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Friday catblogging

As promised, here's Petra, looking, well, petrified. This was taken shortly after I arrived, although she did warm up to me after a while, and let me pick her up, and even purred for me.

Petra peeks out from under her chair

Her eyes are the roundest, biggest eyes I've ever seen on a cat. She is simply adorable. I'd steal her from WR, but my cats wouldn't like having another one around.

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Clichés abound

It's a mirable! I'm a soap opera fan, and Christmas miracles abound er, around Christmas. And soap operas seem to be the only place where carolers in true Dickensian-era clothing styles abound, and y'know, I gotta say, they look really stupid. So, for the edification of those of you who don't watch All My Children, here's a rundown: Bianca is in a coma and about to die, but before that happens, she's going to have her daughter, who was stolen from her in a faux helicopter crash and presumed drowned in the river (I am so not making this stuff up; the writers did) but who was really substituted for the Chandler baby, who was given to the helicopter pilot's sister, whose baby died at childbirth, and who was recently kidnapped by his real mother, who was raising Bianca's baby all this time and who is on the run in New Orleans with Jamie, who was in love with his brother's wife from the get-go and who slept with her (without knowing she was his sister-in-law, because she neglected to note that she was married) the first night she hit town. So the DNA test shows that Bess is really Miranda's, but JR is going to fight to the death to keep "his" baby, and Bianca's coma is deepening, and will she die? Will she get Miranda back? Will Babe and Jamie come back to town with JR's son? Dunno. It's not on for another half hour.

Do-it-yourself-blogging and my Christmas story: Sorry, folks, I'm not up for hours and hours of reading, posting, and linking. I'm off to Heidi's this afternoon. We're having corned beef and latkes as our belated Chanukah celebration, and tomorrow, I am proud to say that I'm going to have one of the funniest dinners ever invented to write about: J.R. (there are a lot of them in my life these days) is making turducken. That's a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken. I will be filling you all in on it tomorrow, probably also while discussing the hilarious restaurant turducken scene from Ellen Degeneres' short-lived comedy show (after "Ellen" and before "Ellen," on Friday nights, died very soon but was extremely funny and worth watching). J.R. is making me a roast, because his turducken is going to be made with sausage stuffing, and he knows I won't eat it. My own roast beef. Are you all jealous? You should be. Is anyone making you your own roast beef for dinner?

I've got to finish up Sorena's present, clean my apartment, wrap Heidi's and G.'s presents, do laundry, take a shower, then pack and go over Heidi's. You see, in 1996, I had my first four-day weekend from work, and hadn't seen Heidi since she was five months pregnant with Sorena, who was then just turned three. So I set off to brave the Christmas Eve traffic down the I-95 corridor, and a tradition was born. Two years ago, when I dared to mention that I would go home after dinner on Christmas Eve and be back the next morning for the gift-giving, Sorena said, "But you always sleep over on Christmas Eve, you have to sleep over on Christmas Eve. You can't go home." So even though I live about thirty minutes away, I do not get to sleep in my own bed on December 24th. I also don't get to light the candles when Chanukah falls during Christmas. I get to say the prayers, but Sorena insists on lighting the candles. It's amazing, how much work a child manages to steal, er, take from adults in cases like this.

Then again, sleeping over tonight makes having wine with dinner a much easier decision. (Yes, please. Of course I'll have another glass. Thank you.)

Oh, the do-it-yourself-blogging: Go here for the daily update on Middle East news.

There's no help for it: I have to climb 5.9s: Sorena and I spent a lot of time together yesterday. We saw the Series of Unfortunate Events movie (go see it, go see it, go see it, it was wonderful!), and then we went to Peak and did some climbing. I have not climbed regularly in months, and I hopped on a climb with one of the regulars, who made me go up a 5.8 that I thought I would have a lot of trouble with, what with it having tiny holds requiring lots of crimping and toe-and-finger balancing. And yet, I took it fairly easily. Dammit. I don't want to climb nines, because they're a lot harder, but I guess I have to start doing them again.

It's all relative: Heidi told me a story a few weeks ago that I simply must relate. First, the background: I have a saying that I've used since I was in my twenties. I have fairly quick reflexes. I wish I could tell you that as a result, I'm an excellent softball player, but I can't judge distances to save my life. This is only for things close to me. I can generally catch a glass of whatever I'm knocking over at the time, and stop most things from falling if they slip out of my hands. When this happens in front of a witness, who is often impressed with my ability, I usually say, "It's my amazing agility and catlike reflexes."

You may scoff if you like. People who have not seen these abilities in action generally do. A guy I knew a long time ago didn't believe. Until we were in the supermarket picking something up for a party. A box of butter sticks fell off the shelf as I was walking by. I reached out with my right hand, caught it in midair, and put it back on the shelf, all while continuing to walk past it and talk to my friend. He stopped in his tracks and stared at me. "What?" I asked. "I thought you were making it up," he said. (Actually, he said he thought I was full of something, but this being a family-friendly post, I thought I'd be family-friendly and edit his comments.) He was a believer after that.

So, a week or two ago, Heidi and I were talking, and she told me that Sorena said to her that she thinks she has inherited my amazing agility and catlike reflexes.

"Inherited," I said, grinning. (For those of you who are unsure, Heidi is my best friend, not my sister, and Sorena and I are not related by blood, though she considers me her aunt.)

"Inherited," she replied, also grinning. "And if she mentions it to you, I think you should smile and agree with her."

I think so too.

Merry Christmas to my Christian readers. I may or may not be blogging later. There's a carol I want to deconstruct for the fun of it. In the meantime, I leave you with these two real-life Christmas stories: Jerusalem distributes free Christmas trees, and Israel allows pilgrims free travel into Bethlehem this year.

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Arafat's legacy: A suicide bombing in Mosul

The explosion that killed 21 people (I will not include the bomber in the total) was caused by a suicide bomber, which is what I was telling Wind Rider over dinner, having been offline the entire day. Now we learn he was an Iraqi who worked on the base for two months before donning a suicide vest and blowing himself up.

The parties responsible for this are legion: The UN, which insists that suicide bombs are "legitimate resisance" against "occupiers" is to blame. The EU, which refuses to condemn strongly every suicide bomb that goes off in Tel Aviv or Haifi or Jerusalem. The voices on the left, which also refuse to condemn the bombings, or say, "Suicide bombing is wrong, but...." The voices on the right and left that blame Israel for all the world's wrongs, and say nothing when Jews die at the hands of terrorists. The Arab nations, which have been funding terrorism for decades and raising "martyrdom operations" to the level of heroism. The Spanish, who rolled over in Madrid rather than fighting the terrorists who killed two hundred of their own. The Australians who blamed Bali on John Howard and George W. Bush, instead of on the terrorists who murdered their people.

But more than anyone, blame the palestinians. They have turned suicide bombs into the deadliest of terrorist attacks. They have perfected the suicide vest to the point that we now have videos online teaching terrorists how to make a bomb vest.

I was offline all day yesterday, and hadn't seen any news since the night before. But at dinner, I was asking WR, who just retired from the Air Force, what kind of mortar could kill so many people. It had to be a suicide bomb, I said. The M.O. was exactly the same: Find the most crowded indoor area, at the most crowded time, and set off the bomb. When WR mentioned the eyewitness accounts of a fireball up to the top of the tent, and then multiple round holes in the walls of the mess tent, I knew it wasn't any kind of rocket. I am utterly disgusted to be proven right.

My gut tells me that the current "peace" in Israel is only a softening of hositilities so they can regroup and attack from a different position. I mistrust Mahmoud Abbas even more than I mistrustred Arafat, because the world is mostly ignoring the fact that Abbas was Arafat's hand-picked Prime Minister, and he wasn't picked because he intended to reform the PA and shoulder Arafat aside. Daniel Pipes has it right: Abbas is the same wolf, in a different sheep's clothing.

The sad fact to the suicide bombing is that we can expect more of them. All the Israeli efforts have not managed to stop them completely. Even a 99% success rate at stopping suicide bombings isn't good enough. Until the Muslims of the Middle East learn how to co-exist with the nation of Jews on their doorstep that will not be leaving anytime soon, we won't see an end to the bloody legacy of the biggest mass-murderer of Jews since Hitler. Unfortunately, we will see more suicide bombs in Iraq.

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Released from Hell: The Job From Hell is officially over, and the last two days were hell, indeed. There's a reason I never went into retail. It's because you have to deal with customers. And I have found that when stressed, customers are not very nice to the poor slobs in retail. I'm too tired to go into details, but suffice to say that if you're going to shop in a store only once a year, I wouldn't recommend that you shop Christmas week and then complain that everything you wanted is already sold out. Perhaps you might have tried to come last week, when everything was still there.

Look in your shorts: Not mine. I was at Wind Rider's tonight, and got to meet, terrify, and ultimately befriend Petra. I have many pictures of her, none of which contain Petra in any articles of clothing. But it's late, and I'm exhausted, and you will have to wait until tomorrow. Or the day after. Tomorrow, I'm picking up Sorena and we're going to spend the day together. I have to hide her Christmas present in case we come over here.

I suppose I could have blogged from WR's place, but I was far too busy playing with Petra. I have a few really good shots to submit to Lair for his cat calendar. Yes, I'll put them up here, Rahel, but you have to wait a bit. I'm really tired.

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Call for reader input

I know this may seem strange, but I do realize that you folks actually read this blog. Not only that, but you may have a better memory for posts and things than I do. And since I can't find the Tig picture that Joe likes best, and I want to submit it to Lair Simon's Carnival of the Cats calendar, I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and ask for both that great picture of Tig looking regal (the one where he's sitting down, not the lying down one), and then ask you all something else.

What are your favorite posts of mine? I started collecting my greatest hits then got kinda bored halfway through (that's not very complimentary to myself, but hey, working on this site actually gets boring sometimes). So it's unfinished.

Are there any particular posts you think are my best efforts? Submit the URL, or at the very least, the date, in the comments, and I'll collect them into a greatest-hits page and update the ones I haven't touched since, oh, 2002.

And for your effort, you get the thanks of a grateful blogger. And more posts. Yes. Pictures, too.

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Today's Jews in the News

Tunnel rat-bastards: The IDF is preparing for terrorists to tunnel under the security fence (Hebrew link). I would personally like to see them spike the voltage a few meters below the surface to take care of any problem tunneling, but then, I'm not running the IDF security fence.

What lessening of terror? More rockets hit more civilians in Gaza yesterday, but I'm not seeing any calls for a UN emergency session to stop the rockets. Oh, that's right—it's only Jews getting hurt, and worse yet, they're settlers. The fact that it struck a synagogue is also meaningless to the world that freaked out time and again over U.S. troops going into "the holy city of Najaf." They're testing a new radar system against Kassams, but I won't hold my breath.

Oh, this lessening of terror: Moshe Ya'alon was shocked by the improvement of Ramallah since its chief terrorist died.

Near the Best Eastern Hotel downtown, the Palestinian police man a permanent roadblock to check for stolen cars. Some 30 such vehicles have even been returned to Israel in recent weeks. New construction can be seen on every side and every week, dozens of new cars are purchased. The number of complaints by international organizations about IDF interference with their activities in the Ramallah area has declined to almost zero in recent months. Tanzim militants, who used to periodically force the stores in Manara Square to shut down, have been forcibly expelled by the merchants.

Similar scenes can be seen in other West Bank cities. In Jericho, Qalqilyah and Bethlehem, the volume of terrorist activity has dropped significantly. There has also been a change for the better in Hebron.

Of course, as the article points out, one successful suicide bombing inside Israel can change all that.

More later.

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Cool cat

Today's moment of kitty zen:

Tig asleep on my jacket

I put the chair next to the floor lamp to change the bulb, what with my not having a stepstool. I put the jacket on the chair because, well, I'm lazy. Tig, of course, could not resist the new sleeping area. Plus, he looks so cool on my leather jacket. Yeah, I know, I spoil him. But at least it's not like he's posing in my shorts or anything like that.

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Middle East news briefs

The Dorktator's time is coming: President Bush's eye (not to be confused with the Eye of Sauron, but certainly as powerful) is beginning to turn toward Syria.

Livid over Syria's sheltering of former Iraqi Baathists who are using Syrian territory to help organize the insurgency against US forces, Washington is contemplating a range of punitive measures to use against Damascus.

"It's clear we are heading into some kind of confrontation with Syria unless the Syrians reverse their policy," a senior government official told The Jerusalem Post.

Go get 'im, W.

Dis 'em and kiss 'em off: Meanwhile, W. is also insulting the Syrians. They can wait until Israel and the pals have peace, he says, then we'll see about Syria.

President George Bush wants Israel to make peace with the Palestinians before considering Syria's offer of talks, the Yediot Aharonot newspaper reported.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has been telling visitors he wants to resume peace talks with Israel.

Sorry, should have issued a bullshit alert for that last paragraph. Baby Assad makes noises about peace every time the world notices that Syria is a terrorist-sponsoring nation. You'll be hearing a lot of that now.

And on that note of peace: W. says he's going to work very hard to bring peace to the Middle East. I believe him. But it isn't entirely up to him, is it? Not when the terrorists continue to bomb Sderot, which is in Israel proper. The good news is, Bush is not a stupid man. He says there's no need to rush, and that first the pals must set up a democratic government. (Yeah, good luck with that, it's still a bogus election upcoming, regardless of whether or not the IDF pulls out of the territories for it.) Here's a nifty little backgrounder on Abu Mazen, the man who would be Arafat. I am not very encouraged. As far as the PA is concerned, I'm from Missouri. Show me some progress, then I'll believe you actually mean it.

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In praise of Haloscan

Glenn Reynolds links to a report that comment spammers are hitting Movable Type blogs so badly, that major web hosts are disabling MT comments completely.

Now's the perfect time to point out that Haloscan is an excellent comment service. I tried their free service, and upgraded to the pay service for the minimum fee ($12, and folks, when my finances are back to snuff, you will be getting a significant bonus from me), and have had only a handful of spam in over 5,000 comments posted. I get more spam in my emailbox in one day than I've had in nine months with Haloscan.

A lot of people used to gripe about Haloscan, mostly because Haloscan's servers went down more frequently and disabled comments. They still go out from time to time, but it's rare, and for short periods of time.

I think Haloscan is the best comments deal on the net. I would like to see a few more features, such as preview and individual comment emails, but for twelve bucks, I really can't complain. And of course, the only server load to worry about is theirs.

You can easily add Haloscan comments to an MT blog. Something to think about, while you're unable to host your own comments. And if you write your own HTML, like I do, it's a simple matter of pasting in a javascript and then copying and altering it for each new comment post. I do it every day.

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Good links

Common sense hits Massachusetts: Solomonia reports a happy ending to the Somerville divestment vote. Read this link; it's the feel-good item of the week. Via Lynn B. , who has some interesting things to report on her blog, but they're not nearly as happy, so they'll get linked another time.

Tim Blair for President? The guys in Oz and NZ are organizing a Simterror attack. For New Year's Day. I'm truly unsure what to say about it, but as Tom used to be my online fiancé, I figure he earns free links now and then.

Laugh, clowns, laugh: Harvey, the guy who got Frank J. to throw me his endorsement in the Wizbang Weblog Awards, which Patterico won because he somehow got a lightning bolt to take out my computer and cable modem two days before voting ended, thus ending my final-hour surge in the voting, but hey, who's complaining, and where the hell was I? Oh, right. Harvey. Very funny post here. Funnier, but off-color, post here. (Yeah, that'll send 'em towards the link.)

Now that's punishment! Lair's making one of his cats look stupid, and sharing it with us. Check that, he's going to make them all look stupid, one picture at a time.

No, I don't carry a grudge. Why do you ask? I've decided that I'm going to not link Goldstein every time I feel like it, until I feel like stopping. Just because.

I have a busy day of mostly fun things ahead of me. And one hell of a dinner planned. Late, but always welcome, Chanukah latkes. Wind Rider will get to sample them.

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Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. If you're looking for something funny, try the Hulk's solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin Laden's diary is also a good bet if you've never been here before.