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Gone drivin'

Take a look here and you'll see why I didn't post at all today. It's gorgeous out. I took the top off the Jeep yesterday, and it doesn't look like it will be going back on anytime soon.

Took some pretty interesting pictures, too, which I may post tomorrow. A drug bust, a fire—pretty normal day. Not.




Malaysian PM to Jews: "You are not the Chosen People"

Are too, are too!

Remote-controlled bulldozers to be used by IDF

ISM will be using remote-controlled protesters in response.

US offers $5m reward for info on Gaza bombing

Chump change. Arafat's estimated worth is nearing a billion. He won't bite.

Maybe FDR didn't have polio, scientists say

What effing difference does that make now? Geez, fellas, work on something important, like, say, curing whatever FDR had.

Protesters Decry Iran's Decision on Nukes

No, not "peace" protesters. The hardline Iranian mullah crowd. You know, the ones that wants us all converted to Islam or dead.

Jewish MP favored to lead Tories

Only as long as he assures the Brits that he's Jewish by birth only, not by practice or custom. Whoops, did I type that out loud?

Gun Scare Locks Down House Offices
[...] The weapon seen on the X-ray machine turned out to be a plastic .38-caliber revolver, intended to help one of the women portray "Alias" television character Sydney Bristow at a Halloween party. No charges were filed against the women, who apologized to police.


Sorry, I know this is serious, but really: Effing hilarious. You can't make this stuff up.

Anyway. It's Friday, it's in the mid-70s here, and I'm outta here until later this evening.


I haven't written a catblog in ages. In fact, I haven't written long, personal blogs in quite some time; at least, not as often as I used to do. And I'm tired of ranting.

So it's time for a Tig update. Cat-haters, you may be excused.

When last we left our trepid adventurer, he had developed some kind of neurosis-slash-phobia about the upstairs of my townhouse, was licking himself compulsively, and throwing up hairballs hither and yon, yon and hither, and also on anything I mistakenly left on the floor, like, say, my sneakers. Or the television cable wire. Or any electric cord in the entire first floor.

The source of Tig's phobia was a puzzle to me, but I fear that I have at last discovered the cause, and the blame is going to have to be laid squarely upon my shoulders. I hang my head in shame. 'Twas I.

Well, no, actually, it was Tig's annoying behavior. Let me explain: He sleeps through the early evening hours until about the time I'm ready to go to bed. Then he wakes up and decides he wants to play, and when I go upstairs, he can't amuse himself down here, oh, no. He has to come upstairs and yowl for me to play with him, or find something noisy to paw so I'll get up and pay attention to him, or beat up Gracie so I'll pay attention to him. The yowling is the most annoying, and my way of dealing with it in the past has been to keep a couple of pairs of sneakers by the bed and toss them in Tig's general direction, which usually works. However, I forgot to keep sneakers nearby, and started tossing the spare pillow his way. One night some weeks ago, he simply would not stop yowling, so I got out of the bed with the pillow and sort of flung it, well, sort of on him. And he sort of, well, took great offense. Apparently.

Anyway, I think that was the genesis of his Fear of Second Floor But Particularly the Right Side of My Bed. I am at an utter loss as to how it extended to Fear of Sleeping on the Closet Shelf and Fear of the Kitty Condo (which is downstairs, not up, and which he was sleeping on quite happily during the first half of his current phobia, but suddenly stopped sleeping on recently). And the reason I believe that the pillow is the Source of All Tig's Fears: last week, I began conducting experiments. I took the spare pillow out of the bed weeks ago to see if that would help Tig realize the bed wasn't going to attack him. It did seem to help. I put it back about a week ago. Tig went back to compulsively washing himself. I took it off the bed, he stopped washing himself and went back to sleeping in the bed. Two days ago, I put the pillow at the foot of the bed during the day, and Tig slept up in his old spot, where the pillow used to be. Two nights ago, he followed me upstairs, I put away a load of laundry, and took the pillow off the foot of the bed and put it in a basket. As soon as he saw me lift the pillow, he took a few steps away and began compulsively washing his tail.

A-ha, I thought. I have found the culprit, and it is—me. I was awash with guilt for all of thirty seconds, until I remembered that the reason I smacked Tig with the pillow is because he was yowling for me to get up and play with him at three in the morning, and wouldn't stop. He was also pawing noisily at a box. Go ahead, report me to PETA: I hit my cat with a pillow.

So. The upshot of it is that Tig now sleeps exactly where he used to sleep, only not on the pillow, because he's still afraid of it. He is no longer washing himself excessively, so the hairball yakking has been significantly reduced. I figure another month or two and things will be back to normal. Then again, there's still the kitty condo thing. You'd think Gracie would see this as her chance to take over the top of it, but no—she has to sleep in a Gracie-sized book box. Oh, well. You never can tell with cats.

The Axis of Weevil Scary Story Blogburst

As promised, here's my true scary story in time for Halloween. Go over to Terry's place to read some more.

A whole lotta years ago, when I was in my late teens, my cousin gave me this great new book she'd read, Interview With the Vampire. I read it, because back then I was rather fascinated with vampires and werewolves and the like (what teenager isn't?), and was foolish enough when I was in my early teens as to demand my brothers walk me home from my best friend's house—which was across the street—on the night of a full moon.

But at the time of this story, I was a college girl. A freshman, I think. (Which would place me at all of 18 years old.) And I had recently finished reading Interview With the Vampire, and vampires were on my mind. So I was driving home one Sunday night, late. I was on a fairly main street, but still, Sunday night, 10-11 p.m., nobody around, you know the drill. I stopped for a light. There was a single car in front of me, a large sedan, a silver Oldsmobile or Cadillac. There was no other traffic around on my side of the light.

The driver in the car in front of me opened his door, got out of his car, turned in my direction, lifted his arm and pointed at me. Whether it was a trick of the light or not, his skin was dead white, his hair was white, and he was extremely tall and thin. I was utterly convinced that he was a vampire, and my heart nearly burst out of my chest, I was so frightened. I immediately decided that if he took one step towards me, I was reversing, and didn't give a damn what was behind me. I was in Dad's Buick Skylark, back when they made it a V8 that could do 100 mph on the highway, easy. (I won't tell you how I know that.) The vampire got back into his car, and I quickly decided that if he went straight, I was turning at the light, and vice-versa. He turned, I went straight, and got home to Dad's probably faster than I had ever done before.

I have no idea who this man was, or why he decided to get out of his car and point at me. I understand now that his pasty skin tone was probably due to the streetlights. But damn, for years after that, I swore I saw a real vampire.



A period of relative quiet

When we read about successful suicide bombings in Israel, they are nearly always prefaced with "after x weeks of relative quiet, a suicide bomber...."

Here is what the "period of relative quiet" looks like:

Seven suicide bombings thwarted in 10 days

In the past 10 days, the Shin Bet and IDF troops thwarted seven potential suicide bombings, including a double suicide bombing that was planned for Beit She'an and a car bombing in Israel.

The security establishment registered 41 warnings of planned attacks on Wednesday, a security official told The Jerusalem Post, with the majority of them related to suicide bombings.

"People should not be misguided by the supposed calm," the official said, noting that terrorists in the West Bank continue to launch attacks against Israelis.

On October 19, security forces arrested two commanders of Islamic Jihad and Tanzim who were described by officials as ticking bombs. Said Zid and Yakub Jawadra were planning an imminent suicide bombing in Beit She'an. They told interrogators where they left the explosive belts – each weighing 10 kilos – they planned to use in the attack.

On October 20, teenager Fares Abu Hamda, an affiliate of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was arrested in the Askar refugee camp in Nablus. A day later near Kibbutz Nahal Oz, IDF troops shot would-be terrorists attempting to infiltrate into Israel.

The period of relative quiet is only quiet because of the Israel Defense Forces' and security services' hard work.

Rotters News Service: Know. Nothings.

My latest Scrapbook piece in the current Weekly Standard (sorry, subscribers-only section online) describes how only Reuters, of all the news media, ignored Moonbat Mahathir's speech until after world opprobrium began raining down upon the soon-to-be-former Prime Minister of Malaysia's head. In that article, Moonbat's horrendous anti-Semitic slurs were called "jibes." Yes, really. So, let's take a look at their report on the latest anti-Semitic series to come out of the Arab world, "The Diaspora."

Hizbollah TV Airs Show on Zionism; U.S. Objects
By Mariam Karouny

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hizbollah's al-Manar television, in a move that has drawn Washington's ire and accusations of anti-Semitism, has started airing a series on the history of Zionism it says shows a Jewish plan to dominate the world.

That's funny. The article slant is how this is pissing off America, but not Israel? Not American Jewish groups? Why, it's almost as if the article wants to make you think that Mahathir's "jibe," "the Jews rule the world by proxy," is true.

In a Syrian-produced series broadcast on Manar's satellite channel across the Middle East during the high-viewing Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the station promises to reveal what it says is the true face of Zionism.

"The series shows us how Jews don't refrain from... committing the worst crimes against all those, Jews or non-Jews, who stand in the way of the Jewish dream and their project," a summary of the series, entitled "The Diaspora," said.

In the lead—in the effing lead, Reuters blithely passes along the libels. I'd love to see the full description of the series. Even MEMRI isn't carrying it.

Western critics worry the show, set in mandated Palestine and Europe between 1812-1948, could stoke hatred toward Jews and invokes what Jews view as stereotypes used for centuries to incite violence against them.

Why would we think that might happen? Because Muslims all across Europe are already attacking Jews?

Pay close attention to the ReuterSpeak in bold. Reuters is telling us that these are not stereotypes. They're what Jews perceive to be stereotypes. Reuters is so infused with Jew-haters that it won't even admit that these stereotypes have been used for centuries to incite violence against Jews. They're being used right now, in the Arab and Muslim world, in this effing anti-Semitic series!

Manar says it has received no complaints.

I'm shocked, shocked, that the Arab world is not complaining about another television series that depicts Jews as rapists, murderers, thieves, and the secret conspirators in control of the world. But notice a little thing in this article: By inserting this paragraph, the pretense of objectivity is continued.

Manar, the mouthpiece of Hizbollah guerrillas

Time out! Who let this one past the censors? Calling the official television station of Hizbollah a mouthpiece? Whoa.

whose attacks helped drive Israel from south Lebanon in 2000 after a 22-year occupation,

Funny how they don't mention that the group also murdered hundreds of U.S. Marines in Lebanon, and was the group responsible for more American deaths until 9/11, when Al Qaeda took that dubious title away from them.

says the 26-part series is based on Jewish sources including the Torah and targets Zionism, not Judaism.

Sure. It's based on the Torah, but it doesn't target Judaism. It's based on "Jewish sources," but it doesn't target Judaism. Because, like, Jewish Zionists aren't Jews. They're Zionists. There's a difference you see.


"This series carries a dose that could be very surprising for those who don't know the ways and policies that the world Zionists used to achieve their goals and to corrupt the world," said Nasser Akhdar, associate director at Manar.

Say it with me, people: "It's the jooooooos!"

The State Department said Tuesday that Washington complained to both the Lebanese and Syrian governments after a Jewish group described the show, which started airing Monday and is also available to satellite viewers in Europe and the United States, as anti-Semitic.

Again, let's look closely at the wording here. A Jewish group described the series as anti-Semitic. Subtle. You won't even notice that you're being manipulated into thinking, "Damn Jews. So sensitive. Always complaing that everything is anti-Semitic." And after the Jewish group complained to officials in Washington, Washington protested to the Arabs. In an article describing a television series accusing Jews of controlling the world, Reuters reaffirms that libel. Very subtlely.

Hizbollah, backed by Syria and Iran, opposes both Middle East peacemaking and the existence of the state of Israel.

Whoa! Whoa! Who let that statement in? Reuters is admitting that Hizbollah wants an end to Israel? Someone's going to lose his job tomorrow.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Amira Oron denounced the series Wednesday, saying it "rehashes a false history" of the Zionist movement that portrays Israel as "conceived in sin by deliberately shedding Arab blood and stealing Arab land."

Ehud Yaari, Arab affairs correspondent with Israel's Channel 2 television, said: "This series is a classic act of anti-Semitism, that has invested a great deal in trying to fuse European Hitlerism with Islamic anti-Jewish bigotry.

"Hizbollah wants to continue in the tradition of poisoning minds in the region against Israel."

Interesting. The title of this article is that the U.S. objects to the showing of "Diaspora," but we've had only one small graf about the U.S. objections.


The show, a high-quality production made by a private Syrian company with Manar's backing, opens with an actor portraying an early promoter of Zionism telling his children to spread their ideas in Europe.

"Our lord has promised us retribution against those who sent us into exile. For this reason...we must control the world, all of it, through loyal agents in foreign governments," he says.

Manar says the actors are meant to depict actual historical characters.

In one yet-to-be-broadcast scene, set on a boat taking Jews to what would become Israel, a Jewish rabbi is portrayed as raping a young woman.

Oh, yeah, that's an actual historical character, all right. Not at all "what Jews view as stereotpyes used for centuries to incite violence against them."

In a scene set in a training camp for the underground Jewish Haganah militia, a commander is portrayed as encouraging Jewish fighters to hit targets at a firing range by telling them to get drunk on the blood of "butchers."

Also historically accurate, as the Arab world is certain that Jews drink the blood of Gentiles (particularly when it's mixed into matzoh).

"Let's drink the blood of these butchers until our souls are drunk...Get ready, fire," the commander tells his men in a scene viewed by Reuters at Manar's studios in Beirut. The series is set to be translated into English and Hebrew.

Manar said it was wrong to view the series, which took nine months to complete, as anti-Semitic, saying that it had been reviewed by historians and there were Jews in the series who opposed Zionism.

Historians like the ones from the Zayed Center? Or the ones seen regularly in the Arab News who make the Church's ruling on Galileo seem like rock-solid science?

"We did not direct this series against Judaism. It is against Zionism. We differentiate between Judaism and Zionism," Akhdar said. "We want to reveal the truth of Zionism."

Right. The old "we're not against Jews, we're against Zionism" routine. And yet, all over the Arab world, we do not hear chants of "Death to the Zionists!" Instead, we hear chants of "Death to the Jews! Death to Israel!"

"From the beginning, al-Manar has had policies on productions like this, which are a part of showing the truth of the Zionist organization -- the methods it resorted to in raping Palestine."

Last year Israel and the United States criticized Arab governments for allowing their state-run televisions to broadcast an Egyptian series alleged to give credence to the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Well, at least Reuters admits the Protocols are a forgery. We're making progress.

The producers said that series did not take a position on the authenticity of the Protocols.

Whoops, there goes the progress.

By the way, the title of this post is directly in response to Reuters' purported slogan: "Know. Now." Or maybe it should be "Know? Nah." It's a work in progress.



Catching up with old friends

Bigwig the bug eater (yes, really)

Bigwig the terrorism analyst (he says it's Syria and Hizbollah behind the terrorism in Iraq)

Bigwig the not-so-successful beekeeper (spit-monitor warning)

Bigwig chooses celebrity roommates in hell (sorry, I'd substitute any cheap pr0n director for Jar Jar)

Lynn has a new feature: "Horrors" of the Occupation. First up: Israel gives palestinians vacation pay early so they can have an easier holiday season. Oh, the horror!

Also at Lynn's: A quote from a major palestinian daily that outright advocates the end of Israel. Partners in peace. Uh-huh.

Lynn is also big-time pissed at this schmuck, who claims to be an impartial observer and is yet another pro-pal tool.

Last, but not least, another reference to the Treaty of Hudaybiyya that is mentioned so frequently by Arafat, and most recently by Moonbat Mahathir. It's not the treaty everyone thinks it is: Mohammed settled for this treaty and waited until his force was stronger than the signers of the treaty—and then he defeated them utterly. It's the Muslim version of the Trojan Horse. Even Aziz would have to admit to that. (No, probably not. The truth is not in him, especially when it comes to describing what I write here on my blog. Astounding he still reads it so closely, since he certainly doesn't comprehend it well at all.)

The Gender Genie: Sexism for everyone

Glenn Reynolds pointed me to a neat new toy, the Gender Genie, in which you paste writing samples (preferably 500 words or more) and it tells you if the author is male or female. I ran a few of my essays and posts through the genie, and came up with the results below.

I am absolutely mystified. According to the Gender Genie, I'm a guy. Discounting Iseema's Diary, which is so close as to be a draw (and is presumably written by a man, anyway), 70% of my work samples has been declared written by a male, even the posts in which I rate the dating potential of comic book men, or the one which is not only titled "Girls' Day Out," but which mentions Sorena and Heidi throughout.

The program takes various words and assigns them masculine or feminine values. For the life of me, I cannot understand how "the" can be a gendered word, but the program insists that it is masculine. So is "is." But "has" is feminine, as is "am." Um. I wonder where they've decided to put "I"? Oh, wait. It's feminine.

The program's success seems to confirm the stereotypical perception of differences in male and female language use. Crudely put, men talk more about objects, and women more about relationships.

Female writers use more pronouns (I, you, she, their, myself), say the program's developers, Moshe Koppel of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, and colleagues. Males prefer words that identify or determine nouns (a, the, that) and words that quantify them (one, two, more).

This program was developed by Moshe Koppel of Bar-Ilan University in Israel (so we can blame it on the jooooos!) and is right about 80% of the time. But not, apparently, about me and my work. Either that, or the folks at Bookblog screwed up the program.

Or perhaps there's something I haven't been telling you all these years. After all, James, how do you really know that that's my picture? Perhaps I've managed to bribe or frighten all of the bloggers I've met over the years into not revealing the awful truth.

Or perhaps my style is so unique as to confound the computer. The article said that A. S. Byatt's novel Possession and Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day were both misclassified by gender.

So I guess I'm in pretty good company, then.

Below is a chart with my results. The number in boldface is the gender the program determined my post or essay was written by.


Female score

Male score

Word count: 1029



Iseema bin Laden's Diary
Word count: 1357



Superstud or Superdud? Rating the men of comic books
Word count: 1218



The casual anti-Semitism of civil society
Word count: 644



School Daze
Word count: 767



Sexism in blogging
Word count: 893



Of ambulances, old-age homes, and dying in bed
Word count: 1215



Word count: 1112



Actually, it's more like "plodding through the snow"
Word count: 704



It's a dog's life. Really.
Word count: 1546



Girls' Day Out
Word count: : 522



It's an interesting world in which we live. And of course, I had to run this post through the Gender Genie.

Words: 522

(NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)

Female Score: 1058
Male Score: 1204

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

Required reading

Mortimer Zuckerman writes the cover story in this week's U.S. News and World Report: Graffiti on History's Walls. It's about world anti-Semitism. Via LGF. Read the whole article. It reinforces everything I've written about anti-Semitism over the last two years.

But no matter. It is as if the world somehow believes Israel must win the "moral man of the year" award in defending itself--as if responding to those who seek its destruction is morally wrong. Is there really no difference, then, between the violence of murderers who target innocents and the indispensable violence of lawful authorities? Are the arsonist and the firefighter truly moral equivalents? Is Israel's approach, which seeks to minimize civilian casualties, the same as that of the terrorists, who seek to maximize it?

[...] AMERICANS, WHO HAVE COME to take for granted the scurrilous anti-Semitism that routinely appears in the Arab press, might be amazed by what now appears in the sophisticated European press. In England, the guardian wrote that "Israel has no right to exist." The observer described Israeli settlements in the West Bank as "an affront to civilization." The New Statesman ran a story titled "A Kosher Conspiracy," illustrated by a cover showing the gold Star of David piercing the Union Jack. The story implies that a Zionist-Jewish cabal is attempting to sway the British press to the cause of Israel. In France, the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur published an extraordinary libel alleging that Israeli soldiers raped Palestinian women so that their relatives would kill them to preserve family honor. In Italy, the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano spoke of Israel's "aggression that's turning into extermination," while the daily La Stampa ran a Page 1 cartoon of a tank emblazoned with the Jewish star pointing its big gun at the infant Jesus, who cries out, "Surely they don't want to kill me again."

Across Europe, the result has been not just verbal violence but physical. A report issued last year by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, titled "Fire and Broken Glass," describes the assaults on Jews and people presumed to be Jewish across Europe. Attackers, shouting racist slogans, throw stones at schoolchildren, at worshipers attending religious services, at rabbis. Jewish homes, schools, and synagogues are firebombed. Windows are smashed, Jewish cemeteries desecrated with anti-Jewish slogans. In just a few weeks in the spring of last year, French synagogues and Jewish schools, students, and homes were attacked and firebombed. A synagogue in Marseilles was burned to the ground. In Paris, Jews were attacked by groups of hooded men. According to police, metropolitan Paris saw something like a dozen anti-Jewish incidents a day in the first several months after Easter.

AND THE VIOLENCE CONTINUES. In Ukraine, skinheads attacked Jewish workers and assaulted the director of a Jewish school. In Holland, demonstrators carrying swastikas and photos of Israel chanted "Sieg heil!" and "Jews into the sea!" In Salonika, the Holocaust Memorial was defaced with pro-Palestinian graffiti. In Slovakia, Jewish cemeteries were firebombed. In Berlin, Jews were assaulted, swastikas daubed on Jewish memorials, and a synagogue spray-painted with the words "six million is not enough."

In the Muslim world, a culture of hatred of Jews permeates all forms of public communications--newspapers, videocassettes, sermons, books, the Internet, television, and radio. The intensity of the anti-Jewish invective equals or surpasses that of Nazi Germany in its heyday. The public rhetoric combines the blood libel of medieval Christian Europe with cockeyed Nazi conspiracy theories that echo the famous forgery, the "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," and the fanciful notion of a Jewish drive for world dominion. Throughout the Islamic world, one finds slanderous quotations about Jews as the sons of apes and donkeys. A leading Saudi newspaper has Jews using the blood of Christian and Muslim children to make their hamantaschen pastry for Purim and their matzo, the unleavened bread of Passover. In this fundamentalist religious culture, America and Israel are seen as twin Satanic forces, "The Great Satan" and "The Little Satan," as Iran's religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini used to refer to them.

The linkage of the two Satans has been emphasized even more intently since the beginning of the Palestinian intifada, in September 2000, and the attacks of September 11. Ever hear the story of the 4,000 Jews who worked at the World Trade Center being told to not show up for work on the morning of September 11? The story was planted on the Internet by Hezbollah under the cover of a Lebanese TV station. This urban legend has now taken root among Muslims the world over, calling to mind the words of W. B. Yeats: "We had fed the heart on fantasies. The heart's grown brutal from the fare."

Islamists see the fingerprints of their enemy everywhere--the fantasy that a secret and all-powerful Zionist lobby drains the lifeblood of Arabs and Muslims and incites Washington to war against Iraq, all the while carrying out its sinister plans for global control. In Egypt, a 41-part TV series was broadcast across the Arab world during Ramadan entitled Horseman Without a Horse. The theme of the series was that the Zionists have controlled the world of politics since the dawn of history and seek to control the Middle East-- a fantasy, as Prof. Robert Wistrich of Hebrew University pointed out, imported from the Germany of the 1930s.



Lightness of spirit (or is that dark spirits?)

Terry Oglesby, a.k.a. the Head Possum of the Axis of Weevil, is holding another scary storytelling contest for Halloween. As I am now a member of the Axis, I'll be participating. I shall put up my true scary story on Thursday night, for I have been summoned to go trick or treating with Sorena and Heidi (in which case I may have a second scary story to tell, depending on how cold, annoying, and/or boring it is). These here are the O-fficial rules, according to Terry:


in which each member of the Alabama Society for the Preservation of Mendaciousness agrees to post at least one heeby-jeeby story of brushes with paranormality, inexplicable occurrences, pure D evil, disembodied voices, woodland critters, or other such foolish trash.

By the way, if you've never been to Terry's blog, you're missing one of the funniest sites on the Internet. He's the only person I know who counts and categorizes roadkill during long car trips. And blogs about it.

Speaking of funny guys, Lair Simon has joined some new group thing called Kings of Chaos. Here's the deal. If you click on this link, and then on the number they ask you to click on, you add a soldier to Lair's army. Then Lair tries to take over the world. I know it sounds silly, but Lair's my friend, and it won't do a thing to you, not even send you junk mail, and it will make him very happy if he gets a gigantic army and manages to take over the world. Okay, so it's only an online game, but hey, who doesn't play games? I'll tell you who doesn't play games: The terrorists.

That's right. If you don't click on this link for Lair, the terrorists will have won.

Mac Thomason isn't looking to create an army, but is in his usual fine form. You simply can't ignore the titles of his posts; they're half the joke. But the wryness is the true killer. This post is only two lines long, and it's guaranteed to ruin your monitor if you happen to be drinking while reading it. Mac is suggesting a Tolkien Blog Burst in honor of the release of The Return of the King on Trilogy Tuesday. I would like to, but I'm going to be in the theater watching nine hours of Tolkien. (Yeah, I'm a Tolkien geek.)

Say. I just thought of something. If you get the large/large, they give you free refills. Think they'll let us have free refills for the entire three films? I mean, they oughta. I sure paid enough for the tix.

I still have no idea who I'm taking with me yet. Well, it's not until December 16th. I have time.

Now you see me

In an unbelievable turn of events, James' Blog Chicks Pix getting linked by Glenn Reynolds has resulted in—so far today—more than 3,500 extra visitors. And there's another hour left in the day. I expect I'm getting the biggest bump out of the post due to the simple nature that I'm first on the list. Why, thank you, James. (I'm betting that James is going to be using this for years to come to get me to link his posts. Or buy him a drink when I head up to the DC area.)

I'm rather shocked that so many people want to see what bloggers look like. Um, y'know, it's not like we're supermodels or anything like that. We're just regular folks who put our opinions out in public. Although, come to think of it, the reaction to the fact that James posted only women bloggers' photo links is reminiscent of the old BBS days, when as soon as the guys (who outnumbered you by tens to one) discovered you were female, you got dozens of emails, most of them asking you out on a date sight unseen. And the majority of web surfers is still male, at least in the blogosphere.

Okay. Now I get it. James, if you want to test my theory, simply grab the URLs of a bunch of guy bloggers. And use a recent picture of Steven Green, 'cause he don't look nuffin' like the one on his front page anymore. Then again, I don't look exactly like I did in college, either.

Well, whatever the case, it's extremely flattering. And more so coming at the end of a fairly rough few days.

Israel briefs

Looks like my earlier prediction was right. Qurei is sticking around:

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) hinted on Monday that he is prepared to hold on to his job after the term of his emergency cabinet expires on November 5.

"This cabinet is functioning on the basis that it will continue to exist," he said a cabinet meeting in Ramallah. "We need a stable cabinet that consists of representatives of all the factions and forces. I want the new cabinet to be called a Palestinian cabinet, not Abu Ala's cabinet or an emergency cabinet."

And it looks like evidence that Arafat is closer to death than his PR lets on.

While we're in the PA, let's see how that close-knit little organization is doing:

Palestinians demand missing PA money
"Where are the millions?" is the name of a popular Arab song in which Lebanese singer Julia Botrus denounces the failure of the Arab world to go to war against Israel. The song is played repeatedly on Palestinian Authority radio and TV as a cry of despair aimed at mobilizing the Arab masses on the side of the Palestinians in their fight against Israel.

In recent weeks, amid reports that PA Chairman Yasser Arafat is in poor health, many Palestinians are also beginning to ask the same question, but in a different context: They are demanding to know what has happened to hundreds of millions of dollars belonging to the Palestinian people.

Some Palestinians believe they already know where the money is: in secret bank accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere.

A group of Palestinian legislators, who form the Democratic Bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council, is demanding an investigation into the whereabouts of the huge amounts of money.

Hassan Khraisheh, one of nine members of the Democratic Bloc, said he and his colleagues believe that Arafat's adviser on economic affairs, Muhammad Rashid (also known as Khaled Salam), is holding at least $200 million in a secret bank account. Rashid is now living in Cairo after he reportedly fell out with Arafat.

So even the pals know that Arafat is robbing them blind, but the EU still refuses to do so much as a single audit.

Here's a fascinating piece: The IAF has released reports of the raid on the terrorist camp outside Damascus.

The F-16 pilots who carried out the air force raid near Damascus three weeks ago said their bombs caused huge secondary explosions because they scored direct hits on ammunition bunkers.

In an exclusive anatomy of the October 5 air strike, Air Force Magazine quotes pilots and officers of the "Northern Knights" squadron of F-16 jets describing their preparations for the attack and the mission itself.

[...] When the squadron commander said the squadron had the most suitable weapons, he meant every word. He told the magazine that the squadron used precision-guided bombs instead of "dumb bombs" because it was imperative not to miss.

"Not everyone knows this, but just 100 meters from the wadi where the training base was located were houses from a civilian village. We needed to have absolute accuracy," he said.

[...] "Bull's-eye!," he said. "The explosions were very large and full of fire. The secondary explosions that followed a few seconds later proved that the place was an ammo dump and full of weapons." Z dismissed foreign reports that quoted Syrian officials as saying the target had been a refugee camp.

"This is simply not true. It was a legitimate target and there is film proving that his place was a terrorist training base," he said.

And lastly, it's looking like the IDF will be kicking some Hezbullah ass fairly soon.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Hizbullah is planning a large-scale attack involving more than artillery, and the Northern command is making preparations, Army Radio reported.

"We have a very, very deep understanding that on the northern border they are planning a more significant attack than artillery and anti-tank fire at Israeli soldiers," Mofaz said during a tour of an industrial area along the Israel-Gaza border. "The northern command is prepared for this."

[...] Maj. Gen. Benny Ganz, chief of the northern command, said Hizbullah's ability to operate freely in southern Lebanon is dangerous to everyone in the region, including Syria, the main power-broker in Lebanon and a key supporter of the Shiite Muslim guerrilla group.

"It could lead ... to a situation in which we will have to use very, very strong force, and in such an event I assess that it would be better to be an Israeli citizen rather than a Lebanese citizen," Ganz said late Monday. "The responsibility for this instability ... lies with the Lebanese government, the Syrian government and Hizbullah, which is operating on the ground."

Now I'm starting to wonder if Syria and Lebanon, egged on by the terrorists, really are suicidal enough to raise the temperature along the border. One of the terrorists caught in yesterday's bombings in Iraq was snagged with a Syrian passport. He's going to sing like a canary. Or perhaps Iran, who controls Hizbullah, is looking to hit Israel now and do as much damage as possible before they go nuclear. I read somewhere recently (sorry, forgot where, no link) that one of Israel's top defensive men said they really can't do much at all if Iraq's nuclear weapons plants go online.

These next few years are going to be among the most dangerous times we have ever lived. The myth of international law is going to be exposed for what it is: A hollow construct that works only when the strongest nations put force behind it. Well, it's also a good club to bash Israel with, always claiming she is in violation of international law (whether it's true or not, and it always seems to be the latter) while steadfastly ignoring other real violators, a large group of which happen to be Israel's foes. Not that I'm surprised by that.

Yielding to popular demand

Last year around my birthday, Tom Paine came to visit for a few days. While he was here, I got a lot of use out of my new digital camera. I posted a picture, which was taken far enough away to satisfy me that a stalker would simply walk right past me without recognizing me. (I'm not paranoid, they really are out to get me.) Well, unless I pose next to that gun again, wearing jeans and my black leather jacket. I'll have to remember not to do that while any stalkers are nearby.

Here. Knock yourself out, folks, since every time someone links to James' Blog Chicks Pix post, I get a few hundred extra curiosity seekers. I'm guessing that a fair portion of my regular readers weren't reading this blog last year.

You might want to scroll down to this Hulk post. I'd forgotten that I did a Hulk Edwards show. Heh.



Nelson Ascher on Tony Judt

Nelson, you should be selling pieces like this to magazines, not publishing them for free on Blogspot.

But the truth is, and Mr. Judt, as a specialist in French cultural history, should be the last to ignore it, that the modern history of the Jews began precisely in France, when Napoleon promised them they could become a part of the French people while retaining, if so they wished, their religion in the private sphere. They would become “French citizens of the Mosaic faith” or, as it was then said: “no rights for the Jews as a group, but every right for the Jews as individuals”. The deal was easy: the Jews would give up their identity as a separate group, except from some residual traces that would eventually vanish, and they would be wholly accepted as citizens of a secular, modern nation-state.

We also know that this deal was buried in France too, when an assimilated Jew, the Hungarian-born, Viennese journalist Theodor Herzl saw, less than a century after Napoleon made his promises, the beginning and development of the Dreyfuss affair. Herzl’s conclusion was straightforward: the Jews would not be accepted, in the European nation-states, either as a group nor as individuals. He was right.

But his solution, Zionism, wasn’t simply a nationalism like any other, just slightly belated. It was an altogether different kind of nationalism, because, while the French or Hungarian or Latvian or Basque or Irish nationalisms were, so to say, first degree nationalisms that had been born of the will to keep an identity, Zionism was a second degree, reluctant nationalism born of the impossibility, after having tried to do it, of giving up an identity. A Jew could learn his country’s language, write great books in it, get a Nobel prize, compose operas, lose a limb or two for his monarch, pay his taxes, help develop the national economy, win a gold medal in the Olympics, convert, change his name, marry a non-Jew, take his kids to the church, even become a nun (like Edith Stein) etc. Still, he wasn’t allowed not to be a Jew.

Don't miss the concluding paragraphs, which, aw, hell, I'll reproduce here.

Even that much misunderstood phrase, “a country without a people for a people without a country”, points in this direction. Its meaning, contrary to what the anti-Zionist apologists would make us believe, is not that the lands where Israel was to be built were empty of people: they were empty of a people, meaning, a people who had a distinct identity from that of its neighbours and whose assimilation among them had been previously refused. There were Arabs living there, as there were also Arabs to the North, South and East. But there wasn’t a people, a Palestinian people, something that wasn’t actually invented before the 1960s. (And, if we consider that they do not seem particularly willing to have their own country as much as they just wish to eradicate their Jewish neighbours, I strongly suspect there still isn’t such a thing as a Palestinian people.) People need land (they cannot live in the air or under the water), but only a people need a country. The Arabs obviously needed land to live in, but that land could be found in Transjordan or Syria, in Lebanon or Egypt, in Iraq or Saudi Arabia. The Jews were, against their will, forced by the Europeans to become a people, and thus they were in need of a country, a country that couldn’t be located anywhere else. Otherwise they wouldn’t survive not only as a group, but even as individuals. The Jewish national movement was the first of its kind because its goal wasn’t foremost the survival or self-affirmation of a certain group, but a matter of life and death for millions of individuals.

Zionism is not a continuation of classical nationalism: it is already a defensive reaction to it, its consequence, and also a historical novelty the trouble of which, a trouble that still makes it widely misunderstood, is that, due to Herzl’s prescience, in a way, it arrived not too late, but, if anything, rather too early.

Keep this up, Nelson, and you're going to go on my marry-me list. (It's a compliment, not a proposal. Oh, and folks: I'm not really engaged to Bill Herbert. It's a joke.)

The fires in San Diego

Citizen Smash is keeping us up to date on what's going on in his neck of the woods, but this morning, as I was reading his post from yesterday, I started getting extremely worried. I have family in San Diego. When I saw that Rancho Bernardo is burning, that houses in Escondido have caught fire, that Poway is also suffering from the flames, town by town my childhood memories tried to coordinate themselves with where my cousins are now. Is Ellen still in Poway? Isn't Marci in Escondido? Janet's way north of the fires; there aren't any in Temecula, are there?

So I called Mom, and the family phone tree went out. So far, my cousins are safe. Marci's packed and ready to evacuate at a moment's notice. Ellen is keeping a watchful eye but it looks like her house is safe (so far). But they told us something I hadn't picked up from the newspapers: The San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park is at risk. God only knows how they could save the animals if fire struck, say, the lion area.

Time to pray for a dearth of wind and a surplus of rain for southern California.

The Willkie case: I was wrong

Remember the Oxford University professor who turned down an Israeli PhD candidate last summer?

In an email rejecting the application late last month, Wilkie wrote to Duvshani saying he had "a huge problem with the way that the Israelis take the moral high ground from their appalling treatment in the Holocaust, and then inflict gross human rights abuses on the Palestinians because they wish to live in their own country."

Noting that, "I am not the only UK scientist with these views," Wilkie said: "I don't think this would work."

He added: "I am sure you are perfectly nice at a personal level, but no way would I take on somebody who had served in the Israeli army."

I predicted that he'd get a slap on the wrist. Here's Oxford's statement on the matter, via Judith Weiss:

A University spokesperson said: "The Vice-Chancellor has accepted the recommendation of the Visitatorial Board that Professor Wilkie should be suspended from his academic duties within the University, without pay, for two months. Suspension is the most serious penalty that the University can impose, short of dismissal or removal from office. The decision follows an investigation by the Board of matters surrounding an email which Professor Wilkie sent in response to an enquiry from an Israeli student regarding the possibility of graduate study in his research group. The Board has made other recommendations, including that Professor Wilkie is required to undergo further equal opportunities training.

"This ruling reflects that there can be no place for any form of discrimination within the University of Oxford other than on the grounds of merit. Professor Wilkie fully accepts the gravity of the situation and is determined to make full use of training to ensure that his actions and those of his staff reflect best practice in future. He particularly wishes to make it clear that he greatly values the diverse backgrounds of the staff and students with whom he works and looks forward to applications from able candidates, whatever their background.

They also issued a statement on Willkie's suspension, which looks like a resignation but isn't really. Pembroke College is a part of Oxford. Oh, those wacky Brits and their appearances of courtesy. Any way you look at it, he's been suspended without pay for two months, and will be forced to sit through what we used to call sensitivity training. Will it change his opinons? Doubtful. But he's been punished for discriminating against an Israeli student. A message has been sent that Oxford will not tolerate discrimination, and that's a good thing.

El Al in Canada: Terrorist threat?

An El Al plane was targeted by Al Qaeda terrorists in Canada.

TORONTO -- Canadian security officials say the threat to an El Al Airlines flight bound for Toronto was made by phone from the Toronto area and involved a surface-to-air missile, the Toronto Sun reported yesterday. On Thursday, the El Al flight 105 from Tel Aviv was diverted to Hamilton's John C. Munro airport due to a security threat. Its 193 passengers were met by tactical teams.

"It was a serious threat," an official told the Toronto Sun. "We understand the target was to be attacked on the tarmac."

The threat also forced a second El Al aircraft to divert from Pearson last Friday. The official confirmed an Israeli report that said a heat-seeking missile was to be used to attack the aircraft, reported the Sun.

Despite the threats, Transport Canada officials, operating on heightened alert since the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, said everything is on course for El Al to arrive.

"We're returning to normal," said Transport Canada's Dan Kingsbury.

Or was it? Bruce R. from Flit says the reporter got his facts wrong. Read that post, and this one, for an excellent analysis of the threat SAMs and RPGs pose to commercial airplanes.

The story is too confusing to be sure about right now. And I can't access the CBC page that Flit points to to read the facts for myself. I'll be following up on this if I can.



Funniest. Frank J. Post. Ever.

And I say that, of course, because of the


Some links, and an email update

Kesher Talk is back after some technical difficulties (having to do with the DOS attack on Hosting Matters). And let us all say: Amen.

I have not mentioned Ilyka in a while, but damn, she's been working overtime to puncture some awfully stupid theories.

Oh. My. God. Charles links to an article from IMRA on what four Arab visitors to a Holocaust museum wrote in the guestbook. Daniel Pipes is not exaggerating when he says that Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism is endemic.

Lair Simon sent me a gift in the mail: A couple of books off my wishlist. Thanks, Lair. So far, the cat has not thrown up on them, which, frankly, is a huge accomplishment these days. (I am so not letting him outside anymore. Go out, eat grass, come inside, throw up grass, has become entirely too much his routine.)

It's gift week. I got a wireless keyboard and mouse from the parents of one my students today. I'd like to say it's in recognition of my teaching skills, but it's really because I helped him set up his website.

UPI finally corrected this story on the Liberty incident, but it took them well over a day to do so. And by changing the last sentence only, the thrust of the article remains: They present almost no opposing viewpoint, only the results of a clearly biased committee. Hat tip to Billie A., and to Buck Macklin, who had it on his weblog first.

Charles Austin wrote some TMQ haiku that got overlooked in the Hosting Matters DOS attack. Here ya go, Charles. Ask, and ye shall receive.

Speaking of email, I can finally send email properly now. Net Access's fix screwed up something in my email settings, and since I could finally get through to tech support today, they are now fixed. But I definitly lost emails. If I haven't answered your letter and you think it needed an answer, send me another one. But remember that I can't/don't answer every email I receive. Sometimes my non-answer is the answer. (Sometimes, I just forgot to answer. Or got lazy.)

Arafat's grip weakens

The Jerusalem Post has an article about a power struggle within Fatah, Arafat's hand-made faction in the PA.

A new crisis has erupted in the Palestinian Authority – this time over the election of a speaker for the Palestinian Legislative Council. The council was scheduled to meet in Ramallah on Saturday to vote for a new speaker who would replace Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, who resigned from the post three weeks ago.

Acting PLC Speaker Ibrahim Abu Naja announced that the session was called off because some of the legislators were unable to arrive in Ramallah as a result of travel restrictions imposed by the IDF in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

However, many of the legislators attributed the decision to cancel the meeting to sharp differences and internal struggles, especially among lawmakers affiliated with Fatah, who make up nearly 80 percent of the PLC.

On Friday night, 25 Fatah legislators met with PA Chairman Yasser Arafat to discuss the issue of the elections, but were unable to reach an agreement on a preferred candidate.

Check it out. The old murderer couldn't keep order in his own organization. I do believe the writing is on the wall, and every time he enters a room, a chorus of "Dead man walking!" breaks out.

"The problem is that too many people want the job," one of the legislators told The Jerusalem Post. "In the end we will have to hold primaries in Fatah to elect our candidate."

The sharks are circling. They smell blood.

Another legislator, Azmi Shuabi, said the new crisis reflects the "state of confusion" among the PA leadership. "It appears that personal considerations have intertwined with public matters," he added. "For the first time, there are a number of Fatah legislators who want to run for the position."

They know Arafat is dying.

PA sources said that the divisions in Fatah were the result of a power struggle between veteran leaders of the movement and representatives of the "young guard." Many of the young Fatah lawmakers are strongly opposed to the appointment of Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah Central Council, as PLC speaker, the sources added. Zaki, a legislator from the Hebron area who returned with the PLO in 1994, is closely associated with Arafat.

The young leaders have also turned down Arafat's offer to authorize the Fatah Central Council – a body dominated by veteran Fatah officials – to choose a candidate. Zaki said he supported Arafat's proposal, explaining that the Fatah Central Council "is an institution, not an individual."

Meet the young guard, same as the old guard? That remains to be seen, but I don't believe we're going to see a change in tactics anytime soon.

Another problem surrounding the election of a PLC speaker is linked to the future plans of Qurei, who has said he would resign as prime minister at the end of the three-week term of his emergency cabinet. Qurei, who met on Saturday with Arafat to brief him on the outcome of his visit to Jordan and Egypt, is expected to announce later this week whether he intends to quit or continue in his job. A source close to Qurei said he would prefer to return to his former post as PLC speaker when and if he resigns.

Here's my prediction: He'll stay. If Arafat is really as sick as reports are making him out to be, Qurei will be positioned quite nicely if he's Prime Minister when Arafat croaks.

Unless, of course, he doesn't really want to have anything at all to do with politics. (Okay, you can stop laughing now.) Just remember, he's Arafat's hand-picked choice. Not a reformer. Not a peacemaker. Just another terrorist, unless otherwise noted.


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.