Jul 31, 2005


For the past two weeks al Qaeda websites have been disappearing and experts thing British intelligence is behind the disappearances. Unfortunately, even without the websites, technology favors the terrorists.
“Modern technology puts most of the advantages in the hands of the terrorists. That is the bottom line,” says Professor Michael Clarke, of King’s College London, who is director of the International Policy Institute.

Government-sponsored monitoring systems, such as Echelon, can track vast amounts of data but have so far proved of minimal benefit in preventing, or even warning, of attacks. And such systems are vulnerable to manipulation: low-ranking volunteers in terrorist organisations can create background chatter that ties up resources and maintains a threshold of anxiety. There are many tricks of the trade that give terrorists secure digital communication and leave no trace on the host computer.

Via The Jawa Report.

Can this movie possibly live up to its hype?

Ever since I found out that Bob Saget of Full House-fame tells the dirtiest version of the world's dirtiest joke in the movie The Aristocrats, I've been dying to see it.

And, like a book banned in Boston, the AMC movie chain's decision not to show the film is certain to sell more tickets.

Who wouldn't want to see a movie about a "secret" joke?
The movie is a long deconstruction by a collection of comedians and comedy writers, of an old and archetypal vaudeville joke that's rarely told in public. Indeed, the telling is a private ritual—akin, says one observer, to a secret handshake: It's the joke you do for other comedians after the audience has left the club.

I don't know about you, but I always want in on any secret.

Throw in the promise that Whoopi Goldberg is actually funny in the movie and it becomes a must see.

But can it really be that funny, or disgusting? Unfortunately, in the greater-Baltimore area we only have one so-called independent theater and the movie's not there yet. I'm afraid that by the time I do get around to seeing it, my expectations will be too great.

Thanks to Jim Lewis, we now know the joke's setup if not its "catchy as a pop hook" but unfunny punchline. A family of four and a dog? Doesn't take a wildly inventive mind to see the obscene possibilities in that combination.

We'll just have to wait and see.

Jul 29, 2005


The singer: Birth of a pop star.

Eeeeuuww! Old mattresses.

Nutcrackers: Trained squirrels.

Public service pamphlet: Blog depression, not to be confused with Summer Blogging Malaise Syndrome.

Random discounts: Generous cashier.

Out of the mouths of gossip columnists

Cindy Adams doesn't like Jane Fonda's antiwar tour:
AREN'T we lucky? Isn't it great? We have patriotic ingrate Jane Fonda, the multiple divorceé who was born with a silver hoof in her mouth, acting as spokespig for our country again. Although she's born here, isn't there a way we can throw her out since her basic career is to bad-mouth the United States of America? If being a smoker is against the law, how about being a traitor? If spitting on the sidewalk is not allowed, how come spitting on the U.S.A. is OK? If double-parking gets a fine, shouldn't there be some small punishment for treason?

Via Kitty.

More anti-profiling madness

So Mayor Bloomberg tells the residents and transit workers of his fair city to be on the lookout for possible terrorists. But when alert tour-bus employees report suspicious behavior, the mayor attacks them.
Bloomberg stopped just short of branding Gray Line’s employees liars: “They didn’t even have any knapsacks,” he said of the five British men. “Just state the facts as you see them. . . . In this case, clearly, it was not warranted. . . . It turned out that these . . . people did not present any threat.” The mayor further instructed New Yorkers to use “common sense” in the future and to avoid racial profiling.

The detained British tourists, for their part, seemed unruffled. “These things happen, don’t they?” one said to the News. But just in case, the mayor apologized to them on behalf of all New Yorkers: “It’s a shame,” he noted.

But it’s the mayor’s response to the incident that was shameful—and dangerous. The mayor’s civic throttling of Gray Line’s workers will surely cause New York’s competitive tourist industry to second guess itself in the future. By carelessly castigating the tour-bus workers as exaggerators and racists, the mayor has wrapped several layers of gauze around the eyes and ears of tourist workers and of other watchful New Yorkers.

Evil genius Rove implicated in more scandals

More shocking than Valerie Plame-gate, if true these allegations could call into question the very notion of fairness that reality TV depends upon for its existence.

Proud to be British, progressive version

Tristram Hunt enters "right-wing, jingoist territory" to hail Britannia. Pretty good, too. Of course, the evil neocons are mentioned, but not 'til the last paragraph.
Unfortunately, our otherwise progressive government has not always acted to protect these cultural traditions. The French newspaper Le Figaro rightly remarked on the irony of MPs outlawing fox-hunting - a historic component of British culture in art, literature and the very contours of our natural heritage - while happily allowing in Muslim clerics committed to destroying British values. At the same time, institutional political correctness in local government allowed notions of a sacrosanct multiculturalism to be placed above the rule of law in the tragic case of Victoria Climbie.

By bending over backwards to accommodate the cultures and religions of migrant communities, we have been in danger of undermining the very ideals that attracted immigrants here to begin with. One of the few politicians brave enough to confront this dilemma has been David Blunkett. The teaching of citizenship in schools, the introduction of citizenship ceremonies, and the publication by Bernard Crick of an official history of Britain have served to return the emphasis to British values. Meanwhile, Blunkett himself has happily broken with the left's usual reserve on these matters, speaking of his patriotic ardour for English music, poetry, drama and humour.

Hamas sponsors mass wedding

452 couples united in holy matrimony.
For many poverty-stricken Palestinian families, the mass weddings mean marriage ceremonies can take place without the crippling expense of a mahr (dowry) or a private party, which can run to tens of thousands of dollars. Most of these grooms are sons or relatives of Palestinians killed in the violence over the past four and a half years.


Hamas, whose name means Islamic Resistance Movement, is clearly using the ceremonies to further promote its image as a positive institution in Palestinian society. Palestinians have long maintained that one of the main reasons for Hamas's soaring popularity, particularly in the Gaza Strip, is the fact that the movement continues to provide a vast network of social and economic services to the needy.

Hamas is not the only group to organize such events. Earlier this month, Islamic Jihad sponsored a similar ceremony in the Gaza Strip, but for "only" 222 Palestinian couples. Tens of thousands of people attended the mass wedding in Gaza City, which was financed by several Palestinian companies and institutions.

Khaled al-Bahtini, one of the organizers of the gathering, said each couple received a gift of $200 – $300 in cash, in addition to wedding rings and bedroom and other furniture.

Toaster museum

Here. Via HNN.

Ethics in blogging

A study from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Via Paper Frigate.

In defense of elitism

If and when I spout off about equality of opportunity, I don't mean anything so horrific as this. I just mean that--all things being equal--me, John Roberts and President Red Lips all have a shot at becoming, say president of the United States. Of course, all things are not equal: I didn't go to Harvard Law School, so there's little likelihood of my becoming a Supreme Court Justice. My lips aren't (quite) as big as Geena Davis', so I'll probably never play a president on TV.

Leave it to Theodore Dalrymple to to look beneath the rhetoric and examine what the words really mean. And this bit struck me particularly:
The arguments against equality of outcome have been more or less accepted. Not only is such equality impossible in practice – human nature will always subvert it – but it conflicts with the demand for justice, at least if justice has anything to do with the reward of individual conduct. Incidentally, I am always astonished by the way people always suppose that, if there were any justice in the world, they would be better rather than worse off. To the contrary, many should thank their lucky stars that there is no justice in the world: for otherwise they would die in prolonged agony.
I am extremely thankful that I was lucky enough to be born in this time and place. And not eating dirt in North Korea, for example. Or getting raped and killed in Darfur.

Roberts v. NYT

Toby of bilious young fogey fisks an attempted Times hatchet job on John Roberts' record as a lawyer in 1981-1986.

The article in question finds that Roberts is a conservative. Sometimes even more conservative than "his prominent superiors." Indeed, author David E. Rosenbaum seems most put out by the fact that Roberts, a 26-year-old pipsqueak, disagreed with people "who clearly outranked" him. Impertinent little upstart!

President Red Lips

Lisa de Moraes: "ABC's new drama "Commander-in-Chief," about a set of plump red lips that take over the Oval Office after the president has a massive stroke and croaks."

Hilarious. I saw for the first time a commercial for CiC last night and the only thing I could focus on was the lips. Oh and Donald Sutherland looking like a corpse whose hair has grown while in the coffin.

Anyway, there's a big to do in the blogosphere about the idiotic producer's claim that there are no iconic women. Charmaine Yoest and her readers have managed to come up with a few. (All the one's I thought up had already been named.) So go there and put in your 2 cents.

But, really, I'd give President Red Lips about two weeks in office.

Me, me, me, me, me

I have arrived. Check out my normblog profile.

Jul 28, 2005

This has gone too far (revised)

Why should someone have to explain this? Of course they should profile people whose bags they're going to search. In the airport as well as on the subway. Not to do so is sheer stupidity. Honestly, if we in the West are this blind, maybe we deserve to die.

Endlessly wanding my 69-year-old mother because her titanium knee makes the buzzer go off--for which she has a certificate that she carries with her--makes no sense whatsoever. The woman can't even open a jar, for crissakes. And the casserole carriers prolly aren't too much of a threat either.

I'm certainly not the only person who feels this way. What is with the idiotic politicians--and here I include Bush as well as Bloomberg--who are so afraid of violating PC codes that they put all of us in danger? Muslims who aren't part of the death cult are just as concerned about being killed by terrorists as the rest of us. And as for the professional grievance mongers, let 'em squawk.

Even the normally unflappable Brit Hume loses his customary objective composure on the subject. Wednesday night, Mort Kondracke came out in favor of profiling and then he went into this song and dance about doing it with "sensitivity" to Muslim feelings. Apparently Brit couldn't take anymore. He interrupted and said, in quite a peevish tone: "Mort, I've been searched at airports ... and they weren't particularly sensitive. And you know what? I didn't mind."

Just so.

Why, dear God, why?

Are the people you'd least like to see naked always so eager to shed their clothes? Warning: Not safe for work. Do not click if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disease or a delicate sensibility.

Via Roaring Tiger.

Lethal combination

Sandals and socks.

IRA says it will disarm

Gerry Adams says the group is committed to "purely peaceful and democratic methods."
Bertie Ahern, the Irish prime minister, said the British and Irish governments had worked for 11 years for today's outcome. He said: "The war is over, the IRA's armed campaign is over, paramilitarism is over and I believe that we can look to the future of peace and prosperity based on mutual trust and reconciliation and a final end to violence."

Mr Ahern added: "If the IRA words are borne out by the verified action it will be a momentous and a very historic development."

Big Foot sighting

From the BBC:
Many cultures have legends about solitary man-beasts, and recorded sightings in North America and Asia date back to the early 1800s. Despite numerous sightings, photos and footprints of often questionable origin, there has never been conclusive proof that these creatures exist. No droppings, no bones, no hair and no bodies found - alive or dead.

And this week, geneticists at the University of Alberta are putting the legend to the test as they scrutinise hair alleged to have come from Bigfoot. The results are due on Thursday.

The tuft was collected by residents in Teslin, Yukon, who claim to have found it in a massive footprint left behind by a 3m-tall human-like creature which tromped through their backyards earlier this month.

How can you write a story on a blind video game champ

And not refer to Tommy?

Flying saucer houses


The Futoro house, designed in 1968, is apparently enjoying a comeback. More here and here.

Malevolent doofus

It seems Jason Zengerle is upset that Ari Fleischer won't be going to the big house for his non-role in L'Affair Plame.
[T]he guy I wanted to see done in by PlameGate was Fleischer. Let me explain: For all of Rove's dastardly deeds, even his harshest critics have to concede that he's smart. Liberals don't call him a genius (albeit an evil one) for nothing. But Fleischer seems to be an absolute doofus--an absolute doofus who, thanks to his time in the White House, is now rich and famous.

Backlash against al Qaeda among Muslims

Don Surber unearths an al-Jazeera report in which the head of the Arab League, Amr Mossa, endorsed a definition of terrorism as "intentional maiming or killing of civilians as terrorism, regardless of cause."

If that means that attacks on Israeli civilians are terrorism, this is a giant leap. Somehow, though, I have a feeling that those attacks will be excused "because of the occupation," or because, as Red Ken Livingstone recently put it, “The Palestinians don’t have jets and bombs, they only have their bodies to use as weapons."

Still it's a start. And as Surber points out, Mossa's endorsement is just one of many denunciations among Muslims and others. I mean Amnesty International, for crying out loud, last heard comparing Gitmo to the Gulag.

Read it. And while you're at it, read this article (via Andrew Ian Dodge) about how the Nazis, with the enthusiastic support of the Mufti of Jerusalem, were in large part responsible for the anti-Semitism now so prevalent among Islamists. As the author points out, such anti-Semitism was quite alien to the Arab world--until the Nazis made it their mission to spread the hate.

Personally, I wish they wouldn't

Tell us the heat index, that is. It only makes you feel worse.

Happily, we here in Maryland are experiencing a break in the weather, thanks to a cold front that was preceded by one of those cinematic storms. You know the ones I mean: One minute it's still, close, even claustrophobic in the way 95 degree weather at 100 percent humidity is; the next a ferocious wind starts blowing through, picking up branches and other debris and you begin to feel drops of water, then the sky goes dark and bam! sheets of water start coming down. I watched the storm from the partial shelter of my balcony. It was exhilarating I tell you. Made me want to perform a dance in thanksgiving to the rain god.

Jul 27, 2005

Iraqi constitution heavy on the Islam

Omar takes us on a whirlwind tour of the final draft of the Iraqi constitution and I must say it doesn't look good, beginning as it does with the following provisions:

1-The (Islamic, federal)republic of Iraq is a sovereign, independent country and the governing system is a democratic, republican, federal one.

2-Islam is the official religion of the state and it is the main source of legislation. The constitution shall preserve the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people (with its Shea't majority and its Sunni component) and respect the rights of all other religions.

3-The Iraqi community is made of two main ethnicities; these are Arabic and Kurdish and of other main ethnicities; these are Turkmen, Chalideans, Assyrian, Armenian, Shabak and (Persian) and Yazidi and Mendayeen, all of which are equal in rights and duties of citizenship.

Read the whole thing. Luckily the constitution is not set in stone.
Although this document will be subject to further negotiations and modifications, my first look at it made me decide that I'm going to say "NO" to this constitution. Islam has been introduced in many clauses and not only Islam, sectarianism was introduced into the draft in a disgusting way and frankly speaking, such things will make me feel so unsafe if results of the referendum came positive for this draft.

However, what eases my worries is that we're going to have the chance to say "YES" or "NO" and all of us know that it's much better to allow this critical step to take the time it needs than to end up with a useless (or even harmful) constitution. And anyway, even this draft is way better than the 'no constitution' state we lived in for decades.

The other reassuring factor here is that amendments can be done two years after the constitution is 1st approved and then once again four years after that.

We have fought for a long time to reach the point where we can write a constitution that serves our needs and protects our future from oppression and dictatorship.

What will they think of next?

Silent disco.
No booty-busting bass bump. No toe-twitching techno thrum. And yet, in the middle of the mellow quiet, a klatch of Brooklynites were getting their groove on in baffling unison. Heads bobbed; arms flailed in the humid summer night; hips did what hips will do.

Welcome to the Quiet Disco. Born of noise complaints in the Netherlands, this scene (Dutch kids call it stille disco) puts dancers in wireless headphones. Each headset is tuned to receive transmissions directly from the D.J. booth, where turntables are connected through a mixer to a small radio transmitter.

No more spinsters--or bachelors

To make way for gay weddings, the UK will stop calling never marrieds spinsters or bachelors. Instead everyone will be called a "single."
Although it will be welcomed by those women who dislike the negative connotations of the term, the abolition of the word spinster will deepen the fears of bishops that the Government is set on undermining the institution of marriage as traditionally understood by the Church.


The Church of England, which refers to "spinsters" and "bachelors" of the parish when banns of marriage are read in church, is to come under pressure from the Registrar General's Office, part of the Office of National Statistics, to follow suit.

But the Church is firmly wedded to its spinsters and bachelors and the change is likely to generate a new Church-State dispute. A Church spokesman said: "We are quite open to the way language is evolving, but we do not see any improvement being made here. This is something we will resist."
I should say so.

One might not want to be a spinster, but one would hate to see the word disappear.

LittleBlue SmurfBoys

Gone are the red-meat eating artistic heroes of yesteryear.
Of all the celebrated SmurfBoys of the moment, 24-year-old Oberst is for sure the most little and most blue. I can't recall a single live performance that filled me with as much rage as Oberst's unsmiling warm-up for Belle & Sebastian at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, in which an anti-Iraq war variation on his current song "Road to Joy" climaxed with Oberst closing his bright eyes and rendering the mock-ecstatic windup--"Let's fuck it up, boys, let's make some noise"--as a literally shivering paean to his own too-raw nerve endings. "Let's fffffuckitup, boys!" Oberst shuddered, his plosive F a talisman of his too-sensitive-to-live fragility.


Miller Lite lied: You can't trust anyone.

Octodog: A boon for child psychiatrists.

The C.W.: Fake contemporary Irish culture.

Huff Lag: "[O]ccurs after reading particularly cumbersome entries in which their conclusions in no way validate the time and effort it took to actually read the posts."

Man rules: This is how they think.

IRA to renounce violence

According to the NYT, Niall O'Dowd, an American businessman who played a role in the group's 1994 ceasefire, expected the IRA to make a statement sometime later this week.
A number of recent signs have pointed to major developments occurring within the I.R.A.

Prime Minister Bertie Ahern of Ireland was cutting short a vacation to return to Dublin later this week. John DeChastelain, a Canadian general who is the chairman of a commission set up to oversee the destruction of paramilitary weapons, is in Ireland this week, the Irish government spokesman said. And Martin McGuinness, one of the leaders of the I.R.A.'s political wing, Sinn Fein, is to go to Washington tomorrow to brief American officials on the peace process, according to Rita O'Hare, Sinn Fein's representative in the United States.

Yesterday, Ireland's justice minister, Michael McDowell, said the top leaders of Sinn Fein, including Gerry Adams and Mr. McGuinness, had stepped down from positions on the I.R.A.'s secretive governing council.


However, the I.R.A.'s failure to disarm since 1994 has created much official skepticism about its motives and statements.

"There is no position whatsoever between being armed and being unarmed for the I.R.A.," said Mr. McDowell, the justice minister. "If the I.R.A. are decommissioning, they must decommission all their weapons in their entirety, every single pistol, every single bullet, the lot."

I'll believe it when I see it.

Jul 26, 2005

God bless Tony Blair

I heard part of his press conference today on the radio. I was especially pleased with this part:
And one other thing I want to say whilst I am on this subject if I might, neither have they any justification for killing people in Israel either. Let us just get that out of the way as well. There is no justification for suicide bombing whether in Palestine, in Iraq, in London, in Egypt, in Turkey, anywhere, in the United States of America. There is no justification for it period and we will start to beat this when we stand up and confront the ideology of this evil. Not just the methods but the ideas. When we actually have people going into the communities here in this country and elsewhere and saying I am sorry, we are not having any of this nonsense about it is to do with what the British are doing in Iraq or Afghanistan, or support for Israel, or support for America, or any of the rest of it. It is nonsense, and we have got to confront it as that. And when we confront it as that, then we will start to beat it.

Not for nothing, but Israel gets left out a lot in these discussions and I was pleased to see Blair go out of his way to single Israel out.

Harry also approves.
If you've seen the television coverage of that section you'll surely have noticed the passion with which Blair delivered those lines. I remember the days when I cringed at Blair's attempts to be 'all things to all people' and his all-too transparent attempts to tap in to what he saw as a popular mood or to make sure he was 'covering' this or that angle for a particular focus-group generated 'segment'. Yet today Blair spoke with real belief and conviction, at times bordering on anger.


It has to be said - when it comes to the big, crucial issues of our day we have a Prime Minister who really does understand the nature of the threat facing democrats globally. Few would have predicted it before September 11 but he is a politician who has the balls to stand up to the consensus in the media and in much of European and British political debate and say what needs to be said.

Will US lose its technological edge to Asia?

This post suggests that the US will lose its technological edge to "populous" Asian countries:
Not only is the U.S. losing ground in high technology exports, but its very capacity to develop new technologies is declining rapidly with respect to the rest of the world. According to Richard Freeman, the paper's author, the sheer population of Asian countries may allow them to train more scientists and engineers than the U.S. while devoting a smaller share of their economy to science and technology.

For a recipe on how not to gain a technological edge over your competitors, read this post: "Lessons from Soviet Science," which talks about how the Soviets failed to properly prioritize their research dollars, resulting in a massive number of institutes devoted to power engineering: A field considered vital in the 1930s when the Soviets drew up their strategy for developing science and technology.
Since results are so temporally divorced from effort (Fourier again), it is extremely hard for bureaucracies to determine which basic science projects deserve funding. So resources generally go either to projects with political significance (such as power engineering) or to large projects. It’s the “we have big money, let’s do something big with it” syndrome. The Dynamist has a nice reprint from Freeman Dyson that describes this latter phenomenon. Let’s take a look at the example of the Zelenchukskaya Observatory he picked from the USSR:

One of the factors which the committee planning the observatory did not worry about was the Zelenchukskaya weather. I was on the mountain for three nights and did not see the sky. Even at Mount Palomar one may be unlucky and run into a string of cloudy nights. But at Zelenchukskaya the weather is consistently bad for the greater part of each year.

Muslims fear Muslims

Ahmad at Iraqi Expat lives in London. He says that he's felt like he's been "under suspicion" since 7/7 and he feels suspicious of his fellow Muslims.
I have met many Iraqi Muslim friends this weekend, and most of them expressed how uncomfortable they feel when they see a Muslim or an Asian in a bus or in a train. A friend of mine was in the tube last week when a bearded Muslim boarded that tube, and everyone, including my friend, felt unsafe. The bearded Muslim, suddenly, started yelling "Allah o Akbar" for no reason, and everyone in that carriage, including my friend, ran away from him.

Another friend got off a bus two stations before the destination and walked because there was a bearded Muslim on the bus and felt unsafe. There is a reason why Muslims feel under suspicion, you know?!

She said, he said

Novelist Terry McMillan files for divorce after discovering that her husband of 6 1/2 years, who's 23 years younger than McMillan, is gay.

His response:
He's accused McMillan of being a homophobe and despite signing a prenuptial agreement, says he should share in even more of the profits of "Stella" since "it's his story, too." He's even thinking about writing his own book called "How Stella Lost Her Groove" about recovering from life with Terry.

Via LaShawn Barber.

Ugly rock stars

Here's a list of nine. Best Week Ever, however, notices some glaring omissions.

Profiling works

It's dangerous to pretend otherwise, says Yishai Ha'etzni.
The American system's "blindness" cuts off the most important weapon in the war against terrorism: Human capability, judgment and perception. Now that the United States faces a higher threat, it cannot afford to neglect those tools.

Using sociological data as well as constantly updated intelligence information, trained security personnel know who is most likely to be perpetuating an attack, as well as how to identify suspicious individuals through behavior. (Again, it is important to note that ethnicity is only one factor among many used to identify potential terrorists.) Removing intelligence and statistical probability as tools would render this model far less effective.

Random searches of grandmothers and congressmen may make Americans feel virtuous, but they don't keep Americans safe. The attacks of 9/11 and the attacks on public transport in Madrid and London sadly demonstrate that Americans cannot afford feeling virtuous at the cost of human life.

Via RealClearPolitics.

I'd go with The Man in the White Suit

Or maybe Tunes of Glory. Alec Guiness was also great as Smiley in the BBC productions of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People. Oh and Lawrence of Arabia.

Actually, he was great in just about everything. And I always thought that he looked like a different person in each role he played. Jonathan Yardley, reviewing Alec Guiness: The Authorized Biography, agrees.
Like millions of others, I was captivated by his range, his sympathy, his wit and -- this above all -- his ability to lose himself so completely in the characters he played that they became utterly real and discrete. Unlike almost all other movie stars, whose presence as stars, as themselves , is always on the screen, Guinness was "a man of a thousand faces," none of them his own.

For this he was occasionally criticized, as being a superb character actor but nothing more. Gielgud, who was his mentor and whom he revered, cut him to the quick when, as a young man, Guinness aspired to play Hamlet. "I can't think why you want to play big parts," Gielgud said. "Why don't you stick to those funny little men you do so well instead of trying to be important?" Guinness's ambition was "to escape from the confines of character acting into the amplitude of a major role," as eventually he did on stage and in the movies, but when he got them he brought the character actor's sensibility to them. It was his greatest strength.
Unfortunately, Yardley doesn't like the book, which he says "suffocate(s) Guinness.

Fashionism: You are what you wear

Or, "Since when is PLAID gay?"

Pictures from the Scopes trial

Today is the 80th anniversary of the death of William Jennings Bryan, who died before he could give the closing argument in the Scopes Monkey trial.

The Smithsonian has made available previously unpublished photos from the trial.

Diversity watch

Julie Burchill on the diversity mantra and the terrorists.
Still, there was something a little creepy about the way in which certain people went on about the diversity of the dead. For one thing, it showed a willingness to believe the best of the bombers: that if only they had known that they had murdered delegates of all creeds and colours, they wouldn’t have done it.

Bullshit. This sort of Islamofascist hates multiculturalism. Just you try building a church in Saudi Arabia! They won’t even let our troops out there celebrate St Valentine’s Day. And as for any idea of the races being equal . . . it is the Muslim world that keeps slavery alive, and Muslim governments, as in Sudan, that see nothing whatsoever wrong with ethnic cleansing. Recently a Muslim columnist wrote sorrowfully of how in her culture a Muslim girl marrying a black man was the greatest shame that could fall upon a family. So much for equality under Islam.

There was also the implication from some quarters that if all the dead had been white Christians, the tragedy and abomination would have been somehow less. This seemed particularly inappropriate at a time when we were celebrating this country’s wartime suffering and resilience. We were white then — but did we bleed less because of it?

Via Arts & Letters Daily.

How educated is your mind?

KaneCitizen looks at the recommended reading from The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had by Susan Wise Bauer. You could probably quibble with some of the titles, but that's half the fun. I've put the ones I've read in bold. What have (or haven't) you read?


Don Quixote / Cervantes
The Pilgrim's Progress / Bunyan
Gulliver's Travels / Swift
Pride and Prejudice / Austen
Oliver Twist / Dickens
Jane Eyre / Bronte
The Scarlet Letter / Hawthorne
Moby-Dick / Melville

Uncle Tom's Cabin / Stowe
Madame Bovary / Flaubert
Crime and Punishment / Dostoyevsky
Anna Karenina / Tolstoy

The Return of the Native / Hardy
The Portrait of a Lady / James
Huckleberry Finn / Twain
The Red Badge of Courage / Crane
Heart of Darkness / Conrad

The House of Mirth / Wharton
The Great Gatsby / Fitzgerald
Mrs. Dalloway / Woolf
The Trial / Kafka

Native Son / Wright
The Stranger / Camus
1984 / Orwell
Invisible Man / Ellison

Seize the Day / Bellow
One Hundred Years of Solitude / Marquez
If On a Winter's Night a Traveler / Calvino
Song of Solomon / Morrison
White Noise / Delillo
Possession / Byatt

Autobiography and Memoir

The Confessions / Augustine
The Book of Margery Kempe / Kempe
Essays / Montaigne
The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself / Teresa
Meditations / Descartes
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners / Bunyan
The Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration / Rowlandson
Confessions / Rousseau
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin / Franklin
Walden / Thoreau
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself / Jacobs
Life and Times of Frederick Douglass /Douglass
Up From Slavery / Washington
Ecce Homo / Nietzsche
Mein Kampf / Hitler
An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth / Gandhi
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
The Seven Storey Mountain / Merton
Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life / Lewis
The Autobiography of Malcolm X / Malcolm X
Journal of a Solitude / Sarton
The Gualg Archipelago / Solzhenitsyn
Born Again / Colson
Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez / Rodriguez
The Road From Coorain / Conway
All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs / Wiesel


The Histories / Herodotus
The Peloponnesian War / Thucydides
The Republic / Plato
Lives / Plutarch
The City of God / Augustine

The Ecclesistical History of the English People / Bede
The Prince / Machiavelli
Utopia / More

The True End of Civil Government / Locke
The History of England, Vol. V / Hume
The Social Contract / Rousseau
Common Sense / Paine
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire / Gibbon
A Vindication of the Rights of Women / Wollstonecraft
Democracy in America / Tocqueville
The Communist Manifesto / Marx & Engels
The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy / Burckhardt
The Souls of Black Folk / Du Bois
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism / Weber
Queen Victoria / Strachey
The Road to Wigan Pier / Orwell

The New England Mind / Miller
The Great Crash 1929 / Galbraith
The Longest Day / Ryan
The Feminine Mystique / Friedan
Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made / Genovese
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century / Tuchman
All the President's Men / Woodward & Bernstein
Battle Cry of Freedom / McPherson
A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 / Ulrich
The End of History and the Last Man / Fukuyama


Agamemnon / Aeschylus
Oedipus the King / Sophocles
Medea / Euripedes
The Birds / Aristophanes
Poetics / Aristotle
Everyman /
Doctor Faustus / Marlowe
Richard III / Shakespeare
A Midsummer Night's Dream / Shakespeare
Hamlet / Shakespeare
Tartuffe / Moliere
The Way of the World / Congreve
She Stoops to Conquer / Goldsmith
The School for Scandal / Sheridan
A Doll's House / Ibsen
The Importance of Being Ernest / Wilde
The Cherry Orchard / Chekhov
Saint Joan / Shaw
Murder in the Cathedral / Eliot
Our Town / Wilder
Long Day's Journey Into Night / O'Neill
No Exit / Sartre
A Streetcar Named Desire / Williams
Death of a Salesman / Miller
Waiting for Godot / Beckett
A Man for All Seasons / Bolt
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead / Stoppard
Equus / Shaffer

Jul 25, 2005


Posthumessages: Messages from beyond the grave.

The wisdom of Barbra: Babs heals the racial divide.

Cooter call: Dukes boycott.

Oops! Be careful who you give your number to.

Muffin tops: The latest fashion faux pas. Via Manolo.

Poetry slam

Pooter Geek and his readers compose their own after reading these.

Via Norm.

London, from an Israeli perspective

Londoners got a taste last week of daily life in Israel, says Tom Gross, but you wouldn't know that by reading British newspapers.
CONTRARY TO the absolute lies told in British media in recent days, the Israel Defense Forces have not instituted a shoot-to-kill policy, or trained the British to carry out one. For example, on Friday, at the very time British police were shooting the man in the Tube, the IDF caught and disarmed a terrorist from Fatah already inside Israel en route to carrying out a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Israeli forces didn't injure the terrorist at all in apprehending him and disarming him of the 5-kg. explosive belt he was wearing.

And yet, for taking the bare minimum steps necessary to save the lives of its citizens in recent years Israel has been mercilessly berated by virtually the entire world.

Had Israeli police shot dead an innocent foreigner on one of its buses or trains, confirming the kill with a barrage of bullets at close range in a mistaken effort to thwart a bombing, the UN would probably have been sitting in emergency session by late afternoon to unanimously denounce the Jewish state.


As for London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who is in overall control of transport in the city, including the train where the man was shot, and who strongly defended the shoot-to-kill policy as a legitimate way to prevent suicide bombings, he was not yet facing war crimes charges – as Livingstone himself has demanded Israeli political leaders should be.


ONE OF the London terrorists responsible for the bombings on July 7, Muhammad Sidique Khan, traveled to Israel in February 2003. He stayed in Israel for just one day, and we can surmise that he wasn't there to volunteer on a kibbutz or visit Yad Vashem.

Two months later, on April 30, 2003, two other Britons of Pakistani origin (whom Hamas has since admitted training) were involved in the suicide attack on Mike's Place, a popular bar in Tel Aviv, killing or wounding 58 people.

Khan's visit to Israel was the main international headline in The Washington Post last Tuesday. Yet most British papers have completely ignored it. The Independent and The Daily Telegraph didn't mention it at all; the Scotsman, the Times and Sun newspapers only very briefly.

There seems to be little interest in Britain in the murder of Israelis by British citizens. Many British journalists evidently have difficulty in admitting that people murdered on buses in Israel are as much victims as those murdered on London buses. Another British citizen, Richard Reid, who became known as the "shoe-bomber," also visited Israel and the Gaza strip for 10 days in July 2001.

If people in Britain want to stop terrorists they need to recognize the inspiration, and quite possibly training, that Hamas, the masters of the suicide attack, have given to would-be British and other terrorists, such as Reid. Instead British officials continue to embrace Hamas, and hold talks with them.

Britons will also need to stop listening to the lies propagated by large sections of their media. For example, the cover story of this week's New Statesman, the favored publication of many in Britain's ruling Labour party, says: "There were no suicide bombers in Palestine until Ariel Sharon, an accredited war criminal, sponsored by Bush and Blair, came to power."

You begin to wonder whose side some in Britain's media are on.

Diva behavior

Forget specifying the color of your m&m's. It says here that Jennifer Lopez demands that her staff stir her tea counter-clockwise. This may be the greatest celebrity demand of all time.

Shut up already

Hasn't she said enough? Vegetable oil?

Moshe Dayan's eyepatch for sale

$75,000 and it's yours. You also get his gun.

Ibsen's post-modern vision

Ibsen continues to resonate today, says Theodore Dalrymple, because of the universal egotism he promoted. A 1960s phenomenon that Ibsen advocated 80 years before the fact.

Dalrymple contrasts Ibsen's vision with that of Samuel Johnson:
Johnson saw human existence as inseparable from dissatisfaction. It is man’s nature to suffer from incompatible desires simultaneously—for example, wanting both security and excitement. When he has one, he longs for the other, so that contentment is rarely unalloyed and never lasting.

However, most people find it more comforting to believe in perfectibility than in imperfectibility—an example of what Dr. Johnson called the triumph of hope over experience. The notion of imperfectibility not only fans existential anxieties, but also—by precluding simple solutions to all human problems—places much tougher intellectual demands upon us than utopianism does. Not every question can be answered by reference to a few simple abstract principles that, if followed with sufficient rigor, will supposedly lead to perfection—which is why conservatism is so much more difficult to reduce to slogans than its much more abstract competitors.

I never cared for Ibsen: Too much gnashing of teeth and Scandanavian gloom for my taste.

NYC subway searches



See what the RINOs are up to at this week's RINO roundup.

Jul 24, 2005

What is Hizb ut-Tahrir?

Information about the Islamist Group from the website 1924.org.
In the Western world, Hizb ut-Tahrir works to cultivate a Muslim community that lives by Islam in thought and deed, adhering to the rules of Islam and preserving a strong Islamic identity. Hizb ut-Tahrir also works with the Muslim community in the West to remind her to take up the call for the return of the Khilafah and the unification of the global Muslim Ummah. The party also works to project a positive image of Islam to Western society and engages in dialogue with Western thinkers, policymakers and academics.

"It's all about the Caliphate, stupid!"
It's the word that politicians dare not publicly mention for several decades in the hope it was dead and buried in 1924.

Yet the issue has now emerged explicitly such that it is impossible not to mention it. Earlier this year a CIA think tank predicted the re-emergence of the Caliphate by 2020. Then on Saturday 16th July 2005 Tony Blair made a speech where he gave his definition of what he thinks are the end aims of what he calls the 'evil ideology' of Islamic extremism.


This has been the most open declaration so far that the War on Terror is a war to prevent the reestablishment of the Khilafah (the Caliphate). Hitherto, there has only been deceptive language about terrorism, WMD, and 'talebanisation'.

Yet he deceives the public because he will not say, and perhaps he has shut his mind to the fact, that the Caliphate is not simply the desire and aspiration of jihadi groups. Ask a Muslim who follows a Sufi Tareeqa if he or she wants to see the re-emergence of Khilafah Rashida and you may see tears of hope in their eyes. Muslims from the so called conservative brands of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula to the 'tiger economy' regions of Malaysia & Indonesia dream of the return of Khilafah. To reject this fact is to deny the obvious. Most, simply pray for its return; some try to work for it through existing systems; a small number think that fighting the existing oppressive rule is the way to see it established. But the largest group internationally works by non-violent political work to change the existing system via thought and opinion.

On condemning the 7/7 attacks in the UK.
[A]s also happened post 9/11, unreserved condemnation without clear proof, ties you into the blame game of who did it. The logic is simple. First condemn the act, then condemn who the government says did it, then condemn what ever they do or have ever done. So, first Blair has blamed Muslims, so now Muslims and non Muslims think that Islam and Muslims must be the problem. The most likely group for accusation by them so far is Al Qaida, so will be expected to blame them and all they have ever done, even the resistance of US occupation in Afghanistan. To go one step further we would be expected to condemn even the notion of legitimate Jihad i.e. the Islamic obligation to fight occupation, be it in Palestine, Chechnya, Iraq or Kashmir.

Guardian gives boot to radical Islamist

Dilpazier Aslam, a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir was fired from his position as trainee at the Guardian after editors concluded that his membership in the Islamist organization was not "compatible with being a Guardian trainee."

An unnamed writer for the paper's media section says "right wing bloggers" were responsible for Aslam's ouster.

Feng shui hair

You're not having a bad hair day: You've just got some bad chi.
Koler links different growth patterns to points on the bagua, which he interprets as dominant or passive, open or closed. His method is affably hands-on: after an intensive massage and meditation at the shampoo sink, he leads me to a chair and starts poking around my hairline, discerning from the way it lists to the right above my forehead that I like to procrastinate. (No argument there.) Two cowlicks at the base of my neck say I'm ''a big-time ideas person.'' Once he has read my personality, Koler then starts cutting to rebalance any natural asymmetry and heighten my personal energy flow, obsessively combing my hair flat and then performing a fairly standard snipping and layering technique around the recesses of my sinus cavity, my jawbone and a few inches below my shoulders

Jul 23, 2005

Another reason we must win the war against radical Islamism

Iran hangs two gay teenagers in a public square.

Blogger earns big book advance

And a sitcom deal. I never heard of Greek Tragedy, the blog of Stephanie Klein, but I can see it kicking off a successful Sex-in-the-City-style sitcom. Klein is also at work on a second book about her experiences as a fat camp survivor.

As a former fat girl, Klein is perhaps a bit of a whiner; see here. Yet she's also amusing and, apparently, has a devoted following. What really interests me are the comments, especially the negative ones. There's a ton of them in this post. My favorite, though, was the comment to the former post that Klein deleted but quoted anyway: "a size 6-I think not-looks like 10, possibly a 12 Poor insecure girl." So bitchy, actually just plain mean. But funny because: 1) so many of us girls think of themselves in terms of dress size; and 2) because the commenter thought nothing could possibly be more insulting that being called a size 10 or--perish the thought--a size 12!

Anyway, what is it about people who devote hours to making nasty comments on a blog?

Soap suds

Woke up entirely too early this morning and did what I frequently do on such occasions: Turned to Turner Classic Movies. Today's feature was The Great Lie, a 1941 melodrama starring Bette Davis, Mary Astor and George Brent.

Employing a classic movie convention, Astor and Brent elope only to discover later that they're not really married. Brent then really marries Davis and conveniently disappears in a South American plane crash. Interesting because Astor is the scenery chewer here, not Davis. Davis plays the demure, loyal wife and looks rather sweet and wholesome, so this is well before she became a bug-eyed parody of herself.

Jul 22, 2005

Fashion history


Christina Larson reviews When Real Men Wore Heels.
Once the alpha male of the Western world, Louis XIV shrouded himself in resplendent satin coats with gold embroidery and lace sleeves, silk stockings and full-bottomed wigs—which Mansel suggests showcased the Sun King's divinely-ordained right to rule France. At a time when most mortals wore course shirts of flax and wool, the king brandished strategic splendor as later rulers would display military might. He also invited his courtiers to watch him dress. Robing the king was an elaborate 90-minute ritual each morning, with attendants crowding the antechambers awaiting their turn to enter: Only the highest officials of state were admitted while he was shaving; bishops, marshals, and provincial governors could enter later. Visiting dignitaries were sometimes awarded the privilege of handing the king his shirt. The ritual afforded the French court a close look at the king's new clothes—significant because nobles affirmed their allegiance by imitating the king—and kept business flowing to the nation's silk looms and lace factories. The dress industry then employed a third of wage-earners in France (many of the lace factories were founded by finance minister Colbert), and if members of the Third Estate were busy stitching sleeves, they had less time to plot rebellion.

Admission to court functions and access to his majesty's counsel was assured by proper attire: Male courtiers were required to don silk or velvet coats encrusted with jewels and embroidery, while women squeezed into corseted dresses with puffy sleeves and long trains. Ordinances prohibited untitled aspirants from donning such finery. One emblematic accessory, which Louis turned into a must-have item among both ladies and gents at court, was a pair of red high heels, or talons rouges. The fashion, as Mansel explains, advertised a lifestyle of leisure, “demonstrat[ing] that nobles did not dirty their shoes.” Seventeenth-century aristocrats, after all, believed they were born into privilege and didn't need to saunter far or break a sweat to earn their keep.

Roberts isn't perfect

I had hoped that the nomination of John Roberts would put an end to the Rove/Plame affair. No such luck.

It turns out that the Roberts nomination is so blameless, activists can't get anyone excited over it.
WASHINGTON — What happens when an army prepares for World War III — and ends up in a border skirmish?

That question looms for liberal groups that have been collecting millions of dollars and preparing for years for a scorched-earth battle over President Bush's first Supreme Court nominee.


Even some liberal groups — including People for the American Way and Alliance for Justice — have not announced opposition to Roberts, saying that they want to review his record more thoroughly.

Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way, said his immediate goal was to keep senators from making an early commitment to Roberts. Neas' message: "Wait till all the facts are in."
Even presidential bete noire Robert Byrd likes him.

Thank God the fearless, but illiterate, Robin Givhan has found a crack in the Roberts facade: The way the Roberts, pere et mere, dress their children.
The wife wore a strawberry-pink tweed suit with taupe pumps and pearls, which alone would not have been particularly remarkable, but alongside the nostalgic costuming of the children, the overall effect was of self-consciously crafted perfection. The children, of course, are innocents. They are dressed by their parents. And through their clothes choices, the parents have created the kind of honeyed faultlessness that jams mailboxes every December when personalized Christmas cards arrive bringing greetings "to you and yours" from the Blake family or the Joneses. Everyone looks freshly scrubbed and adorable, just like they have stepped from a Currier & Ives landscape.


But the Roberts family went too far. In announcing John Roberts as his Supreme Court nominee, the president inextricably linked the individual -- and his family -- to the sweep of tradition. In their attire, there was nothing too informal; there was nothing immodest. There was only the feeling that, in the desire to be appropriate and respectful of history, the children had been costumed in it.

Dangers of blogging

This post led Chai-rista here, while this post led me here.

Neither of us will ever fully recover.

'Superbly rewarding set of views'

We all want to be thought intelligent, says James Hamilton, and these days supporting an anti-Bush, anti-Capitalist, Kyoto, anti-Globalisation, anti-War set of views gives you that without having to do anything much beyond "stick[ing] the Guardian of the Independent in your bag."

Some of the rewards you get for adopting those views:

People think that you have cleverly not been fooled by liars.
People think that you are willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others
You can do all the adopting of these views from home. No equipment or additional purchase needed
You line up with Geldof, Tutu, Mandela, Castro, Galloway, Moore, Benn - charisma is on your side, and it rubs off on you
You have a context for passion, anger, commitment - which other people accept
You are no longer to blame for global warming - you're on the side of the angels
You are no longer responsible for poverty - you're on the side of the angels
You have access to the youth-giving properties of these views
You are assumed to be tolerant, anti-racist, in favour of human rights
You are assumed to be easy-going and to have a sense of humour
You are assumed to be capable of a fulfilling sex life
You are assumed to be in the right on the issues of the day without your having to demonstrate this
You get to feel you're in the majority and in the vanguard at the same time

Via PooterGeek.

Multi-culti madness

Got a butter knife in your school bag? Automatic suspension.

Draw pictures of tombstones with the names of two teachers on them? Call the cops.

Make a list of students you don't like? Suspension.

Write a story in which you fantasize about being a suicide bomber? You get a(n Australian taxpayer-supported) prize!
The back door opens. Two American soldiers. The enemy. The destroyers, who say they are here to save us. I hate the Americans ...

"Get them to the camp," the gruff one orders ...

A prisoner of war with nothing to live for except maybe to uphold the memories of my beloved Allah, my parents and my country.

To truly show the world what it means to be Muslim, I reach under my salwaar kameez and release the catch of dynamite strapped to my chest. Two minutes. Silence. THEN!!!!!

Jul 21, 2005

In search of a lost paradise

Tim McGirk goes to Iran to see the home of the Assassins, a medieval cult.
The promise of paradise has long been to drive men into battle. But what has brought me to Alamut is the legend, chronicled by Muslim and Crusader historians, that Hasan-i Sabbah, leader of the 12th century Middle Eastern terror cult known as the Assassins, had built a simulacrum here of the sensual delights of Paradise to quicken his men's taste for martyrdom. The Assassins — a kind of al Qaeda of its time — operated by stealth, and armed only with daggers, they killed hundreds of princes, viziers, generals, and rival clergymen. According to legend, before being dispatched on a mission, an operative would be drugged into a deep sleep. He would wake in a lush garden filled with fountains, music and beautiful maidens. After cavorting briefly, he would be drugged back to sleep, and upon waking again would be told that he had tasted the paradise that awaited on the successful completion of his suicide mission.

Via Dr. Zin.


Alabama: In German.

Dear Star: Letters to Star Jones. Via Best Week Ever.

Haiku: About Wonkette.

Rebels without socks: "The new male cleavage."

Freaky: Corset wearer.

Message to the London bombers

Found here.

More London bombs

Three tube stations and a bus are hit. No injuries have been reported, but police are searching a central London hospital for a would be suicide bomber.

No root causes

For author Ian McEwan.
I don't think terror needs a breeding ground. I don't buy the arguments in the Iraq war. What keeps getting forgotten here is that the people committing massacres in Iraq right now belong to al-Qaida. We're witnessing a civil war that's taking place in Islam. The most breathtaking statement was the one of al-Qaida claiming responsibility for the London bombings saying it was in return for the massacre in Iraq. But the massacres in Iraq now are being conducted by al-Qaida against Muslims. I also think it's extraordinary the way in which we get morally selective in our outrages. When there was a rumor that someone at Guantanamo Bay had flushed a Koran down the lavatory, the pages in The Guardian almost caught fire with outrage, but only months before the Taliban had set fire to a mosque and destroyed 300 ancient Korans.

There's a lot more where that came from.

Via normblog.

Making the cut

a Gryffindor!

Valerie who?

This sounds about right. I can't even remember who Craig Livingstone was.

Jul 20, 2005


Ralph Neas: "John Roberts is Antonin Scalia in sheep’s clothing."

NOW President Kim Gandy: "[Roberts}... nothing more than a Bork in sheep's clothing."

And, for a little variation, Ann Coulter: "Souter in Roberts' clothing."

More nannies

Bel Mooney on the blogging nanny, Jude Law and the nanny and her own personal experiences.
I’d just got rid of the untrained mother’s help whom I’d carefully chosen over six others, who not only picked up a lorry driver for sex in the cab at the end of our road and secretly fed my son tinned potatoes, but rifled through my clothing, proving highly selective in her thefts. I remember being absurdly annoyed that she had ignored the M&S briefs and stolen only the silk cami-knickers with matching bras. Who did she think she was to be so fussy? She had no designs on my husband — indeed, he would have run ten miles. But a friend of ours went into the loo next to his study one evening (the wife being out) to find the nanny sitting there totally naked. “Gosh, I’m sorry,” he mumbled, rushing out. “Don’t worry, I don’t mind,” she called. He locked his study door.

Thank goodness for SCOTUS nominee

Whatever your view on John Roberts, we can all be grateful that he knocked the Rove/Plame/Wilson/Miller/Cooper/Larry/Moe/Curly story off the front page.

Now we just have to sit back and wait for the revelations about his secret struggle with halitosis, or his wife's addiction to over-the-counter diet pills. Failing that there's always that old standby: Pot-smoking. Oh, and nanny problems. I wonder if his nanny has a blog?

Moron jokes

As family lore has it, the first joke I learned when a child was one in what I'm given to understand was a series of moron jokes:

Why did the moron throw the clock out the window?
Because he wanted to see time fly.

Apparently, I would repeat this endlessly to the chagrin of my parents. Thus, when my soon-to-be 4-year-old nephew told me a joke, I was eager to pass the tradition along and proceeded to repeat the joke endlessly, much to the joy of said nephew. After all, why should just one generation suffer?

As the day proceeded I would drill him, asking, "Theo, why did the moron throw the clock out the window?" Smart boy that he is, he would reply, "Because he wanted to see time fly." Uproarious laughter. During one of these exchanges I caught a look being passed between my sister and brother-in-law.

"What?" I asked.
"I think we could do without the term 'moron.' Can't we?"

There followed a discussion of approved terms, such as boy. But everybody knows that moron is key to the joke, so I dropped the matter.

Anyway, all of this is by way of a prelude to this: The HuffPo Kids Funny Page Special (via K-Lo).


Plus, it's OK for the Palestinians to use suicide bombers, says London Mayor Ken Livingstone.
"Given that the Palestinians don't have jet planes, don't have tanks, they only have their bodies to use as weapons," Livingstone told Sky News in an interview.

"In an unfair balance, that's what people use," said Livingstone, who has often been strongly critical of Israel in the past.


The Crack Young Staff exchanges emails with a certain Frau Doktor Professor Dana Cloud. As the kids say, "Chip," tears her a new one. Share the hate, indeed.

Roberts roundup

A look at some initial reactions to Bush's nominee before the fur starts flying.

Gang of three:
The others in that "gang" could be Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Stephen G. Breyer. As the Court moves more toward the conservative side, as a direct result of Roberts' arrival, there is a real possibility of a new dynamic center made up of those three.

This does not represent a foolish dream of a moderate or a liberal who wants to hang onto a Court that would be no more conservative than the present Nine. Instead, it is a realistic possibility that could come from the style and instincts of "Justice" Roberts, who is more conservative than either O'Connor or Powell. The new man is not an Antonin Scalia or a Clarence Thomas. Neither, of course, is he a David H. Souter -- so the Court's conservative followers can relax if they harbor any fears of that.

Bill Kristol says Bush rose to the occasion by choosing a "non-PC, non-quota" candidate who is a solid conservative.

But Fred Barnes says Bush made a safe pick.

Mark at Decision '08 has John Kerry's reaction.

Todd S. Purdum notes that both sides of the abortion debate may have qualms about the candidate's views.
Abortion rights groups fault him for arguing, as deputy solicitor general for the first Bush administration in 1990, in favor of a government regulation banning abortion-related counseling in federally financed family planning programs.

He also helped write a brief then that restated the administration's opposition to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established the constitutional right to abortion, contending, "We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled."

But when pressed in his 2003 confirmation hearings for his own views, he said: "Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land," and added, "There's nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent."

Such comments have made Judge Roberts somewhat suspect in the eyes of some social conservatives. But he arouses nothing like the opposition that conservatives leveled at another potential nominee, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose views on abortion are more uncertain.

Abortion will take center stage, says Adam at Southern Appeal, despite the fact that Roberts also signed on to a recent Gitmo decision. He notes that as of early this morning only one press account mentioned the Gitmo decision.
Supreme Court Justices decide myriad Constitutional and non-Constitutional questions. Abortion cases come up, what, every three or four years? Why will Roe overshadow virtually every other aspect of the public debate over this nomination (save for some relatively brief tangents on the Commerce Clause and Affirmative Action)?

A devout Catholic and often "the smartest man in the room."

Linda Greenhouse: Roberts isn't a "flamethrower" like Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia.
To the extent that as a judge he has expressed a limited view of federal power, that is consistent with the views of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whom he is being named to succeed, and would not change the balance on the court. He signed briefs as a Justice Department lawyer conveying the anti-abortion position of the first Bush administration, but he has given no indication of his personal or judicial views on abortion.

Roberts is "one of the great Supreme Court advocates of his generation," says Adam Liptak in a story about the judge's career.

WaPo's biography or Roberts with links to relevant documents.

Pejman says he'd have liked to see Roberts replace Rehnquist, for whom he clerked, as the next chief justice.

Leon H. looks at Roberts' enemies.

Jim K. says the KOSsacks are already going after the judge and his family.

Michael JW Stickings calls Roberts "a right-wing radical."

Jul 19, 2005

John Roberts nominated for Supreme Court

Not a woman, nor a minority. Details on Roberts here.

Anatomically correct SCOTUS nominee sought

Must have vagina. Those of you with that other thing need not apply.


Bad hair bonanza: Asians who go blonde.

Nobody likes your name: See also Baby's named a bad, bad thing.

No dogfood at the gas station: Man fakes kidnapping.

Celebrities then and now: Check out Angelina Jolie.

Fishinghurts, NY: PETA's latest campaign.

Girl on girl action

Made you look. Actually, it's mommie v. now-ex nanny. I read this NYT piece on Sunday and thought about blogging it but didn't. Then Michele linked to the nanny's blog, so I figured what the heck?

Here's the passage from mommie's article that stayed with me:
Instead of opening a dialogue, I monitored her online life almost obsessively. I would log on upstairs to see if she was simultaneously posting entries below me on her laptop while the baby was napping. Too often she was.

Bizarre, no?

Journalists lose cachet in movies

Caryn James complains that the journalist's star has fallen in Hollywood from the high of All the President's Men and The Killing Fields to the low of Paparazzi and John Leguizamo's latest flick, Crónicas.

Personally, I prefer my journalists to have a line of snappy patter, like Barbara Stanwyck in Meet John Doe or Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant in His Girl Friday.

Flip flops in the White House

Not the political kind. Via Drudge.

Fads and fashions in international diplomacy

Condi in black, Chirac looking stuffy in a suit and the power of native dress.
When Pakistan’s history books were Islamicized in the 1970s and 80s, the country’s founding father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, was portrayed wearing a traditional sherwani instead of his preferred Savile Row suits of a London–trained barrister. It’s fitting, then, that the one–time captain of Oxford University’s cricket team, Imran Khan, now wears similarly traditional kurtas (pajama–style clothing) in an attempt to build street credibility for his self–styled Justice Movement party. Having abandoned his cozy ties to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Khan no doubt hopes his cricket victories will translate onto Pakistan’s political playing field.

Via Arts & Letters Daily.

'Humanitarian Intervention in Hundred Acre Wood'

Pooh contemplates the other work of A.A. Milne.
“Fascism is simply autocracy up to date. Being an autocracy it is based on force. … To keep the devotion of this army … all the picturesqueness of real war must be invoked: the salute and the uniform, the speeches, the banners and the war-songs: even, from time to time, the intoxication of victory over an elderly Jew or an outnumbered political opponent. That such an army should have occasional longings to ‘bring its human energies to a higher tension’ is natural.”

Who cared about the elderly Jew? I do, thought Pooh (desperately not trying to sound like his mat(e), The Cat in the Hat).

So, Pooh thought, Milne supported Jew–hating, anti-semitism and bullying as a natural event. Pooh remembered that Milne described himself as a pacifist. He also remembered reading Thomas Cushman’s introduction to “A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq” that mentioned “George Orwell once noted in a famous epigraph, ‘Pacifism is objectively profascist’”.

Pooh finally decided which side he was on. He was for the moral case for humanitarian intervention.

Anti-Islamic fundamentalist recants

Big Pharoah has the story.
Sayed al-Qimni is a prolific secular and anti-fundamentalism author. His pen strips the so-called “Islamic” fundamentalists naked. Al-Qimni’s writings always point to the deficiencies in the current interpretation of Islamic law and to the need for reform in order for us to catch up with the developed world.

Terrorists didn’t like al-Qimni. They threatened him countless times and the government had to assign bodyguards for his protection so that he won’t meet the fate of his fellow secular author Farag Fouda who was shot dead right in front of his house.

It seems that the terrorists were determined to rid the world of someone who causes them so much headache. They sent an email telling that killing him is so easy and that the protection won’t do him any good. “We have people who want to wash their sins with your blood” they told him. Al-Qimni decided that he won’t take it anymore and that he doesn’t want his children to face what Fouda’s children faced and so he announced that he will stop writing and appearing in the media. He also fulfilled another demand of the terrorists and declared that he is backtracking from everything he said and wrote.

Jul 18, 2005

Bang! Bang!

British Army short on blanks.
Soldiers are facing the undignified prospect of being forced to shout "bang, bang" on military training exercises after an admission by the Army that it is running out of blank ammunition.

The shortage is also likely to result in a large number of important training exercises being cancelled or severely restricted.


Details of the fiasco emerged after a letter from the Headquarters Land Command, the organisation responsible for training the Army in Britain, was leaked to The Sunday Telegraph.

The letter, dated June 24 2005, is headed "Shortage of 5.56mm Blank Ammunition for Cadet Force's Summer Camp" and reveals that the problem has been caused by the Defence Logistics Organisation's failure to anticipate how much blank ammunition would be needed over the summer.

RINO sightings

Can be found at World Wide Rant. Check it out.


Scientology ceremony: Preview of Kate's and Tom's nuptial rituals.

Butt paste: Truth in marketing.

Celebrity podiatrists: Who knew?

It's the shoes: A pivotal plot point in Vertigo.

Funny, I thought it was "Charge!"

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Striding out of the desert, swinging a reflective halberd, cometh Rachel! And she gives an ominous grunt:

"I'm going to pummel you until you're a Dungeons & Dragons statistic!!"

Find out!
Enter username:
Are you a girl, or a guy ?

created by beatings : powered by monkeys

Via JohnL.

Karl Rove sucks eggs

At least I think that's the point of this.

L. Ron Hubbard, A life

A brief biography of the father of Scientology. Best bits:
In the mid-1940s, he fell in with John Parsons, a wealthy and brilliant young rocket scientist in California, who also happened to be under the tutelage of the infamous satanist Aleister Crowley (no relation to yours truly, thankfully). According to Russell Miller's damning biography of Hubbard, Bare-Faced Messiah, Parsons was a science-fiction fan who briefly hosted Hubbard at his Pasadena, Calif., mansion, which featured a domed backyard temple and a rotating cast of occultists and eccentrics. Parsons described Hubbard as his "magical partner," and together the men engaged in a rite in which Parsons tried to impregnate with an antichrist child a woman he considered the whore of Babylon, a goal that Crowley had long promoted. With Rachmaninoff's "Isle of the Dead" playing in the background, Hubbard allegedly chanted spells over the copulating couple, according to Miller and others.


Dabbling in (or investigating) witchcraft didn't pay the bills, and by the late 1940s Hubbard was in debt and despondent. Then in 1950 he published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, which he billed as "a milestone for man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and arch." The theory of Dianetics promised to cure almost any physical and mental ailment—including wrinkles—by cleansing people's memories of traumatic past experiences so they could arrive at a "clear" mental state.


On or around Jan. 17, 1986, Hubbard suffered a catastrophic stroke on a secluded ranch near Big Sur, Calif. A week later he was dead. Scientology attorneys arrived to recover his body, which they sought to have cremated immediately. They were blocked by a county coroner, who, according to Scientology critics, did an autopsy that revealed high levels of a psychiatric drug. That would seem like an embarrassment given the church's hostility to such medications (witness Tom Cruise's recent feud with Brooke Shields), but it didn't stop the church from summoning thousands of followers to the Hollywood Palladium days after Hubbard's death. There they were told that Hubbard "willingly discarded the body after it was no longer useful to him," and that this signified "his ultimate success: the conquest of life that he embarked upon half a century ago."

Invasion of the stick figures

Upon entering the gym yesterday, I encountered five obvious anorexics in quick succession, including an octogenarian in a swimsuit--a rarity since most anorexics either recover or die before reaching their eighties. Another had the big head, stick arms and legs, and distended belly seldom seen outside "Save the Children" commercials. Made me want to round them all up and force feed them.

A couple years ago when I was working in an office in the wilds of suburbia, I used to take the backroads to get to work. For months, I would see a woman, more a human skeleton, running along the side of the road with an almost painful look of grim determination on her face. Her thighs were smaller than my upper arms and you could see each of the upper ribs on her chest. Then one day, she wasn't there. I never saw her again.

Jul 17, 2005

Radical Islamist gets to keep job at Guardian

Dilpazier Aslam's job at the newspaper is safe, even though he's a confirmed member of one of the most virulent Islamist groups in Britain.
It is understood that staff at The Guardian were unaware that Mr Aslam was a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir until allegations surfaced on "The Daily Ablution", a blog run by Scott Burgess. Speculation is mounting that it may have been a sting by Hizb ut-Tahrir to infiltrate the mainstream media.

Late on Friday The Guardian released a statement to The Independent on Sunday saying: "Dilpazier Aslam is a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an organisation which is legal in this country. We are keeping the matter under review." The paper refused to comment further.

In 2001 Mr Aslam wrote in the group's in-house journal, Khilafah, that: "The establishment of Khilafah [an Islamic state] is our only solution, to fight fire with fire, the state of Israel versus the Khilafah State".

The day after it was revealed that the London bombers were British, Mr Aslam wrote a column in which he billed himself as "a Yorkshire lad born and bred".

In the piece, he suggested that second- and third-generation British Muslims were prepared to "rock the boat" and that agitation against British foreign policy would build up "till it can be contained no more".

Aslam was hired to increase the ethnic diversity of the newsroom staff. And we can't let an important goal like ethnic diversity be derailed over a trivial matter like this, can we? I'm sure once Aslam's group succeeds in its goals, the Guardian will be a virtual eden of diversity. Imagine: Jews and Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists, women and homosexuals, all working together in complete harmony. Oh wait ...

Jul 16, 2005

Random stuff

I got my first truly nasty comment to a post and I'm bitterly disappointed that it doesn't show up on the blog. Damn haloscan!

I'm being toggled. Makes me feel used. How about you?

Breaking up is hard to do

So when is it OK to break up by email? I'd say after a couple of dates, it's fine. In fact, it's not even breaking up. After two dates are you really dating someone?

Someone broke up with me by email. In fairness, it was a long-distance relationship so it would have been awkward for us to get together for a weekend, our customary practice, and do it face to face. But a phone call would not have been out of the question. Actually we were both on the rebound and got into this relationship probably too fast, so breaking up was probably inevitable. But, I'm still furious at the email break up.

Another odd break up occurred with someone I dated only a couple of times. As I recall we went to dinner once, then dinner and a movie. Then he invited me to go out with him on his sailboat. I believe the expedition got rescheduled once or twice for who knows what reason. Finally the day arrives. I drive forever out to Maryland's eastern shore and met him at a coffee shop. Then we take his car, drive forever again 'til we got to his boat. Then boat stuff, ropes, taking off, sailing onto the Chesapeake. We're about an hour out when all of a sudden he tells me he met someone else, which was fine. But it really put a damper on the conversation. I mean I didn't know him very well in the first place and here we are an hour from dry land and he tells me he doesn't want to see me anymore.

"Couldn't you have told me this over the phone?"
"Well, I really didn't want to disappoint you about the boat ride."

So we spent another hour on the boat. More than that, actually, 'cause he didn't want to ruin my day by shortening the trip. (Please, ruin my day.) Then we had to drive back to the coffee shop and for some reason he insisted that I go in and have a cold drink before I take the long drive back home. What, in the name of heaven, was that about?

Someone really should write a rule book for these things.

Hooking up, part 2

Claire seemed normal. She went out with one guy a couple times. He was cute enough and they seemed good together. She complained about lack of chemistry, though, and broke it off by email.

Next she goes out with Josh, a goofy-looking guy with mutton chops, and for some reason Claire is crazy about him. To each his own. (I don't want to seem shallow, but mutton chops just don't do it for me.) After date one with Josh, she goes out with someone else but "feels like she's cheating Josh." Alarm bells immediately went off in my head. You just knew this one was heading for disaster.

Next thing you know, she takes Josh to meet about a gazillion of her friends who start grilling him about his intentions and asking embarassing questions like: "When did you first get that feeling in the pit of your stomach about Claire?" Umm, right about now? You could see the look on mutton chop's face, but he recovered nicely and and said something about her smile. As the evening progresses, you see Claire hanging all over mutton chops: Leaning her head against him, holding his hand.

This is date two, people.

Not surprisingly, Josh shoots Claire an email to tell her it's over. Can you blame him?