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Ew, winter's back: More than two solid weeks of spring-like temperatures, and dammit, now I've got the heat on again. Richmond's temps went down over thirty degrees in one day. Bummer.

You win some, you lose some: The climbing gym has a regular Saturday night thing called Kids Klimb Time (don't blame me, I didn't name it), which is essentially babysitting with rock climbing thrown in. From six to nine on Saturdays, you can drop off your kid for three hours of climbing, with pizza supplied. Since I've been working there, the weekend managers discovered that I'm pretty good with the little buggers, so I get the job more often than not. Tonight, one of my regulars showed up. I've discovered that if she feels I'm not paying enough attention to her, she goes off and cries. (Life is so hard when you're seven.) Tonight, all she did was sulk for the last twenty minutes. But one of the other children, Matthew, upon learning that his mother would be bringing him back tomorrow so she can take the test and belay him herself, told her that he'd rather have me. He's nearly six. She tried to explain that if she passed the test, he wouldn't need me to climb. He still wanted me. Okay, all together now: Awwwww.

No, I'm not kidding: I met a woman last week who does voiceovers. She told me she's the backup Aflac duck. How'd you like to have that on your resume?

When she's not doing voiceovers, she's teaching healthcare seminars. In the middle of the one on how to fill out insurance forms, I heard, "Aflac! Aflac! Aflac!"

It's a strange world.

Last chance: Sunday is the last day for nominations in Israelly Cool's Jewish and Israeli Blogger awards. I've already been nominated, but if you want to nominate some others, go over there before you forget.

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The pod people are taking over the world

Now the EU is acting in a manner we've never seen before. They're actually blaming the palestinians for terror, and telling Abbas to do something about it.

The European Union on Friday condemned the latest suicide attack in the Gaza Strip and called on the new Palestinian leadership to help stop further violence.

"The (EU) presidency urges the Palestinian authorities to do all they can to prevent such acts in the future," said a statement. "It is imperative to put an end to attacks and violence."

But what about the moral equivalency quotient? Where's their call for Israeli restraint?

"The attack intervened at a time when there is real hope for relaunching the political process," said the statement released by Luxembourg's government, which holds the EU's rotating presidency.

It called on all sides to show restraint and "ensure that such acts do not sabotage the efforts for a negotiated, just and lasting peace."

Oh. Phew. For a minute there, I was beginning to think I'd woken up on a different planet.

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Will the real Colin Powell please stand up?

This is what he said to Larry King yesterday:

I'm encouraged that Chairman Arafat is no longer there as an obstacle or excuse for people to point to. I'm encouraged in that the Palestinian people have an open, free, fair election, and with the assistance of the Israelis to make it happen, let it happen, have elected a new President in President Abu Mazen.

He's a good man; we know him well. But he knows and we know and the Israelis know that the Palestinians have to come together now and stand behind their President and insist on a reformed government, an honest government, a government that has a solid security apparatus that will go after these terrorists. It's going to be another tragedy if people who conduct these acts of terror, who shoot mortars out of Gaza or try to get bombs into Israel from the West Bank, are allowed to continue to destroy the peace process and deny the Palestinian people their opportunity to have a state of their own.

Prime Minister Sharon is ready to pull out of the settlements in Gaza and some settlements of the West Bank, get back into the roadmap and start working for peace. He needs a partner for peace, and that's Prime Minister -- now President Abu Mazen. And Abu Mazen knows that he has to bring the Palestinian people along.

The intifada did not accomplish a single thing for the Palestinian people toward their goal of a state of their own. So it has to end, and all of these organizations and individuals and terrorists who continue to kill Israelis or to create conditions of instability are not doing their people a favor. They're denying their people their dream.

Someone check in his cellar for pods.

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Oh, you think of a headline

Cause and effect: The Independent has another howler, discussing Italy's La Stampa dropping the asshat cartoonist who depicted the baby Jesus in Bethlehem at the foot of an IDF tank asking, "Are you going to kill me again?" This was because the IDF went into Bethlehem during April of 2002 in order to stop the terrorist attacks that had been happening daily, and twice daily, and even three times in one day. You may remember that spring. I have never forgotten it, and the terrorists look up on it as their crowning glory. But I'm thinking the Independent is barking up the wrong tree on this one, because if being dumped from your half-million-a-year job two and three-quarters years after the offense is a cause-and-effect thing, La Stampa is nearly as morally reprehensible as Giorgio Forattini.

Okay, so who do we believe? Now Herb Keinon says Sharon will not put aside his demands that Abbas stop terrorism.

Israel will not begin political negotiations with the Palestinian Authority simply because Mahmoud Abbas was elected PA chairman, Israeli officials are expected to tell visiting EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Thursday.

"We don't want the Europeans to give off the impression that because there has been an election we can now start political negotiations. We are not there yet," one senior diplomatic official said.

I'm so confused. And in news of the Yeah, Right: Abbas says he's ready to meet security commitments. We won't hold our breath.

Boom, there it goes! The IAF blew up a car in Gaza. Unfortunately, no terrorists died in the explosion. However, neither did any Israeli civilians, for whom the bomb-laden car was meant.

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Random acts of verbage

Can the Yourish Catcam be far behind? Because Rahel demanded it—okay, no she didn't, but you know she wants it—I took a few movies of the cats today with the digicam. The first one is titled Gracie, Come Here (344k, mpeg). She's a cat. Guess what happens.

The second one is, No, Tig, Stay There For A Minute. No. Wait. WAIT! (184k, mpeg)

As you can see, my cats always do exactly as they're told.

Which one's the ass, and which is the ogre? You have to click on this link to answer the question.

Attention, fellow AMC watchers: I know who the shooter is! So there I am, watching AMC today, and suddenly, it hits me! The identity of the shooter! I'm right, I know I'm right, the pieces all fit. And so I quickly run over to a few of the AMC forums I found on Google, and was all set to divulge my theory, when I see on the spoilers section: The identity of the shooter. Yes, it's who I thought it was. But damn. I thought I was the first.

Do I have to watch all the same shows Treacher watches? Please tell me I can watch shows he doesn't. He doesn't watch Gilmore Girls, right? Right?

And speaking of shows Treacher watches, y'know, tonight's episode of Lost made me go, "Ew. EW!" (And not about Hurley's hurling, either.)

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Regular readers know I've been temping lately. One of my temp jobs is helping out at various seminars in the Richmond area. I had no idea how rich and varied the seminar field is. In the past few months, I've worked quite a few different seminars, ranging from software training to property law to childcare to—well, let me tell you about it.

This morning's workshop was titled "Self-Mutilation." It was about adolescents who cut themselves. I'd heard of the problem before, and so didn't really raise an eyebrow at the subject matter. However, registration this morning was a bit unusual. The problem involved signing in. Over a hundred people approached the registration tables, wanting to be sure they were at the right conference (we did not have a giant sign, only literature on the tables). But they were also hesitant to ask at the wrong table, which is understandable. Picture this conversation:

"I'm here for the Self-Mutilation conference."
"What? This is the Phillip Morris Team-building workshop, you sick freak!"

So here we are, two temps sitting at the registration table, and people walking up afraid to ask if they're in the right place. Sometimes, they would see the program on the table, their faces would light up, and they'd say, "Oh, this is the right place!" After a while, I could see them trying to figure out what to do, so I'd start:

"Name, please?"

The hotel employee whose job it was to change the notice boards with the day's workshops came up to the table and asked for the name of the conference. He was clearly intensely uncomfortable talking about the subject at all. So we had a short conversation:

"What name should I put in the notice board?"
"The conference is on Self-Mutilation"
"How about if I just put S-M?"
"No, then people would think it's about sadomasochism. How about you just put [name withheld] Center?"

He went off, clearly relieved he didn't have to have "Self-Mutilation" sitting in that board for twenty-four hours. And I got yet another story to tell people.

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More news from the Mideast to brighten your day

Can the UN suck any more than it already does? They're going to start a register to take damage claims for people whose homes were destroyed by the security fence. The UN has yet to start any kind of register for damage claims from victims of terrorism or rocket attacks by palestinians.

But the United Nations, in a background note, said the registry's establishment and operation would require Israeli cooperation, which "we look forward to."

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel takes its lead not from the United Nations but from rulings of its own Supreme Court, which has ordered route changes to some sections of the barrier but has upheld its overall legality.

I think what that means in American English is, "In your dreams, Kofi."

Imagine there's no Israel: Josef Jaffe writes a Middle East what-if.

Let us start the what-if procession in 1948, when Israel was born in war. Would stillbirth have nipped the Palestinian problem in the bud? Not quite. Egypt, Transjordan (now Jordan), Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon marched on Haifa and Tel Aviv not to liberate Palestine, but to grab it. The invasion was a textbook competitive power play by neighboring states intent on acquiring territory for themselves. If they had been victorious, a Palestinian state would not have emerged, and there still would have been plenty of refugees. (Recall that half the population of Kuwait fled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s “liberation” of that country in 1990.) Indeed, assuming that Palestinian nationalism had awakened when it did in the late 1960s and 1970s, the Palestinians might now be dispatching suicide bombers to Egypt, Syria, and elsewhere.

New face, same old terrorism: Another terrorist bomb, another dead Jew. I'm not hopeful at all about the change in leadership, because it is a change in the people that is needed.

And that's enough bad news for today. I'll be back with lighter things, I hope.

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The rights and the wrongs of it

I haven't written about this issue for weeks, because I was waiting to see how it played out. Israel deals with China on a regular basis, in spite of China's record for voting against Israel on a regular basis. When you have too many other nations willing to boycott your companies for spurious reasons, you can't refuse the largest market in the world when it opens to you. It's a difficult choice, too: I don't think Israel should sell advanced weaponry to China, but then, I don't think the United States should sell advanced weaponry to Arab nations, either. I don't get to make either call, though.

Here's the summary: Israel sold China a number of Israeli-made Harpy drones in the 1990s. Recently, China sent them back to Israel and demanded an upgrade, which would have made them more sophisticated and, the U.S. Defense Dept. believes, a threat to American forces in the event of an altercation over Taiwan. There's an in-depth analysis at The Forward (bugmenot login: forward onward) which gives a very different version of the "special" relationship those neocons have with Israel. In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd say Feith and Wolfowitz were pretty pissed off with Israel right now, what with cancelling meetings, threatening the end of various relationships, things like that.

But of course, that wouldn't feed into the Grand Zionist Conspiracy, so it will not get any notice by the mainstream media or the LLL.

On top of this, we have the Bush Administration pushing Ariel Sharon to drop his demands that the palestinians cease attacks on Israel before they get any action from Israel on prisoner release and easing of checkpoints.

WASHINGTON — With a push from the Bush administration, Israel is dropping its demand that Palestinian Authority leaders immediately dismantle terrorist organizations, American and Israeli diplomatic sources said.

The change reflects the growing belief in Jerusalem and Washington that demanding a crackdown on armed terrorist groups, including Hamas, would hurt the ability of Mahmoud Abbas, the American favorite in the Palestinian presidential election set for January 9, to establish his legitimacy as a successor to the late Yasser Arafat. Abbas, who succeeded Arafat as chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, is working to convince terrorist groups to accept a cease-fire and has indicated his intention to enforce an end to anti-Israeli violence after he takes office.

We've been here before. I cannot believe that Israel is falling for this act again, and I can't believe the Bush Administration is this stupid, but apparently, she is, and they are. In the meantime, the pals are launching rockets inside and outside Gaza, hitting Israeli towns, knocking into crowded synagogues, but hey—Abbas is a moderate, he'll fix all that. Right? And the Road Map, which Abbas says he wants to implement, calls explicitly for the pals to stop terror attacks—but he knows all that. Right?

And Nissam Ariv, who was a mechanic at an auto repair shop, died of wounds sustained from a Hamas kassam rocket that landed in the Erez industrial zone. Erez was created to enable palestinians to work in spite of no longer being allowed to enter Israel. The owners of Erez companies have been closing them down and bringing them into Israel, substituting foreign laborers for the cheap palestinian labor that they had been using.

But the palestinians are willing to live side by side with Israel, in their own independent, peaceful state. Right?


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Happy Effing Anniversary: Lair's celebrated his third anniversary yesterday. That's three years of offending people off on a daily basis. Way to go, Lair! And for a few examples of his inimitable style, go here, here, here, and here. At least one of those posts ought to offend at least one of my readers. But then again, his analysis of some situations can't be beat. Direct, brutal, no-nonsense: That's part of why people get angry with him, I supposed. That's part of why I love reading his site. That, and the cats, of course. Oh, and the Israel stuff. And the humor, even the tasteless humor.

Carnival of the Cats: Almost forgot. It's over here this week. Go, look, and enjoy the kitties.

I forgot. I'm sorry. I promised Asparagirl I'd link to this, and forgot. It's a study in contrast, and perhaps explains why some societies seem rooted so deeply in blood and cruelty.

If I link to Ilyka, it might guilt her into posting more: In any case, she sent me to this blog, because of this proposed bill for Virginia, which got me to watching the newscasts intently last night, and which may very well get me to write to my representative to vote against this bill, regardless of the changes made to it. I don't trust it. I really don't trust this bill.

Well, some stuff is local: I'm thinking of adding a Richmond blogger directory to my links page. I think I've found a few in my referrers lately, but of course, I have forgotten who they were. If you're a Richmond blogger, email me or post your URL in the comments here. Aha! Found one in my history. I was going to write on the Richmond booms, and now I don't have to.

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What DOS this mean? So yes, there was another DOS attack on Hosting Matters. (That's denial of service, for those of you who may not know the acronym.) It affected my blog on and off since Friday, and since HM had to rename the servers, I couldn't upload this morning. Then I sent an email saying I couldn't upload, and Stacy Tabb, who is definitely the Supreme Web Goddess (I agree with Michele on this one), sent me an email that made me go, "Duh!" and voila, I can upload my files and update my blog. Phew.

In spite of it, I have 20-20 hearing: When I first got tinnitus, I thought it was called Tintinitus. Tin-Tin is the main character in the eponymous French cartoon that I watched as a child (it was in English, though, not French). But I have tinnitus, and have had it ever since my first real effort to stop smoking. I made the mistake of substituting chewing gum, which I believe gave me that jaw misalignment whose name I have forgotten, but which is written about here. That was when I first experienced a roaring in my left ear, which I can hear when it's quiet, particularly at night. I can't hear it right now, because the exterior noises are greater than the ones in my ears. On the other hand, my father had tinnitus, so I may have inherited it, chewing gum or no chewing gum.

I remember seeing Tony Randall on the Carson show once, talking about his tinnitus, and then standing ear to ear with Carson, who could hear the ringing in Tony's ears. I have no idea if mine is that loud, but I think not, and, well, there aren't too many people I feel close enough to to try that experiment.

Sometimes, if it's really bothering me at night, I turn on my white noise machine, and fall asleep to the soothing sounds of rain or the ocean waves. I can't put on the forest sounds, because then Tig and Gracie start looking all over the room for the birds they hear.

I have no idea why I'm writing this entry. I know I wanted to write about tinnitus before, and now I finally have. The tinnitus has spread to my right ear, although it's far quieter in that one, and generally overwhelmed by the left.

And in spite of all this, I have phenomenal hearing. I am constantly overhearing whispered conversations that people think I can't hear. It makes me wonder what my hearing would be like without the tinnitus. Maybe it would be like the Six Million Dollar Woman. (Cue funky noise that indicates I'm using a bionic power.)

P-p-p-p-pressure: Oh. My. God. I haven't had sinus pressure like this in ages. Someone please make the tiny men with pickaxes stop tearing apart my sinuses. The medication is only dulling it. Advil to the rescue! (I hope.)

So, have you recovered yet? It's been five days since seeing Evangeline Lilly in a thong, and I'm hoping the men of America can actually speak full sentences by now. But I'm worried about Jim. He hasn't mentioned it on his blog. Do you think he's suffering from Post-Thong Stress Syndrome? (And boy, was that plot stupid or what? Gee, let's set up a bank robbery to recover a toy plane. I think not.)

Hey. This show is pretty good. I watched 24 last night. I watched it the first season and hated the excessive violence, so I stopped watching after a few episodes. They seem to have cut back significantly, at least on showing the violence, and I found last night's episodes to be riveting. So now I have a few shows to watch this season, which is good, because nearly all of my favorite shows turned to suckitude (Third Watch, West Wing, ER) or were cancelled (Angel). So let's see, there's Lost, 24, Desperate Housewives, Scrubs, and Gilmore Girls. That's a far cry from my old TV-watching habits. I've cut down considerably, partly because there's so little that's good out there. Oh, and Monk, when I remember it's on. That's always good.

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Business as usual

Jews die, UN calls for restraint: Once again, the UN tells Israel to hamstring itself and stop acting out over a measly few dead soldiers. Funny, they never call for restraint when the pals blow up innocent Israelis.

More ammo for the one-state solution, you schmucks: Oh, this one 's a beaut. A demographic study by people with no experience in demography (yeah, that'll get me behind your figures, no problem) claims that the "demographic bomb" is not a threat. Much.

Della Pergola called the document "groundless," politically slanted and baseless from a research perspective. None of the signatories to the document is a professional in demographic research. Among its authors are former Israeli consul in Texas Yoram Ettinger (no relation to this reporter), former West Bank Civil Administration head Brigadier General (res.) David Shahaf and former Israeli health official Prof. Ezra Zohar.

The authors apparently are trying to use these figures to prevent the withdrawal from Gaza. Hello, morons, the pals and their allies are going to use these figures to push for the one-state solution. Nice work, guys.

Iran's undeclared war with Israel: Hezbollah is responsible for 20% of the attacks in the West Bank and Gaza in 2004. Let us review:

The unnamed officials quoted by Israel Radio said Hezbollah, funded and supervised by Iran, contributed $9 million to Palestinian terror groups last year and effectively controls the Tanzim, a group affiliated with the ruling Fatah movement.

They also said Hezbollah directs 51 terror cells in the West Bank and Gaza and is continuing its efforts to recruit Israeli Arabs to participate in attacks.

Syria and Iran conspire to destroy Israel, and the world sits by and says, "Say, did you hear the one about Jenin?"

Time for another essay about anti-Semitism, I think.

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Sunday Miscellany

I like the cut of this JIB: Dave of Israellycool has a new set of blog awards. Or did I mention that already? They're the Jewish and Israeli blog awards, and yours truly has been nominated. And that Patterico guy can't beat me this time, because he's not Jewish. He can't qualify for best overall blog. Ha! Ha, I say!

Oh, that's a surprise: Mahmoud Abbastard (credit to Mark for the new nom de guerre) has won the sham election, so now we can hear that he's the "democratically elected leader" when he cancels elections a few years from now. And of course, the pals celebrated in their usual way: By killing Jews.

Hizbullah claimed responsibility for the attack. Security officials said Hizbullah guerrillas had managed to infiltrate the Israeli border and plant the explosive device on a road often used by IDF patrols.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said the timing of the attack was no coincidence and was planned well in advance. "We think there is a direct connection between the attack in the Shomron [which killed three Israeli soldiers in civilian clothes] on Friday and today's attack. All the orders come from the terror headquarters in Syria. The time is not right for talks with Syria," Mofaz said.

No, I think it's time to buzz Baby Assad's palace again, though. And as if that weren't enough, Tel Aviv is on high alert for a possible terrorist attack. (Update: It was lowered, but not removed.)

Democracy Terrorism in action: The palestinian answer to being a disenfranchised voter? Go in shooting.

Five Palestinian gunmen burst into a Palestinian election office, and fired into the air, in the first incident of violence during Sunday's presidential election.

Palestinian officials said the men were upset that some of their relatives' names had been left off voter registration lists in the West Bank, preventing them from voting.

Palestinian official Tayeb Abdel Rahim spoke to the men, and they left the office. No injuries were reported.

It was unclear whether the relatives would be permitted to vote.

Palestinian security officials said the men were affiliated with the ruling Fatah movement. Fatah's candidate, Mahmoud Abbas, was expected to win the vote by a large margin.

Oh, that palestinian state is going to be a model of democracy. It may even resemble the early American west, minus the sheriffs.

No, I did not call him up to ask what he was wearing today: And no, I did not name my post after having read the title to Mark's post. Serendipity strikes again: After not having used the word "miscellany" in months, I thought I'd use it today. (I have no idea why you can suddenly use Haloscan, either. Maybe atmospheric conditions changed.)

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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.