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My eyes! My eyes! They burn!

It's not your fault, Andrea. Truly it isn't. But your redesign was the act that persuaded me to tell the world how much I loathe reverse type on the Internet, and particularly in the blogosphere. So please understand: This rant is not directed at you, personally. But I must rant.

Let me divulge my bonafides: I have an extensive background in the print industry, going all the way back to the Compugraphic/AM Varityper days, during which time, when you wanted to change a font, you had to pull out a cartridge and replace it with the font you wanted. The days when your output (called repro) was on silver-backed film. I worked on Compugraphic and Varityper machines. I know the AM stands for Addressograph-Multigraph. I learned typesetting on the ATEX typesetting system, which ruled the nation's newspaper and magazine industry until this little thing called desktop publishing came out. I switched to Pagemaker before it was Adobe, and Quark XPress when it became the industry standard. I have typeset and copy edited magazines, books, and newspapers, and have worked for publishers and typehouses that produced each. I still have the 5.25-inch floppies containing my XyWrite II Plus software (Atex for the PC), and in fact, it is still loaded on the machine I am using now. I was a paste-up artist, typesetter, desktop publisher, proofreader, copy editor, writer, tech writer, web developer, programmer. And I am telling you all something that the print publishing industry has known for decades but that seems not to have occurred to far too many webloggers:

There is a really good reason why reverse type is not used in the print industry except as captions, pullquotes, and short bits of text: It is unreadable in the longer form.

Is there anyone out there who truly doesn't suffer from eye fatigue after reading a long post on a website that has a dark background and a bright type? Is there anyone out there who doesn't squint at those horrid Blogger templates that not only put forth tiny, 8 point type, but that disallow the user to increase the type size as s/he wills? Is there anyone out there over the age of 20 who really thinks that a valid reason to design your site with clashing colors is because it looks cool?

There are several things that web publishers need to know. (Psst--bloggers are web publishers.)

The first standard of web publishing I learned was: The reader is in control, not you. You shouldn't care if your readers want to completely override your backgrounds and fonts. Web publishing is all about malleability; if you can't grasp that, you should be publishing on paper and ink. Those of you who insist on using templates that don't allow the user to increase the font size need to find another template. You're cheating your reader out of the control the web is supposed to bring her.

Need I point out that a weblog is about communication? You want people to read what you're writing. Then why make it harder on them by putting the words in tiny, unreadable fonts, or by having a background that all but overwhelms the type? Why give your reader a headache because you think tiny white type on a black background is cool? Why use a template that squishes the type into a small portion of the screen and leaves an enormous amount of empty space on the rest? The vast majority of you are not art directors or web designers; you haven't the foggiest idea what is meant by "creative white space." Here's a hint: It isn't supposed to be two-thirds of your screen.

You want graphics? Great. You want good design? Wonderful. The web is a visual communications medium. But the type is supposed to be the part that readers don't have to play games with to view. If you're writing a weblog, then it seems to me that the writing is what you're trying to get across--not how neat your site looks. Communication is the key. Don't you want to communicate more easily with your readers?

Then give them easy-to-read weblog design. Charles Johnson does. Den Beste does. Lileks does.

There are color schemes besides black type on white backgrounds that are still easy to read. You've seen them around. Contrast levels of type to background is the key to using different colors. My personal bias, obviously, is black on white. But there are weblogs that I read regularly that have different color types and backgrounds. Search around for examples if you think black on white is too boring. They're out there, and they're readable.

There's one other reason you should seriously consider your color scheme and type size. I'm not willing to endure eye strain any longer. I've stopped reading weblogs that have eye-irritating, clashing colors and difficult-to-read type. If I'm not reading them, I'm not linking to them. And I don't think I'm the only person out there who won't read hard-on-the-eyes weblogs. So you're losing readers, and you're losing links--which loses you more potential readers. But hey, think of the upside--your weblog looks really cool.

Terror victims and the numbers game

As surprised as I was to see this in The Village Voice (I first saw the statistics in an Israeli paper), I think it's worth pointing out the cold, hard numeric facts of the statement that you read in the end of every wire report and nearly every single news article about violence in Israel. You know, the one that says, "xxxx Palestinians and xxx Israelis have been killed since the Intifada began."

According to data from Palestinian sources, 55 percent of the Palestinian dead were combatants," said Don Radlauer, an ex-New Yorker, who is building a casualty database at ICT. "And we rated all kids under 13 as non-combatants, even if they were armed when they were killed."

On the Israeli side, statistics show that only 25 percent of the dead were combatants.

The data on the number of women killed is even more telling. Radlauer said the findings "were not what we were expecting."

"Less than 5 percent of all Palestinian casualties to date were female," he said, "while 30 percent of Israeli casualties were women."

"Among the non-combatants killed, and again relying on Palestinian reports, we found that 7 percent were Palestinian women," he said. "In contrast, 37 percent of the Israeli non-combatant dead were women."

Looking at solid numbers, the Palestinians report a total of 66 women killed as of the end of April. In the same period, 135 Israeli women died, all but three non-combatants.

"But if you only look at non-combatants, excluding female suicide bombers and women killed in bomb factory 'work accidents,' etc., the number drops to 40 Palestinian women killed," Radlauer said.

This article didn't give the number of children killed. When I can stomach it, I'll find the data and pass it along.



Hate speech and Islamists

What with all the brouhaha over Lou Dobbs declaring that we call a duck a duck, and Islamic terrorism "Islamists," a question occurred to me.

If I walk up to you and say, "I hate you!" is that considered hate speech?

Gov. Gray Davis speaks out against San Francisco campus anti-Semitism

Via Instapundit:

Governor Gray Davis today issued the following statement in response to anti-Semitic violence and provocation occurring on California's college campuses.

"While I respect the individual rights of free speech and civil discourse, this behavior is unacceptable and unjustifiable," said Gov. Davis. "Violence against fellow Californians is not an expression of free speech. Current actions in the Middle East and differences in opinion should not be used as an excuse for acting out in violent and hateful ways."

Interestingly, there's not a single phrase in the statement that uses the words "on both sides." Perhaps Governor Davis knows that if it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck—well, you know the rest.

Victor Davis Hanson speaks to Israel

My favorite columnist has an article in today's Jerusalem Post: Project Moral Purpose.

There is a concerted public relations campaign in the United States to shift domestic support from Israel to the Palestinian Authority. That effort is fueled by paid commercial advertisements, campus protests, petitions of aggrieved academics, and often one-sided news commentary and editorials. Yet Americans, by a 5-1 margin, continue to champion Israel's right to self-defense.
Why is this so? Bigots claim we are misled by the inordinate influence of the American Jewish community. Yet its electoral weight, like the once formidable Greek lobby, is shrinking, as American Jews become assimilated and the fast-growing American Muslim community is slated to outnumber them in the next decade or two. Besides, most of us here in rural America never see American Jews or hear their spokesmen.

The race industry alleges that we are prejudiced against the Arab people. But Americans consider Arab-Americans pleasant citizens, hard-working, and sympathetic refugees from tyrannical regimes abroad. Our elites complain to us that Protestant fundamentalists in our Midwest and South connect the survival of Israel with ill-founded Old and New Testament prophesy, and so in superstitious ignorance have unduly misdirected American public opinion away from our genuine geopolitical interests. Still, that can hardly be true when we all realize that earnest Protestants have less and less influence upon an American culture that is increasingly secular, often crass, and prone to demonizing Bible-thumpers.

A BETTER explanation for our sympathies lies with our shared affinities. Like the United States, Israel is a democracy. It has a free press, an independent judiciary, and is liberal in social and economic commerce in ways its enemies whether the theocrats in Iran, the lunatics in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, the dictators in Egypt and Pakistan, and the royalty in Jordan and the Gulf are not. No one here believes Yasser Arafat's single rigged election and rule by fiat constitutes real consensual government. Your Knesset debates are more like our Congressional discussions than are the stone-faced yes-men we see in "parliaments" in Cairo or Damascus. Israeli judges remind us of our own not those on the West Bank. Your elite critics and harping professors are more like what we see in the Ivy League than the censors who monitor discussions on the sly in classrooms in Saudi Arabia.

About the only thing I disagree with is the last paragraph of the article, where he tars all New Yorkers with the brush of a Sontag or a Chomsky. Victor, there are more New Yorkers on the side of Israel than not.



Round the blogs

There is no cat: I saw the title of this blog in and simply had to see what it was. I liked what I read, left a comment in the comments section, and via correspondence discovered that the author and I both worked for the same organization at Lucent, and knew the same people there. File under "small world".

Soccer sucks: H.D. Miller, the Traveling Shoes man, gives the ol' American one-two punch to the world view of soccer. It's hilarious. And of course, there's today's follow-up. An Englishman is not amused. But I was.

I'll have to stay here for this piece: Remember I've told you that it is dangerous, extremely dangerous to let my mind wander for long periods of time? Well, short periods of time can be just as deadly. Because while I was in the shower today, I came up with a really, really bad joke. You have been warned.

These two old men at a nursing home are talking about one of the staff, the nurse who helps them get into the shower every day, turns on the water, adjusts it to the proper temperature, makes sure everything is set so they don't fall and break their hips. So one guy says to the other, "So? What do you think about Nurse Spigot? She's something, huh?" And the other guy says, "Eh. She runs hot and cold."

Yeah, you think that's bad, just remember—I have another six-hour drive coming up on Monday.

The Weekly Papers: How business is done

Glenn Reynolds is talking about professional journalists today. It reminded me of something that happened on my first newspaper job. Sounds like the alt-weeklies are learning the facts of life that the regular weeklies learned decades ago.

My first professional publishing job was a paste-up artist for Worall Pulications, which at that time owned about seven local weekly newspapers, including my then-hometown's Maplewood/South Orange News Record. I worked on a Varityper machine, typing ads and articles, then outputting them and pasting them up. (The legal ads were the worst. The type was so tiny, and they put so many words into such a small space--just like they are today. Fitting them to the columns was a bitch. Thank heaven for programs like Quark XPress today.)

While I was there, the young (mid-twenties) sports editor had dug up an important story of small-town corruption involving one of the town's largest businesses, a town council member, and kickbacks. Flush with Woodward/Bernstein triumph, feeling this to be his breakthrough piece, he pitched the story to the editor-in-chief. Who spiked it. The sports editor was shocked. Why? Why wouldn't the paper print the article? Because, the editor-in-chief patiently explained, the kickback story involved one of the paper's biggest advertisers. The councilman was a business owner who would also likely pull his ads, and who had friends who would pull advertising if the town paper wrote about the council's corruption.

This is How It Is Done on a small-town weekly paper. It's a lesson I learned young, and never forgot. I would say it's a sad lesson, but I lost my innocence about corruption long enough ago that I just shrug at it today. Which is rather sad.


Since yesterday was such a dreary news day, and today seems likely to be another one, let me share with you once more how funny James Lileks' Tuesday Bleat was, and urge you to read it. Or reread it. Anything that has the word "urpapalooza" in it is guaranteed to set you laughing.

But here's the thing. While corresponding with Mr. Lileks, and mentioning the urpapalooza, I was suddenly struck by a thought. We were also discussing the Hulk (more about why later). And a realization came upon me: I wouldn't ever want to see the Hulk urp.



Living with bombs, day by day

The Christian Science Monitor profiles Talia Sapir, a Jerusalem resident who survived a terrorist bombing unscathed—physically.

Sometimes panic intrudes.
One weekend afternoon, her parents are babysitting Maayan and Sapir calls her father on his cellphone to make sure everything is OK. Everything is fine, he tells her. He and Sapir's mother and Maayan are enjoying a visit to a cafe.

Sapir freezes. Inside her head, she can see an explosion, the images from Moment. She goes immediately to the cafe and insists they go home.
"No" is the guiding principle of Sapir's post-Moment lifestyle. No cafes, no restaurants. "That's over for me," she says. No parks, no movie theaters, no malls. No trips to downtown Jerusalem. No crowded places. No zoo for Maayan.

No life. Things are reaching a boiling point within Israel, I think. And when the point is reached....

Woody Allen and the French

A couple of weeks ago, Woody Allen was in Cannes hoping to get his film career back on track again. When asked about anti-Semitism in France, he responded that he "never felt that the French people in any way were anti-Semitic."

This, from the man who couldn't tell a pedophile if he was looking in the mirror.

An open letter to Islamic Jihad and the rest of the Muslim murderers

The recent bombing in Israel, which has so far resulted in 17 deaths, has been claimed by Islamic Jihad to expressly coincide with the 35th anniversary of the most humiliating defeat the Arab nations suffered since the days of the end of the Caliphate: The Six-Day War, in which Israel defeated an army with three times her soldiers and resources, and which the Soviet Union was literally airlifting new tanks and equipment as fast as Israel could destroy them. Well, not quite as fast. The Soviets sure lost a lot of money in those six days, though.

So here's the comment I have for all you brave, brave mujahadeen who like to shoot sleeping five-year-old girls in the head, blow up ice cream parlors, and kill as many women and children as possible because every time you face the IDF you get your asses kicked:

I guess you shoulda won 35 years ago, huh? Then you wouldn't have to blow up buses in your infantile anger and revenge fantasies.


Anti-Semitism in modern German politics

Stefan Sharkansky, a frequent correspondent who now has his own blog, has been following the strange case of Jürgen Möllemann. Who is Jürgen Möllemann? And why did Stefan create a website to answer those questions?

Möllemann is a German politician. He sits in the state parliament of North-Rhine Westphalia where he is chairman of the Free Democrat-Liberal Party (FDP). He was a federal government minister in the early 1990s. He is currently the deputy chairman of the federal FDP. He is a businessman with dealings in the Arab world and is president of the German-Arab Society. He has recently generated controversy for public statements that condone suicide bombers, and for blaming German-Jewish leaders for fueling anti-Semitism.

In a letter, Stefan wrote:

Last month he expressed his understanding for terrorists who target Israeli civilians. Today Möllemann is fighting within his own party to admit as a member Jamal Karsli, a Syrian-born German state legislator, who was kicked out of the Green Party for equating Israel to Nazis and who speaks of the "Zionist lobby that dominates the world media" Fortunately, mainstream leaders across the German political spectrum have strongly denounced Möllemann and Karsli. Still, Möllemann has a loyal, and disturbingly mainstream, audience.

Stefan has translated into English articles from German publications that discuss Möllemann. (He did not translate the guy's name, which to me, reads like "Mole Man", one of the first villains the Fantastic Four had to face, which might explain his antipathy. I mean, the Mole Man was short, ugly, near-blind, and unpopular to boot. I should probably stop with the comic book comparisons, huh?)




New Cattales

Wow, it's been over a month since I wrote one. 'Bout time, then.

Critics, nothing but critics

Okay, so my post below titled "The Internet Rocks" didn't have any links in it. That's because I was being lazy. And I got an email from a reader who pointed out to me that, well, I missed my own point by not linking in the post.

It's linked now. And I still want to see "Into the Woods" on Broadway. And boy, not only can we fact-check your ass, but we can nitpick your ass. Just kidding, L. You were right, I should have added links.

Recommended reading

Vodkadude pointed me to Eric Raymond's essay titled "We are all Jews now." But it's not exactly what you think. Perhaps I'd best excerpt it with a warning: Rated R.

This afternoon I read a hilarious quote from a woman calling herself "shell" who had left a comment on Dawn Olsen's weblog (link via InstaPundit and Tim Blair). She wrote:

"In a post 9-11 world, I feel it's my duty as a woman to wear clingier clothing, flirt more outrageously, have more orgasms, and get on top more often. In short, anything that's taboo to the islamofascists."

Boo-yah, sister! This struck me as a wonderful example of what computer hackers and science-fiction fans call a `ha ha only serious', which is just the the opposite of a `ha ha only kidding'. It's a wonderfully multi-leveled utterance.

In the fevered mind of any islamofascist, the sister is certainly urban and probably Jewish. In fact, we are all Jews now, every one of us in the West. This is what lies behind the standard-issue Arab-world mutterings about U.S. policy being controlled by Jews and Israelis, and the tremendous wave of pro-Jewish, pro-Israeli solidarity in the U.S. after 9/11. The alliance both we and the Islamists are sensing is more than geopolitical; it's founded in everybody's gut-level understanding that rage against the Jews and rage against modernity have become effectively synonymous.

Raymond gives the most convincing argument I've ever read for, well, wearing tighter clothes and having more sex, and making it sound extremely American and patriotic. Tellya what, Eric, I'll work on that and get back to you. Uh, not personally. I don't even know you.

I put Armed Liberal (along with about a dozen others) on my links page. Armed and Dangerous. Armed Liberal. I see a trend here. That is probably because once I'm settled in Richmond, I intend to learn how to shoot, and will in all likelihood buy a gun.

Mac Thomason was complaining that nobody's linking to him lately. (I think he meant InstantMan, but hey, I can link, too.) Well, I like Mac. I'll link to him. He's a BuffyBlogger. I really should compile that list--Bear's one, too. And speaking of:

Da Bear has a new system for rating bloggers, something to do with links. And when I saw it, the first thing that hit me was guilt (I needed to update my links page), then ego (hey! I want to be a mortal human!). But now I've thought it over, and Bear, you're doing it backwards. We should be promoting the less-linked blogs, not the most-linked blogs. The big guys should be on the bottom, and the little guys on the top. That's partly why on my links page, Instapundit, Lileks, Den Beste, and a few others are at the bottom of the page. They don't need the link-love. But people like Da Bear and File13 do.

The Other Side: It's not a "warblog" or a news blog or even any kind of subject blog. It's a personal weblog. But I owe Shirl a huge thank-you for something nice she did for me a couple of months ago, so I'm plugging her weblog. If you like sitting back, relaxing, and popping up the latest "Which X are you?" quiz, then give her blog a peek.

Lileks was absolutely, laugh-out-loud, spit-soda-at-the-monitor hilarious in today's blog. That's Tuesday's blog. Don't miss it. I love his Gnat posts, but this one has to be my all-time favorite. It's the list towards the end that's the killer. Do not be eating or drinking while reading it. You have been warned.

Missed one from the Blog Burst

I didn't check out Erin O'Connor's contribution to the SFSU Blog Burst (you may need to scroll down to the May 30th entry) because Joe Katzman summarized Erin's concept (as did she) so: "the role of fashion in helping to create and sustain campus support for the Palestinian cause." And let me apologize to you now, Erin, but I just rolled my eyes and gave it a pass. Yet for some reason, I went back to it--perhaps because it was the only one I hadn't at least glimpsed.

Have I apologized? Let me do so again. Far from being a shallow discussion on clothing fashion, Erin points out how the need to be "cool" on campus is actually contributing to the popularity of the Palestinian cause.

I will open with this caveat: a great deal of the tolerance that has recently grown up around the Palestinian cause on campuses has less to do with informed political decisionmaking than it does with the desire to be a part of a hip new political trend. That's right: on many campuses, supporting the Palestinian cause is not just the "right thing to do"--it's also the cool thing to do.

The rest of the essay is well worth reading, and I'm sorry I missed it last week. If any of you missed any of the Blog Burst, go! Click! Read! Good essays, every one.

Comparing cultures or, Neener, neener, neener!

Foreign Policy magazine reviews Oriana Fallaci's latest book, La Rabbia e L’Orgoglio (The Anger and the Pride). The reviewer is also Italian, and for some reason, I don't think Marco Belpoliti likes either Oriana or her book (emphasis added):

Fallaci declares that she, too, is a patriot. And while espousing the superiority of her own culture, Fallaci accuses Muslims of fanaticism and, above all, of despising women. She accuses Muslims of attempting to “annihilate our way of living and dying, our way of praying and not praying, our way of eating and drinking, and wearing clothes, and having fun, and finding things out.”
The deepest instincts of this book lie in its nationalism, xenophobia, and chauvinism, all of which are major pieces of the political culture of the Italian middle and lower-middle classes, epitomized by the fascist regime of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. This enduring fascism—what Eco called Italy’s “eternal fascism”—is one of the clearest elements of Fallaci’s own cultural makeup and that of her book. But readers should be careful not to judge. Her fascism is not totalitarian in nature. On the contrary, the paradox of Fallaci’s writing is that her fascism presupposes an extreme cult of personal freedom. But regrettably, it is a personal freedom opposed to the freedom of others, including Muslims.

For Fallaci, freedom does not mean tolerance of others but superiority of her own culture, religion, and traditions. Italy’s cultural identity, Fallaci writes, “cannot withstand a wave of immigrants made up of people who in one way or another wish to change our way of life. . . . And even if there were a place for such things, I wouldn’t give it over. Because it would be like throwing out Dante, Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Rafael, the Renaissance, the Risorgimento, the freedom we have won . . . [and] the democracy we have created.”

Love the way he says the reader shouldn't judge, right before and after he judges her. So, um, Marco--what's your point? That she's a fascist because she thinks it's wrong for Muslim fanatics to debase women the way that they do? That she's a fascist because she says militant Islam wants to force the rest of the world to change to its way of life or die? Or is she a fascist because she thinks individualism and personal freedom is a good thing? Now that's the weirdest charge of fascism I've ever heard. Personal freedom is fascistic? Uh--how? From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

Main Entry: fas·cism
Function: noun
Etymology: Italian fascismo, from fascio bundle, fasces, group, from Latin fascis bundle & fasces fasces
Date: 1921
1 often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

Belpoliti thinks that by warning of the threat of militant Islam, Fallaci is to be equated with Mussolini. And here is his reasoning, apparently: "For Fallaci, freedom does not mean tolerance of others". Well, probably not. Because that's not the definition of freedom. Tolerance of others is called--well--"tolerance." Freedom means, "the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action". Which is rather the opposite of what Islamofascists believe. But Belpoliti's assertion is a typical EU philosophy. Freedom equals tolerance of others, refusing to acknowledge that any culture is superior to any other--it's the typical Euroweenie mindset.

But his line of thinking got to me, and I came up with a litmus test we can apply when trying to decide whether one culture is superior to another:

What has that culture given the world in the past 50 years? Has it contributed advances in science, technology, medicine, philosophy, art, dance, music, literature? Has it started any wars? Is it now involved in any wars? For what reasons does the culture fight? Does this culture have suffrage? Equality for women? Are there free and fair elections? Is the culture based on the rule of law? (Shari'a and other religious law doesn't count.) Is the concept of a free press basic to this culture? Does this culture oppress minorities that dwell within it?

For all the jokes we make about the various European nations, as far as I know, all of Europe passes the cultural litmus test. Even France. Do any Muslim nations? Hey, we'll give them a bye and take out the free and fair elections and the free press. They still fail.

Well, then. Oriana isn't a fascist. She's just plain right.



My dinner in Gotham

So Saturday evening, I met Diane E. for dinner. I wound up taking the bus in, because there's no free parking in midtown, where we were going to be, and it'd be just plain silly to drive to Port Authority when I could take a bus instead. I stepped onto Eighth Avenue at about 6:15 on a warm, beautiful evening, and the streets were utterly packed with tourists and natives going here and there. For about three blocks, I was in my "goddamn tourists!" mode, the one that I learned to have during the summers when I worked in Manhattan, walking quickly and sliding through the gaps in the crowd, paying little attention to my surroundings. After three blocks, I realized that people all around me were having fun and, frankly, I was having fun just being in New York, and so I slowed down just a bit and paid more attention to the ocean of people I was walking through.

Times Square was mobbed. All of it, from 40th street up. I heard French, and German, and Chinese. I heard African from a family dressed in bright colors, pointing at landmarks. I had no idea that 42nd Street has been co-opted by Asian artists; people sat for their portraits as artist after artist plied his wares. There was music every few blocks, ranging from a single man drumming on two upturned five-gallon plastic buckets to a world music pipe band playing for the crowd and hawking its CDs. Up in Central Park, a troupe of African Americans danced and performed gymnastics to music for an appreciative audience. The outdoor cafes up and down Broadway were jammed with diners. And throughout the crowds I heard the accents of two dozen regions of America; men and women and children from all over the country drawn to New York, wanting to visit her landmarks and eat in her famous restaurants and see her Broadway shows--and just plain be in the most exciting city in the nation.

I moved through the crowd, smiling, wondering, "How could they hate this so much? How could they want to destroy it?"

And I realized, this is what they hate. This is what they want to destroy. Those sad, sick, pathetic, twisted, repressed men who would dress me in a burqa are taught to hate joy, and to hate fun, and to hate a woman's bare midriff and legs. They're taught to hate tolerance, and to hate equality, and to hate the sidewalk preachers seeking to spread the word of a different belief. They're taught that variety is wrong, that freedom is wrong, that choice is wrong--that women are wrong. They're taught that I was walking through evil on Saturday night.

No. I wasn't walking through a sea of evil. Now, two days later, I realize exactly what I was experiencing: I was walking through people busy celebrating Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. New York is a microcosm (albeit a huge one) of this nation. I spent the evening in America, with Americans and foreigners, all going about their business of having a good time on a warm, clear weekend night in June.

This is why we must fight. This is why we will fight. We've defeated fascism three times in the last century. We'll do it again in this one. Count on it.



Random threats

You really shouldn't let me near stories like this.

Charles Johnson points out a Reuters piece that details threats from an Al Qaeda "spokesman". (How do you get that kind of job? One day you wake up and say, "When I grow up, I want to be the PR Director for a major terrorist organization"?

The "spokesman's" name is Sulaiman bu Ghaith. Solomon. The guy's name is Solomon. I think even God Himself would roll over in His grave--that is, if He were dead--at the irony of someone named Solomon speaking for Al Qaeda.

But here's what Solly had to say to us:

"What is coming to the Americans will not, by the will of God, be less than what has come."

Question? Does anyone know WTF he means by that? Hm. Let's think. "What is coming will not be less than what has come."

Yeah, and the dog barks at midnight. The stick is blue. A rolling stone gathers no moss.

"So beware, America. Get ready. Get prepared. Put on the safety belt."

Awww. Isn't that sweet? He wants us to be wearing seat belts while he flies another plane into one of our buildings. Wouldn't want us to get whiplash.

I would like to bring you all back to the week of my last birthday, and the words of Mullah Omar:

"If God's help is with us, this will happen within a short period of time keep in mind this prediction. The real matter is the extinction of America, and God willing, it will fall to the ground. I tell you, keep this in mind. This is my prediction. You believe it or not it's up to you. But we will have to wait and see.''

Omar, ol' buddy--we're still waiting. I think the short time and the fall you were speaking of was the Taliban, but hey--just a bit of semantics there, eh?

I'm thinking this Allah ain't all he's cracked up to be, or at least, if he is, he ain't what Al Qaeda thinks he's cracked up to be. He just doesn't seem to be willing to back a loser.

Why the Internet rocks

So I'm watching the Tony awards, and I see a clip from "Into the Woods," and I see the actor playing Jack, and I think, "I know that guy. Who is that guy? What's his name? Isn't he the kid from Picket Fences?"

So I'm watching a movie preview last night, and I see an actor named Ryan Gosling. And I think, "I know that guy. I know that face. But I can't remember where I saw him, and why he's so familiar to me. Was it a TV show? A movie?"

So I boot up the computer shortly after seeing the clip from "Into the Woods," and I go first to IMDB and discover that the reason I remember Ryan Gosling is because he played young Hercules on, uh, the Young Hercules TV show.

And then I go to Google and type in "Into the Woods", and up comes the current Broadway play's website in the number one slot (nice work, Google). The actor's name is Adam Wylie, and he was the younger son on Picket Fences (and he's been guest-starring on The Gilmore Girls, being picked on by Paris, poor thing).

The Internet rocks. It's not your parents' library.

The rule of blog

I was going through my archives today and found the rules for this blog. Since I have so many new users, I think it's incumbent upon me to make sure everyone knows what the deal is, and what the rules are. Of course, I haven't even thought about this since January. But you can click through to the archive page; it has some pretty decent stuff on it. There are even pictures of me on that page. Well, pictures of part of me, anyway. (Not telling which part.)

Oh, yeah--the rules. I was experimenting with ideas for a new tagline, and decided that these might also make good rules:

  • It's all about me
  • Either Yourish, or you're not.
  • I write what you're thinking.
    Do too.
  • If I wanted your opinions, I'd have comments.

If I think of any more, be sure that I'll let you know.

The meaning of "jihad"

Diane E. of Letter from Gotham is on a major tear about the student who will give a Harvard commencement speech entitled "American Jihad". (Update: Blogger bug has hit. Go to the main page to read it for now.)

It's screamingly obvious that Harvard is flinging its self-conscious oddness, quirkiness, exquisite liberality and self-appointed superiority in the face of stodgy, horrible, stupid America, those unwashed masses that crudely think that, geez, there might be penchant for violence in Islam, that nation of troglodytes that forms the simple impression that a word that means struggle means war.

Only idiots can possibly believe that a word means what it has generally been thought to mean. Only idiots believe that a word which has been the catalyst for conquest, subjugation and genocide can convey a hostile, menacing concept. And that this is inappropriate as a commencement address.

This is NOT a question of free speech. Isn't a completely free society free to observe norms of propriety? Would anyone think that Harvard was doing the right thing if they invited a paroled rapist to give a commencement speech entitled "One Person's Rape is Another Person's Great Fuck"?

Perhaps indeed the meaning of the word Jihad has undergone a subtle mutation in modern America, where the struggle for domination takes on subtler but no less profound forms (economic power and social acceptance). This is a subject that requires greater analysis than I am capable of here. But the concept remains unchanged: Jihad means war.

Would you believe that she toned it down from our discussion over dinner last night?

Insert typical first of the month blog here

So it's the second. I wrote this on the first.

Get a load of this search: "hosni mubarak hot jokes". Wow, is that a sad person, or what? Hosni Mubarak couldn't be funny while slipping on a banana peel and landing in a cream pie with the Three Stooges doing their schtick above him.

"xxx saudi girls". Yeah, but you have to peel them first. At least they're not wearing burkas.

"afghan playboy". See above, add burkas.

"american fashion magzines". Okay, our searcher is tired of "pakistani fashion magzines," but s/he still can't spell magazines! Geez, get a dictionary, willya?

"bigot bigotry bigoted bigotries": I believe you want nazi--excuse me, IndyMedia--for that.

And in the May Sweeps Month,'s most popular search was: [The envelope, please] "John Edward fraud"! Once again, Mr. Edward, the not-psychic who does not talk to the dead, leads the searches that brought you here.

Amazingly, Zayed Yasin leaped up the chart--to number two--in a few short days. He's the dude who's giving the American Jihad speech at Harvard's commencement. Can't wait to read Matt and Glenn's blogs on that.

And of course, the Danny Pearl video leaped to the third spot. Uh--it's not here, folks. I just talked about how I never want to see it.

Stan Lee makes the number four search! Way to go, True Believers! The Merry Marvel Blogging Society Marches On!

And rounding up the top five--it's Fish Heads! That song will never go away, nor will my insistence that you can sing the entire Andrew Lloyd Webber repertoire to it.

What I find most amazing and amusing is that John Edward and Fish Heads were subjects of my earliest blogs--and they still get people coming here. If there's anyone out there who found my weblog via a search of either of those two, and is currently sticking around for more, drop me an email. I'd love to hear from you. (Mind you, I know how difficult it is to come out from the shadows and be acknowledged, but I swear, I won't even reply to you if you don't want me to.)

The numbers game

Statistics to put Da Bear in his place, young upstart that he is: Got my first 100k-plus hit month, which doesn't mean all that much, admittedly. But I came so close to my current desired goal of 30,000 monthly visitors--missed it by 334. 29,666--hey, the number of the beast lies within that amount. I am a bit devilish; it works for me. (Actually, I missed my goal by about a thousand more visitors, as I need to subtract about that many for an accurate total, but I can't tell you that story, or someone would have to kill me. But it's close enough.)

WebTrends says just 56% of my visitors are unique. I think you're all unique. (All together now: Awwwww.) And to put all of this in perspective: Instantman gets--sigh--more visitors in a day than I do in a month.

I don't normally put my stats up for all the world to see. But my current goal started a few months ago, when I saw a post by Wil Wheaton that said he gets about 90,000 hits a month. At that time, I decided I wanted to kick Wil Wheaton's ass--in hits and visitors, not literally. I have nothing against Wil. I never confused the actor with the guy he played on ST:TNG, (loved him in Toy Soldiers), and his website is pretty good.

So--I have succeeded in my goal. This May, I kicked Wil Wheaton's ass--or at least, his ass of several months ago. 123,026 hits, 29,666 visitors, 42,418 page views, a gig and a half of transfers and downloads.

The sweetest thing is, I did it without the cult of personality. Every single hit was gotten by sheer effort. (Is this the part where I start saying, "You like me! You really like me!"?) I work hard for every visit and link and recommendation I get.

Okay, the egofest is done with. Let me go out and expend a little more effort, and find a new blogger to put in my sights. Onward and upward is a must. Stagnation is death. Raise the bar for me, people. Tell me what else you'd like me to do. More humor? Aunt Edith's latke recipe? (I have her cheesecake recipe in a box somewhere, but that would take a monetary bribe to get.) Can I take an extended break from current events, like I tried to do while I was in Virginia? (Don't bother, I knew the answer to that one without really asking.) Less Middle East? (Puh-LEEZE don't say "more" on that one.) About the only thing you can expect a flat no on is asking me to be objective. Contrary to published reports, I've never pretended to be objective in the past. Why start now?

Last week's blogs are archived. 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 is also a good bet if you've never been here before.