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So this morning, I went to Saturday Shabbat services at my synagogue for the first time since I joined, because my co-editor on the newsletter is Rabbi Koller (who is no longer a full-time rabbi), and he was being honored this morning, and I thought I should be there. And since the Or Atid folks hadn't seen me there on a Saturday, ever, I was asked to come up to the bima for an aliya, and of course I said yes. (For the Gentiles out there, I went up to the lectern to say the blessings before and after the rabbi read a Torah portion.) It has actually been a couple of years since I had the pleasure, and I discovered that sitting in the pews listening to someone else do it, and doing it yourself are two different things. But I did all right, and felt quite proud and honored. And then Catherine, who is a woman, as we say, Of A Certain Age, and who had just had her Bat-Mitzvah a few months ago, chanted the Haftorah portion that she read at her Bat Mitzvah, and I realized something.

Friday afternoon, while dropping off some the synagogue newsletter, I was chatting with the rabbi and told him that I'd never had my Bat-Mitvah. "We can fix that," he said, and before I knew it I had an appointment with him on Monday to pick up the tape of him chanting my Haftorah portion. (It's II Kings IV, 1-37.)

It's kind of neat, actually. Normally, you don't get your birthday. But the week before is a child's Bar Mitzvah, and the week after is probably Thanksgiving. So, on November 15th, I'm going to get Bat Mitzvahed. I think I'll use Henny Youngman's line, adjusted. He was in his sixties, I think, or perhaps even older, when he got his Bar Mitvah. "Today," he said, "I am a boy."

I have ten months to learn my Haftorah portion. Yeesh. Well, Rabbi Koller says he'll help, too. That's two rabbis I can draw from. Not everyone has that advantage.

This is going to be an interesting year.

Wrong Answer

I've been reading around various weblogs lately, where the anti-war bloggers (mostly on the left) are responding to the hawk bloggers (mostly on the right) regarding the anti-American, pro-Communist dictatorships International ANSWER sponsoring last week's anti-war rally in Washington. Most of the anti-war webloggers insist that the hawks are being hypocritical, and that it doesn't matter much that ANSWER sponsored the rally, because the cause was just.

This is my thought on the matter: If you lie down with the pigs, you get up covered with mud. When I see signs that say "Stop the Jew$," I don't give a shit who your sponsor is. You have defeated your purpose of peaceful, inclusive protest by allowing racist, anti-Semitic scumbags to share your stage.

Or is it only people like Charles Johnson who have to be called responsible for unsavory opinions written in his orbit? That's just a tad hypocritical, if you ask me.



Virtual exhaustion

You know, I think I'm blank today. Wiped out. Yes, I and my weblog, we've been working hard these last couple of days. Traffic has been more than double the usual, what with Blogdex and Daypop and now Popdex picking up the Carnival of the Vanities, and the Bloggie nomination throwing some my way, and then all the folks linking to the Carnival. Weird how it took Daypop a full day to pick up on the Carnival. You want to work on that, folks.

In fact, the back-to-normal stats are sort of like having my weblog sigh, roll over, and light a cigarette. (I think she's smiling, too.)

But then again, maybe I'm not drawing a blank. Check this out: The ultimate in vanity searches for webloggers. And no, I will not be signing up. Puh-leeze. I can do my own vanity searches.



Daniel Pearl remembered

The Weisenthal Center hasn't forgotten. It's the anniversary of the kidnapping of Danny Pearl, the American Jewish journalist kidnapped and butchered by Islamonazis.

That's what they wrote. This is what I wrote when I heard the news. And this is what I wrote a little while later. Then this came out when I'd calmed down a bit. But the final paragraphs hold true today.

I no longer wonder about the answer to the question of whether they would kill me because I am Jewish. The actions of the Islamonazis in the last year have answered that question for me.

And my anger at Pearl's death burns just as brightly now as it did a year ago. And I see no hope, at this time, of it leveling off. Perhaps after Iraq falls, the Middle East might change. I can't see it, but maybe it will happen. We can hope.

I'm rubber, you're glue

France and Germany got mad at Donald Rumsfeld for referring to them as "Old Europe." This is what got them so annoyed:

"You're thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't," Rumsfeld said in his remarks. "I think that's old Europe. If you look at the entire NATO Europe today, the centre of gravity is shifting to the east, and there are a lot of new members."

This is what they said:

"We should try to treat each other sensibly," German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Thursday as he left for a tour of Turkey and the Middle East in an attempt to cool the crisis. "Our position is not a problem, it is a constructive contribution."

[...] French Finance Minister Francis Mer said he was "profoundly vexed" by the remarks.

"I wanted to remind everyone that this 'old Europe' has resilience, and is capable of bouncing back," Mr. Mer told LCI television. "And it will show it, in time."

"If you knew what I feel like telling him, to Mr. Rumsfeld ...," French Ecology Minister Roselyne Bachelot said on Europe-1 radio. She then stopped herself and said the word would be too offensive to publish.

I think the word was "fuck." It would have to be. If I remember my French swear words, it's—it's—hm. I've forgotten my French swear words. Well, at least the one that means "fuck." I remember the one that means doo-doo. (I'm using that word in order not to offend any Old Europeans who may be reading this. They seem to be a mite touchy these days.) Oh. That word is "merde," and it was taught to me by my ninth grade French teacher, whose way of teaching us French was to show us (endlessly) slides of his trip to Paris. Somebody misspelled "mardi" on a test, and he told us that we shouldn't misspell that word, because spelled "merde" it meant—well, you've figured it out by now. (And don't think I haven't noticed that the French Finance Minister's name is three-fifths of "merde." Doesn't matter that so are the first three letters of my name. I'm not French.) Did I tell you that I dropped French after the next year, when my next teacher's way of having us learn French was to assign homework every day, then go up and down the class asking students homework questions?

I remember that my most frequent response from him was "Pourquoi, Meryl, pourquoi?" because, inevitably, he had asked me a question I didn't know the answer to. ("Je ne sais pas" is the only phrase I really remember well from French class.) I sort of lost interest in French and stopped doing the homework. Come to think of it, he was reponsible for my first high school detention as well, since I'd (sigh) gotten hold of some blank nurse's excuse slips and thought I was good enough to forge her signature for an absence and cut class. (Okay, so maybe I was responsible for it, but he's the one who caught me.) He recognized the inferior work immediately and sent me to the principal's office. I learned then that I had no future in forgery, and I didn't care too much for French, either, so that let me out as, say, working for the French Embassy in New York or as a translator at the United Nations. I think, however, that it does qualify me to be on the UN Human Rights Commission. They speak French in Libya, don't they?

I think the above was a major digressive paragraph. (Is "digressive" a word, or did I suddenly become a business major and just make up a word that sounds like what I need it to mean?) I meant to get around to something like this.

Coming up next, Rumsfeld responds to the Old Europe remarks: "Neener, neener, neener!"

That's what I love about stuff like this. You can't make it up. They're really trading insults on the international level. This calls for a Nelson.

Laughing at the lunatic fringe

I normally ignore Indymedia, but I've just realized how much potential for fun there is with something as simple as their article summaries, such as these:

Politics of Female Bodyhair Karen X 2003-01-23 02:51:17
Women of the left - overcome your fear of bodyhair!!! (full story)

Okay, so I had to read the full story. Let's have a look:

Women of the left - overcome your fear of bodyhair!!!

Why can't we just let our hair down?

Whisper it, but women are hairy. Our armpits, shins, knees - even upper lips. But what is so repellent about body hair that we are still pretending to be bald from the forehead down? Mimi Spencer on feminism's lost battle

Hm. That's almost coherent. But why?

Thursday January 23, 2003
The Guardian

Oh. In keeping with Indymedia's "open publishing" dictate, yet another Indymedia "journalist" has posted yet another full article from a legitimate news source—without reprint permission. A bit beyond the Fair Use doctrine, don't you think?

All right, a quick skim. Sisters, feminism, 19th-century women didn't shave, yadda yadda yadda... oh, wait, here's something interesting:

If we were all to let it grow rife, like the shrubs in the Lost Gardens of Heligan, I'm convinced we would soon find that hair in all the usual places isn't quite such a turnoff after all. Remember the German rockstar Nena - noted for her 99 Red Balloons and her rude gush of underarm undergrowth? The hair - luxuriant and ape-like as I recall - carried a hint of the erotic, a sort of Euro-exotica that gave her the appeal of an up-for-it she-wolf. At the time, boys loved it.

Really? Every guy that I watched the video with joined me in saying, "Ewwwwww! Gross!" In fact, one of the funniest Gilda Radner skits ever was her drunken, drugged-out rock star modeled on Patti Smith. She would drink a beer, belch, then in one scene grabbed a comb from someone and brushed her armpit hair with it. It was hilarious. (By the way, Patti Smith played at my college. She was so out of it during the concert that she couldn't remember how to spell "Gloria." I swear.)

Give us more Nenas, more Julia Roberts' armpit fur, more European tennis champs. Put it on the cover of Vogue.

Oh. my. God. I have just been scarred for life by that image. Whom do I sue?

After all, it is incredible that the subject is still taboo. We freely discuss anal sex,

No we don't.

female sexual dysfunction,

No we don't.

paedophilia and boob jobs.

Okay, now you're talking. Michael Jackson! Catholic priests! Oprah! (Boob jobs was the topic of today's show.)

But still body hair in the wrong place is off limits. Isn't it time to come clean?

I did, this morning, in the shower. Now my legs are as soft as a baby's behind. (I once said that in the hearing of my friend's six-year-old girl, and she turned around, dropped her drawers and said, "You mean like this?")

Isn't it time to ditch the depilation, storm the shelves of Boots, burn the bleach and spike the tweezers? Of course it is. But, hey sister, you first.

Ha. Ha. Look, she's so brave, she won't practice what she preaches. Whereas I will blithely tell you that yeah, it's a pain to shave, and no, I won't stop. So I've been brainwashed. I also happen to think that bathing regularly is a good thing. I hear most Euros don't.

Let's see what else is on the index.

A Must Read Speech From January 10 Aimara 2003-01-23 02:13:49
A bad-ass speech against the detentions, round-ups and disappearances of Musliim, South Asian, and Arab immigrants as well as an assault against the whole juggernaut of war and oppression that is being promoted in this country. (full story)

A bad-ass speech. Well. With a build-up like that, how can we resist? Very easily. Pass.

CALL YOUR CONGRESSPERSON NOW! - Urge impeachment if Bush ignores the UN bov 2003-01-23 00:28:09
The situtation is insane - Bush, Blair, Rummy et al are making it more and more clear they intend to ignore the UN, which represents the entire world. Does ANY country besides the belligerent leaders of the US, UK and Israel support this? Don't just sit there, take action. (full story and 2 comments)

Let's judge this one by its summary, shall we? Reasons to impeach the President: Because he's not going to adhere to what the UN says. Hm. [scratches head] [thinking hard] I'm not remembering that as a valid reason for impeachment. I don't think the Constitution of the United States of America has a single line in it about the President having to obey the United Nations. Of course, it has been a long time since I've been out of college—far longer than for the author of the above piece, I'm sure—but I would stake my very life on my being right about this.

Let's look around some more.

I know it feels pointless to actually call idiotic congressional representatives, but they seem have no clue and need to get a sense of how angry their constituents are.

I am becoming more and more certain that the author of this piece is below the legal drinking age.

The impeachment idea is starting to fly all over the internet and now is the time to make the phone call, or send the fax.

Yeah, but so do things like What is Your Hobbit Name? An internet meme is hardly a reason to think that anyone is actually paying attention to the current vogue for more than 30 seconds.

DO NOT JUST SEND EMAIL - congressmembers are admitting that they don't read them and it becomes a feel-good act that is useless (unless you can crash their system . . . )

Make up your mind. Do you need to contact your idiotic Congressional representative, or crash their email system? Are they useful or useless? Do you anticipate being able to impeach President Bush without your idiotic Congressperson?

If Bush starts a war with Iraq, against the decisions of the United Nations, then he will have violated the UN Charter. The UN Charter was signed by the USA and is, therefore, United States law according to the Constitution. So Bush will have violated the "supreme law of the land" and will have to be impeached and removed from office.

The logic of this statement makes me ashamed that you actually spring from the American educational system. But I thank you for giving me the Articles of Impeachment. Now we can pass them along to one of our idiotic Congressional representatives and see if they agree with your assessment of the illegality of ignoring the UN's diktats.

But wait, there's more. Hold onto your hats, boys and girls—there actually exists a document with the Articles of Impeachment against George W. Bush on this matter. I didn't know the gun was loaded.

We should all fax it to our idiotic Congressional representatives, with this cover page: "Dear Congressperson: Thought you could use a good laugh today. Best, etc."

Oh, if you're looking for a link, I don't link to Nazimedia. You'll have to visit the site yourself, if you can stomach page after page of virulent anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. I just delve into it now and then for material.



Reasons to read Imshin

Well, there's the fact that you can get a real, live, Israeli citizen's point of view. There's the fact that she's an excellent writer, has extremely well-reasoned viewpoints, and presents them in excellent English (must be her upbringing, hm, Imshin?). And then there are things like this, on why she will probably vote for Ariel Sharon:

[A Palestinian asks] "Isn't it logical for Israelis to vote for Mitzna after Sharon failed to bring them peace and security?"”

But as I see it, Sharon didn't bring peace and security because peace and security were sadly not to be had. This, of course, was greatly due to the actions of the Palestinians themselves, during the last two years.

If the Palestinians gave me any reason to believe that they were seeing things differently, I would maybe thinking again about who to vote for, although I must admit, the more I see and hear of Mitzna, the less I approve of him.

What could they do? You may ask. Well, if I could see some sort of move in Palestinian opinion polls against terrorist attacks, for a start, or some sort of popular call to put an end to them; some serious attempts to discipline Islamic organizations would be nice, as well. But how can they do these things? You ask. They are under curfew and closure, after all. Well even in the West Bank they are not under curfew and closure all the time, they seem to have plenty of opportunity to rebuild weapon workshops and organize terrorist attacks the minute the tanks roll out. And in Gaza they have always been free to do something to change the situation, but chose not to. On the contrary, no one prevents the Islamic organizations there in their attempts to provoke us into reoccupying Gaza’s cities by daily launching rockets and mortars on Israel towns and villages, in the Gaza Strip and inside pre-67 Israel alike. They are busy fighting each other there, but not because of the attacks on us.

The Palestinians could have made a marked difference in these elections, at least as far as I'm concerned, if they had wanted. Not by winking towards the party of their choice, but by starting a popular movement calling for peace and compromise with Israel. Couldn't do it? Well, that's just too bad, because my fingers can't put the piece of paper saying "Emet" (the letters representing the Labor party) in the envelope next Tuesday, either. They've missed yet another chance to better their situation. So what else is new?

The peace of the dead. Er, brave, I mean brave!

Yasser Arafat (sometimes known as Arafish) has an expression he uses to charm ignorant reporters, "peace" activists, and stupid former U.S. Presidents: He mentions "the peace of the brave" that he "agreed to" with Yitzhak Rabin, the assassinated Premiere of Israel.

Here is what the "peace of the brave" means to Arafat:

Palestinian Authority honors Pessah massacre bomber

The Palestinian Authority has honored Abdel Baset Odeh, the Hamas terrorist who carried out the Pessah night suicide bombing in Netanya's Park Hotel last year, by naming a soccer tournament after him.

Thirty people were killed and dozens were wounded in the attack, which was one of the worst of the 28-month uprising, and triggered Operation Defensive Shield.

The authority's ministries of sports and education have been naming tournaments after Palestinian "martyrs" for several years. But the decision to honor Odeh surprised many Palestinians because of his affiliation with Hamas.

Seven school teams are participating in the tournament, which is taking place in Tulkarm, the hometown of Odeh. Each one of the teams has been named after a "martyr" from the city.

Meanwhile, over in Syria-occupied Lebanon:

Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi Aridi called on Hizbullah to intensify attacks on Israel, the Beirut Daily Star reports.

Addressing a rally in Beirut on Monday called to protest Canada's decision to ban the Lebanese-based terrorist group, Aridi said that Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000 had not undercut the need for Hizbullah to continue its military activities.

"We think very differently from those in or outside Lebanon who believe that the battle with Israel has ended and that, as a result, the resistance has become unnecessary," he told those in attendance.

"We see the battle with this enemy as moving to a new stage," Aridi said, adding that attacks on Israel are "a need, a duty and a right. We call for strengthening it."

The day after Aridi made his remarks, Hizbullah gunmen fired dozens of anti-tank missiles and mortar shells at IDF outposts in the Mount Dov area, the first bombardment of its kind in five months.

And remember, a Lebanese politician doesn't take a dump without first getting permission from their Syrian masters, who have occupied Lebanon since before Israel withdrew.

Why is it we never hear about things like this on Rotters News Service, or in the anti-war blogs? Oh, that's right. It dilutes their message of peaceful Arabs wanting only their own state next to Israel. Not in it.

The Bloggies

A great big thank-you to my readers. My post "They Don't Get Blog" was nominated in the best essay/article on weblogs category. And Charles Johnson is up for best political weblog. So's Andrew Sullivan. Michele of A Small Victory is up for three Bloggies—best American, best political, and weblog of the year. And this year, I'm pleased to see Little Yellow Different nominated. I put him on my ballot. Rebecca Blood would be my choice for lifetime achievement this year, culminating the year in which her book on weblogs was published.

I highly recommend you visit the nominated weblogs. Most of them are superb. (I can't say all because I haven't seen them all yet.)

First, read. Then, go vote!

Carnival of the Vanities #18

Which ones to read? All of them. But, what with my recent fall and all of the attention my ass has been garnering, I'm going to award one butt gif to each post. The first group gets the big butt-cheek, because they're the ones I found extremely amusing or thoughtful or the writers have blackmail pictures of me. The second group gets a half butt-cheek. That means read them later, which you should, because none of them tried to blackmail me, and that deserves to be rewarded. (Note to contributors: If I missed you or messed up your link, email me, I'll fix it.)

The point of the Carnival is greater exposure for a wide variety of posts and weblogs that would otherwise not get the attention. Take a moment or three to look around each of the weblogs you visit. My taste and judgment aren't the same as yours. You'll find some real gems out there, and will probably not agree with my butt-ratings. (This is getting to be fun, this butt stuff. At least, until the obscene searches start coming in.)

Carnival #19 is hosted next week by Dodd Harris of Ipse Dixit (last week wasDave). Let's not forget Bigwig, whose idea this was and who may even one day take it back to Silflay Hraka, but not today. He's looking for new hosts, so send him an email if you, too, want to spend several hours reading and summarizing other bloggers' work. (It's not really that hard.) Special thanks to Laurence Simon, who gave me the butt-cheek gif that, uh, graces the page below.

One butt DC Pierson updates Shirley Jackson's short story, "The Lottery," in a wickedly funny post.

One butt Tim Dunlop is trying his hand at Letters to a Young Blogger—his advice on whether or not to blog. For some reason, I'm reminded of the scene from The Princess Bride where Billy Crystal's character says, "He said 'to blave'!"

One butt Judith Weiss has an excellenty-reasoned essay on why the right shouldn't be so quick to take credit for everything the left accomplished since the 1960s, and why the left needs to clean its house today.

One butt Laurence Simon is at it again, with this parody of the song "Giant Purple People Eater." (Hint: This one uses a one-eyed Egyptian-born people killer.)

One butt N.Z. Bear wants to start a cross-blog discussion on Iraq. Any takers?

One butt Frank of IMAO has a transcript of a Donald Rumsfeld press conference that no other media source is brave enough to publish. Why, you'd almost think he made it up.

One butt Da Goddess has figured out Osama bin Laden's real secret plan to destroy America. Honest.

One butt Bigwig sings songs to his toddler at bedtime, but they're balanced. At least as balanced as he. Oh, go look. You'll get it.

One butt Fred First is querying his fellow bloggers on their dialect oddities, and getting an international response. Don't let dialect discrimination overwhelm us, he says.

One butt The Girl From Ipanema has been one of my favorite songs since I sang it in sixth-grade chorus. Madwoman Kane has managed to parody it with—who else?—George Bush as the subject.

One butt Diane L. talks about the language of love, and how different it is for men and women.

One butt Lynn Sislo has some good words of advice to the RIAA.

One butt Solonor has gotten his hands on the secret emails the government used to spam the Iraqi Army officers.

One butt Lynn B. on why Israel will never give up Hebron. (Hint: The Tomb of the Patriarchs is sacred to all three major religions, and the Muslims don't want to share.)

One butt Michele has the dubious honor of being my first-ever link to soft-core you-know-what. If that doesn't rate a butt-cheek, nothing does.

One butt Dodd is talking states' rights and the President's attempt to limit damages in malpractice lawsuits. Why, I almost agree with what he says. (Almost.)

half-butt Windrider waxes poetic about the Axis of Weevil's gift pack, but I think I'm being insulted in the same post.

half-butt Shanti talks about quotas in her native India, and shows us how bad the quota system can be.

half-butt Michael Finley is a pissed-off poet. Yeah, I get where you're coming from, Michael. So do a lot of people.

half-butt Jim reminisces about his bachelor days, and relates the story of having to give up his dishes for their dishes.

half-butt Chuck Simmins has a lot to say to the protesters who think Saddam is an elected dictator.

half-butt Jeff's pretty unhappy with the protesters as well. It's time to wake up and smell the blood in Iraq, he says.

half-butt Fran brings us along as she looks for bald eagles feeding on salmon along the Skagit River.

half-butt Foolsblog reminisces about brussels sprouts. (My conversion vegetable was broccoli.)

half-butt Ravenwood's got a rating of the ten best generals of all time, and then throws in five furriners for good luck.

half-butt Skippy the Bush Kangaroo laments Richard Crenna's passing.

half-butt James DiBenedetto's talking about censorship, or really, the lack thereof, in his response to a whine about censoring.

half-butt John Jay Ray says scientists are fibbing about the Greenhouse Effect.

half-butt Beer. More beer. Beer in Bozeman, Montana. (Montana has beer? Who knew?)

half-butt The Texas legislature is back in session. Jack says "Send in the clowns!"

half-butt David's mad about the Michigan point system, too. (A lot of people seem to be angry about that. Go figure.)

half-butt Button gets pretty angry over the Dubai rape case, where the French woman is being charged with adultery instead of having her attackers charged with rape. Yeah, I'm pretty mad about that one, too. But not very surprised.

half-butt The Cycling Dude has, well, a cycling version of the Zorro tale. (And many other cycling stories.)

half-butt And I thought my butt jokes were on the edge of bad taste. Then I read "The Adventure of Phlemmo." Yuck.

half-butt The Raving Atheist managed to offend even me with his post on Senator Lieberman's sex life.




12,000 infantry troops from Fort Hood, Texas, are on their way to the Middle East. You know, it's been a really long time since I've seen "No Time for Sergeants," but whenever I hear the word "infantry," all I can think of is Andy Griffith at the end of the film, with that great beaming smile on his face, saying, "Th' infantry!"

Hey, Doc, what are the roots of the word "infantry," anyway? It seems an odd word to describe foot soldiers, but then, I don't know my Latin. Does it mean "sore feet"?

I found this line in my temp file:

I am tired of seeing Jews sacrificed on the altars of history's hatred.

Guess I never found an essay to put it in, but damn, I like that line.

I am eating home-made potato chips, and you are not. The benefits of being Meryl.

And those home-made chips are the reason I didn't get around to the Axis of Weevil post that I keep meaning to write. I sort of have to, because I've been inducted, and it's only polite. I suppose in taking so long to get around to it, though, I may be keeping up a fine old Southern tradition. I'm not sure which one, because I know even Yankees have a fine old tradition of procrastination, so maybe it's a universal tradition I am upkeeping. To coin a phrase.

Montykins. Montykins. Montykins!

Every so often, I find a new blogger that makes me simply bust a gut laughing. Well, I think I just cracked three ribs reading this one:

I'm reading a column on Salon about college football coaches, and the writer says this:

Under NCAA rules, college football players are denied the rights of average American citizens to change schools at will, while football and basketball coaches are granted privileges reserved, in other times and places, for nobility.

I hope to hell he's not talking about droit du seigneur.

But wait, there's more. Thanks to Mac Thomason, I found Montykins' essay on the all-pirate Superbowl.

Not only that, but he likes The Gilmore Girls. And reading. And comics. I think I'm in love again. But Monty, take my word for it, and do not continue reading George R. R. Martin's Throne series. You will regret it. I read the first and almost liked it. I read the second and realized I will never again read anything of Martin's, not even if it's a letter to me with an enclosed check. Here's a summary of the next book: It's long. There are lots of mean people in it. There are more destriers and wizened crones. Lots of people die. There are lots of battles. And Martin's characters spout the effing history of every effing family in the entire effing made-up world before you get to the index at the end of the book, where he thinks you're actually going to read even more about these stupid effing made-up pseudo-Tudors and whatever else the British royal house names were. And the goddamned dwarf doesn't die. Or wait. Maybe he does, at the very end? I don't remember. I know he got pretty badly hurt, and I cheered that scene.

Trust me on this one. Don't read the rest.

As for the rest of you, read the rest of Monty. Hit that "previous" arrow in his journal and discover Teddy and the Mystery Parrot or how to build a better crackpot. Recommended especially for days when you're not feeling so hot.



Carnival #18 update

Much of the butt-ugly work is already done, and you will understand that reference on Wednesday, my children. The Carnival emails keep arriving. I am caught up. The rest of you, get going! I teach class tomorrow. Buffy is on tomorrow night, and it's a new episode. Send me your submissions before the Advil wears off and it hurts to surf again. Remember, deadline is 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Tuesday, January 21st.

LOTR photo captions to die for

Solonor pointed me to this site that found a bootleg copy of FOTR with a really bad transcript of the dialogue. It is utterly hilarious. Go, read, but put down your coffee and soda first.

A lesson in physical equivalence

It occurs to me that my tales of woe may not be engendering as much sympathy as they might. In fact, it does seem to me that some of you are actually snickering about my inability to sit comfortably. So I thought of a way you could all reproduce what happened to me last Thursday.

Here's what you do. Lie on the floor on your stomach. Better yet, lie outside on a hard stone surface. Get your spouse or a friend or relative to drop a 100-lb. weight on your ass from a height of, oh, two and a half feet. To make it more realistic, make sure the weight falls vertically so that it practically bisects your butt-cheeks. (And just imagine the searches I'll be getting with that phrase.) By "bisects" I mean in the shape of a cross, not parallel. If you want to be even more realistic, you could add weight in 10-lb. increments until I told you to stop, which would equal my current weight, but frankly, I'd rather die than admit my weight on the internet, so you can stick with the single 100-lb. weight. (Once again, for those of you using the metric system, you're simply going to have to do the math yourself. I'm afraid I can't convert to kilograms.)

All right. Ready? I'll wait. Go ahead and perform the experiment, and then come back and try to sit in your regular computer chair and surf the Net.

Would you like an extra pillow?

You're welcome.

(Three weeks. Three weeks, my friend the nurse said, before the pain goes away. I have a literal pain in my ass, and ya know what? It's not funny.)

Update: For those of you who may not be wholly familiar with my Inner Bitch, yeah, the above was a joke, too. It is funny that I hurt my butt, especially since if it came down to a choice between me and the senior citizen couple who went towards the stairs after I fell down them, and whom I prevented from walking on the stairs (they hadn't seen the fall), then, well, I'll just suck up the pain (figuratively speaking, of course) and deal with it. Well, and bitch about it a bit. Okay. A lot. Happy now?

Apartheid state in the Middle East

Oh, no, not Israel. Saudi Arabia.

Businesswomen’s presence at JEF significant, participants say

JEDDAH, 20 January 2003 —- The fact that an economic forum was held specifically for Saudi businesswomen is clear evidence that they have become a significant presence in the Saudi business world, according to those who partook in Saturday’s female-only conference at the Jeddah Economic Forum.

Yes, it's significant that Saudi Arabia practices sexual apartheid and yet does not have economic boycott petition drives launched against it. It's significant that a Saudi woman cannot travel outside the country without the permission of her guardian—who is either her husband, father, or a male relative.

But wait, there are signs of progress! Saudi women have been issued their very own ID card. Previously,

JEDDAH, 11 December — The Kingdom has started issuing identity cards to women for the first time to make their lives easier and to help prevent fraud, Interior Minister Prince Naif said yesterday.

He clarified that the issuance of identity cards to women will in no way violate Saudi women’s dignity, or contradict Islamic teachings.

“Women are issued IDs only to prove their identity so they can protect their rights,” Prince Naif said in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency.

“The issuing of identity cards to women is dictated by the requirements of modern life. They enable women to undertake all her activities with ease and also to prevent forgery and trickery committed in the name of women in the absence of identification,” Prince Naif said.

The absence of such ID cards has been the cause of many inconveniences, the prince added.

Saudi women are currently listed as dependents on the card of their father or husband.

They are issued with passports but are not allowed to travel unless accompanied by a male legal guardian or with written permission from a male relative.

And then there's this editorial complaining about the slings and arrows that Saudi women suffer, written by—is it true?—a woman:

Women in the past also got telephone connections. But alas! Not now. Saudi Telecom Company (STC) treats a bona fide female Saudi citizen as if she were an expatriate — and I mean no disrespect to expatriates. If she wants to get a telephone, she must apply through a male guarantor as expatriates in the Kingdom are required to do. This humiliating condition, according to STC, is to make sure women pay their bills. It creates the impression that women are all out to cheat STC while men are all very prompt at paying theirs.

Because the Riyadh police view all women as tricksters and thieves, it issued an order stipulating that a guardian must be present when a woman sells gold or precious jewelry to ensure that she is not selling stolen goods. If a woman wants a commercial registration, she has to go through a male agent who is a Saudi. Even a Saudi woman’s husband, if he is a non-Saudi, is not eligible to act as her agent. He is not eligible to be her representative or handle her official documents or even make inquiries about her passport at government offices.

Now let us examine the order of the government department aimed at curbing the increasing traffic violations in the Kingdom. The order says that the department will not add the name of a man’s wife to his family identification card or issue him an ID card unless the department is satisfied that the man has paid all his traffic fines. According to local newspapers, by this move, the department hopes to reduce both the accumulating unpaid fines on one hand and any new violations on the other. Imagine what people outside the Kingdom will think of us when they read the order in newspapers and on the Internet.

I can tell you what people think of you when we read this sort of thing, sweetie. We think you live in a medieval country with laws that discriminate against women, minorities, any religion other than Islam, and non-residents (just read a few articles about how foreign workers are treated in Saudi Arabia). And you think the government needs to apologize to women? How about changing the laws so that you're not treated like your husband's and father's belongings? Or is that just too much freedom for you to conceive?



Reasons to love Laurence

WAY more than three. Go read them all. You are strongly advised not to be eating or drinking while reading these comic strips.

Now I'm off to catch up on the Axis of Weevil over at Possumblog. I think I've been inducted, but I was a bit occupied this weekend.

Carnival of the Vanities arriving in town

I'm hosting #18. I've just sent out the monster email, after wasting only about fifteen minutes before realizing that Dave must be using Outlook or something like it, and that Netscape Mail, which I use, requires commas between email addresses. Sigh. I am so rusty on tech-like things. I should try to get a programming job just to make myself relearn these things, not because I want one.

Gracie is nearly back to normal, but seems to be sleeping a lot more than usual today. Gee. I wonder why.


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.