Sunday, June 25, 2006
Arrived in sunny Beirut sans luggage but with laptop so a couple of pics from my 15th floor hotel balcony looking out over the med(?). Beirut has returned to its status as the 'Paris of the Mid-East' and its certainly a vibrant city. Tomorrow begins a round of meetings with politicans, diplomats, the media and civil society on the proposed new constitution/electoral system. Should be fascinating.
Friday, June 23, 2006
Chapel hill/Carrboro Trail heads
Yesterday was my first outing with the 'Trailheads' who run on the glorious miles of wooded single track trails around town.
5.30pm, 95 degrees, 45 minutes...exactly why did we do that???
Layna has been running with them for a while and we struggled to keep up with her.
You are given a special 'trailhead' name which becomes your only identification - I think you have to be assessed for a few months before being deemed worthy of a name.
Tomorrow I leave for Beirut as part of an IFES team to review the constitutional proposals by the 'Boutros Commssion.' I am (surprise, surprise) the electoral systems guy. The Lebanese 'confessional' legislative electoral system (64 Muslim, 64 Christian seats) has long been discussed, vilified and applauded in each measure. After the Hariri assassination they are considering institutional reform across the spectrum. As yet I cannot reveal what the new electoral system proposals are: but they are interesting! ;)
Reynolds v. Bjornstad (revision)
There must have been an error in the pgatour.com tourcast shot tracker as Henrik in fact scored 74 (+3) instead of 75 yesterday. The cut line will be around Even par and littlebear tees off at 1.20pm.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Bjornstad vs. Reynolds Week.3
Once again we return to our weekly Bjornstad v. Reynolds golf head to head.
As you will recall (from posting on May 18) we take my score from the current week and compare that against Henrik's Thursday round in whatever tournament he is playing (this week the Booz Allen in Maryland).
Then we take into account our handicaps (me: 6, Henrik 0)
June 21, 2006
Course: Finley, UNC
My score: 76 (+4) (net:70)
June 22, 2006
Course: TPC Avenel, Potomac, Maryland
Henrik's score: 75 (+4) (net:75)
Another Reynolds victory...maybe Henrik can practice while I am in Beirut next week.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Conference of the Association of New, Transitional and Disappearing Democracies
Friday, June 16, 2006
England 2 Trinidad and Tobago 0
Saturday, June 10, 2006
England 1 Paraguay 0
Henrik- Another missed cut
A 73 Thursday (+2) followed by a 76 Friday (+5) put Henrik Bjornstad 6 shots over the cut line. Hopefully the break for the US Open (which HB did not qualify for) will allow littlebear to regain his confidence. He sits at 108 on the money list with the top 125 retaining their playing priviledges at the end of the year.
I think he needs one good (top 20?) finish to get back into the game.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Strong Garden Growth
While I was in Mongolia we saw strong growth across the board in the virgin secret garden.
The cucumbers are going great guns, the eggplants look strong and the surviving corn are doing their best. Tomato crop (Roma shown here) may be huge. As an added bonus the transplanted pumpkin plants seem to be doing well.
Bjornstad v. Reynolds (2)
We return to our weekly Bjornstad v. Reynolds golf head to head.
As you will recall (from posting on May 18) we take my score from the current week and compare that against Henrik's Thursday round in whatever tournament he is playing (this week the Barclays Classic in New York). Then we take into account our handicaps (me: 6, Henrik +2-- Although after some complaints from the viewing public I have agreed from now on to change Henrik's handicap to scratch (i.e., 0) to give him a better chance).
I won the first challenge (me: 6 over par, Henrik just 1 under).
June 07, 2006
Course: Finley, UNC
My score: 75 (+3)
June 08, 2006
Course: Westchester Country Club, NY
Henrik's score: 73 (+2)
Not even close this week littlebear.
(I must remind readers of how much more challenging this competition is for Bjornstad, see deails in May 18th post :)
Back in the Treehouse-Mongolia & the Block Vote
Apologies for being slack in my blogging since Mongolia. Here are a couple of pics of bucolic life on the high plains for your enjoyment.
Matt S asks me to say a few words on why I was there. I spoke at a conference of New and Transitional Democracies (of which Mongolia is the current chair). The meeting was focused on the problems of detailed democracy assessment methodologies and we reviewed the assessment of Mongolian democracy which had been done (with some international assistance) by the Mongolians themselves. They basically found no real threats to democracy (as opposed to the rest of central Asia) but growing distrust in parties and politicians (where have we heard that before??)
My other reason for going was to pick up info on the electoral system question which is pretty central in Mongolia. They began in 1992 with the Block Vote (districts between 2 and 4 in size) which led to the former communists (MPRP) winning a 70 of 76 seats with 57% of the vote. This is, of course, how we would expect the system to work. So they switched to Anglo FPTP for 1996, 2000 and 2004 which still led to wild swings in vote and seat share. In '96 the Democrats won 50/76 seats with just over half the votes, in 2000 the MPRP came back and won every seat bar 1 with around 60%! Then in 2004 there was pretty much a dead heat -- the MPRP won 39 seats, the Democrats 36 and others 3. A coalition govt was formed but it fell apart in 2006 and the MPRP seized back majority control. Now, in a strange choice which I'm trying to understand, Mongolia is returning to the Block Vote for 2008. You can guess that I have some serious misgivings about that!