Irish doctor with too many thoughts, too little time and a blog that's supposed to check in on reality.

Friday, April 28, 2006

It Is Accomplished

While it’s definitely narcissistic and probably a little blasphemous to quote Jesus on the Cross in relation to my degree, but do it anyway.
It is accomplished.
This blogger is now the proud owner of a MB BCh BAO (Hons) degree from the venerable Trinity College Dublin.
This shall be my last introspective study rant post ever. EVER.
(well until my membership exams in 3 years, where 80% of candidates fail, but blogs will probably be obsolete by then)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Conservatives on Jane Jacobs

While I haven't read any of her books, I read a chapter from The Death and Life of Great American Cities in Bill Buckley's American Conservative Thought in the Twentieth Century.
This National Review article about Jane Jacob's passing and her work, calls her a true Burkean.
And this other NRO article discusses her ideas "For Jacobs, population density plus diversity in skills and tastes generates, without too much fuss, dynamic economic development and entrepreneurial discovery. With that vision came a withering critique of intervention by all levels of government and in nearly all its forms — from urban renewal and zoning to price controls and monetary policy. She argued that these undermine the civic basis of economic and cultural creativity."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Blogging the Farm

I complained a while back that I didn't know any Irish farmer bloggers when I posted about our first November born lamb and the Macra na Feirme nude farmer calender.
Last week Damien Mulley was looking for one too.

Well I found one - blogging about the lambing - Blog an Seanchai. The events of this post are very familiar to this blogger and to any one else who grew up on a farm.
I notice his site has a google ad for sheep's placenta - following the link, apparently it's used in making moisturiser. I'm quite glad there were no recipes. (this might be too much information, but I can understand hippy types frying and eating human placenta - as gross as it sounds, it actually looks vaguely meaty. Sheep's placenta does not.)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Don't Know Much Biology

and I don't really know much about Venezuelan politics either.
I know that some Irish people are very fond of Hugo Chavez.
I also know that Chavez is ruthless in the suppression of those who dare disagree with him. I have 1 friend in Venezuela - she voted against Chavez and found her name in the paper a few months later. She's having some trouble in her university with regard to academic autonomy and freedom of speech. And she thinks her country is going to the dogs.

Anyway, I was looking up something entirely different and came accross this blog, written by a Venezuelan, describing what he sees as his country's decline - Venezuela News And Views.
It's worth a look.


Cardinal OKs Condom Usage for Married Couples?

AmericanPapist is keeping an eye on the reaction to Cardinal Martini's statement, which seems rather confused at the moment.

Knowing Your Enemies is Sometimes More Important

than just voting for someone you agree with.
New York Times has a summary article on the Pennslyvania Senate Race between current Republican senator Rick Santorum and Democrat contender Bob Casey, Jr.
I've posted on this race before - both are pro-life candidates.
For liberals, Bob Casey's father, governor Robert Casey Snr attempted to answer the question "How can we justify with our experience in this country - our tradition, our heritage, our history - how can we justify writing off the unborn child in a country which prides itself on leaving no one out and no one behind?". So in carrying on that tradition, the Democrats think they have a winner in Bob.
But Rick Santorum is more than just another pro-life politician - he has been a leader for the pro-life side in the Senate and the ease at which hardened pro-choice activists have backed Casey is telling.
I hope ordinary pro-life Pennslyvanians look at those who they disagree with (Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer, Kate Michelman) and then weigh up their choice. When Barbara Boxer says that a pro-life candidate winning is actually a pro-choice victory, you've got to open your eyes.
Some Irish pro-lifers in the past, most noticeably in the last referendum, were unable to do so. This led to the bizarre picture of Dana, failed politician turned Irish dancer clapping and claiming victory alongside her natural enemies in the debate.
Her shortsightness and lack of political judgement was not just her downfall but a set back for pro-lifers here. She is still blissfully unaware of her blunder as she dances for Mna na hEireann in trousers to some naff popsong.
Those in Pennsylvania for whom abortion is an issue that decides their ballot will hopefully pick the candidate with the proven record on pro-life leadership. That said, I would dearly love to see Democrats for Life become a more mainstream part of the Democrat party. Unfortunately as history as shown here as well, pro-choice liberal parties have a remarkably small tent when it comes to abortion.


Advice from Doctors

on how to play the (American) health system.
TIME Magazine but there are a few take-home points for us too.
Especially about the July thing - as one of those that will be newly responsible for your health on July 1st, I'm still waiting for a fairly sharp practical learning curve. The young vs old doctor debate seems universal.
The ligitious climate of the States, combined with managed healthcare leads to too many tests and ass covering; we're not quite at that stage yet, but we're getting there.

Myers Has Left the Building

Dossing Times and Gavin have both pointed to the Sunday Tribune article about Kevin Myers’ impending employment with the Indo.
To my mind anyway, Myers is synonymous with “reason for reading Irish Times”. I don’t always agree with him, but he can be fun to read.
It will be interesting to see what he’ll be like in the Indo. I wonder will the Indo be as lax in their editorial review of what he writes – Geraldine Kennedy shouldn’t have let that bastard comment through. The Independent tend not have as many embarrassing columns up for discussion as the Times so maybe Myers might be forced to try the read-again-and-sleep-on-it-before-hitting-send columnist routine.
As I said back then about him - This incident illustrates what many find noxious about Myers - if you disagree with him fair enough, but when you broadly agree with some of his positions and feel that he should be muzzled there's something very wrong with him - if one takes a position on social issues, as Myers regularly does, it is expected that you believe enough in that position to convince your fellow citizens of its worth and hopefully integrate into public policy. Myers has no such desire - it seems that he would much rather stir up controversy with some carefully chosen insults and then run away from any real and meaningful discussion of the issues.
Cruiskeen Eile, a blog set up to survey the so-called “mad, bad, and hilarious world of Col. Kevin Myers” has a little analysis but promises more.
Other people are pimping for the job, we think.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Things I Hate More than Sports

Are mainly things about people talking about sports.
Instead of studying I am becoming increasingly irritated at Tubridy Tonight.
Apparently Leinster vs Munster is a game where everyone is friends, they know each other very well, they’d die for each other on the pitch and there are 15 players against, well, 15. Shock, horror, someone mentioned hunger. The real life Ross O’Carroll-Kelly is wearing a pink shirt, apparently the Leinster supporters’ uniform.
Terrible is too small a word.
I hate sport – maybe it’s because I’m from Longford and we’ve never won anything at any level. My parish club won the county championship 2 years ago and it was like they’d won the world cup. There was a lorry up the town and all.
But I’ve remained above it all.
I didn’t realise the game tomorrow was a semi final, and when my former rugby playing sister informed me, I thought it was funny that 2 Irish teams were in the 6 nations. The sister, who no longer plays due to an unfortunate head injury incident, and still plays tag rugby in her actuary/corporate league thing now thinks I am fully certifiable. And she’s the one with the head injury. And plays tag rugby with other actuaries – self lobotomy sounds more interesting.
But I wallow in my ignorance. It’s blissful.
I simply can not understand sports and why anyone would be interested in them. Sure, they’re grand to look at for a while (sports, not male rugby players) but after a while it just bores me.
I have a mediocre collection of community games medals and the like for basketball and badminton. I could have more only I don’t have “the hunger”, according to my former PE teacher. This was illustrated acutely during a mixed doubles badminton game where I started arguing, as I’m wont to do, with my partner over where he should stand or something. The other team played on and scored several serves while we stood there arguing. They won. We kept fighting the whole way home.
My badminton partner, who also became my debating partner after we shared lifts all our lives to national school out the country (I didn’t go to national school in my small town and was vilified for it, but that’s another story) and fought all the time still blames me for this. He also thinks I don’t have enough hunger.
No I don’t. It was badminton for crying out loud.
And no, just because you argue with someone all the time doesn’t mean you secretly fancy him. I still hate his puny guts.

(Yes, I’m an embittered failed badminton Leinster finalist who has too much time on her hands, too much bile in her indignant common bile duct and too much study to do to be allowed near a blog)

The Dummies Guide to Illinois

Sufjan Stevens' Illinois, that is.
From the torture garden.
It's rather detailed. And a fascinating way to procrastinate and not study.
I've only 36 hours to my surgery clinical finals at 8am on Monday morning. And 60 hours to medicine on Tuesday morning and then it's all over. You'd think I'd suck it up and go hell for leather for the last furlong.
But, no. I'm listening to Bruce Springsteen's We Shall Overcome. I'm quite overcome - a review will be forthcoming, maybe Wednesday - if I'm not drunk, for the first time in my life).
All of the album is for inclusion in the updated Study Playlist along with the corrections made by a fellow crossgenerational country music fan, Fergal Crehan - Harlan Howard wrote Streets of Baltimore, not Gram Parsons. My bad. Pause while I hang my head in shame.

Best of luck to all the other bloggers doing exams - Damien, Gavin and Copernicus.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Sound of Perfect Silence

I wasn't going to post anything about Easter. I was toying with a post on Bruce Springsteen's Jesus Was An Only Son, "Now there's a loss that can never be replaced, A destination that can never be reached, A light you'll never find in another's face, A sea whose distance cannot be breached / Well Jesus kissed his mother's hands Whispered, "Mother, still your tears, For remember the soul of the universe willed a world and it appeared." or maybe Gillian Welch's "By the mark where the nails have been / By the sign upon his precious skin / I will know my savior when I come to him.
I was reading First Thing's blog, On the Square and I like this reflection from Father John Neuhaus-
Holy Saturday, by contrast, is the sound of prefect silence. Yesterday’s mockery, the good thief’s prayer, the cry of dereliction—all that is past now. Mary has dried her tears, and the whole creation is still, waiting for what will happen next.
Some say that on Holy Saturday Jesus went to hell in triumph, to free the souls long imprisoned there. Others say he descended into a death deeper than death, to embrace in his love even the damned. We do not know. Scripture, tradition and pious writings provide hints and speculations, but about this most silent day it is perhaps best to observe the silence. One day I expect he will tell us all about it. When we are able to understand what we cannot now even understand why we cannot understand. Meanwhile, if we keep very still, there steals upon the silence a song of Easter that was always there. On the long mourners’ bench of the eternal pity, we raise our heads, blink away our tears and exchange looks that dare to question, ‘Could it be?’ But of course. That is what it was about. That is what it is all about. O felix culpa!O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

So there you are - some regurgitated truncated spiritual ramblings.
Happy Easter. If you're not looking forward to the triumph of the resurrection, Easter eggs are always welcome.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Chick-Lit from around the World

From the New York Times, a report on sorts of local chick lit available from India to Finland.
I like this line - While 'Le Journal de Bridget Jones' has been popular in France, the country hasn't produced many of its own chick lit authors. (Either readers are too sophisticated or, with a 35-hour work week, maybe they just can't relate.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Music to do Exams By

I had my 4 hour surgery written paper today and had medicine Monday. If you’re interested in what’s hot in Irish medicine as expressed in the MB, BAO exams – latent TB.  Herceptin (draw a diagram question! Hello? I can’t draw a diagram of this – a monoclonal antibody against a breast cancer growth factor! My version looked a chocolate biscuit that was dipped in a mug of tea for too long and a whole lump just plonks off.) Treatment of MRSA positive patients. Prostate cancer screening and how’s it’s a bad thing. Resus of a young man in a road traffic accident.
Tomorrow is psychiatry, where we’re expected to know Freud along side the latest neuroleptic drugs. The joys.
So to get through this purgatory (hell starts in 2 weeks with clinical exams), I complied a play list. This was not procrastination but active stress management.
I’m so laid back I’m horizontal, as I’ve been told many times. This play list helped….

  1. Breathe (2am) - Anna Nalick. A necessary part of any pre-finals night. 2am comes and the hyperventilation sets in. Listen to Anna. Breathe.

  2. Porushkya-Paranya - Bering Strait. They’re a Russian bluegrass band and when I make vaguely phonetic sounding noises as “singing along” I convince myself of my superior linguistic talents. Look at me, I’m singing in Russian gibberish.

  3. To Live is to Fly - Cowboy Junkies. Townes van Zandt wrote it, so it’s damn good – “shake the dust off your wings and the sleep out of your eyes”. Useful advice I should have followed and got out of bed at 645 this morning instead of falling back to sleep to 820 and barely getting breakfast and to the exam on time, without looking over all of orthopaedics, which I don’t know, and thankfully didn’t appear on the paper.

  4. The Gambler – Kenny Rodgers. Who doesn’t gamble on what’s coming up?

  5. Mercy of the Fallen - Dar Williams. Need I say more?

  6. Hard Times -  Eastmountainsouth. The self pity.

  7. Death Came A Knockin’ – The Duhks. The nights are the worst.

  8. Trouble and Care – John Gorka. Oh woe is me.

  9. Helpless – k.d. lang. A poor student helpless in the face of the every changing face of medicine. Oh it’s exciting alright. But not before exams. It’s hard enough learning the old stuff let alone the new stuff. By old stuff I mean Hippocrates and co as well as dudes like Colles, Burkitt and Stokes, who apparently did things to actually deserve getting wards in Dublin hospitals named after them.

  10. Not the Tremblin’ Kind – Laura Cantrell. Laura makes me snap out of above misery and say to the professors of medicine/surgery “You can play master but I won't wear your chains”

  11. Old Fashioned Morphine – Jolie Holland. Better than a lot of the new stuff, I say.

  12. Radiation Vibe – Hem. Apparently radiation is important in medicine. Or so I’m told. X rays and radiotherapy.

  13. Nightingale / Alexander Leaving – Leonard Cohen A girl needs some Leonard love at times like this.

  14. San Andreas Fault – Natalie Merchant. Yes, it’s all bloody Andreas’fault.

  15. Tired of my Tears – Susan Tedeschi. Well I haven’t cried, yet. But I’ve all of Freud to study yet tonight, so it remains a possibility. Seriously, who cares if toddlers are anal?

  16. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road – Lucinda Williams – I’m dreaming of going somewhere – heaven = “Cotton fields stretching miles and miles, Hank's voice on the radio, telephone poles trees and wires fly on by”

  17. Theme from Emma – Rachel Portman – ‘cos it reminds of Mr Knightley. A girl needs some natural endorphins now and again.

  18. Share the Darkness – Saw Doctors – my all-time fav SawDocs’ song – “When the world belongs to distant dogs / And the air is dark and still / And drunken conversations beneath the window sill / And there’s someone singing Elvis songs as they make their way back home and all your fears and worries attack when you’re alone”

  19. Willie Stewart/Molly Rankin – Eddi Reader - from her album “Sings the songs of Robert Burns”. Really really good stuff.

  20. By the Mark – Gillian Welch. The only Easter spiritual preparation I’m doing – “On Calvary mountain where they made him suffer so all my sin was paid for a long, long time ago”

  21. Dance with me now Darling – Hem – Life will get better, I know.

  22. Gotta Have You – The Weepies – New album. Very enjoyable – “No amount of coffee, no amount of crying, no amount of whiskey, no amount of wine, no no no no no nothing else will do I’ve gotta have you”. In this “you” stands for a medical degree.

  23. I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight – Richard & Linda Thompson The only lights I’m seeing tonight is my bright study lamp.

  24. Sing Me Spanish Techno – The New Pornographers. Sing me anything that doesn’t involve the words diagnosis, management, differential, multidisciplinary/multimodality, evidence base level 1 or monoclonal antibody against TNFalpha.

  25. The Bag of Cats – Sharon Shannon. Description of my rather cantankerous personality at the moment.

Post Exam Wish list part of playlist. (Working on the carrot/stick principle here)
Sleeping is THE Only Love – the Silver Jews. How right they are.
Lived in Bars – Cat Power. If only. Given I don’t really drink it’s probably not the best plan, but still.
Streets of Baltimore – The Little Willies. A New York country band with Norah Jones as female vocalist, named after Willie Nelson. Song by Gram Parsons
Sailing to Philadelphia and Prairie Wedding – Mark Knopfler. Beautiful
Marching Bands of Manhattan – Death Cab for Cutie. Cannot wait for my NYC holiday.

Now that this exercise in narcisstic playlist making and sharing, pathognomic of my generation is over, I will go study. And listen to the playlist.


Are Women Human?

Catherine McKinnon is probably the only woman left in the world who thinks that's a valid question. Well at least she should be in the western world.
Stuart Jeffries interviews her in today's Guardian about "Are Women Human?" her new book that attempts to answer the most redundant question of 2006.
Apparently she thinks we're not.
If women were human, would we be a cash crop shipped from Thailand in containers into New York's brothels? Would we be sexual and reproductive slaves? Would we be bred, worked without pay our whole lives, burned when our dowry money wasn't enough or when men tired of us, starved as widows when our husbands died (if we survived his funeral pyre)?

One of her many many many many gripes with the world is that, well, Sex with a dead body is necrophilia but it isn't regarded as rape.

I know this is just one part of her philosopy, but how can anyone take her seriously?


T Bone Burnett has an album coming out

I don't know how many of this blog's readers will be as excited as I am over this news. (I'm guessing not many)
He's also doing a US tour with the Wallflowers' Jakob Dylan - but like Hem, he plays New York the week before I go on my holidays there. (Damn laws of time and physics squared)
I first heard of him when I became obsessed with Gillian Welch's music and I traced everyone she worked with on Hell Among the Yearlings, which he produced.
I then got the reissued version of his self titled album and I was hooked.
By right, everyone should own all Gillian Welch's albums and be holding their breaths for the next one (and the amazing live shows that should accompany it!)
So you should go buy them, and in the meantime, join me in watchful waiting for T Bone, who's delivering in a few weeks!


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

In defense of the inner housewife

Interview with Caitlin Flanagan in The Boston Globe about her new book "To Hell With All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife".
I feel the earliest kind of feminism demanded rights for all women. But I associate feminism now with women who are like me: white, educated, middle to upper-middle class, and who feel they are still getting the shaft. But, for heaven's sake, if anything, we have the privileges now; we are now the men of the '50s.

Q: You write that many contemporary feminists are hypocrites. Do you include yourself?
A: No. In the first place I'm not a feminist, so my hypocrisy is along other lines. I'm very grateful to all the women who fought for these rights before me, and I'm very disgusted by women who say ''But now I can't be a good mom and be partner in a law firm." That's just tough. Another thing about feminists: They're all unhappy

She's not unafraid to annoy people and this is not always a good thing. But I like her writing. Her book is added to the "read when exams are over" pile.

Sarah Carey linked to a very critical article about Flanagan in Elle a while back.

I think her voice is important in discussions about feminism. I also think pointing to her employment of personal organisers (which appears to be a job similar to a housekeeper) is irrelevant and doesn't stand as sufficient criticsm of her position on modern feminism (which for most part I agree with).

Update - nor do I think dismissing the book based on for congratulating herself on being the type of woman whose husband treats her well while she has cancer. Bad things do happen to good people, as well as to bad people, to feminists and anti-feminists, to women who forgo careers for their families as well as women who just pretend to. Flanagan's book is a sad and scary fable about fear of abandonment, and its supposed happy ending really isn't one. Another review from Salon.


The last thing I need

before my exams (given I had my medicine final yesterday, it could have been worse) -
according to the
BBC drug companies are inventing diseases.
I suppose it's not too great for patients either!


John McGahern

Empire State View has a gorgeous piece on John McGahern and her relationship with him.
After that interview, he and I began to write to one another. He would always reply immediately, his words etched hard into the paper, and his letters would ripple with stories, with snatches of news and of memory, with comedy…with life. Come and visit us, they would say, you’d be very welcome. Come for a drink or a bite to eat.
We became friends.

And I remember that night as one that tumbled with stories, with laughter, with plans.With affection. He always signed his letters that way. It’s hard to believe that there will be no more.

Just because it's blue hat, doesn't mean that it's a boy's hat!

Come on people get with the PC, blue is a gender neutral colour programme!
I came across this exchange of emails from parents in the apparently upmarket Park Slope in New York via the Corner.
Entitled the The Park Slope Hat Spat by the Gawker, it's worth a read if you want to be frightened by decontructing, sociological mumbo-jumbo spouting, sexism spotters. All over a mother who picked up an "adorable" blue hat and thought the owner would like it back and titled her email "boy's hat".


What Your Pen Says About You!

Are you a chewed bic person? A fancy fountain pen? Does your pen advertise your dry cleaners?

Doing exams at the moment, my pens have become even more important to me.
While out I tend to use drug company pens, but when I'm at home, I write with my collection of favourite pens - a gold Cross with my name engraved on it (a random present from one of my aunts, that I thought was horrible at the time, but now like it)with a fine point blue in that one. I've a Cross fountain pen with black ink.
I have a 2 Tombow roller ball pens that I get refills for (black and red) and write all my exams with the black.
When I get depressed or have trouble getting down to study I'll go buy several pens and because I can't wait to try them out, before I know it I'll have lots of study done!

Virigina Postrel has an interesting article about pens and how they are getting more emphasis on the aesthetic.


National Review Online now has loads of blogs at their site. One of them is Reconcilable Differences written by George and Kellyanne Conway. This is what that George has to say about the other George -
I've never voted for a Democrat in a general election in my life, and I don't expect to anytime soon, but it's been impossible for me over the past couple of years to get enthused about the Republican party. I voted for President Bush twice, and contributed to his campaign twice, but held my nose when I did it the second time. I don't consider myself a Republican any longer. Thanks to this Administration and the Republicans in Congress, the Republican Party today is the party of pork-barrel spending, Congressional corruption — and, I know folks on this web site don't want to hear it, but deep down they know it's true — foreign and military policy incompetence. Frankly, speaking of incompetence, I think this Administration is the most politically and substantively inept that the nation has had in over a quarter of a century. The good news about it, as far as I'm concerned, is that it's almost over.

And his wife, Kellyanne, of the Polling Company has an interesting post up about the Republicans' carry-on about Congresswoman Kathleen Harris running for Senate in Florida.

My newly reinstated favourite blogger, Jim Geraghty tells it like it is, as he sees it, in his own words, going forward, he says
Any administration is going to have its mistakes, and sometimes, they're going to be big ones. Let's be honest about where the current president and cabinet have botched things, but let's not fool ourselves into nostalgia for some golden age of political and substantive skill.


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Handsome as a Magazine

Playboy with clothes in Indonesia.
The piece of "moral terrorism" would not be acceptable even if the women were in burqas it seems, one of those interviewed said "we would still protest it because of the name."
I'm not a Playboy fan by any standard, but as a brand they are synonymous with Western sexual liberation, and I guess while the cartoons were one thing, Playboy is another kettle of women in underwear.

(The title of the post is a quote from "Hollow", one my favourite Hem songs - I've been listening to their new album of outtakes/rarities "No Word from Tom" loads and I guess the the chorus of Hollow is probably appropriate for the clash about civilisation that's happening "But it's a hard road that we follow / The saddest cities, and the darkest hollows")

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Book from the Darkness

One of the first crimes of the Nazis was the obliteration of Jewish voices and words, through book-burning, censorship, and the imprisonment and murder of writers. Erasing the Jewish perspective from history was the necessary prelude to erasing the Jews themselves from history. That is why stealing back a manuscript from oblivion represents a decisive victory over Nazism, a reassurance that no evil is so powerful that it can shape history in its own image.

The New York Sun and The New York Times both review Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirvosky, a Russian-French novelist who died in Auschwitz. Her husband died there some time later, but her daughters managed to escape, one with her mother's handwritten notebook. She only was able to read this notebook in the late 1990s and decided to have the 2 novellas, Storm in June and Dolce, published.

Fully aware that she was living through epic events, she decided not to write about them epically. This was not just an aesthetic choice but an ethical one: In an age that seemed intent on abolishing the individual in favor of the mass, Nemirovsky focused on a handful of ordinary characters, showing grand events only as they impinged on humble lives. This method is a perfect complement to what seems to be Nemirovsky's "message," the moral code that her most sympathetic characters avow. Lucile states it most directly: "I hate this community spirit they go on and on about. The Germans, the French, the Gaullists, they all agree on one thing: you have to love, think, live with other people, as part of a state, a country, a political party. Oh, my God! I don't want to! I'm just a poor useless woman; I don't know anything but I want to be free!"

The New York Times review says she "wrote, for all to read at last, some of the greatest, most humane and incisive fiction that conflict has produced."

Want to hear some truly beautiful music?

Download one of the songs from Hem's new album - "No Word from Tom" from The Rawking blog. It's Hem's cover of Rem's South Central Rain.
Give it listen and then go buy all their albums. This song barely does them justice.
And I've just realised that I'm in New York 2 days after they play the Bowery Ballroom with Josh Ritter. The only consolation is that I'll be listening to Bruce Sprinsgteen in the Point the same evening. But it's still upsetting.
Damn the laws of time and physics.


Friday, April 07, 2006

I Belong in Paris.

According to the stupid What European City Do You Belong In? quiz -
You Belong in Paris

You enjoy all that life has to offer, and you can appreciate the fine tastes and sites of Paris.
You're the perfect person to wander the streets of Paris aimlessly, enjoying architecture and a crepe.

Paris. Not at all impressed, mainly because I don't get the Paris buzz.
Also "a crepe"...please, that'll be crepes, plural and Sister Assumpta from Father Ted reaction - smear over face, end of Lent pig out.

I know I belong in Rome, conventiently located between the nuns and heaven.
The "nuns" is a relgious run French restraunt complete with liturgical dance and heaven, contrary to popular belief, is in fact Della Palma, the best ice cream shop in the world.

Successes and Failures of the Blogosphere

in the political sense, I guess.
Jim Geraghty thinks political bloggers have "gone sour" and expands this in a guest post at CBSNews' Blog.
I throughly agreed with his analysis of the blogger excessively horrible reaction to Jill Carroll - Debbie Schussel is still ranting in a post entitled Anatomy of an Extremist about her.
Geraghty says among other things -
Today, there are still some blogs out there going out and doing reporting, or drawing on well-grounded experience in non-journalism fields or providing insightful analysis. But many, many more blogs are forsaking fact-gathering for the venting of straight-up, raw anger.
The blogosphere has always had heavily ideological conversational posting boards like Daily Kos and Eschaton on the left or FreeRepublic and LittleGreenFootballs on the right, where no holds are barred and no shot at the opposition is beyond the pale. On those sites, there's always a crowd of peers cheering you on, and reinforcing the perception that those who disagree with you are so wrong, mendacious, stupid or evil that no criticism is over the top or out of line.
Perhaps the most illustrative example of the changing tone on the blogs was the reaction to the release of Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll from her captors in Iraq. Before returning to the protection of U.S. forces, Carroll issued a statement full of praise for her captors. Her comments were odd and disturbing to say the least – but a surprisingly large chunk of the blogosphere reacted to the news with a torrent of scathing hatred.

At their best, blogs can provide the mainstream media with competition, and pressure established organizations bring their A-game and put out their best work. But the MSM will have little reason to fear competition from blogs, if enough of them embrace the growing trend of denounce-with-spittle-flicking-fury-first-and-get-the-answers-later. Some readers new to the blogosphere will make distinctions between blogs; others will look at the high-profile worst of the lot and say, "to hell with them."
The Pajamahadeen have gone from fact-checking Dan Rather to speculating that Jill Carroll faked her tears on her hostage tape. This is not progress.

Ultimate Joy

is getting 2 tickets for Bruce.
And my roommate got 2 using her credit card. Part of me is glad there's a 2 a person limit, which is fair. And another part of me is annoyed at the extended web of phoners/interneters that had to be arranged last night to ensure tickets.
Never mind. I'm going to Bruce.

From the liner notes of We Shall Overcome, by the great man himself -
It was a carnival ride, the sound of surprise and the pure joy of playing. Street corner music, parlor music, tavern music, wilderness music, circus music, church music, gutter music, it was all there waiting in those songs, some more than one hundred years old. It rocked, it swung, it rolled. It was a way back and forward to the informality, the freeness and the eclecticism of my earliest music and then some.

This is a LIVE recording, everything cut in three one-day sessions (’97, ’05, ’06) with no rehearsals. All arrangements were conducted as we played, you can hear me shouting out the names and instruments of the players as we roll. This approach takes the listener along for the whole ride, as you hear the music not just being played but being made. So, turn it up, put on your dancin’ and singin’ shoes, and have fun


Can Conservatives be Artists?

A discussion has developed (well, just between Copernicus and me) on conservatism, liberalism and the arts at Damien Mulley's post on The Right Brothers.
We disagree.

Denis Donaldson, RIP

I meant to post more on the sad murder of Denis Donaldson but I simply haven’t had the time to follow the story, most of which is speculation anyway.
This is mainly due to study.
And a fear of watching the news, just in case I’ll develop lust in my heart for Tommy O’Gorman (after my recent Minister McDowell infatuation, a girl can’t be too careful).
So here are blog(s) that are worth reading....
Slugger O’Toole - The first reports. (100s of comments.) The Republicans did it. The British did it. Shooting touts is always wrong. Gerry Adams.
A unionist perspective – no-one did it.
As you can see, my study break was extended due to the sheer quantity of stuff in these posts. I’ve yet to read yesterday’s papers, let alone today’s.
And the story of another Northern man who died during the week – Michael McGoldrick - Elblogador and Slugger. He was an incredibly impressive man who forgave his son’s LVF killers and asked that those who wanted retribution would “Bury your pride with my son”.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

First Arab Catholic woman to be member of Israeli parliament

An interesting character. Nadia Hilou is a member of the Labor party and is a woman's rights and free education activist.
From Catholic Online.
"First woman to do X" stories normally don't interest me, but her story does.

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I think Environmentalists have Self-Esteem Issues

Cathy Young at The Y Files discusses Eric Pianka, an ecologist who looks forward to the death of 90% of the world population.
According to Pianka, our biggest enemy is "anthropocentrism" - how's about that for self hating? I'd go as far as to say a little more anthropocentrism might go a long way.
While the rest of the world's talking about debt relief and clean water mechanisms and new ways of growing food to feed the starving, Pianka has found the one virus set to free us from our unfortunate existence.
Ebola. Oh yes, the joys of Ebola, the friendly, helpful virus.
Good terrorists would be taking [Ebola Roaston and Ebola Zaire] so that they had microbes they could let loose on the Earth that would kill 90 percent of people. AIDS is apparently not quick enough.
The Texas Academy of Science gave him their 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist award. Hello?
The man's nuts. He wants to kill 9 out 10 Irish bloggers (and equivalent ratios of everyone else, but look at what's important!)
A few weeks I posted about Jerry Vlasak, a surgeon with similar aspirations for the future of the human race.

What's with these scientists, these environmentalists that move so far away from common sense?
Do they really hate their lives that much, their family's lives, that our existence as humans is secondary to that of mice, trees, woodlice and nettles, so secondary that the vast majority of us should be killed off?
Have they no self-esteem?

Pro-Test have a new blog. Check it out. Return to rationality.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Roger Scruton on the Meaning of Conservatism - in 2006

From the New Pantagruel -
The problem for conservatism is to reconcile the many and often conflicting demands that these various forms of life impose on us. The free-market ideologues take one instance of spontaneous order, and erect it into a prescription for all the others. They ask us to believe that the free exchange of commodities is the model for all social interaction. But many of our most important forms of life involve withdrawing what we value from the market: sexual morality is an obvious instance, city planning another. (America has failed abysmally in both those respects, of course.)

Looked at from the anthropological point of view religion can be seen as an elaborate (and spontaneous) way in which communities remove what is most precious to them (i.e. all that concerns the creation and reproduction of community) from the erosion of the market. A cultural conservative, such as I am, supports that enterprise. I would put the point in terms that echo Burke and Chesterton: the free market provides the optimal solution to the competition among the living for scarce resources; but when applied to the goods in which the dead and the unborn have an interest (sex, for instance) it wastes what must be saved.

Consultants in the NHS

From NHS Blog Doctor in response to an article in the (London) Times by Alice Miles.
He says "If I had to list the government's mistakes in healthcare, and it is a very long list, at the top of that list would be the “blame” culture that they have engendered in the NHS. The NHS is in trouble. Let’s blame the doctors."

Are we doing the same here?

Am I Mad or What?

After a day of fruitless study, and the realisation that I'm over 3 days behind on my study plan, with finals next week, where I've to know all the diseases that affect the human body, I started catching up on my medical blogs.

From The Examining Room of Dr. Charles comes a story of an abscess that would not drain - "the pus kept flowing".

And the Grand Rounds (summary of the week in medical blogging) at Urostream is the form of a history and examination for a "winky problem".

And you've that New England Journal Medicine video that I linked to last week of the worms in some poor man's bowel.

Why I am doing this to myself? I don't want to fix winkies, drain pus or watch wriggling worms for the rest of my life.
I want sugar and spice and all things nice.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Fr Trendy on Podge & Rodge

Very disturbed.
First, by the promise of Joe Dolan’s singing in Italian. Second, by Fr Brian D’Arcy on Podge and Rodge.
I find him nauseating.
“I’m an ordinary young man from the bog” (maybe in 1960 he was) “I’m just trying to be myself” (the rest of us aren’t?)
“The real answer or the funny answer?” to the question “what’s the difference between a cardinal and a mortal sin?” followed by his manic laugh, and weird gesticulations – he looks like he’s trying to smooth the tablecloth with his “iron-hands”.
He’s now suggesting that Podge should be Pope.
He also asks “who’d have me?” re: priestly marriage (I don't think it would be Christian to answer that one) More importantly, he says he’d marry the first priest for nothing; so Fr Brian usually just marries the wealthy ?
“If Elvis is not in heaven, I don’t want to be there” – because the promise of eternal happiness and union with the divine is simply not enough for the patron priest of show-biz – he wants a little bit of Jailhouse Rock too.

Update - Irish Eagle linked to an article by Ronan Mullen on Fr D'Arcy a few days ago. Eagle ends the article by saying "Father D'Arcy - yesterday's priest.". Watching P&R made me cringe so much. Fr D'Arcy is starting to fit my definition of a scare at bedtime. Well, that and the visions of himself and Elvis rockin' it up in heaven.

Bruce Springsteen Studio Video from Seeger Sessions

is on the front page of Watched it 3 times already. It's amazing.
The album's out 25th April. And he's in the Point on May 5th. I can't wait for tickets to go on sale, so I can buy them, and not think about the possibility of not getting them. Thankfully I got them the last time, but there are some things too important to be left to chance.

Update Bruce video actually here.

Dennis Donaldson shot dead in Glenties

Just breaking news on Sky/RTE. He's a former Sinn Fein worker who was outed as a British spy before Christmas.
I really hope this isn't IRA related.


Monday, April 03, 2006


Christina Hoff Sommers on Manliness, a new book by Harvey Mansfield, Harvard political philosopher.

After almost 40 years of feminist agitation and gender-neutral pronouns, it is still men who are far more likely than women to run for political office, start companies, file for patents, and blow things up. Men continue to tell most of the jokes and write the vast majority of editorials and letters to editors. And--fatal to the dreams of feminists who long for social androgyny--men have hardly budged from their unwillingness to do an equal share of housework or childcare. Moreover, women seem to like manly men: "Manliness is still around, and we still find it attractive," says Mansfield.

Kay Hymowitz also reviews it in Commentary. She says
Mansfield concedes that the manly man is not always appealing. He can be willful and boastful, and patronizing toward women. But these annoyances are part of a package that makes the average Joe capable of greater heroism and command than the average Josephine. More open to facing risk, he is more likely to gain and wield power and to make his mark in the world. There can be manly women—Elizabeth I and Margaret Thatcher come to mind—but they are rare.

I can't wait to read it!

The Best of Albums, The Worst of Albums

And they’re in-laws.
My 2 most-looked-forward purchases of recent months are actually brother and sister-in-law – Seth Lakeman and Cara Dillon.
Derry singer, Cara Dillon is married to Sam Lakeman, who doubles as her producer, Seth Lakeman’s brother. Both have new albums out – Dillon’s “After the Morning” and Lakeman’s “Freedom Fields”.
There is really no comparison – Dillon is an amazing singer with an extraordinarily beautiful voice and an insipid album that I regret spending money on. Seth Lakeman’s album is one that I will be playing in 50 years.
Lakeman was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize for his album “Kitty Jay”, which was fresh folk sung by an English guy with an English accent who plays the fiddle, guitar and writes his own songs. But his songs, unlike the Streets or the Artic Monkeys, are not about nightclubs or drying your eyes out mate (I hate that song!), but like Richard Shindell, Lakeman writes about ye olden times with a contemporary relevance that enthralls.
But unlike Damien Rice, Dempsey or any other of these new folk/acoustic/singer-songwriters from these islands, Lakeman is an original, singing his own songs about, well, “Freedom Fields” is about the 1643 Civil War. And he sings about it like he was there. (I doubt Damien Rice could even spell 1643.) He plays the violin like he means it. The production is immaculate and the album was made in his Devon kitchen. The drums are reminiscent of red-coated garrison men, marching with the sun reflected in their brass buttons, before their canons explode. He sings about mermaids, mariners, riflemen, soldiers who came “a courtin a maid, took her home, stole her beauty, took no gold” and the like. Unfortunately itunes don’t provide lyrics, so I will probably get the hardcopy in few weeks if I haven’t figured the epic stories that form his songs.
Perhaps Cara Dillon’s only redeeming feature is that she provides some great harmonies on Seth’s album.
But there it stops. Her first 2 albums were excellent – her voice stunning, the songs suited her, the arrangements suited the songs. All was good in my ears. So “After the Morning” had something to live up to – especially after I read the reviews on amazon, where they talked about bluegrass influences, and Paul Brady’s “performance of his life” in a duet on “The Streets of Derry”. The bluegrass influences were negligible, and if that’s the best Brady’s capable of, there’s hope for all us yet as singer-songwriters outside of the shower.
The first song “Never in a Million Years” is okay, I suppose. “October Winds” was written for Dillon’s father – it’s actually quite moving. But that’s it. The other song possibly worth re-listening to is a cover of Dougie MacLean’s “The Garden Valley”. About half way through the song, I thought there was something wrong with my CD player. I thought I was listening to Cathie Ryan’s version, only that Ryan does it better. Her Detroit immigrant background adds umph to lines like “I'm afraid and all alone / There is no peace for me / And I'm sitting in the stranger's room / Playing at the stranger's table / Shining empty like the moon”. Whilst Cara Dillon could have been singing about the back of an All Bran box, albeit in a clichéd “voice of an angel”.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Blog shutdowns, Libel, April Fools and the Sunday Times

Dick at Back Seat Drivers has all the links to the ongoing blog/libel saga that the Sunday Times reported on this morning.
El Paso Times siad they were shutting down due to libel proceedings being taken against them, but then later today said it was all an April's Fools - even though they had posted the notice on March 30th, and a number of prominent bloggers, who were in similar situations before, were contacted by the Sunday Times last week for their reaction.
Dick's post follows the many divergent threads, while Damien Mulley serves as the Irish blogosphere watercooler where all the gossiping's going on.

A song to push American Idiot off my iPod’s most played list

Well, maybe not.
But for those of us not in line with Green Day’s attitude to Bush, there’s the Right Brothers.
With lyrics such as “Democracy is on the way, hitting like a tidal wave / All over the middle east, dictators walk with shaky knees”, a chorus of “Bush was Right” and a riff of “Ted Kennedy - wrong! / Cindy Sheehan - wrong! / France - WRONG! / Zell Miller - right!, Bush was Right is probably not going to make the charts in Ireland. You can watch the video here.

The lyrics are funny, the music mediocre and I’ll probably tire of it after a few minutes. But for the moment, I’m giggling and wallowing in listening to music that agrees with my politics. Given my listening tastes (alternative, indie, folk) I tend to have very little political agreement with the artists I buy, so this is refreshingly different. Not that it really matters, but still.....


Condi Rice on her favourite music

Condoleezza Rice was interviewed by radio show Mad About Music) in January.
It's very interesting, and she's really passionate about her music.
I seem to be really drawn to minor keys. Some people would say, well, they're melancholy or they're dark, but I don't think so. I think they're richer and I get a sense when I listen to a minor key that the composer has somehow worked harder at it. It is, it really just attracts me and it's true that most of my favorite pieces tend to be in minor keys.

Hat tip - Clive Davis


Pope John Paul the Great

The Anchoress has a geat sum up of articles and blog posts that she says she will continue updating about his anniversary.

I just can't believe that a whole year has gone by since I stood in St Peter's Square and was blessed by JP2 in his last public appearance. I'll never forget the joyful intensity of the crowd and our heavy feet that did not allow us move from beside the fountain from where we could see his window.
We knew it was his last appearance, mainly becuase we spent the previous week hearing stories of how weak he was getting. He was weak and unable to speak, but we knew he was there. For the first time, I understood the rock of Peter. For there he stood, his body ravaged by cruel old age and Parkinson's, his back bent and his once charismatic voice, a mere whisper from a window - but he was a rock, the head of the Church, the leader of his people, Christ's vicar on earth, a mortal sinner who was waiting to go home.
When I heard the news of his death, I did not cry immediately. But I did when I heard he had said this about the young people who held vigils for him "I have looked for you. Now you have come to me. And I thank you." I cried when I watched his funeral on TV and when I received text messages from Irish friends in Rome who had returned for the funeral.
We were staying in an apartment between the metro stop to the vatican and the vatican itself, so every night, no matter what time it was, we walked through St Peter's Square, just to see what was happening and to say very quick prayers. (I'm a Catholic who believes very strongly in the power of quick prayers!)
Last Easter was my 2nd Easter to spend in Rome and attend the St Peter's Easter ceremonies (I recommend them to everyone!). The 1st time, in 2001, I was selected to meet the Pope and receive his blessing at one of his private audiences. So up I went, dressed in a new suit and all made up. I knelt in front of him, his priest-aide announced my name and where I was from. He said "Ahhh, Ireland. Cailin?" and stroked my cheek. At which point I did say something. Absolutely no idea what it was. It could have been anything from "your writings have inspired me" (which I think was what I had planned to say - I know it's very original!) to " the weather's nice in Rome". He then lifted his hand from my face and proceeded to bless me. I realised, rather belatedly, that unlike everyone else who had placed their hands on the arms of his chair, I had my hands firmly on the Pope's knees!
This would not be good meeting-the-Pope-protocol.
I remember very little else about my meeting with him, and was amazed when I saw the official DVD that I was with him for nearly 3 minutes.

Like most young Catholics, JP2 formed my opinions and beliefs on the world and the church and who I am, as a woman and as a person.
My photos of my hands on JP2's knees will always be with me and will always make me smile. Because in the presence of greatness, one must kneel. And in the presence of a saint, one has to smile. And cry at what then Cardinal Ratzinger said at his funeral -
None of us can ever forget how in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessing urbi et orbi. We can be sure that our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of the Father's house, that he sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the eternal glory of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


Saturday, April 01, 2006

Jill Carroll and Blogs

The TKS on National Review Online written by Jim Geraghty is one of my favourite reads because he's reasonable.
This post on Jill Carroll's release and the reaction of the blogging world in the US is interesting.
He contrasts the rightwing and leftwing nuts who attack him because he said in earlier posts that in light of her video and letter, and conflicting statements from her parents and her paper, that we should hold off making any judgements.
He's perfectly right. He links to rightwing Debbie Schussel (who's completely OTT on everything to do with the War on Terror) and to leftwing ThinkProgress.
He ends with
This is what we've got a blogosphere for? For these kind of (pardon my French) pissing contests? The citizenry around the globe has the greatest mass communications tool in the history of the world, and this is what it's led to?
Rip the MSM all you want, but I read this stuff and I begin to appreciate editors

He really has a point. It is too early to definitively say what happened to Jill Carroll, except that reasonable people everywhere are delighted that she has been released.
This partisan point scoring and moral posturing just annoys me.
Talking about willing participants in orchestrated kidnappings and saying that even mentioning the Stockholm Syndrome is standard "reichtwing" spiel - this is pointless moral outrage.
Yawn..... (which is the reflex response of a friend to the word "outrage")


Google Romance

Google Romance a new product that offers users both a psychographic matchmaking service and all-expenses-paid dates for couples who agree to experience contextually relevant advertising throughout the course of their evening.

What more do you want from Google?