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What's good for the goose

I'm so tired of liberal bashing. I'm so tired of too many conservatives thinking that their shit doesn't stink, but liberals are the worst thing to ever have happened to the world. And I'm tired of polemics like this one. So here's some fodder for polemics from the other side. Let me rephrase that Derbyshire quote, if you don't mind.

Wherever there is a jackboot stepping on a human face, there will be a well-heeled Western conservative there to assure us that the best way to encourage a totalitarian government to take its jackboot off that face and engage in democratic practices is to maintain trade relations and let the free market system work.

Go ahead and run with it, folks. And happy birthday to you, Dean.

Blogathon update

Another anonymous donation, Jonnaomi (I'm betting that's Jon and Naomi, thanks!), Mrvan (Mr. Van? M.R. Van?), and S. Nelson pledged. The total has moved up, thanks to all!

Several of you have written to tell me you've donated directly to Magen David Adom, and remembered to put "Blogathon" in the domments field of the online donation form, or in the memo field of your check (which should also be sent to the attention of Gary Kenzer). If you'd like to drop me a quick email with the amount, I'll add it to the parenthetical amount in the box on top of the page. If you want to stay anonymous, no problem. I'll get a final tally from Gary because all of you are remembering to put "Blogathon" where it belongs. Right? Right.



Common courtesy

Kim du Toit has been linking me kindly lately, and referring to me as that Jewish broad. Well, I really can't argue with that description, as I call people like Kathy Kinsley and Andrea Harris those bellicose broads (a reference to "the Brigade of Bellicose Women" that I first saw on Kathy's site). So he's permalinked me, so I figure it's only common courtesy to permalink him back. (Well, actually, I'm kinda afraid of all his guns, but we won't mention that.)

And in the interest of common courtesy, I'd like to help you learn how to pronounce his last name. Even though it's French, he's not. He's now an American citizen. (He used to be one of them furriners, but not a Frog. Go check out his bio on his blog, I've got a point to make here.)

Where was I? Oh. Pronunciation. Kim's last name sounds like "do-to-it." That's right. Three syllables, and a common English phrase. Because he's not French, you see, so you have to pronounce it American (or, as we say around here, 'Murrican!).

Kim Do-to-it. Got it? Good.

Dispelling the rumors

Tons of mail regarding yesterday's Tomb Raider movie date, and dang, you folks managed to read things into the post that I certainly didn't write.

I don't own a Jeep Rubicon. I wish I did, but I have a 2001 Jeep Wrangler Sport, which no longer has purple paint on the hood because G. had this nifty cleaner that took it right off and left the paint. So for those of you who said you didn't want the movie but would like to ride in the Rubicon, sorry. Can't help you there.

I don't date married men.

I don't date women, either.

I definitely don't date couples.

And now, let's dip into a little bit of mail. From Joe:

... somehow, I didn't picture Lara Croft as your favorite movie series... (Nick and Nora? The Godfather trilogy? Branagh's Shakespeares? Bad japanese giant monster films? I digress...)

I've never seen the first one. I figured a free ticket is a free ticket, right? If the movie sucks, it doesn't matter, because you didn't pay for it.

Eric from Colonial Heights (wow, we're practically neighbors, and I was in Petersburg just this afternoon) wants to buy me a beer. Do I have to drink beer? Vodka's my drink of choice.

Scott Wickstein notes that it's a little too far to drive. Yeah, we're working on that land bridge between Australia and California too, should be finished any decade now.

I think Wind Rider wanted dibs.

Aric wrote the funniest letter of the bunch

I live in Arlington. I'm pretty shallow, and if you send me a picture I might consider

Enough people wrote in to make me realize that a Richmond Blogger Bash is in order. Now I have to figure out a place for it. Because it might make up for the roar of outrage that's going to follow this news: When I put the number in on the Jeep website, it informed me that they're sold out. No tickets. No freebies. No movie. No kidding.

I'm so bummed.

On the other hand, finding out how many of you folks are in the same area is a good thing. Blogger bash, after the Blogathon (donate, donate, please donate!). I need time to recover.

And thanks to everyone who wrote in. Your letters gave me a lot of laughs.



Blogathon update: Last-minute donation

Just when I was despairing of seeing the total moving at all today, Devorah comes through! Thanks!

My car's better than your car

Hey, Lexus owners: You can stop smirking when I drive by in my Jeep Wrangler. Same goes for your Benzes, your Cadillacs, your Beemers, and your Land Rovers. Look what I got in the mail today:

Holy Jeep, Lara!

That's the cover of my invitation to a free preview of the new Tomb Raider film. The postcard calls it

Starring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in her Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.

That's right. The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon has equal billing with Angelina Jolie (though there are some that might find that a dubious honor, what with her, well, weirdness). When's the last time your car had equal billing in a movie? Huh? Huh? When's the last time your car company sent you free movie tickets? And that's not all!

You'll need to pick up your tickets a half hour before the screening at the Jeep check-in table inside the theater (each guest will receive a small soda/small popcorn courtesy of the Jeep brand).

Hot damn, free soda and popcorn! If I'd know this was what Jeep owners got, I'd have bought one years and years and years ago! I'd never have any other car.

Okay. Who wants to be my date? Must live within driving distance of Richmond, VA. Drop me a letter. Click on the picture.

Yeah, I'm serious. I can bring a date. And you don't have to pay. How much better can it get?

Blogathon update

Take a look at the numbers on top of the page. They have not moved in two days. Michele's numbers have gone up by several hundred dollars. So have Lair's. But mine haven't.

Somebody isn't hitting the pledge link.

We're past the $6,000 mark. In fact, we're at $6,351. I think we can get the funds for the ambulance. Only $53,649 to go.

Pledge. Please. Give until it doesn't hurt anymore.

British anti-Semitism

A few days ago, readers sent me the link to this disgusting article by Richard Ingrams in the U.K. Observer, the sister paper to the Guardian. The pertinent points are here. Ingrams says he simply passes over letters in support of Israel if the authors are Jewish. The outrage has reached many parts of the weblogging world. But I didn't write about it. Why? Because British anti-Semitism isn't surprising me any more, and I'm finding it hard to ratchet up the outrage.

Did Tom Dalyell suffer anything other than a knuckle-rapping—if that—for declaring Tony Blair to be under the influence of a "cabal" of Jewish advisors? Even though one of the Jews that he pointed to had only a single Jewish grandparent, which, as Tom Paine pointed out to us, chillingly recalls the Nuremberg laws? (One Jewish grandparent was all it took to send you to Auschwitz.)

Is Great Britain not the home of a movement to disenfranchise Israeli scholarship and research? Mona Baker's example did not deter Andrew Willkie from refusing to work with Israeli students. So two got caught. How many British professors are getting away with discriminating against Israelis? We're reading in the Israeli newspapers that many scholarly papers are being refused, and European universities are refusing to share research with their Israeli counterparts.

British-made leaflets urging Muslims to become suicide bombers are found in the disputed territories. British Muslim suicide bombers blow themselves up inside Israeli nightclubs. The Finbury Park Mosque and other hate-filled forums remain open and still dispensing hatred for Jews. The IRA is working with terrorist groups to make their bombs more "effective." And Tony Blair will continue to deal with Yasser Arafat, the oldest Jew-killer of all, because he is the "democratically elected" leader of the palestinian people. (Can anyone name the person he ran against?)

No, my outrage meter is pretty much full up when it comes to Great Britain, the nation that refused to let European Jewish refugees into Palestine during the thirties, and then refused again to let refugees of the Holocaust into the land in the forties, knowing full well this time what Hitler had done, and even after the Poles (among others) massacred the few Jewish survivors that dared to try to live among them again. (For some reason, today's anti-Israel protesters have no response when you point out that the Jews were not welcome in the towns from which their neighbors cheerfully (and often violently) deported them to the death camps—which is part of the reason why modern Israel came to be.)

I have no love for Great Britain on the whole. I have no hope that the Brits will stop hating Jews. Anti-Semitism seems pervasive in their society, as Imshin, a former Brit, has written. What astonishes me is that the British Jews are such cowards and dupes that they still prefer to keep their heads down and not make a fuss, thinking that after all, they don't have it so bad in the U.K. Things could be a lot worse, remember our history.

That's exactly what I remember when I hear about the most senior member of the British Parliament spitting anti-Semitic remarks. That's exactly what I remember when I see the Independent publish, and then defend, hideously anti-Semitic cartoons. That's exactly what I remember when I read a British columnist saying that Jewish opinions are less important than others'. He might just as well have said "real people." The subtext is clear.

I expect British anti-Semitism, because it is endemic. I expect this post may offend some of my British friends. I'm sorry for that. But I'm even sorrier that I feel this way about Great Britain. Perhaps someday I won't.

Hunting for Bambi, take two

It's becoming more and more likely that most of us fell for a hoax. Snopes has been updating the Bambi site daily, and the evidence is mounting that it was a publicity stunt to sell videos. There's a good and bad side to this. Good, because nobody is really shooting naked women with 200 mph paintballs. Bad, because I fell for a hoax, and I was about to write a scathing post about all the bloggers out there who got their knickers in a twist about the baby tattoo hoax website. Guess I'd better wait until the next hoax overtakes the blogosphere, but at least I saw the news article on this one before I wrote about it. Read the Snopes page; it's an excellent guide on how to tell when your leg is being pulled.

There is also the fact that as of 11:30 this morning, I've received 386 search hits on various combinations of the Bambi hunt story, and that's only from the top 20 searches that my statistics supply. I'm sure it's an undercount, as a quick check of the top search words are 375 instances of "bambi" and 87 instances of "huntingforbambie", two wholly separate searches. Then there are 147 instances of "burdick", which is the last name of the low-life whose idea this was.

On the other hand, LT Smash sent nearly 400 visitors this way, and Pontifex sent over 100. (And a big thanks to them!) So not everyone was looking for that naked paintball story.

I guess I'll find out if all those searches are a good or bad thing. Depends on whether or not the searchers were perverts looking to see the tapes, or people as shocked as I was looking for like-minded outrage. On the other hand, I feel far less embarrassed knowing how many others bought the story.

Found a new one

Kevin's right, Anna's effing hilarious.

So, it's not like I completely ignored the clicking and rumblings of my refrigerator this past weekend. I quietly acknowledged what sounded like a gastro-intenstinal disorder and, to remind it who was boss, I kind of shoved it and pushed it off its feet a little (sort of like what the employees of my department do sometimes).

I came home this morning and discovered my beloved KitchenAid Superba with agonal respirations and X's for eyes. To hell with the $60 worth of decaying Rib Eyes, is that my pint of Cherry Garcia turning to sludge on the second shelf?

Now, had I known the repairman who showed up at 8:30 a.m. was going to display world class plumber's butt, I would have 1) lived out of an ice chest the rest of my life, and 2) had the Big Gulp size martini.

Anna, stray all you like once you're here. I believe in letting my readers come and go as they please without having a zillion windows pop up in their browsers. I know they'll be back. And, uh, right click, open in new window. Shortcut menus are your friend.

I can't excerpt this one. You have to read it. Without drinking your coffee, if you please.

I have just spent the last half hour (when I should be sleeping) reading back posts. Like this one:

A word of warning
I was shoveling dirt yesterday and got a blister in the middle of my palm, and so I told my friend it was a "stigmata" and I must therefore be The Chosen. He replied he had read Chaim Potok's novel and I was not even in the ballpark. So I killed him with my shovel. Don't cross me.

Damn, she's good. I am still laughing. This one's a keeper.

Catching up with the possums

Terry Oglesby is making me laugh again. Yup. When the news gets to be too much, go visit the Possumblogger. He's got a reader mail section wherein he gives advice on how today's gentleman should treat today's ladies. And I really do love his comment on the term "bright" for atheists. Oh, here's a preview:

As it is, calling yourself a Bright is intellectually akin to smacking a big “Kick Me” sign on your back.

(You might want to pay attention, Dean.)

Why is it every time I read Possumblog, it makes me want to read Fried Green Tomatoes?



Interesting spam titles

You know, in their ever-widening quest to avoid spam filters (because obviously, if we're filtering our spam what we really are trying to do is get the spammers to work harder to get it into our mailbox), I occasionally get the unintentionally hilarious spam subject. Like this one: "A beautiful Russian dfgxmwov."

One of the more inadvertent howlers was this subject title: "Make Mullahs through Ebay." God forbid. I think we have more than enough of them in the world.

Go ahead, send the hate mail. I'll set my filters to kill.

The power of search engines

I've been linked today by LT Smash and Pontifex ex Machina, both of whom have been linked by Glenn Reynolds. But the thing that is powering the bulk of visitors to my site today?

My post on the "Hunting for Bambi" thing. (Pontifex, it wasn't shock. It was naked fury. Now there's a better search phrase for naked.)

I've been getting hits via searches for various combinations and spellings of the title, the name of the [kaff] businessman behind the disgusting thing, "naked paintball," and searches from various countries (lots of hits from Germans). It would be funny if the subject of the search weren't so loathesome.

Well, at least some people are still looking for the cool stuff and finding it on my site.

Love letters

LT Smash received a letter regarding his vacation plans, which reminded him to send people here and to Lair and Michele's for our Magen David Adom ambulance drive.

The last letter today is from Heidi, who has some thoughts on our vacation plans.

You and Mrs. Smash ought to visit Israel on your vacation.

Thank you for the suggestion. I would really love to visit the Holy Land at some point, but right now I’m leaning more towards a domestic vacation. You know, visit family and friends, see America, all that.

Asking for donations for an ambulance in a country founded and controlled by terrorists.

They say that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter—but all of us bleed.

And then, of course, the capstone question from all the anti-Semites of the world:

Are you Jewish?

Let's piss off the letter-writer. Pledge to Magen David Adom. Or contribute directly. As LT Smash points out: All of us bleed. Magen David Adom knows this, and does not discriminate. They just help anyone who is hurting.

They'd even help that anti-Semitic letter-writing bastard, instead of walking over her bleeding body. Whoops, did that slip out? How unlike me.

On the AOL blogging influx, by someone who gets it

Via Bigwig, Ralph Brandi writing on the upcoming AOL journals:

I was around for Permanent September, as the AOLization of Usenet was known. I don't remember it fondly. AOL's software was buggy, so for a while, every time someone from posted, you would see something like eight copies of each message. The users were completely unaware of the culture of Usenet, and stomped all over the delicate balance that had emerged over the years. About the only good thing I can think of is that after became the domain name commonly associated with clueless idiots, everyone forgot that the previous holder of that distinction was

That said, Usenet != Blogistan. I don't think the impact will be nearly as severe, or in fact, negative at all. Blogistan is already much larger than any one person or cabal can get their heads around. There are hundreds of thousands of Blogspot weblogs, Radio weblogs, and LiveJournals that are maintained by people who already have no idea who Jeff Jarvis, Meg Hourihan, Nick Denton, Anil Dash, and Clay Shirky are. There are already different settlements here; tech blogs, warblogs, etc., etc. ad infinitum. The "a-listers" are already only "famous" within a relatively small segment of Blogistan's residents. The coming of AOL will change this in degree, but not in nature.

Don't miss the comments, which are excellent. One of the things that drives me crazy about the Blogosphere (notice that Ralph calls it Blogistan, the politibloggers generally call it Blogosphere, and that single-word difference speaks volumes) is its lack of knowledge about what blogs really are. Jonah Goldberg, who may have thought he was being cute, referenced Gene Expressions and another blog with a pat, "I never even heard of these guys." The wilful ignorance of that remark makes Jonah look like an idiot, not the bloggers with which he disagreed. But it is symptomatic of this side of Blogistan, on both the right and the left.

I'm not suggesting that everyone suddenly take programming courses, or become experts on the history of the Internet. But really, denigrating a blogger because you've never heard of him only makes you look bad.

So we're going to see an AOL blogging influx. Sure, it will bring a bunch of really bad bloggers onto the scene. But it will also bring some excellent bloggers. And let's face it: 37 million users? I'm betting an AOL version of Instapundit pops up, and that s/he will pull numbers that we can only dream of—if someone out there is savvy enough to try.

First links first

Carnival of the Vanities is at Caerdroia this week. I entered my contest post. (Nice description, Tiger.) Hey, it may not be one of my best, but I think it's one that deserves wider dissemination, which is what the Carnival is all about. I'm pretty sure that's why Bigwig started it 47 weeks ago. (Poor guy has some disease that turns him into a kid again or something like that, I didn't read the whole explanation. Go wish him maturity. Oh, wait—that's Bigwig we're talking about, never mind.)

Speaking of Silflay Hraka, now that I read this story (especially the title), I've decided to worry in retrospect about meeting several bloggers back in November. I mean, some person who said he was Andrew Dodge called me up and said that Bruce Hill wanted to take a short trip down to Richmond. Then I took the person who said he was Bruce Hill on tours around the area, including one to meet a guy who said he was Wind Rider. But now that I think about it, I never checked ID. How do I know any of them are who they said they were? The real Bruce Hill could be at the bottom of a river in New Zealand somewhere, with only Murray—that is, his real murderer—knowing the location of his body. I could have spent the day at Busch Gardens with some guy who kidnapped and murdered the real Wind Rider, and I'll never know the difference. Unless he reads this post. Ut-oh. I may really be in trouble now. Thanks a lot, Woundwort. Thanks for putting those ideas in my head.

A bunch of you have written to me about this article. Yeah, I read it, but there's only so much outrage per day that I can handle. My tank was full yesterday. I'll tackle it later.




First, I'd like to point out that you have until Saturday to vote in the fish or boobs contest, and some of you have put content in your letters that deserves to be published. I'll keep your identities down to first name, last initial. If you're uncomfortable with that much revealed, let me know and I'll just quote you as "a reader."

Lair Simon has received enough money in pledges to leapfrog into third place on the Blogathon tote board. Magen David Adom is now 1-2-3, and our current total (just shy of midnight) is $5,910. Okay, we're about ten percent of the way there. No problem. Here's hoping we can hit five figures by week's end. Pledge, pledge, pledge!

Dishonest debating tactics

This is why I generally will not debate issues with Aziz: He will not discuss the issues. He'd rather put interpretations onto my statements and sling insults while ignoring any point brought up that might contradict his assertions. In fact, I am currently pointedly ignoring getting involved in his discussion on the Benny Elon peace plan, even though he emailed me an invitation to get involved. But I will answer his response to my post.

I concede that she had not used the word "all" in characterizing my post (ie, all american women who wear the bikini are oppressed). However I can be forgiven for thinking she meant the generalization, given the surrounding context of her post that quoted me.

Here's my post. Its context was that Saudi Arabian women cannot cash their own checks, and have only recently been "allowed" to have photo IDs. Go read it if you haven't already. This is Aziz's summary of that post:

In that post, she used me at the tail end of an argument building a systematic case that muslims are ass-backwards about their perceptions of women and freedom (I even got tagged with "even").

The post is titled "Saudi women's rights watch." But I can see how someone with a record of dishonest arguments would interpret it that way.

I'm glad to hear that I was kmistaken in my inference and that she really does not believe that I consider all American women who wear the bikini to be oppressed. We seem to be in total agreement.

Still waiting for an answer to all the questions I raised, especially the one about your taking both sides of the issue. (And man, do you never proofread your posts before publishing them? Hello? Spellchecker?)

In fact, the agreement continues about those (few, not all) bikini-wearing American women who I do consider to be oppressed!

He buttresses this point by quoting my post, where I said I never so much as considered a one-piece until I was into my thirties. He does not explain how this contributes to my oppression by choosing to wear a bikini. (I'm starting to think that he is channeling Gloria Steinem.) But here is the crowning touch of either Aziz's deep dishonesty, or his inability to comprehend what he is reading. And note that he emailed me his entire post; I do not generally read his blog and wasn't aware that he had written it. Let's talk personal antagonism, oh he that cannot let go of the last time we disagreed.

The fact that Meryl portrays this absolute validation of my point as a disagreement suggests that she's more interested in disagreement for its own sake than any meaningful dialouge. However, there's a deeper reason than mere personal antagonism - she lets this litle sentence slip by:

The bikini was not invented to become a symbol of social coercion.

In other words, the burka was. she suggests that the burka was created for the express and sole purpose of ubjugation of women. The religious requirement of modesty, and the testimony of many women who wear various forms of hijab, burka, ridah, etc is at one stroke rendered meaningless. In a sense, she is just repeating exactly one-half of my argument (two fourths, actually, the bikini = good and the burka = bad parts). The remaining two, bikini = bad and burka = good, are simply inconceivable - and if an educated Western woman can't see the dogma inherent in that, ie simply cannot see the burka and the bikini as simple pieces of cloth, then I wonder what hope there is for true understanding. I've been shouting into the vacuum all along after all.

In context, the sentence he quotes looks like this. The first paragraph is from Aziz's letter. The second is my response. Nowhere can you infer that above, unless you've got an axe to grind that was just waiting for the right quote.

However, there are some cases where women wear a bikini solely in order to comply with a social expectation by society. That is the subject of my post, because the simple fact that such social coercion exists means that the bikini can no longer be considered a truly neutral article of clothing.

Bull. The bikini was not invented to become a symbol of social coercion. By promoting a tiny minority viewpoint and insisting the way we see the bikini must go along with that viewpoint, you're using faulty logic and expecting us to swallow it whole. No. That's like saying airplanes can no longer be considered anything but flying bombs because of 9/11.

The "social coercion" I was talking about was simply peer pressure brought on to wear bikinis, and in spite of being an educated Muslim man, Aziz can't seem to comprehend that. I guess I've been shouting into the vacuum all along after all. By the way, still no mention at all of the fact that Aziz contradicts his own conclusion with the first and last few paragraphs of his letter (see below, I'm tired of quoting it).

But like I said, I'm about done with Aziz. Let's compare the debating tactics used by Aziz vs. the tactics I used in my previous post. I quoted his entire letter (remember, he emailed me his response), as well as the pertinent paragraph of the post I referred to in my original post on the lack of women's rights in Saudi Arabia. Aziz cherry-picks quotes and uses them out of context to support meanings that they do not have and words that I have not written. Interpretation is one thing. Flat-out lies are quite another. I'm starting to think he's just looking to start a fight, or maybe improve his traffic. But I'm really tired of it.

In fact, I think the only way to end this post is by pointing you to my original surfer dude post that 1) summed up the last time I got into a disagreement with Aziz, 2) brought on me the title of Master of Juvenile Scorn™ from Tacitus (a title which I wear with great pride), and 3) gave me the tagline that I use in my email signature file now. (And which I deleted before sending Aziz email that I had responded to his post, so as not to offend.) But now I think this truly does seem to be the only way to deal with a master of obfuscation and dishonest debating tactics.

Oh, the tagline?

Science dudes, watch out! He wants to use your brains for evil!

I'm done here.

In other words

Wind Rider has links to the audio files and transcripts of the recently released documents that prove once and for all the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty was a tragic mistake.

Michael Totten has some pretty good things going on his blog.

UPDATE: Roger L. Simon defends Bill Keller against excessive conservative grousing.

Note to conservatives: The New York Times is a liberal newspaper. It will therefore hire a liberal editor. Get over it. Bill Keller is neither a good nor bad choice because he is a liberal. Read his permanently linked essay that I mentioned above and decide if he is a good journalist based on his actual work rather than his opinions and party identification.

Um.... yes.

John Kerry on marriage:

Marriage is an institution between men and women for the purpose of having children and procreating.

That's his excuse for opposing gay marriage.

That's going to come as a surprise to my friend Kim, who is married and got married with the intention of not having children. I'm sure she and her husband are not the only married couple in the country who think that way. Well, it's not like I was going to vote for Kerry, anyway. But he sure is looking more and more like a schmuck.

Speaking of Roger Simon, he's going through the same thing that many of us on the left have gone through in the past couple of years:

New times, new friends, as the saying goes. I should just be happy that the good review was in what is, at this moment, by far the more influential publication. But it’s not that simple. This has not been a normal time of publication for me. Indeed, it is not a normal time for any of us. Since those buildings went down, we have lived in an era of extraordinary emotional dislocation amongst ruptured friendships and alliances. I don’t think it’s easy for anyone.

Roger, the ones that desert you weren't friends to begin with. My best friend and I disagree almost completely on Israel. Mostly, we don't discuss it. Sometimes we do, and the discussions get a bit heated, but when they're over, we're still friends.

Jane's talking about the Canada Goose problem in New Jersey. I can attest that they're horrible, disgusting creatures that need to be evacuated back to Canada. They left their droppings in every park and field in memory. They attack people if you're too close to their nests, and they build their effing nests where people need to walk. Apparently, Union County is doing something about them: They're gassing the geese. And let us all say: Buh-bye.

Why you should donate to Magen David Adom

The International Committee of the Red Cross refuses to let Magen David Adom have full membership, using the patently ridiculous excuse that the use of the Star of David symbol cannot be sanctioned. (They have no such problem with the crescent moon, an Islamic symbol, being used by Muslim nations' Red Crescent organizations, which are full members of the ICRC.)

The United States has been withholding funds to the ICRC. Secretary of State Powell has released some of these funds. Some Congressmen want to continue to withhold funds. So what does MDA say?

Magen David Adom director-general Avi Zohar says his organization cannot ask the American Red Cross to continue withholding funds from the International Committee of the Red Cross that would go for humanitarian aid - even though the ICRC has not yet approved recognition of its symbol or made it a full member.

[...] "How could MDA, which provides humanitarian services year round, say that money should not be donated for humanitarian work to help the poor, wounded, sick and starving around the world? But at the same time we have to continue fighting first for recognition of a neutral third symbol that would include MDA and then for full membership. We will not go into the movement as a member without our emblem being recognized at least as part of a neutral one alongside the Red Cross and Red Crescent."

Political pressure must continue, Zohar added, because MDA fears a veto on these issues by 30 Moslem members of the movement.. Maybe the Palestinian Red Crescent and MDA will be invited in together. But at this point, we don't think MDA will get recognition and membership when the movement's meetings are held in Geneva in December. We need quiet here, and if progress is made with Palestinians, then the time may be ripe; this is when we'll need help from the State Department."

Like the man says: Give 'til it doesn't hurt any more. Pledge Lair, or Michele, or me, but send money to Magen David Adom—the organization that only knows how to help, not hurt.

Superb essay on Israel, the Left, and anti-Semitism

Eric A. sent me a copy of this excellent article by an Italian Jewish journalist. It's extremely difficult to excerpt, and you should read it all, but here are some of the best parts:

When I speak about anti-Semitism, I'm not speaking of legitimate criticism of the State of Israel. I am speaking of pure anti-Semitism: Criminalization, stereotypes, specific and generic lies which have fluctuated between lies about the Jews (conspiring, blood thirsty, dominating the world) to lies about Israel (conspiring, ruthlessly violent) starting most widely since the beginning of the second Intifada in September 2000, and becoming more and more ferocious since Operation Chomat Magen ("Defensive Shield"), when the IDF reentered Palestinian cities in response to terrorism.

The basic idea of anti-Semitism, today as always, is that Jews have a perverted soul that makes them unfit, as a morally inferior people, to be regular members of the human family. Today, this Untermensch ideology has shifted to the Jewish state: A separate, unequal, basically evil stranger whose national existence is slowly but surely emptied and deprived of justification. Israel, as the classic evil Jew, according to contemporary anti-Semitism, doesn't have a birthright, but exists with its "original sin" perpetrated against the Palestinians. Israel's heroic history has become a history of arrogance.

[...] On the front pages of European newspapers Sharon munches Palestinian children and little Jesuses in cradles are threatened by Israeli soldiers. This new anti-Semitism has materialized in unprecedented physical violence towards Jewish persons and symbols, coming from organizations officially devoted to human rights. Its peak occurred at the United Nations summit in Durban when anti-Semitism officially became the banner of the new secular religion of human rights, and Israel and Jews became its official enemy.

[...] Another very important point is that of all the parameters of anti-Semitism now used, one is the confusion between "Israeli" and "Jew". Supposedly, it is wrong to insinuate that the Jews act in the interests of the state of Israel and not their own state. The more a country confuses the two terms, the more anti-Semitic it is considered, and therefore one would imagine that the Jews combat this prejudice.

This is a serious conceptual error. Since the state of Israel, and along with it Jews, have been made the objects of the worst kind of prejudice, Jews everywhere should consider their being identified with Israel a virtue and honor.

They should assert that identification with pride.

If Israel is, and it is indeed, the focal point of anti-Semitic attacks, our attention must be concentrated there. We must measure the moral character of the person we are speaking to on that basis: if you lie about Israel, if you cover it with bias, you are an anti-Semite. If you're prejudiced against Israel, then, you're against the Jews.

This doesn't mean criticizing Israel and its policies is forbidden. However, very little of what we hear about Israel has to do with lucid criticism. Prejudice and bias, not Sharon's personality is the major reason for criticism. The self-defined critics are not the pious interlocutors for the Jews that they pretend to be. So we must tell them: from now on you cannot use the human rights passport for free; you cannot use false stereotypes. You must demonstrate what you assert: that the army ruthlessly storms poor Arab villages that have nothing to do with terrorism; that it shoots children on purpose; that it kills journalists with pleasure. You cannot? You called Jenin a slaughter? Then you are an anti-Semite, just like the old anti-Semites you pretend to hate. You have to convince me that you are not an anti-Semite, now that we know that you do not condemn terrorism, that you have never said a word against the contemporary caricatures of hooked-nosed Jews with a bag of dollars in one hand and a machine gun in the other.

This graf is for the Adam Shapiros of the world:

Still, this new anti-Semitism has a peculiar characteristic: It allows conversion. This kind of anti-Semitism, unlike Nazi anti-Semitism, is more like the older theological anti-Semitism, for it gives the Jews the option to renounce the devil (Israel, or sometimes Sharon). Whoever declares a sense of revulsion towards Israel's conduct, is allowed to set foot again in the civil society, the one of common sense, civilized conversation, groups of good people full of good will that fight for human rights.

As they say, read the whole thing. There's much, much more. The writing is brilliant.

Note: The article is from Jewish World Review, and they're hurting for money. If you can contribute a few dollars to them, please do. (It's tax-deductible.) It's well worth it to bring us articles like this one.

Blogathon updates, and a late start to the day

Thanks to Gink and Allison (who is back from Venice, let's all be jealous for a bit and make her happy) for their contributions. Let's try and get a few more contributions today and get over the $6,000 mark. That's counting the three of us and the $1,900 directly contributed. If you contributed without pledging the Blogathon, please be sure to email us and let us know so we can keep track. If you wish to remain anonymous, no problem. Send us an email telling us that a friend of yours donated the money. You know, kind of like those radio call-in shows. "I have this friend who's in a bad relationship..."




Sick, pathetic losers: "Hunting for Bambi"

Update: Snopes says this may be a hoax. (Hat tip: Eric.) If so, it's an elaborate hoax. The Richmond CBS affiliate ran the story on tonight's 11 p.m. newscast.

The title is the answer to my question: What kind of man thinks this is fun?

It's a new form of adult entertainment, and men are paying thousands of dollars to shoot naked women with paint ball guns. They're coming to Las Vegas to do it. [...]

George Evanthes has never been hunting. "Originally I'm from New York. What am I going to hunt? Squirrels? Someone's cats? Someone's dogs? I don't think so," said Evanthes. Now that he's living in Las Vegas, he's finally getting his chance to put on his camouflage, grab a rifle and pull the trigger. But what's in his scope may surprise you. He's not hunting ducks or deer, he's hunting naked woman.

"I've done this three times," says Nicole, one of the three women allowing themselves to be shot at. Two other women, Gidget and Skyler, claim they have done this seven times.

Hunting for Bambi is the brainchild of Michael Burdick. Men pay anywhere from $5000 to $10,000 for the chance to come to the middle of the desert to shoot what they call "Bambis" with a paint ball gun. Burdick says men have come from as far away as Germany. The men get a video tape of their hunt to take home and show their friends.

Burdick says safety is a concern, but the women are not allowed to wear protective gear -- only tennis shoes.

Burdick says hunters are told not to shoot the women above the chest, but he admits not all hunters follow the rules. "The main goal is to be as true to nature as possible. I don't go deer hunting and see a deer with a football helmet on so I don't want to see one on my girl either," said Burdick.

The paint balls that come out of the guns travel at about 200 miles-per-hour. Getting hit with one stings with clothes on, and when they hit bare flesh, they are powerful enough to draw blood.

Evanthes shot one of the women and says, "I got the one with the biggest rack."

Gidget is the one who took the paint ball shot to the rear. She says, "It hurt. It really hurt. I didn't think it was going to be that bad." When asked if she cried she says,"yeah, a little bit."

So why do women agree to strip down and run around the desert dodging paint balls? Nicole says it's good money. "I mean it's $2,500 if you don't get hit. You try desperately not to and it's $1000 if you do," said Nicole.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's voluntary, no one's holding a gun to the women's heads, but let's get real: Do you think those women running around trying to avoid those 200-mph paintballs are college graduates? Do you think they could make a grand or two in one day in any other way? Probably not. And it gets worse.

Michael Burdick, the founder of, explains the game to three women early one Monday morning. "You have to collect four flags throughout the course. Some are easy for you and some are not easy," said Burdick.

The woman begin stripping down to their tennis shoes and start running to dodge the paint balls that go buzzing by.

"We got a hit," said George Evanthes, who just shot and hit one of the women in the behind. "It was sexy. Let's put it that way," said Evanthes.

The women who take part in this bizarre game get paid $2,500 if they escape unscathed. Even if a paintball hits them, they walk away with $1,000.

"As you can see this is not lethal, and it wasn't meant to hurt anybody. Just good clean fun," said Evanthes.

Burdick says the majority of the men who pay the $5000 to $10,000 to play the game are the submissive, quite type. "For the individual who's used to saying 'I can't go out with the boys tonight' or the wimp of America, it's a chance for him to come out and vent his aggression and really take charge and have some fun."

Marv Glovinsky is a clinical psychologist. He says Hunting for Bambi is every man's fantasy come true. "You might think of all men as little boys who have never grown up, so they entertain their adolescent fantasies and they go through life being adolescents on the hunt."

But Glovinsky says this so called game that mixes violence with sexuality can be dangerous for men who can not distinguish fantasy from reality, and acting out the violence in this game could lead to them acting out real violence.

"If you're blurring reality and fantasy and you can't make the distinction and you're emotions over power your intellect or your higher mental function, your going to get into trouble, and if you have a control problem to boot, that's really going to cause problems." Problems, he adds, like beating, raping or even hunting women with a real gun.

Hunter Evanthes disagrees, "This is just a game. Get serious, get real." But some worry it's a game, which may have consequences that go far beyond the playing field.

I'm not a psychologist, but I can tell this game is sick, and the twisted losers that play it are not the kind of men I would want to know, let alone date, or be married to. I could understand if the women were armed with their own guns and could fire back—then it would just be Naked Women paintball. Men like to look at naked women, not a problem. I'd think the women were stupid to not have any protection from the paintballs, but that would be it. But to have naked women, unarmed, running across a field so some guy can shoot them like they were a game animal—that's sick. That's twisted. That's disgusting.

But wait. It's gets even worse.

There's a website. I will not link it. Here's what the copy on the main page says under "Buy the video!"

More shocking than anything you've ever seen before. Labeled by CBS News as a cross between Sex and Violence a deadly combination! Women are being hunted down like animals and shot with paintball guns. This Raw and completely Uncensored video is a cross between Bum Fights and Girls Gone Wild and is sure to be the topic of many Howard Stern Show fans. You will be completely stunned when you see some of the wildest, most outrageous moments ever caught on tape. This is without a doubt one of the sickest and most shocking videos ever made. When it comes to hunting women if you can think of it we probably show it. Women are screaming with fear as our Team Bambi hunters track them down and blast them with paintball guns...

Gee. "A cross between sex and violence." Ya think?

I cannot describe to you how furious this has made me. Just a game? Yeah. A sick, twisted game for pathetic losers who have to have a gun in their hand to grow a pair when it comes to "relating" to women. Nice.

More fun with spam

Yes, the split personality strikes again. Because I received this letter, which I thought was spam, but wasn't sure. I was right. (How Meryl reads not-quite-sure-they're-spam letters: Turn off the cable modem. Open the spam. Delete as soon as you confirm it is junk mail. This prevents the HTML bug from referring back to its master, if it's in the letter.)


Well, hi yourself, stranger!

This is Andre Botelho. I'm surfing right now at "AOL Netfind", and I saw your contact at this web site:

Thanks, I was missing that contact for ages. You have no idea how hard it is to see clearly out of only one eye.

I want to tell you that you're doing a great job!

Awww. That's sweet. Did you figure that out at my weblog, too?

I know my customers would be well-suited prospects and vice-versa.

Guess not. My customers had damned well better be well-suited. If there's one thing the world does not need, it's any more customers dressed like bums. Or not at all. Say! There's an idea. Do you sell your products to nudist camps?

What should I do if I want to send a few of them your way?

Nudists or customers? Or did you want to send a few of your products my way? Really, this is not a very clear letter. You need to go back to Business Writing 101 and learn how to write a good sales pitch!

Looking forward to your reply.

If I were speaking in Shakespearean English, it would go something like this: Hold not your breath for that, or you will be disappointed anon. Yes, anon, I say, verily, forsooth, and eff you too, asshat! (Whoops. That was Lenny Shakespeare from Brooklyn.)

Reply to my personal email address: [email protected]

Feel free, spambots!

Best Regards,


Shudna watch: Terror attacks abound

From the Ha'aretz News Flashes file:

03:47 Terrorist who carried out Tel Aviv promenade stabbing is 23-year-old from East Jerusalem
02:59 One person dies of wounds sustained in terror attack in Tel Aviv beachfront club
02:48 Tel Aviv police commander Yossi Sedbon: Stabbing at Tel Aviv club `definitely a terror attack`
02:00 Initial report: Man believed to be terrorist stabs and wounds several people on Tel Aviv`s promenade
00:47 Palestinian official: leaders of dissident factions pledge to stop attacks if Israel withdraws from Jenin and Nablus
00:30 Israeli security officials confirm that Irish citizen John Morgan was mistakenly arrested
23:55 Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams calls for immediate release of John Morgan, as `there is a lot of concern among his family`
23:33 PA security forces in Ramallah locate and safely detonate five large bombs prepared by Hamas
23:19 Abbas to reporters after meeting with Arafat: `The disputes are over and things are all right`
23:03 IDF post comes under fire near settlement in northern Gaza Strip; no injuries or damage reported
21:11 Palestinian sources: Arafat, Abbas reach agreement solving crisis that broke out between the two last week
20:01 Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas meeting with PA Chairman Yasser Arafat in his Ramallah office
19:20 U.K. media: Irishman held by Israel for allegedly aiding militants is journalist; Israel says could be wrong man

One man was killed in Tel Aviv today. The terrorist was from East Jerusalem. An Israeli Arab. In addition:

Monday: IDF arrests 2 in West Bank, comes under attack in Gaza
Sunday: Two Grenades Thrown at IDF Position in the Gaza Strip

I haven't been posting the attacks. But they come, every day, during the so-called cease fire. There will be no headline about how these attacks threaten the cease-fire. Only how Sharon's refusal to release thousands of prisoners—including murderers—will.

Hilarious link of the day

Michele's talking about how stupid song lyrics are, and brings up "Stairway to Heaven" and the grief she got from people for daring to point out that the song is not nearly as deep to her now that she's all grown up as it was when she was a teenager. The comments are amusing, in particular the one by JFH. I can't stop laughing when I think of what he wrote. Go check it out. Don't be drinking coffee while you're reading, especially if you're a 70s child.

You can't make this stuff up

I visited the NJ Indymedia page to see what they had to say about the Rutgers hatefest scheduled for October. Nothing unusual, really. But then I saw this headline and had to read the article:

Anarchist People of Color Conference Coming
by apoc 9:28am Mon Jul 14 '03

WHAT: An organizers' conference of people in various communities of color who are sympathetic to the Anarchist movement.

WHEN: October 3-5, 2003 [please note change from previously announced August date!]

WHERE: Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA

WHY: to lay the foundations for an anti-authoritarian, grassroots movement of peoples of color that will organize in their communities against racism and repression.

WHO: This conference is for community activists, oppressed and Indigenous peoples, Anarchists and anti-authoritarians of color.

THIS IS A PEOPLE OF COLOR-ONLY EVENT. Local organizing committees are coming together to organize caravans from regions. Check the website for further information.

Is it legal to exclude white anarchists? I'm white. I might want to join the anarchist movement. Can't I go? Nope. According to the FAQ page (there's always a FAQ page):

WHY ARE WHITE PEOPLE NOT ALLOWED TO ATTEND THE APOC CONFERNCE? This is our conference, and just like women, gays or other autonomous groups, we decide whether or how to allow others outside our tendency to participate. We believe it is important to hold on our autonomy, as we discuss among ourselves those issue which most effect us. For years, we have been generally excluded from Anarchist movements and programs. However, we realize that there are whites in the Anarchist and progressive scene who are sympathetic to our cause But, we feel that we have the absolute right to meet an plan an agenda of our own choosing around our own interests, especially how we deal with racism, poverty, racial profiling, police brutality, mass imprisonment of youth of color, and other issues which most effect our community.

Historically, there have always been ethnic Anarchist tendencies in the United States, whether Jewish, German, Italian, Russian, Polish, or others in the 3rd world. It should be no surprise that Africans in America, Xicanoa, Boriquen (Puerto Ricans), and others would try to build their own tendency.

White people, even fellow radicals, have yet to deal with their own racism, within progressive political circles. We do not expect that they can contribute anything at this time to our program. We do ask for the material aid, mutual political support, solidarity, and deep and honest understanding while we hold this conference and try to create our movement.

Calling all non-people of color readers from Detroit who have yet to deal with their own racism: If you want to bring along a camcorder and try to get into APOC come October, I will be most happy to publish the details of your exploits.

You simply can't make this stuff up. And these people don't even see the humor in it. Lucky for them, I do.

Israel is exonerated on the Jenin "massacre"—by the palestinians

Not that I think Terje Larsen will ever recant his lies, but this is an astonishing exclusive article from the Jerusalem Post.

In a study to be released next month by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and provided exclusively to The Jerusalem Post, Palestinian sources confirm that at least 34 Palestinian armed terrorists were killed fighting in the battle for the Jenin Refugee Camp.

The total number of Palestinian causalities in the battle was 52, a sharp contrast from the claims of Palestinian propaganda professionals who have openly stated that thousands had died.

[...] The study reveals that for the first time that Palestinian terror organizations saw themselves as "armed combatants" and not as civilians who died in a deadly massacre.

The 35 page study, which is based on primary sources, clearly illustrates that Fatah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas prepared themselves thoroughly with automatic weapons, grenades, anti-tank missiles and explosives and perceived the confrontation with IDF troops as nothing less than a "military to military battle."

The study refutes claims by PA leaders at the time that IDF forces were attacking innocent civilians and that the only Palestinians who had perished in the battle of Jenin were innocent, unarmed Palestinian men, women and children.

[...] In addition the research indicates that Fatah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas had created a joint bomb making facility in Jenin which produced over two tons of explosives.

The JCPA paper states that civilians were intentionally used as human shields and that both women and children were deployed by Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad to divert IDF troops into ambushes and booby-trapped areas.

The Jenin Refugee Camp was prepared as a "reinforced fortress" where nearly 200 Palestinian terrorists had gathered for the battle, the JCPA research states.

Look again at some of that information. Un-freaking-believable. And Arafat still gets mileage out of the lie of the "massacre." This should be front-page news on the papers that passed along the lie, but you know it will be buried. Perhaps the blogosphere could do something about that. Bloggers, get those links ready. Take my whole post and put it on your site. I don't want credit. I don't care, just link to and excerpt the Jerusalem Post article. This story needs to get legs.

Blogathon updates and other things

Michele has broken the thousand-dollar mark. Excellent! And Lair's pledges are climbing right up there. (He's in seventh place. He wants to be up in the top three. Help him out, if you can.) As of 11 a.m., we're up to $3,608 pledged, and $1,900 donated separately (that's the figure in the parentheses above) for a total of $5,508. We need $60,000 for an ambulance. You folks are all going to donate down the stretch, aren't you? Trying to make us work really hard for bucks?

Okay. I'm thinking up another cross-blogging experiment. Lair and I had a lot of fun doing those last year. This year, we'll have Michele in the loop, as well as Kevin of Wizbang. Tag-team cross-blogging. I think we'll be using items from the ACME catalog again. I was thinking of blogging while standing on my head, but then I realized that I could just say I was blogging while standing on my head, and you'd have to take my word for it, because there'd be no one here to take a picture and show you proof. Of course, I could also rig the picture by taking it at any time and pretending that it was taken during the Blogathon. You'd never know. Ha.

Oh, all right, I know. That isn't me.

Come up with some wild ideas and email me. And for the rest of you: Pledge! Pledge! It isn't for me. It's for Magen David Adom, the Israeli version of the Red Cross that treats all people who need help. They do not discriminate between Muslim, Jew, Christian, or atheist. Reason number 8 from the Top Ten Reasons to Support Magen David Adom:

Magen David Adom receives no allocation of funds from the United Jewish Appeal or Bonds for Israel. MDA depends on the support of contributions from its own local fundraising and from friends of MAGEN DAVID ADOM throughout the United States, South Africa, Great Britain, Mexico, France and others.

That's why we need your donations. Thanks to Shirl and Elyse for donating over the weekend. And thanks to Junomeep and Aflewis for their donations today.



Bugs is bugs

You know, it's getting a bit late, and I was trying to decide if I was going to finish my can of Coke and risk the caffeine keeping me awake, or just go to water or something and not risk it. Eh, what the hell, I poured the rest of the can into my glass. And saw an insect floating on top of the foam.

Water, anyone?

Soap opera outings

I'm thinking it's been a long, long time since I wrote about soap operas. I'm also thinking that writing about soap operas is a lot of fun, and will probably become a regular feature of this website. Why? First of all, I'm an unabashed soap opera fan. I've been watching them since Days of Our Lives' Marlenae Evans was knocked out by her twin sister, Samantha, and put in an insane asylum in Samantha's place. If you don't like soaps, you might want to skip to the next post.

I worked for Soap Opera Weekly as a freelance copy editor for a couple of years. It was one of the best jobs I ever had. The staff was and is a fun, friendly group of people. It was the only place I ever worked that had a television set on every editor's desk. My first day there, sometime in the afternoon, a great shout went up from most of the editors. Puzzled, I asked the other folks at the copy desk what was happening. They glanced over at the TV and said, "Oh. Old people kissing." (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) That was my introduction to the world of soap opera magazines.

Actually, working for SPW is the reason I was introduced to, well, all the soaps I wasn't already watching. I was an NBC soap fan. They turned me into an ABC soap fan. For some reason, I never cared for any of the CBS soaps. I've tried. I find Y&R to be the most boring soap on television (and what is with all that whispering? Are the Bells sensitive to loud noises or what?), B&B only slightly less so. (Ridge and the woman he thought was his sister? Ew. Ew. EWWW!!)

Guiding Light held my interest for a while, but my true love has always been the NBC soaps: Days of Our Lives, Santa Barbara, and then Another World. Alas, two of my three favorites were cancelled. Now I watch One Life To Live and dip into General Hospital or AMC (rarely, now that Kelly Ripa is gone). OLTL is the soap that I tape. Days gets watched in the background if I'm home, and taped if something special is going to happen. Anything else is just channel surfing.

I'm finding Days' Sami/Lucas plotline fascinating. We used to call him Ratface on Compuserve. Affectionately, of course. Can two of Days' worst villains find happiness in each other? They seem so perfect: He lies, she lies, he screws people over, she screws people over, she wanted him dead, he wanted her dead—it's a match made in soap opera heaven. Can't wait to see this play out.

I was starting to hate Cassie. Now I feel sorry for the poor child. Plus, I really like the actress. Ditto the actor who plays Rex. But I'm sure the genealogy is far from complete. And did anyone buy for an instant that Cassie would sleep with Lucas? Nuh-uh. Incest taboos are the biggest taboo of all on soap operas, bigger even than (whisper) abortion. If you bought that, you probably bought that John Black drowned in the ship explosion. Uh-huh. Listen, there's this bridge that's been in my family for ages....

Some of you are probably wondering why I watch them if I know everything that's going to happen. Well, I don't. Just most of it. Soaps are relaxation. Soaps are fun to watch when things are troubling you. They're so far from reality that you have to just sit back and enjoy them. Nobody ever really works on a soap, but they all have these great houses and apartments and boats and cars. They eat dinner in fancy restaurants all the time. (Hilarious lack of continuity on OLTL last week. In Bo's first scene at the Palace Restaurant, he and Nora are sitting at a table for two. There are salads on their plates. In walks Gabrielle, Bo's fiancée, not at all pleased. Nora and Bo stand up, and their plates are empty. They stayed empty until much later in the show. A rare lapse by the prop manager. But I got a huge kick out of it.)

Anyway. Quick OLTL thoughts: Glad Mitch is dead. Should have happened sooner. Overactors Anonymous, here's another one for you. The new Jen sucks. Bring back the old one. Walker is Todd, but I think I would have only just started to figure it out if I hadn't read it in Soap Opera Digest. And the actor is nothing like Roger Howarth, who was, uh, good. (Sigh. Another pretty face and six-pack abs hire.) Glad they toned down Star, but damn, that kid can act. Did you catch her Noo Yawk accent on the July 4th program? Oh, and bring back all the Kramer women, please. Cassie too!

See? I can go on and on. But I'll stop now.

The bikini and the burqa: Tools of oppression?

Aziz sent me a letter that takes issue with my summary of his post from way-back-when discussing the burqa/bikini divide. I'm publishing his letter and will attempt to answer it without so much as a hint of my usual juvenile scorn thrown in. Well, except for that.

I have to object to your characterization of my burka and bikinni post as "all american women are just as oppressed as Saudi women."

The word "all" was not present in my statement. It was this:

And there are even some American muslims who insist that American women are just as oppressed by fashion choices (e.g., bikinis) as are Muslim women who wear burqas.

I said that because of what I read (and linked to) in this post. The one where you write

But in the West, many women wear bikinis to try and attract the attention of men. And in the East, many women are forced to wear burka, especially cruelly oppressive versions. In that case, both are wrong and immoral, and this is why I claim that they are equally oppressive.

That sure looks to me like I was paraphrasing correctly.

Aziz's letter continues:

first of all, not all women in America wear a bikini 24-7.

Agreed. I never said they did. I never said all Muslim women wear burqas 24/7, either.

second, of those who do, not all are FORCED to wear the bikini by a man. Some do so because they like to.

I would say that the overwhelming majority wear bikinis because they want to. On the other hand, it's interesting that you choose the example of a woman being forced to wear a bikini by a man, instead of by societal pressure. I've never met a single woman who was forced by a man to wear one. I suppose that does happen, but now you're talking about an abusive husband or boyfriend. That's an entirely different story.

The essay I wrote took great pains (which you ignored, apparently) to focus its analysis on the articles of clothing, not the women underneath. The burka is often used as a tool of misogynistic oppression. This is enforced with violence and social stigma.

Once again, are we talking about the same essay? I didn't ignore it. I don't agree with that line of thought. You cannot focus on the clothing without focusing on the woman underneath. Clothing does not choose to be worn; it is chosen by—or in some cases, the choice is forced on—the person wearing it.

But the burka is also a symbol - when willingly adopted - of modesty and control over how the woman interacts with society. Many women who wear the veil or similar modest dress do so because they perceive a great benefit to it (including my wife).

So I'm told. I do not agree. That would be where you and I differ, and that goes for all societies and religions that think women should be covered head-to-toe for the purposes of modesty.

Likewise, the bikini can some be a symbol fo female liberation or simple vanity or any other perfectly reasonable expression of a woman's free will and pride and independence.

Yes, it can be all of those things, and more. But let's face it: The bikini is, for the most part, a symbol of "Look at me! Aren't I sexy?" I seriously doubt that little Brittany-on-the-beach is thinking of anything remotely resembling female liberation, no matter how many articles in Ms. (or posts by Steven Den Beste) to the contrary. More likely they're thinking, "Is that hottie is looking at me?"

As a teenager, I never even considered one-piece bathing suits. Same for when I was in my twenties. It wasn't until I hit my mid-thirties (and picked up a bit of flab) that the desire to show off my body that way cooled down. (On the other hand, I still have great legs. Thank heaven for shorts and short skirts!)

However, there are some cases where women wear a bikini solely in order to comply with a social expectation by society. That is the subject of my post, because the simple fact that such social coercion exists means that the bikini can no longer be considered a truly neutral article of clothing.

Bull. The bikini was not invented to become a symbol of social coercion. By promoting a tiny minority viewpoint and insisting the way we see the bikini must go along with that viewpoint, you're using faulty logic and expecting us to swallow it whole. No. That's like saying airplanes can no longer be considered anything but flying bombs because of 9/11.

The burqa was invented to cover; the bikini to uncover. The burqa is forced on women by law in some countries and by societal expectations in others. The bikini is chosen by women, with a smattering wearing them because of peer pressure. There's still a world of difference in the wearing of each, and no comparable imposition of bikinis on unwilling women.

Most Muslim writers try to make a case for the burka as a symbol of freedom alone, ie ascribe a purely positive value to it. They ignore the negative side of teh coin (whether it is pos or neg. depends entirely on the rationale behind why the woman chooses to wear it).

In teh same vein, most people like Steven Den Beste who ascribe to the bikini a symbolism of absolute American liberty are also assigning a purely positive value without acknowledgeing that there i also a negative coercive aspect.

That's because peer pressure exists everywhere, but it is not enforceable by law in the United States. The negative aspects of wearing a bikini are negligible. Steven and others consider the bikini a symbol of liberty. So what? Teenaged girls consider it a cool thing to wear on the beach to get the attention of teenaged boys.

The burka and the bikini - when embraced of free will - are equal symbols of freedom, and that is why i have referred to America as the greatest Islamic country in the world many times on my blog. The concept of persona liberty and choice is essential to both American society and Islamic theology regarding the value of religious action.

The impetus to write the burka and the bikini post was solely to counter the simplistic claim that bikinis are American and Free and burkas are totalitarian and slaved. In actual fact, they are both just pieces of cloth. What truly matters is the freedom of the woman wearing it.

Aziz H.Poonawalla

Okay, you can't have it both ways. Either they're equally free, or not. Either they're equally suppressive, or not. Either they're symbols, or they're "both just pieces of cloth." Either the focus is on the clothing, or on the women who wear it. Make up your mind, because I'm confused. In the beginning of your letter, you wrote:

The essay I wrote took great pains (which you ignored, apparently) to focus its analysis on the articles of clothing, not the women underneath.

[...] However, there are some cases where women wear a bikini solely in order to comply with a social expectation by society. That is the subject of my post, because the simple fact that such social coercion exists means that the bikini can no longer be considered a truly neutral article of clothing.

That contradicts directly the last two paragraphs. Sorry, you don't get to play both sides of the argument and then say I am mischaracterizing your words.

However, the true test of whether or not the wearer is free is answerable with just a few questions. Is the woman forced to wear it by law? If she goes outside dressed (or not dressed) in it, will she be attacked by religious zealots?

Here in America, women are free to choose the bikini or the burqa. They're free to choose whether to wear ankle-length skirts and dresses, or whether to wear hot pants with words on their butts and matching tube tops, without fear of being beaten by the religious hit squads. But the bikini is no more a symbol of oppression than is the length of a person's hair, or the style of their shoes.

Yes, the bikini can be considered a symbol. But be honest, and concede that the vast majority of American women aren't thinking in terms of symbolism at all. Every spring, American women think just one thing when looking at the racks of bathing suits. They're thinking, "Can I wear this bikini without looking fat?"

I thought the burqa/bikini comparison was a ridiculous point when you wrote it, and I don't think any differently now. And really, Aziz—don't accuse me of ignoring your words when you you can't even make up your own mind which side of the issue you're arguing.

Fish or boobs?

You had to bring up boob pictures, didn't you, Lair?

My friend Heidi is a crafty person. Meaning she can build things and make things, not that she's devious or underhanded. Oh, wait, she's that, too. But so am I. (Yes, you do not want to mess with the two of us. That is a Bad Thing.) Anyway. On Friday, she showed me her latest endeavor. It's an odd-shaped piece of wood that she is sanding down into a piece of art, and she can't decide which way to go with it. She asked me, and I told her I'd ask you folks. So which should it be?

Mutant fish?

Fish, not boobs!

Or boobs?

Boobs, not fish!

Click on the picture you like best to send me an email with your choice. You have until Saturday to vote. And remember, this contest came from the brain of the person who will be blogging for 24 hours straight in a mere 13 days. All should tremble.

Challenging links

James Joyner issued a challenge to me last week.

I hereby challenge Meryl to post comparative photographs so that we can judge the relative hotness of Coulter vs. Yourish.

This is the problem with being a blogger-come-lately and not having read my archives. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. (Well, actually, Wind Rider has my t-shirt, because his daughter made the mistake of going on Roman Rapids at Busch Gardens without bringing dry clothing, and got soaked, so I lent her my extra. And how's that for a subtle Lift to Primatehood link?)

James. Dude. You are so five minutes ago.

I kept seeing these Japanese characters on a link climbing Daypop or Blogdex or whichever one I was reading at the time, and I thought to myself: "I wonder what the heck that's all about?"

It's about this. My friend Jay sent it to me. He calls it, "Crouching Ping, Hidden Pong." Effing hilarious.

Jim Miller's celebrating his first blogiversary. No, wait. Let's try that again: Jim Miller is celebrating the first anniversary of his excellent weblog. He has a list of posts he considers his best of the year.

There, that's better.

Shirl isn't doing the Blogathon this year, but she pledged to Magen David Adom and says she's going to discuss (sigh) Ernest Hemingway. I said something about Hemingway that you disagree with, Shirl? Okay. Bring it on. You know I'll need fodder during the 'thon. Hm, the Hulk and Hemingway. That's two posts I won't have to—whoa. The Hulk and Hemingway. Now that's an idea.

I haven't linked to the folks at DFME in a long, long time. They're an excellent source of news and commentary on the Middle East.

Another anti-Semitic attack in France, in the country in which there is no anti-Semitism, on the continent on which there is no anti-Semitism. In a Jewish school. Also on Merde in France: French media make no mention of the student protests for democracy in Iran. Anti-democracy as well, it seems.

Saudi women's rights watch

Why, just the other week, they let their women speak on television, some actually wearing colored abayas. And we heard from barking moonbat Umayma Al-Jalahma on how Jewish women are oppressed (you can stop laughing now, I feel very oppressed when people don't link my blog or pledge to my efforts in the Blogathon). I've received letters from Muslim women insisting I'm wrong, they're not oppressed, it's my prejudices showing. And there are even some American muslims who insist that American women are just as oppressed by fashion choices (e.g., bikinis) as are Muslim women who wear burqas. (He minimizes the pertinent point: American women aren't required by law to wear bikinis; it is a choice. When I was of bikini-wearing age, I didn't feel pressured in the least. When you got it, flaunt it, baby, because it won't last forever. But I digress.)

But all this discussion doesn't amount to a hill of beans, because Saudi women still can't cash their own checks.

Six Saudi banks have refused to answer questions sent to them by Arab News regarding the measures they take to identify women who wish to cash a check if they do not have the new photo ID card or a passport.

Last month, Arab News learned that a women’s branch of a local bank here had been telling female clients to bring the new ID card for women or a passport to allow proper identification. The family card, which only mentions the name of the wife or daughters without a photo, was not accepted in that branch to protect women from others trying to impersonate them.

[...] SAMA said it had issued instructions to all banks regarding the rules and regulations of opening accounts. In the rules, it said, methods of identification in local banks regarding Saudi women were in compliance with acceptable means of identification as defined by the Ministry of the Interior, which include women’s ID cards, the Saudi passport, the family card, or the old women’s ID card — without a photo — which was later canceled as it came before the family card, which also does not have a photo of female family members.

Regulation 200, it said, regarding the women’s ID card mentions that the bank will need written approval from the woman if it wishes to copy her ID or passport. If the woman does not wish to have her ID copied, a signature is taken from her guardian and the ID number, source, and expiry date is kept on condition that a guardian or an acquaintance is present or that another ID is copied.

The phrase in bold is the one that still slays me. It seems to keep getting overlooked whenever you hear the words "women's rights" and "Saudi Arabia." The women and children are on their husband and father's ID card. As dependents. "Female family members" are not shown on the family ID card.

Leaving aside the [shudder] national ID card thing, I'll believe that the rights of women are protected under Islam the day that a Saudi woman can drive a car, get a job, open a bank account, or simply cash an effing check as easily as Imshin—an Israeli Jewish woman—can do in her country. If she's not too busy being oppressed. [snicker]


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.