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9/21/02

Word count

Ipse Dixit pointed me to this Houghton-Mifflin list of "100 words that all high school graduates — and their parents — should know." I'm stunned that the editors of this list think that orthography (the art or study of standard spelling) is a useful word for anyone other than orthographers. Or editors. That's what dictionaries are for, people. To look up words like orthography.

Jejune? I've always taken that to be a word affected by those fond of affectations, not a word for common English usage. Moiety? Ah—huh? How many times am I going to use that in conversation? "May I have a moiety of your cake, please?" Respiration? Are there truly high school graduates out there that don't know what respiration means? Quotidian: Another word found in the daily patter of the average American high school student. Unctuous: Dictionary word. Ziggurat: Ditto. And what was with all those math terms? I think a person could go blithely and successfully through life without knowing what a parabola is. (I wish I had.) In the definition it says "See parable." Now that would have been a good word for the list.

Don't get me wrong. I am all for continuous education, and I believe reading and vocabulary skills are a large ingredient of a person's success. But the people who make lists like these never seem to be living in the same world as the rest of us.

Then again, having worked in the New York publishing industry, and knowing the background of many of the editors in that industry, I'm wondering right now why I'm so surprised to be seeing ridiculous words included on what is evidently considered an important list.

Let me illustrate. Many of the assistant editors of women's magazines in New York City that I met were graduates of a Seven Sister college, and quite likely received plentiful assistance from their parents concerning the rent of their West Village or Upper East Side apartments, and the everyday expenses of living in New York. They were very sweet people, mind you. I don't mean to impugn (word not on list) their persons. But they don't live in the workaday (word not on list) world, and I found that out the summer I started a Lotto pool at the particular New York woman's magazine I worked at the time. With the exception of the Production Editor, who, like me, had worked for a living all her life, all of the editors I asked "Would you like to join the Lotto pool?" stared at me uncertainly and asked, "What's a Lotto pool?"

Of course, the fact that I got even the editor-in-chief, who lived in a fabulous apartment on Central Park West, to throw in a buck to the pool amused me no end. I liked her a lot. I wonder if she'd even remember me if we ran into one another today. I wonder if she'd go in on another Lotto pool. (We never did win.)


Counting the Zionists

Diane E. publishes Mad Dictator Saddam Hussein's letter to the UN on her site, and says:

COUNT THE ZIONIST. I gave up how many times Saddam mentions Zionism and the Zionists in this letter from the allegedly rational Saddam Hussein. After scanning it, I came to the conclusion that he might well be insane.

Oh, I dunno. A dictator who started two regional wars, gasses his own people, puts the children of his political enemies into a special jail for, well, children of his political enemies, writes romance novels in his spare time, and basically seems ready, willing, and able to destroy any who get in his way—yeah, I think he's insane. If you mean in the clinical sense of the word, yeah, probably that, too.

By the way, fourteen. Search functions are neat little things, aren't they?


Assailants say Gamboa 'got what he deserved'

Wow. It's the 21st century, this is supposed to be a grown man and his teenaged son, and the best excuse they can come up with for jumping out of the stands and trying to beat up a first base coach is, "He started it!"

Children, cover your ears, because I feel a swearing fit coming on.

What kind of fucking morons are these people? Gamboa flipping them off is a legitimate reason to jump out of the stands and attack him? Here's a clue, assholes: Even if he did flip you off, which is doubtful, it ain't a good enough reason to start a fight. But let's look at this bozo's record:

As they were being put into police cars following their arrests, the father and son, both shirtless, contended Gamboa had made an obscene gesture.

"He got what he deserved,'' said Ligue, who has past convictions for burglary and domestic battery.

So let's see. This guy has been convicted of burglary and battering his wife, and Gamboa "got what he deserved." Well. Evidently Mr. Asshole has learned nothing from his convictions from beating his wife. Perhaps the anger-management classes he was assigned weren't strong enough.

I hope they throw the book at him and his son for this one. Schmucks.

TOP


9/20/02

Channeling my inner bitch

I told you I'd be doing that today. She has something to say about this:

Trapped inside his compound, Mr Arafat was unhurt, but a Palestinian cabinet minister described him as "angry".

When told that bulldozers were tearing down a fence, Mr Arafat "became tense, pulled out his little machine-gun and ran to fight the Israelis outside," the Labour Minister, Ghassan al-Khatib, told Reuters news agency.

"His aides and bodyguards ran after him and forced him back," he added.

I've heard a lot of euphemisms for penis, but "little machine-gun" is a new one on me. (And I'm thinking "little" is right, but "machine-gun" is wishful thinking.)

Ladies and gentleman, the bitch will be here all week.


The Nigerians are getting desperate

Tim Blair got a Nigerian scam letter that—I swear—acknowledges Nigerian scam letters. And Karl Martino sent me one that tries to play on your sympathies in just the most horrible of ways. Check this out:

With regard to your reputation and co-worshipper of God who will not disappoint me nor deny me in faith, I am directing this letter of assistance to you.

I am Master Jerry.A. Kasere the first son of Mr Christopher Kasere from Republic of Zimbabwe a full time and known contractor within West Africa.

Some time on 10 th of October 1999 , my father and my senior brother took a trip to Europe and America for a business negotiation and investment but as events can be, unfortunaly they are among more than the 200 persons aboard the Egyptian air line that crashed on 31st October 1999 on its way from New york to Cairo. That’s how I lost my beloved onces to death. But the most heart breaking is after about six months , my beloved and carring mother died of hypertenson in a hospital here in Abidjan.

So here you have the appeal to fellow Christians, the sympathy plea for a victim's relative of the Egypt Air crash, and a dead mother, leaving the poor guy an orphan at the age of 26 (it's later in the letter). Someone should tell these idiots that if he'd made himself a teenager, he might actually have caught a fish or three. (Although I dunno—those typos. "Beloved onces?" "carring mother?" The one who died of "hypertenson," which leads one to think her hyper son killed her.)

Anyway, here's the serious side of these letters: Send them to [email protected] and add "No financial loss - for your database" to the subject line. (Thanks, Cato.) People have actually been killed over these scams—the ones dumb enough to actually go to Africa. Go to the Secret Service website and learn more. People have died trying to get rich with these schemes:

Victims are almost always requested to travel to Nigeria or a border country to complete a transaction. Individuals are often told that a visa will not be necessary to enter the country. The Nigerian con artists may then bribe airport officials to pass the victims through Immigration and Customs. Because it is a serious offense in Nigeria to enter without a valid visa, the victim's illegal entry may be used by the fraudsters as leverage to coerce the victims into releasing funds. Violence and threats of physical harm may be employed to further pressure victims. In June of 1995, an American was murdered in Lagos, Nigeria, while pursuing a 4-1-9 scam, and numerous other foreign nationals have been reported as missing.

Of course, my cold, inner bitch says that the above is social Darwinism in action, but then my softer side says nobody deserves to die for being stupid and greedy. Then my cold, inner bitch says, "Yes they do." (I have the feeling I'm going to be channeling my inner bitch today. Must have been that brief sojourn into MB territory.)


On the anniversary of the undeclared war

In the Gaza Strip:

Palestinian terrorists fired a mortar shell at an Israeli community in the southern Gaza Strip last night.

Palestinians threw grenades and firebombs at soldiers near Neveh Dekalim in Gush Katif last night.

Palestinian gunmen fired at soldiers near Gadid in Gush Katif.

Palestinians fired three anti-tank rockets at an IDF outpost near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip yesterday morning.

There were no casualties in any of the incidents.

In the West Bank:

Palestinian terrorists fired at the entrance to Neveh Tzuf, northwest of Ramallah, last night.

Palestinian gunmen fired at soldiers in Nablus.

Army sappers blew up a powerful bomb discovered by troops patrolling in the Jenin refugee camp.

There were no casualties in any of the incidents.


Dreamstate

So I'm sitting here tonight trying to think of something to write, and a dozen topics keep running in and out of my head, but none of them stays long enough to formulate a coherent essay. Well, except for one.

I could write about how the night before last I had another nuclear-bomb-end-of-the-world nightmare. It used to be a recurring nightmare theme of mine. Those dreams had actually stopped for several years after the fall of the Soviet Union. The nuclear nightmares started up again even before 9/11, when the world seemed to be getting more filled with terrorists and Jew-haters. Last night's dream was an interesting morality play: Heading to a Price Club-like store to get a VCR and DVD player to bring into the secret, deep cave structure that I and select friends and family were preparing for The Bomb. I was trying to avoid the mob while not letting on that I had a secret hiding place that would guarantee my survival, and woke up from the nightmare to puzzle over how selfish and consumer-driven was the act of getting a brand-new VCR and DVD player while knowing full well that the people in the store where I got the electronics would all be dead soon. There's no accounting for the dreamstate, but it sucks to have a conscience while analyzing said dream.

I've had recurring nightmares my whole life. In fact, I remember distinctly one of my earliest nightmares. I was less than five years old at the time. It involved the Frankenstein monster. I was terrified of him at first, until he made it clear to me that he was actually a friend, and we traveled through my Newark neighborhood thereafter, I on the shoulders of my new protector, my enemies running in fear from us. How very golem-like, in retrospect. Perhaps that's why I love the Hulk so much.

Monsters inhabit many of my nightmares. Sometimes they are literal monsters, like Godzilla and King Kong. Those are the chase nightmares—the ones where I run and hide, and they always find me. I wake up, heart pounding, just before I'm about to be devoured.

Sometimes the monsters are human, or at least, supposedly human. Nazis have figured in my nightmares for decades. Those scenarios alternate between chase nightmares and resistance nightmares. I have fought the Nazis many times in my dreams, and fallen to them every single time. Betrayal plays a large part in those dreams. There's one for the therapist.

During my teenaged years and early twenties, vampire nightmares were common. Those were the most paranoid and annoying of all my nightmare stages. They always started with a single vampire and ended with everyone in the nightmare having been turned into one, except, of course, for me. The most vivid of those nightmares was the one where I fled, frantic, to the safety of my mother, only to see her sprout fangs and aim for my neck. I woke up at that point, but I'm not sure I've ever forgiven her for that. Another one for the analyst's couch. Thankfully, I haven't had a vampire nightmare in ages. Here's hoping they're gone for good.

Are you ever afraid to go to sleep? For a very long time, the night was no friend to me. I worked night shift for over ten years. I thought it was because of the industry I chose, where the bulk of the work is done at night, but I later came to believe that it was to avoid sleeping in darkness. I still believe that. And I still have a hard time going to sleep from time to time. I'll stay up until dawn, or nearly dawn, reading, watching TV, writing, surfing the net. It takes me a while to figure out what's bothering me, and afterward I can sleep at night again. Sometimes it takes a few days.

To sleep, perchance to dream, Shakespeare wrote. No. To sleep, dreamlessly. That's what I hope for on nights like these.

TOP


9/19/02

Advantage: Instapundit

Glenn Reynolds calls it like it was:

Also, Martin Devon has a post with links to streaming video of the anti-Jewish riot at Concordia that shut down Netanyahu's speech.

And the link that Glenn was pointing to: Dahlia Lithwick, making all kinds of sense about the lack of free speech on college campuses in North America, from Concordia College to SFSU:

Ahmed Abdirahman, a spokesman for one of the groups that organized the protest, was quoted in the Montreal Gazette saying, "As responsible citizens, we have to be here to say physically to Netanyahu that his hatemongering isn't permitted in Montreal." Apparently to "say physically" is not the same as "assault" in his book. It is in mine.

The idea that physical brutality can be used effectively to interfere with political discourse should terrify any believer in democracy. Canadians—who don't have a First Amendment but do have a long and impressive history of protecting speech—mostly recognize what happened last week for what it is: Violence dressed up as a politically correct protest.

In a similarly disturbing incident last May, anti-Israel demonstrators at San Francisco State University staged a counterdemonstration to a Jewish peace rally. A group of Jewish students were surrounded by at least twice as many pro-Palestinian students screaming, "Hitler didn't finish the job," "Fuck the Jews," and "Die, racist pigs." When the faculty on hand failed to intercede, campus police had to form a barrier, and the Jewish students were escorted from the area. This protest was not speech. It was violence.

Free speech does not encompass the right to fire, suspend, or riot your way into a universe in which everyone agrees with your views, even if you have legitimate grievances. The courts are well aware of this, but it seems that universities, both here and in Canada, are not. On campus, you may "speak" freely—with fists, chairs, and broken glass—so long as you are a member of an aggrieved minority with delicate sensibilities and a narrative of oppression.

Dahlia, bubelah—you have just flown to the top of my list of great journalists. Slate continues to excel, even while Salon has dropped from my reading list.


Bits and pieces

Yes, the Buffy Blogburst is a go. Participants should all be receiving email about it later today; if you don't get a letter by tomorrow, email me and I'll add you to the list. (And no, I haven't decided if Blog Burst should be one word or two. I'm thinking it should be one.) And I'll be blind carbon copying everyone involved, so if you've got your filters set to oust anything with a bcc: you'd best send me a letter yourself. I don't like my email address going on other people's cc: lists, and I don't care to give out yours. Please title your letter "Buffy Blogburst." Thanks.


Somebody shoot me now. For months, Laurence Simon has had this solution for one-click pinging of Weblogs.com for people like him and me, who don't use Blogger or Moveable Type or make our own PHP scripts. And what did I do? Glance at it instead of read it through, so for the last couple of months, I've been laboriously entering my website name and URL each time, submitting the page each time, and downright doing it the effing hard way every single effing time instead of breezing through the one-click Simon routine. Shoot me. Please. Now.


Jonathan Lichterman sent me the URL to this site, which lacerates the SuperFriends (among other things) and is absolutely one of the funniest damned sites I have ever seen. Just look around the site, and be prepared to laugh your ass off. Drinking of any kind is strongly discouraged while reading this site. Failure to heed my warning will result in destruction of your monitor and keyboard. And be sure to click on "Bat. Lube. Bat Fucking LUBE" on the Solomon Grundy page. You really need to see it to believe it. Sean's hilarious. Abso-fraggin-lutely hilarious. And we can always use a few good laughs. (I really liked the homemade fireworks page, too.)


Harvard scores against anti-Semitism

Via Matthew Yglesias: Harvard's first Jewish president calls the anti-Semitic actions of Harvard professors and students, well, anti-Semitic.

Calls for the University to divest from Israel and a Harvard student group’s fundraising activities are examples of developments on campus in the last year that are “anti-Semitic in their effect if not in their intent,” Summers said to students and faculty attending the first Morning Prayers of the term.

[...] A petition that circulated last spring advocating that the University divest from Israel, Summers said, is an example of anti-Semitism’s spread. While aspects of Israel’s foreign policy “should be vigorously challenged,” the calls for divestment seek to unfairly “single out Israel,” he said.

Summers also said that “events to raise funds for organizations of questionable political provenance that in some cases were later found to support terrorism have been held...with at least modest success and very little criticism.”

There were, of course, detractors:

"To lump people who are working for peace in Israel with racists is really unfair,” said Professor of Philosophy Richard G. Heck, a supporter of divestment. “I’m very, very disappointed that the president of the University would have made those accusations.”

Well, heck, Professor Heck, you're a professor of philosophy. Didn't anyone ever tell you that life is unfair? And often disappointing, too. (That was a very polite way of saying, "Neener, neener, neener!")

Go, Harvard!


Angry young woman

At least, I'm assuming she's young. She reminds me of someone else who folded her tent a while back, though that one was American. This one is a Brit, I think. Among other things, she blamed President Bush for her getting soaked in a rainstorm (that is one creative blame binge). Her response to this article: "Parents to outlive obese children" is a pithy remark: "Good news at last."

I'm thinking she gets more hate mail than Dawn could imagine.

Ya know, I said above that Green Fairy reminds me of someone else. That would be the Misanthropic Bitch, a woman who strikes fear into the very heart of—well, lots of people. I thought she'd retired from blogging, but then I found MB on Green Fairy's blogroll. She's back. And you'll just have to go over to GF's to find her.


Hesiod is a poseur

Hesiod shows his true Hulk colors, and they're not green. First he quotes the line from the movie trailer ("You won't like me when I'm angry.") Then he links to Bill Bixby for his Hulk reference.

Just as I thought. In spite of having copied a Hulk gif onto his site, Hesiod's Hulk meter runs near empty. You, sir, have been exposed for the Hulk poseur that you are. Take two Peter Davids and call me in the morning.

(Hulk: Hulk smash Hesiod? Hulk smash?

Meryl: Not yet, Big Guy. Let's give him a chance.

Hulk: Hulk count to two. One. Uh—what come after one?

Meryl: Smash.

Hulk: One, SMASH!

Meryl: That's my boy.)


I hate threats

Hesiod says I won't like him when he's angry. Someone ought to inform him that he's laboring under the misconception that I like him when he's not angry. (Not that I've ever seen any evidence of him in that state.)

Messing with the Hulk. Nuh-uh, that is not something that I would do. Messing with a blogger, now—that's a different story.


A Ha'aretz timeline

(Read it bottom to top.)

16:51 Sharon to hold meeting with security chiefs at 6 P.M. at the Defense Ministry building in Tel Aviv
16:45 PA condemns Tel Aviv suicide bombing, denounces all attacks on Palestinian or Israeli civilians
16:07 Arafat after TA bomb: we did everything to calm things down, but Israel carrying on escalation, murder of Palestinians
15:59 Sharon to convene security cabinet toward evening to discuss latest wave of terror attacks
15:48 Saeb Erekat: Israel`s actions in territories have led to current situation of despair which leads many to violence
15:46 Remand of 3 Palestinians supected of killing David Buhbut in Al Azariya, extended by eight days
15:19 Absorption Ministry opens emergency hotline for immigrants after TA attack: (03) 5242812, 5290835, 5209136
14:43 Gideon Ezra: The lull in suicide attacks which ended Tuesday was due only to the army and to our intelligence
14:35 PA condemns bombing in Tel Aviv, says it harms Palestinian interests, gives Sharon reason to continue offensive
14:15 Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer to convene security consultations in wake of Tel Aviv bombing
14:14 Military wing of Hamas claims responsibility for Tel Aviv attack in message to Abu Dhabi television
14:08 Magen David Adom: 60 people injured in bus explosion on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv
13:59 Hamas leader in Gaza, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, says he expects Tel Aviv bombing to be one in a series of attacks
13:52 Islamic Jihad military wing, Al Quds Brigades, takes responsibility for bus attack in Tel Aviv
13:48 PM adviser David Baker: Palestinians have jumped on terror bandwagon, carrying out attacks whenever they can
13:46 Hamas spokesman: Zionists are paying for crimes of leaders, we are the real owners of this land and will never give it up
13:41 Five killed, 10 seriously injured and thirty lightly injured in bus explosion in Tel Aviv
13:17 Reports of people killed in bus explosion on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv
13:16 Police close off area around bus explosion in Allenby Street in Tel Aviv for fear of additional bombs
13:11 At least 40 people injured in bus explosion on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv
13:08 Police believe explosion on bus in Tel Aviv caused by suicide bomber
13:07 Several people seriously wounded in bus explosion on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv
13:05 Magen David Adom emergency personnel on their way to scene of bus explosion in Tel Aviv
13:02 There are casualties in bus explosion on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv
13:00 EXPLOSION HEARD ON BUS ON TEL AVIV`S ALLENBY STREET; NO DETAILS ON CASUALTIES

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot these:

10:06 IDF locates and detonates large incendiary device in Jenin refugee camp
09:38 Islamic Jihad claims responsibility for Wednesday`s suicide bombing at Umm al-Fahm junction
09:34 Man. United coach Ferguson willing to take team to Israel to play Mac. Haifa in soccer`s Champions League
09:12 Explosive device located at residential building in Ramat Gan; police sappers safely defuse device
08:56 No stations for issuing gas masks operating in Eilat; Home Command: station will open within three weeks
08:39 MK Avigdor Lieberman: Israel`s real problem is not Iraq or the Palestinians, but Israeli Arabs
08:33 MK Avigdor Lieberman: Government should convene emergency cabinet meeting to debate economic situation
08:29 IDF troops arrest eight Palestinians, four wanted men, overnight in West Bank city of Nablus
08:05 Police chief Aharonisky: past two months without terror attacks were purely coincidental, not due to security forces
08:03 Palestinians establish committee to provide municipal services in East Jerusalem
07:58 Security forces on high alert for terror attacks along Green Line
07:43 Police close Herzl Street in Jerusalem while dealing with suspicious object
07:06 Palestinians fire three anti-tank missiles at IDF position on Egyptian border; no injuries reported
07:02 Staff Sergeant Major Moshe Hezkiyah, killed in Wednesday`s suicide bombing, to be buried Thursday in Elyachin

Like I said yesterday: It's not just the big blasts. The terrorists haven't stopped trying for a second. The "lull" you've been not reading about is due to the hard work of Israeli intelligence and IDF forces clamping down on murderers. The stories you've been reading since yesterday are the inevitable result of an culture of murderers attempting to destroy their neighbors. When the Palestinian Authority condemns the bombings only because "they harm the Palestinian cause," and not because they are the loathsome deeds of murderers and maniacs, it's obvious they're not going to stop anytime soon.

Spare me the cries of the Terje Roed-Larsens of the world. They can shed all the tears you want about the Palestinians. Until they stop shedding crocodile tears about the suffering of Jews, I won't care about the suffering of Palestinians.

Hard way of looking at it? Insensitive to the Pals?

Tough.


Sixteen days

That's how long I've had this on-again, off-again cold thing. I couldn't sleep last night, and woke up early this morning, but I was in rather a wonderful mood for most of the day, and, in fact, spent it most enjoyably—mostly hanging with Heidi. And although I watched in vain to see the two Ridgebacks go at mock-fighting in the garage (Heidi swears that they're far more interesting on the cement floor, where they can get traction while on their hind legs, instead of the wood floors throughout the rest of the house), it was still pleasant to be annoyed by all three dogs at various points throughout the day.

The most interesting fact of the day: Heidi's ancient IBM clone, which has not been turned on since before last Christmas, if not last September, got put back together today. And worked. Perfectly. Windows 3.1, Stacker and all. She finally got around to setting up her office. I figure it'll only be a couple more months before I inherit her bookshelves and get around to setting up my office as a result.

Anyway. Today, when I woke up, I finally realized that the roaring in my right ear has ceased. It had gone on long enough and loudly enough that I was going to head to the doctor's today. Thankfully, I will not have to be prodded and poked and bored out of my skull while waiting my turn, and it's probable that I will be stuck with tinnitus only in my left ear, which has had a high-pitched siren-type noise in it since my first serious attempt to quit smoking many years ago, which coincides with the last time I ever chewed gum on a regular basis. I'm quite sure the gum-chewing led to TMJ, which gave me my tinnitus.

And this long, wandering post is just a way of saying: I'm done here until after I wake up in the morning. Go check out Charles or Damian for some up-to-date news. Damian is particularly good today. Laurence Simon wants to be my bitch, so you can help him out by seeing what he has to say and sending my referrers his way. Mac Thomason has another Captain Euro post, which he said was the longest and stupidest one ever, but don't take his word for it. I'll sum it up for you: It has the three medical students from Florida, Captain America, the Hulk, Noelle Bush, and Aquaman. What, no guest-spot by Space Ghost at the end? Mac must be saving him for the Buffy Blogburst.

I'd point you to Bruce Hill, but my ex-fiancé is going through some tough times right now. He may be writing some guest posts soon, so stand by for yourish.com to get a bit of a Kiwi/Ozzie flavor. And someone remind me to fix the next links on my archive pages; a few of them haven't been updated. (Not you, Steven, I'm keeping you in reserve for the errors that I miss, and don't think for a moment that I don't appreciate having typos pointed out to me. It's that perfectionist/OCD thing I mentioned.)

I'd actually like to give a shout-out to some region of the country that I've noticed via my Webtrends stats, but I can't. Effing Webtrends changed their stats, and I no longer get cities and states broken down. Only countries. Big yawn to that; I can do that via IP addresses. Hmph. Double hmph. Probably got tired of my complaining about their misspellings. (I'd link that for you, but it's 11 p.m. yesterday and I'm exhausted and my throat is starting to get all scratchy and it's time for bed.)

TOP


9/18/02

Yeah, if you say so, Ari

Funny how differently you can look at things, isn't it? Ari Fleischer said after today's suicide bombing in Israel:

"There had been a long period of calm in the Middle East, which unfortunately was shattered today, in this latest suicide bombing or homicide bombing," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

A long period of calm. The Jerusalem Post says this:

The killings were the first lethal terror attacks in six weeks. Channel 1 reported that another suicide bomber is believed to be still at large.
The last civilian to be killed was Yafit Herenstein, 31, of Moshav Mechora in the Jordan Valley. She was shot to death on August 10 when a Palestinian terrorist infiltrated the moshav. Her husband Arno was seriously wounded.

Let's take a quick tour around recent stories in the Israeli papers, shall we?

Egyptian man fatally shot in Gaza after hurling grenade at soldiers

Gilo boy injured when worshippers stoned

Father of 4 slain on Samaria road

Palestinian killed trying to run down soldiers

Cafe Rimon poison conspirator indicted

Or just take a quick look at this post from August 26th, which contains a summary of the peace and quiet that has enveloped Israel for the past few weeks. Scroll down to the end. It's there. Or just search on the phrase "bomb explodes." In fact, if you search on that phrase in the Israeli media, you're guaranteed to get dozens of articles that begin, "IDF sappers blew up an explosive device found..."

Yeah. Peace. Quiet. Two words not synonymous with Israel these days, alas.


Correction

Frank Martin agrees with my take on NJ and crooked politics, but he points out that I was wrong to say that Republican presidents carried NJ in the last few elections. I guess I was thinking pre-Clinton, when the Repubs carried from Ford forward, I believe. I sit corrected, Frank.


Adventures in teaching: Round Two—victory!

When last we left our intrepid new teacher, she was stunned and exhausted at the results of her first day of teaching eleven fourth graders. The first battle: Lost. Some ground regained ere the end of class. But the result of the first day: The kids essentially won.

Round Two: Meryl enters the classroom an hour and a half early, determined to set the scene, the mood, and the afternoon's agenda. Up goes the Mensch Code poster. Folders and name cards are set neatly in place. The lesson plan has been finished and printed out for hours. The land mines are set; the borders prepared. All that awaits is the participants.

Okay, I'll stop with the war talk. The first thing we did after taking attendance was set the rules, and the way I did that was by discussing the "Mensch Code," which is pretty much the same rules as every public school has. You have to respect each other, not make fun, yadda yadda, etc., etc. This led me to explain my rules, which were (in addition to respecting one another and never running on the stairs) that if you interrupt the teacher once, you get a warning. Twice, you get sent to the principal. It actually worked this time. I did have to ask them to settle down a few times but overall, it was quite a satisfactory day. They're a good bunch of kids, and I've almost gotten their names right, and they read Hebrew a lot better than I'd thought they would. In fact, I'm kinda wishing we had the books my grandfather taught me with. They probably aren't even in print anymore. Oh, lovely—another sign that I'm getting long in the tooth.

Anyway. Andy and I had dinner tonight and compared notes again, but this time, it was quite cheerful and positive.

I'm thinking I definitely won this one, as the girl who was the the biggest handful the first week gave me a big hug goodbye. Yup. I think I'm getting the hang of this teaching thing.

TOP


9/17/02

The Dutch get into the Nigerian email scam act

That's right. I received a new letter today, informing me that I have won over a million dollars. And so, of course, I must share it with my readers. The letter, not the money. Get your own damned spam scam millions. Once again, see if you can pick out the real letter from my comments. (I'm thinking the only people who can't are the ones who will actually call that number to claim their US$1,050,000.00 cash.)

GOOD LIFE LOTTOS (note the name: Good Life Lottos. Good choice. Point for the scammers.)
BURDENSTRAAT 21B,
2053 DS AMSTERDAM,
THE NETHERLANDS. (Wow, it's spread to the Netherlands. Someone notify Vegard Valberg. It may be coming to get him next!)

FROM: THE DESK OF THE PROMOTIONS MANAGER, INTERNATIONAL PROMOTIONS/PRIZE AWARD DEPARTMENT,
REF: GLL/8411258350/05 (Look! A REF number. It MUST be real, who would make up a REF number?)
BATCH: 84/0886/NCD (A BATCH number! Now you know it's not a scam.)

ATTENTION:
RE/ AWARD NOTIFICATION; FINAL NOTICE (Funny, I never got a first, second, or third notice. Must have been a glitch in the email.)

We are pleased to inform you of the announcement today, 17TH september 2002, of winners of the GOOD LIFE NETHERLANDS SWEEPSTAKE LOTTERY/ INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS held on 10TH september 2002. (Once again, struck am I at the English good writing skills of the letter-writer. It's almost as if it wasn't his second language.) [I'm thinking third.]

Your company, attached to ticket number 995-1316-9824-880, with serial number 5723-05 drew the lucky numbers 18-65-88-35-95-23, and consequently won the lottery in the 3rd category. (My company, attached to ticket number... uh-huh. There go those great English writing skills. Say, is now a bad time to tell them I'm not employed by any company? Naaaah. Yeah, that's my company. The one attached to ticket number what you said. Yup. Gimme the money! Gimme the money!)

You have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay out of US$1,050,000.00 in cash credited to file REF NO. GLL/8411258350/05. (Is this my Christmas bonus? They didn't say anything about this when I was hired. Cool.) This is from total prize money of US$21,000,000.00 shared among the twenty international winners in this category. (It's the age of the United Nations, you see, so we're going to share the $21 mil (which, of course, pales at the comparison to the $152 mil that I got from the Nigerians just a few days ago, and, well, I won't be blogging for very much longer. I'll hire someone to do it for me, what with making all these millions this week.) All participants were selected through a computer ballot system (they got my name via Girl who operates computer, I just know they did!) drawn from 25,000 names from Australia, New Zealand, America, Europe, Asia,Africa, South and North America as part of our International Promotions Program, which is conducted annually. (Hm. I could think of a better way to spend this money internationally, but then, the starving peasants in Africa aren't online. Their tough luck.)

CONGRATULATIONS! (Yeah, yeah, yeah. Where's my money?)

Your fund is now deposited with a Finance and Security House insured in your name. (See, this is the problem with poor sentence structure. The Finance and Security House is insured in my name? Fine. Burn it down, please, I want the insurance money.) Due to the mix up of some numbers and names,(Ah-ha! NOW we're getting to it) we ask that you keep this award strictly from public notice (Does putting it on my weblog count?) until your claim has been processed and your money remitted to your account. This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming or unscrupulous acts by participants of this program. (Nope, we wouldn't want to be part of unscrupulous acts by participants of this program. Nuh-uh. What did you say your bank account number was again?)

We hope with a part of your prize, you will participate in our end of year high stakes US$1.3 billion International Lottery. (Greedy bastards. US$1,050,000.00 is not enough, you have to take a chance at US $1.3 billion? [They must not have wanted to type out the zeroes in that one.] Well, I'm quite happy with my US$1,050,000.000. Gimme. No, wait, let's think about this a minute. They have an annual US $1.3 billion lottery for promotional purposes? What are they, the effing Mint? What company is sponsoring this?)

To begin your claim, please contact your claims consultant:
COLLINS MORE, (Interesting name. Collins More. Why, it almost sounds made up.
FOREIGN SERVICE MANAGER,
GLOBAL CROSSING, (Oh, that company. Hey, wait a minute. Didn't they go bankrupt? Aren't they up on fraud charges? Woo, bad choice, fellas.)
AMSTERDAM, n.l
TEL: 8821622771097 ( SATELITE PHONE) (If I had one of those international calling plans, I'd be tempted to spend the few bucks to follow through with this one. Nah, not really. I'm just saying that. Wonder if I could call collect?)
E-MAIL: [email protected]
Fax : 31647992925
For due processing and remittance of your prize money to a designated account of your choice. (That's right. Fax us your bank account number, and please make sure it's a fat one, with your life savings in it.)

Remember, all prize money must be claimed not later than 1ST OCTOBER 2002. After this date, all funds will be returned as unclaimed. (Act now, and we'll include this set of Ginsu knives that NEVER NEED SHARPENING!)

NOTE: In order to avoid unnecessary delays and complications, please remember to quote your reference and batch numbers in every one of your correspondences with your agent. Furthermore, should there be any change of your address, do inform your claims agent as soon as possible. ("Say, Sven, don't forget to include something that makes this thing look really official so we can get the suckers to believe it's real.")

Congratulations again from all our staff and thank you for being part of our promotions program. (Thanks so much for your bank account numbers; we'll be stripping them clean of US $dollars as soon as we get your faxes.)

Sincerely, (Really)
FRANK VONK (Not his real name)
THE PROMOTIONS MANAGER, (Not his real job title)
GOOD LIFE NETHERLANDS SWEEPSTAKES LOTTERY, n.l. (not a real company)

N.B. Any breach of confidentiality on the part of the winners will result to disqualification. Please do not respond to this mail but contact your claims consultant. (Bummer. I think I did blow my chances at my share of the millions and billions of US dollars. Now what am I going to do? Wait—I'll just keep my eyes on my mailbox. There's sure to be another chance at some gazillions any day now.)

I look at these letters and I laugh. But what astonishes me is that there are actually fools out there who fall for this crap. They call the numbers and send their bank account information to scam artists and lose their life savings, or even lose their lives. So perhaps it's not a bad thing to spread the word about how ridiculous they are.

There are two rules of thumb that I have always followed when it comes to somebody offering me a product or service: You don't get nothin' for nothin'. And if it seems too good to be true, it is. They've never failed me.


The farmer and the cowman, take two

All right, so when I wrote this song parody the blog world didn't exactly sit up and take notice. But it's aggravating me again, because many of the warbloggers have been posting about how Samizdata wants your blogging terms so they can construct a blogger dictionary. Well, there's been one in existence for months, and I emailed the folks at Samizdata with the URL, and because IIPM (see the Blogicon, which originated on Shelley Powers' weblog) I am going to take the time to do a mini-rant about it. (Those of you who are not bloggers may skip the next paragraph.)

Dammit, people, there are more things out there than just your little corner of the Blogiverse, and you ought to surf Weblogs.com to find out a little bit more about it! Dave Winer adjusted Weblogs.com so that your Blogger, Moveable Type, and independent blogs get put on the same lists as his Radio Weblogs. That's what "pinging" Weblogs.com means. That's why you get referrers from Weblogs.com. That's why you get referrers from blogrolls of people you've never heard of, but who take the Weblogs.com list and run it on their blog. (That's that neat RSS thing that nobody outside the techblogs wants to hear about.) Where do you think I get half my new blogs from? (Hint: It isn't Glenn Reynolds.)

Razzafrazza razzafrazza. I feel like I'm in high school again, watching the kids in the cliques ignore everyone but the members of their own cliques. Bah. This is the Internet. Open borders. No walls. Free movement.

Cliques. Bah.

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9/16/02

Lighting the Torch

Some people are confused at the attitude of both NJ Democrats and the NY Times at Robert Toricelli's candidacy in spite of having had his hand slapped by the Senate Ethics Committee. Susanna, sweetie, it has nothing to do with income level. Trust me, the lower-income Dems in Montclair will be voting for the Torch come November, too, and they don't read the Times.

See, here's how it works in NJ. There are precious few naifs who believe that there are honest politicians. We do believe that some are more honest than others, and we don't believe that those that are more honest are Republicans. Just less well known. Ever hear the expression, "Yeah, he's a crook, but he's our crook"? That may very well have originated in New Jersey, or, okay, across the Hudson. But my fellow native New Jerseyans pretty much take it to heart. We sure do love movies like "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," but we're not naive enough to believe that Mr. Smith ever existed, or ever could exist. So our choices are as follows: Re-elect the guys we know are pretty shady, but who work their asses off for NJ's best interests, or toss 'em out and see what Forrester will do for our state.

New Jersey's a pretty moderate state. We tend to like Democratic Congresses (especially our Senators) and Republican heads of state. Been doing that in NJ a lot lately, and carrying the Republican prez consistently for the last few elections. (I know, I know, I'm a Virginian now, but I still know my native state, so bear with me and shaddap.)

So. It will be no surprise to me to see Toricelli re-elected. Paul Mulshine will whine and bitch about it for the next six years, but hey, all he ever does is whine and bitch about the Dems and Springsteen (puh-leeze get a life!) and how evil they are and how bad they've been for NJ. So it'll give him more fodder for his wheezes. And yeah, if I still lived there, I'd probably vote for the Torch, too. So he's a crook. Find me an honest politician, and I'll find you a small-town councilperson who will never go on to county office, let alone statewide or national. The West Wing is fiction. And yeah, my cynicism is out in force today.

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9/15/02

The pre-show attractions

Wading through my email has given me a crisis of conscience. There's this guy Al Barger, you see, and he has a weblog. But he's an Objectivist (God help me) and has a link to Ann Nutcase Coulter on his sidebar. I mean, some of his stuff is wholly agreeable—I like his taste in music, for instance—but Ayn Rand as the voice of God? If that were the case, I'd be an atheist. But then he links to H.L. Mencken's "In Defense of Women," and I realize this is a man of many facets. So I can forgive him his fondness for That Nutcase. (And Al, tell Satan' s Attorney that there's no "z" in "exercise." The devil's in the details, dontchaknow. Yeah, that was awful, and no, I couldn't resist. Last paragraph.)


I really like this Mark Steyn column on "sustainable development." The man can really turn a phrase.

George Monbiot, celebrated doom-monger of Britain's Guardian, agrees: "It is impossible not to notice that, in some of the poorest parts of the world, most people, most of the time, appear to be happier than we are. In southern Ethiopia, for example, the poorest half of the poorest nation on Earth, the streets and fields crackle with laughter. In homes constructed from packing cases and palm leaves, people engage more freely, smile more often, express more affection than we do behind our double glazing, surrounded by remote controls."

In Ethiopia, male life expectancy is 42.88 years. George was born in 1963. That may be why the cheery peasants in the fields are cracking up with laughter. They know that even if he moves in tomorrow, they'll only have to endure his column in The Gamo Gofa Times-Herald for three years. No wonder they're doubled up and clutching their sides. It's not just the dysentery from the communal latrine.


There's a group blog out there called Common Sense that's apparently just passed its three-month anniversary, which, if we count blog years as dog years, makes them about a toddler. Dudes, come talk to me after you've been around a year before you start bragging. (Please don't anyone dig back in my archives to find me bragging about my 100th post.)

Anyway. It seems to be a compendium blog. Here's their mission statement:

A blog dedicated to common sense in practical and political matters combined with a sense of wonder of the world around us and the amazing rate of technological change. Skeptics and cynics especially welcome.

It has some interesting links, and in the spirit of my linking policy, here you go. Check 'em out.


I'm agreeing with Jason Kenney again. Is it Leap Year already? He says Senatory Leahy is nuts for suggesting that West Nile Virus is a terrorist plot. He's dead right. Jason also calls Leahy a moron. Yeah, I second that one, too. Now let's even the scales and find a recent nutty remark by a Republican senator.


The American Zionist Information Network asked me for a link. Their views are farther to the right than mine, but hey, it's another informative site. I like to look at the issues from as many sides as I can. It makes it easier to determine the truth.


I got in some big trouble last week over my posts on sexism. Nope, not the trouble you're thinking of. Meryl K. Evans sent me an email with one extremely sharp sentence:

Last I checked, I was a woman.

Yikes. I forgot to mention my name-twin's weblog. So now I'm mentioning it, and I'll do even more: Meryl writes a great blog that covers all kinds of tech, and she makes it extremely simple for the non-techies among us. You can find the neatest things through her site (I can't believe there's an elgooG.) So there, her point has been taken, and she may even start speaking to me again.


That sexism thing, revisited

It's Erev Yom Kippur, the Eve of Yom Kippur, and I still haven't kicked my cold or sinus infection or stomach thing or whatever it is. And since I will be alternately fasting, worshipping, and swearing at my ailment for the next 26 hours or so, here are the latest links to the discussion on sexism in the blogosphere. And I think that Megan McArdle said it best with this:

I think that current male/female norms are broken in some major ways. And I think that, by and large, even with all the ridiculous "don't say anything or I'll sue" discrimination laws, women generally end up with the short end of the stick, though I also think that this is changing. But I also think that we've passed the time where pointing to a numerical disparity and demanding redress is the answer. What is the answer? I dunno; dialogue, I guess. Dialogue always seems to be the answer to questions like that.

Ginger has an amazing series of excerpts from the dialogue.

Lynn is a sexist, Lynn is a sexist!

I forgot to mention Laurence Simon's entry last time around. Actually, there are two of them. (Note to self: Revisit this topic after the holiday.)

Samantha Veneruso adds literary criticism to the list of fields where women need to be twice as good to get half the credit:

The point is that women writers have been consistently dismissed for a variety of often unaknowledged reasons in the world of literature. In the past twenty years, that has changed a little. At least women are published on a much more frequent basis now. I am not sure that the level of respect as been raised to an equal standard. However, there are many more women included in the dented cannon. It is not surprising that is true in the blogosphere.

She follows that post with this one:

This controversy is more about the blog audience rather than the blog writer. From the comments and other entries I have read, I am disappointed to find out that as readers- things haven't changed much over the years. The fact that readers are still dismissing women writers and their writing as too emotional or angst ridden (read not good); irrelevant (subject matter not important); or even more disturbing just not noticing that there are women writing out there- unless of course they "write like a man" (whatever that means).

That ought to hold you all until after I break my fast tomorrow night.

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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.

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