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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Sunday, July 31, 2005
The next orthodox supermodel?
Israel21c: "She doesn't work on Shabbat, keeps kosher, and turns down jobs that require her to wear anything that the family considers 'provocative.' "
Saturday, July 30, 2005
We'd Rather Have Disposable Vehicles and Reusable Astronauts
I've written before about my fondness of John Derbyshire. Two weeks ago he wrote for NRO a scathing assessment of our manned space program: The Folly of Our Age. It was profoundly sad to read, since I love our space program, and since he's completely right.

A few days ago, after analyzing the launch photos, NASA grounded future shuttle missions.
Friday, July 29, 2005
How I Got to Blogging – Part I
In September 2000 the second intifada started. In the Oslo accords (which I supported at the time) Israel bent over backwards to make concessions to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for a peace treaty. Arafat showed (again) that Palestinian statehood was not what he was after. What he was after was prolonging the conflict as long as possible so as to remain a media darling and so as to squirrel away as many Euros in his secret bank accounts as possible. He was the epitome of the terrorist cleptocrat.

At the time I had just quit a perfectly good job on a medical school clinical faculty to take the plunge into private practice. I was working ridiculously long hours seeing a ton of hospital patients. The fact that I was the sole breadwinner for our family and the financial risk that I had taken were on my mind daily. At about the same time we had decided to remodel our house, and ball-and-chain and I and our two kiddies moved ten houses away to live with her parents. Oh, and ball-and-chain was pregnant with our third. I was under a lot of pressure. So I was spending many late evenings in the office catching up on paper work or in the hospital seeing patients. This was just as well, since we needed the money, and since there were already lots of us under the same roof, so I tried to do my part by coming home mostly just to sleep.

At the same time Israel was seemingly falling apart, and I became obsessed with news from the Middle East. Almost worse than the actual news from Israel was the horrible moral-equivalency spin that the media was putting on the reporting. Rather than stating the glaring facts like “Homicidal Anti-Jews Strike Again” or “Palestinian Groups Pursue Israel’s Destruction” they would drone about the “Cycle of Violence” and report at face value Palestinian grievances of “humiliation” and “The Occupation” while Jewish graves were still fresh. To add injury to injury, our State Department was constantly calling on Israel to exercise restraint after the next batch of her citizens had been bloodied, and constantly wringing their hands about travel restrictions and other security precautions imposed on the Palestinians by Israel. I was going crazy. Was no one seeing the conflict the way I was? Dennis Prager was, but I couldn’t listen to his show during the day. I was desperate for some news with some moral clarity.

That’s when I stumbled onto Arutz Sheva. At the time, they were an illegal crazy-right-wing-religious radio station broadcasting from a ship off the Israeli coast. They had a show called the Deprogram Program, by an American expat, Shai ben-Tekoa. It was just what I needed. It was a nightly program that combined news analysis, historical perspective, some Biblical references, and fun Israeli music interludes. Ben-Tekoa’s message was simple: they want to kill us. They want to kill us not because of the occupation, because they were trying before 1967. They want to kill us not even because of the existence of the State of Israel, because they were trying before 1947. They just want to kill us because we’re Jews. Muslim societies have never lived at peace with free non-Muslim societies. They either lived at peace with subjugated non-Muslims or they were at war. This was like a warm balm for my frayed nerves. Finally, another person gets it, and he’s broadcasting.

(A pleasant side effect of this discovery was that it turned me on to the music of Gil Akibayov and Yosef Karduner, groovy Israeli Chassidic musicians.)

Coming up in Part II: I discover Little Green Footballs and get my first taste of bloggy goodness.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
I Went into Medicine Why?
I'm sure that all of you will be relieved to know that subsequent laser hair removal sessions have been much less painful. During the sessions I've been chatting with my nurse while she defoliates me with her photon torpedoes. To paraphrase Mary Poppins, a little bit of small talk helps the torture go down. I've discovered that (a) she's four years younger than me, and single, (b) she's a lefty of the sort so common in Los Angeles – hates Bush, very worried about the environment, and (c) she makes almost as much money as I do. I must admit I almost put the laser up my nose and ended it all right there.
Not Getting Younger
I thought you might want to know that she's 104 now.
Winning Against Terrorists
IRA Ending Longtime 'Armed Campaign' - Yahoo! News

I've been debating with friend over the past few days over what is essentially a difference in our perceptions of the confrontation in which we are engaged with Islamofascists and other extremists who use Islam as a tool to motivate their cause. He looks at "terrorism" as something analagous to crime, drug use and other problems. He seems to feel, as did our government prior to 9/11, that we should contain "terrorism"... much as many pre-Reagan felt that we should contain "communism". My position is that terrorism is a means by which the underfunded wage war, and that our fight is not against terrorism, but a specific enemy, composed of loosely affiliated Islamo-extremist organizations. That it is a war, and that wars are not about containment but about victory and defeat... and that we need to treat it as such, if we are to be on the victory side of that equation.

Anyhow, my point is that the above article illustrates my point. The battle between Irish Republicans and British Loyalists has dragged on for decades... even centuries. The IRA's decision to lay down its arms indicates that, whatever method a side uses to wage war, victory is achievable. Ultimately, it's not about the tactics; it's about winners and losers... and in some cases (this one) compromise*.

*not something I advocate with our current enemies.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Fun with Geography
Place the states!
This Blog Is Full Of Crap
I found this blog today. I like it.
NR in LA
Who's in? Only one large a pop.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Apple Jacks, rasta-style
Remember the Apple Jacks jingle? A is for apple, J is for Jack...

Well, that was then, this is now. New slogan?

"The cinnamon is a winna, Mon." Featuring a walking cinnamon stick with dreadlocks.

Luckily, Trix is still for kids.
The Western Word: How Not to Treat Friends
Western Word links to the Jerusalem Post's slam on Condi for praising the PA's "important steps" against terrorism.

I'll add that Rice getting smacked is Bush getting smacked. The treatment of the Israel-Palestinian conflict by the White House these days is getting more and more inexplicable. This is because it is getting further and further from the administration's otherwise stellar prosecution of the war on terror.

We are pledging to fight Arab and Islamic terror (ok, fine, not by those names, but who are we kidding?) in every corner of the globe except the very incubator of terror, the Palestinian Authority (neé PLO)? It boggles the mind.

It boggles the mind, that is, except in terms of realpolitik - babying the Palestinians and pressuring the Israelis to keep our street cred with the Israeli-hating nations we have to deal with. But it is so fundamentally anthithetical to what we are trying to do. You know, I think some on the Left are correct - much of what's going on in the Arab and muslim world won't calm down until the Israeli-Palestinian struggle is ended. But not in the way they mean. They mean that Israel should be cowed so the problem will go away, which of course it wouldn't. This conflict is the ground zero of the greater conflict, and the bad guys look to it for cues. If anyone ever decides to get serious about it and stop rewarding terror by doling out unearned concessions, and really, really, respond to terrorist attacks of all stripes, then maybe terror will begin to ebb around the world. It's all about incentives and disincentives. Right now terrorists in the middle east and around the world have no disincentive to stop and every incentive to keep on keepin' on.
Demonization of the religious left?
Michael Lerner of Tikkun Magazine had a pow-wow with like-minded religious leftists, in which he reportedly said that the "religious right" has correctly identified a "spiritual crisis" in America. But of course the right is building its spiritual community on the backs of the downtrodden:

Republicans and their allies on the religious right have “done a good job” of articulating that crisis, Lerner said, but their analysis is “fundamentally flawed” because it’s based on demonizing “feminists, gays, liberals, African Americans.”
Okay, agree or disagree, I can understand where he'd get the first three demonizations: those who say that women shouldn't be priests or rabbis, gays shouldn't be married, liberals are more concered with themselves than with God, etc. But African Americans? What in any mainstream movement could be construed by any stretch of the imagination as demonizing black people?

Unless by "religious right" he means muslims who murder their black brothers by the hundreds of thousands. But, wait, those people are Africans, but not Americans. Maybe he just got carried away with avoiding the word "black."

By the way, Mike, good for you for trying to inject some religious spirit into politics. But remember, when it comes to issues you mention such as abortion and gay marriage, you're gonna have to get your buddies to come up with a better argument than "religion doesn't belong in politics."
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Ralphie after PM statement: Then why are you rewarding it?
PM after Gaza killings: We won't put up with terror
Saturday, July 23, 2005
You Heard It Here First
Way back in May, we informed our dear readers about the birth of a new blog, The Western Word. The author has since dropped his anonymity, so I'm delighted to introduce you to Nathan Wirtschafter, a friend of Ralphie and mine, a smart lawyer, and a heck of a nice guy. Before he moved to Israel, we enjoyed many a carnivorous meal together.

Well, less than three months after its first post, The Western Word has hit the big time. RealClear Politics, a major blog linking to the best of daily conservative commentary (and on our blog list) linked to Nathan's article Final Prayers in Gaza.

So go read it, and pat him on the back, and check in with him occasionally if you want a smart right-wing perspective on what's up in Israel.

And in the future, when we tell you about something, take our word for it that it'll be huge in three months.
Nice efforts
The "Latest Headlines" section of the fox news home page includes the following unfortunate combination of headline/subheadline (each to a different story):

Rice Applauds Abbas' Efforts
-2 Israelis Slain in Gaza

Now, obviously this isn't what Rice meant to applaud. But is that de facto what's she's doing? I'm not loving this right now.

(By the way, obviously these headlines will be gone by the time you look at the fox news site.)
The Western Word: Final Prayers in Gaza
The Western Word takes a trip to Gaza. It is a very poignant (and not too long) post. I don't want to spoil it for you, but here's the end:

Israelis will receive no thanks for the surrender of Gaza to an enemy who fights to cleanse 'Palestine' of 'infidels' from the river to the sea, just more terror.

This may have been my final trip to Gaza. But Israeli soldiers will be back, again and again and again.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
News report from Iraq
Click for video
James Doohan, RIP
He served in the Canadian army and was wounded on D-Day. Then, he became Montgomery Scott, the chief engineer of the Starship Enterprise, and inspired countless kids to start careers at NASA or JPL. Yesterday morning, at the age of 85, his soul was beamed up.

Scotty, thank you for your service. You are relieved.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
One Small Step for Google
Thirty six years ago today, Apollo 11 landed the first astronauts on the moon. We've already introduced you to Google maps. Today, to commemorate the anniversary, Google presents Google Moon. Check it out. And zoom way in.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Hewlett-Packard to Slash 14,500 Jobs
This is not funny, but I had to capture the screen for the ironic banner ad placement:
oh, the irony
Note the tagline: "Streamline your office now." Sheesh.
The Argument Against a Moderate Judge
A friend of mine (new to the right wing) suggested a week ago that since O'Connor is a moderate Bush should nominate another moderate. She argued that balance is what is needed in the Court, and though we are conservative, we shouldn't want a Court that is too far right. I disagree. The job of the court is to interpret the law, and as well as they can, try to divine the intentions of the framers of the Constitution or of the authors of the amendment in question. They should do so without personal bias and without regard to what they think would be best for America in 2005. They should faithfully judge the spirit of the Constitution. The people who are elected to decide what is best for America in 2005 are the legislature. They get to make new laws and are accountable to the people at the ballot box. They have the power to create brand new legal protections and rights, and if we don't like what they do, we replace them. The Courts do not have the power to create brand new legal protections and rights but rather have the duty to interpret the law as it stands. The problem is that this traditional Constitutional understanding of the role of the Court has somehow become conservative. A conservative judge is now known as a strict constructionist; one who interprets strictly the intentions of the original framers of the law in question. How is that conservative? That's just what a judge is supposed to do. Note that a conservative judge does not make up new conservative laws. For example I know of no federal judge who would use the equal protection clause to find that the Constitution forbids all abortion. Liberal (or activist) judges, on the other hand, create new rights and new laws that weren't there before, clearly infringing on the powers of the Congress and on the people's ability to choose their representatives. They do so with the noblest intentions; they sincerely want what is best for our country. But they exercise extraordinary power that is rightly not theirs and that erodes our democracy.

An example? I'm pro-choice. That means I don't think abortion should be banned. Nevertheless I read the tenth amendment and I think it pretty clearly establishes that the Federal Government has nothing to do with abortion. That means it should be a state issue. (By the way, to those who believe that abortion is murder and who would want to see a federal ban on abortion, I would say even murder isn't banned at the federal level. Murder is a crime in every state, but to raise it to a federal crime the murder has to cross a state line or kill a mail carrier or have some other federal entanglement. So even if you think abortion is murder, the most you should work for is to have it banned by your state legislature.) So that's why I'm one of the few pro-choicers who thinks Roe v Wade was a horrendous decision. It decided out of thin air that it was unconstitutional for states to ban abortion by a ridiculous stretch of the right to privacy. It was both a wrongful impingement by the federal government on state power and by the court on legislative power.

So I'm delighted Bush nominated a conservative, because that means he'll just do his job.
Over There
Just watched a promo for Over There, a new FX series about the Iraq war produced by Steven Bochco (no, the war wasn't produced by him - we already know that was produced by Halliburton, Fox News, and leprechauns). The promo came on a CD-ROM that was tucked inside of the latest Time magazine (cover story: Rove on the spot!).

Production values are high, of course - looks about as realistic as Band of Brothers - or what I imagine would be realistic. And I imagine that it will arouse both pro- and anti-Iraq-war sentiments.

For example, when a soldier mommy is saying goodbye to her baby for (at least) a year, you might think "Why! Why must this have to happen!" Alternatively, you might think, "Why! Why do women serve in the military?" Depends on your point of view, I suppose.

And they do manage to stick women in the combat scene protrayed in the promo - their truck was hit when they were delivering troops. Which, as we know, has happened. And then one of the women seems to tired to dig herself into position. So there's that.

The sarge complains that he was supposed to go home that day, but his tour was extended another 90 days. (I'm guessing longer, since he was the only familiar face in the cast - the obnoxious doctor on ER, you know, the one who went to med school in Barbados). But then he complains that they can't advance against the mosque where the gunfire is originating because there's an Al-Jazeera reporter embedded in the mosque. They can't move in, the sarge says, because a general "75 miles away has to make a PR decision."

Seems the show is not afraid to portray things that might be objectionable to either side - and that's probably to its credit. I would definitely watch it (it premieres July 27). If I had cable.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
An Muslim group condemns Islamic terror
Saturday, July 16, 2005
A good topology game. It gets tricky fast.
Friday, July 15, 2005
44 Lines About 22 Liberals
Inspired by 88 Lines About 44 Women by Nails, and intended to be read to the same tune.

Maxine Waters knows four words:
"No justice" therefore "no peace".
George Soros has the dollars.
Looking for more palms to grease.
Arianna was conservative
before stepping on the UFOs.
Barbara Streisand for dumb causes
has a quite discerning nose.

Jimmy Carter never met
a dictator he didn't hug.
Ted Koppel spins the news
and I think he wears a rug.
Al Gore is still complaining
about imaginary dirty tricks.
Sean Penn went to Baghdad
and was as useful as Hans Blix.

John Kerry is a footnote.
It seems that his career is sunk.
Teddy Kennedy for worse or better
spent many years just getting drunk.
Howard Dean became unhinged,
and now he runs the DNC.
Barbara Boxer has the right
to be as left as she can be.

Jessee Jackson is a master
of the racial-victim-shakedown dance.
Bill Clinton cleaned up welfare,
but couldn't keep it in his pants.
Hillary wants socialized healthcare
and to be the president.
Tom Hayden is strictly small-time,
happy to control your rent.

Sarah Brady has my sympathies
but wants to take my gun away.
Andrew Sullivan is very thoughtful,
and did he mention that he's gay?
Michael Moore makes propaganda,
and he's morbidly obese.
Larry Flynt is an old smut pusher,
still thinks he's fighting with Ed Meese.
Tom Cruise is very handsome.
He's a Scientologist.
JFK, the last great liberal,
is the man I chose to end this list.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Get 'em while they're hot
Condoleezza Rice for President 2008 Gear

(via NRO)
Lunatic Fringe
I was driving home yesterday listening to Jack FM when Lunatic Fringe by Red Rider came on. I hadn't heard it in years. I parked on my driveway and waited for it to finish. The song really rocks. It occurred to me that it's not a bad song for the war against Islamofascism. When I sat down to read the lyrics, I thought it was even better. The only caveat is that Islamists are not mentally ill; they're evil. So "lunatic" doesn't really apply, except as an insult. And though they are on the fringe of Western Civilization, I no longer believe they represent a fringe of Islam.

Lunatic Fringe
I know you're out there
You're in hiding
And you hold your meetings
We can hear you coming
We know what you're after
We're wise to you this time
We won't let you kill the laughter

Lunatic Fringe
In the twilight's last gleaming
This is open season
But you won't get too far
We know you've got to blame someone
For your own confusion
But we're on guard this time
Against your final solution

We can hear you coming
No you're not going to win this time
We can hear the footsteps
Way out along the walkway
Lunatic Fringe
We know you're out there
But in these new dark ages
There will still be light

An eye for an eye
Well, before you go under
Can you feel the resistance
Can you feel the...thunder

©Tom Cochrane
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
The Enemy Within
England is slowly coming to grips with the threat in its midst.

LONDON — At least three of the four suspected homicide bombers who carried out the deadly attacks on London's transit system last week were born in England, and all four men came from Leeds in the English Midlands, according to British media.
Let that roll around in your brain for a minute. Imagine what we would have thought if the 9/11 terrorists were born in Detroit.

In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair met with British Muslim lawmakers and pledged to open dialogue to tackle a "perverted and poisonous misinterpretation" of Islam. He also said his government would begin consultations on new anti-terrorism legislation.
Is there anyone speaking for Islam saying this was a misinterpretation? Maybe the interpretation is good and the source is bad.

Addressing the House of Commons, Blair said the government also would look urgently at how to strengthen the process for excluding from the United Kingdom those who incite hatred and make it easier to deport such people.
That’s a good idea. Better late then never. There is finally the realization that Imams preaching death to the infidel for decades within your own border might be caustic to your civilization. I know; you thought they only meant Americans and Jews. Sorry. Welcome to the party. We’re all Israelis now.

Finally, Michael Leeden, in National Review Online, comments on Blair’s speech to the House of Commons. When listing the many countries attacked by terrorists, he neglected two: Iraq and Israel. Clearly the sensibilities of his (largely anti-war) constituency may have had something to do with that. Read Leeden’s article.

The war is just starting. I hope the English people will realize that the enemy is at home, and that aping Spain will not immunize them from further violence. After that difficult realization, they’ll have to pick a side. Blair has been steadfast, but without popular support. In World War II we sat out until the very last minute while England fought. Maybe this is payback and this was their Pearl Harbor.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
The Western Word: Time to Press Forward on New Subs
Man, he's good.
Return To Flight
Flight PatchThe CrewAbout two years after the Columbia tragedy, Space Shuttle Discovery and its crew of seven prepare to fly. Launch is scheduled for tomorrow 3:51 pm EDT.

Ladies and gentlemen, good luck.

UPDATED Wednesday, July 13: No go for flight at least for today.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Newborn panda survives critical first day
Awwww. Cute li'l panda newborn. That's one whole day of surviving malnutrition, infection, and the Groningen protocol.
Rice in China
And Mia Farrow in Egypt. Just kidding.

Oven is in China too. I may have an anecdote or two when I return. One interesting thing - I can't access Kerckhoff directly. Censorship?
Sullivan brief on far right
Andrew Sullivan rightly (no pun intended) points out that there is an anti-war element on the far right. He claims that the "mainstream right is too squeamish sometimes in condemning them."

Perhaps the reason is that these far-right ideas in particular remain on the fringe, while the far-left anti-war nuttiness has made its way to the front-and-center of the Democratic leadership?
Friday, July 08, 2005
Breaking: Rehnquist May Resign Today
From NRO's The Buzz:
On CNN today, Bob Novak repeated his claim that Chief Justice William Rehnquist will resign today. A very reliable source tells The Buzz that Novak believes the announcement will come at exactly 4:55pm EST today to coincide with President Bush’s landing back in Washington and to avoid impacting the markets. Keep your eyes on the tube around then.
(Via Powerline.)

UPDATED Saturday, July 9, 10 pm: Or, perhaps not.
London, The Day After
I've plastered together some disjointed thoughts about yesterday's terror attacks in London and tried to collect the most important information we have so far. (The source for most of the data and quotes is the article linked in the title. For a few exceptions, I link to the sources below.)

Casualty Count

The current count is at least 50 dead, over 700 wounded, at least 22 of those in critical condition (a number that was higher last night, suggesting some have succumbed to their injuries). Anyone that has followed the terror attacks in Israel knows that "wounded" is a terrible term. It encompasses those who need a few stitches and a tetanus shot because they were grazed by shrapnel, and those who are permanently disfigured or disabled. Some of those 700 have lost limbs or eyes. Some of their faces will never look the same. Some will never again be able to work.
It Could Have Been Worse

Two unexploded devices were found.

"Secret Group of Al Qaeda's Jihad in Europe" Claims Responsibility

Ralphie posted yesterday about Dennis Prager bemoaning the lack of tension within Islam about what is clearly a problem in Islam. Did anyone think this might have been done by Lutherans? Buddhists? Dick Cheney's buddies in Halliburton?

I'm terrified that a lot of people still don't get the magnitude of the problem. There is an organized network of people who don't just believe that murdering civilians is good; they think it's holy. There going to keep doing it. They have no aircraft carriers or uniforms or flags. They and the countries from which they hail have invented no military technology, and instead use our own technology against us. They oppose most Western civil rights and freedoms, but use them to live among us and conceal their intentions. Can democracies persist if so many of their citizens are willfully blind of this enemy?

This Is Not A Crime; It's War

Ever since 9/11 I've been very worried about the tendency of some officials to treat radical Islam as a law-enforcement problem. It's not. It's a military problem. Though this is a war unlike any we have ever fought, and law-enforcement will play a vital role, we have to keep our thoughts and language clear about the fact that this is a war. This can not be fought with subpoenas and arrests and trials-by-jury, though all of these will be needed. This will be fought with aircraft carriers and special ops forces and helicopter gunships.

"There is real passion now in the police to make arrests quickly before further attacks can be carried out," said Charles Shoebridge, a security analyst and former counterterrorism intelligence officer.
I'm sure Mr. Shoebridge is a good man and on the right side, but his language will distract the common citizen from the nature of the battle ahead. These people shouldn't be arrested. They should be shot.

Extraordinary Bravery

Finally, all of the interviews I heard on the radio yesterday, especially of random British citizens, demonstrated incredible toughness and resolve under gut-wrenching circumstances.

"I was scared, but what can you do?" said Raj Varatharaj, 32, emerging from an Underground station. "This is the fastest way for me to get to work. You just have to carry on."

"As Brits, we'll carry on — it doesn't scare us at all," said tour guide Michael Cahill, 37. "Look, loads of people are walking down the streets. It's Great Britain — not called 'Great' for nothing."
You make us proud. We grieve with you. We will not forget this.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
London calling
Dennis Prager began his show this morning requesting everyone write a thank-you note to the Spanish embassy - thanks for rewarding and therefore encouraging terror by turning tail after you were hit. Would probably be most effective coming from Brits, of course.

He was also lamenting the lack of condemnation of Islamic terror in general by Muslim leaders. That there's so much outcry at the perceived mishandling of a Koran and nary a peep when a person is killed in the name of Islam. When the sentiment is reversed, he says, then we will have a chance at ending terror.

I'd say that the most this would do (referring to leaders of Muslim communities in the West) is make things better for Muslims in the West. Perhaps make people more willing to extend their own goodwill, or less inclined to profiling or something. But of course it won't happen with the leaders of the terrorist ideologies. That's like saying robbery will end when robbers stop robbing. It's just the essence of what they do.

What I'd rather hear is more condemnation of terrorism from non-Muslims in America. It's the moral inversion of the non-Muslim Left that sticks in my craw.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Supreme Solution
How can we avoid a "bloody" battle over supreme court nominees? Easy! Nominate a celebrity! Everybody loves celebrities! They're pretty! Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz are on the short list, but I'm gonna have to go with another gender: Tom Cruise!

"I know the history of the Supreme Court! There's no such thing as the Constitution! Antonin, Antonin, Antonin, Antonin, Antonin!"
Quote of the Day
From Jonah Goldberg:

"Very smart people have been trying really, really hard to make poverty history for a long time. Heck, they've been working very hard to make Africa just ever-so-slightly less hellish for a very long time. Debt relief is probably part of a potential solution, but without ending Africa's tendency to produce horrible, greedy dictatorships, debt relief is more akin to paying off a drug addict's credit cards."

“We Care!”
Monday, July 04, 2005
Independence Day Parade at Coronado
Kids at the parade

Just returned from the Coronado Island Independence Day Parade. Coronado Island has a very small-town feel - the "main square" has a church directory - and contains not one but two naval bases (well it might be one split into two "campuses"). We had a nice time there in general on the beach but the highlight was definitely this morning's parade.

The parade is quite a big to-do and the island basically shuts down for the morning. In other words, if you're planning to go next year, which you should, get there the night before to avoid the horrendous traffic. Everyone in the crowd - and it was some crowd - was into it. They were all wearing red, white and blue (I say "they" since I have to admit I was wearing an orange shirt. I'll try better next time.) I don't remember all the details of the parade, of course, but I'll give you some highlights.

Choppers! Get down!As you might imagine, the military presence was prominent, capped by two personnel transport helicopters that were so low the guys could have rapelled right down to the street. I found seeing the survivors of Pearl Harbor quite moving, for some reason. I mean, I don't know why I found that more moving than some of the other veterans represented. Anyway, all I'm saying is that it got a little dusty at the parade at that moment.

The Few. The Proud.Some of the marines were wearing black kerchiefs on their heads along with black masks (you can sorta see 'em near the middle if you look close at the photo). It was a little unsettling, especially considering they were holding AK-47s. My wife said that they looked like terrorists. Suddenly the marines stopped and did a little play-action: the regularly dressed marines apprehended and disarmed the terrorists. Oh, so that's what they had in mind. Good stuff. Of course, they then handed the weapons back to the "terrorists" and continued marching. Nevertheless...

This Bud's For YouThere were many, many other military entries, including a group representing the Mormon Battalion of 1846. The other two well-represented groups were the Shriners (my, there were a lot, and I mean, a lot of them) and Budweiser. They had the old-style wagon pulled by the Clydesdales and three, count 'em, three, 18-wheelers of Bud. Oh, and one PT Cruiser for Bud Light. My favorite armed group, however, was the Winchester Widows.

This description is not doing the scene justice, so I'll stop here and just tell you have to be go next year. Better make reservations now, really. And we should probably wake up at 6 the morning of the parade to put up a shade and set up some tables and chairs. It was like 3 hours long. Who's with me?

I'll leave you with this: My daughter was so inspired that she sang the five patriotic songs she knows all the way home to Los Angeles. The lyrics were a little off ("forever waves of grapes") but she nevertheless announced that she had decided on what she wants to be when she grows up: Maker-up of songs about America.
God Bless America
This Saturday, in honor of the Fourth of July, our Rabbi gave his sermon about the history of the prayer for our government – where and when it started and the various forms it has taken over the centuries. He gave a handout of various versions of the prayer that have appeared in American Orthodox prayer books. The prayer that is currently in the Orthodox prayer book is fairly inappropriate for contemporary use. It was written by Jews in the Ottoman Empire shortly after their expulsion from Spain and has a tone of servile fear of the government with a hidden subtext of actually wishing for the government’s fall! He encouraged us to borrow from the various prayers in the handout to create a prayer that would be appropriate for Jews living today in America. This is what ball-and-chain and I came up with and emailed to our Rabbi as a suggestion for insertion in our Saturday services.

If any of you have a prayer for our country that is recited weekly in your Church or Synagogue, we’d love it if you left it in the comments.

Have a very happy Fourth.

Our Father in Heaven, Your hand guided the establishment of the government of the United States of America. Small were its beginnings, but in the abundance of your blessings it has grown great. It shines forth onto the world and all the peoples with the luster of its laws of right and justice. The house of Israel has found within this country peace and a secure shelter in which to abide.

God, continue to bless this country and all of its inhabitants. Bless the President, and all the leaders of these United States. Protect and guard over her soldiers in every corner of the globe where they may be – in the air, on the sea and on land. Bless them with triumph and return them speedily to their homes in peace and in health.

Sunday, July 03, 2005
Laundry Love
Wednesday night my washing machine broke. For many people this would be a frustrating and distressing event. I, however, rejoiced! You see, when we purchased our home 11 years ago, we also purchased the appliances. Eleven years ago, the appliances were old. I have been waiting for years for this washing machine to break. The refrigerator broke, the dryer broke, but this washer has been going and going like the Energizer bunny. I have suffered through many ads on T.V. that promise untold delights from modern washing machines: front loading, shorter wash times, 16 pairs of jeans in a load, stackable units that provide tons more floor space. Being too frugal to purchase a new washer when the old one was working, until Wednesday, I could only dream.

I immediately stopped what I was doing, ordered Consumer Reports Online and started research. Glory be! The machines I had been drooling over were highly recommended by CR. I ordered them right away. They arrived on Friday. On Sunday, I spent the entire day doing laundry. My oldest daughter even helped. Let me list the ways in which these machines are terrific.
I could literally go on and on. I have been telling everyone who will listen all day.

The washer and dryer come with a CD (English, Spanish and French) that gives an overview of how to use the machines. The family on the CD seems so content, so clean, so committed to laundry. They all hang out together and joke in their giant laundry room, everyone helping out, everyone smiling. I truly believe that these machines will not only clean our clothes but change our lives in beautiful, magical ways.
Previous posts about housewifery:
Oh, the Magic!
Friday, July 01, 2005
Doing What I Can For Science
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Meanwhile, keep that guy out of Spain
Spain on gay marriage: ¡!
Stabbing at Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade
Ugh. I can't tell you how low this makes me feel. The perp is described as a "fervently Orthodox man." I was just talking this morning with my rabbi about the problem of Jewish religious extremism. I realize this is just one guy but still it makes me sick. I also realize that historically and presently that the extremists of other religions cause more of a problem in general, but still, sick. I thank God that no one was seriously injured and I pray for the quick and full recovery of the victims.

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