This blog is a no-Israel-bashing zone (click for explanation)
My weblog evidently caught my cold today, and was down for a few hours.
Okay, so what really happened is that Hosting Matters was having DOS problems. I like my description of what happened better.
I have a bowl of chicken soup cooling down as I type this, so I think there will be no more bloggy goodness, as Glenn likes to say, until tomorrow.
In news that will interest no one but fellow climbers, I used my grigri today to put kids up on the walls, and y'know, people are right: It is a lot better for parties. However, I didn't like using it when I had the rent-a-belay with two adults, and went back to the ATC instead. I like having more control than the grigri gives you. I think the climbers preferred it, too, especially after I went airborne a foot or two when letting the guy down a bit too fast.
And by the way, I just caught the first few minutes of the remake of Battlestar Galactica: It sucks. It really sucks. No wonder they're showing it on a Saturday night.
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Information overload: The daily briefing from the COP/JCenter is so loaded with must-read articles that I can't begin to summarize them. Follow this link and read them for yourselves, and you'll see what I mean.
Ohmigod, it's typos! Two typos and a grammatical error in one post, and not a single person mentioned them. I am both ashamed of myself and gratified that you didn't notice, or if you did, were too kind to point them out. (They were in the Twinsday post.) FYI, I don't have a spellchecker. Everything you see here is painstakingly (that word seems to have gotten used a lot this week) edited and copyedited by yours truly, as I'm writing it. I reread everything I write at least once before posting, and then read it again once it's online.
Then again, I found a typo in a really old post and decided, ah, screw it. It's been there for a year, it can stay there. Perhaps I'm not the perfectionist I think I am.
Fight! Fight! Gracie was looking out the patio door and started growling. Uh-oh. I look out, and there's a strange cat on the patio, staring at Tig, who is staring back. I open the door, gray cat goes, "Crap!" and runs away. Tig runs after gray cat, I run after Tig, shouting, "No!" thinking I really don't want to pay vet bills for the results of a catfight. Luckily, Tig was satisfied with running gray cat off. But man, you should see his tail. It's poofy enough without being pissed off. When he's all poofed out, it's astonishing. I tried snapping some pictures, but he was so mad he kept switching his tail from side to side. Normally, his tail stands straight up in the air. Now, he and Gracie are glancing outside from time to time, ready to defend their territory if need be. Well, Tig is. Gracie's role, evidently, was to stay safely indoors and growl at the stranger. A bellyrub will make that poofy tail go back to normal.
Ah, there we go. Back to normal, except for the occasional glares (not at me, thankfully).
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I should be sleeping, of course, but I've been having more than a little trouble sleeping these days, so I'm up past one, and suddenly, I hear a small plane flying over. No big deal, that happens from time to time. In fact, I'm right next to a hospital and sometimes hear the Medivac choppers bringing people in.
But then I hear the plane again.
And again. Finally, I go outside and watch the plane circle and circle my area, and decide I should call the police (non-emergency number), as I suspect the FAA would a) not be in and b) not know WTF is going on in Richmond. So the dispatcher answers the phone, and I tell her I don't know if she can help me, but, and explain that there's a small plane circling my neighborhood.
Now I'm not so much afraid it's some kind of terrorist-related thing. Now I'm wondering who on earth they're looking for, what they did, and whether or not I should really be worried.
And the plane is still circling, at 1:30 a.m.
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Today was the first Twinsday of the year, and also the first Twinsday in a number of weeks. What with the holidays, and my working three jobs, and the holidays, and my working three jobs, and oh, yeah, the holidays and my working three jobsthere was very little time for Sarah and the twins and I to get together. Well, we did get together a few weeks ago and get to Hi's and the Hall Tree, where I found a beautiful dress for our little princess (who, of course, had to wear it the very next day), but I can't remember if that was on a Thursday, which would make it a proper Twinsday, or if it was just on one of those days that we could get together. Whatever.
So yesterday, when I was talking to Sarah, she suggested we could go to the zoo. "I suppose I should drive down to you," I said, considering that the zoo is in her town. "Well, yes," she said. "Probably a good idea." (A lot of our conversations are like this. We have a keen sense of irony, we two, and, well, I can't really go on because I'm afraid you will all laugh so hard that you'll ruin your monitors again. Suffice to say that we are hilarious together. We ought to get our own television show.)
(You have to understand that since I'm currently between Kelly temping jobs, I don't have to get up at 5:30 anymore, and I have a tendency to go to sleep, oh, two-ish.)
Hey, I made it to Sarah's house before ten, which is quite an accomplishment considering I didn't fall asleep until after two last night.
And so, the zoo, where the first thing we saw wasget ready for the thrillducks. Yes, ducks. The Chesterfield zoo's first exhibit is something you can see on any woodland pond. Okay, well, there were some rather exotic-looking ducks. And there were a bunch of pink flamingos next to them. But stillducks. I was much more attentive when I saw that the Bengal Tigers were behind the duck area. While we were looking at the tigers, the big white tiger male was looking at us, and Sarah and I were pretty sure he was eyeing the twins and thinking, "Lunch? Lunch?"
But the big attraction of the day was the giraffes. You know, you see them on TV and you think, man, those things are huge. Then you go to a zoo where they build a walkway at giraffe head-height specifically so you can feed the giraffes on their level, and you realize, man, those things are huge. The one Max is feeding was the small one. I tried to keep him away from the other one because it drooled and slobbered all over you. Disgusting. My mama didn't raise me to be covered in giraffe slobber. I steered clear of the big guy. Rebecca mostly declined to feed the giraffes. In fact, she was unbelievably stingy with her cup of food. She doled it out one piece at a time only after strong urging from Sarah and me, unlike Max, who went through his handfuls at a time.
By the time we got to the deer pen, Max was all out, and Rebecca wasn't keen on letting him have any of hers. Then, to the rescue: Nefarious deer! See the one in that picture? Well, he's just about to stick his head between the slats of the fence, grab the cup out of Rebecca's hands, and pull it into the deer pen. He got half of it before we could recover it. And one of the females later got Max's cup and ran off with it. She got a finger-pointing and a scolding: "Bad deer!" Max told her. "Bad deer!"
I love Twinsday. I hope I don't have to give it up when I get my new job.
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This AP piece has the skinny on how Saudi Arabia, embarrassed at being called cheapskates for their measly $10 million pledge to aid tsunami victims (many of whom are Muslims), raised the ante to $30 million and also held a telethon to raise funds.
Right, there's the background. Then there's this:
Shall we fact-check those figures? Let's. The telethon for Iraqis raised $11.5 million. The one for palestinians raised $109 million dollars. Oh, and it was for the palestinian "martyrs," (in other words, terrorists). Interesting how the Sauds can really open their pocketbooks for murderers, but have to be convinced to put up money for their fellow Muslims in need.
"Tens of millions of dollars:" Sure, "tens of millions" is accurate, but it's also extremely misleading, as is the context-less description of the telethon. The man who hosted it was a real sweetheart: He previously called for the enslavement of Jewish women, as well as the usual Jew- and America-hatred.
Oh, yes. That objective, fact-digging media. As long as the facts don't portray anyone but Israel and the U.S. in a negative light, that is.
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Look out for all those Israeli terrorists! The Jerusalem Post reports that palestinian terrorists are planning to stage attacks during Sunday's elections and blame them on Israel. Because as the world knows, those Jewish terrorists are just blowing up and gunning down innocent palestinians by the thousands. Oh, wait. Strike that. Reverse it.
Less talk, more action: The Telegraph claims the pals are "weary" of war and say that this intifada didn't win them anything. But then they publish a quote like this, and ignore the real sentiments behind it:
You see, it wasn't a mistake. It just didn't work. Then again, the Telegraph calls her brother an "activist." You know, "activists" are the people you see on the streets carrying protest signs. They're not the people who murder innocent civilians for their "cause."
I don't think they're weary of war. I think they're just ramping up for the next stage.
Is it real, or is it Memorex? More calls from Fatah to Hamas to stop sending rockets into Israel. Yeah, whatever. You can talk all you like, but taking action? Prove you're serious, and we might believe you.
A more realistic view: This one carries a read-it-all recommendation. It's an analysis of Abbas' and the palestinian positions. He was at Camp David, and his views don't seem to have changed. Pre-1967 borders, repatriation (yeah, right) of refugees, no demilitarized palestinian stateand most important of all, no Jews in palestine. Because God knows, there aren't any palestinians in Israel. Oh, that's right, there aren't. They're known as Israeli Arabs now. Don't hold your breath waiting to read about palestinian Jews.
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Open eyes, engage brain: I am not up to posting anything substantive at the moment. This may be partly because Gracie is playing her "I want to go out. No I don't. Yes I do. No I don't. Yes I do. No I don't." game. It may also be because my Jeep dealer woke me up this morning with another bogus "We think your Jeep is in such great shape for a used vehicle we'd like to buy it from you!" sales pitch. The woman on the phone was introduced to The Wrath of Meryl when she refused to take no for an answer.
No soap, radio: So I was pretty tired one day last week, and I was washing my hands in the upstairs bathroom and couldn't figure out why the soap wasn't lathering. I rubbed and rubbed and nothing happened. Then I realized that there was only bar soap in the upstairs bathroom, not a soap dispenser. I was trying to wash my hands with hand lotion. Oh.
Selective memory wiping, please: You know, I can't wait until they figure out the way the human brain works, because I really, really, really want to be able to wipe individual memories from my brain. For instance, why am I afflicted with remembering that when I was about ten years old, I spent an inordinately long time shouting out the window of our third-floor apartment, "Friday the 13th! Bad luck day!" over and over again? How is it that this memory, above whatever else happened that day, is so stuck in my mind that I can mentally hear myself shouting those phrases? I mean, come on. There ought to be a statute of limitations on stupid memories. And don't even get me started on the really stupid songs they made us learn in music class as children. I would pay someone an incredible amount of money to wipe "Zulu Warrior" from my brain.
The anti-PETA: I received a letter from yet another brilliant, erudite, vegan:
The day in question she's referring to was International Eat an Animal for PETA Day, which I started in response to PETA's abhorrent "Holocaust on your plate" ad campaign.
You know, every so often, I get a letter just like Activistgirl5's (that's her email account). Sometimes I ignore them. Sometimes, they're funny enough to share with my readers, and need no response. She titled her email "the anti-PETA." I like that. I think I'll add that to my title of The Master of Juvenile Scorn.
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Oh, it's just electioneering: Let's see. First, Mahmoud Abbas said he would protect terrorists from any retribution from Israel. Then he said he would bring back all the palestinian refugees (now officially numbering 4 million or so what with insisting that a third-generation Jordanian is a refugee because his grandfather was born in the West Bank). His latest: he called Israel "the Zionist enemy" after a tank shell took out terrorists trying to launch rockets. And, oh yeahthe "election" on Sunday is basically a referendum on Abbas, who they say needs 60% of the vote to claim a mandate. There is no one of note running against him, which is exactly what happened during Arafat's "election," when some old woman nobody had ever heard of became his opponent. (All the rest of his opponents suddenly withdrew.)
Yeah, it's just your typical run-up to election speech. Sure. It's not at all a reflection of the fact that Abbas was Arafat's hand-picked prime minister. Here's a heads-up: Ahmed Qurei is going to take Abbas' place as the PA's gadfly. There will be staged "disagreements," only to be settled at the last minute, just before the entire PA breaks apart into civil war. And the rest of the world will buy it. It's already begun (but I can't find the link, dammit. I'll keep looking).
Yet another Saudi terrorist: Apparently, the Iraqi mess hall bomber was a Saudi. But they're getting a handle on terrorism, really they are!
Oh, that's reassuring: Chaka Khan, I mean, Abdul Qadeer Khan, the man behind Pakistan's nuke program, sold enough material and know-how to a Middle Eastern country to make a nuke. It's either Syria, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia, according to the Jerusalem Post. Scary enough for you? Then how's this article from AP, which says that the IAEA found a secret nuclear program in Egypt.
I think we can narrow down which of the three countries the unnamed source refused to name. But this is the most frightening part of all:
Yeah, that's really a comforting thought.
What? A positive news piece on Israel? In Reuters? Well, yes, believe it or not.
Yeah, but Israel21C had it first.
And I'm outta here. It's in the 70s in Richmond today. And sunny. You all have fun.
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But it is mine. In the comments to the post below, big dirigible questions my definition of amateur and expert typographer. I know my argument sounds a lot like the "you can't be a heart surgeon if you've never had a heart attack" false logic, but it's simply the truth: You can't become an expert typographer simply by Googling a few pages on the Internet, and you can't comprehend how difficult typography is if you don't study it a bit. I would not let you diagnose my ailment after you'd watched a few seasons of ER, and that's what Corey Pein is doing by throwing out the testimony of expert typographer Joseph Newcomer in favor of a tech writing teacher.
Since the subject has been raised, I get to bore the hell out of my readers and give you some examples straight out of the Atex Composition Reference Manual. You need to have a hell of a lot more background in type than being able to know that there is a word called kerning, and it has something to do with the space between letters, and oh, yeah, leading is that space between lines, right?
When matching type, one of the things you had to do was create the VB strings. These are variable spaceband values. An example:
Here's the definition from the manual: "Specifies values for spaceband widths to be used during justification of lines." To continue:
Here's what the above is in plain English: The variable spaceband value sets the amount of space, in multiples of em spaces*, between words and before the letterspacing. If the computer, after the HNJ, determines that there is too much space between the words, it's going to let you know it with a flashing L when you call the article up on the monitor. (There was no automatic HNJ back then as there is in desktop publishing today. We sent each article to a queue to be hyphenated and justified, and waited for it to be finished before we could move on.)
You have no idea how much we dreaded that flashing L. The customers always hated loose lines. We had to fix them before sending the proof back to the customer, because they'd simply write "TIGHTEN LINE!!" on it and send it right back. We could sometimes do this with a CW, or Change White Space, command. That changed the space between words, but not the letterspacing. The VB string was the last resort, after you'd changed the white space down to a -2 (anything more than that made the type look too squashed).
If this seems rather arcane, let me point out that every single typeface used by our customers had its own VB string in each font variation. You could look up the value, and then change the ones needed to tighten or loosen the type for that specific article. And I would also like to point out that each font had different VB strings for justified and ragged type. That means one string for Times Roman, one for Times Roman Italic, one for Times Roman Bold, one for Times Romanl Bold Italicyou get the idea.
Now, stop a moment and remember that we had to manipulate these little decimal pointswhich were in fractions of an em spaceuntil we got an exact, letter-spaced match for the type sample supplied us by our new customers. (And you wonder why I hated matching type?)
If you're still with me and you're still not impressed with Joseph Newcomer's background as one of the pioneers in creating computer fonts for electronic typesetting, well, I'm done trying.
(*An em space is a type measurement the equivalent of the letter "m," for example, in 10 pt. type, an em space equals ten points in width and height. I'm betting that Corey Pein didn't know that.)
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Corey Pein of the Columbia Journalism Review made many errors in his article about the bogus National Guard memos, but I'm going to deal only with my field of expertise, and discuss the typographic issues behind the exposure of the documents as fraudulent.
When the issue first broke, I pointed out that there is no such thing as an amateur typographer. Either you know type, or you don't. Joseph Newcomer, whose methodology tore apart the memos and exposed them absolutely as frauds, knows type. He created computer fonts, and was a pioneer of electronic typesetting. Those of you whose only knowledge of fonts is the drop-down menu in Word simply have no idea how much you have to know as a programmer and a typographer to have created fonts in the early days of computer typesetting. I stand in awe of his achievements, while Corey Pein, who doesn't seem to know anything about type, denigrates them.
He brushes off Dr. Newcomer's resume casually, and without using any facts to bolster his assertion that Dr. Newcomer's results are wrong:
I'm actually at a loss as to why someone would refuse to acknowledge that a man who pioneered electronic typesetting has the necessary background to make these kinds of judgments, except for the fact that it doesn't mesh with the outcome Pein is looking for in his article. But I think another look into typography is in order.
I have a twenty-some-year background in publishing, starting in college on AM Varityper and Compugraphic typesetting systems, and moving on to Atex (two of whose manual pages you see pictured here), the industry Gold Standard, and then desktop publishing. I like to call myself a one-woman publishing house. I can write a book, lay it out, typeset it, edit it, copyedit it, proofread it, and put in the pictures. About the only thing I can't do is the heavy-duty graphics work (and for that, I'd hire out).
When I first started in typesetting, Harper's Bazaar was still being set by a hot lead type shop in New York. I know this, because shortly after I joined Publisher's Phototype (now Applied Graphics Technologies), we got the Harper's account. It tooks us weeks of painstaking work to match our computer typefaces to the ones in the magazine.
I was assigned to the team that set up new accounts. I would sometimes spend an entire shift matching the type in a single article. I nevernevergot a clean match on the first try. Nobody ever did. Matching type was and is the most frustrating, exacting, painstaking, time-consuming process that exists in any aspect of publishing. Imagine having to take the same few paragraphs and incrementally increase or decrease the spacing between characters, words, even between kerning pairs such as ff or WA. (If you ever want to torture me, just sit me down and make me match type. You'll get anything you want from me in an hour or two.)
Remember this when you realize that Charles Johnson typed the Killian memo into Word using the default settings and came up with a near-perfect matchthe first time.
I repeat this information because once again, a critic of the process that uncovered the forged memos seems to think that typography is just a fancy word for typing. Let me try another legal comparison: Corey Pein's utterly clueless criticism of the typography that exposed the memo fraud would be similar to insisting he can argue a case before the Supreme Court because he went to traffic court.
His ignorance is showing, and not in a good way.
After throwing out Dr. Newcomer's curriculum vitae in the electronic typesetting field, Pein then uses the workwhich was utterly debunked by various sourcesof a technical writing teacher to bolster his assertions that the memos may not be forged.
Pein states in the article that Hailey is "not a professional document examiner." Um. The guy teaches tech writing at Utah State University. Surely, he isn't saying that a man who teaches tech writing is more knowledgeable in the field of electronic typography than one of the men who pioneered it?
Well, yes, actually. He is.
Shoddy, slipshod research, false accusations, and ignoring important factsisn't that what caused Memogate in the first place?
Yes. Well, once again, I have a recommendation for everyone out there who wants to play amateur typographer: Don't. Do your research first, or you will make yourself look like a fool.
I stand with those who say the memos are fraudulent, and I'm using my twenty-year-plus publishing experience to make that call.
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Heidi stopped by and dropped off my disk reader, and there are many new pictures on my computer. And there is now a photo page for those of my readers who are interested. It's rather high-load, so if you're on a 56k modem, well, uh, you're going to have to wait a while.
In the meantime, a couple of lower-load photos for your viewing pleasure:
This is Tig's imitation of a tribble. I think it's a pretty good imitation myself, minus the irritating chirping noises that tribbles make.
This is Gracie in one of her petting places. She simply adores being adored while on the sink.
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William Safire has a must-read on his latest conversation with Ariel Sharon. Some highlights:
And this threat, which I fear will wind up being carried out:
Then this line, which caused me to laugh out loud.
Now that's a Jewish politician.
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Not all the bookmarks I made were bad. I saved this article in the Los Angeles Times Magazine about a Dutch woman who saved Jewish children from the Nazis. Read this story, and remember that the world is full of decent people, too.
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I'm organizing my bookmarks. I found a reference to this, a letter from "academics" insisting that the upcoming war on Iraq was going to be used by Israel to transfer the pals into Jordan. Wake me when the ethnic cleansing takes place, will you? I'll write an apology to those idiot "academics."
There's also an article from April of 2002 about Sudan.
These are the things that make some people want to take their heads and beat it against the wall. It makes me want to beat other people's heads against the wall.
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The good news is the police were able to track a man who aimed a laser at an airplane cockpit.
The bad news is, the guy was just playing with his daughter's new Christmas toy.
He spent New Year's Eve answering questions at the local FBI office.
Phantom thinks that the terrorists are currently in the business of target acquisition.
Authorities are downplaying the laser incidents. But Phantom thinks they're worth worrying about:
Picture the scenario: A dozen American cities; a dozen shoulder-fired missiles. Four miss. Eight hit their targets. Imagine eight plane crashes at the same time, on the same day, some over the extremely populated areas around Newark, Chicago, New York, and five other cities. The death toll would be in the thousands, and the economic hit? The air travel industry as we know it would disappear. Say goodbye to the American economic recovery.
I sure hope the FBI is up to this particular challenge.
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The AP has a roundup of the ways Americans are donating and raising money for disaster relief:
The Amazon.com tally is up to nearly $12 million. Colin Powell on CNN said that AOL has raised a similar amount.
Of course, none of these count as percentage of GDP, so I guess we're still number one on the Stingy Chart.
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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.