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Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I last year wrote about St. Patrick on this day. Here is an updated and improved version:

If a day noted for the high rate of imbibition is named after me, certainly, I must comment. The religious leader depicted to the left was a Roman born in Scotland in Year 387, kidnapped as a teenager in Wales and taken to Ireland, but fled back home to became a minister, returned to the Emerald Island and was almost executed for his missionary work. He went on to become the Patron Saint of Ireland.
He drove druids and other heathens out of Ireland (actually, he mostly converted them), and, for that, and a few other so called miracles, became a saint. He is associated with preaching the ministry through the shamrock, the three leaved clover standing for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and is known to have started more than 300 churches.

St. Patrick’s Day is always on March 17 and is a national holiday in Ireland. In addition to the snake myth, another one is the association with the color green.
There is a St. Patrick blue, which is found in the Irish Flag and in the plume of the Irish Guards. My guess is that green is a market device influenced by the fact that Ireland is known as the Emerald Island.

Interestingly enough, the
first St. Paddy's day parade occurred in the USA. The early Irish settled in Boston and held the first parade as early as 1737, followed in 1762 by the New York version mentioned in that article, which is today the world’s largest. A quarter million marchers participated in New York City today.

Returning to history, these immigrants came in larger numbers when the potato famine of the mid-1880’s killed more than 5 million and forced widespread emigration. They had a tough beginning as the Ku Klux Klan then sided more with the blacks than the Irish. More recently, the KKK has actually experienced a national resurgence, now protesting illegal immigrants.

So how did this European inspire annual drunken bouts in every one of our 50 states (even Utah has a parade and two Irish pubs, and for Hawaii, go to the
Honolulu web site)? Well, St. Patrick is not unlike St. Nicholas and St. Valentine, in that the marketplace has taken over. In the USA it is more a celebration of enjoying being Irish for a few hours, and St. Patrick is just a convenient excuse.

Since 1962 the Chicago River has been colored green on this day. It began as 100 pounds of fluorescent dye, but the Environmental Protection Agency forced the city to convert to 40 pounds of a safer concoction (the color is orange, but turns a vivid emerald in water) which is kept secret. The White House fountain last year sprayed green, President Obama’s means of honoring his second city. Not sure if this happened this year, but the
President did meet today in the White House with Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen. This is Google today:

A year ago the Dow Jones Industrials jumped 179 to 7396. At this writing (see box on the right at the day) the Dow is up 53 at 10,739, meaning that the DJI average has jumped 45% since the previous St. Patrick's Day. Gold is down a bit and oil is at $82/barrel. If you were lucky like me and invested in Ford last March, you would have experienced an increase of 625%. But who could have predicted the demise of GM/Chrysler and foibles of Toyota?

Tropical Cyclone Tomas caused a lot of damage in Fiji, but, apparently, with little loss of life. This was a huge cyclone of 430 mile diameter, and at one time reached Category 5, the highest level. It is now down to 85 miles per hour and moving away from Fiji, and should further weaken as cooler waters are traversed.

Tropical Cyclone Ului remains a Category 3 at 115 MPH, but should weaken while heading for Queensland. However, Ului strengthened from almost nothing to a Category 5 storm in 24 hours and raked the Solomons. Amazingly, while there was a lot of flooding and wave damage, I have not read about one fatality.


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