Important: Read this before sending email




Indexed Archives


Contact me

Who am I?


The diary of
Iseema bin Laden

Secret Arafat
Phone Transcripts

Greatest Hits




Lookin' around

Shirl tells me to stock up on the caffeine for the Blogathon, and links to a horrifying article on what the trauma centers in Jerusalem have to deal with in the aftermath of a suicide bombing.

Rivkind regularly encounters injuries virtually unseen before: horrific wounds to the head, chest, even rectum, caused by nails, screws and ball bearings flying at high velocity. One suicide bomber sprinkled rat poison among his nuts and bolts, which acts as an often-fatal anticoagulant. “This 14-year-old girl was bleeding uncontrollably from every one of her puncture wounds,” Rivkind says. The doctor managed to stop the bleeding by using a coagulant, still unapproved by the American Food and Drug Administration, which he has since used to treat several other bomb-blast victims.

In confined spaces, the effect of the shock wave bouncing off walls and ceilings can be just as lethal as flying metal, though the damage to the body is often invisible. The worst carnage that Rivkind has ever seen occurred in a bomb blast onboard Jerusalem’s No. 18 bus in February 1996. Because it was winter, the driver had closed all the windows, magnifying the blast’s effect. Twenty-six died. The bus driver himself appeared unscathed, though his lungs, Rivkind later found, had been torn apart. “He gave me his name, spoke calmly—and then a few seconds later he was dead,” Rivkind says.

[...] The long-term care and rehabilitative wards at Hadassah are a grim showcase of notorious past attacks. One 3-year-old girl has been in a coma since surviving a suicide-bomb blast at the Sbarro’s pizza restaurant in Jerusalem in August. Other long-term patients include a 20-year-old victim of the March 2002 bombing of the trendy Moment Cafe, in which 13 young people died, and a female Holocaust survivor who was injured in the Passover Massacre and remains in Hadassah’s psychiatric ward.

There's also an article (via Charles Johnson) written by a doctor from Shaare Zedek that details the brushes with death the hospital staff has had. Remember the infant girl and her grandmother killed in the last blast? The wife's interview on CNN? That was the family of an opthamologist at Shaare Zedek.

Like Laurence says: Give 'til they make it stop hurting. The links are in the upper right-hand corner.

Look, Ma, the brainwashing didn't take!

Read the one about the Pakistani Muslim who joined up with the Israeli Jew for the Wimbledon Doubles competition? Apparently, Pakistan is unhappy with Aisamul Haq Qureshi teaming up with Amir Hadad, and is considering keeping Qureshi off the Davis Cup team as a punishment. Qureshi is unmoved. (Via Instapundit)

Qureshi was unperturbed by the controversy and is hoping his decision to leave politics on the sidelines will be seen in a positive light.

"I am surprised at the fuss being made over my partnership," he said. "I would like to be talked about for my tennis rather than politics.

"If we can change people's minds then that would be a good thing."

[...] "As long as we enjoy playing together we will continue. When we agreed to get together it was all about doing well here, making some money and improving our doubles ranking.

"If we win here then I would dedicate the victory to my family and to peace.

"It would be good for those doubters to see that even though we are from different religions it is possible for us to work together and have some fun.

"A Jew and a Muslim playing together is not the end of the world. We are all human beings. We have the same blood, the same skin."

Yet more proof that Muslims are not all terrorists, terrorist sympathizers, and anti-Semites. Read the entire article; it's heartening.

War news

The IDF destroyed the building in Hebron believed to be holding 15 Palestinian terrorists. They've found no bodies yet, but if they do, that would be 15 fewer murderers to deal with. No more Church of the Nativity standoffs. Surrender or die, apparently.

Works for me.

In Afghanistan, Al Qaeda continues its war on women and children. They blew up an ammunitions depot that used to be theirs, but was captured recently. The resulting explosion killed 19 and injured dozens.

Residents said munitions rained down all over town.

``A mortar fell on my house,'' said Abdul Ghaffar, a teenage soldier who stood guard outside the compound Friday. ``It killed my mother and my brother.''

Children and other people had earlier entered the compound looking for scrap metal they could sell.

The explosions blasted a local government customs house where food aid was stored. A nearby mosque also was extensively damaged, its roof caved in and one wall collapsed.

Also damaged was an office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, located about 70 yards from the arms depot, U.N. official Jennifer Clark said in Geneva. One UNHCR driver was injured and was taken to hospital in Kandahar, she said.

Anyone seeing a pattern here? Hm, let's see. IDF lets more than 100 people originally holed up in the PA headquarters in Hebron go free, keeping only those wanted for crimes. Asks for four days that the remaining terrorists surrender. Then they blow up the building. On the other hand, Al Qaeda, as all good little terrorist organizations do, take no care at all that civilians are not killed, preferring to call them either collaborators or unwilling martyrs, and blow up a munitions dump in the middle of a town.

And yet, the newspapers insist on calling these people "militants". How about being more accurate and calling them "murderers"?

Meanwhile, in the good-news department:

Dr. Ruth is in Israel for a solidarity visit. I've always love that lady, and now I love her even more. (Jerry Seinfeld canceled his "solidarity" tour. I've never liked him, and now I like him even less.) But Dr. Ruth? You go, girl!

Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor in her 70s, is also a grandmother of three and an author.

She makes her home in New York City, and contrary to other foreign personalities, continues to make regular visits to Israel, where she lived for a period after World War II.

In June 1948, during Israel's Independence War, Westheimer was wounded in a bombing while she was on her way to an underground shelter. Three other people were killed in that blast.

That's the spirit, bubbe.

He's still the one

Laurence Simon can slay me with one line. We both posted yesterday about the Israeli doctors curing the bubble baby, and we posted at the same time, updated at the same time, and were one-two in So after we realized we both wrote about the same subject at the same time, he adds this to his post:

Meryl posted this at the same time I did. When we're done with the Blogathon (see above), we plan on competing in the 2004 Games in the Synchronized Propaganda Debunking event.

It's the last line that knocked me off the chair.

Hm. I wonder how this affects my theory of Lair and Bigwig being separated at birth?

When in doubt, shop

I was so stressed out earlier today, I'd forgotten the red-blooded All-American female response to stress other than lots of chocolate: Go shopping. So I went out with Brenda tonight and picked up a few things, which included "Toxicity," by System of a Down, which I have been wanting for weeks, and which I am listening to as I write this.

There will be no serious, thoughtful blogging done until after the CD is finished. Alas, it is too late at night to blast the stereo.

You know what puzzles me about the album? I have no friggin' idea of what half the songs are about, even though I can understand the lyrics fairly well—and yet I simply love this group. I think I get some of the songs. But I'd rather not look too hard, because sometimes a song defies a single interpretation, and it's best to keep it that way.

I thought I was supposed to outgrow music like this. At least, that's what an aunt told me a few years back, while I was trying to explain a Tool CD that I'd just bought to her, since she dropped in on my mother and I was listening to it there. "It's sort of angry-young-man music," I said. She laughed somewhat derisively. "Aren't you a little old for that?" I declined to continue the discussion. But I feel obliged to point out that she has all of Andrew Lloyd Webber's soundtracks, and, in fact, thinks that he is a good composer and songwriter.

Which brings us back to the Fish Heads Theory, which I will restate for those who hate to click on a link in the middle of a story: If you can sing the words from Fish Heads to the music of any other song, that song, well, sucks. I discovered this theory late one night while listening to a commercial for Phantom of the Opera, when I was suddenly struck by the thought that the lyrics to Fish Heads can be sung quite easily to the tune of "Music of the Night." (If you are looking for a deeper explanation, such as one telling you how on earth I connected Fish Heads to Phantom, you are going to be disappointed. I just call 'em as I see 'em.)

Now, a little while ago, I was asking people to 'fess up if they'd found this weblog via Fish Heads. I was curious to find out how many Google searchers I actually keep. To my great delight, a reader said in email that he became a regular after finding me via that very search. I'd mention him by name, but Mark R. never did send me back a response as to whether I could quote his letter.

Oops. (Hi, Mark.)

Anyway. The month is nearly over, and the beginning-of-month searches will hit again, which are usually good for at least one blog. John Edward has been dethroned, unless a flurry of searchers for him hit in the next two days. At first Zayed Yassin, the "American Jihad" speaker at Harvard surpassed him, but Yassin is a distant third now. The new search king at

The ever-lovin' Stan the Man Lee. Stan Lee, and "Stan Lee comics" are bringing in twice as many searches as Mr. Fraudward. Hulk smash John Edward, it seems. And now, lest this post get too stream-of-consciousness, I am off to bed. Tomorrow, another salvo across the bow of The Public Nuisance, who has returned my volley on slugs with—the rogue—an insult to New Jersey!

Keep your evil thoughts to yourself or I'm coming after you next. I heard that one! You, in the back—to the blackboard. Write fifty times, "I will not think that simply living in New Jersey is insult enough." Philistines.

Oh, wait. I'm leaving New Jersey for good in less than ten days.

Never mind.



Sheer blind panic

Just got back from putting down a deposit with the moving company. While I was there, they asked if I could swing the 9th instead of the 12th, so now I have ten days to finish packing. It isn't that I think I can't; I'm pretty sure I'll be finished long before the ten days are up. It's just that I'm terrified that everything is going to fall through, and the movers will arrive the morning of the ninth and I'll have no apartment to move to.

It probably would have helped if my jerk of a landlord hadn't blown off the new complex's request for my rent payment history (late once in two and a half years) for the last two weeks, and I only found out about it yesterday. I'm technically not yet approved for the apartment I signed the lease for, and for which I can take residency July 6th. Which feeds into my anxiety, of course.

I have a bad feeling about getting any sleep tonight. And what's worse, I was good in the store this afternoon and didn't buy the Yukon Gold potato chips, even though they were on sale. And I have no chocolate, no ice cream, no sugary candy, and just about nothing to call a comfort food. Cheez-Its barely make the grade. I'm down to one potato—hardly enough for home-made potato chips—and all those damned healthy snacks.

I have no comfort foods to assuage my anxiety!!!

What do guys do when they're this anxious? Is this when you go out and get into a fight?

Do you think it would help?

And you know, while I'm at it, the Shaare Zedek pledge fund has been stuck at $1599 for the past sixteen hours. Is that broken, too? Yeesh. More to worry about. (Of course, the moment after I wrote that, I checked the Blogathon page, and the count went up $25. Thanks, whoever it was!)

Wait! I have popcorn! Phew. That'll do. I think Galaxy Quest and a bowl of popcorn will calm me right down.

Looney tunes

Hard on the heels of banana slugs, we have another piece of insanity from Bigwig. I'm becoming more and more worried about this man.

He has composed a song called "Little Bastard Yasser" based on the lyrics (and I presume music) to "Little Rabbit Foo-Foo."

And you absolutely must check the comments on the Spam entry.

Bigwig and Laurence Simon: Separated at birth? You decide.

Rick Heller knows my little brother, and I can't get the blackmail pictures back until I post a link to his weblog.

Okay, not really.

He does know my brother, but I checked out his weblog and realized, hey, this is pretty good. We have some similar themes—I'm a writer, he's a writer, I'm Jewish, he's Jewish, I'm pro-Israel, he's pro-Israel, I write funny things, he quotes funny things—oops, ya caught me. Check out this Ethel Barrymore quote, I nearly fell off my chair laughing.

Rick's the guy on the right in the picture. (You're welcome, Rick.)

Oceanguy is a proud Blogathon sponsor of Shaare Zedek. I knew about him before, but that reminded me to see what he's been up to lately. And may I say: large black text, white background, easy to read—the man is good to his readers. And has some good posts, as well.

Stefan Sharkansky tells us what happened to the 13 terrorists from the Church of the Nativity Siege. Sadly, I can't report that the Mossad got all 13 of them. They're living in varying degrees of luxury and police surveillance. Stefan translates yet another article from Die Welt for us. Danke, Stefan.

Found a new blog. That's what happens when you choose an interesting title and I'm scanning I see something called Blogs Suck and I click to see what the author is trying to tell me. Half the time, the blog actually does suck, but then again, sometimes I'm surprised. Judging from the email address, which tells you to send it to the author at, I'm going to take a wild guess that he's about an hour south of me in New Jersey. (At least for the next couple of weeks. I'm putting a deposit down tomorrow for a moving company to take my things out of here and put them in Richmond.)

Of course, just because Aaron goes to school in New Jersey doesn't necessarily mean he's a Jersey guy. He'll have to tell me himself. And we caught him during his first week, so if he gets big, we can tell people we knew him when.

The cult of life

There's an article in the Jerusalem Post that's not about terrorism, or the war, or politics, or bombs, or martyrs, or victims and oppressors and any of the myriad things we're sick to death of seeing in the Israeli, American, and world media.

This article is about a 22-month old baby girl who lives.

'Bubble baby' born without immune system cured

An Arab baby girl from Jerusalem is the first infant in the world to be cured of severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), which required her to live inside a plastic bubble because she totally lacked an immune system. Baby Salsabil is now 22 months old and completely healthy.

The genetic-engineering feat, carried out at Hadassah-University Hospital in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem with help from Italian scientists, is regarded as a major medical breakthrough, as the protocol can be applied to cure other genetic diseases in which the patient is born lacking a vital enzyme.

The team responsible for the lifesaving protocol was headed by Prof. Shimon Slavin, head of the hospital's bone marrow transplantation center, who was assisted by colleagues Dr. Shoshana Morecki and Dr. Memet Aker, in collaboration with Dr. Allesandro Aiuti and his colleagues from the San Raffaele Institute for Gene therapy in Milan, Italy. Their article on the protocol appears in today's issue of the prestigious journal Science. The procedure is a major improvement over an existing protocol that was not successful, because the Slavin technique gives a biological advantage to genetically altered stem cells in the bone marrow. As a result, the team managed to completely reverse the SCID, a rare condition caused by the lack of an essential enzyme, adenosine draminase (ADA). Children born with an acute form of SCID are known as "bubble babies" and have to be kept in isolation because their bodies have no immune system.

Take another look at that first graf, particularly these words: "An Arab baby girl." In Israel, the girl had a chance. In Israel, they didn't say, "Oh, no, we only cure Jewish babies, take her somewhere else." That's what the Arabs would have you believe, but it's not true.

Miracles like this could happen on a regular basis if the Palestinians and Arabs would stop the violence and work toward a real peace. As it is, another miracle is that this kind of accomplishment occurred at all during a war. One member of the team in the wrong place at the wrong time and—well, I don't have to draw you a picture.

It is interesting to note that the latest intifada began a few months after the baby girl was born. While her relatives across the Green Line were killing as many Israelis they could—including infants younger than she—Israeli doctors and scientists worked to give her a normal life.

The Arabs are embracing the cult of death. Israelis choose life—even Arab life.



More slugs than you can shake a salt shaker at

Eric A., who signed his email "Proud Blogathon sponsor" (as well he should be, thank you, Eric), writes to tell me that in the Washington, D.C. area, another word for commuter-hitchhiker is "slug." He continues,

There are known spots around the beltway where you can pick up a ride into or out of the city during rush hour. These are known as "slug lines."

Is this a great country or what? Not only do we have a bunch of already well-known and widely different definitions for slug, but we're making up more as we go along!

That's our mission: Confound the foreigners. It's why we'll beat Al Qaeda: They just don't get a country that has seven disparate definitions for one word. ("Disparate" has only two, and they're related. Yup, enough to drive a furriner mad.) The weblog where you learn new words as you discover why I'm so crazy. (Hint: I was an English major, and I love this stuff.)

Slogging with slugs

Armed Liberal has a post about banana slugs, too. Looks like he's also an alum of UC Santa Cruz. The cheer he was talking about is, "Slime em!"

I like that cheer, actually.

You know, when you think about it, the English language must drive people from other cultures absolutely batshit when they try to learn it. Take the word "slug," for example. Without even looking it up, I can think of three or four meanings for it. (But I did look it up for all the below.)

  • A slug is a disgusting mollusk that oozes slowly along the ground, ruins gardens, and, when disguised by a shell, becomes a delicacy in France
  • A slug is a counterfeit coin used to fool vending machines into giving you something for junk
  • A slug is a synonym for "hit," as in, "I'm gonna slug you!" or "Reggie Jackson was some slugger!"
  • A slug is a synonym for bullet.
  • A slug is a quick gulp of liquid, as my father used to say, "Gimme a swig of that, willya?" Oh. That's swig. A slug is a shot at the bar. Easy to guess where that one came from (see above).
  • A slug is the identifier at the top of a page in a typehouse, usually with the filename, name of typesetter, copy editor, author, etc., etc.

So all those things are slugs. Yep. I'm really glad that English is my native language, so I can make fun of it and know what I'm making fun of at the same time.

Oh, my achin' back

Hm. Lifting and carrying a few thousand comic books yesterday seems to have caused a bit of muscle fatigue this morning.

Anyone out there live near northeastern New Jersey and good at backrubs?

Ow. One hot bath, coming up. No, wait—no time. Estimaters from moving companies are coming to do their job today so I can choose a mover. Okay, maybe tonight.

Tigger, of course, has been in heaven over the amount of empty and half-empty boxes lying around that he can jump in. Actually, double that number of things to play in, as comic box lids are deep enough for him as well. Gracie, meantime, thinks it's the end of the world as she knows it. And she's not feeling fine.

I was very proud of myself last night. I had seven full-size comic boxes to transport to my garage, which is far enough away that I had no intention of walking them all over there. I put them in my Jeep. But I was desperately trying not to have to carry the boxes to my Jeep, and trying to find something wheeled to put them on, wishing very hard that I had a dolly, which, not being in the moving business, I do not. I have one of those old-lady shopping carts that my mother (who is an old lady) gave to me. I've found it to be particularly useful for recycling the newspapers, since of course I can't do that on a weekly basis and they tend to pile up. (It's the laziness gene.) I knew that would be too flimsy for a box containing several hundred comic books and weighing about forty pounds. Think, I told myself. Think! And as I thought, I remembered—Mom also gave me luggage wheels. That's a wheeled metal frame that you can put non-wheeled luggage on. With a major AHA! I dug the wheels out of the spare room. It was a bit awkward, but saved me much carrying in 90-degree heat with high humidity. Which is the kind of heat that takes about half an hour to stop sweating from after you've expended a lot of effort, like, oh, moving several thousand comics from your apartment to your garage.

As a result of all the sorting and heavy lifting going on, I must point out that my mind is currently mush. I'm not saying to expect light blogging today. Just dumb blogging. Or numb blogging. Or maybe stupid blogging. I feel stupid today. Yeah, tired and stupid. What was my name again? What am I doing here? Oh, yeah.

Now you've got my competitive side going

Laurence and I are now numbers three and two, respectively, in pledges raised for Blogathon 2002. Jake Howlett of Codestore is kicking ass with $1871 raised. In one day.

I'm thinking Codestore gets a hell of a lot more visitors than my place. Then again, he doesn't have a weblog that gets into blogwars over banana slugs.

Well, hey. There's a month to go, and hundreds more of you to donate. My tally so far is 31 sponsors and $1157. Codestore's got 49 sponsors and $1871. That means my sponsors are just behind his, averaging only 86 cents less per pledge. I can live with that for now. Let's see what happens when we have 49 sponsors. Watch our dust, Code-boy!

Mom gave me her email address, so I'm off to pledge twice Chai for her. I've noticed a lot of you have pledged Chai and twice Chai. Thank you very much. (I've seen some one-and-a-half Chai, as well, but I'm not sure about that one.) Then I think I'll go pledge Lair's charity, as I did promise him some bucks and haven't delivered yet.

Dang. It's not the begathon that PBS is, but I'm afraid we are likely to have a daily update. Oh, you can handle it. It's for a good cause. Shaare Zedek Medical Center, the place that saves the lives that the terrorists try to destroy.

Update: While I was writing this post, the tally went up to $1,343. You folks are amazing.



Banana slugfest

Alex Frantz has taken issue with my dissing his school's mascot, the banana slug. He wrote a lengthy post on—I'm not making this up—the sex habits of the banana slug to make his case.

Aside from the obvious rhetorical question (Don't students in California colleges have anything better to do than watch slugs get it on?), I have to admire his moxie in creating a blogwar over—slugs. He writes:

In the '80s, a formal mascot was needed when the school joined the NCAA. Chancellor Sinsheimer passed over the banana slug for the sea lion, sparking a student revolt. In a campus referendum, the banana slug, for reasons I will show, took about 94% of the vote against the sea lion.

I wonder: Did the slug mascot also have an 80s hairdo? Was the school song Scandal's "I am the Warrior"?

Hey, I went to a respectable college here in NJ. Our mascot was a politically incorrect Native American, which was switched in recent years to a politically correct hawk. A red hawk. Hm. That may still be politically incorrect; I never thought about it. But I digress. We were discussing banana slugs.

Alex also dwells far too much on the length, performance, and ending of the male banana slug's member. (I'm still not kidding.) [I'm a little worried about him.] He writes:

If you measure [penis length] as a percentage of body length things are a little different. Goose barnacles, with inch-and-a-half-long appendages, rate about 150%. Unbeatable, you think, until you learn that a rare species of Alpine banana slugs (Ariolimax dolichophallus) measure 6-inches long and possess 32.5-inch tumescences, or 542% times their body length. Incredible.

Actually, that could be an exaggeration. I have seen no other source which puts the slug's endowment at more then twice body length, which is still pretty impressive.

He then raises a straw man.

And Meryl asks why a male student would embrace this mascot? You have to wonder what planet she's from.

Sir, take that foul canard back. I asked why anyone would want to be called a banana slug, not "a male student." And by all accounts, I am from this planet, except for the stories that went around a few years back and they're all lies, lies, I say, there are not pictures in existence that prove I have a tentacle—er, tail. Tail! It was a Halloween costume!

There's a lot more, including a paragraph on how the female chews off the male's—no, I won't go into it. You'll have to either take my word for it or read for yourself.

As far as slugs and I are concerned, well, the only relationship we have is one of sheer avoidance on my part. If I find 'em in my yard, I salt 'em. End of story. Disgusting creatures, mascots or no.

I don't even wan't to tell you about the time I kneeled down to look at the neighbor's kittens in their yard first thing in the morning and kneeled on—sigh—a slug. Thankfully, I was wearing jeans, not shorts, but still—ewewewewewewew!

A banana slug. Man, why don't you just choose boogers for your mascot and be done with it?

Who bought all these comic books, anyway?

Oh. My. God.

And I thought just moving the last time and throwing out anything I hadn't used in a year was tough. I spent the afternoon wading through my comic boxes—and I'm not done yet—and I have seven full boxes (the large ones) in the "get rid of" pile. I forget how many comics the large boxes hold. Two hundred? Three? That's either 1400 or 2100 comics. And I'm not done yet!

The really annoying thing is that it's nearly impossible to sell back issues unless they're Silver Age, and I have precious few of those, and don't want to sell them, anyway. I have some oddball independent stuff, like Starslayer and Harlan Ellison's Dream Corridors, but most of my comics are the mainstream DC and Marvel books. I am getting rid of a bunch of Spider-Man and Avengers, but no X-Men. I figure since I can't sell them, and don't want to bother putting them up on Ebay, I'll donate them to the Essex County Juvenile Correction Center, where my neighbor works. The kids can learn how to read with comic books. They have to go to school while they're in jail, and she says they're trying to get a library going. Hm. I can donate my paperback books there, too.

Of course, if there are any readers out there looking for comics from the 80s and 90s, send me some email. I might have what you're looking for. Cheap.

But don't bother asking me for any issues of the Hulk. I just spent a pleasant half-hour reading through a few back issues (Peter David issues, of course). I won't be giving up a single one. Meryl smash anyone who try to take Hulk from her!

CNN's anti-Israel bias

Everyone knows about the recent anti-Israel bias of CNN. But check this out: After Charles linked to an article on the CNN website, I wanted to read a bit more about the Belgian court (which threw out the ridiculous lawsuit against Ariel Sharon over the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps case). So off I go to see who else is being prosecuted by a foreign country that frankly has no legal jurisdiction with which to prosecute them, as the current article promises that Yasser Arafat has a case pending, and I stupidly hoped I'd find information about that on the CNN website.

So there's a link (under the box "More Stories") from that article to this one, where I found this gem of evenhandedness. (Not.)

The legal case could make it awkward for Belgium, now holding the presidency of the European Union, to push forward peace efforts in the Middle East, something denied by Israel.

WTF does that mean? Does it mean that peace efforts in the Middle East are being denied by Israel? That's certainly what it seems to say. Anyone else out there getting a different meaning from the paragraph? Because if they're trying to say that Israel is denying the EU a bigger role in Middle East peace efforts, they could, well, write what I just wrote instead of trying to denigrate Israel yet again.

Let me give it to you in context.

Peres added that he thought a law suit would be bad for Belgium.

"I think it is a terrible mistake, terrible mistake. I am not referring to the legal side, I am referring to the moral side."

The legal case could make it awkward for Belgium, now holding the presidency of the European Union, to push forward peace efforts in the Middle East, something denied by Israel.

Ichay added: "It is a political issue now and there's no way we think it's going to contribute to the European efforts to play a positive role in the Middle East peace process."

Instead, the Belgian parliament is likely to be asked to consider several amendments to the law.

Philippe Mahoux, Belgian socialist senator, said: "It needs reflection, maybe find a formula that allows serving heads of state not impunity but something like temporary immunity while they're serving as head of state, that allows them to be prosecuted when their mandate has expired.

"It's a hypothesis, it's the only one I see. All others would have the effect of altering the fundamental basics of our law and I don't think that's possible."

He added: "I don't think we should change the law's universal jurisdiction. We should ensure its continuity.

"In other words, I think for crimes of this nature wherever they are committed, whatever the nationality of the perpetrator, whatever the nationality of the victims we have to be able to prosecute without regard to territorial limits."

Setting aside my thoughts that Belgium really has no jurisdiction over any nation other than Belgium, and that this was probably thought up by some imported American ambulance chasers trying to figure out a way to make even more money off more fools, let me point out that this article is dated Jaunary 23rd, 2002.

Anyone seeing a pattern of anti-Israel bias on CNN is exaggerating, though. Uh-huh. Yep. Right.

Attention, Buffy bloggers

Hey, look. Karl's a Buffyblogger, too. So is Alex Frantz. Okay, so he's proud of being a banana slug, but I don't get why anyone would want to use that for a nickname. Ew. And may I say: Ew. Sure, be cool to your school, but banana slug?

Did I say "Ew"?

He coined a new word, "blogscratching," which means "the exchange of links and/or favorable mentions between blogs." Dude, we have an old phrase for it. It's called, "sucking up."

These banana slugs. Think they have to reinvent the wheel. Hmph.

Linkin blog

Hm. If I use the above title, does that mean I have to rap this post? And let us say: Uh-uh.

Gary Farber thought I'd link to a Buffy post of his. Nuh-uh. I'd rather link to the post about Coney Island. It's the Cyclone's 75th anniversary. May I say that the Cyclone has been a big factor in my developing acrophobia (which has gotten worse the older I get), and a huge contributor to my now being a white-knuckle flyer? Why? Because my father brought me and my brothers to Coney Island when I was five, and put me on the Cyclone when I was just tall enough to fit, and then offered no support whatsoever as I cringed in terror during the entire ride, sure that I'd slip out of the safety belt and be dashed to pieces and killed.

I think what I'm trying to say is: screw the Cyclone. Hate it. Never want to ride it, ever again.

The Buffy link (there are more, Gary, I'll post 'em). Mac Thomason sent me to them.

Wesley's rehabilitation

Marti Noxon talks about Season 8

NY Post article

Doctor Weevil makes you laugh. Then he makes you think. Works for me.

Joe Katzman talks about the Palestinian strategy and makes it onto Daypop in one fell swoop. Doin' my best to move him up in the ranks. (He's my bud.)

Laurence and I are now number two and one in pledges. We have $1016 and $1123 respectively. That's out of a total of $10414.73. You folks have pledged more than 20% of the entire proceeds to date.

I think it is safe to say that our readers rule. Dudes!



A little of this, a little of that

Note to self: Try never to watch a Buffy episode entitled "Killed by Death" on the day you went to a wake. It is not a distraction from the topic of death. In fact, try not to watch Buffy at all when trying not to think of death. If there's a single episode in the entire series where nobody dies, I can't think of it. (Mind you, I'm not trying too hard.)

All right. I put back the chocolate-covered creme wafers, and the chocolate Neccos, and I walked past the jawbreakers and did not buy them. But I kept the Cheez-Its. You got a problem with that?

Hey, moving is on the top ten lists of most stressful life situations. I need my saturated fat munchies!

I told on Worf today. Finally got a chance to talk to Heidi and told her that Worf was ugly to me and snapped at me, and that Sparty chewed up the bill of my Yankees cap. She did not specify whether or not she was going to make them stand in the corner and think about it. But I felt better.

Learned something new today. Cats don't like sparklers. Actually, I probably could have figured that out without actually seeing their reaction to James waving a few lit ones around.

Relearned something old today. A couple came to look at my apartment. They were Muslims. My Star of David was in plain sight out of my t-shirt, and I got no bad vibes from them at all. The woman especially liked Tig. It reminded me that not all Muslims hate Jews. It was a very, very nice thing to remember.

Are these rules driving you crazy? By rules I don't mean, "No spitting on the sidewalk" (which, by the way, is a great rule and should be enforced by all policemen in all towns and cities, as spitting is a truly disgusting habit and frankly, a great way to spread TB, so just Say No To Spit). I mean the rules (those little bars) between the items. I like to use them in entries like this with no particular subject to offset the thoughts of each paragraph. It's less jarring, I think. It's a way of letting you know that I'm about to change the subject.

I could make the rules pretty colors and different widths and thickness, but that'd be too much like work, and may I point out that I am not being paid for this. I don't even have a tip jar up.

There are people I haven't mentioned in a while that I think deserve a plug. Not because they need the linkage, but because they write some excellent blogs. Josh Trevino, Christopher Johnson, and Damian Penny come immediately to mind. There are a bunch of others that I think I need to add to my blogroll (which is actually my links page), but I haven't gotten to that in a while. Not since NZ Bear turned me into a small rodent, and then some kind of less-than-rat.

Have I mentioned how little I like his categories? And how wrong his algorithm must be to be so incredibly off on my number of links? Hey. Blogdex says I have tons more links than Da Bear tells me I do. Who are you gonna believe? Some snot-nosed Johnny-come-lately who's charmed the blogosphere through secret pheremone experiments, or the geniuses at MIT?

Uh-huh. That's what I say, too. (He must be performing secret pheremone experiments. It's the only way to explain his sudden and wide-ranging popularity.) [Man, that spelling looks so wrong, but Google says it's right. doesn't include the word "pheremone." Hm. It ain't that new, guys. Update!]

Almost got lost in the parentheses again. Hey. What do you suppose are the children of the parenthetical statement?

Wait—I've got it. The dependent clauses! AHAHAHAHAHA, sometimes I just slay me. Oh, my... English major humor. My sides are just aching.

Okay, okay, I'll stop now. Be quiet. Gawd. You'd think no one ever made a bad joke in your presence before.



Our readers rule

Laurence is still number one in pledges, with $921 pledged, but you folks catapulted me two places to number two with $739. Thanks so much! (See nifty-keen graphics above for my total, as I made them with my own bits. And I hate to make graphics.) So let's see, if my math isn't totally gone, that means we've raised $1,660 in under a week for two excellent charities. And the Blogathon is still weeks away.

He and I are now discussing goals in email. I was thinking that I'll throw it open to the troops: Send me email with your funny or serious requests for each milestone. As in, when I reach $1,000 in pledges, I have to write a funny and interesting post about, say, watching corn grow. Each $500 milestone after that can have a request fulfilled. Er—reasonable, please. Or at least, semi-reasonable.

It's not a requirement, but it'd be nice to get requests from people who have pledged or will be pledging. And don't worry, this won't turn into a PBS begathon. I figure the stuff up top is enough for most of the time, and I'll just be posting occasional pitches/updates between now and the last week in July. Promise.

Update: $120 just came in as I was writing this post. Wow. $859. Thankyouthankyouthankyou.

Blogathon update

Good morning, Monday readers. If you didn't catch the blog in the last few days, you missed that I'm going to be staying up for 24 hours writing a post every thirty minutes on July 27th. And I need a few good sponsors. Actually, I need a lot of good sponsors. The charity I'm asking people to donate to is Shaare Zedek Medical Center, the hospital to which many victims of terrorist bombings are brought. They want to refurbish their emergeny room, and I want to help them do that.

Currently, Laurence Simon, who will be blogging for Mogen David Adom, is number one in pledges. I'm number four. Monday is my biggest day of the week in terms of readers. I think you can guess what I'm going to say next.

That's right. Please donate. It's an extremely worthy cause. It's not just helping victims of terrorist bombings, it's a great big middle finger to the terrorists and those who support them. It shows we choose life, even as the cult of death spreads over the Arab world.

Hundreds of you read this weblog on a regular basis. If you all donated only ten dollars each, we could raise thousands for Shaare Zedek. (Of course, I'm thrilled that many of you are donating more than ten dollars.)

You can donate anonymously, and neither the Blogathon folks nor I will be touching a dime. It's all up to you. You pledge between now and July 27th, and then you send out a check on the 28th. Er, and in the form where they ask you for an email address, they want yours, not mine. They're not going to spam you; they need your address to send you a letter telling you where to send the checks.

Many thanks to those who have already donated. And thanks to those of you who are heading over to the pledge page after you read this post. No, wait—make that, after you read the rest of the blog. There's plenty of time to do both.

Wakening memories

I can't stop thinking about Bill. I wrote in an email to someone yesterday that the wake was almost like Old Home Week except for the corpse at the front of the room.

I must be getting more used to death; I only found it necessary to position a person between me and the open casket once, while I was trying to have a conversation with someone and realized that there was just no way to concentrate on anything other than the fact that Bill's dead body was lying a few feet away from me, and every time I looked at him a persistent thought cropped up, begging me to say it out loud: He never wore makeup a day in his life.

I didn't say it.

The humor of the grave, I suppose. Bill would have thought it amusing. I told his mother that the situation just sucks. She agreed with me. She and Bill's widow told Tad and me that Bill talked about us all the time. That would be because the three of us (plus usually another woman, person varied with who was or wasn't dating at the time) spent a whole lot of time together. For about ten years. We'd go down the shore in search of Blotto and Beaver Brown, hoping every time that Bruce would show up at the latter's show, though he never did. Always a rumor, never a reality. Stay out 'til two or three or four, hit a diner before we went home, usually Willie's, where I had lunch on Saturday. Sometimes the Nevada, where I never go anymore. Nasty people work there, the service sucks, and it's overpriced—you'd think they were French.

Or we'd go to a bar in Clifton called The Grand Saloon, where we knew the waitresses by name and always got a free round or two. The basement level was called Rock Bottom and was decorated with—yeah, faux rock walls. It was actually the date level; when we went out in a large group, we didn't want the dark and privacy that Rock Bottom allowed. Which didn't stop us from occasionally annoying all the new lovers wishing we'd just shutup and go home. We closed the bar more often than not, and then maybe over to Bill's or Tad's or Alison's or later, my apartment, where we'd talk or pull out a game or some cards, and stay up 'til dawn. If one of my parties ended before five a.m. in those days, it was considered a bore.

We threw some fabulous parties in those days. Those members of the group who were housesitting for their parents held overnight parties, and never seemed to learn that you couldn't do that and not have an extremely wild weekend. (Mind you, we in the North Jersey contingent did insist that the South Jerseyans owed us a ton of parties and they had to pay up.) The group consisted of me, Bill, Tad, Jim, Big Jim, the other Jim, Mark, Janet, one or more of her sisters, Alison, Trey, and a few other special guests that came in and out of our lives. And while I missed half of The Lost Weekend (I forget why), I heard stories of the flaming Devil Dogs launched from the back of Tad's truck for ages. (That would be Big Jim pouring lighter fluid on the famous snack foods and lighting them, because someone got a free case of them, and they were riding in the back of the truck on Route 46 and launching, well, flaming Devil Dogs. I only caught that weekend from Saturday night on; apparently, the missiles launched on Friday.

I flashed back on the party at Trey's house in South Jersey while I was talking to Bill's widow. It was a midsummer party, a Saturday night overnight. We'd all brought our things and, of course, enough alcohol to float a boat with. Sometime in the evening, a thunderstorm hit, and one of us got the bright idea of going outside in the storm. Pretty soon, most of us were outside in the storm, playing chicken, girls on the guys' shoulders, of course. Bill was my steed. He got a little overenthusiastic and down we went. I landed on a slate and got really pissed at him for a while, but hey, it was wet and muddy and slippery, and he swore he didn't do it on purpose. The guys stripped down to their shorts and sloshed inside while Janet, Alison and I waited for Trey to bring us out some towels. Mark had a towel and decided to dump his wet shorts outside first. We women were standing against the wall of the house, under the eaves of the roof. Mark told us to turn around and not look while he got out of his wet shorts and into a towel. No problem, we told him. He turned his back, dropped his drawers, we admired (greatly) his very cute ass (but silently). He turned around after he was dressed, saw that we had not so much as moved a muscle, and we burst into laughter. I'd never really seen anyone turn such a deep shade of red that you could see it in the dark. He had truly expected us all to act like ladies and shield our eyes. (Psst... Mark... we were college girls at the time. It was never gonna happen.)

We never did any damage to the houses. Just made a bit of a mess that we all cleaned up before we left. Though I understand Trey's mother found out about the party because she found a grape on top of the curtain rods. I don't really remember how it got there, and I refuse to divulge any facts at all about the buttercream frosting and the shower except to say that it wasn't me. It was one of the Jims and one of the other women. Or was that a different party? I think it was.

A very strange realization occurred to me today. When I first met Bill, he was wearing a costume. It was around Halloween. I was in college and had just started playing D&D that year, and one of the Jims was starting a club at Montclair State. Tad and Bill were wearing costumes basically to make fun of a girl in the club who was so into the game she always came dressed up and spoke in character. It was a goof, and I didn't know it, because I thought they were two of the biggest dorks I'd ever met and wasn't too keen on meeting them again—until they explained to me why they were in costume.

Well, the last time I actually saw Bill was the summer before last, at the Renaissance Festival in Tuxedo, New York. He was wearing a brown monk's robe and carrying a staff. He and his wife and daughter were all in costume for the fun of it. I didn't think he was a dork that time.

No costume today. Just a suit, and some makeup. Which he never wore a day in his life.



Erin O'Connor on SFSU

Erin O'Connor writes about SFSU pulling the GUPS website. While I am guilty of engaging in schadenfreude regarding their punishments, she has some valid points. (Erin, I can email you instructions on homemade permalinks.)

What we have here is not a case of a university administration finding its spine and acting swiftly and fairly to repair a wrong, but a university administration that is continuing its hallowed tradition of responding inappropriately to the provocative, menacing, and truly egregious behavior GUPS members have engaged in over the past year. As much as it may appall those of us who disagree with them, the students who belong to GUPS do have the right to express their beliefs before the eyes--and the judgement--of the world.

So here is where things stand as SFSU: in the past week, GUPS has been wrongfully censored and rightly sanctioned. Being on probation means that GUPS remains intact as a student group. (Here is the definition of probation, according to SFSU's Office of Student Programs: "A status imposed for a specific time period. Organizations on probation may continue with all or some of the rights and privileges of organizations for a specified period of time. Any violations within the time period will result in the immediate loss of all organizational privileges. The organization will be closely monitored by the Student Programs Office for the probation period.") So GUPS has gotten a little slap on the wrist: no allowance for one year, and plenty of surveillance. But it still gets to meet on campus, and to be affiliated with SFSU, and we can bet it will work this censorship issue for all it is worth. My guess is that GUPS will either get its university URL restored in short order, or it will put up the same site at an off-campus server where SFSU administrators can't touch it.

I end with a disclaimer of my own: the aim of this post is not to endorse the content of GUPS' expression, but to defend the group's right to express its beliefs. My point, finally, is not to diminish the seriousness of GUPS' actions, or to belittle the impact GUPS' anti-Semitic expression has had on those it targets, but simply to clarify the issues at stake in what is a very ugly business all round. If one is to fight effectively, one has to know what one is fighting, and one has to know the rules of the game.

That being said, I think Erin is off the mark regarding a college pulling a free website from its servers. Colleges do have the right to set policies, and the campus organizations which receive these free web services must obey those policies. SFSU is under no obligation to host a website that it determines to have broken rules. And I think she is playing semantics by declaring that the website is a "publication" rather than a "communication". The web is all about communication, and that's what a publication is—something that communicates information to its audience.

Erin, your heart is in the right place, but I'm not seeing censorship. I'm seeing rulebreaking.

Shifting gears

Vegard Valberg, the Norwegian Blogger, is making us laugh again. So much so that I realized I'd forgotten to put him on my links page, and so I am rectifying that mistake. And though he is not always funny, he is often enough that he goes into the place of honor—or should that be place of humor?—with File13.

Bigwig is really, really, really funny. He quotes Tolkien. (I'm a Tolkien geek and know that the quote was by Gimli the Dwarf, speaking to Legolas the Elf, who was making fun of the caves of Helm's Deep, and ohmigod, I am such a Tolkien geek—I didn't even look any of that up and if I don't stop now you're all going to think I'm a total loser. Well, at least I can say I only saw the movie once. Waiting for all three DVDs before I see the film a second time.) Silflay Hraka is a really, really, really good blog.

The Shaare Zedek Medical Center Pledge Fund for the Blogathon is feeling hungry this weekend. I may have to call my mother and ask her to pledge. But that would mean she'd have to read my weblog, and she doesn't do that. Hm. This is a conundrum.

Then again, it could be my slogan: Support my charity for the Blogathon, or I'll tell my mom on you.

The inconvenience of death

Last night I found myself talking to someone I hadn't spoken with in years, giving him the details of Bill Cavanaugh's wake and funeral. I'm tired of burying people my own age, I told him. And the thought's been percolating in my head. How Bill's death has affected me.

We're selfish creatures. That's a statement of fact, not a judgment. The first thing we think of in almost any stress situation is how it will affect us. My favorite aunt died a few weeks before a milestone birthday of mine, which I was intending to celebrate in California. That was partly because she had cancer and we were afraid she wouldn't make it much past my birthday, and partly because I knew it would be more enjoyable on the West Coast. That part of the family simply has more fun at family get-togethers. The first thing I said to my cousin upon hearing the news her mother had died was, "But she was supposed to make it to my birthday!" My cousin, whose birthday is a couple of weeks before mine replied, "She was supposed to make it to mine!" It was a way for us to process the news, I suppose.

I wrote yesterday of the unexpected death of my favorite cousin, and how upset I was that we would not grow old and grey together, still giggling like teenagers whenever we got together. It's the first thing that comes out—how will this affect me? What do I do now that this person is gone?

Again, it isn't a judgment. It is simply human. There's a huge fire at a building near the highway, the road is closed. The first thing you think is, "How am I going to get around the traffic?" The second thing is, "Gee, I hope no one was hurt."

Human. An airplane crashes, and people who frankly had no more chance of being on that plane than they had of winning the lottery suddenly tell friends and relatives how close they had come to almost deciding to buy a ticket that would have put them on that airplane. A serious car crash happens on your route home, and you can't help but wonder if you had left work only a bit earlier, or if you hadn't stopped to pick up milk on the way home, would that have been you being pulled out of the wreckage?

And yesterday afternoon, while sitting on a park bench chatting with Susanna Cornett, the elephant in the corner that I wasn't even admitting to myself suddenly became visible. June 22nd is the third anniversary of my father's death. I'd known it all week, and pushed it to the back of my thoughts, hoping to keep it there and move on. But events aren't letting me do that.

Death can be so inconvenient, sometimes.

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 and The Fudd Doctrine are also good bets if you've never been here before.