Monday, May 30, 2005

Song of the Week- " Do You Trust Me "?

" Do You Trust Me "? a spooky and great song by Detroit area alt-country band, Blanche from their album " If We Can't Trust the Doctors ". Like a reviewer said on amazon, maybe you can't trust the doctors, but you can trust Blanche.

Weekend Update

Good weather this weekend for a change. But had to devote it to work in the house. Had put off painting the trim in the front and the deck/extension in the back for a couple of years, so I was on a mission. And this weekend, I got most of it done.

Observed a family of ( large ) bees observing me in wood trim of the extension. They flew close to me when I painted near their home, but they did not touch me. So I will leave their hive be.

Verizon DSL, How I Dislike Thee

Verizon DSL was down in Brooklyn on Saturday and on Sunday morning. Back later on Sunday, at full speed, but you might want to expect some sort of consistent service.

Checked out Direcway tonight. This is a satellite Internet service allied with Directv, and presumably it is a service that works dependably ( unlike Verizon DSL ). Only problem is the pay $600 up fron, then pay $60 a month. I don't f****** think so. Guess this is just for people in remote areas with no other option.

Maybe will check out the cable guys later. Anything is better than this Verizon. They have the best cell phone service, and are known to be a seriously well-run company. Except for DSL in this part of the country.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

David Wells, Swine

David Wells is a contemptible human being, who wimped out of a World Series game after bragging how he does not need to work out. This is the same guy who broke verbal contracts with both the Diamondbacks and the Yankees.

When he broke his word to Jerry Colangelo ( Diamondbacks' owner ) Steinbrenner had no have a problem with that, but I did. Your word is your bond. Period.

Then Wells broke a verbal deal with Cashman and the Yankees, which at least makes him consistent. Then Cashman and Steinbenner, having been burned, realized that Wells might not be an upright guy. Right.

But give him credit for one thing. For the most part, he has risen to the occasion, pitching well in high pressure games, pitching very well in Yankee Stadium. Tonight was one such occasion, when as a Red Sox, he shut down the Yankees over 8 1/3 innings. Sometimes, the bad guys win.

If this swine had the work ethic of Roger Clemens or Nolan Ryan, or heaven help us, Jerry Rice, he would be a Hall of Fame pitcher.

Friday, May 27, 2005

2005 -- Vietnam Vacation

It's almost mid-year, so it's time for this procrastinator to start thinking vacation thoughts. Am thinking far afield this time. The thought is of late October -early November trip to -- Vietnam.

For some reason, this place has always intrigued me. Very different from US / Europe, very different from richer parts of Asia, beautiful in spots, lots of history.

Surprisingly, since the Vietnam war is really not that long ago, they are very welcoming to Americans. Unlike the Chinese, who ask for apologies from Japan every every five minutes, the Vietnamese seemingly forgot about the war the minute it ended.

It would still be hot, but thats cool. Thinking about this tour, organized by an Australia-based company. It is not a done deal, but it's a real possibility.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Rain, rain, rain

Its been a wet, cold spring. Do not mind the coolness, but could do with a lot less rain. Not only does it prevent me from doing some painting chores ( which I have procrastinated about for years, and now really want to get done ) but it is depressing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Bill Clinton in Ireland, Doing Well

Mr. Clinton is in Ireland, and will give a speech to a suicide prevention group. Sounds good, but he is being handsomely paid for his 40 minutes. And some people over there think that's very wrong.

I've heard of other former presidents ( Ford and Reagan among them ) raking in big fees from business groups. But never have I heard of a president taking such a sum of money from such a good cause. Jimmy Carter simply would never do this.

The speech will dissapear from memory quickly, but the Irish will remember this payment for a long time. Unless Clinton has the decency to return the 125,000 pieces of silver

Monday, May 23, 2005

Mystic River

Don't know how I missed this when it first came out, but I finally saw " Mystic River " today on DVD. What a
great, sad, movie
. I will see it again.

Now, two of the best movies I've ever seen ( " Million Dollar Baby " being the other ) have been directed by Clint Eastwood.

Sean Penn, who I've never taken too seriously because of some of the things he's said, is wonderful in this movie. I believe his character completely. A perfect performance in a nearly perfect movie.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Subway Series, Trump

This Subway Series thing ain't as big a thing as when interleague play first started, but it still gets a lot of attention. This weekend, the Yankees took two out of three from the Mets. There were a lot of errors in the first and third games, won by the Yankees. Each could have gone either way.

The best moment by far was in Saturday's game, when Met reliever Dae-Sung Koo came up to bat. He had never swung a bat in the major leagues, looked like he had no idea what it was for, and he was up against Randy Johnson in the seventh inning. Then he positively crushes Randy Johnson's third pitch for a double. This is like Pat Paulsen decking Muhammad Ali.

But Koo was not finished yet. Willie Randolph, a true disciple from the Billy Martin school of little-ball, had Jose Reyes bunt Koo ( flawlessly ) to third. But then Koo noticed that noone was covering the plate, so Koo took off like a maniac for home. He slid in to be called safe ( he should have been called out, but what the hey ).

This was an astonishing, truly funny sequence of events. Unfortunately, the DH has squeezed moments like this( and much more importantly a great deal of every game strategy ) out of the American League. Word has it that the AL owners wanted to get rid of the DH a few years back, but the union opposed it. The union likes the fact that it gives well paid jobs to immoobile, waddling stiffs like Giambi.

Oh, and saw an article on Trump, from Newsday. They got this boy dead to to rights. Good night.

Cowboy Troy

Saw references to Cowboy Troy so checked out his album on Yahoo. A black rapper who loves country and sings with country themes.

Not sure that I'd listen to most of this again, though " If You Don't Want to Love Me " has its moments.

Rap is lame, so you can only dress that pig up so much. But the concept of " hick-hop " is moderately interesting.

Howard Dean on Russert

Saw Howard Dean on Meet the Press this morning. This is one nasty guy.

Howard, a Medical Doctor, recently mocked Rush Limbaugh's drug addiction before a political meeting of Democrat activists, and did not retract any of it today.

Today he restated that Tom DeLay will probably wind up serving prison time--never mind that DeLay has not even been charged with anything. This from the same Howard Dean who as a Presidential candidate said that he would not want to prejudge the guilt of Osama Bin Laden! So he won't prejudge Osama, but he does prejudge a Republican who he does not like.

I remain astonished that the Democrats saw fit to name him as the DNC chair. It's been noted that Dean has visited seven " red states " with Democratic governors, and that all seven made sure that they were not around when Dean came to town.

This guy is poison. For the Democrats, for the country.

Pollard Groupies Picket Laura

Sorry Pollard groupies Every time you protest, you add a decade to this guy's sentance.

He's an American who betrayed his country. So why should Bush listen to protesters from another country on this matter?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Too-Late Trump

The Trump press conference led to a bunch of media articles yesterday, but it has completely died down today. Trump said the right things, but he said them at least two years too late. The fact that the press conference was held the day before the final episode of " The Apprentice " was a coincidence, I am sure.

The " Rebuild the Twin Towers " movement has great popular support, but the only powerful figure I am aware of who supports it is Trump himself, two years late. And he's not in the game, politically or economically.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

World Trade Center: NYC's Stare Miasto

Two years ago, I was in Warsaw. The old center of the town was completely destroyed in WWII. But highly detailed plans had been hidden away, and over the years, the Poles rebuilt this beautiful section of the city as it was. This looks hundreds of years old, but some of those buildings were only completed in the 1970s.

Construction workers from the country took the train into Warsaw on their free time to volunteer their labor on this project. It was something from the heart, something that they needed to do. It was right that Warsaw rebuilt Old Town, and it is right for New York to rebuild the World Trade Center. The real World Trade Center

WTC: Trump Says what needed to be said

10pm ish
Visited Trump Tower this evening. The model of the Twin Towers was on display, and of course was the center of attention. Its impressive. It will only be on display there until Thursday afternoon.

I support the plan to rebuild the Twin Towers. I'd work there, I'd live there, and, if the money was not there to do it, I'd dig deep and contribute money to the project. That's how many New Yorkers, and many Americans, feel about this.

Trump is about two years late on this. Where the hell was he when this kooky Libeskind plan was approved by a process that never presented the rebuild option?

from earlier today
Donald Trump to have a press conference today at which he will propose getting rid of the " Freedom Tower " design, but rebuilding the Twin Towers instead. Do not know if his plan has any shot, but this is the once concept that was never proposed by the politicians, but which nonetheless is the once concept that people I speak to support with any passion. Could be an interesting couple of days.

What will be proposed should look a lot like this design.

Article here

And now a story in the NY Times

Have to agree with the Donald on this one. This type of option should always have been on the table, should have at least been discussed.

Hardball weighs in on this.

From National Review

Monday, May 16, 2005

Long Black Train, Josh Turner

This isn't the song of the week, it could be the song of the year, any year. It came out in late 2003, but since NYC is a restrictive corporate Chernobyl for music radio, most especially country radio, I only heard it via a ( pretty good ) video on CMT a while back, and gave it a proper listen when I got Yahoo radio.

The story is that Josh Turner wrote this song after listening to a Hank Williams anthology. I believe that.

Its simple on one level, like most great songs are, but there are different levels of meaning . It's a deeply religious song, but not a hymn, not so preachy, worthy of a deep listen. Highest possible recommendation.

Vanilla Sky , Rhapsody , and my little Ipod killer

Just saw " Vanilla Sky ". Wheesh, for a second I thought it was me but a lot of other people did not get this movie either. Like I Heart Huckabees, this was a mess. Pseudo-psychological mess mess mess. But I have to give Cameron Crowe some props...he was asked to remove the World Trade Center from the background of a scene, and he refused as I learned in WTC In Movies.

Formally cancelled Rhapsody ( as a paid service ) today, at the end of the trial period. They still keep my account active for some free internet radio stations and 25 free songs to listen to on the computer each month. Have learned a few more things about the IRiver player--the commands are not intuitive at all, and the manual is the pits, but it --is-- a great piece of gear once you have it figured out. Sound quality is great. If this thing was a little easier to use and had a manual that made sense, it could really damage the Ipod. For me, it is better than Ipod now, as it allows me subscription music, a concept I really like.

Catch a Thief With your Computer

This article stolen from the BBC. Duncan Grisby, the guy who set this upthis is my new hero.

This burglar clearly went to the the wrong house. Well, he's famous now.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

John Rocker pitched one very good inning in Newark against the Bears Saturday night. He probably did not hear the boos directed against him, as he now wears earplugs when he takes the field.

Howard Dean's Speech

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, in a speech to Massachusetts Democrats, says " Delay ought to go back to Houston where he can serve his jail sentance". I have little time for Tom Delay, the retired exterminator who is no friend of NYC.

But Dean's statement is foolish, intemperate and unfair. Barney Frank criticized Dean on the spot, and good for him.

The Democratic Party committed an act of self-destruction when they voted this unstable physician as their chairman. He gets the yahoos all riled up in New York and San Fran, but does untold damage to the party anywhere else whenever he opens his mouth. Remember the Iowa speech when he called the Republicans " evil, corrupt and brain dead " ?

Howard Dean helps Republicans, hurts Democrats, is just awful for American politics in general.

United Nations May Move to Brooklyn

Reported in many sources, including this weeks Brooklyn Papers. This could be what is known as a mixed blessing. Could lead to more positive development in downtown Brooklyn. But many UN Diplomats are bad neighbors, with a sense of entitlement that won't quit, and diplomatic immunity to back it up. And they'd really have fun finding parking spaces in downtown Brooklyn.

We see these guys throwing their money around at Keats, our little diplomat friends.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Verdict is In: Yahoo Unlimited Music Service It is

I've spent about three hours today, learning it, tweaking it, adding my preferences. Can now easily create playlists, and, because I have put " rated " 65 artists, have a personal radio station based on my preferences that is really wonderful.

Nothing wrong with Rhapsody, and would have signed on with them if Yahoo's service had not come along. But it did, and its great, and this is going to be fun.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Yahoo Music Engine / Bush's IPod

Commentary on it, and feedback to the posts,from one of the guys who designed the thing I don't have my mind made up yet as to Yahoo or Rhapsody.

And The Nation's suggestions on songs George W Bush should download to his IPod. Not too funny, but its an attempt at humor, so give 'em credit for that.

Well, now I know how to make a " playlist " and how to connect the IRiver thing to speakers, etc. And one of those playlists is Merle Haggard's 20 greatest hits, and I do guarantee you that I will be the only one on the R train listening to those songs on the way into Manhattan Friday morning.

Galloway continued

Friend of Saddam George Galloway will appear at a Senate hearing on oil for food scandal . This promises to be highly entertaining, as this scoundrel does speak well, and will be very confrontational.

More on this story fromLittle Green Footballs

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Latest News from Spain

From No Pasaran, an insight some of those sophisticated Europeanswho we're all supposed to look up to. Funny, have attended hundreds of sporting events in America, and never once heard anything racial like this. In America, anything resembling this waned in the 1950s and pretty much died out in the 1960s when Hank Aaron took some abuse when the Braves first moved to Atlanta. In Europe, it happens every day. C'est la vie, baby.

Rhapsody vs Napster vs....Yahoo?

Was all set to sign up for Rhapsody to go. But, now comes another option which is very, very interesting. And I've always been a Yahoo fan.

1117 pm. Downloaded Yahoo's Music Player and joined their Y unlimited music service. Created the first " playlist" and downloaded first songs to the media player. Much harder than it should be because again the instructions are atrocious. The first songs are all country: Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Lucinda Williams, Johnny Horton. Download to the player was pretty fast.

Playing them using the Yahoo player, it fades from one song to another. Listening to " Sweet Old World " by Lucinda Williams now. Have not heard it in a couple of years, what a great, great artist she is.

A link to another early user of Yahoo Unlimited.

Sarajevo / If you read Little Green Footballs

You'd know this.The Serbs said that this type of thing was happening in Kosovo. Sarajevo, yet.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

IRiver H320, Chien-Ming Wang and Tino Martinez

Received the IRiver H320 today. Its a good piece of gear, but the documentation is brutal.

Was able to transfer a few CD files to it, as well as a couple of jpg photo files. There is an FM radio also.

Good little machine, will have it figured out soon.


Yankees win their fourth straight tonight, which is great. My buddy Chien-Ming Wang from Taiwan pitched very well, gets his first win in the Bronx and how great is that? You think that won't get a little play in Asia?

His family traveled from Taiwan to see his first game recently, and Joe Torre met them, gave them the signed lineup card.

Tino Martinez has now homered in four consective games. The fans love this guy and really wanted him back. I questioned the move, because the guy has not hit at all in the past few years. But just as some guys ( hey Giambi we're talkin' about you, Balco boy ) shrink when they come to NY, others such as Tino step up.

Noone remembers now, but a lot of Yankee fans were hostile to Tino when he first came to the Bronx in 1996, because he was taking the place of the great Don Mattingly. But they soon came to love the guy, and it is well noted that his arrival began the run of Yankee championships.

Welcome back, Tino. Now I will be there tomorrow and another home run would be really good.

This Weeks Picks

Song of the Week
" Spancil Hill " ,The Prodigals. It ain't "Spancil Hill" really but this is a great band really.

Brew of the Week
" Pumpkin Ale " from Buffalo Bills Brewery, Hayward CA. Not normally a fan of flavored beers, but this is an interesting exception

Monday, May 09, 2005

Party time in Moscow Posted by Hello

Rickey Henderson , Dog's Dog, Re-emerges

Rickey Henderson attempts yet another comeback. Could root a whole lot harder for this guy if I didn't remember how he acted like such a complete dog on the field when he tried to get the Mets to extend his contract back in 2000. Game after game, he did not hustle in any way. I saw it, and it wasn't the first time he did it either. One thing I used to like about him ( at Yankee Stadium ) he would actually yell back at any fans that hecked him, all game long. But a dog is a dog is a dog, and this guy needs to bat cleanup for these guys

Baseball Roundup

This is not a true roundup, just the baseball stuff that interests me. And thats : John Rocker, the Yankees and the Mets.

Major story about my boy Rocker in ESPN. You'd be surprised at how many New Yorkers want this guy to succeed. Not because we agree with the things he said years ago, but because we can relate to someone screwing up and wanting a chance to redeem himself.

The Yankees did not get the rain I thought they needed on Saturday, but they got something better--a complete game shutout from Mike Mussina. I think this guy is more of a mouse than a moose, but he certainly delivered the goods on Saturday.

On Sunday, deadbeat wall-puncher Kevin Brown pitched most of a second consecutive shutout, which is also good. This team still has major problems, but it was a good weekend after all.

I will be up at Yankee Stadium for Wednesday's day game vs Ichiro and the Mariners.

Yet another bad start for Tom Glavine, a lost soul on the mound. Sunday's loss leaves them at 17-15; not bad.

IRA Trained Columbia's FARC Guerillas?

The people of Columbia has been tortured by a nasty guerilla war. The FARC narcoterrorists ( terrorists and drug dealers both ) have recently been attacking nonviolent self-governing Indian communities there. Now we see who some of their friends are. Anyone helping this FARC mob are not republicans --they're mercenaries, servants of cocaine traders.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Bush in Latvia

Delivering an address during the 60th anniversary week of WWII, President George W. Bush tells the story of Latvian sailors on eight freighters who disobeyed orders from a puppet government and remained at sea to help the U.S. Merchant Marines during the war at The Small Guild Hall in Riga, Latvia, Saturday, May 7, 2005.
Posted by Hello

President Bush's Speech in Latvia

On Saturday, President Bush visited Latvia, his second visit to the Baltic countries. The leaders of the other Baltic nations, Lithuania and Estonia, were in attendance when he gave a speech that will prove to be important.

It deals at some length with uncomfortable parts of history that most Europeans and Americans are entirely ignorant of, and it is not uncritical of the US itself. It is recommended reading. Text follows. ( We won't be printing many speeches, I assure you, but this one is worth looking at )

Sveiki Draugi. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the warm welcome. Madam President, Laura and I thank you for your kind words of introduction, we thank you for your principled leadership, and I thank you for your friendship, and we thank you for the hospitality that you and Dr. Freibergs have shown us.

I want to thank the people of the Republic of Latvia for being such gracious hosts for my visit here. And I want to also thank the prime minister for joining us, and members of the government. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.

Laura and I are so pleased to make this second journey to the Baltic states, and our first visit to the great land of Latvia. We're honored, as well, to be in the company of President Ruutel of Estonia, and President Adamkus of Lithuania — thank you both for coming. These are good friends to Latvia, and good friends to America.

The Baltic countries have seen one of the most dramatic transformations in modern history, from captive nations to NATO allies and EU members in little more than a decade. The Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian people showed that the love of liberty is stronger than the will of an empire. And today you're standing for liberty beyond your borders, so that others do not suffer the injustices you have known. The American people admire your moral courage in the cause of freedom.

This week, nations on both sides of the Atlantic observe the 60th anniversary of Hitler's defeat. The evil that seized power in Germany brought war to all of Europe, and waged war against morality itself. What began as a movement of thugs became a government without conscience, and then an empire of bottomless cruelty. The Third Reich exalted the strong over the weak, overran and humiliated peaceful countries, undertook a mad quest for racial purity, coldly planned and carried out the murder of millions, and defined evil for the ages. Brave men and women of many countries faced that evil, and fought through dark and desperate years for their families and their homelands. In the end, a dictator who worshipped power was confined to four walls of a bunker, and the fall of his squalid tyranny is a day to remember and to celebrate.

Causes can be judged by the monuments they leave behind. The Nazi terror is remembered today in places like Auschwitz, Dachau, Rumbula Forest, where we still hear the cries of the innocent, and pledge to God and history: Never again. The alliance that won the war is remembered today in carefully tended cemeteries in Normandy, Margraten, St. Petersburg, and other places across Europe, where we recall brief lives of great honor, and we offer this pledge: We will always be grateful.

The Baltic states had no role in starting World War II. The battle came here because of a secret pact between dictators. And when the war came, many in this region showed their courage. After a puppet government ordered the Latvian fleet to return to port, sailors on eight freighters chose to remain at sea under the flag of free Latvia, assisting the United States Merchant Marine in carrying supplies across the Atlantic. A newspaper in the state of South Carolina described the Latvian crew this way: "They all have beards and dressed so differently... They are ... exhausted, but full of fighting spirit."

By the end of the war, six of the Latvian ships had been sunk, and more than half the sailors had been lost. Nearly all of the survivors settled in America, and became citizens we were proud to call our own. One American town renamed a street Ciltvaira — to honor a sunken ship that sailed under a free Latvian flag. My country has always been thankful for Latvia's friendship, and Latvia will always have the friendship of America.

As we mark a victory of six days ago — six decades ago, we are mindful of a paradox. For much of Germany, defeat led to freedom. For much of Eastern and Central Europe, victory brought the iron rule of another empire. VE Day marked the end of fascism, but it did not end oppression. The agreement at Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable. Yet this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable. The captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history.

The end of World War II raised unavoidable questions for my country: Had we fought and sacrificed only to achieve the permanent division of Europe into armed camps? Or did the cause of freedom and the rights of nations require more of us? Eventually, America and our strong allies made a decision: We would not be content with the liberation of half of Europe — and we would not forget our friends behind an Iron Curtain. We defended the freedom of Greece and Turkey, and airlifted supplies to Berlin, and broadcast the message of liberty by radio. We spoke up for dissenters, and challenged an empire to tear down a hated wall. Eventually, communism began to collapse under external pressure, and under the weight of its own contradictions. And we set the vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace — so dictators could no longer rise up and feed ancient grievances, and conflict would not be repeated again and again.

In these decades of struggle and purpose, the Baltic peoples kept a long vigil of suffering and hope. Though you lived in isolation, you were not alone. The United States refused to recognize your occupation by an empire. The flags of free Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania — illegal at home — flew proudly over diplomatic missions in the United States. And when you joined hands in protest and the empire fell away, the legacy of Yalta was finally buried, once and for all. The security and freedom of the Baltic nations is now more than a noble aspiration; it is the binding pledge of the alliance we share. The defense of your freedom — in defense of your freedom you will never stand alone.

From the vantage point of this new century, we recognize the end of the Cold War as part of an even broader movement in our world. From Germany and Japan after World War II, to Latin America, to Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe, and now to the broader Middle East, the advance of freedom is the great story of our age. And in this history, there are important lessons. We have learned that free nations grow stronger with time, because they rise on the creativity and enterprise of their people. We have learned that governments accountable to citizens are peaceful, while dictatorships stir resentments and hatred to cover their own failings. We have learned that the skeptics and pessimists are often wrong, because men and women in every culture, when given the chance, will choose liberty. We have learned that even after a long wait in the darkness of tyranny, freedom can arrive suddenly, like the break of day. And we have learned that the demand for self-government is often driven and sustained by patriotism, by the traditions and heroes and language of a native land.

Yet we've also learned that sovereignty and majority rule are only the beginnings of freedom. The promise of democracy starts with national pride, and independence, and elections. But it does not end there. The promise of democracy is fulfilled by minority rights, and equal justice under the rule of law, and an inclusive society in which every person belongs. A country that divides into factions and dwells on old grievances cannot move forward, and risks sliding back into tyranny. A country that unites all its people behind common ideals will multiply in strength and confidence. The successful democracies of the 21st century will not be defined by blood and soil. Successful democracies will be defined by a broader ideal of citizenship — based on shared principles, shared responsibilities and respect for all.

For my own country, the process of becoming a mature, multiethnic democracy was lengthy and violent. Our journey from national independence to equal injustice (sic) included the enslavement of millions, and a four-year civil war. Even after slavery ended, a century passed before an oppressed minority was guaranteed equal rights. Americans found that racial division almost destroyed us, and the false doctrine of "separate but equal" was no basis for a strong and unified country. The only way we found to rise above the injustices of our history was to reject segregation, to move beyond mere tolerance, and to affirm the brotherhood of everyone in our land.

Latvia is facing the challenges that come with ethnic diversity, and it's addressing these challenges in a uniformly peaceful way. Whatever the historical causes, yours is now a multiethnic society — as I have seen on my visit. No wrongs of the past should ever be allowed to divide you, or to slow your remarkable progress. While keeping your Latvian identity and language, you have a responsibility to reach out to all who share the future of Latvia. A welcoming and tolerant spirit will assure the unity and strength of your country. Minorities here have a responsibility as well — to be citizens who seek the good of the country in which they live. As inclusive, peaceful societies, all of the Baltic nations can be models to every nation that follows the path of freedom and democracy.

In recent months, the Baltic governments gave assistance during the election in Ukraine, and the people of that country chose a wise and visionary leader. As President Yushchenko works to strengthen the rule of law and open Ukraine's economy, the United States will help that nation join the institutions that bind our democracies. Later on this trip I'll travel to Georgia, another country that is taking a democratic path and deserves support on its journey. My country will stand by Georgian leaders who respect minority rights and work to peacefully unify their country, and grow closer to the free nations in Europe. We're also committed to democratic progress in Moldova, where leaders have pledged to expand freedom of the press, to protect minority rights and to make government institutions more accountable.

All of us are committed to the advance of freedom in Belarus. The people of that country live under Europe's last dictatorship, and they deserve better. The governments of Latvia and Lithuania have worked to build support for democracy in Belarus, and to deliver truthful information by radio and newspapers. Together we have set a firm and confident standard: Repression has no place on this continent. The people of Minsk deserve the same freedom you have in Tallinn, and Vilnius, and Riga.

All the nations that border Russia will benefit from the spread of democratic values — and so will Russia itself. Stable, prosperous democracies are good neighbors, trading in freedom, and posing no threat to anyone. The United States has free and peaceful nations to the north and south of us. We do not consider ourselves to be encircled; we consider ourselves to be blessed. No good purpose is served by stirring up fears and exploiting old rivalries in this region. The interests of Russia and all nations are served by the growth of freedom that leads to prosperity and peace.

Inside Russia, leaders have made great progress over the last 15 years. President Putin recently stated that Russia's future lies within Europe — and America agrees. He also stated that Russia's democratic future will not be determined by outsiders — and America agrees, as well. That nation will follow its own course, according to its own history. Yet all free and successful countries have some common characteristics: freedom of worship, freedom of the press, economic liberty, the rule of law and the limitation of power through checks and balances. In the long run, it is the strength of Russian democracy that will determine the greatness of Russia. And I believe the Russian people value their freedom, and will settle for nothing less.

For all the problems that remain, it is a miracle of history that this young century finds us speaking about the consolidation of freedom throughout Europe. And the stunning democratic gains of the last several decades are only the beginning. Freedom is not tired. The ideal of human dignity is not weary. And the next stage of the world democratic movement is already unfolding in the broader Middle East.
We seek democracy in that region for the same reasons we spent decades working for democracy in Europe — because freedom is the only reliable path to peace. If the Middle East continues to simmer in anger and resentment and hopelessness, caught in a cycle of repression and radicalism, it will produce terrorism of even greater audacity and destructive power. But if the peoples of that region gain the right of self-government, and find hopes to replace their hatreds, then the security of all free nations will be strengthened. We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations, appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability. We have learned our lesson; no one's liberty is expendable. In the long run, our security and true stability depend on the freedom of others. And so, with confidence and resolve, we will stand for freedom across the broader Middle East.

In this great objective, we need a realism that understands the difficulties. But we must turn away from a pessimism that abandons the goal and consigns millions to endless tyranny. And we have reason for optimism. When the people of Afghanistan were finally given the vote, they chose humane rulers and a future of freedom. When the people of the Palestinian territories went to the polls, they chose a leader committed to negotiation instead of violence. When Iraqi voters turned out by the millions, they repudiated the killers who hate and attack their liberty. There's much work ahead, but the direction of events is clear in the broader Middle East: Freedom is on the march.

Recent elections have brought a tremendous catalyst for change, and more are on the way. Elections are set to start at the end of this month in Lebanon, and those elections must go forward with no outside interference. The people of Lebanon now have the opportunity to bridge old divides and build an independent government. Egypt will hold a presidential election this fall. That election should proceed with international monitors, and with rules that allow for a real campaign.

As in other parts of the world, the work of democracy is larger than holding a fair election; it requires building the structures that sustain freedom. Selective liberalization — the easing of oppressive laws — is progress, but it is not enough. Successful democracies that effectively protect individual rights require viable political parties, an independent judiciary, a diverse media and limits on executive power. There is no modernization without democracy. Ultimately, human rights and human development depend on human liberty.

As in other parts of the world, successful democracies in the broader Middle East must also bridge old racial and religious divides — and democracy is the only force capable of doing so. In Iraq, the new Cabinet includes members of all of Iraq's leading ethnic and religious groups, who, despite their differences, share a commitment to democracy, freedom and the rule of law. The new president of Iraq is a member of a minority group that was attacked with poison gas by the former regime. Democracy is fostering internal peace by protecting individual rights, while giving every minority a role in the nations future. Iraq's free government is showing the way for others, and is winning the respect of a watching world.

In the Middle East, we are seeing the rule of law — the rule of fear give way to the hope of change. And brave reformers in that region deserve more than our praise. The established democracies have a duty to help emerging democracies of the broader Middle East. They need our help, because freedom has deadly enemies in that region — men who celebrate murder, incite suicide and thirst for absolute power. By aiding democratic transitions, we will isolate the forces of hatred and terror and defeat them before violence spreads.

The Baltic states are members of a global coalition, and each is making essential contributions every day. Lithuania is preparing to deploy a reconstruction team to western Afghanistan, and has troops in Iraq conducting patrols and aiding in reconstruction. Estonians are serving in Afghanistan, they're detecting and removing explosives, and Estonian troops serve side-by-side with Americans in Baghdad. Latvia has a team in Kabul, Afghanistan, clearing mines, and soldiers in Iraq providing convoy security and patrols. Your commitment to freedom has brought sacrifice. We remember Lieutenant Olafs Baumanis, who was killed in Iraq. We ask for God's blessings for his family, and we're honored that his wife, Vita, is here with us today.

It's no surprise that Afghanistan and Iraq find strong allies in the Baltic nations. Because you've recently known tyranny, you are offended by the oppression of others. The men and women under my command are proud to serve with you. Today I'm honored to deliver the thanks of the American people.

Sixty years ago, on the 7th of May, the world reacted with joy and relief at the defeat of fascism in Europe. The next day, General Dwight D. Eisenhower announced that "history's mightiest machine of conquest has been utterly destroyed." Yet the great democracies soon found that a new mission had come to us — not merely to defeat a single dictator, but to defeat the idea of dictatorship on this continent. Through the decades of that struggle, some endured the rule of tyrants; all lived in the frightening shadow of war. Yet because we lifted our sights and held firm to our principles, freedom prevailed.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, the freedom of Europe, won by courage, must be secured by effort and goodwill. In our time, as well, we must raise our sights. In the distance we can see another great goal — not merely the absence of tyranny on this continent, but the end of tyranny in our world. Once again, we're asked to hold firm to our principles, and to value the liberty of others. And once again, if we do our part, freedom will prevail.

Thank you, and God bless.

Latest News from Israel

Hey, maybe things are " normal " enough over there

Saturday, May 07, 2005

NYC Bloggers

NYC Bloggers tracks blogs in New York City , organizing them in a very NYC way, by the closest subway station. Manhattan is the blog champion with 2515 blogs, but Brooklyn is a strong presence with 1564. You will find The View from 103 in one of the R line subway stations in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Galloway Wins ( ! )

George Galloway, one of the truly vile figures in UK politics was elected yesterday. He was a great friend of the Saddam regime, and was accused by the Telegraph of things with things that may still be in court. But anyway this bum gets reelected the other day, and is was interviewed on televison right afterward.

It's a hilarious " interview " , crossfire on steroids, well worth a listen even if you hate politics. Give the devil his due, Galloway gives as good as he gets as the interviewer ambushes him--this is not an interview, it is an ambush. ( see the video, its funny )

Friday, May 06, 2005

NY Baseball Roundup: Mets Rock, Yankees Need a Bull Durham tomorrow

Wow, just got in as the Mets game was ending. They were in Milwaukee, where the Brewers were behind 7-4, but had just loaded the bases with two out. Mets brought in relief pitcher Looper. Behind in the count, he serves up a line drive --caught by the left fielder Cliff Floyd. Good.

And the replays show Mike Piazza hitting two home runs in his first two at bats. Positively crushed them both. A night to remember. Also, homers by Wright and Cameron. The Mets are red hot, and its for real. Even if they lose a few in a row, they're headed in the right direction.

The Yankees are in hell, giving up three in the top of the tenth to lose 6-3. They're a lot better than this, but they have fundamental age and starting pitching problems. Bad, bad, bad. Afternoon ballgame in the Bronx tomorrow, and rain is in the forecast. The boys are cursed, but there's rain out there somewhere. As happened in Bull Durham, they simply must pray for a rainout, a No'reaster, a soaking monsoon to drown their sorrows and end this funk. Go rain!

Another finger in the food story

With a twist. This story tells you a lot of what is wrong with America and it's " lawsuit culture ".

Like the Wendy's lady, this " customer " belongs in jail, for a long, long time.

Trump: Rebuild the Twin Towers

In todays Post, Trump criticizes the Freedom Tower ( " an egghead design, designed by an egghead " ) and proposes to rebuild the Twin Towers, only taller. Though rebuilding the Twin Towers was never considered seriously by the powers that be, this is exactly what I wanted from the start, and is something that many, many New Yorkers and others want. I cannot tell you how many conversations I have had on this.

Labour Victory in the UK

This is clearly good news for President Bush, as Blair has been a major ally in the war against terror and the war in Iraq. But it's also a victory for Bill Clinton. He endorsed Blair, and even made a virtual in person endorsement via satellite at a Labour rally.

With a smaller majority, Blair's power is diminished, but the important fact is that he and his party have been re-elected. As was Bush, as was Howard in Australia. You know that Bush was very happy to hear of the result.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Bobby Valentine

Hey look who's doing well in Japan once more

Jeter's Message to the Phantom

Congratulations, Phantom on this blog. It is probably the best blog I've seen from Brooklyn tonight. I don't know what's going on, with us losing three straight to Tampa Bay. While Piazza gets four hits and a home run to lead the Mets to another victory. We'll get better, but its pretty rough right now. We need you and Rocker to come over and help us out. Posted by Hello

Secret Messages

Hello there Katie
Hello there Keri
Hello there Bobby

You'll never see this again

Today at 5:05:05 am & pm the time will be 05:05:05 05/05/005....

05.05.005 comes only once in 1000 years and coinciding with Thursday (5th Day of the week) comes only once in 7000 yrs... ( from )

WTC Freedom Tower: Pataki's Pit

This project is nowhere and must be completely redesigned. Supposedly, security concerns addressed by NYPD one year ago were never addressed. Plus, the building as designed cannot be built--the off-center spire on the top cannot be supported by the lightweight structure below it. That's what happens when you hire an unqualified architect such as Libeskind.

The NY Post, whose Steve Cuozzo has has led the media in reporting the WTC redevelopment problems is killing Pataki on this one. Pataki, who thinks he is a national figure, took personal ownership of this redevelopment. Well, he is not a national figure, and the redevelopment is going nowhere fast.

Grenades go off in front of UK Consulate in NYC

Whatever's left of Al Queda may have hoped for a repeat of the Madrid train bombing, where an election time attack swings it their way. But that would not have worked with the Brits, and this, thank God, was a weak echo of what happened in Madrid.

I used to walk past the British consulate all the time a couple of years ago, when I worked in the area. I am surprised that someone was able to plant something in front of that building undetected. It appeared to be very well monitored.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Baseball Update: Rocker Rests His Dead Arm etc.

Christ-figure John Rocker takes a few days off to rest his repaired arm and signs autographs for the fans. Even got a gift of a pullover from the kids at St. Patrick's school in Bay Shore.

Yankees lose once more to Tampa Bay, 11-8. At Tampa, in front of Steinbrenner. So not good.

Mets win 3-2 in Queens, and the balance of power shifts ever so slightly in the direction of Shea Stadium.

Bahn Bahn Bahn

Having fun bouncing around Rhapsody. Last night, a Louis Armstrong album. Today, " Autobahn ". Es ist gut, mein Freund. Posted by Hello

Neocons ( and Bush ) right about Middle East?

Have to give Britain's Guardian props. Though it is clearly left of center, the quality of their journalism is excellent and they do try to be fair, and to challenge their own assumptions. See this article " Perhaps the Neocons Got it Right in the Middle East. The US needs more journalism of this caliber.

Tomorrow's election day in the UK. Watch for the Labour to win, albeit with a smaller majority, more good news for Bush.

Coney Island Comeback?

From the NY Daily News, an article about proposed plans for Coney Island redevelopment. I never saw Coney Island at its prime, but remember well when it had three roller coasters and huge crowds on a weekend. Would be great to see it come back.

Another story on the new John Rocker incident.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

John Rocker Watch and other baseball news

Now, John, be nice. This won't help you sign that big contract with the Yankees.

Yankees lose 11-4 to --Tampa Bay -- , and this season could be over way,way before July 4. Brown got killed, and will continue to get killed.

Mets also lose by seven runs, to the Phillies . Glavine gave up seven earned runs in 3.2 innings. He now has one win, four losses with a 7.04 ERA.

New toy Posted by Hello

Enter IRiver

Subscribed to Rhapsody, happy with it, now have sealed the deal have purchased an IRiver H320 Media Player.

I've been thinking of geting one of these things for some time. Gave IPOD serious consideration-they're well-designed, look great, and every user seems to like it. But IPOD is not supported by Rhapsody, so later for IPOD.

Rhapsody has a deal whereby you can pay $160 a year for unlimited listening on the computer or ( downloaded files ) on a portable device. There was no need to think anymore, I was buying an IRiver player. With shipping, it's $262 from, and its on the way.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Runaway Bride

Funny phrase, this. Runaway bride. It's happened often enough that they had to invent a phrase to describe it. Why didn't they invent a phrase for " runaway groom"?

A big part of me is very sympathetic to Jennifer Wilbanks, the runaway bride from Duluth Georgia who apparently got scared to death of her impending wedding in front of 500 people. She ran all the way across the country, ending up in New Mexico.

I can't excuse the story she told, of being kidnapped, etc., which prompted a huge search in Georgia and nationally. A lot of people are really pissed at her, and who could blame them?

Now, with my new Rhapsody music service, I did a search with " Runaway Bride " as keyword. As it turns out, there is a song, from an album currently out, named " Runaway Bride " by an independent artist named Lindsay Smith from an album " Were You Prom Queen"?

I am listening to the album now, and its pretty good. And " Runaway Bride " is killer. Its catchy, danceable, and with any publicity I could see it being played in every college in the country in about ten seconds.

Lindsay Smith is now performing at the --Georgia!-- Renaissance Festival and may have hit the lotto with the right song with the right time in the right place, based on a very hot topic.

There is a clip of the song on the website.

Good job, Lindsay Smith. Your sense of timing is astonishing. If Jennifer Wilbanks does marry this guy after all, maybe you can perform at the reception.

Yankee Imperialism in Asia Starts in the Bronx

Taiwanese Wang Chien-ming pitched well in his first game as a Yankee .

The Boss would be very happy if this guy became a star. Not only would it plug a gap in a leaky starting rotation, it would help the Yankees sell themselves in Asia. Would be a nice balance with the Japanese Godzilla in right.

Blue Point Brewing Company

To celebrate the first photos with the Olympus Digital camera, I ran down to the Key Food to purchase a six pack of Hoptical Illusionby Blue Point Brewing Company. Its a delicious India Pale Ale, and it is brewed in Long Island, thats my review. Hope John Rocker samples a bottle after one of those Ducks games. Quack quack.

Friendly Sons of the Raccoons

Due to popular demand, have posted the rules of the Friendly Sons of the Raccoons

You are instructed to study closely ; there will be an exam later on in the week.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Hello Rhapsody Premium

OK, signed up for Rhapsody Premium. So worth it, it's not funny. You can create your own personalized playlist. I set this thing up with the following genres: Australia / South Pacific, Bossa Nova, Celtic Folk, Early Country, New Traditional ( Country ) , New Traditional Bluegrass, Tango ( taking a flyer on this one ), Urban Folk, Worldbeat. This can and will change. This premium service costs me a fat total of $100/year. I am astonished at the quality I heard/seen so far.

Just as Netflix / allows you to take a flyer and sample movies you'd never go to the theater to see, this Rhapsody Premium service allows you to listen to artists whose albums you would never buy ; whose music is never or rarely played on your local radio.

This type of thing is --exactly-- what the the new faster Internet was created for.

Now, excuse me while I sit back and listen to "Fields of Athenry", performed in an acoustic version, by Ghosts of Scotland .