Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Watcher's Council, Coalition of the Willing 

As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around. Per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.

If you've got a post you feel pretty good about, why don't you give it a try too, if not this week, then maybe next. It's a fun way to get some exposure for your best work, and to see the best work of other bloggers as well. A win-win I think it's called.

Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

There is some really great writing there; why don't you stop by and have a look?

I Love Muslim Boycotts 

As you probably know, (Al-Jazeera version, Newsweek version) the publication of a few cartoons in a Danish newspaper is leading to global Muslim outrage that is approaching Koran-down-the-toilet levels. In addition to calls for attacks against Danish interests, there is a boycott against Danish products.

Gates of Vienna is joining the fight in support of freedom of speech in Denmark:
The beat goes on. Defeated in court, but still pissy and hypersensitive, the so-called moderate imams from Denmark have been touring the Middle East, spreading lies about Denmark and how Muslims are treated there.

These sore losers, who don't blink an eye at practicing taqiyya if it gets them what they want, have now instigated a boycott of Danish goods.
Ironically, I love Muslim boycotts like these -- they remind me that collective punishment is indeed an Islamically accepted principle, so long as it is harnessed to a just cause, like protesting cartoons.

So the next time CAIR (the Council for American Islamist Recriminations, or something like that) cries like a crocodile about Israeli checkpoints or apartheid walls -- commonly alleged to be forms of collective punishment -- we'll understand their complaint is not against the checkpoints or walls themselves, but their underlying justification. It will be painfully obvious to all, or at least to anyone who isn't still sitting around waiting for signs of Hamas moderation, that they feel stopping suicide bombers from blowing up Israeli civilians is not as just a cause as protesting cartoons in Scandinavian newspapers.

I suggest we all buy some Danish products the next chance we get. Running this Buy Danish banner could also be fun (click on the banner to go to its originating blog).

Update: check out Lou Minatti on the subject.

Thanks to Soccer Dad for the Danish products link.

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Top 10 Myths Busted By Ahmadinejad 

A sneak peak at some of the startling scholarly revelations Ahmadinejad plans to unveil at his upcoming myth-busting conference:

  1. Hitler did not invent the idea of killing all the Jews, many people have thought of doing this. But even if someone did, say, get in a lucky shot and kill six million with one device, it's not like that would be justification for anything.
  2. The Jewish denial that they use the blood of young Muslims in their matzah -- what we call the blood-libel-libel -- is a patent lie. Like they would have us believe they use their own blood? Do they think we are stupid?
  3. Contrary to what the Zionists rewriting of the history books would have you believe, Israel wasn't even a country before 1967. The land has been Palestinian since before the so-called Big Bang and was stolen from innocent Arab shepherds in a sneak attack.
  4. There was no Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Jews heard stories from Pat Robertson about Jesus having been in Jerusalem for some reason or other, and inflated the whole idea into this Holy Temple thing they keep babbling about.
  5. The so-called Jews would also have you believe that they won the Yom Kippur War -- untrue. And it wasn't even held on Yom Kippur, they just say that because of some wierd sort of Ramadan envy.
  6. No Jews have been killed by "terror", this is a lie. The Zionist entity runs buses loaded with nothing but Jewish-looking mannequins to entice innocent young martyrs into blowing themselves up!
  7. And of course Einstein, the alleged Jew, didn't really invent relativity -- it was invented by Ibn Babbibben, a 12th century Islamic philosopher. And Einstein's father was actually Palestinian.
  8. The Jews try to claim an ancestral connection to this land, going back to an alleged real estate purchase by Abraham -- but can they ever produce a receipt?
  9. Bagels and lox is not the innocent Jewish snack that Zionists would have you believe but, in actuality, a vile anti-semitic symbol -- anti-semitic because the Jews are not Semites, we are. It is a symbol for the oppression of Muslims. The bagel, with it's holy center, represents the poor Muslim, and then the Jews just pile it on. Lox, cream cheese, tomatoes, onions, all of it symbolically attempting to weigh down and hide the bagel. So long as Jews insist on eating bagels and lox there can be no peace.
  10. Judaism isn't even a religion. It is just a tax dodging scheme invented by two accountants named Morty and Shlomo over pastrami sandwiches at a Brooklyn deli sometime in the mid 1960s.
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Monday, January 30, 2006

Iran, The Moderate Centrists 

Who knew?

While the political and punditry worlds struggle to make sense of Hamas' ascendence, objective media forges ahead doing its usual amazing job of providing the customary, balanced presentation, carefully allotting equal time to two competing propositions: Israelis, who believe they should be allowed to live; and Hamasniks, who believe Israelis should die.

But modern media realizes that simply presenting two haggling polarized positions doesn't provide readers enough context. It's also important to seek out that rational moderate position, the compromise that squats somewhere in the sensible middle ground. In this case, the compromising centrist opinion comes from none other than our lovable friends in Iran:

A newscaster on Iranian state television read out a response from Iran's minister of defense, Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, yesterday.

"Zionists should know that if they do anything evil against Iran, the response of Iran's armed forces will be so firm that it will send them into eternal coma, like Sharon," Najjar said.
I don't know why, but I smell Swedish cash in the air here. Two stubborn parties, stuck at an impasse, unable to decide whether Israelis should live or die, when along comes the genius of this Carter-like, Nobel-worthy proposal: split the difference, shoot for an eternal coma. Maybe we can call it the Sleeping Beauty option. It's brilliant really.

Now don't you feel more informed? Have I empowered you to make an enlightened choice amongst the various and sundry alternatives?

And I didn't even go to journalism school.

The Wolves' Dilemna 

You've probably heard about the famous Donkey's Dilemna which asserts that a donkey, if placed in a position equidistant between two identical piles of food, will starve to death while it dithers over which pile of food to approach and eat.

With all of the Palestinian infighting going on between Hamas and Fatah, I'm starting to see a corollary to this, in which the Donkey's Dilemna is turned inside out to make a Wolves' Dilemna. In this scenario, imagine there are two wolves preparing to attack a person -- could be Israeli, I don't know -- and the person tosses a single juicy slab of meat equidistant between the two wolves. So long as a piece of raw meat is at least marginally the easier prey, one can imagine this person avoiding the attack of the two wolves. Of course he's not on Easy Street yet. He still has to fight off the eventual survivor of the wolves' internecine squabble; although, if he's clever, he'll take a moment to snap off a great big stick from any nearby tree while the wolves wage war over the meat. That is, unless the two wolves actually manage to incapacitate each other, which is also good.

Nevertheless, the person's strategic position is improved regardless of exactly how the meat match plays out. The tricky part is always having some meat handy.

New Mid-East Media Memes Developing Apace 

With the victory of Hamas, certain old media tropes have to be retired. The tried and true "We in the PA are too weak to stop ourselves" excuse for not fighting terror just doesn't cut it anymore. Out with the old, in with the new. MSNBC carries the AP version of the first of the slowly developing new Mid-East media memes:

JERUSALEM - Israel's acting prime minister on Sunday ruled out contacts with a Palestinian government led by Hamas unless the Islamic group renounces violence, and the defense minister threatened to 'liquidate' militants if they attack Israelis.

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel will stop the monthly transfer of tens of millions of dollars in tax rebates and other funds to the Palestinian Authority if a Hamas government is installed.

With the latest comments, Israel showed no signs of backing down from the hard line it has taken since Hamas won a surprising landslide victory in Palestinian legislative elections last week.
This will continue more and more. No one but bloggers and their readers care that the genocidal positions of Hamas could, technically, be considered hard-line, and might -- if one wished to truly go out on a limb -- be worth politely asking they reconsider. No journalists with the noble goal of changing the world is ever going to make their mark asking the rock to change its shape, at least not without a hammer. So instead they focus on squeezing the sponge. It's easy.

Not mentioned is that Israel's hardline position is that it refuses to help the party that openly announces its intentions to destroy her, but I digress.

You see, in war time, you negotiate with your E-N-E-M-Y. Isn't that the revealed wisdom here? And isn't Hamas the enemy? So why isn't hardline Israel negotiating with Hamas? How can there be peace when Israel so callously just sits there, cowering in its shell?

Never mind the fact that in war, the negotations are for an end to the conflict, not to discuss terms of how the stronger side should surrender any advantage so that the weaker side can slaughter it.

What should be expected from these negotiations? Haaretz has some specifics of the kind of peace the press helps Hamas push for:

A long-term truce (hudna) with Israel is possible if Israel retreats to its pre-1967 borders and releases Palestinian prisoners [ie. if Israel concedes 100% of the territorial demands before negotiations even begin], Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar told CNN on Monday.

"We can expect to establish our independent state on the area before '67 and we can give a long-term hudna," Zahar told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

Zahar laid out a series of conditions that he said could lead to years of co-existence alongside Israel. He said that if Israel "is ready to give us the national demand to withdraw from the occupied area [in] '67; to release our detainees; to stop their aggression; to make geographic link between Gaza Strip and West Bank, at that time, with assurance from other sides, we are going to accept to establish our independent state at that time, and give us one or two, 10, 15 years time in order to see what is the real intention of Israel after that. [only an amoral agency can present a sentence like that withough quotes if at all, a sentence where the would-be murderer proposes the intended victim's motives should be tested.]

Asked about Hamas' call for Israel's destruction, Zahar would not say whether that remains the goal. [and therefore a reasonable person would conclude?...anything?...] "We are not speaking about the future, we are speaking now," he said.
Hey, I pray for peace, I really do. But if that is peace: a couple years of quiet to allow the wolf to digest and decide which extremity to chew off next before finally ripping out the heart, then no thanks. I'll take war.

And that makes me the warmonger who won't back down from his hardline position.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Review: Yes Max 

Israel's satellite TV company, Yes, has begun offering set top boxes with Digital Video Recorder (DVR) features. They call their DVR Yes Max. Warning: the links provided are in Hebrew, and I wasn't able to find much English language information about the product before deciding to buy it. That's why I'm taking a few minutes away from my busy bloviation schedule to tell you, in English, what Yes Max can do for you.

It's late, the kids are asleep. Kobe and the Lakers are on TV and Kobe's already got 50 points still early in the 3rd quarter. Just as he rises up for another three point jumper, your little one toddles half-asleep into the room, parks herself right smack between you and Kobe, makes one short, queasy burping sound, and pukes at your feet.

In the old days, this was quite bad. And by "old days," I mean a few months ago. Things would have to go something like this:

Without scaring the little one or smearing vomit on the couch, you quickly hunt down the nearest tape, make 100% certain it isn't your wedding video or the kids' not-yet-viewed copy of Power Puff Girls, jam it through the VCR's tape slot, swear like an anonymous blog troll when it gets stuck and -- after explaining to the sick little one that Abba was just saying funny words that don't mean anything -- eject the previous tape, re-jam the new tape with extreme prejudice, check the channel and VCR settings, and finally hit record.

Oh, yeah, then you've got to turn off the TV so you don't catch any tantalizing tidbits of the game while you de-vomit everything. You grab a towel for your shoes, and a fresh pair of socks, too. Good as new. Oops, you forgot something. Next you swab down your crying child, fling her reeking PJ's in the vicinity of the washer and then get her dressed up and calmed down. You cuddle her back to sleep and reassure your wife that it wasn't "sick vomit" but "wait and see vomit" so a trip to the emergency room isn't strictly necessary yet is it, and could you PLEASE go back to Kobe and the game now?

Finally, after explaining who Kobe is and why it matters, you race back to the TV room for the rest of your game. Unfortunately, now you realize that if you turn on the TV you'll invalidate the half hour you've already recorded, but you can't just stop the VCR to rewind and watch either, because the game probably isn't over yet. In fact, you haven't got a clue exactly when you can watch the rest since there's no way to find out when it's over without turning on the TV and risking it not being over -- thus, again, invalidating everything you've taped to that point. After allowing 20 more minutes for timeouts and another half hour for possible overtime, you take the risk, stop the VCR and rewind. Tragically, it turns out the cat stepped on the remote control while you were wiping up vomit, so the tape shows not the rest of Kobe's historic 81 point outburst, but 90 minutes of the Home Shopping Network. Oy vey.

Yes Max fixes all that, except for the part about the vomit.

With Yes Max, as soon as she heaves on your shoes you just calmly hit pause on your system remote, even though you're watching a live game, and the game freezes, patiently waiting for your return. Of course you still have to clean up the vomit, change your socks, get spousal signoff on ignoring the medical aspects of the problem until the morning, and spray the room with air freshener. But once you finish that, you plop back into your comfortable, still-warm indentation in the couch, hit play, and pick up right where you left off with that three pointer, regardless of how far the live game has really progressed in the meantime. You can even rewind the live game and see that three pointer again to help combat the post-traumatic flashbacks. What's more, with the ability to fast forward through timeouts, commercials, and opposing team free-throws, you stand a decent chance of catching up to the live stream and seeing the momentous 81st point as it happens. Thousands of years of human progress, all building toward this miraculous moment. Oy vey.

Of course, this is just an example. Sadly, Kobe's big game wasn't even shown here in Israel at all so, Yes Max or not, I missed all 81 points, and have to console myself with the fact that the above narrative contained only theoretical vomit, and that no shoes were harmed in the production of this post. But I hope you get the idea.

In short, Yes Max is a pay-TV set-top box and a tape-less VCR in one, with added conveniences like one-stop programming using an on-screen program guide, and instant indexing so you don't have to hunt for the start of the movie in the middle of a tape.

Providing just a little more detail, here are some of the features that make Yes Max a great addition to your mind-evaporation-through-television toolbox:
To many of you in America, this may seem like old news already. But in Israel, we haven't had a Tivo of our own, until now.

There are a few features that are probably common in Tivo and other more mature DVRs, like selecting a program you want to have recorded automatically whenever it comes on, that aren't implemented in Yes Max yet. And I can imagine a few extras I'd like to have, like an end-of-recording slop-time for handling the possibility of overtime in sports since recordings always stop at the scheduled end time. It would also be nice to have an upgraded remote with a thumb-wheel for controlling the playback speed, allowing frame-by-frame playback of the most brutal football tackles.

The nice thing, though, is that it should be possible for improvements to appear on the Yes Max box even after you have it installed since, like a computer, it should be able to update itself with patches that get delivered without your even worrying about it.

If you order Yes Max, let me know what you think of it.

All right, that's all the tech-review I've got in me. I feel a sudden urge to make fun of Hamas so I'm going to cut this short right here.

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Mazal Tov to Yaakov and Leah 

Yaakov (I don't think he has his own blog -- yet) has asked Leah to marry him. Can anyone guess what she said?

Take a peek at Yaakov and Leah are Getting Married! if you still have any doubt.

Good luck to both of you. And Kol HaKavod to the Juggler who set you up!

I wonder what she's going to be blogging about for the foreseeable future.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Suggestion to US Porkbusters: Why Not Vote Hamas? 

I've been trying to wrap my head around the meaning of last week's Hamas victory at the Palestinian polls and am stuck momentarily on swallowing the "it was just an anti-corruption protest vote" pill. It seemed to me that there has to be another alternative somewhere between the "wanton corruption" and "eternal jihad" poles, but I wasn't educated in Palestinian schools to share their healthy tolerance -- if not outright affinity -- for the genocidal worldview, so what do I know? Finally I just sugar-coated the whole thing and I've almost got it down now.

But as I struggle to swallow it, I was suddenly slapped silly by the importance of this victory. For the last few months, I've been reading of the valiant efforts of Pork-Busters like Instapundit and N.Z. Bear to battle the United States Government's own porcine practices. It was painfully obvious to me: they've been going about this thing entirely the wrong way! They're all hung up on certain preconceived notions about terrorism that prevent them from seeing the obvious answer, even as it stares them right in the face.

If you want to bust some pork, why not vote Hamas?

They are, after all, the anti-corruption party. They can run schools and terror cells with equal aplomb -- and on a tight budget too. The consensus is that as a political party they poll EXCEEDINGLY well on issues of good government and are famous for their anti-pork views. True, they may kill the occasional Jew, dream of a caliphate from sea to shining sea, and tend to shoot off automatic weapons when celebrating election victories, weddings, children's birthday parties and poetry readings. But that's not the reason people vote for them, so don't freak out about it.

Think about it. If you want to bust pork, vote for the number one pork-busting party, Hamas -- now with Kosher certification by Jimmy Carter.

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Three Completely Unrelated Points 

The first point (hat tips to Shallow Verb and Mick Hartley) is the expose by one of Saddam's top men that Iraq's WMD were secreted to Syria:

The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein's air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed.
Hmm. Interesting. I wonder if it's true. I suppose if my agenda were to prove the allegations of WMD correct, I'd be praying it's true. Then again, if I hated the idea of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of unstable, insecure leaders, then I'd be hoping this is just hype to pimp a recovering totalitariholic's memoirs.

A second recent point is the mutual defense pact between Iran and Syria, reported as being a reponse to US pressure:

Iran and Syria heightened tension across the Middle East and directly confronted the Bush administration yesterday by declaring they had formed a mutual self-defense pact to confront the "threats" now facing them.
Is this of interest to anyone but US troops stationed in Iraq, on the borders of these two nations? Who else could they be talking about?

The final, completely unrelated point is Iran's threats to deal horrendous blows to Israel if the IDF stops them from getting nukes.

Were Israel to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, Iran would respond so strongly that it would put the Jewish state into "an eternal coma" like Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's, the Iranian defense minister said yesterday.
These threats don't make that much sense. What exactly are they planning to do if their nuke program is already destroyed, leaflet bomb the Negev?

I'm starting to think I must be participating in a study of paranoia medications, and I'm in the placebo group. It just seems that way.

Any Chance They'll Bury the Hatchet? 

I'm not referring to Hamas. I don't expect there's a snowball's chance in Saudi Arabia Hamas will choose to bury the hatchet and let bygones be bygone. If there is any hatchet burying around Hamas, it'd better be us that's doing the burying.

No, I'm refering instead to our own electoral wonderboys. Our strategic situation was already complicated and fraught with peril before this week's Palestinian debutante ball. The looming spectre of Iran's threat was realy quite enough already, thank you. Now we have whole new nightmares to worry about -- or, if you don't like worrying, then at least to seriously consider.

The next Israeli Prime Minister is must be strategically gifted and will need to get up to speed immediately, preferably yesterday. There isn't going to be a lot of time to waste. Which makes me wonder, is there any chance of Israeli leadership noticing these challenges and deciding to spend the next few months working on actually solving these existential problems rather than frittering the time away working to electorally destroy each other?

And if they were to make such a choice, what options are there? With an election set for March, even a unity government won't let them ignore each other long enough to work together, not unless one of them simply volunteers to lose. Is there a mechanism by which elections are delayed? If such a mechanism existed and were exercised in today's Israeli political climate, would the country accept the move as a reasonable response to extreme developments, or would it be seen as a naked grab for power by Olmert?

Perhaps it's "Patience, Grasshopper" time. Perhaps we can afford to let these events take their own course while we contemplate Ehud Olmert's navel for the next three months. Perhaps there is plenty of time after we wake up, and after we give the new Prime Minister a month or so to sip his morning coffee, before we really have to start doing whatever it is we should be doing.

Whatever that is.

World's Greatest Puppet Show -- Axis of Dummies 

I'll bet you can't see his lips move.

Ayatollah Khamenei, Supreme Spiritual Leader of the Iranian Islamic Republic, noted Vaudeville historian and one hell of a ventriloquist, enthralls the faithful with another of his impromptu performances. His amazing puppet shows never fail to delight audiences as he appears to control four puppets, often giving simultaneous voice to them all by speaking out of both sides of his mouth and other orifices too.
Let's listen in on Khamenei's latest, a piece he calls "How Meshaal Got His Glow Back", shall we?

Ahmadinejad: [whistling happily] What a beautiful day! Things are really going so well now. My Uranium is almost ready, Islamic freedom fighters are in power just about everywhere, and Pittsburgh is in the Super Bowl. Maybe this is the day of prophecy when I am to announce to the world that I, Ahmadinejad, am the Magic Mahdi. [He wacks the wooden head of the tackily jacketed puppet in his lap.] Hey! Optometrist boy! Is my head glowing? Do you see sort of an...an aura around me today?

Assad: [turns slowly, squinting] Uh, no boss, no, I don't.

Ahmadinejad: [as Khomenei slowly sips an entire glass of Kool-Aid] Hmmm. I'd better do something about this. I can't declare the prophecied end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it without my aura. [prop lightbulb flashes over his head as audience chuckles] I got it! I need another one of those UN meetings where I can make everyone not blink and my head glows while I talk. Hey! Myopia man! I don't care what it takes, but stir up some trouble. I want strife and conflict around here. Maybe do another one of those "whack jobs" of yours, hee hee.

Assad: Uh, Ok, no problem boss. [Brow furrows with a quick clacking sound, then returns to normal as the audience laughs. Shakes the turbaned puppet in his lap a few times.] Hey, Nasrallah, wake up!

Nasrallah: [grumbling] Do not DARE to bother my deep, deep meditation, you potato chip off the old block!

Assad: I'm sorry Mr. Nasrallah, but Boss said he wants trouble, if it's no trouble.

Nasrallah: Grrr. Oh, all right. But this is the last time! [then to himself in an undertone] I gotta get this idiot off my back -- better feed more information to those dimwit UN investigators. [to Assad again] Hmmm. I know! My missiles! Oh boy, I'll use my missiles! I've been sooo patient. Ask the boss for me if it's ok. Ask him. NOW.

Assad: Yes Mr. Nasrallah. Hey boss, can Mr. Nasrallah use his missiles today?

Ahmadinejad: [strokes his stubble as Khomenei begins snoring in the background, head lolling to the side] I would have to say, uh -- what would the Mahdi do? -- hmmm... No. Tell him no. Tell him I want speeches that get the UN focusing back on Israel's human rights violations or whatever -- the specifics don't matter, just make it loud. That ought to get me at least a Special Assembly meeting.

Assad: Boss says no. He wants speeches and complaints, rile everybody up.

Nasrallah: No problem. I'll get my Hamas flunky to take care of it. He can do the old "anti-democratic, apartheid Israel is ruining our free elections" routine. I love that one. [looks around] Hey! Where's my lackey! Lacky boy! Where'd you get off to? Don't tell me you let the Mossad poison you again?!

Meshaal: I'm over here, you towel-headed dummy!

Nasrallah: Watch who you're calling dummy, dummy! Hey, how come you get to sit up there? I wanted to sit there! I'm the Master of Murder who chased the ZDF out of a country! Do not forget who taught you how the word Hizbulization, boy!

Ahmadinejad: [following the conversation, noticing Meshaal too now] Hey! I wanted to be up there too! No fair, I'm the Mahdi, after all!

Meshaal: Give it a rest will you! I have the honor because I am the special one. How many of YOU have gone out and won an election, all the while thumbing your nose at the entire world with your open intent to destroy a UN member state? Hmmm?

A lot of hands go up. Khamenei, still snoring, miraculously holds up a free hand to Meshaal's face.

Meshaal: [kisses the hand with a wooden smirk to the other dummies] NOW, Ahmadajihadiboy, or whatever your name is...

Ahmadinejad: That's Ah-Madi-Nejad. With a MAHDI in the middle? Got it?

Meshaal: Whatever. Listen to me. I want trouble on the Zionist entity's northern border, and I want it NOW. If I'm going to make speeches, I want the proper backdrop, got that? Now move, puppet boy! Get Nasrallah on it!

Ahmadenijad: I swear on the grave of the great Shelly Winters, when I declare the end of days -- AND I WILL -- I'm going to end your days first, little man. In the meantime, can't I just nuke the Jews instead? Why all the fuss?

Loud sirens, a bird drops from the ceiling.

Kofi: You said the magic word. The word is Nukes. Please don't say it again. Say negotiate instead, at least for today.

The bird zooms back up to the ceiling.

Meshaal: [head starting to glow oddly] You heard the bird brain, now get moving on my mayhem, then negotiate in the afternoon. I'll handle the rest. The Zionist entity is MINE! Now, who's your Mahdi?!! [head tilts back as he begins laughing maniacally].

Curtains slowly close to raucaus applause as Khomenei laughs four simultaneous, individual, sinister laughs, all the while continuing to snore himself.

Standing ovation and glowing newspaper reviews guaranteed.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hamas Victory: Look on the Bright Side 

Ok, Hamas won. But we can't let that get us down. We've got to keep our chins up and our upper lips stiff and our ships straight and various and sundry things like that. So let's look on the bright side:

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Hamas That Roared 

Oxblog has some salient reaction about the big Hamas victory in Palestinian elections, as the Palestinian PM and cabinet resign and Hamas prepares to take over:

It's not clear anyone wanted this, least of all Hamas, who in assuming the administration of the Palestinian national authority's creaking and often corrupt bureaucracy single-handed in a moment when its sole lifeline of European and other international support appears threatened, may just have stumbled into the biggest molasses patch the Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah has ever faced. Unlike the Lib Dems of 1985, Hamas did not go to its constituencies to prepare for government. It had prepared for a coalition, or possibly for pristine opposition, but not this.
So what now?

The mood here, so recently jubilant, suddenly is somber. In Ramallah we are promised a press conference at 7. Does Hamas continue to moderate in its now desperate need to keep foreign aid flowing? It may still yet form a coalition, to provide internationally palatable, unshaven [I think he meant shaven], faces for Europeans and Americans to talk to. Watch this space.
There must be at least a few "moderates" around they could prop up in front of the cameras and send out for tea and crumpets with the diplomats. At least a few. Somewhere.

(Hat tip to Larry for the title)

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Mastered the Images, Not the Substance 

As Palestinians carry memories and images from recent Iraqi elections with them to the polls, they are as aware as we are that certain new democratic forms must be observed. It is no longer enough just to stand a helpless grandma in the center of the ring while Yasser Arafat pummels her senseless and then declares unanimous victory. A modern Arab democratic-style election requires more in the way of amenities: nattily dressed candidates, political rallies, election-day activism, and of course exultant purple fingers.

Well the Palestinians certainly have their candidates decked out in spiffy suits, photographed casting ballots with cultured pinkies raised higher than any authoritarian strong man would ever allow:

Senior Hamas leader Mohammed Dahlan casts his ballots inside a polling station in the Khan Younis refugee camp south of Gaza Strip January 25, 2006. Palestinians voted in their first parliamentary elections in a decade on Wednesday, a ballot that could bring the militant Islamic Hamas movement into government for the first time. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
They've got the political rallies too, building grassroots support for the candidates, and also killing any stray pigeons dumb enough to fly overhead:

Palestinian militants from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades hold up their weapons during a rally in support of the Fatah movement's parliamentary candidates in the West Bank city of Jenin January 19, 2006. A Palestinian suicide bomber wounded 30 people in Tel Aviv on Thursday, raising tensions six days before a Palestinian election and confronting Israeli interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with a major test. REUTERS/Mustafa Abu Dayeh
It's also a great sign when a society cares enough about Democracy to mount a serious election-day "Get Out The Vote (or else)" effort:

Palestinian gunmen attend the funeral of Fatah activist Yousef Hasouneh in the West Bank city of Nablus January 25, 2006. Hasouneh was shot dead on Tuesday by gunmen when he tried to prevent them from removing campaign posters. [...] REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini
Oops, my bad. Wrong category entirely. While getting out the vote is important, this is the traditional Democratic "Parade of Party Gunmen" at pre-election funerals for murdered campaign workers -- many Westerners may not be so familiar with this ritual yet, but it grows on you. Sorry, don't know how I missed that one.

And of course, finally, the obligatory purple fingers. I'm not sure it's legal to hold an election without purple fingers anymore:

A Palestinian woman flashes a victory sign after she voted at a polling station in Gaza City January 25, 2006. [...] REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Perhaps I'm unfairly analyzing the wrong purple-finger picture here. While this woman does exhibit a certain grim glee, she just seems to lack a certain excitement. I'm not picking up her sense of joy from the exercise of the right to choose her own path in life rather than merely select one of two competing plans to use the voters as cannon fodder. Let's check another picture, just to be fair:

Whoops, that's an Iraqi. She does seem happy though, doesn't she? How about this one instead:

An elderly Palestinian man shows his finger after voting at a polling station in the Khan Younis refugee camp south of Gaza Strip January 25, 2006. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)
Where's the joy? Oh, maybe this is just another bad example. Perhaps the photographer accidentally snapped this voter's picture at the precise moment he realized his colostomy bag needed changing. Who knows?

Obviously, I'm just a non-Palestinian blogger with no awareness of what's really going on there. I suppose I should hope that, contrary to the photos I'm seeing, most Palestinian voters really are overjoyed with the opportunity to choose between holy war waged in the name of Allah, and the same war waged in the name of Arafat. Perhaps if Palestinian voters really do share that sense of exhiliration the Iraqis displayed when they finally had a chance to vote for a post-Saddam way of life, then there is a chance they will truly measure what they get over the next few years, and perhaps in the "next election" -- we can only hope -- they will choose a life. And of course I do hope my cynicism is entirely misplaced and a Fatah-Hamas coalition government, giddy on the fumes of democracy, will shortly usher in an era of regional peace. Yup.

In the meantime, if you want to get a better idea of what's really going on at the Palestinian polls, check out Patrick Belton at Oxblog who is on the scene.

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Protest 'Til You're Blue in the Face 

If you care about Sweet Mama Earth, and want to help her many diverse creatures live better, more secure lives -- at least the ones that don't deserve an immediate and painful death so they don't screw up EVERYTHING for the rest of us -- then please consider joining us for a peaceful protest next Tuesday in Central Square.

Who are we?

We are the "Association for the Elimination of Industrialized Oxygen Users (and sometimes Yachters)" -- don't worry, we don't want to eliminate liberals who only happen to own yachts for the tax breaks. But we're sure going after those resource-hogging Republican yachters who want nothing more than to see the world go up in FLAMES just so they can light their Cubans!

We at AEIOU and sometimes Y are deadly serious in our disavowal of any principle not entirely consonant with our overall goal of living in harmony with nature's oxygen tank. That is why we can no longer simply follow behind well-intentioned but misguided groups like PETA and NARAL that are laudibly whining about wonderful things, but they're missing the BIG PICTURE. We feel that under the LEADERSHIP of AEIOU and sometimes Y, all groups MUST unite and fight the same fight.

What do we stand for?

We stand for the UNITY of all the NON-EVIL people of the world in a more EFFECTIVE protest of what is really WRONG with this planet. Sure, there are already lots of good-hearted groups out there supporting beautiful causes, like encouraging abortion, assisting people to commit suicide, shutting down industrial activity, helping people who happen to be female not have any children, resisting the use of animals to help fight fatal human diseases, opposing the distasteful use of force by democracies, rubbing Cindy Sheehan's feet -- the list just goes ON and ON, and that's the problem. So many great organizations doing so much work, but they are all just fighting SYMPTOMS. At some point, SOMEONE has to bring all these people TOGETHER to work in harmony fighting the UNDERLYING PATHOLOGY of all these problems.

And that SOMEONE is US, AEIOU and sometimes Y! One night, out of a cloud of fragrant smoke, came the realization that all these SYMPTOMS would clear up OVERNIGHT if only industrialized oxygen users would just curl up and die. By industrialized, we mean to exclude photogenic indigenous peoples, the poor (anyone subsisting on less than 38% of the median gross income including subsidies), vegetarians, fur protesters, furry protesters, democratic voters, and, well, people like us. Wouldn't the world be a better place if all the rest of the people not like us, the ones wasting all the oxygen, could be FedEx-ed to Pluto? Well even a journey to Pluto starts with a single step, so come out to the AEIOU and sometimes Y PROTEST next Tuesday and HELP make it HAPPEN!!! K?

What should you bring?

--> 1. We plan on doing some SHOCK protest theatre, so please bring some props that will help illustrate how self-centered oxygen abusers are RUINING our PLANET. If you have a recently deceased pet, or one that looks a little sickly and you wouldn't mind snapping its neck, please bring the remains -- the cuter the better -- and please, if possible, a light spray painting of blue to make your deceased pet's face look a little anemic would be MOST helpful. Also, please bring plastic bags, electrical tape, lengths of chain, and padlocks, enough for yourself and to share with those less fortunate who don't have -- you'll need them for the protest's searing final act.

--> 2. Bring lots of photogenic signs and placards. A few tips:

If you paint them with your own blood the drippings make a great impression, but add a little red paint so the color photographs right. Make sure you mispell a few words because that always drives the right wingers CRAZY. If you bring more than one sign, design one that makes absolutely no sense, so it will make the others look just that much better in comparison.

Most importantly, make sure your slogans RHYME. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of words that rhyme with oxygen:

Save the Oxygen! Destroy the Pentygen!
Deny Brad Oxygen! The bastard played Rent-a-Jen!

You see, it just doesn't work. So think ahead! Use O2 instead:

Preserve the Earth's O2! Nuke Bush so he'll GLOW too.

No, don't thank us, that's why we're here. Now get out those thick crayons and get to work.

--> 3. Bring lot's of drinking water and a hat -- we don't want haters making heat-stroke jokes.

--> 4. Come prepared with talking points for interactions with the media and passersby. Most importantly, be prepared to discuss what it is we want to accomplish:
What do we have planned?

We plan to start with a few hours of marching and networking, with time to stop for COFFEE and run errands before we really get started.

Next comes the THEATRICAL protests. First up is the parade of SUFFOCATED, oxygen-depleted pets, all dead because there isn't enough air left for them and us. This is where you pull out your dead puppies and kittens and march them around, preferably with little children WEEPING at your side.

Finally we reach the CRESCENDO, the piece of resistance, our final, central symbolic protest. Each of us will SHOW the world the effect of industrialized oxygen users on Mama Earth's ecosystem by donning air-tight plastic bags over our heads and fastening them with electrical tape and CHAINS and PADLOCKS. The world will quickly see -- and UNDERSTAND -- what using up all the oxygen in a small ecosystem -- like Earth, or an AIRLESS PLASTIC BAG -- can do. Anyone who forgets to bring their plastic bag will hold up signs saying "Imagine if there were bunny rabbits in there" just to make sure everyone really gets how IMPORTANT this is.

And if you're not an AEIOU and sometimes Y supporter yet -- top positions may be opening up! -- come anyway. Witness and LEARN. But please, PLEASE, don't try and stop us.


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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Surprise: Saudis Hate the Cartoons 

I had thought the furor over Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohommed had already blown over with the start of the UN investigation into the Danish government's scandalous failure to restrict its citizens' freedom of expression. But now ArabNews has a shocking surprise: the Saudis held a meeting to announce they didn't like the cartoons either:

Saudi Arabia yesterday denounced European newspapers that published cartoons denigrating the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) (note: always have to be extreeemely careful to include the 'be' in that benediction, very important)  and said such spiteful actions would spread hatred and animosity among people of different faiths.
Apparently the Saudis would rather not have hatred and animosity spread among other faiths -- exemplifying in the very same meeting why they need to keep it all to themselves:

The meeting passed a law that prevents non-Saudis from handling accommodation of pilgrims. According to the new law, foreign Haj missions and travel agents should contact only Saudis to arrange accommodation for their pilgrims. It also bans non-Saudis from renting buildings for the purpose.
I'm sure this has something to do with protecting the holy pilgrims from contact with impure foreign racists and Zionists. Further, regarding who should be allowed to drive school buses:

Drivers of buses providing such services should be Saudis.
Saudi message to the world: please don't spread hatred and strife, we don't need your help.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Pet Peeve Mini-Rant: Chickenhawks 

No, my pet peeve isn't the chickenhawks themselves.

What really gets my whities in a wedgie is "these people" -- I'm a high-road kinda guy who avoids potentially stigmatizing labels like "moonbats" or "leftist loons" -- who mindlessly apply the chickenhawk charge to people like it's makeup at a slumber party. Do they even have a clue how burdensome it is for us to always carry the responsibility for pounding the drums of war, even though we ourselves have never shot an enemy infant or torched a village? Exactly what experience is it that qualifies these nabobs to think they have the slightest understanding of the violence-prone, red-meat mindset? They should stick to rating John Kerry's nuance routines on a scale of one to ten, and leave the warmongering and counter-warmongering to those of us who know a thing or two about mongering.

If there's one thing I hate more than hypocrites, it's more hypocrites. Sheesh.

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Fun With Lawnmowers 

Anyone have a caption for this cartoon?

I'll pass the best ones on to my brother, the artist himself. Or feel free to comment directly at his site -- the encouragement would do this budding cartoonist good.

Now I have to convince him to work up caricatures of Ahmadinejad, Assad, Bin Laden, Nasrallah and their assorted host of crazies like Cindy Sheehan, Ted Kennedy and Michael Moore. That way he'll have a better use for the lawnmower.

The Second Coming of Allah? 

He's back, and blogging at Link Mecca. Five times a day, it's all he asks.

Sheik Yassin Elementary School PTA 

Sheik Yassin Elementary School PTA
Meeting Minutes for Jan 22, 2006

OPENING: On behalf of our martyred Sheik, and any surviving Hamas leadership, Fatimah called the meeting to order at 7:10 and introduced the 3rd Grade Choir's warmly received peformance of "The Jew Stole My Land."

PRESIDENT'S REPORT: Fatimah informed everyone that next month's meeting will be held on the 18th because the courtyard will be needed on the 22nd for a spontaneous demonstration.

SCHOOL STORE: We are out of green hats and bandanas, toy guns and fake suicide bomber belts. Trading some of the overstock of pencils, paper and rulers to the Fatah school is the most likely way to restock. Will report how it goes next month.

DELEGATE'S REPORT: The effort to bond with our new sister school in Pyong Yang is going well. They rejected our offer to sponsor a canned food drive on their behalf, something about Juche spirit being enough to sustain their heroic children. They offered to send us some radiation sickness kits, but we weren't really sure why they thought we'd need those. Just the usual hiccups you find in any new relationship. More next month.

PSYCHOLOGIST'S REPORT: "Peaceful Playground" handout distributed. Outlines new play yard guidelines that were taught to every class. Will repeat as needed throughout the school year so that everyone can enjoy the yard safely. Quick summary of the guidelines: No more "Jihadis and Jews" at recess because too many children are showing up with real knives and we're starting to run low on tetanus boosters.

PRINCIPAL'S REPORT: Mr. Abdullah, the new principal talked about his survey of declining school test scores and started to introduce his 15 point program for turning things around. Fatimah interrupted him and asked how this will help the next generation of resistance fighters tell the difference between a safety and a trigger. Mr. Abdullah sat down without an answer.

SAFETY REPORT: Please remind your children about proper safety behavior at Israeli checkpoints. It's kids in FRONT, adults in the middle, armed resistance fighters in the back. This order is very important so that we don't lose fighters to stray enemy rounds or riccochets. Thank you for your cooperation.

NURSE'S REPORT: Important vaccine information: polio vaccinations are now being offered at UNRWA offices -- remember not to send your kids for these because it is a Zionist plot. Thank you.

TREASURER'S REPORT: Maryam reports the treasury has an overall balance of ... well, she's not sure exactly, but as long as the donor checks keep coming in, who cares? In the meantime, she's planning the next quarter's fundraisers and needs volunteers to help with bingo and a walkathon past Israeli checkpoints. Since the donor checks already pay for everything we need, the fundraisers will pay for a new zoom lens as a gift next Ramadan for our neighborhood Reuters photographer.

Noor and Samira to follow with reports on the Book Fair and External Fundraising efforts.

BOOK FAIR: Noor reports raising $503, a big success (applause). And she said those of you still waiting for your books shoudn't worry, extra copies of Mein Kampf and the Protocols are already on back order.

EXTERNAL FUNDRAISING: Given the number of worldwide catastrophes over the last year or so, Samira wants to do a special fundraiser to show "Hamas Cares." Ideas of which catastrophe to support were solicited, with suggested candidates including:
No one got too excited about any of these. It was then pointed out that when the Israelis retreated from Gaza they didn't pay a heavy enough price. It was thus unanimously approved to collect money to sponsor a "Sheik Yassin Elementary School" Qassam rocket, which should be launched after a school assembly sometime next month if everybody chips in.

PRINCIPAL'S REPORT: Mr. Abdullah interrupted at this point, complaining that we hadn't heard his 15 points, and raising some sort of point of order, but he was shouted down. He asked, presumably rhetorically, about the lack of concern for our children's academic success, and yadda yadda, but the caravan moved on...

MEDIA RELATIONS: One small point: when speaking to the press, it seems a few parents have been careless in talking about the Sheik. Remember, you're not required to mention he was in a wheel chair because of the gymnastics accident. Just say nothing, and let the listeners decide whether they'd rather believe it was the Israelis or a pommel horse that put him there. Also, please remind your children that the only picture they should smile for is their yearbook photo.

SPECIAL EVENTS REPORT: We need help sewing all the rat costumes for this year's upcoming school play, "Yasser and the Jews" so please pitch in. Also, get your reservations in early for next month's "Martyr's Dinner and Celebrity Roast."

KITCHEN REPORT: One of the food service technicians noticed that if you hold the transparent plastic traylids together at just the right angle, those little recycling triangles in the bottom corner can overlap to form the image of the Zionist Death Star. We've asked the Community Purity Committee to look into this and they're investigating a new supplier as we speak.

LIAISON REPORT: Funding for the UN-sponsored "Peace Through Coexistence" program has been spent. Anyone with any ideas what we should tell them we did with the money should submit them to Leila by next week because she needs to send in a report.

GROUNDS: Please don't park on the south side for carpool drop-off this month, you block the morning demonstrations and stone throwing

CONCLUSION: Meeting ended with a meditation circle on the theme, "There will be peace when the Jews are dead" and a group hug.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Isn't it the Palestinians' Job to Say That? 

The JPost is carrying an important AP report indicating that Iran and Syria do not represent the Palestinians:

The State Department, reacting negatively to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's meeting in Damascus with leaders of two militant Palestinian groups, said Friday neither Iran nor Syria can proclaim themselves champions of the Palestinian people.
It's kind of pathetic when the even the US State Department is subcontracted to handle a piece of the Palestinian PR portfolio? What, they couldn't call Hanan Ashrawi in from vacation?

Perhaps I'd have been a little less snide if the Palestinians had bothered to announce this themselves, to tell the world -- and Israel -- that these countries don't represent them, that they don't share the desire to wipe the Israeli blot from the map. Of course they are already on the way to electing Hamas to lead their government, so they probably wonder what more I could possibly expect from them, as if that's not enough already.

The State Department spokesman seemed to anticipate his credibility problem and went to some lengths to accentuate it:

The claims are "clearly bankrupt and hollow," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, citing Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as calling for foreign governments to stop their support for Palestinian rejectionist groups.
Thus speaketh the popular representative of the Palestinian people, as well as Sean McCormack, against the destruction of Israel. I and my family are greatly relieved by this news.

Sadly, while the State Department invokes the dizzying spin-job of PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to prove that Iran's views are not representative of the Palestinian people, it might be fair to ask whether Iran might actually be more representative of their views than Abbas himself. It may well turn out that in coming days the Hamas party will be voted the group most representative of Palestinians, not Mr. Abbas and company. And no one has forgotten what the not-quite-yet-democratically-elected representatives of the Palestinians have to say about Iran, have they?

Palestinian militant group Hamas has said the group will increase attacks on Israel if it attacks Iran.

Khaled Meshaal told reporters in Tehran that his group would join a united front against the enemies of Islam.

Mr Meshaal also praised Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his "courageous" remarks about Israel.

The president has been strongly criticised for saying on Wednesday that the Nazi Holocaust was "a myth".

Mr Ahmadinejad also called for Europe or North America to host a Jewish state, not the Middle East.

The Hamas chief was visiting Tehran for talks with Iran's leadership.

"What Iranian officials say may not please some people, but these are just courageous declarations," he said.

"The Islamic world should not pay the price for the Jews' problems. It is unfair."

'United front'

Mr Meshaal also took the opportunity to express solidarity with one of his group's main supporters.

"Just as Islamic Iran defends the rights of the Palestinians, we defend the rights of Islamic Iran. We are part of a united front against the enemies of Islam," he said.

"If Israel attacks Iran then Hamas will widen and increase its confrontation of Israelis."

Mr Meshaal also queried international concern over Iran's nuclear ambitions, which Tehran says are peaceful.

"Even if Iran's programme is military, what is the problem? Why do other countries like Israel have the right to have a nuclear weapon?" he asked.

On Tuesday, Mr Meshaal met Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who urged him to continue Hamas' resistance against Israel and not to enter into negotiations.
So, aside from asserting complete agreement on every issue, Hamas leaves open the possibility they feel Iranian cotton tariffs are too high.

Now watch, Hamas will go and lose the election just to spite me, and I'll have to eat crow and admit that the era of world peace is nearly upon us. That would be so embarrassing.

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Fatah Election Suggestion 

A Palestinian security officer gets his finger inked before casting his ballot at a polling station in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 21, 2006. Palestinian security forces cast the first ballots on Saturday in the Palestinian Legislative Council election, voting early before the main national poll next week, the first contested by the militant group Hamas. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
This suggests to me a way that Fatah could still take the election. They've had the presumably pro-Fatah PA security forces voting already, and their fingers have been inked. The inking of the fingers is so they can't vote again. Now if Sulayman-security-guy returns to the poll later with a purple finger -- I don't care which dead guy's ID he's flashing -- he's not voting.

So what can Fatah do to get back the momentum? In a word: ink bombs.

Simplest thing is a pot of ink with explosives, maybe a couple, planted surreptitiously around upcoming Hamas pre-election rally sites. Dial the cell phone number to trigger the charge and the ink goes splat all over would-be Hamas voters, including those valuable finger tips. If the strategy worked well enough, I suspect Hamas would be left with only one possible counter-strategy: hordes of fingerless Hamas voters showing up at the polls bearing doctor's notes explaining about the work accidents. Folks, this could get ugly.

Of course Hamas security may check this out and it might be necessary to send in suicide-ink-bombers instead, if Fatah has any left out in the bullpen.

Sure it would be a lot easier for them to go the old "rig the ballot boxes, dupe Jimmy Carter's crew and retroactively call off the election in the event they should lose" route, but that's just so cliched.

I like my idea better.

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Four Things 

The Jewish Freak tagged me with the "Four Things" meme so here goes:

4 jobs I've had:
  1. Painting over sea-voyage-rust on new import car undercarriages at the dock.
  2. Scrubbing scuba gear clean with toluene on an assembly line
  3. Teaching Assistant
  4. Software Engineer

4 movies I could watch over and over:

Since I barely have time to watch the movies a first time these days, let alone over and over, I'll list the movies I actually did watch over and over back when I was a kid, plus an estimate of the number of repeat viewings.
  1. The Blues Brothers (The original), 50+
  2. Blazing Saddles, 40+
  3. It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, 25+
  4. The Frisco Kid, 5

4 places I've lived:
  1. Milwaukee, WI
  2. Long Beach, CA
  3. Karmiel, Israel (Merkaz-Klitah/Absorption Center)
  4. Beit Shemesh, Israel

4 TV shows I love to watch:

Since I no longer watch any episodic television, I'll list my past favorites.
  1. Seinfeld
  2. X-Files
  3. Frasier
  4. Star Trek -- first 2 versions only

4 places I've been on vacation:
  1. San Francisco, CA
  2. La Jolla, CA
  3. Israel, (just once)
  4. My Own House (don't knock it until you've tried it).

4 websites I visit daily:
  1. I visit most of my blogroll's sites daily or every few days at worst.
  2. Google
  3. LakersGround.net
  4. Yahoo News Photos

4 Favorite Foods:
  1. Indian (Chickpeas and Potato Curry, Cashew Chicken, Biryani, Daal)
  2. Chinese (Fried Rice, Sweet and Sour Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, Red Pepper Stir Fry)
  3. Chips and Salsa
  4. German Chocolate Cheesecake

4 places I'd rather be:
  1. Staples Center in Los Angeles for Lakers games.
  2. On the beach playing volleyball, if my knees could still stand it.
  3. In front of my refrigerator (my drink needs more ice).
  4. Ahmadinejad's private kitchen, so I could slip a little something into his Kool-Aid.

4 books I could read over and over:

I must confess, I don't tend to read books over and over. Since we read the Torah over and over, that's an obvious exception, but in general, I read it once, then put it in my bookshelf to gather dust for a few years until the next used book benefit at the school or library. Nevertheless...
  1. The Hebrew Bible
  2. The Cat in the Hat
  3. More, More, More...
  4. The Sneetches on the Beaches

4 people I'm tagging:

I'm asking for four brave volunteers who haven't already been tagged. Sign up in the comments section and I'll update the post to point to you. (Hint: you get a link out of it). 3 spots left.
  1. My brother at Shallow Verb
  2. Your name here
  3. Your name here
  4. Your name here

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Million Geeky Pieces 

You may have heard a little hoopla about the million little pieces that are left of James Frey's credibility as a non-fiction author. Well listen, folks, from my point of view, this means a little niche in the market has opened up, and I'm just the guy to fill it. It's not as if recovering drug addicts, alcoholics and criminal wannabes are the only imaginative ones with agonizing-but-instructive tales to sell:

I wake to the drone of Kevin's voice going on and on about the bishop and the feeling of something warm dripping down my chin. I open my eyes to check the board, my forehead burning hot. What am I doing here? My middle four pawns are gone, I have a hole in the right side of my defense, my rook is captured and I'm about to lose that damned bishop. I should have gone home. I wipe a little drool from my chin. I look around and I'm in the back of the physics lab and there's no one near me, everybody's backing away over toward Kevin's side now. I look at my clothes and my clothes are covered with a colorful mixture of cafeteria spaghetti sauce, green jello, and "I love calculus" patches. I reach for the king and I find it and I push it over but the cackling just won't stop.
Yeah, I had it that rough. You heard me. Used to run with a gang. The Geeks. That's what we called ourselves. Well technically we weren't exactly the ones who called ourselves that, but the name just seemed to kind of stick anyway, so we went with it. We lived life the way we played chess, only not sitting down. Maybe we were a little crazy.

I think it was the chess. It does that to you. Or the D&D. Sometimes life was just this never ending blur, one thing after another. Risk. Computer games. More D&D. A little math practice. Then chess again. It was dehumanizing.

We couldn't stop.

But Holy Crapola were we a holy terror -- out of control. Bad boys. Oh, the trouble we caused.

We used to make fun of the other kids who couldn't do trig without calculators -- until they'd get so upset they'd break our pencils. We OWNED them. Wicked. Fun.

We would play mental chess in the cafeteria, real loud, just to see who we could piss off. And then if anybody tried to do anything about it -- if they even thought about it -- you wouldn't believe the things we would mutter about them as we hustled our butts out of there, bad words and everything. We were ruthless. Cold hearted geek killas.

We used to get in turf wars with rival gangs. Let me tell you, until you've witnessed a chess slapdown between the math team and the strategy games club, well, you've just been livin' the life of a Mama's boy -- not that there's anything wrong with that.

We were so bad, they had to bus us to another school -- called it a magnet program, but they weren't fooling us. We were bad news, through and through. Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with D and that stands for Dungeons and Dragons.

And I'm not wasting my time reciting this litany of teen terror just to impress you. No. I'm establishing my cred. My authenticity. This is my story in all its authenticity-ish-ness, and it is a story

And buy.

My tale of redemption from the brink. Or is it?

We pull into the Parking Lot and park the car and I finish a bottle of liquid Dimetap and we get out and we start walking toward the Entrance of the Emergency Room. Me and my Brother and my Mother. My entire Family. Going to the ER.
I want to tell my Brother to grab my wordlist from the backseat but all that comes out is a rasping, wheezy rattle.
I stop and they stop with me. I wheeze. They don't. I stare at them. Lovingly and long and connected.
Functional. Simple. Menacing.
Useless. I need that damned list.
I want to run or die or get some studying done. I want to calculate and circle answers and have no heart. I want to crawl in a desk chair and never come out until it's perfect. I want to wipe my asthma attack straight off the map. Straight off the freakin' map. I wheeze deeply.
Let's go.
We enter a small Waiting Room, no chess sets. A woman sits behind a desk reading a fashion magazine. She looks up.
May I help you?
My Mother steps forward and speaks with her as my Brother and I find chairs and sit in them.
I'm shaking. My hands and my feet and my lips and my chest. Shaking. The inhaler can do that if you take too many puffs in a row.
My Brother moves next to me and takes my hand and he can feel my anxiety. There won't be enough time. I've still got three more lists plus the one in the car. We look at the floor and we don't speak. We wait and we hold hands and we breathe. Well, he breathes. And we think.
My Mother finishes with the woman and she turns around and she stands in front of us. She looks happy and the woman is on the phone. She kneels down.
They're gonna check you in now. Don't worry, there's still time.
I need the list, I wanna say, but it just sounds like hzzzhaazzzz.
You're gonna be fine. This is a good place. The best place. That's what I hear.
You ready?
I guess so. I wheeze. I nod.
We stand and we move toward a small Room where a man sits behind a desk with a computer. He meets us at the door.
I'm sorry, but you'll have to wait in the lobby.
My Mother nods.
We'll pump him full of adrenaline and God knows what else and we'll call you in later to make sure he's all right.
He notices I've scribbled on his notepad and glares at me but reads it.
And go get his damned word list and bring it back so he can study.
He doesn't understand. My inhaler juiced hands can't hold a pencil, even before the adrenaline. And my SATs start in 7 hours and 38 minutes. I need the list.
But it's not all just bad boys suffering for their compulsions, sick and miserable all the time. It's also bad boys and the girl's who love them. You know what I mean.

Sad but true story about a young chick that used to dig me -- she never let on, but I could tell. She was just tooo tragically nice, didn't have what it took to run with the Geeks. Never even got up the courage to talk to me, even when I tried to reach out to her out in little ways, to help her feel more comfortable around bad boys like me -- I still remember waving to her from across the quad, real discreet, just with the fingertips. But there really wasn't anything I could do for her. She was just too far gone, too trapped in the system, caught up in the game -- cheerleader practice, homecoming, all that crap. I shudder to think of what must have become of her.

But she wasn't the only chick. Oh no. This thing is going to blow the cover off those illusions about the sexcapades of geek life. For instance that girl I almost asked out to the prom.

I push my tray down the rail, picking only carbs, sugar. She's right ahead of me, so close she would hear me even if I whispered. I look at her tray, her salad mocks me. I look down.
Pawn to King Four.
I see her turn to me out of the corner of my eye.
What? Did you say something?
I hadn't whispered. The pain of choosing the wrong opening gambit rips through me. Pawn to King Four, why had I chosen such a cliched opening line?
I mumble something about Capablanca or Steinitz and shake my head. The delicate laughter as she turns her back and walks away from me is almost musical.
I had come that close. I head over to the Geek table for a game of mental chess.
Yeah, I hear the doubters, the naysayers. I say bring it on. They don't believe I could get that close to going out with so many chicks. But they're just haters. They don't want you to walk where I've walked. To learn what I've learned.

And I don't minimize the pain I caused to others, even if it wasn't really my fault and they should have dealt with it better. What did they expect from a life filled with chess and math and twenty-sided dice?

Come in.
I open the door, peek in. Mother is in her chair, eyes red.
How are you feeling?
In what way?
In every way.
Her eyes are wet.
I'm never gonna...gonna...gonna have grandchildren!
I look at her.
Of course you are, after I finish college and grad school and a post-doc.
She looks at me, afraid to smile.
I told you, remember? The Sage Sperm Bank?
She looks puzzled.
For women that want brainy babies?
More waterworks. Here it comes. That whole why can't you spend more time with girls thing. Mother doesn't understand chess club.
There's so much more. But I've already figured out the cover art and the gimmick font I want. It's a sure hit. So, Oprah, babe, give me a holler and I'll see if I can't whip these tantalizing details up into a scintillating souffle of epic misery and woe. This is just a sample of what it's like to be a geek with no way out. I've got tons of other hardships that'll really make the readers cringe.

And it's all true. As true as it needs to be. True enough.

Let the haters hate. Believe what you want. Believe what you need to.

So give me a call, I know I can pimp this thing.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, Or Good Photos? 

This AP photographer is a very clever boy.

Class! Pay attention! Now, who can tell me what each of the following three photos have in common, aside from having been shot and posted by the very same clever boy:

Various election posters for upcoming parliamentary elections are seen as Palestinian security forces march during training outside the headquarters of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2006. Palestinians will vote in parliamentary elections upcoming January 25. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

Election posters for upcoming parliamentary elections, including some from Islamic Hamas, are seen on the wall of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2006. Palestinians will vote in parliamentary elections January 25th. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

An election poster for upcoming parliamentary elections from the ruling Fatah Party showing the late Yasser Arafat is seen on a wall as Palestinian security forces march during training outside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2006. Palestinians will vote in parliamentary elections January 25th. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
Ok, put your pencils down. Did you say "They all include gratuitous images of fences and walls to remind you what you are supposed to think is the thematic background of the upcoming Hamas Palestinian elections and who is responsible for whatever happens"?

I'm glad to see you're also reading too much into newswire photos. I thought it was just me.

Joy of Christmas 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) attends a mass celebrating Christmas in an Armenian church in Bethlehem, West Bank January 19, 2006. Abbas' Fatah movement and rival militant group Hamas agreed on Wednesday to not bring weapons to polling stations so as to avoid violence when Palestinians vote on January 25, leaders said. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Oy vey! That looks like fun.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

With negotiations like these, who needs surrender? 

Haaretz is running the scoop on Abbas' moderate position under the headline Abbas says he is open to peace negotiations with Israel:

"We will not hesitate to get into such a negotiation," Abbas said. "The way to peace is to sit together at the negotiation table, not the path of killings and unilateral actions."
Hey, as long as negotiations practically by definition can't involve a single Palestinian concession or even counter-offer, why not? Who doesn't want to negotiate the victor's surrender? The worst that can happen to Abbas is a few White House visits followed by an angry denunciation of Israeli intransigence several percent of the West Bank later.

Despite my unrelenting negativity, of course I would like it if all this peace, love and understanding coming from Abbas could amount to something other than Israel's chasing the dollar bill on the string a few more meters down the street. I'm just not sure Abbas has the leverage to deliver any compromises, even if his moderation were as much bite as bark.

He did, however, make one statement that was a good sign with regard to Hamas:

"It is not their right to participate in political life and maintain militias," he said. "There should be no one armed beyond the law."
I doubt whether Abbas' resolve in this issue is going to convince Hamas to agree with him -- at least not until Hamas is the law -- but this is a precondition before an improvement in Palestinian society is possible.

As cynical as I am, I do wish Abbas well in his efforts to civilize Hamas. But not enough to risk helping him since he will probably insist it requires sending Fatah more weapons.

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Saudi Freedom of Expression? 

Arab News brings us a story they've titled Freedom of Expression?:

Police officers in Alkhobar smashed the rear car window of a teenager because of an offensive sticker, Okaz daily reported. The teenager was cruising on Alkhobar streets proud of a sign in the back window that said 'I Have Your Sister With Me'. He was stopped by police and was asked to take it out. The teenager refused to listen to police order saying it was a personal right. Police found no way but to totally smash the rear window. A large crowd gathered at the scene and was clapping at the police action urging the police to do more to stop teenage unruliness.
No word on the officer's sister, although I'm sure we all pray for her safe recovery.

It's so lovely that a large crowd gathered to support the officers' right to free expression of their distaste for the unruly sticker. This is the way an orderly nation is supposed to operate, where the people back up the instruments of the state in enforcing the government's freedom expression at all times. Why, if my underwear labels weren't written in Hebrew -- banning me from setting foot in Saudi Arabia -- I'd be seriously tempted to go over there and express myself.

I'll have to settle for expressing myself here. I do actually get visitors from Saudi Arabia once in awhile though, so maybe I'm making a difference.

I also got one visitor from Iran a few days ago. I thought he was going to nuke me in the comments section for my anti-Ahmendijahidabad posts. That was scary.

William Shatner and the Philanthropist's Stone 

I hadn't realized what a philanthropic tzaddik our Captain Kirk is:

Actor William Shatner has sold his kidney stone for $25,000, with the money going to a housing charity, it was announced Tuesday.
I'm so inspired, I just want to do something to follow Mr. Shatner's shining example. I wish I had kidney stones, so that I too could sell them for charity. Sadly, my kidneys seem to be just fine.

However, if anyone is interested, as soon as I've got this cold licked I should have a pretty big pile of used tissues saved up. Any offers? It's for a good cause.

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Scenes from Yasser's Private Stag Reels 

I ran across this picture at Boker Tov, Boulder! and thought I'd plug it again here, just in case any of my readers accidentally swallowed something toxic and urgently need to throw up.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is greeted by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 1980. Israel said Saddam's capture was a lesson to Palestinians and Syria to abandon 'terrorism.' (AFP/INA/File)
Anyone have a caption for this? A few of my own cheap shots:
And with that, I think I'll return to my sick bed and work on getting rid of this cold.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

HDate -- The Exciting New Hamas Singles Site 

Admit it. It's not easy for today's young Hamas singles. Who has the time to meet that special someone while still giving your heart and soul and blood to the Jihad?

Fortunately, HDate is here to help!

Welcome to HDate, the premier Hamas singles cell on the web. You won't find a site anywhere that matches more eager young virgins and aspiring Shahids -- at least not this side of Paradise!

As the modern alternative to traditional arranged marriages between complete strangers, HDate is the perfect place for young, active, militant Hamas men and women to wage their Jihad for love. And HDate's explosive growth almost guarantees you'll find that perfect someone. Our extensive listings, including attractive pictures and important details about each young single, help you quickly zoom in and target the match of your dreams. Simply create a profile and we'll have hordes of desireable HDate members beating down your door quicker than a Mossad hit squad.

Take a sample peek at some of the quality singles you're likely to meet when you join HDate:

Women Seeking Men...
Marital Status: Virgin
Interests: Jihad, Islam, Raising sons, Underwater Burqa Weaving
Turnoffs: Infidels, Kippas, Men who can't share their feelings
Marital Status: Non-Virgin (still under appeal)
Interests: Jihad, Islam, Raising sons, Handing out sweets
Turnoffs: Non-Believers, Hebrew in bed, Men who shave
Marital Status: Virgin
Interests: Jihad, Islam, Raising sons, Staying Indoors
Turnoffs: Kosher food, Men who leave the seat up, Being allowed to drive
Marital Status: Virgin
Interests: Jihad, Islam, Raising sons, Cheerleading
Turnoffs: Unloaded weapons, Long fuses, Informers
Men Seeking Women...
Marital Status: Virile
Interests: Jihad, Islam, Explosives, First Aid
Turnoffs: Girls who don't shave, Weepy goodbyes
Marital Status: Virile
Interests: Jihad, Islam, Automatic Weapons, Oprah
Turnoffs: Non-Smokers, Fatah girls
And, we at HDate are painfully aware of difficulties related to certain -- shall we say -- "demographic disadvantages" inherent in the execution of our ideology. However, in light of this issue, we address the problem with an extra section:
Marital Status: Virgins
Interests: Jihad, Islam, Exploring
Turnoffs: Lonely nights with no one to hold

So sign up for HDate today. It's the next best thing to blowing yourself up!

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