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3/8/03

The deal behind the date

Another letter, from Brandon, regarding International Eat an Animal for PETA day:

I will be participating in Eat an Animal for PETA Day by eating an animal, just as I do each day. In fact, I will invite my vegetarian friends over for a celebratory meal. I think it only fitting to point out that you've chosen the Ides of March for your celebration, a day on which Caesar was cut down like an animal.

And my response:

Yeah, but the only reason I chose the Ides was because it's a Saturday, and everyone could take part. Jews can go out to dinner after sundown (and nearly always do; the kosher Chinese restaurants are hopping on a Saturday night), Christians who are still eating fish on Fridays don't have to worry, and then there's the whole time element involved.

Anyway, if Caesar hadn't been killed on the 15th, Shakespeare would have had to write, "Caesar! Beware the 24th of March!" and it really wouldn't be nearly as cool.

Come to think of it, though, you might not want to invite your vegetarian friends over, Brandon. It might piss them off. Don't lose friends over the campaign.


Girls' Day Out

It wasn't my fault that posting was light today. I was held hostage today by a nine-year-old.

Sorena  plays the celloFriday is my weekly dinner with Heidi and family, and since Sorena was playing hooky from school, I was inspired to play hooky from synagogue, and also to pack a bag in case I felt like having wine with dinner and cocktails at ten, thus forcing me to spend the night, which, well, I did. The plans for today were to join Heidi and Sorena for archery, which Sorena is trying out to see if she wants to join the club, then Heidi goes off to work, Sorena and I go to lunch, and then I take her home.

Well, three o'clock turned into five o'clock turned into seven o'clock, and she'd be here yet if I didn't have to teach tomorrow.

My time with Heidi and Sorena keeps on seeming to go in waves. On Thursday, I joined them at the Carpenter Center for a performance of the Sinfonietta, the Richmond string orchestra for children, along with the various other youth orchestras as well as members of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. Sorena and the Sinfonietta went first, performing"Great Gates of Kiev" from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. It was wonderful. Later, Sorena read a letter to music teachers (the night was "Music Education Recognition Night" and honored teachers), for which she had tried out and won the job over the rest of the kids in Sinfonietta. For a nine-year-old, she was quite poised and read beautifully. She's been reading since she was three. Mind you, she'd never read aloud to me when I asked her. Too shy in front of me, but complaining to her mother that the house wasn't full Thursday night and she was disappointed. Go figure. Anyway, here's a picture of her practicing the cello. This picture in no way depicts an actual practice, which is filled with high drama, tension, laughter, and sometimes tears. But she's turning into quite a good musician, all the more so because she's only nine.

Friday was the dinner, and then today after archery, we spent the afternoon at the two playgrounds in my apartment complex and watching various Nickelodeon cartoons. When I finally took her home, we were discussing my addiction to the unfortunately named "Everlasting Gobstoppers," formerly known as jawbreakers. I told her I have to give them up soon, as I need to lose weight. She was stunned. The conversation went something like this:

"Well, I need to go on a diet. I'm at my high weight again."
"No you don't. You're fine the way you are."
"That's very sweet, but I'm getting fat."
"No you're not! Don't say that!"
"Okay, but I have fat face again. You can't deny that."
"You do not! You're absolutely perfect just the way you are!"

You can see why we spent four more hours together than I'd planned. It's that unconditional love thing. Well, that and actually getting on a see-saw again after God only knows how many years. They're a lot flimsier than they used to be. But still rather fun.

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3/7/03

What other people are saying

If you're not reading Dixie Flatline, you're missing a hilarious new blog. Here are just a few quotes:

A few nights ago, Fox had footage of "elite" Republican Guard troops marching through (I assume) Baghdad. They had white patent leather straps running crosswise over their chests. It looked like a battalion of Arab crossing guards, anything but menacing.

In the mid-90s, he explored the possibility of using his other Super Guns to, and hold on to your hats folks, because you’re not going to believe this, blow up satellites. Well, not blow them up, but rather coat them with a glue-like substance so they wouldn't work. How cool is that? Oh sure, there isn't an Arab country that can make anything more complex than a Semtex belt and maybe, maybe, a model-airplane bomb. Oh yeah, and those Qassam rockets. They don’t kill many Jews, and every time you fire one, the IDF bulldozes your house.

Anyway, Iraq can't build a tractor, and they were planning to make 1) military satellites (!) and 2) some sort of space bomb that would fly into space like Mohammad* and disable a satellite with glue (!!). Why not just build a tractor beam and drag it back down to Iraq? Or send some Iraqi space-commandos into orbit and paste a picture of an anthrax-free Iraq over the lens?

DF, here's a hint: Put up separate blogs when you've got all those separate thoughts. It's kinda tough to link to anything specific. Then again, there's at least one monitor-ruining thought per section, so they're all worth reading.

Lynn B. went back in time to the mid 1930s, and found newspaper clippings that could have been written today.

Have I mentioned yet that Shanti moved? Well, my part-blogdaughter took her other blogmother in (poor Diane was shivering in the cold NYC winter), and now Letter From Gotham is over there, too. It's rather—pinkish.

Angie Schultz has done me a huge, huge favor. She put in a javascript that changes the colors of her blog from reverse type to a more readable (to me) black type on cream background. That means she can finally go on my everyday must-read list. (Well, she was on it before, I just couldn't do it because of the eye strain.) Just click on the "Are you afraid of the dark?" link to change the colors, and hey, I'm not a weenie. I just have bad eyes.

Laura's done her first fisking. Awww. It's so nice to see our little girls grow up. It's on an op-ed from Newsday by a Muslim who complains that just because he used to be pals with Osama bin Laden, we think of him as a terrorist. Poor, misunderstood man.


Viewing choices

Here's the choice for this afternoon: Soap operas or the speeches at the United Nations. On the one side, you have love, hate, jealousy, deception, heroes, villains, betrayal, self-interest, and changing allegiances.

On the other side, you've got Days of Our Lives.


Norm de Plume*

Hey, look who's back! It's David Foster Wallace (but not the author):

re: The Pals are killing homosexuals

Shouldn't it have an anti-Israel slant to it? If Israel is turning back people who are seeking asylum, then Israel is doing something wrong. I can't help but think of an article that could have been written at the time when the English and Americans were considering taking in Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Surely, any article regarding their lack of action should have an anti-American or anti-English slant to it.

Here we go again. So, what, it's Israel's fault that the Pals are murdering homosexuals? Once again, you zero in on the anti-Israeli side of the story, and completely ignore where the responsibility truly lies: With the Pals. They are both murdering men for the "crime" of being gay, and declaring them collaborators as some sick way of justifying it. This is supposed to be an anti-Israel slant because the Israelis are deporting Pals illegally in the country?

By the way, did you even notice the part of the article that says Israeli civil rights groups—Israeli civil rights groups—are petitioning the courts to prevent this very thing from happening? Where is a similar effort on the side of the Pals? What's that? I can't hear you.

Sorry, no matter which way you turn this topic, the blame still falls on the Pals' practice of murdering homosexuals. Homosexuality isn't a capital crime on the Israeli side of the Green Line.

Oh, and I invoke Godwin's law. Phew, that was a quick leap to comparing Israel with Nazi Germany. It practically gave me whiplash. Try a new analogy next time.

re: Your recurrent comments on giving them a state in Antarctica

You actually can't *decide* on who to give a state too. That is what a right to self-determination means. That is what a 'right' means. A right means nobody can decide whether you get to have it or not.

Is that so? Tell it to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey, Germany, Poland, Yugoslavia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, France, England, Ireland—hell, any state in the world—which is probably all of them—whose borders have been changed for any reason. Ireland and Wales both have bunches of people who want to withdraw from the U.K. (Especially take note of the origins of both Jordan and Saudi Arabia. See "Ottoman Empire, end of.")

Nation-states are malleable things. We have not yet reached the era when a border is inviolable, although some Euros would like to believe we have. It may never happen. You're going to see a lot of borders change over the next few decades, I think—starting in the Middle East.

Once again, your grasp of concepts leaves much to be desired. If a right means nobody can decide whether you have it or not, how is it that some countries have no freedom of expression, which is regarded as a right in the United States?

Dictionary.com says it's "something that is due to a person or governmental body by law, tradition, or nature." See, there's where the problems come in. Our Founders thought that we have certain unalienable rights, and I do agree with them. But I also think that a group of terrorists doesn't deserve the same treatment—and certainly not the same rights—as, say, a group of people victimized by a tyrannical government (read: Iraq). Not until they put down their weapons of terror and treat peacefully.

States aren't usually given. You're right about that. They're generally taken by force, or granted to others by those that own the land, or, in one particular case, ceded to the United Nations and then given to those that were forcibly removed from the land generations ago.

By the way, you've got one hell of a memory. I searched my entire site and found only one other reference to Antarctica. Does two count as recurrent, or does Macromedia need to fix their search engine? Or are you keeping track? Interesting, the things you choose to notice.

*(Longtime DOOL fans will get the reference. It was Tom Horton's nom de plume as a beat poet.)

TOP


3/6/03

The Pals are killing homosexuals

Interesting piece in the Beeb today:

Civil rights campaigners in Israel are trying to stop the deportation of a Palestinian homosexual back to the Gaza Strip, where they say he faces death threats. They are appealing to the Israeli Supreme Court to overturn the order against the man.

Campaigners say the 21-year-old fled to Israel four years ago after being arrested and tortured by Palestinian police because of his sexuality.

Of course, there's an anti-Israel slant to it. This is the BBC.

A spokesman from the Israeli Society for the Protection of Personal Rights (SPPR) said that until recently Israeli authorities had turned a blind eye to Palestinian homosexuals who had fled to Israel in fear of their lives.

The society says it is looking after 25 Palestinian homosexuals who sought refuge in Israel after being persecuted in their communities.

"They fall between all the chairs," Shaul Gonen told BBC News Online. "Nobody wants to take care of them."

"It is indescribable how bad life is for these people," he said.

But look how the Pals spin this one. Homosexuals are collaborators. That's a new one on me.

Mr Gonen said the man fled from Gaza to the West Bank four years ago after escaping from Palestinian police custody, but his own family tracked him down and tried to kill him, so he ran away to Israel.

Now, he said, his life is in danger again.

"In the West Bank and Gaza, it is common knowledge that if you are homosexual you are necessarily a collaborator with Israel.

"The fact he has been in Israel for so long and not deported until now - now they are sure he is a collaborator."

These are the Pals, Israel's would-be partners in peace, the people to whom the world wants to give a state. These are the people that American gays and lesbians gladly support in anti-war and anti-Israel marches. Wake up, people. It isn't Israel that's murdering homosexuals. It's the Pals giving out virtual pink triangles.


Truly international

Received a letter today from Damelon Kimbrough, who is blogging in France. He's on board with the International Eat an Animal For PETA day.

Hey, the French word for "permalink" is "permalien." In English, that looks like a shortening of "permanent alien."

Some of you are asking in email how eating meat by people who would normally eat meat that day is any different. Two things: You weren't paying attention, but I'll repeat the reasoning. PETA wants us to stop eating meat, or eat less meat. We're going to eat the same amount, or more, on our day of protest against the insensitivity and offensiveness of their "Holocaust on your plate" ad campaign. In Moe Howard terms, it's a great big finger in the eye to PETA. In less delicate terms, it's a one-finger salute to PETA.

Ronnie Schreiber sent this excellent letter yesterday:

It's ironic that PETA would try to exploit the Holocaust. Their philosophy, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy, is equivalent to a Jew is a cockroach. Animal rights activists equate human beings with animals. Radical animal rights activists equate humans with viruses. Nazis equated humans with animals.

Peter Singer, the so-called ethicist at Princeton, a major animal rights advocate, has said that killing severely handicapped children soon after birth is not morally wrong.

Someone online asked how come they didn't use graphics of African slaves in cages and chains. Jonah Goldberg of the National Review Online says that PETA can get away with exploiting the Holocaust because Jews have been expelled from the "coalition of the oppressed".

And when you read their website, you find that they don't really have the backing of Holocaust survivors at all. It's just another set of lies by the animal-rights overactivists, fruitcake department.

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3/5/03

Andrew made me do it

I wasn't going to post again tonight, because, well, I'm tired and brain-dead. But then Mac pointed me to Andrew, who is blogging again, and this paragraph about Brit Hume nearly killed me. (Andrew, do Tony Snow, please? Are his eyebrows welded to his face or what?)

Shorter Brit Hume - I'm a smug fuck with a stupid name, and in a just world I would be employed in a travelling carnival, where people could whip softballs at my Frankenstein melon head for a quarter.

His Noam Chomsky is priceless as well:

Shorter Noam Chomsky - Whatever someone said recently is pretty rich, considering East Timor.

Do you know, Andrew is the only person capable of making me rethink my views on war with Iraq? Not his funny posts. His serious ones. Although his funny ones can make some pretty serious points:

Editorial reading invokes the law of diminishing returns essentially instantaneously, and anyone looking for empirical evidence of this may wish to peruse this website, or the "blogosphere" generally. While doing so, one may wish to carefully sidestep the nagging question of what, exactly, is the salient difference between arguing about politics endlessly and pushing around a shopping cart and screaming at strangers about how your cat works for the CIA, because I'm afraid the confronting the honest answer to this question may be all that is required to push someone from the first group into the second. And I think that's probably enough self-awareness for one day.

It's The Nation vs. National Review in the new "who's crazier?" contest. Only Andrew could think that one up, and pull it off so well.


Shine on you crazy Arabs

I was looking around Reuters for their usual anti-Israel slant on the bombing, and decided not to irk myself. Instead, I was reading this story about the dustup between Iraq and Kuwait at the Islamic summit yesterday (and I would still pay money to see the video, with subtitles).

In a clash caught on live television before the Qatar state broadcaster shut down transmission, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's top aide Izzat Ibrahim departed from his text to zero in on the Kuwaitis sitting across the conference chamber.

"Shut up you minion, you (U.S.) agent, you monkey. You are addressing Iraq," Ibrahim said. "You are insolent. You are a traitor to the Islamic nation," he spat out as Qatar's Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani tried to shut him up.

A Kuwaiti delegate responded that the insults were "the words of an infidel and a charlatan," as the two sides shouted and gesticulated angrily at each other.

You know, that insult has a certain rhythm to it. Read it. Hold it in your head:

"Shut up you minion, you agent, you monkey"

Then think of this:

come on you stranger
you legend
you martyr

Or this:

come on you painter
you piper
you prisoner

Perhaps the Iraqi delegate is a Pink Floyd fan. Who knew?


More from Imshin

Imshin summarizes the numbers of thwarted terrorist attacks in February. You know, the ones that were thwarted during the "lull" between attacks—from today to two months ago.

The statistics for February are out: In February, according to Ynet and Maariv (Hebrew links), 57 terrorist attacks were thwarted and 44 terrorists who planned to perpetrate suicide attacks were arrested. In January, 52 warnings of imminent suicide attacks were received. Out of the 57 attacks thwartes, 44 were prevented by arresting the terrorists, 4 by killing the terrorists and 9 as a result of IDF and Police deployment. Out of the 57, 13 were to have been so-called suicide bombings (and I say mass-murder suicide attacks) in Israel, 4 were to have been shooting "self-sacrifice" attacks in Israeli inhabited areas, 5 were to have been attacks on settlements and IDF outposts in the Gaza strip and two were to have been car bombs. Palestinians had planned a total of 22 suicide and penetration shooting attacks (I'm not sure how this works out, but this is the data they gave in Ynet).

[...] The security forces stressed that the small amount of attacks that took place had nothing to do with Palestinian activites or as a result of a Palestinian decision to refrain from such attacks. The only reason attacks had been thwarted, thus the security forces spokespeople, was the presence of Israel forces in the cities of the West Bank and the intensive activities therein, and the forces' success in containing the terrorism in Gaza as a result of the security fence surrounding the strip.

There are links, but they're in Hebrew, and mine is nowhere near reading level yet. 57 terrorist attacks in 28 days. What other nation on earth has to put up with this kind of horror?

Give them a state? Sure. Put it in Antarctica.


The view from Israel

Again, from Imshin:

And once again the familiar break in the regular radio broadcast, a bus. But this time - an unfamiliar jolt. They're talking about somewhere I know very well. It can't be, I think. The shock at hearing the familiar road names immediately brings tears to my eyes. This is my childhood neighborhood. I can immediately envision the exact spot and it brings with it a spontaneous flood of such strong memories, even though I haven't been there for many years. The bus stop is the one I stood at, waiting for the bus to school every day, all those years ago. No. 37 bus. This is the bus I took to school. I feel like I am standing right there at the bus stop. I feel like I am getting on the bus too. In my day, this bus would have been very full at this time of the day. Maybe school kids had just got on the bus at the bus stop, having cut through HaSport Street from Ironi Hey High school, on their way home at the end of the school day. Maybe students were on their way to their lectures in Haifa University.


PETA responds: half-truths and lies

Steven Martinovich received a reply from PETA that is disingenuous and wrong-headed at best, and filled with lies at worst. Below are some excerpts:

As a Jew, and on behalf of the Jewish people in the PETA office, some of whom came up with the idea for the creation of this project, please let me assure you that the intention of the display is to decrease the amount of cruelty in the world, not to minimize the human suffering that occurred during the Holocaust.

It might help for you to know that this project is funded by a Jewish philanthropist who has spent the last 25 years working with prominent Jewish organizations that highlight the atrocities that took place during the Holocaust. This donor is one of many compassionate people who recognize the moral and ethical imperative of making the public aware of the parallels between what was done to Jews and others in World War II and what is being done to animals kept in intensive confinement systems and slaughtered for food today.

I'm Jewish, he's Jewish, we're not offended, therefore you shouldn't be, either. Well, I'm Jewish, and so are a lot of my correspondents, and we're offended. The logic of this argument is, well, bushwa. And the appeal to authority isn't working on me, either. Name the philanthropist so I can send him letters, too.

The concept of our campaign originated with Nobel Prize-winning Yiddish author and vegetarian Isaac Bashevis Singer, who said, "In relation to [animals], all people are Nazis; for [them], it is an eternal Treblinka." As you may know, Singer fled Europe as the Nazis were coming into power and lost most of his family in the Holocaust. He became a vegetarian as a result of what he lived through and what he saw. He spoke out in favor of vegetarianism until his death in 1991. His argument was that it doesn't matter who the victims are-we must speak out against all atrocities and cruelties and help to stop them.

I'm missing something here. Singer wasn't a Holocaust survivor, but he became a vegetarian as a result of what he lived through and what he saw? He emigrated to the U.S. before the Holocaust. So, life in America horrified him so much he became a vegetarian as a result? Flirting with the truth here again. And, um, if your concept originated with Singer, how did you manage that one? He's been dead for 13 years.

Here, however, is the most untruthful paragraph. (Warning: Graphic pictures of the Holocaust are on their site.)

While the exhibit is shocking and very hard to look at, please consider visiting our Web site MassKilling.com, where you'll read what many Holocaust survivors and their families have said about the fact that it is not only appropriate, but necessary to learn from the Holocaust and apply these lessons to help the weakest among us today: the animals. We honor victims of the Holocaust by remembering what they went through, doing our part to lessen violence on all levels, and by making sure that we learn from this history.

When you read the page, you find the words of one Holocaust survivor. One. You have the words of relatives of those who died in the Holocaust, or children of survivors, but only a direct quote from one Holocaust survivor. Contrast that with the words "read what many Holocaust survivors and their families have said."

There are eight quotes. One is from a survivor, one is from Singer, one is from the author of a book about the Holocaust, one is from the teaching guidelines for the United States Holocaust Museum. Hell, two of the quotes on that page are by officers from other animal rights organizations. And yet, the letter would have you believe there is testament after testament by survivors of the Nazi death camps. Lies. Lies, lies, lies, and more lies in the PETA response.

That's about all I can take of this letter. Read the rest over at Steve's place if you're still up for more outrage. I'm done with it.


Oooooh, the vegans are mad at me

Check it out. They have a site called "veganpr0n.com." (Well, it's actually named the non-anti-pr0n-hits way, but I really don't need those kind of hits, thanks.) What, are they so lame they have to put pr0n in their domain title so they can get a lot of one-handed hits?

By the way, you know you're getting to them when they start calling you names. Sling away, folks. But be sad about having to call me names. It's really convincing. Especially when you don't so much as bring up the topic that is so offensive to me and so many others: The misuse of Holocaust terms and imagery in PETA's latest ad campaign. Shows me how much you're intellectually invested in this issue. Which is to say: Not at all.

By the way, the author of the summary seems to be unable to get the point of eating meat even by people who would normally eat meat that day: PETA wants us to eat less meat. We're going to eat more or the same amount. I thought the point was rather simple, myself.

TOP


3/4/03

Follow-through

Arthur Silber has a report on the Animal Liberation Front's activities, and how much they cost consumers—not to mention the lives they put at risk.

Steve Martinovitch got a reply from PETA. The response is, well, filled with lies. More to come on this one tomorrow.

Richard Bennett suggests buying sides of beef, and has the links for those of you who have big freezers.

It's been a full day, and I won't be getting to the letters about the Pope until tomorrow.

Bill Cimino really does have a hot tub. Whether or not I actually get to use it this time around is up in the air. It's that two-hour drive back to Richmond—I have to teach class the next day. But I think I've found company for the ride, from a reader in Petersburg. Phew.


A hot tub anti-PETA protest?

Well, I wasn't going to post until after class and tutoring and dinner and Buffy, but then Bill Cimino had to go and email me about this:

Tailgate Party at PETA Headquarters!

I'll be there. I'm about 15 minutes from PETA HQ. After we stuff ourselves with meat, everyone back to my place for drinks and a hot tub.

A hot tub? Like, I should bring my bathing suit? Hm. Okay, the digital cameras will be confiscated at the door. Sure, call something like this when I'm at my peak winter weight. (Where's that Gazelle Glider? I'd better put it back together and get going!)


March forth

I love today's date. It's the only day of the year that can be used as a sentence. It's an incomplete sentence, of course, but hey, this 'Murrica—the nation that gave you "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should." The nation which, when our English teachers rose up as one and said that was an ungrammatical sentence (it should be "as a cigarette should") ((this was the 1960s, hold the tobacco-is-evil outrage, please)), had a typical Madison Avenue reply. The next ad campaign from Winston was, "What do you want—good grammar, or good taste?"

I kid you not.

Anyway. I know there are lots of letters out there to get to, and I'll get to them soon, but Tuesdays are my short days. I have to go teach my class how to be good Jews. In fact, I shall teach them to march forth! Yep. And it's a beautiful day out, so they can have an outdoor recess.

So, I'll get to one batch of letters, and then it's time for lesson plans and teaching the kids. I shall march forth this afternoon.

I really love today's date.

TOP


03/03/03

The myth of sisterhood

Well, since you brought it up, Steven, yes, I definitely support the war in Iraq. And I'd heard of the The Lysistrata Project via Doc Weevil. But you also bring up an interesting myth, that of the myth of sisterhood. Well, except it's not exactly a myth, but it is certainly highly overestimated.

While it is true that most women bond better with other women, I have long maintained that middle-class female liberals—especially upper middle-class—haven't got a clue about the way things really are, and are also in denial about the competition between women of their own class. (There have been many interesting articles and some books written on this topic, which you can go Google for yourselves, as I've had quite enough of researching for the day.)

For instance, those women have no idea what the working stiff world is like. I started life in a blue-collar working family. Dad drove a truck or hauled barrels for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer for more than thirty years.

You know those fights you see on Springer and those talk shows? Yeah, they're exaggerated, or set up, but they're not far from what really happens in a working class bar on a Saturday night. I used to go to Cryan's in Irvington, NJ, way back when. My best friend lived and grew up in Irvington, a working-class town next to Newark, and I'd spent six of my formative years there. The people we hung with at that time went to Cryan's. There was never a night without at least one fight between two women, always over one of them trying to make time with the other's boyfriend. And when I say fight, I mean outside-the-bar, knockdown-dragout, crowd standing around cheering kind of fight.

There wasn't any feeling of sisterhood between the two battling over the boys. And there was no feeling of sisterhood between rival groups of girls in high school and, sadly, beyond. MJ and I had our run-ins with a girl from her high school who simply disliked her, and never really cared to give us a reason. We thought for sure she'd grow out of it once high school was over, but nope. Rosemary kept up her animosity for years. It made for interesting trips through the local watering holes, although most of our altercations with her ended in the empty-threat kind. (MJ's father was a town politician and had a lot of influence, which everyone in town knew.)

An aside: One of the reasons I loathed "Good Will Hunting" was because a story about Boston's tough working class written by two middle-class poseurs rang so false it made me want to beat them up. But I digress.

So The Lysistrata Project is probably just a feel-good thing for a bunch of misguided women, and adds yet another nail to the loony left's coffin—and keeps me firmly on the side of people like Diane E. and Lynn B., who also support the war, and who are part of my blog sisterhood. Which really does exist. (Okay, you can insert an ascii grin there for me.)


We interrupt these essays for this catblog

Let me in!Well, a catblog and a kidblog. First, the catblog: Gracie generally sleeps on my bed, in the bedroom upstairs. But cats have phenomenal hearing, and she's a light sleeper. When she hears me brushing Tig—yes, I said brushing Tig, even if he's not making a sound—she wakes up and comes downstairs for her turn with the brush.

Today, I decided to give them a treat: Tunafish. I took the can out of the fridge, started opening it, and called "Gracie," and before I finished her name, she was downstairs meowing. I think the sound of my taking the can out of the refrigerator woke her up. Amazing.

Anyway, here's a shot of Gracie at the patio door, trying to get my attention so she can come inside.

More often than not, that scene is accompanied by frantic mewing. You'd think she thought I was never going to open the door for her ever again or something.

Kids say the darnedest things, but we knew that.

On Sunday, during the afternoon music and prayer-learning session, I addressed the assembled kids and told them that I was the editor of the Update, our synagogue newsletter, and that I'd like to run a column from the young people in the congregation and call it "I've Got Something To Say." I told them there would be a 500 word limit on entries, and the director of education hurriedly said that was a maximum. Which relieved Jeremy, a third-grader, no end. But he wanted to know if there was a minimum number of words. I thought it over and told him yes, I'd require at least 100 words from the youngest children. We broke up shortly after, and one of my fourth-graders walked up to me on the way back to class. "Miss Yourish," he asked, "what if you only have 99 words?"

Sometimes, I forget how literal kids can be. I told Aaron that I'd accept a column that only had 99 words. He thought that was just great.


The Pope and anti-Semitism: Some facts

Jesse Walker is all over Glenn on this issue. In his comments section, he keeps asking for facts, saying that Glenn isn't supplying any.

I've got a few facts for you, Jesse.

The Vatican did not establish full diplomatic relations with Israel until 1997, nearly fifty years after Israel's birth.

The Pope said that Israel was "desecrating Christian holy sites" when the IDF surrounded the Church of Nativity during its takeover by Palestinian terrorists, yet didn't mention later how the church really was desecrated—by those selfsame terrorists.

When Kurt Waldheim's Nazi past was revealed, the Pope didn't let that stop him from honoring the man that no one else in the world would meet with.

The Vatican signed an accord with the Palestinians condemning any "unilateral action" on Jerusalem by Israel. No such accord was signed with Israel when Jordan ruled Jerusalem, threw out all the Jews, forbade Jews to visit the Western Wall, and descrated Jewish holy sites and graveyards.

Yeah, he issued a document condemning the Holocaust. But it took a long time, said some things that made you wonder if he really meant it, and didn't stop him from allowing crosses to spring up over Jewish remains in Auschwitz, or the beatification of Edith Stein, or other acts that show he doesn't really seem to give a damn about what Jews think.

Here's the thing: After centuries of bigotry, hostility, and murder of Jews by Catholics (among others), we tend to be extremely suspicious of the Church, and adopt a wait-and-see attitude. Some scholars argue that Christianity—particularly Catholicism—is the glue that held anti-Semitism together over the centuries. Even today, in the 21st century, we hear cries of "Christ-killers," and not just from laymen.

I am all for interfaith relationships. I especially would like to see the various Christian denominations get along with Jews. But you don't turn around centuries of institutionalized bigotry in a few years. Glenn Reynolds is right to call those actions anti-Semitic. No, Jesse, not every criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. You're right about that. And maybe the Pope didn't intend for any of the above to be seen as anti-Jewish or anti-Israel.

And yet... Embracing Kurt Waldheim? Giving him one of Catholicism's highest honors? Issuing statement after statement in support of the Palestinians while also issuing statements against Israeli actions?

And then there's that little thing about refusing diplomatic relations with Israel for the first 49 years of her existence. Huh. Go figure. It almost makes you think the Vatican has something against Jews.

*Update: It occurs to me that I need to add a postscript to my Catholic readers. I honestly don't think that most people, particularly Catholics, are anti-Semitic. Two of my closest friends were Polish Catholics. But actions are actions, and thus, the above post.


How the scummy have fallen

Last week, my rabbi sent out an email alert: David Duke was planning to speak at the Sheraton in Richmond, his feeble last hurrah before going to prison to serve a sentence on tax evasion and fraud charges. Should we protest or ignore the jerk is what my rabbi wanted to know. I said if we show up, let's bring signs wishing him fun in prison and accusing him of tax fraud, certain to get his gall more than objections to his anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant bigotry.

Turns out we couldn't have done more than add insult to injury. Read this article in the Forward, it's absolutely hilarious in parts.

Originally promoted on Duke's Web page as a major policy address on the potential war with Iraq — Duke opposes the war, predictably arguing that it is the product of a conspiracy among the Sharon government, American Jews and the American government — the speech was supposed to have been Duke's swan song.

Supporters in Richmond had booked a meeting room at a local Sheraton hotel and, according to Ron Doggett, a EURO organizer in northern Virginia, they were expecting 160 Duke supporters.

Then Mordechai Levy, head of the militant Jewish Defense Organization, got wind of the planned meeting. Though Duke has lost considerable credibility with his own followers, Levy still considers him a threat and has made it part of his life's work to vex the disgraced ex-Klansman. Levy rallied supporters and inundated the management of the local Sheraton and the hotel's national executives with indignant messages.

The campaign worked. On February 19, days before the meeting was to be held, the hotel backed out, according to K.C. Kavanagh, a spokeswoman for the Sheraton chain, who said the decision was made at the local level. "Apparently when they found out who the group was and what their message was, the hotel asked them to find other accommodations," she said.

That turned out to be no easy task, said Doggett, the event's organizer. One after another, Richmond-area hotels either rejected the group outright or cancelled under pressure from Levy's supporters, Doggett said, leaving Duke and his supporters practically despondent.

"We were like, 'we're going to have to cancel,'" Doggett told the Forward. Worse still, Levy and the Jewish Defense Organization were documenting the whole humiliating episode on their Web site. "We saw on their Web site how they were gloating," Doggett said. "We were all in a state of depression because we felt that it was out of our hand and that we were being defeated on this issue."

But they didn't have to. They swallowed their "white pride" and patronized Jay Patel's Quality Inn (click on the Ashland link for a photo). No offense to Quality Inn, but could that setting be more pathetic? Yes, it could. Because it irked them to pay money to an Indian-managed establishment:

There was one bit of solace for Doggett and Duke, however: Mordechai Levy and his supporters were nowhere to be found. "It was Shabbos," Levy explained. "You can't stop it on Shabbos if you don't know about it."

But the sweetness of this small victory was tempered by the indignity of it all, Doggett admitted, and most galling to him was the belief that they had been overcharged by Patel. "They raped us pretty good for the room," he complained.

This, of all the things that Duke and his followers have said about a working-class immigrant, was the only statement that offended Patel.

"I didn't overcharge anybody," Patel hissed. "I charged them the regular rate."

Schadenfreude. It's a word I'm beginning to relish.


A late arrival

Shortly after I posted the below, I received this letter from Leah:

While I don't always agree with what you say, I always appreciate it. However, I'd like to make a point about the anti-PETA campaign -- a point you've probably heard before, but like I said, I'm a student.

I dislike PETA as much as anyone else (at least, so I thought until I started reading this stuff; turns out I've been lagging behind). However, I think all the cruelty-to-animal jokes you're linking to are going a bit too far. Just because PETA claims to stand for animals' rights doesn't mean that concern for animal welfare hinges on PETA's acting sane. They're not exactly animals' democratically-elected leaders. For the record, I don't eat veal, but I still think that blowing up people is just a tad bit more serious than blowing up donkeys, and as for Israel's aggression against stray cats, well... hmm, I actually can't think of anything sarcastic enough to say. That's a first for me.

In any case, I'm not going to start eating veal and torturing chickens just because PETA irritates me. Why should I give them control over my ideals?

Yes, some of the people I link to go a bit farther than I would, and I haven't been posting all of the email I've gotten for that reason. But humor is subjective. One person's joke is another person's shockingly unfunny statement. I link to Lair Simon on a regular basis. Lair offends everyone from time to time, including me. When I find him being particularly tasteless, I say nothing and move on. I've got to be really and truly offended by something—like, say, the PETA "Holocaust on your plate" campaign—before I'll do something like, say, start an International Eat An Animal For PETA day.

I really don't think Fred was serious about hurting a live animal for that recipe, or that the people in his comments really want to eat a spotted owl. The people suggesting veal for dinner on the 15th are making that suggestion in part because veal is the poster child for PETA's food animal cruelty campaigns. (For the record, I rarely eat veal, partly out of a sense of guilt, and partly because it's so expensive. I have a practical guilty conscience.) The thing is, people tend to exaggerate given half the chance, and PETA has given us more than half a chance. This campaign simply begs for the same kind of outrageousness, but I don't really believe that anyone is going to go out and be deliberately cruel to animals because of it.

While I appreciate your point of view, Leah, and agree that some of the jokes are tasteless or cruel, fair warning: I'll probably be linking to more people with the same sentiments.

Here's a link you'll probably like: Megan McArdle, a vegetarian, is joining the campaign, but not in the way you think. In fact, Megan's essay is pretty close to what I think about animal cruelty. PETA has no chance of getting my help with any of their campaigns due to their utter offensiveness and stupidity. Now, if Megan started an anti-cruelty campaign, I'd be on board in a minute, with checkbook in hand. You'd think PETA would get a clue.


More reader mail

Some really good ideas coming down the pike. CJ says:

What would be a real publicity grabber would be a tailgate party in a parking lot near PETA's headquarters.

Surely your fellow bloggers can unearth someone who works in an adjacent building who can use the parking lot for a "blogger-and-friends party." (Maybe you could masquerade as an early St. Patrick's Day party.) Then roll out the grills and let the sparks fly.

Oh, maybe you'll run into some bad/chilly weather, but football fans in New York, Green Bay, and Pittsburgh (among others) tailgate every Sunday throughout the winter. Surely an anti-PETA protest deserves an equal effort. And the newspapers would jump on it in a New York minute!

Now there's an idea. Wind Rider, our agent in the area, should be able to scout out the grounds and let us know if that's a possibility.

Cold weather? Nah. This is Virginia. In spite of our lousy weather so far this winter, it's March. That means the warm weather should be here to stay. It's 47 degrees outside right now (11:30 a.m.), and was quite nice yesterday.

Okay, Norfolk bloggers and readers: Send me an email if you're within spitting distance of PETA and would like to, well, spit at them. Figuratively speaking, of course.

Alex Bensky has a few fowl words for us:

I'm not chicken. I'd steak my reputation on being a part of the anti-PETA protest. Now let's talk turkey--it's going to be important for everyone to take part in this. And we have to plan carefully--not just wing it. Otherwise PETA may launch a flank attack and try to get people to chuck the whole idea. That would be fowl. Maybe we should monitor their site so if they're planning anything we can loin about it in advance. Some people are going to beef about this, but let them carp.

Actually, I really did get a foul letter, which I will print in its entirety, along with its author's email address (go get 'im, spambots, that's [email protected]):

wow youre a f*cking queer...

In point of fact, I'm a f*cking straight, but thanks for asking.

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2/02/03

I hate when that happens, Part II

A week and a half ago, I was wondering why some MSN group had 100-plus hits in my referrers list. That would be because someone swiped an entire post, picture and all, and put it on one of those group message boards. Okay, it was attributed and even linked back, but people—try to understand this: When you link to a graphic directly on my site, you are stealing my bandwidth. I'm paying for that. Not you. You are effectively putting your hand in my pocketbook and stealing from my wallet.

Kindly send people here to read my posts, and don't link to the pictures on my server.

Don't make me come over there.


Jumping on the meatwagon

I am in awe of LiveJournal. One person put the anti-PETA protest post on her or his website, and thanks to the LiveJournal friends option, a large percentage of my referrers are from various LiveJournal sites. This is what Rebecca Blood meant when she wrote about communities in her weblog book. It may not be as high and fast as an Instalink, but my money is on the staying power of this network. The message is going out like the ripples from a stone thrown in the center of a pond.

Also joining in is Fred Pruitt of Rantburg, who made me laugh out loud with this recipe. NZ Bear, who has finished revamping his ecosystem, is also spreading the word.

Kathy Kinsley, one of the Bellicose Broads Brigade (hi, MommaBear!) has big bird plans for the day:

Since the ad refers to chickens, I intend to have an omelette for breakfast (with cheese and some sliced chicken inside), chicken livers wrapped in bacon for lunch, and a whole baked chicken (with side dishes smothered in gravy) for dinner that day (I intend to use the leftovers for chicken sandwiches for other days -- no way I'm eating a whole chicken at one sitting for any cause).

But veal sounds good too. I may just extend that protest and have veal parmesan for dinner the next day.

Can't get any decent kosher veal down here. It'll have to wait until I get up to NJ for the holidays. But I'll be quite happy with my steak over in the Tidewater. (Any bloggers in the Norfolk area, email me and we'll see about meeting up with Wind Rider for dinner that night.)


Anti-Semitism at Yale

Via Andrew Sullivan, an excellent column on what's been said this past week about anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism at Yale:

It has been an unpleasant week to be Jewish at Yale. On Tuesday, Dean Pamela George published a column to the effect that it was no more inappropriate to invite rabid anti-Semite Amiri Baraka to speak than it was to invite former members of the Israeli military. That afternoon, Baraka spoke to a standing ovation.

On Wednesday, Sahm Adrangi '03 informed readers of this page that condemnation of Baraka stemmed from the eagerness of Jews in the media to shield Israel from criticism ("Not just another conspiracy theory: m anipulating anger"). For the next 24 hours, I watched more postings than I care to recall pile up on the Yale Daily News Web site, praising Sahm for his courage and denouncing Jews in the media for serving as Israeli shills.

Hatred of Israel and its suspected apologists has never seemed more prevalent on this campus.

In my years here I have heard unending discussion of whether anti-Zionism constitutes anti-Semitism. I have concluded that while the two are not identical, hatred of Israel constitutes a moral pathology in its own rite, one that is still regarded as legitimate by many of my classmates.

Definitely worth reading the whole thing.


Meat: It's what's for dinner

Time to open the mailbag. It seems the anti-PETA campaign is flexing its chops (yes, there will be many bad meat-related puns for the next two weeks; feel free to chime in with your wurst). Michele of A Small Victory has signed on, as has Dean Esmay, Arthur Silber, the Bellicose Broads Brigade (as my dad would say), Emperor Misha, D.C. Thornton, and a slew of LiveJournal weblogs (just lovin' the cat story I found via Eleanor).

By the way, you don't have to eat just beef. Meat is what we're talking about, plus fish, plus seafood (eww, little crawly things like shrimp), as well as beef, lamb, veal, or—dare I say it on this weblog?—pork.

To the letters. Buck says:

To really get into the spirit of this day, don't you think it would be best to choose veal as the meat of choice? I would think that this particular selection would maximize ass chappage on PETA's part.

Point taken, thus the addition of veal to the above list. April writes:

I am a blood donor and I always try to eat a steak or two sometimes three before I donate and then a meal of salmon and steak after I donate. March 15 will tie my two causes together: Blood donor and anti-PETA. I already have serious issues with AR agendas and this latest stunt of theirs is so far out there that I think even Hubble would have trouble bringing it into focus.

Glenn, look at that—April's a two-fer, and has a good idea. Donate blood, and then replenish yourself with a great big dinner made from animals!

Jeff L. is going to Peter Luger's in Brooklyn for dinner that night. Mmmmm. Luger's. Well, maybe next time I'm up in NJ I can find the time for—nah, I'd rather go to Katz's.

Keep those cards and letters coming. I'll be back later with a picture of the kosher rib steak I picked up for dinner. (Mmmmm. Rib steak.) Pre-cooked, of course.

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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.

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