A nice way to stay in touch with loved ones, and a convenient way to share my opinions without having everyone just walk away...wait a minute, where are you going? I wasn't finished..

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

And the Red Bull ran close behind...

Look Kids , it's The Last Unicorn. Recommended to all, and a great read too, if you can find the book.

Edited for remembrance:

In college I first read I See by My Outfit, then A Fine and Private Place wonderfully innocent yet knowing books in a troubled time. I wanted more Peter Beagle and got The Last Unicorn - more than anyone could have hoped for.

That makes me think of William Goldman. I was reading him too about then.
His first was good, Temple of Gold, but even better to me Soldier in the Rain, Boys and Girls Together, and Your Turn to Curtsey, My Turn to Bow - It's as though these books confirmed what I was learning about relationships at that time. William Goldman hit the real big time, going to Hollywood and writing the screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and guess what else? Give up? The Princess Bride.

What a great time to be a reader. Pynchon, Kesey and Wolfe were informing me as well. Boy. I never read stuff like that anymore, but I've heard The Color of Light is really, really good. Maybe I'll get a copy.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday Evening

Whew, I'm kind of tuckered out. We've had a lot going on. Some good, some not so good. The good part was a visit from Janett's Minnesota children, Valerie and her husband John with their children; Hannah and Logan, and Nate and his wife, Angie with daughters; Gabi and Allie. They were all beautiful. As usual, you'll have to go to Janett's site for photos.

The visit took our minds off the news last week that Noah wouldn't be returning from Afghanistan next month, but would be there for an indefinite period - probably four more months. Lauren came to a pizza and pool party at Nate's motel Friday evening. Unstoppable her was driving Saturday to Champaign-Urbana looking for a house to buy for she and Noah to live in when Noah gets home, leaves the army, and enrolls at the university.

The other preoccupation of late has been Jannet's diverticulitis. To say she's had some discomfort lately would be an understatement. Her wonderful doctor Gassert had the same problem and had surgery a couple of years ago and is hooking her up with his surgeon. Janett's going to meet the surgeon Tuesday. Dr. Gassert has been expressing concern over the risks of letting the problem going untreated, but I'm reluctant to see her undergo surgery. I just see myself in the waiting room, having the nurse tell me, "The doctor will be out to see you in a few minutes. The re-sectioning went well, but we're having a little trouble stopping the bleeding." Now I'm being a bummer, sorry, but better than to pretend to be oblivious.

On a happier note, Wednesday is Janett's birthday , and we'll probably go to The Red Lobster and try to eat our way through a gift card Dean sent us for Christmas. Well maybe half way through.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Justin who?

Kyle McAlarney, 19, starting point guard for the Irish basketball team was dismissed from the university last week with the right to apply for readmission next summer. McAlarney was arrested by state police on Dec. 29 after marijuana was discovered in his car during a routine traffic stop a few blocks from campus. The arrest came hours after he scored a career-high 21 points against Rider.

In a possibly related event Justin Tratttou, 4-star high school defensive end from NJ, withdrew his verbal commitment to accept an ND foofball scholarship and accepted a scholarship offer from the Florida Gators. Hell a drug bust in the SEC probably gets you suspended from practice for a couple of days.

As I promised: ND Hockey

Notre Dame comes into the weekend with a 20-5-1 overall record and a 14-3-1 mark in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, good for 29 points. Miami is 18-8-2 overall and 13-5-2 in the conference for 28 points with Notre Dame having two games in hand on the RedHawks.

They are 9-1 against teams ranked in the top 15 at the time they play them. That could improve to 10-1 if they complete the weekend sweep of Miami (OH) tonight. The only loss came at Michigan State the night after we beat them. They are also in first place in the CCHA by three points with two games in hand.

Notre Dame 19 15 3 1 31 69 35 21 5 1 103 47
Miami 21 13 6 2 28 75 55 18 9 2 101 77
Michigan 19 13 6 0 26 84 59 18 9 0 116 87
Michigan State 19 12 6 1 25 58 44 16 8 1 83 62
Nebraska-Omaha 19 9 8 2 20 72 59 12 11 6 112 87
Lake Superior 19 8 8 3 19 48 49 14 10 3 74 64
Western Michigan 20 9 10 1 19 63 73 11 13 1 83 93
Ohio State 19 7 8 4 18 59 56 9 11 5 80 82
Northern Michigan 21 8 12 1 17 55 60 11 16 2 73 81
Alaska 19 6 10 3 15 53 66 8 13 4 73 85
Ferris State 19 4 13 2 10 43 72 7 17 3 71 96
Bowling Green 20 3 17 0 6 35 86 5 22 1 52 115


Monday, January 22, 2007

Re: The Bears

I gave credit to Thomas Jones, the defense, and Darrien. Let's see who did I forget?How about a big Chicago thank you to that tumbling fool, Reggie Bush.

Matt LeVoir?

I was wrong, I think the Bears do have one ND guy - a back up offensive lineman. I bet the Patriots wished they still had David Givens last night, (Cliff Branch might have helped as well)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Bears

How many minutes into the 3rd quarter was the safety. Half way through? So the Bears got fired up and beat the Saints by 21 points over the last quarter and a half. Wow, I don't know to whom to give credit, Thomas Jones or the defense - but that was a great catch by Darrien for the score. Game balls for everyone.

Now I'm watching Pats vs Indy. Pats look good, but if the Bears can keep the high they finished with today - Look Out.

The Bears

OK, I'm pulling for the Bears. But the Saints may have more offensive muscle than anyone else the Bears played this year. But if the Bears dont win it wont be because of the "worst to first" or "Rebuilding the city" mystique. It will be because the Bears dont have any Irish, and New Orleans has three. Jeff Faine, a tough guy center, John Carney, the venerable kicker, long of the Charger fame, and a tight end named John Owens who didn't get to play much at ND. So, I guess if I had to project a score, it would ne Saints by three.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I havent seen my granson Malachy in a week and I really miss him. Malachy if you read this give me a call.

Funny, I was thinking about love this week. That it's more important to love than to be loved. Because love is your yearning to get closer to goodness. That understanding applies easily to God or to your spouse, and I guess it applies to 2 year olds.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Who is that guy?

What a turn around. This is the guy who sponsored the motion to rename French Fries Freedom Fries in the congressional lunch room...

The Jones Resolution For
Avoiding War With Iran
By Patrick J. Buchanan

Mr. Bush, Meet Walter Jones ...

America is four years into a bloody debacle in Iraq not merely because Bush and Cheney marched us in, or simply because neocon propagandists lied about Saddam's nuclear program and WMDs, and Iraqi ties to al-Qaida, anthrax attacks and 9-11.

We are there because a Democratic Senate voted to give Bush a blank check for war. Democrats in October 2002 wanted the war vote behind them so they could go home and campaign as pro-war patriots.

And because they did, 3,000 Americans are dead, 25,000 are wounded, perhaps 100,000 Iraqis have lost their lives, 1.6 million have fled, $400 billion has been lost and America stands on the precipice of the worst strategic defeat in her history.

Yet, Sens. Clinton, Biden, Kerry and Edwards-all of whom voted to give Bush his blank check-are now competing to succeed him. And how do they justify what they did?

"If only we had known then what we know now," they plead, "we would never have voted for the war." They are thus confessing to dereliction in the highest duty the Founding Fathers gave Congress. They voted to cede to a president their power to take us to war.

Now they wash their hands of it all and say, "It's Bush's War!"

And now George Bush has another war in mind.

In his Jan. 11 address, Bush said that to defend the "territorial integrity" of Iraq, the United States must address "Iran and Syria."

"These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

The city sat bolt upright. If Bush was talking about Iranian agents inside Iraq, he has no need of a second aircraft carrier in the Gulf, nor for those Patriot missiles he is sending to our allies.

But does Bush have the authority to take us to war against Iran?

On ABC last Sunday, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, while denying Bush intends to attack Iran, nonetheless did not deny Bush had the authority to escalate the war-right into Iran.

George Stephanopoulos: "So you don't believe you have the authority to go into Iran?"

Stephen Hadley: "I didn't say that. That is another issue. Any time you have questions about crossing international borders, there are legal questions."

Any doubt how Attorney General Gonzales would come down on those "legal questions"? Any doubt how the Supreme Court would rule?

Biden sputters that should Bush attack Iran, a constitutional crisis would ensue.

I don't believe it. If tomorrow Bush took out Iran's nuclear facilities, would a Senate that lacks the courage to cut funds for an unpopular war really impeach him for denying a nuclear capability to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Bush's lawyers would make the same case Nixon made for the 1970 "incursion" into Cambodia-and even a Nixon-hating Democratic House did not dare to impeach him for that.

Bush's contempt for Congress is manifest and, frankly, justified.

Asked if Congress could stop him from surging 21,500 troops into Iraq, Bush on "60 Minutes" brushed aside Congress as irrelevant.

"I fully understand (the Congress) could try to stop me from doing it. But I've made my decision. And we're going forward." Asked if he had sole authority "to put the troops in there no matter what the Congress wants to do," Bush replied, "In this situation I do, yeah."

Is Congress then impotent, if it does not want war on Iran?

Enter Rep. Walter Jones, Republican of North Carolina.

The day after Bush's threat to Iran, Jones introduced a Joint Resolution, "Concerning the Use of Military Force by the United States Against Iran." Under HJR 14, "Absent a national emergency created by attack by Iran, or a demonstrably imminent attack by Iran, upon the United States, its territories, possessions or its armed forces, the president shall consult with Congress, and receive specific authorization pursuant to law from Congress, prior to initiating any use of force on Iran."

Jones' resolution further declares, "No provision of law enacted before the date of the enactment of this joint resolution shall be construed to authorize the use of military force by the United States against Iran."

If we are going to war on Iran, Jones is saying, we must follow the Constitution and Congress must authorize
If Biden, Kerry, Clinton and Obama refuse to sign on to the Jones resolution, they will be silently conceding that Bush indeed does have the power to start a war on Iran. And America should pay no further attention to the Democrats' wailing about being misled on the Iraq war.

To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.



Saturday, January 13, 2007

Interesting background re Ethiopia/Somalia

Gwynne Dyer:

A new war in Africa

Gwynne Dyer
Saturday, January 13, 2007

“The Ethiopians now are advancing, but that is not the end,” Omar Idris, a senior official of Somalia’s Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), told the BBC on Wednesday. “We know what happened in Iraq, the experience of the Americans... I think this is very, very early to say that the Islamic Court forces were defeated.” The war is starting in Somalia, but it may end up being fought in Ethiopia and Eritrea, too. Together, the three countries contain almost a hundred million of the poorest people on the planet.

On Thursday, the Ethiopian army took Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, and the UIC, the closest thing to a government that Somalia has had since the country collapsed into anarchy fifteen years ago, retreated south towards the border with Kenya. Ethiopia has tanks, jet fighters and the tacit support of the United States; the UIC has only light weapons and the support of Somalis who distrust Ethiopians (i.e. almost all of them). So the UIC will probably win in the end, but it will take a long guerilla war.

This is a war founded on a misconception and driven by paranoid fantasies. The misconception was the US government’s belief that the Islamic Courts, local religious authorities backed by merchants in Mogadishu who wanted someone to curb the warlords, punish thieves, and enforce contracts, were just a cover for al-Qaeda. So the US instead backed the warlords who were making Somalis’ lives a misery.

American support is the kiss of death in Somalia, so the warlords were finally dislodged in Mogadishu last June by an uprising led by the UIC and supported by most of the population. The warlords fled to an American ship offshore, their clansmen went to ground, and the UIC rapidly took control of most of southern Somalia, bringing order for the first time since 1991. But the US immediately started plotting its overthrow.

Washington’s principal instrument in this enterprise was Ethiopia, Somalia’s giant neighbour to the west. Ethiopia’s 75 million people outnumber Somalis by more than seven-to-one — but although the Christians of the highlands have always dominated Ethiopia, almost half of its people are Muslims, like the Somalis. In Ethiopia’s sparsely populated eastern desert, the Ogaden, most of the people are not only Muslim but ethnically Somali. This is where the paranoid fantasies kick in.

Most of Ethiopia’s Muslims are too busy scratching a living to challenge the Christian near-monopoly of power in their country, but the last thing Ethiopia’s rulers want to see is an Islamic regime next-door in Somalia. To make matters worse, the Ethiopians suspected that their enemies, the Eritreans, were sending troops and arms to help the Islamic Courts regime in Somalia.

Ethiopia has fought and won two wars with Somalia over the Ogaden, in 1964 and 1977 (back when Somalia had a government and an army). It fought a bitter border war in 1998-2000 with Eritrea, a breakaway province that won its independence in 1993. (Ethiopia has rejected the decision of an independent panel on the border, and that war is just waiting to start again.) So over the past year, Ethiopia’s paranoid fantasies have come together with Washington’s.

The official American position, stated last week by Jendayi Frazer, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, is that the UIC is now “controlled by al-Qaeda cell individuals. The top layer of the Court are extremists. They are terrorists.” Even US diplomats in the region privately reject this assertion, but it is now an article of faith in Washington.

Ethiopia accuses the UIC of “threatening Ethiopian sovereignty,” which merely means that senior UIC members make the same claims about the Somali-Ethiopian border that all Somali nationalists of every party have always made. No UIC troops have even approached that border — but just after the UIC took control of Mogadishu in June, Ethiopia started sending troops into Somalia.

The Ethiopians said they were there to support the so-called “transitional government” of Somalia, a body led by Abdullahi Yusuf, a Somali warlord who is a long-standing ally of Addis Ababa. But the “transitional government,” which emerged from UN-backed talks between Somali factions in 2004, lacked popular support and never controlled much except the town of Baidoa, near the Ethiopian border.

In early December, Islamic Court troops moved on Baidoa with the declared intention of driving the Ethiopian troops out. On 24 December, Ethiopia responded with the offensive that has now taken Mogadishu. With overwhelming material superiority and US-supplied satellite surveillance data, the Ethiopians have won an easy victory, and already the warlords who used to dominate the capital are reasserting their control under the shelter of the “transitional government.”

But this is just the start of a long guerilla war that will sap the strength of the Ethiopian army, a Christian-led force backing unpopular warlords in a Muslim country. It will radicalise the Islamic Courts and turn them into exactly the extremist force that Washington and Addis Ababa fear. It will probably radicalise Ethiopian Muslims and start insurrections there. It will almost certainly trigger a new war between Ethiopia and Eritrea (which has sent troops to Somalia to back the UIC).

The Ethiopian invasion is illegal, unjustified and deeply, deeply stupid, but it has Washington’s strong support. From the same folks who brought you Iraq....


I haven't looked up the word to find if it has some positive connotations. I think it means a person who is cynical, grouchy, and perhaps even overbearing in presenting negative views. I don't know if the word implies advanced years. That would make "old curmudgeon" redundant.

Allow me to stipulate that I am entirely grateful for everything I've been given.
I have and have had the most wonderful wife, children and grandchildren, grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters, and friends a with whom a person could have been blessed.

I was raised in a secure loving environment of comfort and gentility among people who respect the virtues of responsibility, integrity, and faith in God. I was given the best of educations and developed a love of learning. All of this in the United States of America in the second half of the twentieth century, arguably the best place and time for a person to exist in the history of creation.

Lastly I came into the world with a nice appearance, a friendly smile, and an agreeable disposition. I may be the happiest person any of us know. My only concern is that on judgment day God may say "I gave you everything and what did you do with it?" I have to hope a lot of little kindnesses which came naturally will make up for a lack of singular accomplishments which I would have had to work for.

Love to all.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Mild Rant

With all the goofy stuff going on, I haven't had much time for foreign affairs lately. So just a passing nod to more manifestations of the decider's ineptitude.

Having the Ethiopians invade Somalia - the guy can always make a bad situation worse.
Presumably he's looking for a cheap win in the war on terror. He's going to radicalize the Islamic Courts and create another "haven" for you know who. I's sure the Somlians appreciate the hell out of our putting the warlords back on top.

Letting the Israelis leak plans for a nuclear strike on Iran. Duhhh, do you think the Iranians weren't already factoring in that (remote, I hope) possibility? Now we've given them justification for their push for nuclear weapons, and given the Iranians something to talk to the Russians French and Chinese about regarding their cooperation in torpedoing UN sanctions

The Surge. Too stupid to even talk about.

Turning the miltary/diplomantic/intelligence organizations upside down by shuffling bodies around. This is worse than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. This is final days in the bunker stuff.

Oh and don't get me wrong, there was nothing special about this week. A list like this could be composed every week. Could anybody speak the phrase "America's prestige in the international community" without an awkward pause and an embarrassed blush?

Oh Noooo

The Irish opened their Big East basketball season with a loss to Georgetown. I think the baseball and fencing seasons are yet to come. We could be pretty good at those sports. Wait, I'm forgetting - we've got a pretty good hockey team. I'll let you know how they're doing.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Sell in May and go Away

This old market axiom got me out of gold OK, but did'nt keep me from shorting the Dow which was an expensive mistake.

In my "Interesting" post last week (down towards the end, for those of you who didn't get that far) I said the Fed was creating a lot of money to fuel the economy, but that the money wasn't going into productive investments, but into the stock market, thus explaining the markets continued rise in the face of an uncertain economic situattion.

I went about twelve pages deep in Google looking for commentary on this phenomenon, but didn't find it. So let me explain in my own inimicable style.

Private Equity Funds and Leveraged Buy Outs are investment opportunities for the very wealthy (and pension funds). The managers collect money from investors, pick out an investment they like, borrow maybe ten or twenty times as much as the investors ante'd up and buy the investment.

The managers figure they can run the company better than the old managers, make higher profits, and then sell their investment for more than they paid for it.
The borrowing part is important. Thats's where leverage comes in. Say the managers buy a company that makes a profit of 50 million a year for five hundred million.
The investors had contributed 50 million and 450 million was borrowed. The managers try to sell off a couple of divisions of the company for 200 million, paying off part of the loan, but keep the pieces where they think they can increase profits the most. Maybe the sold off divisions contributed 20 million in profits. So they have an operation making 30 million a year. They shut down operations that are only marginally profitable and lay off a lot of people to reduce expenses and concentrate on what they think can be the most profitable operations. So in three years the company is making 50 million a year, and the managers sell it for 500 million. They get a good price for a smaller company because now the company is trimmed down and concentrating on its high growth, most profitable operations. So if the 200 million from selling the spun off divisions paid off part of the loan there is still 250 million to pay off, leaving a profit of 250 million. The managers take 20% of the profit (50 million) leaving 200 million for the investors. In most cases the managers would have paid investment bankers and lawyers 50 million in fees, so that would reduce investors profits to 100 million on the 50 they invested, still a very nice profit. Perhaps too optimistic, but that's how investors hope thing's will work out. It's even conceivable that the officers of the slimmed down company would come up with 50 million and borrow 450 to buy the business themselves. That way they insure they keep their jobs and no doubt believe they can make the company even more profitable. The bank is willing to go alomng because it's been a good deal for them so far. So thats where the Fed's new money is going - to lend to the managers to finance these deals.

Thats what's been going on for a few years. Snags can arise. Maybe the managers can't sell off the divisions they thought they would. Maybe interest rates go up, making the loans more expensive than planned, maybe the competitive circumstances or the economic environment change making it harder to increase profits. In such cases the managers, investment bankers, and lawyers still got their fees, but the investors lose their money. That hasn't been happening lately but it has happened in the past and will again.

A more predictable problem is that good takeover targets get scarcer because the good ones have already been taken, but people keep signing up to contribute their money and become partners, and the managers still have to go out and find (less attractive) companies to buy out. Pretty soon some of the deals are going to go bust and the banks will lose some of their money and the partners will lose their investments.

Remenmber about a year ago I was looking for a good water company to buy and both Hinkley and Schmitt and Culligan had been brought up? So I had to look for other stocks to buy that maybe I didn't like as well. Like I say, all this Fed money going into stock investment is holding the market up and I don't know where it's going to stop. (but it will)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


We're going to Steffy's to watch the Sugar Bowl I'm bringing the brats and micro-wavable tamales (like you used to see at the school caffeteria). Lou got me a bottle opener that plays the fight song and Malachy figured out how to make it play. Provides great atmosphere, but everytime he plays it he expects me to get up and march around the room with him.