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A beautiful day

It's a gorgeous Indian Summer day outside, and in a little while, I'll be heading out into farm country with Heidi and Sorena, where we will drop off Sorena at a party and then find someplace to spend the afternoon before picking her up again. And this follows a much better evening, as last night I went over to Heidi's for our weekly dinner, first stopping to pick up Sorena from school. Sorena talked me into buying a crate of oranges, so now I'm drinking, on Heidi's advice, fresh orange juice for the vitamin C kick to get my voice back. I'm not sure that it was the orange juice, but I can talk a lot better today than I've been able to all week. And the cough is much more subdued.

I am far behind in all my email, and I apologize, but my energy has been somewhat lacking this week. I'll get to it by tomorrow night, I think.

Gracie has decided that Tig is acceptable again. I think it may have had something to do with his re-establishing dominance. There's this thing he does from time to time, and he done did it. Must have gotten tired of her hissing at him, because yesterday afternoon, I glanced outside and saw Tig on top of Gracie, biting her in the scruff of the neck. I made him disengage, but there have been no hisses or growls since then. They are happily out on the patio together, chasing leaves and bugs and squirrels.

I found a dead caterpillar just inside the patio door, so I swept it outside, whereupon it suddenly reanimiated and walked away. This follows closely on the heels of finding a supersized cricket on my kitchen floor, upside down, for all intents and purposes, dead. While I debated whether or not to touch it (I really do hate bugs), it reanimated and started wiggling its feet and antennae. That settled the matter for me. I picked it up with a piece of paper and threw it outside, whereupon it apparently died. I left it's corpse alone for a few days until I was sure it wasn't going to reanimate, then I swept it off the patio. And may I say: Ew.

I really don't like bugs.

It's not funny

Oh, sure, William, talk about me but don't respond to the important part of my post: That T.J. Hooker was not a 70s show. Well.

On the serious side, I've been thinking about that anti-Semitism survey, and trying to decide on which side my opinion falls. Here's a surprise: I agree with William. But I think he's wrong about why there are fewer anti-Semitic incidents in America than in Europe. It isn't the guns. Number one, it's the American ideal of equality, something which seems still to be lacking in Europe.

Second, but no less important, it is the level of police protection and the attitude of our government officials that prevent the kind of racist attacks you see in Europe. Look at what was said immediately after the attacks on 9/11. Our government representatives, most notably (and most quickly) Rudy Guiliani, stressed to the American people not to blame an entire ethnicity for the work of a few lunatics. There were no anti-Muslim riots in America to "punish" the perpetrators, and, in spite of what some would have you believe (CAIR), no real backlash.

When synagogues are defaced, when Jews are attacked, when people are killed because they are black or gay, investigations occur, and perpetrators are arrested, tried, and convicted. American officials didn't tell Muslim women that they shouldn't wear headscarves or any other outward signs of their religion, unlike the police in Berlin to Orthodox Jews. American women donned headscarves themselves and escorted their Muslim neighbors to the grocery store. American officials investigate synagogue arsons. They don't excuse them as the behavior of "thugs," as did the French.

Official atttitude is everything. On this, the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the impact of government attitude towards discrimination and racism is even more important.

That's why Charles Johnson is so very right to keep harping on the virulent anti-Semitism of the Arab press, and why Arab News writer Rasheed Abou-Alsamh is so very wrong on the issue. As long as the Arab governments allow such things as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to be sold and, disgustingly, made into a television series, the enmity between the Arab world and Jews will not end. And I'm not very hopeful about European anti-Semitism, either.



UN resolutions and the Middle East

One of the hue and cries against Israel is that she "ignores" UN resolutions, a charge that is patently false and ultimately disingenuous, as nearly all the resolutions against Israel are non-binding resolutions, and 242 is by no means a clear call to "pull back" to the pre-1967 borders. However, the UN Security Council passed a resolution today demanding that Iraq disarm and allow weapons inspectors back in. It sets a timetable and is quite clear on the requirements.

This is what the Iraqi Ambassador had to say about the resolution:

"Iraq will certainly study the resolution and decide whether we can accept it or not," Iraqi Ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri said moments after the resolution was unanimously approved.

Once again, there is one rule for Israel and another for the rest of the Middle East. If I were channeling the spirit of an old Brooklyn Dodgers fan, I think I'd say something like: Stick it in your ear. (I said old. Those were far less obscene days.)

A simple request

All I want—all I really, really want (for now)—is to go to sleep without having to cough for two or three hours, nodding off from time to time between coughing fits, and to wake up tomorrow congestion-free, with my old voice back. I can speak with this croaking parody of my voice, or I can whisper, but I cannot speak in a normal tone of voice, and damn, I had a really great voice. Everyone always said so. One of the professors I knew in college startled me by saying, upon meeting me, "You have a really great voice. Have you ever considered doing voiceovers?" All I could reply was, "Uh—no." I mean, normally, people say, "Hi!" when they first meet you, or "Glad to meet you."

So I've taken my latest dose of Robitussin and am off to bed, hoping against hope that lying flat will not bring yet another coughing fit. But I really, really, really want my voice back.



We don't need the UN's permission

Al Barger has laid out the reasons why we don't need the UN's permission to move ahead with Iraq. He makes a lot of sense.

When the US takes military action, US taxpayers pay for it. It's our money. It will be mostly our sons and daughters in harm's way. The French, Chinese, and Oompah Loompahs can bitch all they want, but they are not the people directly involved.

We have elections to select a president and a congress authorized to stake our blood and money. I'm not real thrilled with the sausage factory of our republic, but it does broadly represent the will of the people whose money and children do the fighting. The US military answers to the president as commander in chief, and to the congress which controls the purse strings and has the authority to declare war.

Where from comes the moral authority of the United Nations? They do NOT represent the democratic will of the world. Most of the member nations are despotic or at least not very democratic regimes. The Saudi royal family has no legitimate claim whatever to representing the will of the people of Mecca. Who voted for them anyway?

He and I are thinking along the same lines. I'm tired of seeing dictatorships and human rights abusers lecture democracies on our systems' flaws. The UN could use some serious revamping, beginning with this: No dictatorships allowed voting privileges. You want to vote? Well, you'll get one when your people do.

Al Qaeda claims the Bali bombing

Looks like those morons who say that Indonesia has nothing to do with the war on terror need to salt and pepper their words. CNN's got an article that says Al Qaeda's taking credit for the Bali bombing.

Islamic militant group al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the bomb attack on a Bali nightclub in which more than 180 people died.

The group said it had targeted "nightclubs and whorehouses in Indonesia" in a Web site message which also boasted of its aim to hit inside Arab and Islamic countries which are part of a "Jewish-Crusader" alliance.

The Web site has been used in the past by al Qaeda to claim responsibility for attacks, including the synagogue fire in Tunisia in which mainly German tourists died, and strikes on two ships in Yemen.

Okay, tell me again—how is it that the Australians brought this on themselves? The same way we brought on 9/11?

New Cattales

Dem bones, dem bones

You know that ossuary, that box of bones that was supposed to be James, brother of Jesus, and give pretty much incontrovertible proof of the whole New Testament thing?

It's been pronounced a fake. Well, the relation to Jesus part, anyway. Surprise, surprise. Brings back the old adage: If it seems too good to be true—it is.

Via AMCGLTD, for whom I am a guilty pleasure. Hm. Don't feel guilty. Having been raised by a Jewish mother, I've probably already used up my lifetime quota of guilt, as well as both of yours. Just enjoy it. (So glad the kitten survived.) ((You spelled "pneumonia" wrong. Hm. I hadn't thought of that. Maybe I should go to the doctor's, after all. Does pneumonia travel, though? It's in my sinuses now. I think this is the grandmother of all sinus infections, myself.))

News from the Middle East

IDF fires at terrorists, terrorist goes boom, kills self, wounds pals:

Elite troops from the Heruv unit killed a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt near the settlement of Kedumim in northern Samaria Thursday night, Israel Radio reported.

Three Palestinians got out of a taxi, the troops called on them to stop and lift their shirts. One of them, wearing an explosive belt began to run towards the soldiers shouting Allah Wakbar (Allah is great) before exploding.

The explosion killed a second Palestinian and wounded the third who was taken for treatment at an Israeli hospital.

Ya gotta love it when the scumbags do the job for the IDF.

Then there's this:

Jordan's Prince Hassan warned Thursday that U.S. military action against Baghdad could provoke Iraq's various ethnicities to seek independence, triggering similar movements elsewhere that would endanger the entire Middle East and create a wide breeding ground for terrorists.

"The U.S. government's military advocacy of a regime change in Iraq could have a domino effect in other countries in the region," Hassan told reporters at a conference on Islamic terrorism and globalization.

As opposed to the way things are now, where the Middle East is not a wide breeding ground for terrorists? What, are we excluding Middle East nations from this current census of terrorist breeding grounds?


Two stories from the Arab News:

Yesterday: Arab-Americans vote to favor Democrats

Today: Democrats Blame Sept. 11 for Defeat

My prediction: tomorrow, the Arab News will blame the J-E-W-S.

Say, have I mentioned that Eric Cantor, the Congressman from the VA 7th, is Jewish? Dunno if he's one of them there kippa-wearers, Abdullah, but I can ask. Or, as Nelson would say: HA-ha.

Scientology strikes again

In another attempt to silence its critics, Scientology is going after blogger Diane Hsieh. Why am I not surprised?

Here's hoping the gun lobby chews 'em up and spits 'em out.

You'd think with all these fascist tactics, someone in a regulatory committee would get a clue about these people. When was the last time the Catholic Church sued a weblogger for saying something they didn't like about Catholicism?

Oh yeah. That would be never.



Shoot me now

Three hours of coughing instead of sleeping last night. Sleeping in the chair in the living room instead of lying flat. The infection has settled into my upper respiratory system and is serving to make me about as miserable as it can, for as long as it can. Remember that story in James Herriott's book about how he put a dog to sleep for two or three days so it could get better? Someone please put me out for the next 48 hours. It would be kinder.

Anyway, the Carnival of the Vanities is up. Lots of good links. Probably nobody else complaining about not being able to talk. Or breathe. Or that her cats are playing "Who the hell are you?" and hissing at each other every time Tig comes near Gracie. (She so wants to be an only cat. I can see it in her eyes.)

Remember the Bugs Bunny cartoon with the penguin? The one where Bugs tries to take the penguin home, and mistakenly takes him to the South Pole (or North Pole, they weren't big on fact-checking)? And then he gets there and find out that the penguin is from a zoo in Hoboken? Because that line is about how I feel right now: "Ooh, I'm dyin' again!"

Tomorrow is another day

It's closing in on midnight (last night), and I am now typing this in the dark, because the lightbulb above my head just blew out. That's about the kind of ending that this day deserved. It began with a bit of hope, as I made a bit of a croak this morning when I tried to speak. The voice came back a bit better while I was on the phone with the Registrar's office to figure out how I could vote. The not being able to vote was annoying, as was the rain and the cold. Then Tig getting sick—repeatedly—got me to thinking that this was not such a good day, after all. And an hour and a half ago, coming home from the emergency vet with a bedraggled, filthy, and weary cat, my bank account much lighter, the rain pouring down, I decided, yeah, I've had better days. My voice is still a croak, the cough is coming back, and I think all I want to do is go to bed and wake up on a different day. And so I will do that. Here are some people to read who have had better days than I:

Kesher Talk has a bunch of new stuff. Howard couldn't vote, either. But it wasn't the state's fault. Sorta.

I missed this scary story by Angie Schultz during the Axis of Weevil frightfest. (Terry, she's got you matched. I think Angie must have lived down south sometime.)

First, go here. Then go here. Funny, funny picture. Diane, you are evil. (Peter: Get a cat.)

Susanna is celebrating half a victory. Susanna, Garrett is in the pocket of the insurance companies, and is no gain for New Jersey. Trust me on that one—I went to college with him, and my brother's dealt with him politically for years. He helped drive Marge Roukema out of office. She didn't want to leave. The Republicans wanted a farther-right candidate. Well, they've got one in Garrett. I'd say I'm glad I'm here, but my guy Cantor is equally as far to the right.

Forget all that election stuff he's posting. Bigwig has the latest entry in The New Perfect Manhood. Woo-hoo!



I am a disenfranchised voter. Whom do I sue?

It seems the DMV of Virginia and the Virginia State Board of Elections aren't on the same page as to whether or not you can register to vote at a DMV office. I did, you see. I filled out a form, signed it, submitted it with my application for registration, license, and plates. I received a receipt which states:

Your voter application will be sent to elections officials who will review it and contact you if they have any questions. Your local registrar will determine if you are qualified to be registered.

Since I did not receive a note, I called the Registrar this morning and was told that I am not on the voter rolls. I explained that I had a receipt in front of me dated October 2nd, well within limits, that said the DMV had received my application for voter registration. The kind lady on the phone said they'd call the state and get back to me. When they did, they said I could vote "conditionally," and to tell the polling chief to call them when I got there. I did, whereupon he said I couldn't vote. Then he called them and read off my name and social security number, all the while shaking his head, and said I couldn't vote. I said, "They told me I could vote conditionally." He shook his head again and said I couldn't vote. "You didn't fill out an application," he said, and handed me one. "Yes, I did," I said. I recognized the form as the one I'd filled out at the DMV. That wasn't an application form, he said. Yes, it was, I said. It looked exactly like what he gave me. He told me once more that all I had done was fill out a form to apply to vote, and that they would have sent me another form in the mail. That was patent bullshit, and I said so. Used the word bullshit. He nodded and agreed that it was bullshit, but I still couldn't vote. He suggested that they might have already sent me the form but I threw it away, thinking it was junk mail. I told him I had not. I said that the DMV shouldn't be telling people they can register to vote when all they're really doing is applying for another form to register to vote. He agreed. But I still couldn't vote.

Thing is, he was full of shit. He was wrong. I realized that a bit later, but decided that since he was the station chief, no way was I going to get to vote. He was the one who made the final decision. And today was a cold, rainy day, so I decided the hell with it and did not drive back to the polling place. I wasn't up for the argument.

I was warned about not registering at the DMV. Silly me, I thought applying on October 2nd gave them enough time to process my application by November 5th. All they ask for is 30 days on the form. I imagine my application is on someone's desk somewhere, and I'll probably receive my voter registration card in a week or two. But for the first time since I was in my twenties, I didn't vote in a major election. And it's the state of Virginia's fault.

You would think it would be easier to register to vote in this, the freest nation in the world. I don't understand why I can't simply present my social security number and proof of address and just walk into the polls on election day. It should be as easy as that for American citizens. Make it that simple, and maybe you'll get more than a 50 percent turnout. Make it easier to change your voter registration, and maybe you won't get to the point where people actually have to fight to try to vote. And get turned down by people who don't know what they're talking about. Go check out the DMV page, and tell me if my interpretation was incorrect. Here's the text:

You are not registered to vote until your application is approved by your local registrar. Once registered, you will receive a card showing your voting location and election district. You should contact your local registrar if you do not receive this notification.

Yeah, that's what I thought, too. Especially since at the bottom of my receipt it says:

Please keep this acknowledgement until you receive your voter card. It will assist elections officials if there is a problem.

I suppose if I hadn't had laryngitis, I might have fought a bit harder. But it was difficult to speak, arguing was hurting my voice, and arguing with an idiot always gives me a headache. So I didn't get to vote today. Democracy inaction.

One Israeli's point of view

Ribbity Frog is back from vacation. So glad you're back, R.

This is a war of attrition, and it has already been won by Israel. The Palestinians launched an offensive after Camp David and thought that they would destroy Israeli society. They have caused the deaths of hundreds of innocent people, including many of their own, but they have totally failed in their objectives. They have lost American support (and it’s really America that calls the shots these days, in spite of what the BBC may think), their cities lie in ruins, they are suffering from massive poverty, and have not achieved anything that they could not have achieved by a negotiated settlement.

It’s time for the Palestinian leaders to stop reading Ha’aretz and listen to the voice of the people. If they took an Israeli taxi for spoke to the average person in the street, they would find out that Israel is a lot stronger than they think – not militarily, but in terms of morale. The Passover Massacre was a turning point, and Defensive Shield proved that Israel will fight back. We will suffer the calumnies of the UN to protect ourselves and our homes. There is nothing that you can do that will stop us.

The Passover Massacre was a turning point for me, as well. More on that later.

Look what he can do

My brother came in either 27,680th or 27,681st in the New York City Marathon on Sunday. Their own website can't agree on which place.

He and Eric have inherited my father's running genes. I have inherited my mother's sitting genes. (I run only when chased, or when trying to catch a bus.)

The Saudis are afraid of a little girl

In a not-too-bad column a few days ago, Nick Kristof discovered how broad and deep is the Saudi censorship of their citizens' internet access.

I typed in the address, not knowing what it was but figuring that it might sound subversive to Saudi ears. (It turns out to be a women's empowerment site.) Sure enough, a message flashed on my screen that the site was blocked.

Then I tried ("promoting religious tolerance as a human right"), and that was blocked as well. So were informational pages on Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism, as well as sites calling for love and respect among faiths.

[...] But blocked sites included (a women's magazine),, blue and human rights sites. Saudi Arabia even bans the home page for the Anne Frank House.

Yes, even the Anne Frank House. Do me a favor. Go to that page. (You can right-click and choose "Open in new window" from the shortcut menu.) Don't click on any of the links. Just view the source code. If you have IE, right-click your mouse and choose "View source" from the menu. Netscape, ditto. Anyone else, you're on your own. Now. Do you see those words in the "KEYWORDS" area? Those are the words that enable search engines to categorize your website, so that if you searched on, say, "diary of anne frank" this page would pop up in your search.

Now realize this: The Saudis have to have some of those words interdicted in order to block the Anne Frank House home page, or they have to have that site specifically put onto a list of blocked websites. Here is the ISU's summary of which pages they block:

The types of materials which the ISU is directed to block are few, most noteworthy among them are pornographic web pages which consist of 95% of all blocked web pages. As for the other categories, they consist mainly of pages related to drugs, bombs, alcohol, gambling and pages insulting the Islamic religion or the Saudi laws and regulations.

Go on back and check those keywords a minute, will you? Anyone see any mention of drugs, gambling, alcohol, or Islam? No, me neither. Plenty of mention of Jews and Nazis, though. Hm. Interesting. Well, here's some more of their reasoning:

In a study by Cass Sunstein in the Duke Law Journal it was found that countries which impose strict laws relating to prevention of pornography enjoy a reduction in the rate of rape and murder and vice versa. Similarly, in a study conducted by the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography and another conducted by the University of New Hampshire it was found that those states trafficking most heavily in pornography saw a similar increase in the rate of rape. Specifically, Alaska and Nevada were the two states with the highest rates of pornographic materials (five times that of other states), accompanied by a similar increase in rape activity (eight times that of other states).

Anyone who cares to research these studies at Duke or UNH, feel free. Me, I'm going to take the opinion that the Saudis are blowing smoke out of their asses on this particular claim. Alaska and Nevada had an eight-times-higher increase in rapes than any other state, and somehow, the American press never caught wind of it? I find that hard to believe. Perhaps that nebulous Attorney General's Commission on Pornography (is that why Ashcroft had those statues covered?) can tell us more. If anyone finds that one lying about, please email me.

In the interest of fairness, I found that there is a form to apply to unblock a page. I have done so, and left one of my email addresses and a request to unblock the Anne Frank House pages. This is what I put as my reason why:

The Anne Frank House pages are not in any way insulting to Islam, nor do they fulfill any of the other requirements for offensive pages. They are educational pages about a terrible chapter in world history, and should be available to all.

Any answer I receive will be posted. (By the way, the Saudi webmasters are so lame they can't even break you out of the frame when you finish the form and click on the "home page" link. Fear that cyber jihad fatwa that bin Laden called—not. Not when they can't put a single "target=top" line in their html, anyway.)

All of this information can be found in Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamin Edelman's study for the Berkman Center for Internet & Society of Harvard Law School, a site that Kristof mentioned but did not exactly credit (sorry, the URL doesn't count as credit, especially when the Times won't link any other URL in any of its articles).

The Highlights of Banned Pages is particularly educational. Among others, gay sites, sites about the Baha'i faith, the Amnesty International reports on Saudi Arabia, and this one, which is obviously the greatest cultural danger to every nation in the world (and will probably become a Laurence Simon's Daily Funny): Create a Fart. No, I'm not kidding. And of course, Israeli sites, Jewish sites, and sites about Judaism are all banned. (Then again, so is a page on scientology; proof that the Saudis aren't entirely witless.) Religious Tolerance, The Saudi Institute (which is based in Washington and advocates reform of the Saudi kleptocracy and society)—not a chance. Mustn't have that music; the Warner Bros. Records site is banned. Oh, and no uppity women: Women in American History is on the banned list. This one was banned because it touts the conversion of Muslims to Christianity. Bad precedents, no doubt.

No ivillage, no Rolling Stone, The Onion goes on and off the list like a yo-yo, and for some reason, the AltaVista translation page is blocked. Probably for the same reason Anonymizer is blocked: The Saudis would be able to read and make up their own minds.

This is the grip of the Saudi dictatorship on the information available to its people, brought to you by the government, using a tool made in America. This is the way to keep a nation brainwashed, and tyrants in power—by blocking the people's access to free and flowing information. China does it. Saudi Arabia does it. Too many nations do it.

If I were revamping the bylaws of the United Nations, I would add as a requirement for membership: Free and open Internet access. That would be my second requirement. My first, of course, would be free, full, and open elections.

None of that can stop the naked anti-Semitism of the Saudi entity's blocking of the Anne Frank House home page, though. Astonishing.

When I was a child, I learned that simply pretending something didn't exist didn't make it go away. It's long past time for the Saudis to grow up.



Talking is overrated, anyway

So I'm writing a letter to someone I used to work with who is, unaccountably, still working for The Corporation From Hell (which shall remain nameless—CENDANT!—), and she asked for my phone number so we can catch up. Well, I gave her my phone number and then told her that we can't talk until, well, I get over this laryngitis. And then I couldn't help myself, but I started writing something like this:

I talk to myself all the time. I talk back to the television. I comment out loud on articles I'm reading. I talk to inanimate objects. I talk to my cats. I talk all the time!

Unless you are as inveterate a talker as I, you have no idea what hell I am going through being unable to talk at the moment. And there is no cure for laryngitis save the soothing and resting of the inflamed throat. Which means I can't talk, not even to whisper out loud the things I used to say to myself.

Not only that, but Virginia hasn't sent me my voter registration card, which means tomorrow, I get to go argue in a whisper with the idiots while showing them my receipt of registration from the Motor Vehicle office. I knew this was going to happen. I'd been told not to register at the DMV. But dammit, I'm going to vote tomorrow even if I have to drive up to NJ and vote illegally there.

Oh, am I gonna have things to blog about tomorrow. Hoo-boy, am I gonna have things to blog about.


Stacy Tabb is more than just the creative genius behind Sekimori designs. She's also an editor, and the latest issue of Banshee Studios fiction writers e-zine is up. You're embarrassing the rest of us, Stacy. Is there anything you can't do?

Lynn B. puts to rest the myth of the Rabin legacy (e.g., that there would be peace in Israel if only he hadn't been murdered by Israeli extremists). Not so, Lynn says. And she's got proof. And don't miss her entry on the definition of Zionism over the years. There's an essay that points out it isn't a new thing. It's several millennia old.

My former fiancé is desperate for a date while he's in New York. Alas, that my throwing him over should make him sink so low that he's posting for companionship. The poor guy. It's okay, I'll be in NJ for a few days while you're in NYC, Bruce. We'll have lunch.

The Armed Liberal has an interesting continuation of the latest meme to hit the blogosphere: Herd vs. pack mentality. NZ Bear's discussing it, as are a few others. Click around his links, this one's a way us common folks can assist in the war on terror.

I found something on Jim Henley's blog that I can completely agree with. But I can't excerpt it or there's no reason for you to go there. (It's pretty funny. You'll like it.) Update: Blogger's archives suck. It's the one titled "Thought for the day."

William Shatner's T.J. toupee

William Sjostrom, who got an Instalink regarding his interpretation of European anti-Semitism (refuted by Nick Denton), also remarks on Glenn's comment about the T.J. Hooker series:

Instapundit knocks T.J. Hooker as a "lame and stupid relic of the 1970s". Okay, so really he was talking about the Red Brigade, but he then says "Hell, next it'll be 'T.J. Hooker: The Movie.' "

Something didn't sit quite right with me, what with having been to the be-all and end-all boffo Star Trek convention in New York in 1975, when I was a teenager in high school and I and my two girlfriends managed to get into the oversold and overcrowded First Reunion Of The Cast Since The Show Ended Convention. (I've forgotten the name of the organizers, but they're still in business and everyone still hates them and they still run successful conventions.) Anyway. They really did have the entire cast, I attended the main event, and was struck with hope and amazement at the thought that yes, Gene Roddenberry was working hard with Paramount and they were going to get that movie going any day now (in fact, it was released in 1979). But since I was a kid and a Trekkie back then (we didn't think it was an insult in '75), I was more than happy to come home with the news of the movie, seeing my favorite Trek stars, and a button with a picture of the alternate-universe Spock from "Mirror, Mirror" that I refused to sell to my friends, who couldn't find any like it. (We thought Nimoy was hotter than Shatner, period.)

There was a point here. Oh. Um, William and Glenn—T.J. Hooker was an 80s show. Shatner was doing bad TV movies and miniseries in the 70s. And the first Star Trek film.

I thought something didn't sit right with that particular line of thought.

The sound of silence ... sucks

All right, knowledgeable readers. It's been nearly twenty-four hours since I lost the ability to speak. I am still coughing, which is obviously aggravating my throat and vocal chords. I have drunk a half-glass of tea and am debating whether or not to reheat it and finish the rest. (Ew. You must understand, I loathe hot drinks and don't like tea in any form. So, ew.) Any homeopathic or over-the-counter remedies out there for laryngitis? I've already got the "don't talk" down pat. I think a trip to the local drugstore for a cough suppressant is due.

So much for my calling up the town clerk to ask where my polling place for tomorrow is. Thank goodness for internet research.

I can't talk, but I can read

And type.

The BBC has presented what, if I'm not mistaken, appears to be a balanced, honest article on Israel, regarding the Human Rights Watch report that suicide bombings are crimes against humanity.

The group says that even during a time of conflict, all attacks against civilians are crimes against humanity and should be treated as such.

Its report - entitled Erased in a Moment - concludes that those who carry out suicide bombings are not "martyrs" but war criminals, as are people who plan such attacks.

Human Rights Watch says the leaders of groups, such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas, should face criminal prosecution.

[...] In its report, Human Rights Watch also flatly rejects the widely-held Palestinian view that Jewish settlers who choose to live on occupied Palestinian land are legitimate targets.

The group says that while the settlements are illegal, people living in them are entitled to protection under international law.

Of course, in their "See also" sidebar, there are links to the old-style BBC articles blaming Israel for everything, but we have to at least acknowledge their effort not to spin this one against Israel.

Naaaah. Here are a few graphs from the end of the same article:

In the Gaza Strip, three people were killed in a blast at the house of an alleged Hamas militant.

Hamas officials said it was caused by explosives being prepared for use against Israeli tanks.

There you have it. Hamas says the blast was caused by explosives being prepared for use against Israeli tanks, yet the BBC labels it "the house of an alleged Hamas militant." Excuse me, but how much more do we need to allege here? Do the members of Hamas have to start wearing t-shirts that declare "Proud member of Hamas!" on them? What is wrong with the effing media?

A number of other people were injured in the explosion in the Zeitun area of Gaza City.

Funny, if it were Palestinians killed or wounded by the IDF, we'd know exactly how many, what their names and ages were, and how they were innocently sewing bandages for widows and orphans when the bombs hit. Amazing how Ha'aretz printed that information, but the BBC couldn't find it. Go figure.



I have no voice and I must scream

Well, maybe not scream, but definitely speak. I don't know if any of you have ever had laryngitis, but it is driving me up the effing wall that I can't even speak a word. Not one. Heidi called me tonight, and laughed at me as I tried to talk. I wound up whispering. She whispered back. I whispered, "Don't make fun." She said she didn't mean to, it just happened that way.


She's getting back at me, she is, for my comments about her cooking. (One night a few weeks ago, after the chicken had been burned, I told her husband, "I blame myself. I forgot to watch what she was doing.")

I can't even laugh. I watched the Simpsons Halloween special tonight, and Malcolm in the Middle, and these horrid, croaking, whispering sounds came out—not laughter. It's a good thing there weren't any kids here, because those sounds would have sent them screaming out of the room in horror.

Yeah, go ahead. Laugh your normal laughs. I'll remember that when you have laryngitis. I'll make sure to call you up, several times, just to bug the crap out of you.

I'm going to bed. With any luck, I'll be able to speak a whole sentence by tomorrow morning.

Damn. I just realized—the maintenance guys are coming to install weatherstripping on the doors tomorrow. Oh, it's going to be a great start to the day if I can't even say, "Who is it?" when the doorbell rings.

Saudi Arabia and Smartfilter: Partners in Censorship

While researching a piece that's going up later today or tomorrow, I came across this little tidbit: Secure Computer's Smartfilter is the censorware of choice for the discriminating Saudi entity Internet Services Unit. A quick look around the Smartfilter customer site brought me a list of many of their satisfied customers and yet, strangely, Saudi Arabia is nowhere to be seen on this page. Heck, they list the state of Delaware (look, another reason to hate 'em!), and "A prominent international chemical company," but no "Saudi Arabia" or even "A major oil-producing nation in the Middle East."

Why not? Are they ashamed that they're the architects of the tool that prevents Saudis from getting the same access to information as an open society? Oh, sure, they'll say—if we don't sell it to them, someone else will. Yeah, yeah, we've heard it all before. One of these days, I'd love to see an American (or other) company say, "Well, we made this software to prevent people from goofing off at work, not to stop ordinary citizens from seeking information other than the government-supplied press, so, no, we won't sell to Saudi Arabia or China or other repressive dictatorships."

Wow, did I reallly write that? The fever must have come back, big-time.


I can't speak. I could speak earlier today, but then I taught class this morning, and even though I chose not to join music and t'filah, by the end of class, my voice was gone.

This is an extremely rare occurrence for me. I almost never get laryngitis. Hasn't happened in years. So of course, what do I want to do right now? Talk. On the phone. For hours.

I can't even yell at my cat. I just pound him with water from the spray bottle instead. Which, come to think of it, probably made him jump down from the counter faster than if I'd said, "Get down from there." (Tig's annoying trick today seems to be climbing on the counter, and from there, jumping on new and exciting places he doesn't belong. Like the top of the microwave. He's been washing a lot of water out of his fur today.)

Then again, if the phone rings, I'm going to have a tough time answering it. I can whisper, but I can't talk. Watch. Ten bucks says my mother decides to call me tonight. She has radar for this kind of thing. She always manages to call me up when I sound like I'm at death's door, even though I'm more or less fine. Well, okay, there's the sore throat, and the coughing, and the sinus headache, but other than that and the laryngitis, yeah, I'm fine.

Lair thinks I'm whining. (Would you believe I only just heard that expression two weeks ago? Seriously.) Wickstein thinks I'm whinging. (He said it in email. He was nice enough not to be mean to me on his weblog. Unlike some Texan nutjobs. Lair.)

Anyway. For some reason, I didn't want to post about things that blew off the top of my head last week, or at least, not too many of them. But I have a busload of 'em waiting for flames in the backlog. We'll be with you shortly. The beauty of the Internet: I don't have to talk, only type.


Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. 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.