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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Google Stock: After-Hours Plummet
This is ridiculous:

"The amount of shareholder wealth shed by Google during extended trading exceeds the current market value of General Motors."
Oscars from nowhere
Oscar noms are out. Seems a country called "Palestine" has a film nominated for best Foreign Language film.

Do-it-Yourself Ransom Notes
I just discovered something very odd and don't know nearly enough about software to understand it. Do these steps. Trust me. It's not harmful; it's just weird.

Open a blank Word document. Now come back here and click on the "comments" link. When the comment window opens, scroll down to the word verification picture (the letters with the crazy fonts you're supposed to decipher to prove you're not a robot). Right-click on the picture, and select "copy" from the menu. (If you're using a Mac, do whatever you do to copy a picture.) Now switch back to the Word document and choose "paste" (either as a keyboard shortcut, or from the "edit" menu, or by right-clicking…).

You pasted a picture into the Word document but it's a different verification word than the one you copy. Odd, no? Now without copying anything else choose paste again. And again. Amuse yourself all day.

No need to thank me.
Monday, January 30, 2006
Pimp Juice
Yes, Pimp Juice. I saw this charming beverage at a gas station in downtown L.A. Seems it was dreamed up by a singer named "Nelly."

Fine, so now pimps got juice. What I wanna know is, what will the 'ho's drink?
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Jews and Christians
Good stuff from Dennis Prager in the LA Times:

For Jews, it is axiomatic that people should be judged by their behavior, not their theology.

But guess what? That's exactly what most Jews do to evangelical and other Christians.

The same Jew who passionately and loudly protests Christians who judge people by their theology rather than by their deeds turns around and judges Christians by their theology, not by their deeds.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Democracy, Palestinian Style
What a great week for a cynic like me! The world is stunned and appalled by the Hamas victory at the ballot box. Here are some points that deserve note.

Europe with a united voice expressed dismay at the Hamas victory and insisted that Hamas end its call for the destruction of Israel. That's extraordinary. Just a year and a half ago Arafat was having every European leader hug him and demand that Israel show "restraint" in its self-defense.

Bush made a reasonable point when he said that we will not accept any ruling party that (1) calls for the destruction of our ally, Israel and (2) has an armed wing. The second part cracked me up, because it should go without saying. But of course, Fatah, the brain-child of Arafat has an armed wing too, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and we've been dealing with them all along. Can you imagine if the Democrats and the Republicans and the Greens and Peace & Freedom and the Libertarians all had "armed wings" composed of poorly trained goons who periodically fought it out in the streets? What sort of society runs itself like that? Answer: Arab society. In all other Arab countries, the leader of the strongest faction simply routed out the rest by force, killed all their supporters and established himself as the Supreme Leader.

In fact, those armed wings are fighting it out in the streets now, which makes sense. Why listen to the ballot box when each party has 5,000 armed men? Whoever loses will inevitably decide they want a "recount" at the dangerous end of their AK47.

Which brings me to the poorly trained armed goons. What kind of firearm training do these morons get? Which class starts with "Now remember, if you win the election, shoot off 50 rounds or so up in the air"? I've only taken a couple of handgun safety classes, and I can inform our less-knowledgeable readers with assurance that firing weapons into the air violates several very basic firearm safety rules (yes, even if you win an election). The other thing that makes me think that these guys are either incompetent or don't really have their hearts in the fight is that Fatah and Hamas goons will shoot at each other all day with a result of only 3 wounded. That's the kind of fighting that lost you the Six Day War, fellas.

Overall, I'm optimistic. Gaza seems ripe for a long overdue civil war without an Israeli soldier anywhere in sight.

Of course, some Americans and Europeans never learn and are already trying to figure out ways to allow negotiations with Hamas, but they're in the minority. Interestingly the peace-at-any-cost gang (including, I think, our State Dept) is still propping up Abbas and wants to continue dialogue with the PLO/Fatah even with Hamas in power. That's funny. For decades people complained that Arafat and the PLO were unrepentant terrorists with whom negotiations would be self-defeating. The peace-at-any-cost gang always answered "Yes, he may have a checkered past, but he is the only one who truly represents the Palestinian people." What's our excuse now for dealing with Abbas and Fatah? They're clearly not the representatives of the Palestinian people anymore. They're just the first terrorist organization to lose an election.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Many faces of Hillary -- none a winner
Ever since Hillary announced her run for the New York senate seat, the press has been hyping her as the de facto Democratic presidential nominee in 2008. For the same amount of time, I've relentlessly informed people that, not only will she never win the presidency; she'll never be nominated. She has the charisma of a cockroach, her politics appeal to few outside of New York and California, and her only true claim to the throne is her surname (donated to her by her philandering husband).

Anyhow, it looks like people are finally beginning to catch on to the myth of Hillary's viability. Or, at least Jonah Goldberg...

Many faces of Hillary -- none a winner

Whatever the reason, some liberals have had enough. "I will not support Hillary Clinton for president," wrote Molly Ivins, the voice of conventional thinking on the left. "Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone." The segment of Democrats who sanctified Cindy Sheehan can hardly countenance a presidential candidate who unapologetically voted for the war and positioned herself to the right of President Bush on foreign policy.

...and Molly Ivins...

The New Republic offers perhaps an even more devastating critique of Clinton for Democratic pragmatists: She can't win. Marisa Katz dismantled the myth that Clinton can appeal to "red state" voters because she won in upstate New York. Turns out former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. John Kerry each did better in upstate New York than she did. And Gore, a Southerner, couldn't even win his home state of Tennessee. Meanwhile, a recent Gallup poll showed that 51% of Americans won't even consider voting for Clinton.

...and the "New Republic" and 51% of Americans...
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Pi: The Video
Just about everybody has seen a rainbow. They are truly one of nature's most lovely natural phenomena. Now imagine a rainbow that occurs at night, lit by the moon rather than the sun. Such things exist, and they are called moonbows. They are very rare, of course, and very difficult to photograph. NASA has a picture here, but it required such a long exposure time that it appears as just another garden-variety rainbow.

I believe they are most often seen under a full moon at the base of waterfalls. Here is one at Cumberland Falls in Kentucky. They've also been spotted at certain falls in Yosemite National Park.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Politics Potpourri
I'm about as motivated to write a well considered post as I am to pour lemon juice on my paper cuts, but too much has happened recently to be silent. I'll throw all the recent events here, and you can discuss whatever floats your goat.

Supreme Court Upholds Assisted Suicide

Oregon has a law allowing doctors to assist in their patient's suicide. The US Supreme Court recently upheld it. I actually agree with the SCUS decision because I don't see anything in the Constitution prohibiting what Oregon is doing, and even murder is a state not a federal crime. I think Oregon's law is terrible, however. It is simply allowing murder for the mere reason that the victim consents. This is another step towards the religion of consent that I wrote about before. I'm happy to argue the evils of assisted suicide in the comments, and it certainly deserves its own post in which related terms like withdrawal of care and refusal of care are defined and explained. I do not believe there is ever a medical reason that a patient who is receiving optimal care including psychiatric care and aggressive pain control would ever want her life ended. The broader point is that as a Conservative, I believe in judicial restraint. I understand the difference between a terrible law and an unconstitutional one. I can watch Oregon do things that I think are wrong and understand that it is neither under my nor under the Supreme Court's jurisdiction to do anything about it. Liberals have no such modesty. Abortion must be a right in Utah, according to them, because they know better than the citizens of Utah.

Ford Does the Right Thing – Unions Mixing the Kool-Aid

Organized labor in the US has never been weaker and has nowhere to go but down. Ford just announced that in the next 6 years it will lay off over 30,000 jobs, (that's a quarter of its workforce) and close many plants. It had no choice. Its market share was circling the drain and it was hemorrhaging losses. This is obviously horrible in the short term for the workers but good in the long term for everybody. Businesses are realizing that in a global economy remaining uncompetitive by paying artificially inflated wages and benefits is no longer an option. Workers will have to realize that belonging to a union does not make them more valuable, just more expensive, and that the ultimate arbiter of their value isn't the greedy shareholder bogeyman, it's the customer. Union leaders will expand on the trends of the last few years and spend increasingly more on friendly (i.e. liberal) candidates as a desperate last gasp to prevent the marketplace from affecting them. They will fail.

Next Target in the Axis of Evil – Iran

We've been telling you that Iran's going to get smacked for a year now, and the rhetoric is really heating up recently. The relevant new development is that even Europe is talking tough. Germany refuses to rule out any options, a thinly veiled threat. France declares that a nuclear strike against terror-sponsoring states is an option. And of course, leading them and cajoling them is the US. Remember when we were told that the insane Bush-Chimp-Cowboy's maniacal unilateralism in Iraq will leave us isolated? When does that start?

Prediction: a massive multi-day multiple target assault on Iranian facilities by summer by US forces after the entire UN-diplomacy gambit is allowed to run its impotent course. This will be met by harsh rhetoric from Syria and of course from Iran, and a deafening silence from the gov'ts of Egypt and Saudi Arabia who will be too busy sweating and buying escape villas in Europe. What is less clear is whether this will help internal Iranian dissidents.
Friday, January 20, 2006
25 Years Ago Today
25 years ago today, the United States inaugurated Ronald Reagan its 40th President. Here are some excerpts from the address he delivered on the West Front of the Capitol that day.

From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else

We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we're in a time when there are no heroes, they just don't know where to look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a counter, and they're on both sides of that counter. There are entrepreneurs with faith in themselves and faith in an idea who create new jobs, new wealth and opportunity. They're individuals and families whose taxes support the government and whose voluntary gifts support church, charity, culture, art, and education. Their patriotism is quiet, but deep. Their values sustain our national life.

Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act. We will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing that if we do so we have the best chance of never having to use that strength. Above all, we must realize that no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have.
Read the whole speech here.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Three Cheers for Godby!
In the fall of 1985 I was a brand new freshman at UCLA. I remember clearly moving into the dorms and not knowing a soul. If you can believe this, I was a much bigger geeky introvert back then than I am now, so the prospect of getting to know the dozens of people on my dorm floor was daunting. The first week (was it the first day? I don’t remember now) I was sitting around in my dorm room wearing OP shorts and a Harvard T shirt which were both a few sizes too small when Godby strolled down the hall. “Wanna play some football?” he invited. I played horribly, of course, but that day a friendship was born that has lasted decades.

When Nomad suggested we open our Coffeehouse, naturally we made him a founding contributor, until 6 months later it became eminently clear that he had no intention of ever posting. What can I tell you about the mythical Godby that don’t already know from Nomad’s loving description of him 10 months ago? He is a man of very sophisticated tastes: He likes The Eagles (the rock band); he likes Star Trek; he likes beef and beer, frequently together. He is about as conservative as the rest of us Coffehousers but a lot more likeable.

Tomorrow is his birthday, so please raise a glass and join me in wishing Godby a happy day and a great year. Live long and prosper!
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Fulgurites are among the many amazing things created by nature.

They are bizarre tubular objects that occur where lightning strikes the ground. The intense heat in lightning fuses the earth and sand it touches. The resulting formation is often smooth and glassy on the interior, rough and gritty on the
exterior. Fulgurites can be several inches in diameter and several feet in length, with multiple branches.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Dead Body Guy
Snuff said.
Our Kids Speak
Quick Plug - Psychotoddler has started a group blog where folks can post cute things their kids say. If this sounds cute to you, visit. If it makes you gag, don't.
In Memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
By Ken Mehlman
Chairman, Republican National Committee

Today, we reflect upon the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and rededicate ourselves to fulfilling his Dream. In the courageous struggle for civil rights, we find the inspiration to grow more united as a Nation and stronger as a Party by welcoming Americans from every race and every background to our cause.

Under this President's leadership, we have made great strides towards fulfilling the promise of opportunity for every American. Thanks to the President's bold education reforms, we have narrowed the achievement gap between white and African American children. The homeownership rate among African Americans is near record highs, and African Americans are starting new businesses at a rate double the national average. And President Bush is leading the way in reforming Social Security and Medicare so that those who most rely on these programs have more choices and better benefits.

In this President's Administration and at the highest levels of our party, African Americans are leading the way. We are proud to be the party of Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Alphonso Jackson and Rod Paige. Leaders like Michael Steele from my native Maryland make me proud to be a Republican - and Michael is joined by a growing number of African American candidates and officeholders in our Republican family.

We have come a long way, but we are only part way along in this journey of progress and opportunity. Let me be clear. No matter how many elections Republicans win, no matter how many times we hold the White House, no matter how many seats in Congress, the party of Lincoln will not be whole again until more African Americans come back home.

Quoting scripture, Dr. King said "Let justice roll down like the waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." These words remind us that the principles of freedom and equal opportunity for which Dr. King heroically stood endure beyond the life of one man, and must be advanced not just on this day, but every day.


Ken Mehlman
Chairman, Republican National Committee
Friday, January 13, 2006
Jack Abramoff
I hope this guy goes to jail for a long time, and I hope that every crooked politician that was in on his schemes goes down too. The GOP has got to get its house in order and weed out the scumbags.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Starbucks Bomb Not So Much a Bomb
We've previously brought you a story about a bomb in a Starbucks in San Francisco. Well, it wasn't a bomb. It was an old flashlight.

Sorry about that. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
U.S. Threatens to discuss Iran Nuke Program at U.N.
Ooooooooh. Iran is shaking in its collective boots.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Kerckhoff on the market?
Irina is buying and selling us? What the heck is this?
The Secret to Longevity, Part II
You'll be happy to know that my oldest patient is still on our side of the grass. Her birthday is next week, and I realized when I wrote about her last year that I had just missed her birthday. She'll be 105 next week. She's about the same as last year.
Let Iran Go Nuclear?
James Robbins takes up and tears apart an idea circulating around the State Department that Iran with nukes would be a good thing, because it would (you should be sitting down at this point) stabilize the region!

Do we have a more dangerous department of government than State? Can't Condi fire some of these career Kumbaya singing globalists?
Monday, January 09, 2006
15 Cubans Who Got to Fla. Bridge Sent Home
Device Defused at San Francisco Starbucks

UPDATE: Never mind.
JIB Awards 2006: Best Series Entry
There is a category in the Jewish Blog awards called "Best Series." I guess a series is when you, like, blog on the same theme or story more than once. I hadn't heard of that before, but now that I have, I want to waste no time in starting a series so this fine blog can be nominated in more than one category next year. Here goes:

I've been blogging for 25 years. Sure, some things have changed. I started on a TI calculator modified to communicate with an old phone system - you know the kind, where you have to take the receiver and place it into a rubbery kind of... receiver holder. My entries back then had more numbers than they had letters, but they meant something just the same. Sometimes you could hold them upside-down and they'd spell "hello."

I graduated to a series of updated technology - Commodore 64, Atari 2600, Lisa, Apple, Apple II, Apple II-plus, Apple-IIe, Apple-IIc, Apple-IIb-R-NotIIb, C3PO, Mac, Quarter-Pounder, OS/2, iMac, Windows, etc. And I've built up quite a following.

But as I've grown from a young lad and become a family man and a businessman, I see now that I have less and less time for such pursuits. So it is now that I tell you, with a heavy heart, that I must face the realities of living in the U.S. in 2006.

I'm outsourcing all future blogging to India.

(continued in next installment)
Play that funky music, Jew boy
My kids and I have been rocking out to the Psychotoddler. "Play it again, Dad!" they squeal with delight.

Who'd have thought my daughters' first guitar solo would come during "Kol Ha'olam Kulo"?
NRT Followup from Joel Spitzer, Cessation Expert
I post these threads at this time of year, because so many attempt to quit around the beginning of the year, and I think it's important that they hear the other side of the nicotine replacement "therapy" story; the one they don't give you during the commercials. Here's one from last year:

Truth About Nicotine Gum, Patches and other Nicotine Replacement "Therapy"

We keep a link to Joel Spitzer's cold-turkey support and education website (free, no B.S., volunteer-driven) in our list of links on this site. Joel is a smoking cessation expert, who has been running highly successful clinics (roughly 50% of patients are still completely nicotine-free after 1 year) in and for the city of Chicago for about 30 years. Here is the link again:


If you're trying to quit, or thinking about it, consider looking at the information there. Here is Joel's commentary on the "New York Times" piece I just posted:

So what's the harm of just using nicotine for the rest of your life. After all, it is not totally clear if nicotine itself is a carcinogen, and so many medical professionals think that it is relatively harmless when compared to the well established dangers of smoking.

The real danger is an issue that most people asking this question are not taking into consideration. The products are keeping the users in a mild to moderate form of chronic withdrawal. These people are never getting free of nicotine and thus free of the demands that their bodies are going to put on them.

When I first met Jeanne who was talked about in this story it was at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in the city where I live. Jeanne, knowing that I was the person who ran the clinics for the city, came up to introduce herself to me and to tell me that she had been off smoking for 12 years. Jeanne was proud of that fact. She was not looking for help or advice at the time. My guess was that she didn't feel she needed it considering she was off smoking for 12 years.

Her next comment to me though is what triggered our longer term association. She told me that she has still struggles every day and still constantly thinks of smoking. This raised a flag to me. You see, whenever I meet a person who has been off anywhere close to Jeanne's time off, they will generally say that they hardly think of smoking anymore. Or sometimes, they will say that the still think about smoking, and when I pursue the conversation it turns out that they think about it once a month or once every six months, and that it is nothing major or difficult to contend with.

Jeanne's story was different though, she was clearly saying that she was still struggling daily and has been for the past 12 years.

This is when I asked Jeanne how she quit and when she told me that she had used nicotine gum. When I asked her how long she used the gum she said that she was still using it. I think I let out a little laugh and proceeded to ask her if she ever tried to get off the gum. To that she responded that she had at one time tried to get off the gum by using the patch. That one elicited a bigger laugh from me.

Actually, when Jeanne first quit she used the gum as prescribed and pulled off the quit and got off the gum. I talk about this kind of person in the post Is cold turkey the only way to quit? She was off for a number of months, but one day under stress felt that she needed something and took a piece of her left over gum to help her through the moment. That piece of gum is what resulted in a 12 year, $15,000 addiction that kept her in a constant state of relative discomfort.

So is long-term use of NRT going to have the potential of killing a specific individual? No one knows the answer to this for sure at this point in time. But long-term use of NRT is going to have the full potential of making a person suffer years or decades longer and spend a small fortune compared to any person who simply makes and stick to the commitment to never take another puff!


Disclaimer: I ain't a doctor, and neither is Joel. Don't let that stop you from quitting smoking. Joel's forgotten more about smoking cessation than most doctors ever learn. :)
Nicotine Replacement "Therapy" - Gums, Patches and Lollipops
I'm going to go ahead and post this whole article, because it's a couple of years old, and the information is important. Here's the link to the original New York (choke when you say their name) Times:


May 2, 2004
SUNDAY MONEY: HEALTH CARE; A Quitter's Dilemma: Hooked on the Cure
FOR years it was the same routine: wake up, light a cigarette, inhale deeply and start the day. ''I wouldn't even get out of bed without a cigarette,'' said John Palagonia, 53, of Massapequa, N.Y., who was a two-pack-a-day smoker for more than 20 years.

In 1989, Mr. Palagonia, who entertains at children's parties dressed as characters like Barney and Elmo, decided to quit. He turned to Nicorette gum to curb the cravings for a cigarette. The smoke savored between sips of his morning coffee was replaced with a peppery square. On breaks at work, driving his car, after dinner -- all the times he had luxuriated in smoke -- he would pop another piece.

''I got to the point that I was having problems with my teeth, and my jaw was killing me,'' Mr. Palagonia said. He eventually returned to smoking for a short time ''to get off the gum.'' What ended up working for him was counseling, not a hit of nicotine.

A third of the nation's nearly 50 million smokers attempt to quit each year, according to the American Cancer Society, and that has made smoking-cessation products an $800 million business in the United States alone. The products include gum and patches sold over the counter; pills, inhalers and nasal sprays sold by prescription; and even more exotic products like nicotine-infused lollipops sold on the Internet.

Still, addiction to nicotine remains. The medical field has accepted that fact since the mid-80's, when the Food and Drug Administration approved, by prescription, products like gum to give would-be quitters a substitute comparable to cigarettes in price and nicotine content, but without other cigarette toxins.

Now some scientists and former smokers are voicing misgivings. No one disputes that cigarettes, which are laced with toxic additives like ammonia, pose far graver health risks than nicotine alone, but nicotine is also classified as a poison, and in recent studies it has been shown to break down into a substance that causes abnormal cell growth. In 2001, researchers at Stanford University found that nicotine speeds the growth of malignant tumors by stimulating the formation of the blood vessels that feed them, a process called angiogenesis.

Dr. John Cooke, the lead author of the Stanford study, said, ''As long as people are using nicotine replacements properly, it's a win for all of us, if we can get people to stop smoking. But, I would urge people not to use it long term.''

For people addicted to nicotine, using the replacement products properly can be difficult. A study financed by GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures Nicorette and other stop-smoking products, found last November that more than a third of nicotine gum users continued chewing beyond the 12 weeks recommended under F.D.A. guidelines.

''We estimate 36.6 percent of current gum users are engaged in persistent use,'' said Dr. Saul Shiffman, a company consultant and the study's primary author. Though the company says on its Web site that nicotine ''may promote lung cancer,'' it insists its products are safe ''when used as directed.''

Even the companies that make nicotine-replacement products acknowledge problems with treating this particular addiction. Dr. Kenneth Strahs, GlaxoSmithKline's vice president for research and development in smoking control, said, ''I wish we could tell you that if you took one piece of our gum it would be enough, but that's not the case. Nicotine addiction is a chronic relapsing condition.''

When the F.D.A. approved over-the-counter sales of Nicorette gum and the NicoDerm CQ patch in 1996, sales of the two products soared. GlaxoSmithKline reported $578 million in global sales of over-the-counter nicotine replacements during 2003, down from $606 million the year before as other companies jockeyed for market position.

How effective these products really are remains a debate. Some ex-smokers and smoking-cessation experts oppose using nicotine at all when trying to quit. ''It's like the difference between snorting cocaine and freebasing it,'' said Mr. Palagonia. He has neither smoked nor chewed nicotine gum for a decade now after years of meetings at Nicotine Anonymous, a 12-step program.

''The trick with getting off cigarettes is to stop delivering the drug,'' said Joel Spitzer, a smoking-cessation counselor and director of education at WhyQuit.com, an online support and education site that advocates quitting nicotine cold turkey.

Mr. Spitzer, who estimates he has counseled 5,000 individuals in stop-smoking clinics he has run in Chicago, says nicotine replacements keep ex-smokers in a protracted state of withdrawal.

Denise Henrie, a mother of four from Owasso, Okla., is familiar with that. Ms. Henrie, 43, tried and failed twice to quit smoking, using nicotine gum for more than a year. ''You feel a little hopeless,'' said Ms. Henrie, adding, ''I just don't want to be addicted to anything at all.'' She has slipped back to her pack-and-a-half-a-day habit, but she remains optimistic. A package of Nicorette sits in her kitchen pantry for a third try.

According to the American Cancer Society, fewer than 5 percent of smokers who attempt to quit each year succeed. Of those who do, the society reported last year, 91 percent quit cold turkey.

Some people succeed only after a long struggle. Jeanne Hutchinson, 59, began chewing nicotine gum in 1984, the first year it was available by prescription. ''One of the happiest days of my life was when nicotine gum was allowed to be sold over the counter,'' said Ms. Hutchinson, a social worker in Chicago.

But, years later, she was still hooked on the gum. ''I felt almost like a drug addict,'' said Ms. Hutchinson, who estimates the 12 pieces she chewed each day cost her more than $15,000 over the years, without curing her habit. Suffering from a receding gum line and worn molars, she joined WhyQuit last January and managed to stop using nicotine.

STILL, when she reached into her coat pocket a few months ago and found a long-forgotten piece of gum, it took all her willpower not to pop it into her mouth.

That may be why analysts say that demand for nicotine-replacement therapies is unlikely to wither anytime soon. ''We see it as a market with tremendous potential, but efficacy-starved,'' said Devesh Gandhi, a research associate at Sanford C. Bernstein, adding that the market -- for ''a product that really works, that manages both the addiction and the side effects of the withdrawal'' -- is there for the taking.
Spare me your piety
I am sick of hearing people say that Sharon's stroke was a reaction from God. Seems like more and more people today are God's prophets. The latest is no better.

I am speaking of course about Bill Clinton.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Sunday In Paradise
There is a disease called seasonal affective disorder in which the limited daylight hours in northern latitudes causes depression. Is there an opposite syndrome in which gorgeous weather makes one unable to be sad or anxious? If so, I have it. Apparently the western world is doomed, Ariel Sharon is gravely ill, and monogamous marriage is circling the drain. But it’s difficult to work up too much anxiety when I wake up to this sunny symbol of manufactured happy endings. (Click for the full size pic.)

The People's Republic of Hollywood
From Baghdad to L.A.
Our congregation had a bit of a treat yesterday. Honored with an aufruf was the soon-to-be grandson-in-law of a longtime member. This particular chatan (bridegroom) served ten months in Iraq, during which he had the privilege of celebrating Chanukah - and lighting a chanukiah (eight-branched chanukah candleabra) in Saddam Hussein's presidential palace. According to this op-ed, his grandfather was once in one of Saddam's prisons as well. Wild stuff.

When he was called to the Torah, he not only recited the blessings, but read the Torah himself (with the proper cantillation, of course). When he was done and a shower of Sunkist candies rained forth upon him, he didn't even flinch. I have a feeling he's been under heavier fire than that (although what he was doing in Iraq exactly is a bit unclear to me).

I had a chance to speak with him and thank him for his service. He was very self-effacing and gracious. He said not to believe the news reports. It's tough over there, he said, but what's happening is really a miracle.

I think I might have a bit of a man-crush on him.
Friday, January 06, 2006
Am I too sensitive?
In an otherwise innoucuous article about prayers for healing in Jewish houses of worship, Jack Wertheimer (provost and professor of American Jewish History at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan) takes a gratuitous swipe at Orthodox Jewry:

Each of the religious movements of American Judaism makes different arrangements for the recitation of the mi sheberakh [prayer for healing]. Orthodox synagogues, which pride themselves on never changing, have instituted new practices to accommodate large numbers of men who line up to utter the name of the sick person to a responsible synagogue official for public announcement.
Did he need to throw in the snide, and untrue, clause about "prid[ing] themselves on never changing"? Almost a caricature of what non-Orthodox Jews think of Orthodoxy, and their reaction to it.

Or am I being too sensitive?
Do you feel fine?
If you read one article this week about The End of the [Western] World as We Know It, make sure it's this one.

Some choice excerpts:

The design flaw of the secular social-democratic state is that it requires a religious-society birthrate to sustain it.

Needless to say, there is no campaign of Islamophobic hate crimes. If anything, the West is awash in an epidemic of self-hate crimes. A commenter on Tim Blair's Web site in Australia summed it up in a note-perfect parody of a Guardian headline: "Muslim Community Leaders Warn of Backlash from Tomorrow Morning's Terrorist Attack." Those community leaders have the measure of us.

That's the wonderful thing about multiculturalism: You can choose which side of the war you want to fight on. When the draft card arrives, just tick "home team" or "enemy," according to taste. The Canadian prime minister is a typical late-stage Western politician: He could have said, well, these are contemptible people and I know many of us are disgusted at the idea of our tax dollars being used to provide health care for a man whose Canadian citizenship is no more than a flag of convenience, but unfortunately that's the law and, while we can try to tighten it, it looks like this lowlife's got away with it. Instead, his reflex instinct was to proclaim this as a wholehearted demonstration of the virtues of the multicultural state. Like many enlightened Western leaders, the Canadian prime minister will be congratulating himself on his boundless tolerance even as the forces of intolerance consume him.

If one wanted to allocate blame, one could argue that it's a product of the U.S. military presence, the American security guarantee that liberated European budgets: instead of having to spend money on guns, they could concentrate on butter, and buttering up the voters. If Washington's problem with Europe is that these are not serious allies, well, whose fault is that? Who, in the years after the Second World War, created NATO as a postmodern military alliance? The "free world," as the Americans called it, was a free ride for everyone else.

This ought to be the left's issue. I'm a conservative--I'm not entirely on board with the Islamist program when it comes to beheading sodomites and so on, but I agree Britney Spears dresses like a slut: I'm with Mullah Omar on that one. Why then, if your big thing is feminism or abortion or gay marriage, are you so certain that the cult of tolerance will prevail once the biggest demographic in your society is cheerfully intolerant? Who, after all, are going to be the first victims of the West's collapsed birthrates?
Break out the multiple wedding invitations
'Cause here comes Polygamy!
Letterman "rips" O'Reilly
Perhaps you've heard about David Letterman's takedown of Bill O'Reilly on the former's show recently? Here's a transcript.

Now, I have no special love nor hate for O'Reilly. I have never seen his show. I have listened to his radio show before, but never for more than a few minutes at a time.

But I love Letterman. I don't watch show anymore, since I'm hopefully asleep when it comes on (11:30 pacific) and I'd have no time to watch a tape if I recorded it. But I pretty much grew up watching him. Came of age. Whatever you like.

But this whole thing is asnine. I think he proved himself woefully uninformed, unskilled in a debate of substance, and downright nasty. Although I do love Christmas, I'm not really perturbed by the "Happy Holidays" stuff, and it's fine for Letterman to say he doesn't think it's a big deal. But the Iraq, and especially Cindy Sheehan comments, were just plain dumb. Then he calls O'Reilly a liar but can't give any examples. he even says he's never watched O'Reilly's show, but just "Because of things that I've read, things that I know." That's just lame.

And he takes the time to point out that O'Reilly does not "represent an objective viewpoint." Dave, Bill is a commentator, not a reporter. His role is explicitly subjective.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Blonde joke
I realize that I must now admit that I am no longer on the cutting edge of humor, but I don't find this Blonde Joke funny at all.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Israeli Prime Minister Critically Ill after Massive Stroke
Four doctors at Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem are fighting to save the life of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after he suffered a massive stroke late Wednesday, which caused extensive cerebral hemorrhaging.

As of 4 a.m., more than four hours after it began, the surgery at Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem was still in progress. The main part of the operation, in which the blood is drained from the brain, has ended.

A short while after 1 a.m., Sharon's personal physician, Dr. Shlomo Segev told reporters, "The prime minister is in surgery; the surgery is going as planned. We need to be patient. I have nothing else to add."
Though obviously I have no inside information, judging by the media reports, his condition seems quite grave.

Since Sharon is not conscious after suffering from what doctors termed "a serious stroke," his powers and prerogatives were transferred to his deputy, Finance Minister Ehud Olmert.
In the next few days there will be much political intrigue and speculation and maneuvering as the future of the Prime Minister, his new Kadima party and the government hang in the balance. But now is not the time for that. I firmly believe that politics stop at hospital doors. Now is the time to pray for Sharon's life and recovery.
HonestReporting.com's Dishonest Reporter 'Award' 2005
More media bias fun!

Hat tip: Seraphic Secret
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
A Public Service Message from Glock and the Second Amendment
ball-and-chain and I are constantly trying to be good-will emissaries from the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy to the mushy feel-good liberal swamp that is Los Angeles. For example, we frequently step out of our political closet to gently challenge a false liberal mantra that a friend may utter without a second thought (“Things in Iraq just keep getting worse and worse.”) or we might jump to attention, salute, and tear up at the passing mention of President Reagan. These small gestures serve to remind Los Angelinos that conservatives are thoughtful humans too.

It was in that spirit that I recently invited Wanderer to an afternoon at the range. Actually it wasn’t in that spirit; it was just for fun. (Wanderer posted about the outing too, but with such a different spin you have to wonder about his memory.) He’d never fired a handgun before, so we first went over some basic gun safety rules at my house. (Never clean your gun with your nose. Never clean your nose with your gun.) Then we went to the range and each fired a Glock 9 mm pistol 100 times, thereby hurtling supersonic projectiles at pieces of paper various distances from us. Wanderer did very well.

Wanderer takes aim.

Freeze!  I’m a cardiologist, and I gotta gun!

I take my turn.

Come out with your insurance card in your hand and your patient gown open in the back and no one gets hurt!

I was happy that my previous trips had resulted in small incremental improvements in my accuracy. I can hit a silhouette at 50 feet very reliably now. Here’s a group of 20 rounds at 21 feet. Not great, but passable for someone who a year ago never fired a 9 mm.

It's dead, Jim.

After the last magazine was emptied we packed up and drove into the sunset, satisfied with the certainty that another American is on his way to appreciating our constitutional right to bear polymer frame semiautomatic handguns with no exposed hammers or external safeties. Or something like that.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Palestinian Civil War Watch
Now that were a Jewish and Israeli blog, we should probably redirect our attention to Gaza, which I don't think we've written about since Israel got the %#$* out of there. You may be wondering how the happy Gazans are doing with their newly acquired autonomy from the oppressive Zionist occupation.

Here's an eye catching story:

Palestinian gunmen blow up U.N. club in Gaza City

First of all, just the headline cracked me up! Whom do I root for when Palestinians go after U.N. facilities? It's the archetypical win-win situation. Let's read.

GAZA (Reuters) - Masked gunmen stormed into a club for United Nations workers in Gaza City on Sunday and blew up the drinking hall in a new sign of spiraling unrest ahead of a Palestinian election.

It was the first such attack in Gaza on a U.N. target and came against a backdrop of growing unease among foreigners. Just over one day earlier, a group freed three British hostages that had been seized to demand foreign pressure on Israel.
Hang on. Demand foreign pressure on Israel to do what? They're already out of Gaza? You want them out of Tel Aviv? You want them to blow up U.N. clubs for you? You want France to pressure Israel to kidnap British aid workers?

The bombing was another big blow for President Mahmoud Abbas, just hours after he had vowed to impose order ahead of a January 25 election and as militants announced the expiry of a de facto truce with Israel that they had followed at his behest.
It's good to announce when the truce ends because rockets have been flying out of Gaza all along, so it's hard to tell any other way.

Gunmen burst into the U.N. club, one of the few places that alcohol is served in conservative Muslim Gaza. It had been closed for the day. The attackers tied up the security guard and struck him with gun butts.

Then they set explosives in front of the bar, unrolled a detonator cable and blew up the charges, ripping up the roof and shattering the windows.
I realize it's immature, but that just gives me the giggles.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Well, I didn't do it.

The United Nations is generally viewed with sympathy Gaza. Its agency supporting Palestinian refugees and their descendants, more than half of Gaza's 1.4 million population, is the second biggest employer after the Palestinian Authority.
Yikes! That sentence buried in the middle of the article tells you everything you need to know about Gaza's economy. The number one employer is the PA, a thoroughly corrupt quasi-government. The second largest employer is … ha, aha teeheehee… THE UN!!!! Bwaahaaahaaaahaaaa!!!! That's not an economy. That's a gigantic socialist cluster-f@#%.

"These events ... harm our international credibility and strengthen Israel's pretext to undermine peace and stop withdrawals," Abbas said in a New Year broadcast.
Gee, ya think?

Chaos has been increasing in the Gaza Strip since the departure of Israeli troops in September after 38 years of occupation intensified a power struggle among militant factions, gangs and security forces.

Gaza is widely seen as a testing ground for statehood.
A testing ground? You guys get a D minus.

I have to believe that the average Gazan has very little control over the lousy economy he finds himself in, and has very little representation in any of the various groups that are currently shooting it out for control. I also believe that he has been thoroughly brainwashed by a generation of state-controlled media to believe that his misery is largely the fault of evil Zionists. This average Gazan will now find himself in the crossfire of a civil war which has no chance of improving his lot, and the U.N. to which he looks for a job merely serves to prop up a corrupt authoritarian bureaucracy.

The only positive outcome is that Israeli soldiers aren't being killed. Yet.

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