I'm at my brother's, and piggybacking onto his cable modem. Most of the family is upstairs, gamblinger, playing cards and the like. Sounds like they've stopped for a break. Dave's watching TV. I heard the Three Stooges not long ago. Now I hear kids laughing with him. Yep, the game is over for now. Augie, their Golden Retriever, is in there, too. She's a bit freaked out by all the noise and people. There's also a Yorkshire Terrier around somewhere. Came my my sister-in-law's family, and it's cute enough to make me forget how little I like yip dogs.
I'm relaxing on the much faster surfing, catching up on what I missed the last few days, and yes, I did submit a list to Lair Simon's Dead Pool, but I may have to quickly update it. Just caught a disqualified pick that I chose.
It has been a very long time since I spent New Year's with my brother. I can't remember the last time, frankly. So it's a very nice change, and turning into a nice way to end the year.
I won't be blogging anymore tonight. Think I'll just relax and talk and watch TV, then at midnight yell "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" with everyone and drive on home, keeping a weather eye out for drunks. I had wine with dinner; I won't be drinking another drop of alcohol tonight.
And to my readers old and new, Jewish and Gentile, pro and con: A healthy, happy, and safe new year, and thanks so much for reading, emailing, linking, and yes, arguing. It's been a good year. Here's to a better one in 2004. permalink
Saudi Arabia has pledged to build homes for the palestinians who were made homeless by the IDF operation in Rafah (which, as you may recall, shut down numerous tunnels used to smuggle weapons from Egypt). There is no word on what the Saudis intend to do about the thousands of palestinians ejected from Iraq.
Not that we expect to hear about those refugees. Just like we heard almost nothing about the hundreds of thousands of pals thrown out of Kuwait after the first Gulf War. They don't matter, you see. Because Arabs created them. permalink
Last night, I took Mom to see Return of the King. She liked it very much, but towards the end, I started realizing why so many reviewers are griping about the film having too many endings. I know they're all in the book (with minor changes), and I was happy to see them, but y'know, they do drag on.
And last night, as the scene faded from one to another to another, about the time the scene switched to the Grey Havens, a woman in the row behind me said out loud, "Oh, God!"
I've got some thoughts about Eomer I'll need to share at a later date (Helmet on! Helmet off! My hair would be as pretty as Legolas' if only I didn't have this damned helmet head!). In fact, I think I'll put all of my gripes into a post and get them off my chest and out into the blogosphere. permalink
Lyrics from a new song by Three Days Grace (or is it Three Doors Down? Damn these new band names!) perfectly express my feelings about New Jersey now. I have not yelled at as many drivers in as short a period since, well, since I moved to Richmond a year and a half ago. In fact, I think a lot of NJ (and NY) drivers were wondering why the crazy woman in the yellow Jeep thinks their name is Dick, right up to the jerk in the parking lot who had to pull out of his space, blocking us from getting past, and (sigh) park next to the curb. Couldn't wait until I passed. Another driver named Dick.
On the other hand, I went to my favorite mall, and got my hair trimmed and styled by my favorite stylist, who told me that a week ago, the mall had half a dozen police cars at each entrance, FBI all over the place, and sharpshooters on the roofs. Apparently, the orange alert included three malls in northeastern NJ.
Tomorrow, I'm planning on hitting my favorite spots in Montclair, maybe my chiropractor, and the kosher butcher shops. Then New Year's Eve with the family, and driving back to Richmond on New Year's Day, keeping a weather eye for the morning-after drunks.
Tonight, Mom and I are going to see Return of the King. Turns out my nephew would rather hang out with his cousins, who are in town for the holiday, doing snowboarding and things like that rather than hang with his aunt. Go figure.
Well, at least Dave has a cable modem connection. I'm on AOL and a 56k modem connection here. Gawd. How can you all stand it? permalink
Iowahawk has been simply hilarious lately. He's found the first draft of the letter from Al Qaeda that was put on the Internet.
Yes, it's a must-read-all. Don't be drinking anything. permalink
I think that perhaps I need to reiterate that my anger is not carrying over to Andrea or Michele or any of the other bloggers I disagree with on this issue. Disagreements happen. The only ones pissing me off are the people in the comments who are slinging insults without having read much of what they're discussing, and that only mildly. Clear? Good. permalink
So many things, so much to respond to, so little desire to write an extensive post....and yet, I must quote extensively.
Though I would like to put in my two or three cents. Andrea, just three weeks ago, a TV repairman came to my home. I thought from his accent over the phone that he was Pakistani, and perhaps Muslim. So I tucked my Star of David in my shirt because I just didn't want to deal with any of the possible Muslim-Jew bullshit. I just wanted my TV fixed.
Have you ever had to do anything remotely similar? Like Ilyka said, some things are only understood through direct experience. I have had direct experience with Muslims who took a profound dislikeone would even say hatredto me because I wear a Star of David. As a matter of fact, several of my worst experiences of bigotry were with Iranian students studying here in the U.S. during my college years. They hated me for no reason other than I am Jewish. Now those students are part of the generation that is running Iran. So yes, I tend to think pretty poorly of Iranians as a whole.
Mike Sanders took the high road, as I knew he would:
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din. And so is Starhawk. I'm not there yet, with either of them.
Some of the commenters at Michele's are worth reading. From a different Bill:
Um. My best friend is of German descent. My two closest friends growing up were Polish Catholics. Perhaps before you start flinging stuff, you ought to at least read what I've said. Hate is a strong word, and I wouldn't use it to describe my anger. Try reading my blog a little. You might learn something.
I think my favorite comment is from O.Deus:
From Chuck Simmins:
No, Chuck, I don't believe I do have that perspective, especially not on this issue. Yes, I have strong points of view. I haven't said that other people shouldn't donate aid to Iran. All I said is that I understand why Lair isn't, and why I probably wouldn't. I'm not seeing an "us or them" p.o.v. in that.
From Gary Farber:
Shame on you, Gary. The "our" in question was Lair Simon and me. I didn't claim to speak out for all Jews. Just us two.
Again: No. We said that we wouldn't be donating our money to Iranian earthquake relief. And I'm with Dave regarding the Iranian population. He wrote:
And there is the crux of my dilemma. How do I stop myself from responding in kind to those who hate me? The government of Iran doesn't want any Israeli (read: Jewish) help? My initial impulse is, fine, go eff off, use your own money, your own search and rescue teams, and help your own people. We'll be over here, tending to someone else. But even the Israelis don't consider that to be an adequate response. They're doing their best to try to send aid regardless of what the mullahs say.
Once again, though: I didn't say the people of Bam deserved what they got. I didn't say that no one should help the people of Bam. I said that I completely understand Lair Simon's angry response, and that I share that anger. Not hate. Anger. And I know full well that choosing not to donate to an Iranian earthquake relief fund out of anger is not a very Jewish thing to do. My rabbi would have a few words to say to me. At the very least, I'm setting a horrible example for my fourth-grade students.
But then, Gary's right on one count. I'm struggling with my conscience over this issue. And doing it rather publicly, come to think of it. It's difficult to overcome a history of hatred towards me and mine. I've never been a "turn the other cheek" kind of person. My response to being hit is generally to hit back.
I think I'll end this with a quote from Eran Weintrob, general manager of Latet, the Israeli organization that is trying to send aid to the Iranian victims of the quake:
Maybe I'll have that same attitude, or Mike's or Starhawk's, someday. I don't think today is that day. Not yet. permalink
Michele and Andrea responded. So did Lair. I don't have the time to answer them, as I have to be on the road in fifty minutes. But I will point out that I'm not angry with them. They posted their feelings and opinions, I posted mine, Lair posted his. Now I have to go drive 375 miles. permalink
Heading to visit relatives again today. I'll be back later this evening to see the ripples from the two posts below. Play nice. permalink
Here's an article published today in the Iranian press:
And here's a Town Hall article on the Israeli response:
It should also be pointed out that Israel has a large Iranian Jewish population, including Defense Minister Mofaz, who spoke to Iranians via radio recently. In the Islamic nation of Iran, under dhimmi laws, which so-called moderate Muslims like Aziz love to expound upon favorably, Iranian Jews have been consistently persecuted.
It's easy to say that the majority of Iranians don't agree with or believe in this. However, I'll wait and see what happens. You don't overcome decades of hate with one or two instances of denial. Words are easy. Actions are what we should judge by.
Mind you, I believe that the students and others mean what they say about accepting help from Israel. And I still don't think the people of Bam deserve to suffer. But I don't believe that diverting funds to Magen David Adom as a result of the refusal of the mullahs to accept help from Israel is nearly as great a sin as some are making it out to be. It's a quite human reaction from a very human man. permalink
An earthquake hits Iran, which has no building codes that demand earthquake-proof housing, and kills tens of thousands. The Iranian mullahs declare that they will accept help from everyone but "the Zionist regime." Lair Simon says he will donate money to Magen David Adom instead of the Iranian relief, and points out that Jewish groups are already mobilizing for relief in spite of the mullahs' anti-Semitism. Michele does what she does best, and gives people links of where they can send money and items to help. Lair posts again, repeating his desire to donate to MDA and telling the Iranianswell, let's start quoting:
Here's my opinion: This is where the Jew card gets played. This is where I come into conflict with my own conscience. I don't want innocents to suffer, ever. Neither does Lair, in spite of what some people may think. But yes, Andrea, he's angry, and so am I. And yes, we want to lash out at the people who tell us that of all the people in the world, they'll accept help from everyone but Jews. Yeah. That does tend to make us angry.
Our anger springs from experiencing the ever-present Jew hatred that permeates the Middle East. The anger springs from the fact that Iran bankrolls Hizbullah, which has thousands of rockets in Lebanon aimed directly at the border farms and villages of northern Israel. The anger springs from Hizbullah's murder of hundreds of Jews in Buenos Aires. The anger springs from the easy anti-Semitism of some Iranian bloggers, who say they're not anti-Semitic, yet repeat the anti-Semitic canards about Israel and "Zionists." The anger springs from the realization that yes, the mullahs are scumbags, and yes, they don't represent all Iraniansbut there are a fair number of Iranians, including, I'd wager, in Bam itself, who would also refuse help from Israel.
You cannot possibly understand our anger, Michele. You cannot possibly understand our anger, Andrea. And I say this knowing full well what stalwarts you are in rejecting all Jew-hatred. But you're not Jewish, and you don't get what it feels like. Lair and I feel it in our guts. Visceral hatred tends to bring out visceral anger in its targets, especially those of us who are not as enlightened as, say, Mike Sanders, who is a devout Jew. I'm certain he would donate to an Iranian relief fund. That's the kind of man he is. And that's also part of what Judaism is all about: Helping those who are less fortunate, even if they despise you. But we're not all on the same page. Some of us get overwhelmed by our anger, sometimes. We're only human.
Many Jewish groups are already collecting funds and doing what they can to help the earthquake victims. Yes, Israel will do her best to send aid on the sly, if they must. I'm not donating anything. That decision has been taken away from me: I can't afford to donate anything right now. But I seriously doubt if I would if I could. Like Lair, I'd prefer to send my money to an organization (like MDA) that doesn't hate me for what I am, and that doesn't discriminate between victims who need help, or refuse donations from people that it doesn't like.
It may seem an ugly side of us to you. But we all have our ugly sides. permalink
However, since I just cooked another batch a couple of hours ago, and since I have a huge bowl of raw potato chips chilling in the fridge waiting to be cooked with dinner, I am feeling content enough to tell you how to achieve the best results with the above recipe.
Yukon gold potatoes are the best potatoes for chip-making that I've found. You want a potato that fries really well. Red potatoes are too moist. They're great for mashing, but generally don't deep-fry well. Russets are okay, as are plain Idaho potatoes. But shape is important: The long thin ones (about two inches in diameter) are generally the best for slicing.
My oil of choice is canola. You can use any light oil that won't add its flavor to the potatoes.
You can slice potatoes by hand with a sharp knife, but I now use a professional-quality mandoline slicer. There are various cheap knockoffs known as the "super slicer" or "v-slicer" that you can pick up for under $20. I can't tell you exactly how thin to slice them, as I measure them with my eye. You'll have to experiment on your own.
Here's the number-one potato-chip making tip that you need to know: After slicing the raw potatoes, place them in a bowl of ice water for a minimum of one hour. Preferred chilling time: Overnight in a bowl of water in the fridge. This curls and hardens the potatoes, and causes them to cook faster and more evenly. Simply slicing the potatoes and putting them in oil is fine, but I guarantee you that you'll burn and undercook them. An alternative: slice potatoes in the morning for cooking later in the day.
Oil temperature: 350°F for an electric fry pot, high flame for a gas stove. Note: Both these temperatures are for a full deep-fry pot holding at least an inch of oil. If you use a frying pan, lower the flame and increase the time required, because your batches will be smaller. Be careful that you're not burning the oil. It needs to be just hot enough to not burn.
Helpful tools: A deep-fry pot with a wire basket. A sturdy set of tongs. A large bowl and colander. Paper towels. Brown paper bags. A splatter-guard.
Now, here's the real potato chip recipe:
There you go, Ilyka. Now remember that I've been doing this for, gawd, two and a half decades at least. I'm a fried potato fanatic. I mean, you have to be a little obsessive to do this, because it's incredibly labor-intensive. Four potatoes, just enough for you and your boyfriend, will probably take you between one and two hours' worth of labor. And be eaten in under five minutes.
You would think that one potato per person would be enough. Trust me, it isn't. You can't stop eating these. In fact, the first batch never makes it into the bag.
And Ilyka, don't blame me if you or your boyfriend become addicted to these chips. You asked. I answered. permalink
This one is far too sweet to pass up: The PA put out a press release saying that British Prime Minister Tony Blair said something that he didn't say, and Downing Street sent out a press release saying he Blair never said it.
But wait, there's more.
That's right. It's not the fact that you effing lied and got caught. It's all the fault of the joooooos!
Why, they were downright humiliated for being exposed as the liars they are. So they lied, so what. Britain created Israel! (You so have to laugh at this idiotic logic.)
Poor, poor Abu Ammar. Not only has he been stuck in the same building for, what, two and a half years now? But he also has to eat some crow about a greeting that he turned into a political statement with a lie that was exposed. Tsk. Hope it doesn't stress the old murderer's heart too much. He might, like, die or something.
One can only hope. 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.