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Home is where the cats are

I am home. I am tired. I am especially tired of rain.

The cats are quite happy to see me. Tig was so happy he left me a few presents lying around on the floor where I almost stepped in them.

I have to get up in less than eight hours, so this is all you get. | |



Almost home

Heading to central Jersey to visit my friend Kim, where, among other things, I am going to deliver a three-foot-high cardboard Bart Simpson standup for her husband, who is a huge Simpsons fan. It's great, because Kim's an early bird, and Bob and I watch Simpsons episodes after she falls asleep. And Futurama episodes. And movies, if we so desire. Then again, I get up earlier than Bob, so Kim and I do the girl-talk thing in the morning while Bob continues to snooze. It's always a nice visit. And she lives an hour closer to Richmond, so my trip home tomorrow will be that much easier.

I seem to have gotten onto a neo-Nazi mailing list. I do believe it's time to unleash my Inner Bitch again. And repeat the mantra: Anti-Semites of the world, just die already.

However, before I let her out, I can warm up a little.

Neo-Nazis have brought nothing to the world but asshats like David Duke, who is so stupid he couldn't even commit tax fraud without going to prison for it. (As Lair Simon would say, shoulda used a Jewish accountant.)

Jews have given the world the cure for polio, the Relativity Theory, drip-irrigation technology to make the desert bloom, and much, much, more.

To the person sending me the hate mail: Sucks to be you, doesn't it?


I am feeling much, much better these last few days. I'm going to write more about that later. But boy, it feels good to feel good. | |



On Second Thought

Well, it's over already in Israel. My rabbi was explaining to me that diaspora Jews don't have to celebrate two-day holidays anymore. It's just tradition. So since Rosh Hashana is over in Israel, I'm posting tonight. Because I'm going through withdrawal. (Update: As I said in the comments, my rabbi isn't wrong. I am. I obviously misremembered what he said. Or was thinking of Passover.)

I do believe my ennui is disappearing.

Where's the corned beeef? Got my hair cut today. Went to my chiropractor. Picked up some favorite goodies from the Shop-Rite, but there were a couple of places I couldn't go. No kosher Chinese, alas. And no way to pick up corned beef on the way home, unless maybe I drive out to Houston Street and pick something up from Katz's. By the way, here in the NY area, we pronounce it "How-ston."

I have no idea why.

Mystery Guest Blogger attacked by Ivan. Well, MGB was supposed to post, but he didn't. Of course, it's possible he just decided to blow off posting, and wasn't attacked by Ivan, even though he's in Ivan's path (but probably not going to get much more than drenching rains and high winds). Or maybe he's just getting fat and lazy since he's become a person of leisure. I wouldn't know. I haven't seen him in weeks. Might have to put up a Missing poster.

Reasons to be cheerful: Umm... uhh... This doesn't usually happen at family gatherings. I am unusually cheerful tonight, after a family dinner, which went the way all my family dinners go, which is to say, not exactly peacefully. Not really bad, just the usual crap. I have no idea why I am so cheerful. Perhaps it's the haircut. Or perhaps it's the Shop-Rite Creme Wafers waiting for me in the fridge.

That must be it. Chocolate-covered sugar wafers. Yum.

You can keep the traffic, thanks. So I ran some errands today, because my mother's synagogue is Reform, spelled "L-I-T-E," after the fashion of the times, and their service was only two hours long. And I noticed that there was nothing but traffic. Everywhere. On a day when most schools are closed, and some ten percent of the population is home and in synagogue. There was traffic on 80, on 24, on 78, and through town.

There are too many people in New Jersey. I should move.

Oh, that's right, I did.

MGB is not dead yet. I'm on the phone with MGB. Have informed him of what I'm writing. I think there's going to be a blogwar within my own blog here. | |



I should be vaccuuming

I got tired of "On Second Thought" as the title for these posts. I'm heading home for the holidays, or at least, to NJ. So I should be vaccuuming, and yet, I'm posting.

Cross your fingers that I a) get out of town on time and b) don't hit any real traffic. Then there's c) don't get into an accident. Or d) don't get snagged by a cop. Which is not to say I intend to do more than the legal speed limit. Oh, no. Not me.

Really funny Jewish joke from real life. My congregation's social hall is undergoing renovations, and frankly, if I really had put money on whether or not the new social hall would be done by Rosh HaShana, I'd have won. Before class today, I walked through the work area to get to the education office. I mentioned to one of the workers that I was going to lose my five bucks because it looked like they were going to be done on time (at least to the point where we could hold services). He then asked me if it would be okay for them to work tomorrow. I told him I had no authority, but I would be willing to be they could work until the afternoon. He and his buddy assured me they'd be done before we needed the hall, and that they wouldn't want to stick around where they weren't wanted. I said they'd be welcome to stay for services, but that they'd be a bit bored, as services are mostly in Hebrew. I had a Hebrew reader with me, and showed them what it looked like. I opened it back-to-front, because Hebrew is written from right to left and our page one is the last page in an English book.

"That's what took so long," one of them said. "We were reading the plans backwards!"

I could not stop laughing.

It is known, that cats eat elephants! Michele is back. Yes, really. There's a line in Harpo Marx's autobiography where one of his friends (George Burns?), upon being told that Harpos is un-retiring for the third or fourth time, says, "Keep this up and you'll have retired more times than Sarah Bernhardt."

I have no idea what that means, actually. But then, I have no idea what the subhead for this section means, either. But I know it makes Michele laugh.

In flew the flu. Well, that sucked. I was fine yesterday morning, then yesterday afternoon, I got knocked out by the worst sinus headache I've ever had, and a stomach that felt like a washing machine. Mostly better now, which is good, as I'm driving 375 miles tomorrow. Perhaps Mystery Guest Blogger would like to make an appearance over the holiday for me.

Screenshots tk. I have come up with the grandmother of all greeting cards. It occurred to me yesterday. I'm going to try to get to it tonight, and get some screenshots for you. I suspect a real moneymaker in this one. If I can't get to it tonight, bug me until I put it up.

Great readers, yes, but they're vewy, vewy quiet. Ilyka says that the fact that I didn't get trolls in the construction workers post indicates that I have great readers. While I acknowledge that I do have great readers, I must point out that they have been nearly silent for weeks now. If I didn't see the site stats every day, I'd wonder if anyone was reading this place.

Cats are silly. Gracie has a water beard. When she drinks from her bowl, she gets drops of water all over her chin. It's quite amusing. Someday, I'm going to have to get a picture of it.

L'shana Tovah. Just in case I don't get a chance to say it tomorrow (highly likely), a happy, healthy, and sweet New Year to my coreligionists. | |

Letters, we get letters

I've been remiss in publishing reader mail. Let me fix that. First, the always-insightful Alex Bensky:

Shooting the children in Russia reminds me, Meryl, of what a trusting and innocent chap I was in my twenties.

I was living in Israel in the mid-seventies, specifically in May of 1974, when Palestinian terrorists seized a school in Ma'alot holding schoolchildren on an outing. Negotiations failed, and along with other horrified people I sat in the kibbutz tv lounge watching the Golani Brigade dash for the school.

Something was amiss and it took me a moment to figure out what it was. You could hear gunfire and for a moment is source was unclear; the soldiers weren't firing lest they hit the children and the firing wasn't hitting soldiers or kicking up dirt.

Then I realized it: as the Israeli soldiers were running for the building the Palestinians, instead of shooting at the soldiers, were spraying the children with fire. They were more concerned with shooting Israeli children than fighting the Israeli army.

But that night I found a weird sort of silver lining. "They deliberately targeted children," I told myself. "Even the Japanese, the previous symbols of fanaticism, never did that. At least the world will now realize what faces Israel and cut it a bit of slack."

As I say, I was young and naive.

Next, an extremely intellectual letter from Monique M., representing a different view (all errors are hers):

I find you comments about Palestine, and arabs to be ignorant and disguisting.

Perhaps, you should be forced to live in an area, where you are restricted by curfews, and houseraids, and lack of food, water and supplies.

Yes, perhaps, that would suit the type of person that you are-a racist.

Indeed. For no reason whatsoever, the Israelis have put curfews and are raiding houses and forbidding palestinians to work in Israel. No reason. Nope. Can't think of one.

Oh, wait, yes I can.

Suicide bomber injures 3 IDF soldiers in West Bank blast
A suicide bomber blew himself up near an armored IDF jeep early Tuesday outside the West Bank city of Qalqilyah, wounding three Israel Defense Forces soldiers, one seriously, rescue workers said.

Two Palestinians were also hurt in the attack, Israel Radio reported.

The incident occurred at an agricultural crossing near the entrance to the Qalqilyah-area village of Hableh. The crossing was closed by IDF forces.


| |



Strengthen the Good

Alan has found another micro-charity, and I think it's a great cause. It's a fund created by a 9/11 widow to help autistic children. Please check out the link and donate, even if it's only a dollar. There's a Paypal link on Strengthen the Good, and more information on the page. | |

The construction workers of the Internet

Yesterday at work, a teenaged girl said to her friend, "You know what's really creepy? The things they shout at you when you walk past a construction site." This girl is an amazing young woman. She's smart, athletic, funny, pretty, and fun to be around. She's one of the gym's regulars, and is an excellent rock climber who is probably in better shape than most of the construction workers who shout epithets at her. And yet, every time she passes a construction site, she has to hear crude, disgusting comments from pigs disguised as men.

Her story reminded me of the many, many stories I have about the crudeness of construction workers. I don't know any woman who hasn't had the experience of having to listen to shouted obscenities, crude come-ons, and lewd comments on various body parts while passing a construction site. It was the the status quo in my teens and twenties. The fact that it is still the status quo, decades after I experienced it for the first time, is disgusting.

When I was in college, and an editor on the newspaper, the school built an annex to the Student Center. Every day, thousands of students had to walk past a construction site in order to get to our cafeteria, bookstore, lounge, gameroom, and student activity offices. And we female students started hearing the usual trash-talking from the construction workers.

That first week, the female news editor came into the office red-faced with fury, demanding that we do something about being harassed on a daily basis. So we did. First, we called the construction company managers, who said, of course, that their little angels would never do such a thing. Then they said they'd talk to them and if anyone was being rude, they'd make them stop. Of course, nothing happened. Until we ran a front-page article about co-eds being sexually harassed on their way into the Student Center. We also got the student government to complain to the administration. The end result was that management came down on the workers, who learned how to shut their mouths, do their jobs without harassing women passersby, and stopped being disgusting pigs. At least, to us.

You see, it doesn't have to be the status quo. But you shouldn't have to fight to be unmolested in your daily routine, either.

What made me think of this is the link to a video known as "psycho girl." Apparently, some teenaged girl trying to impress a boy she had a crush on made a video of herself masturbating, and the boy put the video up on a file-sharing network. Kevin Aylward of Wizbang included this video in his "10 Spot" linkfest. I found it via Ilyka Damen, who says,

Tell me again, O Conservatives, how it's actually gay marriage that's going to lead to more pedophilia. Tell me again how none of the folks in your camp ever has anything to do with the mainstreaming of this stuff.

In the comments, Kevin's defense is a multi-part answer:

I don't want to rain on your parade with facts, but A) I didn't link directly to the video, B) Most if not all of the links (according to a later post) do not work, C) I'm pretty certain the link had already appeared on FARK, D) The article doesn't prove it's the girl in question (and not a p0rn star).

A) He linked to a post that linked the video. B) And yet, he linked to it, thinking the links would work. C) The "everyone else is doing it" defense. D) The "you have to prove it's wrong" defense. Y'know, Kevin, Dan Rather's "prove that these aren't forgeries" defense is being rightfully ridiculed. Instead of circling the wagons, wouldn't you rather err on the side of caution and remove any link to what may be child pr0n?

For my readers, the article in D) is this one, which a commenter over on Kevin's linked to. It's worth reading in full, but here is the pertinent part:

For instance, last spring, when an eighth-grade girl at Horace Mann School in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, sent a digital video of herself masturbating to a male classmate on whom she had a crush, it quickly appeared on a file-sharing network that teenagers use to trade music. Hundreds of New York private school students saw the video, in which the girl's face was clearly visible, and it was available to a worldwide audience of millions.

Students would go online at school while the girl was there and watch it, said one student from another school, who declined to be named. Horace Mann officials did not reply to requests for comment this week, but the student newspaper reported at the time that the school had set up out-of-school counseling for the students directly involved and held assemblies to discuss issues of sexuality and communication.

I haven't seen the video. Ilyka did, and here's her response to Kevin in her comments:

Oh, I love it: The "I didn't link to it directly" defense.

You know, I'm not real happy to report that I watched the fucking thing, but I did (when something's called "Psycho Girl," I'm thinking she stabs a voodoo doll of the guy or something that might be remotely humorous like that).

That's no porn star. That's a girl who's barely over the squeaky-voicedness of childhood. I know it, you know it, anyone watching one minute of it would know it.

[...] Oh, and I'm pleased to learn we should all be taking moral direction from FARK. Good luck with that.

Over at Kevin's place, meantime, the link now goes to a Google search for "pyscho girl." How's about showing a bit more responsibility than that, Kevin, and removing the link entirely?

Because right now, I'm not seeing very much difference between your supporting this kind of video, and my walking past a construction site and being harassed by the workers. The difference, of course, is that the girl being harassed has no chance whatsoever of defending herself. And that her harassment may never end, thanks to the endless capacity of the Internet to support something like this.

If that video is of a 14-year-old girl, you are not only breaking the law. You are adding to her pain. That's a pretty crappy thing to do. | |

Monday news roundup

Yes, but we still need proof. Yasser Arafat has once again been linked to terrorism (Hebrew link). And once again, the world will insist the proof is bogus. Here's a brief translation

On June 1, 2001, Said Hassan Houtari, a Hamas suicide bomber, attacked the Dolphinariuim discotheque in Tel Aviv, killing 21 Israelis, most of them teenagers, and wounding 83.

It has now been disclosed that the Palestinian Authority transferred $2,000 to Houtari's father, who resides in Jordan, on June 18 of that year. German television reported that Arafat sent the bomber's father a note praising the attack by his son.

No safe haven for terror. Israel has widened its criteria for intercepting terror before the terrorists manage to kill Israelis. Expect international denunciation.

The IDF has changed the definition of "ticking bombs" and will now target Palestinian gunmen engaged in terrorist training, military sources have confirmed.

The new definition expands the criteria usually met for staging a targeted interception and indicates improvements in field intelligence.

The missile strike last week by an IAF attack helicopter against a large group of Hamas members in a Gaza Strip field was the first example of this change. Fifteen Hamas terrorists were killed and about a dozen wounded.

While the IDF does not see that strike as a classic "targeted interception" it acknowledged that the rules have been changed. A senior military source described the decision as one aimed at pre-empting Hamas attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers at all stages.

Don't forget to include Damascus in those widening definitions.

Al Qaeda: They're not dead yet. Big and bad news: They're trying to launch more major terror attacks. And oh, yeah, that tape was a signal.

Fanatics from the Islamic terror faction blamed for last week's suicide attack on the Australian embassy in Indonesia are planning to hijack an oil tanker or freighter and turn it into a floating bomb, The Telegraph has learned.

United States intelligence has passed on warnings about the plot to launch an attack in the region's busy shipping lanes to several countries, including Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. They acted after intercepting communications between activists from Jemaah Islamiah (JI), a network linked to al Qa'eda.

The terrorists have been discussing plans to seize a vessel using local pirates. The hijacked ship would be wired with explosives and then directed at other vessels, sailed towards a port or used to threaten the narrow and congested sea routes around Indonesia.

Strong indications that Islamic extremists are planning a new wave of bloody attacks against Western targets also emerged in Pakistan where detained militants revealed that the latest al Qa'eda video tape was intended to be a trigger for fresh atrocities.

Prisoners captured in recent weeks have told their interrogators that last week's taped message from Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's deputy, was a signal for al Qa'eda cells that were already on standby.

"We were told that a new tape either carrying bin Laden or his deputy's message was on its way, and that it was intended to trigger a major terror attack," a senior Pakistani intelligence official told The Telegraph. "The cadres linked to the terror network were told to carry out an attack once this video is released."

An Iraqi in Israel, and he's not Jewish! It's a Hebrew link from Yediot Arnot, but my news sources include this translation:

Last Friday, Mithal al-Alousi, a senior official in the new Iraqi government in Baghdad, boarded an El Al aircraft in Ankara and flew for the first time in his life to Israel.

Al-Alousi was invited to speak at an international conference of the Anti-Terrorism Institute in Herzliya. On Sunday he found himself to be the guest of honor at an address by the chief of staff of the Israeli army, Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon.

This came on top of something I read last week (sorry, can't remember the link) about how members of the Iraqi government want very much to establish ties with Israel, but need to wait until things calm down. That's encouraging.

Update: No, it isn't. Read this:

Iraqi National Congress Member Fired
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress has fired one of its most senior members for visiting Israel, a spokesman for the group said Monday.

During an emergency meeting, the leadership of the former exile group decided to "fire Mithal al-Alusi from the Iraqi National Conference," spokesman Haidar al-Mousawi told The Associated Press.

So. The penalty for an Iraqi visiting Israel is to convene an emergency meeting of the INC and fire him. Eff you too, Iraq.

End the occupation! [of Lebanon] The U.S. is getting firmer about Syria withdrawing its troops from Lebanon.

William J. Burns, the highest ranking U.S. official to visit Damascus in more than a year, also said Syria must take "concrete action" to cooperate with the U.S.-led war on terrorism by halting support for militant Palestinian factions based on its territory and preventing anti-U.S. Arab fighters from infiltrating into Iraq.

"We underscored our deep concern over Syrian intervention in the Lebanese political process," Burns, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for the Near East, told reporters after a two hour meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

That really wouldn't mean much to me, except it's paired with this report:

Syria bears some responsibility for the twin suicide bombings in Beersheba on August 31, US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said on Friday, although he stopped short of endorsing an Israeli retaliatory attack on Damascus.

Asked in an interview with Egypt TV if Syria "should be held accountable" for the Beersheba bombings, which killed 16 and wounded dozens, Armitage said, "Why not? Syria holds and houses Hamas. Syria is a conduit of weapons from Iran to Hizbullah. It seems to me that Syria does bear some responsibility."

But asked if that meant the US would endorse an Israeli strike on Syria, Armitage said, "That I didn't say. You asked me should they be held accountable, and I said they bore some responsibility."

It seems to me that President [Bashar] Assad should take a careful look at what his nation is doing and what his government is doing in supporting violence in the territories and decide whether this is in the long-term interest of Syria. I don't believe it is."

And finally, I end a news roundup post without complaining of hunger pangs. I do, however, have a headache. Off to the Advil supply. | |



On Second Thought

To sleep, perchcance to—bzzzt! Oh. My. God. Less than five hours sleep last night. It took me forever to admit it was 7:15, and by 7:30, I admitted it was after 7:15 and got out of bed. I hate nights when I can't sleep. Especially when they're Saturday nights, and I have to teach the first day of religious school on Sunday. Geez.

Well, it went well. I like my new class, and I think they like me a lot. That's possibly because I brought in a SpongeBob doll that I picked up at my super-secret location to demonstrate my point system to them. (They earn points for good schoolwork and good behavior, they claim prizes.) Most amusing moment: When Sam's jaw dropped as I explained that 100 points will win you a ride in my Jeep, top down, no less than thirty minutes in duration and on at least one highway. "You can close your mouth now, Sam," I said when I was finished explaining.

Actually, I know the kids like the point system, but I also try really hard to make their classes interesting. I think the most positive aspect of today, though, was that the two kids who dislike each other intensely were interacting very well. I've told my boss that my goal this year is to make those two buddies. The Magic Eight Ball says: Maybe.

GET BACK TO ME IMMEDETILY. No, that's not Puce. It's the title of an email I got. I had to open it. It's Nigerian scam mail. But wait, there's another one: "It is known, that cats eat elephants! shrilly." This one is about some you-know-what-agra clone.

Quick links. Dr. DNA has a question for Americans. Rahel had a very interesting visitor to her site. Both links brought to you by the Rarely Or Never Linked Linkfest. If you've rarely or never been linked by me, send me a URL and we'll see what we can do.

Can you say, "Damn, I'm tired?" I knew you could. I'm going to bed now. | |


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.