Friday, July 29, 2005

Okay, not a Muslim

Jean Charles de Menezes was not a Muslim as the Washington Times reported on Sunday.

Today's Miami Herald has an AP story indicating that a funeral Mass for Menezes will take place today at Sao Sebastio Church in Gonzaga, Brazil.

"Why do they hate us? "

Canadians are beginning to do some soul-searching. I only wish this letter to the National Post was available in full. As it is, the one paragraph they allow non-subscribers to read is worth the effort.

Hans Island heats up

Things are still tense between Denmark & Canada over the future of Hans Island (still can't find a map showing exactly where this island is). I mentioned this a year ago, but it seems that it hasn't just blown over yet.

Of course, it's not all that serious, which is why I like this column. James Travers says
there's substance in the idea that the pleasantness of the place [Canada] is an Orwellian soma drugging us into happy-face complacency. Somehow, someone, somewhere, will see to it that the nation's social, psychological and economic wealth will continue expanding with no significant effort or sacrifice.
Now, however, the Defense Minister, Bill Graham, has "occupied" Hans Island to assert Canada's sovereignty.
Bill Graham has now tossed a rock or, more specifically, an Arctic boulder, into that placid pond. Along with creating a most amusing summertime diplomatic diversion, the defence minister's unopposed occupation of Hans Island effectively challenges the notion that Canada can achieve its personal best without raising a sweat.
Greenland's home rule government has responded with its own tough talk – looking for the UN to intervene.

There is, too, a good reason why the Danes and Canadians are arguing over this uninhabited rock:
Climatic change is softening the top of the world, making its transportation routes and resources more accessible and its sovereignty suddenly worth defending.

That's what I get

Okay, I get the message. Last week I taunted the rain gods, which is always a mistake in Ireland. I am chastened.

Now I'm ankle deep and bailing. Oh yeah, it's freezing too. I think the clouds are a slightly less black shade of gray this afternoon.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

N. Ireland

If you want the background to what's happening today, go to the Newshound. If you want a blog with discussion, Slugger O'Toole is the best bet.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Names of restaurants

Need a place to dine in Dublin, how about a place that honors this man:
An inhuman dictator who cared nothing for the ideology on which the post-1949 state is supposed to be based. A revolution achieved by armed force, not popular support. A wartime leader who dealt with the enemy, and presided over a drug empire. A serial murderer who dreamt up torture methods and exulted in the suffering of victims. A man for whom relationships had no meaning, who despised the masses and who fabricated his own image for posterity.
Well, then Café Mao is the place for you.

There's also a Benito's in Dalkey, Co. Dublin which honors another 'great man' from the twentieth century. I'm sure there are plans afoot to open a Saddam Steakhouse, or something. A place called the Pol Pot would definitely do well.

That description above is from Jung Chang's new biography of Mao.


If there's one person who should NOT take part in the debate on multiculturalism in Britain, it's Jeremy Clarkson. I've never quite understood how this charmless gearhead got a column in a major newspaper, but he's in the (London) Sunday Times week in, week out.

I've at least tried to understand what multiculturalism is, but I'm not sure he has. Regardless, this week he tells us that multiculturalism won't work. Instead he says:
Ken Livingstone may have engineered a multicultural environment but I suspect that Britain isn't multicultural at all. It's simply a land mass on which an unknown number of immigrants and indigenous people happen to live.

We co-exist like birds. You don't find sparrows joining in with a flock of starlings. You don'’t see yellowhammers swooping down on a cherry tree with a pack of fieldfares. But crucially you don't see them fighting either.

This, I think, is the lesson we should learn in these difficult times. Instead of forcing a Pakistani teenager to swear allegiance to the flag and learn English and get some crummy certificate of Britishness from the local mayor, why not let him be a Pakistani who happens to live in Bradford? Let him go to a Muslim school. Let him support Pakistan when they play England at cricket. Let him be what he wants to be.
Oh okay, so now we just have to behave like flocks of birds sharing a meadow.

Multiculturalism won't work, so Britain should just have what? Multinationalism? I think that's what he's describing here. I presume he'd have separate courts & parliament as well. That doesn't sound like a winner to me there Jeremy.

Culture & Race

As I mentioned below, the debate on multiculturalism is so broad that it seems to mean almost anything to anyone. However, I've heard a few people confuse the terms race and culture.

I heard one commentator on the radio claim that Britain's model of multiculturalism was more successful than America's. As evidence he cited the greater number of inter-racial couples you see in Britain than you see in the US. I'm sure he's right about the numbers of inter-racial couples, but I don't know what that has to do with multiculturalism.

The problem the US had (and still has, but to a lesser extent) with race was that one group of people was purposely excluded from the common culture. 'Separate, but equal' was the view. Black people weren't seeking multiculturalism, they were seeking a place in the common culture.


There has been so much written and said (here as well as in Britain) about 'multiculturalism' since the bombings on July 7. Some people claim that excessive multiculturalism is to blame for the fact that the suicide bombers were actually born and raised in Britain.

The problem I've had with this discussion is that the term 'multiculturalism' doesn't mean much to me. Does multiculturalism include Chinatown or Little Italy or other ethnic neighborhoods in large cities?

When I first came to Ireland, I couldn't imagine a more homogeneous society, yet even here it was obvious that there was more than one culture. There was a middle class culture an urban working class culture and a rural farming culture (rugby, soccer, GAA). Does that mean Ireland was multicultural even then?

In the United States you have cities like New York in which every culture on Earth is seemingly represented and then there are large areas of America where there's a great sameness of life regardless of region or creed and even color (getting more so everyday). Even those who worry about the growing minority of Spanish speakers in the country would probably admit that the US doesn't have the same worries as Europe does with its growing population of disaffected Muslims.

Ultimately, what's important is some common understanding of what makes the nation. Today's Daily Telegraph takes a stab at defining what it means to be British. I'm not British nor do I live in Britain, so I can't really evaluate whether this is sufficient or insufficient or appropriate or inappropriate, but I think it's a good idea for British people to come to some basic understanding of what it means to be British in the 21st century.

The reason this is so important is because immigrants have to know what's expected of them. Too often these days we have talking heads on the radio demanding tolerance for immigrants from the native population. For the most part that's fair enough, however I see no reason why society should balk at telling immigrants that these are our 'core values' our 'rules'. The Telegraph's 'Ten Core Values' is a good start.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Eircom broadband

I spent about an hour helping a neighbor who recently got broadband from Eircom. Once my neighbors had signed up, Eircom sent them a router and a username/password and said, "There you go".

Of course, after a week they have all sorts of bad things on their computer. They had no firewall or virus / adware protection. Would it be too difficult for Eircom to give people a little help getting the protective applications they need to use broadband safely? I use free programs mostly (don't blame me if they fail, but I use AVG, ZoneAlarm and Lavasoft personal).

Oh yeah, Eircom is apparently also sending its customers a wireless router. My neighbor has a desktop PC, so the wireless feature is useless. They were stunned when I told them that their next door neighbors could easily use their broadband connection, thanks to the wireless router.

It never ceases to amaze me how much IT companies just wash their hands of their customers' problems. In the past I've had this experience with Microsoft & Dell and known others who've had similar experiences with other IT companies. We (IT companies' customers) are simply buffoons, in the eyes of those who products & services we buy.

The Pope and terrorism in Israel

During the Pope's Angelus prayer on Sunday he specifically referred to "abhorrent terrorist attacks" in Egypt, Iraq, Turkey & Britain, but failed to mention Israel, which suffered a suicide bombing on July 12. Israel's government reacted angrily to what the Pope didn't say.

This is the first blip on the radar screen for the new Pope after all the hoopla following his election. The response from his spokesman (so far) seems pretty weak, to be honest.
Responding to the Israeli complaint late on Monday, Navarro-Valls emphasized that the Pope condemned all forms of terrorism, and the Netanya attack "falls under the general and unreserved" condemnation.

Navarro-Valls noted that the Pope, during his Angelus remarks, had "referred expressly to the attacks "of these days," and listed only the most recent incidents.
Frankly, I'm not certain that the Pope was referring to the failed attack in London last Thursday as opposed to the deadly attack on July 7. It's possible, but I kind of doubt it.

I cannot understand how the Pope can condemn the bomb attacks in Turkey, but not in Israel. If he hadn't mentioned Turkey you could make the case that it was the scale of the other attacks (Egypt, Iraq & London) that dictated their specific mention, but because he included Turkey the best that can be said is that he forgot. Not very encouraging.

The Israeli response was not a rush job, although later on the Israeli Foreign Minister did soften the criticism saying that it "was a mistake and not a deliberate omission".

I'd like to think it was only a mistake, but I'm not so sure. I guess we'll find out 'next time', unfortunately.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Churchill on Muslims

I've read this post by Mark twice. It's really interesting to read what Winston Churchill had to say about Muslims in 1899.

I suspect that if Churchill were alive today he'd want no part of the campaign to bring liberty & democracy to the Muslim world. In fact, I believe he'd think it impossible. Churchill was an imperialist and a realist, not an idealist.

Be like Ireland

Now it's California that has to be more like Ireland. A few weeks ago it was Tom Friedman urging France & Germany to be more like Ireland, but today a San Jose State University economics professor is urging California to emulate Ireland.

If California really wants to emulate Ireland then it needs to work hard at convincing the other 49 states that they should adopt suicidal economic policies that guarantee rigid labor laws, high unemployment and low growth. Once that's accomplished foreign capital will seek out California as a base from which to exploit the American market.

Brazilian-born Muslim

It doesn't much matter, however it might explain things a bit better if the UPI's report – carried in the Washington Times yesterday – that Jean Charles de Menezes was a Muslim is true. Is this why the police suspected him?

When I first heard that the man was Brazilian, I just assumed he was a Christian. Most Brazilians are. However, there are approximately 1 million Muslims in Brazil. Again, none of this really matters other than as a detail for trying to understand what the police were doing last Thursday.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


I'm generally a fan of The Corner, National Review's blog. However, today I think too many people are being too flippant about the shooting dead of the Brazilian man by London's police on Thursday.

The man is dead; he was innocent and we don't know what was going through his mind when he didn't obey the orders of the plain clothes police. Maybe he didn't hear them (maybe he was using an iPod/MP3 player and was simply running for the train?). Maybe he didn't understand them (although his family says he spoke English well). Or maybe he didn't recognize the plain clothes policemen as police.

I don't know how I'd react if I was tense about terrorist attacks and people in everyday clothes (I haven't been able to find out what the police looked like) were waving guns at me and yelling at me to stop. He may have even suspected that people in his neighborhood or even his building were terrorists (the police did) and been particularly on edge. We just don't know why he ran.

I'm not going to get down on the police either. Just as many people (especially Newstalk this morning) are being too flippant regarding what are obviously very trying, difficult times for London's police. I'm sure they regret this error more than anyone, but what can they do? They're on edge, combating an enemy that wants to kill himself and as many people as he can as well.

It's a tragedy and that's about it. I don't think the political ramifications should be too great beyond that.


When I watch European soccer I don't usually root for anyone. I have no favorite team, so I just watch with little emotional involvement (nothing like watching a Met game, believe me).

Now, however, there's one team to root against – Inter Milan. Inter has opted to stay home rather than play a pre-season tournament in England. I don't know if it's possible, but I'd be big fan of any team that stepped into the breach here.

I'd love to imagine that the MLS will nominate a team to come to England for the 4 dates. Or send an All Star team or the US National team. {And, I know for the soccer fans in those 4 cities this would be a poor substitute, but it would at least show the Italian club to be the wimps they are.}

UPDATE: Okay, I'll take back my vow to root against Inter Milan wherever they're playing. They feared my wrath, I know, because they've decided to go ahead with the tour after all.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

It's been a while

It had been so long that I barely recognized it. Took me a few minutes to put a word on what I was seeing, but then it came to me: rain. Yes, for the first time in what seems like months it's raining here. My parched back yard is already looking more green, more vibrant. The dull brown of my grass is slowly giving way.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Knocklong retreat

In the summer of 1985 I spent a few days in Knocklong, Co. Limerick. Small town Irish life at its best. Great pub conversations with old farmers, "just let a woman try to cross that threshold" some old toothless guy told me and my friend. Shopping at Walsh's "supermarket" was fun too. You could see the whole town, on foot, in about 10 minutes.

My friend's family came from nearby and they owned a cottage in the town, which is why we were there. There were 4 or 5 other holiday cottages in the same development and I think they were the only ones in the town.

All of that is background to why I was so surprised to read that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts owns an "interest" in a holiday cottage in Knocklong. I just can't imagine what he does when he visits the place, unless he and/or his wife have family in the area. There isn't a whole lot of scenery in that region.

UPDATE: Oops. This hadn't occurred to me, but apparently my friend and the judge's wife are cousins, which is why the Roberts have an interest in Knocklong.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Day trippers

From today's Irish Independent:
TWO thousand Irish people went on day trips to the US in the first three months of this year, and the high spending jet setters didn't even spend a night there.
Is it even possible to fly to the US from Ireland accomplish anything before leaving again the same day? I can't imagine it, at least not for anyone using scheduled commercial services.

"Lucky escape"

Those are the words I just heard on SKY news after a series of attempted bombings on London's Underground and bus system apparently failed this afternoon.

I really hope the bad guys are in the hospitals where armed police have been reportedly seen.

More on Iraqi civilians

Today's (London) Times has a column by Stephen Pollard in which he criticizes the report by Iraqi Body Count and the Oxford Research Group that I mentioned yesterday. Some of the comments on yesterday's post were also critical of the report and this group.

Look, I know these people are anti-war. That's fine with me. It doesn't necessarily mean that their estimates are way off. As I said yesterday, I thought the estimate sounded reasonable given what we know (such as Saddam's strategy of using urban environments as "shields" for his heavy armaments and civilian clothed fighters). Saddam knew full well his army was no match for those ranged against him, so he played to the gallery by trying to maximize civilian casualties. That's a strategy that has been continued by the terrorists/insurgents/whatever.

What seems to bother some people is not so much the actual total reported, but that these people undertook this count at all. {If the total was all that was suspect, then we'd have competing estimates.} Well, I don't think we should try to deny the suffering of the Iraqi people in this war. War is atrocious and we shouldn't lose sight of that. However, I don't think it does any harm to repeat the truth that there was no peace for the Iraqi people in the 25 years Saddam ruled Iraq. They lived in perpetual fear of torture and death from his regime and his wars.

The goal now is to ensure that nothing like that arises in the new Iraq.

FIFA rankings

The USA is now the 6th best national soccer team in the world, according to FIFA's rankings. The US is ahead of all European nations' teams, other than Holland and the Czech Republic.

Hmmm. I have to admit I'm pretty dubious about this, but I'll use it anyway in any conversation I get into about the relative strength of soccer in the US.

UPDATE: The NY Daily News is talking about a top seed at the 2006 World Cup for the US team. If that happened, then you'd see the European teams take these rankings seriously. I doubt that will happen, which is why I don't think even FIFA gives much credence to their own rankings (although it's also true that FIFA is so desperate for US Soccer to take off they might do anything to help push the American game along).

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Iraqi civilians

25,000 Iraqi civilians have apparently been killed since the March 2003 US led invasion. I don't know much about the group that conducted the study or what their methodology was (surely there are times when separating non-uniformed combatants from civilians is impossible), but I think absent any other reasonable attempts at counting civilian fatalities these numbers should be accepted.

First of all, I have to admit the number is smaller than I would have imagined. Second, 25,000 is still a pretty damn big number of people killed.

Back in late 2002/early 2003 when I was weighing the pluses and minuses of this war I knew there would be civilians killed. I never, however, tried to put a number on it. How could I when I didn't know: the regime would just vanish overnight, that there was no real government in exile waiting to take over, that the Administration had no good plan to run and hand over Iraq or that it would take so long for an Iraqi security force to come into being?

I'm convinced that the US has waged this campaign with as much care and concern for civilians as has ever been managed in a major war. That ten thousand civilians have been killed by American bombs and guns is still a tragedy – both for the families of those killed and those in the military who have to live with causing accidental deaths among the innocents.

In 2002/2003 I believed that if the US opted not to invade that (a) Saddam's regime would continue until his death, (b) that one of his maniacal sons would take over and (c) when the regime eventually fell it would be in a Yugoslavia type blood-bath. That rationale convinced me that from the perspective of the average Iraqi, the prospect of years more of Saddam followed by a civil war was less preferable than the US invasion and occupation.

So far, I think that still holds, but if the civil war comes anyway, then the upside of the US invasion is much reduced. Stabilizing Iraq must remain priority number 1. Leaving a stable, free and prospering Iraq will be the greatest achievement for the Iraqi people and for the War on Terror, but we are still a long, long way from that goal.

Inspired by fictional events

Ever notice how some movies that pretend to be about real happenings usually have this sort of claim in the credits: "This movie was inspired by actual events". This basically means that "what you've just seen is about as far from a documentary as we had to go to make this watchable and short enough for 100 minutes. The truth was not really a consideration".

The other night the BBC broadcast a documentary on Islamic extremism in Britain. The documentary included scenes taped from an al Qaeda recruitment video. The scenes were of New York & Washington being destroyed taken from Independence Day and (I think) The Day After Tomorrow.

This says so much about the mind-set of the people we're up against. They live in a fantasy world where just seeing US cities destroyed gives them a rush of blood to the head. They fantasize about being able to duplicate the feats accomplished by aliens as depicted by Hollywood. Independence Day is probably like the ultimate pornographic movie for these nut jobs.

In fact, it occurred to me that at the end of Oliver Stone's movie on September 11 I could expect to see the following in the credits: "This movie was inspired by actual events, which were inspired by fictional events".

Wacky thoughts?

I've been hesitant about posting this one, but I figure it's the anniversary of the moon landings when the unthinkably impossible was accomplished, so . . .

What if the US and Iran are actually quite happily working together while putting up the pretense of being opposed to one another? I know it sounds wacky, but consider:
  • Iran is probably the most satisfied country in the region with Saddam's overthrow and this month an Iraqi minister traveled to Tehran and agreed to cooperate militarily with Iran, including the Iranian Army training for the Iraqi army.
  • Iran has a huge interest in a stable & just Iraq.
  • The US is now putting pressure on the Saudis to treat their citizens with greater dignity. Saudi has a sizeable Shi'a community, who the Saudis treat as second class, at best. So, in its dealings with Saudi Arabia the US is siding with Iran.
  • Both the US & Iran have a vested interest in preventing the Wahabbi inspired Taliban from regaining power in Afghanistan.
  • The rhetoric from both Iran and the US is much more formulaic and less heated than in the not so distant past.
The only big problem to my theory is Iran's nuclear ambitions. If those are quietly shelved then I think the US will live with Iran as is and stop pressing for regime change there.

The pretense is, of course, to keep the Saudis guessing.

Again, this could easily be a wacko notion that just floated through my head and now I can't shake it, but I put it out there as as 'just consider this' type possibility.

War of the Worlds

I usually get to the movies once a year at most, but yesterday was my second visit this month.

Yesterday I took my daughter to see War of the Worlds. Now, when I go to a movie I'm not there to get a political or philosophical lesson. I also don't go as a critic with an eye on all the various aspects of the movie. I go to be entertained and I either like it or I don't. Yesterday, I was entertained; I liked it.

This movie is so much better than Star Wars. Now, there's almost zero humor. There's one light moment within the first 5 minutes built around the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry that was lost on the non-Fay audience was about it. And, of course, it stars Tom Cruise, whom I don't often like.

There are at least three Tom Cruises that I can think of: there's the embarrassing when trying to be funny Cruise, there's the non-credible, non-believable superhero Cruise and there's the obnoxious, compassionless 'guy-next-door' Cruise, which I think is the best Cruise. That's who he was in The Firm (probably the only other Cruise movie that I thought was good) and that's who he is in War of the Worlds. The little girl who plays his daughter is very good, but I generally think little kids are better actors than adults probably because playing 'pretend' is natural to them.

The action is almost non-stop. I was drained when I left and even the flat ending didn't phase me. If you can just enjoy a science fiction movie without getting too bogged down in the science and can just enjoy a movie without worrying obsessively about the plot, then this one's all right.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Waste to the left of me, waste to the right of me . . .

Last week's NY Times article on waste in Bray stirred up a bit of trouble among our local representatives, so it seems.

This morning the fight continued with a revelation that another near-by location has been scarred by waste, although not on the scale of the beach that featured in the Times's article.

Anyone traveling south from Dublin to Wexford will have to cut right through this valley of filth.


Lots of people upset about cronyism thanks to the appointment of Celia Larkin to the board of a government agency. {Celia Larkin is Bertie Ahern's former 'partner' for those who don't know.}

Cronyism is what you get with government run agencies, companies, hospitals & schools. If the other parties were promising a drastic reduction in the number of government run bodies, I'd take their criticisms seriously, but all they're really annoyed about is that they're not in control of dispensing the spoils. And, all those who I heard moaning on the radio are accomplishing just that: they're moaning. They're not actually questioning a system that leaves so many of these posts in the hands of elected officials.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Geansaí buí

I was watching sports on TG4 again yesterday. I caught the last half hour of yesterday's stage of the Tour de France (for more on the race, see Dick).

I couldn't understand a word and had no idea what was happening. Wasn't at all like watching tennis. The text on the screen was no help either. I wasn't sure how big the gaps were between the various riders. Still, no other sport could rival the scenic beauty that I saw yesterday evening as the stage finished at a ski resort (I'm guessing) in the Pyrénées.

{My daughter came in at the end and that's how I found out that geansaí buí refers to what Lance Armstrong was wearing yesterday on the podium.}

A real scandal

After I posted on RTE and Rove the other day I ended up in a long comments battle with EWI, who runs his own blog, Free Stater.

EWI had a post on July 7 where he brings up something I had forgotten about. Last summer the US Department of Homeland Security spilled the beans on an al Qaeda mole. Tom Ridge gave out the name of the double agent when he was pressed by the NY Times after he had raised the security alert.

This blunder tipped off all of al Qaeda that we had their man and all his records. This may have contributed to the failure of the British security forces to prevent the July 7 attacks.

This sounds much more like a real scandal and an indication of terrible mismanagement in the War on Terror. I'd rather the press drop this Rove nonsense and get on this one.

NOTE: I'm presuming that I'm a member of the "the Anglo-American corner of the Irish blogging scene" that EWI mentions.


Last week I wrote about the Karl Rove/Joe Wilson 'scandal'. I was only trying to make a point about RTE, but maybe I didn't choose the best example.

I really don't have a lot of interest in Rove and don't much care for him. He's one of those guys for whom 'winning' seems to be all that matters. Both parties in the US have these guys and they exist in Britain (Mandelson, Campbell, others?) and Ireland (PJ Marra anyone?).

They read polls, know just how to manipulate people, and are adept at taking opponents apart. Scruples rarely seem to impair their reasoning.

So, if Rove has misbehaved and has to go I won't shed any tears. However, I still figure he probably didn't break the law mostly because that would be politically stupid and I always assume these guys know exactly where they can go and where they can't. And, although today's article in the Washington Post sounds bad, I'm still convinced Rove didn't intentionally set out to uncover a CIA spy.

We'll see how this plays out, but I also stand by my comments that this is trivial and that if Valerie Plame's secret identity was so important then the CIA should never have accepted her husband for this mission that they knew was politically laden – even if they didn't quite know which way it would turn out. I can tell you that if I were a spy I wouldn't want my wife anywhere near something that might blow my cover.

It's that bit of common sense that tells me that this more about Washington politics than any real national security issue.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Quantity over quality

The Freedom Institute's blog is eleven months old and has just reached 500 posts. That works out at 45.45 posts per month. The Irish Eagle is 23 and a half months old and has 1400 posts, which works out at 59.57 posts per month.

Need to work harder guys! :-)

7/7 Iraq link

In yesterday's Guardian, Seumas Milne wrote that
the bulk of Britain's political class and media has distinguished itself by a wilful and dangerous refusal to face up to reality. Just as it was branded unpatriotic in the US after the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington to talk about the link with American policy in the Middle East, so those who have raised the evident connection between the London atrocities and Britain's role in Iraq and Afghanistan have been denounced as traitors.
I know I'm like a broken record, but at least those who attacked America came from the Middle East so that linking what they did to American policy there made some sense. The men who attacked London last week come from Leeds & Luton, not Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere near those places. They were British citizens.

The United Kingdom has an elected government. This government made decisions regarding war in Afghanistan and Iraq that it felt were in the best interests of the British people. Many people, including many British Muslims, disagreed with those decisions. They marched and protested, but the government was not swayed and continued with its policies. The government was even reelected only a few months ago.

Even if we accept that those who bombed London last week were motivated by the Iraq war, that does not mean we should treat this motivation as politically important. If it is politically important that can only be because a large section of British Muslims reject the democratic process that elected the government that makes decisions on behalf of the British people.

These bombers, again, have more in common with the Oklahoma City bombers or those who bomb abortion clinics or the red brigade – any organization willing to kill because they're unhappy with the mechanism of the democratic process. This is a completely different scenario to being attacked by people from countries with whom you are at war (or at least engaged in some form of conflict).

It is an insult to those British Muslims who are democrats and accept the decisions of the elected government. They may continue to oppose the government democratically, which is their right, but they accept the current government is right to do what it feels in the best interests of the British people. Mr. Milne says that those who link the attacks with Iraq are being "denounced as traitors". That is wrong. They should be denounced as bigots because the essence of this argument is that Muslims cannot accept the democratic will of the British people.

Chronology lesson

I don't think it would do any harm at this stage to just set out a couple of facts for the Irish media and those people who feel a need to call or text radio shows with comments.

This is the correct order of events:
  1. September 11 attacks on the United States
  2. President Bush declares the War on Terror.
I cannot get over how many times I've heard reference to these two events as if the latter caused the former. Before September 11, President Bush was, if anything, ignoring the terrorist threat, not declaring war on it.

RTE, read this

From the Washington Post's editorial today on the Rove/Wilson thing:
Mr. Wilson made his trip in 2002 to look into reports that Iraq had sought to buy uranium from Niger. A year later, he publicly surfaced and loudly proclaimed that the Bush administration should have known that its conclusion that Iraq had sought such supplies, included in the president's 2003 State of the Union address, was wrong. He said he had debunked that theory and that his report had circulated at the highest levels of government.

One year after that, reports by two official investigations -- Britain's Butler Commission and the Senate intelligence committee -- demonstrated that Mr. Wilson's portrayal of himself as a whistle-blower was unwarranted. It turned out his report to the CIA had not altered, and may even have strengthened, the agency's conclusion that Iraq had explored uranium purchases from Niger. Moreover, his account had not reached Vice President Cheney or any other senior official. According to the Butler Commission, led by an independent jurist, the assertion about African uranium included in Mr. Bush's State of the Union speech was "well-founded."
How does this compare to:
He went to Niger, in West Africa, in 2002 at the request of the CIA to investigate claims that Iraq was buying weapons grade uranium. Later he published a report saying there was no evidence to support the claim.

He claims the leaking of his wife's identity was aimed at discrediting him and the report.
There is no good reason for RTE to present such a limited picture of what Wilson's report said or what the subsequent investigations found.

RTE's poor coverge of US politics

Sometimes I just don't understand RTE.

Today on their web site they posted a short piece on the Karl Rove/Joe Wilson/Etc 'scandal'. The headline reads "White House accused of cover-up".

This has been posted after I found out (without any effort because I really don't much care):
  1. Rove indirectly confirmed that Wilson's wife was the person who had suggested sending Wilson to Niger and that he (Rove) only learned this from a journalist
  2. that it's entirely possible that no crime was committed by anyone
  3. that Joe Wilson himself admitted yesterday that his wife was not a clandestine operative at the time that this mess started with Robert Novak's column. UPDATE: Having just read this from the Corner, I think I misunderstood what Wilson said yesterday.
If Richard Cohen (who is definitely not a Bush supporter), is saying that Rove almost certainly committed no crime, then surely RTE would be better off just letting this go. This has the look of just dirty Washington politics – probably equally dirty from both sides.

This sort of thing happens frequently here. I'm not sure why, but RTE seems to revel in these inside the Beltway dirty battles. And, their coverage is slanted towards the Democrats' position. It's as if RTE's news is simply rehashed press releases from the Democratic Party HQ.

This is actually a disservice to the Irish people. The Irish people pay €152 annual license fee for RTE and in return get a very poor service. Rather than feeding us one side's propaganda, RTE should play a more dispassionate role when presenting US politics. This would allow their listeners to get a more rounded view of events in America and not be surprised by events such as President Bush's reelection, which if you had only followed RTE would have been seemed like turkeys voting for Thanksgiving Day.

I have no doubt that there are similar dirty battles in Irish politics, but RTE is bound by law to provide balanced coverage. No such restrictions apply to their coverage of American politics, however and it shows. Their coverage is sloppy, silly and useless.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I agree

Well, what else do you expect me to say when I come across a columnist who's saying (essentially) what I've been saying about the London bombers. They are no different than McVeigh & Nichols and should be treated accordingly.
In this sense, the most useful analogue for last week'’s outrage in London may not be September 11 or even the bombing of Madrid last year, but the worst act of terrorism in postwar Western history before September 11: the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people in 1995. Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator, was, like the London bombers, a small-time loser who felt he was acting out of intense ideological and religious motives. He was a fervent white supremacist and belonged to an extensive network of neo-Nazi fanatics who are generally believed to number many thousands across the US. His commitment to an essentially religious doctrine –— that a global Jewish conspiracy, using African-Americans as their subhuman foot-soldiers, was taking over the world and preparing to exterminate or enslave all white Christians –— was every bit as sincere as the faith and '“piety' of many jihadist terrorists.
The columnist, Anatole Kaletsky, also puts words to thoughts I've been having the past few days. Connecting the London bombers with political motivation, such as the Iraq war, is wrong. People didn't engage n that kind of point scoring after Oklahoma City.
It certainly did not occur to anyone after the Oklahoma bombing to apologise for the racial desegregation which had provoked the American neo-Nazis and their ideological antecedents, the Ku Klux Klan. Nobody suggested abolishing affirmative action or banning Jews from public office on the grounds that racial mixing and the prominence of Jews was angering white supremacists and acting as 'a recruiting sergeant' for more neo-Nazi terrorists who might copy McVeigh.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

All Star tribute

I'm only just getting to watch last night's All Star Game now. I have to admit I was surprised when God Save the Queen was played before the fly by.

{Don't know the result yet and don't want to know.}

Spanish housework

This is almost too silly to mention, but from now on Spanish husbands are going to be legally bound to do half the housework. This is being done in the name of "equality".

Okay, fine. Equality. That means equality in defining 'housework' and what needs to be done. Ironing does not need to be done. It's optional. There's no health issue if your clothes are wrinkled.

Same goes for cleaning. If a man can live with a month's worth of dirt then why should he be legally bound to do half the vacuuming just because his wife wants the house vacuumed every two days? At most he should undertake to vacuum the house 6 times a year. Maybe he can tolerate using the same mug or glass a number of times before it's washed. Maybe he can get by with wearing the same clothes 3 or 4 times before putting them in the laundry, but maybe she can't stand that. How does the law decide what's necessary housework and what's over the top cleaning?

These are the type of issues best left to men and women to sort out for themselves. This is unnecessary state intrusion of the highest order. Even the BBC seems to realize this is ridiculous based on their report on the new law.

Of course, Patricia's contribution was invaluable:
"I don't like the new law at all," says Patricia, a schoolteacher. "I love macho men. They are more masculine and I don't care about doing some housework."

The time is now for Muslims to rise against jihad

Richard Delevan has a selection of posts built around an article from Foreign Affairs. The article is long, but provides a lot of interesting detail on Europe's Muslim population and the approaches to the jihad phenomenon taken by the different European states.

Back in May I linked to an article from the London Times about a young guy who had been recruited as a jihadist after he turned to Islam seeking answers. According to today's Times, one of Thursday's bombers, Hasib Hussain, had a similar experience only he didn't live long enough to change his mind.
A cousin said yesterday that Hasib "went off the rails and his parents were very worried. They wanted to instil some discipline in him; I don'’t know what happened, but 18 months to two years ago Hasib suddenly changed and became devoutly religious."
I said it then and I'll say it again – this problem must be solved mostly by Muslims themselves. They must show zero tolerance for extremism and zero tolerance for separatism.

This is now a moment of truth. Either Muslims root this problem out immediately or there will be more attacks. And, if there are more attacks it won't take long before the British people begin to believe Enoch Powell was right. The National Front will be jerked from extremes to center stage.

Maybe I'm overreacting, but I don't think so. If I were a Muslim in Britain today I'd be advocating close cooperation with the police and draconian measures. I'd beg the authorities to exclude foreign rabble-rousers, demand that extremist publications and other media are shut down, start identifying trouble-makers and begin offering other alternatives other than jihad to wayward young men.

This is not the time for proclaiming victimhood. This is not the time to be worrying about being tarred with the one brush by the authorities. My guess is that the police and government are way behind public opinion in such 'tarring'. It won't take much for what's now being muttered at the dining room table to become the accepted wisdom on the street.

Iraq war questioned

I thought this article was one of the best I've read on the Iraq War. Eliot Cohen describes himself as a hawk, but he is also the father of a young soldier. He nails both the self-hating left and the cheer-leading right.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Air Force Travel ban

The US Air Force has lifted its ban on travel to London by all service personnel. The ban had been in effect since last Friday. Probably a good idea as long as everyone behaves rationally.

That reminds me of something I saw while visiting the Mardasson Monument at Bastogne last week. There were a number of cars parked in the lot with clear indications that they were owned by US military personnel. {The cars had EU license plates, but they said USA and had the word pentagon on them as well.} I didn't see anyone in uniform at the Monument or in the Historical Center, so I figured whoever was driving those cars was in civilian clothes. Maybe they are civilian employees of the Pentagon, I don't know.

What I do know, is that it struck me that these people were easy targets. It would not have been very hard to isolate these cars after they'd left the Monument. The surrounding country is virtually uninhabited. Obviously, I'm not worried about the average Belgian or German, but there are people living in Europe for whom killing Americans – especially those in the military – is an imperative. Is there no way to make our military personnel a little less conspicuous?

I forgot to mention

Luxembourg voted Yes to the EU Constitution on Sunday. I know loads of people have written it off, but I think the EU Constitution remains undead.

Fay is wrong

No, silly, not that Fay, but Fay Vincent. Vincent was baseball's best ever commissioner (which, given those who preceded and followed him is not saying a whole lot). He took over when Bart Giamatti died suddenly in 1989 and held the post until 1992. During that time Vincent always struck me as (a) a sensible man and (b) a fan of the game, not an owners' lackey.

In today's NY Times, Vincent has a column about the IOC's decision to drop baseball and softball. Sure, I'm disappointed by the decision, but I hardly think it's a big issue for baseball. Vincent seems to think this is a big blow, but the only real losers are those less able minor leaguers (& the Cubans) for whom an Olympic tournament is the pinnacle of their career. Sure baseball fans like Olympic baseball, but we can survive with the 162 games of our favorite MLB team (not to mention the post-season, minor league and college baseball that can fill up even the most ardent baseball fan's schedule).

It's a bigger blow for the Olympics than it is for the sport of baseball. I'm sure the value of the television rights decreased with the loss of baseball and softball. {It's definitely a big blow to the women who play softball.}

Vincent wants to see a "Dream Team" in an international tournament. Leaving aside for the moment that the All Star Game tonight will feature a load of great players from outside the US, I think Vincent will find that the World Baseball Classic has the potential to be the big-time, major league, international tournament that he wants, if Major League Baseball makes the effort.

Soccer at the Olympics is not as good as the World Cup and nobody seems to believe that the game of soccer is suffering due to its failure to field the best players at the Olympics. Baseball can build something similar with the WBC and forget about the Olympics.

Less than 40 minutes from Dublin Airport

One thing I forgot to mention is that the finally opened M50 has made the journey from my house to Dublin Airport much, much quicker. In fact, last week it took only 38 minutes from my front door to the Long Term Parking lot (no, not the one run by Dublin Airport, the cheaper alternative).

I can see it now. The Wicklow Chamber of Commerce will begin selling this area to multinationals on the basis of our close proximity to Dublin Airport. I mean, what's a 40 minute drive, right?

Of course, the fact that I was pulling out of my driveway at 4:18am and arrived at 4:52 am doesn't matter at all. I'm sure it would be just as quick if I left my house at 8am.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Homegrown vs foreign attack

According to today's Guardian, former commissioner of the Metropolitan police, John Stevens, believes London's bombers are
British born and bred, brought up here and totally aware of British life and values". He dismissed suggestions, both by security sources and in the media, that the terrorists were possibly Algerian or Moroccan.

Lord Stevens, writing in the News of the World, said he believed that up to 3,000 British-born or British-based people had passed through Osama bin Laden's training camps. Of these, he believed that there were now about 200 committed "home-grown terrorists willing and able to slaughter innocents for their perverted view of Islam".
Yesterday's Sunday Telegraph had presented the completely opposite view.
Ministers now believe that the bombings - which left at least 49 people dead in Britain's worst terrorist attack - were the work of a "very, very small number" of individuals who arrived from mainland Europe or North Africa on false passports within the past six months.
We still don't know, but the answer to this question is crucial.

If the terrorists were homegrown, that means that some British citizens are willing to kill large numbers of their fellow citizens because they disagree with the decisions taken by the democratically elected (and recently re-elected) government. Many commentators have said that the attacks are the result of "the Iraq war chickens coming home to roost", but if these people are not foreign agents coming from the Middle East or wherever, but actual British citizens, then that claim has far less credibility.

There would be almost no link to Iraq other than the fact that some British people hate their government and, by extension, their fellow citizens so much that they're willing to commit mass murder as a form of anti-war protest.

The Aryan Nation is also against the Iraq War, but I hardly think the Bush Administration would give their views a moment's thought even if they managed to carry out another Oklahoma City. The leader of the Aryan Nation has said he'd like ties with al Qaeda. How different is his group from some homegrown British Islamic extremist group that may be linked or may only aspire to being linked to al Qaeda?

If the media connected the people who carried out last Thursday's attacks with US white supremacists (as I think they probably should) the "I told you so's" would be far more muted.

It may still turn out that Thursday was a foreign plot, but I think too few people have thought through the implications if Thursday's attack was the work of homegrown extremists.

Another reason I don't mind Bono

I forgot about this until now. Last week when the G8 meeting was breaking up, I saw Bono on the news giving his reaction to the G8 nations' commitments to debt relief and third world aid. He was so positive. Far too many activists never have a good thing to say about anyone in power. They just moan, moan, moan. And, I just turn them off when I see them coming. Bono's not like that.

Although the interviewer kept goading him to bad mouth Bush/Blair/Chirac/anyone, Bono was having none of it. He accepted what had been accomplished with good grace and committed himself to continue his campaigning. Optimism and a positive outlook are a very important part of that kind of work. The mealy-mouthed, always critical approach wins far fewer friends and supporters.


That's the number of al Qaeda supporters living in the UK, according to the NY Times. That strikes me as a very big number and, if there are that many in the UK, I would imagine that there are more than 40 here.

"These people love America"

Driving around southern Belgium and northern Luxembourg (Charleroi, Namur, Bastogne, Clervaux) I was struck by the number of little memorials to the sacrifice of the American soldiers during World War II. In fact, each little hamlet – and I'm talking very, very small villages – seemed to have some form of machine gun or artillery piece or in the bigger towns a Sherman tank flanked by the American flag and the Belgian or Luxembourger flag.

I didn't stop in every town or village nor could I really speak to the people, but there is no doubt in my mind that these people still admire the United States and revere those soldiers who liberated them. My children insisted that "these people love America".

This surprised me given what I believed about anti-Americanism in Europe as a whole. I can't say if what I saw is an aberration or if similar displays can be found throughout W. Europe or if this is simply because the Battle of the Bulge (or Battle of the Ardennes) was so intense that it remains alive today in a way that much of World War II does not for most of Europe.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


It's pretty warm out there today. I was about to undertake a major car cleaning, but have been "convinced" to leave it so that we can go to the beach for a swim. Going to be even warmer tomorrow.

Luxembourg votes

Luxembourgers go to the polls today to vote on the EU Constitution. I can't believe it's today.

We did spend a few hours in northern Luxembourg on Tuesday. There were a few signs up advocating Yes or No votes today, but there were so few signs that I actually wondered if the vote was still months away or if the signs I saw were from a previous referendum.

I presume the people of Luxembourg are aware that their referendum is today, but if this light an effort were made here before a referendum I dare say that few would even be aware that it was going on.


I spent Tuesday & Wednesday with the family in Belgium. We had a great time. It was my first time in a European mainland country for non-business reasons (other than my 8 days in Poland in 1987).

This trip was very different from the last one. Last month we spent two days entirely in the center of Edinburgh. This time we avoided the big city, Brussels, and split our time between the Ardennes and in and around Namur.

Obviously, you can only do so much in a 36 hour visit so we had limited objectives: see Bastogne, visit a medieval Citadel, experience something of life in a non-English speaking country. Here are a few observations from my time there:
  1. Many of the small towns/villages we drove through in Belgium (we never left the French-speaking area) looked fairly tatty. In fact, many of them reminded me of Mechanicville, NY, which is not really an endorsement. Small towns that have seen better days. One oddity was the number of homes that had steel roller blinds outside their windows. I hope these are simply a fashion and not an indication of the crime levels in these towns, many of which were very small.
  2. Many people simply don't speak English. Many Americans (& Irish, I think) believe that all Europeans can cope in English, but that's simply not true. At least not in Belgium.
  3. The beer is very tasty.
  4. I didn't notice any outrageous differences in prices, except that one 10 year old VW Golf I saw for sale had a sign indicating a sale price of €4,500, which struck me as much higher than I'd expect to see for a similar car here.
  5. Frittes – French fries – seemed to be the national food. Everywhere you go you see little stores/shacks/stalls selling Frittes.
I never learned a word of French in school, so I pressed my daughter (who took French for one year) into service. To say she was reluctant to have a go would be a serious understatement. My four-year-old son was more fluent than any of us after 12 hours. That lack of self-consciousness is a great help.

Bray in the NY Times

Any other town featuring in the NY Times can probably expect a beautifully written, tourist board's dream of an article. Any town, except my town, it seems.

Bray is featured in today's Times. Unfortunately, the focus of the article is about how garbage from an old dump is now ending up in the sea thanks to erosion. Lovely picture.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Oklahoma City, not Sep 11?

The media seems almost obsessed by the question of whether or not London has experienced Western Europe's first suicide bombing. I find the question vaguely interesting, but not nearly as interesting as to whether the attacks were carried out by foreign agents or by people born and raised in Britain. This strikes me as the fundamental question as it will determine how Britain (& the rest of the world) reacts to what happened on Thursday.

Today's NY Times indicates that London's police are leaning towards homegrown extremists. If this is true, if the bombers were born and raised in Britain, then Thursday's attack has less in common with September 11 than it has with Oklahoma City.

In fact, homegrown extremists willing to kill fellow citizens on a mass scale is exactly what McVeigh & Nichols were. They were incensed by the deaths at Waco and had no faith or trust in their own government. Substitute "right wing" for "Islamic" and you have nearly the same story. In reality, the Islamic extremists and America's "right wing" extremists seem to have an awful lot in common (and, yes, I'm aware of the theories on the links between al Qaeda and McVeigh & Nichols).

Friday, July 08, 2005

Wrong impression

One odd note about yesterday was the BBC's Andrew Marr, who led me astray during his lunch time report. He stated that the attacks were not on a scale of Madrid or even Omagh. I took that to mean that there 25 or fewer people killed. Looks like it's at least double that now.

Ireland to feature on Dateline

NBC's Dateline will apparently present evidence in a coming program that indicates that the Irish government is not doing all it can to help out in the battle with al Qaeda. Mark Dooley claims that the program will claim that the Irish government has done little to hinder the 8 to 10 Islamic extremists currently in the country.

Given what happened yesterday, I figure this may change now. Today Bertie Ahern, clearly feeling a little pressure, asserted that he and his government do take the threat posed by Islamic extremists seriously.

Plan C?

Many people have highlighted the impossibility of protecting every bus or train from people who are determined to explode back-packs or themselves in order to make a point. Yet, two commentators with different perspectives both point out that there is, of course, a possible defense against the type of attacks that London experienced yesterday or Madrid experienced 16 months ago

Both Robert Fisk and Tom Friedman note there is one option that has been, thus far, ruled out: total exclusion of people from the countries where this trouble originates and a clamp down on the civil liberties among those from the same group who already live among us. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating these policies, but I find it interesting that the possibility of such measures is rarely mentioned.

Here's Fisk:
Trains, planes, buses, cars, metros. Transportation appears to be the science of al-Qa'ida's dark arts. No one can search three million London commuters every day. No one can stop every tourist.

Some thought the Eurostar might have been an al-Qa'ida target – be sure they have studied it – but why go for prestige when your common-or-garden bus and tube train are there for the taking.

And then come the Muslims of Britain, who have long been awaiting this nightmare. Now every one of the Muslims becomes the "usual suspect", the man or woman with brown eyes, the man with the beard, the woman in the scarf, the boy with the worry beads, the girl who says she's been racially abused.
And, here's Friedman:
Because there is no obvious target to retaliate against, and because there are not enough police to police every opening in an open society, either the Muslim world begins to really restrain, inhibit and denounce its own extremists – if it turns out that they are behind the London bombings – or the West is going to do it for them. And the West will do it in a rough, crude way – by simply shutting them out, denying them visas and making every Muslim in its midst guilty until proven innocent.
Both columnists foresee a similar ugly scenario, but of course each has his own opinion of what needs to be done to avoid this. Fisk wants Tony Blair to opt out of the War on Terror and Friedman wants Muslims to tackle this problem themselves.

Of course, Fisk is right to a point. If the British opted out of Iraq and Afghanistan and everything else to do with the war on terror, it's quite possible that the jihadis would leave London alone – for a while. However, what Fisk (and others who peddle this line) never acknowledge is that this strategy is like devaluing your currency to get a competitive advantage.

If this worked for the UK/Europe, the US could trump anything Europe does in this regard. The US can withdraw from the Middle East and Europe, seal its borders and go back to happy isolationism and protectionism. Sure, there'd be a big price to pay, but it's possible that the American people will be willing to pay that price if the price of combating the jihadis alone is just too great. Let Europe deal with an eventual nuke-wielding bin Laden type character ruling over a new caliphate.

Friedman is much closer to the right answer. This is, mostly, a problem within the Muslim world. They need to sort it out. Iraq and Afghanistan are not the cause of this problem, they're a side-effect of the long overdue necessary treatment. In order to avoid the civil liberties nightmare, Muslims living in the west must fear doing nothing more than they fear turning on those in their midst who encourage/preach/endorse jihad. They must also speak loudly to their fellow Muslims living in penury and tyranny in the Middle East and elsewhere that there is a better way. They must become advocates for Islamic democracies.

Of course, if they fail we stand to lose a lot, but they stand to lose a lot more. No society has endless patience or good will. It would be nice to think that it's not so, but that sort of thinking is naive.

Olympics in London

I half expected to read that the IOC had decided to go with Paris after all. Maybe they're just waiting for the dust to settle.

Anyway, before yesterday's bombings, I had intended to post that I hope I can go to the 2012 Olympics in London. Baseball was one of the sports I had hoped to get to see (figuring demand would be minimal). Now it turns out that baseball and softball have been dropped.

This is a total joke. Okay, clearly baseball's not soccer or basketball, but it's got a far bigger global following than most of the Olympic sports. Olympic Handball, archery, even swimming or gymnastics (among others) are much smaller sports. I really can't understand this decision.

Getting back to normal

Great to see the buses and underground trains running again in London this morning. I have to admit I admire the way the British have actually played this whole incident down. There seems to be no big emotional outburst like there was after Diana's death.

As so many have said, that London was a target is hardly a surprise. I don't think anyone in London was shocked by what happened yesterday. I haven't heard anyone say it yet, but I'm sure some Londoners are probably relieved that the attacks were so limited. I'm sure many expected a far bigger attack.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


There isn't much I can say about what happened today that hasn't been said on every channel or on thousands of web sites already. Just awful.

UPDATE: Kind of interesting to see Rudy Giuliani on the news tonight and to hear that he was near Liverpool St. tube station when the bomb exploded there.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


I'm in Belgium until the end of the day. Normal posting will resume tomorrow (I hope).

Just to whine a bit, I had to pay €12 for this connection for one hour and the signal in this hotel is so weak that I get disconnected every 2 minutes, but my clock keeps ticking. If only I could complain in French.

Monday, July 04, 2005


I know I could probably find this answer somewhere else, but is there anyone else besides Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey who played at Live 8, Live Aid & Woodstock?

Live 8 – music

I watched a lot of Live 8 the other day/evening/night. Great watching with my oldest daughter. I saw the Killers (not ready for big arenas), Snow Patrol (a little dull, but I could imagine liking them), way more hip hop than I can deal with (especially from Philadelphia), the Kaiser Chiefs (they were excellent – best of the 'new' bands I saw) and the Scissor Sisters (good as well).

I didn't see it all, so I missed a lot too. I didn't see any of the first hour and missed U2. Didn't see REM either, but from what I heard I didn't miss much.

But, what about Townshend and Daltrey? (I'm not sure they should still call themselves The Who now that half of The Who is dead.) They're only a little younger than my father, but damn! they were great. I wonder if they can keep that up for two hours still. I was half worried that they'd embarrass themselves, but far from it. I thought they were the best thing I saw.

I also enjoyed Pink Floyd. They were better than I feared too. I was never as keen on them as I was on the Who, so I wasn't that excited about the reunion. David Gilmour was great. I really enjoyed the fact that I thought I saw him sneering when Roger Waters got all sappy.

Madonna was good (I'm not a fan), but I thought Robbie Williams (not a fan of him either) seemed out of practice, but the Sunday Times put him among its top three acts of the day (in London). I'll admit Williams knows how to work and use the crowd, without whom he'd have been forced to sing a lot more.

Not a holiday

I know this is almost too stupid, but I woke up today and heard the guy on the radio announce that it was 6:20 on the "fourth of July" and I thought to myself, "Great". Took me over an hour this morning to get my head around the fact that July 4 is not a holiday (here) and that I did have to function as normal on a Monday.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The end of French bashing?

Today's Washington Post reports on the extent to which France and the US cooperate in the War on Terror.
John E. McLaughlin, the former acting CIA director who retired recently after a 32-year career, described the relationship between the CIA and its French counterparts as "one of the best in the world. What they are willing to contribute is extraordinarily valuable."
I'm not surprised by this. Sure, I'll admit to enjoying the sillier comments made during the over emotional run-up to the Iraq war in 2003, but I never really doubted that France was a committed partner in the battle against al Qaeda.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Friedman hasn't left yet

A second column from NY Times columnist Tom Friedman, who is still in Dublin. Today Friedman is entering the debate as to whether Europe should pursue the Anglo-Saxon socio-economic model (Britain, Ireland, E. Europe) or the Franco-German model.

One thing that Friedman doesn't consider is whether Ireland is thriving despite the policies of France & Germany or because of them. I think it's mostly the latter. If France & Germany suddenly adopted a low tax, flexible labor approach our economic miracle would suddenly run out of steam. We'd find ourselves competing with the Germans and French, who would be able to offer a better location as well as the business friendly environment. Interest rates would rise as economic growth kicked in and we'd find ourselves behind the 8 ball with rising unemployment and rising interest rates. It's the nightmare scenario for Ireland.

So, Tom, if you don't mind, stop trying to goad the French and Germans back to reality. We like things as they are, thank you. Bertie, keep backing the French whenever there's a blow-up at the European summits, but keep implementing the same policies.


July 1, 1916 – the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Unbelievable carnage. By the winter when the offensive was called off the Allies – Britain & France – had gained 8 miles at most. The casualties are unfathomable.
The British had suffered 420,000 casualties. The French lost nearly 200,000 and it is estimated that German casualties were in the region of 500,000.
That was one battle. American casualties in all of World War II were about the same as Britain's for the Battle of the Somme.

I think that too many Europeans use the two world wars as an excuse to evade responsibility for security today (foot-dragging on Yugoslavia is the best example), but just as many Americans fail to appreciate how the effects of two absolutely devastating wars in the first half of the twentieth century have filtered down throughout Europe. Imagine the Civil War had been followed up 20 years later with an even deadlier, more destructive war and then imagine how gun shy America might have been throughout the first half of the twentieth century.

Awful it is

The other day I took my younger daughter to see Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith. She enjoyed it. I had very low expectations, so I have to admit I was surprised to realize afterwards that it succeeded in coming in so far below those expectations.

I'm not a Star Wars nut, which is probably part of the problem. I couldn't have cared less about tying together all those 'loose ends' from the previous five episodes. I think for the real fans of Star Wars, this is all that mattered. Continuity – the underlying theme of this picture.

I've seen each of the first three twice, but not since the second batch of three started coming out. I'd like to see the first three again. I have it in my head that the last three movies have been far worse than the original three. I'm curious to see if that's true.

One thing this movie lacked was any humor whatsoever. I seem to remember that there were smiles and laughs with Harrison Ford & Carrie Fisher. Were there? Or is it just that I was a lot younger then? The other day the only time I smiled was when some little guy of about 4 let loose a burp that drowned out the fight scene on the screen. Everyone in the movie theater laughed. It was the best moment of the 14 hours (or whatever it was) I was penned in there.

Oh yeah, am I the only one who HATES Yoda? Ridiculous he is.

Does everyone have broadband now?

This morning I got a message from Microsoft that I needed to download a critical update (Windows 2000). This happens every so often and isn't a big deal, but today's download was 31MB. Even with my 1MB broadband connection it took a while to download and install this update. I figure if I was still using my old 56kb/sec modem I'd have started at 6am and finished around midnight.

{And, yes, I do run my updates regularly. It was only last week that I scanned for updates and there were none.}

I can't help thinking that a 31MB download is sheer laziness. Microsoft just couldn't be bothered cutting this monster down to size.

Anyway, downloading and installing this delayed the Newshound this morning. Thanks, MS.