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Read this link

It's not a gloat, but it's a superb essay on the war: Anatole Kaletsky of the Times of London. This one is William Saletan in Slate, also a great read. I'd already read the Slate piece but Andrew Sullivan pointed me to the Kaletsky column.

An open letter to the Taliban

I'm feeling really bad about what's happening to the poor mujahadeen in Afghanistan, so I've decided to help the Taliban achieve their goal, which as Mullah Omar said yesterday, is the destruction of America. So Omar, baby, pay attention: This is what you need to do in order to succeed at the extinction of America.

First, you need to convince Americans that they don't have a God-given right to drive SUVs and trucks. In fact, you need to convince Americans they don't have a God-given right to drive. Make Americans start taking mass transit, and you will surely begin to destroy our culture. Hit us where it hurts: Our love affair with the car has gone on longer than most marriages.

Next, get Americans to realize they don't need to have the latest consumer craze. XBOX? What's that? Harry Potter? Who's he? Britney who?

Once you've achieved that, you need to get Americans to stop being slaves to fashion. I don't think the burqa will really work here, but you might try something similar to private school uniforms. Just what every American woman wants: Knee socks, plaid skirt, white blouse. Sensible, flat shoes, please. Men in blue blazers and ties. This and the last entry will also serve to destroy the American economy, since we will no longer be shelling out bucks for the latest pop CD or new type of sneakers.

Now for the tough part: I can't really figure out how to get us all to convert to Islam, but if you manage the first three steps, it will hardly matter what relgion we all are, because we'll all have died of boredom and you and your Armies of Allah can march right in and take over the country.

Well, you can try, anyway.

On a serious note

I went out to dinner last night with my friends next door. When we walked out of the restaurant, Brenda wanted to know what that awful smell was. The wind was from the east again. It was the World Trade Center. It's been more than eight weeks, and it still burns, and you still wonder exactly what it is you're smelling--burning metal, bricks, or the thousands of victims still entombed there.

We may be getting closer to normal, but we will never forget. We will never be the same. Twelve miles west of Manhattan, and I can smell the Towers burning. Ten o'clock at night, and I can step outside onto my patio and smell Ground Zero.

This is why we must fight, and why we must completely eliminate Our Buddy Bin and his ilk from the world, or at least try. So that no one else will ever have to smell the burning remains of what used to be a city within a city, from twelve miles away.--MAY



Running like slaughtered chickens

Pakistani Islamists are declaring Friday a national day of mourning, a day after meeting to try to find a way to stop the Taliban collapse.

Yesterday Mullah Omar reprimanded his troops who were deserting Afghan cities in droves by likening them to headless chickens who fall down in a ditch and die. Today he said that the retreat was part of the Taliban strategy to defeat America, and that the "destruction of America" is sure.

He called the Taliban pullback from urban centers part of a larger strategy. ``The current situation in Afghanistan is related to a bigger cause— that is the destruction of America.''

More quotes: "If God's help is with us, this will happen within a short period of time — keep in mind this prediction. The real matter is the extinction of America, and God willing, it will fall to the ground. I tell you, keep this in mind. This is my prediction. You believe it or not — it's up to you. But we will have to wait and see.''

Okay, somebody needs to tell this idiot that you can make a pair of skyscrapers fall to the ground, but you only get to do it once. And that two towers do not America make. Because it seems to me that what is still falling to the ground are American bombs, and what is heading for extinction is the Taliban. But then, I'm an infidel and a woman besides, so what do I know?

Oh, for an exercise in Level One Gloating, check out It's pretty amusing, and I'm awfully glad I agreed with him about the war all along, or I'd be embarrassed today. Actually, I think that's about the biggest nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah I've seen since Hillary Clinton was elected to the Senate. (Not that Andrew gloated about that.) And Christopher Hitchens is having quite the gloat over at via The Guardian U.K.

And I'm loving every minute of it.

You're only as old as you look

It's what I say every time my birthday rolls around. At this point in time, I go back and forth between not caring and being a bit depressed about getting another year older. But I suppose I should concentrate on all the neat things going on. As soon as I straighten out the php problem, Dave Winer of Scripting News is going to give this site a plug. Which will bring more traffic, which is a good thing. And then there's I've been blogging now for about six and a half months, and I've lost count of the number of blogs I've written. But I'm writing, and that's a good thing. And I'm trying to think of a name for you regular readers out there, but the best I've been able to come up with is Blogulars, and that seems, well, kinda dorky, but come to think of it, sounds better than Blegulars. If you can think of something you'd like to call yourself, weigh in now with feedback. When I ran a one-line BBS system in the days before the WWW, the regulars were called users. We could call you Blusers. No, huh? You're right, that's not very flattering.

Well, I'm out of ideas. How about you folks send me some? You should do it before the new folks get here, to let me know that You Knew Me When. And I'll be working all day to not write that depressing "I'm getting older" blog that I started thinking of last night.--MAY



Okay, now I'll bust on John Edward

With the help of another regular reader (thanks, Gail!), we'll go into a John Edward riff. Seems she and her boyfriend frequently break into John Edward-style questions for entertainment. Good for you, Gail, and if you're ever on the East Coast, we can have dinner and drive the waitperson crazy at the same time.

Here's an example: "Okay, you had someone very close to you, someone who maybe gave birth to you? Does this person sound familiar? They are telling me, it's an M word... Let's see Mom, Mother, Mama? Am I close?"

That is so perfect a spoof of what he does, that I can't improve upon it.

Somebody stop me!

Okay. Yesterday I discovered the TITLE attribute of an HREF, which is a dangerous thing. I have fixed my links page accordingly. I also went through this page and added some titles to the links here. I'll be doing that on a regular basis from now on.

How it works: Hold your mouse over the links on this page or on the links page. By the way, if you're using Netscape below version 6, you won't see the link title. It's an HTML 4 attribute, so you need an HTML4-capable browser. IE 5.x works fine.

Folks, you simply cannot let me discover things like this. I'm like a kid in a candy shop. I predict horrible things will happen, like my using null links to add comments to my pages. Oy. Somebody stop me.--MAY



By request

Okay. One of my regular readers asked me not to fall down that slippery slope of conspiracy theory. Sometimes, he says, an accident is just an accident. And I have to admit that today, the rational side of me is agreeing with him. So I guess I should take back what I said yesterday.

Except for this quote from my pal, which I present to you: "Of course, if you consider a flock of birds to be terrorists (they do crap all over and spread disease) then I will agree that it was the work of terrorists."

He's right. I live in northern NJ, home of thousands of terrorists disguised as Canadian geese. It was probably one of them that downed the plane.

Psychic non-phenomena

A recent conversation reminded me of something I've said since September 11th, but haven't written about yet. We won't get into yet another John Edward rant, although it's been a while and I really should slam that fraud again. We'll get into the change I've made to the questions I intend to ask of any psychic before handing over a dime of my hard-earned money. Previously, I decided that a psychic would have to know my marital status (without seeing my left ring finger), my age, and whether or not I have children. Those three things seem to me to be completely reasonable requests for a psychic to know about me. And if they're guessing, the odds are with me that they can't get all three right on a guess. But after September 11th, I have just one question for any so-called psychic: Did you predict September 11th?

No excuses allowed. The destruction of the Twin Towers was the most significant event to happen to this country since World War II. If a person truly has psychic abilities, then s/he would have predicted the attack. If they say they had some kind of foreboding but did not understand what they felt, then I keep my money and they don't get to do their reading. But it's moot. They're all phonies. And yet, I'll predict right now that we're going to get so-called psychics earning bucks off the families of the deceased. Here's another prediction: John Fraudward will have a special September 11th show where he gets the relatives of the WTC victims to sit in his audience while he tells them how happy their deceased loved ones are on "the other side". And if he doesn't, I guess I have no psychic abilities after all.--MAY



We're not really paranoid, they're out to get us

No matter what the results of the investigation into today's airplane crash in Rockaway, my guess is that half the nation is going to believe it was caused by a bomb. And I'm not sure I disagree with them.

A friend of mine used to run a BBS called The Conspiracy Theory. He had links to a lot of oddball places, as well as articles in magzines, books, and all kinds of information about various conspiracies. I used to laugh at all of it, the way that I like to laugh at the X-Files. But then I started thinking about what kind of interest the government has in lying to us if the crash was caused by terrorism.

First of all, the conservatives in government, including the President, don't want to federalize airport security. They want us to believe that airports can be secured by people whose backgrounds are not checked; who are issued passes to secure areas on their first day; whose last job probably included asking the question "Would you like fries with that?".

Secondly, the airline industry was in a slump even before the World Trade Towers went down. We all know what's happened since. A mechanical failure is scary enough to people who were just getting their air legs back again; a terrorist attack will be the nail in the coffin of many airlines that are managing to hang on by a slim margin.

And lastly, the government doesn't want a United Panicked States of America. They want us to go about our business, which is to say, spend money, jump-start the economy, cheer our boys over in Afghanistan and put Old Glory on our cars. Business as usual, except for the War on Terror.

So no matter which way you slice it, the plane wasn't deliberately taken down. There was no bomb on the plane. Nobody shot a Stinger from a back yard or a swamp. It was catastrophic mechanical failure, in the kind of plane not known for having its engines blow up like that.

And so I have joined the legions of conspiracy theorists, because no matter what they tell us, I believe the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 was no accident. And you have no idea how sad it makes me to write these words.--MAY



And that's a wrap

The redesign is finished, for now. I'm thinking my links are a bit too purple, at least on the links and archive pages, but I'll tackle that later. In the meantime, thanks to Gerard Gorman, my favorite ex-boss, for the new gifs, especially for the beautiful background gif.

Sunday Follies

You know, that title would indicate that I was having nothing but fun today, but the truth is, I worked on the site redesign for much of the afternoon. Okay, maybe not much of the afternoon, but certainly for a lot of it. Okay, maybe not for a lot of it, but at least for a couple of hours. By the time I'm done, that couple of hours might turn into three or four, in which case we can go back to much again, thank you very much. Yeesh. You're so demanding and technical.

File under: Only in America

Yesterday, I did what the President has been asking us to do: I went to a mall. I needed to get my hair cut, and I really wanted socks and frankly, I was casing Brookstone to see exactly what I'll be spending my birthday money on. A compass for my car caught my eye for a few moments, and I immediately pictured myself having a conversation with Heidi, who has very strong Calvinist tendencies, that went something like this:

"Why do you need a $15 compass for your car?"
"Well, I thought it would be neat to know what direction I was heading."
"Okay, tell me again--why do you need a $15 compass in your car?"
"Well, if I get lost, the compass will be able to tell me if I'm heading in the right direction."
"One last time: why do you need a $15 compass in your car?"

At that point, I decided I didn't need a compass in my car. I'm leaning towards buying a digital camera, anyway, which, I must warn you all, will be hazardous to the website's health, because then I will be forced to have graphics here--on a regular basis!

I have gotten so off-topic. Okay, so I went to a mall yesterday, and saw a new machine that could only have been invented in America. It's called the Aqua Massage(TM), and it takes place in what used to be a tanning bench but is now a bench where you climb in under a claustrophobia-inducing top filled with water, metal, and plastic. Then the metal waterjets go back and forth over your body, which is lying underneath the plastic on the tanning bench, so you have a massage that consists of jets of water shooting at you. But of course, you don't get wet. I watched as one man lay face-down while the water traveled back and forth. He was vibrating face-first into the pad below him. It looked anything but comfortable, but the teenaged girl who was trying to get us all to take massages insisted that it didn't hurt. Well, that was all I needed--the word of a teenaged salesgirl. I immediately told her to have a nice day and went on my way.

Before I left, however, I did pick up the one-page brochure (but it is double-sided), so I'll be back to this topic later this week--after I finish my redesign.

Shameless plug, part whatever

I don't remember if I mentioned this earlier, but if I didn't, now's the time.

There's an interesting new novel out called Illumination, which tackles issues of literacy, politics, and specialization in the arts in a medieval-fantasy setting. The author's got a neat graphical site under development at

The fact that Terry McGarry, the author, is a friend of mine, has nothing to do with the plug. (I'm lying. Of course it does.) Nor does the fact that another friend of mine thinks I'm in the book. (Okay, that one is true.) Sorry, I won't be revealing which character is supposed to be me. (That one is true, too, but I'm not supposed to be the lead.)--MAY



Immortality through pets

Science Diet's marketing mavens have come up with a unique marketing ploy. They want to make sure you keep using their brand, so they have a zillion different kinds now--light, adult, senior, hairball remedy, sensitive stomach, I-only-eat-on-tables, you name it, they've got it. I feed my cats adult, light, hairball remedy, by which you can tell they're not kittens, they're fat, and at least one of them coughs up hairballs on a regular basis. (Wow, this is neat enough to go on the GRE's logic portion.)

Anyway. Instead of my usual dollar-off coupon, inside the newest bag of cat food is a chart titled "Do you know how old your pet really is?" with four bar graphs, one for cats, three for different kinds of dogs. But I don't care about dogs, so forget those other three bars. The way the bars work is they have pet years on the y axis and human years on the x axis. Or is it the other way around? I never can remember which one is x and which one is y, even though I was a typesetter and the x-y coordinates were all we had to plot by in those days. Um. I'm digressing again, aren't I?

Okay. Here's the thing. They have dots on 7 pet years, which apparently translates to 45 human years for cats. My cats are about four and a half years old, which makes them the equivalent of 35. (Stay with me, the numbers don't go up evenly, they have a weird exponent.) Okay, no problem, I can deal with that. But in four years I will ABSOLUTELY NOT be 50, and in about four years, they'll turn the equivalent of 50, at which point they become older than I. Which is a neat trick, actually, as one year they're younger, the next they're shopping on Wednesdays and going to the Early Bird dinner at the Ramada Inn.

And I get younger still--as they hit their 60s, I will be a decade behind them, and then the age difference increases exponentially--they're in their 70s while I'm still in my 50s. And by the time I'll be searching for an assisted-living home for my cats, I'll still be far too young to retire with Social Security benefits (assuming it still exists then).

So, in effect, if you keep on having pets, and especially if you time it so that you get a new one every few years (I'm sure a mathematician could figure out a formula), you can achieve immortality through your cats. And since they have the lowest graph on the chart, lower even than Small Dog Breeds (up to 25 lbs.), I recommend you not use dogs for this attempt to never grow old. Just get a cat every few years, and watch it grow older than you. It's almost like having your own picture of Dorian Gray, except you don't have to keep it in the attic, although you do have to feed it and clean the litterbox.

Just another way of helping you all think outside the box. You're welcome.--MAY