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4/5/03

New letters from old friends

My pal Jay sent a beauty this morning:

This morning, a TV translator of Saddam's speech had him exhorting Iraqis to fight the US 'with Force.' A friend and I wondered how this would work out in practice:

"These aren't the tyrants you're looking for."
"These aren't the tyrants we're looking for."
"You have invaded Tierra del Fuego by mistake."
"We have invaded Tierra del Fuego by mistake."
"You are on the outskirts of a village of thatched huts."
"We are on the outskirts..."

And from Neil, who sent this as a result of my posting the Iraqi spam yesterday:

Re: Urgent Assistance Needed

By way of introduction I am Neil Clarke, I represent my family as the oldest son of the Clarke family, who are the descendants of Eamonn from one of the poor areas in Ireland. Over the years my family has acquired huge piles of dirty diapers from our son, Pampers and their gangs of bandits have taken our old poopy diapers without payments and we can not complain as those who did are all dead from biological agents. In the wake of the Poop War of 2000, our family withdrew most poopy diapers that remain in coded bank accounts that Gerber did not find and we hide it in a secret chamber under our kitchen, where it remained safe until after the war. At the end of Poop War, we moved the diapers into a private diaper genie of a security company in current city, where it was until we collected it a few days ago on the fear of the eminent war with Pampers.

We pray they remove Pampers as they are the cause of much diaper rash here, but our dirty diapers are stuck here and there is no avenue to transfer any poop from here without Pampers knowing. The problem now is how do we transfer the poop totalling US$12.5 Million in cash from here.

We are afraid that with the capacity of the bombs Pampers is coming to current city with nowhere would be safe for the dirty diapers, so we need you to help in securing a private collection agency who would come to current city and collect the poop and have them moved to the west, where our family is planning to relocate to as life in current city is no longer worth living because of Pampers.

I have to travel lots of miles each day to send an email hoping someone out there would assist this family, if you can we will give you the details of an agency that can lift the poop from here as given to me by a US Marine. The private collection agency would then collect the poop from here and deliver it to you for safe keep. Hoping the American campaign would be successful, we would then come over to your house for a meeting to share the poop and hopefully start a new life with you as a partner.

For your assistance with this project the family is willing to give you 90% of the poop, however if this does not suit you we are open for negotiation.

We eagerly await your response so we can inform you of the next line of action.

Regards.

Neil Clarke
For the entire Clarke Family

By the way, the razor would say that you quick reply you received was an automatic message responder set up when they shut that email address down.

I wish I still had copies of the story of Neil's battle with the ants the summer his folks were in Ireland and he was all alone for a week or two. They make my battle with the woodpecker seem like Amateur Hour.

By the way, Neil and his wife run a couple of businesses that you might be interested in at Clarkesworld. Neil sells books, and Mrs. Clarke creates jewelry and crafts. (No, I don't get a cut for sending you over there. But I knew you were wondering.)

TOP


4/4/03

Miscellaneous

You know, I almost spelled that "miscallaneous," which I think is a wonderful word. Perhaps it could mean the variety of bad calls the media and the left is making about the war in Iraq. The fact that "aneous" sounds like "anus" is just a bonus.

There are a lot of things to get annoyed with today, but I thought I'd not do that for now, as, well, I'm feeling rather chipper. Perhaps because I'm wearing shorts for the first time this year, and because I no longer have to sleep in the winter jams (and nope, I'm not gonna tell you what I slept in last night; this blog is rated, uh, er—what's some swears and no sexual content?). Anyway.

Two things of note about April 22nd: It will be the second anniversary of this weblog, and it will be the second anniversary of this weblog. (I suddenly got a feeling of deja vu. Did anyone else?)

If I can figure out how to do it, I may just try to count the words I've written over the past two years, because, well, it'd be neat. My guess is I'm into seven figures (well into). I used to be able to write short, pithy posts, but I've gotten fat and lazy and had the nerve to lapse into multi-thousand-word essays. (Sorry. But at least I'm not nearly as wordy as, say, Bill Whittle. Here's a hint: Editeditedit! Oh, my, did I type that out loud?)

A quick peek at my archives brings the sad realization that I've about tripled my output since the first few months, and doubled it in the last year. If this doesn't stop, my average page size will be about the size of Michael Moore, relatively speaking. Although I did get a wonderful email in the last couple of weeks from a nice man who told me my page takes less than five seconds to load, on average. Ha! Ha-HA! (Of course, the week he emailed me was the week I loaded the page down with photos and long essays, giving the lie to his statements, but such is life.)

Will Vehrs reminded me exactly what this blog is about by trying to describe it in a paragraph or two. He came pretty close, but I don't think I'm as conservative as he made me out to be. Still, I understand the dilemma. If you think writing a short description is easy, try writing a 20-word personal ad. Go ahead. See how easy it is to distill yourself into twenty words.

Hm. I wonder if I should offer my readers a chance to write a 20-word personal ad ostensibly written by me, to be published on my blogiversary. I'm probably going to regret this, but go ahead. Of course, you're going to have to base it on what you've read here on the weblog. Send it to meryl - at - yourish - dot.com or click the email link in the above left menu. I'll publish the author's first name, last initial, unless you tell me otherwise.

I have a bad feeling about this.

And on that note, off I go to enjoy the day. I'll be back later.


The latest from Captain Steve

Fear of Fueling

Since the start of the war our crew has logged over 100 hours in Iraqi airspace. We've flown enough miles to circle the globe several times. While nothing is routine, we are a little more adjusted now to being in hostile airspace. The things that previously caused us a burst of adrenaline (friendly missile launches that looked like surface to air fire, random tracers reaching skyward, the moon) are now more or less commonplace. We keep an eye on them, but a less anxious eye than before. Some of the comforting signs of normalcy (an occasional Hawaiian shirt worn over a flight suit, pushup contests on the floor of the jet) are seen again.

That could be why the pilot called me forward during the second in-air refueling yesterday. I've always been uncomfortable with what our pilot calls the "ballet of elephants." I am a firm believer in vertical and horizontal separation of aircraft, and he's taken it upon himself to show me there's nothing to fear.

We'd been in the air since evening, and unbeknownst to me, at work in the back with my window covered tightly, the sun had risen and was already filling the cockpit and burning the endless desert below us. Blinking, I felt my way to the observer's seat and buckled myself in.

After I'd plugged my headset into the comm system the pilot explained the plan for meeting the tanker. We would continue describing a small circle in the sky as the tanker finished a larger orbit, fueling its current customers. The navigator would adapt our speed and the size of our circle so that when the tanker finished it would be just ahead of us. We would simply roll out of our turn and find ourselves positioned to take fuel. As he explained I heard the nav and the copilot in the background, mentioning the tanker, "chicks in tow," and discussing it's current position.

I looked in the direction they indicated and picked a small speck out of the sunshine. I squinted at it until it resolved itself into the distinct shape of the tanker accompanied by two fighters, one on the boom, and one off its wingtip. The perigee of our orbits brought us within a few miles of each other - close enough to see the fighter pilots in their cockpits, and bring the air-superiority-gray of the aircraft into sharp relief against the flat light reflecting off the desert. It was a breathtaking sight, but not the last I'd see that morning.

We held our gentle turn long enough for me to begin recognizing features on the ground. Through binoculars I watched black rivers of basalt - ancient lava flows - roll in and out of view. An occasional lonely road stretched from horizon to horizon, and in one place (a route of our advance?) countless sets of vehicle tracks left shadows across the undulating dunes.

Then it was our turn for gas. Our navigator brought us out of our turn about 5 miles behind and a little below the tanker. I watched over the pilot's left shoulder as the big jet got closer and closer - until it filled the little window above our heads, and my fingers left grooves in the armrests of my chair. The boom projected toward us, creeping forward until I was looking straight up into it; a nozzle about 8 inches in diameter bobbing gently in the wind blasting between our aircraft. The copilot began calling out the position of the boom, (over the nose... over the throttles...) allowing the pilot to know its location while keeping his larger perspective and monitoring our position with respect to the tanker. I watched the face of the boom operator peering at us from his tiny portal in the back of his jet. I found I could gauge the closeness of his nozzle to the receptacle above and behind our heads by the expression of concentration on his face. There was a loud thump-clunk, and we were connected.

The connection of the boom completes a comm circuit allowing the boom operator to talk to our flight deck without broadcasting over a radio. The operator asked us our tail number and base of origin - accounting for the destination of the several-score thousand gallons of gas he was already flowing into our tanks. That brief exchange, and an occasional, "Up four..." or "Down two..." were the only words exchanged. The flight engineer in his swivel seat to my right distributed the arriving weight evenly across our jet, helping the pilot maintain level flight.

And he had plenty to do in that regard. A set of lights on the belly of the jet above us, activated by the boom operator, allowed our pilot to know whether to advance or retard our position with respect to the tanker. I watched, waiting for the pilot to use throttles to adjust our position, but he relied on far more subtle means. This is something those of us who live in the back of the jet always appreciate. A pilot who accomplishes refueling without constantly speeding up and slowing down goes a long way toward preventing what flight surgeons like to refer to as "stomach awareness" on the part of the mission crew. With hours of mission to perform before landing, the last thing anyone wants is airsickness. Even for those without the problematic connection between stomach and inner ear, being on the same fight as someone who is sick can be very unpleasant. Little things like this give us confidence in our pilot.

It's always the little things that add up to significant impressions. Rarely are our opinions formed as the result of grand gestures or big statements. Our pilot formed a favorable impression of the tanker crew on just such a small detail. "This is an experienced guy," he commented via intercom. He explained that the tanker had canted the refueling orbit slightly, causing his plane to block the sun from our eyes. The copilot, who'd folded a chart and was ready to use it as a sun block for the pilot, registered his approval with a grunt.

This tiny gesture was greatly appreciated by all of us in the cockpit, but perhaps by me most of all. Aside from not having to squint painfully into the sun, which was nice, I was comforted by the fact that in spite of everything that was required to support this monstrous imposition on all the physical laws (It still surprises me that these ponderous machines fly, let alone can be maneuvered so precisely, and under such difficult conditions) someone had the presence of mind to consider something so insignificant.

And when we had received the last of the fuel required to complete our mission and we broke right, I watched the giant that had fueled us slew away to the left. Within seconds it had dwindled to a speck. In a second more it was gone, swallowed by the immensity of sky and desert. With it went my fear of aerial refueling.

As always, and in constantly renewed ways, I am amazed to find myself a part of the finest Air Force the world has ever known.

Steven


It had to happen: Iraqi spam

Look what I got in my email yesterday!

10 Jasim Street,
Ibrahim'Ali, Baghdad, Iraq.
Email: [email protected]

Re: Urgent Assistance Needed

By way of introduction I am Eng. Farouk Al-Bashar, I represent my family as the oldest son of the Al-Bashar family, who are the descendants of Ibrahim Al-Bashar Ali from one of the oil rich areas in Iraq. Over the years my family has acquired huge sums of money from royalties for the exploration of oil in our region but over the past 15 years, Saddam Hussein and his gangs of bandits have taken our oils without payments and we can not complain as those who did are all dead. In the wake of the Gulf War of 1990, our family withdrew most moneys that remain in coded bank accounts that Saddam did not find and we hide it in a secret chamber underground, where it remained safe until after the war. At the end of Gulf war, we moved the funds into a private vault of a security company in Baghdad, where it was until we collected it a few days ago on the fear of the eminent war with America.

We pray they remove Saddam as he is the cause of much hardship here, but our funds are trapped here and there is no avenue to transfer any amount from Iraq without Saddam knowing. The problem now is how do we transfer the funds totalling US$12.5 Million in cash from here.

We are afraid that with the capacity of the bombs America is coming to Baghdad with nowhere would be safe for the money, so we need you to help in securing a private collection agency who would come to Iraq and collect the money and have them moved to the west, where our family is planning to relocate to as life in Iraq is no longer worth living because of Saddam.

I have to travel lots of miles each day to send an email hoping someone out there would assist this family, if you can we will give you the details of an agency that can lift the funds from here as given to me by a US Marine. The private collection agency would then collect the fund from here and deliver it to you for safe keep. Hoping the American campaign would be successful, we would then come over to your country for a meeting to share the funds and hopefully start a new life with you as a partner.

For your assistance with this project the family is willing to give you 10% of the funds, however if this does not suit you we are open for negotiation.

We eagerly await your response so we can inform you of the next line of action.

Regards.

Eng. Farouk Al- Bashar
For the entire Al-Bashar family

I couldn't resist. I sent back a reply:

Dear Farouk Al-Bashar,

I sympathize with your plight, and I would do anything I can to help you recover the money. However, I think ten percent is too much. I'll do it for five percent. Please forward me the information I need. I personally know a Marine who is in Iraq right now, and I am of corresponding with him the email. I think he can help us, but he would probably want to get five percent as well, so that means it does have to be a ten percent share for the Americans after all.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sharon Green
(That's my real name. This email account is set up for business purposes, and I use a different name for it.)

I await the response with bated breath.

Er. Awaited. Damn. Someone explain to me how they can do this. I received this response in less than two minutes.

Scam Warning
This message is being added without the senders knowledge.
This is a scam. This is known as the 419 Nigerian Money scam named after the Nigerian Penal code for fraud. For more information please go to:http://www.secretservice.gov/alert419.shtml

Dammit. The Secret Service ruined all my fun. Now I'll have to go fisk the letter. Well, maybe later. It's closing in on bedtime.

So, like, was that to do with Carnivore, the Patriot Act, or just because they're watching all the Nigerian spam now? Whatever the reason, they have ruined my giggles for the night. Hmph.

TOP


4/3/03

How to make low-fat potato chips

The good news: They're crunchy. The bad news: I burnt the oven-fried potatoes. Crunchy, but, um, they weren't supposed to be. But hey, it's satisfying my potato chip craving, which is very strong today. It's not unlike the Force with me, this craving for things fried. Perhaps I should call it the Chips. The Chips are strong in this one. Hm. "Use the Chips!"

Naaaah. Sounds rather dumb.

Alas, my strong craving for all things fried (God's greatest gift to mankind was the fried potato, and anyone who says otherwise is just plain wrong) is counter-productive to the new diet (this time I really, really, really am going to lose the weight I put on when I quit smoking, which is going on just shy of five years).

I'm serious. Do you know what I'm snacking on? Matzoh. Plain matzoh. Ugh. I do, however, have to rid myself of my Coca-Cola habit. (Yeah, I'm a Coke addict. You gotta problem with that? In the bottle, no less, six eight-ounce bottles for $3.49 at Target.)

I should stop before this turns into one of those really boring diet posts. Oh, wait. Too late.


Strange birds

You know that funeral march that gets played in all the cartoons and sitcoms and comedy films? Sorry, I don't know the original piece, just the notes: Dum da dum dum, da dum da dum dum...

Well, there's a bird outside now singing dum da dum dum over and over again. Strange. Not omen-strange, just—weird strange.

Damn. Now that song's going to be in my head all day. Well, better that than one of those awful songs from—never mind, I'll get in trouble if I continue.


We get letters

From Professor James Lindgren, on old media vs. new:

On balance I find the better dozen or so blogs that I read much more reliable than TV or newspapers, because most blog errors are corrected quite quickly because of feedback from other bloggers or readers. The issue isn't the number of errors made, which are not trivial in either media, but how quickly they are corrected. The fact-based editing that bloggers get is far better than any old media journalist ever gets; it's just that most of it unfortunately comes after initial, tentative publication.

From Roy L., a dogs and turkey (as opposed to dogs in turkey) story:

Many years ago (30?) friends of ours flew from LA to Phoenix to join us for Thanksgiving dinner. We held it early, because their return was scheduled for that afternoon. We cooked 2 turkeys because of the prodigious appetite of my friend Ray. Ray was a gymnast. He ate incredible amounts of food andhad about 3% body fat. We left about three quarters of a 12 pound turkey on the counter and drove Nancy and Ray to the airport. When we returned we found our 2 dogs on their backs on the kitchen floor. Their bellies were unbelievably distended and they greeted us with imploring eyes and a very slow thumping of their tails.

This is why I have cats. My friend's Ridgebacks are now scavenging for fruit, something which they never before touched. Worf ate an entire plum, pit and all. Probably swallowed it whole. Ooh, that'll be fun to pass.

And from Ritchey R., a picture of a license plate we would have loved to have had on March 15 (that was the International Eat an Animal for PETA day).

From James G.:

I understand that there has been a backlash against Jews in the wake of 9/11 and I'm not sure I get it. But what I also don't get is how that necessarily equates to a turning right and voting for W in 2004. Major Democratic Presidential candidates John Kerry, John Edwards, and Joe Liebermann all seem to me to be supporters of Israel, as well as all having voted for the resolution authorizing force in Iraq. I'm not sure what some loony anti-war protestors really have to do with voting for one of these candidates.

You need to go digging around the archives here, James. A few isolated incidences of anti-Semitism at anti-war protests wouldn't do a thing to the solidly liberal, Democratic Jewish base. But in the wake of 9/11, and especially since last spring's bloody series of terrorist bombings in Israel, American Jews have noticed how the left is abandoning, if not demonizing, Jews and Israel. In every major protest—every single one—we see anti-Semitic signs, or hear anti-Semitic slogans. Michael Lerner is refused a chance to speak at the International ANSWER-sponsored anti-war protest in San Francisco because his views are "too pro-Israel." Anti-semitic incidents are up nine hundred percent in Northern California, the bastion of American liberalism, multiculturalism, and equality. Unless you're a Jew, it seems.

And when the issue is raised, the left quickly falls into the old blame game: If Israel weren't being so hard on the Palestinians, people wouldn't be getting on Israel's case. It isn't anti-Semitism, it's anti-Zionism. It's criticism of Israel, not the Jews. These are all wonderful excuses for the haters to hide behind. But, well, they're not working. Because when I talk to my coreligionists at the oneg after services, and the talk turns to politics, nearly everyone believes that the Democrats have turned their backs. We haven't forgotten that Bill Clinton strong-armed the Oslo peace process, which is now called the Oslo War in Israel. Don't even talk to me about Jimmy Carter, who is showing his hatred for Jews at every opportunity. And we hear, time and again, the New York Times and a volume of liberal voices saying that Israel should "show restraint" in her response to suicide bombings. The left compares Israel with South Africa (patent bullshit), and when she ventures into the terror nests, she is excoriated and the murderers lionized, their insipid (and always left-leaning) sympathizers thrusting themselves between the IDF and their work. Not once, mind you, have they asked to protect innocent Israeli civilians from suicide bombers. Don't think we haven't noticed.

I no longer trust the left. Certain liberal webloggers ridicule or downplay the fact that we have noticed the latest codeword for Jew is neocon. Some on the left minimize Pat Buchanan's reprehensible anti-Semitic treatise by saying, well, gee, he has a few valid points about the Israel lobby. Look at all the Jews around W. Maybe the Jewish lobby is too strong.

We hear it. We read it. And we see it. And contrary to popular belief, Jews aren't a one-issue voting bloc, which is why the fact that Kerry and Edwards are pro-Israel isn't enough to get them our votes. The tide of anti-Semitism that is rising on the left is making many Jews think twice about their Democratic ties.

I used to think it was only the loony left. But I'm hearing more and more people I would have simply described as liberal coming out with an anti-Semitic remark here, or an anti-Jewish phrase there. And my journey to the right continues. But it hasn't been a voluntary one. I am being pushed there. The mainstream left needs to think about that. So far, I'm seeing few signs that they are.

TOP


4/2/03

Meat, wonderful meat!

Andrea Harris sent me over to James Lileks' Gallery of Regrettable Foods, specifically, the meat section. Utterly hilarious and not the least bit appetizing. Hey, I love steak, and I love angel food cake. But this? God save me.


Dogs in elk

A few years ago, my friend Jay forwarded me a story he found on rec.pets. I looked for it today because I'd mentioned it to the sysop of Digital Dogs, and promised I'd go look for it. I never deleted the email.

This is one of the funniest dog stories I have ever read. Include your standard spit-monitor and work warnings; if you can keep a straight face while reading this, well, I don't want to ever have a drink with you, that's for sure.


This and that

Diane E., who says she's not back blogging yet, just squeaking, has posted several, er, squeaks. Go have a look.


There's a new blog in town, run by a Dutch guy who's now in Canada. And it's a very pretty design. My web developer hat is off to you, Stacy. (But there's a missing link on the Sekimori gif on the main page; you might want to fix that.)


It is 80 degrees in Richmond. And may I say: HA-ha.


You know, if you're going to bring Dorian back on OLTL, did you have to include the oh-so-boring Cristian/Natalie plot, which causes me to reach for the fast-forward button every time? (I'm going to watch the tape, now. Hmph.)


Have I mentioned lately that I intend to have another Buffy Blogburst? I'm planning to hold it the week after the series finale. Start thinking of your essays now. And start emailing me now, because the last Blogburst was hugely popular and this time, I'm not going to be so lenient with latecomers. Stephen.

It will work on the same level as Bigwig's Carnival of the Vanities. I'll have the index here, and y'all will link it to get maximum viewage, which in turn gets more people reading your contribution via a link from here. It's so circular we're practically stepping on our own heels.


Dean Esmay did what I couldn't, and parodied Richard Cory, substituting Rachel Corrie. Er, one of his readers did. Nicely done, Casey.


Lynn B. on why Abu Mazen is a bad choice for Palestinian Prime Minister, and why the CIA is a worse choice to help the Pals rebuild.

And now, I'm off to enjoy the 80-degree weather outside.


The 9/11 backlash

Many words have been written, by many people, about how Muslims were going to suffer a backlash of discrimination and hate crimes after 9/11.

This has been come true, after a fashion. There is a minority group, both here and in Europe, that is suffering a backlash of violent discrimination and hate crimes.

But it's the Jews. And the backlash is isn't Americans attacking Muslims. It's Muslims and their supporters attacking Jews.

Anti-semitic incidents are up worldwide. In northern California, anti-Semitic incidents went from 13 to 118. That's quite a leap, but then, this could be one reason:

"I attribute a lot of it to a climate that has been created in the Bay Area in which criticism of Israel has been allowed to devolve into blatant anti-Semitism," Bernstein said, noting that one of the incidents included in the report was a rally where war protesters carried a sign reading "Smash the Jewish State, Smash the Jewish Race."

Long-time readers will remember the events of the anti-Semitic riot at SFSU, which are also mentioned in this article.

On May 7, Palestinian supporters cornered some pro-Israel students after a peace rally and threatened them, shouting phrases like "Hitler should have finished the job."

Brysk said such incidents created a climate in which some students chose to tuck their Star of David necklaces inside their shirts so as not to be readily identified as Jewish. A few even left for other campuses, he said.

But there was another incident, far more recently, that perfectly portrays the Muslim backlash against Jews.

"I was sitting on a bench when I heard a loud noise," the victim said. "I fell on the floor. I'd been ... punched by a Middle Eastern-looking guy."

The victim added he did not know why he had been assaulted until he heard a man accompanying the assailant yelling at him to take off his shirt, which read "Israel doesn't need your sympathy, it needs you."

"I don't know why this happened," the victim said. "I'd never seen this guy before."

The victim of the above attack sent out an email, which one of my readers forwarded to me.

On Monday night, March 24, I took a break from exam week, and went bowling with 7 Jewish friends from the University of Michigan. I was the only one with a yarmulke on my head, and was wearing a shirt with a picture of Hertzl that says, "Israel needs you."

We had broken up into teams of four, and I was the first to complete the game. I took my seat to watch the rest of the bowlers finish. It was an intensely close match up, and all eyes were on Brandon, a 20 year old from Long Island, who was the final bowler. As I leaned in, excited to learn the outcome of our heated rivalry, I heard a crushing sound and was knocked onto the floor. I had no idea what happened, I stood up with my jaw throbbing in pain.

I turned around, to see an Arab, standing with his friends ten feet away. The largest of the group had sucker punched me, with my back turned to him, without ever saying a word to me.

It's not just happening in America. In Europe, Jews are also being attacked in record numbers.

Violent hate crimes quadrupled in France in 2002 to the highest level in a decade, with more than half the assaults aimed at Jews, a national study has found.

[...] In the report, the committee said 193 of 313 attacks were against Jews in a "real explosion" of anti-Semitic violence. Last year, the group reported 32 acts of anti-Jewish violence.

The committee said increased anti-Semitic attacks came against a backdrop of fighting between Israel and the Palestinians, and added that many attackers came from rough neighborhoods on the outskirts of France's cities.

In the last two years, France has suffered a wave of violence against Jewish schools, temples and cemeteries that coincided with new fighting in the Middle East.

Attacks on Jews are up more than 600%. The upsurge in France nearly mirrors the upsurge of violence against Jews in northern California. Oh, and France is in the nation whose president declared last spring that there is no anti-Semitism in France. And here is the most interesting part of the news: Violence by far-right anti-Semites—the neo-nazis—has actually decreased by a third in the last year.

France's large North African community also was targeted. Of 47 attacks against them, 25 of those were attributed to the extreme-right. One person of North African origin was killed - the only death mentioned in the report. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks stirred anti-Muslim sentiment, the report said.

Violence by France's far-right groups dropped in 2002. Nine percent of the reported attacks were blamed on the far right, compared with 14 percent in 2001, the report said.

And of the 1,000 nonviolent attacks—mostly graffiti—70% of them were against Jews. Seventy percent. No, there's no anti-Semitism in France, Monsieur Chirac.

So if the neo-nazis aren't attacking the Jews, who could it be? Hm. Let's think on that one.

Oh, yeah. "Peace" protesters and Muslims.

Two Jewish youths were hospitalized Saturday afternoon after being stabbed in Paris by individuals who had taken part in an anti-war demonstration. The separate incidents took place near the Hashomer Hatzair youth group building in the city, in close proximity to Beaumarchais Boulevar and Bastille Square.

One young man was stabbed and lightly wounded after a group of men noticed his yarmulke. He was taken to the hospital for treatment. The attackers are believed to have been immigrants from North Africa. After stabbing the young man, they tried to break in to the Hashomer Hatzair building, but members of the youth group managed to block the entrance.

Actually, for that incident, we had a double whammy: Muslim "peace" protesters, who went to the Jewish youth group building looking for Jews to attack. The "immigrants from North Africa" phrase above is what France uses instead of "Arabs" or "Muslims."

And a week later, they staged another "peace" protest. They can't hold back the vitriol and hatred even when they try:

Banners at recent demonstrations have shown the Star of David intertwined with the Nazi swastika.

This Saturday, protesters hung a huge banner that read ‘‘No to racism and anti-Semitism’’ on the Place de la Concorde near the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy. Bumper stickers with the same message were distributed to the crowd.

[...] Both boys and girls wore the Palestinian scarf known as the kaffiyeh. One Moroccan-born man stepped on an image of the Israeli flag. Another French Arab pointed to a group of protesters from a Jewish student association and said: ‘‘They are targets. They are not welcome here, because of what they did to our Palestinian brothers.’’

Yeah, that didn't take long. What kills me, however, is reading things like this:

It is easy for the lines to be blurred between protests against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and anti-Semitism. The center-right French government is extremely sensitive to charges that anti-Semitism lurks in France, and French officials as well as organizers of the protest quickly condemned the attack a week ago.

Politicians and intellectuals of all leanings have condemned the anti-Semitic tone of the protests, which have included chants of ‘‘Vive Chirac! Stop the Jews!’’

It only seems to be easy to blur the lines to the people like the author of this IHT article. And leftists who think that signs that read, "Stop the Jew$" are legitimate criticisms of Israel. (Are you listening, Kevin?) No, they have ceased being critical of Israeli policies and sunk into the swamp of prejudice and anti-Semitism.

We have yet to read of any significant backlash against U.S. Muslims, CAIR's whining about nasty name-calling notwithstanding. But there has been a significant backlash against Jews—in America and abroad—since 9/11, and especially in the past year, especially from the left, which is supposed to be the bastion of equality and multiculturalism. Funny how that applies to everyone but the Jews.

The hypocrisy is enough to turn one to the right. In fact, the hypocrisy is enough so that Jews all over America are turning rightward, and readying themselves to hold their noses and vote for W. (Nothing personal, it's the domestic agenda we disagree with.)

There's your 9/11 backlash. But it wasn't what anyone expected. There is something I'd like to know about it, though: When is it going to stop?


New media vs. old: The truth is out there

Glenn Reynolds is on CNN. He did fine, and is a great advocate for blogs and bloggers. Aaron Brown just said to Elizabeth Osder, a professor at USC, that one of his major concerns about bloggers is that by the time you discover the truth of something put forward on a blog, hundreds, nay, thousands of people will already have read the incorrect story. The subtext, of course, was that we poor unedited masses can't possibly get a story right without fact-checkers and editors.

So here is an article I found via Tacitus just this evening:

The war is only a week old and already the media has gotten at least 15 stories wrong or misreported a sliver of fact into a major event. Television news programs, of course, have been the prime culprits. Newspapers, while they have often gone along for the ride, have been much more nuanced and careful. Newspaper coverage has not been faultless, as photos and headlines often seem shock-and-awe-struck but, compared with TV, newspapers seem more editorially -- and mentally -- balanced. Some have actually displayed a degree of skepticism of claims made by the military and the White House -- what used to be known as "journalism."

Yep, Aaron, you've been blogged, in about a minute. But I wouldn't have bothered without the slap about bloggers' credibility.

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4/1/03

Better than you, Part 3

First, go over to Laurence Simon's blog and read his post. Okay, now look at this news from Ha'aretz:

Israel has developed an airborne system designed to divert missiles fired at civilian passenger airplanes.

The system created by Israel Aircraft Industries and Israel Military Industries, which has already been presented to the Civil Aviation Authority and is awaiting certification by the Israel Airports Authority, is slated for use by the national carrier, El Al, and Arkia.

The development of the system was accelerated in the wake of the attempt in November last year to bring down an Israeli passenger jet taking off from Mombasa, Kenya, with two shoulder-launched missiles.

[...] The primary innovation in the new system is that it provides protection for civilian aircraft during takeoffs and landings, deemed the most vulnerable stages of flight.

Haaretz has learned that the new system is already in use in two executive 707 Boeings owned by two heads of state in in Asia and Africa. Industry sources say the Israeli system is the only available one of its kind at present.

Once again, the Jewish state lifts a [mailed] one-finger salute to the terrorists who would murder her people. And once again, Israel contributes to the safety and security of the world at large. Well, except, as Laurence points out, the Arabs. They're boycotting Israeli products. Looks like their planes will be vulnerable to their own terrorists. Sucks, that.

No wonder their nations are all third world backwaters.


The seal of authenticity

A correspondent asks Glenn Reynolds how we can tell if bloggers are really blogging from a war zone. I can't speak for any but the men I correspond with, but my three guys are all legit. I knew LT Smash was going to be over there before he left. Pontifex emailed me from Kuwait because Moveable Type had destroyed his archives, and he needed help stateside. Both of them asked me to keep their locations secret.

Captain Steve's letters have easily recognizable headers coming through military (Air Force) servers. But even if I didn't know how to read a header, his letters are so authentic that another zoomie I know asked me to find out what kind of plane Steven flies (can't, it's the kind of information they need to keep private). They're corresponding now, though, and trading stories for themselves.

I don't know about the rest of the guys blogging from the field, but I can vouch for my pals. They're the real deal. As far as I'm concerned, they've put a very personal face to all of the men and women over there. I don't just worry about them as anonymous soldiers or Marines or airmen. They have names. LT and Pontifex have been my blog buddies for many months. We have a term for people we've never met but whom we correspond with regularly: Virtual friends. Remove the virtual. These men are my friends.

Stay safe, guys. And keep writing.


Fatigue

I suffered from it yesterday. I was reading too many negative articles, and seeing too many negative stories on TV, and then reading too much war news on the weblogs. So I turned off the computer and the news and plugged in the VCR and watched some Angel episodes.

However, if you don't want to do that, then go to someplace like Rantburg, where you can read news about the war with commentary ranging from hilarious to incisive. Fred finds the odd stories that no one else covers, too. Or read a few soldier's blogs. There's LT Smash, who was busting you all over his interview with Peter Arnett, and who got both me and his wife to fall for it, at first. There's also Pontifex ex Machina. And there's Will, who writes bluntly of the shower and bathroom facilities, and yeah, admit it—you always were a little curious about the bare essentials.

Look there, instead of the depressing analyses and constant talk of how bad things are going. And then get off the internet and watch a movie or something. The Core is stupid enough to take your mind off things. Or if you're a soap opera fan, hey, tomorrow's going to be huge on ABC. Dorian's back, and there'll be two episodes of GH.

I knew it was Dorian once Mitch revealed that he was working for someone. It couldn't be Carlo Hesser; they already pulled that one a few years ago. Oh, the next few months are going to be fun. Welcome back, Robin Strasser!


Symbolism

Jessica Lynch, the 19-year-old soldier who was rescued today from behind enemy lines, is from Palestine, West Virginia.

How do you figure that will play in the Arab world Omen Watch?

Think the Reuters headline would be, "U.S. Army Frees Palestinian Prisoner"?


Palestinian Peace Partner </sarcasm> Watch

The Pals want to live in peace with Israel, hm? PA official calls for Israel's 'elimination'

Shimon Samuels, the Wiesenthal Center's representative at the 59th Human Rights Commission session currently taking place in Geneva, wrote to UN Human Rights High Commissioner Sergio Vieira de Mello calling on him to "immediately condemn the Palestinian observer and take the necessary measures for his recall, due to his violation of the UN Charter in calling for the 'elimination' of the state of Israel."

In addition to calling for Israel's elimination, Samuels said, Nabil Ramlawi repeatedly compared Nazism and "new Zionist Nazism," and at one point said Zionist Nazism was worse than German Nazism. Samuel, in his letter to de Mello, said, "This call for the elimination of Israel may reveal the true intentions of the PA, but such language should have resulted in the immediate intervention of the session's chairperson, Libyan Ambassador Najat al-Hajjaji." Samuels also called on the high commissioner to "censure Ms. al-Hajjaji for her abuse of power in not restraining Ramlawi's excesses."

Also in the Jerusalem Post, more evidence damning UNRWA:

Terrorist organizations in Palestinian-controlled areas, as well as in Syria and Lebanon, take advantage of UNRWA workers and their vehicles to transport arms and terrorists, according to a document drawn up by defense establishment officials.

The document notes that Palestinian terrorists in Israeli custody admitted using UNRWA facilities, equipment, and vehicles to assist in carrying out terror attacks, knowing that UNRWA personnel are able to travel in Israel and Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, as well as in Lebanon, Syria, and elsewhere, without being subjected to security checks.

[...] Attalah told investigators that he was repeatedly asked by officials of Fatah's Popular Resistance Committee to drive them in his UN car as it was never subjected to IDF inspections. He also made use of his laissez-passer to travel to Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria where he contacted officials of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, received funds, and transferred arms.

And lastly, more reasons for America to love the Pals:

Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp have named the main square in their camp after the Iraqi army officer who carried out the first suicide attack against US forces in Iraq.

[...] The square's name was changed from Mosque Square to Na'mani Square during a rally Sunday attended by scores of camp residents and Palestinian officials.

"We want to honor the brave Iraqi officer who carried out the first suicide attack against the American and British occupiers," a senior Palestinian official in Jenin told The Jerusalem Post. "We hope there will be more suicide operations in the coming days."

The Jenin refugee camp has been known as a hotbed for extremist Palestinian groups responsible for numerous suicide attacks in Israel. Camp residents have proudly described the camp, home to some 12,000 refugees, as the capital of suicide bombers.

There's also a veiled threat within the story. Or perhaps not-so-veiled:

The Palestinian Authority has warned Palestinian journalists against "excessive" coverage of the demonstrations.

[...] According to one of the journalists in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian officials "didn't threaten us, but they hinted that those who fail to comply would be punished."

The Palestinians. Israel's Partners In Peace™.


Better than you, Part II

A bunch of effing losers were feeling so inferior, the best they could come up with was hacking the AIPAC website.

I grabbed Laurence Simon's jpeg of the event (it's here, don't click there until you want to read his blog). You really have to laugh. What a bunch of effing losers. Here's the best insult they could come up with:

"A message to all of u f*cking jews, try lobbying for some peace instead MOTHERFUCKERS!!"

Ow! Mommy, he called me a bad name! But first he used an asterisk, so it wasn't as mean. Dudes—try creating a grammatical sentence, or maybe even a message without swears. No, sorry, that was too much to ask. You may not even have six teeth between you. I imagine if you totalled up the group's IQ scores, it wouldn't come up to triple digits.

And in salute to these idiots, I refer them to my post from last week: Better than you. Thanks for making it so easy to see.

Losers.

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3/31/03

Maintenance. Ugh.

I've been clearing out the email boxes, and I've still got over 1,000 messages and I'm (sigh) only up to January. I really should delete letters more often.

Found a really funny one from the Heritage Foundation that breathlessly told me I'd been "discovered" and then offered to send me their press releases for a month, at the end of which time I think I would be able to get them for even longer. I sent a tongue-in-cheek response back that may garner a publishable letter, but we shall see.

And I went down memory lane via various emails, both thinking about people and links. If I stopped writing to you, it's not because I got mad at you. It's because I ran out of time one day, then I forgot to keep up, then your letter dropped lower and lower in the list of old messages, and then you sank into that no-person's land hundreds of messages down. And if I ever promised to link to you and forgot, feel free to remind me.

There are many letters that I meant to get around to posting, but didn't, and the subjects are now stale. Which is why half a dozen people who wrote about Mel Gibson, Catholics, and Jews won't have their letters published (sorry!), but I did read them, and meant to give them their own page. You can use this to try to guilt me into publishing another letter at a later date. Remember: Jewish. Raised by Jewish mother. Guilt works. (Of course, it has to be extra-special guilt, what with being raised by an expert and all that.)

I'll be back after I'm finished tidying up around here.


An index to Captain Steve's letters

For your convenience, the URLs to all of Steven's letters in one place.


A letter from an old, liberal pal

Drew is an old friend of mine. He used to work for a major national magazine in New York, which I typeset across the river in Carlstadt, NJ. Thanks to synchronicity and the Internet, he found me a week after I was trying to find an email address for him. Drew has a lot to say about the current problems with being a liberal in America. What follows is my first guest post of the week.

I saw your "Eat An Animal for PETA Day" referenced on the WSJ's Best of the Web Today and went to your highly enjoyable site. For my part, I try to eat at least some part of one of God's creatures every day, so I'm with you on that.

As one of those off-the-reservation pro-Iraq-invasion liberals, I think that the left's preoccupation with minor issues like animal rights has led it into the weird position of supporting perhaps the single worst dictator in the world today. The proliferation of what I tend to think of as "Village Voice liberalism" has skewed the perceptions of the left into thinking that its principal concerns should be animal rights, vegetarianism, hissing at women in fur coats, excoriating "Big Tobacco" (because it somehow brainwashes people into buying and using their product), and playing the well-worn game of "You're insensitive/No, you're more insensitive," etc., etc., ad nauseum. It's no wonder that when a serious issue like Iraq comes up, they don't know what to do, and immediately retreat into inaction—all the while claiming that they're thoroughly opposed to Saddam and want to see him out of power. (Yet the peace camp has always seemed a mite vague on just how their actions will help bring that about.) I must reluctantly conclude that the anti-war left represents a left that has crawled so far up its own sphincter that it's about to disappear altogether.

Much of the anti-war movement has shown the left at its worst—that is, when it behaves as though naïveté is a virtue in policy debates. Last weekend, I received an e-mail from an anti-war friend. It was a jpeg of a spare line drawing: a dove holding an olive branch in its beak, captioned simply with the word "Imagine." While I admit that countering force with John Lennon songs hasn't yet been tried, I think, in Saddam's case, that force may still be the best way to counter force. If I had any artistic skills, I could have responded to the dove/olive branch message with a re-creation of that famous Vietnam-era poster with the childlike flower illustration, but with an updated caption: Naïveté Is Helpful To Dictators And Other Killing Things.

As has been asked by others before, could today's left ever get it together to assemble an Abraham Lincoln Brigade, as it did in the '30s? What would the response be today to such a call to arms? Maybe it would go like this: "Well, yes, we all agree that Senor Franco is a bad man, and that we certainly would like to see him step down, but he is a Latino -- and as a Latino, is thus a Person of Color. And for us to attack a Person of Color, well, that would leave us wide open to charges of insensitivity, wouldn't it?"

I know that the documentation of Saddam's sadistic crimes that will follow the end of Gulf War II (may it come as soon as possible) will bring about mass silence from the thousands who marched to keep him in power. Still, I fear that the "peace" camp, emboldened by the size of their protests, now consider themselves the new vitality of the Democratic Party, and accordingly, will insist on the nomination of an "anti-war" candidate like Howard Dean to run against Bush in 2004. Can you imagine what the Republicans will do after they sink their claws into the candidate from the pro-Saddam party? It will leave the Dems looking wistfully back to the glory days of George McGovern's 1972 presidential run, when the party used to pull in some really big numbers. (Then again, maybe the Democrats will adopt the philosophy of the Green Party, and make losing horribly all part of their master plan.)

Some anti-war friends of mine have recently swooned over the sympathetic remarks of Sen. Robert Byrd, with one even suggesting (seriously, I think) that he'd be a great presidential candidate in 2004. These friends mustn't have been aware that—just like Teddy Kennedy—an unfortunate event in Byrd's past has ruled out any presidential ambitions he may harbor. Y'see, late one night, while driving home from a party, Byrd accidentally JOINED THE KU KLUX KLAN. (Some people say he was must've been drunk at the time.) Byrd may have to settle for the job of Secretary of State in a Sharpton administration.

As a liberal, I oppose Bush on almost every topic you could name: the economy, the environment, guns, reproductive rights, the list goes on. And yet—although I hate to break up a set—I support him in the goal of overthrowing Saddam Hussein. (In a modern variant on the suggestion "Close your eyes and think of England," I told my wife: "Just pretend we're doing it for Blair.")

I've been thinking about making up a button that says "Real Leftists Fight Fascism," just to see who'd agree with me if I wore it around, but I prefer not to have to debate total strangers on the street, subway, wherever. And despite my tirades, I'm really a very mild-mannered person, as you know.

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3/30/03

The latest from Captain Steve

Respite

Some people love to sleep. It's like a hobby for them. For me it's always been something you had to do between what was important or necessary. Not here though. Not any more. Now I anticipate sleep with longing. In the microsecond after my head hits the pillow and before I am unconscious, the thought that I am about to go to sleep fills me with happiness. I've asked around and discovered that I'm not alone in this. In fact, sleep is now a favorite topic of conversation around here. Everywhere you go people ask each other, "You getting any sleep?"

As always, I tell you these little details half-afraid that you'll think I'm complaining. We know how good things are for us here. We got a message today from one of our brothers on the ground. He's been forward deployed since well before the war began. He tells us he and a buddy take turns sleeping in the back of their HMMWV, (HumV) and haven't had a toilet or a bed at their disposal for two months. They are constantly on the lookout for snipers. They are never clean and always tired. Yes, we know we have it easy.

We do engage in our share of grousing. We describe our little oasis here by saying things like, "All the benefits of incarceration without the inconvenience of a trial" and we fuss at the little indignities forced upon us by close quarters. It's a fine tradition among American fighting men and women. It strikes me though, that it stops the moment we step to our jet. When we're working long hours and flying in harm's way - when you'd expect to hear complaints - there are none. Absolutely none.

That makes me wish America could see her sons and daughters as I see them here. We depend on a well-educated professional corps of enlisted people. They carry the draft horse's share of the war, and they do it with a quiet competence that fills me with hope for America's future. If you could see them here your worries about generation X, the effects of MTV and Hollywood, all these would be replaced by a sense of pride and confidence. They are so smart and so good at what they do. If at their age I'd had their work ethic, their understanding of the world, and their willingness to make it better, I'd be a far better man than I am today. I at least have the privilege of witnessing it in them.

Our example of wartime sacrifice has been the generation that fought the Second World War. I won't even try to compare the sacrifices they made to what we're making now. There is no comparison. But I'd like to point something out. In those days of clarity, the men and women the nation admired most heard their nation's call, dropped what they were doing and signed up for service. People who had brilliant careers and plenty of money and who could probably have avoided it were among the first at the recruiters' desks. Movie stars and musicians set the example. This generation of kids who serve do so in spite of the example set by our cultural icons. I think that says a lot about them.

We have representatives of all continents and races on our crew. We weren't filling quotas. It just worked out that way. And I'm glad to tell you that if any motto describes the way we work together it's "E Pluribus Unum," out of many, one. Out of many backgrounds, personal preferences, private desires - an unbending drive to do the mission, and do it better than anyone else. I think I've told you before. I'm very proud to work with these people.

Thank you for your prayers.

Steven


Well, there's this.

Thanks to a comment on Silflay Hraka, here's an informational tool to use when yet another schmuck whines that Israel is in violation of UN resolutions and we don't do anything about her. I wrote about it months ago, but here's the original article from The Economist.


Blockages

Three essays started, three posts trashed. I'll try again later.

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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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