31 August 2012

The Council Has Spoken!

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

30 August 2012

Point - counterpoint

Daniel Blatt aka Gay Patriot asks Why do some Americans who favor “smaller government with fewer services” continue to back Democrats?

Dave Schuler of The Glittering Eye tells Why We Must Change, but on the way does a pretty good job of explaining why there isn’t much chance that, regardless of who is elected in November and regardless of intentions, we will shrink the size of the federal government appreciably.

So I guess Daniel's question is answered: no one seriously believes that a change in the governing party will really cut down the size of the pork barrel.

So there.

29 August 2012

Rachel Corrie contributed to her own (regrettable) death: the judge says so

From the Tablet, and an extremely useful counterweight to the inevitable Guardian whitewash, although, of course, because the article attempts to be balanced, it will, regrettably, be dismissed by many as irredeemably pro-Israel and therefore of little worth.

However, there is this fascinating paragraph from The Tablet on this issue: "Despite the warning by her own country’s state department against travel to Gaza, Rachel Corrie went anyway, entered a closed military zone where the IDF had been attacked hours before, and evaded prior efforts by the Israeli army to move her and other activists from the area. Judge Oded Gershon said as much in his 62-page decision: Corrie had put herself in danger. He also did not see evidence that proved Corrie had been in the line of sight of the driver of the bulldozer that struck her.*"

In British legal terms (thank you, better half), this is known as "contributory negligence" and often results in (in civil cases for damages) reduced damages or even the dismissal of a case.

Just what happened here.

Of course, both the Israeli legal system and the whole of Israel (not just the IDF) is in a no-win situation here: had the Corrie family won, both the bulldozer driver and the whole of the IDF/Israeli society would have been condemned as mindless brutes who care nothing for anyone who isn't an Israeli (or, in the worst cases, Jewish). In the actual situation, no doubt the whole Israeli legal system will be dismissed as biased in favour of the same group.

No-one in the (broadly defined) BDS camp will bother to remind us that the self-same Israeli legal system has sent numerous Israeli soldiers, border policemen and even civilians to prison for carrying out unlawful acts of violence against non-Israelis. Of course not, the truth would terminally undermine their case.

While I'm here, there is this further paragraph from this article that I thinks sums up the whole issue for those of us who believe in Israel's right to exist in peace and security (wherever we are on the conventional political spectrum): "Meanwhile, the Israel that traded 1,000 prisoners for Shalit’s life is the same Israel that still lamented Corrie’s death even while deciding that it was not at fault. It is also the same Israel that, while extremely flawed, investigated the circumstances of Corrie’s death and carried out a long and painful trial that less moral countries wouldn’t have bothered with."

By the way, today's Times (of London) reports that gorgeous George Galloway has accepted a tainted fee from a pro-Assad tv station. You'll have to take my word for it (given that The Times is behind an on-line pay-wall) and I am relying on a brief glimpse of the paper while my wife showed me the article - she's still out and has the paper.

By Brian Goldfarb.

(*) By the editor: not only there was no evidence that proved Corrie had been in the line of sight of the driver of the bulldozer, "four expertsincluding an expert on the behalf of the Corrie family — concluded that the bulldozer driver could not see Corrie."

28 August 2012

Simply Che

Number 15:

Where the ultimate insults are concerned, that one should be the ultimatest...

27 August 2012

Al Qaeda recruiting via the Internet - and I know why

It looks like the best and bravest of the ultra-Islamist outfit have some HR trouble brewing, as the TOI noticed:

Apparently low on bombers, al-Qaeda is running a (short-term) employment advertisement on its Shumukh al-Islam Internet forum. Under the heading “Area of activity: The planet Earth,” the ad seeks jihadists to carry out suicide attacks.

Applicants must be Muslim, mentally mature, dedicated, able to listen, and utterly committed to completing their mission, the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Tuesday.
From what I hear, 3500 eager candidates have already answered the ad, however compared to the total number of Muslims in the world, it is a drop in the ocean. And the reason for the numbers being that low is not in the inner controversy between the offered job and the requirement of mental maturity, although the two is difficult to reconcile. The real problem is that demand that the candidates be "utterly committed to completing their mission", which is no more than a thinly veiled hint at the undefined period of excruciating anal discomfort:
A 2010 Arabic news video that is making the rounds on the Internet gives the details. Apparently a cleric, one Abu al-Dema al-Qasab, informed jihadis of an "innovative and unprecedented way to execute martyrdom operations: place explosive capsules in your anus. However, to undertake this jihadi approach you must agree to be sodomized for a while to widen your anus so it can hold the explosives."
Even assuming that one is a penniless seventh son of a seventh son, unable to get an education and/or to come up with a necessary number of camels to pay for one bride (not to mention prescribed four), ugly as sin, sickish and in general values his own life below that of a cockroach - still the offer is not something that could be accepted without qualms.

What if, after an unknown period of anal improvement, the candidate fails some other test - for instance ability to walk normally in order not to offer a dead giveaway to the security agents? All the pain for nothing, aside of the funny way of walking and no 72 virgins on the horizon...

It's time for some creative thinking, Mr al-Zawahiri, and no buts about it.

On the devolution of Julian Assange

Ezra Levant does a great number on the subject. While I am not at all persuaded about the rape accusations, the part where he speaks about Assange abandoning the declared Wikileaks focus on dictatorships, betraying his co-founders and selling down the river several human rights activists is definitely worth your attention.

16 August 2012

So, we really are a people

Please accept my apologies for my absence from these columns these past two weeks or so, but it's been the Olympics here in London, and I've been glued to the tv or listening to the radio while out and about. And didn't the Brits do well? 3rd place overall, ahead of the Russians (and the Australians, but don't let my Oz cousin read this: lovely man, but a bit sensitive on the topic!). The crowds really did roar the GBR athletes on to medal places: we managed a couple of visits, and had sore throats as a result. We've also got tickets for some of the Paralympics events: now there are the real Olympians - overcoming their disabilities (and possibly the depression that goes with becoming disabled) and being prepared to perform in public.

BTW, there's a drama-doc on BBC2 this Thursday at 21.00 BST (and available here for a further 7 days) about Lewis Gutmann, the German-Jewish emigre neurologist who developed the programme that became the Paralympics. Also BTW, The Times (of London and also behind a pay wall - see below - so you'll have to take my word for it) reported last Saturday that (a) sportspeople from democracies have won more medals in total than those from dictatorships and tyrannies in the Modern Olympics - there's food for a PhD someone - and (b) the same is true of countries whose official language is English (so that's why Israel does so badly: nothing to do with world-beating technofreaks).

However, what this is really about is an article in The Tablet that reports on research that shows (as if we didn't know already: if we were less closely related, we wouldn't argue with each other all the time) that Jews are related to each other, even if the links are oddly skewed. Thus, those expelled from Spain and Portugal are relatively closely related to Ashkenazi Jews, and relatively distant from other, older established, North African Jewish communities. Also, most strangely, Syrian Jews are more closely related to Ashkenazis than to other Middle Eastern Jews. Go figure.

The article is here. Unfortunately, online Haaretz has hidden itself behind a pay wall while I wasn't looking, so the internal links won't work. Personally, I already spend enough on media links without adding to the total.

By Brian Goldfarb.

15 August 2012

Just as you thought it was safe to open the newspaper again...

Goes away for ages, just to watch people performing all sorts of "sports", then comes back and floods us with postings. The nerve of some people. And I haven't caught up with The Commentator, yet.

Still, I'd like to start with a quote from Nick Cohen (always worth doing). It appears to have gone into hiding on his blog, so I don't have a link, but it's from an Observer column of his (15 July 2012). He says “Is opposition to reaction reactionary? Or a loathing of religious bigotry, bigoted? To slam ‘Islam as oppressive of gay and women’s rights’, said a Guardian columnist last week, is to manifest the ‘progressives’ prejudice’. True liberals did not criticise illiberal religion. They denounced criticism of prejudice as prejudiced.” This is an Alice Through the Looking Glass world with a vengeance. It is now illiberal to criticise illiberalism. How mad is that? And we thought that we were the real liberals and progressives. Plainly not (though I'd rather be behind the same barricade as Nick C. than alongside that Guardian columnist).

It gets worse. The Tablet has an article concerning the Danish paper Jyllands Posten, the one that bravely published all those Mohamed cartoons, and now has to protect itself behind a concrete barrier big enough to stop a (presumably explosive-laden) truck. The following gives you a flavour of the article, and it fits, regrettably, right in with the Nick Cohen quote I started with: "While much of the world condemned the newspaper’s decision to run the cartoons, the vast majority of Danes did not think their government should have apologized. “In Denmark we do not apologize for having freedom of speech,” then-Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at the time, a principled stand...

Yet one of the most important organs of the Danish cultural elite, the state-funded Danish Arts Council, has taken the opposite view of the citizens who subsidize it. A major art exhibit located just steps away from the heavily fortified Jyllands Posten offices at Copenhagen’s Kunsthal Charlottenborg, among the most prominent contemporary art museums in Europe, makes the case that it is the cartoonist Westergaard, his newspaper colleagues, the former prime minister, and other Western leaders who are the enemies of free expression—not those who continue to call for the murder of cartoonists and publishers."
Makes you wonder why you bother to get up in the morning! Full story here.

Just to really make your day, The Tablet also has this from JPost. It seems that the Deputy Foreign Minister of South Africa, one Ebrahim Ismael Ebrahim, made a call on Sunday to his countrymen to refrain from visiting Israel. Yep, this is the country that insists that it is against boycotts. "A rose by any other name..."

See what trouble we get into just by continuing to be. So be it: I'm not going to roll over and make their lives any easier for them. Besides, the Olympics are over and the Rugby season doesn't start for another 2 weeks.

By Brian Goldfarb.

10 August 2012

The Council Has Spoken!

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

08 August 2012

This Week’s Watcher’s Council Nominations – Dog Days Edition

Council Submissions

Iran: Syria part of 'axis of resistance'

Uhu... we heard this already somewhere. Sounded a bit differently, though. No matter...

Fake landing : Mars Curiosity rover is really near Area-51 In Nevada. And the first super-secret image from Mars - here!

As sure as death and taxes:

The supposed landing of the Curiosity was CGI and computer sound effects piped into mission control at JPL in order to fool the engineers, the invited guests, the media and the dumbed down public.

The real rover is in Nevada near Area-51 complete with a Hollywood backdrop standing in for the horizon and the color imaging being re-tuned to a red tint in order to make blue skies look pink and the brown desert soil look deep red.

It's all FAKE, FAKE, FAKE!

And remember where you have seen this first - the really first Mars photograph, kept secret (now we can say unsuccessfully) by NASA:

Now, a big 64K question will be who is depicted there: the Mossad blonde, the 30 ft woman, the... you have a go at it.

07 August 2012

Mossad behind Sinai attack, says Muslim Brotherhood. What took them so long?

Don't get excited: the text follows the usual formula:

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said on its website on Monday that the attack on a police station in Sinai on Sunday in which 16 policemen were killed "can be attributed to Mossad" and was an attempt to thwart Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

The statement said the Mossad was trying to abort the Egyptian uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak last year and that it was "imperative to review clauses" of the agreement between Egypt and Israel.
The only question is: why was it published only on Monday, when the whole event took place on Sunday? Hm...

Oh, and the usual crowd is out in force, of course. Check this out.

Update: And yes, some Egyptians are receptive...

What do they mean?

"Penis Growth Free Sample" - the subject line of the first email in my spam box says today. I have seen quite a few spam emails on the subject, but this is the first one with that specific offer.

What exactly do they send you if you ask for that free sample? On the other hand, I am not sure I want to know...

06 August 2012

Long live Curiosity! And congratulations to NASA!

NASA's Curiosity rover has landed on Mars! Its descent-stage retrorockets fired, guiding it to the surface. Nylon cords lowered the rover to the ground in the "sky crane" maneuver. When the spacecraft sensed touchdown, the connecting cords were severed, and the descent stage flew out of the way. The time of day at the landing site is mid-afternoon -- about 3 p.m. local Mars time at Gale Crater. The time at JPL's mission control is about 10:31 p.m. Aug. 5 PDT (early morning EDT).
This is one of the finest hours of humanity. An achievement to be proud of.

And you complain about Romney's tax returns?

Russians are complaining too:

"This is how do we see Putin according to his income declaration"

The precarious "no balls" situation: what now?

The precedent is created:

Telling a man he has 'no balls' as an insult is a crime punishable with a fine because it hurts male pride, Italy's highest court has declared in a ruling on a curious row between two cousins.
Telling a man he has no balls could be defined as a crime by an overzealous PC judge, but it's a favorite pastime in the Mediterranean basin, and what happens in one country will soon be copied to all the others around here. And then what? The judge says re the "no balls" expression:
It refers not only to the target's lack of virility, but also to his weakness of character, lack of determination, competence and coherence -- virtues that, rightly or wrongly, are still identified as pertaining to the male gender.
So what now? Instead of saying "you have no balls" one would have to go through the whole "You lack virility, character, determination, competence and coherence" rigmarole? Bleh...

Yeah, and how about the derivatives, like the following:

Will all that treasure of tasteless, insulting and stupid jokes that entertain several generations of men (and women, I have to add) disappear now? Does that judge have what it takes to make this happen?

05 August 2012

Norman Finkelstein and Tablet

David Samuels, Tablet Magazine's literary editor, produced a Q and A with Norman Finkelstein. Let me start with saying that interviews of this kind could be very helpful and revealing, and to a large extent this one was a success. Knowing a bit about the subject, I wasn't disturbed or surprised by his answers at all, but the introduction by David Samuels was another matter. Check this out:

Yet, like it or not, Finkelstein’s influence on public debate is by now undeniable, with his once-radical ideas having been embraced throughout the Jewish community, from his debunking of the idea of Israel as “a land without a people” and his diagnosis of a strain of American Jewish Holocaust obsession to his assertions of the immorality of the continuing Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
That was really disturbing. And I don't mean the "factual" part of this long sentence, that's easy to debunk. Like the sentence "A land without a people for a people without a land", whose history is interesting by itself, and which, of course, wasn't debunked by Finkelstein the fearless pioneer. You can read in the same link about some of the debunking that started when Norman Finkelstein wasn't yet planned*. To say that Finkelstein is the one whose "assertions of the immorality of the occupation" are in any way original is a pure fallacy. As for "his diagnosis of a strain of American Jewish Holocaust obsession": yes, we may have something original there, but let's not forget the curious situation, where a man, who spends most of his awake hours nailing the Jewish Holocaust obsession, is leeching on this same Holocaust financially, doing this so tirelessly and for so many years. And, of course, take into consideration (careful at that) this:
You simply can’t imagine what it was like growing up the child of Holocaust survivors.
I guess that Finkelstein doesn't even start to realize what, in fact, he is saying in that sentence. The ultimate irony of it will, most probably, be missed by him forever. But self-reflection was never a strong quality of this self-aggrandizing pompous git who, even when he is saying something to the point, succeeds to do it in a manner that will be a turn-off to a most sympathetic viewer:

iPhone 5 full specs leaked

Via that leaking front glass panel, which seems to be er... leaking.

Really, people - take it easy, will you?

04 August 2012

What Jams says

I've somehow missed this story of sabotaged wedding of a black couple in Mississippi, but what Jams says here is good enough for me:

I can only imagine that most people in Mississippi are extremely embarrassed by this cretinous action.
I can only add that it seems that most people in the Mississippi city are embarrassed indeed.

Roger Pion (PEE'-on) and the police air conditioners

From here:

A farmer who was arrested last month expressed his displeasure Thursday afternoon in Newport by driving a heavy tractor over seven police vehicles owned by the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department, authorities said. State police estimated the damage at about $250,000. No one was hurt. Roger Pion, 34, was jailed for lack of $15,000 bail...
Here are two of the squashed cars:

The perp was nothing if not thorough in his revenge, and here he is himself:

Looks a bit damaged too, although it's nothing related to the current unpleasentness...

But the main point is hidden in the end of another article about the same incident:
Sheriff's deputies working inside their building didn't know what was happening until a neighbor called 911. They didn't hear the ruckus outside because their air conditioners were humming, then couldn't pursue him because their cars were crushed.
And the lesson to the best and finest is:  install better air conditioners if you want some action, or just keep your windows open. Yeah, and don't pee on Pion.

Do you Roger?

Olympic Divers On The Toilet?

Or should it be "Olympic Toilet Divers"?

I really don't know, not being a follower of the thing. Is it some kind of a new Olympic sport?

03 August 2012

The Council Has Spoken!

Council Winners

Scoop! Aliens landing in Nebraska!

Oops, sorry: it was a wrong headline. In fact, it should be: Passenger finds needle in Air Canada sandwich.

02 August 2012

Butterfly Rose - another look at Vietnam war

The latest book Butterfly Rose by Dick Stanley opens another view of the Vietnam war or, to be more precise, several views. To start with, that of American soldiers - people who didn't ask to be in Vietnam, whose personal views, like these of any normal people, didn't extend to philosophical mulling on the Cold War and its global implications. They, like one of the main protagonists, first lieutenant Jesse Miles, counted the remaining days of their tour of duty, tried to cope in the best way they could with the intestinal diseases, with enemy ambushes, with soldiers they commanded and with their unreliable local and American partners... There simply wasn't much time or strength left to ponder on the wider meaning of the war or trying to understand the locals - be it the largely corrupt South Vietnam's army or the largely inscrutable for the American mind local population.

The other view is that of Thanh Kim, a Vietnamese old woman, part sorceress, part expert in folk remedies, carrying through years her love to a Vietnamese revolutionary, graceful in her ways and wise like her ancient nation. Caught between the two warring sides - can she survive and continue to carry her lonely vigil of talking with the spirits of her homeland?

And, to really transform the story into a polyphonic experience, the author succeeds to weave in a new thread and a yet another view - that of Neal Constance, an enlisted historian, whose ancestor fought in the same area with French Foreign Legion in 1860s. The three strands are carefully and lovingly woven by the author into a story that will not leave you indifferent, no matter what your opinion on the Vietnam war is now or was at the time (if you were of an age then).

Like the other book by Dick Stanley, Leaving the Alamo, this book is not about superheroes, but about regular people, like you and I, forced by the powers out of their control into situations they would vastly prefer to avoid. They tried to do their best to survive. And to understand.

It so happened that two or three years before reading the Butterfly Rose, I have visited Vietnam. As a youth being frequently recruited to participate in the obligatory "Hands off Vietnam" "spontaneous" demonstrations of Soviet citizens and bombarded by daily communiques about the heroic victories of Viet Cong, for a few years I became conditioned to the stories of American imperialists atrocities on one side and heroic resistance on the other.

With time I have learned differently, starting to see the Vietnam war as another tragic episode of the Cold War, the long and bloody history of which is less and less clear now and which slowly but surely becomes forgotten by most and even denied by some. Vietnamese people won their round in that war, but 40 years later I have witnessed the terrible price that the communist theology extracts from its people. The poverty for most, the lack of basic services, including medicine, the unemployment, all this sometimes artfully hidden - but not artfully enough, the pitiful existence of minorities, such as Hmong people: not much to boast about.

So, being generally receptive to all things anti-communist at this time, I have easily persuaded myself to view the US defeat in Vietnam as a lost battle in the generally victorious Cold War. Needless to say that by that time my heart was (still is) with the victors. They haven't fought and died in vain.

But this is not what Butterfly Rose is about. So just read it.

01 August 2012

Mitt Romney: tax evader, family ruiner, what next?

While the campaign is getting more and more heated, the "do and don't do" envelope of moral and legal limits of what is possible to say about your opponent seems to be getting more and more flexible.

So, the example below joins many others:

Saying he had "no problem with somebody being really, really wealthy," Reid sat up in his chair a bit before stirring the pot further. A month or so ago, he said, a person who had invested with Bain Capital called his office.

"Harry, he didn't pay any taxes for 10 years," Reid recounted the person as saying.
That a senior politician and public figure behaves like a gossip column writer should be, probably, taken by us in our stride.

Just like the following story:
A 40-year-old Tennessee man accused of domestic assault allegedly became enraged when he saw a picture of a strange man on his girlfriend's Facebook page and suspected she was planning an affair - he apparently didn't recognize presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

Lowell Turpin, 40, "angrily demanded to know who the male was," according to a police report cited by the Knoxville News Sentinel.

When she told him, he allegedly grabbed her laptop and smashed it into a wall, then punched her, the police report says.
There is a difference between the two protagonists of these stories, though. The second one remains in the nick, for now at least. The first one is getting more and more press.

I fully expect to hear how young Romney led a gang of notorious cattle rustlers. According to one of Mr. Reid's friends.

And this is the way it goes.

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Summer Trip Edition

Council Submissions

WTF means now: What The Falk?

Thanks to Sarah AB who penned a cool piece re the intrepid conspiracy seeker and a relentless Israel-hater one professor Flak Falk.

And this mugshot is going to serve now as WTF icon here on Simply Jews.

Thanks again Sarah.