Yes, no need to get your blood pressure up today.
I found this review of the new Mandy Moore film yesterday via Google News, and found it to be one of the funniest reviews I've ever read. This guy does not like Mandy. Now, I've caught moments of her films while channel-surfing, and I saw a preview of the new film while watching Regis & Kelly the other morning (I don't know why I was watching. I think something hypnotized me). And, well, the acting level is on a par with the Power Rangers, I think. But this guy... Hoo-wee.
No, really, Bill. Tell us what you really think about the film.
By the way, if you click on the Google link above, you'll see a wide variety of reviews. Take note of the positive ones and see if they're all owned by a company that put out the movie (does CNN ever do bad reviews anymore?).
Here's a really neat Flash link that my old boss (who is a phenomenal graphic artist) sent me. Click on the image and then use your arrow keys to move the guy up and down. Lots of neat things happen. Caution: May be very addictive. permalink
Everyone else has gotten this one, but I think I'll link to it anyway. (I could have linked to it first, but I was busy most of the mornings this week. You snooze, you lose.) The Israeli flag is on Mars, right above the U.S. flag. Here's a larger image from the guy everyone is linking to. Credit where it's due, Josh.
Israeli terrorist victims decreased by 50% in 2003 over the number in 2002. Instant analysis: The closures and the fence helped. Duh.
Stop and think about that. A marked increase in female suicide bombers. It's the palestinian ERA program. Now, in 2004, palestinian women can raise babies, or they can blow them up!
That would be 10.5 terrorist attacks per day.
Yeah, those "metal shops" strewn throughout Gaza do a hopping business in bombs, shrapnel, and missiles.
Yes, and Iran has been using airplanes from Syria to restock Hizbullah's weapons and send in more missiles. Oh, but that's just the evil Mullah government, not the people of Iran. Just like Saddam Hussein and his family alone governed Iraq. No complicity. Nope. Nuh-uh.
So much for the theory that terrorists don't work with one another. What bull.
Al Qaeda's been working its way into the West Bank. Damn. DEBKA isn't all smoke and mirrors after all.
In other news: Defense Minister Mofaz tells Baby Assad to remove Hizbullah's missiles and close down terrorists' offices in Damascus, and Israel will talk peace.
Hoo-wee, Baby Assad is surrounded by enemies on all sides! And the Dead Dictator Pool is now up to $200. I have another busy weekend planned, but come Monday, the promised page will be up, and bloggers who are contributing to the pool will have a link to their blogs on the page. Nonbloggers will have their name on the honor roll. permalink
Ahmed Qureia says if Israel doesn't stop building the wall and making other "unilateral" steps (maybe if you stopped the effing murdering scum in your own organization from trying so hard to murder more Jews, he wouldn't have to), he's going to drop the idea of a palestinian state altogether, and try to co-opt Israel. Well. You have to give him points for honesty. That's the first high-level pal who's ever admitted in public he wants only one state, with the Jews as a minority.
And here is my response to this idea: You and what army, Ahmed? Hell, even Colin Powell is on the other side for this one.
I'm going to translate that into Simpson dialect: In your face, Ahmed!
So what did Israel have to say about this?
Let's translate this into Simpson dialect: In your face, Ahmed!
So what did the rest of the PA have to say about this?
Homer Simpson's take on this: In your face, Ahmed! permalink
This search request weirded me out more than a little, but the more part is because, well, hello, eleven results? Someone obviously bought green Hershey's syrup and, well, things came out green. And yet, eleven results?
Speaking of the Hulk, Mac sent me a link to Montykins' latest entry, in which we find the Hulk all dressed up asGeorge Washington. Yes, really. Y'know, Monty, if you don't want to keep that calendar, I'll buy it from you, for the sheer joy of Hulk as the Father of our Country. Too funny.
Oh, and when he says to click on the link, it's really funny? It is. He discusses last year's calendar, which I both read and (I think) linked to last year.
I really want to find a third Hulk link to make this a three-fer. Last week, I got a referrer from this link but was unable to find the link to my site. Of course, it being Site Meter and all that, it could have been that someone was there and used their favorites to come here, and Site Meter recorded it as a referrer because, well, their referrers suck. But it's a neat Hulk link, and that makes this a three-fer Hulk post. permalink
I did a little background checking on the author of this article. He runs this website. I can't vouch for the authenticity of anything on the website, or in the article above. On the other hand, what he writes in the article on Hussein gels with the Atlantic article quoted yesterday. I sure wouldn't want to be Saddam Hussein these days.
Speaking of Arab dictators, several more people have climbed aboard. Our Dead Arab Dictators Pool fund is now up to a $200 donation to MDA every time an Arab dictator (and that does include ex-dictators like Saddam) buys it. permalink
I've been looking wistfully at Chinese panel screens for years and years, and it feels like years. Whenever I accompany Heidi to an auction here, I've zeroed in on the few Oriental pieces of furniture and art while she searches always for Stickley desks. Each time, the screens that I've liked have sold immediately, for far more than I can afford. But the price down here in the Richmond area is still much lower than the prices I saw in New Jersey. Yesterday, I helped Heidi load another desk into her car at yet another auction house, but not before finding, and buying, my long-sought screen. And it's a beauty. (And it's a bargain.) This screen would cost about $1500 and up in NJ. I paid far less. It's hand-carved, made circa 1945, and imported from China by the people who sold it.
I am most pleased, though you're going to have to wait for a sunny day before I can take a picture with no flash. But here's a preview: Click on the thumbnails for a larger view. permalink
Jeff Silver tipped me off to this letters section in the Atlantic, regarding last October's article on the use of torture. The author, Mark Bowden, is also the author of Black Hawk Down. He interviewed American and Israeli intelligence agents and wrote in great detail about certain interrogation methods, having been giving much more information from the Israeli officer than from any former military or CIA agent.
The gist of Jeff's letter is that in both letters, the authors are blaming Israeli torture for creating more suicide bombers, even while fully ignoring the fact that torture was outlawed in 1999, and that many suicide bombers have been well-educated, middle-class palestinians who have never been arrested. Of course, the letter-writers offer no proof of their bullshit theories. Blaming the Jews is enough, apparently.
It is certainly interesting, and rather telling, that two of the six letters published chose to concentrate on Israel, even though the article is about the use of torture in general, and makes very clear that coercion (non-physical methods) should be used to extract information when required. And it does reaffirm my contention that no matter where you turn, Israel is being demonized or held to a higher standard than any other nation.
But overshadowing even that is the article to which the letters refer. Take a few minutes (well, more than a few, it's quite long), and either pick up the magazine from the library or print it out or just read it online, but don't miss this article. It is an amazing insight into a world that few people ever see, and I quite agree with the author's conclusion:
A must-read. permalink
As of this morning, we're up to $75 in matching funds, for a total of $100 donated to Magen David Adom every time an Arab dictator dies in 2004. (Here's hoping a ton of them go, starting with Yasser Arafat.)
Mark F. wants to know if this also includes "defacto leaders and loudmouthsl ike Hanan Ashrawi." Defacto leaders, yes. Hanan Ashrawi, no. She's not a dictator. She's a dictator's stooge. Qurei? Hm. He's the Head Stooge. He's sort of a leader, but not really. How about this: If he dies while in office, we donate. If not, he doesn't count.
The criteria for Arab dictator is that the person is an Arab, in charge of a country or pseudo-country (the PNA, which was supposed to rule the occupied territories, counts, obviously) for which he was not elected in free and fair elections.
That would mean, oh, every single Arab nation meets the criteria.
I'll have more on this later, and dedicate a page with the information to it when I get the chance. Busy morning planned with Sarah and the twins, whom I have not seen since before the holidays. permalink
The Telegraph published an exclusive interview with Baby Assad yesterday, in which the little dictator came as close to admitting Syria has biological and chemical weapons as he has ever come:
I'm starting to believe more and more in DEBKA's claim that Iraq's WMD are being stored in Syria.
Gee, like, maybe, anthrax?
This part is good for a very big laugh:
The Telegraph itself laughed at it the next day in an editorial:
Baby Assad is on my ATS Dead Pool list. One can hope. And I have just become inspired. For each Arab dictator on the Dead Pool list to go, I'm donating $25 to Magen David Adom. Anyone out there want to put up a matching fund? Email me or Lair. permalink
If I ever make it to Alabama to visit Mac Thomason, trust me on this one: He's taking me out to dinner.
But you might not want to look at these pictures on a full stomach.
The scene: This evening, going from our classroom to the sanctuary for music and t'filah. The conversation went something like this:
Oh. My. God. They're ten. Ten. It's a very different world. permalink
This is a fascinating essay on the current war on terror, which the author calls the end of our own Hundred Years' War:
I think it's a little heavy on the Reagan-worship, but still a worthy read. (Stanford? They allow you to publish essays like this in a Stanford-based magazine? Perhaps the lunatics haven't taken over all the asylums yet, hm?)
On that subject, if anyone knows of an unbiased Reagan biography to recommend, please do. I lived through those years as a college student and twentysomething, and my memories of the Reagan administration are quite biased by my ultra-liberal thoughts of the time. I'd like to read something balanced to, er, balance out my memories.
As they say, read the whole thing. permalink
That banner is showing up all over the place, even on former liberal and/or Democrats' blogs. You're probably never going to see it here, for several reasons. First is that I believe Joe Lieberman is starting to sound more and more like a candidate I would vote for. Second is that I still think John Edwards (the Senator, not the fraudulent psychic without the "s" on his last name) has potential. The rest of the candidates could fall into a hole tomorrow and I wouldn't miss them.
I also think it's wrong of some people to link all of the candidates together. Lieberman and Edwards aren't accusing Bush of having prior knowledge of 9/11; that's the Dean and nutjob elements. Lieberman and Edwards aren't using hideous nazi analogies. They use the rhetoric of the Democratic party, just as the Bush people use the rhetoric of the Republican party. Class warfare is an old method, tried-and-true, and frankly, has a basis in truth.
People still think I am center-right on political issues. I am not. I am a hawk on two issues: Israel and the War on Terror. I believe we are in a war against Islamic fascists who want to put an Islamic totalitarian government in every nation in the world. But I don't believe W. is the only man who can wage that war, nor do I believe that others can't wage it as well, or better than he. His long familial ties to the Saudis, for instance, bother me immensely.
On social issues: I have always been for progressive taxation. I am pro-choice. I am a staunch feminist. I believe in gay rights, including marriage rights. I believe that the state needs to regulate certain industries, because I don't trust the captains of industry. In nearly every instance, those "captains" have proven their greed and disregard for safety and the public well-being. (Do I need to start naming the modern robber barons? Enron, Healthsouth, the large Wall Street firms and their insider traders... the list could go on a long time.
I am for affirmative action laws. We still need them. We're not there yet, much as some would like to believe. I don't believe that the white male is being discriminated against. I'm for the death penalty in certain situations. I'm against oppressive sentencing laws and more for judicial discretion. I believe minorities are unevenly represented in prison, and I know there is a condition called "driving while black." I have seen it in New Jersey, and I've seen it in Virginia. No, it isn't time yet to throw away our affirmative action laws.
I'm withholding my judgement, and my vote, until November second. Bush hasn't won this former liberal's vote yet. And it's time to start paying more attention to Joe and John. permalink
Actually, I could call this a dumbass announcement, but that would qualify me as part of the stupid people mentioned in this article, and the last thing I want to admit in public is how stupid I am.
HoweverI'm pretty sure I really messed up my spam filters and deleted a whole bunch of real email in the last few days or weeks. If you've sent me mail and not gotten a response (that is, if the mail required a response, and I normally respond to you), then that's why. If you've sent me mail and not gotten a response but I've never yet replied to you, well, I probably ignored you again.
I know, I know, it's a tough pick. But you're all (mostly) smart enough to figure out in which category your letter falls. permalink
If you've read the post below, then you know that Tom Paine recently flew Air Emirates, the airline of the United Arab Emirates, and was refused a kosher meal after having specifically requested and gotten one confirmed. The airline attendants said, among other things, they didn't serve "Jewish food" and they didn't expect Jews to fly an Arab airline.
His report has been linked to by several weblogs, including Damian Penny and Tim Blair. Most of the weblogs had a fair number of comments. And there's a recurring, low-level anti-Semitic theme in those comments. It goes like this: "Yeah, well, maybe it was bigoted of Air Emirates, but El Al doesn't serve halal meals, either."
The argument, of course, is another example of blaming the victim. One especially stupid argument invokes the "slippery slope" premise, that is, you will ultimately have to accomodate people who want Godiva chocolates for their meals. Two words for that argument: Religious requirements. Air Emirates will prepare meals that satisfy the strictly-vegetarian Jains of India, yet they refused to supply a kosher meal to a Jew.
It's amazing how so many commenters immediately turned the point around to whether or not El Al offers halal meals. The point isn't the fictional Israeli treatment of Arab airline passengers. That, frankly, has nothing to do with Tom flying Air Emirates. All that does is feed into the "It's all the fault of the Jews" mentality. And it's also untrue.
But let's think about it for a moment: If El Al refuses to supply halal meals, does that somehow lessen Air Emirates' discrimination against Jews?
I think not.
Tom was discriminated against because he is Jewish, by employees of the main airline of the United Arab Emirates. (That's the Arab nation that used to host the Zayed Centre, a bastion of anti-Semitic speeches given by lunatics and neo-Nazis like David Duke, that was forced to close due to external pressure.)
Those of you trying to pin this one as a tit-for-tat because you think El Al discriminates against Arab dietary restrictions (one more time, they do not) are simply showing your bigotry.
Murray Hill summarized perfectly the point of view of the comments I'm talking about in a recent email:
It's not just you, Murray. It's not just you. permalink
Yes, all the elements of that title actually do have a common denominator. Give me a chance, I'll get to it.
It is raining here in Richmond, and it's a lovely 64°F (looks like about 18 or 19°C according to this conversion chart, and yes, I'm too lazy to do the math, so sue me). So the patio door has been open since I got up this morning, and Tig is able to go in and out as he pleases. He pleases to go in and out a lot. We have a new routine for rainy days: I have a dishtowel near the door that I use to dry him off. He likes it because I am basically petting him with a towel in my hand, except for the picking up his paws and drying them part. He actually meows until I towel him dry, now. And the benefit I've discovered is that rainwater makes his coat soft and fluffy and clean-feeling. Why, it's just like one of those old commercials about a shampoo that makes your hair feel like you washed it in a barrel of rainwater.
The mouse was in a dream. Damned cats kept missing it, so I grabbed it with a towel, and it bit and scratched me until I threw it out the fourth-floor window of the building where my apartment was (huh?). It hurt its front leg and limped away, glaring at me, while I had glimpses of Willard running through my head. I had no idea that mice could glare so evilly.
And the nuclear explosion came in one of my last dreams. I'm a child of the seventies, but when I was in grammar school, we had nuclear attack drills. We filed silently and quickly to the "nuclear shelter," (generally the school gym), identified by the familiar symbol on the left, perfectly sure that we'd be safe if The Bomb went off (we always capitalized it when thinking or talking about The Bomb). For many, many years, I'd have recurring nuclear nightmares. There would be some kind of war or disagreement, and boom! would go The Bomb. The dreams went away after the fall of the Berlin Wall. They came back after 9/11. I had one again last night. This morning, actually, as I was pretty tired from yesterday's activities and decided an extra couple of hours' sleep were in order. Something to do with Russia, and something to do with the neutron bomb, as the building in which I was did not disintegrate though a bomb exploded all around us.
And not only that, I was snoring all morning. I think I shouldn't have bothered going back to bed. Probably would have been more restful to stay awake. permalink
Foreigners from all but 27 countries have to have visas or get fingerprinted to get into America. (What countries bordering the United States are absent from that list? Hint: They're called Mexico and Canada. That's what Al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia have done to our borders.)
The Likud Central Committee meeting is underway, replete with proposals that will be great grist for the anti-Semitism (sorry, anti-Zionism) mill of news agencies like Reuters and the LA Times:
I'm not a hundred percent up on Israeli politics, but I do believe that this is their version of, say, the Republican National Convention that will take place in New York this summer. My predictions: Reuters takes the proposals mentioned above and refers to them as if the proposals have already been approved and undertaken. I'm guessing they'll ignore facts like these:
But make no mistake: This is an extremely important convention. Its outcome will have an important effect on the Middle East peace process. As for the palestinian side of the peace process:
And last, but not least, Israel's partners in peace:
I'm waiting for the howls of outrage from the EU and the State Department, and the cries to not let violence derail the peace talks. Mind you, I'm not going to hold my breath. permalink
Time and again, we read about palestinians throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers and civilians. Time and again, we read about the IDF firing shots, wounding, and killing these stone-throwers. Time and again, we read about the international outrage for the IDF daring to use deadly force against "stone-throwers," with the clear subtext that they were simply children throwing rocks.
Here's a picture from January 2nd of some of these stone-throwers, and the stones they threw, from the AP:
Hold your mouse over the photo to read the caption. As I've said before, those stones could kill a man. That's why the IDF shoots. Those are deadly objects, thrown with deadly force. But you never see these photos in Reuters. You never will. It would force them to admit that the pals aren't the innocent waifs they make them out to be. Hat tip to Barry R. permalink
Tom Paine of Silent Running booked a flight on Air Emirates, the airline of the United Arab Emirates. He asked for a kosher meal. His travel agent said no problem. When he got on the plane and asked for his meal, he was told they didn't serve "Jewish meals." They do, however, serve meals for everyone else.
So he wrote two letters: One to his travel agent, and another to AE. No response from the airline yet. A nice letter back from the agent. Go over there and read it.
But be prepared to get pretty sick at the comments. The Jew-haters have arrived, and flung their steaming piles of crap in the air, attacking Israel because, well, of course, since Tom is Jewish, he must also be responsible for whether or not El Al serves halal meals. Asshats.
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.