But back to Ireland. Whiskey -- like parades, colors, religion, and everything else on the island (carrots included) -- is political in nature here. For instance: I've never seen Bushmills served in the Republic of Ireland. Never. And I've personally been in many a pub, throughout the years. If you order whiskey at the bar in the Republic, it had better be Jameson. I assume the same is true in Northern Ireland, for Bushmills, as well. Yes, even after a long day when you retire to the pub, politics is never all that far away from Irish life. In other words: keep in mind which side of the border you're on when you order that shot at the bar!
Archive of Articles for March, 2015
OK, here we go with part two of my travels in Ireland. When I first sat down to write this, my thought was to do one more travel column, and then essentially just pack it in until I got back home. However, when I had finished writing, I found the gift of the gab which had descended upon me many years ago at Blarney Castle (meself upside-down, kissing the Blarney Stone, at the time) had not failed me, and that indeed I had created enough for two solid columns. So, today, the first of these; then tomorrow, the conclusion of the trip. From that point on, I cannot promise new columns, at least until the first of next month. But I can, at the very least, promise a new column tomorrow, so there's that.
Greetings from Ireland!
Sure and it's a long, long way to Tipperary, as they say. How long? I really have no idea, since it's not on our itinerary this trip. Finding the answer might be something worthwhile to do on my next trip, I suppose.
It's tax season once again and I'd like to address a question that I rarely see addressed: Who do tax cuts benefit?
For the record -- and no surprise to anyone who has made it to the end of one of my 10,000-word columns -- yes, I have kissed the Blarney Stone. It's at the top of Blarney Castle, which is lots of fun to wander around, and to kiss it you have to lean backwards over a death-defying drop of something like ten stories. An old Irishman will hold your legs for you, so you don't fall to certain death, and you better believe I tipped him well for the service! Then, while leaning backwards, you kiss the magic stone (and try not to think about the rumors you've heard of mischievous Irish lads sneaking up there and urinating on it at night).
Barack Hussein Obama is not exactly the first name that springs to mind when the average person thinks of American politicians with Irish roots, to say the least. But Obama does indeed have Irish ancestry, and he certainly played this up in his recent visit to the Emerald Isle. Today, we are going to print the full text of Obama's address to an ecstatic Dublin crowd.
Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, lived in the fifth century A.D., and he came to Ireland as a proselytizer for Christianity. That is about the sum total of the known, verifiable facts about Patrick. The rest is myth. Since such mythologizing began only a few hundred years after his death (which happened on March 17, by the way), these myths of Patrick are much more widely known than the thin shreds of his real history (which are limited to two surviving letters written by Patrick in Latin). Besides, it's much more fun to sit around telling these tales over a pint of Guinness than to dig up actual facts. Even if the tales are pure blarney.
At this point, you may be tempted to ask the barman for what you believe will be a well-known local drink, and you may thus make the mistake of asking for a "black and tan." The reception of what you consider a harmless drink order for a pint glass half-filled with Harp and half-filled with Guinness Stout will not, however, be a merry twinkle of approval from the barman's eye for ordering a local delicacy. Instead, you will (hopefully) be forgiven for such a gross error of etiquette, and (once they hear some more of your American accent, again, hopefully) they will instruct you in the long and grim history of the Black and Tans -- with a helpful suggestion that if you ever want the same drink again in an Irish pub, that you ask for it as a "half and half" instead.
I will be away until the end of March. I am taking a vacation to visit Ireland, to see how the Irish celebrate Saint Patrick's Day. I will be watching the parade in Dublin with interest, and perhaps may have some time to report back. But I make no promises -- I [...]
For the uninformed, Pi Day is a yearly celebration of a date on the calendar, for its numerical significance. It ranks up there among geeky holidays with the fourth of May ("Star Wars Day," since you can go around wishing everyone "May the Fourth be with you!"). The significance is it will be "3/14" (at least in the United States, as Europeans write their dates differently). These are the first three digits in the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, or "pi."
But this year's Pi Day will be the best one for the next 100 years, because a whole bunch of digits will come into play. Pi's value is, to 10 digits: 3.141592653. This year's Pi Day will be 3/14/15. Taking it a step further, just before 9:30 AM tomorrow morning, the date and time will read: 3/14/15 -- 9:26:53. Woo hoo! Best Pi Day of the century!