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Those lazy hazy crazy days of—no monitor

This laptop monitor is dying even faster than before. I'm going to need to get to Sarah's today or tomorrow, it seems, or be computerless until Monday.

It's faded three times since I started typing this post. I'm sure it will be four or more before I finish it. | |



Ten minutes to post time

Christians are leaving Israel, mostly from the palestinian parts of the territories. More of that famous Muslim tolerance for other religions, I suppose.

Increasing Christian emigration from the Holy Land in general and Bethlehem in particular is troubling to the Vatican, Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews said in Jerusalem on Thursday.

Kasper was speaking to reporters in the course of a visit with President Moshe Katsav to whom he conveyed the greetings of Pope John Paul II, saying: "Jewish-Christian relations are very close to his heart."

[...] On the issue of Christian emigration from Bethlehem and the gradual Muslim takeover, Kasper acknowledged that the Church is worried, particularly because Christians have lived in the Holy Land throughout the centuries and have made important contributions to cultural developments. Christians have also come on pilgrimage for centuries he noted, stating: "We don't want dead stones; we want living communities."

Even if Bethlehem's Christian community continues to diminish he said, the Church is determined to remain.

Yeah, we'll see. The pals really respect the Church. Just ask the ones who took over the Church of the Nativity and held the priests hostage.

Israel has denied that it's negotiating with the PA over Gaza. Toldja.

And we're done. | |



Loose wires

Does anyone know if I can take the monitor off a Sony PCG-F270, take it apart, and fix the goddamned loose thingamajig that keeps causing my screen to lose its backlight?

Because if I can't, I'm going to be computerless very soon. Can't afford a new one right now, and I think it would be stupid to buy a monitor for my laptop when I need a whole new computer instead. Keyboard's got keys that don't work (including the delete key; rebooting's a bitch), the screen has that loose wire or whatever in it, and, well, it's like, six years old. Still running on Windows 98. Not even Second Edition. Afraid to load anything else for fear it will break this dinosaur.

Anyway, right now the screen is behaving. But it's random. I've found various pressure points in the bottom of the monitor that make the screen light go back on when it flashes off, which is why I think something's loose in there.

There's no way I'm going to be able to get through the Blogathon with this computer. Better cross your fingers that I can scrape together enough cash to buy a new one by July, or I won't be able to post my obligatory 49 posts. | |

Random thoughts

You know those countries where it's normal to have an afternoon nap? What do you do if you're not tired?

There's a huge thunderstorm front heading this way. The weather forecaster just said it should arrive in two or three hours. It's coming up Route 64, he said. What kind of car you figure it's using?

Apparently, a large number of blog readers are ten-year-olds. For the past two years, every time I've made a declarative statement in religious school, or set a new rule, hands went up immediately. "What happens if you do X?" "What about Y?" "How about Z?"

Go read the comments thread on this post. Ten-year-olds.

Okay, fine, so none of the dead people in Salem are really dead. So how is Reilly going to explain the ghosts, huh? Huh? And by the way: Eff you for the mind-trick, Reilly.

Goddammit. I bought a small cast iron table to put my small gas hibachi on so I don't have to squat down to where the old milk crate was when I want to barbecue. And there's a leak near where the propane tank is attached to the hibachi. I will not be grilling my steak outdoors tonight. And by the way, it appears the thunderstorms have arrived an hour early. I guess I-64 wasn't too congested.

Be patient, Rahel. Kitty pictures are coming. I've been busy.

I'm still having email problems. Ilyka, if you sent me anything at all in the last few days, I didn't get it. If you didn't, ahem. Ahem!

Gilmore Girls season finale: Okay, Amy. We know you like Kirk. But can you say, "Overdoing it?" I knew you could. And was that out of character for Rory or what? I'm not buying it.

On the other hand, "What are you doing? "Will you just stand still?"

Luke and Lorelei. It's only been four years in the making!

Okay. Can't grill the steak, and I just burned the oil for the fries. I believe my subconscious is trying to tell me something. Sorry, the diet's going to have to wait a few more days. I want french fries. | |

Israel news roundup

The PA says Sharon is going to negotiate with them over the Gaza withdrawal. I'm a bit doubtful, myself.

Let's see. The PA said "hundreds" of homes were destroyed in Gaza. The IDF said dozens. UNRWA says: 45. I think the IDF wins this one.

But I thought Arafat has no control over terror attacks.

Israel is wiling to allow Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat freedom of movement in exchange for a promise to put a stop to terror attacks in the Gaza Strip, the London-based Dar al-Hayat newspaper reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, Israel passed this message to Arafat through Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Shin Bat chief Meir Dagan on Monday, prior to his meetings in Ramallah.

Bad move, Arik. Very bad move. Only allow him to travel in Israel and the territories, or you're going to be seeing Arafat address the EU, the UN, and every other acronym group he can find.

Palestinian war crimes: They're using fake ambulances to smuggle terrorists and weapons from the West Bank into Israel. Don't hold your breath waiting for the UN condemnation.

I don't buy this at all. Dahlan is just another palestinian spokesliar, as far as I'm concerned. Prove it, then I'll believe it.

Muhammad Dahlan, the former PA security minister, said in an interview with the pan-Arab satellite television channel al-Arabia that he has conducted negotiations with senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders in the Gaza Strip, with the consent of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, to discuss the role of PA security forces following a possible Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, Israel Radio reported Tuesday.

Dahlan described the negotiations as fruitful and constructive, and said that if Hamas and Islamic Jihad were to continue carrying out attacks following an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, then a serious rift is likely to develop between them and the Palestinian Authority.

He noted that the security situation in Jenin and Rafah deteriorated when the PA ceased to play the security role assigned to it in those cities, thus leaving "local leaders" to reign in and impose their agenda on the Palestinian people, which explains the dire economic and security situation in the territories.

Gee. You think Arafat letting all those terrorists out of prison had anything to do with it?

I'm thinking we're going to see more of these incidents once Gaza has no more Israeli settements. A palestinian civil war. Y'know, the world would blame Israel for it. | |



Jury duty, Richmond style

I was notified of jury duty about two months ago. The way it works in Richmond is you have to call after 4:30 p.m. of a certain day of the week you are assigned. I asked if my assigned day could be Wednesday, figuring that would nearly guarantee no interruption of my teaching religious school on Tuesdays. So for the past four Tuesdays, I've been calling a message machine to hear whether or not I have to go downtown and play juror the next day. On my jury duty summons, I have a number after I name—it's even delineated with a number sign, just in case I'm not sure that four digits after my name are my jury pool number—and I figured that Richmond would do what Newark does, and tell all jurors between a certain number range to report the next morning.


The woman on the recording read off the names. It took more than three and a half minutes to get to the end of the message (we are instructed, quite severely, to listen to the entire message, and not hang up until we hear the words "end of message"). Name after name, in varying groups, alphabetical order several times over. I wound up calling back before I wrote this post, because I was afraid I might have missed my name. A lot of people mispronounce it, believe it or not. However, they did not mispronounce my name, as far as I can tell. If I get a nasty letter from the city of Richmond in a few weeks, I'll know I was wrong.

But in the meantime... they effing read all the names instead of announcing a number range. How stupid is that? And why are they doing it? And come to think of it, why wasn't the announcement available in Spanish? Or would they simply send the Latinos a different number in their letter?

Mysteries. I may actually get up enough interest in this to look up the answers to my questions.

Of course, if I wait a week, I can probably ask them in person. I have one week left on call for jury duty. I think they're gonna snag me next time. | |

The famous Muslim tolerance for other religions: Tear down that synagogue

The Muslims of Tajikstan are demolishing the capital city's only synagogue—to make room for a presidential palace.

Municipal officials in Dushanbe, capital of the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan, have ordered the local Jewish community to vacate the city's only remaining synagogue by July to clear the site for construction of a new presidential palace, the Forum 18 news service reports.

Shamsuddin Nuriddinov, the head of Dushanbe's department for religious affairs, said that the century-old synagogue is of "no historic value" and that it would be torn down. "Unfortunately, it is impossible to leave the synagogue standing alongside the newly-built Palace of Nations, because it would spoil the entire layout of the complex," he said, referring to the planned presidential residence.

Yeah, can't have those icky Jews hanging around our president. He might catch something.

The synagogue's rabbi, Mikhail Abdurakhmanov, told the news service that under Soviet rule, the communist authorities had seized control over the synagogue in 1952, but that "by law the synagogue should belong to the Jews who built it out of their own funds around 100 years ago." He urged the authorities to refrain from demolishing the structure, noting that while they had offered the community a plot of land to build a new synagogue, this option would not be feasible.

"The authorities need to understand that the Jewish community in Tajikistan today simply does not have the money either to build a synagogue or to rent a building," the rabbi said, pointing out that only 500 Jews remain in the entire country.

The authorities understand that clearly, Rabbi. What you do not understand is that they don't care. They want you gone. But if you leave and say, go to Israel, you're going to be called a land-thief, a colonist, and an occupier.

Someone please explain something to me: If every nation in the world ultimately kicks out all of its Jews, does Israel then become a legitimate country?

Okay, yes, that was a rhetorical question. I don't ever expect the world to give us a break. They haven't yet, and it's been a few thousand years. | |

Fluffy bunnies, popular culture, kids, cats, kids

Actually, it's just going to be a post about things that are not politics. Sorry, no bunnies, though I probably will mention the Angel series finale, since Treacher didn't include some of my favorite moments from the show ("Wesley's dead. I'm feeling grief for him. I can't seem to control it. I wish to do more violence.") ((There was also Adam Baldwin's chest, and you can tell the difference between Jim and me when I say, um, I never noticed Mercedes McNab was in her underwear.)) (((Time to get out of those parenthetical statements. Wow, I haven't done this in ages, and whee, isn't this fun?)))


Sunday was my last day teaching religious school. I did no teaching at all that day, what with there being an hour of class, two students missing (out of five; remember, I have a small class), and, well, we finished all our mastery skills a week earlier, and I'd already promised them no work at all the last day. But the awards ceremony was pleasant. I liked watching my kids not fight over where to donate their tzedaka, and to agree to split it into thirds so that everyone got at least one of their favorite charities. When I decided at the last moment to let all three of them go up and announce their charities, with no coaching at all, they took turns reading out the names. Yay, Daled Class!

Tigger is trying to feed the ants. Outside. I think I may have to stop letting him go out right after he eats, because then he eats grass, and then he throws it up, along with the rest of the contents of his stomach, and then I have to clean the patio because I know what a group of ants is going to do... some of them are going to wind up inside my house, and then I'm going to have to have yet another battle, and I don't want that.

I handed in my last-ever synagogue newsletter today. I am done editing it. Done. Finished. No more. Kaput. Free.

Yes, it was becoming a burden. Why do you ask?

Today's the day I'm taking my students to the climbing gym for our end of the year party. It is also entirely likely that Ben will get his ride home in the Jeep, for which he saved up one hundred points. The story behind that: I give out prizes when a child receives a total forty points. I started the kids out with a 25-point prize, which each of them won fairly quickly, and which got them very interested in the point system. Points were earned for perfect attendance (when the whole class was there, they earned an attendance point), doing extra credit, doing well in class, helping other students, handing out and collecting books and supplies, and for overall good student behavior. There's a closeout/overstock store near me where you get phenomenal deals, so I've been getting prizes for next to nothing (three and a half cents for Shrek 2 plastic cups; I bought twenty and gave the kids extras) to two or three dollars. Last year, I offered a ride in the Jeep (top down, minimum 30 minutes' duration, and at least one highway thrown in) and wasn't taken up on it. This year, Ben W. decided he was going to save up 80 points and get a ride in the Jeep. But being a fourth grader, he had another question:

"What happens if you get 100 points?" he asked.

"For 100 points," I said, "I'll drive you home."

Well. That's a throwaway line for you and me. For a ten-year-old boy, there is no such thing as a throwaway line. So I told him if he got 100 points by year's end, I'd drive him home from school. I couldn't do it on Sunday, but I think he's going to get his ride home this afternoon. Failing that, I told him I'll pick him up from public school and make all his classmates green with envy.

I have to remember to wash the car. | |



A No-Israel-bashing Zone

Over the weekend, someone who calls himself "The Exile" put up some pro-palestinian comments in this post. I found them to be rather offensive, as they began with, "I can't believe someone of your intelligence level can't tell the difference...."

That, for the uninitiated, is one of the most common ways a bad-faith debater calls someone stupid without seeming to call them stupid. Most people of my intelligence level have figured out that it's an insult. And one thing I won't stand for is flamewars in my comments section, particularly when the insults are directed at me. So I deleted the comment, and my pal Exile got upset and put up a few more comments until I banned him. Now he's emailing me (I knew that was coming), trying to explain why I should allow him to post, and calling me more non-insulting insults (he's smarter and a better writer than me, nyah, nyah, and oh, yeah, I'm insecure, too). Yeah, that'll work. I'll just change my mind right now, let him post in my comments, and not only that, link to his blog!

Or not.

But here's the thing that struck me while I was thinking over the real points he brought up about debating subjects on my weblog. To be completely serious for a moment, I know damned well how sensitive I am about Israel. I started wondering if perhaps I was being too sensitive. Perhaps, I thought, I should just let people like The Exile have their say (preferably without insults), and get a debate about Israel going in my comments thread. And the more I thought about that, the more I realized: No. Not. Gonna. Happen. Not here. And I don't really care who calls me what sorts of names over it.

This weblog is a No Israel-bashing Zone. I simply won't have it here. I read negative articles about Israel in all the world's media. I see negative news reports on Israel on nearly every television channel. I hear Israel-bashing news on radio stations. I read Israel-bashing articles all over the web. And I have seen comment thread after comment thread devolve from a discussion on Israel or anti-Semitism into neo-Nazis throwing around the same tired anti-Semitic and anti-Israel remarks. So, no. I won't have it here.

This is my weblog. This is where I get to say my piece, and where my readers, now that I have comments enabled, get to put in their two cents. The overwhelming majority of my readers are pro-Israel. The ones who are not have pretty much kept their silence, probably for the same reason I keep my silence on vehemently anti-Israel websites: Nobody's really going to listen to me there, and nobody's going to change their minds because of something I write in the comments.

People may call me biased. People may call me unfair. People may call me close-minded. I don't really give a damn. I turn off the TV in anger more times than I can count. I fisk Israel-bashing articles here all the time. But I won't put on my own weblog the same lame arguments, the same bullshit statistics, the same lies, and the same sugar-coated, slightly disguised anti-Semitism that I see in so many so-called "balanced" news media.

You don't agree with me? Fine. You want to write about it? No problem. But do it on your own dime. And don't expect me to read it, or respond. Been there, done that, don't want the t-shirt.

This blog is a No Israel-Bashing Zone. And it's going to stay that way. | |

The failure of Israeli PR

Ha'aretz has an analysis of how Israel is losing the publicity war. (They've been losing it for decades.) The article goes into detail only over recent events in Rafah, but makes an interesting point:

Yet another factor is the widely held suspicion that no matter what, the actions of Israelis will be judged more harshly than those taken by the forces of other nations.

If Israelis suspected a certain double standard in media coverage if the Tel Sultan march, evidence of a sort was not long in coming.

As world news attention remained riveted on the Rafah march, many newspapers relegated to below-the-fold or back pages an American air strike near Iraq's border with Syria, an incident that took place just hours after the Tel Sultan deaths.

Israeli spokesmen could only marvel at the muted reaction to the U.S. strike, which left more than 40 dead. Witnesses on the ground had said the victims were hit while sleeping after a wedding. U.S. forces said the rude structures hit were a safe house for foreign fighters.

In a statement that one Israeli commentator said would have provoked UN Security debate had it been made by the IDF, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said Saturday:

"There may have been some kind of celebration. Bad people have celebrations, too."

Yeah. As of 1:45 p.m. today, there are 456 news articles scanned by Google News regarding the American bombing of the Iraqi wedding ceremony. You get nearly 10,000 results when you search on "Rafah" in Google News, and of course, on the front page, there are more than 1,000 stories on Israel.

What anti-Israeli bias? | |



Today's moment of kitty zen

Time? What's that?

Okay. So here's the latest picture of Tig. I've been trying to get a shot of him lying in this position for some time, because it never fails to crack me up when he lies like this. Notice how his back legs are sticking out and flattening him down. It's Tig Position.

Tig takes a break

| |


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.