Friday, April 27, 2007

Climate Change: a letter to a friend

A very good friend of mine asked me to sign an online petition on climate change. I looked over the organization promoting the petition and what the petition said. I could not participate.

Here is the letter back to my friend:

Thanks for thinking of me! I can't in good conscience sign however.
While I believe in global warming and the effects humans have in
climate change I do not believe in the Apocalyptic versions offered by
the climate change movement. I am also scared that the "movement" is
fast becoming a religion and is adopting religious/cult like attitudes
that guard against any challenge. Including valid scientific

If I had my way the debate would framed in a way that promoted
"Leadership by example." Individuals, companies and governments would
be challenged to exhibit leadership in their respective actions for
reasons of environmental protection and conservation. Stewardship
would be the call to arms not wild speculation about the death of our

Having said this I am not fore-square against these climate change
movements because many of the desired outcomes are outcomes I promote:
efficiency, conservation and alternatives. The means do matter though
even if the end is a shared goal. So, as long as the movement
refrains from being a "religion" I will give it passive support. But
if the means continues to move in the self-defeatist and polarizing
direction I see it moving towards now I will remove all support and
work against it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Finally some Rockin' F'in Roll Baby! Wolfmother.

Where have I been? Apparently Wolfmother has been around for a while. This Australian ban rocks! Try alternating tracks from Heart for a great party mix. Check these guys out.

Wolfmother got a boost when one of their tracks got play on an Ipod commercial.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Going to School in Ireland at DCU

Going to School in Ireland at DCU

Below are some tips and factoids that might help the next class of Americans or others to transition to DCU/Ireland/Dublin a bit quicker and enjoy their stay a bit more.

I have decided to divide this up into headings for the sake of organization and the inevitable indexing of Technorati and Google. It is also done somewhat in the order in which things might become important.

Application Process for DCU

Student Aid for DCU

Student Housing at DCU

Arriving in Dublin

First Day




Traveling Dublin (Bus, Taxi, Trains)

Peccadilloes of DCU



Office Hours



Peccadilloes of Dublin


Bus System

Application Process

  1. All in all I would say it scores high on convenience if you understand up front that anything that is this important will have to be handled from “cradle to grave.” I applied online. It was fairly intuitive and easy to navigate. All of the links on the website did not work however. There were even novice mistakes made that were easily fixed by adjusting the URL if you knew a little about HTML. When I called to inquire about the problems it was obvious that the right hand did not know what the left was doing. My advice is to stay on top of the process and don’t be afraid to double check by making a few phone calls.
  2. You will be required to mail some documents. My original mailing was misplaced for a bit.
  3. I was notified by the head of my department at DCU that I was accepted before I got the official notice in the mail or the change on the application website appeared. That was very nice of him and that is exemplary of the way the School of Law and Government offices have handled any request I have made.

Student Aid

  1. You can receive Stafford Loans and Plus Loans to go to school in a foreign country. They must of course participate in the loan program. DCU does participate. (Though not always with top efficiency.)
  2. I have been over all disappointed at the way DCU handles student aid for US students. The international office (the point person for aid) has only a limited understanding of the intricacies of aid in the US.
  3. It is important to note that the DCU international office will certify that your enrolment period is from September to September. One year. That precludes you from receiving additional Stafford aid for the time you work on your dissertation over the summer. In the States you can receive aid while working on your thesis. Not here. If the school year ended in June and the dissertation period was looked at as summer school you could receive additional aid. But it is not.
  4. There is NO AUTOMATED ANYTHING when dealing with US aid over seas. It is all done by fax and mail. It takes ages to get your money. DO NOT rely on your aid check overages to pay for anything the first two months of each semester. (including accommodations) It can take that long for the checks to be sent back and forth across the ocean. As well, your promissory note and other paper work is not transmitted it is mailed. You will be responsible for moving the paper work and seeing to it that it gets to the right person. Most of this is automated in the States. But not here.
  5. You can not cash the overage check without an Ireland bank account. Your only other option is to mail it one more time across the ocean. Opening an account here in Ireland is easy…too easy. Getting a credit line/card here is too easy as well.

Student Housing

  1. First the good. Folks at housing are very good at answering you questions via email. I never waited more than 24 hours on a reply.
  2. Second semester they gave me an extra week to pay. That was very nice of them.
  3. Accommodations (student housing) keeps the best hours of any office on campus. They take a long lunch like everyone else but they are also open a bit later.
  4. For graduate students there are a few options. I recommend the College Park graduate residences. Get the “deluxe” room. I think that is what it is called. You have a double bed and a pretty good size room. The actual room and accommodations are the best I have seen at any college. Plenty of space. Internet in your room, free for post grads.
  5. Laundry facilities here suck. It is very expenses and takes too long. More on this later.
  6. Your mail is downstairs and everyone has an open box for mail. This is where you will pick up you care package from home as well. The mail is often mis-boxed. More on this later.
  7. You have to vacate your room (just your body not your stuff) twice a semester for them to spray for bed bugs. No shit. It could also be more if some “knacker” from the country brings them back with them and contaminates the dorm.
  8. You have to leave your room for fire drills twice a semester as well.
  9. You have the intrusion of room inspections twice a semester as well. More later.
  10. The cost for me was about 5,000 euro. An ok option might be living near campus. I like the social nature of being on campus. Even though I have MANY complaints I would suggest being on campus.
  11. You are supposed to sign in over night guests well in advance and pay money. HA! Never heard of a soul doing that.
  12. Ummm…apparently “En Suite” means that you don’t share bathrooms. I didn’t know that. Why not just say the rooms have there own bathrooms?

Arriving in Dublin

  1. In 2006/2007 I paid about $700 US round trip from Charlotte NC to Dublin.
  2. You enter the country without any hassle. Have your paper work ready. Proof of enrollment and proof of where you are staying. Have the address.
  3. Baggage Claim is downstairs just like in every other Airport in the world and the buses and taxis to the school are just outside. Buses to your left and taxis to your right. Don’t take the bus your first day you cheap bastard spring for a cab.
  4. The taxi drivers are hard to understand. They will also take you for an extra block or two to get the fair up to 20 euros. It should cost NO MORE than 18 or 19 euro to get to or from DCU.
  5. If you arrive before you have accommodations at the school you can stay downtown and get a jump on touring the City Center. (downtown Dublin) Or, you can stay at the Regency on Swords Rd. It is walking distance to campus in good weather, reasonably priced and has a nice pub on site.
  6. Go to the international office on your first day even if you have no other business there and say hello. You will need them eventually and it would be good to stand out and make a good impression.
  7. If you are going to the DCU campus residences from the airport you need to tell the driver to take you to the Ballymun Rd. entrance. The other entrance is Collins Ave. This is not near the dorms. Accommodations is well marked and easy to find.
  8. The campus is small and easy to navigate.
  9. Ballymun Rd is also were you will get most of your food, taxis and buses. Go visit the Chipper (fast food burgers and fries) and the Spar convenience store your first day. The Spar on campus, if it is open, sucks for the finding the necessities you left at home.

First Day

  1. How exciting for you! Go up and talk to people. Everybody expects Americans to be loud and social. Don’t disappoint!
  2. If your first day is orientation day…expect to be bored. Go to all the meetings you are supposed to go to but then only go to places that you can meet people.
  3. For the first week I planed breakfasts with people I met. Everyone eats breakfast. It is also a good way to find out what others are doing and invite yourself. No one knows anyone. It is ok and expected that you invite yourself. No body knows you well enough to know you’re an asshole.


  1. If you are American you are going to be disappointed.
  2. The cafeteria is only open until 4pm.
  3. The food is marginal.
  4. The price is outrageous. (They charge for hot water for the tea you brought with you!)
  5. The Spar shop on campus is expensive but cheaper than the Cafeteria. (canteen)
  6. The Spar sandwiches are very good. I suggest putting sweet corn on your sandwich…trust me!
  7. The Spar breakfast is much better than the campus cafeteria…unless you are a fruit and cereal person.
  8. If you are a vegetarian you will find DCU and Dublin very accommodating. If you are a vegan…you suck you dirty hippy…shave your pits and wash your ass. Seriously, most things you buy that might be vegan or vegi are clearly marked.
  9. Food is expensive. VERY expensive. Going out to eat every meal will break you. You WILL HAVE TO COOK. So expect to eat noodles and pasta. You will need a pot if your roommates don’t have one. Utensils if you roommates don’t have any. And dishes if…
  10. Pray for at least one Irish suite-mate. They will have the dishes, utensils, etc.
  11. Food is expensive.
  12. The food tastes different. Not always bad…but different. Bacon here is country ham at home. Ketchup here is generally sweeter and spicier. The food is sweeter and with less salt. The burgers here are not great. But they will do in a pinch. The sausage is not what Americans are use to. Try it any way.
  13. There is not much choice on or near campus for food. A medium Dominos pizza delivered, that tastes a lot different, is 17 euro or over $20. There is a Chinese take out place (called “take away” here) that delivers. I never felt well after eating it. Give it a shot. The chipper up the street on the other side of the Spar shop will be your best bet for a meal when you first get here and about once every two weeks.
  14. You can get 90% of all your groceries from the Spar shop off campus. It is well appointed. Other than that you can walk about 3 quarters of a mile up to the Tesco supermarket. It is in the Omni shopping mall. There is also a Pizza Hut, Mc Donalds, Burger King and Subway there. The cinema is at the Omni as well.
  15. Food is Expensive!
  16. You don’t have to tip. But if you are American you better. We did. 10% is plenty.


  1. Ireland is known for beer…there must be beer everywhere…therefore it must be cheap. WRONG. Beer is about $5 for a pint from the pub or just under $4 per can/pint from the store (called Off License). If you want to drink on a budget…drink liquor or wine. Liquor is more expensive than home but wine is about the same.
  2. Get buzzed before you go out. Getting drunk at the bar/pub is too expensive. If you are a professional drinker like me and some of my friends you can expect to be drunk at around $120-$160 dollars for one night if you like to buy people shots and rounds. If not, $45-$60.
  3. Shots here are half the size as home and twice as much money.
  4. The drinking age is 18. Having been around a group of drunk 18 year olds…I am a firm supporter of the 21 year old drinking age in the States.
  5. There are two bars on campus that close on the weekends and one only stays open most nights till 8pm and the other till midnight.
  6. Off campus and near by is the Slipper also called Matt Wheldon’s. The students drink in the back of the pub and the old folks drink in the front and never the twain shall meet.
  7. Again no tip required. I give the bartender a euro every 3 or 4 drinks or so.
  8. The bartenders in Dublin suck because there is no tipping.
  9. Near enough to campus is Drumcondra. There are many bars here and it is a quick bus ride and generally less crowded than downtown.


  1. Windy
  2. Rainy
  3. Windy, with sun for 20-30 minutes at a time.
  4. The Irish wind does not like umbrellas.

Traveling Dublin (Bus, Taxi, Trains)

  1. The best buses downtown (City Center) leave from Ballymun Rd. the 19A (the quickest), the 4, the 13 and 13a, the 11.
  2. Taxis downtown are about 12-17 euro.
  3. You can get a train or bus to anywhere in Ireland. Ireland has a decent train service all over. They also have local trains/trams.
  4. You can rent a car and travel Ireland if you like. The prices are ok. One catch. The steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car and the car is driven on the wrong side of the road. It takes a little getting use to but if you are vigilant you will live and have a good time touring Ireland. Get and automatic because the shifter would be on your left and that is CRAZY!
  5. Make friends with someone who has a car.
  6. The Bus fare right now is about 1.40 euros to go from DCU to the City Center. It just went up a nickel over Christmas.

Peccadilloes of DCU


  • Too many intrusions. Between the inspections, spraying for bed bugs and fire drills you feel as though you are kicked out of your room once every two weeks.
  • Your mail is more often than not mis-boxed. Check the boxes beside yours. That is where your mail will be.
  • The deadbolt locks on your doors are not deadbolts. They are electronic locks and the accommodations staff or whoever can key into your room at anytime.


  • Food is Expensive.
  • The Canteen SUCKS. It is a big rip and the food is not very good.
  • In the States college café food is not great either…but you don’t have to pay much for it.

Office Hours

  • Offices take long lunches and most close at 4:30.
  • Many offices are closed at inopportune times.


  • It is not that great. Kinda small and the staff is rude.
  • There is a café downstairs that serves marginal food that is generally a little bit cheaper than the canteen. I is a good place to get coffee and chat with friends.


  • I got the impression that DCU thinks of students as profit centers. Nothing is “included” every detail is paid for over and above tuition.
  • Books here are more expensive and there is NO buy back like home.
  • You do not actually graduate until November of the next year you start. Plan for that. Even though classes are done in May and dissertations are handed in around the first week of September (for some programs, others sooner) you will not be a graduate until the first day of November.
  • Grades are different.

Peccadilloes of Dublin


Ireland is expensive and Dublin is SUPER expensive. Prepare accordingly. Everything here is at a premium. It gets on your nerves after a bit.

Bus System

They don’t stop when they are supposed to and the night link fares are about the same as a taxi split 3 ways.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Mangum's go global!

I was cruising the net last night and found a website for "Round" Mangum.

Round is the brother of my high school football coach Joey Mangum. I have always looked up to Coach Mangum. It would not be hyperbole to say he is one of my heros. So, when I found his brothers website (Round is a local icon himself) I was very pleased.

The town I grew up in Pageland SC. A very small town. My graduating class was 147. We are known for football and watermelons.

I invite you to enjoy this simple but important piece of Americana!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I thought about this yesterday. I am well removed from the scene of the crime but still I have to admit I am more shocked at how not shocked I am over the killings in Virginia. I have given it some thought. There are a few reasons for this and one in particular is interesting.

1. Bad random things happen. I think I am sophisticated enough to realize that at any moment life can end and end in a horribly fantastic fashion as it did in on campus at VT. This understanding protects me from knee jerk reactions or just as important over reactions as to the state of society or even the state of VT campus.

2. I am just far enough away from the US media not to be bombarded with wall-to-wall coverage from all the networks. I am spared the hyperbole that characterizes so much of what the media does these days. While I believe in media bias this has nothing to do with that. This is a general indictment of all media. So, I don't have overly sensationalist reporting of the incidents in my face 24/7. The press here in Europe has turned it into a social science project that quickly "others" the two societies. The obligatory period of "brotherly love" and support shortens once again. It won't be long before they just come right out and say they are happy when bad things happen to the US.

3. This is the most interesting. I think my studies here (terrorism, genocide, torture, etc) have jaded me. When you deal academically with death on a mass scale day in and day out it starts to wear on you. Not to mention the seemingly hopeless nature of the subjects. I have noticed that I have become a bit less of an optimist since I have been here studying. Granted I am still more optimistic than most though certainly no pollyanna. I am now a bit more sullen in my views. I think this has lead to my being a bit desensitized as well.

As I read about the victims and they become more real to me I find myself having the "proper" response. I feel tears welling up. I feel sorrow. I feel anger. I feel helplessness. I felt none of these until the story was personalized. Until that point I really felt nothing. I noticed that students around me, including Americans, also seem un phased by the events. We of course discussed it but it was emotionless. If anything it was actually jovial. But that is often how we deal with horrible and tragic in our classes. We joke about the misfortune of others. You have to because there is so much of it. If I gave a shit about every God awful thing that I study on a daily basis or if I didn't compartmentalize the tragedy I doubt I would ever leave my room. It would be too much to bare.

So I think my reaction or lack there of is an extension of the defense mechanisms I and others have created to shield ourselves from becoming hopelessly jaded and depressed. I think being aware of this is very important because desensitization can be just as bad as hyperbole.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Va. Tech Shooting

First and foremost I offer my heart felt condolences to the families and well wishes for those involved that escaped the shooting spree.

As I scan the head lines here in Europe (Ireland to be exact) what was genuine interest is turning to opportunism and poorly constructed criticism. Not one week ago Britain was dealing with a rash of knife crimes. Scotland has dealt with the same and France has youth riots every hour on the hour. Yet the calls for the US to deal with its "gun culture" are beginning to drown out the well wishes and heart felt concern.

A new issue in which to assail the US has caught the imagination of the anti-American crowd here in Europe. To these folks I say "sweep under your own doorstep before you sweep under mine." When you have licked domestic issues at home and are living in the worlds first Utopia then I will humble myself to listen. But until then I suggest you look into the mirror and concentrate your will and abilities on issues like youth violence that is on the rise in England and France. Concentrate on the issue of discrimination in England and France. Perhaps concentrate on efforts to enfranchise young second and third generation Muslim males so they don't feel compelled to murder 50+ people on a bus and in the Tube.

We all have our problems. The availability of guns in the US is a problem. But it is not the availability of legally bought guns it is those illegally gained that present the lion's share of the problem. Legally bought, licensed and carried weapons are rarely involved in a gun crime.

What has made America so great and a stand out amongst other nations is this nations ability on a rare occasion to look at an issue and make an honest attempt a solving the problem rather than attacking a symptom. The problem is not guns. It is people who would kill another person. Now, you can attack the symptom of the problem and do away with guns and we would then be dealing with knife crime as they do in Britain. As well the next logical step as is the case in some of Europe you would then license knives with an aim of eventually removing them. Next big rocks or heavy blunt objects and finally dirty looks would have to be licensed.

There is a cost associated with recognizing the slippery slope of gun control. That cost is gun crime. Is the alternative better? I don't think so. But I know the alternative is not feasible. I come from a part of the country that would see law enforcement quit their jobs or create insurrection rather than go door to door removing firearms from citizens. There is NO WAY to remove guns from American society. We do have a gun culture. That gun culture rarely contributes to any murder. Rather it is a culture of privileged entitlement that skews values and judgments. Add to that the glorification and desensitization of violence and you begin to see the problem.

Unfortunately these real problems require introspection and it requires change in order to fix the problem. You won't be able to pass legislation that makes enough marked improvement between now and the next election cycle to make this a cure that politicians are interested in. Rather, an easy slow moving inanimate target... "Guns".

Why attack a problem when you can attack a concept. We need to control guns. Not control our emotions, our desires, our children. Not learn the difference between what is earned and what is entitled. No we need to blame and attack guns. "Guns" spares us as a society of any blame. Certainly I am not responsible for killing 33 people in Virginia. How could I be. I am in Ireland. It must be Guns that did it. A lack of control of Guns. Guns run rampant. I can't be involved because I support the distribution of violence to kids by action or omission. I can't be involved because I support teaching kids by action or omission that they are entitled to any action or desire that feels good. My hands are clean. I am in Ireland. Now I must end this post to go see Jack Bauer torture someone and later I must remember to check and see if the government will give me anymore money to go to school.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

...or I could be writting my essay.

Rather than finishing (by finishing I mean starting) my essay on Middle Eastern "democracy" I thought I would muse a bit on US democracy. In particular, on what a Conservative actually should be.

First and fore most you must understand this equation: Republican does not equal Conservative (is there a key stroke for the “not equal” symbol?). Of course conservatives vote republican because it is just barely better than voting democrat. It however is a very unfulfilling exercise that leaves you feeling rather dirty.

So at this moment readers should clear their minds of preconceived notions based on what republicans have said and done. One is an ideology and the other is a political party. One is a way of life and the other is a way to get elected. One is inerrant the other is a steamy heap.

Yes, conservatism is inerrant. It is axiomatic. It is a heuristic. It is truth. All other ideologies are either incorporated in conservatism or are counter to it. It is the I Ching. The sum of all knowledge. Much liberalism is in fact unrealized conservatism. In other words liberals have not moved beyond their incomplete assumptions. If they were to move beyond these half truths they would realize that they are in fact conservatives.

Let's start with the name. - C O N S E R V A T I V E - What exactly are we conserving? Everything. From the environment to your own money to democracy. Making sure that there is enough left for future generations to enjoy. This suggests an end game. This suggests that resources are not infinite. This suggests that actions matter and that there is no panacea to correct the folly of excess. We can not slow the count down to zero but we can refrain from speeding it up.

Those that are not conservatives either don't believe this or do believe and have chosen to ride the gravy train until their time is done and to hell with those that come after. The latter of course is the most disturbing.

To illustrate conservatism I will use three domestic issues that never go away: Abortion, Taxes and Security.

Surprise number one. Abortion should be legal.

So what are we trying to conserve here? Human life? Order? Rights?

A conservative view would demonstrate that we are trying to conserve RIGHTS which in turn conserves human life.

First the connection of rights and life. Without getting off a complicated tangent, suffice it to say that we as a country are founded, and quite literally survive, on the recognition and protection of individual rights. Nothing is more important than this principle. Rights are the cornerstone of everything else that we are. We are a nation of men second and a nation of laws that protect rights first. As such, we recognize that a utilitarian calculus of the greater good predicates that the good of the many must take precedent over the few* and that the good of the many is best served by protecting individual rights.

Rights are vested in others who are charged with our protection. We vest rights in those in a position to make the soundest judgment. Our rights as a minor are vested in our parents first and others second. Here is the crux of the debate. Who has the right to exercise these rights in the extreme? The parents have the primary responsibility. Even more primary than parents is the mother when we are talking about an unborn child.

From here we move to a question of viability. Not the traditional question of the viability of the life of the child, but rather the viability of the rights of the child. In our society rights are slowly returned to the child as it grows. At 18 we are more-or-less fully vested with our own rights. Until that time our rights are held and exercised by our parents and the government. At 18 our parents are no longer able to exercise any rights. As an unborn child our parents hold all of our rights, even the right to exist.

The right to life has always been held by the government. Through war, conscription and the death penalty we give the right of our life to the government. An unborn child's right to life is given first to the mother. This is a prima facie rights relationship because the life of the child is dependent on the life of the mother. The two can not for an appreciable duration of the pregnancy be separated without the death of the child. If, however, the life of the mother is at stake and we must chose between the life of the child or of the mother we as a society chose the mother. The life that is certain. The life that is established. Who is best suited to make this judgment? Not a recommendation. That would come from a doctor after a diagnosis. I mean the judgment of the life or death of the child. Only the mother who has the prima facie rights relationship with the child.

As a conservative we must conserve the rights of the mother in order to conserve her life. Some would say that we should then only allow abortions in these cases of life or death. That would remove the rights from the mother and give them to the government. This is a slippery slope. Conservatives recognize that governments rarely give us our rights back to exercise once they are taken. So giving up these rights to the government could lead to the next arresting of rights and then to the next which history has shown imperials us all. Since nature and God has seen to it that for a time the life of the child is tied to the life of the mother and since we know that government arresting of rights should be done conservatively it is only fair that abortion be safe and legal.


*the good of the viable and established must take precedent over the good of the questionable and unestablished. This is an awesome responsibility and to treat it as anything else is reprehensible.


Conservatives do not view the laws of economics as a "risky scheme" or conservative propaganda. We view them as common sense. Redistribution of wealth is mandatory in a functioning society. But it must be done conservatively. Under redistribute wealth and access and opportunity are squelched. Over redistribute and innovation and productivity are punished. Conservatives error on the side of this maxim: "No one never got a job from a poor man." We must help the poor man to become someone who one day will employ others. But we must not make another man poor in the process.

We must also never forget that tax is the process of arresting personal property by penalty of imprisonment. It is not the government's money. It is your money or the people’s money. We must conserve the vigor in which the bureaucracy arrests the wealth. And, we must also conserve the need for arrest and redistribution.

Private efforts that accomplish better and more efficiently what the government attempts to accomplish with social entitlement programs should be a viable alternative. Common defense, common education and (a true conservative would invite a discussion) common health care are all examples of how the pooling of wealth is necessary. The military industrial complex, poor public school performance, and a broken public health system are examples of the failure of the bureaucracy.

It is not the giving of wealth that fixes problems it is the conservative giving of wealth with the demand that that wealth be used effectively and efficiently that fixes problems. It is the recognition that over taxation leads to over spending and that the inefficiency of the bureaucracy can be counted on like the sun each day. In other words forced accountability through a scarcity of funds, making less go further. When are you more efficient? When you have less money? Or more?


Conservatives realize that the appearance of strength and fairness provide security and that the enemy of security is disorder. Traditional realist views allow for the strength part of this pair but not the fairness. The appearance of fairness must be preserved to ensure an uninterrupted flow of goods, services and information in today’s interconnected world. Therefore we are working to conserve our strength and maximize our fairness. Over emphasizing strength causes disorder which in turn threatens security. Tempering our strength with fairness allows the US to build its strength beyond what would be accepted without it. It is a symbiotic relationship.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I'm a HALO nerd.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The finer things:

Cold grapes


A second glass of wine

An afternoon buzz

Mud between your toes

Etta James

Shem Creek sunsets

Empty beaches

Juicy Apples

An unexpected hug

Fishing with granddad

Drinking a cold beer during a hot shower

Playing in a creek

A vegetable garden


A Weber charcoal grill

Playing in a corn field

A calm harbor

Camping with your dog

Pocket knives

Homemade peach ice cream

Pretending you’re someone else around strangers

Nat King Cole

The sound of rain

Laying in the grass

Maps, Globes, Atlases

Camp fires

Irish Politics Takes a Turn for the Worst!

Me and the Taoiseach (like the Prime Minister of Ireland)

Friday, April 6, 2007

Interesting bottle of wine.

I had an interesting bottle of wine last week. Now first off I am by no way a wine snob. I know very little about the technical aspects of what makes a great wine. What I do know is what I like.

The bottle in question is a Spanish Rioja, Campo Viejo Reserva, 2001. It was a very pleasant red. I agree with the tasting notes on the back of the bottle. No need for me to add in an attempt to look smarter and more refined than I am.

National Lampoon's Syrian Vacation... Staring: Nancy Pelosi.

So what is the danger with just talking to Syria?

That statement presupposes we are not already talking with Syria. I have found that most folks think that we do not have diplomatic ties to Syria. I mean obviously we must not have ties... isn't that the reason Pelosi is going in the first place? Certainly she can't be confused about the duties of Congress. Obviously she understands the importance of the separation of powers. Is she on a budgetary mission? Is she considering legislation to do with trade or Syrian foreign policy? Are we to expect Justice Ginsberg on a diplomatic visit to Cuba next?

The fact is we do have an Embassy in Syria. She is confused about her duties as a Congresswoman and that of the State Department (the Executive).

So why is she there? Because she needs to appear strong to her base. A base that constantly calls for "talk" and "dialog". After all talking can only help. Can't we all just get along?

So what harm can talking do?

1. If you misquote heads of State you run the risk of deteriorating sensitive and tentative agreements already put in place by professional diplomats. (Pelosi misquoted PM Olmert of Israel in a message to Syria)

2. You can undermine consensus of important world bodies and important world players. This in turn leads to unilateral positions which in turn leads to a loss of credibility. (Pelosi's actions and statements have acted as a wedge in Euro-Euro relations and Euro-US relations.)

3. You undermine the hard work of those professionals that do the actual hard work of international relations. We have diplomatic relations with Syria. If we want to talk to them we do.

4. You embolden those that benefit from unilateralism, undermined allegiances and disparateness. (HAMAS, Hizbollah, etc)

Here is a great blog post spelling all of this out. This is from Anton Efendi's Across the Bay, a blog about Lebanese issues.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Jeremy Piven is Brill...

You are blessed. Oh yes, you are.

A young child from the area I hail from is battling Leukemia at 4 years old.

Remember that today when you catch yourself being petty or greedy or callus or unthankful.

Note: A person very important to me has brought to my attention that my statement above could be viewed as "preachy" and "manipulative". That was certainly not my intention. My intention was two fold. To bring this lovely child's situation to light in the hopes that others might be able to help her and her family. Also, to remind us that each day is a blessing and that but for the grace of God go I.

So if others interpret my attempt at showing this situation to others as manipulative I apologize. And, if others interpret my admonition that we be thankful as preachy I also apologize.

Finally, we all react in different ways based on what life has shown us. One reaction is no less or more valid than another. Hopefully we try to consider other sides that might have traveled a different path and come to different conclusions. I want to thank my friend for caring enough to share her path with me.

Child's Growing Pains Turn Out to be Cancer

By the time Katelyn Wilson is old enough to enter the first grade, the 4-year-old girl will have spent a third of her life undergoing chemotherapy.
Wilson, the daughter of Tony and Belecia Wilson, is in the midst of a battle against leukemia.
Leukemia is a cancer of the blood, or bone marrow, which is characterized by an abnormal production of blood cells — typically white blood cells (leukocytes).
Last fall, Katelyn was whisked to the emergency room suffering from high fever and acute pain in her legs.
“At first, I thought they were growing pains. I gave her a Tylenol. The next morning, her legs were hurting so bad that she couldn’t walk on them,” Belecia said.
She was admitted at CMC-Charlotte because her hemoglobin was low, Belecia said.
After a battery of tests, doctors diagnosed Katelyn Oct. 2, 2006, with leukemia and the Wilson family’s world stood still.
“I cried. I was speechless. It was a horrible day that I would not want to relive,” Belecia said. “There are no words to describe it.”
The Wilsons are going back and forth from the Black Creek area near Kershaw as relatives and friends in Jefferson organize fundraisers to help financially support the family.
“Katey is very vibrant. She loves to play, she’s smiles all the time and fun to be around,” said Belecia.
As Katelyn undergoes chemotherapy — a spinal injection every three weeks — she’s far more tired and travel weary, her mother said.
“Cancer is not something old people or middle-age people get. We think that children are not going to get cancer, but when it happens — I don’t know how to explain it. It’s a life-changing experience,” Belecia said. “How can a child have such a deathly illness such as this?”
On the home front, grandmother Brenda Sullivan and family friend Sharon Ingold are organizing a benefit trail ride and barbecue scheduled for April 21 — a rain date for May 5.
“This is my granddaughter. I would do anything in the world for her,” Sullivan said.
“And I’m just a friend who just met Katey,” Ingold said.
The two are helping the Wilsons by raising money to cover bills
“They need gas money. They need food. They have to take off work, but they still have to pay their light bill and water bill,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan is handling the barbecue sale and Ingold is organizing the wagon trail in the Angelus Community.

— John Davis,
staff writer