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What more is there to say?

That's what I was thinking, reading about the latest atrocity in Israel. Young men sitting down to Shabbat dinner, gunned down by terrorists instead. But they were settlers. And two of them were off-duty soldiers. So it doesn't matter as much, right?

David Saranga, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, blamed Arafat for the Otniel attack, saying his Palestinian Authority provided the "infrastructure" for militant attacks.

Arafat has called for an end to such attacks, while describing raids on Jewish settlers as "self defense" because armed settlers have attacked Palestinians.

It was clearly a case of self-defense. That's plain to see.

One of the terrorists had entered the kitchen of the Otniel yeshiva (Jewish seminary) just after 8:00 PM, as the students were sitting down to Friday night Sabbath dinner and opened fire on the students working there, killing them. He then tried to enter the crowded dining hall but was prevented by one of the students who managed to shut the door.

No, it's definitely Israel's fault.

Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo told Reuters: "This (Otniel attack) is the result of Israel's assassination policy and the killing of Palestinian civilians."

After all, these deaths occurred in a settlement, and the settlements are wrong.

Palestinian militants have often targeted Jewish settlements during their fight for statehood and against Israeli occupation in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The international community considers settlements illegal under international law. Israel disputes this.

But in any case, the Israelis are the agressors, as Reuters tells us in almost every single article concerning Israel.

At least 1,748 Palestinians and 675 Israelis have been killed since the Palestinian revolt began.

That's why you hear such peaceful words as this from Hamas, the group that insists that Canada is wrong to label them terrorists:

But Islamic militants in Gaza City on Friday pledged to continue attacks.

"They should not feel safe," Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said of Israelis at a rally marking the 15th anniversary of the founding of the group, responsible for dozens of suicide bombings since the start of the Palestinian uprising.

Trust me, you disgusting piece of camel dung, Israelis don't feel safe.

I dislike describing what's happening here in a way that would make it sound as if I’m whining or wallowing in self-pity. This is why I have been writing much less about the "situation" lately.

The other day I got an e-mail from someone who said something about a few months ago when we (meaning Israel) were in a bad way. But the thing is, we still are in a bad way. Even if the security forces manage to prevent or foil nearly all the terrorist acts, it doesn't mean they are not being attempted daily, or that we don't know about them here. We are being updated all the time about terrorist attacks that have been foiled, or terrorists that have been arrested and found to have had explosive belts or other weapons aimed at killing Israeli civilians (this is usually about two or three a day). A few times a day, there are announcements on the radio of increased alert in such and such an area, then announcements that the alert has been cancelled, then announcements of alert somewhere else, or in the same area again.

So we are still very aware that we are living under the shadow of terrorist attacks.

That specific article did not point out that the rally was held in a soccer stadium filled with 30,000 wildly cheering Palestinians, and featured something other than their regular display of white-robed suicide-bombers-in-training:

Yet in a concession to the Palestinian Authority, the rally did not feature white-robed would-be suicide bombers this time - a staple of previous Hamas gatherings.

Instead, activists blew up a large model of an Israeli tank and burned US, British and Israeli flags.

Organizers also played a recorded message by Mohammed Deif, a top Hamas fugitive and bombmaker who was wounded in a targeted Israeli attack earlier this year. "Our jihad will continue until either victory or martyrdom," Deif said.

We're hoping that the IDF gets you for good this time, Deif, but thank you for letting us know that Hamas has no intention of stopping terrorism. In fact, it really is only the truly stupid ones that believe you will stop.

Hamas has been sending mixed signals in recent weeks regarding the possible halt of attacks. The group's leaders have said publicly that Hamas - responsible for scores of suicide bombings in Israel - would not change tactics.

However, a source close to truce talks in Cairo told The Associated Press this week that Hamas promised the Egyptians to halt attacks for now. Several officials in Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement also said Hamas was sending conciliatory signals.

Because we thought this was a load of shit:

However, a source close to truce talks in Cairo told The Associated Press this week that Hamas promised the Egyptians to halt attacks for now. Several officials in Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement also said Hamas was sending conciliatory signals.

There have not been any fatal shootings or bombings in Israel in the past month, one of the longest periods of calm in 27 months of fighting.

And that this was the real reason for the lull:

Israel says the relative lull is a result of its relentless strikes against militias. "This is an ongoing, continuous war," said Raanan Gissin, an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Israel's massive military presence in the West Bank - troops control all but one major population center – have made it increasingly difficult for militias to operate.

In the West Bank town of Nablus, three successive leaders of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a militia linked to Fatah, have been arrested in the past three months. Fugitives have trouble finding a hideout because sympathizers don't want to harbor them for fear their homes will be destroyed by the Israeli military.

Unfortunately, the IDF isn't perfect. Two killers got through. Four young men are dead. Thanks to the bravery and quickness of the student who slammed the door on one of them, many in the crowded dining hall are alive today.

But I guess it doesn't matter as much. They were settlers. It was self-defense, you see. Because they were all armed with dinner knives and forks, and they could have massacred Palestinians with them. Or something.

What more is there to say?



What a good daughter

My blogdaughter, Shanti, sent her blogmom a holiday present. I knew someone (or several someones) had picked out the rest of the Lemony Snicket books from my Amazon wishlist, but I didn't know who. Finally, I get to say thank you.

And to quote why I love these books so much: "But on a cold day, in a drafty room, chilled cucumber soup is about as welcome as a swarm of wasps at a bat mitzvah."

He is subtle, he is hilarious, and that can be read in several different ways, only one of them offensive to WASPs and utterly hilarious to this Jewgirl.

Thanks so much, Shanti.

Little Tiny Whats?

Sitemeter referrers aren't exactly the most reliable. When you see that the New York Times is sending people your way via a check of Sitemeter, you can rest assured that someone was reading a Times article before deciding they'd had enough of long, boring, stuffy writing and want to enjoy someone who can put words together without the use of "forthwith" or "heretofore," especially in an article describing the latest trends in television.

But usually, when you find a Blogspot site via your referrers, it's safe to assume it's a referral. Which is why I checked out a site called Little Tiny Lies, which I'd never visited before. Um. Ego, thy name is referrers, and no, he wasn't referring anyone to me, but damn, Steve's a hoot.

I found this column on how to cook a country breakfast that nearly slayed me. I just love his version of the Jewish concept of hell, which he uses as a convincing reason to get us to try it.

Let's start with ham. I know I have a good number of Jewish readers, in varying degrees of observant...ness, and some of you may be unfamiliar with the pleasures of properly fermented pork. Leviticus says "verily, you momzers, no ham hocks or hog maws," and you're worried that if you indulge, the Almighty will give you a good roasting or even come around for another piece of your foreskin. Well, calm down. My own personal rabbi, Aaron of Aaron's Rantblog, informs me that Jewish hell is a temporary thing. Evidently, God has some kind of a propane deal similar to a turkey fryer, and He just holds you over it until you convince Him you're serious about cutting the crap. It can't last very long, because it's powered by a petroleum by-product, and God is a Jew, and as we all know, Mohammed got all the oil.

All right, so he's wrong about Ann Coulter, and I doubt we agree much on political issues, outside Israel and the war on terror, but hey—this guy's effing hilarious. Susanna, this guy's from your home state. Wow, there really are more like you at home.

A different view of a day's events in Israel

Ha'aretz has an interesting analysis of the IDF's day yesterday, during which nine Palestinian—most of them terrorists—were killed.

When Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon was commander of the forces in the West Bank in the early 1990s, he used to tell company commanders, "As long as we are on page 19 of the newspapers, everything's okay."

In recent weeks, it was just that. Three Israelis have been killed so far in December, compared to 44 in November and 22 in October. That's the result of the enormous pressure on the wanted men - and on the Palestinian population among which they live.

The fact the town most densely populated with wanted men - Nablus - has not managed to send a terrorist into Israel for more than a month can only be explained by the army's use of an elite unit, the Paratroopers Brigade, in the city, as well as the extensive curfews they impose.

In the last four months, more than 50 terrorists have been killed in the West Bank. In Gaza, 220 have been killed since Operation Defensive Shield in the spring.

But Ya'alon wants more than that. In internal army meetings, he is talking about the need for a decisive victory and 2003 is being described as "the year of decision." It won't only by a by-product of the American assault in Iraq, but rather, he hopes, the result of the ongoing pressure on the Palestinians, including more arrests and many more demolitions of terrorist homes.

Since September, 78 houses have been demolished and the army believes it is the most effective deterrent it has found to foil terrorism. Army commanders speak about fathers who turn in their sons before the youths manage to commit terrorist attacks and the army destroys the family's home.

Yesterday's relatively high number of casualties is not perceived in the army as requiring any explanation, but rather as a nearly-positive development, showing that the army is able to simultaneously reach large numbers of suspects in their hiding places, and then either arrest them or, if they resist, kill them.

But the quote I find most interesting is this one:

Thus, it appears the real war that will take place here in the coming months won't be about missiles or chemical or biological warheads, but about two much closer and more threatening dangers - Palestinian terrorism and Hezbollah's array of rockets in south Lebanon.

For those who are skeptical about the scenario, keep in mind Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz's promise last week in Washington "to wipe the Hezbollah rockets off the map" if the organization dares to use them against Israel.

The actions promised in that statement may be only weeks away. Somehow, I don't think you're going to see any letters from academics protesting the number of Hezbollah rockets aimed towards Israel, and warning the world that Hezbollah intends to murder Israelis under the fog of war when the U.S. attacks Iraq. What a shocker.

Loaded questions and email bombs

About two weeks ago, Gil Shterzer answered an email from someone who truly wanted him to explain his point of view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His post is quite interesting and typical Gil: Straightforward, down-to-earth answers, part fact, part Gil's opinion. It's a perfect example of why I love reading Gil's site, and why I will almost always refer to the Israeli bloggers for any feedback on Israeli opinion. They're there, and fluent in Hebrew (a requirement to read the Israeli media), and I, and most bloggers, are not.

I received an email last week that was similar to Gil's, but only in that it contained questions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I deleted it, because I've come to recognize an email bomb when I see one, and have ceased responding to loaded questions.

But it's been weighing on my mind a bit, and reading Gil's post brought it back. I think I can quote it from memory but not, of course, with the author's name:

I read your blog. You seem like a nice person.

This is how many of them begin. By flattering you, or pretending to be nice, they present themselves as a good guy with a simple question or two.

I have only two questions for you.

Again, deceptively simple. They won't bore you with long-winded preambles, let's get right down to it.

Who is the occupier, Israel or the Palestinians?

Now we get to the meat of the matter. In one short question, which has only one correct answer (in their minds), everything I say about Israel has been proven wrong—because Israel is occupying the territories. It is an extremely shallow view of an exceedingly complex situation, but the letter-writer doesn't see it that way, nor does he care. We haven't hit his agenda yet.

Who has killed more people, Israel or the Palestinians?

Again, the letter-writer merely skims the surface of the situation. By relegating the entire Israeli-Palestinian problem to numbers killed by each side, he shows only how little he knows about the situation. The meaning of his letter becomes clear: He wants to engage me in a shouting match. His shouts. He wants me to know that he is right, and I am wrong. That's his agenda: My opinions have no validity. I've heard it all before.

I've never understood the logic behind people like this letter-writer. Do they really think they're going to change my mind? Do they really think they're going to get me to drop my strongly-held opinions and suddenly turn around to theirs? A cursory glance at only one or two of my archive pages will show that I am unabashedly, unapologetically, and unstintingly pro-Israel. And yet, I will get letters from people who seem to think that their arguments are going to make me suddenly realize how wrong I am. Yes, in spite of the hundreds of thousands of words I've written declaring my opinion to be decidedly pro-Israel, I'm going to read their letter and realize how wrong I've been all this time. These letter-writers are, to put it simply, morons. Ignorant, lazy morons, actually, who rarely take the time to check out the website of the person to whom they write.

But this letter demonstrates even less than that. The writer takes two extremely shallow looks at the facts, and expects me to get into some kind of defensive posture on my opinions. But that isn't what happens. What happens is I realize how ignorant the letter-writer is, and how very much he wants to shout at me for having a viewpoint that isn't his.

If I were going to take the time to write back, I could point him to the site that breaks down the statistics of Israelis and Palestinians killed, showing that a higher percentage of Israeli civilians are deliberately murdered by Palestinians than Palestinian civilians are accidentally killed by IDF soldiers. Or I could send him to a site that has X-Rays of the victims of suicide bombings, the ones with hundreds of nails and screws and pieces of metal and bone in their bodies, but then, it would be a waste of time. Like the correspondents I wrote about in Sober, this person doesn't want to discuss the issues. He doesn't want the answers to his questions. He probably wasn''t even expecting a response to his letter.

He simply wants me to hear him, and realize how utterly incorrect are my thoughts on this issue.

Well. One out of two ain't bad.



A compendium of errors

Lynn B. and Judith Weiss are both upset with some of the remarks in this rather long essay from brand-new blogger BIll Whittle. The essay was taken from Bill's words in the comments section at Rachel's place. You don't have to read it all if you don't want to—stop reading after the first section about the Jews in Germany, then search on "American Revolution" and read a few of those grafs, and you'll get what Judith and I have to say. Actually, this is the graf (besides the incredibly wrong references to the Jews of Nazi Germany, which Judith quite rightly responded to in, shall we say, in a bit of an annoyed fashion) that got my goat the most. But there were some 300 comments on the thread at Rachel's, and I was tired and it was late and I didn't see the point of adding another. But since the subject has been raised by two of my favorite people, I couldn't resist throwing in my two cents.

The American Revolution surely is unique in the sense that the ringleaders - Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Hamilton, etc - were men of property, wealth and prestige; in other words, men with something to lose. Compare this to any other revolution in history, where the ringleaders were outsiders; plotters staring in the windows of prosperity, powerless. The Russian Revolution, French Revolution, etc - these were joined by desperate people fighting mind-numbing poverty and severe political repression.

Bill, it's all well and good that you're a huge fan of guns and the Second Amendment. But that doesn't qualify you for being an expert on history or, indeed, sociology. A little research goes a long way. Every revolution is led by the privileged class; the underprivileged are too busy trying to get enough food to eat, and are generally uneducated as well as underprivileged. The American Revolution was unique in several ways: no other colony had successfully broken off from the mother country in this way, and no other nation had tried this little experiment called "democracy," and that's what the Revolution was all about: Self-rule and democratic rule. Many of the leaders of the French Revolution were educated men who were as much peasants as you or I.

For all its momentousness, however, the elimination of privilege did not bring an end to the social conflicts underlying the Revolution. Instead, it marked the beginning of another system of social distinctions, set forth in a new constitution introduced by the National Assembly. The most notable of these was the distinction between "active" citizens, who were granted full rights to vote and hold office, and "passive" citizens, who were subject to the same laws but could not vote or hold office. Membership in one class or the other was determined by one's income level, gender, race, religion, and profession. With the Le Chapelier Law of 1791, the National Assembly further differentiated workers from property owners and banned worker associations as being harmful to national unity.

The National Assembly seemed unwilling to grant workers full political and social participation in the new society. One reason for this reluctance was the widespread fear of further unrest. Another was the strong belief among spokespersons for the Enlightenment that only those with a propertied stake in society could be trusted to exercise reason, or to think for themselves. Furthermore, many reform-minded revolutionaries argued that economic-based "combinations" formed by workers too closely resembled corporate guilds and would impinge on the freedom of the individual.

Ditto for the Russian Revolution. In fact, the American leaders weren't far different from the French regarding the rights of people to be full and equal. We all know about our history of slavery. Only property-owners could vote in many of the United States for quite some time after our nation's birth, and women only got the vote in the 20th century. It took a long time for the principle of equality to take hold. American voting rights couldn't be called complete until after the 1960s and the institution of the Voting Rights Act—which in itself took years to establish, and which was fought against by many politicians (speaking of Trent Lott).

So Bill, while the American Revolution was fought with guns, as Judith said,

... the battle for a free tolerant society is won or lost way before the secret police show up at your front door to take away your armory.

By the way, Tacitus, give Judith a break. You have to allow for emotions. These are weblogs, not news articles. We get to be mad, and we get to fling insults when we're angry. And Whittle's ignorance about the German Jews, and assumptions about why the Holocaust occurred, are downright insulting.

Consider the case of Jews in Germany, during the 1930’s: Here was a people who had been so tormented and prosecuted and psychologically beaten down that they came to believe the outrageous slander that they were guests in their own county. Behind their shuttered doors at night, they created cocoons of astonishing culture and beauty, a symphony of violins and cellos and poetry and literature. They were far over-represented in occupations we rightly esteem as among the most noble of our species: surgeons, musicians, teachers and scientists.

By any measure of human decency, these were the people that should have been helping to lead a ravaged Germany back to respect and prosperity. Yet they were massacred in their millions by brutes and sadists who could barely write their own names.

This is wrong in so many different ways that I won't begin to refute it. I'll just let it sit here as an example of breathtaking ignorance. In the meantime, I'll be creating a cocoon of astonishing culture behind my shuttered door, sending out secret messages to Judith and Lynn in the hopes that the brutes who can't write their own names will pass us by.

Oh, damn. I said that out loud, didn't I?

A strategy that works

Anti-Israeli voices scream the loudest at the destruction of terrorists' homes. Look at this excerpt from an article in the Jerusalem Post (emphasis mine):

In a third incident, in the town of Kabatiya, soldiers surrounded the home of Hamza Abu Roub, 37, a local leader of the Islamic Jihad group, and demanded that he surrender. Abu Roub sent out his wife and children, a neighbor said.

The fugitive then appeared near the wall of his house and began shooting, drawing heavy return fire. Bursts of gunfire echoed through the town, residents said.

Four soldiers were wounded in the gun battle, including one who was in serious condition. Troops blew up Abu Roub's home.

Both Abu Roub and Nader, the militiaman from Tulkarm, were at their homes even though they were fugitives. Wanted Palestinians have found it increasingly difficult in recent weeks to find refuge in homes of supporters because troops have bee demolishing homes of those who hide wanted militants.

It's working. Good. Perhaps the Pals will get it through their thick skulls that they will accomplish nothing by terrorism, and actually start demanding their leaders stop sending out the murder squads and sit down and negotiate instead.

Okay, well, I can always hope, can't I?

We'll be right back after these messages

Actually, I'm home now, the cats are happily wandering in and out (my secondary purpose in life is to open the patio door for cats. My primary is to feed them.), I haven't unpacked, but I've got a lot of essays kicking around in my head. Plus there's some email demanding to be posted.

The apple cake was an awesome dessert, and even better for breakfast this morning. I spent nearly two straight days with Heidi, except for sleep time and various miscellaneous apart time, and damn, it wasn't long enough. I meant to talk about... we never got around to discussing... then there was... oh, well. It's not like I have to drive six hours to see her anymore. We'll probably go see Nemesis tomorrow, and then hang out for the evening. And use Sorena's new foosball table. Or perhaps the air hockey attachment. Or we'll play pool on it. (Really cool present. I want one now. Well, no, I just want a foosball table.)

I received two strange phone calls today. The first one was on my cell, from my brother's pocket. I looked at the number, recognized my brother's cell phone, and hit the talk key.

[whoosh] [crackle][weird noises]
Hello? Hello?
[whoosh] [crackle][weird noises]

I give the phone to G., Heidi's husband. "Does that sound like water splashing to you?" I ask, thinking he's in the tub or something. "Sounds like really bad reception," he says. I listen one more time and then hang up and call him back. Turns out the phone was in his pocket, and he was outside putting salt down, and the noises we heard were the noises a phone hears inside the pocket of a man putting down salt after a snowstorm.

Then I received yet another phone call from a recording at "ARM, Inc.," and it annoyed me enough to call the 800 number. "Who are you and why are you calling me?" I asked the gentleman who answered the extension. "I didn't call you," he said. "Well, your recording keeps leaving me messages," I told him. "What's your phone number?" he said. "Who are you?" I repeated. Turns out ARM is a collection agency. I gave him my number, and it came up as an Andre G., who apparently owes someone money. "No, he doesn't have this number anymore," I said. "Do you know him?" the guy asked me. What is it with assholes on the phone that think that since you have a person's old phone number, you know them or know where they are? This happened to me far too often in Montclair, so before I could stop myself, I said, "No, the phone company gave me his number but they neglected to introduce me to him." The guy actually laughed. Perhaps he realized how stupid his question was.

Anyway. Andre G., go pay your bills and tell your creditors to quit bugging me.



It was a posting holiday after all

Well, I thought I'd be posting, but then yesterday I was having far too much fun being sociable, and while I babysat Sorena, I wrapped presents and did a quick email check and then it was time to go to bed and before I knew it it was time to get up and watch Sorena open presents, and this runon sentence gives you a clue as to how many pauses there were to get on the net. Few. Very few. In fact, it was such a special day that

Meryl baked an apple cake

For the first time since my teen years, I baked a cake from scratch. (Come to think of it, it may very well be the first time I ever baked a cake from scratch. I'd have to think back to junior high school and home economics, a class I loathed and a teacher whom I hated and who hated me.) Last week at my late Chanukah celebration with a friend, I fell in love with her apple cake dessert and got the recipe, intending to make it for dinner tonight. I did (with some help from Heidi). It worked beautifully, and we're planning on having apple cake for breakfast tomorrow.

I have a picture of part of the Dog Parade, but I don't think Heidi wants me to put it on the web. Maybe I could put a black dot over her face. Hm. I'll have to think it over.

Hope you all had a wonderful day.



Three things

Haggai disagrees with a post I wrote last week about Democratic support of Israel. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, a statement I make turns into a throwaway line that has little or no factual support. I'm thinking this may be one of them.

I uploaded the file with the picture of my house from the post below. Oops. I knew I'd forgotten something.

I'm heading over to Heidi's later today to spend the night and day and night with her and her family, because that is what we have done for the past six years. Since 1996, when Christmas fell on a Friday and I had a four-day weekend off work, I have driven down to Virginia to spend the holiday with Heidi and G. and Sorena. Sorena informed me weeks ago that I had no choice, I must sleep over Christmas Eve, even though I now live about thirty minutes away from them.

I'd like to look at pictures of her from that year. I remember a tiny three-year-old looking up at me with big brown eyes, trying to decide if she liked me or not. I think I had her when I told her I had a cat named Tigger. That's a great icebreaker for children; nearly all of them have read the Pooh stories. Of course, it took a lot longer to win over Worf. That first weekend, I wandered into Sorena's room around bedtime, where Heidi was sitting with her while she fell asleep. As I took a step into the room, Worf growled at me. It wasn't the kind of growl he made yesterday when I grabbed his collar and pulled him away from where G. was wrapping Sorena's presents, which was just a "Let's see if she's still scared when I make this noise" growl. It was a "Take one more step towards my baby and that will be your last" growl.

I stopped moving. Heidi said, "Worf!" and then Worf realized that he already knew me, and wagged his tail in apology. It still took me quite a long time to be really comfortable with Worf, and even now, if he acts too ugly toward me, I let him win. 100 lbs. of muscle and sharp teeth and incredible jaw strength tends to make me back off if he's growling a lot. The really annoying thing is, he knows it. Damned dog.

Anyway. I'll be blogging via a less than 56k connection (lousy phone lines!), but I'll be blogging. And taking pictures, and with luck will catch a Worf/Willow faux fight, and the Dog Parade, and just lots of fun stuff.

And in case I forget, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate Christmas. Have a safe and a happy and joyous one.

And the propaganda machine rolls on

The moronic professors who sent out the letter protesting the extreme lunatic fringe opinion in Israel about "transfer" of the 3 million Pals under the "fog of war" have achieved their goal: The Palestinian propaganda machine has picked up their story. I expect it will be in The Arab News before long.

Just months following the release of a document by 187 Israeli professors and academics warning that Israeli government may use the next US war on Iraq to expel Palestinians from their cities and towns, 800 American professors signed a similar document warning of upcoming Israeli ethnic cleansing in the case a war erupts in the region.

[...] The letter moved on to note that the ruling coalition in Israel included parties that promote ethnic cleansing of Palestinians or transfer as a “solution” to the conflict.

It also cited several examples of senior Israeli government and military officials using the language of ethnic cleansing, and called on the international community to “pay close attention to events that unfold within Israel and in the Occupied Territories.”

Way to go, schmucks. You refuse to recognize the low esteem in which the "senior Israeli government and military officials" who call for transfer are held, or the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu was soundly voted down in his latest challenge to Ariel Sharon (who has said he will exclude from his cabinet those politicians who refuse to recognize a Palestinian state). But you publish your absurd letter that the Israelis might do something that the majority of the nation wouldn't stand for (just take a look at Tal or Imshin or Gil and see what they say the popular opinion on transfer is).

I say again: Way to go, schmucks. Just goes to show you that a Ph.D doesn't guarantee intelligence, something I learned my freshman year in college.

Why? Because I like you.

Knowing full well that the overwhelming majority of my readers are non-techies, I present to you: A simple HTML rendering tool. No, really, click the link. Check it out. It's fascinating, I swear! I'd like you all to read it carefully; there will be a test on it the day after Christmas vacation.

Via the Dog Door of Death, who I found via my referrers, and well, yes, Dog Door Guy (sorry, I had to do that, what with your not having any kind of name for us to call you by posted on your weblog), I do miss the multitude of available kosher food from New Jersey, and the Chinese isn't so hot here, but I'm growing fonder and fonder of Richmond. Today I saw the house I want: An uninhabited mansion that corners Monument Avenue and, er, forgot the side street. (Bruce and I saw it during his visit here, which he still hasn't written satisfactorily about on his weblog.) Probably only cost a couple mil. I should put up a tip jar and see if I can get people to help me buy it. Ya think?

Seriously, that guy is the kind of programmer that I was on track to be, but then got sidetracked by, well, the dot-com bubble bursting and getting laid off from two successive programming jobs. But he can write, which most programmers can't. Witness any technical manual, ever. (Okay, I've insulted programmers, tech writers, and a guy who's being nice and linking to me. Anyone else? I've got a few more words yet before the permalink. Oh, wait. I don't. perma—

Update: Wait a minute! I've been on that website before! I think I may even have emailed the proprietors. Now we have a problem. Since I haven't yet uploaded this post, I can quickly edit it and not let anyone realize my mistakes, or I can just say the hell with it and put it there anyway and suffer the embarrassing email I will most likely get in the aftermath of [gasp!] making a mistake in public!! (<---Note the two exclamation points as well as lame-ass ASCII arrow pointing towards them. This denotes that you should read in a breathless, excited manner. The italics are also for emphasis. Make that an emphatic, breathless, and excited manner.)

Ah, the heck with it. I would have to actually press CNTRL-F and type in "Dog Door of Death" in order to search the 170 files in my directory to figure out if I linked to it before. Don't wanna. But I do recognize the squirrels with the x marks on them.



A couple of new blogchildren, and other linking matters

Apparently, I am reproducing without the benefit of having had dinner first. Damn. Well, I'm going to start losing count of my blogchildren, but here are a couple more.

Laura is in Israel, posting what she calls a personal travelogue. Mishpacha if not blogparent, she calls me. (That's Yiddish for family.) The blog itself is called "But How's the Coffee?", and I commend Laura for not going for Yuck, what a toughie to type.

Madhoo is a blogchild as well. She names Susanna Cornett and Diane E. as blogmothers. Hm. Three mothers for one poor blogger, two of whom are Jewish, and the third of whom is one tough cookie (she has her own guns). Madhoo is in for a rough time.

Combustible Boy and Max Powers have moved. Now they're The Sound and the Fury. Plus, today is C.B.'s birthday, and he's got a great idea: Donate to Shaare Zedek or Magen David Adom, our two Blogathon charities of choice. They still don't have an online donation choice, just a page with regional addresses. I know a lot of you missed the Blogathon, because my readership has increased about 40% since July. But don't worry, you can catch up! Send a check to:


You can go directly to Magen David Adom and contribute online. Feel free to contribute to both. Email Laurence Simon about your Magen David Adom contribution, and me your Shaare Zedek. Only seven more days until you have to claim it on next year's taxes.

Zem's moved to a new domain as well. No more squidly. Now it's, subtitled freedom and technology. Zem's a great source of information on, er, freedom and technology. No, seriously—want the latest on the fight against the Patriot Act? Go to Zem.

Calling any satellite junkies

Last night, I read something on Debka that could be confirmed with a simple visit to an online repository of satellite photographs. I looked up Baghdad's latitude and longitude and went surfing around the web to try to find something that would allow me to see if the southearstern swamps of Iraq are, indeed, burning. But you can't get a satellite close-up of Iraq for love nor money. If I recall correctly, in 1991, the government bought up all the publicly-owned satellite time to prevent anyone else from seeing what the U.S. troops were doing.

Looks like it's happening again. Either that, or I'm not as competent with Google and satellite imagery as I think I am. If anyone out there can get me a satellite picture of the southeastern portion of Iraq, and tell me if the swamps are on fire, I'd appreciate it.

Attention Wired Readers

(See? I spent too much time in Wal-Mart last night, I keep hearing "Attention valued customers" and mixing it up with "Attention K-Mart shoppers," and then I throw in the Wired thing because people referred here from the article are checking me out ((hiya, Wired Readers!)), and, um, I have lost track of where this sentence was going. And why it's a parenthetical sentence. That happens to me a lot, Wired Readers. I'd call this place "But I Digress," except Peter David got it first.)

Oh. I remember. Go click on the links to the left to get a feel for what this weblog is about. You can find the SFSU stuff collected on one page, plus a few funny things (I really, really like using the Hulk as a comic foil, he's a recurring character here). You might also like the pages mentioned (and linked) at the bottom of this page.

Thanks for visiting. Y'all come back anytime. (That's Suthuhn. I learned it here in Virginia. I'm from New Jersey originally. Does it show?)

Monday morning notes

I was on Bingo duty for my synagogue last night. It's an interesting place, a Bingo parlor. I followed that up with a late-night stop at the 24-hour Wal-Mart where, I think it's safe to say, the same people who play Bingo were doing their last-minute Christmas shopping. I also found out exactly what the lure of Wal-Mart is: I picked up a glass fruit bowl as a present for five bucks. Five bucks! I got about everything I needed, except for a gift for Heidi, which is incredibly hard to choose this year. But I've got it figured out, and will not write about it here, as she sometimes reads my weblog.

What you missed over the weekend: Yet another moronic statement from American so-called academics: I fisked their absurd warning that Israel is thinking of using the Iraq war as a cover for transferring 3 million Pals out of the terroritories! (You have to say that in a completely outraged and breathless tone in order to get it right.) I had a few random thoughts (those are the really dangerous ones). And I figured out Tig and Gracie's Cat Codes, but I sort of need to explain them. I'll work on that later.

Off to do some work and then listen to Sorena play the cello, then hang with Heidi and Sorena all day. I love school vacations. We get to do fun things and laugh at people still shopping for presents. Oh, are you one of them? I wasn't laughing at you. Honest. Really. [snicker]



Why they're there

Every time you hear the EU and Loud Left scream to high heaven that Israel needs to withdraw the IDF from the territories, and ease up their "chokehold" on the Pals, come back here and read this:

IDF forces blew up a large bomb factory in the Askar refugee camp in Nablus on Friday. Forces searching the building discovered five large bombs containing ten to fifteen kilograms of explosives, a bomb to be used against armored vehicles that was still in the preparation stage, scores of bombs of different sizes, detonators, screws and bolts, and parts used to make up explosive belts.

In addition, security forces found large quantities of chemicals and scores of kilograms of TATP explosives. In one of the rooms soldiers also found women's clothing and new bags to be used to transport the bombs to various locations.

Since the launching of Operation Wheels in Motion, security forces in the past month have arrested 108 fugitives including five on the most wanted list and eleven terrorists planning to perpetrate suicide bomb attacks.

Or take a look a this:

Soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian terrorist who attempted to infiltrate the southern Gaza Strip community of Morag shortly before 9 on Saturday night.

One soldier was lightly wounded in the hand, apparently from a grenade thrown by the terrorist. The terrorist also fired shots into the settlement, the army said. Residents were asked to remain in their homes as security forces searched the area to ascertain that no additional terrorists were in the area.

Shortly before the attempted infiltration, soldiers shot an armed terrorist they spotted approaching an IDF position near Kfar Darom, also in the Gaza Strip.

Every day, there are numerous attacks on Israelis. Some of them succeed.

The IDF divided the Gaza Strip into three parts following the fatal terrorist shooting of Netzer Hazani resident Rabbi Yitzhak Arama on Friday.

The 40-year-old rabbi was driving with his family on the Kissufim corridor road near the Kfar Darom and Gush Katif intersection. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. Shortly after, security forces demolished several shanties overlooking the road from where they believe the terrorists shot, and detained a number of Palestinians for questioning. In addition, soldiers blocked the roads at the Gush Katif and Netzarim junctions, barring Palestinian vehicles from traveling northward.

According to the IDF Spokesman, the actions were taken due the murder of Arama on Friday and the escalation in attacks against civilians. The IDF Spokesman said dividing the Gaza Strip into three will restrict the movements of terrorists and the transfer of weapons but stressed that in cases of humanitarian assistance Palestinians will be allowed to go through.

The consequences for the successful murders of innocents? The IDF will not leave. It is as simple as that. Stop murdering Israelis, and the soldiers will withdraw. Bethlehem will remain under Israeli control tonight, because each time the IDF withdraws, murder follows in its path, most often in the form of suicide bombers in Israeli buses and markets.

It's clear as a bell to me. Someone send all those screaming Euroweenies my way, and I'll speak slowly and use small words until they, too, understand why the IDF remains in the territories. I'm sorry the pilgrims who wanted so much to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem is ruined. But it isn't the fault of Israel. Place the blame squarely where it belongs: In the bloody hands of the terrorists.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Pontifex Ex Machina has a hilarious parody of Scrooge's "A Christma Carol," with Glenn Reynolds in the starring role, and N.Z. Bear as Bob Cratchit. The first part is up today. Pontifex promises me an appearance in the third section, which I assume will be on Christmas Eve or Day. Ut-oh. Jews in a Dickens story—never a good thing. Oh, well, I trust the guy.

By the way, I'm working on my parody of " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas." It'll be up tomorrow, probably.


Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. If you're looking for something funny, try the Hulk's solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin Laden's diary and The Fudd Doctrine are also good bets if you've never been here before.