Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Back On The Stump

One of the most interesting aspects of this week's no-confidence vote and election call in Canada (you heard about that, right? No? Really?) will be the fate of mesmeric millionairess Belinda Stronach, the former Tory MP turned Liberal human resources minister.

As you will no doubt recall (or you can click here and it will be recalled for you), Belinda dumped her Tory boyfriend and their party and crossed over in order to save the Liberals from a no-confidence vote back in May (as well as take a position in the Cabinet). Since then, the Grits have been forced to deal with the public airing of a slush fund scandal that eventually resulted in yesterday's vote and a January 23rd election.

And guess who is #1 in the crosshairs now?

Thanksgiving Pics

Some pictures from our Thanksgiving trip to Kentucky (also Mom's 80th -- click to enlarge).

Deconstructing The Mix CD

Monica Eng deconstructs the concept of the mix CD in Sunday's Tribune.

(In it she quotes liberally from Chuck Klosterman's "Sex, Drugs And Cocoa Puffs." The odd thing is that I just so happen to be reading that very book right now, and yesterday read that very chapter. Well, as Klosterman would say ... ANYWAY)

Her point is that the mix CD is not merely a change in technology from the mix tape, but a complete change in its essence -- and not a change for the better.
For many of us who grew up making mix tapes for working out, capturing the vibe of a semester, telling a pal what we're listening to, cleaning the house, studying, preparing for a night out, accompanying a road trip and documenting stages of a relationship -- technology has really changed things. It's altered the way we interact with, organize, give and receive music compilations -- and, more important, the way we view our relationships with those who are doing the giving and receiving.

A lot of people, including [Nick] Hornby, Cameron Crowe and Sarah Vowell, have offered meditations on the art and mystery of the mix tape, but few have mined the beguiling new twists of its easier sister: the mix CD.

"When you used to make mix tapes, the most standard situation was a guy who is friends with a girl and he's trying to indicate that he's actually in love with her but he can't say it," Klosterman explained without actually confessing he was that guy. "One way he could do it was to put a song in on the mix that wasn't on the track listing so that when the girl was sitting there and listening to the whole thing [she would discover it]. Because people would listen to mix cassettes in their totality, so the sequencing was really important and it was this handmade thing and could only exist in this manner. Now if that boy gives a girl a mix CD the first thing she's going to do is listen to the first five seconds of every song to see which songs she knows or already has.

"I mean that's they way people listen to store-bought CDs, which is why the album is dying. Now you just sample the record in bits and pieces and decide that I like track five, six and 11, and so it really is a lot less romantic. You are really giving somebody something that essentially is a product."
The article put me in mind of a couple of things -- both related to my recent experience with a CD swap.

The first is that Eng's contention that easy=cavalier for mix CDs is almost certainly true -- at least in some cases. There's no question that one of the CDs I received took no more time to put together than to click the burn button on iTunes.

The second is that I appear to have a different idea of what the "mix" means in mix CD (or mix tape, for that matter). For me, a good chunk of the fun of making (and listening to) a mix CD is that the songs are literally mixed -- i.e., one song segues into and overlaps the next. This is how I've made mix tapes & CDs since 1987.

The technology certainly has changed since then -- back in the day I would use a mixer and two turntables, recording on a tapedeck. That morphed into including a CD player into the mix, then two CD players, then a CD burner instead of a tapedeck. Eventually a computer with a CD burner and mixing software turned the whole process into its current all-digital format. This makes the process quite a bit more precise and a bit more clinical than the on-the-fly methods of the past -- but it does have its own charms (and yes, it is quite a bit easier).

It does require, though, some consideration of order as well as mere content. Hopefully the fact that every track has a small (or large) bit of the prior and subsequent tracks on it will make it less attractive to bounce around the way Klosterman describes, as well as make it less attractive to just rip the CD to iTunes and throw the songs (or some of the songs) into some other playlist.

Part of the value of a real mix CD comes from the context, and complete value only comes from listening the same way you would to a mix tape.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Most Recent iTunes Random Plays

  • Urge Overkill - Positive Bleeding
  • Kraftwerk - Computer World
  • Green Day - Jackass
  • Built To Spill - Broken Chairs
  • Portishead - It's A Fire
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - Mellowship Slinky In B Major
  • Green Day - Letterbomb
  • The Breeders - Mad Lucas
  • The Beatles - Yesterday
  • Public Enemy - Meet The G That Killed Me
  • Gang Of Four - If I Could Keep It For Myself
  • The White Stripes - Instinct Blues
  • D'Angelo - One Mo'gin
  • Missy Elliott - I'm Really Hot
  • Radiohead - Prove Yourself

Saturday, November 19, 2005

OK. What Was The Mission Again?

In response to Rep. John Murtha's call this week for the withdrawl of U.S. troops from Iraq, the President had the following to say from South Korea:

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea, Nov. 19 -- Facing a backlash on Iraq both at home and abroad, President Bush declared Saturday that an early troop withdrawal would be "a recipe for disaster" and renewed his vow to stay in the war until "we have completed our mission."

Trading his suit coat for a bomber's jacket, Bush delivered his sharp retort to war opponents surrounded by cheering troops in camouflage uniforms at this U.S. military base south of Seoul. While ostensibly on an overseas trip focused on economics, Bush directed his attention to critics at home in remarks just hours after the House voted down a proposal to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq.

"In Washington, there are some who say that the sacrifice is too great and they urge us to set a date for withdrawal before we have completed our mission," he told several thousand service members in a drafty hangar at the headquarters of the 7th Air Force, the main U.S. Air Force unit in South Korea. "Those who are in the fight know better."

Leaving aside the bomber jacket, I have two questions w/r/t the entreaty to stay the course until "we have completed our mission."

The first is, "what exactly is the mission?" The second is, "how will we know when it is completed?"

For all the talk about staying the course and completing the mission, I'm still having a hard time hearing from the President what the mission is. Now, that is -- since we've had plenty of missions over the course of this action. Reviewing:
  • Mission: Remove Saddam Hussein - Check
  • Mission: Neutralize the WMDs - Check (with the rather important asterisk that they weren't there in the first place)
  • Mission: Establish democracy - Check (Right? January parliamentary elections, October constitutional elections, upcoming December parliamentary elections -- it's a democracy, right?)
So what's the mission that is still to be accomplished? Defeating the insurgency? Veep says it's in its been in its last throes for months. Establish the Iraqi army? 200,000 strong, man.

So what is it, exactly, that is so importantly left undone that it would cause the creature known as Ohio Representative Jean Schmidt to label Murtha -- a former Marine drill instructor, bronze star and purple heart winner -- a "coward" for stating what is obvious to most of the country:
"Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency," Murtha said in a Capitol news conference that left him in tears. Islamic insurgents "are united against U.S. forces, and we have become a catalyst for violence," he said. ". . . It's time to bring them home."
If the object is to create more terrorists, we seem to have been doing that for a while. That fact alone should be argument enough to support the troops by declaring mission(s) accomplished (again), and bringing them home. Take a year if necessary to do it, but do it.

Two Movies

Yesterday I came upon, and watched some of, two movies I hadn't seen it quite a while.

The first was Goodfellas, which still ranks as a classic. Couple of notes from the bits I saw ( was in and out):

The manic "helicopter" scenes near the end -- just before Henry Hill is arrested -- have to be the most complete marriage of film and music in the last 20 years. The pacing and editing do all that's necessary to tell you how out of control Henry is at that point.

David Chase must have cast most of The Sopranos directly from the cast list from Goodfellas. From just The Sopranos' billed cast only we have:
  • Lorraine Brocco (Karen Hill/Dr. Jennifer Melfi)
  • Michael Imperioli (Spider/Christopher)
  • Tony Sirico (Tony Stacks/Paulie Walnuts)
  • Vincent Pastore (Man With Coat Rack/Big Pussy)
  • Frank Vincent (Billy Batts/Phil Leotardo)
and that doesn't even get into the hundreds of guest appearances in five years of The Sopranos, so I'm sure there are many more that I'm missing.

The second was Talk Radio, which was on at the same time as the Illini basketball opener, so there was a lot of toggling back and forth. As with any Oliver Stone picture, you know you'll have a certain amount of goofiness right off the bat.

The core of the movie is, of course, Eric Bogosian's performance (the movie is a filmic version of a stage play that he wrote/directed/starred in). His eye-popping bizarro rant near the end is much the logistical equivalent of Goodfellas' famous Copa scene -- the fabled "long take." As I remember it, the shot involved wrapping the camera cords around the axis of a spinning dolly set-up, which slowly unwound as the shot played out. The result is -- figuratively and literally -- dizzying.

Of course it's hard to watch the movie now without flashing on the "Low-Budget Tales of Cliched Horror" skit from The Ben Stiller Show which deftly satirized combined bits of Talk Radio and Jerry Stiller's hate-radio-host-turning-into-Satan freakout Tales From The Darkside episode. Little too much later baggage to look at Talk Radio quite the same way as in 1988.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Here's An Idea -- YOU Shut Up!

Slate's Fred Kaplan examines the President's recent counterattacks on his growing chorus of critics -- particularly among Senate Democrats.

The gist of Bush's argument regarding the retrospectively flimsy reasons for invading Iraq? "Hey, you were wrong too, so shut up!"

Kaplan's point is that this is true, but only as long as you don't scratch beneath the surface. The evidence in early 2003 was indeed that Saddam was a dangerous threat. The state of the art analysis was Kenneth Pollack's The Threatening Storm -- the argument (and book) that I certainly bought at the time:
It is the inadequacy of all the other options toward Iraq that leads us to the last resort of a full-scale invasion. Containment is eroding, and it is no longer realistic to believe that it can be revived in a meaningful sense and sustained over time to prevent Saddam Hussein from acquiring nuclear weapons. ... Unfortunately, the only prudent and realistic course of action left to the United States is to mount a full-scale invasion of Iraq to smash the Iraqi armed forces, depose Saddam's regime, and rid the country of weapons of mass destruction.
What we now know, of course, is that containment largely had worked and there were no weapons of mass destruction to get rid of. As Pollack wrote in a February, 2004 article for The Atlantic:

The U.S. intelligence community's belief toward the end of the Clinton Administration that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear program and was close to acquiring nuclear weapons led me and other Administration officials to support the idea of a full-scale invasion of Iraq, albeit not right away. The [National Intelligence Estimate's] judgment to the same effect was the real linchpin of the Bush Administration's case for an invasion.

What we have found in Iraq since the invasion belies that judgment. Saddam did retain basic elements for a nuclear-weapons program and the desire to acquire such weapons at some point, but the program itself was dormant. Saddam had not ordered its resumption (although some reports suggest that he considered doing so in 2002). In all probability Iraq was considerably further from having a nuclear weapon than the five to seven years estimated in the classified version of the NIE.

So Bush's argument that all were on board with this faulty intelligence is true -- but it is not the complete story. As Kaplan points out, the argument skirts the question of why the intelligence was faulty and in particular skirts the issue of the Bush administration's consistent efforts to shape the intelligence. As Kaplan puts it:

The controversy concerns pressure from the White House and the secretary of defense to form the judgments—that is, to make sure the agencies reached specific judgments—not to change them afterward.
Furthermore, Kaplan argues that the intelligence that did reach the Congress wasn't complete:
This is the crucial point: these Democrats did not have "access to the same intelligence." The White House did send Congress a classified National Intelligence Estimate, at nearly 100 pages long, as well as a much shorter executive summary. It could have been (and no doubt was) predicted that very few lawmakers would take the time to read the whole document. The executive summary painted the findings in overly stark terms. And even the NIE did not cite the many dissenting views within the intelligence community. ... What we didn't know—and what the Democrats in Congress didn't know either—was that many insiders did have reasons to conclude otherwise. There is also now much reason to believe that top officials—especially Vice President Dick Cheney and the undersecretaries surrounding Donald Rumsfeld in the Pentagon—worked hard to keep those conclusions trapped inside.
In the end, though, the now discredited reasons for invasion are only a small part of the problem -- and really a somewhat distracting part of the problem.

The larger part of the problem has become the way in which the initial failures of planning and preparation -- failures due to the fatal combination of hubris and incompetence that has now become the hallmark of the Bush Administration -- have grown into the thoroughly dispiriting mess that Iraq has become and will seemingly continue to be for the forseeable future. Why were they so completely blind to the possibility of a homegrown insurrection? Why were they so completely unable -- despite the billions pledged to rebuilding Iraq -- to ensure the basic safety and services that would have moved the sentiments of the Iraqi public in the right direction before the insurrection had a chance to gain a toehold?

As in so many other areas of what passes for public policy in the Bush Administration (environment & energy policy are quickly heading down this path) the inability to admit the possibility of any alternate futures -- other than the one inside their collective groupthink -- has led to the disaster of having no good alternatives left.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Previous Statement Is Inoperative

Hold on there, buddy. Don't get the idea that you speak for the government or anything.

And you gotta be freakin' nuts if you think you do.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Most Recent iTunes Random Plays

  • The Clash - Four Horsemen
  • The White Stripes - Black Math
  • Hüsker Dü - Pride
  • Hayden - You Were Loved
  • The Posies - Flood Of Sunshine
  • A Perfect Circle - The Hollow
  • Elton John - Levon
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird
  • Blur - Mr. Robinson's Quango
  • Young Fresh Fellows - Thirsty
  • Timbuk 3 - The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades
  • Echo & The Bunnymen - Lips Like Sugar
  • Death Cab For Cutie - Wait
  • Jackson Browne - Redneck Friend
  • Hüsker Dü - Makes No Sense At All

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Great White North

Broken Social Scene's appearance on Morning Becomes Eclectic yesterday points up the remarkable musical renaissance going on in Canada right now, and as a first-generation Canadian-American I couldn't be prouder.

Besides BSS, there's Feist, The New Pornographers, The Arcade Fire, The Dears, Hot Hot Heat, Metric, etc., etc.

Canada -- more than hockey!

What Now?

Steve Chapman weighs in on Iraq again this morning in the Trib -- once again the voice of reason, destined to be ignored:
Republicans, of course, refuse to consider the possibility that their president has made a hopeless mess of the war. And while many Democrats say it was a mistake to go into Iraq, very few have the nerve to say it's also a mistake to stay. The two parties are fighting about how the war began so they don't have to talk about how it will end.
The position of the Bush administration is that we are building democracy and training Iraqi police and soldiers to take over the fight against the insurgents. But our efforts have yielded no progress in the war.
Recent weeks mark a new low by almost any measure. Last month, American fatalities totaled 93, the most since January. Insurgents carried out an average of 100 attacks per day, the most furious pace of the entire war. Iraqi civilian and security personnel have been dying at double the rate earlier this year.
Supporters of the war complain that the news media fail to report all the good news about Iraq. But Fox News didn't report much good news from London when terrorists set off bombs in the subway last summer, killing 52 people. Iraq suffers the equivalent of a London subway bombing every day.
We've made steps toward constitutional government in Iraq, but establishing democracy in a country racked with such turmoil is like planting pine seedlings during a forest fire--it's not likely to succeed, and you may get killed trying.
So what should we do instead? My preference is to acknowledge that we don't know how to win the war and bring our troops home, say, week after next. That makes far more sense than persisting for another year, or two, or three, at the cost of hundreds of American lives, before we finally recognize the inevitable.
Bob Herbert in the New York Times discusses the effects on the military itself of being mired in such a hopeless situation, with no realistic expectation of relief:

... the problems of the military go far beyond the casualty figures coming out of the war zone. The Army, for example, has been stretched so taut since the Sept. 11 attacks, especially by the fiasco in Iraq, that it's become like a rubber band that may snap at any moment.

President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld convinced themselves that they could win the war in Iraq on the cheap. They never sent enough troops to do the job. Now the burden of trying to fight a long and bitter war with too few troops is taking a terrible toll on the men and women in uniform.

Last December, the top general in the Army Reserve warned that his organization was "rapidly degenerating into a 'broken' force" because of the Pentagon's "dysfunctional" policies and demands placed on the Reserve by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

As one of my colleagues at The Times, David Unger of the editorial board, wrote, "The Army's commitments have dangerously and rapidly expanded, while recruitment has plunged."

Soldiers are being sent into the crucible of Iraq for three and even four tours, a form of Russian roulette that is unconscionable.

"They feel like they're the only ones sacrificing," said Paul Rieckhoff, a former Army lieutenant who served in Iraq and is now the executive director of Operation Truth, an advocacy group for service members and veterans.

"They're starting to look around and say, 'You know, it's me and my buddies over and over again, and everybody else is living life uninterrupted.' "

The Key To The Season?

The Cats played their second and final exhibition game last night in Lexington, defeating the Kentucky (and D-III) version of Georgetown, 85-63.

The star of the game was Rekalin Sims, a JC transfer who is expected to take Chuck Hayes' place in the 4 spot -- to the tune of 22 points, 11 boards, 3 assists, 2 blocks & 2 steals.

While this was obviously against inferior competition, it is welcome news. It has been said that Sims is the key to the season, since "No one expects Hayes and (Kelenna) Azubuike to be completely replaced, but there isn’t a candidate to impersonate those guys for long periods of time."

I don't quite agree with the idea that no one can replace these two. As a matter of fact, I expect that Joe Crawford (15 points in 17 minutes last night) is very likely to replace Kelenna without much of a dropoff.

Replacing Hayes will be much more difficult, hence the very real importance of Sims in the equation (although the eventual resolution of the Randolph Morris situation is probably of equal importance).

However, I'm not so sure about Pomeroy's postulation that the offense will be very marginal. I fully expect that all of the sophs (Rajon Rondo & Ramel Bradley as well as Morris & Crawford) will take big steps forward on offense -- more than enough to make up for and exceed the lost firepower of Hayes & Azubuike.

But we'll see -- the real season starts Sunday (although the competition, South Dakota State, will hardly be any better).

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Greatest

I kind of pride myself on not being one of those types (e.g., the Kevin Kline character in The Big Chill) who are my age (45), but are stuck listening to the same music they did when they were 20 (does even mentioning The Big Chill make me one of those types by default? Maybe).

For instance, in just the past couple of months I've managed to find (or be led to), to start listening to, and to start loving: Silversun Pickups, The Coral Sea, Fallout Boy, Rainer Maria, Röyksopp, The Go! Team, Laura Veirs, Death From Above 1979, The Hold Steady & L'Altra -- among many others.

But at the risk of becoming Kline-like, I must report that my fav band of all time remains the same now as when I was 20 -- Talking Heads.

The reason I bring it up is that my dear wifey just presented me with a copy of the recently released Brick, a remastered dual-disc compilation of all 8 of Talking Heads studio albums. A desperately-needed remastering, by the way, as the band's first-generation CD reissues fell prey to the same disease as so many of its new wave bretheren -- the sound sucked!

Most of the production values were lost in the small-sounding early generation CDs, and when you lose production values with this band you lose a lot.

The good news is that Brick sounds great -- as full and rich as it should. As full and rich as the original vinyl, but without the annoying pops & skips of the by-now very well-worn grooves.

The bad news is that I as yet haven't put together a 5.1 surround-sound stereo system for my house, but the need to take full advantage of the DVD sides of each disc will certainly act as a sharp stick aimed at my ribs.

Listening to these discs reminds me of just how ingrained this music is in my skull, while bringing out as-yet unheard nuances in the songs. It reminds me of how wildly inventive this band was -- lyrically, melodically, harmonically, rhythmically, you name it.

Each of their best albums (More Songs About Buildings And Food, Fear Of Music, Remain In Light) is somewhere in my top 5 favorites of all time, and yet they are completely different from one another. More Songs is clear and crisp, edgy and nervous, but utterly danceable. Fear Of Music is claustrophobic and echoey, Remain In Light is densely layered and polyrhythmic.

All were released between October of 1978 and September of 1980. In less than two years, they released three of the best albums ever made, and Kevin Kline or no Kevin Kline, they still sound that way!

Wonk Is Back!

A sure sign of the impending college basketball season -- Big Ten Wonk is back in action, with a micro-minute, macro-astute breakdown of the entire Big 11.

Add to that the first exhibition for the Cats last night, and the March to Indy will soon be underway!

How Will He Be Remembered?

The past week has seen a spate of news that all seem to coalesce around the question of how, and for what, will the current President be remembered?
  • Last Friday, the Vice-President's Chief of Staff and National Security Advisor (who also happens to hold title -- or held title -- as a Special Advisor to the President) was indicted by a federal grand jury for 5 counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. "Scooter" Libby was forced to resign those positions, and will be arraigned today.
  • This Monday, the President announced his third choice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor -- Judge Samuel Alito.
  • On Tuesday, the Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid invoked a seldom-used rule to focus attention on the fact that the Senate Intelligence Committee has dropped the ball on its investigations of the Administration's activities regarding the justifications for war prior to the March, 2003 invasion of Iraq.
  • On Wednesday came revelations about a covert worldwide CIA prison system for Al Qaeda detainees, along with descriptions of the internal policy debates about how much of international law and the Geneva Conventions should be ignored in the treatment of these detainees.
How each of these threads plays out will have tremendous implications for how the Bush Administration, and the President himself, will be remembered. They seem to resolve themselves into three questions:

First, did the President and his minions mislead us about the need to invade Iraq and the reasons for doing so?

As important as the Libby indictment may be on its own in terms of respect for the rule of law, it seems all too emblematic of the ability of these guys to play fast and loose with the truth when it suits their purposes. This is, of course, a proud tradition in American politics, but shouldn't the historical legacies of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon provide a reality check? Whatever good these two may have accomplished -- and both did accomplish some good -- is all but entirely overshadowed and diminished now by their lies and cover-ups.

The unwillingness or inability of the Republican Congress to complete the investigation of the run-up to the war only highlights what we now seem to know -- that intelligence was cherry-picked (or flat-out distorted) before the war in order to bolster a pre-packaged invasion plan, and that post-hoc justifications for the war have been floated and rotated until all we're left with is the current stay-the-course mantra that justifies our being there on the basis of the fact that we're there.

Second, has the invasion of Iraq, and the other actions taken in the name of national/homeland security, actually made us safer in the long run?

It is thankfully true that America has not suffered a follow-on attack after 9/11 (although Britain has, and Spain has, and Indonesia has a couple of times, and now India has), but that doesn't fully answer the question of whether the President's actions have truly made us safer.

If the 9/11 attacks were merely a tactic in a longer-term strategy to destabilize the Middle East and prepare the ground for Wahhabist theocracies throughout the region, could the strategy be any more enhanced than it has been by the seemingly endless occupation of Iraq? An occupation that continues to eat away at our fiscal situation even as it erodes our military capabilities and shreds our diplomatic positions? It's simple enough to label the "evildoers" as such, but what if they did have an objective beyond random killing?

And even if you believe that Iraq was the right place and the right time to push back in a strategic drive to democratize the region, how can you countenance the lack of tactical foresight, preparation and realistic planning that resulted in the dreary, bloody mess that Iraq is today? That mess now seems all but certain to result in little better than a theocratic Iranian client state.

And on the homeland security front, the real issue of Katrina is not the persistence of poverty in this country -- that issue has been so thoroughly marginalized that no real discussion is possible -- but the startling lack of preparedness that it uncovered at all levels. In addition to highlighting a rickety infrastructure, the experience begs the question of what would the response be in a sizeable emergency for which there was no advance warning? Perhaps the experience will bring the question into sharp enough relief that specific actions will be taken, but can we count on that when the four years since 9/11 haven't been enough?

Finally, as the country moves deeper into the 21st century, will the Supreme Court -- led by its new and relatively young Chief Justice -- be a place where personal and privacy rights are respected or ignored? I'm convinced that privacy and privacy rights will be the most important legal issue of the next few decades -- and I'm not talking about abortion.

How will our 4th Amendment be interpreted with regard to the evolving use of DNA testing, for instance? I feel certain that privacy issues which we cannot predict now will be of incredible importance 10 or 20 years from now, and Roberts and Alito (and whoever Bush selects to replace John Paul Stevens?) will be right in the middle of the issue. Will they uphold "the right of the people to be secure in their persons," or will we get some "strict constructionist" claptrap instead?

And none of this even touches upon what I believe will be the single most important oversight (willfull or otherwise) of the President and his single most important legacy (or lack thereof) -- the continuing dependence of this country on oil and the almost shameful lack of interest and investment in developing a strategy for weaning our economy off of our oil dependence.

Two Decades

Yesterday was the 20th wedding anniversary for Noreen and I. It is inconceivable that anyone could have had 20 happier, more fulfilling years of marriage than I have.

I married, and am still very much in love with, a very special woman.