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Today's moment of kitty zen

A week or so ago, I put some bread out for the birds. Tig sneaked out the front door and started eating it. Here's the result:

Tig eating bread

| |



Palestinian terrorism in crisis

First we saw this story in the Washington Times, saying that Hamas is having a crisis in leadership following, gee, the execution of two of its leaders in the last month. Now there's an expanded version of the story, sent to me by reader Geoffrey C. And it's even sweeter.

In Gaza, one of the most prominent remaining leaders of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, conceded at Rantisi’s funeral Sunday that the movement “might have crisis on its hands after losing its leaders,” according to a report by The Washington Times.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - an offshoot of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat’s governing Fatah movement also conceded to Iran’s state-controlled news agency that their operational capacity has been seriously dented by the killings of key combatants, according to The Times. In the words of one al-Aqsa commander, the group had been prevented from retaliating for Israel’s assassination of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin a month ago.

"The Islamic and Arab world...expected the Palestinian Fatah and Hamas resistance movement combatants to take revenge for the bloodshed of martyr Sheikh Ahmed Yassin immediately, but [they] are unaware of the limitations and [the] amount of pressure imposed against the Palestinian combatants," he said.

He also said that in the past month Israel had killed "a unique al-Aqsa explosives expert, Ahmad Bade," along with "one of the most prominent activists of Hamas, Ali Allamah," and a Hamas military commander, Mahmoud abu-Audah, according to The Times.

And we have the U.S. State Department calling for an end to Hamas. Things are looking good. Now, get the rest of the bastards, and we have a real chance for peace.

On another note, Barbara Amiel has a superb column about the hypocrisy of those calling Israel out for executing the monster.

Targeted killings are counter-terrorism and as such they are not an activity any civilised human being can relish. Still, there is a moral distinction between counter-terrorism and terrorism, best described as the distinction between acts of war and war crimes. A further distinction on grounds of utility can be made: the targeted killings ordered by Israeli prime minister Golda Meir after "Fedayeen" terrorists killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics eliminated eight Arab operatives of varying importance but not the masterminds behind them. The deaths of Yassin and Rantissi, on the other hand, were a blow to the brains of the West Bank Hamas operation.

Yassin, bizarrely described by Westerners as the "spiritual leader" of Hamas, certainly embodied the spirit of Hamas: he called on all Muslims to kill Westerners "everywhere", declared that Israel would disappear by 2027, and forbade any peace initiative or dialogue with Israel. He was successful. Between December 2003 and January 2004, the Egyptian government convened three meetings with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to discuss a suspension of violence as a prelude to peace negotiations. Hamas refused any ceasefire. The talks failed.

Moral indignation over the deaths of Yassin and Rantissi remains impossible to fathom. One would be relieved if the Independent or Robin Cook were shedding crocodile tears but their weeping seems perfectly sincere. The existence of monsters such as Yassin and Rantissi only forces more civilised people into measures that spill blood on decent hands. That is a tragedy indeed, but that is about all one can mourn. Trying to serve a judicial warrant on Hamas leaders, deliberately living among the civilian population, would cause scores more innocent deaths than targeting them from a helicopter. None of us likes "extra-judicial" measures, but it is hypocrisy laid on with a trowel to suggest that psychotic beings such as Yassin and Rantissi are anything other than murderers in cold blood.

Read the whole thing. | |

Information roundup

Say, if you're not doing anything on Tuesday night, Daniel Pipes will be speaking at VCU on "The U.S., Israel, and the Politics of Peace."

. Here's the information:

Daniel Pipes
Tuesday, April 27 at 7 p.m.
VCU Student Commons Theater
907 Floyd Ave

Admission is free, but seating is limited. I'll be there. I'll wear a pink carnation.

No, not really.

I haven't linked to Victor Davis Hanson in ages, but this is too good not to:

The Palestinians will, in fact, get their de facto state, though one that may be now cut off entirely from Israeli commerce and cultural intercourse. This is an apparently terrifying thought: Palestinian men can no longer blow up Jews on Monday, seek dialysis from them on Tuesday, get an Israeli paycheck on Wednesday, demonstrate to CNN cameras about the injustice of it all on Thursday — and then go back to tunneling under Gaza and three-hour, all-male, conspiracy-mongering sessions in coffee-houses on Friday. Beware of getting what you bomb for.

Something tells me that blogging is wearing off on him.

I probably should put this in the post below, but c'mon, people. All I did was say, "I feel a major feminist rant coming on," and the anti-feminists leaped all over me before I even wrote it. A pre-emptive strike, as it were.

You could at least wait until I have the words down in a blog post before accusing me of using them.

Dammit. I forgot to buy pantyhose. I knew there was something I was supposed to get today.

Dammit. My students are leading services tonight. I wonder if the ones with the run in them are up high enough that I can wear them anyway?

Dammit. I could have sworn I had an extra pair somewhere. Let me go look again, or it's a quick trick to Rite-Aid before I go to synagogue.

Well, at least my legs are shaved.

The Maintenance Guy Exterminator showed up today. I told the office that no, I did not want to remove my cats from my apartment for three hours while the ant poison became less poisonous, and that we'd have to just do something outside the window. Turns out that Maintenance Guy thinks that was the right thing to do, anyway. We discussed the death of ants and the positive qualities of spiders for a few minutes, and then I excused myself (this guy can talk bugs!) and went inside while he poured out some sort of ant food, which I think is the stealth stuff that ants eat and bring back to the nest, where it then kills them all.

I also found out that my anti-ant strategy was exactly right. I feel so smart. Wow. I'm smarter than ants. Can I put that on my resume, do you think?

I just may do that. Probably under "Miscellaneous Skills."

(You know what I really like about writing things like this? There's a substantial portion of you out there going, "She wouldn't really do that, would she? Nah, she's just kidding. Right?")

Right. | |

The F-word again

There's a large part of the blogosphere that gets its tighty-whiteys in a bunch every time I bring up the topic of feminism. Why, it's almost as if they consider feminism a dirty word. I don't think so. I think that, as with many other words that end in "ism" (Zionism, anyone?), its meaning has been deliberately misunderstood and distorted.

John Hawkins hates it when I bring up feminism. So does James Joyner. So does Kate. In fact, most of the conservative side of the blogosphere freaks out. "Oh, there she goes again, crying victimology." Actually, the word is victimization, and I said nothing at all about it, nor did Ilyka, nor did Michele. You're putting words in our mouths. That tends to happen when the F-word appears.

Hawkins' latest post is about the most condescending piece of crap I've ever read on the subject. It amounts to being patted on the head and told, "Now, now, dear, don't worry your pretty little head about it. That's the way the world works." Wow, men like attractive women? Someone alert the media. Joyner's post is a slightly more sophisticated version of the same thing.

As for Kate, I have to tell you, this anti-feminism is getting about as tiresome to me as talking about feminism seems to be to you. Fine, you want to pretend that feminism did nothing and does nothing for you, that's great. Wonderful. Say, how many female lawyers will graduate from, say, Yale this year? Yeah? How many graduated from Yale in 1975? I'm just curious, is all, Ms. Female Lawyer.

Look, if “feminism” was all about women being viewed as the equals of men, then it ultimately boils down to gender being irrelevant. Period. In any way. So why do capital-F feminists keep counting the number of men versus women in various things? If it’s irrelevant, then it’s irrelevant.

What's with the scare quotes? Feminism is feminism. It was never, except by the extreme fringes, about being viewed as equals. Even the Equal Rights Amendment wasn't about that. It was intended to combat discrimination, plain and simple. Conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly managed to turn it into the "They're going to make you pee standing next to a woman!" amendment. The ERA was never really about that. It was about women being able to have the same opportunities as men in the workplace, and financially, and in respect to the laws. It was about women being able to go to law school and become lawyers. That some fringe lefties hijacked feminism does not negate the fact that the cause was, and is, a good one.

My post wasn't about numbers. It was about respect, or more precisely, about disrespect. The disrespect abounds.

James Joyner thinks it's funny to say that Michele is offering boob shots if people contribute to a very worthy cause she's blogging for—something that she never offered to do in the first place, and for which he is wholly unapologetic.

There is apparently some kind of charity thing going on involving Michele Catalano, Kevin Aylward, Dean Esmay, and John of Argghh. I understand Michele will bare her boobies for you or draw you a logo, whichever you prefer.

Funny how the blogosphere eats its own when someone makes a factual error that doesn't include substituting sophomoric attempts at humor.

James thinks it's funny to link to my satire of Hawkins' post with another sexually suggestive line. What's James' response to Michele and my taking him to task for the sexual references?

As a blogiversary present to Meryl, I’ll refrain from humorous-to-me innuendo when linking to her posts. For a while at least. Probably.

I'm completely underwhelmed. He has not yet responded at all to Michele, though to be fair, she didn't ask him specifically to change the reference. She merely pointed out in the comments to his post that she made no such claim regarding either the logo or the pictures. Of course, one might think that that would be enough to warrant a change in the post. But then, one would be accused of being a capital-F Feminist for that. Or maye a "feminist."

If I were Michele, I'd have posted a bit more blistering prose than this in response to James' little "joke." But I'm not Michele. So I'll just point out that the entire point of my post, and Ilyka's, was respect. Respect and disrespect. It's pretty easy to see what the response to that has been. We've been patted on the head and told to stop whining and be happy with what we have. I believe the unspoken subtext was, "Shut up, cap-F feminist bitch."

You don't think women have the right to be offended at being disrespected, well then, I can think of an f-word for you that doesn't mean feminist. | |



Three years, thousands of posts, millions of words, and I'm still here

Three years ago today, I'd just been laid off from a job that I loved very much. I was programming for a print shop, so that when I stepped outside the door of my office and into the main plant, I could hear the roar of the printing press and smell the wonderful smell of printer's ink. I've been in publishing all my adult life. I've worked just about every aspect of publishing and frequently tell people that I'm a one-woman publishing house. If you cut me, I bleed printer's ink. So the financial collapse of the job where I'd only worked a few months hit me hard. But thinking back to April 2001, things were very, very different in our pre-9/11 world.

My boss, Ralph, was a Nixon conservative (and a ponytailed, gun-owning Zappa fan). Chris, one of the other guys in the office, listened to Rush Limbaugh on his lunch hour every day and had Republican Party stickers on his car. Ralph used to love to bust my chops. He would throw out a topic that he figured I couldn't stop myself from getting into, like, oh, feminism, and then he and I would go at it, with a few volleys from Chris thrown in. I was still a hard-left liberal, defending the Clintons, arguing about the impeachment, standing up for unions over management.

Things are a little different today. Not nearly as much as people think, though. I still stand by the unions, or at least, the ideal of unions. I'm for progressive taxation and affirmative action. I am an avowed and unashamed feminist. Overall, though, I think I'm more a center-left liberal these days, standing to the right on Israel and the War on Terror, and still thinking of pulling the lever for George W. Bush this fall. You can see the evolution of my thoughts right here on this weblog, if you delve into the archives.

It all started on April 22nd, 2001. I'd been reading Slate and Salon and through them discovered Andrew Sullivan and Dave Winer, which makes them my blogfathers (and ain't that an odd couple to have as parents). I thought that since Andrew Sullivan was a pro who became a weblogger, perhaps I could start a weblog, work on the contacts and the writing, and turn pro somewhere down the line. I even styled my blog after his: Dark blue background with white type. Yes, I used reverse type. The person who hounded several prominent bloggers into using readable color schemes had one that wasn't so easy on the eyes herself. But only until I realized I actually had readers. That caused a redesign, quick.

The first big event: In October 2001, I read a letter in Salon about moral equivalence, and when the top of my head came back on, I fired off a letter to Salon about how loathsome I found that subject to be. (Go here and laugh at the praise I give Salon. Scroll down, there weren't any permalinks back then.)

My letter was published. It brought me four pieces of feedback from people who had read my letter, did a Google search on my name, and found my weblog. Whoa! Suddenly I had readers who weren't my friends or relatives. This was a huge kick. I found myself working harder on the blog, raising the bar for these four strangers. After all, people were watching me now. No more journals, please.

Not long after, the pebble rolling down the mountain picked up some speed. I found Shelley Powers and her crowd, and ran with that part of the blogosphere for a few months as my readership grew incrementally. (From dozens of readers a day to about 100 per day.) Then in March of 2002, the seemingly nonstop suicide bombings in Israel culminated in the Passover Massacre and drove me further to the right. I found myself unable to keep running with the old crowd, and pulled away, looking for someone who shared my hawkish views on Israel and the Middle East. I discovered the "warbloggers," and was discovered by them.

Adil Farooq is the man responsible for bringing me to the attention of the Instapundit side of the blogosphere. He read and linked Iseema's Diary, and through his link, BBSpot and MeFi picked it up and sent my traffic through the roof. I don't think Charles ever linked it. I can't remember if Glenn did. I know Glenn did link my Secret Arafat Phone Transcripts, which gained me even more exposure and started me moving up the weblog ladder .

Glenn linked me more than a few times after that, but the SFSU anti-Semitic riot is what probably put my weblog on the map. Judith Weiss, who at that time was only emailing other bloggers, not blogging herself, sent me and several others the Laurie Zoloth email on a Sunday night. I didn't believe it at first. I never post an email like that until I've fact-checked it. When I found it was legit, I was all over that story, and Glenn linked me over and over again as the story went from being an "email heard 'round the world" to hitting major media like the Washington Post.

Joe Katzman came up with the idea of a "Blogburst," a collection of posts on a single issue by a group of bloggers. He signed up a lot of people for the SFSU Blogburst, which got the word out to even more people about the state of anti-Semitism on college campuses today.

The SFSU incident crystallized my determination to keep writing about anti-Semitism. I was mad as hell that something like that could happen here, and damned if I would keep silent about it. It also pretty much finished my split with my old circle of friends. It's very complicated, but it has to do with the left's view of anti-Semitism. Let's just say my radar is set a whole lot lower.

It's funny, but if you go back to this weblog immediately following the SFSU incident, you still won't see the emphasis on Jewish and Israel issues that you see today. That just sort of happened over the past year. I went from talking about politics once in a blue moon to talking about politics, the war on terror, and Israel, to writing about Jewish issues about 25% of the time to turning into what some of us call a Jewblog.

And now we come full circle. If you look at the posts I've written so far this week, you'll notice a trend towards generalization. I'm moving this blog into the mainstream. I'll still cover Israel and Jewish issues, but I'm also going to cover general-interest issues, politics, world issues that don't concern Israel (in spite of what the world media thinks, there are some), and things you haven't seen me discuss in quite some time, if ever. But don't worry, there will still be catblogging. And posts about my random thoughts. Maybe a bit more humor. I want this weblog to be a bit more accessible.

And along with the mainstreaming of this weblog will be other changes. There will definitely be guest posts, and not just from other bloggers. I'll be setting up the new site next week. If you've ever wanted to put up a guest post, start thinking about a topic. I'm not looking for rants. Anyone can rant. I'll be looking for reasoned, fact-based arguments from either side of the aisle. Yes, things are going to change a bit around here. But if I may quote from my very first post:

Growth is change. Stagnation, to me, is worse than death. If I cannot change, just dig me a hole, throw me in and cover me with dirt.

I'm not dead yet. So hold off on the dirt, and let's see what happens over the next three years. And may I say: Happy Blogiversary to me. | |

The almost-but-not-quite anniversary post

I haven't written it yet. I may not get to it until late tonight or even next week. But I will. In the meantime, I've been here for three years. How long have you been along for the ride? Tell me here. | |

Israeli news roundup

Arafat is feeling the heat. He just tossed out twenty-one of his Fatah goons to fend for themselves instead of hiding from the IDF in the Muqata. Yeah, he's dreaming of an Israeli missile with his name on it. Good.

The PLO never changed the part of its charter that calls for the destruction of Israel. This is actually news to some, but not to those of us that have followed the charade. Nor is it going to be news to me that the world ignores the PA foreign minister admitting on the record that his group is still committed to the destruction of Israel. Tell us again, Jimmy Carter, how the pals really want peace and it's all the fault of Ariel Sharon that there is no peace.

See if you can follow this one, because it's very confusing. This guy, Herbert Zweibon, is Jewish. He's best buds with many in the Christian Evangelical community that strongly support Israel (although the part that supports Israel because of the Armageddon stuff just give me the creeps; no thanks, go find someone else to fulfill your final fantasy, please). Anyway, this guy says that if Israel pulls out of Gaza and most of the West Bank, it's going to cause an anti-Semitic backlash in Evangelical Christians who are mad at Jews for not fulfilling their prophecies, or something. (I told you it was confusing.)

May I point out that this guy is effing nuts? We're talking fruit loops here. I think we've got Mordechai Vanunu a new best friend. I can understand that some Evangelicals will feel disappointed. But I'm thinking that disappointment isn't going to translate into pogroms. Call me crazy.

Deaths from terrorism are down sharply for the second year in a row. What's changed? The territories have been under lockdown for most of 2004. The fence has gone up. And Israel's security forces have been working round the clock to prevent and foil suicide attacks. In other words, those who say that Israel can't win a war against terror are, well, wrong. It's not over yet, but the pals are getting more and more dispirited, and the constant trimming of terrorist leadership is taking its toll on the terror groups. Hamas has not recovered from Yassin's assassination, let alone Rantissi's. And Arafat is definitely feeling the heat.

Y'know, if the IAF took out Arafat, there'd be a whole lot of world condemnation for a while, but then there'd be someone else to negotiate with. I wonder if Sharon is weighing the options.

I have Arafat as a pick in the ATS Dead Pool, and he qualifies for the Dead Dictator Donation for MDA. Well, we can hope, can't we? | |

And the hits just keep on coming

First, you need to read this post from October. Then you need to read the last sentence in the first pararagraph in this one. Now for a pop quiz: What could be the absolute worst place that I could miss Tig puke?

If you guessed the front picture windowsill, you'd be correct. I was looking around for Gracie. Sometimes she stays quietly on the windowsill in the living room. It's huge, about six feet long and wide enough for Tig to lie comfortably. And apparently it's where Tig was sitting when I heard him throw up this morning, only he moved off the windowsill to the living room floor, so I cleaned up those two spots and thought he got sick before he ate breakfast.

Ah, no. There were hundreds of sugar ants on the windowsill, all over the barely-digested cat food. I still have no bug spray, so once more I grabbed old reliable Formula 409 and killed all the ants with an ammonia spray. Then I looked around and found lots and lots and lots of ants in various stages of life, death, and capture in spiderwebs. I generally refuse to kill spiders in my apartment unless they're stupid and want to take a shower with me (some do, all of them wind up down the drain) or try to build a two-foot-long web at the corner of my door and the ceiling of the living room wall (that simply had to go; I can take a small web, but not the giant economy size). As I come in the doorway, I can see if the spiders have caught anything, and had been noticing ants lately, but the warning buzzer didn't quite go off. Until this afternoon. Sigh.

Last year, my next-door neighbors told me that management wouldn't help them with their ant problem. Said it was our responsibility to call pest control. I find that hard to believe, but we shall see. I put in a call to the maintenance department to send someone out with poison sprays. Then I started cleaning frantically. I keep cat food on bowls on the floor, and frankly don't want to change that. Lucky for me, the ants have to come all the way across the living room up two stairs to the kitchen, and so far, either they've been disinclined to explore that far, or I've killed the scouts.

But I am now suffering from psychosomatic itching, like I always do after being around hundreds of bugs. I know they're not crawling all over me. But it sure feels that way.

Ew. Ew. Ew. I hate bugs. I really hate bugs. | |

Another new one

Just found Cori Dauber, via Dejafoo. Glenn, here's someone you should be linking to. Excellent material on the media and the military which, hey, happens to be her specialty. And Bigwig, she's from your neck of the woods. Too many posts to choose from: Just start at the top and scroll down. (And goodness, they grow up so fast, don't they? She's getting big.) | |


Y'know, yesterday I went out on my patio and noticed that there is a design of purplish dots across the concrete. I thought perhaps a giant squid had gotten in a fight with my patio, and left sucker marks in the concrete. Then I thought perhaps it was marks from the ivy that keeps trying to overgrow my patio, but which I keep ripping out in a vain attempt to pull it out by the roots (I think the roots are in New Zealand, Murray, if you see them, destroy them for me, will you?). But the ivy hasn't grown across that side yet, and the marks only just appeared recently. Then, I decided to look up, and saw a series of holes in the gutter. Oh. I liked the giant squid theory better.

I love going to Best Buy, but it makes me wish I'd just won the lottery. In fact, if I ever do win the lottery, I think when they ask me what I'm going to do now, I'm going to say, "I'm going to Best Buy, and I'm going to buy everything I want to buy no matter how much it costs." All those neat computers. All those neat TVs. All those neat electronics. Plus, I really like having the salesmen converge on me expecting me to know nothing at all about computers and then start talking to me like a peer in, oh, thirty seconds flat.

So I'm composing the anniversary post in my head on the way home from the store, and then I think, damn, I may have to link to my really early posts, and boy, they kinda suck, style-wise, and then I realize, oh. I always think that about my older writing. "Did I write that? Ew."

I got my toddler fix today, and then some. Sarah and the twins came into the synagogue with me to drop off the newsletter, and the Administrator, the Rabbi, and my boss are all sitting in one of the classrooms in a meeting. I stop to let them know the newsletter is in, introduce Sarah and the twins. The twins say hello, and then I say, "What does Hulk say?" and Max and Rebecca respond, "RAHRRR!" to much laughter. I think they should add the Hulk to the See n' Say. We'd raise a whole generation of kids going, "Hulk SMASH! RAHRRR!"

I woke Tig up when I came home. He came downstairs and went outside. He is now asleep on the patio. Tiring day, I guess. This is why I used to say that if there were such a thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as a cat in a rich old lady's house—one who spoils her cats rotten. | |

I'll be back

I have a lot of work to do. Today is's third birthday, but I was up late last night, out this morning with Sarah and the twins (sigh... toddler fix, good!), and off to Best Buy to drop off the camera after stopping at the synagogue with the newsletter revisions and some teacher things. Plus, Tig has been trying to cough up a hairball all morning, causing many cleaning emergencies (which is a polite way of saying, "ew, cat puke!").

If I don't fall exhausted into bed when I get home, I'm going to try to do something anniversary-wise. In the meantime, perhaps my fellow bloggers will try not to do anything too sexist while I'm gone. I feel a major feminist rant coming on. Joyner. Hawkins. | |



Somebody stop me, I have work to do

Spathic's on a rampage again. I think I linked to this one a few weeks ago, but damn, it's funny enough to link twice. And this one is bound to piss off the LLLs. It's calling for an American empire. Strangely, I find myself in agreement with much of what she suggests. Do you think we could make it two bloodless coups on our North American neighbors?

Ilyka lays out the fight with Al Qaeda in straightforward, simple terms. I love it when she does that. I really like these posts, too. I'd do them myself, but then I'd be giving out far too much information to my readers, and I just don't do that. You get enough from my essays. The ones I write late at night when the silence is deafening and the walls are all leaning in on me.

Iraq the Model, via Charles Johnson, that evilwarmongeringhatefulracist (I think the LLLs say it all in one breath now), and a birthday message unlike you've ever seen. Click this link. Funny how those who decry the war in Iraq never quote the Iraqis who refute their opinions—Iraqis like Mohammed. They don't exist, I supposed—only Riverbend or Raed get quoted. Yeah, really effs up your worldview to be contradicted by Iraqis who don't want us to leave until the job is done.

I nearly forgot about Kelly's Cul-de-Sac. Holy cow, she linked over 100 blog posts? Kelly, are you on drugs, woman?

Join Michele's Victory Coalition. If you're a loyal reader here, you have to donate via her group and help her win. Here's Kevin's post with the details and the really cool graphic featuring Lenore (the Little Dead Girl). It's to help counteract the bias of the Al Jazeera media in Iraq. Fed up? Angry? Think you can't help?


Well, I spent entirely too much time on the weblog today. I have to work late finishing my newsletter as a result. Dammit. | |

Curiosity boxed in the cat

One of the things Tig loves to do if I'm not paying enough attention to him is to try to paw open the cabinet doors underneath the kitchen sink. I heard him trying to do it, was distracted with some writing, and said, "C'mere, Tig," and forgot about the rest. A few minutes later, I heard him pawing at the door again, so I got up and went into the kitchen. I couldn't find him. I looked around a bit, then realized that he'd managed to get inside the cabinet. Then the door closed behind him. The noise I heard was Tig trying to get out.

I laughed very loudly, and very long, as I opened the door to let him out. | |

A three-hour tour

Inspired by John Hawkins' post on which bloggers he'd want to be stuck with on a desert island, I've decided to pick my ten bloggers. But none of this five males, five females crap. It's my island, I get to choose.

Wind Rider of Silent Running, because I've met him. He's cute. I'd sleep with him.

Tom Paine of Silent Running. Met him too, he's cute. I'd sleep with him.

Gil Shtertzer, late of his eponymous blog, because he's really cute, and younger than the first two guys, and I'd sleep with him.

Frank J, because he's funny and cute, and I'd sleep with him.

Daniel Drezner, because he's intelligent and cute, and I'd sleep with him.

Bill Herbert, because I think he's cute, and he's intelligent and funny and yeah, I'd sleep with him sight unseen. He was my virtual fiancé, after all.

Okay, I'm sure I could think of some more, but those are my choices for the moment.

Update: Whoops. How could I forget?

Omri, because he's funny and smart and even if he's not cute, I'd sleep with him. But I hope he's cute.

Oh. You mean there was supposed to be some other reason for making my choices? Whoops. I couldn't tell from reading the remarks about the women in Hawkins' post.

To Hawkins' readers: Try reading this post, which Hawkins has neither responded to nor linked, what with it actually having a substantive argument and all. Can't have that in a rant against the rightwing stereotype of feminists, can we? | |

Technical difficulties

If you've sent me email today after 12 p.m., sound off here. I've had almost no email at all since noon. No clowning around here, please, I'm apparently still having DNS issues and need to find out.

Update: If you've been sending me email and can't get through, send it to meryl underscore yourish at for now, until the DNS totally propagates, and by the way, eff incompetent web techs. | |

The roots of Arab hate: Same old song, different tune

The spin after the Bush/Sharon meeting that resulted in the president agreeing that the palestinians won't be returning inside the Green Line any time this millennium is that the Arabs hate, hate, hate the U.S. now for being more biased toward Israel than ever. This one by Helen Thomas (hat tip: Joel G.) is the funniest:

Bush has not made the slightest effort to appear even-handed. He failed to consult any Palestinians before announcing the new U.S. policy toward the West Bank.

Since he came into office Bush has ignored Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader who has negotiated with several presidents in the past.

Bush still talks lamely about his "road map" for peace in the Middle East but his new West Bank policy has destroyed any shred of legitimacy that the plan may have had. What's left to negotiate?

Secretary of State Colin Powell defended the new policy, saying it recognized "realisms that exist on the ground."

And Americans wonder why the Arabs -- who once revered us for our political ideals -- now despise U.S. policies? Preach on, Mr. President, about democracy and freedom in the Middle East.

[...] Pollster John Zogby -- who has his finger on the pulse of the Arab world -- said: "This is pretty much the final nail in the coffin of the peace process as far as Arabs are concerned. It's not even a political issue. It's a bloodstream issue."

Zogby was referring to the blow to the entire history of the search for Middle East peace.

[...] This is a time when peace prospects for the Middle East have never looked grimmer.

Really? So, let's take a quick trip down memory lane. During the first days of the 1967 Six-Day War (which Helen may well have covered), the United Nations, which refused to issue any sort of resolution while it seemed the Arab armies were winning. However, when it became clear that Israel was winning, the Security Council, led by the Soviet Union and Egypt, suddenly tried to force a truce once, trying especially hard before Israel could reunite Jerusalem.

Funny how everyone who insists the Israelis are "colonizing" the territories refuse to acknowledge that a large chunk of the dispute is over Jerusalem, which would be, wait, I believe there's a tiny little Psalm that mentions it briefly, one that's been around for thousands of years... oh yeah. This one: "Should I forget thee, O Jerusalem" I don't think the psalm is only about west Jerusalem. But I digress.

Let's look at the peace process that was ongoing in the Arab world prior to June, 1967, in a speech that Nasser gave to trade unionists on May 26, 1967:

We were waiting for the day when we would be fully prepared and confident of being able to adopt strong measures if we were to enter the battle with Israel. I say nothing aimlessly. One day two years ago, I stood up to say that we had no plan to liberate Palestine and that revolutionary action was our only course to liberate Palestine. I spoke at the summit conferences. The summit conferences were meant to prepare the Arab States to defend themselves.

Recently we felt we are strong enough, that if we were to enter a battle with Israel, with God's help, we could triumph. On this basis, we decided to take actual steps.

A great deal has been said in the past about the UN Emergency Force (UNEF). Many people blamed us for UNEF's presence. We were not strong enough. Should we have listened to them, or rather built and trained our army while UNEF still existed? I said once that we could tell UNEF to leave within half an hour. Once we were fully prepared we could ask UNEF to leave. And this is what actually happened.

[...] With regard to military plans, there is complete coordination of military action between us and Syria. We will operate as one army fighting a single battle for the sake of a common objective - the objective of the Arab nation.

The problem today is not just Israel, but also those behind it. If Israel embarks on, an aggression against Syria or Egypt, the battle against Israel will be a general one and not confined to one spot on the Syrian or Egyptian borders. The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel. I probably could not have said such things five or even three years ago. If I had said such things and had been unable to carry them out my words would have been empty and worthless.

[...] Today people must know the reality of the Arab world. What is Israel? Israel today is the United States. The United States is the chief defender of Israel. As for Britain, I consider it America's lackey. Britain does not have an independent policy. Wilson always follows Johnson's steps and says what he wants him to say. All Western countries take Israel's view.

[...] We must know and learn a big lesson today. We must actually see that, in its hypocrisy and in its talks with the Arabs, the United States sides with Israel 100 per cent and is partial in favour of Israel. Why is Britain biased towards Israel? The West is on Israel's side. General de Gaulle's personality caused him to remain impartial on this question and not to toe the US or the British line; France therefore did not take sides with Israel.

[...] It is clear that the United States is an enemy of the Arabs because it is completely biased in favour of Israel. It is also clear that Britain is an enemy of the Arabs because she, too, is completely biased in favour of Israel. On this basis we must treat our enemies and those who side with our enemies as actual enemies. We can accord them such treatment. In fact we are not States without status. We are States of status occupying an important place in the world. Our States have thousands of years of civilization behind them -7,000 years of civilization. Indeed, we can do much; we can expose the hypocrisy - the hypocrisy of our enemies if they try to persuade us that they wish to serve our interest. The United States seeks to serve only Israel's interests. Britain also seeks to serve only Israel's interests.

Sure looks to me like Egyptian hatred of the U.S. goes back a long, long way—even though it was the United States that forced Israel, France, and Britain to get out of the Suez in 1956. From the Wikipedia's entry (which needs quite a lot of balance and practically blames Israel for the war):

High school and lower grade textbooks in Egypt claim that American and British troops fought on behalf of Israel during the Six-Day War. The following example comes from ‘Abdallah Ahmad Hamid al-Qusi, Al-Wisam fi at-Ta'rikh (Cairo: Al-Mu'asasa al-‘Arabiya al-Haditha, 1999), p. 284.

The United States' role: Israel was not (fighting) on its own in the (1967) war. Hundreds of volunteers, pilots, and military officers with American scientific spying equipment of the most advanced type photographed the Egyptian posts for it (Israel), jammed the Egyptian defense equipment, and transmitted to it the orders of the Egyptian command.

On 9 June 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser stated in his resignation speech (his resignation was not accepted):

What is now established is that American and British aircraft carriers were off the shores of the enemy helping his war effort. Also, British aircraft raided, in broad daylight, positions of the Syrian and Egyptian fronts, in addition to operations by a number of American aircraft reconnoitering some of our positions … Indeed, it can be said without exaggeration that the enemy was operating with an air force three times stronger than his normal force.

After the war ended, the Egyptian government and its newspapers continued to make claims of collusion between Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. These included a series of weekly articles in Al-Ahram, simulaneously broadcast on Radio Cairo, by Muhammad Heikal in Al-Ahram. Heikal attempted to uncover the "secrets" of the war. He presented a blend of facts, documents, and interpretations. Heikal's conclusion was clear-cut: there was a secret U.S.-Israeli collusion against Syria and Egypt.

Both London and Washington issued strenuous denials of these claims.

Nonetheless, these claims, that the Arabs were fighting the Americans and British rather than Israel alone, took hold in the Arab world. As reported by the British Representative in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a country at odds with Egypt as a result of the Yemen war:

President Abdel Nasser's allegation … is firmly believed by almost the whole Arab population here who listen to the radio or read the press … Our broadcast denials are little heard and just not believed. The denials we have issued to the broadcasting service and press have not been published. Even highly educated persons basically friendly to us seem convinced that the allegations are true. Senior foreign ministry officials who received my formal written and oral denials profess to believe them but nevertheless appear skeptical. I consider that this allegation has seriously damaged our reputation in the Arab world more than anything else and has caused a wave of suspicion or feeling against us which will persist in some underlying form for the foreseeable future … Further denials or attempts at local publicity by us will not dispel this belief and may now only exacerbate local feeling since the Arabs are understandably sensitive to their defeat with a sense of humiliation and resent self-justification by us who in their eyes helped their enemy to bring this about.

A British guidance telegram to Middle East posts concluded: "The Arabs' reluctance to disbelieve all versions of the big lie springs in part from a need to believe that the Israelis could not have defeated them so thoroughly without outside assistance."

The more things change, the more they remain the same. The hatred of the Arab world for the United States remains unchanged. The only difference I see is the level of attention western media pays to it. | |

Guess the order of obsession, er, ascension

Quick, what's more newsworthy: 1) three Al Qaeda suicide bombings in Basra, 2) a bombing at a Saudi government security building in Riyadh, 3) debate over the proposed EU constitution, or 4) the release of Mordechai Vanunu, the traitor who exposed Israel's nuclear secrets to the world?

If you guessed 4, then you have been completely conditioned by the world media to believe that Israel is the center of the universe, and that everything that happens in regards to Israel is more newsworthy than dozens of Iraqi children being murdered by terrorists, or the fate of the EU constituion, or even the meeting of Korea's and China's leaders (which is going to absolutely affect the way Kim Jong Il handles his nukes, which, by the way, are in danger of being used, as Israel's are not).

Check out the Newsmap. Click on the "World" link on the bottom of the page.

And by the way, a person who exposes illegalities at work, such as unsafe workplace practices, is a whistleblower. A person who reveals nuclear secrets of a nation is a traitor. It's another example of the subtle anti-Semitism of the world media. Imagine, if you will, an American who went to the press about some of our secret weapons programs. Or who told the world about, say, the neutron bomb while it was still being worked on.

Somehow, I don't think he'd be hailed as a "whistleblower" when he got out of prison. In fact, he'd still be in prison, despised by one and all as the traitor he is.

Most Israelis are hoping that Vanunu screws up so he can be sent back to prison. I can't say I blame them. | |

We are no longer experiencing technical difficulties

Okay. I'm back on email, my site is on Hosting Matters, and if I have any time tomorrow, I'll plug in an MT template and make the move over to MT on my third anniversary, which happens to be Thursday.

Thanks to all of you who hit the tipjars today.

Big thanks to Stacy for all her help, and to Wind Rider for helping me figure out what I was doing wrong with the email config. And for not making fun of me for it.

By the way, since Bill Herbert is hanging up his weblog, I need a new fiancé. Applications are now being taken, but I have to say Omri is already pretty high up in the running. | |



You almost want to spell it "imPETAnce"

What if you spent money on a message that nobody really saw? PETA did. (Hat tip: April.)

Taking a page out of an old high school yearbook trick, an official with an animal rights organization successfully placed a hidden message in a brick on the grounds of the San Diego Padres new stadium, Petco Park.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had a 12-word statement engraved in an 8-by-8 inch brick -- the commemorative bricks were offered by the Padres as part of a permanent display surrounding the team's new $411 million stadium.

The message reads, "Break Open Your Cold Ones! Toast The Padres! Enjoy This Championship Organization!" The first letter of every word spells "BOYCOTT PETCO."

Ooh, it's a secret code! Everyone get out your secret decoder rings, and make sure they're made of completely non-animal products.

Earlier this week, Padres and PETCO officials discussed whether something should be done with the brick, but PETCO executives had no problem with it.

"If you walked by and read their message, you wouldn't know it had anything to do with PETA," said Don Cowan, PETCO's director of communications.

Ouch. The subject of the assault finds it laughable.

Of course, this is simply another way for PETA to get free publicity. And they have a sterling track record:

PETA has been active in the sports world of late. In 2002, the Milwaukee Brewers denied PETA's request to include a vegetarian soy sausage in the Brewers' traditional game-day race of mascots, which includes a bratwurst, a hot dog, a Polish and Italian sausage.

Looks like they're in no danger of changing it, either.

Shannon said that PETA plans on sending letters to the two NBA Rookie of the Year frontrunners, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, advising them to turn down the award since it is sponsored by "Got Milk?," a campaign overseen by the California Milk Processors Board. PETA officials say they object to the cruelty that dairy cows endure as a result of their treatment by dairy farmers.

Oh, moo. I'm gonna have steak for dinner tomorrow night. Maybe it's time for another trip to the PETA headquarters. I'll have to talk it over with Wind Rider and Bill. (Bill, do me a favor, and don't post anything overly disgusting while my readers are visiting you. Wait a few hours, willya?) | |

Al Jazeera and viewer sensibilities

Last week, Iraqi terrorists executed one of four Italian hostages, and submitted the tape to Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera refused to air the tape, "in order not to upset viewers sensitivities".

However, according to their own news story, Al Jazeera was quite happy to show a previously submitted tape:

Aljazeera aired a videotape on Tuesday showing the four Italians, with their passports, surrounded by armed men.

Is Al Jazeera hesitant to show graphic photos and videos? These are pretty graphic. So are these. These pictures are pretty gruesome, too. And here, via Scoop, are some extremely graphic pictures of Iraqi war dead taken from Al Jazeera.

The network was also very eager to show a video of terrified Japanese hostages screaming as their captors held knives to their throats.

So, what, exactly are the "viewers sensitivities" that Al Jazeera is trying not to upset? My guess is this:

The Italian foreign minister, Franco Frattini, said a video recording of the shooting showed Mr Quattrocchi was hooded when his kidnappers put a gun to his head.

"When the murderers were pointing a pistol at him, this man tried to take off his hood and shouted: ‘Now I’m going to show you how an Italian dies.’ And they killed him," Mr Frattini said. "He died a hero."

Al Jazeera didn't show this video because it displayed the courage and defiance of a European, who wasn't even part of Italy's armed forces in Iraq. He was a security guard, a hired "mercenary," to use a Kos term. And he didn't scream in fear as his captors were about to kill him. He tried to make them look him in the eye. He tried to show his captors for the cowards they are, refusing even to look at the man they were about to execute.

It would certainly offend "viewer sensibilities" in the Al Jazeera universe to see that Westerners are not the cowards and bullies that the network portrays us to be. That's why they refuse to show the tape. They don't give a damn about the blood spurting from the poor man's neck. Is it the courage an infidel showed in the face of certain death by Muslim terrorists that would offend Al Jazeera's viewership? Or perhaps it would just get them to thinking that maybe Al Jazeera isn't showing the whole truth.

Fabrizio Quattrocchi died a hero. That's what Al Jazeera didn't want its viewers to know. | |



A ray of light

It has not been a very good day. In spite of my best efforts to prevent this, my website went down this morning because the DNS has not resolved on HM and NAC deleted my directories. I got the site back up, but the email still hasn't been restored. I don't want to bother with it anymore. When the DNS resolves sometime in the next day or so, my email addresses will be valid again. If you have something important to email me (and it had damned well better be important, so please, no URLs to sites I already read and link to regularly), you can reach me at meryl - underscore - yourish - at - hotmail dot com. But that emailbox is going away as soon as the regular one comes back, so don't put it in your address books.

Thinking about it, the last few weeks haven't been the best for me. However, there was one ray of light today: My digital camera, which happens to be the basis of the business I'm starting, broke a few days ago. The lens refuses to close when the camera turns off. The good news is that contrary to my usual inclination, I did buy the extended warranty when I bought the camera. It's good through 2006. May I say: Yay.

If you folks wanted to hit the Paypal or Amazon tipjars or the wishlist, I sure wouldn't say no. That'd help out a bit, as the wolf has his snout in my door and I keep beating him with a baseball bat, but he keeps coming back. (I just realized: I won't know if you've hit the Paypal or Amazon accounts. My email isn't working. Maybe you should wait a day or two.)

In the meanwhile, even broken, the camera takes some pretty good pictures. It's in the upper 80s in Richmond today, and we were enjoying the morning. Gracie chose to sit in the shade while Tig was soaking up the sun. Well, then I came outside and started taking pictures, so Tig started to groom himself, giving me the opportunity to make him look especially ridiculous. Either that, or it's Tigger Chi. This would would be called The Weathervane, I think.

Gracie in shade

Tigger Chi

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I've got a busy day ahead of me. Here are some other things to read.

The Guardian dips into the Protocols of the Elders of Zion on its opinion pages. We always knew it was anti-Israel, but it seems the gloves are off.

McDonald's CEO died of a heart attack. No word on how often he ate Big Macs.

The British arrested ten more terrorism suspects, but aren't telling us much. Any bets on whether or not they're Muslims?

European leaders criticize the killing of Rantissi. Many insist it's against international law. I would greatly appreciate it if someone would quote me chapter and verse on which law that Israel is supposed to be breaking, and whether or not Israel actually signed that declaration of law, and also, who enforces the law that is supposedly being broken. Because the phrase "against international law" is a great sound-bite, but utterly useless if the law is not, in actuality, a law.

Via Silent Running (where the guys are putting out some outstanding posts lately after a bit of a quiet period), this is a visual display of the Google News aggregator. Click on the "World" link (below, in maroon) and you'll see Israel taking center stage on, well, just about every day. So far, every day I've checked it, Israel has been the dominant color. The world's obsession with Israel borders on the unhealthy, I believe. Anyway, this thing rocks. These guys are great.

Omri's got the Israeli news roundup and analysis at Deja Foo. I may very well be farming that out to him in the future. Especially after reading this, his Shoah post. Wear your asbestos gloves. And if you think he's exaggerating, then read this news, just out, which is way below the fold of the aggregator on Google News: UN court reduces responsibility and sentence of Bosnian Serb general for genocide.


Russian troops conducted targeted assassinations resulting in the deaths of 10 Chechen "rebels." World condemnation will be upcoming. (Don't hold your breath.)

Good to know that Spain is giving aid and comfort to the enemy: Al-Sadr hails quick Spain pullout. Now all they have to do is give up Al-Andalus and the terrorists will be cool with Spain.

First Jesse Jackson, then the Pope. Why do I think that the terrorists will ignore both regarding the hostage release?

And by the way, I MISS MY DAILY DOSE OF MICHELE. That's all I'm sayin'.

For your kitty viewing pleasure, Lair's weekly Carnival of the Cats is up.

And though I nearly forgot, I did not: Tonecluster has the answers to the commonly-stated points about why Rantissi shouldn't have been executed. Nicely done.

Once more, Deja Foo. It's an analysis about the brouhaha over the killing that goes hand-in-hand with the above. But Omri, you're expecting logic from Israel bashers, or worse still, the media. Are you insane, man?

And in response to this post, first, I chose Hershey's because they're online (and I love their chocolate, unsophisticate that I am). And also, I posted some a month ago over at Lair's, but I'll do it again here:

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Rantissi who?
Rantissi if the time on my parking meter had run out. Probably shoulda stayed inside.

I forgot I did the Hamas one. Maybe I'll make some more later.

And I'm out. | |



Yom HaShoah

Imshin, on Holocaust Remembrance Day:

Some day I would like to visit Poland and see where my family came from. From what I’ve seen on TV, Poland isn’t too hot, especially the villages. The Sephardis here laugh at the Polish Jews that, with all their airs and graces and snobbery, where they came from wasn’t much to boast about either. But I want to see anyway. And I want to see where they most likely ended up, the ones that didn’t get out on time. I want to smell the air, and feel the gravel under my feet. I know I’m only on this earth by chance.

My mother once said that after the war, family members that had survived started arriving. And they sat in the living room and told their stories. At first the grown ups thought that maybe it would not be suitable for the child to hear, but the relatives told their stories in Yiddish, so the grown ups reckoned she wouldn’t be able to understand anyway.

What they didn’t realize was that she had grown up during the war in the same house as her grandparents and she had learnt to understand their language.

So she sat undisturbed, and she heard it all.

I couldn’t care less about Rantissi. Good riddance.

Yad Vashem. The Jewish Virtual Library's Holocaust section. My post from last year.


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Break time

Back to the Sunday double-job grind. And to make today extra-specially tiring, I climbed after work, pulling several muscles while doing so, and completely exhausting myself. It didn't help that an effing robin decided sunrise was at 5:15 and it was time to serenade the day (no, it's at 6:30, and all birds should be mute).

I had a couple of good groups of kids today, mostly girls. One was afraid of heights. I always tell them that I am, too. And got the usual response: A look like I'm nuts and the question, "And you work here?"

So while trying to relax the girl who was nervous, I went through the steps of the rope and the belay device and how many pounds of person I could belay. I told her I've gotten really strong since working at the gym. "Check this out," I said, flexing my left arm. "Wow," was the unanimous opinion. Nine-year-olds. I'm not that built, but then, compared to a nine-year-old, I suppose I am.

By the last climb, we got her high enough that if it had been the first climb, she'd have reached the top. We called it a victory.

I am making old lady noises tonight. I don't know if you're going to see much more out of me today. | |


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 is also a good bet if you've never been here before.