30 April 2007

Ask a good question

Olmert / The right stuff? - asks Aluf Benn in an article that, like myriad others, anticipates publication of the Winograd Committee interim report on the second Lebanon war issues.

I am not at all sure that the question is of interest. Olmert could be a (potential) new Disraeli of politics and new Clausewitz of military strategy, but it is irrelevant. It does not take several months of thorough investigation to come to a conclusion that became clear quickly enough: a rash decision sent an unprepared army to fight the right enemy in a wrong way. And Olmert must go not because of his IQ issues but because of the need to do the right thing and take the responsibility.

Of course, the Winograd Committee interim report will be read by precious few in its entirety, and of course the political enemies of Olmert will bang on their drums no matter what, as their motivation could not be farther from a noble goal of improvement of military or political mechanisms.

Of course, report conclusions notwithstanding, Olmert is not going to resign and the usual coalition inertia, strengthened by the ministers' arses being glued to their chairs, is going to carry the current setup for quite a long time.

And of course, the issue of Olmert's possible successor that could be considered even half seriously is remaining glaringly unresolved.

So what is a really good question then? I think I can suggest one.

Should we really bother about replacing Olmert in the circumstances?

Meanwhile from the scene:

I don't think the picture requires a comment...

It seems that, aside of Likud, another party was made happy by the Winograd report:

Hizbullah claimed victory in the Second Lebanon War following the publication of the Winograd report on the war's failures. "The report proves our divine victory came true. The Israeli side was defeated," a Hizbullah representative said in an interview with al-Manar.
Why do they need a confirmation from a mere mortal if the victory was divine?

***

Azmi Bishara - not guilty by virtue of...

Apparently, by virtue of having a big mouth. His seemingly erratic behavior, starting with his mysterious disappearance, artfully designed to provide as much fodder as possible to the rumors mill, his dramatic reappearance in Israeli embassy in Cairo to submit his resignation from the Knesset, the content-less articles by his supporters, unable to dispel the cloud of suspicions but preparing the background for an hysterical campaign - all this does nothing to answer the question of Bishara's guilt, but does everything to paint a picture of a martyr for the cause.

And now another step in the well-orchestrated campaign has started:

Thousands of protestors took part in a demonstration in Nazareth on Saturday held in support of former MK Azmi Bishara. Among the protestors and speakers were representatives from each of Israel's Arab political parties and members of Bishara's family.
To remind our readers: the details of the investigation and its results were not published yet. The file was not yet delivered to the AG office that has yet to decide whether there is a sufficient case for the courts.
In four days the gag order preventing complete coverage of the investigation into Bishara will be lifted.
So, you may very well ask, why not wait a bit? Why had Bishara flown so conveniently? Why does he try to preempt the publication of the investigation? Why this hysterical propaganda war, getting absurd:
Former Balad chairman Azmi Bishara on Friday accused MKs in Israel of carrying out massacres. "Most MKs behaved violently in their lives and during their army service," the former Arab-Israeli MK added in an interview with a French television channel on Friday.

Bishara went on to say that he did not have any information to give to Hizbullah but claimed that Hizbullah had "more information about the IDF that it could have ever dreamed of."
Quite a telling statement, isn't it? To top it, Bishara is already complaining that the insidious Mossad is planning to rub him out. And his steely resolve to return to Israel to stand trial isn't worth much as well, if your read the following carefully:
According to Bishara, he would face a lose-lose situation were he to return to Israel now. "Were an Israeli court to convict me, it would harm the legitimacy of the national Arab movement in Israel," he said. "Were I to be acquitted, it would be seen as an acquittal from supporting resistance."
Hardly consistent with his readiness for martyrdom, is it? But the Soviet-trained rubble rouser is hardly inconvenienced by this inconsistency.
Bishara spoke by telephone to the protesters, stating "our intellect and our words are our weapons. Never in my life did I draw a gun or kill anyone."
I believe him - after all, rubble rouser does not have to shoot, there are enough simpletons he brainwashes to do the job.
Many of the demonstrators were also heard chanting, "With blood and fire we will redeem you Azmi."
Whose blood do they have in mind?

Cross-posted on Yourish.com.


***

Discrimination alert!


Once again discrimination rears its ugly head ...

Kudos to BB.

***

29 April 2007

Well, it is final now

Or, at least it will be final soon. Andrew Ian Dodge, he of Dodgeblogium, of Growing Old Disgracefully heavy metal band, the faithful historian of Cthulhu, the author (here are more of his books, and you can part with some of your simoleons for a good book once in a while, you know), anyway, where was I?

Yes, Andrew Ian Dodge. The best way to try and understand all his occupations, interests and other activities is to immerse yourself in this quote:

He is a writer, author, novelist, blogger, computer games consultant (his full time work) and the lyricist/frontman for Growing Old Disgracefully. He has been writing myths stories for many years and has written an Idiots Guide to the Mythos.
Tough, innit? Sounds like a description of a fairly active group of people to me...

Anyhow, Andrew Ian Dodge is going to do IT. To take the plunge. To get hitched. To tie the knot. And he is doing it in Maine, sometime on May 18, if my records are in order. Anyhow, 18 is a very lucky number in Hebrew, I shall have you know, and whether it is an end of an era or not - we shall see. Some skeptics are betting that some of the above mentioned activities will be curtailed, but where there is a will, there is a way.

More festivities as the date gets closer. Meanwhile: full steam forward, Andrew!

***

Sandmonkey calls it quits

One of the most original voices in the Middle East blogosphere feels that the decision to quit is overdue.

One of the chief reasons is the fact that there has been too much heat around me lately. I no longer believe that my anonymity is kept, especially with State Secuirty agents lurking around my street and asking questions about me since that day.
But there are other, no less valid reasons, so read the entire post. It is a sad day indeed.

***

Israel boycott con?

I have borrowed this headline from a remarkable (aren't they all?) article by Ami Isseroff. In the article Ami states and proves the main point: that in many, if not all, cases the boycott initiative has a hidden goal - cheap advertisement, and in most situations this goal is reached.

Vote to spend more money on hospital missions in Africa and you might merit a back page notice in the religion section of a newspaper. Vote to ask for better pension plans for your members and your union might get a notice in a trade newspaper. Vote to boycott Israel and you are instantly an international celebrity. You and your union are front page news.
There is more proof there in the article, and it is an excellent reading anyway, so do yourself a favor. Without going into psychology (or psychiatry) of the various initiators of all these boycotts, which is a separate issue and clearly a subject for the experts, I would say that my personal attitude to these cases was more or less the same. I have even tried, in my own humble way, to coin a term "doing a Gibson" for cases and people like these boycotters.

However lately I have started to feel that we dismiss the boycott flare-ups too easily. Indeed, in most cases a boycott is a result of a micro-putsch organized in the best tradition of the genre. In most cases the result does not reflect the opinion of majority of the members in whose name the voting was undertaken, and in majority of the cases the practical side of the matter is close to nil.

The final push that changed my opinion was a remark made by Jon Ihle, quoted below:
Don't be fooled, Snoopy. These guys are playing a long game and they are making incremental progress on the boycott front, which serves to normalise and institutionalise a characterisation of Israel as uniquely disgraceful.
I think that Jon hit the bull's eye here. It is not an individual boycott as such that matters, it is the whole picture of slow, gradual erosion of public opinion, having its ultimate goal to delegitimize everything Israel stands for. And we should be wary of the whole business, even if it is being carried out by small groups of Israel-haters, even if they are more shrill and hysterical than significant.

And now I can easily agree with the closing paragraph of Ami's post:
Pro-active vigilance can stop the boycotters however. It has nipped a few of them in the bud, before they got started. It is only necessary in most cases to be attentive, to note the published agenda of board meetings and to marshal the forces needed to quash the initiatives before it is too late.
That too...

Cross-posted on Yourish.com.

***

Hebonics, shmebonics...

Eitan aka Greg, he of the mournful template, made my day with this.

Now I want to ask you: a good Jewish bucher like this one - can't he change that template to something more readable, like simple black text on a bright background?

Tsures on my head...

***

28 April 2007

Hamas Warns of Palestine "Explosion"

Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal has warned against pursuing the economic and political blockade of the Palestinians, who are "on the verge of exploding".
Is the text in bold meant in a literal sense? Link.

***

Onset of self-awareness

Are we a banana republic?

Apparently, but with a twist: even our bananas are taught to be aggressive.

***

Weekend laze - unfinished questions

Having a good lazy weekend means, between other things, not necessarily having to finish your thoughts. So you will have to...

A 116-year-old Ukrainian goat herd claims his long life is down to never having had sex with a woman. Grigoriy Nestor, from the village of Stariy Yarichev, close to capital Kiev, said: "According to my Christian beliefs there is no sex before marriage, so I never had a wife. I believe that's why I have lived so long, that and the fact I have never been curious."

He told local newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda he had only been to school twice when he had visited his local primary school for two days and learned to write his name. He added: "The less you know, the longer you live. Ignorance is long life and happiness."
So maybe it is really the lack of edu... ?
His entire life has been spent tending his goats, he said.
And how about the... ?
Thousands of rich Japanese women were conned into believing lambs were valuable miniature poodles. Flocks were imported from the UK and Australia to be sold by an internet company as the latest "must have" pet.

The scam was rumbled when movie star Maiko Kawakami complained on a talk show that her new poodle refused to bark or eat dog food. She showed photos of the animal and was devastated when told that it was a lamb, reports the Sun.
Does anyone know how her hubby... ?
A Croat footballer turned up for work to find a flock of sheep waiting for him.

Defender Ivica Supe scored 16 times this season for third division Zagora FC unaware that the club's sponsor, Josko Bralic, a local shepherd, had promised a sheep for every goal scored by a defender.
Surely you know a few other teams that could bene... ?
A German man has admitted living in the woods near Berlin for 28 years after his girlfriend threw him out of their flat. Konrad Schmidt, now 60, said: "My fiancee threw me out and so I came here and have been here ever since. I don't want any contact with people, I get a bit of money collecting bottles people leave in the woods and that is all I need."
Unbelievable! Do Germans really throw away bo... ?

***

27 April 2007

Bird Flu: Another Israeli weapon?

In fact, the full headline of the Al Jazeera (the .com variety, not to be mixed with the .net one) is:


It is quite a long time since we have dealt with a good juicy (Joocy) conspiracy theory. While the idea of the article is not new, it must be said that the author has done a good job of compiling the assorted rumors into a solid scientific medley. Very impressive for a person who is not a member of the Elders' organization.
The Gulf emirate of Dubai has decided to check air passengers before being allowed entry on suspicion of carrying the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu and Saudi Arabia declared an emergency aimed at preventing the outbreak of the virus, after it has reportedly killed more than 160 people all over the world, according to the World Health Organization, with many cases uncovered in Arab and Middle East countries.
Indeed, the case described above happened in reality. However, the Dubai's decision to check the passengers and to prevent the carrier of H5N1 (we have trained both the carrier and the virus, of course) from entering the country was based on our own last minute phone call. It appeared that 99% of Dubai population are Jewish! The inattentive field officer was severely punished.
An article published earlier on the state-run Syrian daily al-Thawra drew suspicion that Israel may have developed the bird flu virus as a new weapon to avenge Arabs and harm the genes of its Arab neighbors.
Indeed that is the ultimate goal. The wily virus, however, was developed with a IQ that is too high for a mere military device, and part of its quirks is a burning desire for travel. This is why the virus declared that China, Vietnam and Thailand are to become its first operational ground. Because of a programming error, the virus initially refused to have anything to do with people of Semitic persuasion, and only an urgent re-education effort brought a change in its negative attitude.
The Syrian paper cited a report released in 1998 by the Sunday Times alleging that Israel is developing a biological “ethnic bomb” that would kill Arabs and not Jews. The Times report said that Israeli scientists were doing experiments at the Institute for Biological Research in Nes Tsiona near Tel Aviv to identify genes characteristic to Arabs so as to develop viruses that attack these genes.
That was a tough one indeed, after all, being cousins, we have a lot of identical genes. The ingenious solution the boffins came up with was a talking virus. If, upon addressing you, the virus hears "salaam aleikum" in response - you are as good as dead. Only urgent study of a foreign language (Hebrew preferably) can save you from the monster.
The same report published by the Syrian paper accused Israel of poisoning the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat using biological viruses. “We recall that the assassination of Yasser Arafat was done using a biologically engineered virus to which only the Zionists had a remedy,” the paper wrote.
Oh, well. You see, Arafat has a secret weakness known only to Mossad: chicken fajita, and the rest was relatively easy. Of course, the linked recipe does not tell how to slice and marinate the virus, we have decided not to publish that part for a while.

Another way to spread the bird flu is to program it into a live chicken:

Our operative, caught in that picture from the Al Jazeera article, by an almost imperceptible movement of his right hand, clicks a button that will transform a regular, peaceful chicken into a homicidal carrier of the deadly virus.

The last and the most dramatic sentence of the article:
Could the deadly virus, which has so far killed 24 Egyptians, mostly women or girls, be another weapon used by the Israelis to achieve strategic goals, instead of pursuing diplomatic means, that would require direct talks with rivals in Iran, Syria and Palestine?
After a series of prolonged meetings in the Elders' HQ, an answer was formulated, agreed upon and approved for publication. And this answer is:

Yes.

***

How do you call this?

This short and succinct post Farewell, Sweet Prince by gnotalex reminded me of an old joke:

Q: How do you call a boy who killed and ate his parents?
A: An orphan.
About 20/30 years ago this joke was just funny (well, for most of us). Today, in our advanced stage of political correctness, many will not consider it a joke at all - rather a part of that all-inclusive manual of political correctness. Says gnotalex:
Leave it to the moonbats at Daily Kos to come up with this weepy eulogy for theVirginia Tech shooter:
Cho lived in shadows, deep and dark. He attended classes at a prestigious University. He was a scholar, a writer.
Read the rest of gnotalex's post. Then read the eulogy, it is a must.

And then decide for yourself how you want to call this, cause I am not telling.

***

26 April 2007

Do we live in fictitious times?

No, it is rather that we choose what kind of fiction we prefer to live in, when we decide what is "our" newspaper, what is "our" TV channel, who is "our" guru of the day. Of course, the moment we make each of these decisions, we make another one - what will be the newspaper, the TV channel, the guru we'll dismiss offhand.

Still, there is some hope. Like, for example, here:

In a world like that, there's little use for proper journalism. In a world like that, documentaries have little value except to entrench pre-ordained narratives and affirm political identities. Advocacy journalism becomes the work of telling your side what it wants to hear instead of what it might actually need to know.

It's all perfectly democratic, of course, and tailor-made for the marketplace. You get to pick the propaganda you want. You'll find demagogues like Anne Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly down one aisle, and the equally fatuous and shrill Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell down the other aisle. Take your pick.
More in Terry Glavin's article here.

One just cannot fight lies by lies, period.

***

Yes, he has it coming, I say...

Isaac Shrodinger analyzes here the Richard Gere Indian mishap.

I say, folks, let's put aside all these cultural - shmultural issues for now. Let's talk as real red-blooded, beer-bellied, couch potatoed men.

Doesn't it make your blood boil when all of your nearest and dearest people of female persuasion without exception (yes, including SWMBO) start swooning the moment his name is mentioned? Making you feel like... like... a beer-bellied... I have already been there, I think.

So, I say, the sooner Indians put their mitts on him the better. A few months in the nick and let's petition them, as a special favor to all males on this planet, to give him a nice head shave.

Yeah. That will learn him...

***

Quiz of the week

Why does Deborah Fink in all her fire and brimstone articles, like this one, insist that boycott of Israeli goods and Israel in general must be a grassroot action?

Hint: v.s.b.l.t.

Another hint: in this Engage article you can see a picture where Deborah was supposed to appear, but doesn't...

Right guess will entitle the correspondent to a membership card* of JFJFP, PSC, J-BIG or UKSPCA. Availability limited.

(*) No returns, no refunds.



***

I am afraid Akaky is right... again

The Eternity Road Colloquium #1 post is worth reading in its entirety. Curmudgeon has asked a few questions that are being asked lately with growing frequency:

What are the prospects for an Islamic Reformation that would allow Europe to live in peace with its Muslim immigrants? Is it possible to imagine such a development in the next few decades? If not, what's the most likely outcome of the Old World's current social strife?
There are several contributors to this post, you are bound to disagree with some of them. I have chosen (well, as usual) to quote here the response to the last question by Akaky Akakyevich:
3. The most likely outcome of today's social strife is even more social strife. If Europe's history is any guide to its future, sooner or later Jean Marie Le Pen and men like him will eventually be swept into office by frightened European voters who wonder what ever happened to their countries. What happens next? I dont predict a repeat of the events of 1942-45, but a repeat of 1492 seems entirely possible. It's not like the Europeans havent done this sort of thing before, you know.
Aside of saying that I am very afraid that Akaky Akakyevich is right and wisely nodding my noggin, the last thing I wish for is having an opportunity to announce "but we said so, remember".

But saying "never again" is much easier than confess that this slogan has lost any meaning almost as soon as it was aired...

***

Help us to save Hugo

While valiantly defeating the continuous efforts by CIA, Mossad, MI5/6/7 to assassinate him, taking all these efforts in his stride and laughing at the darn imperialists, Hugo Chavez a.k.a Comical Hugo is afraid of one man only on our planet: the arch-terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.

President Hugo Chavez on Sunday said Venezuela will lodge a protest in the United Nations over the release of Cuban militant Luis Posada Carriles from a US jail, accusing Washington of letting a terrorist go free. Venezuela has asked the US to extradite the 79-year-old former CIA agent to be tried on charges that he plotted the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger plane in which 73 people were killed.Chavez also charged that Posada has been plotting to assassinate him for years, and accused US President George W. Bush of complicity in failing to bring Posada to justice.
Here is a recent picture of Carriles (doubtlessly a man one wouldn't want to meet in a dark place):

Just look at that homicidal stare and the bulging muscles of Comical Hugo's enemy number one. Clearly, poor underfed Hugo, as you can see in the picture below (the red feathered chap, not to be confused with the green-feathered partner):

does not stand a chance against a murderous assault by Carriles.

I say, let's pass a hat around and ensure that Carriles is placed in a most secure environment and that his motorized wheelchair batteries are not charged. Otherwise it will end in tears.

***

25 April 2007

The next atrocious blooper

Guardian, trying to be fair and balanced, publishes letters (or excerpts from thereof) from the interested (or incensed) readers. From time to time some interesting items could be found in the texts, however a pearl like the following one, from a letter by Judith Kazantzis (Lewes, East Sussex), happens once in a lifetime, I would say:

How will the next atrocious war on Lebanon be blamed on the other side?
Hey, Jude! No, forget it...

***

New venue for a joker?

After few years of hesitation, British police decided to put their hands on one Omar Brooks a.k.a Abu Izzadeen, one of the chief rabble-rousers in London Islamic circles.

Scotland Yard said the arrests related to allegations of inciting others to commit acts of terrorism abroad and fund-raising for terrorists.
Couldn't have happened to a more deserving person. To remind you, an excerpt of an oldish post about this revolting character:
The audience laughs as Omar Brooks, a British Muslim convert who also uses the name Abu Izzadeen, makes fun of non-Muslims as "animals" and "cowards".

At one point he announces dramatically that the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center "changed many people's lives". After a pause, he brings the house down by adding: "Especially those inside."
Of course, his ability to joke should not be curtailed, but he could do with a change of audience for a few years.

And of course, Abu Izzadeen's fans abroad like the odious Chechen terrorism mouthpiece Kavkaz Center, are already clamoring for attention to the faith of this "martyr".
They are all active Muslims in the community. They are all passionate about what they believe. They all stand up against injustice by the government and their foreign policy. At the end of the day they have done nothing illegal and this is just another witch hunt and crusade against the Muslim community.
When defended by a gang like this one, the need for legal defence seems to be kind of redundant...

Now The Hook will have somebody to scratch his back. And to entertain him.

***

Ain't it cool?

Click to enlarge
These are two vortices (whirling motions) caused by the engines of a passing C-17 Globemaster III over the Atlantic Ocean last year. Sometimes called a "smoke angel," the patterns are visible by flares the plane just released, which are trailing down into the sea.
Via Bad Guys.
***

24 April 2007

Man cuts off penis in restaurant. Why?

This bizarre story as reported by BBC:

A man cut off his penis with a knife in a packed London restaurant.

Police were forced to use CS gas to restrain the man when they entered the Zizzi restaurant in The Strand on Sunday evening.

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said the man was aged between 30 and 40 and that his injuries were self-inflicted.

The man was then taken to hospital in south London where his condition is stable. It is understood surgeons were unable to reattach his penis.
There is more in the article, but the main question: why would a person cause himself that ultimate in self-destruction, remained unanswered.

I have checked the restaurant where the deed was done:
Zizzi is a chain of traditional Italian pizza and pasta restaurants that cook all their pizzas in wood burning ovens.
Nothing extraordinary - just another pizzeria, and one should not expect anything special in the manner of food items served. It is definitely not a Maxim or a Peridot or whatever. And in any case, if the gentleman meant something in the line of criticism, why had he cut off his own member and not that of the offending chef?

Mystery... The only hint could be derived from that last sentence in the quote above:

It is understood surgeons were unable to reattach his penis.

Probably chopped it too fine. Was Zizzi out of pepperoni by any chance?

***

Ads vs. Reality

I became disillusioned with advertisements a long time ago anyway.

***

Stumpy - the glimpse of our future?

This whiny tree-hugger article decries the incident that happened to Stumpy, the four-legged duck.

Stumpy the famous four-legged duck has lost one of his claims to fame.

He is now a three-legged duck after getting one of his extra limbs caught in his pen, reports Metro. Stumpy caught the media's attention worldwide after he was born at the Warrawee Duck Farm in the New Forest, Hampshire.
Of course, neither the media, looking for an easy digestible scoop, nor the owners of Stumpy were imaginative or far seeing enough to understand that Stumpy is a humble beginning of what could be a brave new world of dinner table harmony.

Imagine the future, where an average Western family (Mom, Dad, a son and 0.8 of a daughter) sit around the table and don't have to fight for a chicken leg!

I submit that all available resources of modern science be dedicated immediately to an in-depth research into Stumpy and that a new generation of four-legged chicken, ducks and other assorted poultry be developed as soon as humanly possible.

Table fights no more!

***

U.S. had operational plans to fight against IDF in 1967

In the 1960s, the U.S. Defense Department drew up operational plans calling for a military confrontation with the Israel Defense Forces to prevent Israel from occupying territory in Egypt and other Arab countries.

During the crisis in May-June 1967, on the eve of the Six-Day War, the plan for a military attack against Israel in the event it initiated a war, was updated.

The plan involved using air power, paratroopers and Marines to block the advance of IDF armored brigades in Sinai.
This should serve as a reminder to all revisionists of history who claim that American ZOG was on the side of Israel from time immemorial. Not that it will bother many of them...

Update: for those interested in details, see here and here.

***

23 April 2007

Neve Gordon and political science

I have stumbled on the Al Jazeera article with ambitious title Israel and Azmi Bishara for a simple reason: there is a gag order on everything related to the investigation of this turbulent gentleman, and I hoped to get a glimpse of the goings-on via this outlet. I was quite excited seeing that the article is signed by an Israel scholar, one Neve Gordon, although I had not a slightest notion about the man (but let's leave this subject for while).

The article starts with a spirited defense of MK Bishara:

Dr. Azmi Bishara, Christian palestinian citizen of Israel, and member of the Knesset, is being described as an enemy of the state of Israel. Why? He believes and works so that Israel becomes a democracy that allow non-Jews to have equal rights, says Neve Gordon.
That was a bit strange - to exonerate a man before even trying to state the (real or imaginary) charges. But I was hungry for some info, so I continued to read:
In early April, the rumors about Dr. Azmi Bishara, the most famous Arab Knesset member, began circulating on the Internet: Bishara is afraid to return to Israel; Bishara intends to resign from the Knesset; the Israeli Security Agency has decided to accuse Bishara of treason and espionage. The gag order preventing the publication of any information about Bishara's actions made the rumors all the more intriguing. What did Bishara, in fact, do?
Uhu, says I to myself - in a moment I shall know everything.
...

I am at the end of the article. Mad as a nest of hornets. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. The only other reference to Bishara's offences was:
But what, one might ask, are Bishara's new offenses?
Immediately answered by the author himself:
It is, after all, highly unlikely that he is a spy on the payroll of a foreign entity.
WTF? - said I to myself - the man has already cleared Bishara of any guilt, without telling us a single word about that file Shin Bet supposedly builds against him? And what does that "after all" mean?

This is, probably, why a man gets a scientific degree in political sciences (whatever this branch of science means, I am not privy to the secrets of this, undoubtedly fascinating, discipline). The ability to sell a lot of words to Al Jazeera without stating a single useful fact should count for something, after all.

Of course, the man has skirted a few hard facts that may be not known to Al Jazeera readers:
  • Even the sinister and all-powerful Shin Bet will have a lot of hurdles to jump over (or through) when trying to put an MK on trial. The MKs (short of Member of Knesset - our august parliamentarians) are so well protected by the law that a policeman would be powerless even if one of them MKs sticks a knife in the policeman's wife's back in broad daylight. Well, almost.
  • It takes a full-hearted cooperation of the MK him(her) self to remove his/her immunity to stand trial. Somehow I cannot see our valiant Mr Bishara assisting the Knesset in doing so.
  • Several attempts to try other people (not necessarily MKs), using the charge of contacts with the enemy, failed miserably, being stricken by the higher courts lately. And Shin Bet or not Shin Bet - in absence of hard evidence of espionage or some other wrongdoing, Azmi Bishara will be let go.
  • No matter what kind of secrecy Shin Bet uses to surround the Bishara investigation, this is a small place. In the end even my dog will know all the offences associated with Mr Bishara - and I don't own a dog...
But really - what is this article about? Aside of, as I have mentioned, a clumsy attempt to persuade all and sundry the Bishara is innocent before any charges are presented? Nah... don't even try, there is nothing - just so much hot air. So I have tried to look at the author. The stub in Wiki doesn't tell you much. Being a Counterpunch correspondent is a doubtful honor at any time, and being a professor of political science, after reading the article in question, seems only to strengthen my growing prejudice of the genre. Being bashed by Alan Dershowitz on one side for being "a self-hating Jew" and by the notorious TheCutter (is she or isn't she the no less notorious Mary Rizzo?) on the other side for being less anti-Israeli than Israel Shamir - all this hardly narrows the search angle.

So I shall let it go for a while. The only thing that bothers me as a result of reading this non-article: how does one get to such a plushy job, being able to say practically nothing about anything and being paid for it, month by month?

What the heck...

***

When you see a falling star

Many of you will smirk hearing about this display of testosterone-driven boyish behavior, called Blue Angels, the Navy's precision flight team. There could be plenty of psychological explanations why this elite team of the best, the bravest and the ablest does what it does - as many as there are reasons for smirking, probably.

But there are plenty of explanations for mountain climbing, lion taming and many other semi-suicidal hobbies, and I do not think that Blue Angels should explain what they do to anyone any more than an alpinist explains what he or she does. Saying this:

A Blue Angels pilot was killed Saturday when his F/A-18 Hornet crashed into a Beaufort, S.C., neighborhood near the end of a performance by the Navy's precision flight team.

Navy Blue Angel No. 6 is shown minutes before crashing during an air show at the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, S.C., on Saturday.

According to the Blue Angels' Web site, that plane was generally piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Kevin "Kojak" Davis of Pittsfield, Mass., who was previously stationed at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach.
Rest in peace, Kevin. You are the best.

And for those still smirking:

Since its inception in 1946, the Blue Angels have performed for more than 427 million fans.

***

The inaugural Chaim Bermant Prize for Journalism.

The Jewish Book Council and The Jewish Chronicle have announced the inaugural Chaim Bermant Prize for Journalism. The first award will be presented at Jewish Book Week in February 2008.

All you aspiring wordsmiths can click here or here for more details on entering.

22 April 2007

Good riddance of sick Pappe

Ynet reports on the impending heavy loss for Israeli science: Dr. Ilan Pappe is leaving the University of Heifa in favor of greener pastures at University of Exeter.

The learned Dr. is already fighting with the British Jews, complaining in advance of being muzzled. An old trick, characteristic of many so called anti-Zionists.

An article in the British Times Higher Education Supplement (THES), entitled 'Historian hits out at Jewish student lobby,' extensively quoted Pappe as complaining that UK Jewish students have formed a "lobby" aimed at quashing open debate on the Middle East.
Students quashing a professor. Probably by brute force of their younger muscles... For some reason the following version is much easier to buy:
A British-Jewish academic, who asked to remain anonymous, said Pappe's allegations were themselves an attempt to silence opposing voices. "This is not a defense of free speech, but a suppression of it," he said.
Let's see how much time it will take before Dr. Pappe, who is not exactly famous for his social graces, alienates his new colleagues in Exeter. Meanwhile here the spirits are high:
Regardless of events unfolding in the UK, many of Pappe's colleagues in Israel are glad to see him go, according to Menachem Kellner, Professor of Jewish History at Haifa University. "He is not a popular man in Israel, I'm very pleased," Kellner told Ynetnews, adding: "He's done his best to blacken the name of his university, and misrepresented it. I can't be help but be happy about this. Let's hope he stays there."
Yep. Dear Brits - better you than us. Sorry about this. Your decisions about boycott of Israeli goods should have been more forceful, apparently.

***

Another step forward in consumer education

Just a few weeks ago the media (and we too) has reported on a new remedy for poor service - the suicide bomber belt.

It seems that the lesson was learned fairly quickly in some consumer circles. And here we have a customer who has decided that police, being funded by taxpayer's money, should be also included into the scope of the drive for better service. From Haaretz ticker tape:

16:09 Man wearing bomb demands return of confiscated car at Ramallah police station (AP)

Bravo!

Cross-posted on Yourish.com.

***

21 April 2007

A few links to enjoy and share

A bit of a problem here: with a long blogroll list it is impossible to provide a comprehensive review of any value, so please keep in mind that this is just a random selection.

Roland tells how happiness displayed by some of the left by the tragedy unfolding in Iraq put him off the left.

Cyrus describes a new conspiracy theory: it appears that these bloodthirsty Israelis killed Alan Johnston. No matter that Johnston seems to be alive meanwhile - it never hurts to have a good conspiracy theory ready.

Gabriel Shoenfeld asks in Contentions how good is CIA? I always thought that this bunch of bunglers is as good as any other in wasting the taxpayers' money, but....

D.C. Thornton tells about the new atrocity to be unleashed on the world by the fatso Michael Moore - this time about the wonders of Cuban health care. Read the first comment - it is enlightening for those who want some enlightenment. Then go see the crap - if you must.

Daled Amos throws a wrench into a mechanised blessing machine - simple and elegant!

Soccer Dad explains to us, uninitiated in the intricacies of the US politics, the difference in the stance of Republicans and Democrats on Israel. I guess I know (or I know I guess) whom Soccer Dad is voting for...

Hakmao helped me to find another common feature between smoking and religion (I do perfectly well with the former replacing the latter for me). The places of worship should bear the standard Surgeon General (or Generalissimo or whatever) warning, it looks like...

Raphael discloses the homicidal nature of the Thai Buddhists. Smashing.

Dr. Sanity elaborates on some finer points of Jihadi education, plan for some breathing exercises after reading. Heady stuff, pun intended.

Westbankmama on our magnetic qualities. So why no girl (well, almost) invited me to dance in my teens?

And for dessert, of course, Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin who joined another fine crowd, having his house promptly flooded as a punishment (I guess).

Enjoy. Share. Be of a good cheer.

***

Buzzards or loosers?

This Friday brought some new rumblings from our internal political front. The two pretenders - Benjamin N. and Ehud B. (each considers himself and ideal replacement of the incumbent loser, of course) had a broadside each at Olmert/Peretz pair regarding the misfortune named "The second Lebanon war".

Barak is peddling his invaluable experience:

"When the dust settles over the conclusions of the Winograd Commission and the testimonies, one lesson will be drawn: In the state of Israel there no substitute to experience," he said in reference to the commission probing the war's handling.

"(Former IDF Chief of Satff) Dan Halutz is one of the most talented people we have; Amir Peretz is a talented person and so is (Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert. They had good intentions and what happened to them proves that even among the highest ranks more experience is required"
Doesn't the second paragraph cause you a desire to cry? The person who considers himself (a bit) above any deity, suddenly starts a free distribution of compliments... yeah...

But there is no arguing that experience is a crucial point. I hope that the voters have enough of that bitter experience with a small man with Napoleonic habits who botched the IDF exit from Lebanon, without any agreement and in pathetic haste, allowing Hizbullah to declare victory that never was. The man who tried to command the government he lead (and, indeed, the whole country) like he used to command a regiment, becoming one of the most miserable failures on this job.

Bibi, on the other hand, continues to amaze by his more and more frequent memory lapses. I hope it is not an early onset of Alzheimer, just a selective erasure of some memory blocks, but the phenomenon must be treated in any case. His latest memory problem was related to the same war (this comes from Maariv Hebrew edition, so no link).

About two weeks ago Bibi told a Maariv reporter that he wouldn't have gone to war in three hours like Olmert/Peretz had. This is on the record, and more - Bibi has already repeated this statement several times lately (probably trying it out as part of his future campaign).

Maariv, however, was diligent enough to ask for a response from the PM's office, and it appears that Bibi, who was (as the head of opposition) invited by Olmert for an update immediately after a government meeting on the day the war started, said:
Prime Minister, I would have done exactly the same. You will get our full support. I will support all steps, in this regard there is no coalition and opposition. We must respond with all out might.
The quote above is a matter of protocol, and no matter how fiery was the subsequent response from Bibi's office when reminded about this record, it stays recorded.

Of course, Bibi is not deterred by being merely caught in a lie. It is all in a day's job for him...

These two remind me of the diapers sticker: while it is clear that the current diapers should be replaced, do we have to replace them by used (and not laundered as far as I can see) ones?

***

20 April 2007

So who is next?

The boycott of Israeli goods decided upon by the British National Union of Journalists (NUJ) caused several interesting responses. Of course, being the Guardian's fan of long standing, I cannot hide my astonishment by the extraordinary act of the Guardian's editor:

"The Guardian disapproves of these kinds of boycotts and does not think they serve a useful purpose. It was a misguided motion," editor of the British daily Alan Rusbridger told Haaretz by telephone last night.
I am looking forward (not) to a sleepless night, trying to make up my mind about this statement. The similar statement made by the U.K. Foreign Office Minister is also quite interesting.

Of course, this strongly worded post by Meryl admirably expresses my initial feelings about the whole production by NUJ. So, all things considered, we could declare the case closed till the next outbreak of the British boycotts plague and plainly forget about it. And yet...

In the linked Haaretz' article there is a quote from what Zvi Heifetz, Israel's ambassador in London, said about the NUJ motion:
It is a shame that an organization that represents journalists threatens to boycott goods from Israel only one day after worrying rumors surfaced about the fate of one of the union's own members.
This caused me to take a closer look at the NUJ boycott resolution, and here it comes, without any attempt to hide it:
The call for the boycott in part related it to the kidnap of Alan Johnston. The Palestinian journalists union has given huge support to the campaign for his release - holding demonstrations and strikes against the Palestinian authority to demand more action from them. We work closely with the Palestinian union through the International Federation of Journalists and the boycott call was a gesture of support for the Palestinian people - notably those suffering in the siege of Gaza, the community Alan Johnston has been so keen to help through his reporting.
So, I hope that the situation is clear now: this boycott motion was a transparent attempt to get on the good side of the Johnston's kidnappers. And really, when the concern for the fate of one of their own motivates people to make some compromises, it is difficult to judge them. And in general, one does not judge people in their moments of trouble and desperation. So, ignoring some cynical remarks I wanted to make (but wouldn't now), like:
  • The fate of Alan Johnston will not be influenced a bit by a resolution some infidels made in the far away London - the people who kidnapped him hate the Brits just marginally less than they hate the Jooz
  • The resolution itself is a rare public confession by people who are ready to sell their principles for some imaginary profit, no matter how humane the profit is presented to be
  • The timing of the resolution was not very clever
  • The text of the resolution is pitiful, clearly showing the tangled and tortuous "thinking" behind it
  • Maybe we should behead a British journalist or two (in the best Middle Eastern tradition) the next time our soldier or civilian gets kidnapped? I know about one official of our government who will gladly volunteer for the mission...
  • Etc.
I would like to express my hope that Johnston will be freed as soon as possible, and to ask these 66 NUJ representatives who voted for the resolution:

Whom are you going to sell next?

Cross-posted on Yourish.com.

See also this post by Beaman.

***

A copy/paste job

Iran's Supreme Court has overturned a death sentence against a hard-line Islamic vigilante for murdering a couple for immoral behavior in southeastern Iran, one of the victims' lawyers said Thursday.

Ali Maleki, with the help of several accomplices, drowned Reza Nejadmalayeri and his fiance, Shohreh Nikpour, in a small pool in 2002 on the belief they had violated rules against contact between unmarried men and women. The killings occurred near Kerman, a city some 620 miles southeast of the capital, Tehran.

A Kerman court issued death sentences against six hard-line Islamic vigilantes, including Maleki, in 2003 for murdering three men and two women who they believed were promoting ``moral corruption.''

The five other assailants have been identified as Mohammad Hamzeh Mostafavi, Soleiman Jahanshahi, Mohammad Ya'abbasi, Mohammad Soltani and Changiz Salari.

All six men were members of the Basij, a pro-government vigilante force that enforces Iran's strict version of Islamic law - including segregation of the sexes and the wearing of the veil by women.

The vigilantes, who pledge support to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stoned one of their victims to death and tied up four others before throwing them into a swimming pool where they drowned.

Critics say the ruling demonstrates the free hand given to the Basij, which has no official legal authority in Iran, but is considered more powerful than the country's police. Enforcement of Islamic law has been reduced in Iran's largest cities like Tehran ever since reformists held power in the late 1990s, but the Basijis have continued to wage their campaign elsewhere in the country.

Under Iran's Islamic law, the vigilantes can escape punishment if they prove their victims were morally corrupt. The next step in the case will be a determination by the Supreme Court of whether the attackers were correct in their beliefs, Ahmadi reported.

The brutal killings shocked Kerman residents, but Iran's media has largely been kept uninformed about the case. The state-run media has not reported any news of the killings or the subsequent cases.
No comments. Just a reminder from that article by Simon Jenkins:
One country in the region that has retained some political pluralism is Iran. It has shown bursts of democratic activity and, importantly, has experienced internal regime change. If ever there was a nation not to drive to the extreme it is Iran.
Yep.

***

Politicians

The following sticker is making its rounds in Israel lately:

The Hebrew text, for those of you who are still Hebrew-deficient (it's a mistake, if you ask me as an Elder, it is either Hebrew or its dialect - Mandarin, so you decide) means:

Diapers and politicians should be replaced frequently and for the same reason

How true...

***

19 April 2007

The bannana controversy

This is not a typo, so don't get your knickers twisted, please. This is the real, live bannana controversy, and you shall see why immediately:



The happy poster that brought the controversy to our attention, supplied and explanation for the feeble minded atheists:

The Atheist's nightmare is....a bannana. Actually, this is a famous argument that shows how God created fruit for us to eat.
So now you know everything about the design and the designer. The poster forgot to add that in his infinite wisdom, the deity also created a Joo who invented money, a Scotsman who invented the automate and a Yank who put bannana, money and automate together and this is how we have that infernal vending machine that, in its finite wisdom, sometimes agrees to spit out a (usually either too green or too rotten) bannana in exchange for some of our hard earned money.

Unfortunately, that same deity forgot to equip the humans with a spelling mechanism, but he/she is getting to it, via Bill Gates.

I think that BEAJ will be delighted to see this clip.

P.S. Do not forget to read the comments under the clip - priceless!



to SV.



***

Now say it again, please

The telegraphic style of the newspaper's headlines is something one gets used to with time. From time to time, however, one is startled nevertheless. Here is one of the best (Guardian April 18, 2007):






Now that you know I am not lying, here is the text again in larger letters:

Mayor shot dead by crime chief enraged his car was damaged at public works construction site, police say.

Two things are clear: that the mayor was shot and that the whole sentence is attributed to the police, so it must be the police spokesperson who was mealymouthed.

But who (and how) enraged the car? And whose car was that? And who (or what) was damaged? And what precisely does that public works construction site have to do with all that?

Questions, questions, questions...

***

18 April 2007

Tony Greenstein in three easy steps

A while ago there was some brouhaha on the ENGAGE site, caused by the rash (we think) decision of the team to provide space for Tony Greenstein's rebuttal of an excellent article by David Hirsh. David wrote about the pitiful attempt of TG and his few remaining friends to exonerate themselves of antisemitism accusations, leveled at the rabidly anti-Israeli Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).

The decision was a rash one, in our opinion, because, first of all, TG is not able to discuss anything at the level required for a dispute with David Hirsh. Being an indoctrinated old style communist, he tends to see the world in black and white, and his analytical ability is hardly above that of a dedicated Soviet party member (or a medium sized cucumber, for that matter). Just look at the way TG argues against the latest report on antisemitism in UK:

  1. The chair of the committee is a right winger who denounced Chavez as "a ranting, populist demagogue". Besides Chavez being all that indeed, how is this relevant to the anti-Semitic attacks?
  2. The committee "came to the question of anti-semitism from a rightwing political perspective." Probably being beat up by a leftwinger changes the picture drastically for a good Jew in Tony's book.
  3. And where is a committee on the anti-Muslim abuse? It must be clear to all that absence of such committee makes that other committee's conclusions invalid...
  4. The committee did not consult with anti-Zionists (read TG). Such a pity indeed that the committee preferred dry and boring police reports to TG's broader views...
  5. And more of such claptrap
The above clearly shows TG the intellectual colossus, undoubtedly stretching the envelope that confines his scholarly prowess. What it also reveals is that he may require a smidgen more grey matter than he empirically possesses to stand David Hirsh a fair chance of igniting at least one used brain cell.

The other TG revelation is definitely one to be shunned by the gentle folks of Engage. We, however, will not overlook it. It appears that the fearless freedom fighter, the fervent communist, the dedicated community worker apparently has talents which are unjustly confined by the lowly limitations of the law. Using these astutely fine tuned talents, he has amassed an impressive portfolio:

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Well, well, what do you know? To repeat a few especially poignant sentences from the above:
  • Mr Greenstein was not legally represented in court. Notes to which he referred during the hearing were written on the back of notepaper from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).
  • Reference was made in court to eleven previous convictions for a variety of offences.
  • He had been barred from the university and was now writing a book about the Middle East.
Quite. A fraud, a crook and an expert on the Middle East...

(Of course, Tony Greenstein is not the rarest name in the world, but somehow I doubt that it is some other TG).

We normally do not deal with the issue of antisemitism, since the whole subject became a mire of accusations, counter-accusations, spins, straw men etc. Generally, we consider that we (the Jooz) do not have to be neither especially liked nor especially hated - just like all the other, moderately good, moderately evil, moderately straight, moderately lying, ... people. With TG and his ilk, however, it is kinda different. TG himself, of course, will vehemently deny a charge of antisemitism - after all he is not only a Joo but also a valiant fighter against antisemitism, as his latest escapade with his own baby PSC proved. After all, it is not that pleasant for one to be spat, pissed and shat upon by the organization one considers his brainchild (well, the baby has certainly inherited dad's brains in this case).

So, for the purpose, let's define a new category of antisemitism - let's call it de facto antisemitism. You see, Tony Greenstein says openly "Yes, I want the state of Israel to be destroyed." No, of course, he does not mean by that a physical extermination of 6 million Israelis. He just does not care what will happen to them - dispersed, drowned in the Mediterranean, knocking on the doors of benevolent Europeans for shelter or just subjected to the usual, run of the mill dhimmitude of the new Caliphate - no matter, as long as Tony sees what he perceives as historic justice carried out.

From where we stand, it makes Tony practically indistinguishable from any neo-Nazi or a two-bit Muslim Joo-hating tyrant: they want to kill or subjugate Jooz, he wants the same. The texts may vary slightly, the motives may be different, but the goal is the same. And the definition of "de facto anti-Semite" applies to TG in its fullness.

So, it is time to summarize. Who (or, rather, what) is Tony Greenstein:
  1. A cerebrally incapacitated pixie.
  2. A small-time tea leaf
  3. A de facto anti-Semite
And this is only a short, partial and very sympathetic description. To boot - there are some more disgusting things I had an unhappy opportunity to step on, but not so many of them that I would need two hands to count.

There are many more details on this creature here. But to finish this TG probe on a happier note, here comes some poetic distraction:
Greenstein (to the tune of Greensleeves)

Composed by Syrian poet Abu Jihad:

Alas, Hamas, you do me wrong,
To cast me off discourteously.
For I have loved you well and long,
Delighting in terrorist company.

chorus:

Greenstein, Nasrallah's joy
Greenstein's Hamas delight,
Greenstein the jihad toy,
And who but my dear Abu Greenstein.
More where the above came from.

Take care and do not step on it.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com.

***

17 April 2007

Making Money "Part Of Jewish Tradition"

Sometimes apologies are assuredly in order. However, I am getting somewhat perturbed by this all-American tradition to issue apologies every day of the week.

WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Tommy Thompson told a Jewish group Monday that earning money is "part of the Jewish tradition," a remark for which he later apologized.

"I'm in the private sector and for the first time in my life I'm earning money," Thompson told the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. "You know that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition. ... "

Later, he added: "I didn't (by) any means want to infer or imply anything about Jews and finances. ... What I was referring to ... is the accomplishments of the Jewish religion. You've been outstanding business people and I compliment you for that."

Thompson spokesman Tony Jewell said the former Wisconsin governor, who is Catholic, was sorry.

What's wrong with the statement in question? We've just been collectively commended for our success in the business world, and, as far as I can tell, the praise was not brought on by some warped precepts.

Our remarkable achievements can be interpreted in a multitude of ways: as part of the broader, all-embracing Jewish conspiracy or as something we have earned by slogging our guts out and fearlessly taking on insurmountable obstacles. Thompson's comments were, in my view, well-intentioned, and I truly don't think he has anything to apologize for in this particular case.

***

Professor Librescu RIP

This is the notice on Virginia Tech site:

This is the tragic story of the Holocaust survivor:

Professor Liviu Librescu threw himself in front of the shooter, who had attempted to enter his classroom. The Israeli mechanics and engineering lecturer was shot to death, "but all the students lived - because of him," Virginia Tech student Asael Arad - also an Israeli - told Army Radio.
***

Irish stew with some matzo balls

The story about the recommendation on boycott of Israeli artists issued by Aosdana, Ireland's state-sponsored academy of creative artists, did not make a lot of waves in the media. Probably because it is not remarkable enough. JP says:

Aosdana, Ireland's state-sponsored academy of creative artists, voted last week on a motion to "back the call from Palestinian filmmakers, artists and cultural workers to end all cooperation with Israeli state-sponsored cultural events and institutions."

The proposal - put to a motion by composer Raymond Deane, founder of the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, and seconded by playwright Margaretta D'Arcy - was defeated in the organization's general assembly.
Of course, as in any other place of the world, Ireland has its share of polarized opinion on the Israel/Palestine issue. Of course, the extreme political wings, as usual, miss the crucial point when taking a decision like this: the boycott will not help the situation, and polarized vision will assist only the cause of further polarization. But this is besides the point I wanted to make. Which pont is about the (almost) absolute lack of anything remarkable in that event.

First of all, we have a case of a relatively large group of artists, most of whom do not know a lot and do not care about the grave issues tearing apart our corner of the world. Then we have a relatively small hard core of the activists, not surprisingly associated with the even more hard core PSC. Using the indifference of the general public, this hard core group succeeds in pushing through a recommendation to all Aosdana members to consider the boycott (even the indifferent majority disagreed with the first, binding version).

This is not the first time that extremists abuse the public indifference, the examples are numerous and hardly remarkable. Also unremarkable is the language of the resolution, full of cliches, as usual representing only one side of the issue.

Of course, as expected, the team that spearheaded this initiative, includes its token Jew: a playwright Margaretta D'Arcy. Business as usual, and Ms D'Arcy's support makes the whole business a bit more palatable for some people who otherwise may have been wary of the rabid ways of PSC and its followers.

And of course, a response from the Israely embassy came as expected:
Israel's embassy in Dublin released a statement condemning the motion as "wrong, unjust, biased and based on misunderstanding and misinformation." Ambassador Zion Evrony said, "It appears that a very small number of Aosdana members... have misled others and imposed their views on the whole organization."
There are only two items in the whole story that may pretend to be called irregular:

Aosdana, you see, is not exactly an independent body of free-thinkers:
"What is more concerning is that by being elected to Aosdana as an artist, you get an annual salary from the state," the member explained. "As it is state-funded, it is surprising that [Aosdana] took this stance, given that political matters are not their remit."
So the Irish government is understandably unhappy with the behavior of its proteges , and condemned the resolution.

The second item is more remarkable. After the (fairly standard) response from the Israeli embassy, Ms D'Arcy, decided to explode (in public, too):
D'Arcy, for her part, wrote an open letter to the ambassador attacking his views: "Mr. Ambassador, who the hell do you think you are, interfering with Irish artists, prescribing what we may or may not reflect upon?" she fumed.

"I wonder that the Irish government does not immediately break off diplomatic relations with Israel for your absurd violation of those articles in the UN Charter of Human Rights that guarantee free expression," D'Arcy declared.
To tell you the truth, I also don't know who the hell our Ambassador is, aside of his name (Zion Evrony) and that strange way he (and any other Ambassador) should be addressed ("your Excellency" or summat). However, I was flabbergasted by that display of histrionics. The only thing our lady of letters forgot to demand of her government is that it nuke Israel within 24 hours. Or else. From that single glimpse into Ms D'Arcy's character, I guess that nary a government will deny a request from her. Fearsome, I say. Not a person I would lightly refuse an offer of a scone from, even a poisoned one.

Anyhow - if someone can tell me how the boilerplate response from His Excellency violated Ms D'Arcy's right to free expression, do not hesitate to do so. In details, please.

Meanwhile, I would like to quote here a comment to the original article in JP:
65. Long live Ireland

Jan - Norway

04/10/2007 06:37
It seems like many people reading this article do not quite get the fact that the Irish government, various media sources and even a large part of the organization that called for the boycott in fact do not support a boycott of Israel. Irland do not have anything to be ashamed of in this case. Left-wing moonbats are everywhere, but obviously they are not ruling Ireland. So lets give the Irish some credit not rebuke as Ben and other writers seem to do.
Precisely my opinion. Although - I am not sure what kind of moonbat Ms D'Arcy is - left or right, and could not care less, but moonbat she definitely is.

Too bad.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com.

***

16 April 2007

But I thought...


My memory is not what it used to be, but I am fairly sure that a) he did not promise not to smoke that stuff anymore, but b) he definitely promised not to inhale it in his lungs.

Hmm...

Er... unless he meant the time it will take for F-15 to get to Damascus?

But that is much shorter - about 10 minutes or so...

***

The meme revenge

That is not the first time I am succumbing to the devious plots by some people aimed to force me into that darn meme folly. Knowing that I have a soft spot for him in my heart, Shlemazl has done it again. Still, being an Elder, I have decided to play ball, but in my own way.

So what is going to happen now is that I shall choose a number of random answers from Shlemazl's own version of the "Five Things You Didn't Know About Me" meme, copy his answers and comment on each in my way. So here we go:

4. At the time best Soviet universities did not accept Jews. Jews were routinely "failed" during entrance examinations because of the notorious "fifth item" in the application forms that we had to fill in. It read "nationality" but it meant "ethnicity". I studied extremely hard at school and managed to slip through the system. I was the only Jew to enter my university in 1987. By the time I graduated Perestroika was running wild and the place was infested with Jews.
4a. No worries, Shlemazl: Perestroika is quite dead, and normal services have been resumed. As it was exceedingly well shown by our own AgentAzure, the place is no more infested by Jooz.
3. When I applied to one of the top Soviet universities, I did not know it had anything to do with "nuclear". That was a secret. I got into this business by accident.
3a. The youngster is, probably, talking about the outfit that I applied to quite a lot of years before him. I knew it was about nuclear and got promptly throw out on my face for my troubles. The only university of esteem that agreed to take me in was a few thousand miles to the east...
5. At university I did not have to study at all. Professors would read my name, look at me, automatically assume that I was a genius - otherwise I wouldn't be at that university - and give me the top mark without embarrassing themselves by asking stupid questions.
5a. I, on the other hand, did not want to study due to heady environment and a serious case of hormonal imbalance caused by a certain lady.
9. When my company offered a move to Canada I accepted it for they can't play hockey in Britain. I hoped for proper winters too, but that didn't happen.
9a. My company, on the other hand, being an Israeli one, didn't offer. They just told me you are moving for at least three years to the xxx (somewhere in the Midwestern US) or else. I moved. After three years I have decided that a) I purely love the US of A and b) that three years is enough.
13. Just for my leftie readers... Yes, I do work for Mossad. Remember that earthquake a couple of years back? That was me. Suppose you've known it all along. Watch out what you do and say, for it is me that you see in your rear view mirror every morning.
13a. Big deal, of course shlemazl works for this pool of semi-amateur rookies we use for preliminary selection to the Elders' field units. And of course, that semi-amateur stuff like earthquakes, floods, plagues, offing the firstborn (count to ten, please) is being 101 level training material since the days of exodus. Nothing much to brag about, really.

Now look here, Shlemazl: do desist with these memes, unless you want to become a close acquaintance of TheMaiden. Unlike in the case of the lady who accompanied you on the job, this one will care solely about her own personal enjoyment. This relationship will involve you very intensely, but only one of you will enjoy it. If you know what I mean.

***

15 April 2007

Ladies and Gentle peoplemen...

...was probably the beginning of the sentence Yid with Lid aimed to write, when his head, weary from the effort, hit the keyboard.

He didn't even have time for the last browse to see that huge piece of work he has accomplished on the Haveil Havalim #112, but here it is, in all its glory. So, everyone, your overfed after - Pesach bodies notwithstanding, start clicking! Hooray to Yid with Lid and his all night vigil!

And since it is not the right moment to peddle one's personal pet peeves about bright fonts on a black background, I shall say not a word about it...

***

Librarians 'suffer most stress'?

Fighting fires may sound taxing, chasing criminals demanding, but a new study says that working in library is the most stressful job of all.
And they tell it so maddeningly cool about the job I am dreaming about (but am not qualified for) most of my life?

And urgent response from a few experts required!



to Norm.



***

On the turbulence and the optimism

Reading the article "You think our age is turbulent? What nonsense" by Anatole Kaletsky, I could not get out of my mind an unwanted image of my feeble self clutching the armrests of my seat upon hearing the self-assured baritone of the pilot telling us to prepare for a "slight turbulence that will last only a few minutes".

Of course, the rational part of my brain knows perfectly well that the plane is designed and built to withstand much higher stress figures than those offered by a mere turbulence. But of course that irrational part of my brain gets an upper hand quite easily, drawing a horrifying picture of this aluminium tube broken to pieces and my vile body thrown out to become a fodder for local fauna after a few minutes of tumbling in the air (hopefully unconscious).

Having this in mind, I should be excused for the resistance my overly cynical and pessimistic brain put up against the main premise of the article:

We are constantly told by politicians, journalists and business experts that we live in an era of unprecedented change — a dizzying period of technological and geopolitical revolutions, in which every year brings some new and astonishing upheaval for which our nervous, insecure societies are totally unprepared. What nonsense.

Never in human history has life been more predictable, safe and stable — at least for that large minority of the human race who live in the advanced capitalist countries of Western Europe, North America and East Asia.
Hope springs eternal, and I would like nothing more than to submit to the seductive call of this London siren. After all, Anatole is right: many advanced capitalist countries, especially of Western Europe are experiencing an unprecedented stretch of 60 years of prosperity and (relative) peace. The reason and humanism have won. At least it seems so to an unprejudiced observer, especially one residing in one of the above mentioned countries.

And Alex does an excellent work, proving his point by (admittedly anecdotal, but so true) examples of his own family history, showing a thread on the bloody and horrifying tapestry of the last century. It is impossible to argue with this history and, indeed, on the face of it, this century was the pinnacle of horrors, genocide and inhumanity.

But was it really a pinnacle? I am not so sure. Maybe in terms of absolute numbers of the victims, but what about the Black Plague centuries? What about the flu pandemic? What about the uncounted wars, conquests and genocides of the, say, last 2000 years only?

I am not so sure, in short, that the XX century was the pinnacle - neither in terms of inhumanity nor in terms of relative mortality numbers.

But let's look at the other angle - that of 60 years of prosperity and peace. Leaving aside the fact that several billions of people (Central and South America, Africa, China , a good part of Asia, etc.) do not seem so happy and contented, how about that vaunted European Golden Age? Just a few days ago I have posted a short but succinct aside by Isaac Schrödinger:
It's quite something: most Europeans living today have, historically speaking, a distorted view of reality. They've lived in their American-subsidized peace bubble for too long.
I do not think I should try to pierce that mental bubble for Alex. If he does not want it to be pierced, the mission is simply impossible.

And, without attempting to insult Alex's intelligence by going into a few cases he so unintelligently brings up at the end of the article (yes, Alex, the global warming alarmists do believe that they have a cause, and you better believe it; and the psychologists who treat accident witnesses cannot use Holocaust as a treatment tool; and the number of victims of terrorism grows too swiftly to be ignored, but let's leave all this for a while): being an economist, Alex could be unaware how fragile the life on this planet is. But lots of people dealing with several scientific disciplines could easily insult Alex's intelligence by explaining to him that a rise (or a drop) of a few centigrades in the mean temperatures, a chance meeting with a sufficiently large asteroid, an outbreak of a new plague for which we do not have an antibiotic or a half-serious nuclear war could easily bring about the extinction of our civilization. At least in the form we know it today and Alex is so happy about.

So let's hold the horses with that announcement of the golden age for a while. At least until we know that we can deal with the common flu, not to speak about a regular head cold. OK?

Meanwhile, I have on the table an urgent issue of where to have my lunch, and damn the global warming...

Oops: I have discovered too late that Norm has already done it. Yeah...

***