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3/23/02

That's not what it's all about

Shelley Powers compiled a long list of out-of-context quotes from the various weblogs she frequents. It's in a post that ends with this paragraph:

Free Speech. And respecting each other's viewpoint. This is what the web is all about.

This was changed from her first entry, which appeared to imply that the world of weblogging was somehow having its right to free speech impinged upon, and which I queried her about in the comment thread.

The web is certainly a place where freedom of speech is, for the most part, a standard. (We'll ignore China for now.)

It is the addition of "And respecting each other's viewpoint" that I take issue with, and that I will never agree with. The fact that someone holds an opinion does not automatically make that opinion respectable or viable. If your opinion is that all non-Christian nonwhites should be removed from this nation, as all neo-Nazi groups believe, I'm not going to listen to you spew your hatred, and I certainly will accord your opinion no respect whatsoever--and it deserves none. If your opinion is something I disagree with, I'm not automatically going to accord it respect. You have to convince me that I'm holding an invalid opinion for me to do that, and you have to do it with fact-supported, rational arguments. I'm not known to be inflexible; Jonathon Delacour can attest to that.

But don't tell me that I should automatically validate an opinion merely because it is an opinion. That is moral equivalency. That is the kind of thinking that leads to finding a causality between American foreign policy and the suicide attacks of 9/11. That's the kind of thinking that says we have no right to criticize the horrible treatment of women in Islamic and Third World nations because, after all, we should respect other cultures and their viewpoints.

There is a world of difference between respecting the fact that a person can utter any opinion she likes, and respecting that opinion. This is the mistake that Shelley is making, and she's not the only one who makes it. The issue was raised by the infamous John Dvorak regarding weblog criticism--and it is a valid issue. I have sat by in silence many times because I know that to write my opinions of certain issues going on in the weblogging world--or in our little corner of it, anyway--would offend people who seem to equate criticism with personal attacks. And I'm just not in the mood for blogwars.

I won't respect a viewpoint that I consider to be held from ignorance, or hatred, or stupidity. I won't respect a viewpoint held from cruelty or bigotry. I won't respect a viewpoint that I consider to be evil or meanspirited. To respect a viewpoint merely because it is uttered? That way lies what has become one of the world's biggest sins: Moral equivalency.

Respect has to be earned. Even in regard to viewpoints. permalink

Update 3/25/02
Note to Shelley: You can switch the words "viewpoint" and "opinion" and this essay still has the exact same meaning.

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3/22/02

Funny faces

Rebecca Blood apparently found Tubcat at this site. (Rebecca... you aren't up on your Daypops. Good for you!). A quick check around found lots of truly funny animal pictures. You know, I think the one on the top left has his hair done by the same guy who does Lucky's on General Hospital. But don't leave the site without seeing this one. permalink


A little more to the right

Well, I read the brouhaha that Jonathon is talking about. I can't seem to form a coherent opinion, as I'm still in utter shock and disbelief at the conclusions of Ord's piece. But I found this on The National Review Online by Victor David Hanson. I strongly urge you to read the entire essay.

The current conflict is surely not over the grievance of dead Muslims — Iraq and Iran make Israelis look like amateurs in that regard. Nor is the lament really over the cruel expulsion of Palestinians en masse — Kuwait garners that prize for expelling a quarter million after the Gulf War. Nor is there much historical precedent of according Palestinians any privileged position based on land lost through war. Compare the current borders of Germany with those of 1914, and then try and make the case for returning soil from France and Poland that was German since antiquity — and the world will answer back with a stern lecture about the wages that a state incurs when it repeatedly attacks its neighbors and loses.
...
And so we give not a damn over millions of innocents elsewhere butchered over millions of acres each year worldwide, but instead focus on what the Palestinians lost while attempting to destroy their neighbors. For those who laugh at such reductionism, imagine the world's moral outrage if China were tiny and Jewish, while Tibet was backed by Asian nations with the world's oil reserves. I have not recently heard any European demanding an instant redress for the theft of Tibetan land, the destruction of its cultural heritage, and frequent forced expulsion of its population by a government that is neither democratic nor free.

And so my journey rightward continues. permalink


Snow Caucasian and the Seven Vertically Challenged Little People
A PC FT for TT*

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful Queen who was unable to have children of her own, so she married a man with a beautiful baby girl. The man promptly died and left her to raise the child alone. The Queen, having been told so many times by her own mother that she'd amount to nothing when she grew up, used to ask her mirror every day, "Do you think I'm pretty?" The mirror would reply, "You are strong, you are beautiful, you are woman!" So the Queen was as happy as a widowed member of the monarchy stuck raising a child alone could be--until Snow Caucasian became a teenager. At that point, Snow became surly and unwilling to do her chores, choosing instead to pierce various parts of her body, listen to loud music, chew gum and swear a lot. To make it worse, one day, when the Queen asked her mirror, "Do you think I'm pretty?" the mirror said, "You are strong, you are beautiful--hot damn, who's the chickie standing behind you? Woo-woo!" Snow Caucasian was standing behind the Queen, wearing the Queen's favorite dress and favorite jewels. So the Queen called in Dr. Hunter, the Royal Analyst, who advised her to send Snow away for a summer to learn responsibility. He recommended sending her to the Seven Vertically Challenged Little People, who ran a tough-love organization called The Forest.

When Snow got there, she discovered that she was expected to work like all the rest of the kids, doing household chores like cleaning her own room and making her bed. She was also expected to chip in and help cook for the counselors and patients. She did not care for this at first. Royalty is generally not brought up to change sheets; Snow was miserable. The first time the Queen visited, Snow was rude and angry, and threw the gift of a new outfit out the window. But the Vertically Challenged Little People were experts in their field; soon Snow Caucasian was sweeping the floors and doing the cooking and cleaning, just like all the rest of the troubled teens at The Forest. The last time the Queen came to visit, she gave Snow a fruit basket, which Snow shared with her friends, including one named Murray Steinman, also known as The Prince. His family was well-known in the jewelry business; the Queen approved.

At the end of the summer, Snow and Murray were pronounced fit to go home. They did, and announced their engagement. The Queen and the Steinmans threw a huge wedding that fall, Murray's folks built a new castle on the grounds for the happy couple, and the following spring, Snow Caucasian gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Who turned out to be a Vertically Challenged Little Person. After much weeping, discussion, and forgiveness, the boy, nicknamed "Oopsie," was sent off to live with his father and six uncles, who, after the lawsuit was settled, came out of the closet (except for Hetero, who ran off with a female patient and was never seen again) and started a new organization whose slogan was "We're here, we're queer, and we need a chair!") and devoted the rest of their lives to helping troubled Vertically Challenged homosexuals. They all lived happily ever after, even Snow and Murray, who had three more kids and retired to Florida.

And the moral of the story is: Don't fuck with the dwarves.

*A Politically Correct Fairy Tale For These Times

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3/21/02

Shit-for-brains

Heidi is unimpressed by my rants against Scientology. Her viewpoint on cults and things like cults is that if people feel the need to be victimized and give strangers all their money in return for being assured some kind of salvation, then they may do so with abandon. Said people, we have decided, have shit-for-brains. That phrase is also used to cover the people who believe that John Edward talks to dead people, or that a deck of French parlor cards can influence your life, or that if you close your eyes and wish really hard, your wish will come true. (All children excepted from that last.)

I wish I could figure out why things like Scientology exercise me so. I wish I knew why people's stupidity brings out such a rage in me. Because if I could, I'd do everything in my power to excise that rage and let all the people with shit-for-brains go on with their strange pursuits and not let it bother me.

And yet, it bothers me. Immensely. permalink


One more blow against the tyrants

The link in the above left corner is for Xenu.net, the anti-Scientologists. I think it will remain there until Scientology gets its status as a religion removed by the IRS. I think I will also ask you all to go here and do some research for yourself to see why I loathe the organization so. And there is also the Keith Henson site, which details how an American citizen is asking Canada for political asylum--because of the "church" of Scientology. On that site is a story about how they're harassing two little old ladies. Nice work. Defenders of the Constitution, my ass. They're nothing but thugs covered by a phony tax standing. permalink


Test your fictional character quotient

NPR's website has a list of 100 best fictional characters compiled by Book Magazine. For whatever reason, I decided to see how many characters are in books I've actually read. Not movies I have seen, which would probably double my score.

I scored a shameful 31%. Jonathon, ball's in your court now. Remember, you have to count books you've actually read, although I think we should be able to count books we started but couldn't wade through. I really think any Faulkner or Joyce character on the list should be granted that status. Which would give me an extra two or three points. Oh, and the fact that you bought One Hundred Years of Solitude and really intend to read it someday does not count as a point.

I have serious objections to having any Phillip Roth character other than Portnoy being cited, and some of the entries had me going "Who?" (The Dog of Tears, Blindness, Jose Saramago, 1995; Cosimo Piovasco di Rondo, The Baron in the Trees, Italo Calvino, 1957) and "Why?" (Phoebe Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger, 1951). Holden, yes, but Phoebe? Come on.

Any list that includes Eeyore and James Bond but excludes Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn has some serious problems, but hey--it's still fun to see how many books I've read.

Sharon--Shirley Jackson's got a character on the list: Mary Katherine Blackwood, We Have Always Lived in the Castle. That's our girl. I oughta read that one--I have it around somewhere.

By the way, I copied the list into a Word document and then bolded all the characters from books I'd read, and counted the results. Easier than trying to keep track online.

I get the feeling half the people reading this entry are going to be thinking, "What is she, nuts? Read? Who the hell reads anymore?

I do. permalink


Searchin' stuff

"John Edward fraud" remains my number one search phrase, bringing skeptics together from all over the world, to here, where I send them off to gain wisdom about talking to the dead. I'm proud of you, my children. Fly! Fly away free!

Followed close behind is--get this--"umayma ahmad al-jalahma"--with or without a "Dr." in front of her. Who is she? She's the one who wrote the Purim blood libel piece published in Al-Riyadh, the Saudi government-sponsored daily newspaper. Now let me ask you a few questions here: Let's say you're a web surfer who's heard about the story. What do you search on? Blood libel, mebbe? Purim blood libel, perhaps? The name of the author of the article? Um--only if you're already aware of the author's name and want to track reaction to the article on the Internet. Hm. Who's watching me? Saudia Arabia visits are static. Qatar's have been up since Muslimpundit linked to me. It's a mystery... I don't like mysteries. Look, you're not paranoid if they really are out to get you.

Okay, do this and you are just asking for serious trouble: "naked rock climbing". Don't say I didn't warn you.

You know, I never did give that poor searcher the answer to the question "Where did New Jersey get its name"? In England, d00d. But after we won the Revolutionary War, we rechristened our state "New Jersey" by fiat here in America, so now it has a good American-born name.

Hope you got enough information for that report you had to turn in. permalink


Just when you thought there was nothing left to be funny about...

Satire Wire:

GOD NAMES NEXT "CHOSEN PEOPLE"; IT'S JEWS AGAIN
"Oh Shit," Say Jews

Thanks, Jay.


I'll never grow up

It's a beautiful spring day outside; I had business at the college, and so I went to the local Coconuts afterward to pick up a CD that I've wanted to buy for a while. It's Staind, "Break the Cycle", and it's pure head-banging music, angry young man--or woman--songs. It surpassed my 3-song rule, which is if I like at least 3 songs, I'll probably like the CD and therefore will buy it. I've heard and liked five of the songs, especially "For You", an anthem to bad parenting.

A couple of years back, I'd picked up the (then-) latest Tool CD, Aenima, on a shopping day with my mother, which actually amused me, because I asked her for permission to buy it, as it had one of those "parental discretion" labels on it. (Tool swears in their songs, ohmygoodness!) The child at the cash register also thought it was amusing to see someone my age ask her mother for permission to buy the CD. So later at Mom's, my aunt had stopped over to drop something off for my mother, and asked me what I was listening to. "Tool," I told her. "You probably never heard of them; it's a sort of 'angry young man' group." My aunt laughed rather dismissively and said, "Haven't you outgrown that stuff yet?"

No. No, and I apparently never will outgrow this stuff. I like an awful lot of the new rock. I still like most of the old rock (but I am so sick of Zeppelin and the Doors and all of the Who except for Quadrophenia), and I have no intention of tossing out my old tapes and CDs because a narrow-minded woman from my parents' generation thinks I should outgrow liking a certain kind music. And there is nothing like driving down the highway with the top down on my Jeep, blasting Tool or Meat Loaf or Foreigner or Heart or Staind or whoever else I feel like listening to.

As for my aunt: Hey, she owns Andrew Lloyd Webber soundtracks. The man whose songs can all be sung to Fish Heads. I wouldn't be throwing stones at my boys, if I were her. permalink


Keeping up appearances

There's been a lot of talk about feminism over on a few different blogs. Shelley's been talking about it a lot; Sharon kicked in a few days ago, and Blogsisters is in the midst of a discussion. And as I was writing a letter tonight, a story occured to me that I think is an important parable for why men shouldn't judge women purely on gender alone. Actually, you can make it a parable about the book/cover thing if you want, but this was a frequent occurrence in my youth.

I was a tomboy; I loved playing sports, particularly softball. My brothers and I would get into games all summer long with the neighborhood kids. Usually we'd find another group of kids that we didn't know, and we'd have a pickup game in the local sandlot. I was generally the only girl playing. I bat left and throw right. One of my brothers is also a left-handed batter, so he'd always bat after me in the order. And the first time I came up to bat, this is what always happened:

The other boys, who didn't know me, would see a girl come to the plate. They'd move the infield in, sometimes halfway, expecting me to be unable to hit one out of the infield. The pitcher would often lob the ball to me, thinking I couldn't hit no matter what he threw. The first baseman didn't play me to pull right, like he would any other lefty, because he thought I wouldn't be able to hit the ball. So of course I smacked that ball right over the infielders' heads--pulling it to the right--into the outfield for at least a single, sometimes down the line for a double. Then my brother came up to bat, and the guys would move back out, but by then they were already unnerved by a "gir-rul" hitting like a boy; Dave was another lefty, and besides, he packed one hell of a wallop, and he'd generally slam at least a double, usually bringing me home to score, often with him on my heels.

Of course, this worked only once--the next time I came up to bat, I had to work for a hit like everyone else. But they never underestimated me a second time. And the first baseman played me to pull.

A lesson to ponder, gentlemen. permalink

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3/20/02

More linkage

Steven Den Beste has another excellent essay on America v. the rest of the world.

Debka is based in Jerusalem. In their words: "DEBKAfile is self-financed, has no axe to grind and speaks for no government, group, organ, institution, political party or interest."

Read the section titled "Bin Laden Terror", particularly the one titled "Palestinians Use Same Explosive as Shoe-Bomber"; it details Al Qaeda's involvement in Palestinian terror attacks--using the same C4 as shoe-bomber Richard Reid. These are the people pushing for "peace"? Yeah, and I'm still waiting on the sale of the Brooklyn Bridge.

It's also got some fascinating articles about the Middle East and terrorism. Read today's article on the military and Al Qaeda intelligence leaks. And don't miss "Cheney Pushes Arafat and Saddam into Same Corner" for an interesting take on W.'s peace initiative. permalink


The misunderstanding of Jonathon Delacour

By me, not him. Hm. That title does lead one to believe I think he misunderstands a lot, and I probably should change it, but I'd much rather tease my good blog friend from Australia--or at least give him a moment of heart stoppage. (Gotcha.)

I'd like to point out a possible misunderstanding in my words from yesterday that Jonathon mentioned in an email:

I still think you're better off not reading my weblog until this plays out. It's ironic, though, that my post draws attention to what comes across as a pro-Palestinian bias in Douglas Ord's piece since, although I may be imagining it, I get the feeling that people will mistakenly assume I've written an anti-Israeli essay to which -- and I understand and accept your reasons for this -- you haven't provided a link.

Here's the link to Jonathon's weblog; I'll pass on providing the permalink because even if he sent it to me in email, I'd be too tempted to go there and read it, and that way lies conflict. permalink


Reading between Chubb lines

A few weeks ago, I discussed Chubb's level of suckiness. Well, today I received a letter from Chubb apologizing for their level of suckiness. Well, no, not really. But they did apologize for sending us an opt-outletter with an 800 number that didn't work. I noticed, however, that they didn't include a corrected phone number in my letter. Perhaps they sent new letters out to those that didn't respond to their opt-out junk mail program. Whoops, it's not a junk mail program. It's an offer of services from third parties.

So here's the text of the letter ostensibly from the president of Chubb. With my comments mixed in (as if you couldn't tell).

I would like to apologize (wonder who he fired for this screwup?) for any inconvenience we caused as a result of the letter we sent you on February 22, 2002. (02/22/02--I knew it was an ominous date!) Unfortunately, the phone number listed in the letter was incorrect, and some people experienced difficulty registering on the web site provided. Whoops, you caught us trying to screw up every avenue for you to opt out of our offer. This letter is to confirm that we received your request to keep your personal information confidential, and we will not be releasing this to third parties (people who pays us for your info). This letter is to confirm that you will not be suing us or reporting us to state and federal authorities for refusing to allow you to opt-out of a mailing list.

Also, I would like to clarify that it was never our intent to sell any information and we would not use such information for our benefit. Shit, they snagged us. Quick, pretend we're doing this at our cost, with no hope of remuneration and hope they don't remember that the Chubb Way is: Overcharge everyone, give nothing for nothing, corporate partners uber alles.The information was only to be used to provide offers we feel may be of interest to our alumni. The information provided was only to be used to provide more funds for our bottom line through information you have to supply to us.

Like most collegiate institutions, (which we are not) we were attempting to provide our students and alumni with services that may not be available to non-Chubb alumni (because non-Chubb alumni aren't dumb enough to pay us for it). Unfortunately, our effort to keep in touch with you and to keep you apprised of some of our new offerings was not as successful as we had hoped. Damn, we got snagged, now we'll have to figure out another way to screw our students and alumni--besides overcharging them for our courses and not guaranteeing them support after graduation, that is.

Again, we apologize, (this ought to fool the state board of regulators again) and if we can be of assistance to you in the future, (if you don't feel ripped off enough now, come back and take another one of our useless courses during these hard times for tech workers, so we can refuse to help place you again) please feel free to contact us. For a nominal fee, of course, and, since our 800 numbers are all bogus, on your dime, too.

Yep. Chubb still sucks. permalink

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3/19/02

Because I won't blog it

But I know it's out there. I'll let other people speak for me.

Go here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And especially here. And to the newly self-hating former Zionist and half-Jew, Geraldo Rivera: A letter from someone you pissed off. Yeah, in every generation... but they're not supposed to be our own.

Okay, I guess I am going to blog it, after all. I will not read Mike Golby's essays. I stopped reading his site; in fact, I only read it in the first place because someone posted that he responded to my initial essay on the death of Daniel Pearl. He lost all my respect with his response to my last essay on anti-Semitism, mostly because he apparently can't seem to separate personal attacks from attacking the essay, and also because he seems to think the only ism in the world is racism. And I won't read Jonathon Delacour's response, because he sent me a letter saying he agreed with some of what Golby said and was going to be blogging it. I deeply respect Jonathon, and have in the past cross-blogged (peaceably!) on several issues, but I know my limits. My best friend and I are on opposite sides of the Israel/Palestinian issue, and we simply don't discuss it. We sometimes come dangerously close to it, because I tend to get upset about the situation, but she's smarter and more patient than I, and refuses to get drawn into it.

What it comes down to is this: I do not believe that the Palestinians will stop their attacks even if they receive everything they've asked for but the Right of Return. They were offered nearly everything they demanded, including half of Jerusalem--half of Jerusalem--two years ago at Oslo. It wasn't enough. Yassir Arafat responded to that offer by first letting all the extreme terrorists out of jail, and then beginning the Intifada.

When Jerusalem was in Jordan's hands, Jews were not allowed to worship at the Western Wall. Jewish historic and religious sites were torn down. Mosques were deliberately built over Jewish sites. Headstones from Jewish cemeteries were used to line Jordanian latrines. In one of the links above, the U.K. Daily Telegraph describes how Hitler's Mein Kampf is a best-seller throughout the Arab world, including in the Palestinian territories. What that tells me--and more importantly, what Daniel Pipes and MEMRI tell me--is that the Palestinians will never agree to Israel's right to exist. Have they yet removed the language about driving the Jews to the sea from the Palestinian Charter? I may be wrong, but I believe they have not.

When a leading Arab Muslim cleric states publicly that if the Arabs got the bomb and dropped it on Israel, they'd remove all the Jews at the cost of only a small fraction of the Arab world's lives, this tells me that they are not sincere in their pose for peace.

My synagogue sent out a flyer with a special prayer for Israel, asking us to recite it each night of the Seders next week. I'll do it. I just hope God is listening. permalink


Great new site

I found Bill Allison through Muslimpundit. Both are great reads. Bill's also a great source for Civil War information. I'll need that, once I move south.


Ain't gonna study war no more

"Meryl? Hello? Anyone home?"
"Brenda! Be quiet and get over here."
"What are you doing under the kitchen table?"
"Preparing."
"For what?"
"Look, I've been reading the warblogs. There are a lot of things going on out there that we didn't know about. In fact, I didn't realize how ignorant and unprepared I was until I took the trip from Instapundit to Sgt. Stryker to Buzzmachine to National Review Online and the American Spectator. Don't you know there's a war on? Come over here, put on your helmet and get in the makeshift bunker! Osama could get The Bomb at any minute! We live 12 miles west of New York; we're screwed!"
"Uh--Mer--I think the word you're looking for is 'screwy'."
"You don't understand! The loony-left is looking to sap our determination and will; the Europeans haven't been this impotent since Hitler said 'Mind if I take Czechoslovakia? Oh, and by the way, you're next.' The only true ally America has is Israel, and she's currently fighting for her life and being betrayed by W., who's knuckled in to the terrorists because he wants to take out Iraq next! Don't you get it, Brenda? We're inches away from a nuclear holocaust that will begin with Islamic fanatics and continue through Israel firing off her nukes after she gets nuked by the Arabs, who will have gotten the bomb through Iran or Osama, and Israel will probably send one missile towards Mecca as a final fuck-you, and then where are we? It's like that verse from 'The Cat Came Back'--China gone, Russia gone, and then the USA.' And on top of all that, Pickering was turned down for judgeship! Now he'll never be able to win the bet with Professor Higgins!"
"Uh... Meryl--I think you're confusing fiction and reality there."
"Oh, that's right. For a minute there, I thought Tipper Gore was running for the Tennessee Senate seat and Al Gore shaved off that ugly beard."
"Will you please take off that ridiculous helmet and come out from under your kitchen table? I'm getting a crick in the neck trying to talk to you."
"Nope. I'm staying here until I figure out what those strange blue lights are over New York."
"Idiot! That's the Twin Towers Memorial. Are you the only one in the world who didn't hear about it?"
"Oh. I thought it was a new air-raid warning. Never mind."
"I'm leaving. And if I were you, I'd stop reading the warblogs for at least the next week. You're over the edge."
"Hey, if you're going to the store, can you pick me up some double-A batteries? I'm running low, and you gotta have a radio after the electricity is all gone. Hey, do you think the EMP will kill my computer? How will I blog if it does?"

The door slammed behind her on the way out. permalink

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3/18/02

A lady never reveals her age

Just as I was beginning to despair of a non-controversial topic for today (I will not cross-blog Blogsisters, I will not cross-blog Blogsisters), Daypop's Top 40 comes through for me with the Globe Of Weblogs site.

The Globe of Weblogs is yet another catalog site for weblogs. This one, however, allows you to search by--wait for it--sex and age of the author, or even--hold your breath--by birthday!

Okay, I think I'm showing my age here, if not my age bias, but I looked at the registration page and frankly, to nearly every question raised my answer would be "None of your damned business." What, I want strangers to know how old I am? My name? My gender? What city I live in?

Oh, wait. You do get all that information, except for how old I am. But you have to read my weblog to find it. It's like a treasure hunt. Or maybe a scavenger hunt, but I don't give out prizes.

I can see that the Globe of Weblogs does appeal to more than just the kids out there writing blogs, but boy--the older I get, the less I want to admit it. Nuh-uh. You ain't getting me to post my age there--or anywhere else, if I can help it. Just remember what I always say: You're only as old as you look. And I don't look my age. permalink


New Cattales

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3/17/02

Learn to write weblogs in three easy lessons!

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Last week's blogs are archived.

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