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A peak experience

I can feel the soreness in my muscles already. Climbing rocks, even faux rock cliffs, is exhausting. But it was fun.

Meryl, fifty feet upIt was somewhat embarrassing to be the only person out of two adults and three children who answered positively to "Who hasn't ever climbed here before?", but after I signed the indemnity form swearing that I'd never sue them or haunt them if I died while climbing their rocks, off we went to see if my fear of heights would embarrass me even more. The children chose the first climb, a fairly simple 25-foot-high route. Up went Sorena, who is at least a quarter monkey. Then Becca, then Marissa, then it was my turn. "Don't look down," Sorena advised. I didn't see how you could, as you needed to look at the holds on which you were placing your hands and feet. I got to the top, touched the ladder rung (because you're supposed to, apparently), and then said, "Now what do I do?" The thought of deliberately letting go was not something that occurred to me. Yeah, I know, I watched everyone else let go and then swing down a few feet at a time, but they're not acrophobic. You have no idea how hard it was for me to lean back into the rope and slowly swing myself down that first time.

Sorena chose the highest peak in the room for our next climb. She made it all the way up. Becca and Marissa did not. I had plenty of time to psych myself up for it. But the problem wasn't so much mental as physical. I am not in peak physical shape, to say the least. In fact, I can't remember the last time I exerted myself. So I got about forty feet up, and my arms were exhausted and my legs started to shake, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't summon the extra physical energy I needed to finish the climb. I tried shaking my arms, the way Chris, our guide, suggested. Tried taking deep breaths. Tried swearing. Nothing was working. "I can't do it!" I shouted down. "I haven't got the strength!"

Well, you try telling three ten-year-olds that you can't do something. The word simply isn't in their vocabulary. They kept shouting up, "Yes you can! You can do it, Meryl! Just put your right foot over there! That's right! Now your left foot!" So now I've got the girls and Chris shouting instructions and encouragement, and I'm about six feet from the top of the damned peak, and I'm trying to get Chris to let out some slack and let me down, and he's trying to get me to go the last damned six feet. Finally, I realized that there was no way in hell the girls were going to let me give up, and I started thinking of how disappointed they'd be if I did give up. So I managed to get up the last six feet and slap the ladder rung (barely!).

And Heidi got the photographic evidence to prove it. I'm going to bed now, knowing full well I'll be unable to move my arms tomorrow.

Oh, and I climbed a 25-footer for the last of our three climbs, had no trouble at all getting up or down, and only a tiny amount of trepidation from the height.

I want to go back tomorrow. That was really fun.

Not too shabby for a [cough] [cough]-year-old broad, as my Dad would have said. (Well, he'd have said it without the coughs, but he's dead, so I get the last word.)


Two synagogues in Turkey were the targets of car bombs during Sabbath morning services.

As Jewish worshippers prayed during weekly Sabbath services, two vehicles laden with explosives blew up near a pair of Istanbul synagogues, killing at least 20 people and wounding more than 250 others.

Turkish officials believe the explosions, which occurred almost simultaneously early Saturday morning, were a coordinated terror attack, although it is still unclear who is responsible.

Al Qaeda. No-brainer. Once again, they don't seem to care who else they get so long as they manage to kill Jews or Americans.

One car bomb detonated about a meter from the Neve Shalom synagogue in the crowded Kuledibi district. The second one exploded near Istanbul's Beth Israel Synagogue, several kilometers away, CNN Turk reported.

Journalist Andrew Finkel said that it appeared that most of those killed were passersby. "There's still a sense of disbelief," he said.

The explosion left a two-meter deep hole in front of the synagogue, Finkel said.

Shattered glass littered the streets where many small shops are located. "The facades of all those buildings have been destroyed," Finkel said. "The street is in ruins."

But no need to look too far for a reason.

Turkey and Israel have longstanding ties, dating back to 1948 when Turkey became the first Muslim country to recognize the Jewish state. They continue to maintain military links, as well.

Turkey and Israel also have many economic ties. That's counterproductive to the terrorists' aims; can't have Muslims actually getting along with the Jews, oh, no, bad form! Bad form!


From Ha'aretz:

Blasts went off at two synagogues in Istanbul at almost the same time Saturday, killing at least 20 people and injuring at least 257, officials said. A militant Turkish Islamic group, widely believed to be backed by Iran, claimed responsibility for the blasts.

Police officers at the scene of the blasts and Turkish media reports said as many as 24 people had died in the two attacks.

According to the Jewish Agency, six of those killed in the blasts and eighty of those wounded have been identified as Jews.

So if one out of ever four people killed and one out of every three wounded is a Jew, it's a good day according to the terrorists. When—when is the world going to wake up and realize that they are at as much risk as the Jews? We are the canaries in the coal mine, and let me tell you, it's getting harder and harder to breathe down here.

Expect no condemnation of the attacks from any significant world leaders. Perhaps there will some tepid condemnation from Kofi Annan or the EU. Absolutely none from the Arab world, and zero from their apologists like CAIR.

It's just another bunch of dead Jews. Except it's not. It's dead Muslims, Armenians, Turks, Christians, and Jews. When ils the world going to wake up?




So the hell with all the bad news in the world. I'll write about my cats. I just finished brushing them, and since they've both had very long naps, there is some Superkitty activity going on. Tig is chirruping near the kitty condo and making mad dashes over this way and back again. For the first time in months, he leaped onto the top of the condo. The long bout with neurosis appears to be over, and may I say: Damn. I wish he still was afraid to sleep in my bed. I've been woken up nearly every night this week by paws sticking into my back, or a meowing kitty asking me why I'm sleeping instead of up paying attention to him. And Gracie is back at the foot of the bed, probably throwing dirty looks up at Tig every once in a while.

There's a dog a few doors down that is young, untrained, and owned by a man who obviously hasn't got a clue about raising a dog. It's a female, a blue spotted thing that I thought was an Australian sheepdog, but it has short hair and doesn't look anything at all like the pictures I've found. She was annoying, but she's sort of grown on me. And she is utterly clueless about cat behavior. Tig and Gracie puff up and hiss and try to get her to go away, and she thinks they're playing. Gracie actually charged her two days ago, and Sheba (yes, that is her name, I told you her owner is clueless) thought it was great fun. I'm torn between letting one of my cats slash her nose and worrying that she might go after them if they do. Though I was extremely surprised to see Gracie do something aggressive. She runs away from the wind, and no, I'm not kidding.

One morning last week, I had just chased Sheba out of the patio area when in walked Genius (yes, that's his real name). He's a kitten, about four months old, lives all the way at the end of my street, and you'd think that Tig and Gracie would give him what for and show him who's boss. Nope. They run inside when he comes to the patio. He follows them inside if the door is open. They stand there growling at him as he wanders around their home, untouched. I throw him out, close the screen door, and he stands outside meowing piteously. He comes around regularly, hoping that Tig and Gracie will play with him. I should send him over to play with Sheba.

And of course, while I'm writing this, Tig is on the sofa, pawing at things he shouldn't be pawing at, so I'm disciplining him with my latest disciplinary tool: Hulk Hands. Turns out he's scared to death of the noises they make, so I threaten him with the Hulk fist (without activating it) and he leaps off the sofa immediately and finds something else to do.

Well, time to go to bed. When I wake up, I'll be another year older. And yet, it's just going to feel like another day tomorrow. Well, no, I'm going out to breakfast. That's different. And I'll be standing very, very high up off the ground between five and six p.m. That's different.

And my cats will no doubt wake me up at various points between now and then. Oh, that's different.

Good news is hard to find

So I thought I'd put up a few cheerful items, but damn, the news is far from cheerful today. Oh, wait, there is one thing that cheered me up:

Mofaz: IAF 'buzzed' Assad's palace during bombing raid
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Friday that Israel's air-strike into Syria and the consequent buzzing of President Bashar Al-Assad's palace caused the young Syrian president considerable embarrassment.

In an interview with The Washington Times Friday, Mofaz said Israel's October bombing of an Islamic Jihad terrorist training camp near the Syrian capital of Damascus included an IAF (Israeli Air Force) mission over one of President Bashar Assad's palaces.

The daring low-level mission was meant as a signal to Assad that more punishing attacks would come unless Damascus stops sponsoring attacks on Israel from Syria-dominated Lebanon, Mofaz told interviewers.

Here's the interview in the Washington Times, where, among other things, Mofaz said:

Mr. Mofaz said intelligence showed that the attack was ordered by Islamic Jihad headquarters in Damascus. He said he thinks Mr. Assad got the message sent by the Israeli jet fighters.

"We know that Bashar Assad was very confused after this attack, and he was starting to understand we do not accept such events in Israel, especially when the order is coming from Damascus," Mr. Mofaz said.

Baby Assad is not half the tyrant his father was. He is running out of options, and surrounded by old-school thugs who would kill him as easily as they eliminate anyone that doesn't do their bidding. I may have to put him on my Amish Tech Support Dead Pool list. In fact, I think I will. That makes two, Arafat and Assad. No, wait, three. Saddam Hussein. Now to think of a dozen more.

Spam, spam, spam, spam

Apparently the answer is yes, my domain is bein spoofed, and no, it's nothing unusual, and by the way, it may also be a virus, and yes, the spammers may have picked up my email address via message boards or about fifty other ways. Oh, and there's nothing I can do about it, because the entire header is spoofed, and therefore we can't track down the spammer, and I should feel lucky, because I've only received a few of these messages and some people get hundreds per day.

I kinda thought that by pointing it out, I could prevent receiving hundreds per day, but apparently not.

On the other hand, for any of you sending me email from a Hosting Matters domain, I can't email you back. Hosting Matters and I differ on what "full headers" means, and I can't seem to give them what they want in the matter. It's extremely frustrating.

And not only that, my cold has acted in reverse. Started out extremely light, thought it would be gone in a day or two, and it got worse over the last two days. I am extremely grumpy today. Fair warning.

Spam warning

I do believe some asshole is spoofing my domain and sending out spam with my return address on it. I apologize for anyone who gets spam in my name, and will be working on it first thing in the morning.

This also may explain why I can't send email to anyone on the Hosting Matters domains.



Censorship of the Vanities

Jim of Snooze Button Dreams had his post exluded from the Carnival of the Vanities. The host refused it because of its "erotic nature." Well, I have little interest in erotica, but like Bigwig, I think that Max should not have left out the post. It's a come-one, come-all thing, and if you're not willing to do that, you shouldn't offer to host.

Trust me, I had more than a few posts I cringed at including, but I included at least one post from everyone who submitted.

The Carnival is Bigwig's baby. He created it, set the rules, and publicized it to the point that it now gets linked by Instapundit every week. It didn't used to be that way. Glenn didn't link to it the week I hosted it.

Like Bigwig said, if you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Prepare to link to posts you can't stand, or don't step up and take part.

Kids, cows, and Carytown

MoooSarah and I made our last trip to the Farmer's Market until spring, and it was over so fast that we decided to head to Carytown, Richmond's uber-Yuppie shopping section. I've always thought it's very much like Upper Montclair, and was proven right to see Richmond's version of The Pink Flamingo (a store from Montclair that actually went out of business, rubber chickens and all). While we were looking at all the neat stuff (of course they had pink flamingoes and rubber chickens), we passed a Gund toy collection. Sarah got me a cow for my birthday. (Please don't get ideas from that; I don't want to start a cow collection, but since this is The Week of the Cow here on, the present is fitting.)

Some of the stranger things we saw: Moses and Jesus action figures. Shakespeare, too. We didn't see a Mohammed action figure, which is just as well, 'cause these guys would probably get all bent out of shape over that, too. Don't those idiots realize that the South Park episode that brought that silly show to the attention of American (and ultimately the world) was the Santa/Jesus deathmatch? No sense of humor, those young UK Muslims.

Then she treated me to lunch at High's, which was quite good. I'm getting spoiled by that G. family. Oh, and here's a picture of my new cow. Ain't she cute?


Someone asked me how to get to my Amazon wishlist. You can click on the link in the left menu. Or you can click right here.

And thank you, Lynn, for the book and CD.

Industrial-strength Greek blogging

So I get this email from this guy named Industrialblog, and he tells me that he responded to my post about that Greek anti-Semite guy (sorry, I still can't remember his name off the top of my head). So I go look, and it's practically got "kick me" written all over it. Can I resist a "kick me" sign?

You know I can't.

If you ask me, Industrial guy (and how is that a WASPy last name? I've never met anyone named "Industrial"), you're still pissed off about the Maccabee victory, where we kicked your Greek behinds out of Jerusalem and all the way back to the Pelope—Peloppen—aw, hell, look up the spelling yourself.

And please, tell me you don't have a mustache like Yanni's. Please.

News interpretations

It's always interesting to see the different news headlines. Take, for instance, the headlines on the new palestinian cabinet.

'Hopeful' Arafat swears in new cabinet
Independent Online, South Africa - 10 hours ago
Ramallah, West Bank - President Yasser Arafat swore in a long-awaited Palestinian
cabinet on Wednesday in a step toward a resumption of United States-backed ...
Peace meeting needs to yield results - Korei - Independent Online
Palestinians recognize Israel in order to live in peace: Arafat - Xinhua
Arafat calls for peace as new Palestinian government faces vote ... - San Francisco Chronicle

New Cabinet Approved, Arafat Seeks to Restart Mideast Talks
New York Times - 17 hours ago
12 The Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, and his prime minister called Wednesday
for reconciliation with Israel and delivered strong pleas to restart the ...
Arafat's power restored after cabinet struggle -
Arafat, Qorei Offer Israel Olive Branch - Arab News
Arafat urges world to aid new Palestinian cabinet - Xinhua

Arafat Allies Pack Korei's New Cabinet
Los Angeles Times, CA - 10 hours ago
... RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian lawmakers approved a new Cabinet crowded with
loyalists of Yasser Arafat on Wednesday, amid cautious hopes that Prime ...
Arafat slams Israel for leading criminal war against Palestinians - Xinhua
Israel has Right to Live in Peace Says Arafat - The Scotsman
Arafat says time to end "destructive war" - Reuters

Fascinating. The only surprise there is the LA Times. How'd that one slip past the editors?



Linkses, my precious. Linkses.

Funny, funny, FUNNY new (to me) blog, via AMCGLTD: The Sneeze.

Spit-monitor warning for this one. The guy is actually eating dog treats. And this one, where he eats pickled pork rinds and lives to tell the tale. Or just go here to his "best of" category page. Don't be drinking coffee or soda, either. I was particularly amused by "Cabbage Fever."

It's easy to see that Steve joins my short list of insane (and I mean that in a good way) men who are married to saints who can put up with their insanity. Like Bigwig and Scott. And Bill, who dissed Glenn and got linked by him.

Meantime, Bigwig is writing his own eulogies, and yeah, except for the eating the bug part, I could see myself saying that. And here he's just a great big marshmallow Daddy. Here he's explaining the reasons why I have yet to find a Democrat worth voting for, either.

I think I owe a few other people links, but I can't find their email. That's what I get for putting off answering it too long.

Something's going on around here

There's a lot of sarcasm and juvenile scorn in the air today; I have no idea why, exactly. Perhaps it was a reaction to last night's nightmare, in which I fled first from Arab terrorists and then from aliens from outer space (who seemed to kidnap just about everyone on earth; that's what I get for watching the VH1 eighties shows and start thinking about "V"). I never remember my dreams in great detail, but I do remember having a lucid dream moment where I realized I could utilize a technique from a previous dream and float down the stairs instead of running. That's a useful trick to get away from terrorists, try to remember it in your own dreams. You simply grab the railings on either side and push off, causing you to float quickly down the stairs instead of falling. Faster than running, too.

I love floating and flying in dreams. Come to think of it, why am I unafraid of heights in dreams, but terrified of them in real life? That's one for the shrinks.

Actually, I think I know where the sarcasm is coming from. I don't like feeling old, and my birthday tends to make me remember that I'm getting older. I think I'm at the halfway point. Hard to tell, really, since you don't come with a written warranty. On the other hand, if I live to be as old as my grandfather, I've got a ways to go before hitting the halfway point. He was ninety-eight and a half when he died.

One point of going to Peak Experiences on Saturday is to do something I've never done before, but the other point is to refuse to let myself become old. Yes, I'm afraid of heights, but I also push myself to go on the roller coasters at Busch Gardens until my adrenaline marker is used up for the day (the limit appears to be twice on most of the rides except for Alpengeist. I can ride that one forever).

A few years ago, I noticed a stratification of attendees at a Fourth of July party. It was a very hot day. There were a fair number of children, and the wading pool was out and filled, as were the waterguns. Most of the grownups were sitting around in the shade, drinking, chatting, munching. Earle and I were having a waterfight with the kids. If I recall rightly, that was the one where his daughter insisted that I promise not to shoot her if she got out of the pool, and did so anyway, to her intense indignation. "Let that be a lesson to you," I told her, "never to trust your opponents in a war." Of course she got me back; it was a hundred degrees out that day and we were only cool enough outside when we were soaking wet. That was half the reason I broke our agreement.

That was the day when I wanted to see how many bystanders we could get to sing along with us if we started singing patriotic songs on the way to the fireworks. This was pre-9/11, and some of the people were a little embarrassed. "Oh, what's to be embarrassed about?" I asked. "It's the Fourth of July. You're supposed to be patriotic today." They said it wasn't the patriotism that was embarrassing, but the thought of singing in front of a bunch of strangers. Some of them had the nerve to denigrate my voice, but hey, I can carry a tune. Okay, so I can't carry it far, but I can carry it.

I was right, by the way—lots of strangers joined in as we walked the few blocks to the fireworks field. We went through all the standards and marched into the field singing "God Bless America."

I have some Morning Glory sparklers hidden away in the closet. They're the large, four-stage sparklers that light up the yard. I'll have to remember to bring them with me to Heidi's on Saturday, and we can end the evening with a fireworks display. G. won't be there to rain on the parade with his over-attention to safety matters (and for someone who's so big on safety, may I point out that he was the one lighting too many Morning Glories at a time on the Fourth?).

Anyway. I get this way every year at this time. This too, shall pass. But not without festivities, fried chicken, and fireworks. And a significant amount of juvenile scorn.

The blondification of the American female

Reader Robert W. sent me this Michelle Malkin article. Surely she can't be suggesting that the ditzification of Jessica Simpson symbolizes something larger than I realize, perhap the classification of the American female as blonde and stupid, a stereotype we've been fighting since the ditzy blondes inhabiting the classic movies of the 1930s!

Hollywood loves dummies. The more beautiful, the better. Witness the stratospheric rise of the vacant-eyed Jessica Simpson. She's the star of a top-rated MTV reality show whose cameras have captured her confusing the content of the Chicken of the Sea tuna fish brand for actual chicken, and suggesting that Buffalo wings are made of actual buffalo meat. Now, she's inked a deal with ABC to bring her inadvertent comedic "genius" to a wider network audience.

Before she started uttering insipid things on MTV, Jessica was a moderately famous pop star with fluffy blonde hair, ample bosom and nice legs. Pre-dummification, her main claim to fame -- a very, very admirable one -- had been that she remained abstinent until marriage. But in the twisted domain of Hollyweird, chastity simply isn't the ticket to an ambitious young woman's superstardom. Stupidity is.

The same "progressive" Hollywood celebrities who sneer at President Bush's mediocre college grades work in an industry that has long prided itself on, and profited from, popularizing anti-intellectualism. From Marilyn Monroe to Suzanne Somers to Anna Nicole Smith, the deification of the ditz has been a staple of the entertainment world.

Simpson's father, who serves as her manager and MTV show producer, is all too eager to cash in on his daughter's low-watt-powered fame. "What's happening here is Jessica knows she's on camera," he rationalized to TV Guide Online. "Since she was a little girl, people have been calling her a dumb blonde, (so) she begins to assume the role that everybody expects of her. That doesn't mean that's who she is. It's a part of her personality, but it's one that she's enhancing on the show. It's nothing that's not real, but she unintentionally exaggerates."

Proud papa Simpson explains that when Jessica caters to low expectations, it shows that "she's just a normal kid." What a terrible message to send to young women and girls. Deliberately dumbing yourself down to enhance your popularity isn't "normal." It's degrading. Nevertheless, Jessica is delighted that exhibiting cluelessness and ignorance is now referred to by her peers as "pulling a Jessica." Just call them Generation Duh.

Quick! I must write a 2,786 word rant on this! I must hold the objectification of Jessica Simpson up to the blogosphere as a true example of the blondification of the American female, and get my legion of minions to write posts agreeing with me and making mean, mean remarks about all those who disagree! I must get married so my husband can go from blog to blog, telling everyone how wrong and stupid they are for not agreeing with my theory!

Or maybe I'll just direct you to this post. Moo.

Beware of Greeks bearing prejudices

So some Greek guy that I never heard of before today sounded off to the press about how Israel and the Jews are the root of evil in the world. (Via Laurence Simon.)

Greek composer and cultural icon Mikis Theodorakis added his contribution to the anti-Semitic miasma rising in parts of the world by characterizing the Jews as the root of the world's evils.

Theodorakis, a towering figure in Greek music best known outside his native land for scoring the music for the film Zorba the Greek, took his shot at the Jews at a press conference to launch a new book.

"We, the Greeks, did not turn aggressive like them because we have more history," Theodorakis was quoted by Y-net as saying. "Today it is possible to say that this small nation is the root of evil. It is full of self-importance and evil stubbornness." According to the report, the Greek education and cultural ministers were in the audience at the time, but did not respond.

Theodorakis, responding to recent comments by a Greek statesman that the Greeks and Jews are similar because neither have friends, said, "The fact that we are very calm and did not turn aggressive like them is because we have more history. They only have Abraham and Jacob, who were shadows, while we have Pericles. Imagine what would happen in Greece if we were as aggressive as the Jews." The composer added that the Greeks are not characterized by the fanaticism of the Jews.

Okay, let's put this in perspective, shall we? The Greeks have more history than the Jews? Yes, perhaps they were around longer, and yeah, they had some pretty good ideas with people like Socrates (who the Greeks forced to drink hemlock, remember). Sure, modern philosophy wouldn't be the same without the Greeks. Of course, they did get their asses kicked by the Romans, but who didn't?

On the other hand, what have they given us lately? Let's compare: The Jews have given the world a vaccine for polio (Jonas Salk), relativity theory (Einstein), instant messaging (Israel), agricultural drip technology (Israel). The Greeks have given us: Michael Dukakis. My Big Fat Greek Wedding. And the man who epitomizes the New Age music industry probably even more than John Tesh: Yanni.

Do I sense a touch of jealousy in—what was his name again? Oh, Theodorakis, thanks—whatshisname's rant?

An Israeli voice of reality

I've been reading Imshin for quite some time now. I find her to be an excellent writer, and a true barometer of Israeli opinion, just as Gil and Tal and Allison are, for the simple reason that they actually are Israelis. They live there. They're not someone who visits now and then, or writes about Israel from afar, or one who stayed in Israel decades ago and uses those memories to portray life in Israel today. Here's what Imshin had to say about what it's like to be an Israeli and read that the world wants you gone:

How does it feel to be superfluous? How does it feel to be so utterly unwanted on a global level? I know you're not interested. I know you'd rather not hear. So much easier to think about us as some distant, not nice, undeserving figures with blurred faces. I'll tell you anyway.

It does not feel good.

Why are you complaining? You ask. Always whining, you lot. You brought this on yourself. Who asked you to go there anyway? You could have stayed in those nice camps for displaced persons we built for you after World War II; you could have continued to be carefully-unobtrusive, second class citizens in Iraq and in Syria. And even now, all you have to do is go away, just crawl under a rock or even better into a deep hole in the ground (we'll help you dig) and we'll be off your backs, honest. We'll forgive you for everything, even for the cardinal sin of daring to exist. Maybe, if you're nice.

Every time you read one of those people, Imshin, come back to people like me, and remember how wanted you are, and how needed you are. Imagine a world without Israel? Never.

Sad Hitler

For real. This hat tip goes to Combustible Boy, who sent me the following photograph. Your challenge: A caption, of course.

Sad Hitler statue

I think we can even think of a song parody. Sad Lisa was a favorite of mine from the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, now known as, um, what's that name? Right. Jew-hating Muslim. Oh, no, wait. He's Yusuf Islam now. The lyrics are pretty awful, but when I was fourteen, I thought they were really deep.

He hangs his head and kneels on the floor
His knees are sore pretty badly
Hitler, what's making you sadly?
The Jews aren't dead, they've got their own state
Your plan didn't work, oh, and you're dead
Plus they screwed up the size of your head

Hitler, Hitler, sad Hitler, Hitler

Go on, folks, you can all try this at home!

One of those personal blogs

So Saturday is my birthday, and I was thinking: I'd like to do something I've never done before. What haven't I done before? I asked myself. Well, lots of things, actually, so the question got narrowed down to, "What haven't I done before that I can do in the Richmond area this Saturday and isn't too expensive?" Let's see. I've never been hot air ballooning, but I can assure you that I will happily go to my grave without ever climbing into the gondola of a balloon and actually letting someone loosen the anchors. I've never gone whitewater rafting, but, y'know, it's November, and brrr. Let's think of something else. Motorcyle racing? I'd love to, actually. But I don't know if you're allowed to if you don't have a motorcycle license. And is there a track nearby? I couldn't say. Rock climbing? Now you're talking, didn't Heidi say there was some kind of indoor rock climbing place in the area?

There is. Peak Experiences. Hm. Double hm. See, the thing is, my birthday celebration seems to be coinciding with several events. G. is out of town this weekend, and Sorena is having a sleepover party (Heidi and I are hoping she's too occupied with that to remember she can make my birthday cake for me. You have no idea how much sugar four preteen girls can get onto one birthday cake, and may I say: Ew.) Plus there's the fact that Sorena had her birthday party at Peak Experiences, I think, and may not let me copy her idea. But I didn't go to that party. It was during the High Holy Days. (Ten-year-old girls are incredibly competitive. Trust me on this one.)

So if I don't go rock climbing, there's—what? The Go-Kart place? Eh. Appamatox Courthouse? Two hour drive each way. Getting so drunk I forget my own name? Done it before—oh, no wait, I haven't. And, uh, NFW am I about to start now.

I need to do something I've never done before. I'm hitting that time of life where I worry I'm getting too staid and boring. Remembering that I have an excruciating fear of heights, and that this Peak Experience rock climbing is going to take all of my nerve to achieve, if you've got a suggestion on something that four preteen girls and two mostly grownup women can do, . I'm running out of ideas.

Update: Peak Experiences it is. I've booked a spot for Heidi, me, and the kids. We get three climbs and a trained belayer (which name is already tickling my juvenile scorn instinct; I do not promise not to talk like a pirate once I'm there and may well look for an eye patch) for the low cost of $17 a pop. Actually, that's not bad for an hour's play. Should be enough to work up an appetite for dinner, which is going to be at Brock's, the local working-class barbecue restaurant. Hm. Brisket or fried chicken? This is going to be tough. But they serve corn fritters and hush puppies about the second you sit down, so I'm happy.



Women and children fired on in Gaza

By the Palestinian Authority. Where is the international outrage? I demand a UN investigation! Kofi Annan, call your office! Jenin! Jenin! Jenin!

Palestinian Authority policemen in Gaza City on Monday used live ammunition and stun grenades to disperse hundreds of women and children protesting against the PA's decision to freeze bank accounts of Islamic charities.

The demonstrators gathered outside the offices of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in Gaza City to protest against the decision, which has led to delays in welfare payments to tens of thousands of needy families.

These were women and children. Needy women and children! And the PA fired on them. And threw stun grenades.

The protesters – carrying placards that read, "We want justice, we want food" and "Where is the money of the orphans?" – threw stones and empty bottles at the PLC compound, the PA Monetary Fund, and Abbas's former offices in Gaza City.

PA policemen fired into the air and lobbed stun grenades at the demonstrators, but no casualties were reported.

You bet your ass no casualties were reported. The PA "policemen" were firing at the women; to whom could they complain? They lobbed stun grenades at women and children. I'm astonished they didn't threaten the life of the author of this article.

Where is the money of the orphans? Here it is, in your Dear Leader's secret bank accounts. Billions and billions of dollars, stolen from widows and orphans.

Omarin said the families have sent letters to PA Chairman Yasser Arafat and many senior PA officials urging them to intervene to rescind the decision, but have received no reply.

"Holding the money means starving thousands of orphans," he said.

The check is in the mail, ladies. And readers, if any of you find this story on Reuters, email me. First one to do so wins... er... uh... I have no prizes to give. My somewhat-long-lasting thanks? Yeah, that'll do it.

Veteran's Day

Michele's got a good post linking to former and current service bloggers.

AMC is showing a whole bunch of war movies this week. Last night, I caught Tora! Tora! Tora! Tonight is Stalag 17, one of the best films ever made.

The service bloggers I read the most: Citizen Smash, Pontifex, and Silent Running, though Wind Rider's been rather busy these days.

My uncle was in the Battle of the Bulge. My dad was in Texas at the time, I think, at some army camp stockade. (Interesting story about Dad and the stockade that I may tell someday.) He also turned down a chance to serve on the Manhattan Project, for which my genes are still thankful. It wouldn't have been important work. Just drudge work. He wasn't a scientist. He was a pretty good basketball player, though. And a marksman. But not such a good soldier. That AWOL thing, the stockade... okay, someday I'll write about it.

The scars of anti-Semitism

George Soros is getting knocked around in a lot of places lately for what I can only call his incredibly stupid ideas. He's doing the ultra-left "Bush = Hitler" dance, and swearing to devote his life to defeating George Bush. (Yeah, whatever, but dude, the election is less than a year away; I think you mean you're going to devote your next year to defeating W.)

A reader sent me the URL to a story where Soros blames Israel, the Jews—and himself—for anti-Semitism. I didn't write about it because it irritated me too much, at first, and I didn't see the point of whacking him for it. But today, watching the commenters at LGF pile on againt Soros, a thought struck me. The brainwashing took on this man. He's a relic from an earlier age, a classic example of the Jew that is taught to hate what he is and what he stands for.

When asked about anti-Semitism in Europe, Soros, who is Jewish, said European anti-Semitism is the result of the policies of Israel and the United States.

"There is a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. The policies of the Bush administration and the Sharon administration contribute to that," Soros said. "It´s not specifically anti-Semitism, but it does manifest itself in anti-Semitism as well. I´m critical of those policies."

"If we change that direction, then anti-Semitism also will diminish," he said. "I can´t see how one could confront it directly."

That is a point made by Israel´s most vociferous critics, whom some Jewish activists charge with using anti-Zionism as a guise for anti-Semitism.

The billionaire financier said he, too, bears some responsibility for the new anti-Semitism, citing last month´s speech by Malaysia´s outgoing prime minister, Mahathir Mohammad, who said, "Jews rule the world by proxy."

"I´m also very concerned about my own role because the new anti-Semitism holds that the Jews rule the world," said Soros, whose projects and funding have influenced governments and promoted various political causes around the world.

"As an unintended consequence of my actions," he said, "I also contribute to that image."

Soros was born in 1930 and grew up under the growing influence of the Nazis. He managed to pass himself off as a non-Jew and avoid the Holocaust, while most of his fellow Hungarian Jews were slaughtered. He emigrated to London in 1947, at age 17, and ingested British anti-Semitism for about ten years, after living under Soviet rule for the postwar period.

He learned his lessons well. Look at the quotes above, and imagine what Soros heard, growing up. Imagine what he went through, watching his Jewish friends and neighbors taken away by the Nazis. Picture what he heard from his Christian neighbors about "those Jews."

Yes, I know that many Jews went through worse, and came out of it not blaming themselves for being hated. But I am not surprised to read these words by Soros. Disgusted. Saddened. Angry. But no, not surprised. Soros is a textbook example of the self-hating Jew.


Palestinians slam Israel's UN child protection resolution

And dog bites man. Big surprise. From the AP article:

The Palestinians have asked that a U.N. committee reject a resolution calling for the protection of Israeli children victimized by Palestinian terrorism, saying the document is political and insensitive.

"This is an anti-Palestinian resolution much more than it is a pro-Israeli children resolution," the Palestinian U.N. observer Nasser Al-Kidwa said Monday.

[..] The Israeli draft closely mirrors a resolution adopted by the General Assembly last year by a large majority on the plight of Palestinian children affected by more than three years of conflict in the region.

Egypt submitted a similar draft two weeks ago for the current session of the General Assembly, and it was approved by the committee dealing with social and humanitarian issues. The same committee was expected to take up the Israeli draft on Wednesday or Thursday.

Al-Kidwa told reporters the Palestinians "were not amused" at having the format of their resolution copied.

"This reflects a complete lack of sensitivity with regard to the suffering of the Palestinian children," he said, adding that Israel had added "absolutely unacceptable political substance in each paragraph."

Notice the typical palestinian propaganda. Israel is displaying a lack of sensitivity toward the suffering of the pals. It's what they were taught in their PR schools: Always turn the subject back to the suffering pals, and away from the suffering of Israels. Never acknowledge that there is any suffering in Israel. Somehow, the fact that the Egyptian resolution said nothing about Israeli children didn't seem to come up in the conversation.

Al-Kidwa said the case of Palestinian children was unique because they are "deprived of every single right in the Convention on the Rights of the Child - from statehood and nationality up to the physical safety. It is not the case of any other child in the world."

Yes, the pals are unique in the world. There is no such suffering in, say, the Sudan, where Christian children are taken and enslaved by Muslims. Or in North Korea, where parents are actually consuming their children who have died of starvation. There is no suffering like the palestinians' anywhere in Africa, where the people's needs are not met by a decades-old United Nations refugee organization (which organization is unique in the history of the United Nations, by the way—no other refugees in the world have suckled on the teat of the UN the way the pals did, not Vietnamese, not Haitians, not any).

The concluding paragraph, on the other hand, was a big surprise to me. It's actually a balanced explanation.

For years, Israel has refused to take seriously the numerous resolutions Arab states sponsor annually, which almost always condemn Israel's actions against the Palestinians while making little, if any, mention of Palestinian attacks against Jews.

The General Assembly sponsors an average of 20 anti-Israel UN resolutions per year. This post from last year is out of date, but it tracked Israel-related resolutions by the Security Council since 1948. If you had any doubt at all over the anti-Israel bias of the UN, let me remind you that in 1960, the UN requested that Israel pay reparations to Argentina for kidnapping Adolf Eichmann from them. Yeah, my outrage meter went off the scale after reading that one, too.

I understand that Israel proposed its first-ever UN Resolution as a test to see if the UN was truly biased against Israel. But really—it was a foregone conclusion.

The Beeb is feeling the heat

Jeff Jarvis points out a Daily Telegraph article that reports the BBC is making a non-admission admission: They're biased against Israel. The BBC has appointed a monitor to make sure they're not too pro-Arab.

The BBC has appointed a "Middle East policeman" to oversee its coverage of the region amid mounting allegations of anti-Israeli bias.

Malcolm Balen, a former editor of the Nine O'Clock News, has been recruited in an attempt to improve the corporation's reporting of the Middle East and its relationship with the main political players.

Mr Balen, who left the BBC three years ago, will work full-time with the official title of "senior editorial adviser".

It is the first time the corporation has made such an appointment. Insiders say it is a signal that senior executives feel that the Middle East is an area over which the BBC needs to take particular care.

[...] The BBC denied that the appointment amounted to an admission that it had "got its coverage wrong" but conceded the corporation was sensitive to criticism. He said it was "no longer the case" that the Israelis were refusing to co-operate with BBC journalists.

An accusation frequently levelled against the corporation is that it reports the Arab-Israeli conflict too much from a Palestinian point of view.

Its reluctance to describe suicide bombers as "terrorists" has proved particularly controversial, recently prompting the Simon Wiesenthal Centre to pull out of a BBC series about Nazi genocide.

Progress. Good. Keep up the heat, ladies and gentlemen. It's working.



Michael Moore: International man of blivitry*

I almost never write about Michael Moore, because I find him a tiresome windbag. I saw him on The View a few weeks ago, and even the ladies of the ABC morning were fed up with his lying and dodging of questions. I have never seen a harsher interview on that show. They don't have transcripts available, but CNN's Kara Henderson asked the tough questions.

But Moore is so annoying this time. Michael Totten wrote nearly all of the things I wanted to say, but he missed a few things. Here are some quotes, via this translation (thank you muchly for the translation, Raymond):

I can assure you that not all of America has gone crazy. ... I am writing to you so that you know that I am in no way alone but instead am standing in the middle of a new American majority. Many millions of American citizens think as I do or I think as they do. You just don't hear anything about them, at least not through the press. But they are out there - and their anger is boiling just below the surface. ...

[...] Should such an ignorant people lead the world? How did it come to this in the first place? 82 percent of us don't even have a passport! Just a handful can speak a language other than English (and we don't even speak that very well.) ...

We approach life relatively openly and generously and without complication. When you ask us for help we come to help you. And when you tell us that donkeys can fly we believe it (when you say it on television.). ...

Ok, come on, you Germans, you really know better! You are well-read. Your media also reports on things south of the Alps. You travel. You value education. And in the past year you took over the moral leadership in the question of war or peace. I urgently ask of you that you show the same moral ability to judge when it comes to maintaining the German social net for those weakest in your country. Don't go the American way when it comes to economics, jobs and services for the poor and immigrants. It is the wrong way."

Okay, on the passport thing. Let's think about why so many Europeans would have passports, and why so many Americans do not. Let's go look at a map of Europe. Okay, now let's go look at a map of America. Do you see something similar about the two maps? Right! Many European nations are the size of American states! Why, if you're German and you want to vacation in France, it's a short trip, depending on how close to the border you live. But it's another country. If you live in Georgia and want to vacation in Florida, you don't need to show your passport. It's basically a no-brainer, which explains why Michael Moore couldn't figure out why 82% of Americans do not have passports. Oh, that, and the fact that you don't need them to go to Canada and Mexico.

As for that language thing, first, Moore is wrong about "just a handful" being able to speak a language other than English, and we've got millions of Americans (particularly in Texas, California, New York, New Jersey, and Florida) ready to prove him wrong. I think if so few people could speak other languages, we wouldn't have continual calls for English-only laws, nor would we have our driver's tests available in so many different languages. As for the rest of us, well, here we go again: You don't need to know a language other than English to succeed in America. However, English has become the lingua franca of the international business world, hence, many Europeans speak more than their native tongue. Then there's that thing about going from country to country in Europe. Although Bostonians and Houstonians speak a different dialect, there's no real communication problem when they have to work with one another in today's modern, interconnected business world.

Lastly, Michael Moore, blivit* extraordinaire, wants to have it both ways. He wants to be considered a man of the people. He wants to say that he sticks up for the little guy. Yet he denigrates the little guy for not having a passport, for not speaking a second language, and for believing everything he sees on TV. Not to mention that multimillionaire blivit* Michael Moore hasn't known what it's like to be a little guy since the seventies.

Here's the thing: I have a better gauge of what the little guy thinks merely by talking to the local drugstore employees, supermarket cashiers, and people in line at the supermarket. I lived in a blue-collar, working-class town for thirteen years, and I've worked with every class of people that America provides. Every last one of them, on reading the above quotes, would agree with me that Michael Moore doesn't know his ass from his elbow about what the American people want.

*For those of you who never heard of the word "blivit," it is this: Ten pounds of shit stuffed into a five pound bag. It's a pretty good working-class description of windbags like Moore. With the added bonus that he physically resembles one.

The fattening of America

From the New York Times:

In what is shaping up to be the great American food fight, there are two increasingly discordant sides.

One insists that government must use its legislative power to slim down an increasingly obese nation. In this view, obesity, like smoking, has become a public health crisis and demands a public health solution. In state legislatures, anti-obesity advocates are pushing bills that would add sin taxes for sodas, require calorie counts on restaurant menus and ban "foods of minimum nutritional value" in schools (that means you, Sno-Kone).

The other side argues that government cannot legislate eating less or exercising more. How much people weigh, this side argues, is a product of personal choice and responsibility, and cannot be dictated by what it calls the Twinkie police. This side opposes calorie counts on restaurant menus. It promotes legislation in statehouses and Congress with names like "The Commonsense Consumption Act" and "The Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Bill," which would prohibit lawsuits against restaurants or food companies for causing obesity.

In short, it is "let them eat cake" versus "let them eat cake, but not until they are informed that it contains 760 calories and 44 grams of fat per slice." The dividing line is, how much should — and can — government do?

Count me in on the side that says Americans would be thinner if they didn't spend as much time on their behinds. And I speak as an American who spends far too much time on her behind.

I swear, I'm going to go to the gym and work off the weight I put on after I quit smoking. Honest.

In all seriousness, take a look at the class pictures of elementary school children from the sixties and seventies. Count the number of fat kids. One or two per class, tops. Now look at the class pictures of today, and you'll see as much as a third of the students are overweight. What changed? Children watch more television, play video games, and play outside less. It isn't so much the junk food (though that plays a part) as the lack of exercise.

Warning labels don't do anything except annoy people. Trust me, when I buy a pack of cupcakes at Ukrops, I don't bother reading anything on the label except maybe the price. I'm not an idiot: Cupcakes are high in calories and fat. It's a no-brainer. That's why they taste so good.

Warning labels on cigarettes didn't get me to quit. Warning labels on alcohol doesn't stop people from drinking too much. The only people who make out in the whole warning label business are the typehouses and the printers.

Now, if you're talking about morbid obesity, that's a completely different subject. But the fattening of America is mostly due to the lazying of America. Get those kids off their asses, Mr. and Mrs. America!

The pussification of

Yes, I know there are a lot of important issues to discuss, but this is much more fun. There are times when my juvenile scorn impulse simply must be satisfied, and this is one of them. And Kim, the situation here is absolutely dire for Real Men (patent pending).

Tig's a pussy

How bad is it? Well, Tig is a cat. He is a male cat. And he's been castrated. Guess that would make me a castrating bitch, hey, Kate?


An aside to Kim du Toit:

For those of you who don't read his blog, here's the paragraph to which I am responding:

There were a whole bunch of New Readers, however (and welcome to all of you), who took the time to see what goes on here, and who even said things like "I saw what (eg.) Yourish wrote about you, and having read more of your stuff, I have to say she's a silly cow." (Not an actual quote, just a gratuitous insult, by the way -- hell, I can do it too.)

Actually, I don't recall flinging any gratuitous insults at Kim, but if he really wants me to, I'll be happy to oblige. In the meantime:


Yes, it is anti-Semitism

In Vienna, Austria, the commemoration of Kristallnacht was interrupted by a mob of people waving Palestinian flags and yelling insults about Israel.

Protesters waved Palestinian flags and bark catcalls against Israel during the 65th annual commemoration of Kristallnacht in Vienna, Sunday night.

Police had to separate protesters and attendees in the ensuing brawl.

Austria. The birthplace of Adolf Hitler. The nation that elected Kurt Waldheim to spite the world after his Nazi past was revealed. But the protesters weren't displaying anti-Semitism. They were displaying anti-Zionism. Because Austrians have found it an easy way to express their continued revulsion for Jews.

Vienna's Chief Rabbi, in an interview published Sunday, called for continued vigilance to avoid repeating the atrocities committed by Nazis are repeated.

Though remembering such atrocities is important, it's not enough "only to look to the past," Vienna's head rabbi, Paul Chaim Eisenberg, told the Austria Press Agency, adding that it's important to foster youth in a democratic manner.

[...] In Austria, which in 1938 was part of Nazi Germany, almost 8,000 Jews were arrested during the Night of Broken Glass, and 3,700 were sent of to concentration camps. In Vienna, 42 synagogues were destroyed, 27 Jews killed and 88 injured seriously during the attacks, APA reported. Thousands of businesses and homes belonging to Jews were destroyed, and more than 4,000 Jewish businesses were closed. Hundreds of Jews committed suicide.

Way to go, Austria. Way to make us think you're not anti-Semitic any more: By interrupting the ceremony that commemorates what most consider to be the beginning of the Holocaust.

But it wasn't anti-Semitism. It was anti-Zionism. Don't you get it yet?




Sixty-five years ago. Some links.

A map of how widespread the violence was:

Kristallnacht--literally, "Crystal Night"--is usually translated from German as the "Night of Broken Glass"; it refers to the violent anti-Jewish pogrom of November 9 and 10, 1938. The pogrom occurred throughout Germany, which by then included both Austria and the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. Hundreds of synagogues all over the German Reich were attacked, vandalized, looted, and destroyed. Many were set ablaze. Firemen were instructed to let the synagogues burn but to prevent the flames from spreading to nearby structures. The shop windows of thousands of Jewish-owned stores were smashed and the wares within looted. Jewish cemeteries were desecrated. Many Jews were attacked by mobs of Storm Troopers (SA). At least 91 Jews died in the pogrom.

What I wrote last year.

Links to photographs.

The order that went out:

a) Only such measures are to be taken as do not endanger German lives or property (i.e., synagogues are to be burned down only where there is no danger of fire in neighboring buildings).

b) Places of business and apartments belonging to Jews may be destroyed but not looted. The police is instructed to supervise the observance of this order and to arrest looters.

c) In commercial streets particular care is to be taken that non-Jewish businesses are completely protected against damage.

d) Foreign citizens – even if they are Jews – are not to be molested.

2. On the assumption that the guidelines detailed under para. 1 are observed, the demonstrations are not to be prevented by the Police, which is only to supervise the observance of the guidelines.

A first-hand report from the director of a Jewish orphanage:

At 9:30 A.M. the bell at the main gate rang persistently. I opened the door: about 50 men stormed into the house, many of them with their coat- or jacket-collars turned up. At first they rushed into the dining room, which fortunately was empty, and there they began their work of destruction, which was carried out with the utmost precision. The frightened and fearful cries of the children resounded through the building. In a stentorian voice I shouted: "Children, go out into the street immediately!" This advice was certainly contrary to the orders of the Gestapo. I thought, however, that in the street, in a public place, we might be in less danger than inside the house. The children immediately ran down a small staircase at the back, most of them without hat or coat – despite the cold and wet weather. We tried to reach the next street crossing, which was close to Dinslaken’s Town Hall, where I intended to ask for police protection. About ten policemen were stationed here, reason enough for a sensation-seeking mob to await the next development. This was not very long in coming; the senior police officer, Freihahn, shouted at us: "Jews do not get protection from us! Vacate the area together with your children as quickly as possible!" Freihahn then chased us back to a side street in the direction of the backyard of the orphanage. As I was unable to hand over the key of the back gate, the policeman drew his bayonet and forced open the door. I then said to Freihahn: "The best thing is to kill me and the children, then our ordeal will be over quickly!" The officer responded to my "suggestion" merely with cynical laughter. Freihahn then drove all of us to the wet lawn of the orphanage garden. He gave us strict orders not to leave the place under any circumstances.

Facing the back of the building, we were able to watch how everything in the house was being systematically destroyed under the supervision of the men of law and order – the police. At short intervals we could hear the crunching of glass or the hammering against wood as windows and doors were broken. Books, chairs, beds, tables, linen, chests, parts of a piano, a radiogram, and maps were thrown through apertures in the wall, which a short while ago had been windows or doors.

In the meantime the mob standing around the building had grown to several hundred. Among these people I recognized some familiar faces, suppliers of the orphanage or tradespeople, who only a day or a week earlier had been happy to deal with us as customers. This time they were passive, watching the destruction without much emotion.

And finally, an op-ed from Saturday's Times, on why the Germans aren't yet free of the guilt of the Holocaust:

The Germans seem to be confusing legal guilt with moral responsibility. Guilt is a legal term; responsibility is a moral one. Acknowledgment, truth and apologies are moral imperatives; forgiveness is not, precisely because it suggests starting over with a clean slate, which, in this case, only the ghosts are empowered to grant. And while there are Holocaust survivors still living, we must respect their revulsion at Degussa's involvement, in any way, with the memorial.

It may be true that the majority of contemporary Germans are legally innocent of crimes committed under the Third Reich, which is why there is such collective frustration about not being able to shake the stigma of genocide. But regardless of redemptive impulses and achievements, everyone in Germany remains morally responsible. This was a crime that took place on German land. The soil and soul of Germany are fated to have long memories, and Degussa, despite its commendable recent deeds, should not be profiting from its newfound virtue.

It is not German guilt that must be eternal, but the acceptance of moral responsibility — no matter how many years have passed since Zyklon B was last used to claim lives, and no matter how many other life-protecting chemicals have replaced it.

One last thought. I teach fourth graders at my synagogue. Some people think we should shy away from teaching children so young about the Holocaust, or make it extremely light. I've been rather up-front about it from the first, though I don't exactly show them pictures of the bodies stacked high in mass graves. I tell them about the events with an eye toward their youth and ability to handle things.

This morning, I told my students that it was the anniversary of Kristallnacht, and asked them if they knew what that was. Of course, they didn't. So I told them. They were stunned. They couldn't wrap their heads around the reasoning behind the slaughter and the destruction. "Just because they were Jewish?" they asked. "But—why?"

You know, I really couldn't answer that question.

OSU hatefest report

J. went to the OSU hatefest Friday night, and put up a Blogger blog for his report. Here's an excerpt:

I attended the "Towards A Global Intifada" panel session on Friday evening, and it looks like the conference is shaping up to be a colossal bomb. The session was supposed to begin at 6pm, but didn’t start until around 7:15pm. I guess keeping solidarity with a published schedule is too much for them. Anyway, I would estimate that maybe 200 people showed up, 300 max. Quite frankly, that’s pathetic. Last week, in the same building, Allan Dershowitz drew over 1200, and people had to pay to see him, whereas tonight’s session was free. On a campus with over 50,000 students, in a city with a population of over 700,000, on a perfectly clear night (a little chilly, but it's November) that sort of turnout for an event that’s been hyped and hyped and hyped for months in media outlets throughout the world is just… sad.

Towards the end of the discussion, one of the audience members directed a question to the rest of the audience. “How many of you here tonight,” he asked excitedly, “will go to your city councils and DEMAND they pass resolutions calling for divestment from Israel?!”

A few hands slowly raised, and he counted them off.

“ONE, TWO….three…uh...four, five…uh…six…seven…”

Touchdown! Go Bucks!

That boy has the makings of an Apprentice of Juvenile Scorn.

Looks like the event was even less attended than the Rutgers hatefest. And Charles has some more reports. It seems the attendance was in the hundreds. This is a very good thing. And check out these flyers. Of course, the pro-pals tore them down as soon as they went up. But they're very well done.

Three quick facts:

60 Minutes is showing an investigative report into Yasser Arafat's theft of $800 million from the PA.

Robert Prather has moved to a new URL, Insults Unpunished.

Melanie Phillips has a phenomenal article on British anti-Semitism and what the election of Michael Howard as the Tory party's first Jewish leader since Benjamin Disraeli, means.

Okay, three quick facts and one non-sequitor: My cats don't like the new cat food I bought yesterday. Dammit.

Al Qaeda slaughters its own

I found two interesting takes on what yesterday's bombings in Riyadh meant. The first is from Agence France-Press (always one of my favorite news services, she wrote sarcastically):

The suicide attack on a residential compound west of Riyadh sent a clear message to the country's armed forces and rulers that zealots are able to strike even amid the highest levels of security.

Despite a nationwide crackdown on suspected militants from the al-Qaeda terror network, and international alerts sounded by the United States, a suicide bomber drove a stolen police car into a protected compound and destroyed a good part of it, killing 11 and wounding 122.

Al-Qaeda is saying to the Saudi authorities, "We are still capable of carrying out the attacks and they begin to use anti-Saudi terminologies and I am afraid this will lead to targeting Saudis," says Jamal Khashoggi, an adviser to Prince Turki al-Faisal, the kingdom's ambassador to the United Kingdom.

The article quotes from a "reform" group that is linked to Al Qaeda:

The London-based opposition Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia suggested the bombers may have acted on out-of-date information.

"The mentality of mujahedeen and the literature of the al-Qaeda and related parties is very clear. There is no way they would attack Muslims unless they are collateral damage," MIRA spokesman Saad al-Faaqih told AFP.

"We are not condoning or theorising or justifying we are just describing their [mujahideen] mentality. This compound according to non-governmental sources is totally occupied by non-Muslims, mostly Americans and even the Arabs, are Arabs in origin but are Americans and Christians and may be with Arab origin."

However, residents and managers at the al-Muhaya compound said it was occupied mainly by Arabs.

Whoops, sorry, we meant to kill Westerners, not fellow Arabs. Yeah, that one always gets the forgiveness of the victims.

One Westerner, an adviser to the Saudi government, said the al-Muhaya compound used to be occupied by employees of US firm Boeing.

[...] The militants were making a statement, "that Arabs should not try to emulate the West and live in a fenced compound with swimming pools, where men and women mingle," he said.

Right. So the angle of the French news service article is that Al Qaeda was actually aiming for Westerners and Western-acting Muslims. In the meantime, the Financial Times says the bombings were a thumb in the eye to the Saudi attempts to rein in Al Qaeda.

The bombs that devastated an expatriate compound in Riyadh on Saturday are a fresh challenge to Saudi Arabia's ruling al-Saud family six months after the government instigated a nation-wide hunt for terrorist suspects.

Diplomats said on Sunday the al-Qaeda group - the prime suspect in the attacks - intended to show that it remained undaunted by the raids, arrests and security measures by the Saudi government since simultaneous explosions racked three western residential housing complexes in May.

The compound attacked on Saturday mostly housed Arab expatriates and is near the heavily guarded neighbourhood of foreign embassies and several royal palaces. "They want to show that they can do it and right next to where the king sleeps," said a western diplomat in Riyadh.

Saudis who monitor websites used by jihadis, or proponents of a holy war, say al-Qaeda's main strategy remains to target foreigners on whom the oil-rich economy heavily depends. But the analysts say there are also signs that the terrorist network has been trying to strike directly at regime targets. Most areas used by westerners, whether compounds or hotels, are more difficult to reach and are surrounded by Saudi security.

The Saudis are also apparently surprised by the length and breadth and width of the monster that they've been paying off all these years.

The interior ministry says 600 people have been arrested since May but the discovery of cells in cities across the country and of massive quantities of explosives suggest the terrorist network is more extensive and has greater capability than had been assumed.

Saudi officials point out that the security campaign has successfully prevented many more explosions in the planning stages and that the shift to softer targets was an act of desperation. But the continued ability of the opposition network to organise and wage attacks and the widening of targets raises fears of a slide into a broader insurgency.

US officials said the clampdown had yet to reveal the full extent of the al-Qaeda presence in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Osama bin Laden and a main source of support for his deadly jihad against the US and its allies. But they believed the arrests in recent months had provided new leads and helped to prevent attacks.

Saudi political analysts, however, say the regime is not receiving sufficient help from ordinary people in its hunt for the terrorists. "There's a lot of resentment towards the regime, so if people are not with the terrorists it does not mean that they help the regime," said one analyst who asked to remain anonymous.

Why is that, do you suppose?

Mohsen al-Awaji, an Islamist activist close to some of the country's independent clerics, said many Saudis were critical of the government's approach. He insisted many detainees were unconnected to terrorist attacks but were suspected because they had fought in Afghanistan, Chechnya or Bosnia, past jihads that had not been opposed by the Saudi government. A Saudi official said the interior ministry was acting with caution and the crackdown remained narrowly based.

The consensus is that public opinion is going to start turning against the terrorists now that they're targeting Arabs. I don't believe it's going to make a huge difference until the rank-and-file Saudis themselves are the targets.

But I'm also rather shocked that even with the intelligence warnings, this attack wasn't prevented. On the other hand, perhaps the Saudis who said that the United States was "overreacting" by shutting down our embassies have changed their minds about the efficacy of those actions.

Early birthday presents

A great big Thanks! to April, who sent me some unexpected early birthday presents: The Babylon 5 prequel, pilot, and season one. Now I'm simply going to have to sit down and watch some of Michael O'Hare's wooden acting for the first time in years. Thanks, April.

I don't think I ever mentioned that way back when a friend of mine went to SUNY, I was a frequent visitor to I-Con, and that first year he and Jerry Doyle came along with Joe Straczynski to promote the show. Y'know, up close and personal, I've gotta say that O'Hare reminded me of nothing less than a male model, and Doyle had a great ass. Yup, sexist of me, but damn, they were nice to look at.

Also a big thanks to Lair Simon, who's added the new Alan Dershowitz book to my library as well as "Who Killed Danny Pearl?"

There's something else I noticed today that isn't exactly a birthday present. I think I've got arthritis coming along in the fingers of my right hand. My mother's had arthritis for many years, and if this is what I think it is, damn. That's my mouse hand. I work all these years to keep Carpal Tunnel Syndrome away, and I'm going to be done in by genetics. Double damn. Hm. Maybe I can learn to use a left-handed mouse.


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.