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When you think they can't sink any lower...

Egypt is furious with Israel again. Not because of anything that's going on in the territories or Israel proper. Because of the Jerusalem Post story that profiled the current terrorists' convention in Egypt, which is being called by Egypt an "inter-Palestinian dialogue aimed at achieving national unity."

Because the Post reported that Muhammad Abbas, the man behind the hijacking of the Achille Lauro and murder of Leon Klinghoffer, an old man in a wheelchair who had the unfortunate timing of being on board that ship, is in Egypt. Because when the Post reported that Abbas, who is wanted by Italy and the United States, was in Egypt, they asked the Egyptian government if it were true. And the Egyptians are working hard on reasons why they invited a murderer wanted in two or three countries to be part of their little terrorist tête á tête.

US officials said they learned about Abbas's visit to Egypt from the Post, adding that Washington has asked the Egyptian authorities if the report was true. The Egyptians have refused to comment on the issue.

"We've been in touch with senior levels of the governments involved, the Egyptian government and others," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. "We take the matter very seriously, but I have to say we are still trying to establish whether the press reports are accurate or not - of his presence in Egypt."

The Post has learned that, during his stay in Cairo, Abbas met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher and Gen. Omar Sulieman, head of Egyptian Intelligence.

[...] Egyptian government officials and PLF leaders have reacted angrily to the Post story, claiming the news of Abbas's visit was leaked to the newspaper as "part of a Zionist conspiracy aimed at thwarting any attempt to reach an agreement between the different Palestinian groups."

You see? It's all part of the Zionist conspiracy™. It has nothing to do with the fact that the senior members of the Egyptian government are meeting with wanted murderers and terrorists.

These are the Egyptians, Israel's partners in peace since the Camp David Accords. With friends like these...

Cat needs a home

Laurence Simon's neighbor dumped his cat, and Lair already has four that don't like Rufus. Anybody out there in the Houston area want a cat? Rufus is a sweetie, he says. Let's see if we can get him a home via the blogosphere. I'd be much obliged if you spread this around. It doesn't matter if you're not in the area. Your readers may be.



Silent Running: He posted, so I don't have to

I was going to write a post for tonight, then sign off and hit the sack early. But I wandered around a bit first, and found what strikes me as Tom Paine's defining essay.

Plenty of people have jumped the fence from Left to whatever it is we are now (neo-conservative will do, I still hate Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan), and some of us have friends who can't work out how or why we did it. Another blogger recently asked about those who switched teams what was involved in their conversion. For me it was simple - suddenly I realised that a whole bunch of people were going to kill me unless they were killed first. So I went out and found those who also realised this. They were almost all conservatives. And suddenly their message made complete sense.

It's posts like these that made me start reading his work in the first place. It's a great read; head over there and get it all.

It's personal

Writing an email to someone today reminded me that years ago, my married friends tried to get me to buy a personal ad in New York Magazine, which is just about the premiere personal ad service for Jews in the New York/Metro area. But the ads are expensive, something like five bucks a word, so we tried to cut it down to about 20 words, and they were talking of getting me the ad for a birthday present.

Have you ever tried to put into twenty words both your best qualities and the qualities you would like in a date? Let me tell ya, it ain't easy. Actually, the only part of the ad I remember is one phrase that they wouldn't let me include: "No blimps, no wimps."

Then again, I expect my ad would not have garnered many responses. Most of the ads, as I recall, were long, involved treatises talking about their various postgraduate degrees, traveling in Europe, and taking in the opera on a Sunday afternoon. They seemed to be out of my financial league as well.

I'm thinking those guys probably wouldn't get shopping at Wal-Mart at 11 p.m. a few days before Christmas. Or my love of Popeye's chicken and biscuits. (Which, if I don't stop doing so much, is going to turn me into a blimp.)

News of Israel

Since I'm unable to find a reference that I'm researching on my post about Britain's sudden (or maybe not so sudden) anti-Israel tilt, check out a couple of other blogs while I go find my sources. (Where did that link to the British Ambassador's report of "understanding" the reasons behind the Munich massacre go?)

Judith Weiss just fisked Amira Hass, the Israeli pro-Palestinian journalist. Also on Kesher Talk: Josh Krausharr joins the team (Howard, you should have sent an email). Look around the past week's worth of posts, it's all good reading.

Lynn B. leads with a discussion of an op-ed by the mother of Koby Mandell, the 13-year-old boy who went hiking in the wrong part of the West Bank and was brutally murdered by Palestinians, responding to Eve Ensler, the Jewish playwright who went to Israel on Jane Fonda's recent "fact-finding" tour of the West Bank and Israel. It's a gentle but firm "eff off" to the two American idiots.

Lynn also points out that the "moderate" Muslim blogger she'd linked to before isn't so moderate after all. Quel surprise.

On the other hand, back at Kesher Talk, Howard Feinberg points to a Daily News article that reports a Pakistani Muslim immigrant prevented the destruction of a Brooklyn synagogue by a Bosnian Muslim immigrant. It's a lovely story; go read it.

Reader mail: Bread Wars, the First Evil

From Haggai, who is worried that the Bread Wars may split up the future President and Vice-President of the United States of America:

Laurence's tour stop today was on my site, which you might have already seen. I didn't know you were his vice-presidential candidate. Can the bread war be overcome before it splits the ticket?

The Bread Wars aren't going to split the ticket. It's going to be the Shower Wars that end our team. If I can't have the World Series tickets, and shower with the Yankees, Lair's going to have to find a new VP. (You'll have to read the comments on the above post to see what's up with that.)

Best bread ever is in Uzbekistan - flat, warm loaves, something like a giant pita, but much, much tastier - you could eat it all on its own. (That was the private bread in the market, not the state-store bread or the fancy foreign bakery bread.)—R.S.

Yeah, right. Uzbekistan. You must be related to that guy who says he got his bread in Istanbul. I think you're both making it up just to make me seem like an ignorant hick who never went any farther than Canada to the north, Jamaica to the—Caribbean, and the west coast to the west. Hey, Italian bread, French bread, Kaiser rolls—I've had 'em all, and there are three big parts of Europe, okay?

The best bread I have ever made or eaten - and I only make it once a year, on Good Friday. I make 12 loaves and freeze two of them so my best friend can have them when Passover ends.—Michele

Your best friend is Jewish? Mine's Presbyterian. Let's trade 'em on religious holidays and see what happens. Nice that you freeze your bread for her. I buy chocolate Easter bunnies the day after at half price and keep them until Passover ends. I'm a sucker for those little bunnies.

The First replied to my email. The first also replied to my taunting of him/her/it.

And your page is quite correct - taunting me can only lead to blood and carnage.

Uh-oh. However, at the risk of blood and carnage, I'll point out that the First has a new entry wherein she tries to figure out how to kick Buffy's ass. I would like to just remind the First that Buffy just dusted her uber-vamp and stole Spike back. So, like, HA-ha!



Adventures in geekdom

When I lived in New Jersey, I had any number of friends who are so much more technologically advanced than I that I would simply figure out a way to get them to do things like upgrading RAM, or installing a new piece of hardware. Dinner, offers to babysit, whatever. It isn't that I can't do those things. It's division of labor. You stick to what you do best, and find friends who do things better than you and trade labor. If they wanted some home-made potato chips, they'd ask me to make them, because they're one of my trademarks. In fact, I think I paid for some work on a Compaq laptop with potato chips. Earle, I owe you another bag. Call me when you've visiting your in-laws.

Anyway. Since Laurence Simon has been waxing poetic about Mozilla, I really, really wanted to switch browsers. But first I needed to back up my important files and upgrade my RAM, which I've needed for a while now, actually. 64 megs just isn't enough when you use Dreamweaver and Fireworks and still want to surf the net and do other things. So I ordered a module two days ago from CDW, and picked up some ZIP disks this afternoon, and found the ZIP drive in a box in my office. Tools, tools—oh, yeah. I found a set of jeweler's screwdrivers in the toolbox and sat down with the laptop and printed-out instructions to get to work.

The jeweler's screwdrivers are all flatheads. The screws, of course, require Phillips-heads. So now it's ten to eight, and I'm thinking, "Where the hell am I going to find jeweler's screwdrivers at—oh! Lowe's!"

Off to Lowe's, which is only five minutes away. Two employees are right there by the entrance, so I bring out the flathead set and ask if they've got one in Phillips. The guy is unsure and tells me to head for Radio Shack, across the parking lot in the strip mall. They'd have it, he said. Well, I was there. I went and looked, and found a set with four flatheads and two Phillips that I thought would do. So did the employee. I was in and out in less time than it took for my radio station to play the Nirvana song I was listening to. This modern world is amazing.

See, I knew I could do it. I removed the speaker cover and moved the keyboard. I put the memory module in just like it said to do. While I was at it, I spritzed some air at some cat hair and cleaned the screen and the keyboard. Wow, I can read all the words on the screen again. (Okay, I'm exaggerating.) But I put it all together and put back the battery and the plug and all the various cords, and hit the on button and waited for an explosion.

It booted perfectly, and when I check the system specs, it comes up 192 megs of RAM.

I rock.

It really takes very little to make me cheerful. A succesful RAM infusion is one way to do it. (A present from my wishlist is another.) A sixty-plus degree day in January works, too. So does Lair's new animated gif at Amish Tech Support. That's a good one, Lair. Laughed out loud at it.

Now to go see if I can choke my new RAM by opening a zillion programs at once. Later tonight: Reader Mail. The last of the Bread Wars, and The First Evil gets, well, evil to me.

Weather update

At 11:50 a.m, it is 62 degrees in Richmond.

It is 48 degrees in Montclair.

I repeat: HA-ha.

I'm heading out to enjoy the weather. See y'all later.

Morning in Richmond

The temperature in Richmond, my current city, via is 56 degrees.

The temperature in Montclair, my former town, via is 47 degrees.

Today is the sixth-month anniversary of my move to Richmond.


Oh, yeah. New Cattale.



More from the other folks

Doc Weevil is the funniest linguist I have ever met, although by "met," of course, I mean virtually. (Gotta be careful with the lingo when describing a linguist.) He's in fine form going after that Rittenhouse twit:

By the way, I believe that a Palestinian-rat would be a Council of Palestinians: a noun, but not at all the right one, unless you are talking about collaboration. I hope Capozzola does not mean to imply that collaboration with Israelis is as contemptible as collaboration with the Nazis. Perhaps he was misled by the spelling of the German word for 'council', which only looks like it refers to a rodent.

This is not the first time a pretentious lefty blogger has tried to use Nazi-era German to insult someone on the right and ended up shooting himself in the foot through gross ignorance of the language. (For a previous 'Bad German Alert', see this post.) It's best to avoid jokes and wordplay in a language one does not know well.

Apparently, Doc can dish out the insults in several different languages, some of them even lives ones. Who knew? Check out the rest of the post, it's deliciously insulting. I think he's channeling a member of the Algonquin Round Table for this one.

Gary Farber's back to blogging again, using a fair amount of wit and something he started a while back that I meant to mention: A "read the rest scale" on each entry, which is interesting in that he's encouraging you not to read his links which he scores on the low side. That's blogging. We read it, so you don't have to.

Laurence Simon's Blog-a-day tour has hit Haggai's Place, and it is hilarious. On the Read the Rest Scale: What are you waiting for? Go!

Scott at AMCGLTD writes about the klutzes that are Scott and Ellen. Glad you're both okay. But Ellen, howcome you didn't just use water to unstick Oscar from the floor? (That's another story. A fish story. Geez. Fish. Bo-ring.)

Return of the King

Brian Briggs, who runs BBSpot, is the guy who gave me my first megahit day. (Yes, even before Instapundit. Muslimpundit found Iseema's Diary, then Brian linked it, then Glenn.) Well, Brian, I can't send nearly as many people to you as you did to me, but man, this story is the funniest LOTR parody I have ever seen.

Wellington, New Zealand - A recently leaked trailer for The Return of the King has Tolkien fans outraged over the apparent addition of a new character - Jar-Jaromir. The scene depicted in the trailer shows Jar-Jaromir shouting, "Gondora gonna fallsa"; he then trips over a corpse and knocks down a couple of Uruk-hai.

Producers of The Lord of the Rings trilogy confirmed the addition of the half-brother of Boromir and Faramir.

You've got to see the picture. It's priceless.

Is technology cool or what?

I got a referrer from the Japanese version of Wired, which also carries Noah Shachtman's story on blogs. I can't read it, but apparently someone in Japan who can read English popped in here. Hi!

Carnival of the Vanities #16 at the Eleven Day Empire

Fred's having problems with mean ol' would-be subdividers from New Jersey. (I'm from Virginia now. Don't blame me.) What's with the "To be continued" stuff, Fred? Yeesh. Have you forgotten this is the age of instant gratification? Ergo, I start you at the end of the story. Not the beginning.

Dustbury is talking about smart women dating less than smart men. What would they have to talk about? he wants to know. Well, [cough] speaking from experience, once the initial lust is gone, and you realize you have to literally define your words to the guy you're dating, the relationship generally just ends. (Hey, what can I say, he was about the height, weight, and physical look of the type I fell for. It wasn't his brain I was after.) Actually, I was the first intelligent woman he ever dated. That one was a real rollercoaster. But yeah, once was enough. Give me a man who can keep up with me or give me celibacy. (I think Patrick Henry's wife said that. Poor woman.)

Mad Kane is doing one of the things she does the best—busting on W.

Jamie McDonald is mocking Delaware. Friend!

There are lots more. Go visit Eleven Day Empire (he's in Arlington, too? How many of you bloggers are there up there?) and read for yourself. Or go visit Bigwig, the Carnival's creator. (Daddy!)

And not related, but something I saw on Instapundit and simply have to comment on:

Tobacco Road Fogey responds to Charles Rangel's insistence that we should reinstitute the draft to make sure that poor and uneducated Americans aren't disproportionately killed in wars. (Because when we had the draft, there weren't, oh, college deferments and ways for the rich to avoid service or enlist in the National Guard, instead, and a disproportionately high number of poor African Americans in Vietnam.) What strikes me as yet another example of living in Bizarro World: Liberals and Democrats are pushing for the return of the Draft (as we called it back then), while conservatives and Republicans insist on an all-volunteer Army.

Is that the Twilight Zone theme I hear in the background? Rod? Rod? Where are you hiding?

The First Evil has a blog

Eric A. found the First Evil's diary and sent me the URL. I hope you've all seen last night's Buffy episode, because the First is really pissed about it. But that's not the excerpt you're getting. (It would be a spoiler.)

Attempts to reprogram Spike went horribly, horribly wrong.

No sooner had I started to sing that song about the ballet-dancing girl who won’t date a boy who likes skating (English folksongs so outdated) when he interrupted. So taken aback that I stopped, allowing him to jump in with “forget the singing, love. Want to hear a poem? I wrote it myself.”

Now he just won’t stop. I’d gag him, but none of the harbingers will go close enough. Why did I not try to develop telekinesis over the millenia, rather than focus on useless hobbies like soccer? Almost hoping for the Slayer to rescue him.

Check out her (its?) bio.

Dear First: I'm happy to link to your journal, but you're toast. No, wait, you can't be toast because you can't be slain. That is a tough one. Well, whatever. Buffy's gonna kick your ass sometime in May. You heard it here—First. Ahahaha, get it? Get it? (Hm. I wonder if I really should be taunting the First Evil?)

Conventional terrorism

Abu Abbas, the terrorist who has safe haven in Iraq, is in Egypt now, attending a conference on whether or not to ratchet the number of terrorist attacks against Israel up or down. But poor boy, he's so misunderstood. The mastermind of the Achille Lauro hijacking, in which his monsters killed Leon Klinghoffer and then dumped his body overboard, complained about his bad PR:

Members of Abbas's group commandeered the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985, killing an elderly wheelchair-bound American Jew, Leon Klinghoffer, and dumping his body in the sea. Abbas claimed then that the murder of Klinghoffer was a "mistake, a military mission that went wrong."

"The media didn't tell the world that Abu Abbas saved the lives of six hundred passengers, only that a disabled man was killed," he said.

Oh, it was a mistake. They accidentally hijacked an ocean liner. They accidentally shot a gun into Klinghoffer and accidentally threw him and his wheelchair overboard. They didn't mean to do it. And, darn it, Abu Abbas saved all those other people by telling his murderers not to murder them. Got it? He's a hero, right? Okay, then. Our bad.

Now, if you can stomach the rest of this:

Abbas was invited to Cairo by Gen. Omar Sulieman, the head of Egyptian intelligence, to convince various Palestinian groups to work out a joint strategy regarding the future of the uprising.

Sulieman has met over the past few weeks with representatives of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Peoples [Communist] Party, in addition to Fatah.

[...] The Egyptians have been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to organize a conference in Cairo of representatives of all the Palestinian groups to negotiate an agreement to confine terrorist attacks to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian efforts suffered a major setback Sunday, when Fatah's armed wing, Al-Aksa Martyrs brigades, claimed responsibility for a double suicide bombing i Tel Aviv that killed 22 people.

First of all, no, that's not why the so-called ceasefire talks suffered a setback. Let's go back to this gem from Dec. 29th:

An Egyptian government source said Egypt had invited key Palestinian factions to meet in Cairo to forge a united stand on sensitive issues such as a halt to suicide bombings in Israel.

Fatah said it accepted the invitation and militant group Hamas said it agreed in principle to go but ruled out negotiating on a halt to attacks. No date was set for the talks.

So far, not a single terrorist group has agreed to a cease-fire. Not one. It's being spun, however, that the Israeli response to the latest bombing in Tel Aviv is what's creating a barrier to a cease-fire. It isn't. Lies, lies, lies.

There's one thing more that I'd like to ask. Why isn't Egypt extraditing Abu Abbas to Italy, where five consecutive life sentences await him?

No, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have even asked. Pity that the Mossad can't find a volunteer to wear an explosives belt and go visit the terrorists at their convention. Hoist by their own petard, indeed.



By bread alone

I had no idea people were so vehement about their bread. Yesterday's first bread post started a cross-blog war, and the second one brought in a bunch of email from bread fans. So I'll let the emailers speak:

What does it matter if people only like it for what goes on it? Would you really enjoy a stick of butter all by itself? Or how about a baked potato--plain. Bread and potatoes exist so that we can eat butter. Just like we really eat snails for the butter and garlic. I really know these things as I am a fat southerner.—J.S.

(Note to self: Have plenty of extra butter when you invite J. over to dinner, and, uh, make sure you don't use sarcasm, as he seems like kind of a serious guy.)

Laurence is right - most supermarket bread is drek. And supermarket bagels are worse (bad bread shaped into rolls - the only advantage is they don't bust your jaw a day later and remain edible for several days).

I love bread, preferably fresh and often straight as it comes. Sometimes toasted with butter or margarine. Or a good rye with spicy mustard/horse radish for deli. Or a bagel (and cream cheese, of course). If I ate as much bread as I'd like to, I'd look like a blimp! —S.G.

Laurence isn't right. I'm right. You're my reader, you have to agree with me. Hmph. From one of my regulars, no less.

Saw your piece about bread, and I guess I'm something of a yeast purist. Best bread in the world is what we used to get in Istanbul, a block and a half from our flat was one of the myriad bread bakeries that dot that wonderful city. You'd go a seven in the morning to watch the guy take loaves of Italian-style bread off the baking shelves and turn around and dump them in your bag, cost about seven cents each. You'd buy two since you'd eat one on the way home. Best bread experience I ever hope to have.—David Sims

A yeast purist? I'm afraid to ask what that means. Istanbul? You're lyin'. You're all making up all these breads and all these cities and countries just to mess with my head. You're all against me. I'm not paranoid. I'm not!

I'm another of the like bread crowd. In my youth I could eat a whole loaf of bread fresh out of the oven plain. It may be genetic because my five year old son can do the same. No spice or herbs - just plain wheat or mixed wheat and rye.—D.R.

Am I totally surrounded? Is this the end of Little Meryl?

As regarding the bread issue -- yes, I have eaten plain bread. It was this sort of Hawaiian bread, not particularly flavored, and I thought that it was pretty damn good. Of course, I was missing four teeth, doped up on percoset, and unable to eat solid food (or smoke, for that matter -- if I could stay awake long enough to, I would have been lethal). Of course, those were extenuating circumstances, but for keeping me alive during those few days, I salute bread.

...and before you cheerfully apply the label "freak" to me, I'll have you know that I confess to being a freak already.—Pontifex

Freak. But I'm not saying it cheerfully now. Because Lair is winning the bread war.

You see? Is there no one on my side? Will no one help our hero? But wait—what's this?

Just as Laurence argues one can turn Franksbrod into Challah by adjusting a few ingredients, I put it to Laurence that by adding more eggs, some milk, butter and a bit of spice, one can turn Franksbrod into King Cake. I put it to Laurence that his argument that King Cake tastes like "drywall with sugar on top" and is "utterly without flavor, spice, or merit" is unsound, as King Cake contains more eggs, milk and butter (for moisture) and more spices (for flavor) than his beloved Franksbrod. Additionally, Franksbrod can hardly be considered a legitimate "egg bread" when it contains but one egg.—Vicky

Is that all there is? Vicky and I are it? Okay. It's you and me against the bread nuts, kiddo. Who knew they could be so adamant? I think I lost.

Marching off to war


About 300 Fort Benning soldiers outfitted in desert camouflage reluctantly left their families behind Monday as they departed Georgia on their way to Kuwait and a possible war against Iraq.

About 3,500 members of the 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) are scheduled to follow them from Fort Benning in the next 10 days.


More than 25,000 soldiers and Marines are heading to the Persian Gulf region this week, and nearly 50,000 National Guard and reserve troops are likely to join them there by February 15 as the U.S. buildup for a potential war with Iraq continues, Pentagon sources said Monday.


NEW YORK -- With war in oil-rich Iraq looming, Saudi Arabia and several other OPEC members are backing a plan to increase oil output around the world by as much as two million barrels a day, opening the spigot much wider than expected, Tuesday's Wall Street Journal reported.


President Jacques Chirac has called on troops to be ready for deployment in case of hostilities, in the clearest suggestion so far that France would participate in military move against Iraq.

"To be prepared is at the heart of the soldier's job," Chirac said on Tuesday during a New Year's address to the armed forces.

"Particularly, we have to be attentive to the way in which United Nations Security Council resolution 1441 is applied by Iraq."



Don't bread on me

Rather than put up a mere update to my post below about my theory that nobody really likes bread, because Laurence Simon has thrown down the bread gauntlet, I changed my mind. I'm putting it right out front. That's right, Lair, right up top, in your face, and where everyone can read it. You want a cross-blog war? You've got one. I ain't afraid of no, uh, damn. There's no single-syllable word for baker.

Meryl, the reason why you feel that nobody likes bread is because you've been eating some shitty bread. White bread and manufactured sourdough and what passes for pumpernickel in the stores isn't fit to pass through my bowels. And don't get me started again on that shit the Cajuns call King Cake. Not even fit to be recycled as tampons for women prisoners.

I dunno, the only bread I can eat naked is Challah, er, wait, I mean, the only bread I can eat plain is Challah. And I stand by what I said. If people really liked plain bread, they'd eat plain bread. Your bread recipes include things to make it taste less like bread.

If you bake a loaf of my Garlic-Parmesan bread and taste it without anything "on" it, you will eat your words, too.

See what I mean? You have to add garlic and parmesan cheese to the bread in order to make it taste good. Regular bread, without yummy additives, is bland and boring and nobody really likes it. We are all—okay, most—closet bread haters. Well, except for Deb R., who sent me this email:

I really like bread. Really. My usual breakfast is a plain or sesame bagel with nothing on it, and coffee.

Freak. Oops, did I say that out loud? (Good thing I actually know this woman, and that she lives many hundreds of miles away from me, although I think I just screwed myself out of a wedding invitation.)

I like pretty much all kinds of bread. White, wheat, rye, oat, spelt, pumpernickel, sourdough, challah, bagel, bialy, soft pretzel, kaiser roll, lavosh, pita, etc. Doesn't need to be toasted. Doesn't need to have anything at all on it, though I'm certainly no purist in that regard.

Really. But I guess I'm weird.

I didn't say it. You're all witnesses, I didn't say it. (Spelt? That's a bread, not the outmoded past tense of "spelled"? You're making that up.) Actually, my favorite bread breakfast is really cheap, store-brand white bread toast and butter. With a huge glass of chocolate milk. Next to that would be biscuits. The really good ones. With butter, not gravy. Sorry, Terry, I guess I'm still a Yankee at heart.) Although I wouldn't say no to a fresh Italian bread from Gencarelli's, warmed in the oven and slathered with butter... [sigh]

Come out of the closet, breadheads. Admit that you really dislike bread. It's the other stuff that goes with it that you really like. Banana bread, indeed.

Found another one

This should have been in the Tolkien blogburst.

You know what really bothered me, though? The Elves showing up at Helm's Deep. I was excited after the TTT movie previews; they had kept at least part of my favorite bit of verse in the book ("Where now is the horse and the rider?"), and I figured that TTT-the-movie would revolve naturally and brilliantly around the book's theme of "the age of Men is coming," already introduced in the first movie and sure to figure prominently in the third. For those who have not read the book The Two Towers (shame on you!), Gandalf mostly acts to rally the Rohirrim (he doesn't zap the Armies of Darkness single-handed), Legolas and Gimli (not to mention Merry and Pippin) are the only representatives of their respective kindreds within leagues of the battle, Frodo receives remarkably ungrudging aid from Faramir, and the Ents act only against Saruman and his orcs -- who are equally out of place in the coming Fourth Age. (Similarly, Gandalf acts directly only against the Balrog and Saruman's influence.) It sounded perfect for a coherent TTT movie, with great visuals when Gandalf convinces Théoden to shake off old age and bad counsel (nope, no possession by Saruman), when Théoden calls the Rohirrim to ride against Saruman (nope, no "let's all run and hide" -- are all human characters except Aragorn supposed to be idiots?), when the Ents decide to move against Saruman (nope, no "you somehow missed the destruction of trees till we showed it to you" -- excuse me, all the characters except Aragorn are supposed to be idiots), when Gandalf defeats the Balrog (there they left well enough alone, although the phrase "Endless Stair" to explain how they got from the water to a mountain peak would have been nice). And sure enough, we got all the quotes about the importance of Men in more or less the right places. But we also got a lot of vague pronouncements about hope (many of which properly belonged in ROTK). These messages should not have contradicted one another, because Elves were never supposed to be a source of hope in the Third Age -- those of you who've read the books will no doubt remember which character actually went by that name. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.

Phew. Take a breath, girl. There more if you liked that, folks. She's a Buffy fan, too, but it'll take me a while to see if she's posted about Buffy. Things to do tonight.


You know how I keep on warning you folks about not letting me have any downtime at all, because then I come up with things like this essay? Well, fine. Don't stop me from thinking while doing the laundry, and this is what you get.

I have come to a realization about our society. Nobody really likes bread. Oh, Laurence Simon writes about it all the time, and publishes his bread recipes, but let's face it: We don't like bread. We eat it, because it's a great filler and sometimes a supplier of vitamins and fiber, and there's always the amazing Wonder Bread bread-slice pellet to play with, but nobody really likes it.

You think I'm wrong? Okay. Who eats bread plain? Hands, please. [waiting] [still waiting] [cobwebs growing on keyboard]

Uh-huh. And to the guy on the left, way in the back, in the green t-shirt: You can't wear green. It makes you look fat and ugly. Oh. Sorry. I need a new prescription for my glasses, you really are fat and ugly. Never mind. But you still shouldn't wear green.

Where was I? Oh. Bread. Right. So, we figured out how to make bread, and what's the first thing we did once we invented bread? Put stuff on it to make it taste better. We put butter and honey and jam and fruit spreads and cream cheese and peanut butter and jelly and cinammon and all kinds of stuff on bread. We toast it to make it taste better than raw bread. We add bananas and nuts and raisins and eggs and all kinds of other things to the bread to make it taste less like bread and more like bananas and nuts and raisins and other things. We turn it into rolls and bagels and pretzels and various kinds of loafs with frou-frou names (baguette? Leave it to the French to call a long loaf of bread a "baguette."). If we are a company called Starbucks, we charge outlandish prices for bready things that are no better than what you can get at your local supermarket for one-third the price, or your local bakery for half the price.

Then, after bread was invented, we turned it into bookends for food. Sandwiches. How many different kinds can you come up with? Hot dog and hamburger rolls are made specifically for—oh, come on, do I have to finish that sentence or can I assume you're all at least homo sapiens? (Note to really stupid homophobes, no, I did not just call you a homo. But I will if you like.) ((Note to really smart homophobes: If you're so smart, why are you a homophobe?))

We make kaiser rolls and Portugese rolls and Italian rolls and dozens of other rolls—most of which are to put stuff on. Dinner rolls are generally slathered with butter or butter-like substances. And I could go on and on with more examples, but, like, I'm starting to bore myself, and I'm thinking about those Pillsbury dinner rolls that Heidi made with Christmas dinner, and realizing that I have no bread to go with my own dinner tonight, and damn, I'm not going out just for bread. It's raining out. Plus, well, one of the things I really miss about New Jersey is the various great bakeries within a short driving distance. Richmond doesn't do bread well. Uh, hello, Southerners? There's more to bread than biscuits and cornbread. Just an FYI there. And no, hush puppies don't count. I don't care how good they are, they don't count.

I think I'd better stop here before I get the entire Axis of Weevil on my case.

Update: Laurence Simon begs to differ with my post. He says I've been eating crummy bread.

Another pro turns weblogger

Noah Shachtman, who writes about "technology, defense and geek culture" for sources from Wired to The New York Times, has his own weblog, Defense Tech.

Technology is shaping how borders are protected, wars are fought, crooks are caught, and individual rights are defined. Starting today, Defense Tech will track these developments, rounding up the day's news, linking to sources of information, and providing analysis on what's ahead.

From Predator drones to biowar defense, computer security to nuclear threats, the site aims to examine the intersection of technology and defense from every angle, covering the exploits of soldiers and hackers, madmen and geniuses, inventors and dictators.

Put this one in your bookmarks. It's chock-full of sources on defense technologies, and articles about many other fascinating techs.

The Bloggie Awards

You can go here to nominate your favorite bloggers. Yes, I'd like very much to be nominated for best American weblog or anything else you think I should be nominated for (except for "best new weblog"—I've been around since 2001). I think this deserves to be looked at in the "best article or essay about weblogs" category.

No false modesty from me here. You don't get anywhere in life by wishing people would read your mind. And consider Laurence Simon or Scott Ott in the most humorous weblog category. Update: Laurence Simon says he'd rather be nominated for the best non-weblog content of a blog site, for his photo gallery and such. Go for it.

Look around and take your mind off things

Have any of you seen this site? I like. A lot. This one's the best of the bunch. "Even with a foot sticking out, DC cops couldn't find a corpse during an apartment search."

Lesley seems to have gone just a tiny bit crazy. Get better soon, girl.

Bigwig has another hilarious family story. And there's a serious one about stats, wherein Bigwig takes issue with someone who thinks that Instapundit's appeal is on its way out. I have a long comment at Bigwig's place that can essentially be boiled down to a couple of words: "Uh—no."

And Terry never disappoints at Possumblog. The rest of his Christmas story, some silly searches and a lesson in Suthuhn linguistics, and a pointer to a pretty funny song.



Just another day in Israel

Here is the scenario: You have just gotten out of work and are heading to the bus station to go home. While waiting for your bus, you buy a paper, get a cup of coffee, maybe pick up a snack. Things go boom.

Or this is the scenario: Passover is a marvelous time of year. It is the time when Jews all over the world remember the Exodus from Egypt, the deliverance of the law to Moses, and the time when Israel became a nation. You are sitting down to the Passover Seder with hundreds of others. Things go boom.

Or this is the scenario: You are a child, on a bus, riding to school. Things go boom.

Or this is the scenario: You are a college student. It's lunchtime. You stop in the cafeteria for a snack, or to study before your class. Things go boom.

Just another day in Israel.

It's the J-E-W-S, stupid

This, people will say, is an isolated incident. No, no, no, you don't understand, they will say. It's an example of Muslim frustration. Of course you realize, they will say, it's Israel's fault. People are upset at the way they're treating Palestinians.

And yet, a Parisian rabbi was stabbed on Friday by a man who shouted "Allah Akbar!"

And yet, the letter sent to the rabbi that morning said: "We will have Rabbi Gabriel Farhi's skin and avenge the blood of our Palestinian brothers. We will give him the Jihad punishment reserved for enemies of our cause."

(And remember, "Jihad" means "struggle," but it means a personal struggle, not a physical one. We were told as much by many, many Muslims who say we're wrong to think that "Jihad" means "violent struggle.")

They didn't even pick the right kind of rabbi. They stabbed a peacenik.

According to the organization's Web site ( Farhi had recently stepped up efforts to establish closer ties between Judaism and other religions, in particular Islam.

Not that it matters. As I've said in the past, they don't care if you're a devout Orthodox Jewish "settler" or a nonpracticing American Jew, or a rabbi who thinks the Pals deserve their own state. Each of us will be lined up against the wall and shot if the Jihadis have their way, just as happened sixty years ago.

Or maybe they, too, will line us up three deep in front of the ditch in order to save bullets.

Oh, I'm sorry. Did I let a little hyperbole get into my post again? Must be that J-E-W thing in me. It tends to react strongly when I hear about Jews stabbed for being Jews.

What you missed

Hoo-wee, you missed a lot by not being here this weekend. It was the Two-Day Tolkien Blogburst, (that was Day One, here's Day Two, and should we go for three?). There was my second Sucky Movie Report, this one on Reign of Fire. There was my Year in Yourish, a compilation of essays that I consider the picks of the 2002 litter. And if you haven't been around since before New Year's, then you really ought to check out this post on the dogs in my life. (Now, with photos!) It really is one of my better efforts, and I do so want to make sure that I embarrass the hell out of G. in front of as many people as possible, as payback for making me take that picture with the stupid pillow. Well, okay, maybe he's not exactly going to be embarrassed, because he does know I'm only kidding about his holiday weight gain (am not!), but, uh, I'd better stop here. He is married to my best friend.


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.