31 May 2005
Last night I finished reading "The Road to McCarthy" by Pete McCarthy. It's a book that recounts the author's journeys to several places around the globe that have been heavily influenced both by the Irish and people named "McCarthy." I was fascinated to see how the Irish have made a mark for themselves in parts of Montana, Alaska, Morocco and Montserrat. It's highly entertaining, and if you like travel writing, I recommend it.
Or read his first book, "McCarthy's Bar", his travelogue about places in Ireland that actually have a pub named "McCarthy's Bar." Having been to Ireland recently, I can verify that there are indeed a lot of them in Eire. The first rule of travel: never pass a bar with your name on it without going inside to check it out.
Before I began his second book, I went to Pete McCarthy's web site in anticipation of seeing a list of twelve more books he has written, or maybe the date of a new release later this year.
Alas, I saw this instead. Pete's traveling days are tragically over, and there will be no more books to follow.
Knowing this, I waited a while to read his last book since I knew that I would not have the opportunity to acquire anything new by him. It's odd when you read a work of non-fiction which heavily features the actions of the author when you know he is no longer living, that everything contained on the pages is past, and is essentially his last literary will and testament.
Pete and I share the same last name, and his family originated from the west of County Cork, same where mine hailed from as well. I have no clue if we might be distantly related, and I really don't care. I'm just glad I had the opportunity to experience his writing while he is still relevant.
Oddly brilliant, and just a tad disturbing.
28 May 2005
2. What is the highest price you've paid per gallon for gasoline where you live? Do you use regular, mid-grade or premium? I think it got as high as $2.40 a few months ago. I always fill up with regular.
3. What is your favorite Bible verse and why? If you don't have a verse from the Bible that holds meaning to you, what's your favorite saying and why? "Judge not, lest ye be judged." More people need to read that one.
4. What was your favorite movie from the 1970s? When did you last view it? Do you have it in your movie collection? Geez, I don't know. "The Stuntman" maybe, if it came out in the 70's, though I don't think it did. Whatever it is, I don't have it.
5. Do you weigh more, less, or the same as you did one year ago? Six months ago? Three months ago? One year ago: more, six months ago: same, three months ago: less
6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #54 from Jennie: What one lyric sums up your current love life? "A place that has to be believed to be seen." Your view on life? "Somewhere I can taste the salt to the sea/there's a kite flying out of contol on me." Your past? "I am safe hidden here" Your hopes/dreams/fears? "And I think to myself, what a wonderful world"
27 May 2005
President Bush has been in office now for more than four years. In that time, he has never vetoed a bill, which is amazing when you consider that the average president vetoes a lot of bills in just one term.
Now, Bush is talking up the fact that there is a bill out there that he will veto if Congress sends it to him for his signature. I should be happy about this, because it should be a sign that he is finally exercising some restraint when it comes to fiscal responsibility.
The bill Bush is threatening to veto has to do with appropriating more federal funds, but increased spending has nothing to do with the reason Bush has promised to veto it.
The Republican majority House passed a bill this week that calls for allowing federal funds to be used in the research of embryonic stem cells. Currently, due to an executive order Bush made shortly after taking office in 2001, no federal money can be used to create new embryos for the purpose of scientific research into the prevention and treatment of disease.
Bush is against using embryonic stem cells for research. It violates what he calls the "culture of life" that he wants our society to be. Discussion after discussion about this issue seems to always come back to a single fact-while no one knows for sure if embryonic stem cell research will lead to cures for serious disease, there do appear to be gains that can be made by this.
Bush says that he will "not destroy life to save life." From this statement, I assume he believes that life begins at conception. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose. However, he appears to either not realize or not worry about the number of embryos that already exist in labs and clinics across the nation that will never actually become a full term baby. There are simply too many.
Perhaps I could better grasp the president's feeling on this issue if I didn't find his direct words, "I will not destroy life to save life," hypocritical. I do respect the fact that this is a so called "moral issue," but because an issue is deemed moral does not mean it can't be treated logically.
Remember, please, that while he was governor of Texas, no state executed more criminals than Texas. Some of those executed may actually have been innocent or mentally retarded, though Bush has never admitted that. In his adamant defense of the death penalty, Bushhas said that his main reason for supporting it is because it prevents future crimes. In other words, a person who might commit murder won't because he/she sees that in Texas, those who do commit murder are executed.
One could say that when a criminal is executed, a life is destroyed. It may not have been much of a life, but it still was one. However, according to Bush, the execution saved the life(s) of other potential victim(s).
So it would seem to me, that when he was governor of Texas, George W. Bush certainly did not mind "destroying life to save life." Remember that those are his words, not mine.
There is something else to ponder here. Although he has never commented on it himself, a large portion of the so called "religious right" that Bush and his fellow Republicans depend greatly upon do not believe in evolution. Instead, they believe in the biblical description of creationism. In some areas of this country, evolution is indeed a "four letter word." There has even been public debate about eliminating it from school curiculums.
Think for a moment about what you have heard about stem cell research, whether you support it or not. Think about the types of disease that many scientists believe could be controlled one day because of stem cell possibilities. It's diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's that are usually talked about, along with diabetes and cancer. There are a potential unlimited amount of ailments that could be better treated through stem cell research.
The is no way of knowing what benefits are possible without having the opportunity to do the research. Enough Republican members of Congress understood this to even get the bill this far. Who could possibly not be in favor of seeing those paralyzed walk again, or avoiding a scenario such as Nancy Reagan's, where she spent the last decade of her life watching her husband waste away from a degenerative brain disease?
It appears that the president doesn't believe that it is important enough to perhaps end the pain and suffering of people inflicted with such diseases. As such, it appears that he is telling the nation that unfortunately, if you get sick or hurt, there is only so much that medicine and science can do for you.
I can only imagine what it must feel like for someone in a wheelchair to hear the leader of this country effectively say "sorry, but I can't help you."
People afflicted with disease grow weaker as their ailments progress, and as a general rule those who are not affected by disease live longer than those who do.
Charles Darwin created a theory about this type of event. He called it "Survival of the Fittest." It is his primary theory of evolution, that the stronger survive, while the weaker pass away.
By saying that he "refuses to destroy life to save it" is Bush also implicitly agreeing with Darwin, that these situations are truly a case of survival of the fittest?
Wonder what his religious right friends think about that.
25 May 2005
1. What is the last product or service you tried just because you saw a commercial that impressed or amused you about the product? Did you like the product or service after you tried it?
I am normally not affected by commercials, but I did buy the new diet pepsi w/ lime after seeing the lime cannibal commercial. I would have bought it eventually, I guess
2. How old is the oldest photograph in your home? Are you in it? It's from 1967 and it is a picture of me with my sister when I was a few months old and she was 4.
3. What is the most supernatural event you have experienced? Did you feel there was a specific reason that it happened to you? This is a long story. When I was a kid my father hated all the music his kids listened to, except he loved the song "Kung Fu Fighting." Shortly after he died in 2002 I had a dream where we were playing golf and there was a radio in the golf cart. That song came on, and he went nuts, dancing in the fairway and singing. And whenever I hit a shot he would say "nice shot, grasshopper." I woke up from the dream in the middle of the night, and I could hear a soft buzzing sound. I turned a light on and there was a huge grasshopper on the wall above me. I don't really live in a place where we get a lot of grasshoppers, and this one was huge and dark green. I got an empty coffee can, trapped the gasshopper in it, and let it go in my backyard. I have felt a certain and definite calmness about where my father is ever since.
4. Do you usually consider the glass half-empty or half-full? I just drink the damn thing. I used to be a half-empty guy, but I am most definitely a half-full one now.
5. What part or parts of your body do you shave regularly? Just my face. I have the strangest beard in history I think. The hair that grows from my sideburns down to my chin never seems to come in the same way twice.
6. What day is typically your busiest of the week? What day are you usually the happiest? What day are you usually the saddest? All are about the same, though I try to make Sunday a little less hectic than the others. No complaints, though. Whether I am happy or sad does not depend on what day it is.
I am definitely watching "Lost" next fall.
21 May 2005
I'm finding it abhorrent that the media seems thrilled that this woman married the kid she raped ten years ago.
Where is the outcry over this? Why is so much energy being wasted on things like this (GOD BLESS TEXAS!!!) yet no one says anything about what went on outside Seattle this weekend?
We must keep marriage sacred!
Only acceptable between and a man and a woman, even if she is his rapist.
Seriously, please, somebody, wake me up!
20 May 2005
2. What is the last junk food you ate in such large quantity that you actually felt guilty afterwards? Ice cream. Way too much ice cream. So much ice cream, in fact, that both Ben and Jerry are driving a brand new Lexus.
3. What is the closest spot to your home where you go when you feel like you need an afternoon escape? Waterville, Ireland. Sadly, I don't get there very often.
4. Of those in your collection, what movie have you watched the most times? I have very few movies, and the only one I can think of that I have watched more than once is "Forget Paris." So, you got some stuff here or what?
5. Have you ever felt discriminated against? What about you do you believe led to the discrimination? I spent a good deal of time working in an environment where I was the only caucasian, and as a result I felt discriminated just about every day at some point. It didn't really bother me, I just felt that people were taking advantage of an opportunity to perhaps retalliate (though I was not the offender). The only times I felt uncomfortable about it is if I perceived my safety was threatened, which only happened a few times in 18 months.
6. RAPID FIRE QUESTION #3: Have you ever hired a:
a. Maid Are you kidding? Did I learn NOTHING growing up in an Irish Catholic household?
b. Lawyer No, but I have had one provided for me at no cost.
c. Chauffer Yes, under my alias, Dr. Galokowitz. The limo was much too small.
d. Plumber Yes. He came to fix the sink.
e. Photographer Yep, I just got married.
f. Realtor One of the more unpleasant experiences of my adult life, both selling and buying.
g. Gardener No. I reap what I sow.
h. Personal Trainer No. I can't think of a more fruitless use of my money, except for the fact that I continue to by Cubs tickets.
i. Psychic/Spirtual Advisor No, but I have been very, very, very tempted. If I am drunk enough and in the right neighborhood, it could happen. And yes, I realize I am making it sound like I am talking about prostitution instead.
j. Mortician Unfortunately yes. Never realized how much death is a business until then.
17 May 2005
This week's issue of "Time" has an article about how some pastors from Southern churches (the SOUTH? I can't believe it!) are rallying their congregations from the pulpit to get the President's judicial nominees a vote in the sure-to-be approved Senate.
I don't really care about this. I mean, c'mon, it's all about politics with church leaders lately. They are as addicted to power as any politician in this country is. Quite frankly, I'm sick of both sides blaming the other. The Republicans are whining about the fillibuster because it is hampering their agenda. If it were the other way around, the Democrats would be whining just as hard.
What draws me to comment about this is the last quotation in the article, from Rev. Rick Scarborough (who cites the time he witnessed a presentation that, excuse me, I'm having palpitations just having to write these words, actually said that condoms could dramatically reduce the spread of AIDS as the moment he felt he had to get involved) of Houston (Texas? I'm SHOCKED I tell you) about what he feels is happening in this country:
"Where we are headed right now with separation of church and state is that Christians will no longer be eligible to be involved in political debate."
Has he been in a coma since November 2000?
15 May 2005
Here's an update to my "settle down" post from last night: Newsweek is now "backing away" from their claims that Americans at Guantanamo Bay desecrated the Koran.
Fantastic, guys and gals. Enjoy this next week, when you are rigthly blamed for the hysteria this story caused. People died because you printed a fact that you are now not certain was a fact.
And who is going to be the first conservative blowhard to accuse Newsweek of going forward with their report just because it would make the President look bad? My money's on Sean "I'll say anything to get to Kennebunkport" Hannity.
I subscribe to Newsweek, and if someone doesn't lose their job over this, I don't see how I could continue to read the magazine.
A side note: I've seen the Muslim Holy Book referred to as the "Koran" and "Quran" in these stories. Can't we just agree on one spelling for everyone? In the aftermath of 9/11, 80% of the print media used "Osama" and 20% went with "Usama." In the 80's it was "Khaddafi" vs. "Qaddafi."
And let's not forget the all-time classic: "Raymond Luxury Yacht" vs. "Throat Warbling Mangrove."
(I don't expect many people to remember that last one)
13 May 2005
I just finished reading on article on AOL news about how the Muslim world is in an uproar over an alleged desecration of the Koran by American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay.
In some places, people are rioting over this. And in those riots, some people have died.
I'm all for expressing oneself for the sake of religion, but I'm wondering what exactly is going on here. First, there's no proof that anything happened other than someone placing a Koran on top of a toilet. Maybe that isn't the best place for it, but, c'mon.
Here's a couple of quotes from the article:
"Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, said it was following the issue with "deep indignation."
Spare me, House of Saud. I will care about your "deep indignation" when you acknowledge and, more importantly, apologize for the fact that 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were natives of your country.
"Demonstrations serve no purpose, we should do something practical. I am ready to blow myself up for the sake of my religion to embrace martyrdom," said Mohammad Ghafoor, 18, a student protesting in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Amen, Ghaffie. Demonstrations serve absolutely no purpose, because it's not like demonstrating would make a 37 year old white male in the Midwest of America pay attention to this story, for example. Blowing yourself up is "practical"? You make it sound like bringing a sweater on a night out because there might be a chilly breeze. I can only imagine how many open boxes of baking soda there are in your fridge.
Newsweek, in its May 9 edition, quoted sources as saying that investigators probing abuses at the military prison had found that interrogators "had placed Korans on toilets, and in at least one case flushed a holy book down the toilet."
Um, isn't "Newsweek" an American magazine? Wouldn't a smart editor or two proof this story and wonder if it really was doing any good to have this out there as public knowledge? I'm not preaching censorship here, just common sense.
Seems like anytime the fuse goes out, somebody's more than happy to light it up again.
11 May 2005
The last two days of "Candorville" sum things up nicely:
I have some catching up to do...
From April 23:
1. If you could ask any question of the head honcho of AOL about the recent journal concerns, what would your question be?
I know you are, but what am I?
2. How many journals do you visit regularly in an average week...or...if you use a blog aggregator service like "Bloglines," how many journals do you have in your subscription lists?
Probably 20. I used to visit a lot more, but I realized I was spending way too much time reading other people's writing rather than working on my own.
3. Back in July, I asked which of the Seven Deadly Sins (pride, envy, gluttony, anger, greed, sloth, and lust,) you were most guilty of. Now, it's time to pat yourselves on the back and figure out which one you are the least guilty of. Greed. I give freely.
4. Recent reports indicate that some pharmacists are refusing to sell their customers the controversial "morning-after pill" when the customer prevents their prescription. Should pharmacists be allowed to refuse to sell a medication for which a customer presents a valid prescription based on their own religious beliefs?
NO WAY! Make a decision-your beliefs or your job. I wrote about this not long ago when this came up in Chicago:
this personality test: What type of personality does it say you are? Then go back to this page, click the link that matches your results. Read the description: how accurate do you think it is about you? It says that I am INFP. I don't know how accurate the description is, because I think if I did this three years ago and from now, I'd get different results, but it says that I'm the same as Fred Savage and Calvin (from "Calvin and Hobbes") so I must be cool.
6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #50 from SpringsNymph: You've received an unexpected windfall of $50,000. What home improvement would you spend it on? None. I'd pay off some debt and invest the rest.
From April 30:
1. What do you tend to focus on the most?
A. The past.
B. The present.
C. The future as you think it will be.
D. The future as you are afraid it will be.
I would have answered the past until not long ago, but I think I have finally managed to realize that there's nothing you can do to change it. I don't focus much on the present, which has always been somewhat of an issue in this thing called life. I think about the future all the time, but not as I think it will be or what I am afraid it will be like. Weird answer I know, but it's the best I can do.
2. Name three famous people (living or dead) whose blogs you would like to be able to read. My father, Harry Truman during the end of World War II and Debra Winger.
3. How long have you lived in your current residence? Three weeks How much longer do you intend to live in the same place? At least a year.
4. Take the pointless quiz: What color is your heart? Red. Should it have been any other color? I don't get it. I know Joan Jett has a blackheart, but what else is there?
5. How many of AOL's journalers have you met in person? How many have you spoken with by telephone? None on both questions. Does this mean my red heart is anti-social?
6. RAPID FIRE Question #2: Who or what is the most annoying:
a) Politician Any of the "Holier than though" bunch (DeLay, Santorum, etc.)
b) Late Night Talk Show Host Jay Leno
c) Color Yellow
d) Habit Smoking
e) Female Celebrity Paris Hilton, though I use the term "celebrity" loosely (pun intended)
f) Male Celebrity Bill O'Reilly
g) Television Show Any reality TV show
h) Commercial "I just saved money on my car insurance"
i) Fashion Statement Wearing clothes fifteen sizes too large
j) Word Word
And from May 7:
1. What is your single biggest frustration right this minute? The Chicago Cubs bullpen.
2. What classic television show would you most like to see made into a modern-day movie? What classic movie do you think you'd like to see remade? No desire for either. To me, remakes are just an admission that the people who create aren't working hard enough.
3. How many people in your family are war veterans? Of those, how many have you actually talked to about their experiences in war? My father was a Korean War vet and was open to talking about it if you asked. He was an air traffic controller and didn't have any combat stories, but what stories he did have were amazing.
4. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #51 from COURTENAYMPHELAN: Who do you think is the best author in J-land for poetry? How about for prose? I have to admit that I don't read poetic journals. I can't pick a best prose journal because I think everyone has their own style.
5. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #52 from COURTENAYMPHELAN: If you haven't put your picture in your journal, would you consider doing so? If you have, what made you do so? I keep thinking that one day I'll start putting pictures in my journal, but then I remember I started it for the purpose of working on my writing. If I do decide to put pictures in, I don't think I'd put one of me in. I kind of enjoy the anonymous feel to it.
6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #53 from Nyuknyukpik2: What is your favorite black and white movie and why? "Citizen Kane." It's an incredible story and just about a perfect movie.
10 May 2005
Yeah, I know, enough of the excuses.
My lovely bride had never been to the Emerald Isle and had given me no agenda other than a required visit to the Waterford Crystal factory, so I wanted to make sure that I took her to the more beautiful places in the country.
I had not been to Ireland since July of 1998, and within an hour of arriving I was wondering how I had managed to let that happen. I should go there every year if for no other reason than to drive. I don't think many things compare to the adrenaline rush I get driving in Ireland, particularly in the Southwest, where they have fences along the roads that are carved though the mountains that would not stop you from falling over if you hit it with a tricycle. I guess it is something that must be seen to be believed.
I had read and heard many things about the raging Irish economy, the so called "Celtic Tiger" since I was there last, and I was apprehensive about there being too much going on. In some places this was the case. Roads have been built that bypass towns instead of going through them. People have vacation homes in areas where one has to wonder how electricity and plumbing are supplied, and Dublin, well Dublin is a whole other place than it was when I was there last in '98.
But there are still plenty of places that remain untouched, and will be until the end of time.
I plan on providing further details of the trip in the next few days. But I see that it is after 10 now, and I should have been asleep thirty minutes ago...