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European anti-Semitism

I've been trying to voice my thoughts on this matter for some time now. Justin Weitz did, and it is superb.

This article about Jedwabne highlights a frightening epidemic throughout Europe: Holocaust denial, in whatever form, is alive and well. The people of Jedwabne, a town whose Jews were burned sixty years ago, have blamed everyone from the Nazis to the Jewish victims themselves. Jedwabne's residents accuse the Jews of everything from manipulating Poland to cooperating with the Soviets; Cardinal Josef Glemp, the Catholic Church's leader in a devoutly Catholic country, has "asked Poland's surviving Jews to apologize for having brought Communism to Poland."

The Jedwabne massacre did not happen in a vacuum. One morning in the spring of 1941, Polish and Ukrainian peasants in the town of Buczacz (in what was then Poland, and is now the Ukraine) massacred hundreds of the town's Jews. How do I know? Six of my paternal grandmother's siblings and both of her parents were among those raped and then hacked to death. My maternal grandfather hails from a town known as Opatov in western Poland. He was "lucky" enough to only lose two siblings in a 1939 pogrom. When he returned to his hometown in 1990, he found that his house was occupied by a local Polish Catholic. Needless to say, he wasn't earning rent.

There's more. And it's a worthy read. And while you're at it, read this entry re: Sharon and "war criminals."

The Hulk Valentine's Day Massacre

I can hardly believe it, but there's proof. The Hulk went berserk yesterday. I think it was the overabundance of pink and red, which are colors anathema to green (I don't care what you've heard about Christmas, those colors are polar opposites and everyone knows it, or why do we have red for stop and green for go on traffic lights, huh? huh?). But when I got to Heidi's yesterday for dinner, I found the following scenes:

First, the Hulk beat up a Valentine's puppy. That little flash of red between the puppy's front paws was its heart.

The Hulk beats up a puppy!

Not satisfied with that, the Hulk beat up a little girl.

The Hulk beat up a little girl!!!

(I'm not sure what that mechanism is trailing behind the Hulk, but I think it could be important.

Finally, the Hulk got one Ridgeback (Willow, left—or part of what's left) and was about to attack Worf (right).

Look out! He's going to hurt the dogs!

Notice the look of fear on Worf's face. This is a dog that is afraid of nothing and no one. But he was afraid of the Hulk. I can't understand it; Hulk has never attacked children and animals. I fear for the Green Goliath's future....

Update: It was an imposter! Apparently, there are several imposters running around due to the upcoming Hulk movie. This one was Super-Poseable Leaping Hulk (yeah, that's going to look good on the cover of comic. Not.). Apparently, there are a few more around, including Punching Hulk and Smash & Crush Hulk (I think I want that one). Phew. Hulk's child-friendly reputation remains intact, but I won't lay odds on the real Hulk having smashed the cutesy Valentine's puppy.



Anti-war anarchists: There's a word to describe them that also starts with "a"

The anti-war creepazoids are threatening mayhem in New York tomorrow. Diane E. has been posting her thoughts on the matter, and I agree with every word she's written. Well, except for not joining the counter-demonstration. I'd be there if I were there. We'd chant insulting slogans, we'd have hot chocolate, we'd have fun.

But Diane also points me to Aaron's Free Will Blog, which has a detailed description of a "breakaway" group of anti-war protestors who spent the rest of their time trashing as much of San Francisco as they could last month. Get a load of this:

"As they moved along, more and more newspaper boxes were knocked into the street, and through the windows of a Starbucks and a Victoria's Secret. The energy built up as protestors chanted "What do we want? CLASS WAR! When do we want it? NOW!" and "What do we want? PEACE! How we gonna get it? REVOLUTION!"

Never mind the stupidity of the logic that wants peace through revolution. Let us look, instead, at the results of what they did. Newspaper boxes are parts of regular newspaper carrier routes. These days, those are generally owned by working class men and women trying to make ends meet. When you steal a newspaper from a box, you are taking the money for that out of the route owner's pocket, as they have to pay for each copy of the paper they receive, whether or not it gets sold or stolen. So the "anarchists" screwed the working man on this one. In other words, they screwed the proletariat for whom they claim to fight.

Next, they went after Starbuck's and Victoria's Secret, probably due to the fact that they are chain stores. I suppose they consider both part of the globalization of industry, but let's face it: Most franchise owners are solidly in the middle class, just trying to earn a living for themselves and their families. Breaking the windows doesn't hurt the corporate bottom line. It hurts the franchise owner, and closing down the store for business due to the protests hurts the sales staff—also hardly high up on the economic ladder—more than Corporate HQ.

So the end result of the radicals' actions: They took bread out of the mouths of the very people they purport to be working for. Spare me from assholes like the "anarchists" threatening to disrupt the New York City protest. And by the way—wait until they meet the members of the NYPD. They're not your daddy's San Francisco PD. Better be wearing your bike helmets, kiddies. The NYPD doesn't take threats of violence at all. Not at all.

Update: Megan McArdle's on the same page about the quality—and temperament—of New Yorkers.

Interstate weather reports

Mom is reveling in the difference in weather between Richmond and Northern NJ. This morning, it was 34 degrees here, and 17 there. Right now, it's 47 degrees here and 29 back home. Both states are gearing up for an upcoming storm, but the money here is on an ice storm or an icy mix, and in NJ it should be all snow. (Of course I'm dearly hoping it will dump a foot of snow on the anti-war rally on Saturday, but alas, you can't always get what you want.)

Anyway, it's been a busy day, and will be a busy afternoon and evening. But I'll be back a bit later tonight. There are a lot of things going on in the blogosphere (and the world) that I want to write about, and I just may dip my toes into a cross-blog brouhaha.

Then again, you can't fool me. I know Friday's always a slow day. Half of you are going to be reading this on Monday.

Jewish mother blogging alert

Mom's in town. I picked her up at the train station yesterday afternoon. Her train got stuck in traffic. Seriously. It got behind a freight train, and lost some time until the freight train could be moved onto a side track and let the Amtrak train go by.

We're going out to breakfast, and wondering about the weather. And we've already had one altercation over the computer, as she wanted to relax with some Solitaire before bedtime, and asked me when I would be finished "playing with the computer." I was writing last night's last post. I counted to ten and explained to her the order of preference on this computer. Should be an interesting weekend. (For the first time in history, the Home Shopping Network stayed on for more than a split-second in passing. This is going to be a very interesting weekend.)



Diane E. fisks the anti-war marchers

Go over to Diane's place for a fisking of an article about Saturday's rally that is so sharp I'd be wary of touching your screen—you might come away from it with bloody fingers.

By the way, the weather report for New York on Saturday is snow. Let's all hope it dumps a foot and kills the rally.

Speaking of anti-war idiots, Lynn B. has some sharp words for Michael Lerner of Tikkun, who is being banned from speaking at the anti-war rally in San Francisco this weekend.

On a completely different topic, Lynn Sislo has two posts for Black History Month. Expect more as the month wears on.

Matzoh: It's not just for Passover anymore

Virginia Postrel has a point.

How are you supposed to seriously stock up for a disaster without one of those giant six packs (eight packs?) of matzoh, the food that truly keeps forever? Unfortunately, it's a seasonal item.

Virginia—bubelah—you can't buy the multipacks of matzoh yet, true, but you can pick up single packs of all those weird flavored matzohs in most of the larger grocery chains.

One of the funniest things I've noticed in Richmond is that kosher food, which is in an aisle labeled "kosher" in New Jersey (where I'm from), is in the aisle labeled "international" here (where I moved). I had no idea Jewish food was that foreign to southerners.

However, Virginia's got a good idea. Stock up on your matzoh meal, too. Like she said, matzoh is forever.

Solving the puzzle: Math mail

Brian J., Alex Frantz, Ben F., Michael H., Kmpublic, and Haggai all sent letters explaining the trick to me. (Well, Da Bear explained it, but not clearly enough for my befogged brain yesterday.) And It's the powers of nine thing. Plus, if you take all the single-digit numbers, the sum is always zero, and zero has the same symbol as the powers of nine. It's rigged. There's no way you can get to any number that is not a power of nine or zero, so the other symbols are just there for show.

By the way, Haggai wins the math geek prize. He sent me a nearly-incomprehensible letter explaining the mods and remainders and—well, let's just say I haven't been this confused since I was in class at the Chubb Institute, learning C++ (ooh, did I have a hard time with that!). His prize, of course, is a link to his website. Go say hi.

Thank you all for playing, and for giving me a wonderful example of how easy it is to pretend to be a John Edward.

My readers rock.

Puzzles, math geeks, and anti-Semitism

The letters are pouring in about the Flash mind-reader game. But it's late (past 12:30 a.m.), I'm tired, and have spent most of today working on an article about anti-Semitism, and I need to clear my head, kick back, relax, and then (sigh) get up early and clean the house before picking my mother up at the train station. So the letters will have to wait until tomorrow, and I hope you all realize that I'm teasing Da Bear in that post below. Remember, I've known him (and liked him, even) since he was Da Cub. I'll get to answering the mail during a break in housecleaning.



Bear, you're a geek

NZ Bear says he has the answer to the game in my post below. So I clicked on his link, and got a table of numbers which showed that subtracting the sum of the digits from the number itself (I know there are mathematical terms for this, but since I already took my GREs I deliberately let them slip from my memory). Okay, cool. I have a neat table that shows us the answers are all multiples of nine.

How the frig does that make the right sign appear in the Flash movie, genius?

Math geeks. Bear—hello—not a math geek here!

Well, this'll drive you batty

Found this via Blogdex. It's a Flash "mind-reader" game, that purports to be able to read your mind. I did it several times, and each time, damned if the program didn't read my mind. But that's impossible, and we all know it. So I believe I've figured out what the program does. Look at the columns of symbols and numbers before you click on the crystal ball. I'm betting the symbols are in a pattern that relates to the amount of time it takes the average person to do the math that is required before clicking on the ball. Try clicking immediately, and you get the symbol for zero. Wait two seconds, and you get the symbol next to the two. My guess: There's a table somewhere that gives average time for what is needed, or the author made it up.

Another seemingly impossible thing can be put down to scientific means. Verification from expert mathematicians or any statisticians in the audience would be welcome; I'm just someone who doesn't like math but who can tell a hoax when she sees one.

The anti-Semitism of the left

Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of hard-left and critical of Israel Tikkun magazine, is speaking out in several forums against the anti-Semitism of the left. He's been banned from speaking at this weekend's anti-war rally in San Francisco that is partially sponsored by ANSWER.

It's about time. William Leon has some excerpts of Lerner's op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal. And Damian Penny discusses the Front Page Magazine article.

Both are shameful, yet perfectly apt, examples of the anti-Semitism of the radical left. I'll be watching to see if any changes arise from this altercation. But I won't be holding my breath.

Carnival of the Vanities #21 and other things

It's being hosted over at John Ray's place. But there aren't any butt-cheek gifs. He's classier than I. Come to think of it, the entire Carnival host list is classier if I go by that criterion. Ah, well, such is life with a sore behind.

An entry that isn't on, but should be, is Scott's latest fish story at AMCGLTD. Absolutely hilarious. Ellen, how can you be afraid of this thing? It's a fish. It's a fish. And trust me, any fish that gave me that much trouble would be swimming in the local sewer system by now. One flush, that's all it takes.

Caught in the actLooks like both Ellen and I watched the dog show on USA last night. Well, actually, I kept clicking back and forth waiting to see what their champion Rhodesian Ridgeback looked like. I was rooting for the Ridgeback, but boy, it didn't look a whole lot like Worf. Apparently the dog show folks like them to be more hound-like. And smaller.

Speaking of dogs, have I ever mentioned this site? Lots of information on dogs, but I think he's a little harsh on Ridgebacks. Worf is good with children if it's his child you're talking about. He's never bitten Sorena, and puts up with an amazing amount of tail-pulling. Okay, so he has to be locked up when some of Sorena's friends come over. Is it his fault that Marissa is terrified of him? And he forgot to add "Great thieves" to the list of the Ridgeback's talents. Turn your back on a roast beef for just a second, and your roast is inside the Ridgeback. Actually, Worf is quite the thief, as I've said before. One of his favorite things to do is sneak into the guest room and steal my footwear. I think he's far more handsome than the champion Ridgeback at the Westminster dog show, but then, I'm prejudiced. Then again, the winner was a pretty cute dog, too. Uh-oh. It almost sounds like I'm ready to turn to the Dog Side of the Pet Force. Nah. I'll stick with cats for now. Even if I did just get bitten twice a day giving Gracie antibiotics. Well, at least I didn't have to try to get a pill down Tig's throat. I'd have no skin left on my hands.



When the red red robin goes bop-bop-boppin' his head

My class is going to lead services a week from Friday. So I took them over to the sanctuary this afternoon to get the prayer books and see which ones they all know, so I could choose which ones the rabbi would call them up to the bimah for. So we leave the schoolhouse, and out on the screen porch (it's a converted house) is a robin, too stupid to figure out how to get back out the way he came in. Richmond is on the robins' migratory route back north, and there are thousands of them around this time of year. Waking me up bright and early, I might add.

The kids volunteered themselves, and then me, to rescue it. I told them it would figure it out eventually and marched them to the sanctuary.

Unfortunately, the bird was not smart enough to have figured out the one exit in the screened-in porch. It was still there when we got back, flapping around helplessly, unable to find the door. I was beseeched by nine fourth graders to please, please help it get off the porch. I sent them all indoors and told them to be quiet and then guided it off the porch with a broom, and no, I didn't smack it with the broom to help it on its way. Not that I wasn't tempted, mind you, but the screeches of nine-year-olds are particularly piercing, and they think all animals deserve to live out their lives in peace and harmony. Well, except for their own pets, but that's a whole 'nother story.

So today, I am a hero to my class. I saved a robin.

You know, birds are really stupid. There's a reason I call them cat food, and the robin we saw this afternoon is a perfect example of that. But hey, look at it this way. I might very well have saved the life of your first robin of spring.

A hole in the sky

A reader came across my 9/11 essay on the view from Eagle Rock, near where I used to live. I haven't read it in a very long time. But the reader, who lives in New Jersey now (ex-New Yorker), sent me an email discussing the essay and how Tristaters feel about the view of the Manhattan skyline—which was irrevocably changed on 9/11. Even after they build whatever they're going to put in their place, the World Trade Towers are gone forever.

Except they're not.

Last night, I was channel-surfing and came across the last half hour of Trading Places, one of my favorite movies. The last few scenes are among the funniest in the film, and even having seen it dozens of times, I was laughing at it. But then came the stock market scene, where Dan Akroyd and Eddie Murphy get out of a cab at the World Trade Center. The camera pans to the Towers glittering in the sun, then follows the actors past the façades into the buildings. And I felt a pang of grief, and started remembering the last time I was there, a warm summer night after a long walk from the Village. My cousin from out of town wanted to see the Towers, and there were too many of us to fit in a cab, and it was a warm summer night in Manhattan, so we walked—mostly because we could.

She's gone too, my cousin. Killed by a drunk driver six weeks later.

I reread my essay. I stand by all of it but the last paragraph. It's naive. It's wrong. I won't cherish the new view. I'll look at it, and it will begin to seep into my consciousness, and eventually it will replace my memory of the old skyline. But I'll still know that it shouldn't have been. Those buildings were supposed to outlast me.

But then, Sharon and I were supposed to grow old together, too. A hole in the sky, a hole in my heart. And holes in the lives of thousands more whose friends and loved ones were taken from them that day.

No, they're not really gone. The memories remain. Get over it?

I think not.



Multilateralism in action

L.T. Smash writes about the British Invasion—and the Czech invasion, and the Australians, Italians, and even a Canadian (half the Canadian Army is based with L.T. Smash) of his place in—well, he doesn't say where he is, exactly. This is the real journal of a soldier in Operation Enduring Freedom. Fascinating reading.

The great Iraq cross-blog debate experiment continues

The questions have been finalized, and they're at NZ Bear's place, and some other guy's. It rather seems to me that either side can answer either group of questions, but apparently the rule is the pro-war side answers the pro-war questions, and vice-versa. Go check them out, and if you have a weblog and are so inclined (I am not), post your answers and let Da Bear know.

Some people shouldn't be allowed near a computer

I was checking my referrers via Webtrends, and the top search phrase so far for the month of February is—get this—"2003 email contact addresses of islamic supreme body."

So I put it into Google, and my archive page comes up with several of the words in the search phrase, and it's second on the list. Okay, so far, not stupid. But here's the stupid part: You can quite plainly see that the words are disparate and not part of the phrase you are looking for. And yet, some idiot or idiots clicked on my page 24 times, I assume because he thinks I have the email addresses of the Islamic Supreme Body—er, which doesn't exist, so far as I know.

Not to worry, though. That song that I won't mention on another page is still the number one search, John Edward is always close behind, and the Hulk is coming on strong. I predict that the Hulk will smash all opposition when the Ang Lee film is released. I also predict more guest appearances by the Hulk on this very blog.

Fun with phone polls

I got an automated call tonight from some kind of polling organization. I think I got it twice, actually, but the first time, I was cooking dinner and didn't answer it. They lied, of course, by saying they'd only take up a couple minutes of my time (it was ten), but I had a lot of fun taking the poll. I was truthful. Mostly.

After about half a dozen questions, I started to see the slant to the poll. Particularly after the questions on privatizing Social Security. As I answered "no" to each privatization question, they got harsher and harsher on the government's ability to invest the Social Security money, until it almost felt like the kind lady with the Southern accent standing behind me asking me questions suddenly morphed into a WWII-era Nazi torturer: "Do you zink ze Zocial Zecurity zyztem vill giff you a single dime vhen you retire? Do you? DO YOU?!?!?! Answer correctly!"

So after I figured out the slant of the poll, I started to have a little fun with it. I admitted I was "somewhat liberal" (I wanted to say "extremely liberal" but was afraid they'd end the questions there, that I was an independent, and that I thought George W. Bush was "extremely conservative" (I wanted to say he was extremely liberal, but I thought they'd figure out I was funnin' them).

They wanted to know if I think the economy is doing good, fair, or poor. They wanted to know if I think we're in a recession. (Yes.) Do I think it will last more than another six months? Yes. My political status: Independent.

Then they got to the international questions:

Would you favor or oppose sending American ground troops to the Middle East to destroy Saddam Hussein's nuclear and chemical weapons in Iraq? (She pronounced it "eye-raq," which also made me giggle.)

If you favor sending American ground troops to Iraq, do you think Saddam Hussein will still be in power six months from now? A year from now? (No to both.)

But here were my two favorite questions, which made me laugh out loud:

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of France? (This one's a gimme.)

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Germany? (You have to ask?)

Methinks the conservative whoevers that sponsored the polls want out of the UN, NATO, and Germany.

Then they wanted to know if I belong to a labor union. Talk about your weird follow-up question. Some demographic data, in which I lied about my income (it's none of their damned business, and besides, I like to exaggerate), told the truth about my age and gender, and gave them my catch-all spam email account so they can continue to ask me about current events and politics.

Oh, yeah. One of the questions was on the frequency I talk about politics with friends and family. Hey, you guys are my friends, some of you. I answered "More than once a day." That would be the correct blogger answer.

Ain't nothin' like a New York insult

Nobody, but nobody does insults better than New Yorkers. Diane E. has been leading the charge in the blogosphere opposing a march next Saturday in New York City. Not the rally, mind you: the march. She's being flamed across the left side of the blogosphere for it, and responds to some of her detractors today. (She also posts that the judge in the case has ruled for the city and says the march will be too risky during these dangerous times.) But this is the sentence that got me laughing out loud:

It may shock Mr. Henley to hear this but....New York City is a huge enterprise, with massive problems.

That's New Yorker for: "Hey, Rube!"

WaPo Palestinian propaganda piece

Molly Moore wrote an article about why there is such a huge difference between Israeli and Palestinian casualty figures. Molly Moore needed to do just a little more research via Google, where she would have found this website that breaks down the casualty figures to combatants vs. noncombatants, young and old, and other categories, which shows that basically, the numbers aren't telling the whole truth. (For instance, 40% of Israeli noncombatant deaths are female. 8.4% of Palestinian noncombatant deaths are female. Interesting figure, that.)

But Molly Moore's angle in this article seems to be that the main reason the casualty figures are so skewed is because the IDF has better weapons and technology than the Pals, and she points out—several times—that the IDF weapons and technology are partly American-made. Oh. And that angle also seems to scream, "But it's not fair!" as if war were somehow a matter of equity and fairness, instead of the idea being to protect your own forces at the expense of the enemy. But then, that does seem to be a common refrain of some these days. But let us look at some of the salient portions of this article.

That has been the consistent pattern of the grueling standoff between Palestinians and Israelis: urban guerrillas armed with assault rifles and homemade explosives battling a military partially financed with U.S. money and equipped with some of the most lethal fighting machines in the world. The result is a startling imbalance in casualties.

Well, uh, no, this isn't a startling imbalance. It's expected—but not guaranteed—when one side is fighting with better technology and weapons. Notice how she puts "partially financed with U.S. money" near the beginning of the article, where it's sure to stick in readers' minds, and imply that we are partly to blame for Palestinian deaths. One might think that the fact that the Pals make war instead of negotiating for territory might have something to do with their deaths, but then, one would not be sticking to the WaPo agenda.

An estimated 735 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip. The comparable death toll for Israeli soldiers is 41. Another 23 Israelis, most of them Jewish settlers, have died in war-related violence. Throughout Israel and the Palestinian-inhabited territories of Gaza and the West Bank, more than 1,800 Palestinians and 700 Israelis have been killed in the conflict.

The primary reason why so many more Palestinians are killed than Israeli soldiers is that the Palestinians are overwhelmingly outgunned. To a large degree, the Israeli military's modern equipment allows it to inflict casualties on Palestinians from a distance, significantly reducing its own losses.

Okay, I'm going to take a huge leap of faith here and say the primary reason why so many more Palestinians are killed than Israeli soldiers is because there is a war on. No side should ever have to apologize for having better equipment that allows it to protect its soldiers at the expense of the enemy. And the vast majority of these Palestinians are not innocent bystanders. They are the enemy, as even Molly Moore's article points out as she tracks a military mission in Gaza. The IDF sent in soldiers to take out the "metal shops" where Palestinians fashion homemade bombs and missiles.

As Levinson's APC drove up Salahedin Street, he said, the downtown area seemed eerily abandoned.

"Then there was a boom," he said. "My reflex was to get down. A missile hit the vehicle next to us. There was a lot of smoke, and little metal pieces flew out of the missile. One hit my flak jacket. But I had to stay outside, someone has to do it. We started shooting back."

The camera in an overhead drone, recording its infrared video in negative black-and-white imagery, captured the black flash of a missile streaking toward Hermoni's command APC. Inside, Hermoni said, he heard a bang and a thud that shook loose a cloud of sandy dust. The homemade missile, with its stubby body and crudely fashioned tail fins, caused no serious damage to the men or their machine.

The Palestinians ambushed the soldiers. That would be consistent with what they do.

The camera in an overhead drone, recording its infrared video in negative black-and-white imagery, captured the black flash of a missile streaking toward Hermoni's command APC. Inside, Hermoni said, he heard a bang and a thud that shook loose a cloud of sandy dust. The homemade missile, with its stubby body and crudely fashioned tail fins, caused no serious damage to the men or their machine.

Notice how she points out that "the homemade missile" did no damage, as if it were simply a firecracker going off. Had it hit, say, the top of Levinson's APC, there would be no quotes from Levinson, and the casualty figures from the Israeli side would have been different.

The Israeli armor on the ground and AH-64 Apaches in the air unleashed a barrage of bullets, antitank rounds and missiles toward a cluster of Palestinian men in an alleyway next to the sprawling Shejaeya Market, just north of the tanks on Salahedin Street.

There was a group of men in an alleyway. The ones firing the missiles, you think?

Hussan Fayyomi, 21, dashed toward the alley, like many of his neighbors. He immediately spotted one of his cousins, Ahmed Fayyomi, 22, a fighter for the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group associated with Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization. That night, however, Ahmed was not carrying a gun, Hussan recalled. Instead, Ahmed screamed at him: "Go back! Go back!"

Palestinian witnesses are notorious liars. They have been caught on tape having "funerals" for corpses that are still alive. Ahmed wasn't carrying a gun, but he was outside, at night, standing with a group of armed men in the middle of a battle with the IDF. While not carrying a gun.

Hussan was knocked to the ground. All around him, he recalled, men fired their rifles wildly at the war birds in the sky.

Interesting. Ahmed wasn't carrying a gun, but all around Hassan, men fired their weapons wildly at the Apache helicopters above. I guess his cousin was just out for a walk in the fresh night air.

"You are wounded, you see your cousin die in front of you. All your friends are there, most from the resistance," Hussan said. "They are fighting with Kalashnikovs and hand grenades. It was like toys against a tank."

Notice the phrase practically tailor-made for the angle of this article: "It was like toys against a tank." What utter bullshit. Kalashnikovs and hand grenades kill. They're not toys. They're quite successful killing machines, and their use has killed hundreds of Israelis. By the way, there's another interesting quote. "All your friends are there, most from the resistance" and they are "fighting with Kalashnikovs and hand grenades." But his cousin, who was killed by a missile from an Apache, was not carrying a rifle. Because he was the only pacifist in the resistance, I suppose.

Loudspeakers blared appeals from the minarets of mosques across the city: "Join the struggle! Join the struggle! God is Great! Come help the injured! Help the injured!"

Adham Hattab, 17, a restaurant worker who had taken a first-aid training course last summer, heard the calls from the mosque. "Let's go," he urged Amjad, his 16-year-old brother who knew nothing about first aid but dreamed of going to college and becoming an engineer.

Two things here: The mosques were used to call Palestinians to arms. This was a battle. And two teenagers are rushing toward a war zone. One dies.

Khaled Shallof, 17, a student, and Mohammed Obed, 20, also responded to the summons. They, too, succumbed to the overwhelming fire from Israeli gunships and tanks.

Within one hour of mayhem, four young Palestinians lay dead in the alley: Three -- Amjad Hattab, Shallof and Obed -- had come to assist the wounded. The fourth was Ahmed Fayyomi. Two wounded men later died at the hospital: Ahmed Ahmed, a Palestinian military intelligence officer who was caught in the battle while walking to his duty station, and Muner Morsi, a fighter for the radical Islamic Jihad group from the nearby Jabalya refugee camp.

Three more young men head for the war zone. They are killed. It's a war zone. Molly Moore seems surprised that these people, two of whom, according to her witnesses, were only trying to help the wounded, are killed. Let's recap: The world has yet to develop a round of ammunition that can judge between bystanders, helpers, and soldiers. What is her point? Again, the evil Israelis are responsible for innocent deaths, because they use overwhelming force to protect their soldiers. (Let's not forget Jenin, where the Israelis did not use overwhelming force, and paid for it with their lives. But I suppose that Jenin fulfills Molly Moore's standards of a fair fight.) And again, Palestinian witnesses are notorious liars. They lie about the age of their dead, they lie about the occupations of their dead, they lie about whether their dead were innocent bystanders or whether they were firing Kalashnikovs at the soldiers.

For Hermoni, this was the most dangerous moment of the mission: sending his men outside the APCs and exposing them to enemy fire while they ducked into darkened workshops to plant the explosives that would turn the shops into heaps of twisted tin and pancaked concrete roofs.

Is it my imagination, or is there a sneer in that paragraph?

The tanks immediately roared back and Khel collapsed, according to witnesses. An Apache helicopter shot a missile into the pavement farther up the street. It barely dented the pavement, they said, but sent shrapnel cutting through the bodies of Rohmi and Khalifa. Khalifa died 20 feet from the shuttered green doors of the candy shop he owned with his brother.

It was just about 2:30 a.m. when young Mohammed Jibril watched Rami Issa run to the street corner and lob a hand grenade toward the tanks below. Seconds later, Mohammed said, he saw a tank shell rip off Issa's head

Once again, it's a battle where one side fires missiles, and the other side fires back. That the Pals have the lesser weapons makes no real difference. A man throws a grenade at a tank. The IDF responds.

A few blocks away, rescue workers, Palestinian gunmen and curiosity seekers had filled the intersection called Askula Square after Israeli tanks withdrew at 2 a.m. Soldiers had finished demolishing an automotive shop in an operation that also flattened the house above it and two adjacent stores.

Ten minutes later, the tanks unexpectedly returned.

Well, that's their story.

From inside the cemetery, other Palestinian fighters launched missiles at the tanks below and members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades began handing out guns and hand grenades to anyone willing to join the battle, according to a half-dozen witnesses.

Giving weapons to "anyone who is willing to join the battle." When the civilian population picks up Kalashnikovs and hand grenades, they cease to be civilians and become combatants—no matter how old, or young, or what gender they may be. Perhaps that is a reason for the imbalance in casualty figures as well, no?

By early Sunday morning, the Palestinian death toll had risen to 12: Four men died at the market and one man wounded there died at a hospital; five men died near the Shama Mosque; and one was killed at Askula Square. Mohammed Nakhalah, 21, a civilian, died of injuries at the hospital, though it was not recorded at which site ambulances found him. A 13th man, who was wounded at the market, died later in the week.

All the Israeli soldiers returned safely to their bases. They had destroyed four automotive and metalworks shops.

Is there a sneer in the second paragraph? Or is it a figment of my imagination?

As for the lack of Israeli casualties after such an intense fight, seven hours after it ended he concluded, "We have better technology, we have good intelligence, and last night -- we had luck."

And luck is not a bad thing.

We've seen this sort of thing over and over again. During the Gulf War 12 years ago, many articles were written about the U.S. bombing campaign, implying or outright saying that our pilots weren't "really" risking their lives because U.S. technology is so far superior to Iraq's. It was said again in Afghanistan, by the press, by the Taliban fighters, by anti-war bloggers, by many people.

It is ridiculous.

I am far from an expert on warfare, but I know this: The primary objective of a nation's military is to defend her nation. That means to make sure that her soldiers kill the enemy's soldiers first. All nations strive for superiority in weapons technology. There is no shame, and it is absurd to even pretend that there should be, in Israel wanting to protect her soldiers at the expense of the Palestinians. It's what armies do.

There is a myth in the world today that Israeli forces have always been this mystical, unbeatable force because it has been supplied with superior U.S. fighter technology. This is false. In the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel had 200 planes, all of which were French, and about 1,000 tanks. The Arab world was supplied with Soviet MiGs, Soviet tanks, and Soviet weapons. Israel was surrounded by 250,000 troops, over 2,000 tanks, and 700 aircraft. And that wasn't the entirety from which they could draw—they had half a million troops, 900 aircraft, and over 5,000 tanks between them. Meantime, the Soviets were supplying the Arab nations up to and throughout the Six-Day War, while the French and Americans boycotted weapons sales to Israel during the same time.

And yet, Arab casualty rates during the Six-Day War were at an astonishing disparity of 25 to 1, in Israel's favor (although the Israelis suffered casualties per capita that would have been comparable to 80,000 American casualties). [Source: Michael Oren, Six Days of War.] This was achieved while the Arabs had both superior weaponry and seemingly overwhelmingly superior force. I haven't exactly looked for them, but I'll bet you won't find news articles from the sixties talking about how the Arabs took unfair advantage of the inferior numbers and weaponry of the Israelis.

Spare us any more articles on the poor, downtrodden Palestinian "resistance" fighters, who are forced to use inferior weaponry. Even when there is parity and beyond, the Arab armies have been defeated time and again by the Israelis.

I'm so tired of the David and Goliath stories. Get over it. How about writing a story on the failure of the Pals to sit down at the table and negotiate for the territories peacefully? Or is that not on the agenda anymore?

Blame him

By the way, the above was brought to you because Combustible Boy brought it to me. Damn him.

Welcome to the blogosphere, E.

E. Nough, the psuedonymous contributor of thoughtful and funny comments at LGF, has his own weblog. This is the man whose parody news article was actually picked up by Ha'aretz for an hour or two. I think he's got a great future in weblogs. Welcome, E.



The right to rally. Right?

Diane E. points out that the much-maligned permit refusal for the rally in New York next Saturday isn't being covered properly. Bloggers are missing the vital facts: The permit for the rally has been okayed. What the city refuses to do is issue is a permit for a march.From her blog:

WAIT A SECOND. There is a fundamentally incorrect meme being spread in the blogosphere about the refusal of the city to grant United For Peace and Justice a parade and rally permit to march past the UN. Their right to protest under the First Amendment is not an issue, because the city has indicated a willingness to issue a rally permit. They may gather in a large area at the intersection of 47th and 1st, in full view of the UN.

The problem is the march past the UN. The city is under a code orange alert; a friend who attended the hearing told me that the Police Department representative said that 8,000 cops would be needed to police the march. Manpower would be scoured from many precincts, including the transit police. Of course, it doesn't take too much to figure out that subways, buses and bridges would be among the ripest targets for terrorist attacks.

Let's get it right, people. Check out what Diane is saying.

Yet another explosive-laden lull in the war

Even though this event inspired one of Lair's funniest posts ever, the reality is that there's never a letup in the terrorism—only in the minds of those who report on it, and only because a "mega-event" hasn't occurred.

This car bomb in the Gaza Strip was obviously meant to kill as many Israelis as possible, whether civilians or soldiers we can't say. It was holding 150 kilograms—that's 330 lbs.—of explosives.

That's one hell of a bomb. 200 kg of explosives killed 91 and wounded 1400 in Colombo (there's a Tamil Tigers website? You have got to be kidding me). On September 2, 2002, the IDF stopped a car bomb laden with nearly half a ton of explosives.

This article says the typical (!) suicide bomber carries 5-10 kg (11-22 lbs) worth of explosives, but this female suicide bomber who changed her mind was carrying 16 kg (35 lbs).

The Bali bomb was estimated to be 50 to 100 kg. This bomb had the potential to cause more devastation than the bomb at Bali.

They are trying extremely hard to bring on their mega-terror attack. It's not a "lull" in the bombing. It's the IDF doing a damned good job.

Which is why I'm stunned at this story: Mofaz orders easing of restrictions on Palestinians to mark end of Haj.

Look for a successful suicide attack that day or the next. I hope I'm wrong, but every single time the IDF has eased up restrictions in the past year, Israelis have died.

Reach out and touch type someone

So what would the female version of a pissing contest be? Because I think Megan McArdle and I are in one. Witness:

Similarly, while I know that many of y'all think that I just make this stuff up, when I write a blog post off the top of my head, it's usually on something where I've done some prior thinking or research. The fact that I type 85 words a minute allows me to generate largish posts in little time, but that's only provided that I already know what I'm going to say. I haven't commented on the budget because finding out what's happening is going to take me time that I don't currently have.

This was posted a mere two days after I posted this:

I'm a touch typist, and when last tested, clocked in at over 100 wpm on an IBM Selectric. I'm generally a lot faster on a computer keyboard.

I had no idea Megan was so competitive about typing, but hey, if you're gonna throw down the carpal-tunnel wristband, I'm gonna pick it up and accept the challenge. That 85 wpm is on a computer keyboard, I presume? Add a minimum of 20 wpm to my above total (it was exactly 104 wpm, and I took the test at a New York employment agency, so none of that smug "But it wasn't in New York" attitude, Megan). Then realize that I took that typing test some three or four years ago, which means I'm even faster today. In fact, I just may get to the point where I have to use a special asbestos keyboard to keep the keys from melting as I type.

It's been known to happen.

Okay, it's been known to happen to Superman. And the Flash.

Over to you, Jane.

Kid stuff

Today in class, my kids reminded me that it isn't only grownups that are foreign creatures to children. Children can act like alien beings as well.

The first fifteen minutes of my class are spent in what may as well be called the warm-up exercises: Attendance, tzedakah (the children bring money for charity and put it in a can, for use later to a charity to be determined), and a couple of jokes or funny stories from me. Somehow, we got on the topic of punishments that teachers used to give students, and one of my children told me a story her grandmother related. Bad children were forced to stand up against the chalkboard with their nose inside a small circle. While I shuddered at the thought, having been to school in far less enlightened days (can you say, "Paddled on your birthday?" I knew you could), for some reason, most of the children were struck by how much fun this would be. They begged me to draw a circle on the whiteboard and let them stand there. I refused. We got down to our writing lesson, and they tried again and again, until finally I realized I could use it to my advantage, and told them that anyone who finished the alef bet in script would be allowed to go to the whiteboard and stand with their nose in a circle, if that's what they wanted. All but one of the children insisted on doing this, as I and my teacher's aides watched in bemusement.

The instigators The second tier
Last, but not least The only one smart enough not to put his nose on a whiteboard

My kids, the clowns. The last picture on the right is the only student who had no desire to put his nose in a circle on a whiteboard. (I don't blame him.) I couldn't leave him out. But hey, the kids worked pretty hard on their alef bet for the privilege of being (sigh) "punished."


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.