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Re-entry

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Here I am with the elusive and mysterious Janet Lyon in a pub in Sandycove.  (Nice work by Jamie, n’est-ce pas?) So I finally went to Ireland for the first time in my life.  Even though I’m actually Irish on my mother’s side and would be hailed by all the Clarkes up and down the West, I’ve never set foot in the country.  “You really should acknowledge your Irishness more often,” Janet said one night at dinner.  I replied that the whole hockey thing does tend to tilt the field in favor of the French-Canadian wing of my family history, and that, by contrast, I know nothing about hurling or Gaelic football.  But yes, I’m half Irish, and once upon a time and a very good time it was, I seriously considered becoming a Joycean.  Even worse, I was a budding narratologist at the time, and I remarked to my advisor, Michael Levenson, that I wanted to do for Ulysses what Gérard Genette had done for Proust, namely, a meticulous sentence-by-sentence parsing of temporality and narrative.  “Um,” Michael replied, “you might want to hold that thought.” And so I have, all this time.

Janet had been teaching in Ireland since early June, spending her first two weeks in extremely remote corners of the island.  How remote?  “I don’t know,” said the Druids, some years ago, “this place looks too weird for us.” That’s how remote.  Then she moved her class to Dublin for the next two weeks, and Jamie and I met her after her students departed.  More precisely, Jamie and I wandered around downtown Dublin trying to find her after her students departed: Janet explained that she had to see them safely off, since it would be a Bad Thing for the Penn State study-abroad enterprise if professors lost some of their students along the way, so Jamie and I took a cab from the airport all by ourselves.  We arrived at 7 am, and we had only the sketchiest information about where Janet was staying, because it’s just more fun to travel that way.  Now, keep in mind (if you would be so kind) that Jamie and I had just come from Vancouver to Pittsburgh on a red-eye in late June.  Then he and Nick and I went to New York for the long July 1-4 weekend.  Then Nick dropped us off at JFK for our 8 pm flight, and headed off to his own Nick locations.  I flew over Long Island watching random fireworks explode over Brooklyn and my boyhood home in Flushing, Queens.  And then Jamie and I got a few hours’ sleep before arriving in a foreign country and giving sketchy directions to a cab driver.  So we were fairly addled, is what I’m saying.  And yet, we somehow managed to bump into Janet as she returned from her local café carrying coffee and Roddy Doyle’s Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha.

We spent July 5-7 in Dublin, which, in retrospect, was not nearly enough time—especially for a first visit.  Then, gathering up the proceeds from Janet’s summer-teaching gig (which involved mountains of work on her part), we flew to Nice for a week in the same south-of-France house we’d shared with one of my college friends and his family back in 2004.  Two years ago, when I returned from our first-ever French vacation (part of the record of which can be seen on the “family pix” page of this here web site), I refused to blog about it, except to deliver myself of my theories about soccer and hideous French pop music.  “Somehow,” I wrote, “it feels too self-indulgent, even for a blog, where one always asks oneself, ‘self-indulgent as compared to what, exactly?’” But that was the Era of Blog Reticence, when I had a mere five hundred readers a day.  This is the Era of Blog Expansion, in which one’s bloggedy self-indulgence increases proportionally with one’s readership.  Besides, I have returned with many blogworthy tales and profound experiences and a couple of cool pictures.  I was even sitting in a public square in Fayence for the World Cup final, I’ll have you know.  But I missed the overtime, because it was after 10 pm local time and we had a sleepy child (not mine) to take care of.  Did anything dramatic happen?

So, dear readers, for the foreseeable future, this blog will try to serve as a respite from the End Times, which, as I learned upon returning to the United States, have officially begun in Lebanon.  I must admit that the shock of re-entry, at such times, can be quite severe.  Over the weekend, as I caught up with email and bill-paying, I discovered that most European nations (including the ones we’d visited) had judiciously condemned Israel’s disproportionate and profoundly counterproductive response to the latest Hamas-Hezbollah outrages, whereas the warbloggers, hatemongers, and assorted End Timers on these shores were condemning those European nations for appeasement of terror, etc.  Nick filled us in on the details as we drove back from JFK through central Brooklyn.  Janet, who’d managed to avoid all news of the dying world for six weeks, became numb.  She had asked me, as we walked up and down our mountain on our last day in France, for a small dose of Wingnut News so that she could try to re-acclimate to the U.S., and I told her about David Horowitz’s advanced-dementia campaign against the Travel section of the New York Times.  But even that tidbit, which sent her briefly into anaphylactic shock, was inadequate preparation for the crisis in Lebanon.

“Holy Mother of Moloch, Nick,” I said as I weaved through Atlantic Avenue traffic.  “What part of ‘disproportionate and profoundly counterproductive response to terrorism’ don’t these lunatics understand?”

Nick looked askance at me, silently.

“Oh, yeah,” I murmured.  “The all of it part.  Right.”

I will begin the week, accordingly, with something small and inconsequential.  Because our travels involved a level of planning that made the Apollo-Soyuz mission look like a casual get-together for tea, we had to fly from Dublin to Nice at 6 am on July 8, which meant that we had to “wake” “up” at 3:30 after meeting friends for a few pints in Grafton Street.  All went well, even though the Dublin Airport had had not one but two bomb scares in the previous week.  But when we touched down in Nice, I discovered to my dismay that a previous passenger had decided to deposit a wad of gum on the floor under my seat—and I made this discovery not by picking up the gum with my sneaker but by picking it up with my unshod sock, for I had foolishly taken the liberty, in trying to catch a bit more sleep, of discreetly removing my shoes at some point during the flight.  I therefore walked all through the Nice airport (and customs) with a most unpleasant sensation in my left foot, as my sock began to adhere to the inside of my sneaker.  When at last we retrieved our baggage and I was able to obtain a replacement sock from my suitcase, I excused myself, and retired to the bathroom to de-gum myself while Janet and Jamie made their way to the rental-car desk.  But alas!  The gum in question turned out to be an adhesive of extraordinary tenacity, such that the sock was now chemically bonded to the lining of the sneaker: as I slipped off the sneaker, the lining remained attached to the ball of my foot, dangling from the damaged sock.  Indeed, the wad’s remarkable staying power suggested not only that it was a virulent strain of gum I was dealing with, but also that it had been deposited on the floor of the fuselage not very long before it found my foot.  For even after I managed to rip the sock free, the gum-residue on the sneaker lining was sufficient to mess with the new sock, thereby requiring me to take off the shoe again, this time to try to scrub the lining with hot water in the hope of counteracting the powerful adhesive properties of this most vexatious gum.

I’ll carry on with still more glamorous and exciting tales of travel abroad tomorrow, when I will ask you to experience with me the excitement of renting a car in Nice.  Until then, here’s a shot of Janet with the very worldly (and very tall!) Jamie in the Dublin Zoo.

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From June 26 to July 12, folks, Jamie went to the Vancouver Aquarium, the Bronx Zoo, the Dublin Zoo, and the Musée Océanographique de Monaco.  Which must be some kind of world record. 

Many thanks to Lindsay and Chris for wonderful guest-blogging!  Reading your entries was one of the few enjoyable things about coming back.  Thank you so much for tending this lonely blog with your grace and your wit.

Oh, and by the way, French pop music still sucks.  On the radio, for my torment as I hauled my Citroen up the mountainside:  a techno remix of “Eye of the Tiger” and a techno remix of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” It’s as if they’re daring us to do something about it, really it is.

Posted by on 07/17 at 10:45 AM
  1. Welcome back, cousin.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  07/17  at  11:56 AM
  2. Hey, they let me back in—despite everything!  I sense your hand in this, mon frère.

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  12:03 PM
  3. From your June 1 “re-entry”: Did anything happen while I was gone?  Sloppy and opportunistic right-wing “reports” on the corruption of the universities?  Riots in Kabul?  Marines in Haditha?  Bold new literary theories that tell us to pay attention to what the author meant?

    It looks like Hell Breaking Loose is the new Major Surgery in terms of what happens when you leave your blog for extended periods. In other words, welcome back, Michael.

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  12:04 PM
  4. Ah, professor!
    You should know better than listening to mainstream French radio. It plays dinky American pop music, and dinky French pop (there is a law in France that radio stations HAVE to play 40% french music). Good French pop (and it does exist, just as there is such a thing as good American food) is not easily found, I will grant you that, but it can be found.

    Techno remixes are not necessarily French, by the way. I know Germans and Dutch are particularily fond of the thing. You should just thank your lucky stars you were not in France in 98, when France actually won the world cup to the sweet sounds of a seemingly Japanese techno remix of “I will survive”, complete with an incredible oral rendition of the original violin break. La- lala-la-la.... On and on. And on. And the whole country was singing. I’m not sure it beats Chicago singing the abysmal “Don’t stop believing” last year, but it’s up there.
    Anyway.
    You just signed yourself in for the “Compilation d’extraordinaire musique pop francaise”.
    Don’t say you didn’t ask for it.

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  12:43 PM
  5. I notice that the main heritage you were living up to was the New Yorker part, by the extensive black wardrobe in the first picture.  Well done!

    Posted by MoXmas  on  07/17  at  12:45 PM
  6. Every time I see a picture of Jamie I wish I had half his clothes-sense. Ever hip, ever hip.

    Posted by Rick Perlstein  on  07/17  at  12:52 PM
  7. You know, MoXmas, that black clothing travels well, partly because it disguises its time in the suitcase.  But yes, there we are, black-clad on a black-leather-seat backdrop.  In fact, we brought the black-leather-seat backdrop along with us for precisely this contingency.

    And Rick, I’ll pass your comment along to Jamie.  Janet bought him the Ireland shirt for obvious reasons, but to his credit, he swiped the Flaming Lips t-shirt from his très alt.rock older brother.  And almost got away with swiping Nick’s Fiery Furnaces t-shirt too.  Jamie especially likes Ted Leo and British Sea Power, by the way.

    Posted by Michael  on  07/17  at  01:41 PM
  8. The gum in question turned out to be an adhesive of extraordinary tenacity ... the wad’s remarkable staying power ... a virulent strain of gum ... this most vexatious gum.

    That gum would make a good metaphor (or, to be precise, a good vehicle) for something disgusting, tenacious, virulent, and vexatious.

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  02:09 PM
  9. But did you see Johnny Depp in France?

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  02:20 PM
  10. I was surprised by my five months in London in the early 90s how shitty the radio was; it seemed to be all techno even as Madchester was blooming.

    Looks like Jamie had the camera at the ready for any animal incursion. Looking forward to seeing some more of his photographic forays.

    Posted by norbizness  on  07/17  at  02:29 PM
  11. I too have landed, albeit roughly and harshly, back in this not very beneficent event horizon, and i can’t wait to leave it all again in a few days.  I like the synchronicity of it (the Bérubé returning this day too), but now i have to read all the great posts of the last seven weeks by those wonderful writers you chose to blog ahead in your stead. 

    Equally shocked i have been both by, the carnage of the planet and, the incredible ongoing apathetic idiocy of US citizens.  The latter exampled by one i witnessed who felt no awkwardness whatsoever in putting $400 worth of fuel in (in this order btw): his RV, his RV and auxiliary generators, 3 ATV’s, and 2 jetskis (these towed on special trailer behind RV).  The good citizens continue to choose to not acknowledge the suffering of the planet around them from their “lifestyle choices”; they feel as though they are merely inconvenienced by the price of fuel as they run their houseboats and large, lake-based fishing trawlers across the waters of the west.  That and the never ending line of trailers carrying all manner of infernally combusting engined craft.

    The music however has been spectacular.  Young (early 20 somethings), very accomplished musicians are performing amazing sets, week after week, inspiring some degree of hope and happiness.  Even some live techno djaying was well done--hehehe.

    Welcome back family Bérubé!

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  03:01 PM
  12. You know, it takes a mighty equilibrium to need more of a shock than driving through Brooklyn.

    Welcome back.

    Posted by julia  on  07/17  at  03:38 PM
  13. That’s a cool cap that Jamie is rockin’ in the pic currently in the upper righthand corner on your front page. Where did he get it?

    Posted by George  on  07/17  at  03:58 PM
  14. The world abounds with bad behaviour… while I’m the first in line to condemn any state sponsored violence, I can’t claim Israel has been unusual in their tactics. Certainly, they haven’t been any more callous than Hamas and Hezbollah have been.

    The cycle of condemnation make me nervous. All too often, conflicts are being framed as contests of righteousness - as if one side must be right and reasonable, and the other must be a dastardly villain. Moral posturing seems all the rage, with all the traditional results: more atrocity, less negotiation, tactics that appeal to emotion, and a general backdrop of injustice.

    Hamas, Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon and Palistine – I’m not particularly impressed by any of them at the moment.

    How far do you think this one will go?

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  07/17  at  04:19 PM
  15. It’s as if they’re daring us to do something about it, really it is.

    How true, how true.  Fortunately there’s Great Britain.

    Posted by Matt  on  07/17  at  04:35 PM
  16. Hey, they let me back in—despite everything!

    Almost certainly because you’ve never once used “American” as a slur.

    I was a little surprised when my Homeland Security clearance for my Border Patrol ride-along sailed through with no trouble. and a little disappointed.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  07/17  at  04:45 PM
  17. Pretty far, CCP.  I don’t see any braking mechanisms currently in play.

    And the cycle of condemnation is every bit as vicious as the cycle of violence in whose wake it follows, particularly in this part of the world.  You’re probably aware that some of us on the left have our rhetorical rituals about precisely how much percentage of condemnation is appropriate to each party in the Middle East (lest anyone suggest, or betray the faintest hint of suggesting, that the conflict is “symmetrical"), and I think I’ve managed to violate most of those protocols in the past.  All I’m saying about this latest round is that the provocations and threats to which Israel is responding are quite real (and should be condemned without equivocation by all reasonable people), but that the response itself—particularly the decision to brutalize Lebanon (and Lebanese civilians) for the actions of a terrorist faction—is at once morally illegitimate and pragmatically self-destructive.  Which is why I intend to spend some of the remaining week blogging about Yeats and Beckett.

    But did you see Johnny Depp in France?

    Well, Clare, are you aware that Janet has what the French call “un crush massif” on Mr. Depp?  And on our first visit in 2004, she was convinced that she saw him on our very own mountain road.  I assured her that she was mistaken, and that in fact our neighbor was none other than the dashing Richard Perle.

    richard_perle.jpg

    George, Janet bought that cap for Jamie.  It’s not only beautiful in itself—it makes me long for those Irish temperatures of 18 Celsius, as I swelter in 97 Fahrenheit.

    Julia, thanks for the Brooklyn joke!  We Queensians should never pass on the opportunity.

    And Norbizness, be careful what you wish for:  more than half our travel pics involve nonhuman primates and marine mammals.

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  04:57 PM
  18. Israel’s disproportionate and profoundly counterproductive response to the latest Hamas-Hezbollah outrages

    Sort of like labelling the Nazi response to the Reichstag fire “German’s disproportionate and prfoundly counterproductive response to the latest Dutch anarchist outrages,” isn’t it?

    Luckily, Dennis Perrin has already tackled this shit, so I don’t have to:

    http://redstateson.blogspot.com/2006/07/disproportionate.html

    http://redstateson.blogspot.com/2006/07/words-fail.html

    http://redstateson.blogspot.com/2006/07/terror-time_14.html

    Posted by Michael McIntyre  on  07/17  at  05:20 PM
  19. From June 26 to July 12, folks, Jamie went to the Vancouver Aquarium, the Bronx Zoo, the Dublin Zoo, and the Musée Océanographique de Monaco.  Which must be some kind of world record.

    Or at least worthy of a Jacques Cousteau Merit Badge with Carmen Sandiego clusters. 

    And knowing Jamie’s interest in the Beatles and if he likes Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, he may want to check out The Magic Numbers, who did a set of rockin’ pop so luminous and unaffected at Bonnaroo that I couldn’t stop smiling.

    Posted by corndog  on  07/17  at  05:37 PM
  20. "What part of ‘disproportionate and profoundly counterproductive response to terrorism’ don’t these lunatics understand?”

    Michael-

    What part of anrcissistic, banal, logorreac, self-obsessed, ill-informed and narrow-minded professor don’t you understand?

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  06:20 PM
  21. “What part of ‘disproportionate and profoundly counterproductive response to terrorism’ don’t these lunatics understand?”

    Michael-

    What part of narcissistic, banal, logorrheac, self-obsessed, ill-informed and narrow-minded professor don’t you understand?

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  06:24 PM
  22. Oh, I much preferred “anrcissistic.” Called to mind admiring one’s self in the store window before tossing a brick through it.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  07/17  at  06:43 PM
  23. Michael, good to see again in these environs.

    I don’t understand “logorreac” or “logorrheac.” I am, however, willing to consider logorrheic.

    Your gum-based writing tips over into Nicholson Baker–style navel-gazing. I approve wholeheartedly.

    I don’t know about no techno remix, but the original “Eye of the Tiger”? Rocks.

    Posted by Orange  on  07/17  at  06:46 PM
  24. You. Good to see you.

    (Although it is also good to have had the temporary blindness cured.)

    Posted by Orange  on  07/17  at  06:49 PM
  25. Sort of like labelling the Nazi response to the Reichstag fire “German’s disproportionate and prfoundly counterproductive response to the latest Dutch anarchist outrages,” isn’t it?

    Um, no, it isn’t.  But thanks, Mr. McIntyre, for reminding me what this particular brand of moral idiocy sounds like.

    Luckily, Dennis Perrin has already tackled this shit, so I don’t have to.

    You’re right, Dennis Perrin certainly has tackled this shit with great gusto.  One might even say that he is immersed in it.  So perhaps you could take your little Israelis = Nazis trope over to his blog.  I’d appreciate that, thanks.

    Michael-

    What part of anrcissistic, banal, logorreac, self-obsessed, ill-informed and narrow-minded professor don’t you understand?

    Items one and three, Chris.  Thanks for asking!

    Michael, good to see again in these environs.

    Good to see too, Orange.

    Posted by Michael  on  07/17  at  07:01 PM
  26. I’m on my way to Ireland on Wednesday and looking forward with relish to the genetically-appropriate (as determined by centuries of very pale people mating with other very pale people) temperature of the auld sod, as opposed to St. Louis-area 100 degree temps.  Of course, if global warming develops as predicted, said sod will someday be the same temperature as its latitude buddy Labrador, so I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  07:13 PM
  27. Glad to have you back Michael!

    But man, you look exhausted in your pic with Janet above.

    Cheers,

    Frank

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  08:08 PM
  28. There’s someone else in that picture with Janet?

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  07/17  at  08:18 PM
  29. Well, Clare, are you aware that Janet has what the French call “un crush massif” on Mr. Depp?  And on our first visit in 2004, she was convinced that she saw him on our very own mountain road.  I assured her that she was mistaken, and that in fact our neighbor was none other than the dashing Richard Perle.

    Well, I’m with Janet on that one. “un crush massif” indeed. You need to watch The Libertine. Anwyay, I wish I could claim psychic powers but I believe we did touch on this in Waterloo, which is what made me think of it when I saw that you had returned to France. Not that I need much prompting to think of Johnny Depp.

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  11:08 PM
  30. Welcome back to what I think is still called civilization and you avoided the countries in which Junior went on his bike tour. Jamie and Janet look great.
    Was Janet in Dublin for Bloomsday? Did you do one of those lit professor walks around Dublin looking for things Joycean?

    Posted by  on  07/17  at  11:14 PM
  31. It sounds like you had a great trip, if a bit whirlwindish.  But welcome back even though you doubtless could have used much, much more time away from the news.

    Also, is it wrong to say that that top photo of the two of you is rather arresting?  I think I stared at it initially for quite some time, and i still keep scrolling back up to check again.

    Posted by bitchphd  on  07/17  at  11:55 PM
  32. Sort of like labelling the Nazi response to the Reichstag fire “German’s disproportionate and prfoundly counterproductive response to the latest Dutch anarchist outrages,” isn’t it?

    Um, no, it isn’t.  But thanks, Mr. McIntyre, for reminding me what this particular brand of moral idiocy sounds like.

    Luckily, Dennis Perrin has already tackled this shit, so I don’t have to.

    You’re right, Dennis Perrin certainly has tackled this shit with great gusto.  One might even say that he is immersed in it.  So perhaps you could take your little Israelis = Nazis trope over to his blog.  I’d appreciate that, thanks.

    But as you know very well, this trope is not a = b (Israelis = Nazis).  The trope is x:a::y:b - Those who cluck their tongues about Israel’s “overreaction” to Hizbullah terrorism are analogous to those who clucked their tongues about the NSDAP’s “overreaction” to the communist torching of the Reichstag.

    1933: “I agree, the Communist menace in Mitteleuropa must be stopped, but the Reichskanzler’s reaction to the fire has been disproportionate and profoundly counterproductive.”

    2006: “I agree, Hizbullah’s terrorism must be stopped, but the Prime Minister’s reaction to the kidnapping has been disproportionate and profoundly counterproductive.”

    Liberal moral cowardice, right across the board.  Is there a difference?  Sure.  In 1933, the Center Party honorably refused to support the Reichstag Fire Decree.  In 2006, HRC has announced unequivocal support for this slaughter.  No doubt you’ll be sending her a check in two years’ time.  The plague take you all.

    Posted by Michael McIntyre  on  07/18  at  06:35 AM
  33. You’re right about the moral idiocy of the Israelis = (or : ) Nazis equation, Michael, and you should have pointed out that Hezbollah and Hamas aren’t exactly Dutch anarchists, either.  But in a broader sense, you missed the point of the McIntyre/ Perrin analysis, which is weird, since you had already nailed it in comment 17: the McIntyre/ Perrin point is that when you say Israel’s response is “at once morally illegitimate and pragmatically self-destructive,” you are not as virtuous as Perrin and McIntyre, because their condemnation of Israel greatly exceeds yours.  The more emphatic the condemnation, the more better, you see.  That’s all there is to it.  So the only way you could win this one is to countercharge that Perrin and McIntyre, for all their “leftish” posturing, are really liberal moral cowards and apologists for Israeli terror because they fail to denounce Israel as being far worse than Nazi Germany, settling instead for the comforting bromide that Israel is analogous to Nazi Germany.

    It’s striking when you think about it: conservatives and ultraleftists are very similar in some ways.  Each group despises “liberals” so much as to spend most of its time thinking of ever more extravagant ways of describing how odious, wimpy, and yet all-powerful liberals are (because they marginalize conservatives and ultraleftists), and each group goes haywire when their caricature of candy-assed liberals is challenged by actually existing smart, pugnacious progressives.  And both groups have nothing but contempt for liberal attempts to understand the complexity of complex world affairs: conservatives and ultraleftists don’t do nuance.

    In the case of Perrin, the link between far-right conservatism and ultraleftism is exceptionally clear: here you’ve got a guy who’s argued that the Civil War was really fought to expand federal power over the states, and that, though he might have gone a bit too far, Timothy McVeigh was right to be outraged about Waco ("since many liberals seem incapable of examining the politics and class issues that may have contributed to McVeigh’s bloody decision, we must move further left to find what answers exist").  I don’t know why you think he’s so “smart,” Michael, but maybe you were just being kind, for reasons that elude me.

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  07:33 AM
  34. But man, you look exhausted in your pic with Janet above.

    Well, I could blame the double overnight (Seattle - Pittsburgh, New York - Dublin), but the truth is that I have really serious eyebags.  Even when I was 22 I had really serious eyebags, and I got lots of sleep back then.

    Also, is it wrong to say that that top photo of the two of you is rather arresting?

    Why, no, Dr. B., you may say whatever you like.  I attribute the uncanny aspect of the photo to the fact that Janet has one blue eye and one green eye.  And all magical powers appurtenant thereto.

    Was Janet in Dublin for Bloomsday? Did you do one of those lit professor walks around Dublin looking for things Joycean?

    No and no, Steve.  In fact, the whole things-Joycean fetish is one of the minor reasons I bailed out of things Joycean.  (I agree, however, that home without Plumtree’s Potted Meat is incomplete.) And although Janet was in the west (Allihies) on June 16, it didn’t matter:  Bloomsday events were cancelled this year because of the death of Charles Haughey.

    Of course, if global warming develops as predicted, said sod will someday be the same temperature as its latitude buddy Labrador

    Actually, Betsy, even when they’re mowing the lawns of Antarctica, Labrador will still be screwed.  I don’t know exactly how, but just wait and see.

    I don’t know why you think he’s so “smart,” Michael, but maybe you were just being kind, for reasons that elude me.

    Well, sometimes I get things wrong, Ne Plus.  And I would like to point out that your second paragraph is a glaring example of the “left-right equivalency thesis,” which proves that you are a liberal moral coward and an apologist for Amerikkkan state terror.  Just saying.

    In 2006, HRC has announced unequivocal support for this slaughter.  No doubt you’ll be sending her a check in two years’ time.  The plague take you all.

    And also with you, Mr. McIntyre.  Thank you for closing your final comment on this blog on such a gracious note.  But you’re quite wrong about my enthusiasm for HRC—I’ve decided to devote my energies to the Lieberman ‘08 campaign.  Please pass the word along to Mr. Perrin.

    Posted by Michael  on  07/18  at  08:27 AM
  35. What a mensch might say:

    “For a generation now, I have been deeply troubled by the chauvinistic assumptions and repressive effects of Israeli nationalism.  I have experienced the War on Lebanon of the past few weeks as a turning point in Jewish history and consciousness exceeded in importance only by the End of the Second Commonwealth and the Holocaust.  I have resisted the interference for over thirty years, but the War on Lebanon has now made clear to me that the resumption of political power by the Jewish people after two thousand years of diaspora has been a tragedy of historical dimensions.  The State of Israel has demanded recognition a the modern political incarnation of the Jewish people.  To grant that is to betray the Jewish tradition.

    “The State of Israel and its supporters have probably been right all along in arguing that political power comes at the price of the normal detritus of the nation state, such as Jewish criminals, prostitutes, and generals. They may also be right in asserting that the War on Lebanon is the sort of thing a Jewish state has to do to survive.  I am not disposed to await the outcome of debates by politicians and theologians on whether the threat from the Palestine Liberation Organization was sufficiently clear and present to justify the killing of so many Lebanese and Palestinian men, women, and children, or only so many.  I will not avoid an unambiguous response to the Israeli army’s turning of West Beirut into another Warsaw ghetto.

    “I now conclude and avow that the price of a Jewish state is, to me, Jewishly unacceptable and that the existence of this (or any similar) Jewish ethnic religious nation state is a Jewish, i.e. a human and moral, disaster and violates every remaining value for which Judaism and Jews might exist in history.  The lethal military triumphalism and corrosive racism that inheres in the State and in its supporters (both there and here) are profoundly abhorrent to me.  So is the message that now goes forth to the nations of the world that the Jewish people claim the right to impose a holocaust on others in order to preserve its State.

    “For several decades, I have supported those minority forces in and for the State that wanted to salvage the values of peace and social justice that the Jewish tradition commands.  The “blitzkrieg” in Lebanon, terrifying and Teutonic in its ruthlessness, shows how vain those hopes have been.

    “I now renounce the State of Israel, disavow any political connection or emotional obligation to it, and declare myself its enemy.  I retain, of course, the same deep concern for its inhabitants, Jewish, Arab, and other, that I hold for all humankind.

    “I remain a member of the Jewish people—indeed, I have no other inner identity.  But the State of Israel has now also triumphed over the Jewish people and its history, for the time being at least.  I deem it possible that the State, morally bankrupted and mortally endangered by its victories, will prove essential to the survival of the Jewish people and that it may likely take the Jewish people with it to eventual extinction.  Yet I believe that the death of the Jewish people would not be inherently more tragic than the death of the Palestinian people that Israel and its supporters evidently seek or at least accept as the cost of the “security” of the State of Israel.  The price of the millennial survival of the Jewish people has been high; I did not think the point was to make others pay it.  That moral scandal intolerably assaults the accumulated values of Jewish history and tradition.

    “If those be the places where the State of Israel chooses to stand, I cannot stand with it.  I therefore resign all connections with Jewish political and public institutions that will not radically oppose the State and its claim to Jewish legitimacy.”

    Henry Schwarzschild, letter of resignation to Sh’ma, Reprinted in “What We’ve Always Known: A Century’s Sample of Dissenting Voices” by Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark, which is part of a collection of writings on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict entitled Wrestling with Zion, Tony Kushner & Alisa Solomon, eds. (2003), accessed at http://www.rickblaine.com/index/weblog/C15/, 18 July 2006

    Posted by Michael McIntyre  on  07/18  at  09:01 AM
  36. You are in an airport. You have sock problems. Buy some new bloody socks. Problem solved. In fact buy some new bloody sneakers too if you need. Isn’t the world full of enough stress already?

    Posted by saltydog  on  07/18  at  09:03 AM
  37. Thirty-five years ago, hitching along the southern coast of France, I got a ride with two young men who were fans of Chuck Berry, knew more of his catalog than I did. While one drove the other took my guitar and tried to sing “Johnny B. Goode” although a lot of the lyrics were garbled. Since their English required a lot of gestures it was a true rock ‘n’ roll performance and the words were all that important anyway.

    My second-best ride in Southern France.

    Posted by Bob in Pacifica  on  07/18  at  09:38 AM
  38. A mensch might indeed say such things, Professor McIntyre.  But you didn’t.  Instead, you took issue with my belief that Hezbollah’s terrorism should be stopped, and then, because you are thoroughly intellectually dishonest, you elided my denunciation of Israel’s response with Hillary Clinton’s support for Israel’s response.  I’ve asked you nicely, but clearly you have no respect for people who ask you nicely:  leave this blog and take your frothing rants where they belong—perhaps to this fine publication, which, I hear, is looking for fresh new voices like yours.

    Saltydog, I did change my sock.

    Posted by Michael  on  07/18  at  09:39 AM
  39. I was hoping this thread would take on a nice “Hints from Heloise” flavor with tips on how to remove gum from a sock:

    “Just get a little club soda from the airport bar, soak the sock in a sink full of club soda and the gum will fall right off!  Then dry the sock with the hand dryer in the bathroom and you are good to go!”

    Alas, it was not to be. 

    And Jamie can travel with me anytime, sounds like we have the same sight-seeing priorities.

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  11:24 AM
  40. Soda water!  Why didn’t I think of that?  There were no stores in the Nice airport selling socks or sneakers, but I was practically surrounded by Badoit and other waters-with-gas.  Great coffee, too, which is not much of a solvent but helps you concentrate on gum-scrubbing at close range.

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  11:34 AM
  41. I wasn’t going to say anything, but if I had gum on my sock in such circumstances, I would’ve contained the damage by sticking a small bit of paper (Kleenex, Skymall, Irish Times, what have you) on the gum. And then, even though this would have spared my shoe from a stickum attack, I would have insisted on buying new shoes in France—just because.

    captcha: needs, as in I needs me some new shoes

    Posted by Orange  on  07/18  at  01:10 PM
  42. I was, in fact, admiring your packing perspicacity.  I have recently discovered the black/silk combination, as well.  It wrinkles like crazy in the backpack, but shakes out pretty quickly.

    Of course, the massive heat and humidity of Florida help get rid of the wrinkles quickly, too.  Which is why people retire here, of course.

    (I think it’s very nice of you to engage the trolls, btw.)

    Posted by MoXmas  on  07/18  at  01:44 PM
  43. Actually, Betsy, even when they’re mowing the lawns of Antarctica, Labrador will still be screwed.  I don’t know exactly how, but just wait and see.

    Well, I think Rick Santorum will have a lot more free time on his hands starting next January…

    Posted by  on  07/18  at  02:25 PM
  44. Michael I apologise for my tone, as if a alf Irishman wouldn’t have thought about the stress free option. My point being that an airport is the best place to simply buy new socks as most of them are stuffed full of stores selling only hosiery items. The fact that Nice airport does not makes it unique in my experience (even my local British airport where you have to traverse the tarmac and climb steps into the plane has several stores that sell both hosiery and neckwear, as well as The DaVinci Code). I myself have a cavalier attitude towards sockage, given that disability lends my walking an odd set of stresses and that in turn leads to almost daily irregular sock-wear (Orange - there’s a Nick Baker-esque thing, an extended analysis of uneven sockular wear caused by my unusual gait plus whichever shoes I may be wearing that day - unfortunately I can’t be bothered to write it). Like an abandoned child, I cannot afford to become attached to any particular sock as it may wear through and have to be thrown away at any moment. I always try and buy the same sock in large batches so I can interchange them when one wears out.

    Anyway, rather than stress, you buy new socks, bin the old ones like Jack Reacher might and carry on. If the airport is a normal one.

    Come to think of it, Nice is close enough to Italy that a gumly traumatised traveller can always - actually might be fashionably required to - lose their inhibitions and go racily sockless.

    Posted by Saltydog  on  07/19  at  08:11 AM
  45. Welcome back, commander Riker!

    (seriously - someone had to say it)

    Posted by  on  07/19  at  05:02 PM

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