SOMETIMES A CAT DANCE awakens us in the morning as Jack the stray black-and-white tuxedo tomcat does his aerobic routine (step 4 of 5 at left). He's a stray cat who adopted us two houses ago and he's survived the manic traffic outside our front door for over a year now but his day is sure to come. We're looking out for Jack, and for his potential of truly enjoying nine lives. So we bought the story of finding a proper cloner and that search might take us to South Korea were experts there hope to remake 500 pets a year. "In a happy mix of science and commerce, man's best friend can live and live again," says the story.  Getting Jack cloned will cost the whole amount of a college fund I have started saving for Mia, who might have another opinion on the cloning. The South Korean team have definitely produced a genuine clone of a dog. Ra Jeong-Chan, the chief executive of the Korean company that plans to charge around €100,000 for each animal cloned, expects his company will "receive orders for specialist dogs such as drug and bomb sniffer dogs," but he also plans to clone up to 100 "companion dogs" starting in early 2009. That's why we're looking into booking Jack now. And we hope the tsunami of traffic from Stumbleupon this morning does not add to the queue of cloner customers.
Best American Election Coverage. In my seat as an American ex-pat living in Ireland, I believe the best coverage of the intriguing US primary election season comes from The Economist magazine. Because of Ireland's love affair with the Clinton's or its swooning over anything that resembles JFK, readers of the Irish press won't get an inside view of John McCain. Years ago, when "drunk on shore leave in Cuba, he charged into a brawl between Marines and sailors. He admits to having loved such encounters. McCain no longer brawls, but he still cusses like a sailor." I learned of John McCain while serving time in a mock prison of war camp, modeled in part on McCain's experience while held as a POW for seven years. "Fuck you, you goddamned slant-eyed cocksuckers" was one of his throwaway phrases on the days when interrogators smash his mouth to extract confessions. [2a] Personally, I don't think McCain will win the US Presidency because it's time for a Democratic run on Pennsylvania Avenue. But I like McCain's take on the office. "I do not seek the presidency on the presumption that I am blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save my country in my hour of need." [2b]
The blog that spun out of control. When a Sunday Times freelance writer started to chronicle her life as the blogger Petite Anglaise, matters quickly spun out of control. Her story should be supplementary material for all blogging courses taught in Ireland. [3a]
When you pay for spin, you get upset when it unravels. The Football Association of Ireland, like most agencies that enjoy support from the Irish Exchequer, gets annoyed when its well-paid public relations machine gets trumped by soft-spoken experts. So it's no wonder that the FAI Chief Executive is mouthing off at Sunderland manager Roy Keane after Keane made some comments about his country's football association. The Sunday Tribune has the story, interesting only because of the back story (i.e., spinmeisters versus Keano). 
The Inevitable Demise of the Amateur. From bloggers who are just in it for the conversation to local hurlers who train for the joy of the sport, there are currents awash our culture that threaten the concept of unvarnished amateurism. I know it's hard to conduct an online conversation without encountering a hidden agenda because everyone harbours bias and some have deeply ingrained prejudices that affect their writing. From my earliest readings of blogging (Jorn Barger and Dave Winer were my first bookmarks, then Gerry McGovern's weekly newsletter), I figured out that people were spokesmen for their own expertise, effectively putting them onto the speaking circuit (that pays more than travel costs, by the way) on the heels of their writing. Currently, I see a time-honoured amateur institution under attack by the forces of society. Ireland's Gaelic Athletic Association faces challenges to the way it does business and to its essence as a champion of amateurs. 
The Offensive Vertical in New Ireland. You cannot live in 21st century Ireland without electricity but whenever anyone wants to put the generating capacity near some existing population centre, there's all sorts of outcry, normally laced with cries of "an unsightly skyline" due to large vertical stacks, vents or motors. That's what we hear now in South Tipperary as yet another citizen group objects to a natural gas powered electricity generating plant in Cahir. You can bet that all the objectors use electricity, that most of them object to nuclear power plants, and that none of them believe they are proponents of Nimbyism. 
Living Off the Grid in Ireland. I can offer first-hand testimony in support of the claim that "Ireland has become the ideal destination for rich Americans to disappear without a trace." Los Angeles-based Frank Ahearn offers his services to "women who are victims of stalkers, celebrities who wish to insulate themselves from the public reach and high profile executives who need to protect their families from potential kidnappers." Some of the details of Ahearn's tactics are in the News section of today's Sunday Tribune and some of his suggestions work for simpletons like myself who just want to totally rebadge themselves by transitioning into another life. 
Cowboys with Boilers. Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), the government body that provides grants of €3,000 towards wood pellet boilers, has received a large number of complaints from dissatisfied customers claiming the installation of many of the boilers has been inept. As reported in the Sunday Times, "there is currently no training programme instructing installers how to fit systems and no vetting of those on the list." More than 300 plumbers have not re-registered with SEI as alternative energy installers this year. 
Fighting Distortion around Broadband. Although I am one who sees value in broadband infrastructure--like fibre optic cable snaking into homes and offices--I also think it's important to point out the value of 3G broadband. In some circles, people decry the use of mobile broadband as part of the overall measurement of broadband penetration in Ireland. While it's important to compare apples to apples (most countries don't count wireless broadband as real broadband when reporting broadband connections), it's also important to acknowledge that in many cases in rural Ireland, wireless broadband over the air is measurably faster than download speeds over copper wires. In my personal experience, I can access the internet at HSDPA speeds faster and more effortlessly than when using ethernet cables and HEANET bandwidth. My experience is the same as many of my colleagues. It's one also expressed at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week. 
Wills and Wanks. Back when I used to fly into places where even the pilots had to carry sidearms, we were asked to verify that our wills were current, that our footprints were on file with the flight surgeon and that we didn't want a top-up on our life insurance policies. Now there's an initiative in England through which "growing numbers of wives of British soldiers are requesting to have their husbands' sperm frozen before they are deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq so they can still have children if their loved ones are killed in action." There is definitely a market for this kind of service and with Ireland deploying troops into Dafur, you would think there's a need for an Irish response as well. 
1. Anna Fifield (on secondment) -- "Booger the dog to return as US owner pays $50,000 for cloning" on the front page of The Financial Times, 17 February 2008.
2a. The Economist cover story -- "Half-way there" in the 15 February 2008 edition and it continues with the 22 February 2008 cover question, "But can he deliver?"
2b. Suzanne Goldenberg -- "Obama v McCain: who would be the winner" in The Guardian, 16 February 2008.
3a. Catherine Sanderson -- "Catherine Sanderson's racy internet diary gets her sacked"
3b. Lesley White -- "A Lust Cause" as the cover story of The Sunday Times Magazine, 17 February 2008.
4a. Malachy Clerkin -- "Delaney hits out at Keane inaccuracies" in the Sunday Tribune, 17 February 2008.
4b. Paul Watson -- "Why surfers don't want transparency", 12 February 2008.
5. Tom McGurk -- "All to play for" in The Sunday Business Post, 17 February 2008.
6. Willie Cremmins -- "Residents to appeal green light for energy plant" on the front page of The Nationalist, 16 February 2008.
7. Conor McMorrow -- "Ireland: the perfect place if you need to disappear" in the News section of the Sunday Tribune, 17 February 2008.
8. Colin Coyle -- "Eco-friendly boilers cost the earth" in The Sunday Times, 17 February 2008.
9. James Ashton -- "Mobile firms urged to deliver the future today" in The Sunday Times, 17 February 2008.
10. Mark Townsend -- "Patners freeze sperm of troops on active duty" on the front page of The Observer, 17 February 2008.
Last week: Fronting the Sunday News, 10 February 2008.
Most-Viewed Local Image Last Week: Cork International Airport Loo
Most-Read Blog Post From Last Week: "Silent LinkedIn Generation" (135 views in seven days.)
Last Fortnight: "Snowy and Windy Sunday News" 3 February 2008.
A Year Ago: "Four Digit Tom", 17 February 2007. Tom Raftery still tops Irish bloggers in the Feedburner statistics, especially among the elders of Irish blogging.
Bonus Link: "Creative Camp Just Ahead". Must-see creative event in Kilkenny on 8 March 2008.