« May 2005 | Main | July 2005 »

June 2005 Archives

June 5, 2005

Graduation 2005

Just got in from the Choate commencement exercises. Need to change out of these academic robes, given the 90-degree heat!

As James Taylor sang,

And our golden ones sail on, sail on
To another land beneath another sky

Good luck, Class of 2005!

The Kid Comes Through (Again)


Unlike the women's title bout yesterday, the men's final at Roland Garros turned out to be quite interesting, after all. Having watched Rafael Nadal dismantle #1 Roger Federer in the semi on Friday--on his birthday, no less--I might have expected a lopsided championship match, but kudos to Mariano Puerta for putting up such a good fight. In the end, though, no one was going to keep this kid from living up to the considerable hype.

June 7, 2005

Global Warming?

This 90+ degree heat this week is wearing me down. I've always had this hard-nosed Yankee resistance to buying an air conditioner, but this may be the summer I break down and do it. At least my bedroom ought to be comfortable enough to sleep in!

June 8, 2005


From the front page of this morning's New York Times:

A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.

In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports.

The dozens of changes, while sometimes as subtle as the insertion of the phrase "significant and fundamental" before the word "uncertainties," tend to produce an air of doubt about findings that most climate experts say are robust.

Mr. Cooney is chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the office that helps devise and promote administration policies on environmental issues.

Before going to the White House in 2001, he was the "climate team leader" and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry. A lawyer with a bachelor's degree in economics, he has no scientific training.

Read the entire article here. (Free registration required.)

What does it say about this government's environmental policy when we have foxes guarding the chicken coop in such manner?

June 10, 2005

Going Wide


A new toy to play with! This is the wide angle lens that arrived today, which will complete my set of lenses for the Canon 20D digital SLR I got earlier this spring. The longer lenses were great for action shots during the tennis season, but this one should serve me well for landscapes and city scenes while traveling in Europe the next couple of weeks. It set me back some, but the price on Amazon was too good to pass up.

June 11, 2005

When In Rome . . .


Whew! I just found my passport after a sudden realization that it wasn't where I usually keep it.

Tonight I fly out of JFK Airport for Rome (via London). From the Eternal City, I head to the west coast of Ireland (again, via London) and then finish with a few days in London.

I'll do my best to find an Internet cafe and update the blog when I can.

I ought to have plenty of pics, too, what with my spiffy camera and my new lenses, though they may not get posted before I return stateside.

June 12, 2005

Quick Hits

Some observations on the trip from New York to Rome:

American Airlines' Terminal 8 at J.F.K. Airport looks like a bus station circa 1962 rather than a modern terminal for a major carrier.

While waiting for my flight, I tried a Diet Coke made with Splenda (rather than NutraSweet). I guess it's a test-marketing thing. I like Splenda (a.k.a. sucralose) in the DietRite sodas, but it didn't do much for me in the Diet Coke.

While on the flight, I sat in front of a mother and son. The latter was probably about 11 years old and spoke with an English accent (his mother seemed to be American). About an hour into the flight he asked his mother if she thought it was a good idae that we were building all of these robots. She seemed non-committal in her reply. Then the boy said: "It's only a matter of time before the robots rise up and enslave mankind." Creepy.

Why are European airports much more civilized in providing luggage carts for free, as opposed to charging three bucks for them as they do in New York?

At Stansted Airport in London, I witnessed a trio of Italian men basically confirming all the worst stereotypes as they repeatedly cut the line while boarding a flight to Rome.

My RyanAir flight gave me a bird's eye view of the eternal city in the afternoon sun. I had clear views of recognizable landmarks such as St. Peter's Basilica and the Colosseum, as well as crumbling ancient aqueducts south of the city.

It sure is convenient to be able to use the Euro in many different countries while traveling in Europe, but it didn't do me much good when the only ATM in Rome's Ciampino airport wasn't working when I needed local currency.

There seem to be a LOT of Americans here in Rome. No doubt they are exploring the Angels and Demons tour of the city!

Conclusion of the day: if you know a reasonable amount of high school Spanish, you can get by in Italy.

June 13, 2005



After having brunch in an Italian cafe while being serenaded by Bob Dylan, I embarked on a three-hour walking tour of the city, focusing on the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona. A group of nearly thirty of us were led around by an English-speaking Roman archaeologist/tour guide named Valentina (I recommend Enjoy Rome for English-speaking visitors; the company runs a handful of such tours around the city). In the evening, I got thoroughly lost and ended up walking miles out of the way before finally getting back to my hotel at around 11 p.m. I am now BONE-TIRED and have blisters as a result of seeing most of Rome on foot!

June 14, 2005


My legs and feet are SO sore from yesterday's adventures that I am putting off my plans to see the Vatican until tomorrow. I can hardly put any weight on my left foot. Instead I'll spend more time recuperating in my hotel room today than I care to. Ugh! Well, I brought some books I've been waiting to dive into, so here goes.


Earlier in the day I was getting worried that I might have somewhow broken my foot. I mean it HURT and I could barely walk on it. I was contemplating the hassles that would entail: dealing with a doctor abroad and all the insurance nightmares that go with that. Not to mention the prospect of being a gimp in rural Ireland and in London over the next week plus! Well I was not content to lie about and convalesce in my hotel room while in one of the world's great capitals for just a few days. So around 5 p.m. I gingerly made my way across the street to the Metro to set out and explore the city some more. I was limping around one of Rome's neighborhoods and no sooner did I stop thinking about the soreness of my left foot than it stopped hurting altogether and I could walk normally. Go figure! Maybe this former altar boy benefitted from the proximity of so many churches? There must have been something misaligned in my foot, a kink which worked its way out with a bit of exercise. Whatever the reason, my mood has picked up considerably!

June 15, 2005

A Confession

I did something horribly touristy last night in Rome. I had a craving for a burger, so I went to the Hard Rock Cafe. Huge mistake: had to wait too long for a table, the food was mediocre at best, and it all was horribly overpriced.

Arrividerci Roma!

I spent the afternoon fighting the crowds in Vatican City. Wednesdays are tough in general, given that the papal audiences in the morning tend to attract pilgrims in the middle of the week. But beyond that, my tour guide said the crowds outside St. Peter's Basilica were the toughest she's seen in five years.

In a few minutes I am off to the airport for a flight back to London. Then first thing in the morning I fly to Shannon and then drive like mad in an attempt to make the 1 p.m. ferry to Inishmore.

June 17, 2005

The Emerald Isle

Back in Ireland. Actually I am posting this from an Internet cafe in Galway City. I spent most of yesterday on the Aran Islands (Inishmore, actually) with the Choate Irish Literature group and we will spend a night in Doolin before heading down to Kerry to the town of Dingle.

Galway is booming. Ireland arguably has been the greatest beneficary of the European Union. The cities here are more European than ever. Jobs are abundant. The Irish are richer than ever. Shops and industrial parks are being built all over. And the diversity of the population is more evident than before: not just Eastern Europeans anymore, but many more African and Asian faces as well.

June 18, 2005

In Search Of Fungi The Dolphin

After a lovely evening in Doolin, I have arrived in County Kerry for three days in the harbor village of Dingle, allegedly home to Fungi the dolphin. The Kerry peninsula is the westernmost extent of the European continent. What's terrific about this place in June--apart from the exquisite scenery in abundance--is the mild weather and the daylight that lingers well past 10 p.m. In part, it's because we are so far north and in part because this is the most westerly part of the time zone.

June 19, 2005

Recommended Reading


School vacations are a welcome opportunity for me to tackle a backlog of books I never seem to have time for in term. I am working my way through two enjoyable reads right now: the fiction book is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, sort of an adult Harry Potter set in England of the early 1800s, and, in the non-fiction category, Tom Friedman's The World Is Flat.

Free Burma


Today is the 60th birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratically elected leader of Myanmar (a.k.a. Burma) who has lived under house arrest for the last decade. (She was the inspiration for the terrific U2 song "Walk On.") To learn more, check out this site.

June 20, 2005

A Relaxing Day

After a visit to the Blasket Islands yesterday, my last day in Ireland will be one of leisure. I went to the 10 a.m. Mass in Irish at St. Mary's Church in Dingle this morning. This evening the entire Choate group--31 strong--will have dinner at our favorite Global Village restaurant (hosted by Nuala and Martin, whom we befriended last year) and we'll have the treat of a private concert by the noted whistle and uilleann pipe player Eoin Duignan, something of a local celebrity. The rest of the day I'll poke around the town, shop a bit, and relax with a book or two. I am off at daybreak tomorrow for the Kerry Airport to catch my morning flight to London.

June 21, 2005

Happy Solstice!

Today is the longest day of the year and the official beginning of summer. The only down side I see is that the days will start getting shorter.

I woke up early in Dingle, drove to the Kerry airport (which being so small, was a breeze to get through) and arrived in London Stansted Airport 20 minutes ahead of schedule--a fortuitous event that was more than canceled out by delays of over 90 minutes on the train to the city.

I took in as much of London as I could and also treated myself to two movies: a matinee of Batman Begins, which was pretty good, and a creepy indie flick called Mysterious Skin later at night.

June 22, 2005

London Town

Samuel Johnson wrote "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life."

I woke up and had breakfast over three newspapers: The Daily Telegraph, the slimmed-down foreign version of USA Today, and the indispensable International Herald Tribune.

I spent the late morning doing some shopping--mostly music I can't get back home--but I also got custom fitted for some tennis shoes at Harrod's.

After getting lucky picking up a primo theater ticket at the box office, I had lunch near Victoria Station at ASK--which I learned on the squash tour in March is pronunced "A-S-K" rather than "ask."

In the afternoon I made my way out to Wimbledon to take in some grass court tennis action.


The evening activity du jour was Billy Elliot: The Musical, a new offering on the West End. The show was spectacularly good--a very pleasant surprise, as it was my second choice (I got shut out of the Guys and Dolls revival starring Obi-Wan, er . . . Ewan McGregor). On my way home after the performance, I passed by the stage door and who whould walk right by me into a fancy black Rolls-Royce but ELTON FRIGGIN' JOHN! (He wrote the music for this show, as he did for The Lion King.) Sir Elton has had many incarnations over the years, but for someone like me who grew up in the 1970s, he was for a while quite simply the biggest rock star in the world, so it was a thrill to see him up close and personal. I am reminded of my last night in London two years ago, walking home from the theatre on a lovely June evening and meeting Patrick Stewart on the street.

Tomorrow afternoon I fly back to New York and Friday morning I will begin drifting through a series of meetings to mark the beginning of summer school.

June 23, 2005

Last Day In Europe


I am in the Apple Store on Regent Street in London right now, enjoying my last few hours before heading to Heathrow Airport. It's been HOT in London, so I'm well prepared for the likely muggy weather waiting for me back home.

June 24, 2005

Back To The Grind

I am writing this in the middle of the opening faculty meeting for summer school, so it's now quite clear that my vacation is over.

June 25, 2005

Giving In

For years, I've fought off the urge to buy an air conditioner for my place. I always thought it preferable to "tough it out" and besides, most of my apartment is at the basement level and therefore is much cooler than the rest of the building. I always regarded A/C as an unnecessary luxury. Looks like I am caving in this year, though. At the very least I need to have a bedroom comfortable enough for sleeping when the humidity kicks in. I may get a second unit to make my study upstairs useful in the summer months, too; otherwise I almost never use that room.

June 26, 2005

Cinema Paradiso

This morning I passed by the old K-Mart plaza on Route 5, just north of Route 68 in Wallingford and it looks like the movie theater they've been working on forever is finally taking shape. We may have our very own multiplex five minutes from the Choate campus within a matter of weeks!

June 29, 2005

Friedman On The Celtic Tiger

Tom Friedman's column in this morning's New York Times is an excellent overview on the effects of globalization on Ireland.

"The End of the Rainbow"

By Thomas L. Friedman

Here's something you probably didn't know: Ireland today is the richest country in the European Union after Luxembourg.

Yes, the country that for hundreds of years was best known for emigration, tragic poets, famines, civil wars and leprechauns today has a per capita G.D.P. higher than that of Germany, France and Britain. How Ireland went from the sick man of Europe to the rich man in less than a generation is an amazing story. It tells you a lot about Europe today: all the innovation is happening on the periphery by those countries embracing globalization in their own ways - Ireland, Britain, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe - while those following the French-German social model are suffering high unemployment and low growth.

Ireland's turnaround began in the late 1960's when the government made secondary education free, enabling a lot more working-class kids to get a high school or technical degree. As a result, when Ireland joined the E.U. in 1973, it was able to draw on a much more educated work force.

By the mid-1980's, though, Ireland had reaped the initial benefits of E.U. membership - subsidies to build better infrastructure and a big market to sell into. But it still did not have enough competitive products to sell, because of years of protectionism and fiscal mismanagement. The country was going broke, and most college grads were emigrating.

"We went on a borrowing, spending and taxing spree, and that nearly drove us under," said Deputy Prime Minister Mary Harney. "It was because we nearly went under that we got the courage to change."

And change Ireland did. In a quite unusual development, the government, the main trade unions, farmers and industrialists came together and agreed on a program of fiscal austerity, slashing corporate taxes to 12.5 percent, far below the rest of Europe, moderating wages and prices, and aggressively courting foreign investment. In 1996, Ireland made college education basically free, creating an even more educated work force.

The results have been phenomenal. Today, 9 out of 10 of the world's top pharmaceutical companies have operations here, as do 16 of the top 20 medical device companies and 7 out of the top 10 software designers. Last year, Ireland got more foreign direct investment from America than from China. And overall government tax receipts are way up.

"We set up in Ireland in 1990," Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computer, explained to me via e-mail. "What attracted us? [A] well-educated work force - and good universities close by. [Also,] Ireland has an industrial and tax policy which is consistently very supportive of businesses, independent of which political party is in power. I believe this is because there are enough people who remember the very bad times to de-politicize economic development. [Ireland also has] very good transportation and logistics and a good location - easy to move products to major markets in Europe quickly."

Finally, added Mr. Dell, "they're competitive, want to succeed, hungry and know how to win. ... Our factory is in Limerick, but we also have several thousand sales and technical people outside of Dublin. The talent in Ireland has proven to be a wonderful resource for us. ... Fun fact: We are Ireland's largest exporter."

Intel opened its first chip factory in Ireland in 1993. James Jarrett, an Intel vice president, said Intel was attracted by Ireland's large pool of young educated men and women, low corporate taxes and other incentives that saved Intel roughly a billion dollars over 10 years. National health care didn't hurt, either. "We have 4,700 employees there now in four factories, and we are even doing some high-end chip designing in Shannon with Irish engineers," he said.

In 1990, Ireland's total work force was 1.1 million. This year it will hit two million, with no unemployment and 200,000 foreign workers (including 50,000 Chinese). Others are taking notes. Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said: "I've met the premier of China five times in the last two years."

Ireland's advice is very simple: Make high school and college education free; make your corporate taxes low, simple and transparent; actively seek out global companies; open your economy to competition; speak English; keep your fiscal house in order; and build a consensus around the whole package with labor and management - then hang in there, because there will be bumps in the road - and you, too, can become one of the richest countries in Europe.

"It wasn't a miracle, we didn't find gold," said Mary Harney. "It was the right domestic policies and embracing globalization."

June 30, 2005

A Day At The Thee-A-Tuh

With classes ending early--around 10:30--on Wednesday, I bolted for the New Haven train station to spend the day in New York City, taking in two critically regarded Broadway plays. A week ago I deduced that I see more top-quality theater in London than I do in New York, despite living not much more than an hour away from the Big Apple. So I caught the matinee performance of Doubt, which won both Pulitzer and Tony awards as best play of the season and certainly lived up to expectations in my estimation. Then in the evening, I saw The Pillowman, the latest from Martin McDonagh. The latter play was a witty, provocative drama featuring excellent acting from Billy Crudup and Jeff Goldblum, among others.

A Super Cause


Just as Lance Armstrong's yellow "LiveStrong" bands were all the rage last summer, perhaps these dogtags will become a big deal in 2005. It's a cool idea for a worthy cause. Click here to get yours.

About June 2005

This page contains all entries posted to As Far As You Know in June 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2005 is the previous archive.

July 2005 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.