28 February 2014

The Council Has Spoken!

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

27 February 2014

Russia will not be enslaved!

Yeah, the normal services will be resumed shortly. Meanwhile, a translation of a short Russian missive that will allow you to grasp the complexity and mystery of that life.

A Russian wakes up in the morning. He brushes his teeth with an American toothbrush using German toothpaste. He shaves with American razor, washes up with French soap and puts on Bulgarian aftershave gel. After boiling water in a Swedish kettle, he drinks Brazilian coffee, puts on an Italian suit and lightly scents self with some French cologne. Locking his door with two British locks, he gets into his Korean car (purchased on credit) and switches on his Japanese radio, selecting Europe+ station. It is broadcasting English pop.

He drives into the city, maneuvering between Russian potholes and bumps on the road, cursing in Russian, stopping on the way at McDonald's drive-in for a Big Tasty and a coke. Eventually he reaches his destination and parks in his office's guarded parking lot, protected by Swiss CCTV and Canadian alarm system.

He goes up to the office floor in a Finnish elevator, enters his office (with a sign saying "Merchandizing department"), switches on his IBM computer with Microsoft operating system, gets on the Internet (created by Americans) and enters (in English) the URL of an American social networking application. He opens his (free) account and posts a message:


Afterword: most of the items mentioned in the text above are manufactured in China these days, but don't let this technical detail mix you up...

20 February 2014

What to read during my upcoming vacation

I mean what you have to read, of course, I shall try to have none of it, this is a vacation for crying out loud. So start with this:

Iran Ready to Walk Away from Nuclear Deal Now?

Where David Gerstman describes the sordid state of a sordid affair.

19 February 2014

Venezuela: where socialism is unleashed

Finally. What did they wait for is the only question. After all, the shining beacon of true socialism is always available. Just follow the beacon.

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Partying At The Brink Edition

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

18 February 2014

The water proof: the facts, the myths and other animals

The main difference between a cat and a lie is that a cat only has nine lives.
Mark Twain
I wouldn't have posted anything on the subject, even after a somewhat shameful and over the top demonstration by Naftali Bennett and other members of his party. If you remember, the occasion for this demo was a misguided and uninformed remark by the European Parliament President Martin Schulz during his speech in Knesset.
In the Knesset - which German politicians have addressed before in their native language - Schulz said a Palestinian youth had asked him why Israelis received four times as much water per capita as Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

"I haven't checked the data," Schulz told the Knesset. "I'm asking you if this is correct."
And here comes the core problem. It is not only that Mr Shulz was misinformed, it is that the lies, promoted and so frequently repeated by the Palestinian propaganda and amplified hundredfold by their collaborators in the Muslim and Western media, become a de facto gospel even for people who, as Martin Schulz himself, are said to be the best friends of Israel ("An EU source who declined to be named said it was hard to find a more pro-Israeli politician in Europe than Schulz"). Just imagine what goes on in the minds of people who are not very pro-Israeli or what is done with these lies by the anti-Israeli crowd...

In this regard it is worth to mention an exceptionally positive article Israeli Water, Mideast Peace? in NYT. It is not every day that one sees such text in normally "critical" toward Israel media outfit. Besides mentioning the assistance with water sources and desalination Israel provided to pre-Ayatollahs Iran, the author delves into the current issues, such as the dire situation in the Gaza strip:
Because of geography and hydrology, the Palestinians’ water future is closely tied to Israel’s. In just the few years of Hamas control of Gaza, the water supply there has been polluted, and though no solution to its coming water crisis is likely without an Israeli role, Hamas has refused to cooperate with Israel.
And he makes a tentative step toward describing the general situation in the West Bank:
The Palestinians in the West Bank already receive much of their water from Israel’s national water utility and, sovereignty and symbolism aside, neither a two-state solution nor a continuation of the status quo will change that. Given their proximity to Israel, the Palestinians are likely to be among the few Arab winners in the water race.
However, the article shies from going too deep into the main issues. So, to seek some help with the truth of the matter, let's take a look at a thesis* titled ‘The politicization of the Oslo water agreement’ written by Lauro Burkart a Swiss graduate of the Institute of International and Development studies in Geneva. The full text of the thesis could be found here. This article summarizes the main points:
The goals of the Oslo 2 water agreement have been reached regarding the quantities of water provided to the Palestinian population (178 mcm/year in 2006). The Oslo water agreement estimated that the needs would eventually be 200 mcm a year. The Joint Water Committee functioned well in the first years following signature of the agreement, but since 2008 cooperation has come to a halt

The facts disseminated by the Palestinians, international organizations and donors about the root causes of the water scarcity in the West Bank are incorrect.
Of course, dirty politicking is at the heart of the matter:
Burkart also interviewed Dr. Shaddad Attili, head of the PWA who was appointed in 2008. Attili, a Fatah member, is responsible for the de facto ending of the cooperation with Israel in order to bolster the Palestinian water rights claims. He did this to strengthen the position of Fatah after the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections.
Dirty is the word that best of all describes the waste water and the lack of treatment it receives from the "Palestian Authority":
One of the results of the refusal to cooperate with Israel is that almost all of the 52 mcm waste water generated by the Palestinian population flows untreated into Israel and the West Bank where it contaminates shared groundwater resources. Nevertheless, the Palestinians claim that Israel is blocking their waste water infrastructure. The facts are that most of the Palestinian waste water treatment and reuse projects have already received foreign funding and were supported by Israel.
Read the whole article, I shall end the quoting at this conclusion:
It is obvious that Attili’s non cooperation strategy is connected to the overall change in strategy vis-à-vis Israel in 2008 by the PA. Water has become a weapon against the so-called Israeli occupation.
What else? Probably only this quote:
A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

Winston Churchill
(*) Israeli sources are not used on purpose.

Hat tips: Caitlyn Martin and E.S.

17 February 2014

Why are Israeli people so hard to work with?

This is a cautionary and educational tale, told by Oren Shamir and re-posted here with his kind permission. Enjoy.

I'm an Israeli. My grandmother was American and my mother grew up in Brooklyn. I've worked for (and with) a few American companies. The following story might highlight some of the cultural differences, the way I see them.

Imagine you're an executive in a big American company that makes home appliances. Your market research team suggests that people may want to have straight bananas, since Americans love to slice bananas up and put them in a sandwich or a cereal bowl, and straight bananas are easier to slice.
You decide to try and solve this problem using both of your R&D teams. One is located in the US and the other in Israel. You call the two team leaders and tell them what you need - a machine that bends bananas backwards to straighten them up.

The American team leader says they will get right on it. The next morning he posts a job opening on Linkedin, looking for a banana expert. He hires a guy from CalTech who knows everything there is to know about the molecular structure of bananas. He also hires two more engineers and an industrial designer. Initially.

After around 24-30 months of hard work, you have a sleek, shiny new machine that bends bananas backwards and produces perfect, straight as an arrow bananas 100% of the time, with any kind of banana that currently exists. It costs about 300 dollars and needs as much power as a small refrigerator.

At the same time, the Israeli team leader listens to you for about 3 minutes then interrupts to say that this is a really stupid idea. He doesn't know anybody who slices bananas. Israelis just eat them. Although we usually do peel them first. He suggests you might want to build a machine that peels bananas.
After a long, frustrating meeting you give up. But on his way home, the Israeli team leader thinks about what you asked him to do, and while he still thinks it's a stupid idea, he likes the challenge. The next morning he calls a couple of friends from the Kibbutz who grow bananas and then he lets you know that his team will have a machine ready within a week.

After exactly 11 days the machine is indeed ready and a demonstration is scheduled. The machine is made out of spare parts of Uzi guns and costs 13$ to build. It also functions as an emergency torch. It looks like a scaled down model of a tractor accident. It also produces perfect, straight as an arrow bananas... in about 62.5% of the cases. 37% of the bananas are either broken, squashed or toasted beyond recognition. About half a percent of the bananas mysteriously disappear.

When you note these shortcomings to the Israeli team they look at you with complete puzzlement. The machine, they would tell you, does exactly what you asked for and the PRD never stated it has to do it to ALL the bananas you throw at it. Some bananas are obviously defective. Besides, it was a stupid idea to begin with.

So this is how we are:

  • We're really good at improvising
  • We think we're smarter than most
  • We help each other out
  • We prefer to cut corners, and get to the chase
  • We say exactly what we think (but we're not always happy with criticism)
  • We LOVE to argue. We argue with our commanders in the army, with our professors in the university and with our bosses at work. We have a "healthy" disrespect for authority
  • We love challenges and dislike wasted talent
  • We like to tell stories

16 February 2014

The World’s Oldest Kurd: A Beloved Rabbi in the Heart of the Holy City

In a humble apartment in Jerusalem’s Baka neighborhood, about a mile south of the walls of the Old City, the world’s oldest living Jew goes about his daily ritual. As he has for over a century, the rabbi rises in the morning, puts on his tefillin, or prayer phylacteries, with the help of one of his students, and says his morning prayers. Then, he sits to learn the Torah, Talmud, or kabbalah, examining it with the same fervor and passion he did when he started learning as a teenager.

In addition to being the world’s oldest Jew, Rabbi Zechariah Barashi, 114, is also the world’s oldest Kurd.
Read the whole story. It is quite a long article (114 years is a long time), but nevertheless a compelling one.

Questioning the elixir of immortality

Actually, I am questioning a book titled The Elixir of Immortality. I know that it is one of the gravest sins - to question a book without reading it (yet). But the mystery exuded by its blurb is unbearable:

Since the eleventh century, the Spinoza family has passed down, from father to son, a secret manuscript containing the recipe for immortality. Now, after thirty-six generations, the last descendant of this long and illustrious chain, Ari Spinoza, doesn’t have a son to whom to entrust the manuscript. From his deathbed, he begins his narrative...
Don't you see some inconsistency here, an unsubtle attempt to tinker with your brain? I mean... OK, maybe it is just me, but how come... I mean immortality...

Cripes, now I just have to read it.

15 February 2014

Camels are a problem for Zionism? Nope, but asses are.

For full disclosure: by "asses" I don't mean "Hardy and sure-footed animal smaller and with longer ears than the horse".

The headline of this post was shortened from a longer one in the Guardian: The Old Testament's made-up camels are a problem for Zionism.

The article in question has to do with a study carried out in Israel:

Although camels are mentioned over 20 times in the Bible, the patriarchs apparently didn't have much to do with them, according to a new archaeological study that calls the historicity of the Bible into question.

"Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels," (Genesis 31:17) is just one of several instances where domesticated camels are used in the stories of Abraham, Joseph and Jacob. However, archeologists Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef and Dr. Lidar Sapir-Hen of Tel Aviv University have found that camels weren't domesticated in the Land of Israel until centuries after the patriarchs lived, providing direct proof that the Bible was compiled well after the events it describes.
So there. Apparently (if you listen to the Guardian's contributor, one Andrew Brown, this study destroys the whole edifice of Zionism.
The history recounted in the Bible is a huge part of the mythology of modern Zionism. The idea of a promised land is based on narratives that assert with complete confidence stories that never actually happened.
Should I sprinkle some ashes on my head (it may help with the somewhat diminished hair growth there at the same time, possibly)? Nah, after all this blogger is bound by Article 8 of The Simply Jews Charter, so no cigar to Mr Brown for this one.

OK, enough about asses. Bye.

Hat Tip: Adam Holland.

Update: another angle of the same subject by Adam Levick.

Never mind Orwell

Says Dick Stanley, with a very good reason:

Meanwhile, back in North Carolina where the NAACP is holding anti-voter id protests, you’re required to have a photo id to come along and wave a sign.
Read it all, it is a short one, as Texas Scribbler prefers them.

New gender options for Facebook users: what about us?

They thought about everything and everyone. Or so they think, at least:

Facebook said the changes being rolled out Thursday for the company's 159 million U.S. users are aimed at giving people more choices in how they describe themselves, such as androgynous, bi-gender, intersex, gender fluid or transsexual.
Yeah, so what about "Too Old" or, at least, "Irrelevant"?


Kendall Jenner - nip slip uncensored

I'm not at all sire you really need this aggravation in your hectic life as a surfer of goodies. Be much better for you to watch this bird:

And now, only if you must, and I am not sure about it, go there.

The Council Has Spoken!

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

14 February 2014

Roger Cohen reclassified: mostly inoffensive

This is as good day as any* to confess to wrongdoing and to ask for forgiveness. Besides, it is good for the soul and for the old digestion. So here I am, confessing. Soon as I get some oomph. Because it is not easy, this confessing business.

You see, it is for many years that I was negative and even somewhat cynical about Roger Cohen, he of New York Times, currently submerged up to the top of his Wellies somewhere in the flooded streets of Albion (such is the tough lot of NYT best and finest). Being negative and cynical, I have produced quite a few negative and cynical posts on the subject and even dubbed him "a man who rarely misses an opportunity to miss a point". Mea culpa (although I have done most of it with pleasure and now I'm  really not in the mood to give all that pleasure back, if you see what I mean).

And here comes that day...

(I hope you realize how difficult it is for me to write this and yes, I hope you feel just a little bit for me in my hour of despondency and heartbreak).

... that day, when I open an e-mail, click on a link and see this:
I do not trust the B.D.S. movement. Its stated aim is to end the occupation, secure “full equality” for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and fight for the right of return of all Palestinian refugees. The first objective is essential to Israel’s future. The second is laudable. The third, combined with the second, equals the end of Israel as a Jewish state. This is the hidden agenda of B.D.S., its unacceptable subterfuge: beguile, disguise and suffocate.
So, what, in your opinion should I do now with all my accumulated years of acerbic and poisonous criticism of the man, after he found it in himself to face up to the truth? Should I nitpick this quote and mention that the "hidden agenda" is not, in fact, all that well hidden - one might even say that it is not hidden at all anymore.

Or, maybe, I should take an exception to another passage from the same article:
When the largest Dutch pension fund and the largest Danish bank withdraw investments from, or cease business with, Israeli banks because of their operations in the settlements, they send a powerful signal to Israel to get out of the West Bank.
Should I dwell on that fact that the bank in question has a history (which is far from being over) of dealing with finances of North Korea and Iran?
According to Wikileaks cables, Danske Bank helped finance Tanchon, a North Korean trading company that sold ballistic missiles to Iran.
Nah, it will be real small minded of me, I think, in this meaningful moment of reconciliation and acceptance.

So, in the spirit of reconciliation and acceptance as mentioned above, I solemnly declare that the previously accepted designation of Roger Cohen as a man who rarely misses an opportunity to miss a point is null and void. It is replaced now by the following:

mostly inoffensive**

So be it.

(*) Aside of Days of Awe (from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur), but I bet I'll find a lot to apologize for till then.

(**) Just because "mostly harmless" is already used by a much better man than I will ever be.

Hat Tip: Soccer Dad, a writer at Legal Insurrection and other sites and a mensch.

More on the subject by Soccer Dad aka David Gerstman: Cutting through the BDS BS.

Rule 5: some cameras know more than the others...

13 February 2014

Justice (sometimes) rules ok!

It's nice to know that British justice can, sometimes be just that: just. This article in The Times of Israel reports, in brief, on a decision at the Supreme Court (just like in Israel, the highest possible legal level) which dismissed an appeal by BDS demonstrators.

They had chained themselves to concrete blocks in an Ahava store in London's Covent Garden and subsequently been convicted of criminal trespass. The Supreme Court upheld the convictions and fines. The store subsequently closed, but has, apparently, reopened. The BDSers still have websites up, appearing to incite violence against the Ahava concessions to be found in many department stores.

A good reason for shopping in big stores, I'd think: follow the noise and buy Israeli cosmetics and other skin treatments!

By Brian Goldfarb. 

Says it all!

According to this article from The Tablet, Stephen Walt (of Mearsheimer & Walt infamy) is Obama's eminence gris on the Middle East. If true, this explains it all: why Obama & Kerry have cosied up to the Ayatollahs; why they appear to be leaning so heavily on Israel to "agree" to an unacceptable (un)peace agreement; why Iran is continuing with their nuclear programme unstopped; and why the man brought in as the foreign affairs expert, Veep Joe Biden, has been sidelined on this matter.

If you disagree, please read the article and tell me why. If asked nicely, Snoopy may even publish another article on this thorny topic.

By Brian Goldfarb.

"Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks and the Magna Carta are all alien to our culture"

Straight talk from Hamas: ain't it refreshing?

The Hamas government in Gaza accused a UN agency on Tuesday of unlawfully printing and disseminating school textbooks dealing with human rights in a way that offends Palestinian cultural sensitivities.
And before you wade into Hamas with your trusty 2x4, read this:
Fatah and Hamas have made significant progress in reconciliation talks held in Gaza and are now on the verge of implementing previously signed agreements, Palestinian media reported on Tuesday.
Not that far away, these two, it seems.

Re Valentine's Day: is it one or the other?

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Lawless Edition

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

12 February 2014

On PETA behavior in the case of Gainesville truck wreck

The tragedy happened on Jan. 27, 2014: remember this date, because it could be a turning point*.

A major Hall County roadway has reopened after being partially blocked throughout Monday morning’s rush hour because of an overturned truck that was hauling live chickens.
Two weeks after the wreck no one could say how many chicken have lost their lives. There is only this article about the inordinate strangeness of PETA's attitude to the victims. On one hand, PETA, somewhat dimly, recognizes the fact that the tragedy occurred. On the other hand, they can't say precisely how many fine poultry souls passed to the world where the grass is greener and the grain and corn are sweeter. The mention of "dozens" of chickens doesn't do proud to this fine, albeit strange, institution**.

And so does (or, rather, doesn't) the project of the Gainesville chicken memorial that PETA wants to erect at the roadside near the crash site:
Here is what a PETA member in charge of the project has to say:
“Although a relative of the deceased is usually required to fulfill requests for roadside memorials, I hope you will allow a concerned citizen such as me to suffice in this case,” Sarah Segal of Atlanta wrote in her application to GDOT. “These chickens, who spent their entire short lives … on a factory farm before their agonizing deaths, have no known living relatives.”
First of all, dear Ms Segal, there is no need to be defensive. Your writing style, together with your definite membership of PETA, show an undeniable spiritual closeness to the family of Gallus gallus domesticus.

But, as it becomes apparent, being a close relative is not enough for real empathy. First of all, you still can't say how many of the chickens have untimely expired. And, if this impersonal, formal and, I dare say, cold-hearted attitude is not enough, your proposal of the so called "memorial" makes it even worse.

Wasn't each and every single one of the expired Gallus gallus domesticus a distinct individual? Didn't he/she have hope and plans for the future? Some of them definitely were into sport, some into more cerebral activities, some were of a practical nature and some have been philosophical deep down in their souls. And the future of each one: some dreamed about taking part in further propagation of their species, some wanted to travel - even to fly, in some cases. Some were eager to join the fight for improvement of the species' lifestyle and general well-being, some were certainly harboring a thought about a career in cooking and some about straightforward and logical entry into the competitive domain of fast food industry. Can all this be accommodated, not to use a harsher term like "squeezed", under one monument?

And, since the issue of the single monument is already out of the bag, let's tackle the most sensitive part, e.g. the religious affiliation of the deceased. How can a respectable member of PETA (and, quite possibly, Jewish too, although I shall withhold the final judgement on that question for now) offer a single monument in a place that could have easily been the last earthly memory for a flock of six or more major religions, not counting the atheists?

By now, Ms Segal, you have probably understood what has to be done. Study the life of each crash victim. Find out what was the driving force of each one, their beliefs, their interests, their dreams. And don't skimp on monuments: if needed, the Georgia Department of Transportation will erect a separate one for each tragically shortened life - all this for measly $100 each. The dead deserve this, if nothing more.

And re this rather vague remark by another PETA rep:
“We hope the tombstone will offer food for thought in the ‘Poultry Capital of the World’,” said PETA spokeswoman Shakira Croce.
The deceased could have offered more than just food for some idle thought, if this man is to be believed:

But this is another matter, of course.

(*) It is not totally clear to me where the turn is going to lead us, but anyway.

(**) PETA (pronounced like pita, but much less useful).

11 February 2014

Anti-drone activist goes missing

A mystery indeed. His spouse told our reporter:

It was about 2:00 AM, when Kareem went out into the backyard to relieve himself, as he does frequently during nighttime lately. I heard a buzzing noise which kept growing stronger and stronger. Then Karim shouted something and the noise began to abate. I haven't found anything but his left shoe in the backyard.
Alex Jones refused to comment on the news.

USA's Johnny Quinn in Sochi: stuck again, now in elevator

Sochi: the gift that keeps giving.


10 February 2014

French are outing Beyoncé and Barack Obama's affair?

No, not exactly, French are only "... reporting that the Washington Post is working on a “media bomb” about how President Barack Obama and Beyoncé had an affair."

Gala, a more French and more tabloid-y version of Vanity Fair, claims that Barack and Michelle Obama will soon divorce and that the president’s affair with Jay Z’s wife is part of the reason.

I say the man certainly deserves a third term. When does he have time to accomplish all this, what with golf, politics and Michelle? Mind boggles...

Update. first repercussions follow:

Iranian simulation of missile attack on Tel Aviv: can't stop this shameful behavior, can we?

The story repeats itself with somewhat tedious frequency: once again some Iranian cinematic talent produced a fairly crude simulation of a thunderous Iranian response to something or other that you can watch here:

If you follow this link, you shall see for yourself that a variation of the theme appears on Youtube every few months. Apparently the simulation business is booming in Tehran for a reason I am unable to fathom.

This kind of behavior (here are the male and female synonyms for its name) is usually confined to the privacy of one's bedroom or bathroom. Thus this insistence of Iranian artists to do it in public looks strange, but who I am to interfere with it? Especially since it makes them feel good...

Which reminds me an old Israeli joke: A public pool guard shouts out to a pool customer: "Sir, I know that everyone pisses in the pool, but why do you have to do it from a diving board?"

09 February 2014

You can't stop a Texan, no, sir/comrade!

More from Sochi:

Quinn said on his Twitter account that he was taking a shower and the "door got locked/jammed." A former NFL player with Green Bay and Buffalo, Quinn did some serious damage while tearing apart the door, which didn't stand a chance against the brawny, 6-foot-2, 220-pounder from McKinney, Texas.
Indeed the door didn't...

08 February 2014

"Pretty impressive tradecraft," says Victoria Nuland

About publication of this discussion that was leaked, supposedly by the Russians:

Which discussion, naturally, pissed off some Euroheads in a major way.

Germany's Angela Merkel has said a US official's apparent insult of the EU's efforts to mediate in the Ukraine crisis is "totally unacceptable".
"Totally unacceptable" in diplomatic lingo means an equivalent of "if I had a nuke handy, you would have gotten it".

Just to make sure we are on the same page: the bone of contention currently is the way to deal with Ukrainian crisis: State Department prefer going the UN route and EU prefer, of course, going EU way. Should one venture an opinion which of the two ways is more impotent, ineffectual and time wasting? Nah...

If I may offer a third, more objective, opinion of an outsider: the same people who allegedly leaked the "fuck EU" thing and are currently rolling on the floor laughing at the bickering parties are the ones who will eventually decide how and when the Kiev thing is settled.

And the well wishing dilettantes may continue the bickering meanwhile.

More about impotence, thanks to Peter.

The last post about Thomas L. Friedman

This here blog used to be a place where some uncomplimentary articles about the subject matter used to appear with annoying frequency. I am happy to declare that the recently read article The Tyranny and Lethargy of the Times Editorial Page in New York Observer had all the necessary ingredients to put a stop to that flow.

So, a few quotes from that piece and we are off, for search of better grazing fields.

One current Times staffer told The Observer, “Tom Friedman is an embarrassment. I mean there are multiple blogs and Tumblrs and Twitter feeds that exist solely to make fun of his sort of blowhardy bullshit.”
But I will say, regarding Friedman, there’s the sense that he’s on cruise control now that he’s his own brand.
As for the columnists, Friedman is the worst. He hasn’t had an original thought in 20 years; he’s an embarrassment. He’s perceived as an idiot who has been wrong about every major issue for 20 years, from favoring the invasion of Iraq to the notion that green energy is the most important topic in the world even as the financial markets were imploding.
I think that will be enough. And I sincerely hope that we'll not be forced to return to the subject in the future.

Still, for old times sake, a reminder about how right about the issue we have been here. On the other hand, who got all the Pulitzers? Oy vey...

Adora Bull and free bleeding: not on my carpet, please!

Both the subject matter (“Free Bleeding,” in which a woman who is menstruating chooses to use feminine products no longer, in exchange for allowing her blood to flow “freely” out of her body, staining her clothing and running down her thighs to wherever it may end up.) and the author of the article (Adora Bull is an American semi-amateur journalist, alternative model and national spokeswoman for Goths For Christ. She graduated top of her class from Bronx Haven High School in New York City, voted most likely to “make a difference”. She has recently been dubbed by her fans as the "Miley Cyrus of Journalism.") don't raise much of enthusiasm here. I still hope it's some kind of a crude joke, aimed at old shriveled male chauvinist geezers like I.

If not - please don't do it on... oh... I have already said it.

What other bodily fluids (or solids for that matter) will be allowed to run free next, I wonder?

Hat tip: Greg.

P.S. No, the story is not a joke. I have checked. And I wish I hadn't.

The Council Has Spoken!

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

07 February 2014

A Predator over your backyard - a stupid and sad story in three easy steps

I read this article with growing sense of wonder and some foreboding, till I got to the punchline. Or an unexpected conclusion that kind of negates the sense and the reason of the rest. Here is the abbreviated story.

1. In the first-ever case of a U.S. citizen being convicted and sentenced to prison based in part on evidence gathered by a drone, Lakota, N.D., farmer Rodney Brossart got a three-year sentence for his role in an armed standoff with police that began after he was accused of stealing his neighbors' stray cattle in 2011.
Reading this you will naturally assume that Rodney Brossart was proved to be a rustler with that high-tech gizmo. Wait.
2. Brossart was arrested on June 23, 2011, but his family refused at gunpoint to let authorities armed with a search warrant onto their 3,600-acre property to investigate the neighbors' complaint.
So there are two points in the "authorities'" displeasure with Brossart family: the alleged rustling and their refusal to let the cops on the property. And here comes the grand finale:
3. A jury found Brossart not guilty of stealing the cows, valued at $6,000, but he did get three years - all but six months of which was suspended - for his part in the armed police standoff based in part on video supplied by the drone to court officials...
So let me see: a man was convicted and jailed, with help of a drone, for resisting the cops' attempt to find proof of something that he was innocent of to start with. And this is why this gizmo was needed?

The next coming thing will be to replace the judge, the prosecutor and the defense lawyer each with one of these, methinks.

I hope that the drone at least helped to find the missing cattle. No? Suspected so...

Rule 5: décolleté

There is a time and there is a place. This is not exactly the case of both:

Decollete. That's French, I gather.

06 February 2014

Now I know what the Putin's call sign is

You should know too.

A quiz for scientifically inclined: Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber


  1. In a breakthrough medical procedure the brain cells of Miley and Justin were combined
  2. The combined number of brain cells appeared to be equal to the number of brain cells each of them had before the procedure 1 was performed
  1. How many brain cells had Miley before procedure 1?
  2. How many brain cells had Justin before procedure 1?
Hint (click on the picture to read the text):

A bonus question to the winner of the previous stage:

Should US and Canada join forces and deport the two above mentioned characters and their groupies to some remote and hitherto uninhabited location?

Spagetti? Not for me, thanks

I have my share of trouble with macaroni, too, but this really takes the cake.

So Perfectly in Love by Tom White - much better than Super Bowl

And written during that show:

Tom White, ladies and gentlemen!

05 February 2014

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Putin’s Winter Olympics Edition

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Welcome to Sochi, athletes, it is ready for you!

Well, almost:

Turkey: the economic bubble that is ready to blow

Spengler aka David P Goldman on the precarious situation of Erdogan's Turkey:

In some ways Turkey's decline is more dangerous than the Syrian civil war, or the low-intensity civil conflict in Iraq or Egypt. Turkey held the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's eastern flank for more than six decades, and all parties in the region - including Russia - counted on Turkey to help maintain regional stability. Turkey no longer contributes to crisis management. It is another crisis to be managed.
But of course, read the entire article.

The ultimate in constipation relief

About a year ago I've stumbled on this picture:

and called it a surefire constipation remedy. After a quick search, this photo was sourced to a Flickr member extra-minty, who took it near Grindelwald, Canton of Berne, CH. Scary indeed. However, this achievement of sanitary engineering was overshadowed by a real champ:

This lonely lavatory has been dubbed the most extreme toilet in the world as it's perched on a cliff 2,600 metres (more than 8,500 feet) above sea level in Siberia.
Imagine the thrill of these 2,600 metres, coupled with the thought about the sacks of sand that are meant to counterbalance the weight of the contraption with its user. That should do it in any situation. And I am not even going into the thrill experienced by the folks that happen to pass nearby in the valley 2,600 metres below, when...

Oh well, there is only one other statement in the article that is worth mentioning:
The toilet is perhaps the most unromantic place possible, but there are some parts of the world where people have made them something really special.
Unromantic? Look at that rainbow in the background!

Cheap wisecracks

It was so cold that frozen helicopters fell from the skies...

Two cowboys bragging:
1: I have a fastest hand in the West.
2: Well, all in all, I prefer women...

Husband: I don't know whether what they say about blondes is true, but yesterday morning my wife bleached her hair. That same day's evening she started with a scandal after finding some dark hair in our bed...

New criteria for obesity: she was so fat that 32 GB phone memory was sufficient only for one third of her photograph.

During the European biathlon championship German team accidentally conquered France. 

04 February 2014

A Jordanian view on Israel's right to exist

This article from the Elder of Ziyon blog is well worth reading in its entirety. But read at least to the second sentence of the article itself. It will be well worth your time to gain an insight into just how divided the Arab and Moslem world really is. Really.

Especially given how the israel haters are always telling us how they are as one with regard to Israel.

And if you believe that last sentence, I have some prime land on the Somerset Levels to sell you. Yes, I know it's under water at this very moment, but that's really only a once in a millennium event. If you tell me that it's happened every year for the last five years, I'll sue!!

By Brian Goldfarb.

Kim Jong Un Gives Field Guidance to State Academy of Sciences

Picking up the slack where some other people allow it to appear, I am quoting this verbatim*:
Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, gave field guidance to the State Academy of Sciences.

He looked round the statue of President Kim Il Sung and the monument to the teachings given by the three commanders of Mt. Paektu to the academy.

He called for erecting at the academy statues depicting smiling President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il, who trained a huge army of scientists and technicians and united them around the party as solid as a fortress, so that its scientists and technicians might always work and live, expressing their inmost feelings towards them.

He looked round the revolutionary museum of the academy.

He underscored the need for the scientists and technicians to settle issues pending solution for economic development and the improvement of the people's living standard under a long-term plan and scientific and technological issues arising in realities and go beyond the cutting edge and thus make a shortcut to the building of knowledge-based economy so as to glorify the undying exploits Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il performed for the nation's development of science and technology to posterity.
(*) Cause, I swear, any comment will be superfluous. The best comic writers of NK are doing this, I bet.

03 February 2014

Professor Barry Rubin, RIP

Barry Rubin was director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA), and a professor at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel.

All of us who admired his work and helplessly watched his relentless fight with a killer disease, will miss him. His body of work, his sharp and uncompromising articles will stay with us, however.

And what he said himself of his work:
It’s like an iceberg. What you see is only a small portion of what goes on behind the scenes, including contacts with people all over the region, sometimes people whose lives would be in danger if it were known they were talking to me. As an Israeli, I often find it’s much easier to talk with Turks, Iranians and Arabs because we are on the same page – especially in private – about understanding the reality of the region compared to the fantasies often held in Western academic, media and governmental circles.
RIP, Barry.

John Kerry's "stand with Ukraine's people" and the staggering ineptness of State Department

The United States and the European Union "stand with the people of Ukraine" in their fight for the right to choose alliances with countries other than Russia, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday.

His comments come after a week of political tumult in which Ukraine's Prime Minister and Cabinet have resigned, a controversial anti-protest law has been repealed and the President has signed off on a contested amnesty bill for anti-government protesters.
This declaration by Mr Kerry may sound simple, true and straightforward to any freedom-loving and democracy-adoring Western reader. Indeed, CNN has its basic description of the situation in Ukraine (a bloody situation, to be sure) looking simple:
The protesters have been in Kiev's Independence Square, or Maidan, since November, when President Viktor Yanukovych reversed a decision to sign a long-awaited trade deal with the European Union and turned instead toward Russia.
In a nutshell, a pat summary of the situation, and Mr Kerry ads his weighty opinion to the whole:
"Nowhere is the fight for a democratic, European future more important today than in Ukraine," said Kerry, speaking at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.
Whether Ukraine will become more democratic if aligned with EU or less democratic remaining aligned with Russia - I don't really know. But neither does Mr Kerry, I am afraid. On one hand, Ukraine needs a lot of time and effort to get somewhat closer to a democracy, what with its current corruption index scraping the bottom (144 out of 176). On the other hand, the State Department during the several recent years was a bit too eager welcoming some countries to the fold of democracy, only to be sorely disappointed (I am trying to avoid expressions that include the word "laughingstock"). Still, Mr Kerry persists in making rush statements, without being sufficiently briefed about the complexity of the Ukrainian situation*. Or, for that matter, about the bloody underlying history of the current outbreak of hostilities.

State Department will do well heeding, at least partially, the truth in what the Russian FM said this time:
"What does incitement of increasingly violent street protests have to do with promoting democracy," he asked. "Why don't we hear condemnation of those who seize and hold government buildings, attack the police, torch the police, use racist and anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans?
Nope, I am not at all sure that Mr Lavrov is too concerned about the open antisemitism displayed by a good part of the rebels, nor is he moved too much by the fate of Ukrainian cops, some of whom has shown outstanding examples of cruelty and inhumanity on the streets of Kiev and in other places. The point is that a good deal of what he said, without being really concerned about it, was the truth and nothing but the truth. And this is only a tip of the iceberg in the overall complexity of the Ukrainian situation. And if this paragraph looks unduly confusing, do your best to stay alert for more of the confusion.

Let's start with watching this:

You don't have to know much of Ukrainian to understand the trend of this clip. Yes, one of the biggest factions that fights the current Ukrainian government on the streets of Kiev, is the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, OUN-UPA, one of the bloodiest nationalist militant movement in European history.
Fascism...genocide...collaboration...The OUN, a group of Ukrainian fascists (whose eventual goal was a totalitarian, ethnically-pure pan-Ukrainian empire) sought a Ukrainian-Nazi puppet state. Never promised it, they nevertheless collaborated in the Nazi genocide of Jews. Then they killed 180,000-300,000 Poles (limited only by Polish defenses) and thousands of independent-minded Ukrainians.

With Nazism nearing defeat, and fascism discredited, the OUN-UPA repainted itself as democracy-loving freedom fighters. The murders of Poles continued—until the Soviets crushed the UPA or expelled the remaining Poles (whichever locally happened first).
But take the clip itself with a grain of salt, because the source of it, at least its first uploader is one Yuri Azov, a member (or a sympathizer) of Berkut, the Ukrainian special police unit, used to crush the current Ukrainian revolt. Being a pro-Russian, his interest in painting the essentially anti-Russian rebels in one color is easily explained.

The other point is that, of course, OUN-UPA wasn't the only group of Ukrainians that eagerly participated in mass murder of Poles and Jews. Many other Ukrainians willingly and eagerly volunteered. And, of course, the Russians' hands are not exactly clean where mass murder of Poles is concerned.

And, lest we forget: the previous, "orange" pro-Western government of Ukraine, led by Viktor Yushchenko, has contributed to whitewash of Ukrainian ultra-nationalistic movements, stained by collaboration with Nazis, murder of Poles, Jews, Russians, communists etc.

To summarize: in the triangle of Russians, Ukrainians and Poles there is very little love lost, a slim chance to get to the truth and absolutely no chance to get the three parties united in peace and mutual sympathy (unless, of course, you throw a few Jews in the middle, which is the only way to get them united... for a while).

Now, if you think for a second that you have got a glimpse of the truth, read this. This should complete the picture in your mind: the picture of total confusion.

So, do you still think that Mr Kerry should have been sounding off so surely on the mayhem in Ukraine? If you do, I envy your steadfastness. Because, in my humble, this is how Mr Kerry really should have been looking - confused (which he really seems to be much of the time). Or, at least, quiet... because no opinion on the current crisis in Kiev is a true opinion right now.

(*) I am sure that US of A is choke-full of scholars of Ukrainian history that could have provided the State Department sufficient info on the last, say, 100 years of the subject matter. Or, at least, some highlights that would have allowed the State Department to avoid stepping into it...Too bad they didn't.

02 February 2014

Bovine emissions and the future of car industry

(In the interests of scientific objectivity, only the best source - BBC - was used in preparation of this article, and no steaks animals were harmed in the process).

First the big bang news:

Methane gas released by dairy cows has caused an explosion in a cow shed in Germany, police said. The roof was damaged and one of the cows was injured in the blast in the central German town of Rasdorf. Thanks to the belches and flatulence of the 90 dairy cows in the shed, high levels of the gas had built up.
The article is written in a dry and factual tone. But of course, BBC being a British media outfit, a finger in German eye was stuck in a gentle, roundabout way, via "Related stories": Turning cows' 'burp-power' into fuel. The idea of that second piece could be summarized by this picture:

So be prepared to the day when, instead of sticking the gas nozzle in the tank of your car, you will get a few of these methane-filled balloons. As an additional bonus, you will be able to choose balloons of several colors, matching your car, your mood or a family occasion. Imagine how festive and happy, if not tasteful, will our streets and highways look!

P.S. I only wish they got off that "burp" euphemism. As if there is not enough...

Rule 5: Facial hair

There is a question regarding this picture. The guy drinking beer in the background: what do you think about his facial hair? Is it an out of control mustache or an underdeveloped beard?

(You are allowed to click on the picture for proper analysis of the issue).

01 February 2014

Scarlett Johansson has brains as well as beauty!

You know that SodaStream ad by Scarlett Johansson? The one to be screened during the Superbowl Final? Well, following criticism, Johansson has stepped down as an Oxfam Ambassador and, if she spoke the words of the statement attributed to her, has a lot of political nous too. The full story's here, in The Times of Israel.

She's got guts as well as political nous, because she would get a lot of brownie points for her Oxfam role, and she has preferred to stick by what we hope are her principles: support for a two-state outcome. What is interesting is that her statement supports the view that by having a factory in Ma'ale Adumim, SodaStream actually provide a far higher standard of living for their reported 900 Palestinian employees than they could possibly gain by working for local employers. Not that this cuts any ice with the BDS crowd, of course. They'd prefer the Palestinian workers remained poverty-stricken and lent "moral support" to their claims of Israeli brutality.

Oxfam have a lot to answer for, of course. Their statement includes the following gem: "Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law." To link to the outspoken Australian FM on her recent trip to Israel: under what international law? Or, more crudely, who says so? Anyway, a Middle Eastern site has an interesting slant on all this: "[While] [a]nti-Zionist sites like The Electric Intifada and Mondoweiss have referred to the 900 Palestinian employees at SodaStream’s West Bank facility as working in slave-labor-like conditions...on Tuesday, Al Arabiya wrote a story questioning whether or not the anti-bubble backlash would, in fact, harm those very Palestinians first."

Anyone States-side will still be able to see the Johansson ad, as, following Fox TV's cancelling of it, SodaStream have deleted the conclusion of the ad (the original is in the link, above) which has Scarlett saying "Sorry, Coke and Pepsi!"

By Brian Goldfarb.

By the editor.

Of course, the subject of the post demands a reminder about the beauty part, so from a recent post that proves another hitherto unknown trait of our heroine:

Viva Scarlett !