Friday, September 30, 2005

I thought only terrorist-trainees jumped through flaming hoops 

Jumping through hoops : A South Korean SWAT team member jumps through a burning hoop during an anti-terrorism exercise in Seoul. (AFP/Jung Yeon-Je)
This really surprised me, to see the anti-terrorist forces adopting the training techniques of their opposition:

A Palestinian boy jumps through a ring of fire in front of U.S. and Israeli flags during an Islamic Jihad movement anti-Israel rally, in Gaza, April 15,2005. Thousands of Palestinians attended the Islamic Jihad rally in Gaza. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
Hey, what do I know? I guess Korean anti-terrorists fight fire with fire. I just hope no brave security forces are ever hurt out in the field bumping heads with terrorists trying to jump through the same flaming hoop from the opposite direction.

By the way, the Korean guy wins on points and degree-of-difficulty. The bad guys don't stand a chance.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

That new-car smell might be toxic 


But that unmistakable new-car smell may soon be heading the way of the rumble seat: Recent research linking it to a toxic cocktail of harmful chemicals is spurring efforts by Japanese automakers to tone down the fumes.
New car smell toxic? Well, thank God, no worries here. I'm going to stay calm until I see some research on the smell of week old half-eaten bananas and abandoned wet bathing suits. Then, maybe we'll talk.

Mary Had a Little Scam 

Mary Mapes doesn't know when to quit. You might remember her as the 60 Minutes producer at the center of much of the RatherGate controversy, in which forged documents were aired in an attempt to smear President Bush late in the period leading up to the last presidential elections. In her recent book on the subject it seems Mary just can't put down the shovel and wants to keep digging, complaining:

There was no analysis of what the documents actually said, no work done to look at the content, no comparison with the official record, no phone calls made to check the facts of the story, nothing beyond a cursory and politically motivated examination of the typeface. That was all they had to attack, but that was enough.
It seems Mary still can't get over the fact that the nation -- well, half the nation -- chose not to discuss the issues raised by those forged documents. In her worldview any document, regardless of provenance, merits serious, public discussion of the issues it raises. I'm surprised she isn't out shilling for the Arab anti-Semites (not all Arabs of course), accusing the Jews of dodging the debate over Jewish World Domination Inc. raised by the (forged) Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

I also can't wait until I show her the legal document with her signature allocating all of the profits from her recent book to me, a total stranger. I'm sure she will be happy to stick to discussing the serious issues of that document too, like agreeing on a payment schedule and whether the amount she owes me also includes revenue from audio books and Mary Mapes action figures.

Don't duck me Mary, you know you owe me! Now stick to the issues!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Assad is the puppetmaster? 

The Jerusalem Post reports on some juicy Syrian terrorist gossip being peddled in the region:

On September 10, Syrian president Bashar Assad met with representatives of the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Damascus, according to information reportedly passed to Army Radio from senior Palestinian sources.

In the meeting Assad told the Palestinian terror groups they had absolute freedom of action in attacking Israel.

'Syria is under siege. We are under international pressure. They're hounding us because of what's happening in Iraq and the investigation of the assassination of Rafik Hariri in Lebanon. Do what you must in the territories. Draw fire away from us,' Assad was reported as saying.
Exactly what influence does an impoverished, weakened Syrian leader have over Hamas and Islamic Jihad that would lead anyone to expect they will act on his orders? Unless he is supplying them as a middle man for Iran and has the clout to turn off the tap without angering the Iranians, I highly doubt he has much clout. If he indeed has no leverage, then why is it such a big deal that he is giving this order? It would be a big deal if Palestinian terrorist groups actually attacked Israel at his command. But of course Hamas will attack whenever it wishes, or not attack, for whatever reasons it chooses. Now if the next Hamas suicide video includes some supporting commentary, then maybe we could talk. Something like "...and we will continue bombing the Zionist dorks as usual until the US and Lebanon and the rest of the international bullies stops picking on our good friend, and really swell guy, Bashar Assad..."

So while we wait for that video, let's look in another direction, just to pass the time. The other party making choices in this story is the PA, who are responsible for passing this "information" to Israel. One cynically wonders if they could possibly have any motivation for trying to turn Israel's attention away from Palestinian control of terror groups, and toward Syria at this particular moment.

And by the way, yes, I do think the PA has such motivation, at least until all the rockets and missiles stop flying over their heads in both directions -- but I'm a cynic.

Better Never Than Late 

The Jerusalem Post tells us IDF Intelligence is now estimating that the Iranian atomic bomb, the Zion Zapper, might be behind schedule:

IDF Intelligence Branch chief Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi Farkash, estimated that the date for the development of the Iranian atomic bomb has been delayed by at least two years due to international pressure, Israel Radio reported.

An International Atomic Energy Agency resolution was approved Saturday that could bring about the referral of the Iranian nuclearization question to the UN Security Council. The move marked a possible first step toward economic sanctions directed at Iran.
Yeah, it's hard to hold those tiny little atoms together when your fingers are trembling in fear of a harshly worded resolution that could come any year now.

And it's interesting that we can estimate a two year delay, without actually knowing the original schedule the delay is measured from. It renders the "estimate" unverifiable. For instance, if they were scheduled to be done two years ago, that would mean they should only be wrapping things up sometime tomorrow.

Maybe we could buy another year or two if Mohamed El Baradei sternly wags his finger while writing the draft of that first harsh memo...

EU's terror list "wouldn't make the slightest difference" 

The French Ambassador is trying to convince us that we shouldn't ask them to put Hizbullah on a list of terror groups:

French Ambassador to Israel Gerard Araud belittled efforts to have Hizbullah placed on the EU's list of terrorist organizations as 'feel-good diplomacy' that 'wouldn't make the slightest difference.'
This is just so silly in so many ways:

Is "feel-good diplomacy" a bad thing? Should we prefer diplomacy that makes us miserable? This must be a French innovation.

I guess I'm not surprised the French Ambassador feels putting an entity on the EU list of terrorist organizations "wouldn't make the slightest difference." While the Ambassador intends this to draw us away from such a useless notion, it inclines me instead to recommend the EU turn its terrorist list into something more than a Bad Boys Fun Club membership list. Cutting off assets, travel, freedom of entry and media access to groups on the list might at least make a teensy bit of difference.

Israel has long urged the EU to put Hizbullah on its list of terror organizations, but Araud questioned the benefit when asked by a member of the audience why France doesn't do so.

"What would be the consequence?" he asked. "Nothing."

Not the strongest anti-drug message I've heard 

Remember the brave woman taken hostage by the courthouse murderer who managed to talk her way out of captivity and eventually help direct police to his capture? Well, MSNBC follows up and finds her now plugging her story as a book with a surprising anti-drug twist:

Ashley Smith, the woman who says she persuaded suspected courthouse gunman Brian Nichols to release her by talking about her faith, discloses in a new book that she gave him methamphetamine during the hostage ordeal.

Smith did not share that detail with authorities at the time. But investigators said she came clean about the drugs when they interviewed her months later. They said they have no plans to charge her with drug possession.

In her book, 'Unlikely Angel,' released Tuesday, Smith says Nichols had her bound on her bed with masking tape and an extension cord. She says he asked for marijuana, but she did not have any, and she dug into her illegal stash of crystal meth instead.

Smith, a 27-year-old widowed mother who gained widespread praise for her level-headedness, says the seven-hour hostage ordeal in March led to the realization that she was a drug addict, and she says she has not used drugs since the night before she was taken captive.
It's still an amazing story of courage under pressure, and I certainly don't mean to criticize her, especially as she has taken hold of this as an opportunity to deal with the problem. I'm just not sure drug-addicted readers will recognize her story as a cautionary anti-drug tale so much as advice to keep a supply of crystal meth on hand while doing your best not to use it.

The DNA-rights issue is here already...in the NBA 

I loved the movie Gattaca and its view of a high-achieving future in which anyone's path in life can be all but mapped out by the results of their genetic analysis at birth. But I didn't really expect to see the legal intricacies of that Gattaca future closing in on us already, especially not in the NBA of all places:

The Bulls first asked Curry to undergo DNA testing in the spring when it was suggested by Minneapolis-based cardiologist Barry Maron as a way of determining whether the arrhythmia Curry suffered before a game at Charlotte March 30 was benign or a sign of a more serious condition.

Curry refused and was cleared to play in late June by Los Angeles-based cardiologist David Cannom.

But the NBA's insurance carrier refused to insure Curry's heart.

Paxson believes the DNA test would go a long way in removing doubt by determining whether Curry is genetically disposed to cardiomyopathy, a potentially fatal condition when combined with arrhythmia.

But Alan Milstein, a lawyer handling the matter for Curry, made it clear his client has no interest in taking a DNA test -- and disputes Paxson's claim that the Bulls would have a right to demand the test.

'Based on multiple state privacy laws and parenthetical federal employment laws, the Bulls have no right to demand that Eddy take the [DNA] test,' Milstein said. 'If employers had such a right, they could require prospective employees to take tests for all sorts of pre-dispositions -- to such things as cancer and alcoholism -- and then base hiring decisions on the results from such tests.'
You never know, they might just settle all of this quietly, pay to make it go away. But there is a lot of money riding on the specific ordering of a few amino acid base-pairs, not to mention questions of who carries the responsibility for the genetically identified risks to a man's life.

Even average, non-lawerly basketball fans see a lot of ways for this one to eventually end up in the courts where they wear suits and ties. One fan is even ready for a Gattaca-style full hoover:

Why don't they just take his hair brush to the lab and get it over with. They do this all the time on Law & Order. Sheesh.
I hope John Roberts has a few biology textbooks in his library, and Gattaca on video.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Maybe there is a shred of hope 

Hat tip to Mick Hartley for pointing me to Janice Turner's brilliant encounter with the adolescent British hijab:

THE UNSMILING GIRL in the black hijab defined her identity thus: "I am a Muslim of Arab origin, living within British society." Hadil, 18, could not attend a more racially integrated school than Quintin Kynaston in West London where, according to its Ofsted report, "the wealth of cultures and faiths is valued, respected and appreciated".

Hadil, along with a number of fellow pupils, had taken part in a documentary called Young, British and Muslim and here she was up on stage, giving her views to an audience at the National Film Theatre. Yet in reply to the question “Do you feel British?” Hadil shrugged and said: "I look at British culture and see no moral values which appeal to me."
Ms. Turner is understandably troubled by the young Muslim's response until she is brought to another line of questioning after the suggestion by a slightly older Muslim woman in the audience that the hijab-worldview in many of these young Muslim girls is just adolescent rebellion -- a suggestion predictably rejected by the girls as "patronizing."

So after the debate I asked Hadil if there was nothing about British society she admired? Did she not believe women should be able to vote? (Yes, she did.) If she had to appear in court, did she think her testimony was worth that of any man? (Too right.) Had she not just enjoyed, that very afternoon, freedom of religious expression -- indeed of an expensive, state-funded, multi-media variety? (Well, yes.) Wasn't it fabulous that while given the choice of wearing the hijab, she was not compelled to do so? (Yes.) And that, although she does receive the occasional rude remark about her chosen dress, she mostly walks the streets unmolested? Were not these freedoms also part of British morality, just as much as throwing up outside All Bar One or wearing your knickers above your jeans? And was there a Muslim nation on earth that would afford her the same rights? (Probably not.)

It was a little like the "What have the Romans ever done for us?" scene in Monty Python's Life of Brian. Yes, apart from equality, democracy, religious tolerance and freedom of speech, British morality had done nothing for Hadil.
Now if I could only remember whether things turned out well for Brian in the end. I'd love to take a little bit of hope out of all this.

As sure as a man has ten fingers... 

Mahmoud Abbas: "As sure as a man has ten fingers on his hands, so do I intend to stop terrorism and seek peace with Israel."

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen talks during a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2005. Abbas said Sunday the Palestinians were asking the U.S. government to pressure Israel to stop its actions, after Israeli aircraft blasted suspected Palestinian weapons facilities and other targets throughout the Gaza Strip, and arrested hundreds of militants in the West Bank. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Yeah, I know, it's a cheap shot. A low blow. But I've got to prime the blogging pump and get back in rhythm.

Besides, if A.P. (via Yahoo) wants to take cheap shots like this one:

AP photographer gleefully captures Binyamin Netanyahu in the middle of waving to a peanut vendor in the back of the room and can't quite figure out what is so darned familiar about this shot, but loves it anyway and so publishes it worldwide. (click the photo for the "real" caption")

Then I figure I'm entitled to at least one of my own.

By chance, allergies made my eyes water during this story 

I hate when that happens. But I recommend you risk it.

Notre Dame Coach honors dying boy by using his called play.

I admired the coach for reaching out to a dying boy, and for maintaining perspective in how he dealt with the situation by not going over the top. When people like Charles Barkley claim -- probably correctly in most cases -- not to be role models, they are forgetting the opportunities that are enabled by the fulfillment of that responsibility. Thanks, Coach.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

When Cadillac Enters Rehab 

Please pardon me for yet another rambling, pointless post, but although I've returned home, I haven't really returned to my blogging routine. Obviously I have excuses:
Actually, after having watched the game, maybe I should have missed it. I think my Packer cheese hat is starting to get a little moldy as my team is now 0-3 on the season. The only thing I really gained out of watching the game is the idea of poking a little fun at the nickname of the enemy Buccaneers' sensational new running back, Cadillac.

Yup, his name is Carnell 'Cadillac' Williams. I have to wonder, was there some sort of endorsement deal for him to carry that name as he entered the NFL? It's got to be worth something to a long-standing company like Cadillac to have young vibrant advertising symbols running around in front of millions every Sunday, stomping my beloved team into the not-yet-frozen tundra. Of course, they might just feel they're doing him a favor, letting him borrow their trademarked name -- lawyers, please feel free to fill my comments section explaining in detail how I'm wrong in every detail here. For instance, it's hard to imagine the car company remaining silent down the road when Cadillac (the running back) enters drug rehab and hires a lawyer to fight off allegations of this and/or that. Not that I'm alleging anything, I'm just playing the NFL probabilities.

The other thing you have to wonder is this: if you're going to take a commercial nickname when you have professional level athletic talent, why pick Cadillac? You might as well name yourself Caterpillar or Immodium. You would think a speedy guy would go for a name like Porsche or Lamborghini instead.

And frankly if I were blessed with his talent I would have named myself 'Microsoft'. Heck, Cadillac (the running back), if you're reading this, please drop me a line because I don't think it's too late for you to switch to my Microsoft nickname idea -- and you should drop me a line so you can get my bank details for my cut of the proceeds.

Sure, it's a little late, after already have played three games with your prototype nickname. But there's plenty of precedent for changing. Look at P-Whats-His-Name, the rapper. I'm pretty sure his mother gave him a perfectly marketable name when he was born (Sean something--useful for the clothing line). But he struck it big as "Puff Daddy", without the H.R. Puff'N'Stuff people raising so much as a peep. Then later, when he got too big for his britches, he changed it to P. Diddy -- just to show he could. And now, in a feat of marketing genius, he's shortened the P. Diddy to just Pee. No, no wait, sorry, that's Diddy, my mistake. But you can see that changing your name should never really be viewed as a show-stopper when you're chasing the cash.

So have fun Cadillac and enjoy your ride. And please, go easy on my Packers next time!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Price of Oil 

Instapundit suggested a possible strategic view of US/Western interests with respect to rising oil prices. While his idea is probably off-the-cuff, it intrigued me:

Long term strategic plan for the United States: Get the price of oil up high enough that oil shale competes with Middle East oil. Then put Middle East oil producers out of business, or just let them run out of oil. Oil-funded islamoterror then goes out of business, too, and the Middle East goes back to being an unimportant backwater.
His suggestion immediately follows a report on the vastness of US oil shale deposits -- potentially many times the size of Saudi oil reserves if I understand correctly -- so it might make sense to approach the Saudis with an understanding of that leverage.

I've often thought it would be wise to use up all the Saudi oil first, only tapping US and friendly reserves as Saudi supplies diminish, since that is when the price is highest and the economic chokepoint most vulnerable. Let the Saudis sell all of theirs fast and cheap, and then as the price rises, bring domestic resources online. Of course there is this little thing called the free market that in its own idiot-savant way humbly shreds every know-it-all strategy. So maybe selling oil when the price is right is the way to go anyway.

But I doubt Instapundit's suggestion is in play here anyway. If our goal was to let the Islamofascists sell themselves out of business, then I doubt we would choose to have them do it at a profitable, high price rather than a low one. It just looks like market-as-usual to me, and in the end that will probably be good enough.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Britney's baby's bris-like ceremony -- kosher-style? 

Via MSNBC's Scoop column:

Separately, a source says that [Britney] Spears wants to have a Kabbalah blessing for the child, and that the Rav -- the head of the L.A. based Kabbalah Centre -- may perform a 'bris-like' ceremony, though it's "unclear exactly how far they can go on such a thing," says the source, "because even though she studies Kabbalah, she's technically not Jewish."
Hey, I was only kidding, but it appears Britney is not. I'll say this, I can't imagine putting a baby boy into the hands of a Mohel (ritual circumciser) who is the least bit "unclear exactly how far they can go." No way. And I only have girls, but this is clear even to me. Britney, wake up and smell the Manischewitz! Skip this bris-like ceremony and just set the little tyke in front of some holy Kabbalah texts to start studying early -- he probably won't understand the Hebrew but "it's kind of OK that [he doesn't]".

You could also try a bottle of Kabbalah formula, not that I'm an expert.

Flight Home 

I'm finally back, the kids have been hugged and retroactively bribed for their good behavior, and I should be getting back to serious blogging any minute now -- as soon as I can keep both eyes open simultaneously. In the meantime, I'll just relate a few surprises from my flight home.

First of all, a warning to parents. Don't let the denatured films screened on the flight's video channels mislead you into thinking that slipping a pair of earphones over your kids' heads is a good way to help them pass the many hours unsupervised. You should be aware that a mere button click away, over on the audio channels, they are playing completely uncensored songs like this one. [Note to my kids, in case one of you happens to be checking out Abba's blog (hello Rachel): I'd better not catch you clicking that link.] I can see why I didn't get the job of El Al DeeJay.

I was also amazed to find travelers only going as far as Toronto on my LA to Tel Aviv El Al flight. It was unbelievable how much security these people put up with just for a short hop on an El Al jet! Of course the security is perfectly understandable, given the number of people who have worse intentions than even the El Al DeeJay towards the airline's passengers. What surprises me is that travel agents wouldn't just book people on a cheaper airline that didn't make you feel like the Marathon Man just trying to get in the baggage check line (again, for perfectly good reason). It's one thing if you're traveling to Tel Aviv, but as a rule of thumb, if the time spent in security exceeds the time spent on the plane, you might be on the wrong flight. My hat is off to the patience and goodwill of non-Israelis who jumped through all the hoops to get on this flight, probably unexpectedly. And my hat is also off to the superb job done by the Israeli security teams, day in and day out, leaving the TSA agent assigned to the El Al desk with less to do than the old Maytag repairman.

Good to be home.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Looking for an Olympic sport for your kid? 

If you want to give your kid the best possible chance at an Olympic medal, then it's important to choose a sport where the level of competition isn't going to be overwhelming. Well, courtesy of the History Channel, I've found just the sport: Sewer Diving:

A simple flush and it's forgotten. But haven't you secretly wondered where it all goes when we go? Join us as we explore this less-than-polite topic, and examine the network of underground pipes and tunnels that carries human waste and excess storm water away. From ancient Rome's pristine sewage-conveying systems, through the disease-spreading, out-the-window system of Europe in the Middle Ages, and into the progressive sanitation engineering of the 19th and 20th centuries, we go with the flow of sewage history. And we sift through the flotsam and jetsam of our cities' sewer systems and delve into the sewers of Paris, Boston, and Los Angeles to study waste management's evolution. We meet a sewer diver (and his robotic counterpart) who inspects and ensures the efficient operation of the conduits; decipher the myths about 'treasures' and creatures found in the murky depths; and find out exactly where it goes, how it gets there, and how we've learned to use it to our benefit.
In a few hours I'm getting on the plane back home and, with any luck, regular posting should resume soon after that. And that's not a moment too soon because frankly, this post stinks.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Still Alive and Kicking 

Still traveling. Still tired. Still not blogging. Still care enough to post something like this in lieu of anything real. Still amazed a blog gets hits even when nothing is written.

I'm actually a little depressed about that. My blog is getting 25 to 30 hits a day, even though I haven't written a single thing! It kind of makes me wonder what it means when I do write something and get just 5 more hits than I would have gotten by writing nothing. But never fear, only outright exhaustion will stop me from blogging. I'll be back.

Oh, and Britney had a boy! Mazal Tov. When's the Kabbalah Bris?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Advice for your next trans-Atlantic flight 

My first advice: don't sit in the aisle seat right under the overhead bin where in-flight supplies are stored -- overstuffed, actually. But if you do, always keep your hands up and ready, or bring an umbrella. And pray they packed the paper napkins last; that worked for me.

Early in the flight is the time to start a betting pool: "which passenger will be the one to stand up in the aisle before the plane reaches the gate".

I strongly recommend blocking out 5 minutes of your busy flight schedule to follow Dalia and Osnat's Pilates Video Workout. It's worth it, even though only a two year old would actually have enough room to follow the drills sitting in a real airplane without breaking the seat in front or tripping a flight attendant. You won't be able to do the exercises, but if you are like me, you'll still be curious to finally learn where all this fuss about Pilates is coming from. Let me just say this: walking is an Olympic sport. So until they start handing out medals in Synchronized Pilates, I'm going to stick to the equally strenuous "post-nap stretching."

A trans-Atlantic flight is a seemingly never-ending deal, and the biggest chunk of time you can burn up is your nap. I've found it helpful to stretch it out a bit. Sleep, wake, sleep, wake, sleep, wake. Little ten minute sips of nap followed by a few waking moments to wipe your chin and shift your left buttock over two centimeters. Plus, if you are over the age of twenty three, remember that after napping for an extended period in these fabulous accomodations (i.e. coach) your right knee will probably not be able to support your weight all the way to the bathroom so you might need to crawl. You can always pretend you lost a contact.

When the movies start on the seat-back screens, if you are traveling with friends and coworkers, think carefully about your viewing selections. It could prove embarrassing to watch something sleazy and then look up to find your coworker watching the FDR biopic. My advice is that if you want to watch a lowbrow movie without advertising it to highbrow friends, watch it on a nearby screen instead. Put a towel or blanket over your screen, sanctimoniously announcing you don't want the light to bother you while you meditate. Then turn the audio channel to the movie of your choice, find a lowbrow neighbor whose screen is easily visible from your lotus position, and enjoy.

You might be tempted to just turn on the audio channel and listen to some music. But I must caution you not to do this. There is a possibility you could fall asleep with your earphones still in place, and a trans-Atlantic flight's duration exceeds the maximum threshold scientists have found before repeated Celine Dion exposure can lead to cranial liquefaction in lab rats -- so think what it could do to a human!

Of course, I'm a relatively infrequent flyer compared to some of you, so please feel free to add your own advice. I've got another flight returning home in a week, and I can use all the help I can get.

[Paste "intermittent-blogging-while-traveling" alert template here.]

Friday, September 09, 2005

Guess I shouldn't quit my day job 

MSN-Mainichi Daily News reports that Sumo has reached its limit for foreign wrestlers:

Foreign wrestlers hoping to enter Japan's ancient sport of sumo will have to wait in line.

Because of a rule that permits only one foreign wrestler per stable, there are currently no openings for foreigners in sumo.
Actually, for me this is a blessing in disguise as it will give me more time to practice the techniques, like throwing salt in your opponents eyes, and giving him a serious wedgie. But I'm pretty sure that with a little training, and of course some bulking up, I could have been pretty good.

And this despite the fact that I never took part in Intramural Sumo. Of course, others may have an unfair advantage, starting at a much earlier age than 41:

'Baby-crying sumo' tournament a hit in Nagoya

NAGOYA -- Parents put their babies to the test in a "baby-crying sumo" tournament here, as spectators gathered to see which baby would cry the fastest.

The tournament, in which babies faced each other, held up by participants playing the role of wrestlers, was staged in the head Matsuzakaya department store in Nagoya's Naka-ku.

Baby-crying sumo originated as a festival at Ikiko Shrine in Kanuma, Tochigi Prefecture. The event, featuring both Shinto priests and sumo referees, has become a regular occurrence around this time of year, and on Sunday a total of about 100 babies and toddlers aged between 3 months and 2 years took part.

Some babies cried as soon as they were held by the wrestlers, while others started swinging their hands.

As the results were released, referees appeared to focus on the individuality of the toddlers rather than on which baby cried first, and all bouts were declared ties. (Mainichi)

I'm pretty sure I could take the one on the left. I don't cry much, but I whine easily.

In Lieu of Flowers 

Funeral of Moussa Arafat. In lieu of flowers, please bring weapons. He would have wanted it that way.

Palestinian gunmen brandish their weapons next to the coffin of Moussa Arafat during his funeral in Gaza City, September 9, 2005. Palestinian militants freed the son of slain ex-security chief Moussa Arafat after kidnapping him and shooting dead his father in a raid they called a reprisal for 'collaboration' with Israel. The killing had stirred doubt about whether Palestinian security forces can keep order in the Gaza Strip, seen as a proving ground for Palestinian statehood, once Israelis leave the occupied territory during a planned pullout next week. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Waiter? What's the sauce on this tiger? 

Via Yahoo's always interesting "Odd News Photos" section:

A restaurant in northeast China has been raided and closed for listing stir fried-tiger meat on its menu, a dish that turned out to be donkey dressed with tiger urine(AFP/File/Samuel Aranda)
Just thought you might like to know, in case you ever, well...

Hawaii and America, Two States For Two Peoples? 

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. warns of the dangers of "the most odious, anti-American piece of legislation in memory: S.147, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act":

This legislation has been advanced in the spirit of pandering that has come to characterize all-too-much of our national political life. In this case, the pandering is on behalf of an ethnic community that is largely a figment of some politicians' imaginations -- a once-sovereign, identifiably blooded race of "Native Hawaiians" that are, if S. 147 were to become law, to be given the right to govern themselves as they see fit. This could involve creating a new Hawaiian monarchy and perhaps lead to the islands' secession from the Union.
Mr. Gaffney identifies how this legislation is part of a growing American trend of pandering to Balkanized interest groups. Despite the many shortcomings he points out in the law, including Constitutional inconsistencies, it stands a chance of gaining passage in the Senate.

Should Senators violate their oath of office -- which obliges them to "support and defend the Constitution" -- by enacting S. 147, they will be inviting an even greater problem down the road. Other self-designating communities can be expected to demand recognition of their rights to have their own government and sovereign laws. These might include Chicanos, Cajuns, Amish and Puerto Ricans.
He forgot Eskimoes and Democrats but I think he's made a strong point.

And while he is a pundit with at least some mainstream exposure, and must therefore remain constrained within the bounds of reason in predicting the dire consequences of the stupidity he identifies, I am a mere blogger, and therefore free to bring you the worst case scenario without fear of consequence -- other than a slew of comments which I have the godlike power to delete.

The worst case is not just other groups clamoring for special rights. Heck, we've already got that. This will just add a couple extra days of argument to each court case.

What happens, though, when aggrieved groups start emulating the successful techniques presently being practiced and rewarded on the world's political stages? I asked before where all the Hawaiian suicide bombers were. Hey! C'mon, you know I was only kidding!

But now, whether this bill passes, thus validating grievances, or is rejected, thus creating more grievances, it brings us one step closer to some serious consequences. I can only hope it never reaches the stage of suicide vests and martyrdom operations.

The legislation, originally scheduled for a vote earlier this month, is presently delayed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Justices and Assassins 

What do lone-gunman assassins have in common with female justices (and nominees) of the Supreme Court?

I was reading Captain Ed's analysis of the upcoming appointment to the Supreme Court, when I was struck by a completely superfluous, tangentially related thought. Here is his speculation that the next nominee is likely to be a woman:

Bush will have two choices in strategizing for the nomination. Either he can offer an ideologically neutral candidate, or at least one with a Roberts-like paper trail, or he can address the demographics that the Democrats exploited with the selection of a male jurist to replace the first female Supreme Court justice. My guess will be that he might try the latter. I like Janice Rogers Brown for that role -- she's outspoken and highly intelligent, perfectly qualified through her years of service at the California Supreme Court, and best of all has already been confirmed once by this session of the Senate.

However, if Bush doesn't want to jab the Senate in the eye, he may consider Edith Hollan Jones.
He goes on, and the entire post is worth reading, as is so much else at Captain's Quarters.

But I'm struck by the pattern of using all three names for these two potential nominees, as well as for the two women already seated: Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sandra Day O'Conner. Does anyone ever write Ruth Ginsberg or Sandra O'Conner? (A quick Google check shows orders of magnitude more references to their three-named monikers.) But if you list the men of the Supreme Court, past and present, there is no corresponding pattern: Clarence Thomas, David Souter, William Rehnquist, Warren Burger, Earl Warren, etc. Sure there are a few counter-examples (John Paul Stevens), but they clearly are the exception.

I can only think of one other area where I've seen such rigid adherence to the three name identification convention: lone gunmen assassins. Since reference by all three names is about the only think in common between these two groups, we have to look elsewhere for the unstated reason behind this pattern for female justices. After all, it can't just be coincidence.

Perhaps it is simply to honor the presumed family name of a woman's birth, in a manner similar to Hilary Clinton's intermittent use of Rodham. Or perhaps it began as an unconscious effort to add prestige and gravity to the perception of the first female supreme court nominees in expectation of resistance to their finally breaking the glass gavel, and it continues now only out of habit.

I really don't know. Any other ideas?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Someone needs to take his remote 

WuzzaDem appears to have been watching an awful lot of hurricane coverage, and has been driven a bit over the brink as a result.

Quite funny actually. Have a look.

New N. Korean slogan to feed the starving masses 

Kim Jong Il, touring a formerly barren plain where now "all kinds of crops undulate in the wind," unveiled his new slogan for solving food crises in his famished land:

Heaps of manure precisely mean heaps of rice!
Hey, if the people will eat it, why not! North Korean Juche genius at work. Good luck with the new campaign Mr. Il.

An Absolute Must Read 

Bill Whittle tells it like it is. I won't even excerpt it for fear you would read less than the whole thing and think it was enough. Read the whole thing.

And support your local sheepdogs.

(tip of the hat to LGF)

Monday, September 05, 2005

If you are a letter writer 

Gates of Vienna has a good one for you to write. Al-Reuters, not surprisingly, has gone off the deep-end in the cesspools of Louisiana:

New Orleans collects dead as officials dodge blame
By Mark Egan

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) -- New Orleans began the gruesome task of collecting its thousands of dead on Sunday as the Bush administration tried to save face after its botched rescue plans left the city at the mercy of Hurricane Katrina.
You've probably seen that one, but Dymphna points out the same reporter in the same article manages two more gratuitous acts of character assassination:

The writer, Mark Egan, goes on to “report” that Donald Rumsfeld toured the scene and shook hands with the doctors and not the victims. As I mentioned in my email and in the post here, he would have been unwise to come into physical contact with anyone who has been exposed to the contaminated and extremely poisonous cesspool of Katrina’s aftermath.
and he even manages to cast aspersions on Condaleeza Rice, who is in no way connected with domestic disaster recovery, and wasn't even in New Orleans:

Rice was slammed by critics on the Internet after she attended a New York performance of the Monty Python musical “Spamalot” on Wednesday, a day after New Orleans flooded.
Yes, we may just be a buzzing little swarm of blogger bees, but enough bees can move the picnic.

Music Meme -- 1982 

I was browsing a blog I enjoy, Delftsman (the Emigre with the Digital Cluebat), and accidentally picked up a meme in the process. I should have just gotten the meme shot when I had the chance, but you know how it is.

This is the meme, if you care to play along. Go to Music Outfitters, and type into the search box the year you graduated from high school; then click on the top 100 hits.

Put what you consider the "good" songs in bold, strike out the stinkers, and put your favorite in bold and underlined.
Here's MY group from 1982. I'd forgotten what a musical cesspool we waded through in high school. Of course, if you weren't busy drinking that first year of MTV Koolaid like I was, you'll probably think I was drinking from the cesspool. But hey, it was our cesspool!

1. Physical, Olivia Newton-John
2. Eye Of The Tiger, Survivor
3. I Love Rock N' Roll, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
4. Ebony And Ivory, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
5. Centerfold, J. Geils Band
6. Don't You Want Me, Human League
7. Jack And Diane, John Cougar
8. Hurts So Good, John Cougar
9. Abracadabra, Steve Miller Band
10. Hard To Say I'm Sorry, Chicago
11. Tainted Love, Soft Cell
12. Chariots Of Fire, Vangelis
13. Harden My Heart, Quarterflash
14. Rosanna, Toto
15. I Can't Go For That, Daryl Hall and John Oates
16. 867-5309 (Jenny), Tommy Tutone
17. Key Largo, Bertie Higgins
18. You Should Hear How She Talks About You, Melissa Manchester
19. Waiting For A Girl Like You, Foreigner
20. Don't Talk To Strangers, Rick Springfield
21. The Sweetest Thing, Juice Newton
22. Always On My Mind, Willie Nelson
23. Shake It Up, Cars
24. Let It Whip, Dazz Band
25. We Got The Beat, Go-Go's
26. The Other Woman, Ray Parker Jr.
27. Turn Your Love Around, George Benson
28. Sweet Dreams, Air Supply
29. Only The Lonely, Motels
30. Who Can It Be Now?, Men At Work
31. Hold Me, Fleetwood Mac
32. Eye In The Sky, Alan Parsons Project
33. Let's Groove, Earth, Wind and Fire
34. Open Arms, Journey
35. Leader Of The Band, Dan Fogelberg
36. Leather And Lace, Stevie Nicks and Don Henley
37. Even The Nights Are Better, Air Supply
38. I've Never Been To Me, Charlene
39. '65 Love Affair, Paul Davis
40. Heat Of The Moment, Asia
41. Take It Easy On Me, Little River Band
42. Pac-man Fever, Buckner and Garcia
43. That Girl, Stevie Wonder
44. Private Eyes, Daryl Hall and John Oates
45. Trouble, Lindsey Buckingham
46. Making Love, Roberta Flack
47. Love's Been A Little Bit Hard On Me, Juice Newton
48. Young Turks, Rod Stewart
49. Freeze-frame, J. Geils Band
50. Keep The Fire Burnin', REO Speedwagon
51. Do You Believe In Love, Huey Lewis and The News
52. Cool Night, Paul Davis
53. Caught Up In You, 38 Special
54. Why Do Fools Fall In Love?, Diana Ross
55. Love In The First Degree, Alabama
56. Hooked On Classics, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra [guilty pleasure]
57. Wasted On The Way, Crosby, Stills and Nash
58. Think I'm In Love, Eddie Money
59. Love Is In Control, Donna Summer
60. Personally, Karla Bonoff
61. One Hundred Ways, Quincy Jones
62. Blue Eyes, Elton John
63. Our Lips Are Sealed, Go-Go's
64. You Could Have Been Wih Me, Sheena Easton
65. You Can Do Magic, America
66. Did It In A Minute, Daryl Hall and John Oates
67. I Ran, A Flock Of Seagulls
68. Somebody's Baby, Jackson Browne
69. Oh No, Commodores
70. Take It Away, Paul McCartney
71. It's Gonna Take A Miracle, Deneice Williams
72. Love Will Turn You Around, Kenny Rogers
73. Don't Stop Bellevin', Journey
74. Comin' In And Out Of Your Life, Barbra Streisand (want to mark this as a stinker but I can't even remember it)
75. Gloria, Laura Branigan
76. Empty Garden, Elton John
77. Yesterday's Songs, Neil Diamond
78. Crimson And Clover, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
79. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Police
80. Here I Am, Air Supply
81. I Keep Forgettin', Michael Mcdonald
82. Get Down On It, Kool and The Gang
83. Any Day Now, Ronnie Milsap
84. Make A Move On Me, Olivia Newton-John
85. Take My Heart, Kool and The Gang
86. Mirror Mirror, Diana Ross
87. Vacation, Go-Go's
88. (Oh) Pretty Woman, Van Halen
89. Should I Do It, Pointer Sisters
90. Hot In The City, Billy Idol
91. Kids In America, Kim Wilde
92. Man On Your Mind, Little River Band
93. What's Forever For, Michael Murphy
94. Waiting On A Friend, Rolling Stones
95. Do I Do, Stevie Wonder
96. Working For The Weekend, Loverboy (now I'm wishing I blogged anonymously)
97. Goin' Down, Greg Guidry
98. Arthur's Theme, Christopher Cross
99. Through The Years, Kenny Rogers
100. Edge Of Seventeen, Stevie Nicks

There are probably 20 more on that list that I could easily strike out, just on principle, except I really don't think they deserve even the level of enthusiasm required to raise my contempt. And I give Journey a collective pass for the year only in honor of my mom's esteem for Steve Perry's lovely voice.

On the other hand, there was music in 1982 that didn't make the top 100 that really should have ranked much higher: especially:
but also: and even:
I can feel the resonant harmonic in the earth's gravitational field as an entire generation raised on the music of the 60's shakes its head in collective disapproval.

But remember, if you want the Beatles, you've got to take the Monkeys too.

[Feel free to catch the meme for your own graduation year, if you dare, and send me a trackback ping or a link in the comments section if you do.]

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hamas leaders unmasked...uh, sort of... 

Apparently, some of Hamas' leaders have finally revealed themselves on the "main Hamas website"**. And the IDF hit squads shouldn't have much trouble recognizing and locating some of these guys. Those masked heads look awfully familiar!.

The main Hamas website lists the names and photos of its top military commanders. Hamas published the names of its top military commanders in a challenge to the authority of the Palestinian leadership, which has called on all armed groups to disband.(AFP/HO)
** a website which I've so far not found but which is apparently readily available to AFP and Yahoo -- anyone know how to get there?

Baby Katrina 

I have a feeling the next year or two will see the name Katrina drop off the map of commonly used baby names. Of course there could be a few who are just following the Jewish custom of naming after a deceased relative. But otherwise, who would name their kid after a killer hurricane?

Well, Ok. There could be a bit of a burst of namings from the Democratic Underground/Kos Kids communities. Oh, and it might climb right up there with Fatima and Fadwa on the list of popular Islamic names. Other than that, and perhaps a few tree-hugger babies named in honor of Mother Nature's righteous Bush-bashing fury, the name will likely disappear.

Unless Michael Moore somehow manages to breed. But what's the likelihood of that?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Cool Hamas Kids Wear... 

The new Hamas "Kids Fashion Catalog" is out!

A Palestinian boy wearing a t-shirt with picture of the late President Yasser Arafat and a fake suicide bomber belt attends a gathering to celebrate the Israeli pullout from Gaza Strip in Gaza City September 1, 2005... REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
What fashionable young Palestinian boy could resist sylin' in this white, short-sleeve V-neck tshirt with the cool picture of Arafat -- the Che of a new generation. And don't forget to accessorize with the realistic looking fake suicide belt. Moms, don't let your child be the last kid on the block to strap one on. Did we mention this year's line of youth suicide belts comes in six distinctive colors and fabrics, with adjustable straps so one size fits all? Fine print on each wire announcing "doesn't explode" in both Taiwanese and Arabic guarantees your child's safety when playing near armed soldiers.

Pull the trigger on this deal before midnight tonight because these suicide belts are selling fast. Your child shouldn't be caught dead without one.

They Only Trust Them With Wooden Guns 

Hamas is really going out of its way to show the world how scary even its women are. They want us to know these babes are ready to pick up the gun and fight off the enemy. Ok, just one thing...

Palestinian women wearing Hamas banners around their forehead show their skills during a gathering of the Islamic women society to celebrate the Israeli pullout from Gaza Strip in Gaza City September 1, 2005. Israel held its first public talks with Pakistan on Thursday and Jordan's king was expected to visit the Jewish state soon in signs of a thaw with the Muslim world after its evacuation of Jewish settlers from Gaza. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Did you notice how in these pictures they only give the women wooden guns? Funny how that works out. Men: explosives, rocket launchers and machine guns. Women: toy wooden guns and a burka.

Maybe we should be giving the Palestinians weapons after all. One gun for every woman. It might be interesting to see what they do with them.

Yeah, I know, I've seen the surveys that the women are more radical than the men. That's why it is so important we make the case that this conflict is about honor killings, female genital mutilation, polygamy and the right of women to drive or travel unescorted. I can't wait for the day when Arab women show us all what the term radical feminist really means.

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Am I the only one... 

I'm usually someone who tries to err on the side of the rational, assuming it's even possible to err on that side. So why do I find blogging bringing out silly, superstitious and irrational habits in me?

I must be the only one...
Yeah, I'm sure I'm the only one. Nobody else does anything wierd like that.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: