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"It's like little piles of ice balls on my deck."

That's what Sarah G. just told me over the phone as we were trying to describe the storm that's hit the Richmond area. It's rain, sleet, snow, and ice. Ice balls, apparently.

Here's what my car looked like at 3:30 p.m.

Ice storm on my car

I'll probably take another picture later. Needless to say, I called in to work. The roads suck, and I draw the line at ice. If it were just snow, I'd drive in. But I won't risk life and limb on ice, not for any job.

In the meantime, Michele is blizzard blogging, and she started me on snow haiku. These are the three I came up with on her blog:

I have no scraper.
Should have bought one yesterday.
Oh, well. Ice will melt.

Sleet, rain in Richmond
It may turn all rain later
That would be okay.

Sleet, rain in Richmond
Power will be out today
Sleet always does that.

Join in the fun. Add your own haiku in the comments.

5 p.m. update: It's lightning and thundering out now. Oh, and raining. But there are still giant ice balls here, one the diameter of my pinky, which is about a quarter-inch. I think I'll stay in for the rest of the night.

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Help a poor, old woman

I spoke to my mother this morning. She's bracing the for the blizzard. She's got everything she needs in the house already, knowing her, but I'm sure she went out to the store yesterday to buy that last little whatever. While we were talking, she was telling me about her medical condition (she's started having problems with blood pressure and her heart), and she was wondering how she was going to clean off her car tomorrow. My nearest brother is twenty minutes west, which will actually mean he gets more snow than Mom, and will also have to be digging himself out, what with living on the second-highest point in New Jersey. My other brother is over half an hour away, but says he'd come dig out her car if no one else could be found. I could drive up to NJ to dig her out, but I'd probably get stuck by the time I hit DC, what with the blizzard being all up and down the coast.

Of course, the simplest way, I told her, was to talk to the kids in her apartment complex, tell them to spread the word that she'd pay an enterprising young boy or girl twenty bucks to clean off her car and dig out the space behind it so she can drive once the storm is over. But that's too easy. This way will be more fun: I'm going to make an appeal to the blogosphere.

That's right, if you live in or near Parsippany, New Jersey, and you're young and fit enough to dig out a 74-year-old woman's car from the snow once the blizzard is over, I want you to get in touch with me so I can send you over to my mother's. Hey, she'll feed you. She's a Jewish mother; hoo-boy, will she feed you.

So. Let's see if the blogosphere can help an old woman get to her car after the blizzard.

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More signs of hope for Israel

More things are happening on the UN/EU front that lead me to believe a sea change has occured. The why of it, I can't tell you. I haven't figured it out. Yet. But the results will be lives saved—on both sides.

Kofi Annan has actually criticized Hezbollah's actions in Lebanon.

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 20 (KUNA) -- Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday said Hizbollah's military operations in South Lebanon against Israel are "disturbing," and reminded Lebanon that its asserted position that the Blue Line is not valid in the Shaba'a farms is not "compatible" with Security Council resolutions.

"The United Nations has made abundantly clear that no violations of the Blue Line are acceptable. The continually asserted position of the Government of Lebanon that the Blue Line is not valid in the Shab'a farms area is not compatible with Security Council resolutions," Annan told the council in his six-month report on UNIFIL.

He said the resumption of military measures, "for which Hizbollah took credit, asserting its claimed prerogative to resist Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory by force, was disturbing." He said Hizbollah's recent launch of a drone into Israel was a "regrettable development, an activity sure to raise tensions and to increase the prospects for military confrontation."

All right, so in the next breath, he condemned Israel's overflights into Lebanon, but still—this is a huge development, especially when you consider that only five months ago, he was blaming Israel for overflying Lebanon in response to an attack from Hezbollah that killed three engineers fixing an antenna in Israel—within sight of the Lebanese border. Yes, things have changed a bit lately.

While researching the above story, I found this statement by Annan regarding the suicide bomber at the Karni crossing:

The Secretary-General condemns the Palestinian terror attack that caused the death of six Israeli civilians and injury to four others at the Karni crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip yesterday evening. He wishes to express his deepest condolences to the families of those killed and injured.

The Secretary-General hopes that this terrible incident will not be allowed to undermine the recent positive steps made by both parties. He also calls on the new Palestinian leadership to make all possible attempts to bring to justice the organizers and perpetrators of this attack.

The Secretary-General emphasizes again that violence cannot provide a solution to the conflict, and that only through negotiation can peace be achieved.

Notice that there is no call for Israel to show restraint, and that it is a pure condemnation of the attack—and uses the word "terror"! Compare this to a statement from Annan last year:

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and senior European Union officials appealed to Israelis and Palestinians on Thursday to get back to the negotiating table in the wake of Thursday's suicide bombing.

Annan and Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen, whose country holds the EU presidency, both condemned the attack on a bus in Jerusalem, which killed at least 10 bystanders and wounded 50 others.

"I am once again going to appeal to leaders for the sake of their people and their nations to summon the courage and leadership to get back to the table," Annan said.

He urged them to "make ... parallel concessions and to take confidence-building measures to move the process ahead."

Cowen said the bus attack should not deter attempts to implement the so-called road map for peace that is being pushed by the U.N., the EU, Russia and the United States.

On top of this, the EU has finally demanded that terrorists stop attacking Israel.

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, whose country holds the European Union presidency, told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that Palestinian attacks against Israel must end.

[...] In talks with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Asselborn condemned Palestinian rocket salvos and bombing attacks against Israelis. He returned to the theme in Gaza Thursday.

"We understand the difficulties for the Palestinians, but the violent means and terror will never be acceptable and will lead to an impasse," he told a news conference after meeting with Abbas and Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath. "Bringing security is the most immediate priority. Suicide bombings have to stop, rocket attacks must be stopped."

Something huge has happened. This is not the language the EU and UN have used before. In the past, they've always refused to blame the terrorists for terrorism, and always insisted that Israel "show restraint," without ever holding the palestinians up to the same standard.

If the UN and the EU are finally owning up to the fact that the perpetrators of the violence are the terrorists, not the state of Israel, then some kind of positive action can finally occur.

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Today's moment of kitty zen

Both of them, gift-wrapped for my sister-in-law's birthday:

Tig in box

Does this box make me look fat?

Gracie in box

Yes. Because it's mine. And stay out.

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Is it movement, or is it all sleight of hand?

Ariel Sharon has given Abbas another chance to rein in the terrorists. This has caused a deployment (you can stop laughing now) of palestinian police who are supposed to prevent terrorists from entering or shooting rockets into Israel or the territories. Amos Harel thinks this may be signs of a change. Perhaps. But then I found this nugget of information: Abbas has fired 50 of 55 advisers from the Arafat era. Of course, one must point out that Abbas himself was hand-picked to be Arafat's first Prime Minister, and so would be qualified to be an Arafat-era adviser. But it was both unexpected and seemingly low-key: Just try to find the news. It's only in a few places, with limited information.

I don't dare to hope. But I am, as Frank J. would say, looking thoughtful and going "Hmmm."

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Four more years

So I'm watching the Inauguration, and listening to the president's speech (which was, frankly, about five minutes too long), and I'm thinking: Oooh, there are going to be a lot of people out there really unhappy with the many parts religion played, both in the speech and in the inauguration ceremonies.

And yet, I don't feel that the Establishment Clause was particularly strained.

My opinion: I think the next four years are going to see more battles, and not just in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Yeah, too bad about that Nazi thing

Germany is celebrating Albert Einstein as a native son who brought them glory.

The so-called "Einstein Year" of 2005 is being marked with tours, a scientific conference and a major exhibition about Einstein, whose theories about space, time and relativity revolutionized science and also helped make him a pop icon.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder began the celebration at the German Historical Museum in Berlin, calling on his fellow Germans and scientists to embrace innovation and political debate as Einstein would.

This is my favorite part:

Germans have taken his iconic status as a chance to ponder their country's scientific innovations and wonder how to keep their brightest people from leaving.

Germany has long prided itself on being the homeland of some of the world's greatest philosophers and scientists, but it has agonized in recent years about the strength of its education system and the "brain drain" that draws its scientists to elite universities in the United States.

Okay, I'm going to go out on a limb here: Howsabout you don't create fascist dictatorships and scare away or murder some of your best and brightest because they're Jewish?

(Yes, I know that's not exactly what they mean today, but who could resist a wide-open shot like that?)

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Wednesday miscellany

Be still, my mood: I don't seem to want to post anything really depressing today. But that'll probably change. I love spreading my bad mood around for everyone to enjoy. The reasons? Same old, same old. Need a job. Need bucks. Bills hanging over my head, etc., etc. Still waiting on word from two or three sources about jobs. [Insert heavy sigh here]

I want a Maine Coon cat coat: Apparently, Tig is wholly unaffected by frigid air. It's been in the teens here, with a wind chill of single digits, and Tig's been going out—blithely, I might add—for half an hour at a time, at night. He comes inside, I pick him up, and he's freezing on the outside (but warm on the inside!). He warms up to room temperature in less than a minute. I'm thinking you could make a fortune if you could synthesize Maine Coon cat fur.

Jack's back: Jack's got the Carnival of the Vanities, and I always link him when he's got the CotV, so here you go.

For ladies only: Acidophilus. That's all I'm gonna say. No, actually, it's not. I don't like yogurt. Never have. But I found a local dairy, Richfood, that adds acidophilus to their milk (and it's even lowfat, which people have been bugging me to switch to forever). I drink it every day now, and damn, I've finally managed to beat that never-say-die infection. Ladies, forget about Monistat. If you don't like yogurt, and can't take the acidophilus pills (I couldn't; they killed my stomach), see if you can find a milk product with the live cultures added. In a few weeks, the bacteria levels in your body should be just right. That is, until you have to take antiobiotics to get rid of a flu or virus or something. But wait! There's Richfood dairy to the rescue! Hurrah!

Okay, I'll stop now.

Don't you wish you knew what this was? I just deleted the entry that was here before. Sometimes, I feel like I'm divulging too much information, and so I stop. It was about my class. One of the things I always keep in mind while writing this blog: Potential and current employers may be reading. There's only so much I will put up in public. The rest, you have to read my mind for. If you can't read minds, well, that's your problem, not mine.

I, of course, can read minds. Dan, stop thinking that, right now!

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More on the pro-terrorists in Berkeley

With a hat tip to Jim Miller, who sent me to Classical Values, who has video of the protest. And a link to this article in the Berkeley Daily Planet which, among other things, shows how hard the city of Berkeley worked to prevent the Number 19 bus from being shown:

IAC’s chair, Susanne “Sanne” DeWitt, has led the project, personally paying more than half of the $11,000 it cost to ship the bus across the country to Berkeley. The city is also requiring her to pay for a private security company to assist Berkeley police and to purchase $1 million worth of liability insurance.

Late last year, before the city granted her a permit, DeWitt posted a scathing letter on the Internet that said the city’s insurance and security demands, among other things, had “placed obstacles in my way at every turn.”

“They were reluctant [to issue the permit],” she said.

Lisa Caronna, the deputy city manager, said the permit request was originally submitted while the person needed to approve it was away on medical leave. Otherwise, she said the city treated the application like any other for a special event.

“We had to go through a whole variety of issues that we normally do,” she said.

I believe this is what Eugene Volokh has called a "heckler's veto:" Making it more difficult to get permits to have an event because the event-holders are made to pay for those that may disrupt their event. But then, I'm not surprised that Berkeley would do such a thing.

Updates: From reader aunursa's comment:

I was there. The pro-terror demonstrators were supposed to have a silent vigil for the Palestinian children killed.

But a group of about 40 Palestinians (including a few children ages 5 to 10) loudly yelled at us. Near the end of the rally they marched across the street, waved their Palestinian flags and shouted anti-Israeli slogans as they passed Bus 19, and tried to disrupt the rally.

You can find photos of the rally at under the command and control forum.

The pro-terror protestors carried signs that included messages that accused Israelis of "stealing organs", of attempting to rid the land of Arabs, and that equated Bush and Sharon with Hitler.

There were also calls for Israel's destruction. I overheard one protestor say that she considered the anti-terror participants to be "Jewish klansmen". All this in the shadow of Bus 19.

Another participant told me that she believes that Israelis deliberately shoot at women and children and that Rachel Corrie's death was no accident. When I asked her why Israel would deliberately kill civilians she had no answer. She also didn't believe that there are weapons tunnels under Palestinian homes.

And more pictures from Zombie, linked here to one of his mirror sites.

Most disturbing: The pictures of children holding up blood libel posters, and this exchange:

Masked Boy: Go back to Germany! Back!
Woman: Allahu Ackbar! Allahu Ackbar!
Boy Without Mask: Go back to Europe.

"Go back to Germany."

I was born in Newark, New Jersey. I'm not going anywhere.

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Linking around

The latest Carnival of the Cats is over at some cat hater's blog. Only Lair could assign the COTC to a cat hater, and only Lair could find one that actually grows on you after a while. If you can't laugh by the time you reach the end of this guy's post, there's something seriously wrong with you and I wish you would stop reading my blog.

Michele's quitting smoking. Good for her. Do me a favor: Go over there and bug her so she can take things out on you instead of taking them out on her family. But don't tell her I sent you, 'cause I don't want her taking things out on me.

Corey Pein has a blog, but he doesn't seem to be able to link to anything critical of his work. (He does, however, link to most of his clips.) My ears were burning in this post:

Last links to a post to "clear" one typographic expert, Joseph Newcomer, of my criticism of his work. But Yourish’s argument echoes Newcomer’s, and I still think it’s not good enough. Just because you can produce a documents similar to the Killian memos very quickly on the computer does not mean the Killian memos are fake. It certainly does not grant someone — of any qualifications — the ability to say that they are "100 percent" sure of the memos’ origin.

Here's the link to my post, and here's Jonathan Last's article. (Corey, bubelah, you can call me Meryl.) And here's more of the same: Pein is simply repeating what he wrote in his article in his attempt to defend his theory on his blog:

Last complains that I hold up David Hailey’s typographic study to show that the memos might be real. To prove that Hailey’s study was "debunked," Last cites the very bloggers who hounded Hailey — without compelling evidence of fraud. I’m not going to pretend to be qualified to peer review Hailey’s work, but his criticism of the studies that, like Newcomer’s, presumed guilt seems sound. The man was harassed for failing to join the chorus, and that, more than anything, makes his story notable.

Pein wants it both ways. He says he isn't qualified to "peer review" Hailey's work, but when I, who am qualified to "peer review" Dr. Newcomer's, do so and back him up, he says "it's not good enough." I'm getting whiplash from trying to follow the back-and-forth logic here. But truly, the fact that nearly everyone trashed Hailey's work is a reason to believe it? Talk about an error in logic! Sometimes, the majority opinion just happens to be correct. This is one of those times.

One more time, for the exceptionally hard of hearing (Corey): The odds are astronomically against the fact that Charles Johnson could have retyped the memo in Microsoft Word, using the default settings, and come up with a near-perfect match of the Killian memo. In plain English: They're frauds, and really bad ones, no less.

David Hailey is a teacher of tech writing. Joseph Newcomer is one of the founders of moder electronic typesetting (who thoroughly trashed Pein's argument). Which of them, do you think, is more qualified to judge whether a memo was typed on Microsoft Word in 2004 or typed on a typewriter in 1972? It boggles my mind that Pein is so dense—or pretending to be so—that he can't figure this one out.

But then, when you stick your hands over your ears and yell "La la la, I can't hear you!" enough times, you can easily say that no one has satisfactorily disproved anything you said.

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The peaceful protesters of Berkeley attack Jews—Again

Shades of SFSU! Once again, an anti-terrorism protest was disrupted by pro-terrorists, and Jews were attacked. Since this is the SF Chronicle, the article, of course, carries "both sides" of the story and therefore downplays the violence and assigns it to both protesters and counter-protesters.

Later, flag carrying pro-Palestinians entered the park and were quickly confronted by hundreds of supporters of Israel. Men on both sides taunted each other and threw punches, but police soon stopped them.

I would welcome first-hand accounts of this rally to find out what really happened.

I call them "pro-terrorists" because of things like this:

More than 200 counter-demonstrators gathered Sunday across the street from the park for what was billed in advance as a silent vigil honoring children slain in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Most were reserved, but some 40 people, mostly men of Middle Eastern descent, yelled and exchanged taunts with pro-Israeli demonstrators across the street.

"Two, four, six, eight, we are martyrs, we can't wait,'' chanted the group, most of whom wore kaffiyehs -- the cloth headdress closely associated with Palestinian militants. Some drove around the park, their faces covered, waving Palestinian flags.

"We are here to make sure that these people are ashamed of themselves,'' said Essam Mahgoub, a native of Cairo, who lives in Oakland and attended with his wife and four children.

What are they supposed to be ashamed of?

A Berkeley rally against terrorism that featured a bombed Israeli bus turned briefly violent Sunday when angry counter demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags marched into the mostly pro-Israel crowd.

Oh, right. They had the nerve to bring a bus that had had children killed on it.

More than 500 people, mostly Jews from throughout the Bay Area, gathered in Martin Luther King Jr. Park to hear speakers denounce terrorism. A similar rally featuring the bus is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. today in San Francisco's Civic Center Park.

Oh, of course! They denounced terrorism. Well, that excuses the violence, then. Definitely, you should be ashamed that you have the nerve to denounce terrorism. I mean, "resistance against the occupation."

Does anyone else get the irony of an anti-terrorism rally being violently opposed in Martin Luther King Jr. Park, on the day before Martin Luther King Jr. Day?

This is the crowning quote about the event, from the police spokesman:

"Emotions were high, but overall, aside from verbal confrontations and one physical altercation, the event went relatively smoothly,'' said police Sgt. Joe Okies.

Oh. So, everything went fine except for the fighting. Once again, great job, SF police. It's good to know that rallies of every kind, even ones that are unpopular in Berkeley, can have such great protection that participants don't have to worry about violence.

Or not.

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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.