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Nick Danger says it best

I really wanted to quote it all, but I have to leave some reason for you to click the link and visit Nick.

L'SHANA TOVAH And another year begins. For most Americans, the past twelve months have been the most painful and difficult of their lives. For Jews around the world, the past two years have been equally heart-wrenching. After 9/11, there was an outpouring of support for America and nearly unilateral condemnation of the heinous crime that had been committed against our country. Though that support may have waned, and though there are still those that believe the U.S. "deserved it," the show of support that America received and continues to receive from the rest of the world is unparalleled.

So then, because there is a country where everyday is 9/11, it must be asked:

Where is the show of support for Israel? Where are the righteous cries of outrage against the terror inflicted daily on the citizens of the only democracy in the Middle East? Where are the memorials, the telethons, the prime-time interviews with widows and children of Israeli victims of Palestinian terror? The world has turned its back on the Jews for the past 5,000 years. When empires and nations were not actively seeking the destruction of the Jewish people, they were often complicit in our wholesale slaughter. What the students at Berkeley fail to realize, what the media and liberals in Western Europe cannot understand, what the men, women, and children living in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa know all too well is that we are living through history.

History has not been kind to the Jews. How easily the police in France and England avert their eyes when Jewish cemeteries are vandalized, how simple it is for American universities to ignore the anti-Semitism running rampant on their campuses. From Boston, from London, from Berkeley, from Paris, from New York, how dare we condemn Israelis for defending themselves, for protecting the cities and communities they worked so hard to build. The State of Israel is not the "Zionist experiment," it is not a country built on stolen land, it is not an apartheid regime. No, Israel is the home of the Jewish people. And it's the only one we have.

A New Year's message from Israel: Here we are, here we remain

From today's Jerusalem Post editorial:

The year 5762 will be remembered as an exceptionally trying one for the Jewish state. Continuously clouded by a deliberate, open, and systematic Palestinian effort to target Israel's civilian population, the year that ends today exacted a heavy price in blood and money.

[...] Yet as the year progressed we proved that the enemy's estimation of our weakness was exaggerated, and that our resources as a society were greater than even many Israelis might have guessed. Following the Seder-night massacre in Netanya, and the IDF's consequent counterattack, the psychological tide was turned.

No, terror attacks were and remain far from over, but Israeli society surprised many by enlisting en masse to defend itself and attack its enemies. The enthusiasm and dedication with which thousands of reservists joined the battle was similar only to the spirit that characterized the warriors of 1973 and 1967, who also left abruptly and resolutely their middle-class routines in order to fight enemies who threatened to destroy the Jewish state.

Back in the big cities, as the public finally understood the nature of the threat at stake, previous self-flagellation about ostensibly missed diplomatic opportunities gave way to a defiance much like Britain's during the German blitz: Blown-up restaurants were rebuilt, security guards were posted outside numerous businesses, and customers returned to fill previously empty malls, cafes, and stores. ...

The public's behavior reflected a consensus, highlighted by an unexpectedly high functioning unity government, that the current war is not Israel's fault; that it is about Israel's very existence; and that it must be won, even if only after a protracted and costly struggle.

Lightening up just a bit

I saw something that pleased and amused me over at amcgltd: Scott mentioned a link to me and called me openly biased regarding the Arab/Israeli conflict. He's right, of course, and I have never pretended to be anything other than vehemently pro-Israel. (That's why those of you who write me letters explaining in great detail why I'm wrong to think the way I do are, frankly, wasting your time. You can't change my mind, and you don't want me to change yours.) But Scott got me to thinking about whether I have any secret biases. I don't know if this is exactly secret, as my family and close friends figured it out a long time ago, but I do have certain biases that I don't believe I've discussed much here.

I hate handyman work. Any kind, all kinds. I loathe working with my hands. I don't so much as like hanging a picture. I'd much rather find someone to do it for me. The most I will do, and this is only because otherwise I'd never be able to read after sundown, is change a lightbulb. Wait, that's not true. I've also learned a lot about toilet tanks and how to make sure they don't overflow.

As a result, all of my paintings and wall decorations are awaiting some kind of angel to come by and say, "Good Lord, Meryl, none of your walls have pictures! We'll have to fix that, immediately!" I mean, I bought the kind of hangers for heavy pictures, but I keep forgetting to borrow a stud finder from Heidi's husband. (He keeps reminding me that he can't use it himself, as it goes off incessantly as soon as he gets it from his toolbox. Have I mentioned that the man is a real card?) My brand-new water filter is lying on a closet shelf. My Gazelle Glider remains in pieces, waiting to be rebuilt. Charles (my antique reverse painting of the Chinese money god) is hidden in a closet, unable to bless me with good fortune because he's hiding behind my coats. (And probably cursing me, so I really should bring him out.)

Used to be I could call on my brothers or male friends to do the handyman jobs for me. I'd cook them dinner, they'd help me switch the hardtop and softop on the Jeep, or hang a new picture, or put a floor lamp together. But I don't have that new social network yet, except for a guy in my synagogue who promised to help with the Jeep. (Probably after the High Holy Days I'll take him up on it. Virginia is a softer climate; I've got months of top-down driving ahead of me.)

I guess I'm going to have to either conquer my bias against handy work, or find a bunch of guys who will work for food. (Anyone? Meryl-at-yourish-dot-com. Good cook. Perfect Roast Chicken one of my best recipes. Killer latkes.)

Anyway. L'Shana Tovah, and I don't know how much I'll be posting during the High Holy Days, so a healthy and a happy and a sweet New Year to my Jewish readers.



Words and pictures, part two

Charles Johnson supplies the picture. Here are some words from last September to go with it, via Daddy Warblogs:

Britain, led ably through the week by Tony Blair, has responded well to the outrage in America. The Guards playing The Star Spangled Banner at Buckingham Palace, Friday's moving and widely observed silence, and the service in St Paul's in which the country's grief was well expressed through the person of the Queen and the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury, were models of dignity, compassion and support for America.

But the response of some of the Question Time audience reveals a darker side and shows the awful truth that these days there is just one racism that is tolerated - anti-Americanism. Not just tolerated, but often applauded. Like any other nation, the US makes mistakes at home and abroad. (I wrote about some of those in Indochina.)

But the disdain with which its failures and its efforts are greeted by some in Britain and elsewhere in Europe is shocking. Anti-Americanism often goes much further than criticism of Washington. Too often the misfortunes of America are met with glee, a schadenfreude that is quite horrifying.

The Munich Massacre: My thoughts

It took me most of the day to write this. It's partly due to my recovering from a virus; the fever seems to have finally left me and the fatigue it brought with it is fading, thankfully. But I think the larger reason is because there is only so much my mind can take when dealing with people who hate me so much that they would kill me simply because I was born to Jewish parents. My thoughts veer away as a matter of preserving my sanity. (You can natter on about root causes and who was where first, but the fact of the matter is that now, I am a target because I am Jewish.)

I first realized that in the early 1970s. I was barely into my teens when the Olympic Massacre happened. My mother had recently gotten a job with Eastern Airlines, which meant that we could now fly across the country and visit my favorite cousins, who had moved with their family to San Diego in 1971. All through my high school and college years, I availed myself of those cheap flights as often as possible. But there was a thought process I made as the seventies wore on and more and more Jews were killed by terrorists: What would I do if they hijacked my plane? Entebbe taught me that the hijackers would let the non-Jewish passengers go and kill the remaining Jews if their demands were not met.

From the time I was a teenager, I have always worn a Star of David necklace. And so I used to think to myself while the plane was at the gate, waiting to finish boarding: Should I take off my Star? If I put it in my pocket and the plane gets hijacked, would they find it? Should I hide it in my carry-on? Do I want to take it off at all and pretend I'm not Jewish, or stand by what I am and let whatever happens, happens?

You can laugh at the above as the thoughts of a paranoid child with an overactive imagination, as no American plane was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. But that's what the Munich Massacre did to me. It made me fear for my life when what I should have been doing was enjoying the excitement of a plane ride to visit my cousins. And when I read about the anti-Semitic filth coming out of Arab mosques every Friday, it makes me think that not very much has changed.

I don't take plane rides much anymore, and I don't worry about having to hide my Star of David. But I used to.

Those fightin' fems

A couple of losers made the mistake of thinking that it's okay to pick on gi-irls. But Emily Jones and Rachel Lucas quite kindly and sweetly pointed out their detractors' mistakes:

Its not about to stop. NO SURRENDER you stupid bitch. -G.G.

Thanks for walking into my snare, G.G. Now I have your IP address. (Emily)

From Rachel:

Yesterday, some dillhole named Mike wrote in my comment section, "You sound like a snotty little spoiled bigot."

Well I'm in a real punchy mood this morning, and I'd like to respond to Mike and everyone else who's had something crappy to say to me:

Ram it. Shove it and stuff it. And then get the hell off my web site.

I know you just cannot STAND to see a girl have an opinion. I know it just drives you up a wall that I write better than you. I know it makes you mad that I'm not just Nice, Nice, Nice.

Well, screw Nice.

My kinda girls. Me, I normally just block the address of the hate mail I get so that it gets deleted on the server. But I do so appreciate a good rant. Both via Mr. Misha, who also is pretty good with a rant now and then.

Excerpts from the Munich Massacre Blog Burst, Part Two

Joe Katzman: The Munich Massacre in 1972 remains one of terrorism's most durable images from the 1970s. But it was not the first. Or the most extensive (terrorism in Turkey had already pushed that country into full martial law by 1971). Or the most significant.

Indeed, the most significant development for terrorism in the 1970s may be the most unremarked: despite their leftist origins, the terrorist groups that survived and prospered often did so because they became self-sustaining businesses. In this, as in so many other aspects of terrorism's development, the leader and exemplar was the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Darwinism is such a bitch.

Diane E.: The mind plays tricks. The Munich Olympics were the Olympics of the massacre of the Israeli athletes. They were also the Olympics of the most remarkable accomplishment of any athlete in Olympic history—Mark Spitz’s seven gold medals. Everyone has their favorite this-will-never-be-broken sports record. Mine is Spitz’s performance. I doubt that any swimmer will ever dominate as he did. As I said, the mind plays tricks—mine seems to have separated the two Olympics. I remember both—or parts of both--with crystal clarity. Those looming, menacing black shapes, faces obscured by ski masks. Spitz’s burst of energy in the last strokes of the butterfly. But I don’t connect the two. Tricky thing, a mind.

At the time, I was only vaguely aware that Spitz was Jewish. Well, no. I was aware of it, alright, but I repressed it, just as I repressed how enraged the massacre made me. The fact is, Spitz's being Jewish made me self-conscious, for the same reasons the massacre made me self-conscious. I didn’t want to be singled out. But I also remember being defensive about the fact that Spitz caught flack for cashing in—at the time, Olympic athletes were supposed to be pure and unsullied by commerce—but didn’t they always end up on Wheaties boxes? What a double standard. But I had my own problems and it was too much to handle. It was easier to forget about it. Another trick.

Oceanguy: During a visit to Munich in 1983, I took a ride on a bus that passed the Olympic Stadium. Before we came upon the stadium I was presented with a haunting view of a group of Apartment buildings which I immediately recognized as the one time Olympic Village. I was surprised by the depth of emotion that the sudden memory of the murders and the events from 11 years earlier. One of the emotions that grabbed me was fear. I felt fear at being reminded of the evil people involvedin the horrendous act. This tiem it was on a sight seeing tour instead of watching TV, but once again innocent joy was replaced by fear and anger. That flash from the past brought me starkly into the present. My short visit to Munich was just a short diversion on journey way to Beirut.

Photodude: And I recall, the innocence of youth is strong. It took two blows. Even once I'd accepted that Evil had seized the upper hand, I knew it wasn't over. I remember thinking, in the naivety of youth, that this was actually a chance at some kind of ... redemption ... for the Germans, and that surely they would do whatever it took to keep from failing the Jews again.

Silly naive boy. As we know now, the authorities in charge botched it in every conceivable way, and the hostages all died an ugly death. I was devastated, certain I'd witnessed the last of the Olympics. Evil had won.

Dodgeblog: The massacre at the Olympics in Munich punched its way into our psyches in a way not known before; it was basically the first massacre played out on TV around the world simultaneously. The swiftness of this spreading of the news is no longer a recent phenomenon, but in no way does it lessen the dreadfullness of more and more acts of bestiality.

Lynn B.: The Libyan Connection. Colonel Muammar Qaddafi had more than a hand in the plot. Boaz Ganor of ICT reports that "Qaddafi awarded Arafat $5 million in recognition of the massacre of Israel athletes carried out by Arafat’s men at the Munich Olympics. And Daniel Pipes has noted that Qaddafi supplied the both means and the ends, so to speak.

Imshin: The main discussion point of the documentary was: Did the Germans receive information about a planned terrorist attack in advance? How about the Israelis, what did they know? Kimor claims that the Germans received information that the terrorist attack was going to happen. He brings as evidence excerpts from the German investigation report on the massacre. According to this report, on the 21st Aug 1972, the Bavarian secret police passed on to Munich Police a warning that a Palestinian commando unit had left Beirut on its way to Munich for a terrorist operation. Manfred Schreiber, Munich Police Chief, was notified but did nothing. On the 24th Aug 1972, Interpol Brussels sent a message to the Bavarian secret police stating the names of two of the terrorists – Badran and Darwis, who were to take part in the operation.

Laurence Simon: I've decided to repost my thoughts on how the Olympic Committee had rewarded the masters of the terrorists. You see, did a little wandering around the Olympic Movement Site and came across this gem.

Notice the address:

P.O. Box 469
Al Qadisiya Street
9727 Gaza
There is no Palestine. There's a strip of land that Egypt didn't want to bother with anymore and abandoned, much to their collective relief and long-range strategic benefit. There's a hunk of rocks and Bilbical sites the Jordanians grabbed, tore the motherloving Allah out of, and then got kicked out of as well and had to take back so many of the stirred-up nutballs they'd placed there that their own country was at risk of ripping itself apart.

Stefan Sharkansky : Moving on to the shootout at the airport, the authorities reject the criticism that they acted amateurishly.

Nevertheless, many open questions remain. The police weren't prepared for such an operation, said Guenter Krause from the Interior Ministry. Hohensinn said that some of the equipment dated back to the Second World War. Then there was a series of mishaps: The sharpshooters didn't have radios, the officers who were in the airplane dressed as flight crew left the plane of their own accord. The Palestinians were able to watch the first rescue attempt in the dormitory on television. Shortly after the massacre the government learned from the consequences and formed the elite GSG-9 unit for future operations

So many facts. So many viewpoints. So sad and hateful an occasion.

Excerpts from the Munich Massacre Blog Burst, Part One

Grasshoppa: Yet, like these athletes, we cannot worry about terrorism and we must continue on with our lives. I'm reminded of when I was visiting the Marais district of Paris (the Jewish and gay district), eating falalfel with my friend about a year ago, not long after the Dolphinarium bombing in Tel Aviv. The woman next to me, obviously recognizing that my friend and I were speaking English, asked me where I was from. I told her that I was from Boston, and she said to me, "You come all the way here for falafel? They'll kill you here." I replied, "I'm not afraid," and she smiled and said "good." Indeed, we must not be afraid.

Vegetative State: Mossad agents staked out his apartment and noted Hamshari's routines, such as the times that he came and went, when he was alone in the apartment, and when his French wife took his daughter to school. An Israeli engineer posing as a plumber worked on the telephone cables beneath Hamshari's apartment building. Hamshari soon began having trouble with his telephone and called the company to effect repairs. The engineer had been situated close by and was cutting in and out of Hamshari's calls until the one for the repairs came through. The engineer, in full sight of the unsuspecting Hamshari, then placed a command-detonated explosive device in the base of the telephone while pretending to fix it. While this was going on, another Mossad agent posing as an Italian journalist made contact with Hamshari with the intention of interviewing him. The Mossad agent waited patiently outside Hamshari's residence for his wife and daughter to leave and then placed a call to the apartment. Hamshari answered the phone. A voice on the other end said, "This is the Italian journalist who has a rendezvous with you today. Is that really you, Mr. Hamshari?" The Palestinian replied that it was. When he said that, the phone blew up in his face.

Bloggerrabbit: Black September Organization is Formed. Thoroughly beaten Fatah establishes a terrorist group to be its instrument of revenge. It is to be called Black September in memory of its loss to the Jordanians. On November 28th, 1971, they complete their first operation, the assassination of Wasfi al-Tal. The Prime Minister's last words are "They've killed me. Murderers, they believe only in fire and destruction". So begins the career of Black September. On September 5th, they would bring their murderous skills to the Olympics.

Facts of Israel: A few days ago I listened to a story on National Public Radio (NPR) that covered the murder of the Israelis by the Palestinian terrorists.

Although the hosts did briefly disapprove of the murders, the story quickly turned to a tacit endorsement of the action for "putting the Palestinian cause on the map". The host Brooke Gladstone spends a large part of the segment interviewing Brigitte Nacos, a Columbia University professor and author of "Mass-Mediated Terrorism", who is clearly proud of these Palestinians for bringing attention to their cause.

I felt sick.

Bill Quick: But it doesn't change, does it? Arab savages murder Israeli innocents. Europeans collapse in the face of terror. And the savages blame somebody - anybody - else. Thirty years ago. But it might as well be today.

The Blog Burst: Remembering a tragedy at Munich

At 5:00 AM, exactly 30 years ago, a seminal event in the development of modern terrorism took place. Eight Palestinian terrorists invaded the athletes' housing at the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. They killed and took hostage eleven Israeli athletes competing in the Games, demanding the release of 234 imprisoned Arabs and German terrorists. Over the next few tension-filled days, all the hostages and some of the terrorists were killed, mostly due to incompetence and perfidy of the German government. The Olympic Committee made a controversial decision to continue the Games, and has never participated in any memorial for the slain athletes. Eventually almost all the remaining terrorists were hunted down and killed by Israeli agents, directed by then Prime Minister Golda Meir.

The index is here. Let me get to read them, and synopses will be up soon.

The Munich Massacre: Thirty years later

Judith Weiss of Kesher Talk is heading up a Blog Burst about the massacre of the Israeli Athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics. I'll have an updated URL tomorrow, but meanwhile you can find it on the main Kesher Talk page.

A Blog Burst, for those of you hearing the term for the first time, is a coordinated effort by a group of webloggers to write about a single topic and link to each other's sites during the day. The Blog Burst was invented by Joe Katzman, who coordinated it for the SFSU anti-Semitic riot. They're not all about life and death issues, however. I'm planning a Buffy Blog Burst for September 24th, where Buffy fans will get together and dish Buffy and Angel. And there's a group effort for bloggers to post their views of September 11th.

I posted some early thoughts about the massacre after watching an ABC documentary on Sunday. I'll have more to say tomorrow.



Words and pictures

Charles Johnson has the pictures. I'll supply the words. From Christopher Hitchens in the Guardian, last September 26:

The death squads commandeered four planes, which were full of fuel but not quite full of passengers. They could well have assumed that the aircraft would have been fully booked. They knew that the optimum population of the WTC on a working day was 50,000 civilians. They were limited only by the takeoff time appointed by air traffic control, and could well have anticipated a delay of, say, half an hour. Furthermore, they were not to know that the curtain walls of the twin structures would hold for long enough to allow an implosion, or internal collapse. They could have at least hoped for the structures to measure their lengths (they each stood a quarter of a mile high) across downtown Manhattan in the morning rush hour. The maximum harvest of random yet intended dead could have been perhaps 100,000 people: a Dresden for the Taliban. I repeat, those who want to be ventriloquist's dummies for such a "hidden agenda" are being far too modest. They owe us a much more complete and convincing explanation than they have so far produced.

Ask me, and I'd say that the "motive" for such an action was to kill as many innocent people as seemed feasible, while spending some quality time in the company of the other innocent people who were being kidnapped for the purpose of murder. Press me further, and I'd say that the political or theological agenda was the vindication of a primeval fundamentalism. (Ask me for my evidence, and I would point out that perhaps 700 Muslims were burned alive in New York on September 11 last. My comrades at the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee tell me that New York's Yemeni community alone is mourning 200 missing.) Since the death squads had some knowledge of the area, and of American society, they can hardly have imagined that they were hitting only unbelievers. But the believers were the wrong kind of Muslim, or were otherwise expendable. That, by the way, is what fundamentalism means.

Andrew Sullivan steps up to the plate

The last thing I expected was for Andrew Sullivan to answer my post below. But answer he did, and in such a charming way that I am ready to reclaim him as one of my blogparents. (And I take back all the mean things I said about him, too. Even the ones I deleted before posting.)

I was merely expressing my own opinion that blogging is more suited to individualism than collectivism. Which is not to say that collective blogs like this one don't have merit. Or this one. But my deeper point is that I'm not a big fan of bloggers who are chippy, who seem not a little snarky about bigger blogs. The point is: A blog works if it addresses its audience, whether that audience is five or five hundred or five thousand. In fact, many blogs, by their precise nature, are never going to get that big. So, why worry about the bigger fish? Enjoy yourselves.

We're both in agreement there. I don't see the point in whaling on someone because they have more readers than I. (I completely reserve the right to whale on anyone I disagree with, of course.) And you're right that blogging is mostly an individual sport, but I think I probably should have explained "community" a bit more. Your site is part of what's often called the "warblogger" community. You can find a list of many warbloggers on any site in that community, and they often cross-post, link to one another, reference the same topic. Most of the blogs are written by individuals, yet each individual belongs to a circle of weblogs that s/he reads frequently. That's often what's meant by community. A blogging community is not unlike a virtual town, and it rarely shuts down. When I can't sleep, I get to converse with the West Coast contingent, or chat with an Australian. (And I can't believe I forgot the Corner in my list of examples of community-run weblogs.)

But I can't help wishing you'd been less snarky about Rebecca's book and the concept of communities. Then again, I was pretty snarky back, so perhaps we'll just call the snarkfest over and move on. (I do so love that word. Snark. Snark. Snark!)

But at a more profound level, I think the real power will be unleashed by unknown writers finding a way to get their work in front of readers more easily than ever before. The whole process of interning, or begging for work at local papers, sucking up to agents and editors, and so on can now be supplemented by real self-publishing. You can make your own clips! This can only help—however marginally—discover new talent. The discipline of writing for a real paper or magazine is still very, very useful. Blogging well is not as easy as it sometimes looks. But all in all, the new form and new medium can only advance a writerly meritocracy.

Now you're talking, Andrew. That, I think, is one of the biggest advantages of the blogosphere. I've gotten published in "dead-tree" magazines via my blog. It's become a portfolio of my work to show prospective employers. It has also become an asset to me since I've moved to a new town ("Oh, just check my blog for the information you wanted"). It has honed my writing skills and forced me into a daily routine. And it lives or dies on the quality of my work, which suits me just fine.

I don't have a crystal ball. I have a plan for what I want to achieve with my weblog, and that plan is being realized bit by bit. In the meantime, I'll just keep blogging away as an individual blogger in my community. And reflect on the self-correcting nature of the Blogosphere.

Has Reuters had a crisis of bias?

Yeah, yeah, I know, I need to get my rest. But as I was checking the news, I found two Reuters articles and saw that they are continuing a trend I noticed a few days ago—shortly after, in fact, the critical piece I wrote about the Reuters anti-Israel bias. (Which is not to say that I think my piece influenced them. Perhaps I was not alone in my annoyance, and they received complaints.) From one story today:

Palestinian leaders have accused Sharon of trying to ruin any basis for Palestinian statehood with overwhelming military measures in reaction to suicide bombings and ambush shootings that have killed scores of Israelis in a 23-month-old uprising.

What? Only an uprising, not "a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation began in September 2000 after peace talks froze"? Surely this can't be right, I thought. So I checked another Reuters article:

The expulsions, Israel's first use of the internationally condemned tactic during a 23-month-old Palestinian uprising, coincided with signs of movement on the political front.

Why, that's only a half-hearted slam, using the words "the internationally condemned tactic." And look:

At least 1,533 Palestinians and 589 Israelis have been killed since the uprising erupted in September 2000.

It's still just an uprising. Not a "revolt." Not a "movement for independence." Has Reuters seen the light? Are they tired of being known as the Rotters News Service? Have they finally decided to simply report the news without taking sides?

You decide. The final paragraph of the above article:

Israel used expulsion tactics in the first Palestinian uprising, from 1987 to 1993, and banished 415 suspected Islamic militants to Lebanon, a move that did little to quell anti-Israeli violence. Most returned to the Gaza Strip and West Bank within a year of their 1992 expulsion.

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. And perhaps some is an editorial slant.

Blogging will be lightheaded today

I really like that title, and I really do have a fever, so my judgment is entirely questionable. I'm trying to decide whether or not to go to the doctor (leaning towards "not," I'm thinking after an hour in the waiting room they'll tell me get some rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take some aspirin, which I can figure out for free), and also wondering whether I've been bitten by a mosquito lately. Mac Thomason has finally succeeded in his mission and made me paranoid. So I did a quick Google search and came up with this page from the CDC, which contains this information:

Most people who are infected with the West Nile virus will not have any type of illness. It is estimated that 20% of the people who become infected will develop West Nile fever: mild symptoms, including fever, headache, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands.

Fever: Check. Headache: Check. Body ache: I'm at the age when my body always aches. Check. Skin rash: Nope. Swollen lymph glands: Check. Add mild sore throat to the mix.

Hm. If I don't post anything for a few days, you'll know why. Of course the thing that makes me even more paranoid is knowing that you can get bitten by a mosquito and not have an itchy bump as a result. Because, you see, I have not had any itchy mosquito bites lately, so therefore, I may have been exposed to West Nile. Ut-oh...

They don't get blog

There's a discussion going on this week at Slate between Andrew Sullivan and Kurt Andersen about weblogs, and how Rebecca Blood's The Weblog Handbook and the multi-authored We've Got Blog are worthless, dead-tree pieces of hippie-dippie-do. Why, these two experts on the blogosphere wonder out loud, would anyone need a book on how to make a weblog, when all you have to do is go to Blogger and sign up? Here's an excerpt of Sullivan's that's particularly boorish and clueless:

Then there's the supercilious tone of some of the early bloggers (early means 1999). Like year-rounders in a seaside resort, they both need and mock the tourists. Rebecca Blood, who wrote one book and introduces the other, oozes alternative-weekly, grass-roots-loving piety. Her ground-breaking definition of a blog is: "a coffeehouse conversation in text, with references as required." Why does the word "coffeehouse" send me running for the exits? Worse, she can write earnestly about a Weblog "community." Aaagghh. The one wonderful thing about blogging from your laptop is that you don't have to deal with other people. You can broadcast alienated, disembodied, disassociated murmurings into a people-free void. You don't have to run something past an editor, or frame your argument to an established group of subscribers. You just say what the hell you want. No wonder ornery libertarian types enjoy it so much and there are so few communitarian-style bloggers. It's a format designed for Unabombers or people, like the estimable Mickey Kaus, who don't quite fit into pre-existing ideologies or political blocs.

Rebecca can write earnestly about weblogging communities because so many of them exist. A quick look around the Internet will show that. Sullivan is a perfect example of the kind of blogger that permeates the blogosphere these days: Ignorant, unknowledgeable about anything save his narrow little slice of blogdom (and that not much), yet thinking that he has been informed from on high as to exactly what constitutes blogging. It is exactly the thing that drives me crazy whenever I read something like it on any blogger's site. Here's a clue, people: There are thousands of blogs out there, and just as there is no one way to write a book, no single person has the claim to the "right" way to write a blog. And here's something else you may find interesting: There are whole communities of webloggers out there that you've never heard of, and who have never heard of you. Rebecca's book is a guideline, and if Sullivan and Andersen are too dense to figure that out—it's obviously much easier to make fun of her "alternative-weekly, grass-roots-loving piety"—they should at least have the courtesy not to show off their ignorance quite so blithely in public.

The critical language of blogging—the hypertext links to other Web pages, for example—cannot even be translated into book form

Speaking of linking: You don't get blogs, gentlemen. You refer only to the professional journalists or celebrity bloggers; you link only to the professional journalists or celebrity bloggers (hands up, anyone out there who can find a link to Rebecca's website or either book in that Slate piece); you talk with respect only of professional journalists, celebrity bloggers, and Glenn Reynolds; and you denigrate the rest of the bloggers who do get blogging, and who've been getting it for longer than you. Because blogging is self-publishing without editorial input doesn't mean that its sole purpose is this:

The one wonderful thing about blogging from your laptop is that you don't have to deal with other people. You can broadcast alienated, disembodied, disassociated murmurings into a people-free void. You don't have to run something past an editor, or frame your argument to an established group of subscribers. You just say what the hell you want.

The disembodied, disassociated murmuring blogs tend to die out quickly or have few readers. Just an FYI. And if it's on the Internet, it isn't a people-free void. Nobody is blogging because they don't want their words to be read. There's a difference between not having to run your words by an editor and writing for no one. is a great place to find the people on both sides of that concept.

No wonder ornery libertarian types enjoy it so much and there are so few communitarian-style bloggers. It's a format designed for Unabombers or people, like the estimable Mickey Kaus, who don't quite fit into pre-existing ideologies or political blocs.

Here's a concept for you: LiveJournal. Here are more concepts for you: The Blogathon. BlogCritics. Webrings. The Libertarian Samizdata. Radio Weblogs. MetaFilter. Slashdot. Moveable Type, which is looking more and more likely to blow Blogger out of the water. But the blogging format was hardly designed for Unabombers. Its inception was making web pages for groups of people to find links to similar websites. Did you even read Rebecca's book in its entirety, or did you stop reading once you had enough ammunition for insults?

It's also cheap. Your last major Internet venture,, lost gazillions, didn't it? And then it went under. But my little blog, entirely supported by readers, is actually in the black and reaches up to 230,000 individual people a month.

That's the cult of personality, Andrew. If you were Joe Blow from Idaho, unless you could come up with a better Instapundit, you'd be one of the thousands of small or midlist bloggers, chugging away with 200-700 visitors per day, crossing your fingers for a link from Glenn. Who is, may I point out, by far the most generous blogger of all the A-Listers in your circle. Glenn links to one and all, as he discovers them, whether or not he agrees with them. You won't even link to Rebecca Blood in an article dissing her work. (Update: Chris Suellentrop emailed me this morning that Slate will add a link to Rebecca's site in the article. Thanks, Chris.)

Another reason for the pointlessness of these books is that, to anyone with an Internet connection, Weblogs are pretty self-explanatory. They are based on one simple thing: Technology now enables anyone to publish herself. One-size-fits-all blogging sites, like, make it technically easy. The format is also largely determined by the techno-chrono-logy: It's a real-time diary/log/journal, a genre poised between the written word and the live broadcast.

Funny. I think Quicken is an incredibly simple program. I use it for my checking account. Amazingly simple; I just booted it up, started a new file, and went off from there. And yet there are many books about the program, even though I thought it was self-explanatory. Imagine that.

Simple or not, when a person has never used a blogging tool or created a website or written a journal or an opinion piece, it's quite helpful to have a guidebook. And learning a little about a topic never hurt anyone. But then, you wouldn't have been able to make fun of the left-leaning Rebecca Blood, and her lefty ideas about coffeehouses if you decided that her book had merit. Silly girl. Where does she get off, thinking she knows more about weblogs than a couple of known writers?

Although Sullivan started the insults, Andersen works very hard to keep up:

Year-rounders in a seaside resort who both need and mock the tourists and ooze alternative-weekly, grass-roots-loving piety. Well, yes; exactly. And that is a function of geography: The three capitals of Coffeehouse America are San Francisco and Seattle, not coincidentally the epicenters of the digital revolution, and Cambridge, where The Weblog Handbook and We've Got Blog were published. So, agreed: We don't need to say much more about either of these books, which seem pretty deeply unnecessary, as you suggest. And so much less interesting than the phenomenon they aim to explain and exploit.

[...] As much as I enjoy and even depend on several blogs (including yours), that incestuous, smug-but-needy, seaside-resort-full-timer sensibility is a besetting sin of the genre—as it always has been, indeed, of Internet pioneers as a species. Too many bloggers remind me of Dennis Millers manqué or the comic-book store owner on The Simpsons ... combined, in the Rebecca Bloods of the world, with Mr. Van Driessen, Beavis and Butt-head's hippie teacher. In other words, passionate and smart but also irritating and smug and faintly, inescapably sad.

Let's see. San Francisco and Seattle, those damned lefty cities, two "deeply unnecessary" books, and then the old canard: Bloggers are all living in their parents' basements, pulling their pants up to hide their ass-crack as they raise their overweight bodies from the computer chair and head upstairs for another six-pack of soda and bag of chips.

And you're calling bloggers smug? Wow. But that's all right, you made a clever remark that can be quoted ad nauseum by the smug, inescapably sad bloggers who only wish they could be you. Once they get out of their parents' basements, of course.

Perhaps the next time Slate wants to have a discussion on blogs, they'll use two people who have an understanding of the medium. Regardless of the fact that Sullivan runs a popular weblog, he just doesn't get it. And neither, apparently, does Andersen. Pity. And the saddest thing of all: Sullivan was one of the reasons I started my blog in the first place.

(Update: Andrew strikes back, above.)



What the Israelis think

A quick tour around the Israeli bloggers for their points of view. First, Tal G.:

At this moment, the country feels the calmest that it's been for at least 6 months. That's not saying much, and it could change any second - especially with the trouble on the Lebanese border and the Iraq situation. But the IDF has been successful in rooting out much of the terrorist infrastructure in the Palestinian areas. A few weeks ago Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer said there were something like 50 suicide bombers ready to go; we're not hearing much of that sort of thing now. Nor are we hearing about foiled attacks on a daily basis the way we used to. The PFLP has been practically speaking neutralized (report).

In the Oslo era, there were periods in which there were surges of Islamikaze bombings (often these were immediately after one of the "phased withdrawals" that turned over territory to the PA). After a period of calm, Israelis would then go back to their daily routine - as well as their routine political dogmas. Cynics thought that we had very short memories. The past two years of chaos will not be so easily forgotten, but if the current relative absence of attacks were to continue various things could happen: downtown would come back to life; tourists, businessmen, and investors would return.

Then it's striking to hear stuff on the radio like: "The curfew in Nablus will be lifted from noon until dusk. Jenin remains under curfew while in Kalkilya the curfew has been lifted", or about the 4 members of a family killed by tank fire in Gaza. The quiet and stability that we are experiencing comes at the expense of the Palestinians (as well as at the expense of the pressures on the IDF and reservists).

But it's foolish (and I would say immoral) to argue that Israel should sacrifice its own citizens (and civil stability) in order to spare Palestinians from hardships necessitated by the failure of their own government (and to a large extent the failure of their culture).

Gil Shterzer:

In several different incidents during the last days Palestinian civilians, some of them were children, were killed from IDF fire. It’s something that Israel should try to minimize, as we are not killers. We seek to catch or kill those who murder us. The IDF is not targeting civilians but accidents do happen, war is a dirty business and the Palestinians should have thought about it when they launched their terror campaign. There are people that say that in relatively calm periods, as we are in now, Israel should halt its target killings and other “provoking” military actions. I don’t agree with them. Israel should keep the pressure until we’ll see more than randomly quiet, meaning there will be someone new and serious in the Palestinian side that we can talk with that will actually do something to stop terrorists. The IDF is slowly grinding down Palestinian resistance. That’s the only way they will consider to stop their terror campaign against us. Sadly I do think that Arab/Palestinians aspirations to drive us out to the sea are not likely to disappear in the next few decades.


My feeling that something had to change intensified during the first Intifada. When the opportunity arose for Palestinian self-rule which was to gradually become (as I saw it) Palestinian sovereignty in the territories, I was all for it.

The feeling was euphoric. No more shame. We were finally doing the right thing. At last we would be able to be on equal footing with the people we share this country with. It felt like the Messiah had come.

[...] This time around I have no feelings of shame or embarrassment. I have compassion for the Palestinians’ suffering. I’m sorry about innocent Palestinians being killed. I feel for their families. I wish it could be different, but I feel no guilt.

They had their chance and messed up big-time. The blame is theirs, not ours.

And don't miss Imshin's translation of an interview in Yediot Aharonot with the brother of a suicide bomber . It illustrates the tragedy that Arafat causes his own people, and is available in English nowhere else in the world. That's right, a Blogger exclusive, courtesy of Imshin.



Linking up

Scott at amcgltd is a genius. He invented a way to defrost frozen foods that doesn't include microwaving or heat of any kind. Plus, he hates car alarms as much as I do.

Vegard Valberg has an essay on transnationalism. He thinks the trend will be dead fairly quickly. An interesting read from someone who lives in a nation that may be the canary in the coal mine.

Loriloo has left the country. What, no more An American Woman's Adventures in Korea? Sad news. Somehow, Loriloo in San Francisco just won't have the same flair.

Elana's back. And she's got a great idea: Rosh HaShana honey and chocolates for the IDF soldiers and their families.

Via Occam's Toothbrush: The World Tribune says the Iraqi invasion will happen before the end of November. Mind you, they also have an article (for subscribers only, which is not me) that says Turkey warns the U.S. that they will annex parts of Northern Iraq (the parts with the oil). So take it for what it's worth. I'm thinking Turkey isn't going to be annexing a damned thing, but hey, I'm an optimist.

More silly searches:

"the sex chanels:" Perfumes for when—you know. (That's right, spelling does matter.)

"links sofa leather guys:" I think you're looking for David.

"lyric passenger seat stephen speaks:" This one has so many different variations, it's rendered me speechless. So it's a good thing I'm typing this. Lyric passenger seats? Passengers seats named "Stephen?" Speaking passenger seats named Stephen, spouting lyrics?

"quotes 'you're not paranoid'-'just because' -'not paranoid enough':" Well. This person is more paranoid than any single human deserves to be. (Quick! Look behind you!) Hope I didn't scare the poor thing. Ahem. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't really out to get you. There, did that help?

Here's my favorite: "oorali oorali oorali oorali." Not one, not two, not three, but four "ooralis." I don't even know what one is, let alone four of them, but it amuses me no end that this actually brought someone to my site. So much so that I found the entry that actually has all four "ooralis" and permalinked it so you can see for yourself. (I could have sworn I had links going as of January 1. Guess not.) Wow, what a trip down memory lane. It's been a long eight months.

"'one god" and shirl:" Shirl, is there something you want to tell me?

I'm feeling snarky today

Blame Fred. I think he's a bad influence on me.

Most child beggars are Saudis, study shows

RIYADH, 1 September — A majority of children who sell trinkets or beg in the streets are Saudis, a new study revealed.

The study on the social and economic conditions of child beggars has sparked a debate in the Arabic press as the revelation contradicted the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs claim that only 25 percent of the children are Saudis.

But there's so much oil money! Where's it all going? Could it have something to do with the corruption of the six thousand royals and their cronies?

“Most of these child beggars are from large Saudi families and their parents are illiterate,” said the study, adding that most of the families have been living in rented houses. In many cases, their parents have been accused of pushing their children into begging though they themselves are healthy enough to work. But in some cases, the parents earn some money but it is too insufficient to make ends meet in these days of soaring living costs in Saudi cities.

Those soaring costs of living are a bitch. But then, so is illiteracy. From the CIA factbook:

Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 62.8%
male: 71.5%
female: 50.2% (1995 est.)

Imagine. Half the women in Saudi Arabia can read and write now! Why, next thing you'll hear they'll be able to drive!

[...] The study quoted the International Labor Organization (ILO) as saying that there are thousands of child beggars in the Kingdom. Beggary is indeed becoming an alarming social problem.

Was that "beggary" or "buggery?"

According to the study, the average age of these child beggars is seven years. With every passing day a number of minor girls and their mothers take up beggary as a full-time vocation.

Looks like the Saudis have finally found an acceptable career for their women.

As the tribe multiplies, beggars have become an unwelcome but common sight.

Running out of oil money, are we? I feel your pain, brother.

Well. Let's see what else we can find in the Arab News today.

Real estate show set as market heads for big boom

JEDDAH, 2 September — Jeddah will witness a major real estate exhibition in January, according to Ahmad Mohammed Al-Mohandis, member of the real estate committee at Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Yeah, that desert sand is some prime real estate. Sign me up for three or four lots. What's that? Jews aren't allowed to own property in Saudi Arabia, you say? Women either? Bummer.

About 70 national companies are expected to take part in the show. Organized by Al-Mustaqbil Company and Al-Aqariah magazine in association with the real estate committee, “The Jeddah Real Estate, Financing & Housing Exhibition” will open on Jan. 5.

[...] The exhibition comes at a time when real estate market in the Kingdom is likely to witness a big boom over the coming months as a result of repatriation of funds from the United States.

"Repatriation of funds." Interesting. I thought the Saudis denied that they were removing investments from the United States. They wouldn't be—lying—would they?

Khaled Sultan, head of a real estate company in Jeddah, said the situation in the market was “extremely satisfactory” as a result of growing demand.

“Reports on the return of billions of dollars in Saudi and other Gulf investments abroad would definitely give a boost to the market,” he said.

Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Sanie, an economist, said the real estate sector would be one of the major beneficiaries of repatriated funds. Sanie expected a major boom in the sector if the government encourages foreigners to purchase real estate in the country.

Yes, I can see the world's investors rushing to be the first to own a hectare of sand in Jedda. Why, they'll be killing each other over who gets the choicest dune! (I want the one with the view of the desert.)

“There are about six million expatriates in the Kingdom. Some of them have considerable incomes which allow them to purchase property in the country,” he said.

Six million expatriates in the kingdom. I see. Foreigners. Who wants to bet that they're counting the millions of foreign workers as expats? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Then there's this gem:

Draw lessons from Islam, MWL urges Earth Summit

MAKKAH, 1 September — The Muslim World League (MWL) has urged the Earth Summit committee studying problems of women and family to draw benefit from the rules of ethics and morality as enshrined in Islam.

So you want the Earth Summit to crash planes into the buildings of countries whose way of life they disapprove of?

Dr. Abdul-Rahman Al-Zeid, MWL assistant secretary-general for mosques affairs and head of the League’s delegation to the conference being held in Johannesburg, presented a paper on ways to tackle problems faced by women and family from an Islamic perspective. He pointed out the important role that could be played by women in national development and environmental protection.

The problems faced by women and family from an Islamic perspective would be radical Islam, you schmuck.

He also stressed the need to protect women from all forms of suppression, violence and sexual harassment so that they can perform their role satisfactorily in bringing up future generations.

You mean the suppression and violence that women in fundamentalist Islamic societies experience every day? Like honor killings and being forced to wear the burqa and being beaten for showing any skin or being stoned to death for "adultery" while the man goes free for lack of evidence and being forced back into a burning building because your head is uncovered? Oh, that's not considered suppression, I forgot—it's religious freedom.

“Divine religions have advocated that people live an honorable life and have made it amply clear that family constitutes the pillar of a healthy society,” he said.

Yeah, I know. Judaism is one such religion. Christianity is another.

Dr. Al-Zeid called for studying Islam in an objective manner, and slammed biased campaigns being launched against it. He noted that Islam rejects all forms of evils such as adultery, homosexuality, alcohol and drug abuse. “It would be better for the contemporary world to benefit from the rules pertaining to affairs of women and family as advocated by Islam 14 centuries ago’, he added. (SPA)

Sure. Let's turn the clock back 14 centuries and see how that benefits starving Africans today. WTF does this have to do with sustainable development again? Oh, was I expecting too much for you to stay on topic? Sorry.

And last, but not least:

STC slashes international call charges by up to 63%: Now the terrorists can save money while planning their next attack!

To search, perchance to laugh

Yesterday was one of the best days for search requests I've ever had.

"lonely houston texas expat:" Sorry, I'm not running a dating service, although I feel for you, dude, I feel for you. It's tough to move to a new town. Maybe Lair can help you feel more at home.

"free muslim burqa pics:" Yes, we have them, but they'll cost you $49.95 for shipping and handling. Please indicate whether you want Afghan burqas, Pakistani burqas, or Malaysian burqas. Money-back guarantee (less shipping and handling costs). Not responsible for clients being followed by religious fanatics with rods. Use at your own risk.

"how to make a pines enlarger:" There is nothing I like better than helping some poor ignorant child make his garden grow. How large do you want your pines to be? Are they average-sized pines, or are they perhaps smaller than usual, of the sapling variety? Do you want them to grow up to be great big woody pines? How much elasticity would you like? Of course, the bigger pines are less flexible than the smaller ones, and let's face it—sometimes a little is just enough. (And the reverse is true: If your pines are too big, she'll run away screaming in fear.) Oh, did I say "she"? I meant "tree." Honest.

"inside women's heads:" Oh, yeah, like we're gonna give away that information. And stop driving men crazy? Never.

"jewish speed dating nj:" Hm. Speed dating. Is that where you pretend you're on your third date on your first one, or is it the first date where you talk really fast and eat at Starbuck's instead of having a nice dinner? (Either way, I don't think it will catch on.)

"free new jersey roommate service:" Sounds to me like the Pines Enlarger is looking for someone to test his new stick on. (I'm just loving the substitute words in this post.)

"david's spanking:" Wow, that Pines Enlarger dude is getting around fast.

"gracie patches:" What do you call the Band-Aids I apply after playing with my cat?

"portal de osama bin laden:" I believe it's known as "The gates of hell."

"shark cheer leder:" Sigh. Spelling, people, spelling. Spelling counts! Or perhaps the shark ate the "a." Hm. That's probably an excuse a teacher never heard. "The shark ate my homework."

"john edward fraud:" That's my boy! Keep 'em coming, I hook some of my best readers with this one.

And my favorite of the young month:

"what does the name 'meryl'stand for?" Well, it's either "Really wiseass weblogger" or "Throws right, bats left."

Why Arabs lose wars

An excellent piece in American Diplomacy by a military strategist who served for years training Arabs in fighting techniques.

Second, the complex mosaic system of peoples creates additional problems for training, as rulers in the Middle East make use of the sectarian and tribal loyalties to maintain power. The `Alawi minority controls Syria, east bankers control Jordan, Sunnis control Iraq, and Nejdis control Saudi Arabia. This has direct implications for the military, where sectarian considerations affect assignments and promotions. Some minorities (such the Circassians in Jordan or the Druze in Syria) tie their well-being to the ruling elite and perform critical protection roles; others (such as the Shi`a of Iraq) are excluded from the officer corps. In any case, the careful assignment of officers based on sectarian considerations works against assignments based on merit. The same lack of trust operates at the inter-state level, where Arab armies exhibit very little trust of each other, and with good reason. The blatant lie Gamal Abdel Nasser told King Husayn in June 1967 to get him into the war against Israel — that the Egyptian air force was over Tel Aviv (when the vast majority of planes had been destroyed) — was a classic example of deceit. Sadat’s disingenuous approach to the Syrians to entice them to enter the war in October 1973 was another (he told them that the Egyptians were planning total war, a deception that included using a second set of operational plans intended only for Syrian eyes). With this sort of history, it is no wonder that there is very little cross or joint training among Arab armies and very few command exercises. During the 1967 war, for example, not a single Jordanian liaison officer was stationed in Egypt, nor were the Jordanians forthcoming with the Egyptian command.

Via the Corner. Jonah, Victor Davis Hanson didn't say it first. This article is from the fall, 2000 issue. And it's by a military man, which Hanson is not.



Around town

Ribbity Blog is froggin' excellent. I can't say this enough, and I may never run out of frog puns to use to describe this blogger. (Is the Frog a he or a she? I don't know. Frog won't tell.) But check out this gem:

Once again I am grateful to Peter Briffa's Public Interest Blog for drawing my attention to another piece of The Patroniser's nonsense on world terrorism. Following the September 11th attacks, every journalist and his brother is suddenly an expert on Islamic terror. Minor impediments such as knowing something about Islam and the Middle East or even knowing where to look up the basic facts about Islam and the Middle East have not prevented journalists from espousing their ignorant views on the causes of the attacks on the USA.

And this:

Some people expressed concern that this was going to turn out to be another of those Arab-Israel conflict Blogs, and wanted to see some more personal stuff. OK, we'll try. I discovered today that my teddy has a hernia and is in immediate need of an operation. Yesterday I dropped a bottle of frozen water on my Animal (the muppets) mug that I've had for over twenty years and broke the handle. It has now been repaired with Araldite. I have been listening tonight on the Frog Box to a recording by Paul Robeson called "Songs of Free Men" which includes a track entitled "Chassidic Chant" in which Robeson sings part of the Aramaic Kaddish (more on Aramaic another time). I think that will have to suffice for the personal gooey stuff. As we say, Different Blogs for Different Frogs (or as the humans put it: one man's meat is another man's poisson). If you don't like it, you can just Blog Off.

And Laurence Simon has another foot-stomper. Only he could find a relationship between West Nile, AIDS, Jerry Falwell and right-wing Republicans. And a funny one, at that.

I know I just linked to him yesterday, but Mr. Misha has a few good things going on over there today. I agree with him completely about IsraPundit linking to AlleyWriter. I will not promote bigotry and hatred. IsraPundit should screen its linked blogs more carefully.

Third Watch and A&E

By the way, if you don't watch Third Watch, you're missing one of the best dramas on television. And A&E is running four episodes in a row tonight, two of which (the two 9/11 episodes) I've just seen.

You can catch up on the episodes at 11 p.m. on Monday nights starting tomorrow. I'm quite pleased, as it was on opposite Angel and I missed a few episodes.

The Munich Massacre and ABC

Judith Weiss emailed me to let me know that ABC was running a documentary on the massacre of Israel's Olympic Athletes in 1972 by members of Black September, a Palestinian terrorist organization. So I managed to catch the documentary. I was pretty young in 1972. I don't remember a lot about that day, other than anger and sadness after hearing that the athletes had all been killed. Only one image gelled with my memories of the day: That of the masked terrorist coming out on the balcony of the Olympic Village building, looking around and down.

I don't really have a lot to say about the documentary overall. For the most part, it was pretty straightforward and fairly well done. There were the obligatory (and unsurprising) "The Palestinians are still the miserable, downtrodden yadda yadda yadda" statements by Peter Jennings at the end of the show. And I was astonished to find out that the children of the murdered athletes went out of their way to meet the Palestinian contingent during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. And that the spouses and families of the murdered athletes told Golda Meir that they did not want the Israeli army to take revenge for the attacks. That they wanted justice, not revenge. And the references to 9/11 in no way diluted the subject of the show.

But there's something I just can't quite process. If ABC thought that the 30th anniversary of the Munich Massacre was so important that they made a documentary out of it—if ABC thought it was so important they dug up Roone Arledge and Jim McKay and interviewed them about the events—if ABC thought it was so important that they included never-before-heard audiotapes of the various ABC employees (and let me tell you, hearing Howard Cosell's sing-song delivery reporting that the police were clearing out the parking garage in his area was more jarring than anything I could have imagined)—why did ABC put the documentary on at 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon, when nobody would watch it?

The massacre of the Israeli Olympic athletes wasn't a sporting event. So why did ABC program the documentary about it as if it was?

I guess the event just doesn't rate a prime time look anymore.

Still Labor Day Weekend

So it's rained for the fourth day in a row here in Richmond. Good. We're having a drought, and we need the rain. But I'm still not writing much new material and still sending you off to blogs where people are having less of a life than me. Besides, I'm really annoyed that I went to Slichot services last night and while they played "Avinu Malkeinu," they did not let us sing it, and it's about my favorite song of any service. Grump, grump, grump.

The Rottweiler put me on his permalinks. I'm a Hot Dog. Arf. Okay, "hot" is a label I like, but I dunno about the dog part, especially with my semi-regular Cattales feature. He also doesn't mind if you call him an effing son of a bitch, so what the hell, send him email telling him he's an effing son of a bitch. Make his day. (He'll really like it if you're an uber-lefty calling him that.) Mr. Misha's a little strident for my tastes sometimes, but hey, that's what Rottweilers do. If he gets too testy, I'll sic Worf the Rhodesian Ridgeback after him. (Pay special attention to the last paragraph in the red column; it's the AKC way of saying, "Worf likes only his owners and Meryl and will attack anyone else who thinks they're getting inside the house without permission." Hey, he bit the builder last year, leading us to make a new rule: Never leave a stranger alone in a room with Worf, even after they've been introduced. Ridgebacks can be a testy lot.)


Last week's blogs are archived. 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.