(Update: Of course, the time is past. I took out the counting script.)
And fuck you very much for playing, Syria. Can't wait until W. sets his sights on you. Yeah, we can see you sweating from here, Baby Assad. Say. Been buzzed by any IAF jets lately? permalink
An interesting article in the JPost says that Iraq is considering returning the property that the regime stole from Iraqi Jews who fled the country in the wake of pogroms after the state of Israel was declared.
Mind you, not all is peaches and cream between Iraq and Israel, and frankly, I'll believe the reparations when I see them, what with statements like this:
On the other hand, there are some very interesting things later in the article. However, I'm rather suspicious of them and will put them on the back burner for now, and see what happens. Just because a "senior source within the council" said these things doesn't necessarily make them true. I'll wait for confirmation, and hope the source isn't lying or misinformed.
See, that's why I'll just wait and see. Chalabi seems to have quite a grudge against Israel which he blames on Netanyahu, and the article later calls Chalabi "the most senior member" of the council. Perhaps he's the "senior source."
But it's an interesting article nonetheless, presented for your edification. permalink
The last three days have been almost a complete throwback to the days when I lived in New Jersey and drove down to Virginia for the holiday. My mind keeps slipping back to that four-day weekend in '96, when I visited Heidi for the first time in four years (though we had been in constant touch via phone and letters) and met Sorena, who was barely three at the time. She's ten now, and I just sent her to bed before her mother gets out of the shower or her father comes out of the TV room. She received a few more Christmas presents tonight. We had our big holiday dinner today instead of yesterday, due to various work obligations. J.R. and Sheila are the ones who brought the extra presents. Sheila talked me into making both an apple cake and potato kugel, which was going to be latkes but became too labor-intensive when two more guests were added to the list. It's nice when the food you cook comes out well, but even nicer when the people eating it tell you that several times. Grandma Shirley and Aunt Edith were good teachers.
Sheila gave Hanukkah gelt to Sorena and me. I taught Sorena how to play dreidel. I suppose you shouldn't teach a ten-year-old how to gamble, but hey, it was only chocolate money. Besides, I gave her back the coins she lost when the game was over.
She just slipped out of bed with a fairly legitimate reason to postpone bedtime for just a little while longer. It's close to midnight, though, and she's still wired. Time to threaten her with the rubber mallet. Especially since she tends to read these posts over my shoulder as I write them, if she's nearby.
This house is the most peaceful place in the world for me, for the most part. Spending the last three days here has mellowed me more than I realized I'd needed it. I'll be back home tomorrow, but frankly, I'd rather stay here for another few days. No news, no worries, nothing but friends who are more like family. It's good to have friends like these.
Almost forgot. Eighth light.
So I've been at Heidi and G.'s since yesterday afternoon, and my Christmas present to them took a lot longer than I thought it would. Last year, I bought my digital camera in November of 2002 and made a little four- or six-page photo newsletter. I took some pictures of the family, the pets, and me, gave them captions and set them up in newsletter format in Microsoft Publisher. I thought I'd do the same this year, and started going through my pictures on the 23rd because, hey, why not wait 'til the last minute? And then I discovered that I only have pictures from June on, forgetting that I have the rest of the year on CD somewhere.
Well, I get to Heidi's, we have dinner and hang out. I finally finish cropping pictures and captioning them sometime after eleven Christmas Eve. I still need to print them out, but it's late, I'm tired, and it can wait. Then I realize this morning that G. has on his computer all the pictures I'm missing, since I copied them therethat's right, sometime in June. Now I decide to sit down and copy another thirty or so pictures, and start all over again. But first I need to get rid of a virus on their computer. They got one of those effing pr0n site viruses from an email that was accidentally opened instead of deleted.
They have one that I couldn't clean with Symantec. The virus redirects their browser (IE 6) to a pr0n site. It's not the trojan featured prominently on Symantec's main security page. I wound up searching around for some other solution and while checking the Startup discovered that there is an invisible file in it. There's a blank space where the name and location of the file should be. I unchecked the box, and the redirect no longer works, but I haven't cleaned out the virus yet, nor have I found the proper documentation for what they have. It's a Band-Aid solution that needs to be made permanent. Any tech help would be greatly appreciated.
Anyway. About 9 p.m., I finally finished my newsletter. It's 19 pages long. We test-printed a high-resolution page on glossy photo paper. It came out very nice. I'm thinking that G.'s grandmother, who turns 100 in May, God bless her, is going to be one very happy lady when she gets a copy. And I'm feeling mighty pleased with myself at the moment. Nineteen pages of photos with some pretty snappy captions (wait 'til Sorena sees some of them, she's going to kill me), laid out with rather nicely, if I do say so myself. I think it will make quite a nice piece of memorabilia years from now.
The digital age is a wonderful thing.
And oh, yes: Seventh light.
Tal G. sent an email about it:
Reader Amir W. saw the article as well:
I still need confirmation on the main point of the AP story, which is that Chinese workers are being forced to sign contracts forbidding them from having sex with Israeli women, which was the big kicker that the news organizations I linked to focused on.
Amir also sent me to this site detailing the state of Chinese immigrant laborers in Israel. Once again, I have never pretended that Israel is a perfect nation. I know there are problems. But this company is currently under investigation and will likely be found to have violated Israeli law.
And I guarantee you that AP will not pick up that story, nor will the media outlets currently carrying the sex scandal also cover its outcome.
The whole thing is a blatant example of the anti-Israel bias of much of the media. permalink
Tim Blair has culled the best quotes of 2003 from his weblog, and separated them by month. If you start here and click on the previous month's quotes, it ought to keep you busy for hours. So bookmark Tim's site for the downtime you're going to see on weblogs the next few days. And don't be drinking anything while you catch up, because Tim's site is hilarious.
And now, I'm outta here for the holidays. Sorena insists that even though I now live only half an hour away, I have to sleep over on Christmas Eve, since I've been visiting Heidi's family during that holiday since 1996 (that was the year it was a four-day weekend, and it started the tradition). And I have to finish up Heidi and G's presents, which are going to take hours (the curse of having a digital camera and typesetting abilities). Blogging will be light, but I'll be keeping an eye out for letters regarding the Chinese Worker story, and I'll be blogging at least once more today. I have to put up the Virtual Menorah.
To all my Christian readers, have a merry and safe Christmas, and I hope Santa brings you everything you asked for. permalink
But there was no Temple in Jerusalem! It's all a Zionist lie!
Of course I expect to see Terje Larsen, Kofi Annan, various European heads of state and Colin Powell all urge the pals to "show restraint," and continue with the peace talks in spite of yesterday's events. I want to win the lottery, too, but have no real hopes of doing so.
What? The IDF went into a refugee camp and slaughtered nine innocent pals? Let's take a look at the Israeli side of the story, the second paragraph:
Oh. Maybe they weren't nine innocent people. Let's go see the longer Reuters piece. Buried in the third-from-last paragraph, we finally find out who those "nine people" killed were:
Four terrorists, a PA policeman (who have been implicated in many, many suicide bombings and other attacks on Israelis; the word "policeman" and "terrorist" is interchangeable when discussing PA police), and three "bystanders." That's a new trick of the pals, to label everyone bystanders. Oh, no, wait. It's an old trick. But even the Reuters reporter acknowledges that four terrorists were killed, yet leaves that fact buried at the end of the story.
One more view from the Reuters article:
Nice little touch of editorializing in that news article, hm? Let's take a look at the Israeli article.
Aha. So the bulldozers destroyed a house that had a smuggling tunnel under it. That's quite a difference from randomly destorying homes. But then, that's Reutersthe company that lets palestinians write their own news copyfor you.
Oh, and once more: How can you tell a palestinian "spokesperson" is lying? His lips are moving. Perhaps I should change that line to add "How can you tell a Reuters reporter is lying? He's reporting." permalink
Amir W. and others have been emailing me with links to "police spokesman Rafi Jaffe." Yes, I've learned that Rafi Jaffe is an actual police spokesman. You can Google his name and find him quoted on many news articles and websites. I neglected (until now) to update the post below. But the reality or unreality of Jaffe makes no difference to the story as a whole. That's not the point.
The point is that simply because he is real does not make the story true. There are still exactly zero facts in the story. What company in Israel? What do they produce? How big are they? Where are the quotes from Chinese workers affirming the story? Where is a copy of the contract? Even if this story is true, this is the crappiest reporting I've ever seen from a news service.
Yes, I understand that Israel has its share of crooks and jerks. There's a major mob war going on right now that used car bombs as a tactic and killed innocent civilians. Yes, they need to treat their immigrant workers better. (Name a single country that does not have these same kinds of stories to tell.) But this story has pegged my bullshit meter all the way up as untrue.
I have emails out to several Israelis, including one in an Israeli ministry. I'm waiting for some kind of results from then. Until I learn otherwise from sources in Israel, I won't retract a word of my post. I stand by the hoax accusation.
The hoax Chinese worker story spreads
If you can answer any of these questions, I'll take back my assertions that a) this is a false story, b) you did absolutely no research on it yourself and c) you've been snookered.
Hat tip: Jeremy S.
Update: I called the AP international desk to tell them that this story is a hoax. I pointed out the lack of the company name, the fact that a police spokesman is being invoked instead of a company spokesman, and that there is no real evidence offered in the story. He checked the wire, found it on the wire, and refused to believe me when I suggested that the AP was being played for fools. He blew me off as a crank, basically.
Fine. Time to get the Israeli correspondents working on this. permalink
This morning, I received the following letter:
No problem, Mr. Moses (that's his real last name, and since I rarely publish full names I'm not going to publish his first, and the last name is important because, uh, dudeyour name is MOSES and you're not Jewish? Bummer).
I'm happy to tell you the answer to the story, but you have to understand that as with all questions on Jewish traditions, rituals, and customs, there is more than one answer. Some may even be the right answers. I can't guarantee you'll find that here.
The purple candle you see in the picture on the right is called the shamash, which means in English, "candle you light the other Hanukkah candles with" (see? Hebrew isn't hard at all). Oh, sure, some people get all literal on you and tell you it means "servant," but I say those people have no imagination. None.
So, Mr. Moses, that's why you see six candles on the fifth night of Chanukah. There is even more confusion if you consider that today, Tuesday the 23rd of December, is actually the fourth day of Hanuka, and we light five candles tonight. That's because all Jewish holidays begin the night before they are shown on your calendar, unless you have a Jewish calendar, in which case you have to scratch your head and wonder when Easter is, because, uh, there aren't any Christian holidays on Jewish calendars. It's quite annoying, because I live in a nation that is mostly Christian, and I need to know exactly when I can shop for my 50%-off chocolate bunnies. Oh. Fourth day, fifth night. Friday, December 26th, will be the seventh day and eighth night of Hannukah. We mostly ignore the eighth day of Chanukah, because by then the candles are all gone, the chocolate gelt (money) has been eaten, we're not going to make latkes again, too much work!, and, well, it's been a week, already. It gets old, y'know?
You may have noticed that there are many different spellings of Hanukkah. That's because some people won't let go of the old Chanukah spelling (I'm trying to modernize), and because, well, we're Jews. You know the old saying: You have two Jews and three opinions. We argue, and most of us cannot stand change, so we stick to traditions as closely as Spider-Man to a wall. (Stan Lee is Jewish.)
Hannukah is a very minor holiday for religious Jews, and a major holiday for mostly-assimilated Jews who want their children not to feel left out at Christmas. (If the Maccabee rebellion had occurred in the summer, most of you wouldn't ever have heard of Chanukah. I'm betting you have no idea what Tisha B'Av is. It occurred in the summer.)
You may have other questions about that extra shamash candle. I may not bother to answer them, but I can tell you more Hannukah stories.
My grandfather, who was Orthodox, and who lived with us from the time I was twelve years old and ultimately had the room that should have been my bedroom, thankyouverymuch, always used to blow out his shamash and not let it burn. This resulted in having seven extra candles each year, and constant nagging by us grandchildren for him to at least let the shamash burn on the eighth night, when we had all four menorahs going full-blast and turned off all the lights to watch the candles for a minute before coming back to the modern world. I seem to remember him agreeing only on the final night. Zayda wasn't the only one who didn't let the shamash burn, resulting in seven orphaned candles per person per year. I hear that someone finally started a program that will place the orphaned candles with people who are too poor to afford their own, and until now had to draw pictures of candles and put them in the menorah each night.
And I think that's enough about the shamash. I need to light my candles and make myself some dinner. I hope that helped, Mr. Moses the non-Jew. (Such a name! Oy.) permalink
By the way, I have been updating and editing the below post. And I just sent off three letters to the editors of the sites where I found the hoax story, alerting them to the hoax. I also emailed Fark editors and told them they need to change the label from "weird" to "fake". We shall see if the letters make a difference.
I'll be letting you all know if I need your assistance.
You know, I ended two of my letters like this:
I mean, really. permalink
Combustible Boy sent me a link to a story making the rounds about an Israeli company that has purportedly made its Chinese migrant workers sign a contract assuring that they will neither have sex with nor attempt to convert Israeli women. Big brouhaha, right?
Wrong. Big fake story fooled some mighty big news outlets.
A quick Google search found three references: South Africa's News24, The Australian, and the Canadian CNews site. CB sent me this link to another Australian site. All I have to say to the editors who approved the story is: Suckers. You've been hosed.
Let's see the story that these idiots think is a real news story, shall we?
First problem: Anyone can write "(AP)" on their story. I couldn't find the story on any AP site. Second problem: What is the name of the company? How could an AP reporter file this story without supplying the name of the company? Answer: He couldn't. It's not an AP story. Also, why is a police spokesman speaking for the Israeli company?
Rafi Yaffe. Say it with me, folks. Sounds Israeli. Bet he doesn't exist, or if he does, he's not a police spokesman.
Believe it or not, Israel is the only country in the middle east that has religious freedom. More lies. Also, here we have more accusations with no backup. What ministers? Which departments? Notice, however, the quotes, making it seem more authoritative.
Once again, a statement with no factual backup. Israeli police are looking for undocumented workers, true, but so does every nation with an immigrant labor force.
More libel. This reads like a page right out of the ISM handbook, and trust me, someone connected with an anti-Israel organization is smiling today.
Whoops. There is such a ministry in Israel. But again, it's rather easy to write the above. There are still exactly zero facts regarding this mysterious contract in the article.
CB, kindly send the Farkers who were stupid enough to fall for this lame, bogus story this way. Or send them to Snopes. Maybe they'd learn something. My bullshit meter went off on the first sentence of this piece of crap.
You know, there's more than enough being blamed on Israel. One would think someone with half a brain would be able to deconstruct such an obviously fake story without even working up a sweat. permalink
Virtual menorah, part IV. permalink
The pals are charging a lot of money to networks wishing to cover one of Christianity's holiest services, Christmas in Bethlehem. Guess their blood money funds really are drying up.
Waiting for the international cries of outrage over this. Calling the Pope... hello? hello?
Brought to you from the same organization that shot their way into the Church of the Nativity and held priests hostage for five weeks last year.
The next time you hear a palestinian spokesliar talking about how all religions will be respected in the palestinian state, remember this. permalink
Check out this review of Return of the King over on MTV.com. Now, I think it's a wonderful review, and quite erudite, but perhaps the writer should have remembered who, exactly, can be expected to read something on MTV.com: I'm not his target audience.
Yes, and this review is anything but simple. Get a load of this next line:
I envision fifteen-year-old boys trying to read it and saying, "Dude, WTF is 'précis'? And, like, 'skeletal,' isn't that the bad guy from the old He-Man cartoon?"
Five bucks says that most of the people who watch MTV don't know the meaning of the word "clamorous." And I wouldn't lay odds on "exuberance," either.
Perhaps I'll put up a review in the language I think the reviewer should have used. I have to finish a few things first. But I have a few LOTR parodies boiling in the cauldron. Expect some later in the week. permalink
The unfortunate truth is one of them is going to get through. The news articles will then lay the blame on Israeli security measures, call it a "break" in the x-weeks level of calm, and deplore Israeli measures in response to it.
The above attack was the 40th suicide bombing prevented since the October 4th bombing of Maxim's restaurant (which killed 22).
Finish the fence, Arik. Israel needs it. permalink
Microsoft is sueing one of the world's biggest spam kings.
Hard to believe I'm saying this, but: Go, Microsoft!
By the way, if any of you have been sending me email lately and wondering why I'm ignoring you, it's possible I didn't get it. I keep adding to my spam filters, and I'm tired of getting letters from Santa Claus (yeah, right) or spams that use the title "Christmas greetings!" I've also added many more rules to counter the avalanche of junk mail.
By the way, anything with Christmas in the subject gets deleted on the server. Sorry. Hanukkah greetings will still get through, though. permalink
Iraq, that is.
Irony is a wonderful thing. permalink
Your friendly neighborhood virtual menorah service. permalink
Andrea, do me a favor. Let's get into a disagreement so that I can make sexist remarks in the comments about your having PMS andoh, wait. If I did that, you would be able to use the "I know you are, but what am I?" response.
(By the way, at last! Someone else who has never been able to watch Gone With the Wind! I'm not a freak!)
I would like everyone reading this post to email Mac Thomason and urge him to set up an Elvis tribute in his local courthouse, just to prove or disprove his theory. Really. It'd be great. Terry, you could help him. Okay, well, then at least you could egg him on.
And now I fear I must get back to work on the synagogue newsletter, which is due tomorrow, and which needs to get out of my home and into the congregation's eventually, and, wellsighit won't happen by itself. permalink
Thanks, Michele. You're the best. permalink
Imagine being separated from your family at age 11 and age 5. Imagine not seeing your brother or sister for 65 years. Then imagine sending in a form to Yad Vashem to see if your sibling is still alive. No luck. But four years later, a woman visits Yad Vashem, and a clerk there persuades her to enter her information into the database. Within a week, she meets the brother she hasn't seen in six and a half decades.
This is why Israel was established. This is why Israel must exist. The one-state solution is not a solution for Jews. The palestinians have never protected so much as a single Jewish religious site. What makes you think they'd care about an old man wanting to see his little sister after 65 years?
This is only one of the miracles that is Israel. Am Yisrael chai. The people of Israel live. permalink
Last week, this guy Rv. Agnos (which I'm sure stands for something that I'm too lazy to Google) commented at Amish Tech Support, and I responded to his comment in a way that may have made him think I dislike him. Well, no, actually.
How can I dislike someone who fisks an article arguing against gay marriage like this?
There are many more laugh-out-loud moments. Check it out for yourself.
And while I'm at it, Iowahawk, who has given us many funny parodies in the comments of Little Green Footballs, has his own blog now. And it's funny. This one is priceless. He made up a Nigerian spam letter to send to an idiotic Guardian columnist who fell for a Nigerian scam (via snail mail, no less).
Also, a belated addition to my regular Israeli reads: Sha.
My kinda guy. permalink
A couple of letters regarding yesterday's post. From Fred Z., whom I would have adored in grammar school because he would have had to stand behind me in line (damn the alphabet!):
From Mark F.:
Of course they do, but I don't. In fact, alligators and crocodiles are my least-liked animals, so I encourage all my readers to eat heartily. Some day I may even explain why I hate crocs. permalink
Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. If you're looking for something funny, try the Hulk's solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin Laden's diary and The Fudd Doctrine are also good bets if you've never been here before.