Monday, June 30, 2008

Free! Free! Free!

From today, the Irish Times is free online. This is the another big blow in newspapers' attempts to charge subscriptions for online access. The Irish Times has been charging for many years and obviously couldn't make it work.

I understand the motivation (businesses need to make money), but unless we had the biggest case ever of industrial collusion it was always going to be hard for some papers to charge while others were making their content available for free. I'm sure there are other papers still charging for access, but the only one I can think of right now is the Wall Street Journal (and some parts of the Journal are free online).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Le secrétaire d'Etat aux affaires européennes

No, I can't speak French. I wish I could today. I'd like to know if I'm getting a bad translation of this article from Le Monde. I'll have to live with the translation of what Mr. Jean-Pierre Jouyet, France's "Europe Minister" (Secretary of European Affairs? - see above) had to say about Ireland's vote.
French daily Le Monde reports Mr Jouyet as saying that "Europe has powerful enemies on the other side of the Atlantic, gifted with considerable financial means. The role of American neo-conservatives was very important in the victory of the No."
Ah, Cheney & Rumsfeld again. Lovely. Wrecking "Old Europe's" best laid plans by writing a big check for the 'No' campaign. Ahhh, the satisfaction.

Where did Mr. Jouyet get this nonsense from? Well, apparently it goes back to our friend Lucinda Creighton's attempt at playing the Anti-American card during the campaign.

Sheesh. Talk about paranoid. Europhiles across the continent sure are having trouble remaining connected to reality. A light campaign smear in Ireland and next thing you know French Government Ministers are quoting the Da Vinci Code as an explanation for what went wrong with their grand project.

Miss Creighton, can you please restrain yourself before posting on your web site in future? Your campaign hyperbole is causing members of the French government to make fools of themselves. This is on your head young lady.

The inexplicable 11%

I love reading poll data. You sometimes see things that the reporters ignore when they write a story about the poll.

A Eurobaromoter poll conducted after the Lisbon vote doesn't tell us a lot. I don't think so anyway. It does, however, raise questions either about some of the people who vote or about polls.

Try this. Eleven percent of the 'No' voters believed the Lisbon Treaty was "good for Ireland". What were those 11% (98,000 people) thinking? Why would they vote 'No' if they believed the Treaty was good for the country? I can't come up with any reasonable explanation as to why such a large number of people might have voted this way.

Now before you get too excited, before you start screaming about those numbskulls who make up the 11% and how they cost the 'Yes' side the vote there's this: eleven percent (odd symmetry, no?) of the 'Yes' voters believed the Treaty was "bad for Ireland". Now it's possible that these people could at least have reasonably felt that the Treaty was bad for Ireland, but good for the EU. So maybe there's some explanation for these people. Still, that would mean 80,000 voters were willing to say 'Yes' to something for the sake of the EU at Ireland's expense. Doubtful.

These figures are so strange that I can't help but wonder about the poll itself. How clear were the questions? How representative the sample(s)? 180,000 strange birds voting in the referendum just seems too outlandish. To me this calls the whole poll into question. The media may be running with it, but I would suggest that the government should not be overly dependent on it.

More clarity

Thank you Mr. Joschka Fischer. The former European powerbroker when he was Germany's Foreign Minister has provided further clarification regarding Ireland's position in the EU.
It has happened. After France and the Netherlands rejected the European Constitutional Treaty, Ireland's "No" vote is the second and probably decisive blow against a united and strong Europe. June 12, 2008, will have to be remembered as the day that made European history. No matter what desperate rescue efforts will be undertaken, they cannot hide the fact that the European Union has left the world stage as a serious foreign policy player for at least 10 years (if not for much longer).

… There is still a minuscule chance to avert the debacle if Ireland with its "No" vote remains isolated within the EU.
I don't think anyone ever even imagined France and/or the Netherlands being "isolated within the EU". The votes of the French & Dutch don't matter nor do the rules of the EU nor the pleasant language about Ireland being a partner in the European project.

Again, if we do eventually vote again and approve Lisbon at least there can be no more spin, no more BS, no more naivete, no more denying what the EU is and what our role in the Union is.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

April 2009 a good time for Lisbon II

One good thing about the 'No' vote is that we can wait to see how the wind blows in the US election. If we have a second Lisbon Treaty next spring we'll have had enough time to see if President Obama's protectionist policy proposals look like a runner. If they do, then a 'No' vote would be all the more costly as the world's big blocks start throwing up the shutters. It would be foolish to remain outside the EU in such circumstances (unless Ireland is offered some alternative membership in NAFTA). If, however, the protectionist noises fade away after the election then the dangers of being on the outside of the EU would be lessened.

A mid-April re-run of the Lisbon vote should be late enough to know where things are going.


Regardless of how this "Lisbon Treaty" ends up, we have clarity now regarding Ireland's real position in the EU. We are not a "partner" in this project. We are expendable and our so-called "veto" was never as firm as the 'Yes' campaign would have us believe.

We didn't have a "veto". We had a "vote" where if we had to we would stand with other countries that shared our concerns on neutrality or taxes or whatever. If any of these issues led to conflict with the 26 other members we were always going to be beaten down. We had no clout and only a minimum of influence. That we had power and influence was the great lie that our politicians peddled (& possibly even believed).

At least the next vote can be more honest. Isolation and possible penury against servility and dependence. It may not be pretty, but at least it's a clear choice.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Two speed Europe

Okay. I'll admit it. I'm slow. Or at least, I'm missing something really, really important with regards to the EU.

Why is a "two-speed" EU (or Europe, as I hear it more often) such a bad thing? From what I understand a "two-speed" Europe is one where some countries plow on with various reforms, etc. while other countries opt out of those reforms (or whatever).

"Nobody wants to see that" is the refrain whenever the possibility of a "two-speed" Europe is brought up. Well, why not?

First of all we already have a multi-speed Europe, dont' we?

The euro is used in only 15 of the EU's 27 countries. Many of the countries not currently using the euro are the new members from E. Europe, most of whom plan to adopt the euro by 2012. However, Britain, Sweden and Denmark are outside the Euro and don't want to join. More than one speed there, no?

Britain and Ireland are outside the Schengen zone. Another change of gears.

So, what exactly is a "two-speed" Europe and why is it so fearful a development for Ireland. Often this fear is expressed in some form of "loss of influence" terms. Well, just how much "influence" does Ireland have exactly? Because, let's face it, our power and strength are hardly likely to sway the Germans, Italians, French, etc. anyway. How much worse off would we be if we were outside the EU's decision-making center, but in a position to negotiate our relationship with the EU? Would we really be that much worse off?

The other day I heard someone gasp at this thought and follow up with (something like) we'd end up like Norway? Norway?
Norway is not a Member State of the EU, and the relationship with the Union is therefore based on other forms and means of close contact and co-operation. This co-operation enables Norway to maintain a very high level of economic integration, and political co-operation, with the EU and its Member States.
Is being outside the EU really costing Norway that much? And, besides, they're not in the EU. Ireland would remain in the EU, but in the slow lane, so to speak, if we had a "two-speed" Europe. Although I'll admit that maybe I'm missing something really, really big here, I wouldn't mind being in the slow lane although I'm sure Irish Eurocrats and politicians would blanche at the very idea.

I'm not even sure where the high speed Europe is heading, but if the fast lane is the highway to hell I'm just as happy to proceed at a leisurely pace.

"Beer-soaked" - an addendum

{I hit the "Go" button on my post last night too quickly.}

Of the 27 countries for which I found 1970 data on alcohol consumption only 5 had a lower per capita consumption than Ireland: Turkey, Japan, Norway, Iceland and Finland. Only one of those nations (Finland) is in the EU today. In other words, when compared with other EU countries Ireland in 1970 was pretty far from "beer-soaked" unless Cohen believes that every EU country was even more "beer-soaked" (or "wine-soaked" or "vodka-soaked") in 1970.

This is why I said that Cohen had fallen back on a stereotype - and an inaccurate one - when he described Ireland in 1970. Stereotype, bigotry, hysteria - I'd like to say that this is a new low for the New York Times, but I doubt it is. Unfortunately.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I have more to say about Roger Cohen's column in today's NY Times. Cohen decided that he couldn't make his case without playing on a (inaccurate) stereotype about Ireland and Irish people.

Cohen wrote:
I can’t think of a country that’s benefited from European Union membership more than Ireland. It has catapulted itself in a few decades from beer-soaked backwater to the Celtic Tiger whose growth rates, foreign investment and rags-to-riches story were the envy of every languishing small nation with a thirst for a makeover.
Did you catch that "beer-soaked backwater"? Yup, if not for the EU Ireland would still be a land full of drunks.

Truth is, the EU could more easily be blamed for turning Ireland into a "beer-soaked cesspool". In 1970 Irish & British per capita alcohol consumption was nearly identical (7.0 liters per person in Ireland, 7.1 in Britain). By 2004 Ireland's per capita consumption was 13.6 liters per person whereas Britain's per capita was 11.5.

You see? Ireland's alcohol consumption has nearly doubled since we joined the EU. Maybe Mr. Cohen could have spent the ten minutes on google that it took me to find those stats. Ignoramus.

Cohen's fit of pique

Whoa! Roger Cohen needs a break. Clearly he's working too hard. He also needs to read David McWilliams's from yesterday's Irish Independent. He should also read Gideon Rachman from the Financial Times earlier in the week.
The European Union has a difficult balance to strike between efficiency and accountability - between democracy and technocracy. The lesson of the Irish referendum, and of the French and Dutch votes before it, is that the balance has tilted too much towards technocracy.
Even Anne Applebaum's Washington Post column from Tuesday might help him with some perspective.
So pay no attention to the wailing in Brussels: If the most enthusiastic Europeans in Europe didn't care enough to read the treaty they've just rejected, then maybe it's just as well it didn't pass.
Maybe had Cohen read those columns he might have tempered what he said in today's New York Times.
Yet here we have the Irish, in a fit of Euro-bashing pique worthy of the worst of little-Englandism, rejecting the renegotiated Lisbon treaty essential for the functioning of an expanded 27-member E.U. Biting the hand that feeds you does not begin to describe this act of bloody-mindedness.

The Lisbon Treaty is essential. It alone can create a streamlined decision-making mechanism for a 27-member union. It alone can forge the meaningful presidency and foreign-affairs posts that will give the E.U. the increased political clout that its economic weight demands.
"Pique"? "Biting the hand"? "Bloody-mindedness"? At least he's respecting the Irish people's democratically expressed wishes. NOT!

Like I said, Cohen needs a break. He's clearly overwrought (as are too many in the pro-Lisbon camp). The vote is not the calamity he and others have portrayed it as nor was the 'No' vote a fit of "pique" or "bloody-mindedness". The European Union has a problem with legitimacy among the people of the EU. Taking the time to try to understand this phenomenon would be a worthwhile exercise for those at the center of the EU's power structure.

"Let them eat cake"?

Alistair Darling. What was he thinking? Surely he knew how that would look on the evening news?

There he was on the BBC news last night standing there in his tuxedo speaking in the well-appointed surroundings of the Mansion House asking for restraint from the unions. He's barely finished wiping the pheasant and Château Lafite from his lips and he's up chiding organized labor for even possibly considering asking for pay raises to help offset the costs of their members' rapidly rising gas and electric bills.

I think he has a point, but the optics were so bad that even I winced. If I were a labor leader I'd be using that clip to stir the masses.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Debt repaid

David McWilliams in today's Irish Independent explains how the Irish people are truly good Europeans and have already repaid the €33bn that we've received in aid over the past 35 years.
Ireland is a proper European partner to the Joe Soaps from Warsaw, Riga and Vilnius, while the French and Germans have closed their doors to them.

… We have close to 300,000 immigrants working from the new accession states here. Let's say they are on a wage between the minimum wage of €17,000 and the average wage of close to €35,000 a year. So let's say €25,000. That's a total wage bill of €7.5bn per year.

As we are now going into our fifth year of open borders, it is likely that Ireland has put back more cash in the pockets of poor European immigrants in five years that the EU has given us in 35 years.

… If you want to see what European integration is for ordinary people, don't watch the pomp and ceremony of the leaders' summit tomorrow, go to the arrivals hall at Dublin airport.

There, amid the stonewashed denims, shaved heads and East European biker jackets, you will see the true hope that Europe brings. It is a chance of a better life for the immigrants and their children. It is the chance to bring money home, to plan and to invest in the future. This is what Europe is all about.


How many times have you heard or read about how Ireland is "ungrateful" for voting 'No' after pocketing all that EU money?. And it's apparently a truism that Ireland has benefited more than any other country from membership of the European Union¹.

Every time I heard/read this line of argument the same two thoughts came to mind: (1) was this explained at each referendum that a 'Yes' would mean the end of the right to vote any way but the "right way"? and (2) now Europeans understand how Americans can get so annoyed by Europeans because Europe owes at least as much to the United States for Europe's peace and prosperity as Ireland owes to the EU.

¹ The single market provided no benefit to Germany, France, Italy, Holland, the UK, etc.? What is that worth to each of those countries? What are Ireland's lost fishing rights worth? Etc. You cannot evaluate the value of EU membership to an individual country by looking at direct transfers.

Why 'Yes'?

One theme that has been discussed to death is why so many people voted 'No'. What seems to have been almost totally ignored is why so many voted 'Yes'. I haven't talked to that many people about the vote, but I haven't met anyone who even made the effort I made to read the treaty (that is, get a hard copy, read parts of it, get a soft copy and do a search for key words). So why were so many - over 750,000 people - willing to vote 'Yes'?

The only explanation I can come up with - and I think this is actually a positive reason - is that a lot people trust their government. They voted 'Yes' because they believe, despite all the bad press that politicians get, that the deal that their elected representatives made is one that is good for the country.

I have to assume that quite a few of those who voted 'Yes' would not vote for the government parties, which means that although they have some differences with Fianna Fail, the Greens & PD's they have faith that the government did actually get the best possible deal for Ireland in their negotiations with the other EU countries. 46% of the electorate was sufficiently trusting in the government to vote 'Yes'.

The opposite, however, is not necessarily true. People could have voted 'No' simply because they didn't like the deal or don't like the EU. In fact, only 17% voted 'No' because they didn't trust the government. Overall, there is a lot of trust in the government and our elected officials. That's not a bad thing.

Still surprised by Lisbon vote

Over the weekend I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about the Lisbon Treaty referendum. In fact, until I found out that Willie Randolph had been let go late yesterday it was pretty much all I'd been thinking about. I watched the European Championships each night with a newspaper in my hand reading analysis (what happened?) and speculation (where now?).

As I wrote last week I was a pretty soft 'No' voter. I even hesitated before making my mark on Thursday evening. Even after casting my own vote I was pretty sure it would pass. Again, I was surprised when it failed. I was more surprised by the turnout than the margin of the 'No' victory. A high turnout was presumed a plus for the 'Yes' side. In the end, turnout was 53%, which is pretty high (higher than the 50% who approved the Nice Treaty in 2002) and can't be easily dismissed.

I've been sorting through so many thoughts on this vote and the EU generally that I'm figuring on writing a bunch of shorter posts rather a confused book-length post.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Classless disgrace

My team. Uggh. The NY Mets are a no-class joke of an organization.

Last night at 3am NY time they fired their manager, Willie Randolph. Randolph was - perhaps - not the greatest manager, but he deserved better than this. And, they fired Randolph after the team won last night (and has won 3 of 4). And, not only had the Mets won and not only was it 3am in New York, but the Mets had only arrived in California after a cross country flight late the previous night. They could have fired him the day before, but decided to wait because it was Father's Day. Nonsense.

Willie probably should have been fired after last season's collapse, but this team's troubles are little to do with Randolph and mostly to do with the man who put this team together and that's not Willie, but Omar Minaya.

Sure, I'll go on rooting for them, but this stinks. Big time.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thrice 'No' for the EU 'Constitution'

It'll be on every bulletin across the EU and probably even the rest of the western world. Ireland has voted to reject the Lisbon Treaty. I'm surprised, but not shocked. It doesn't seem to have been all that close either, although most of the votes aren't counted yet. Still anything over a 53% vote for 'No' is, to my mind, a pretty solid rejection. That makes it a hat trick given that the French & Dutch already said 'No' to this constitution in treaty's clothing.

Mary Flynn, a nurse from Dublin, summed up a general sentiment when speaking to the Washington Post.
"I don't understand a good lot of it; I don't know what it does," Flynn, a 49-year-old nurse, said of the complex, 300-page treaty. Ireland "would be nothing," she acknowledged, without the billions of dollars the E.U. has given this once-poor country in the past 35 years. But she said she voted against the treaty: "If you don't know, you vote no."
The analysis of what went wrong will go on for days/weeks, but people were being asked to/bullied into agreeing to simply trust the politicians. Not a winning formula in a referendum.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

No! Yes! No!

I've thought a lot about the Lisbon Treaty. Initially I was all set for a 'No'. Then I started to consider the implications for Europe and began to lean towards 'Yes'. It was only in the last 24 hours that the truth that this is, essentially, the EU Constitution and that was already rejected by the French & Dutch that I've firmed up in the 'No' camp.

I don't feel comfortable transferring sovereignty to an entity that thinks so little of democracy that they dismiss the voters' decision and press on with their plans none-the-less. I'm going to vote 'No', but if the treaty was subjected to a referendum in (at least) Holland and France (other nations were promised referenda too) I would probably have voted 'Yes'.

So, I'm doing what we've been told we shouldn't do by so, so many. I'm voting on grounds that are not actually part of the treaty. I'm voting 'No' simply because the Eurocrats and Europhiles who govern us simply do not care what the voters think.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Out of Many, One

If we approve Lisbon we'll have provided the basis on which the restructured EU can streamline the process of decision-making. We won't be one nation, but we will be one fairly unified people of many nationalities from one end of Europe to the other. We may never be one nation, but that doesn't mean we can't be one transnational people. It is, ultimately, where we are headed.

This fact is denied by the 'Yes' side and accentuated by the 'No' side in the treaty debates. To my mind it is the primary weakness in the Yes argument. If the Yes campaign would own up to this and make the case that this is a good thing for both Ireland and Europe I think people would be less suspicious of the EU.

Recently, John Bruton wrote a column promoting the 'Yes' campaign. {I wasn't sure it was appropriate for the EU's Ambassador to the United States to play so direct a role in the campaign, but that's another issue.}

Bruton appealed to me with a few sentences.
The European Union is the greatest peace process of the 20th century. It is the world's only multinational democracy. No other region of the world has pooled sovereignty among nations that once were at war as the EU has done.
Although I'm not keen on his language and I think the EU can get too much credit here, he's not a million miles from the truth. The EU has been great at deflecting, defusing, channeling national rivalries. Without the EU what sort of Europe would we have?

I think the dilution of the power of the nation state has been fundamental in this. Why are the 'Yes' people so uneasy making this case? Why can't they admit this is what's happening and argue the positives of this?

I'm guessing that they know (or suspect) that the public isn't willing to accept this, that the dilution of our national identity is not a winner. But, why not? Irish people seem to like traveling around Europe. Many have lived in other EU states. There are thousands of people from across the EU living amongst us here. We enjoy fairly easy trade, share a currency, and pool our sovereignty on many issues.

The Lisbon Treaty is all about continuing this process and making it easier. We are many nations, but we are, gradually, becoming one. In fact, the motto for the Lisbon Treaty could be e pluribus unum. Had this been admitted up front maybe the 'Yes' side wouldn't be so worried right now.

No wonder Cork wins so many All-Ireland's

The answer was there all along, but until I saw it in today's NY Daily News I never made the connection. Here's the headline: Source: Roger Clemens, host of athletes pop Viagra to help onfield performance. Well, in Cork they're breathing it in with every breath.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Brian's beggin

He's on his knees. He's pleading. Don't vote 'No'.

The poll today makes it look pretty sticky for the Yes folks, but I think they'll still get their victory. Cowen has that look in his eyes that we've all seen in a zillion disaster movies. He looks like George Kennedy telling us the dam's gonna go (or whatever).

Elm Park

I don't know anything about the development at Elm Park other than what I see from the road. It's massive and so new looking. Tonight as I was driving by I had a thought I first had a few months back: that Elm Park is one big white elephant and that someday it will be a symbol of everything that went wrong as the economy went into its inevitable property price crash.

Now maybe I'm dead wrong and all those units - residential and commercial - are sold and/or will be sold. I hope so. It just looks so darn big, so darn new and so darn empty whenever I pass by.

I don't care what John Gormley thinks

I love driving. Not always, true, but there are times when I just love the feeling of being in the car, cruising along, listening to the radio. I was driving out of Dublin this evening just late enough so that the traffic was nearly gone.

Popped in a CD that I found in the glove compartment. Hadn't listened to it in a while and I wasn't sure what would be on it. It was one I made myself and it just says "random" on it. First song up - Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin. {That's another thing about driving: for me the songs have to be utterly familiar. Anything unfamiliar requires too much concentration.}

Light traffic all the way and hardly a red light. Perfect.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Have I mentioned Lidl before? I don't think so.

For those of you who don't know, Lidl is a supermarket. Sort of. Really it's a lot more than that. It's an experience. It's a surreal experience.

Lidl is a German supermarket chain. I don't know how long they've been in Ireland, but my first time in Lidl was probably less than 2 years ago. And I don't go that often. It isn't the kind of store where you go when you need stuff.

What makes Lidl different? I have trouble pinning it down. Maybe it's the 'foreign-ness'? It's a great place to practice your German, so many of the products have German labels. The foods available are probably available in Tesco and other supermarkets, but Lidl is so much smaller that the odd, non-local foods stand out more. Toilet-seat shaped sausages, for example. Always reminds me of being in a German deli in New York, only down market. Oh, and, there's actually no deli, only packaged foods.

Maybe it's the way the food is displayed? The freezers, in particular, always look 3/4 empty. Every time I've been in Lidl I've had the feeling that shoppers from the Soviet Union would have felt at home in Lidl's frozen foods section. One, maybe two products available and acres of empty space. Half of the rest of the foods are just dumped on pallets on the floor. It's as if they want it to look like the store is run by a former Commissar from Nizhny Novgorod?

The size is also odd. The stores are actually pretty small. Which brings me to my next possible explanation. Maybe it's the range of things you find there (given the size)? The fact that Wal-mart sells snow tires, lingerie, milk by the gallon, birthday cards and beer-keg size containers of Vaseline doesn't surprise me because the stores are so big. You could park a few 747's in most Wal-mart stores.

Lidl - at least around here - is small. Yet, despite that, the last time I was in Lidl I could have picked up a chainsaw and/or a motorcycle helmet. My previous trip to Lidl they had trumpets and trolley jacks. You never see the same products twice. And, you can't count on finding something there. I bought shaving cream there a while back and thought it was good. Last time I was there they had no shaving cream. I can't imagine any other supermarket simply having no shaving cream. Maybe out of one brand, but never none at all. Like I said, you can't go there when you need stuff.

It's all just part of the appeal. Every trip you find something new and you find something missing. Every trip is an adventure. Lidl has to be experienced.

What were the names of the horses?

If you'd won £8,000 "at the races" wouldn't you remember the names of the horses and what best you'd placed? I sure would. Bertie Ahern said yesterday that some of his previously forgotten sterling deposits were the result of his having backed winners in one or two bets. I can't believe he said this yesterday and there were no follow-up question about the the racetrack and/or the horse's name (or horses' names)? Surely he'd remember the name of a horse on which he won £4,000?

If this story is true then Bertie Ahern must be among the more successful gamblers in history, unless he has massive losses that he also hasn't owned up to.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hijab in schools

I told you that the other day I spent a bit of time catching up on my newspapers. I came across this angry column from Martina Devlin (May 22). Devlin's writing about veils, Islam, women, etc after the issue arose at a Wexford school. 13-year-old Shekina Egan wants to wear a hijab to school, but it's not part of the uniform. The school principal allowed her to wear the hijab. I don't really have a problem with his decision.

Now truth is, if the school says that the hijab is not part of its uniform then it shouldn't be allowed. If the principal wants to make an exception to the uniform policy to allow a girl to wear a veil/hijab that's his call. He's the ultimate authority when it comes to discipline and his decision is law.

Devlin, however, wants to ban hijabs, pretty much anywhere in Ireland. She doesn't want women wearing the hijab in "banks, hospitals or libraries, not in the guards or civil service and most definitely not in schools".

She also says:
Here's what banning the headscarf is about: the State demonstrating our belief in gender equality. It's about removing a symbol of repression and submission.
Yes. In order to demonstrate "our belief in gender equality" we're going to tyrannically remove a woman's choice to wear the hijab. I once heard a woman describe a wedding ring as a symbol of submission. Should they be banned too?

Why is she so worried if some women want to wear a hijab? I think it's because She believes we're on a slippery slope.
Today the hijab which covers the hair and shoulders, tomorrow the niqab or full-face veil, the day after the burqa hiding everything from tip to toe -- described as a mobile prison by women obliged to wear it.
I suspect that Devlin is worried that Ireland is going to adopt Sharia. I don't think that's going to happen.

Regardless, a woman covering her hair (& shoulders) is hardly extreme. I would, however, agree that the niqab (covering the face) is too extreme. We in the west must see a person's face when we deal with them. It's part of our culture and we can - and should - resist any attempt to normalize the niqab.

There is a huge gulf between the hijab and the niqab and we non-Muslims should acknowledge this. I mean, it's not like it's that long ago that women in veils (aka nuns) were a pretty common sight here. I still see some occasionally. A woman wearing a veil is not the extreme behavior that Devlin wants us to believe it is.

Hands off!

This from yesterday:
A further 19 beaches also failed to meet a higher aspirational "guide" level designed to encourage cleaner bathing water.

Nine of these were in Co Dublin: Skerries, Sutton, Portmarnock, Merrion Strand, Bray, Greystones, Donabate, Malahide, Loughshinny.
Bray? Greystones? Those unclean beaches are in Wicklow, not Dublin.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Hold that thought

I think I have some things I want to say, but I can't remember at the moment. I know you're all waiting with bated breath for more of my pearls of wisdom. Unfortunately, it's just so darn nice out that all I'm doing on this holiday Monday is sitting in my comfortable chair in the backyard reading newspapers. I have like a 4 month back-log to get through, so you'll have to wait til tomorrow.