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Dublin 2003, Celtic history and the Rock of Cashel

In February we visited Ireland so Niamh could meet the European side of the family. I dubbed the trip Niamh's Euro tour 2003. Although it was a long journey to and from, Niamh travelled very well for a lass of less than three months old, passport in tiny hand. We arrived at Betty and Michael's home in Donaghmede, a suburb on the North side of the city, in the area known as Dublin 13 (based on the city postal code numbering system). Our first visit was to Lily Dunne, Niamh's great grandmother (Betty's mom) who lives in a flat in the city center. I got a wonderful photo of the four generations while we were there.

Dublin in February is typically cold and rainy as one would expect, but all things considered, the weather was quite mild. We took a rainy day trip into Dublin and had a late lunch at Oliver St. John Gogarty's in Temple Bar, which was a return to the location of our rehearsal dinner, and featured about the biggest smoked salmon appetizer I've ever consumed. I hardly had room for the main course. I advised against it, but Niamh insisted on ordering her first pint of Guinness. After downing the pint, she ordered a second, but settled in for a nap after only one sip (how wasteful). Well I had no choice but to finish it off for her.

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Double crossed

In the early 18th century the city of London with a circumference of roughly 36 miles, was home to some 600,000 people despite the lack of modern plumbing, crime enforcement or medicine.

The extent to which corruption, vice and crime were institutionalized inspired the works of contemporary authors like Charles Dickens, Jonathon Swift, Daniel Defoe and Henry Fielding. All these famous English literary figures were profoundly influenced by the exploits of English criminal Jonathon Wild. Wild's life and escapades served as the source material upon which the character of Peachum was based in the play The Beggar's Opera by John Gay later transformed by Bertoldt Brecht and Kurt Weil into the equally well known The 3 Penny Opera.Fielding wrote a semi fictional novel about Wild, and Dickens modeled aspects of the character Fagen after him.

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I've been reading The Burning of Bridget Cleary which contains a brief allusion to the origin of the word Boycott, which originated in Ireland. This abstract from does a great job of summarizing the story:

"Charles C. Boycott seems to have become a household word because of his strong sense of duty to his employer. An Englishman and former British soldier, Boycott was the estate agent of the Earl of Erne in County Mayo, Ireland. The earl was one of the absentee landowners who as a group held most of the land in Ireland. Boycott was chosen in the fall of 1880 to be the test case for a new policy advocated by Charles Parnell, an Irish politician who wanted land reform. Any landlord who would not charge lower rents or any tenant who took over the farm of an evicted tenant would be given the complete cold shoulder by Parnell's supporters. Boycott refused to charge lower rents and ejected his tenants. At this point members of Parnell's Irish Land League stepped in, and Boycott and his family found themselves isolated—without servants, farmhands, service in stores, or mail delivery. Boycott's name was quickly adopted as the term for this treatment, not just in English but in other languages such as French, Dutch, German, and Russian."
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Fort Sumter

I recently visited Charleston, South Carolina where Tracy is busy learning about her new employer. Charleston is a beautiful scenic town, with a lot of great seafood restaurants featuring the local shrimp and she-crab.

Our one site-seeing activity was a visit to Fort Sumter. Fort Sumter is known as the location of the "Battle of Fort Sumter" of April 12 and 13, 1861, or more specifically, the first battle of The Civil War.

I found the story of this little island fascinating, and believe it to be thematically relevant to our present crisis. Fort Sumter is a man made island commissioned by the Army core of engineers directly in response to the war of 1812. It was in 1812, that the British had marched into Washington and burned the most symbolic structure of our government, The Whitehouse. Were it not for rain, the entire city of Washington might have burned. Subsequently, the US military began to examine it's vulnerabilities, and in particular begun to look for ways to address their lack of naval capacity, and the direct threat this presented to the internal safety of the nation.

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Paoli to Savannah

We recently took a small vacation while back east for a friend's wedding in Pennsylvania. Gizmo put in a tour of duty as postal delivery monitor. You can click on the photo to see it fullsize.

Our trip took us to Hilton Head, SC and a day trip to Savannah, Georgia. If you've read the book or seen the film "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", you may recognize the Italianate mansion behind Tracy as the Mercer House on 429 Bull Street. This was the home of the central figure of the book, Jim Williams, the now famous location of his huge Christmas Parties, and where he was alleged to have shot and killed his assistant Danny Hansford. "Historic" Savannah has a number of these courtyards, surrounded by residences.

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Muckraking online

The Internet is rampant with conspiracy theorists and websites devoted to revealing "the truth" about all sorts of topics from "Extraterrestrials" to the coverup of "Bill Clinton's out of control cocaine addiction." Part of the fun can be attempting to seperate the truth from the fiction. And so we come to the strange and possibly true story of one Bob Kolody and his 4 billion dollar lawsuit against the Coca Cola company:

"But if some of those shareholders knew the story that you are about to read, they would have good reason to question Coca-Cola Chairman Doug Daft about Bob Kolody. They would be fascinated to know that for the past four years Coke has employed one of the country’s top intellectual property lawyers to defend a case that it has never identified in its annual SEC filings. What’s more, the $4 billion lawsuit has gone totally unreported by a national media that has, of late, reveled in the prospect of major U.S. corporations involved in trials that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars in damages."

Read the fascinating story of Bob Kolody at the online mudracking site and decide for yourself.
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