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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mystery woman


My cousin claims that this is our grandmother (father's mother) as a young woman, but I doubt it. If she was, she did a lot of living in the next ten years, which is when the photographic record picks her up, in a cardigan and wrinkles. She may not even be a relative.
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Let this be a lesson to you--always label your photographs.

I have no idea what this product is...

Do you take it internally or rub it on your stomach? I haven't a clue.

Whatever the answer is, I'll take a case to start.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Lots of people are wasting their time

Including big corporations.

Many people with more money than sense gladly waste $295 a month buying real estate that doesn't exist. What an opportunity for those of us who have bridges connecting strategic parts of New York City for sale!

You invent an avatar, a synthetic you that's younger, taller, thinner and better looking than you are and allow this non-existent creature to live a fantasy life. You buy it clothes. You send it on trips. You teach it to ski. To speak Urdu. The possibilities are endless. And pointless.

Corporate America has stampeded into Second Life. Companies--ranging from the NBA and Sun Microsystems to Nissan and Reuters--have set up their own elaborate islands. Coldwell Banker, for instance, has an in-world headquarters where they rent virtual houses. Some companies have been more imaginative in their approach.[]

IBM has a massive, in-world corporate headquarters which spreads over multiple islands. Fortune reported in January that 3,000 IBM employees had created avatars (including CEO Sam Palmisano) and that 300 of them were "routinely conducting company business" inside Second Life.

I hope corporations are not wasting their money and their employees' time, which we, the stockholders, are paying for, living lives that don't exist. At least the Brooklyn Bridge, even if I don't own it, does exist. You can drive a car over it, for instance. Try getting into your car and driving over a non-existent or virtual bridge. I will give $1,000 to anyone who actually does it. I will donate another $1,000 to anyone who manages to get his avatar to perform his job--let's say as a flagger for a construction company--while he himself stays home watching tv in his underwear and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

The Weekly Standard actually has a long article on this kind of tosh, the 21st century equivalent of a pet rock. I can't believe they would waste valuable space which they could dedicate to, I don't know, interviewing Fred Thompson.

I keep thinking of my bubbe, who would have called this narishkeit (stupidity). Or mishugas (craziness). Bubbe knew that real life was hard enough for a person; you don't need an imitation one.


Interesting stuff about the New School and the Clintons.

I'm reading Michael Barone's new book

it's called the Glorious Revolution.

I know nothing about English history between the two Queen Elizabeths, so it was all new to me. But I like to know what the main characters looked like.

Imagine my surprise and dismay when I went searching for illustrations. There weren't any.

The above is Charles II, the Merry Monarch. He had 14 illegitimate children, give or take a few. Does he or doesn't he look like a guy who knows how to woo the ladies? How about those dainty ankles?

His brother, who eventually succeeded him as James II, also no slouch.

When James' first wife died, he sent emissaries to scout for another wife with the right connections. He insisted on a beautiful women, although Charles advised him that you could get used to any face in a week.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Which of these models is more attractive?

The proper attitude toward the US

Katie Couric pisses Us off:

Katie Couric said that using "we" when referring to America makes her uncomfortable. That's stupid and I hate her. I love saying "we" when talking about America because it allows me to say lots of things that I could not say only about myself:

We are the richer and more powerful than all others.
We can destroy any country we feel like.
We landed on the moon, suckas!

America is freaking awesome. We collected the best people from all over the world into one country so we can totally rule at absolutely everything. Scientists have determined that America is by far the most awesome country they have discovered existing in the three spatial and one temporal dimensions. Who would not want to be associated with that? And it's not like rooting for some local football team, because we're all actually a part of it. That rules.

People from other countries should apologize to us for sucking so badly. Sometimes how much their countries suck interferes with our awesomeness, like Mexico. We want them to prostrate before us and say, "Oh glorious Americans, we are sorry for how much our country sucks and how it disturbs your unbelievable awesomeness."

And we can say, "That's okay. We know you're trying hard, and we will not raze your country... for now."

That's the proper order of things. It also reminds me of another pronoun I like to use: "They."

"They" is what I call all the terrorists, evil foreigners, and liberals.

Raising children properly

Uncle Doc, at the time a bachelor, didn't approve of the way my parents were raising me. My hair needed combing, my face was dirty, my toys should be put away, in general I made too much noise. At one point, he examined my head and chastised me for not washing behind my ears. I was five years old, and I still feel embarassed about it. Every time I wash my face I make sure to wash behind my ears.

Uncle Doc informed my parents in no uncertain terms that when he had children, a different regimen would be in place.

Well, he got married when I was six, and in due course had a family of his own, three fiends from hell who came to live at his house. Up and down the stairs they chased each other, screaming. One of them had taken a dictionary belonging to another. Uncle Doc alternately promised new dictionaries for everyone and yelled at them loudly to stop that meshugas. But he could have yelled twice as loud and they wouldn't have paid attention. They considered his protests background noise, like the radio.

Eventually, when his face was bright red with veins popping out of his forehead, they sensed he had started to mean business. He would threaten them with dire punishment, and they would start crying. This called for hugs and chewing gum all around. My aunt would go to bed with a migraine. Even I, a mere observer and a child myself, would have a headache.

But Uncle Doc and the girls seemed, if anything, refreshed by all this activity. A good time seemed to be had by all, except those of us with headaches.

Such was Uncle Doc's reasoned philosophy of raising children.

The girls actually grew up to be (relatively) sane, graduate from college, and stay out of jail. So Uncle Doc's child-rearing methods worked. And my aunt stopped having headaches and took up canasta.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My other blog

I am hosting another blog, featuring my photos of Wilmington.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A new kind of spam

This one does not come from Nigeria.

Dear business or corporate customer of Citizens Bank,

Citizens Bank Customer Service requests you to complete Money Manager GPS Online Form.

This procedure is obligatory for all Money Manager Global Processing Solutions™ (GPS) users.

Please click hyperlink below to access Money Manager GPS Online Form.

Please do not respond to this email.

I got a similar one purporting to be from Bank of America not long ago. I don't have an account with them (or with Citizens Bank, for that matter). They e-mailed me back that this is a new kind of swindle.

Another new wrinkle in man's never-ending quest to work harder at swindling people than you would at a real job is the phony bill from a magazine. Sometimes it is a magazine you subscribe to. We got a bill for something called Modern Optimism, sent to Mr Charm. The idea of him and optimism sharing the same universe is laughable to those who know him. Nice try, Publishers Billing Group, but no cigar.

Columbia University--bought and paid for

by Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis got their money's worth, and more.

Columbia University failed to report a list of foreign donors to the New York State Department of Education — including a $250,000 donation from an unidentified Saudi Arabian — more than five months after it was required to do so by law.

Under a state education law, universities must file to the state Education Department all gifts from foreign governments, persons, and legal entities no later than 30 days after the final day of the fiscal year of the institution.Columbia filed to the department on January 16, missing the deadline by 170 days. []

"Universities have a fundamental obligation to reveal foreign funding, especially of foreign area studies,"the editor of the Middle East Quarterly and author of "Ivory Towers on Sand," Martin Kramer, said.

On his Web site,, Mr. Kramer has accused Columbia of concealing funding of the Edward Said chair of Arab studies, which is occupied by Rashid Khalidi, director of Columbia's Middle East Institute and a harsh critic of Israel. Columbia has refused to disclose a list of donors to the chair.

"We all believe we are entitled to know whether a tobacco company has funded a particular academic research project on the health effects of smoking.For exactly the same reason, we are entitled to know whether Chinese or Saudi sources have funded American academic research on China or Saudi Arabia," he said.

What's a nice Jewish girl

doing in a place like this?

Everyone is greeting Madonna's love for Israel with derision. I disagree. I'll take the love wherever I find it.

“Tell me what I should do, Mr Peres, because I am in love with Israel,” pop star Madonna, who is visiting the Jewish state to attend a conference on Kabbalah, told President Shimon Peres on Saturday evening.

The pop star was seen entering Peres’ Jerusalem residence after the end of the Jewish New Year at sunset Saturday.

A survey of Hollywood lefties won't find any of them harboring good will toward Israel, I'll wager. Stars like Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, George Clooney, Janeane Garofolo--I bet they consider Israel an oppressor. Bad cess to all of them.

I will never attend or even rent one of their films. Too bad, because I liked Bull Durham and Oh Brother Where Art Thou. But the presence of these stars spoil them for me.

Why do workmen get these urges to wander?

A man came to replace the bathroom floor. He tore out the toilet, and removed the bathmat, wastebasket, etc, which he placed in the hall so I can trip over it. Then he made good his escape.

What is this wanderlust which afflicts workpersons such as plumbers, carpenters, etc? Have they all taken the same course: HI 101, Delay and avoidance of work: Methods and best practices, Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:00 p.m., 3 credits.

I speak from experience. I had a bathroom replaced once by a contractor named Ray. Ray and his minions came to my house on a bitterly cold March day and tore out the floor, walls, and ceiling of the bathroom. The cold air streamed in. For three weeks.

Then the electrician was delayed by another job; the plumber needed to shut down the heating system; the medicine cabinet which had been ordered was the wrong size. You would spend all day waiting for one of these bozos and they would turn up just as I was trying to cook dinner. Try doing that with the water shut off.

Then the little problems: our electricity supply was not all that it might have been. In fact, without major changes, the job couldn't go on at all. The water flooded the other bathroom, but the plumber was in South Jersey. The tile guy thought the tile was going to be awfully boring without some embellishment; and wouldn't we really, really like to have a heater in the ceiling fan?

And plaster dust. No working person in the home can do anything, including paint the walls, without loosing a mountain of plaster dust, which he and his buddies then track through the house. Is there another course, HI 102, Plaster dust: uses and misuses, Monday and Wednesday 1:30 p.m., 2 credits. Course prerequisite: grout through the ages.

Anyway, it got done, and it was only $2,000 over budget. We loved it. The agony forgotten, we had another bathroom replaced. Home improvement is like crack to me; I know it's not good for me, and it's expensive, but I've gotta have it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

You're making me nervous

This blogging thing has its pluses and minuses: One of the minuses is that I worry about the people who no longer comment, no longer even visit. Where are you? Matt, my first commentor?

Have I suddenly become boring, like Paul Krugman, or pointless, like Maureen Dowd? Or pretentious, like Keith Olbermann? Or all of the above? (Don't answer that.)

Where is my favorite librarian, whose pithy posts would make my day? What about the representative of that distinguished organization, the Elders of Zion? Too busy to drop by, eh Neil?

UAW guy, now that your union is out on strike, why don't you spend some leisure time on my blog? And mamacita, what went wrong? And jv, now that you're famous and winning prizes right and left, are you too big a snob to drop by an old friend's blog?

And what of Attila? Too busy raping, pillaging and looting to help out an old friend? What about my favorite lawman?

This linking is time-consuming. You know who you are.

A constructive suggestion

for Ahmadohwhatthehell (I hope he's dead before I learn to spell his name).

An open letter from a New Yorker to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

Dear Mahmoud,

I hear you're coming to the UN General Assembly, and had planned a visit to my 'hood.

But the NYPD, citing security concerns, apparently won't let you near Ground Zero. If I was training and arming the enemy in the war on terror, I'd expect some safety problems around the site of North America's largest ever terrorist massacre, too. Trust me, Mahmoud -- it's for your own good. You should see what some New Yorkers do to far less annoying attention whores than yourself.

Why not try the Holocaust Memorial Museum instead? You could hand out flyers for your next Holocaust denial conference. You know, reach out to the crossover crowd.

Bollinger makes a hero out of himself

Bollinger tells Ahmadwhatshisname off. Wow, what a hero! Now he can have it both ways. And it didn't cost him a thing.

I hope his Saudi handlers are satisfied.

Sunday at Brandywine Park



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New evidence--as if you needed it--

of global warming.

From morning coffee.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Jena six case evokes Selma

Oh, how Jesse Jackson longs for the good old days of Selma.

Chanting slogans from the civil rights era and waving signs, protesters from around the nation converged in central Louisiana, where the charges have made this otherwise anonymous town of 3,000 people a high-profile arena in the debate on racial bias in the judicial system.

“That’s not prosecution, that’s persecution,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the founder of the RainbowPUSH Coalition and an organizer of the demonstration, told a crowd in front of the LaSalle Parish Courthouse. “We will not stop marching until justice runs down like waters.”

It all reminds Jesse of the glory days of Selma, when there were people who took the old extortionist seriously, instead of considering him a first-class bore and a has-been. Jesse is in the outrage business, and he is enjoying his manufactured outrage on the streets of this little town. He fancies himself as the second coming of Martin Luther King, Jr, but the truth is he is more like a snake oil salesman. Al Sharpton is right beside him, doing his old, familiar number.

Has it ever occurred to these folk that we don't have to march in the streets for justice, like the persecuted monks in Myanmar? We have institutions that handle these things nowadays. They're called courts of law.

When I was a child I noticed a statue of justice atop a courthouse in Columbus. She was wearing a blindfold. I asked my mother what this meant, and she explained that justice is blind. Justice decides cases on their merits, without regard to extraneous factors such as skin color.

The travesty of justice that occurred in Durham should alert us all against pre-judging cases. Let the legal process take its course.

Al and Jesse? Your act is becoming very, very tired.

Dr Sanity scintillates...

as always.

If it were not for this carnival, I would have about seven readers. However, I'll take what I can get.

Thanks for the link.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I bet you didn't know this

The name Des Moines turns out to be an insult.

Here is, verbatim, the entry for "Des Moines" in the authoritative and academic "Native American Placenames of the United States":

From French Rivière des Moines, which could be interpreted as 'river of the monks' or 'river of the mills.' In fact, however, Moines is here an abbreviation used by the French for Moingouena (Eng. Moingwena), an Algonquian subgroup (Vogel 1983). The Native American term is /mooyiinkweena/, and it was a derogatory name applied to the Moingouenas by the Peorias, another subgroup. Its meaning, as an early French writer said is, 'visage plein d'ordure' -- or in plain English 'shit-face' (Costa 2000:45)

From the comments, an even more dismissive factoid:

Iowa was first the name given to the Indians who lived in that region, but as is often the case, the whites got the name from the next tribe up the line, who had an unflattering word for their neighbors. Not as bad as "shit-faces" in this case, but it meant "sleepy ones.

No wonder the Iowa caucuses make them bonkers. They're probably already seriously annoyed.

Yom Kippur report

Wilmington, DE. Your reporter has gone through another Yom Kippur service, and has a few remarks from the field.

The cantor was superb. Her voice was strong and pure, and her pronunciation--well, I don't know how Hebrew is supposed to be pronounced, but I followed her more or less successfully from the prayer book, something I find difficult when the rabbi is doing the leading. Of course, all I know of Hebrew is what I puzzled out for myself since my grandson's bar mitzvah, and one short course which never reached the end of the alphabet. I did not go to Hebrew school as a child, as I was too busy being trained to be a good little Communist.

I loved the melodies. Every cantor sings different ones, and hers were generally quite showy and theatrical, which I like. Some of the melodies were almost too jolly to be taken as supplications. I almost believe we should be called People of the Song; the music makes the service much pleasanter, and I like to sing, particularly with a whole bunch of other people so no-one has to listen to me. It was something like attending an--admittedly long--oratorio.

The rabbi's sermon was interesting. He started out strongly on the theme of L'dor Va Dor (meaning from generation to generation), a popular theme among Jews. It is continually surprising that we have survived some of the stuff we went through and are still here. What do you suppose became of the other ancient peoples? You never hear a peep out of the Sumerians, for instance. The Persians are still around, but that's about it.

Anyway, the rabbi started with L'Dor Va Dor. But somehow he got sidetracked to social justice and never got back to that topic. He touched upon the theme found in Isaiah, "Is this the fast that I have chosen?" in which God complains that Jews are paying lip service to piety, while kicking sand in the face of their neighbors and other bad stuff. The rabbi thought we should volunteer in day care centers and do our civic duty. He may have a point there.

The Yiskor (remembrance) service was deeply moving, as always, for those of us who have lost dear ones. I especially remember my mother, of course. But I also think of her two brothers, my uncles. And my grandparents, her parents. But most poignant of all, my cousin Sam. He was the youngest of three siblings, and he never got his act together. He was devoted to his parents, and though he had several degrees including a law degree, he was never launched. His mother died when he was in his mid-fifties, too late for him to make a new start. So he lived in a big house, all by himself, with several cats. He became increasingly isolated. He had been friends with my brother, but for some reason, which was never explained, stopped seeing him. He skipped my brother's son's bar mitzvah which was rather shocking when you realize how my family felt about family occasions. He lived alone and died alone.

We went to visit his grave the last time I was in Columbus. You may know that it is a custom among Jews that when one visits a grave, one leaves a stone in remembrance. His grave was a veritable rock pile. Many of the stones had messages, the gist of which was, "from your girl, always." So maybe Sam had someone, after all. I hope so.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Swimming through grass

In London.


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Yom Kippur thoughts

One of the Torah portions read on Rosh Hashonah deals with Hagar, Abraham's bondswoman, and their son, Ishmael.

After the birth of Isaac, Sarah demands that Abraham send the two of them away. So he gives Hagar some food and water and sends them out to the wilderness. They run out of water, and Hagar hides Ishmael behind a bush and goes away so she might not see her son die. It is very affecting to read about this mother's distress.

At the last minute, a well appears and Hagar is able to draw water and give it to the child, and he survives. Legend has it that he is the ancestor of the Arabs.

His descendants have been at our throats ever since then. Did God know what he was doing?

Sometimes I think it would have been easier if Ishmael had just, well, not survived.

It's an uncharitable thought. I guess I should repent for thinking this.

Just a thought for Yom Kippur.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Something new


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This is the labyrinth at the back of the sculpture garden at the Delaware Art Museum. There is no sign leading you to it, but it's easy to find if you know where to look.

It's immense. The top photo shows how it looks from outside, the other is the interior view. It consists of an immense pit, surrounded by a wall faced with large, irregular stones. It puts you in mind of one of the ruins you find in Rome. These pictures don't do it justice, it looks ancient and timeless. And very hushed. You have the illusion of being in some isolated rural spot, miles from anywhere.

There are a couple of rustic seats in the labyrinth, and I sat in one of them and savored the silence for a while.

How I spent my summer vacation


Sunset in Maui.
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Is Belgium going down the tubes?

And if so, who cares?

Murtha's problem

Geosciblog asks: "Where did John Murtha go wrong?"

Why is he so hellbent on retreat in the face of people that want to kill as many Americans as possible? While in essence agreeing that there will be a bloodbath if we rapidly retreat from Iraq (as he wants), he is playing the artful dodger in denying Congress' responsibility for that bloodbath, according to this Moonbattery post and CNS News. Yeah, it's going to happen, but it won't be our fault. Power vacuums don't happen randomly. Putting on the old Teflon gloves to keep the blood off your hands. And if we haven't served in the military, in his mind, we are not allowed to criticize him or support President Bush's efforts.

That's OK Jack. Those common Iraqis that have been helping us are just "little brown people". It didn't matter to you that there were mass graves filled by Saddam Hussein before 2003 and apparently it won't bother you that there will be mass graves filled by Iran and/or Al Qaida after we retreat.

I can't read Murtha's mind, but I have a few thought on the matter: could it be that Murtha is seeking to divert attention from his corruption and dishonesty by taking the high moral ground and seeking peace--aka surrender.

By espousing liberal causes, you can cleanse yourself of sin. (Don't try this at home. It only works for Democrats.) You take "unpopular" stands, which proves you are a paragon of "virtue" and possess "moral courage." In truth, these high-minded ideas cost the believer nothing but store up virtue in moonbat heaven.

Take Ted Kennedy: He left Rosemary Kopechne to die a horrible death in order to save himself. A payoff here, a bribe there, and he's almost home free. All that remains is to salvage his reputation. He does this by advocating for liberal causes. They would be costly and likely ineffective, but it's not his money, and it proves how compassionate he is. I actually had this conversation:

Me: Ted Kennedy is a sleaze--look what he did to that poor girl.
Liberal friend: Yes, that was wrong, but he's done so much good on social issues.

P.S> This will not work for Larry Craig.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Your tax dollars at work

This happened in Albany, NY, a city in which I have done some time.

Three drug cops go out in a remote area of Albany county to harvest marijuana. Two out of three have guns. None have handcuffs.

No one is suppose to be there but they find a guy in a shack on the property. Since they don’t have handcuffs, they tie him up with his bootlaces.

He breaks free and starts to run, they tackle him, his dog starts biting one of the cops. The cop that doesn’t have a gun takes one of the other cops guns and shoots the dog twice.

The bullets pass through the dog striking the cop that is being bitten.

They call for assistance but because it is remote and no one can find where they are it takes almost an hour for help to arrive.

I bet those cops were Democrats, because they are the only ones who can get jobs with the county or city of Albany.

When we bought a house in Albany, our property taxes tripled. The only way we could get them reduced was by calling our Dem committeeman. He was hard to reach, as he was always attending a funeral, wedding or wake. He finally got them reduced, however. This particular politician came to a bad end, as he embezzled money from some widows' and orphans' trust funds.

Our local ward heeler used to come calling before elections to tell us who to vote for.

The corruption was so bad we were all perversely proud of it. For instance, the dead could vote. Isn't that amazing? You don't often find dead people who are so civic minded.

Caesar Rodney, Delaware signer of the Declaration of Independence

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It's tough to take a bad picture at Longwood Gardens

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Art made of Scotch tape

This is one of the things you find when you waste time surfing the web.

How I write

Some people write and re-write their posts, I know. They search for the mot juste and are not content until they find it. I don't do that, and it shows.

When I was writing for publication, I agonized over every word. Not now. I just want to get something out there, so people will keep visiting my blog in hopes of finding something new.

My fellow bloggers, what is your MO? Do you revise and polish your prose, or just let it rip?

I try to make sure the spelling is okay. I am a librarian, after all.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I don't want to hear another word about O J Simpson, dammit!

Let's acknowledge first thing that the man is a thorough-going rotter, a real nogoodnik.

The details don't interest me! I was livid when I turned on Fox News yesterday and instead of mellow Brit and the bunch, reporters were standing around with microphones like something was happening--it was not!

I don't want to hear another word about the man, unless you can report that he has been dipped in honey and deposited in an ant heap. That's the only OJ news I care to hear.

Twentieth century books I really, really liked*

Here's a partial list:

Pictures from an Institution, by Randall Jarrell. A roman de clef which skewers a lot of well-known intellectuals, like Mary McCarthy. Most of them are gone also, but their foibles live on in this irreverent look at academic life.

Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis. Also about academic life and its pretensions. The hapless hero gets himself into all sorts of sticky situations, some of which are laugh-out-loud funny.

Anglo-Saxon Attitudes, by Angus Wilson. A dysfunctional family--the wife insists on inviting her husband's mistress to family celebrations--and a scholarly hoax both unravel, with unexpected consequences.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith. A sunshiny book, full of charm and great affection for Botswana and its citizens. Makes you want to book a trip there.

The Essence of the Thing, by Madeleine St. John. The story of a romantic break-up which devastates the heroine until her friends rescue her. Told largely in dialog, without a wrong or a wasted word.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald--the ultimate romantic story. A man with an obsession and some rich, idle, bored people collide in the Roaring Twenties.

Morte d'Urban, by J. F. Powers. A story about a worldly but likeable priest in 1950's Minnesota, and how his life's journey plays out. Every line is funny, every character well-observed and three-dimensional, but there are somber overtones.

*This doesn't mean that they were great, only that I enjoyed them.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

This is what happens when you read out-of-date magazines

In the March 2007 issue of Health magazine the following article appears:

California isn't waiting around for President Bush to do something about global warming. The state recently sued six U.S. and Japanese automakers, claiming carbon dioxide emissions from their vehicles are making global warming worse. The suit seeks cash compensation. It isn't likely to succeed, but maybe it'll shame car companies into developing eco-friendlier rides.

This is wrong and ignorant on so many levels I scarcely know where to begin. A few questions come immediately to mind, however:

If the suit isn't likely to succeed, why are they wasting the taxpayers' money on this? Or maybe they're not going to pay the lawyers? Or maybe they think blackmailing auto manufacturers gives them the moral high ground? Or maybe the inhabitants of the state of California have been inhaling too many exhaust fumes from buses and other forms of public transportation?

Or all of the above?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

An immigration policy to be emulated

Unfortunately, it's the Swiss who have the policy.

Switzerland has Europe's toughest naturalisation laws. Foreigners must live for 12 years in a Swiss community before they can apply, and being born in Switzerland brings no right to citizenship.

Under the current system, foreigners apply through their local town or village.

They appear before a citizenship committee and answer questions about their desire to be Swiss. After that, they must often be approved by the entire voting community, in a secret ballot, or a show of hands. This practice, the report says, is particularly likely to be distorted by racial discrimination.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hypocrite dies

Anita Roddick, anti-capitalist founder of the Body Shop:

[H]er philippics about the evils of global capitalism, profits and the world trading system sat rather oddly with her status as the leader of a highly profitable multinational corporation with nearly 2,000 outlets in 49 countries.

And what a bore she was.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A sweet new year to everyone

What I don't understand is why people say: Happy New Year to all my Jewish friends! Everyone should have a happy new year, not just Jews! Hey, here's a happy new year greeting for everyone, except possibly Osama bin Laden.

My father's will

My father's will is very much on his mind. On one occasion he took my brother and me out to dinner and handed us each a copy. We were to be executors.

A couple of days ago he informed me that I would be sole executor, because my brother, hotshot millionaire lawyer that he is, was too busy. So I read the damn thing.

My father has three children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Thirteen heirs, to be exact. Although he has sliced and diced his estate several different ways, essentially it would be a thirteen-way split. Then there's my stepmother, who gets his condo for as long as she lives.

The other thing he has is not much money. Not much divided by 13, subtract the condo, is very not much. So every one of his heirs and assigns would receive the price of a round-trip ticket from Newark NJ to Newark DE. Or maybe a little farther. Possibly they could make it to Maryland and back.

I just know that some day this is going to bite me in the butt. Money stuff always makes people crazy.

News you've never heard

Illegal digging at the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount is back in the news. Or rather isn’t back in the news. An on-going Wakf illegal excavation on the Temple Mount is being ignored by mainstream media, even though a few months ago, an Israeli fully supervised excavation outside the Temple Mount that caused no destruction created an international uproar.

Saving the planet

by eating garbage.

NEW YORK -- For lunch in her modest apartment, Madeline Nelson tossed a salad made with shaved carrots and lettuce she dug out of a Whole Foods dumpster. She flavored the dressing with miso powder she found in a trash bag on a curb in Chinatown. She baked bread made with yeast plucked from the garbage of a Middle Eastern grocery store.

Nelson is a former corporate executive who can afford to dine at four-star restaurants. But she prefers turning garbage into gourmet meals without spending a cent.

Why does this sanctimonious prattle make me so angry? I guess I was ahead of my time. When I was a small child--6 or 7--a friend and I took some perfectly good sandwiches out of the family garbage can and ate them. Instead of being hailed as a pioneer, I was put to bed early! There was no justice, back in the twentieth century.

And they didn't even make me sick--unlike this article, which has a high eeuw! factor.

Ht to classical values.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Nothing of any relevance"

The above is a quote from my 15-year-old niece, when I asked her what she was studying in school. It truly was a lame question, typical of inane questions by addled elderly relatives who want to express an interest in a young person but don't know what to say.

That being said, it is amazing how well her answer fits almost every question one is likely to encounter. I often find it springing into my mind.

"What did the committee decide?"
"Nothing of any relevance."
"Anything on the news?"
"Nothing of any relevance."
"What has Congress done lately?" You get the picture.

America attacked

How can anyone forget?

Monday, September 10, 2007

How to get more troops

According to reports I have read, Gen Petraeus believes we just don't have enough troops to keep up the good work in Iraq for very long.

Excuse me, there are 300 million Americans. We can't rustle up enough soldiers?

I believe we have two problems here.

1. Too few troops;

2. Too many illegal--no, make that undocumented (too harsh)--how about unexpected--aliens (aka citizens in training)

Let's put the two together and see what we come up with.

Suppose we station army recruiters at the borders with clipboards to sign up the new visitors. Those who want to serve could come in, the others not.

Teach our officers to say "attack" and "fire" in Spanish. Also, some cusswords.

The truth about immigration

...ideas so controversial they are banned in Canada.

It’s not just illegal immigration that’s out of control. It’s legal immigration across the Western world that’s dysfunctional. It doesn’t have to reach the level of criminality or terrorism to be unbearable.

When I go to McDonalds, I don't want my order to be met with a blank stare, even as I point exasperatingly at the menu board above your head to illustrate my selection.

And when I request "extra caesar dressing" for my salad, I don't want that interpreted as "no dressing at all, but lots of ketchup".


Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani recently said in an interview on FOX News’ O’Reilly Factor that he’d insist that every new immigrant be able to speak, read, and write English. In other words, if you don’t know how, then go home, order some Hooked On Phonics tapes, and try again later.

Australia has the right idea. Under their immigration policy, only those who fit with Western cultural ideals are allowed in--because living in cultural ghettos isn’t acceptable. No one in your new country is interested in sampling a microcosmic version of the hellhole you left. Meanwhile, in Canada, while the UK, for example, was the primary supplier of immigrants before 1986, it now doesn’t even rank in the top 10 – lagging behind suppliers like Pakistan, Iran, India and China.

According to a Citizenship and Immigration Canada report, “one in five very recent immigrants is Muslim”. Did we welcome a flood of immigrants from Germany when we were at war with Nazis during WWII? No, we didn’t. How about coming to an acceptable consensus on the meaning of the word “peace” first, and then getting back to us.

To which I can only add, "Amen."

Remember when models used to be gorgeous?

Some samples of ugly, unwearable clothes.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Non-Nigerian junk mail

I keep getting this message:

Good day. What are you up to? Email me at only. I am good looking girl. Mind me sending some of my pictures to you?
says the report, that I have been release Monday It is clear that

What it all means, knows God. Is this person being released from the loony bin? Or what? The sheer pointlessness of it gets me. Not even asking me to invest in your gold mine? I am insulted!

PS: I don't need any pictures of good looking girl. Or ugly girl. Thank you very much.

Student enrollment down, costs up

Obviously, the fewer students you have in a school district, the more money you need to spend.

At least, this is the conclusion likely to be drawn by residents of the Brandywine School District.

I just happened to pick up the local throwaway, which I never read because it smells. I don't mean it stinks. It actually smells, because the lousy paper they use is encapsulated in some sort of cellophane wrapper, and gives off a horrible whiff when the covering is removed. I generally throw it away unopened for this reason. But this headline captured my attention:

District Begins examining which schools to close

The article concludes that the school district has a capacity for 13,084 students and currently has an enrollment of 10,364. So, you might ask, why do they need more money? If you've ever had anything to do with local government, you know this is the wrong question to ask. Obviously platoons of administrators are needed to deal with this downturn in the student population.

Now as a former New Jersey resident, I consider Delaware taxes a mere pinprick, a tiny obstacle in the path of life. My total property tax levy is about $2,400 a year. If it goes up 20 percent, I hardly notice, after paying more than $9,000 a year in New Jersey. I just don't understand how they do the math. Shouldn't fewer students translate into less money? Fewer administrators?

I realize that school districts have already cut all the frills, like United States history or English literature, and are concentrating on teaching the students how to have self-esteem and honor cultural diversity. I know music and art have gone by the wayside, to the point where the average high school graduate does not know who Rembrandt was and considers Elton John a classical musician. I know that these know-nothing high school graduates are abandoning the study of engineering and biology, and majoring in communications or leadership, whatever these are. I know we are importing doctors and chemists from India--a third-world country--because our students can't master these skills. What I don't know is:

Why does it cost more every year?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

We'll soon have this to contend with

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Non-English speakers go to the front of the queue

So, if you need medical treatment in Britain, pretend you don't speak English:

IMMIGRANTS who can't speak English are being sent to the FRONT of NHS out-patient queues...while locals are left waiting in clinics for hours.

Patients who need interpreters are being given priority by hospital trusts—because bosses reckon it's cheaper than having costly translators hanging about.

It means that at busy times non-English speakers are instantly shunted to the front of the queue.

The war against pudge

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When I was 16 and graduated from high school, I was a bit of a pudge. See above.


A couple of years later, I went on my own version of a low carb diet. Results above.

I don't think I ate another carb for ten years. Then one day I had an ice cream cone. It was all over.

Much, much, much later--many pounds later-- I sent for Nutrisystem. Actually, I did it yesterday. The march toward sylphdom has begun.

The food sounds absolutely vile, by the way.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Democrats want us all to perform community service

Yes, indeed, a nice Utopian idea.

It just so happens that I am one of the world's leading experts on community service. "Community service," in New Jersey, meant that people convicted of minor offenses (generally drunk driving) had to serve a certain number of hours in some community agency in lieu of going to jail. We got a lot of them in the library.

The first, and best, community service guy I ever had was George, who had been convicted of drunken driving. George was the Pavarotti of handymen, who could fix anything around the library. I could understand why George drank. He was painfully shy. If anyone ever needed Dutch courage, it was George. He must have had a number of violations because we had him forever. He fixed the flooring in the office. He painted the bathrooms. I forget what else, but he was a pleasure to have around, and after a while he could actually look at us when we spoke to him. I think he got to like us. When we ran out of jobs for him to do, we tried to loan him to Borough Hall, and he hated it. When he had completed his community service, we had a little coffee and donuts party for him.

The next guy showed up for work drunk and passed out on our front lawn. He told his probation officer that he had been poisoned by the chemicals we put on the lawn. We didn't put chemicals on the lawn, we barely had enough money to pay the staff their starvation wages.

The next community server seemed okay, not great but okay. I found out later that he had spent much of his time sexually harassing the teenage girl pages in the mezzanine.

After him came Ahmed. Ahmed (this was before cell phones) kept receiving phone calls in the library. Apparently he was running some kind of business on our time, and people kept coming to the library to see him. He would take them in the back room to chat. Ahmed was kind of creepy, and I soon got rid of him so we could use our phones to conduct library business. His probation officer told me he had been convicted of forging passports and driver's licenses for illegals. Even in those days before 9/11, I didn't like it and didn't like him.

Next came a young college student who had been caught shoplifting. She came in and put our reference books in order and was heard no more of.

My friend in a neighboring library had better luck. All the teachers had gone out on an illegal strike, and the judge ordered them to work in her library. They did a great job of putting the books in order.

Most of the people who were ordered to perform community service thought it was a joke, but I was serious in trying to find work for them to do. With the exception of George, it was more trouble than it was worth to find something for them to do which needed doing and to get any work out of these lazy slackers.

So please excuse me if I don't get real excited about everyone performing community service. Unless they want to go and do it in a third world country, far, far from me.

The Republican debate

I watched the whole debate last night, and then read the transcript in the New York Times. So here are my impressions, for what they're worth:

1. Romney is impressive, but there is something a bit plastic about him. Particularly when he opens his eyes wide, he reminds me ever so faintly of Dudley Doright.

2. You have to hand it to McCain for knowing the score where the war is concerned.

3. Giuliani did okay, but not fantastic, in rationalizing his changing positions re immigration, gun control, etc. He's also sound on the war. He's at his best when he's being straightforward, not trying to "frame" his positions.

4. Mike Huckabee is very intelligent and made some good points. I think he is a good candidate for some future period unless he does something stupid.

5. I think Fred Thompson is going to flame out.

6. Can we forget about "family values," at least until we whup these Islamists? Also gay marriage? Gun control too. The president of the United States has little to do with these issues.

7. Brit Hume is the best dressed man in television, casual yet elegant. Could we elect him?

I love a snappy dresser.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Saving the planet

I found this risible. But it is apparently accurate:

In a feature about carbon offsetting in The Times (London), it was revealed that the leader of the UK Conservative Party, David Cameron, offsets his carbon emissions by effectively keeping brown people in a state of bondage. Whenever he takes a flight to some foreign destination, Cameron donates to a carbon-offsetting company that encourages people in the developing world to ditch modern methods of farming in favour of using their more eco-friendly manpower to plough the land. So Cameron can fly around the world with a guilt-free conscience on the basis that, thousands of miles away, Indian villagers, bent over double, are working by hand rather than using machines that emit carbon.

Welcome to the era of eco-enslavement.

The details of this carbon-offsetting scheme are disturbing. Cameron offsets his flights by donating to Climate Care. The latest wheeze of this carbon-offsetting company is to provide ‘treadle pumps’ to poor rural families in India so that they can get water on to their land without having to use polluting diesel power. Made from bamboo, plastic and steel, the treadle pumps work like ‘step machines in a gym’, according to some reports, where poor family members step on the pedals for hours in order to draw up groundwater which is used to irrigate farmland (1). These pumps were abolished in British prisons a century ago. It seems that what was considered an unacceptable form of punishment for British criminals in the past is looked upon as a positive eco-alternative to machinery for Indian peasants today.


And well-off Westerners - including Cameron, and Prince Charles, Land Rover and the Cooperative Bank, who are also clients of Climate Care - can purchase this saved carbon in order to continue living the high life without becoming consumed by eco-guilt. They effectively salve their moral consciences by paying poor people to live the harsh simple life on their behalf.

To show that muscle power is preferable to machine power, the Climate Care website features a cartoon illustration of smiling naked villagers pedalling on a treadle pump next to a small house that has an energy-efficient light bulb and a stove made from ‘local materials at minimal cost’. Climate Care points out that even children can use treadle pumps: ‘One person - man, woman or even child - can operate the pump by manipulating his/her body weight on two treadles and by holding a bamboo or wooden frame for support.’ (3)

Feeling guilty about your two-week break in Barbados, when you flew thousands of miles and lived it up with cocktails on sunlit beaches? Well, offset that guilt by sponsoring eco-friendly child labour in the developing world! Let an eight-year-old peasant pedal away your eco-remorse.

And this guy wants to be Prime Minister of Great Britain? He's the best the Conservatives can offer the voting public? I'd rather have Henry VIII. At least he had some entertainment value.

Oy, vey!

More family stuff

I have two brothers: one from the Ohio bunch, and another from California. Bro I is a religious fanatic and so is his wife. Bro II is a proud atheist with a wife who is not very religious but thinks Chanukah is fun.

Brother I and wife have managed to produce three atheists. His oldest son is an Arabist. The son of Brother II has just come back from Israel and is devoting his life to the Zionist cause, and has a tattoo that says "Forever" or "never again" or something of that nature on his arm. The daughter of II spent the summer in Israel. Since she's only 15, her religious and ethnic sympathies are not yet known.

Where did these two families go wrong?

Check out this new website

It was created by a blogger I've often read, Atlanta rofters, and features something that has long fascinated me, illustrations from old books.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The evidence


Two pairs of shoes which mysteriously don't fit, except in the shoe store.
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Monday, September 03, 2007

What the hell is it with shoes?

Or with my feet?

I go to a shoe store and buy a perfectly nice pair of shoes. I try them on. Walk around in them. They fit fine. Take them home.

A couple of days later, I decide to wear them. The shoes magically no longer fit. I cannot insert my feet in them without howls of pain.

What gives?

I'm a non-conformist

You Are 77% Non Conformist

You are a pretty serious non conformist. You live a life hardly anyone understands.
And while some may call you a freak, you're happy with who you are.

What are you?

The Chaser - Trojan Horse

The study of history can come in very handy.

Happy Labor Day, I think

I'm not sure how to celebrate Labor Day. Actually, it depresses me. Why?

1. Labor Day knocks Summer on the head and gives it only six weeks to live. If it weren't for Labor Day, Summer might last forever.
2. Jerry Lewis used to be on tv all day. Boy was that depressing.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

How to afford a new house

Some interesting information:

How much money has Uncle Sam spent on New Orleans and the Gulf region since Hurricane Katrina ripped the place apart?.... The grand total is $127 billion (including tax relief). That's right: a monstrous $127 billion....

Perhaps all this money should've been directly deposited in the bank accounts of the 300,000 people living in New Orleans. All divvied up, that $127 billion would come to $425,000 per person! After thanking Uncle Sam for their sudden windfall, residents could head to Southern California and buy homes that are now on sale thanks to the sub-prime mortgage crisis and bid up the sagging house prices in the state.

I don't think you'd get much for your money in Southern California. You could, however, get a decent house in Delaware.

In flyover country, you could probably buy two houses with the money.