it would not be inappropriate for the state to acknowledge his role in the lives of so many people who live here. I would hope the Taoiseach will ask employers to be flexible for the time of the Pope's actual funeral Mass on Friday. Employers should be encouraged to allow radio or t.v. coverage of the funeral.

I like Dana a lot. I think she's a very genuine person. I think, however, that she's misjudging what is likely to happen if we have a National Day of Mourning on Friday. I would imagine that for many (most?) people it will be nothing more than a day off. Extra time in the pub, perhaps. For that reason, I'm not keen on a National Day of Mourning if it would include a public holiday.

Although I can't justify it (other than as a gut reaction), I would really like the government to close all the pubs on Friday. In fact, I'd rather Dana lobbied for that rather than a day off.

John Paul II

It's almost impossible to capture even a fraction of all the coverage the Pope's death has generated. So many reminders, so many comments from all angles. Hard to digest all of them.

I'm not in a position to evaluate John Paul II's position among all the Popes because my knowledge of all Popes before him ranges from 'know a little' to 'sketchy' to 'know nothing at all'. Truth is, I find it easier to have an opinion on the Presidency of James Buchanan (President from 1857-1861) than on the Papacy of Pius IX (Pope from 1846-78), the only Pope (other than Saint Peter) to have held the position longer than John Paul II.

I definitely think he was a great man, one of the giants of the 20th century. He led (before and after his election as Pope) the non-violent movement to overthrow the Communist regime in Poland. He campaigned tirelessly for life and against the selfish materialism of modern western society. He was a champion of the poor and did a great job reaching out to other faiths, particularly Judaism (interesting reading in today's Jerusalem Post).

He had his failings, as all people do. His greatest short-coming as Pope was his failure to appreciate the extent to which, first the seminaries, then thousands of parishes throughout the English-speaking world (am I wrong that this is predominantly a N. American/Irish phenomenon?) were infested with sexual perverts and predators. He was far too slow in demanding tough action, although it does seem to me that not all dioceses experienced the depravity to the same extent that Boston, Dallas, Dublin and others did. Perhaps he thought it was a local problem, but he had too much faith in many of the men he appointed as Bishops.

Overall, however, he was great. I'm surprised at how much I'm feeling at a loss these past few days.

Hope springs eternal

Today the beloved team from New York (as opposed to the forces of darkness from the Bronx) opens the season in Cincinnati. After a weekend of temperatures more appropriate for early April in Santa Barbara than north Wicklow, it seems possible to me that the Mets might still be playing in October. Sure it's a long shot, but if we can have summer in April why can't the Mets have summer in October? That's what Opening Day is all about – hope.

UPDATE: What started so brightly ended so darkly. Three Cincinnati runs in the 9th on 2 home runs gave the Reds the victory. Tomorrow.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

No time to blog

Blogging will be light here until after Sunday evening due to the fact that every spare moment is going into my preparations for selecting my rotisserie (fantasy) baseball team for the coming season.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Twenty years ago today

the greatest baseball player ever was 'born'. Harvard drop out, former Tibetan monk Sidd Finch was one great April Fool's joke.