Important: Read this before sending email

Add to My Yahoo! RSS Feed


Day By Day by Chris Muir

This blog is a no-Israel-bashing zone (click for explanation)


My Amazon Wish List
(Buy me presents)




Indexed Archives

Portal (links)

Contact me

Who am I?


The diary of
Iseema bin Laden

Secret Arafat
Phone Transcripts

Greatest Hits


Letters from
Captain Steve

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More




This post is mostly filler

Yes, I'm that tired.

Once again, let me request your favorite posts of mine (and a URL if you have it) in the comments section. Some of my family members were asking about my blog today. Go here first, Aunt Shushi. Then here. After that, you're on your own until I finally get my "best of" pages updated. (That's long overdue.)

Today was Cousins' fiftieth birthday bash (both Cousin and Cousin's Husband turned fifty this year), and tomorrow is the last big family get-together. I'm back on a plane Monday and will be back to blogging normally by Tuesday. Probably by Monday night, what with having cable modem access again.

I'm so tired I can't even figure out how to end this post.

Oh, that works.

| |



Having a wonderful time, wish you were here

I can't really remember when I've had this much fun in so short a time. We've been throwing surprise after surprise on my cousin (and I have the pictures, or will when I load them onto my laptop on Sunday), hanging out together as a family, and having an altogether great time.

This afternoon, the family suggested Harrah's casino, which I went along with because I figured I could, oh, I dunno, kibitz while everyone else gambled, what with my never having set foot in a casino in my life because I don't believe in throwing my money away.

Oh. My. God. I had such a great time playing the blackjack and poker machines. I lost twenty bucks in three hands in the real blackjack, and retreated to the slots, where I found my mother and aunt. We were all on our way out when my cousin's husband saw me eyeing a different kind of poker machine wistfully, and put ten bucks in for me. For the next half hour, I played poker while my entire family sat behind me in a semicircle and yelled advice.

Oh. That's why people like casinos. You can have a lot of fun if you control your spending. You also discover strange things about your relatives, like your mother's insistence on filling an inside straight no matter how many times you tell her she shouldn't.

I skipped the big family dinner tonight in favor of a meetup with Citizen Smash and the lovely Mrs. Smash, Gerard Van der Leun, and Dan (whose identity may not yet be revealed). Gerard drove an hour and a half to have dinner with us, and I'm so glad he did. Joanie suggested the Chinese restaurant but couldn't make the dinner, however, the food was excellent, the atmosphere was quiet, and they didn't mind us just about closing the place. Thanks again for dinner, Gerard, and you simply must post on your blog your joke about first-century documents in the Vatican's archives.

Tomorrow is the big party, and Sunday off to Temecula (love that name) for one last family day before flying home on Monday.

Posting, as they say, will be light. I'm having far too much fun. And they keep yelling at me when I try to go online. | |



Sense from the World Bank: It's the violence, stupid

An official of the World Bank says that money won't help the PA move forward unless they show true reform.

LONDON (AFP) - International financial aid will not improve life for Palestinians until fundamental political reform is undertaken by their government, a World Bank (news - web sites) official said.

"You cannot substitute donor assistance and money for a fundamental change in the policy environment," Nigel Roberts, the organization's country director for the West Bank and Gaza Strip (news - web sites), told a press conference.

"This remains one of the major messages that we try to convey... both to the Palestinian leadership and the donors community," he said. "If the policy environment is wrong, money cannot fix it."

Amazingly, he even says something sensible about the need for Israeli checkpoints.

Reconstruction of the Palestinian economy will depend on improved security, strong anti-corruption measures and internal governance reforms, the World Bank expert added.

But critically, he argued, Israel must also lift its policies of border closures which vastly limit the mobility of Palestinians and merchandise within the territories.

"There is a clear link between security and (border) closure, and between Palestinian reforms and revival of investment and business prospects," Roberts said, adding that closure system could be dismantled in a way that "doesn't pose excessive risk to the Israelis".

But wait, it gets better.

Roberts also suggested Israel would not accept any "final status" negotiation on the creation of an independent Palestinian state right now.

"I don't believe that the Israeli political system can absorb anything over and above the disengagement of Gaza for the moment. It is already a genuinely traumatic process for Israel," he said.

No, we're not quite finished yet. He also brings up facts to support his point.

Roberts argued that Palestinians' well-being had continued its slide even as foreign aid increased, and that more people would trust Abbas' government once it had reversed the trend.

Palestinian personal income collapsed by 40 percent in real terms (taking into account inflation) over the past four years during the Intifada, or resistance, while disbursement of foreign donor aid doubled from 500 million dollars to one billion dollars per year, he said.

"If that doesn't show you how limited the impact of large sums of donors' assistance can be in a lousy policy environment, then nothing will," he said.

Reconstruction of the Palestinian economy will depend on improved security, strong anti-corruption measures and internal governance reforms, the World Bank expert added.

Interestingly, this article is from the AFP, and no major news service has picked it up that I can find. It's in a few Middle East newspapers. But I'm sure this World Bank press release is going to get some big anti-Israel spin, and attention from the world press. It sounds like the usual "Israel must ease the oppression blahblahblah," except for this part:

“The Israeli government and its citizens need to know that they will not be exposed to violence and terror.

Of course, that's followed immediately by

An important element will be restoring self-respect and hope to Palestinian youth” said James D. Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank.

And yet... the man in charge of World Bank aid to the palestinians said that the answer is to stop blowing up Israelis and reform the corrupt PA government—not pour more money in.

I sense a change in the air.

| |



It never rains in southern California

Except when it does.

I managed to survive my first flight in some six years with only a modicum of panic at takeoff (Why is he veering so sharply to the left? What happens if he turns over too far? Why is there so much turbulence and we're so low? Why is the plane shaking so damned much?), and even watched the landing, because I chose an aisle seat even though I knew I didn't want to look out much. (I did it so I could close the window flap so I wouldn't have to look out, rather than leave that up to some seatmate going blithely through life wholly unafraid of heights.)

I experienced one of those small-town Richmond moments this afternoon: The father of one my students was on my flight to Atlanta. J. is going to be so unhappy to know that his father and I had a long talk before the flight boarded. On the other hand, his behavior may very well improve.

And hey, my usual gate luck was with me: My flight arrived in the next-to-last gate of Terminal B, and I left out of the last gate of Terminal A for San Diego. I snagged one of the cart drivers to find out if you needed to be ill or injured to hitch a ride. Nope. Anyone can ride. I'll be looking for her on the way back.

And by the way, they shrunk the size of the planes, the size of the seats, and the width of the aisles. But they haven't figured out how to shrink the size of the passengers. I'm not that tall, in fact, I am short. And I was quite uncomfortable on both planes. Who do they think we are, Munchkins?

Well, I'm here in San Diego, exhausted, near one a.m. my time, and heading to sleep. With any luck, I'll meet a few San Diego bloggers on Friday. Some jets flew into Miramar as we were driving by. Kewl.

| |

Travel day

I'm taking off for sunny Southern California this morning (here's hoping it's sunny, anyway) for a big family get-together. I'm going to try to meet up with Lt. Smash and a few others, and there's a tiny chance I can make it up to LA and meet with Charles Johnson or Roger Simon, but I'm doubting that last.

So I was on the phone with Sarah G. earlier tonight, and told her that I'd done something no man would ever do. She agreed with me, and since I checked in with Wind Rider (he of the Tech Support Dept.) a little later, I decided to throw it past him and see what would happen.

"I went to Kohl's tonight to buy some new lingerie," I said. "I know they're going to be looking through my luggage and wanted it to look nice."

There was a long pause. A very long pause. WR said I could tell you that he spent that pause staring at the phone. "You're right," he said. "I'd never even think of doing that."

You see? Not only can women argue politics, we shop for underwear the night before a plane trip. And oooh! oooh! They had my favorite Vanity Fair bras, and I am a happy, happy woman today. I'd been looking for them for a while.

Anyway, I seriously doubt there will be wireless access on the flight, so it's going to be a long, boring day. But when I get a few minutes, I'll put up a post.

Or perhaps WR can put up his version of the conversation. You know he wants to.

Oh, and before I forget: Happy birthday, Dave. Stop getting so damned old, please, because I don't want to. And congratulations, graduate!

| |



Middle East news roundup

What biased media? The AP has updated its summary of major Iraqi bombing attacks with the latest, which killed at least 125 people today. They did not, mind you, count the attacks from the previous few days. But now the AP summary total is up to 961 deaths by "major" attacks. So, though they ignored the last week's worth of deaths, their total approaches their daily look at U.S. deaths in Iraq. Of course, if they kept a daily tally, it would dwarf the number of U.S. and coalition deaths, but apparently, Iraqi deaths don't count as much. Unless they're killed by Americans, that is.

Follow the money: Syrians have been withdrawing billions from Lebanon. Looks like the Dorktator can't see the handwriting on the wall, but his people can.

The UN condemns palestinian terrorism: At least a little, anyway. Read the text of the statement. Let me point out that it is not a Security Council Resolution. Then again, it's a start.

Condi finally talks tough: She's telling the PA to clamp down on terrorism. Will they? Shyeah, right.

What cease-fire? The IDF found and dismantled a car bomb—no, wait, make that two car bombs, one of which was the largest bomb ever found (a half-ton of explosives.) The pals shot two security guards, and Al-Aqsa told a PA minister to get out of Jenin and oh, yeah, forget about ending terrorism.

No Jews allowed, and oh, yeah—what terrorism? The London conference that our good pal Tony Blair convened, the one that has no representatives from Israel, will end without a statement promising to act against terrorism. Hell, they couldn't even get the pals to say they would stop acting against the interests of the palestinian people?

According to the document, a copy of which reached Haaretz, the PA commits to a security strategy that "creates conditions conducive to the peace process, with the immediate objective of restoring internal law and order and preventing violence."

The Palestinians persuaded the British hosts to leave out any mention of a Palestinian commitment to act against the launching of Qassam rockets or armed attacks on Israelis from the territories.

Well, there you go. And on the heels of that:

Terrorists to PA: We're not gonna stop, and you can't make us! Don't you love this AP headline?

Palestinian Official Pressured in Jenin

It makes you think that people were, y'know, pushing the guy to agree with him. What kind of pressure were the lovely residents of Jenin putting on the PA official?

JERUSALEM (AP) - Palestinian militants in the West Bank town of Jenin issued a belligerent challenge Tuesday to the new Palestinian leadership's efforts to rein in militant groups, shooting in the air and demanding that the visiting security chief, Interior Minister Nasser Yousef, leave the area immediately.

Oh, that's pressure, all right. Funny, the AP can't seem to use the word "threaten" when it concerns the pals, but they sure are all over Israel with that particular verb. (What biased media?) I do, however, like Yousef's response:

A furious Yousef immediately fired his local security chief, ordered hundreds of police reinforcements to the building and demanded the arrest of the militants.

Except for one thing. This was all a show for the cameras. The PA isn't interested in stopping terror, only in pausing it while they create their state and then try to bring in the heavy artillery. Thanks so much, Russia, and eff you, Putin, and this would explain why Egypt says they'll patrol the Philadelph corridor.

However, the militants' leader, Zakariye Zubeydi, later met with Yousef and apparently resolved the issue without any arrests, underscoring the government's difficulty in dealing with security.

By the way, I've got Zubeydi in the IFOC Dead Pool. Keep your fingers crossed for me. They caught his brother last week.

And that's it for now.

| |



Ohmigod! I've been snagged by the Feds!

I received this email today:

The FBI is after me

Look, there's the indictment, attached to the email. They didn't even have to send anyone to arrest me. Talk about changes due to the Internet!

Hey, look at that last paragraph. Say, I didn't know I had my own antivirus service.

Wait a minute... you don't suppose this email is [gasp!] fake?

I don't know. I think I may have to engage the services of a good lawyer, just in case. Perhaps this guy wouldn't consider it a conflict of interest, what with him suing me over the Hulk and all that. Whattya say, Mr. Snitch?

| |

Monday morning linkfest

First she has a comprehensive compendium of opinions (including her own) on the women and political blogging debate. Then she has this spit-take post on why we should boycott the Oscars (I agree!). Julie Saltman is now on my links page. (This one's funny, too, but my conservative readers will hate it. A sign of things to come, I think.) And great minds think alike; we're both in the process of rearranging and updating our blogrolls.

Judith Weiss has the latest edition of Havel Haveilim (here's the first), a weekly roundup of Jewish bloggers' posts.

This post is a perfect example of why I read Omri, and why you should, too. Omri has also noticed that Jenna Elfman has joined the shit-for-brains club of Hollywood actor and other stupid people who have fallen for scientology. And we thought Dharma was just a character.

Carnival of the cats, for which I forgot to submit pictures, is over at the Mind of Mog this week. Mog is a phenomenal catblogger (among other things). Go. Enjoy.

Speaking of cats, Lair's asking for donations for a new catcam, so he can have four. What the hey, throw in a few bucks. You can't have too many cat pictures on the internet.

Okay, there have been a lot of cat posts lately, so I think it's time to link to Harrison again, since my digital camera is in the shop and I haven't any new Worf pictures. Warning: This post is rated R for sexual content, and ST for spit-take warning, and EH for Effing Hilarious. (Harrison, you have gotten over those Dandelion flashbacks since your first look at my Tig pics, haven't you?) I keep on wondering if Harrison's last post was a hint to put this blog in a different category. Well, I'm sure he'd let me know.

I can't believe she made me agree with her on this: Trish Wilson is right. And you won't believe who I am agreeing with by proxy unless you click the link.

Estrogen Week is over at Ilyka's place, but hey, we can keep it going. I didn't do this on purpose, but I've only linked to two male bloggers in this roundup. Perhaps it was my subconscious doing it.

| |



The unbiased media, part the next

So a twisted, perverted creature raised in the likeness of Yasser Arafat blows himself up in front of a nightclub in Tel Aviv. Four people are murdered, dozens more injured. And what are the headlines?

AP: Sharon Threatens to Halt Peace Process

Reuters: Israel Steps Up Military Operations, Says Sharon

New York Times: Sharon Insists Palestinians Curb Militants

ABC News: Sharon Threatens to Halt Peace Process and Sharon Threatens to Freeze Peace Efforts

The Scotsman: Israel Threatens to Attack Syria after Nightclub Bomb

What were the headlines when the blast first hit?

AP: Tel Aviv Suicide Bombing Kills at Least 4

Reuters: Bomber Kills Four in Tel Aviv, Shattering Truce, Australia: Blast at nightclub shatters truce

NPR: Suicide Blast in Tel Aviv Shatters Truce

New York Times: Suicide Bombing Kills at Least 4 at Tel Aviv Club

So when the bomb goes off, the media actually manages to blame the perpetrators of the explosion. But when the results of that explosion cause Israel to actually demand actions that will prevent more bombs from going off in the future, suddenly, it's all about Ariel Sharon and Israel, "threatening" the peace process.

Funny, but I thought that someone blowing up bombs in the heart of Israel's most second biggest city would be what is really threatening the peace process.

Yes, that unbiased media.

| |

Catching up on the news

The Dorktator's shrinks: Syria has suddenly "captured" Saddam Hussein's half-brother and 29 other Ba'athists leading the Iraqi insurgency, and handed them over to Iraq.

Can you say, "Saving my own skin?" I knew you could. Remember that chill wind I said Baby Assad was feeling? I do believe he thinks he's just put on another layer of clothing. Nuh-uh, Bashar. They're shrinking even as I type this.

Sharon's get bigger: Ariel Sharon has made a brief reappearance and said he's instituting stronger military actions against terrorism, as well as rethinking releasing palestinian prisoners in the wake of the Tel Aviv sucide bombing. And what do the palestinian spokesliars say?

Palestinian Information Minister Ghassan al-Khatib told Reuters Sharon's threats "would be a recipe for more violence."

"It's Israel's decision whether to freeze contacts," Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie said earlier.

"We will not shed tears, but we say that after Sharm el-Sheikh there is a chance (for peace) and we would like to press ahead with this effort," Qurie said.

I should like to point out that the word "threats" was in the Reuters article, not in the spokesliars mouths. So, Ariel Sharon says that in response to the deliberate murder of Israelis by a suicide bomber, he will send the security services after more would-be murderers and refuse to let would-be murderers out of jail, and Reuters calls those "threats." On the other hand, the words "would be a recipe for more violence" are not considered a threat, and are considered an apt response to threats. Can you say, "Eff you, Reuters?" I knew you could.

Mubarak's are shrinking, too: Hosni Mubarak is feeling that same wind. He's allowing other candidates to run for president. Yes, really. Yes, really. YES. REALLY! Read for yourself. Democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the dominoes are falling. Thud. Thud. Thud.

| |


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.