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Catching up on my blog reading

Since today has been designated Annual Do-Nothing Day, at least in my household, I thought I'd make a trip around the blogs and send back a report for your reading pleasure.

Alex Frantz has a lot more to talk about than banana slugs. He has a very sensible response to Nick Denton's suggestion (which I think is just plain stupid) that we treat Muslim communities in the West the way they treat others ("dhimmis"):

For the US, there is no need to import strange new ideas to deal with our Islamic minority. These immigrants, like the rest of us, can practice the religion they prefer in the manner they choose. They are under no obligation, any more than other Americans, to endorse or approve of our laws. They are under obligation to obey them, and forced marriages, female genital mutilation, incitement to violence, physical assaults on those who 'dishonor' families, etc, should be thoroughly punished under existing laws. For those who find that intolerable, then Denton's suggestion applies: they can move to countries whose laws are more to their liking.

There's a tongue-in-cheek movement to push Matthew Yglesias as the Lefty Instapundit. But Matt, here's a hint: You will never make it with that current template. Small white-on-black text guarantees you lose a huge amount of audience share due to we don't want to go fucking blind reading your site. (Hey. I just got back from Lair's weblog; that's why the swear slipped in.) There are precious few sites that have designs that are harsh on my eyes that I will still read, and none of them are read regularly. If I'm not reading, I'm not linking, and neither are many other webloggers with the same sentiment. Save our eyes—please.

You know, while I was looking around, I found this guy, and in one of his posts, he was discussing the Stanley Fish thing that I was studiously ignoring because, well, discussions of post-modernism make me want to pick up my aluminum baseball bat and push it through either the wall, or the closest post-modernist, whichever one I can get first. But I liked this post. And the comments are even better:

You can sum up most of Derrida's major work with the sentence, "If I say something, you might not understand what I mean." Other deconstructionists jumped off from there to say, "If I say something, you can't understand what I mean." That's where it gets idiotic.

I have always loathed the concept of deconstructionism, which insists that the very author of a book does not know what the book meant. Um—to paraphrase a certain Dead European Male Writer: A word means exactly what I want it to mean, no more, no less. Idiotic is the perfect word for deconstructionists. Glad to know you, Will Wilkinson. (And there are many posts where he does not discuss philosophy, so click on the link and look around, you philosophy weenies.)

There's a new blog that exists simply as a directory of left-leaning weblogs. Brian Linse is doing a great job of helping the New Left find a voice, simply by cataloguing liberal blogs. Thanks, Brian. But move me up in the list: I've been around since April of 2001 and I have the archives to prove it.

A note of warning

Win Fitzpatrick points out this chilling story in the Times of London on Saddam Hussein's plans to give Palestinian terrorists biological weapons for use on Israeli and American targets

Is there anyone out there that still thinks Hussein's regime shouldn't be dismantled? Do you doubt that the man who sent SCUD missiles into Israel during the Gulf War won't hesitate to send anthrax and anything else in his weapons supply toward them, and toward our troops?

I'm giving W. the benefit of the doubt, still, but if I don't see any action this fall, I'm going to start agreeing with the crowd that insists Iraq is off the table and the oil ticks* are calling the shots.

And as a sideline to the above, the Times also details the latest Iraqi trickery regarding UN inspections: Trying to rewrite UN resolutions and get the inspections the way Hussein wants them. Amazingly, the UN is siding with the US on this.

Charles Johnson) permalink

A victim of terrorists: Her words live on

Thanks to Joe Katzman, I can give you these words from Marla Bennet, who died in the Hebrew University bombing this week. The article is called "Jerusalem: There’s Nowhere Else I’d Rather Be."

It’s also been difficult. Just a month after I arrived the current “Intifada” began. My time here has been dramatically affected by both the security situation and by the events happening around me. I am extremely cautious about where I go and when; I avoid crowded areas and alter my routine when I feel at all threatened. But I also feel energized by the opportunity to support Israel during a difficult period. This is undoubtedly an important historic moment for both Israel and for the Jewish people—I have the privilege of reporting to my friends and family in the U.S. about the realities of living in Israel at this time and I also have the honor of being an American choosing to remain in Israel, and assist, however minimally, in Israel’s triumph.

I remain in Israel this year as part of the Pardes Educators Program, a joint program between Pardes and the Hebrew University. At the Hebrew University I am completing a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education while I continue to study classical Jewish texts at Pardes. I receive a stipend each month from The AVI CHAI Foundation, which is funding the program, and after I complete the degree in June 2003, I have made a commitment to teach in a Jewish school in North America for three years.

As I look ahead to the next year and a half that I will spend in Israel, I feel excited, worried, but more than anything else, lucky. I am excited that I can spend another year and a half in a place that truly feels like home, a home in which I am surrounded by an amazing community of bright and interesting friends who constantly help me to question and define myself. I am worried for Israel—a historic moment this is, but also difficult and unpredictable. I feel lucky because the excitement always wins out over the worry. The exhilaration of Torah and Talmud study, close friendships and a lively community far outweigh the fears. Stimulation abounds in Jerusalem—and I need only go to the supermarket to be struck once again by how lucky I am to live here. There is no other place in the world where I would rather be right now.

After reading this, I've decided to double my pledge to Magen David Adom that I'd made to Laurence Simon during the Blogathon. If my readers can keep doing that, so can I.

The Palestinians celebrate death. I choose to celebrate life.

The culture of hate

Bat Ye'or, writing for the National Review online (via Charles Johnson), on why Israel is not Palestine:

In Indonesia, some 200,000 deaths resulted from jihad violence in East Timor. Christians have been pursued, and massacred, and their churches burned down by jihadists in the Moluccas and other Indonesian islands. The death toll in these violent attacks is over 10,000, while an additional 8,000 Christians have been forcibly converted to Islam, including many who were circumcised. Atrocities are also being committed by jihadists in both the Philippines, and some northern Nigerian states. Hundreds of innocent people died when jihad struck at the Jewish Community Center of Buenos Aires in Argentina, and the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In Egypt, jihadists have massacred Copts in their churches and villages, and murdered European tourists. Christians in Pakistan and in Iran live in terror of accusations of blasphemy, which, if "proven," can yield a death sentence. And a cataclysmic act of jihad terror resulted in the slaughter of nearly 3,000 innocent civilians of multiple faiths and nationalities in New York, on September 11, 2001. None of these victims were guilty of any crime. They were murdered and mutilated out of hate.

It is this hate that Israel is fighting. The Durban World Conference Against Racism — where the culture of hate was rehabilitated, not condemned — ended only three days before the jihad terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. When proposals were made condemning Zionism, this conference was encouraging jihad, the culture of the war against infidels, while ignoring the principles of freedom and human rights. This was negationist racism. The word "Zion," which designates the land of Israel and its capital Jerusalem, exists in texts dating back almost three millennia. It was the Emperor Hadrian who first called the country Palestine in 135. In this Palestine, Arabic was not the common language, the Bible and not the Koran was taught, and the population was mainly Jewish. Palestine was colonized five centuries later by the Arab armies of the Islamic jihad. Many Jews were massacred at that time, others deported to Arabia as slaves, the whole population expropriated and reduced to the condition of dhimmis, as were all indigenous Jews and Christians in the south Mediterranean countries conquered by jihad, including those in many European countries.

Should these countries conquered by Islam — Portugal, Spain, Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, and the southern regions of France and Italy, for example — still be considered Arab Muslim lands? Turkish jihad conquests imposed the sharia as far north as Hungary and southern Poland, and, on all of central Europe within the Ottoman Empire, including regions of Greece, former Yugoslavia, Romania, and Bulgaria, until the end of the 19th century. Are those countries also to be identified as Muslim lands, in which non-Muslim inhabitants must return to the condition of dhimmis, whose testimony concerning Muslims is rejected by Islamic courts? Will they again be required to don discriminatory garments such as the Taliban demanded of the Hindus, or be subject to the continuing prohibition on building and renovating their churches, like the Copts in Egypt?

Break time's over. And here's her website, if you'd like to read more.



Will this topic never end?

I lied again. Teresa Nielsen Hayden made me laugh too hard to ignore her contribution to the Super Dating Game. (I think this topic will end when I run out of names for it.) She doesn't like my reasons for giving Wolverine four stars.

Not enough. There's got to be another reason why he's had more girlfriends than anyone besides Iron Man. Ever consider what that healing factor means to his recovery time? On the other hand, it could just be that he knows how to dance.

To answer your question, Teresa: As for why I like Wolvie, I'm sorry. There really isn't much more than that bad boy thing. I mean, okay, he's got a hairy chest and I think hairy chests are sexy. All right, so he's short, dark, and stocky, and my childhood sweetheart, who may have had some influence on the way I feel about men, was short, dark, and stocky. (He did not have claws or smoke cigars.) I may also be overly prejudiced by Hugh Jackman's portrayal of him. (Oh, let's face it, if there's a woman comics fan who didn't swoon for Jackman's Wolverine out there, it's because she's a lesbian.)

But overall, Teresa, I don't have a whole lot to go on. I really didn't think I'd be spending as much time on this topic as I have been, and I'm risking boring my readers with one too many posts about Sex and the Superhero, but hey—you asked. (And folks, check out the rest of her post for a series of hilarious comments, not to mention the theory that all superheroes are Jewish.)

Update: Apparently, I missed this over on Silflay Hraka: Another one of the boys gets in on the fun. No, not that way. (Drawn. I don't get it, Kehaar.)

Superstud or Superdud, the email version

Ben F. is the latest of several readers who asked me if I was aware of the infamous Larry Niven essay, "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex." Yes, I've known about it for as long as it's been around, and I like it even less with time. While a journey into whimsy is a lot of fun from time to time—witness the reaction to my rating the Superheroes, which created a new record for one-day visits (over 3,000, my God, do we all need a new hobby or what?)—it's really an exercise in futility to try to apply real laws of physics to comic book characters. Besides, the best example I ever heard regarding comic books vs. reality was that only breaking the laws of physics can explain how those costumes can possibly stay on female superheroes. Especially in battle.

Avram, don't you be assuming I never read it because I didn't mention it. In point of fact, I edited out a reference to the essay because it didn't fit the rhythm of either the paragraph or the piece. So there.

Karin at the Silk Velvet Asylum is not a mainstream snob. She's got the (mostly) Indie superheroes dating ratings. You go, girl!

Greg Harris is giving us the other side of the ratings: He's rating the female superheroes. I'll give him a link, even if he is dissing one of my all-time faves, Ms. Kitty Pryde. (Dude, she's 16 now, and that's legal in some states.)

Garrett Moritz isn't rating the studleys, but he does have interesting commentary on the Green Goblin and the Dark Knight. Garrett: You do have too much time on your hands. Sigh. Shakespeare in the Park. You lucky dog. Next week I'm going to see the Dogwood Dell version of Into the Woods. Wish I could see it on Broadway.

Jim Treacher wants me to know that A) he wasn't calling me a homewrecker; B) Did I tackle Bouncing Boy on the ratings?; and C) Did I know that (Elongated Man) Ralphy Dibney's nose would vibrate when he smelled a mystery? As a matter of fact, yes, I did know that, but I was trying to stay at a slightly higher level, but then, Dolly's ratings helped bring me down to R instead of PG, so here I go again. Bouncing Boy—I did consider him or one of the other Legionnaires, but they're really not much more than boytoys for me, Jim. Maybe at a later date. Of course, the Legion has been around for so long they should all be working on great-granchildren by now, but that's comic book time for you. Wish I lived in comic book time.

Reader Andy F. asks me why I didn't mention the superhero who can "part his hair with his tongue." I do believe he's thinking of supervillain the Toad, and if so, the Toad in the X-Men movie is a much, much more palatable version of the loser in the comic book. And that is loser with a capital LOSER. That's why, Andy. He's unrateable. But thanks for the email. (Hm. Sequel: Rating the villians... nah.)

I do believe that will be the last word on dating/rating comic book superheroes for a while.

Update: I lied. One more thing: The blogger formerly known as Sgt. Stryker, Paul Palubicki, is rating the girls of comics. Go for it, Paul.

A quick look in

Back from Busch Gardens and still exhausted; 12 hours outdoors in 95-degree heat and Virginia humidity take a while to get over. And yes, I did ride Apollo's Chariot. Twice. No goose incident, though.

You folks filled my mailbox with many interesting letters, some were even about something other than the sex lives of superheroes. I'll get to them all soon; the synagogue I may be joining has invited me to a Jewish version of a luau tonight (I get to pull my Hawaiian shirt out of mothballs and wear it), which of course means no roast pig.

I see that Bill Herbert and Jeff Goldstein have been pretty active during my brief break; Bill takes down a Jewish(!) defender of Hamas, after Jeff got through with him. I see I have some catch-up reading to do.

Avedon is the "A" I mentioned below; I hadn't received the email OK before publishing the post. So now you know.



Superhero dating ratings update

Yeah, it's a bit incongruous after what happened below, but life goes on.

Yesterday's Superstud finder brought in a bunch of email. From my pal Dolly:

Beast: Any man that can move like that has to be fun. Also, you know any conversation you have with him will be intelligent so he gets Three stars....might be four if he could find a bottle of Nair.

Nightcrawler: Now you see him... now you don't. What the hell kind of date is that?! Tho teleporting would save you on gas money. Has too much of a conscience to get into too much trouble. Two stars. (Note from Meryl: Dolly, did you forget about his prehensile tail? It's like having an extra hand. I'd make it Three stars.)

Iceman: You'd be numb before you even got started! Not worth the trouble....or the frostbite in strange places. No stars. Okay, maybe I'll give him One star if he can bring me a cold drink.

Magneto: Sir Ian McKellan is least he could help you accessorize. The comic book version of Magneto no doubt is too self-involved and concerned with destroying you because you're human... best to stay away from this one... unless you're looking for the keys you lost last week and just haven't been able to find since. (Note from Meryl: I don't care if McKellan is gay, the man is hot, hot, hot! Four stars. And Four stars for the comic version of Magneto, as well. Handsome, Jewish, powerful—so he wants to rule the world; everybody needs a hobby.)

Green Goblin: Two men for the price of one!! But that's if you're willing to deal with one of them being a total nut! One star. If you can stand that maniacal laugh then you earn Three stars for yourself.

Hobgoblin: Hellbent on avenging his father (see above). Too preoccupied with his father, you'll probably get no attention unless you hop about in a green leotard. No stars for throwing anything at me that has explosive potential.

Shocker: His weapons speak for themselves. The vibro-shock units, once only built into a sheath that Schultz wore over his hands but currently built into his entire uniform, use high-pressure air blasts to cause powerful vibrations. I think that says it ALL!!! Four stars.

Starhawk wants to know why I left out the Silver Surfer. Here's why:

Silver Surfer: Ex-herald of Galactus, you never know when the old boss is going to show up and try to eat your world. And not in a good way, like Jimmy Eat World. Plus, that silver unitard doesn't ever come off. It's part of him. And he's—well—sexless. I've always considered the Surfer frankly genderless, much like a Ken doll. And if you do ever try to get something going with him, what is with that archaic lingo? Talk about boring you to death. Pass. No stars.

Accordion Guy pointed out to me that some German nutcase is in love with the Berlin Wall, and would almost certainly have the hots for The Thing. (Is she creepy or what? Brrrr.)

Laurence Simon complains that I'm a snob for ignoring Dark Horse studleys such as The Tick, The Mask, and Concrete. I would add that I also left out Predator and Alien because, what am I, chopped liver? Of course I would be after a date with either of the latter. But yeah, I'm a mainstream snob. So sue me.

A certain blogger whom I shall call only "A" pointed out to me that Aquaman is much hotter and more interesting these days, and that a bathtub would go a long way toward solving that one-hour-out-of-water problem. Ya know, "A" is right. Give Aquaman another star, for a total of: Three stars.

Glenn Reynolds reports that Jim Treacher reminds us Ralph Dibney is happily married. I knew that. I was ignoring it. But the happily-married Prof is lusting after Supergirl in his blog. See, he gets it. All in good (but not so clean) fun.

And I'm off to Busch Gardens in the morning. Talk among yourselves while I decide whether or not to conquer my fear of heights on Apollo's Chariot, the roller coaster where Fabio got smacked in the face with a goose. I rode it two years ago, but I dunno... I can barely look down from a second story these days.



What Hamas hath wrought

Headline in today's Jerusalem Post: All killed in university attack are non-Israelis.

The Palestinian reaction, via AP photographer Markus Schreiber)

Do you see any adults in that picture?

Say hello to the next generation of murderers.

Bastards did it again.

Send those pledges in to Shaare Zedek. They're treating trauma victims of the latest terrorist bombing as I write this.

Just once, I'd like to be able to let a humor piece stand by itself, without surrounding it with blood. Just once.

Superstud or Superdud? Rating the men of comic books

Instapundit, you know not what you wrought when you wrote this:

AQUAMAN says he's a superhero who gets no respect.

Me, I think that post is probably taken by The Elongated Man -- though at least he gets plenty of dates.

Now, this may put me down in the Internet history books as both a comic book geek and a total freak, but hey, I can't stop my mind from goin' where it wants to go. Just because most comic fans are guys doesn't mean that we girls can't make lists like this, too.

So, uh, I was thinking: What kind of dates would the various superheroes be? Since there are so many of them, we'll have to cherry-pick—forgive the expression—rather than choose them all. I'm doing this mostly from memory, as my Marvel and DC Universe comics are lost somewhere in one of my unfiled comic boxes, so the marvel of Google research and my steel-trap memory will have to suffice.

The DC Contingent

Aquaman: Can only stay out of water an hour at a time. No chance at a long-term relationship. Plus, he always smells like fish. Two stars.

Batman: Mm-mm. Love those bad boys. Just make sure the kid's not around. Sans Robin: Four stars. With Robin: Two stars. (And no, that doesn't mean with Robin. The kid's a minor, f'r cryin' out loud!)

Green Lantern (classic, Hal Jordan): Boooo-rrrring. Boooo-rrrring. I don't care what you can do with that ring, Hal, you have no imagination. That's why they killed you off. One star.

Green Arrow: Let's see. Used to be rich and boring. Went broke. Then became a sexist, bleeding-heart liberal (what was up with that? Sexists are supposed to be conservatives!). Got more interesting. Got badder. The beard is sexy, but that name? Oliver Queen?!?!? Howsabout we just call you "Spike"? Good for a tumultuous, LTR, lots of fights, lots of making up. Definitely one of the Hero Hotties. Four stars.

The Flash: Are you kidding? I want a man with a slow hand. One star.

Superman: The world's biggest, most powerful Boy Scout. This is a tough one. Problem is, you're guaranteed never to have a complete date with the guy. Just as you're starting to get hot'n'heavy, along comes a "Help! Superman!" from some nitwit who couldn't stay out of the bad side of Metropolis, and he zooms off, leaving you achin' for more. And by the time he's finished with his next forty-seven save-the-world errands, you have fallen asleep, alone, again. Nah. Pass. Two stars.

Nightwing: Ex-Robin, out of Batman's shadow. Always has a bit of an inferiority complex, but he's a man now, no longer a boy, and hasn't worn short pants in years. Been in more than one LTR, he knows his way around the block. Good potential. Three stars.

The Elongated Man: I'm sure I don't really need to expand upon this subject. I don't even mind that his first name is Ralph. Four stars.

Captain Marvel: You'd have to be twelve to want to date this guy, because he's, uh, like twelve himself. Pass. No Shazam, no stars.

Bat Lash: Yeah, I know he's obscure, but there was always something about the guy that drew me to him. Three stars.

Sgt. Rock: Mean, green, fightin' machine. Sorry, for guys like him and girls like me, it's one-night stands only. Three stars.

Swamp Thing: That's a joke, right? I'm not a vegetarian. No stars.

The Marvel Group

Spider-Man: Cute, not nearly as young now as he was portrayed in the recent movie, but a bit too angst-ridden for me. And the wisecracks—they'd wear on you after a while. Good for a short fling. I'm curious to see exactly how amazing he can be. Three stars.

Wolverine: Another bad boy. Yeah, we have that attraction to the bad boys. So what? And short? So'm I. I do have to wonder, though—would there be a snikt during the heat of passion? Could be extremely hazardous to your health. Or at least to the health of your bed. Best not use a waterbed. Still: It's Wolvie. Four stars.

Mr. Fantastic: Yeah, why do you think they call him that? Four stars.

The Human Torch (FF, not original): Hotheaded, childish, prone to bursting into flame without warning—hey, I like 'em bad, not sulky and stupid. Pass. No stars.

The Thing: Hm. Nice Jewish boy, skin condition, rock-hard to the touch, but all over. Impossible. It'd be like dating your wall. Pass. No stars.

Cyclops: What a stuck-up weenie. Sure, he's cute, but damn, can't you ever break a rule, just once in your life, Scott? Plus, definitely no deep, soulful looks into each other's eyes with this one. Well, not if you want to survive the relationship. Pass. No stars.

Professor X: Can you read my mind? Yeah, then you know you're creeping me out. Pass. No stars.

Sabretooth: Oh, yeah, right, I'm suicidal. I said I like them bad, not sociopathic. Pass. No stars.

Daredevil: A blind lawyer with really great acrobatic skills and extra-sensory perception. Hm. Potential. Brings new meaning to the phrase "read my lips." Three stars.

Captain America: I love what he stands for, but—he makes Supes look almost exotic. (Can you imagine the two of them having a brew in a bar? Yeah, me neither.) Not my type. One star.

Nick Fury: I could even put up with that damned cigar, at least for a little while. Nick is just, well, hot. War hero, secret agent, the eye-patch—what's not to like? Brief, tempestuous relationships, on and off for a few years, then forever the one you wonder "What if?" about. In between more brief, tempestuous relationships. Three stars.

Doctor Strange: Oh, just cut it out with the mumbo-jumbo and the cape and the spell stuff. So not into it. Bet he watches John Edward. Pass. No stars.

The Hulk: (Yeah, I know, it's the one you've all been waiting for.) Well, there are some major problems with the Hulk. Dr. Bruce Banner, well, sure. He's smart, has a great job, saves the world on a regular basis, and is a good, faithful husband. But he has this slight problem: When he can't control his temper, he turns into a rampaging monster. And often, he stays that rampaging monster for months, maybe years at a time. And, well, take a look at the Hulk. Now take a look at Betty Banner. See the difference in size. Makes me think that when the Hulk is the Hulk, there ain't a whole lotta shakin' goin' on. Could be hazardous to your health, particularly that "being squashed" factor. The problem with someone as strong as the Hulk is that he doesn't know his own strength, in spite of the comic writers' best hopes. And I like my body in one piece, thank you. So, sadly, I'm going to have to give the Hulk: Two stars. But three for Bruce.

Well. Either I'm as nuts as the bulk of the fanboys out there—the ones I sometimes make fun of—or my funny bone just got a little exercise.

I have a bad feeling I'm going to cringe every time I look back on this post.

(Note to new visitors: Scroll up the page, there's more. Then go check out my main page, where the Hulk pops in from time to time.)



A bombing in Jerusalem: Shaare Zedek news

A suicide bomber blew himself up in Jerusalem today, but thankfully killed no one else, and wounded only five, "moderately." Here's the graph I thought might be of most interest to my readers:

All of the wounded were taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Feeling like your donations are timely? They are. Keep those checks coming. That new trauma equipment will save lives.

The new tally

So due to the readers who emailed me that they upped their donations, the new tally is $3,195 for Shaare Zedek. I'm still off from the Blogathon tally by $51, so the actual tally may be $3,144. Either way, it's a figure to be proud of. So take a bow, and don't forget to send in those checks.

Have I mentioned Teddyflipped lately?

In fact, I have not. She runs a website that promotes Israeli products. And no, she doesn't get a cut. It's all to support Israel.

I'm apparently the site of the day for The People's Republic of Seabrook. Now, one might think that this is a clever marketing ploy by Jack—pick some bloggers you like, make 'em site of the day, and get them to link to you—but I prefer to think that he's a better man than that, and means it most sincerely. (You could insert one of those ASCII grins here and be none the worse for it.) A quick read of his website shows me that Laurence Simon isn't the only nutcase in Texas.

I'm puzzled, though, as to why I'm not getting any Tripod ads while I'm there. The link he sent me was this one: I didn't join the cloaking service and just deleted that part of the URL to find his site. Maybe it rubbed off. Or did Tripod finally get rid of those annoying pop-ups?

Nobody has better readers. Nobody.

Three of you have emailed me to tell me you increased the amount of your original pledges to Shaare Zedek. Two have doubled (Nick Danger was one, thank you!), and one (Mike at Left of Center) has more than tripled his pledge. Paul L. contributed the highest amount to date: $200! You folks are amazingly wonderful. The new tally will come out tomorrow; I have to bug my brothers first. At this rate, we may make it to $4,000.

Ahead of the pack

Howard Feinberg's latest article on Tech Central Station discussing the manipulation of Palestinian casualty figures by the Pals and the media is also being discussed, over at Ipse Dixit. Susanna Cornett thought I'd be interested in both, and she's right—except that I covered the original story weeks ago. But check them out anyway, folks, there's tons more information than was available in the original Village Voice article.

Howard, Bubelah, not only did I scoop you on this one, but I scooped you on Ben Grimm coming out as a Jew. (And James Wolf scooped us both.) You need to read my blog more. It's the only way you're going to keep up, what with being so busy planning that wedding and all.

By the way, I bought that issue of the Fantastic Four. It was one of the best I've ever read. It's trying to lure me back into collecting comics. Sigh. And Karl Kesel's name is misspelled in the Forward article. Kesel is an excellent writer and was instrumental in bringing back the Hawk and Dove, a series I loved as a child.

All that being said, though—Hulk Meryl's favorite! Hulk smash! (The Hulk can kick the Thing's ass, and has done so at least three times that I know of, once nearly killing him. Oops.)

Combustible Boy is adding to my nuclear fears. He's talking about the WaPo web chat that followed its Sunday piece on redesigning missile silos. (I think they'd make great places for parties, myself.) Thanks, C.B., just what I wanted: More nuclear nightmares.

Laurence Simon's cat is being featured elsewhere. Andy, you're a sick pup.

It's kitty cheesecake. Blame the fixation on Dawn Olsen Laurence Simon. Slut. (You figure out which one the epithet was meant for.)

Left of Center has dirty pictures on his blog. Of men. Okay, it's really a classic of Sisyphus, and I am exposing my ignorance to all by saying I don't know who painted it, but it's nice to see a bit of beefcake for a change. Even if it is classic beefcake. Plus, his little girl took her first steps today. Proud papa! Congratulations!

There is No Cat is having a birthday, and has a hilarious post on people who share his birthday. At least, I'm assuming it's his birthday. Have a happy, Ralph!



Shaare Zedek update

All right, folks, now that the stunned people over at Shaare Zedek have called me back ("Who? She did what? How much? What's a blogathon? What's a blog?), I can pass along the official information regarding your checks: Send them to any of the regional offices and the money will get to Shaare Zedek.

Shaare Zedek representative Judy Calder, who will be sending me more interesting facts, pointed out to me that Shaare Zedek, one of four Jerusalem hospitals, has received 41% of the victims of recent terrorist bombings. That $3000 we raised for the trauma room is even more timely and extremely meaningful. She also tells me that the organization is discussing initiating an American website, and that the hospital is about to celebrate its 100th birthday.

If it makes you feel more comfortable, send your checks here (and don't forget to write in the memo field):


By the way, if you didn't get to pledge during the blogathon, you can still send in a check. Send me an email and I will be more than happy to thank you in a future post.

In the year 2014...

N.Z. Bear has an excellent "what-if" piece up about blogging in 2014—after the U.S. made some pretty big mistakes in the War on Terror.

I read it bottom-to-top, but you can read it either way and appreciate it just as much. That boy can write.

And speaking of the future

Laurence Simon gets in on the action-to-be with his post on the real reason why The New York Times keeps leaking Iraqi war plans: It's to lure future travelers back here to help.

Anyone else writing about tomorrow today? Drop me a line, I've got the theme.

Anti-Semites update

Remember last week when I had that headline, "Anti-Semites of the World: Die"? Well, I'm thinking it again.

Israel announced Monday that it would close its embassy in Belarus, less than a week after the country's Jewish community accused the government of failing to tackle anti-Semitism.

Israeli Foreign Ministry official David Peleg, on a visit to Minsk, denied the closure was political, saying it was connected to budget cuts in the ministry.

The Union of Jewish Public Organizations and Communities said last week that vandals had desecrated about 60 Jewish graves this month at two cemeteries in the capital, the latest in a string of similar actions in several cities.

[...] The Jewish union accused Belarusian authorities of turning a blind eye to what it said was an increase in anti-Semitic acts.

President Alexander Lukashenko responded by insisting there was no anti-Semitism in Belarus. He called the cemetery vandalism "hooliganism" and added that visitors to the country, not Belarusians, could be responsible for it.

Wishing you a fatal heart attack, Lukashenko. Or apoplexy, I don't care. I am so sick of lying politicians who won't face up to the haters in their backyards for fear of losing the neo-nazi vote. But wait, there's more:

Belarus was home to a substantial Jewish minority before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Of the 6 million Jews who died in Europe during World War II, 800,000 were killed by Nazis in Belarus.

Soviet discrimination prompted many Jews to hide their background, and many fled to Israel or the West following the 1991 Soviet collapse. About 27,000 Jews remain. Some 120,000 Belarusian emigrants live in Israel.

Lukashenko has suppressed dissent and media freedom in this ex-Soviet republic, making him a pariah in the West.

Imagine that. A fascist insisting there is no anti-Semitism in his nation. Where have we seen that before? Oh, that's right. Everywhere.

U.S. security firms to Israeli Philharmonic: The terrorists have won

Can you believe this? The Israeli Philharmonic can't find a U.S. security firm willing to safeguard their 100-member orchestra, forcing them to cancel their U.S. tour.

The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra has canceled a US concert tour, saying it has been unable to find an American security firm willing to guard its 100 musicians, a newspaper reported Monday.

The orchestra was scheduled to perform next month in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago, but called off the US leg of its international tour when it couldn't organize a security company to protect its musicians.

"Our American agent called to tell me that he was unable to find a company that would agree to guard the concert and the audience," Avi Shoshani, chief executive of the orchestra, told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot. "All of the security companies provided him with the same answer: 'We are unwilling to take the risk, because we are fearful of terrorist attacks.' "

I understand the concept of rent-a-cops, but are you telling me there isn't a single private security firm in the country that hires actual police officers?

I think if the police agencies of New York City can keep safe the myriad foreign diplomats, world leaders, and sundry celebrities, then at least one American security agency could safeguard the Israeli Philharmonic.

Unless there's something to the story that they're not telling us.

Ze'ev Dorman, chairman of the orchestra, said, "We have never before experienced a cancellation of this kind.

Usually cancellations are the result of funding problems, as in they could not sell enough tickets."

"But in this case, security is the official reason they gave us," he told Israel Radio.

Shoshani said the orchestra performed in the United States in January without any problems.

The orchestra intends to play at other upcoming concerts scheduled in Australia and Taiwan.

So Australia and Taiwan aren't worried about protecting the musicians from terrorist attacks, but our weenie rent-a-cop firms are. Nice to see that post-9/11 spirit is still working. Glad to know that life goes on as usual. Oh, unless you're Israeli, that is.

Back to normal

Or what passes for normal.

I have a call out to the Shaare Zedek folks in Manhattan to see if you need to do anything special, but really, all you have to do is send a check out to whichever of these addresses you'd like to use. The money will get to the same place. (I'm thinking this time they'll actually answer my email, since I told them I'd raised $3,000 for the hospital.) Write in the memo form on the checks to embarrass them a little more.

Send your checks to:

The Shaare Zedek page with US addresses
You can also mail directly to the hospital.
And here's the page for offices throughout the world.

Is anyone else out there as tired as I am, even after a good night's sleep? I'm betting some 200 people who were involved in the Blogathon.

Well, I'm off to do about a zillion things today. Here's the Blogathon page if you couldn't get here this weekend. (I'm still afraid to read it with a clear head.)


Last week's blogs are archived. Here's the Blogathon. 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.