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The Mel Brooks Solution

Darmon Thornton and Michael Bernstein take the Hulk a step further and come up with Mongo's answer to various pressing problems.

I'm beginning to be very afraid of the meme that I started. Amused, but afraid.

Email policy

I came up with an email policy that seems to be clear enough, at least to me. I've added a note to the left menu and will eventually add that note to the archived pages (at least as far back as January, earlier than that, you're on your own). I need to do a lot of site maintenance soon. Hm. Maybe a redesign. I'll have to think about it.

Anyway, before anyone out there gets all paranoid, realize that most of the email I quote is of the "John D. pointed me to this article in The Weekly Standard" variety. It's a tip of the hat to all of you readers who take a little extra time to share things with me, so that I can pass them on to the rest of you.

1001 things to do with a Google search

As of 7:30 last night, I had 1001 Google searches. Which practically lends itself to a book title, of course.

My pal John Edward is still the lead search, followed closely by Fish Heads. Alas, the Daniel Pearl video is inching up the chart. Tough luck, people--you won't get the URL here.

Stan Lee, Tobey Maguire, and Hulk Smash are all tops in the searches for May; it's Mighty Marvel Blogging Society Month. (The original phrase, True Believers, was Mighty Marvel Marching Society, of course. Oh, how I longed to win a No-Prize in those days.)

A lot more search engines are showing up on the list; dare I think that adding my website to the Mozilla project has finally taken effect?

Lycos wins the strangest search requests award with "bare midriff opinion" (huh?!) and "graphs on starving children" (double huh?!). Ask Jeeves gives me song lyrics: "They called the wind Mariah." I've never forgotten that song, because it was the background (and foreground) score for a documentary on a hurricane that I had to watch in high school. Hurricane Mariah. I'm going to assume the song was written after the hurricane, but I might be mistaken. We had to watch a whole lot of documentaries in junior high and high school--at least this one was interesting enough to remember.

The other truly strange search request: Idaho state Ah--I don't recall mentioning anything about Idaho at all, let alone refunds on a website. If you're looking for Idaho potatoes, now we've got something to talk about. I used to use Idaho russets exclusively, but I've switched to Yukon Gold potatoes for my oven-roasted and french fried potatoes. They're the best potatoes for my homemade potato chips, too. Sigh. Danged diet. It's severely limiting my fried potato intake, at least until I get that flat stomach back. End of summer, I figure, maybe a bit earlier if I can get back into running. Ew. Running. Double ew.

End of summer is soon enough.

Around the blogosphere

N.Z. Bear writes about being Back in the Day of BBSes. It's an extremely well-written post, one that makes me remember when he and I were both back in the day. You're making me jealous, N.Z. And you're definitely finding your voice. (Who knew he had such a sharp tongue? Look out, Andrew Sullivan, N.Z. is not amused.)

File13's Amish Tech Support (whose backup Muse is a job I apparently took without realizing it) has the scoop on how we get specific terrorism alerts. He also has one hell of a cross-blog conversation going with N.Z. Bear, but I can't quite tell if we're going to have to separate them at the next Blogger Bash or if they're just punching each other on the shoulder like guys like to do.

Come to think of it, why do guys like to punch each other on the shoulder? I have never, ever greeted a woman friend with a physical assault, and it's always mystified me that guys like to do that.

Diane E. tells us why she watched the Daniel Pearl video.

Once again, Joe Katzman and I are on the same track. He's got a post about the IDF's change in battle planning since Jenin, and I've thought--and spoken of--how the U.S. Army must be sharing debriefing and intel on the house-to-house battles that went on there, as our forces may well have to do the same in, say, Baghdad. I haven't blogged it, because I am far from a military expert, and don't want to embarrass myself. But you have to figure the Army brass was extremely interested in Israeli accounts of the battles. I suspect the reason the Gaza incursion has been delayed is not just the hope of real progress from Arafat's camp (there isn't), but because Israel isn't willing to sacrifice soldiers--she's probably working out a new way of going in and getting rid of the terrorist cells with the least amount of damage to her soldiers and Palestinian civilians. Hm. Looks like I did blog it, after all.

Elana and Andre of Middle East Realities have been working overtime to shatter one myth per day about the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Check out the entire blog; it's fascinating reading.

In case there's anyone left who doesn't know it, Instapundit's new home is That's right, he's off Blogger, so quitcherbitchin'.

Twenty facts about Israel and the Middle East, via Little Green Footballs. (I still want to write "Footfalls". Maybe he'll change the name.)

There are a zillion more blogs out there I haven't gotten to, but I've only been back a day, and I spent half the day running errands and the evening at dinner and a movie, so it's going to have to wait. Boy, am I glad it's the weekend.



The Times is running scared

Meryl Evans forwarded me this story, which did, indeed, bring a smile to my face. (Thanks, kiddo.) The New York Times boycott is apparently working, and working well, as are selected boycotts around the nation, including one of NPR. Jewish groups are urging a boycott of the Times, the Washington Post, and the LA Times due to biased coverage of Israel. The article cites, among other things, the two skewed pictures the Times printed in the article about the Israel Day Parade--the ones that made it appear there was a much bigger crowd of Palestinian protestors than there actually was. That would be the one the Times actually almost apologized for.

Intense public reaction to coverage of the violence of the Middle East conflict has prompted unusually harsh attacks on several news media outlets and has led to boycotts of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.

Broadcast news operations, including CNN and National Public Radio, have also been criticized. The general manager of one public radio station, WBUR-FM in Boston, said it had lost more than $1 million in underwriting and pledges this year — nearly 4 percent of its annual budget — because some supporters of Israel encouraged people not to give.
The swift communications of the Internet era apparently help fan the intensity of the criticism.
James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, echoed such criticism, but said he would not encourage a boycott. To do "what the Jewish community has done, to incite their members to boycott, to feel so injured that people work themselves into a lather over press coverage does damage to the possibility of discourse," he said.

Okay, let's recap: The boycott is working well enough for the Times to run an article about it, and for an NPR station to lose a million dollars in pledges and contributions. The Internet is partly responsible for the boycott's swift enaction and success. And a leader of an Arab American organization says that boycotts are a bad thing. Discourse, he says. Talk. (Not that any Arab organization would boycott Israel, no. Nor, indeed, would the enitre Arab world. Nuh-uh.)

So the obvious bias is already there--mean ol' Jews boycott the Times, good ol' Arab Americans--or at least their leaders--want to talk.

But here's where the article gets really, well, boycott-worthy.

While the the pro-Israeli Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, or Camera, studies newpapers for evidence of bias, Palestine Media Watch has been monitoring the coverage of newspapers like The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Times and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Like pro-Israeli critics, the pro-Palestian groups focus on issues of balance and equivalence and on common vocabulary. Ahmed T. Bouzid, the president of Palestine Media Watch, argued, among other things, that the word retaliation was often used about Israeli attacks on Palestinian targets, which, he said, "frames it as a reaction to something, not an action initiated by Israelis." He said he was pushing to eliminate mediocre journalism, not charging bias.

Look at the first words of each paragraph. Notice how the pro-Palestinians are groups, but the pro-Israelis are critics. Notice that "While the pro-Israeli Committee ... studies newspapers for evidence of bias [emphasis mine]", "the pro-Palestinian groups focus on issues of balance and equivalence [emphasis mine] and on common vocabulary."

Indeed. Look what happens when you focus on common vocabulary. Look at the stealth bias. The quote from the Palestinian group? "He said he was pushing to eliminate mediocre journalism, not charging bias."

Un-friggin'-believable. Even in an article about media bias, the Times is biased.

The New York Times. Don't buy it, and drop your subscription. You need to read it? It's free on the Internet.



I'm ba-ack.

The cats are happy, I'm a bit less happy, what with not quite finding what I wanted, but hey, I'm heading back again in about a week and a half. I'll find a nice place next time.

Wow, it's amazing how my blood pressure increases the further north I get, and it goes off the scale on the NJ Turnpike. Even in Montclair and Bloomfield, where people were driving like they were sitting on their hands and driving with their heads or something.

I knew someone who was so fat he could literally drive with his stomach. No lie.

Gracie decided to be afraid of me for a while, since I had to scare her into coming back inside the apartment, as they both raced out the second I got the door open. But she's all better now, lying on the chair next to me, pretending to be asleep. Tig's just a purr-kitty and an annoyance, yowling for attention. Gonna be a tough time sleeping tonight, I think.

I'm still here. The tree's not.

Ain't the Internet grand? A couple of readers sent me great, detailed information on cutting down trees safely. Both letters will be extensively quoted, if not fully read out loud or forwarded, to Heidi. Unfortunately, both letters were read long after we'd taken care of the tree. Thanks, Q. Thanks, D. (How's that for not knowing what to do while resettling the email issue yet keeping readers anonymous?)

We waited until after breakfast to tackle the tree, and well, I mostly supervised. Heidi brought the saw, and sawed through most of what was left after yesterday's chopping, and then we tossed a rope around the tree and pulled, and crack-boom, there it went. In the correct direction, doing no worse than shedding a few pine needles on us.

Anyway, just a quick note before bed. I'll be back in NJ tomorrow, and reading the news again, alas.



If a tree doesn't fall in the woods...

There's a problem with my being in Virginia. It's close proximity to Heidi. I'm a bad influence on her. She's a bad influence on me. Well, when we want to be, anyway. So today--well, actually, yesterday, as I'm writing this tonight but posting it tomorrow--there's that day thing again. Anyway, this tale involves an axe, a rope, the woods around her house, and, well, us. Hearing Heidi tell the story of how horrified the saleswoman looked as she tested the blade for sharpness and the handle for heft ("This'll do!") was bad enough, but listening to her chant "Lizzie Borden" as we trekked out of the house was a downright mood-setter.

There are these dead trees, you see, in the woods on her property, and Heidi wants to get rid of them, but she doesn't own a chainsaw. And every time she asks a neighbor to give her lessons on how to use a chainsaw, he always says, "What would you like me to cut down for you?" (They are far kinder in the south.) She doesn't want to use a chainsaw without lessons, and nobody seems willing to give her lessons, which appears to be a Catch-22 for chainsaws here. So she bought the axe instead, and decided we were going to chop down trees this afternoon. Well, she was going to chop. I insisted on coming along to advise her, because I have known her long enough to know that Heidi tends to take shortcuts while doing many things, and when one is going to use an axe, shortcuts are never wise.

She managed to get quite a nice start on the tree without having to deal with much more than my sarcasm which, while cutting, was not helping with downing the tree. So I took a few whacks. And a few more, though she did the bulk of the work. "We can push it down when you've gotten most of the way through," I pointed out to her. Heidi was impressed. She liked that idea, but was surprised that I knew it. "Where did you learn that?" she wanted to know. I shrugged. I read it somewhere, or saw it on TV or in a movie somewhere, I said. I don't normally watch people cut down trees.

When we got the tree to the point where it was creaking, we tried pushing. It didn't work. We chopped some more. Pushed some more. Pushed with backs braced against other tree, using leg strength. No good. We needed more upper body strength, I pointed out. We did not know where to get any. (My nearest brothers are 350 miles away. One of them has a chainsaw, though. Both of them have far more upper body strength than I.) Heidi tried climbing up the tree to push and I stopped that one before she could say "Ouch!" as the tree fell with her on it. (Told you she needed me to kibitz.) "A rope," she decided, and off she went.

To our disgust and disappointment, even using a rope and pulling the tree from two different angles didn't work. But then we had to stop. Her husband came home. Although he has the upper body strength, he also has a bad back, and is not allowed to exert himself. Besides, he tends to worry a lot, and he was, well, freaking out that we were allowing his daughter anywhere near the tree, which he was sure was going to fall on all three of us and kill us. (We didn't bother to tell him that we had allowed Sorena to take a few [supervised] whacks with the axe. By supervised, I mean I held the bottom of the axe handle so she couldn't drop it or hit anything but what I wanted her to hit with it.) So we'll tackle the tree again in the morning, after husband is off to work and daughter is off to school.

Hey. Maybe we can harness the dogs to the rope. Two 100-lb. Ridgebacks. Hm. They might be strong enough. We won't bother using the 10-lb. miniature poodle.



Worth reading

Charles Krauthammer's column of a few days ago, "Why They Fight" (answer: Because it works):

After the Passover massacre, Israel launched its offensive into Palestinian territory. The most dramatic effect has been a reduction in terrorism. It is no accident that while Israel suffered seven suicide bombings in the seven days of Passover, there has been but one successful suicide bombing in the past month. There will surely be others. But the frenzied wave of terror that pushed Israel over the edge has been stopped.

Why is the level of terror down? Because terror does have an infrastructure, and attacking and degrading it makes it harder for terrorists to operate, as the United States proved in Afghanistan. During Israel's offensive, hundreds of bomb makers, gunmen and trainers were captured. Others are on the run. Huge caches of illegal weapons and explosives were seized or destroyed. Can they be replaced? Perhaps, but it will take time. It took Arafat eight years to build this arsenal. He will not be able to replace it in a day.

More important, Arafat's forces were everywhere defeated. As the only functioning military authority on the West Bank today, the Israeli army can now make lightning raids, relatively unmolested, to prevent terrorist operations. For eight years, Palestinian terrorism had the protection (and, in many cases, the active assistance) of Arafat's Palestinian Authority. That sanctuary is no longer.

Also from the Washington Post, an article about SFSU, (link sent by reader M.R., and no, it wasn't ten days, only five. No, seven.) Leading with my favorite quote of the story:

The pro-Palestinian students, on the other hand, say they have been dismayed at the university's reaction. "We feel that the administration is taking the pro-Israel side," said Basil Awwad, a senior and board member of the Palestinian student group. "It shows by Corrigan's letter, which he wrote without speaking to any of us. It was just one-sided."

Dwight Simpson, a professor of international relations and faculty adviser to the General Union of Palestinian Students, said he did not think either side broke any laws at the rally. But he said that the tension demonstrated the far-reaching ripples of the Middle East conflict.

"The news from Palestine on a daily basis is horrible," Simpson said. "And so when you take a 22-, 23-year-old kid and he hears this, of course he's going to get steamed up."

Simpson added that the FBI interviews and arrests of material witnesses have worried many Arab American and pro-Palestinian students.

"Arabs are being selected out and this is ominous to them," Simpson said. "Remember, these are just kids. They're not mature and thoughtful and calm and so on. So the tempers get out of control."

Uh-huh. Out-of-control tempers are an excuse to say, "If the police weren't here, we'd kill you" and "Death to the Jews". And look, the administration is taking the pro-Israel side. Uh, asshole--President Corrigan reviewed videotapes. Your lies don't work when you're caught on tape.

I'm starting to think we need to seriously rethink our immigration policies. This is America. Time to learn about civil disagreement and dissent. Especially in that land of peace, love, and understanding: San Francisco.

If you read some people's websites, you'd think that San Francisco was always nothing but a city of love, love, love. Well. I was there years ago, when I was in college. Here's an account of anti-Semitism in San Francisco that I experienced even then. I was reminded of it by the murder of Daniel Pearl.

Moving right along

(You will notice that in this article a childish use and spelling of a certain word. That is to keep the people who search for free pr0n, as James Lileks calls it, away from here.)

Okay, I'm writing this yesterday, so I'll just be talking about today like it happened--well, today. Which would be yesterday. Are you following me? Good.

So I spent about eight hours--yeah, eight hours--driving around Richmond, looking at apartments, driving around more of Richmond, looking at neighborhoods, driving around even more of Richmond, getting lost and frustrated and turning the wrong way on Cary Street and wondering why the white SUV was driving on the wrong side of the--oh. (Luckily, I had barely turned the corner and could back up quickly out of the, uh, one-way street.) That happened toward the end of the day, when I was rather tired and pretty annoyed that no matter which way I went, I couldn't seem to find West Grace Street. She hid from me, she did, in sympathy with Gracie, most likely, who is annoyed that I'm not home serving her every whim.

When I finally did find West Grace, the apartments didn't seem to be all that worth the effort. Ah, well.

Tomorrow, I'll be looking some more. A lot more, actually. If I get lucky, I'll find the right apartment tomorrow. If not, there's always Wednesday.

Did I mention how tiring it is to drive around and look for apartments all day in a strange city? About the only bonus was finding a Popeye's for lunch. Popeye's has the best fast-food fried chicken. The diet goes out the window when I find a Popeye's at lunchtime.

So there I am, on my way home driving down I-95 toward Chester, and I'm about five miles north of my exit, driving in the middle lane. I catch up to a purple bus bearing enormous ads for the WWF on UPN. A hideous purple, by the way. On the rear of the bus--facing me--is an enormous picture of whichever woman took over for Chyna, unless it is Chyna--I have no clue. She had black hair and was wearing a bikini top over enormous bazooms, and as the picture was the width of the bus, the enormous bazooms were the width of the bus. I was not in the mood to stare at some female wrestler's gigantic bazooms, so I decided to pass the bus. The left lane was filled with typical Virginians, who don't believe that "Slower traffic keep to the right" means them. The right lane was wide open. So I get into the right lane, zoom up, pass the bus, leave plenty of room and get back into the middle lane.

Goddamned driver flashes his lights at me.

Let us review: The bus is in the middle lane, not the right, and traffic in the right lane is passing him. He is driving a bus with a hugely annoying picture on it, at least to me. I make completely sure I don't cut him off. So I passed him on the right. So was everyone else.

Already in a ticked-off mood, I get even more annoyed. But at least I don't have to stare at four-foot-wide bazooms for the next five miles. So I drive along, and move into the right lane prior to my exit. The bus moves into the right lane as well, and now I am struck by the hope that he will get off at the Chester exit and I can have a word or two with him. Alas, it was not to be. My lecture on bus drivers with giant pictures of bazooms on the backs of their buses, who hog the middle lane of the highway and are rude to innocent female drivers (whose only desire was to get away from that hideous picture) will have to wait for another time.

Actually, let's hope not. One of those buses is all I want to deal with per lifetime.

It's all in the delivery

Okay, so I'm really tired when I get home tonight, but you can't be really tired when an eight-year-old wants to show you the natural secret hideout she has discovered in the woods next to her house. So Heidi and I go with Sorena on a trek through the woods, which would have been a lot easier had we been, say, also eight years old and a foot or so shorter. But we follow her through vines and branches and around fallen saplings until we get to her hideway, which is a couple of trees fallen or grown sideways and covered with vines and bushes. There's plenty of room for a group of children to sit underneath and do whatever kids do in secret hideouts. Sorena is thrilled to death and chattering the whole way about what she and her three best friends will do while playing there. She is so thrilled she envisions Heidi and me joining her. "You can come again a lot if you want to!" she tells me breathlessly.

Having had enough of being swatted with branches and worrying about ticks and climbing over suburban jungle, I blurt out, "I probably won't," in what I thought were rather even tones. Heidi stops dead in her tracks and is unable to proceed until she stops laughing her head off. Somewhat offended, I point out that I had tried to say it without any kind of emotion, not wanting to hurt Sorena's feelings. "Yeah," she says, "but the 'won't' sort of got away from you."



Anti-Semitism watch, May 20, 2002

An explosion in a Quebec City synagogue--er, that would be the only synagogue in Quebec City--followed another terrorist explosion in Netanya, Israel. You all remember Netanya. That was the scene of the Passover Massacre. Well. Apparently the Palestinians weren't satisifed with the death toll, and added more today.

The suicide bomber was reported to be dressed in an IDF uniform, which enabled him to reach the area without arousing suspicion despite a general warning of an attack less than an hour earlier.

That's a violation of the Geneva Convention. Think we'll see the UN up in arms over this? Nah, me neither.

Looks like we can thank W. for putting all that pressure on Sharon to come out of the West Bank before cleaning out all the terrorist nests. Tanks are heading back in as I write this. Can the UNHRC be far behind?

Catching up on old business

Now that I have a moment or two to breathe--but only a moment--may I say thank you to everyone who sent helpful and supportive email during the last week? And may I also apologize to anyone who didn't get a response--you folks really sent a lot of mail, and I'm in the middle of trying to find a new place to live, keep my eight-year-old "niece" happy by paying as much attention to her as I can while I'm here, hang with my best friend, write this weblog, keep up on current events, and, well, walk an extremely overweight dog that seems to be getting far too attached to me. She's not coming home with me. I have two cats. Rhodesian Ridgebacks eat cats.

Anyway, I should be back to normal by mid-week. Unlike the weather. Gawd. It was mid-eighties and shorts weather on Friday, and there are frost warnings out tonight. Friday night I slept in shorts and a t-shirt with the windows open, covered only by a sheet. Tonight the windows are closed, I'm in my heavy sweats, and will definitely be under the comforter and maybe looking for more. Sheesh. Make up your mind, Ma Nature, willya?



The state of SFSU at

The posts I wrote about the anti-Semitic events at San Francisco State University have been compiled into a separate page. I'll add updates to it from time to time, but SFSU will now recede to the background of this weblog. It's a college, folks--it's time for the students and faculty and staff to step up and work on their problems, and time for us to leave them be and just drop in now and again to see how things are going.

Perhaps Berkeley will take it as an example of what needs to be done on its campus before something terrible happens.


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.