Thoughts to Start the Week

There’s a whole lot going on in the world just now, eh? Here are a few all-over-the-map ideas to start the week. Housekeeping to start: I hope my brand new book, Out There, will go live on all Amazon platforms this week or next. It’s a collection of thirty essays on travel, written from and about disparate locations, Greenland to Vietnam to pandemic-ridden Cincinnati. At 360 pages, your money’s worth.

Elsewhere, one expects a Lukashenka-like, whatever it takes response, but best of luck nevertheless to the people of Uganda and Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, aka Bobbi Wine, in Thursday’s national elections. The pop singer stands against President Yoweri Museveni, who removed Presidential term limits in 2005 and has ruled the country since 1986. Time for a change there.

Kampala, Uganda

Whether the incoming Biden administration can restore a little spit and polish to Donald Trump’s smoldering city on the hill is an open question, but there’s no doubt the transition team has assembled a capable bunch. Today’s announcement of William J. Burns to head CIA is terrific. His memoir, The Back Channel, reads like a template for best diplomatic practices.

Notable that leading foreign policy establishment spokesperson Richard Haas and iconoclast Andrew Bacevich each claim last week’s events definitively bring down the curtain on the post-Cold War era.

Who needs a quick primer on the state of Irish politics?

And finally, I took a spin around the now defunct social media site parler.com over the weekend. I’ll share what I found here shortly. Cheers, don’t get sick, and a good week to you.

Moving Rubjerg Knude Fyr Lighthouse

When Rubjerg Knude was first lit in 1900 it was about 200 meters from the North Sea. Due to coastal erosion, now it’s about six. So Denmark decided to move it, and earlier today, RTÉ was there to stream the event live.

I can’t say whether the Irish public broadcaster always intended to stream for an hour and then turn off the live stream, or finally just gave up and turned the thing off, but a spoiler alert, nothing much happens:

Quotes: “A Major National Emergency”

Most interesting to talk with a range of people in Dublin this weekend about the Republic of Ireland’s prospects in the event of a British crash out of the EU on 31 October (besides getting a crash course in hurling as Tipperary took down the good guys, Kilkenny, in the national final yesterday).

Now this morning, from the Irish Independent, “A senior Irish government source said last night ‘People might start realizing that Leo Varadkar is not engaged in project fear as he has been accused of, but actually that in 74 days we face a major national emergency if this is not resolved.'”

People Are Losing Their Minds

“Therefore there has to be an argument, doesn’t there, that says instead of Dublin telling this country (The United Kingdom) that we have to stay in the single market etc within the customs union, why doesn’t Dublin, why doesn’t the Republic of Ireland leave the EU and throw in their lot with this country?”

 

– BBC Today program anchor John Humphrys suggesting that the best solution to the Brexit impasse might be for Ireland to join the UK and quit the EU.

Dublin’s Crane Count

The Irish Times has its own scientific method for measuring Dublin’s continued economic boom.

The European Question

In light of German politicians’ inability to form a government, the German Question has been turned on its head. Post-Cold War, the German Question asked how the unification of East and West Germany might be achieved without creating an economic and political juggernaut, with all the baggage that prospect carried.

Suddenly now, wonders Handelsblatt Global, is Germany “becoming incapable of assuming enough leadership to guide and champion Europe in a globalized world?” In the same week, Matthew Engel’s Travels in Belgium, the dysfunctional, fractured state at the heart of the EU reminds us that that country “went 589 days in 2010-11 without a fully-formed government.”

Meanwhile, Brexit still means Brexit and we can all see how that’s working out. Just ask, (among just about anybody else) anyone living along the once and future Republican/Northern Irish border.

Can European governments govern? That is the new European Question.

Quotes:

I don’t suppose one needs to live a life of perpetual astonishment. After all it’s adaptive to forget. Our daily grind is perhaps easier to endure in a state of mild amnesia. Muscle memory sets in, routine takes over, and one day seems the same as any other. But days go by, the years hum along, and one can careen towards senility without being unduly startled by anything at all. Surely, there are times when we must be released from our moorings and free ourselves up to notice the peculiarities of everyday life.

Liam Heneghan on travel, at Aeon.co. Photo, the Liffey River, Dublin.

Quotes:

Brexit, which was supposed to be about “taking back control” from Brussels, has actually given a great deal of control to a Northern Irish party that no one in Britain votes for.

  • Fintan O’Toole op-ed in the New York Times.

Belfast Castle, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Take the Rest of the Day Off

Padraig stops Declan and asks for the quickest way to the pub.
Declan asks, “Are you walking or driving?”
Padraig: “I’m driving.”
Declan slaps Padraig on the back and says, “That’s the quickest way.”

Cheers!

Friday Photo #8, Christmas Edition

DublinCathedral

Where better for Christmas? Here’s an HDR of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. Click it to make it bigger, and see a few hundred more HDR photos on EarthPhotos.com. Happy holidays.