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Things to think about

First, there's this article on Albert Einstein and quantum theory, explained in so simple a way as to make me finally understand what quantum physics are all about. (Oh, so that's why it was called Quantum Leap.)

Then there's this picture of Tig. Caption it as you please.

Tig on his way to dreamland

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In the news

Ew, Jew cooties! The Iranian president is denying he touched a Jew during the Pope's funeral.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami strongly denied shaking hands and chatting with Israeli President Moshe Katsav at Pope John Paul II's funeral, state-run media reported Saturday.

Following the pope's funeral on Friday, Katsav said he shook hands and chatted briefly with Khatami and the leader of another archenemy of Israel, Bashar Assad of Syria. Syria on Friday confirmed the handshake between Assad and Katsav, but played down its political significance.

But after returning to Iran, Khatami denied shaking Katsav's hand.

"These allegations are false like other allegations made by Israeli media and I have not had any meeting with any one from the Zionist regime," the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Khatami as saying.

Yeah. What-EVER. Hey, did you check for the nanobots he slipped you during the handshake? You're going to get sick and die like Arafat. Unless he was using lasers from secret weapons hidden in his lapel.

Treat it the same way the palestinians treated Joseph's Tomb: Once again, Jews will be keeping Jews away from Judaism's holiest site—because Muslims will kill them if they don't.

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel's public security minister said Saturday that police will prevent hundreds of Jewish extremists from holding a rally at the most sensitive holy site in Jerusalem, as Palestinian militant groups threatened to retaliate if demonstrators entered the area.

As usual, AP whitewashes the meaning of the Temple Mount to Jews:

The compound is known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount. Sacred to both religions, it houses the Al Aqsa Mosque, from where Muslim tradition says the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven, and is built atop the ruins of the biblical Jewish temples.

I have never understood why Jewish sacred sites are always supposed to take a back seat to Muslim or Christian sacred sites. Oh, wait, never mind. Yes I do.

The world sits by while Jordan refuses to allow Jews to pray at the Western Wall, but I guarantee you UN resolutions attacking Israel if Jews try to pray on the Temple Mount. And kassam rockets, as well.

The war on spam: First battle. A spammer was sentenced to nine years in prison for violating anti-spam laws. Y'know, considering he didn't kill anyone, and that murderers spend, like, seven years behind bars, I'm thinking the penalty does not fit the crime. They should make him work at a help desk or something instead. An AOL help desk.

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Friday news briefs

And the world didn't collapse! Take a deep breath—are you sitting down? Ready? Okay. Baby Assad touched a Jew!

Israeli, Syrian, Iranian Leaders Meet
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli President Moshe Katsav shook hands and chatted briefly Friday with the leaders of Israel's archenemies, Syria and Iran, during Pope John Paul II's funeral, the president's office said.

The second handshake between Katsav and Syrian President Bashar Assad was initiated by the Syrian, Katsav's office said.

Katsav said Assad sat one row behind him during the service. When he turned to shake hands with the nearby Swiss leader, "the Syrian president also stood there. We exchanged smiles and shook hands," Katsav told the Web site of the Maariv daily.

"During the prayers, according to the Christian tradition we exchanged handshakes ... During this, it was the Syrian president who extended his hand to me and we again shook hands."

The Iranian-born Katsav also spoke briefly with Iranian President Mohammed Khatami in Farsi.

Katsav said that as he was leaving, "the Iranian president held his hand out to me. I shook his hand and greeted him in Farsi."

You think they caught that on Al-Jazeera?

Oh, that'll work: An Arabic version of "Ghandi" has been brought to the territories by Ben Kingsley and others in the hopes of turning the pals into, well, peaceful resisters. Don't hold your breath, Ben.

The release of the 1982 Academy Award winning film, dubbed into Arabic by 129 Palestinian actors, comes at a key moment in the Mideast conflict. Many Palestinians are exhausted after more than four years of violence but say they have no intention of abandoning their fight for an independent state.

"The message (of the movie) is fresh. People should and will be affected by it," said Kamran Elahian, an Iranian-American businessman who helped organize the effort.

But Palestinians who saw the film were skeptical about applying its nonviolent message to their conflict with Israel.

The new version of the film is the centerpiece of the Gandhi Project, which hopes to spread the philosophy of peace and tolerance throughout the region.

[...] "There are too many differences," said Dea Opahi, a 21-year-old man. "If we stopped resisting Israel, it would probably confiscate all the land left to us."

"It's too late. Maybe if we had started earlier," said Khadga Sharkouyi, a 75-year-old woman.

Uh-huh. Maybe if you weren't raised in a culture of hate, the film might have a chance.

The price of peace: Israeli exports to Jordan are up 55% in 2004, thus proving that peace benefits all.

Yep, they're terrorists: Italy backs the U.S. on putting Hizbullah on the EU's list of terrorist organizations. A few more countries like Italy, and maybe the EU will get a clue.

More rockets into Israel: And you don't want to know why the Guardian says they did it. Okay. Hope you have a strong stomach.

The missile landed harmlessly in a field, but the incident suggests that the militants who have been involved in recent confrontations with the Palestinian police are now prepared to vent their frustration on Israeli targets.

Yes, that's right. The terrorists are "frustrated." Why?

Earlier yesterday a senior member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Qais Abu Leila, said gunmen were clashing with the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip almost daily, and added: "There is a very real chance that this could spill over into attacks against Israel."

He was echoed by the local government minister, Ahmed Ghnaim, who is seen as a representative of the younger Fatah members, including the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

"There is a feeling of frustration and people are faced with two options, either to carry out acts of frustration against their own society or [to take action] against Israel," he said.

Lovely. Like this is a legitimate reason to lob rockets at civilians. C'mon, folks, let's give them a state! Every time they're "frustrated," they can lob a few missiles at Israel. Because it's not like they'd lob them towards Egypt. They know what would happen if they did: Hama rules.

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Rahel asks for some background on the sketch in the upper right of the page. It's a caricature I've been meaning to scan in forever. I finally remembered to bring it along with me today and got Sarah to take a few minutes and scan it in for me (thanks, Sarah!).

My fourth anniversary is coming up in two weeks. I'm changing the blog to fit the times: New name, new design, same URL, same author, though I'm thinking of inviting in a guest or three.

I don't know exactly how much this weblog will change. I do know that I said in my first post that I cannot stand stagnation. That's the history of the human race: Change or die.

I'll be adding all the bells and whistles: RSS feeds, better trackback capabilities, the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound... okay, maybe not that.

I may not wait until my official anniversary to roll out the redesign. Depends on how it goes. Wind Rider is helping me set things up. I should finally reveal that he was the Mystery Guest Blogger the week I took off last year. I would break into a verse of "Wind Beneath My Wings" right now, but he's coming over on Sunday, and you just know he'd think of something evil to get me back.

As to the Garicature: Gary Stavella, the artist, was the extremely talented editorial cartoonist who went to Montclair State around the same time I did. He started drawing caricatures of the staff, I started calling them "Garicatures," and asked him to draw mine. He obliged.

That's a Star of David around my neck even back then, though you can't see it in the smaller gif. Perhaps I'll upload a larger one. The hat is the one I called my reporter's hat, which I used to wear a lot back then. I don't wear hats much anymore. (See, Chris, I've always gotten along great with cartoonists.) I still have those glasses, because I refuse to throw them out. I no longer wear them, however. I'm sporting the modern styles now. Plastic. Ugh. Scratches.

I don't feel comfortable putting pictures of myself on my weblog. I figure the Garicature will do just fine.

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The news will be up after lunch. If you're desperate for some yourself, once again, here are a few very quick links. Get used to a nuclear Iran. Melanie Phillips says British academics are asshats. Reality TV, Iraq style. PA to U.S. and Israel: We won't shoot you on your way out of Gaza if you give us more weapons. Terrorists to PA: You can't have our weapons. Syria tells Hizbullah to lay low for a while. Hizbullah complies.

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The lost Lost episode summary

This didn't quite make it onto the ABC Lost site's episode summary. If you haven't watched last night's episode, don't read this. If you have watched last night's episode, don't read this. No, wait. Read this! Read this!

[ER, Jungle style: Jack barks orders while everyone stands around in shock. Boone lies on a stretcher, in shock.]
Jack: Sun! Get me scissors! Hurley! Don't faint! We don't have enough people to lift you up! Someone! Get me a goddamned operating room, I can't fix a collapsed lung under these conditions! And Kate, go run to the beach and get all the alcohol Sawyer has left so he can finally do a good deed for someone.
Kate: Who?
Jack: Me. Get all the alcohol he's got. Damn, I need a drink.
Boone: Did someone say collapsed lung? [gasp] [choke] [gasp] [lung collapses]
Jack: Dammit, Boone, Now I'm gonna have to stick this long, pointy thing through your lung.
Sun: Ew.
Hurley: Ew!
Kate: Ew!
Boone: Ow!
Jack: Kate! I said run! You know there are millions of men out there waiting to see you in a hot, sweaty sexy t-shirt. Plus, they like to watch you jiggle when you run. Come to think of it, I like to watch you jiggle. Run! Run!
Kate: [runs]

[Flashback: Jack and some guy, trying on tuxes. Yawn. Let's go back to the island.]

[The caverating room]
Sun: Can you sew him up?
Jack: Boone! You're not gonna die! I'm gonna save you!
Boone: But can you sew the wound? Dammit, man, answer the woman!

[The beach]
Claire: Neat boat. OW!!! When's it going to be ready? OW!!!
Michael: Something wrong? You're nine months pregnant, something going on?
Claire: OW!! I am OW!!! not in OW!!! labor!
Sawyer: Say, when you squirt out the baby, gimme a call, babe.
Kate: Sawyer, I need all your booze.
Sawyer: I'm sorry, did you say something? I was too busy looking at your sweaty—
Kate: Jesus, Sawyer, we're on at eight o'clock! Watch the censors!

[The caverating room]
Jack: [sew, sew, sew]
Boone: [gasp] [choke]* *Translation: Thank God, he can sew after all!
Sun: Jack, take a break. Besides my extensive knowledge of herbal medicine, I happen to be a damned good nurse, even though I've had zero experience, what with being the spoiled daughter of a rich Korean mob bo--er, manufacturer.
Charlie: How is he? Where's Locke? Where's Shannon? And--what about Naomi?
Jack: STFU, Charlie. Listen, there's a boatload of heroin a few miles away; go find Locke and leave me alone, you whiny little hobbit!
Charlie: Well, sor-RY! Don't we get all grumpy when we're about to lose a patient.

[Flashback: The chick from Ed, who seems to be popping up all over the tube suddenly, is Jack's fiancée, and she's making a speech. Because, like, all brides make speeches the night before the wedding.]
Sarah: Jack, thanks for fixing my broken back. Without you, I'd be, uh, lying in bed right now, crying, because man, that is what I do. Can't tell you how many times I cried on Ed. Don't sweat it, I'm sure I'll cry on Lost before these flashbacks are done.

[The caverating room]
[Jack and Sun set Boone's leg]
Hurley: Ewewewewewew!

[Kate running back to cave. Trips. Hears something strange. It's Claire, standing by a tree.]
Kate: Something wrong?
Claire: Nope. OW!!! Nothing. OW!!! Uh-uh, I'm just OW!!! grabbing this tree limb because OW!!! I like standing by trees.
Kate: Oh, God. You've having the baby!
Meryl's readers: ALL RIGHT! Lizard baby! The Visitors are our friends!
Jin: [chop] [chop] [chop] [Korean Daredevil senses kick in] What's that I hear? A cry for help in English, a language I do not know? [runs] [finds women]
Kate: I need you to go to the caves and get Jack. Jack! Jack!
Jin: Jack! Doctor! [takes Kate's pack] Ooh, and a drink, too. I could use one of those.

[The caverating room]
Jack: He needs a blood tranfusion.
Sun: Uh, Jack, we're on a deserted island without any hospitals, y'know?
Jack: If we could only find something like a hollow needle we use to drain blood. Sun, get Charlie to find out what everyone's blood type is, and find Shannon!

[cut to: Shannon and Sayid, walking through the woods. He's set up a picnic lunch on the beach. This is what's known as "irony." You can look it up yourself. See also: Self-inflicted guilt.]

Charlie: No A-negative.
Jack: Any O-negative?
Charlie: You didn't ask for O-negative! Damn, Jack, you are the grumpiest grump when a patient of yours is dying.
Sun: Look, it's a sea anenome—anemone—anen—anem—ah, frig it, it's a pointy thing that has hollow needles, just like you asked!

[Flashback: Jack at a piano, playing like a concert pianist.] [Male viewers: He's good-looking, he's a doctor, he's got Evangeline Lilly, and he friggin' plays the piano like a pro? We hates him! We hates him! We hates him forever!

Sarah: Did you write your vows yet?
Jack: I'm a doctor, not a speechwriter.
Sarah: Your dad's gonna show, you know. We need to make him sympathetic so the viewers don't start to hate him every time we bring him back for a flashback.

Jin: [Sees Sun. Glares. Tells Jack in Korean Claire is having the baby. Sun translates. Jin glares. Sun asks quesitons. Jin glares and answers.]
Sun: You know, Jin, the audience will buy that you know "Jack" and "boat" and "doctor," but they're not gonna believe that Jack picked up that much Korean in four weeks. So stop glaring at me and let me translate so we can get you out of this scene and into the next one.
Charlie: What do we do?
Jack: Charlie, listen to my instructions carefully: tell Kate to do this, this, and this. As for you and Jin: Act like you're expectant fathers in a 1950s sitcom. Follow my instructions exactly. Do. Absolutely. NOTHING. Got that? Now go!

[In the forest]
Kate: Okay, I've built a fire, but I don't have a kettle for hot water. I sure hope Jack gets here soon.
Charlie: Kate, Jack says you have to deliver the baby. Here's what you do...
Kate: I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies!
Charlie: We don't have time for your Hattie McDaniel impressions, woman. Just get to work and get that baby out! Meryl's readers are dying to see if it's going to be a lizard!
Claire: I've changed my mind. The baby stays inside.
Kate: Oh, yeah, like that'll work
Claire: It was worth a try.

[Caverating room]
Boone: I don't feel so hot, Doc.
Jack: What happened?
Boone: The plane fell on me.
Jack: What? Locke said you fell off a cliff. He lied? No way!
Boone: Way! Locke has secrets, dude. Big secrets. The hatch...
Jack: Down the hatch? Good idea! Where's that booze?
Boone: Shannon... Shannon
Jack: Y'know man, that really is creepy, that thing between you two.

[On the beach]
Shannon: I have to tell you something about Boone and me. We're only steps, so it's not really incest, but—
Sayid: Ew!
Shannon: But I don't love him, he loves me!
Sayid: It's okay. I'm a Muslim former Iraqi Republican Guard officer who used to torture dissidents, but now that we're on the island, I get to be a modern American-style man with sexy eyes and a hot American chick to snag.
Shannon: Okay, but I'm not going to sleep with you tonight.
Sayid: [blinks eyes at her]
Shannon: Uh....

[In the forest]
[Remember what we said up there about the men acting like 1950s sitcom fathers?]
Claire: Ow!! Ow!!!
Kate: Push! Push!
Charlie and Jin: Our girls. We think we'll keep them.

[The caverating room]
Jack: What do you want from me, blood?
Sun: That's enough. I'm cutting you off at two pints.
Jack: Hurley, go get Michael.
Hurley: Why?
Jack: We have to make a scary leg-amputating machine out of some part of the airplane that we didn't burn. Michael's the official island engineer. It's not like we have The Professor to make this crap out of coconuts, y'know.
Hurley: Oh. Okay, dude.

Jack's dad: Drinking alone by the pool? Isn't that supposed to be my thing?
Jack: We're trying to make you more sympathetic so we can have you in more flashbacks.
Dad: Oh. Whatcha doin'?
Jack: I have to write my vows. Listen to these:
Dad: Wow, those really suck!
Jack: They're not mine, they're Sarah's.
Dad: Phew. I was worried you'd turned into a woman on me.
Jack: Dad, what if I can't be the husband or father I should be?
Dad: You mean like me? Hell, don't sweat it. I don't. But anyway, you're really full of—
Jack: Eight o'clock, Dad! Eight!
Dad: Commitment.
Jack: Oh. Okay. Thanks, Dad.

[The caverating room]
Jack: We have to amputate the leg.
Sun: Jack, he's dying! Look, he's bleeding internally, too!
Jack: We have to amputate!
Sun: Jack, we don't have any peglegs, and this island doesn't have pirates!
Jack: We're gonna do it, dammit! Who's the doctor around here!

Sarah: Blahblahblah, I do.
Jack: I didn't write any vows, but it's okay, because I have scriptwriters! Blahblahblah, I love you!
Sarah: [cries] Toldja so!

[The caverating room]
Boone: Jack, wait!
Jack: Dammit! Michael and I built this nifty guillotine! Oh, well, I'm sure it will come in handy in a later episode.
Boone: Forget it, I'm dying, I'm in pain, you're not cutting off my leg, too.
Jack: I won't let you die.
Boone: You don't have a choice. My contract is up.
Jack: Dammit! I'm a doctor, not an executive producer! I can't save you, Boone!

[The forest]
Claire: [screams]
Kate: [says typical baby-birthing things]
Jin and Charlie: [do nothing]
[Baby is born]
[Jin and Charlie light up cigars, shake hands]

[The caverating room]
Boone: Tell Shannon... Tell Shannon... [dies]
Jack: [cries]

[Morning on the beach]
[Claire and Kate bring baby to show off; expose to germs of crowd]
[Shannon and Sayid show up; Jack tells Shannon her brother is dead. Sayid breathes huge sigh of relief; so does most of the audience. I mean, ew. Ew!]
[Cut to crowd and baby; do you get it? Life/death/life/death. Deep, man.]

[The cave]
Shannon: [Cries] [Okay, we really did feel sad here. She lost her brother, after all.]

[The beach]
Jack: Beautiful, healthy baby
Kate: Wanna talk about it?
Jack: Talk? Sure. I'm gonna kill Locke. He killed Boone.
Kate: No, I meant talk about that bogus baby-birthing scene. I mean, what was up with the guys doing nothing and my doing all the work? What is this, the 1950s? And another thing...
Jack: Sorry, Kate, gotta go. I hear someone calling for a doctor.

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C-SPAN still hasn't got a clue.

To recap: C-SPAN was going to broadcast a lecture by Deborah Lipstadt, who won a libel suit in Britain brought by Holocaust denier David Irving. She wrote a book about the trial. C-SPAN asked if they could broadcast one of her lectures. (The lecture tour is to promote the book.) The producers at C-SPAN, in some stupid kind of moral equivalency, decided that in the name of "balance," they had to show a lecture by David Irving as well. Lipstadt heard about it and told them to shove their lectures where the sun doesn't shine. Richard Cohen wrote a column, word got out, and C-SPAN said they'd "reconsider." So what did they do?

They put on a show about the trial that's nearly as clueless as their first idea for "balance." (You can watch it from a link at that site.)

Description: Book TV presents a look at the 2000 libel trial between World War II writer David Irving and Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt. The trial is detailed in Dr. Lipstadt's newest book, "History on Trial." Guests include T.R. Reid of the Washington Post, who covered the trial, as well as video clips of Deborah Lipstadt and David Irving. Historian John Lukacs is also interviewed.

Mind you, they link to Irving's website on the page linked above (probably in the name of "balance," they link to Lipstadt's blog, too, where she quotes David Neiwart's review [and it's not good] of the show). From her blog:

Some final thoughts:

1. I wish CSpan had just admitted that they made a mistake from the outset and had not claimed that they were intending to just show a few clips of Irving. CSpan is an important national institution. It gets people to read and think about books. I have no desire to fight with CSpan, but they should have been more honest about how they messed up from the outset.

2. I wish CSpan had given TR Reid, a careful journalist, a chance to read my book before going on the show.

3. Finally, as I stress in the book, I was not trying to deny Irving a right to speak. I was simply refusing to be pushed into a debate which is no debate and with someone who is a proven liar. How can you debate a liar?

4. Never, in all the years I have been watching CSpan, have I seen a policy towards "balance." Why here?

5. And since they seem to be so interested in balance and fairness, how about a chance for me to go on and correct the impression given to listeners about my views?

Apparently, Ms. Lipstadt, you are missing the primary point in today's ethics across the board: Never, ever admit you made a mistake. Not if you're a journalist, not if you're a TV producer, not even if you're a blogger (I will not name names, but I have seen many, many bloggers refuse to admit error after having been caught out, in spite of the "self-correcting nature of the blogosphere" charge).

By the way, read Deborah Lipstadt's blog for the fullest coverage of this affair. And is that not the neatest thing, that you can do that? Blogging rocks.

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It's all about me

The weather here in Richmond is gorgeous again. We're going to hit 80 tomorrow and were at or near that today. So of course, as soon as I got up, I let the cats out. Tig will generally stay outside for hours, even sleeping outside. Gracie goes in and out with great care, as there may be monsters, and you never can be too careful about avoiding monsters. Anyway.

Today, I was busy working on the weblog and getting things ready for my students' mitzvah project. Tig was outside. It was simply not enough that he was outside enjoying the beautiful weather. He decided he needed me to be paying attention to him as well. So he pulled one of his most annoying routines: He sat down right next to the open patio door and yowled. Softly. Intermittently. Repeatedly. Our conversation went something like this:

Mrowr. [pause] Mrowr. [pause] Mrowr.
I'm busy. I'm not coming outside.
Mrowr. [pause] Mrowr. [pause] Mrowr.
Shut UP! I'm busy!
Mrowr. [pause] Mrowr. [pause] Mrowr.
Goddammit! [gets up to get camera to document the scene]
Mrowr. [pause] Mrowr. [pause] Mrowr.

Yeah, I got the picture. I got the picture right here.

Tig meowing me to death

And it's supposed to be absolutely gorgeous tomorrow. Luckily for me, I'm heading out in the afternoon.

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In the news

Somehow, I don't think we'll be seeing headlines saying "We are all Israelis now" in this country: Lebanese Christians are getting an idea of what it's like to live in, say, Tel Aviv. Or Jerusalem.

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Even for the war-hardened Lebanese, four explosions in two weeks are too much to cope with. Once-vibrant cafes lie empty, shopping malls are virtually deserted and late-night dining has been put on hold. In a movie theater, a woman watching the Will Smith comedy "Hitch" gets a cell phone call about a blast and exclaims "Infijar?!" ("Explosion?!"), whereupon a dozen people quietly head for the door.

Outside the United Nations offices, workers fill sandbags and erect barriers. At a Beirut mall, newly hired private security guards check vehicles' trunks and engines and slide a mirror beneath the chassis looking for explosives. Restaurants put up roadblocks to keep cars from parking too close.

Fear is gripping Lebanon following a recent spate of bombs placed under or near cars that have killed three people and injured 24. The sense of security built up over years of postwar calm has been shattered, with rumors of bombs and suspicion of unclaimed bags feeding the hysteria.

"This brings back such bad memories," said Lina Haddad, 34, sitting on her balcony one night overlooking the empty streets. "I'm afraid to leave home. I look at every parked car and wonder if it will explode." She puts her children to bed in a windowless room.

Now I'm not experiencing any schadenfreude here. I feel bad for them. But let's face it: They've lived with terrorists for decades and allowed them to flourish. You know that old adage about paying the piper. And lying down with dogs.

There is no such country: The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that "Palestine" does not exist.

The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit rejected the Palestinian Authority's claim that it enjoyed sovereign immunity and upheld a lower court ruling ordering it to pay $116 million to the estate of Hamas terror victim Yaron Ungar.

The decision could influence an Israeli Supreme Court decision on appeals by the PA against a lower court ruling which also rejected its claims that it enjoyed sovereign immunity against local lawsuits by terror victims.

"The defendants [The PA and the PLO] argue that the state of Palestine exists," wrote the court, "that they constitute core elements of the state and that therefore they are immune from suit. This argument has a quicksilver quality. It is hard to pin down exactly when or how the defendants assert that Palestine achieved statehood...

"We recognize that the status of the Palestinian territories is in many ways sui generis (exceptional). Here, however, the defendants have not carried their burden of showing that Palestine satisfied the requirements for statehood under the applicable principles of international law at any time."

This should make for an interesting Supreme Court case.

What truce? The pals are working on the range and accuracy of their "homemade" rockets.

Palestinians are performing testing of the Kassam off the coast of the Gaza Strip with the aim of improving the range and accuracy of the rocket, an IDF Operations Branch official told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.

According to Brig.-Gen. Gadi Shamni, head of the IDF operations department and former division commander of the Gaza Strip, the missiles' range has been increased to 9 km. The previous range reported to the committee has been 7 km. He said testing was also being carried out within the strip.

Shamni said the accuracy of the rockets was also being checked by boats deployed to check the nautical landing sites.

IDF Central Command was preparing for the possibility of rocket attacks, Shamni added, voicing suspicion that the rockets could become operative in the West Bank. Until now, the airborne attacks have only been deployed from the Gaza Strip.

Here is what I think will happen: Israelis evacuate Gaza. They hand certain West Bank towns over, but insist that they're keeping certain "settlements" (they're really suburbs of Jerusalem). The pals begin their new war, which will feature prominently launching kassam rockets into Israel from the West Bank. Remember, in the 1967 borders, Israel is only about eight miles wide. That's why she refuses to give up all the West Bank: A nation needs defensible border when she is surrounded by enemies.

The war isn't over. It's merely a breathing space being used by the terrorists to resupply and rearm.

But I thought the root causes were poverty and desperation! The Times of London profiles a new study that finds three-quarters of Al Qaeda's recruits are educated, middle class professionals.

THE typical recruit to Al-Qaeda, the terrorist organisation, is upper middle class, has been educated in the West and is from a professional background, according to a new study.

An analysis of 500 members of Osama Bin Laden’s organisation has revealed that the majority had been in further education and were from relatively affluent families. The recruits also tended to come from the wealthier Arab countries.

Dr Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist who conducted the study, said he assumed it would find that most Al-Qaeda recruits were poor and ill-educated. “The common stereotype is that terrorism is a product of poor, desperate, naive, single young men from Third World countries, vulnerable to brainwashing and recruitment into terror,” he said.

However, his study showed that three-quarters of the Al-Qaeda members were from upper middle-class homes and many were married with children; 60% were college educated, often in Europe or the United States.

Uh-huh. It's poverty and exploitation that were the root causes of 9/11. Uh-huh. Yup.

Well. Speaking of poverty, today is a big day for my fourth graders: They're going to prepare, serve, and clean up after a meal for CARITAS, a local program that cares for the homeless. It's my students' Mitzvah Project. I shall have a report later or tomorrow.

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TV things

Yes, I know it's only a soap: I know, I know. But on AMC, a car just happens to suffer a blowout, the driver just happens to get knocked over the head and dragged off, the two women who were being shuttled off to a safe haven run off into the woods and just happen to run in the direction of the bad guy, who just happened to have set up a jail cell in a cave, complete with iron bars, locks, and even a cute little bench to sit on. Then the other woman who hates this guy just happens to be in the neighborhood, and of course, can't get a cell signal, and just happens to step on the twig, and just happens to get caught by the bad guy. Because, y'know, stuff happens.

Oh, well. At least Jonathan's going to get his. Braden? Shyeah, right. Nobody fell for that but the idiots in Pine Valley.

Shalzbot! Hands up, everyone who's going to watch "Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Mork and Mindy.'" Woo-hoo! It's unauthorized! That means we get to watch even more lies than usual in a TV biopic. Hm, tough choice: Watch Keifer Sutherland saving the world? Or watch a Robin Williams impersonator snort coke?

I'll have to think that one over for a while.

Then again, there's Lost: So, ya think Boone's a goner? And by the way, is there anyone else out there from the "V" generation (by that I mean the miniseries with the lizard people from outer space) who saw the commercials for this week's episode, with the ominous shots of concern on people's faces, and the doom-music before Evangeline Lilly says, "You're having the baby!" and thought: "All right! Another lizard baby!"

Or am I the only one?

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Whom shall we blame: The writer or the editor?

Doug L. sent me this George Will column on the Pope, which carries this curious description of Jesus:

History, too, teaches strange truths: John Paul II occupied the world's oldest office, which traces its authority to history's most potent figure, a Palestinian who never traveled a hundred miles from his birthplace, who never wrote a book and who died at 33.

Like Doug said: Funny, I always thought Jesus was a Jew. I can't believe George Will would call Jesus a palestinian, but then, stranger things have happened.

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Quick looks

The rearming of the terror groups: Maariv's Hebrew edition profiles how Jericho and Tulkarm are now "Cities of Refuge" for palestinian terrorists

According to a senior Israel Defense Forces officer, "the transfer of security control in Jericho and Tulkarm has not led to the dismantling of the terrorist infrastructure." "The cities became 'cities of refuge' for terrorists who do whatever they want," he said. "The way things look, we're not moving in the direction of transferring security control of Kalkilya until the Palestinians show us proof of changes in the field, dismantling the terrorist infrastructure, unifying the security forces, and collecting weapons."

According to the officer, the reason for the reduction in attacks in recent days is not due to PA efforts but rather to a strategic decision by the terrorist organizations to temporarily cease their actions against Israel. "They are focused totally on regaining strength," he said. "When we tell the Palestinians about warnings of impending attacks by terrorist organizations, instead of dealing with it, they run to tell the terrorists that the IDF is looking for them....The great fear is that this will blow up in our faces."

According to the officer, last week there were eight attempts to smuggle weapons from Egypt to Gaza and in only two cases were the smugglers caught.

Iran's war against Israel: The Sunday Times of London says that Hizbullah is offering money in an effort to get terrorists to break the truce. I believe that's yet another act of war against Israel.

PALESTINIAN fighters have revealed that Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese group backed by Iran, is offering to pay for attacks aimed at shattering the fragile truce with Israel.

In the first concrete evidence of Iranian interference in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the men, all on Israel’s most wanted list, said they had received payments of up to $9,000 (about £4,800) sent by Hezbollah to the West Bank for attacks against Israel during the past four years.

They said that most of the money from Hezbollah had been sent to Islamic Jihad, the militant fundamentalist group that has sent suicide bombers into Israeli cities. The men, members of the al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades — the military wing of Fatah, the secular group founded by Yasser Arafat — knew of the payments because they liaised with Islamic Jihad in their area, near the West Bank city of Nablus.

Blind justice: The pals hit their own, though it doesn't look like anyone was hurt.

Palestinian militants fired either a mortar shell or a Qassam rocket before dawn Saturday, which hit a barracks housing Palestinian security officers, Israel Radio reported.

Truce? What truce?

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A simple solution

Sometimes, just sometimes, things are far less complicated than they seem. James Frederick Dwight is mightily puzzled over why Fairleigh Dickinson University (we called it "Fairly Ridiculous" when I was in college in NJ) fired a neo-Nazi history teacher after his racist proclivities were discovered. But the thing is, FDU fired him due to excessive amounts of sick days taken, and states that as the official reason—not his membership in the National Socialist whateveryoucallit. (Hat tip: Charles.)

But virulent Neo-Nazis are most assuredly not amongst those protected classes. If you own your own company and one of your employees comes to work tomorrow and announces that he is a Nazi and looks forward to exterminating all sorts of minorities, even if that might have nothing to do with his role at work or the quality of his work product, you would be well within your legal rights to fire him. And I bet you would.

James, you don't know a heck of a lot about PR, do you? Look at it from their point of view: Maybe you think neo-Nazism comes under the heading of "reasons to fire a teacher for cause," but I'm betting that the FDU attorneys told the administration that if they could get him for a cause that he couldn't claim was a free speech issue, it'd be a much better position for the University. I'm thinking that their position was carefully thought out, and as carefully taken.

This is truly my favorite quote of the FDU student newspaper article, though:

Senior Christopher Langford said he was shocked and disappointed when he found out about Dr. Pluss. "I had no idea that he was an alleged racist," he said. "Now that I think about it, Dr. Pluss seemed to have a morbid fascination with Hitler and Nazism. But he never once taught propaganda or expressed his views in class. He came off as being liberal in his thinking. An incident arose in class about racism, and he appeared to be very anti-racist."

Then again, there were signs:

"During class he never really came off as a man who supported white supremacy, but after knowing his actions and thinking back, there were some signs," she said. "He talked a lot about religion. He did not want to teach the Holocaust for more than one class (an hour and a half). And he asked us to write a journal as if we were in the shoes of a German soldier during the Holocaust, asking us how we would react. For our mid-term, he gave us a question of comparing and contrasting the Holocaust and the rise of Nazi Germany to modern-day terrorism.

Uh-huh. Fired for taking too much sick leave. Smart people, those FDU lawyers. No lawsuit can be brought.

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Reading list

Muslim ERA Watch: Via Charles Johnson, an excellent profile in the Times Magazine of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali Dutch woman who is under constant death threats for her criticism of Islam.

Oldie but goodie: Via Lynn B., a months-old article on why Jews should not tone down the volume on Israel-bashing and anti-Semitism. And by the way, you should have Lynn on your regular-read list. She often catches the stories I don't, or don't have time to write about. In fact, she's got a post up right now about the U.S. calling for Israel to give up her nuclear weapons. Good to know that if Israel does what the world wants, works on getting out of the territories, gives the pals a state, that the world will—try to turn Jews into victims again. Yeah. Uh-huh. Because pledges from the Muslim world have always been so reliable. All we need is for Iran to promise to never set a nuke at Israel, right?


At long last Matt: His hints are getting plaintive, and, well, I can't stand to see a grown man whine, so I'm adding Matt to my links page. I mean, he wrote an ode to cheese. How can I not have this man linked? (Yes, Mark, I linked your blog too, don't get upset.)

But enough about you, let's talk about us: So I'm reading the news, and there's an AP article titled "Jerusalem Hails Pope's Interfaith Outreach," and it talks about how Muslims and Jews are mourning the death of the Pope. It has some pretty nice quotes from Muslims and Jews, and then it quotes a statement from Hamas:

The Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad also expressed their sorrow.

"We remember the statements of His Holiness the pope on the rights of the Palestinians, and we hope that the Vatican leadership will stick to his position against the occupation," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zohari said.

Wow, that's some expression of sorrow. Best not read it twice; it might make you cry.

All right. I have an outraged letter to the editor to compose, and I've lost an hour of my day so far. I'm outta here.

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Saving Daylight

Good news, bad news: The good news is, I didn't have to teach this morning (spring break). The bad news is, I didn't know it was time to change the clocks. The good news is, Microsoft told me it was Daylight Savings Time when I turned on the computer. The bad news is, I had to go back upstairs and change the bedroom clocks. The good/bad news is: I lost an hour's sleep, but it doesn't matter, because I didn't have to get up early. Ha! Ha, I say! I have defeated the worst Daylight Savings Time can throw at me, and lived to tell the tale—without yawning.

Weekday people, what you miss: If you read this weblog from work, and I certainly hope you're not goofing off and only reading during, oh, lunch break or after hours (shyeah, right), are you aware of the fact that I turn the archives over every Sunday? And that you miss whatever I put up late Friday or on Saturday? What? You mean you didn't know about the Goofball Tig picture, or the post on my teaching little Jews to be big Jews? Well, that's what the line down at the bottom of the page that says "Last week's blogs are archived" is for. Click on it and you'll be all caught up—like the folks who read this blog from home.

The stomach flu from hell: It's mostly gone, but I had a bit of trouble sleeping last night. It's trying to make a comeback. I didn't dare drink milk with breakfast this morning. Sigh. I miss milk. I drink a glass of milk every morning, mostly because it's magically turned into a delicious beverage by the miracle of adding chocolate syrup. It's how my mother got me to drink milk as a child, and a habit I've never outgrown. In fact, last Passover, Mom discovered Bloom's chocolate syrup, and I found the Best. Chocolate. Syrup. Ever. Hershey's is a pale substitute. Not even Bosco can rival Bloom for its wonderful sweetness. It's from Brooklyn, of course, and it's made by Jews. Next time I go to NJ, I may just take a side trip to Brooklyn and visit the Blooms. Oh, damn. Next time I'll be up in NJ it'll be Passover, and they'll probably be closed.

Wow, I've totally digressed out of the stomach flu thing. I must be feeling better.

Note to self: Next time you take a shower, make sure that you start the laundry load of towels on the hot water setting after you get out of the shower, not before.

I thought possums were timid. And slow. I let Tig out when I got home last night, then unpacked the groceries I'd bought. I tend to worry about him more at night, what with his getting into all these catfights lately, so after I put the groceries away, I went outside to see what he was doing. Sure enough, he was face to face with—a possum? Damn. Now I have to worry about rabies, too. So I slowly approached Tig and tried to pick him up, which he was having none of. I managed to shoo the possum away a bit, then shoo Tig inside the door. That possum just stood there, staring at me, until I stomped at it a few times, and it finally ran under the fence.

I don't remember possums being particularly brave, or particularly quick, either. In fact, there was a possum that crossed the road in front of my car on the way to work most nights during the summertime back when I was working in the Meadowlands. It got to be so regular an occurrence I knew exactly when to slow down for it. I seem to remember its being agonizingly slow, but then, I suppose there's a difference between a possum seen from a moving vehicle and a possum on your patio.

I guess Terry's a whole lot quicker than we realized.

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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.