Wednesday, November 30, 2005

That's a Relief

Some years ago most of the Duncan Hines cake-mixes (and all of the frostings, I think) became dairy. For those of us who keep cholov yisroel, that means they are completely unuseable. Recently, Duncan Hines announced plans to convert the remaining flavors to dairy. Fortunately, according to Kosher Blog, Manischewitz is "filling the Duncan Hines vacuum." They plan to offer "Extra Moist Yellow" and "Chocolate Pareve" cake mixes in the near future, with other flavors to follow. We can all breathe a little easier now. I hope the Manischewitz ones are nice and chemical-filled like the DH ones were, with all sorts of enzymes, and dough conditioners, and emulsifiers!

The Onion: "Terrorist Has No Idea What To Do With All This Plutonium"

Very funny, but who knows, this might be happening right now:
Unable to search for bomb-making instructions on his laptop for fear of being monitored, Akhtar has been forced to send another of his sub-lieutenants, 23-year-old Ibraheem Jaalal, to a local Internet café in hopes of acquiring the necessary data. According to Jaalal, the process so far has proven "unbearably slow" and "outrageously expensive," claiming he can't believe the coffee shop charges $4.95 for an hour of dial-up-speed Internet use.

The cell's lack of contacts with professional scientists and engineers has also undermined their bomb-building efforts. "A friend of mine at university studied metallurgy," Jaalal said. "I have his e-mail address, but I can't just write him and say, 'Oh, hello, Suleymann, long time no see. Say, I'm a terrorist now, and I was wondering: How do you go about building a nuclear bomb?'"

Press Bias Watch

The current top headline on Yahoo is an item from the AP entitled "Bush Attempts Hard Sell on Iraq Progress." It's essentially an editorial. The first three paragraphs continue in the same vein:
President Bush's depiction of Iraqi security forces as "helping to turn the tide" is difficult to square with persistent setbacks in handing control of the country back to its own people.

His suggestion that Americans are solidly behind the mission also understates opposition at home, and his hard sell on the rising quality of Iraqi forces overlooks complexities on the ground.

Bush on Wednesday declared the Iraqi army and police forces are "increasingly taking the lead in the fight against the terrorists," even as recruits patrol
Iraq's most violent cities barely three months after learning how to use weapons and police forces struggle to get officers to come to work.
I suppose someone might point out that it is a signed story (signed stories typically venture more into opinion territory than unsigned ones), but I don't recall ever seeing a signed story expressing a conservative viewpoint as the top item from the AP on Yahoo.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Dilbert Blog on Intelligent Design

Scott Adams proposes an interesting thought experiment.

Eppes Some Links

We start with some interesting halachic issues: Romach questions whether there are any halacha sources that deal with the permissibility of torture. Hirhurim has a post, the first of a promised series, on Eruvin in Brooklyn. Since writing that last sentence, I have learned that there is whole blog devoted to this subject! Now to hashkafa, the following post at Romach about non-Jewish music is followed by a comment thread in which your humble Judeopundit makes some observations. Politics: at Korean News we learn that "On this day the Korean people extend firm solidarity and militant salute to the Palestinian people in their struggle to retake the territory usurped by the Israeli aggressors, build an independent state and achieve Mideast peace . . . ." Dhimmi Watch has an interesting essay "What if Israel Disappeared?" Finally, SerandEz presents a sort of mega blog round-up entitled "Blogosphere Super-Extravaganza 11/29." DovBear gets a category to himself.

Buy More Israeli Products, Boycott Businesses owned by Greens

The Green Party, predictably, just issued a call for divestment from Israel. A good response would be to buy more Israeli products, to boycott any businesses that Green Party members happen to own, and to let them know about it. If the Presbyterians still maintain their call for divestment, they should be subjected to similar treatment. Does anyone have information on Green and Presbyterian owned businesses suitable for boycotting? (Hat tip: LGF) Previous items on divestment: Worthwhile Divestment Campaign?
Martin Peretz on Anglican Divestment from Israel
Another Liberal Xian Denomination Votes for Divestment

Monday, November 28, 2005

Interesting Editorial on Terror in Arab News

An editorial on the Arab News website laments that the Euromed Summit in Barcelona did not produce a resolution on terror and makes the following observations:
By seeking to push through a politically loaded deal, the joint hosts, Spain and Britain, missed the opportunity to agree on the far more important statement that what makes modern terrorists such reprehensible criminals is that they target innocent civilians. The problem is that European governments in particular seem incapable of talking about the inhumanity of the latest terrorist depravity, without then relating the crime to their own political agenda.

This is nothing new. What is lost in this debate is the fact that whatever insurgents call themselves or are called, the majority of their victims are civilians. The calculation is as simple as it is sordid. If the populace can be terrified by bombs and murder, civil society will break down, the authorities will collapse and the insurgents will triumph. Therefore the more innocent blood that is shed and the more grotesque the butchery, the greater the impact for the terrorists’ cause.
That sounds pretty reasonable. Then the editorial begins to go off-track:
The real definition of terror is the indiscriminate taking of the lives of people whose only guilt is to be living in the society that is under attack. And it is not just Al-Qaeda and its murderous offshoots that have committed terror crimes. In the closing days of World War II, when Germany was all but beaten, British and American bombers obliterated the city of Dresden, slaying maybe 100 , 000 civilians. That was an act of terrorism. The Germans were already broken and just seven weeks away from collapse.

And if killing civilians to terrify them into submission is accepted as the definition of terrorism, then some of those most passionate warriors against it may have reasons to scale down their rhetoric. That definition fits Al-Qaeda attacks. It also fits “shock and awe” that the Pentagon spelled out as the strategy of the Iraq offensive.
Dresden is an interesting case. I don't think that ultimately it counts as terrorism, but it would take some space to explain why. The writer is totally wrong on "shock and awe," which was not meant to terrorize a civilian population but to convince a hostile government and army of overwhelming US military might. So the question would be this: does the moral equivalence gesture cancel out any positive impact the editorial might have as a condemnation of terror in the Arab press? Further thoughts: The problem is that the distorted depiction of American military actions substitutes here for the usual gesture in the direction of "resisting occupation." So it's the same old denial in a new guise.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement

This is from the San Francisco Chronicle. I was once lectured about how it is "globally irresponsible" to have a large family by a neighbor who was feeding large quantities of meat every day to an enormous dog. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who thinks like this? Now at last, an organization which takes this sort of thinking to its logical conclusion:
"We can't be breeding right now," says Les Knight. "It's obvious that the intentional creation of another [human being] by anyone anywhere can't be justified today."

Knight is the founder of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, an informal network of people dedicated to phasing out the human race in the interest of the health of the Earth. Knight, whose convictions led him to get a vasectomy in the 1970s, when he was 25, believes that the human race is inherently dangerous to the planet and inevitably creates an unsustainable situation.

"As long as there's one breeding couple," he says cheerfully, "we're in danger of being right back here again. Wherever humans live, not much else lives. It isn't that we're evil and want to kill everything -- it's just how we live."
I'm glad that people who think like this get vasectomies. (Hat tip: Bleeding Brain)

How Many Have Been Killed in Iraq?

LGF flags the following, from Logic Times:
The only way to describe the actions of the U.S. Military in its role of "occupier" is a compassionate and careful army that avoids collateral damage despite its dangerous mandate to hunt for terrorists and non-uniformed combatants hidden within the civilian population. It is nothing short of miraculous that our Armed Forces have been able to eliminate as many terrorists and enemy combatants as they have with so little actual collateral damage. Many seasoned military men, in fact, bemoan the increased danger such modern warfare represents. A cogent argument can be made that mixing warfare and compassion is not wise, but under no circumstances can American warriors be faulted for lacking compassion.

The low level of actual casualties, developed and explained in the Appendix below, is stunning. Over the course of the Iraq invasion and "occupation," only 14.8% of reported fatalities represent actual civilian fatalities caused by U.S. action. Even more remarkable, since the fall of Baghdad the U.S. has been directly responsible for only 3.8% of fatalities reported, as many deaths over almost two years as Saddam averaged in 10 days.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

AP: Everything Just Dandy in Gaza

Or so the AP would have you believe. This is the top story on Yahoo at the moment:
RAFAH TERMINAL, Gaza Strip - It was a smooth debut Saturday for the first Palestinian-run border. Hundreds of travelers zipped through passport control without having to submit to Israeli security checks, savoring their new freedom after 38 years of military occupation.
They just "zipped"! Such a cheerful story!
Jihad Zanoun, 30, a government employee, was the first to cross. "It is the beginning of a new era that will open a new horizon for me," said Zanoun, who was visiting relatives in Egypt.
A "new horizon!" And others are "extremely happy"!
"We are extremely happy," said Cristina Gallach, spokeswoman for European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana. "It has gone very smoothly."
In related developments mentioned in this story, jailed murderer Marwan Barghouti did very well in Fatah primaries. In another AP story (flagged by Jihad Watch) we learn that someone called "Hitler" also did well:
Two fugitives from Fatah's violent offshoot, the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, also secured high positions. The Jenin winner, Jamal Abu Rob, who gave himself the nickname "Hitler," is wanted for killing several suspected informers with Israel.
IRIS blog points out:
He should not be confused with any of the at least 25 other "Hitlers" or "Abu Hitlers" in the PLO, such as one of the leaders of the elite Palestinian "Force 17" bodyguard unit, or his son "Hitler" (his official given name).

"Michael Jackson loves all nations"--and wants to share a drink of wine in a soda can with them.

The Michael Jackson thread at J-Post continues, including this item:
11/27/2005 03:23

This is dedicated to all MJ haters, tabloids and Jews in the world!!!!! What is a genius? What is a living legend? What is a megastar? Michael Jackson - thats`s all. There is no one that can come near him, no one can dance like that, write the lyrics or cause the kind of excitement that he does. Michael Jackson is a phenomenon. He is mysterious. Theatrical. And he is innocent and he always was. He has the quality of innocence that we would all like to obtain or have kept. There has been a conspiracy going for many years and we all know it... Michael Jackson loves all nations and he does not treat people by their colour or religion. And he loves Israel! No one can destroy Michael Jackson. He is invincible. Wait until you know the truth. Michael Jackson will be vindicated. Prejustice is ignorance and Keep the faith... God bless Israel and the King of Pop

Battle for the Planet of Just Some Links

Washington Institute for Near East Policy has a an analysis of the current Israeli political situation which is recommended by Martin Kramer. LGF has an update on the reported military clash on the Iraq-Syria border. (Come to think of it, there are a number of hanging stories at the moment: Is Bin Laden alive? Is al-Zarqawi alive?) Elder of Zion has a good post entitled "AP backgrounder on the Muslim Brotherhood misses a few facts." Michelle Malkin has a round-up of information on "Tookie" Williams, and also a post on the resignation of pro-fragging professor John Daly. (Why do these guys always teach English?) Lamed Zayin has a Thanksgiving cartoon for those who like halachically informed humor. Godol Hador's blog seems to still be active, but why does he now always delete all posts except the current one? I have decided to wait a bit before posting any more totalitarian Engrish from the (North) Korean News site, but they have a new crop of stories if you like that sort of thing. My favorite current title is "Kim Il Sung's Immortal Exploits Praised."

Friday, November 25, 2005

Packed Pizza Shop on Thanksgiving

We owed the kids a meal at the Kosher Pizza Shop as a reward for something, so we went yesterday and there was a mob-scene there. I was wondering out loud to my wife what the reason was for the large crowd: "Perhaps they feel that even though Thanksgiving is not specifically a Jewish holiday, they should still do something a little special to participate in hakaras hatov to the Eibishter for the freedom Jews have experienced in ths country. After all, Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Soleveitchik pasken that you can celebrate Thanksgiving. Others feel that Thanksgiving is Mamash Avodah Zarah and what better way to renounce and repudiate Thanksgiving than to eat something milchig."

My wife replied, "Nah, the husband was off from work, the kids were home, so they went to the Pizza Shop. These places are busy Thursday night anyway."

From Metairie to Damscus

LGF flags this item, in which erstwhile Grand Dragon and Fuhrer David Duke visits Syria:
Duke expressed appreciation of Syria under the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad, saying he would do his bets to convey "the real peace-loving Syrian" stances to peoples across the world.

The news conference was attended by President of the World Charity Fund for Cooperation and Tolerance Among Religion and member of the Russian Union of Writers Valerie Borokhova, Professor of the Diplomatic Relations at the Academy of politics in Moscow, Director General of Islamic Furqan in Moscow Mohammad al-Rashid, several members of the Syrian Parliament and Arab and foreign correspondents.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

"Michael Jackson does not have a racist bone in his body"--and very little cartilage of any kind in his nose.

Somebody posted this to a comment thread following a J-Post article about Michael Jackson's latest repulsiveness:

November 23, 2005


Michael Jackson does not have a racist bone in his body. NEVER would he say anything, or do anything, that would be offensive to any ethnic group, or hurtful to any ethnic group. It is not in his character, or his being. He has spent his entire life reaching out to people throughout the world by spreading love through his music, and his philanthropic efforts.

It is unfortunate that these tapes are being disseminated throughout the airways without any "due deligence" with regards to the authenticity. However, Mr. Mesereau is representing Mr. Jackson in this matter and the truth will be revealed.

Because this is an on-going legal matter, we are not issuing any statements
at this time.

Source Raymone K. Bain/MJJForum Fan Club Liason
Let's see, Ms. Bain, he would "NEVER . . . say anything, or do anything, that would be offensive to any ethnic group, or hurtful to any ethnic group." Isn't that a bit much to swallow about someone who has already included the word "kike" in one of his official recordings?

Arutz Sheva: "Hevron Arabs Ask Jews For Help in Banishing Leftist Activists"

The anarchists, many of whom are members of the International Solidarity Movement, flock to flashpoints throughout Judea and Samaria, ostensibly to help PA Arabs contend with IDF closures and protect them from harassment. In actuality, many of the volunteers seek confrontations with IDF soldiers and local Jewish residents, taking advantage of their Western passports to cause havoc – knowing that, at worst, they will be deported, not jailed.

The local Arabs in the Hevron region whom the activists claim to be helping are now complaining that the American and European students behave in a provocative and offensive manner in Hevron’s public areas. The Arabs say the activists disrespect the moral norms and standards of the local population.

Several local Arab residents told the Kol Ha’Ir newspaper that the activists have been exposing the local youths to drug use and sexual promiscuity.

The IDF is sending a special squadron of armored bulldozers in the hopes that the ISM members will try to lie down in front of them. (Hat tip: Motnews)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Towards a Hipper Shlock-Rock: Don't Fear the Cholent

Shabbos Afternoon
What's that on my spoon
I got a sinking suspicion
That if bears some resemblance to food
We can really eat it

Come on Yidden . . . Don't fear the cholent
It ain't got no greens . . . Don't fear the cholent
We'll be able to shluff . . . Don't fear the cholent
Meat, potatoes, and beans . . .

Yankel Stein is done
Food but now its gone
Romeo and Juliet
Went wherever dead Gentiles go
Romeo and Juliet . . .

Probably a lot of folks are shluffin now . . . like Romeo and Juliet
But not in any big Italian afterlife . . . Gettin up for mincha
Probably a lot of folks are shluffin now . . . we can be like they are

Come on Yidden. . .Don't fear the cholent
It ain't got no greens. . . Don't fear the cholent
We'll be able to shluff . . . Don't fear the cholent
Meat, potatoes, and beans . . .

Food for two is one
Here but now it's gone
Came the last bite of cholent
It was clear that was it for the meat
The bowl was empty, drool was on the beard
The guests got up and then disappeared
The eyelids drooped and then shluff appeared
Saying don't be afraid . . .

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Jasmyne Cannick : "'Kill Tookie Hour' Crosses the Line"

Convicted murderer Stanley “Tookie” Williams is a current cause celebre of the Left. Talk Radio hosts John and Ken, however, have designated the hour of their show starting at 5:00 every day as the "Kill Tookie Hour." Blogger Jasmyne Cannick is outraged and probably feels the following is a convincing argument:
If any other radio station set aside an hour as “Kill President Bush” and set forth in that hour to incite a riot among people and to call for the death of the President, you best believe the Federal Communication Commission would be all over that station. Fines and penalties would be assessed and Bush supporters everywhere would be calling for the yanking of that stations license.
Everyone who commented on her post so far defends John and Ken. It just warms the cockles of your heart. Afterthought: For those of you who find his nickname vaguely familiar but can't figure out why, "tooki" is Hebrew for parrot.

(North) Korean News: "Horizontal Jib Tower Crane Made in DPRK"

In case you're wondering, "DPRK" stands for "Democratic People's Republic of Korea." And here's the story:
Pyongyang, November 21 (KCNA) -- The Pyongyang Elevator Factory has recently succeeded in manufacturing a horizontal jib tower crane in a few months. The Pyongyang University of Construction and Building Materials Production made its design on a high scientific and technical level as required by the IT era.
A research team sent to the factory developed a program on latest structure analysis and its application and worked out an optimized design, which could ensure safety and reliability of all structures of the crane and raise its working efficiency.
In cooperation with scientists in the Pyongyang Elevator Designing Institute, it designed rationally each structure of the crane according to the result of mock test.
Thus the design of the crane suitable to the actual conditions of the country was completed in a matter of one month.
The team developed another application program to solve difficult scientific and technical problems arising in designing and assembling.
The Pyongang Elevator Designing Institute! Think they have a good football team?

Victor Davis Hanson on Fighting Terror

The title is "If the Problem Is Muslim Terror, Then What?" Hanson outlines an actually minimal program:
From a national security standpoint, the prevention of another September 11 thus seems straightforward—in theory. Suspend most legal immigration from Middle Eastern countries known to subsidize or tolerate terrorism. Review all current visas and search out and deport violators. Continue to audit carefully the arrivals of Middle Eastern nationals. Tighten the Canadian and Mexican borders. Extend existing statutes on inflammatory speech and hate crimes to include radical Islamic doctrines that routinely denigrate Americans, Jews, homosexuals, and women. Hand down long sentences to those convicted of promulgating Islamic hatred and plotting terrorism, with special attention given to Saudi-sponsored charities, madrassas, and mosques. Renew the Patriot Act, and create a public culture that associates radical Islamicism with fascism.
We live, of course, in a country in which all of this is unlikely to be implemented. The question should really be, what if we implement all of these things and it still isn't enough? What then?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sultan Knish: Sharon seeking to Become Dictator

Sultan Knish is claiming that Sharon is seeking to become a dictator, but his standards for evidence seem a little low. One of his arguments is that "dictatorship is the norm and democracy the exception, particularly in the middle east." Another argument is that someone wrote a biography entitled "Sharon: an Israeli Caesar." Boy, will that be an apt title if he becomes a dictator! Just in case someone objects that the more serious arguments come later, here is a sample:
Now Sharon has proceeded to his next step, the destruction of the two major political parties and the creation of his own ruling party. While his departure has been described as a split in the Likud, it is actually a split in both Likud and Labor. Something that Sharon had always planned on and worked to bring about. With both parties broken, Sharon will create a ruling party much as Putin has done in Russia. Those from the left and right who have joined Sharon's party will be tossed away the moment they cease to be of use. The outcome will be a party ruled by and answerable to Sharon alone, all but eliminating the legislative branch as a meaningfull force. The end result is tyranny.
So OK, let's give the good Sultan points for a laudable concern with preserving democracy and note that a more tentative and frankly speculative tone would have made this an interesting "here is one way of seeing things" post instead of the Birchy thing it unfortunately comes across as.

Lileks on Vonnegut

I went through a phase of reading Vonnegut when I was a teenager. I think I read all his novels through Breakfast of Champions, and also his book of essays. I found them very entertaining at the time and I remember they all read very fast--you could polish a Vonnegut book off in 90 minutes or something like that. Later, when I got into reading a lot of serious literature, I never looked back on Vonnegut as anybody who was that profound. Here Lileks presents a cogent reaction to Vonnegut's recent praise for suicide bombers.

"They are dying for their own self-respect," he said. "It's a terrible thing to deprive someone of their self-respect. It's like your culture is nothing, your race is nothing, you're nothing."
Personally, I think it’s a worse thing to deprive someone of their own self-life. While I grant that people who go to a wedding party in a Jordon hotel are just asking for it (Insert obligatory come-back about the US mistakenly bombing a northern Iraqi wedding party here) you have to admit that it’s better to be alive, even if you have to deal with VOA satellite transmissions telling you your race is nothing – so worthless, in fact, that it deserves a democracy like Iowans and Britons and Japanese. Oh, we could just nuke your cities and take your oil, but we hate you so much we’re going to stay here and bleed and force your warring factions to hold subcommittee meetings on the constitutional process. It's bored our people to tears; now it's your turn.

AP Cheers Sharon

How is this for biased coverage?
JERUSALEM - In a bold gamble, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon asked Israel's president Monday to dissolve parliament, pushing for a quick March election just hours after deciding to leave his hard-line Likud Party and to form a new centrist party.

Sharon's decision to leave Likud sent shock waves through Israel, redrawing the political map, finalizing his transformation from hard-liner to moderate and boosting prospects of progress in peacemaking with the Palestinians.
Interesting alliteration at the end of the paragraph--"boosting" is part of it also. (A "b" is just a voiced "p.")

Houston Chronicle: "Reform Jews oppose Alito's nomination"

Members of the nation's largest Jewish denomination voted Sunday to oppose federal appeals court judge Samuel Alito's nomination for the Supreme Court.

The resolution overwhelmingly approved by the Union for Reform Judaism stated that Alito would take an "assertively conservative approach" to deciding cases, shifting the balance (retiring Justice Sandra Day) O'Connor brought the court on myriad social issues.
I wonder if this means they are hoping for a filibuster.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The New Header

If you have noticed the new look at the top of the blog, it makes use of information posted here. The image was generated at the following site.

Arab News: "Terrorism Will Be Put to an End Within Two Years: Crown Prince"

JEDDAH, 20 November 2005 — Saudi Arabia, which has been fighting a wave of violence blamed on Al-Qaeda militants, could put an end to terrorism within two years, said Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation.

“I can assure you that with the vigilance of security forces, intelligence agents and especially the Saudi people we might be able to end terrorism, God willing, within the next two years,” he told the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya satellite channel.

That's a relief! Wait a minute, I think a qualifier is coming in the next paragraph:
The crown prince however admitted that it would be difficult to get rid of terrorism completely. “No one in the world can prevent deviants,” he said referring to Al-Qaeda terror network.

Intelligent Design Not Disprovable?

Intelligent Design has been in the news again recently, and Charles Krauthammer has just made it the subject of a disdainful Washington Post column, with Charles Johnson providing an enthusiastic amen corner at LGF. Krauthammer writes:
Let's be clear. Intelligent design may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological "theory" whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge -- in this case, evolution -- they are to be filled by God. It is a "theory" that admits that evolution and natural selection explain such things as the development of drug resistance in bacteria and other such evolutionary changes within species but also says that every once in a while God steps into this world of constant and accumulating change and says, "I think I'll make me a lemur today." A "theory" that violates the most basic requirement of anything pretending to be science -- that it be empirically disprovable. How does one empirically disprove the proposition that God was behind the lemur, or evolution -- or behind the motion of the tides or the "strong force" that holds the atom together?
Now, a complete religious world view may indeed be non-disprovable, and Intelligent Design may in fact be an attempt to refurbish "Creation Science," but is Intelligent Design "tautological" and not "empirically disprovable"? This is, after all, a claim that appears quite frequently. I think, actually, that a significant part of Intelligent Design is disprovable. The following account of an ID argument appears in Wikipedia:
[Michael] Behe uses the mousetrap as an illustrative example of this concept. A mousetrap consists of several interacting pieces—the base, the catch, the spring, the hammer—all of which must be in place for the mousetrap to work. The removal of any one piece destroys the function of the mousetrap. Likewise, biological systems require multiple parts working together in order to function. Intelligent Design advocates claim that natural selection could not create from scratch those systems for which science is currently not able to find a viable evolutionary pathway of successive, slight modifications, because the selectable function is only present when all parts are assembled. Behe's original examples of irreducibly complex mechanisms included the bacterial flagellum of E. coli, the blood clotting cascade, cilia, and the adaptive immune system.
This is followed by the following criticism:
The IC (irreducible complexity) argument also assumes that the necessary parts of a system have always been necessary, and therefore could not have been added sequentially. But something which is at first merely advantageous can later become necessary. For example, one of the clotting factors that Behe listed as a part of the IC clotting cascade was later found to be absent in whales[24], demonstrating that it isn't essential for a clotting system. Many purported IC structures can be found in other organisms as simpler systems that utilize fewer parts. These systems may have had even simpler precursors that are now extinct.

Perhaps most importantly, potentially viable evolutionary pathways have been proposed for allegedly irreducibly complex systems such as blood clotting, the immune system[25] and the flagellum[26], which were the three examples Behe used. Even his example of a mousetrap was shown to be reducible by John H. McDonald.[27] If IC is an insurmountable obstacle to evolution, it should not be possible to conceive of such pathways—Behe has remarked that such plausible pathways would defeat his argument.
That sounds like an attempt to disprove a disprovable assertion to me. Perhaps critics of ID just say that it's wrong. Continuing: Why don't they just say that it's wrong? I think there is a certain intellectual bad-faith here: the "not-disprovable" objection to ID reflects a certain desire to shut down the discussion. Whatever its merits, ID has staked out some legitimately scientific territory. Distinguishing chance from non-chance is something that science attempts to do all the time. That being said, my favorite approach to reconciling the Torah and the fossil record is still Omphalism. See the following on Hirhurim, especially the final comments.

al-Zarqawi killed?

The entire text of the article in the Jerusalem Post:
At least one Arab television media outlet reported that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of the al-Qaida in Iraq, was killed in Iraq on Sunday afternoon when eight terrorists blew themselves up in the in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

The unconfirmed report claimed that the explosions occurred after coalition forces surrounded the house in which al-Zarqawi was hiding.
(Hat tip: respondingtojblogs, who credits LGF)
Update:Now it appears that reports of al-Zarqawi's death may have been exaggerated.

Godol Update

The coffin lid seems to be very tightly closed again for Godol Hador. The two recent posts are now deleted. The only post visible is entitled "Cold Turkey." The contents of the post are the words "click here," which has the effect of only advancing the hit-counter. This is by means of a link to the main URL. If you try to comment, you get a message that your comment has been submitted for moderation. So I guess if he does nothing, no comments will ever appear. There is no way of accessing the archives, and the notices about the non-genuine status of any future posts or comments are also gone. Future developments, if there are any, will be noted, IY"H. Update: New post. Come to think of it, further developments on this front may be ignored.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Muslim Brotherhood Wins 34 Seats in Egyptian Parliament

This is disturbing news. The AP story makes the Muslim Brotherhood sound rather benign:
The group, founded in 1928, calls for implementing Islamic law but has long been vague about what this means. Its members are conservative — advocating the veil for women and campaigning against perceived immorality in the media, for example — but the group insists it represents a more moderate face of Islam than the puritanical Wahhabi version that dominates Saudi Arabia.

In the past year, Brotherhood members have presented themselves as advocates of democratic reform and have tried to reach out to Christians, though most in Egypt's Christian minority oppose them.

The government generally tolerates the group, which renounced violence in the 1970s, but hundreds of members have been detained in recent months amid increased protests against Mubarak, Egypt's leader for 24 years.
The story does note that Coptic Christians are disturbed by the election results, and the last sentence of the article notes that the MB spawned Hamas. Dots nice.

AFP thinks "Gangs, poverty and racial divide could make LA another Paris"

The story includes the following:
"Can Los Angeles become a hotbed of violence similar to France?" asks Ernesto Cienfuegos, a member of the separatist group "The Voice of Aztlan," which wants to create an independent Hispanic state in the US southwest called "the Northern Republic."

His answer is "yes."

"Here in Los Angeles," wrote Cienfuegos on the group's Web site, "we see ominous signs of a possible social explosion that will eclipse even riots in France."
The Voice of Aztlan--that would be these guys?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Just Some More Links

Slate (Hat tip: Martin Kramer) has an article called "Attack of the Career-Killing Blogs." (Referring to academic jobs--don't panic). LGF flags an article in which Abu Mazen makes it very clear he has no intention of disarming Hamas. With Thanksgiving coming up, you might want to look at the following on the Mesorah of Birds. Godol Hador has another new post, making him more prolific since he renounced his blog than many bloggers who didn't renounce theirs. Yeshivah Orthodoxy flags a bigoted attack on Lakewood Orthodox Jews presented as a legitimate opinion piece in the Asbery Park Press. DovBear sides with [DB objects: "I didn't side with the author. I ran in another direction with his observations."] the author. Finally, Dhimmi Watch has this item about Cat Stevens.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Yearning for an "Obesity Coordinator" in the Jewish Journal

Writing in the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, Brian Albert and Tanya Bowers warn us that
Obesity is the fastest growing health threat in this country . . .
The solution?
. . . we are proposing the creation of a joint county, city (and, if possible, LAUSD) obesity coordinator. The office would be modeled on the city’s AIDS coordinator’s office created by Mayor Tom Bradley, but would include the county to take advantage of its public health and health care resources and the LAUSD as one of the country’s largest educational institutions, while also leveraging the bully pulpit available to the mayor.
The Jewish angle?
We believe that the Jewish community has a role to play in the campaign to appoint an obesity coordinator and to win the battle against obesity. Generating the political will to create an empowered obesity coordinator will require pressure from many communities, including our own.
I have two words to say in response to this: shmaltz herring.

Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

David Irving Arrested Under a Law that Actually should be Repealed

VIENNA, Austria - British historian David Irving was arrested last week in southern Austria on a warrant accusing him of denying the Holocaust, the Interior Ministry said Thursday. Irving was arrested Nov. 11 in Styria province, said police Maj. Rudolf Golia, an Interior Ministry spokesman. He was transferred to a prison in Graz.

Irving was detained on a warrant issued in 1989 under Austrian laws that make Holocaust denial a crime, Golia said. The accusation stemmed from speeches Irving delivered that year in Vienna and in the southern town of Leoben.
Irving is certainly guilty of denying the Holocaust, but it is not a good idea at all to turn him into a free speech martyr. It is better to fight denier sewage with the truth than with police and prison sentences.

Sprouts get a Rabbit

Meaning that Belgium has its first female Rabbi. A sign of the times, no doubt:
The Conservative movement — or Masorti, as it’s called in Belgium — is growing, but most Western European Jews define themselves as secular. That’s particularly true in Brussels, home to the only avowedly secular Jewish community center on the continent.

But Chinsky doesn’t see that as an issue.

“The word ‘religion’ is not a Jewish word. I feel very much that Judaism is a civilization, not a religion,” she says.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Quote of the Day

The hat tip for this one goes to News for Members of the Tribe. This is from an essay by Dr. Steven M. Steinlight of the Center for Immigration Studies:
There’s a sad, if comic irony associated with the fact that employees at organizations like ADL, the American Jewish Committee, and the Presidents’ Conference must pass through a gauntlet of concrete barriers, armed guards, metal detectors, and double bulletproof anterooms as they come to work each morning to protect them from radical Islamic terrorists, in order to spend their days studying and disseminating reports on the "threat" posed by Evangelical Christians.
Whenever I go to the Jewish Federation building on Wilshire in Los Angeles, I have to go through something like airport security. I put my wallet, keys, and cell-phone in the little tray and put it on the conveyor-belt. I make a little joke along the lines of "What gate does my flight leave from?" I walk through the metal detector. I love this quote.

If There's a Dictator Heaven, You Know They've got a Hell of a Politburo

Castro, evidently, will soon be with Beria, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Che Guevara:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The CIA has concluded that Cuban President Fidel Castro suffers from Parkinson's disease and could have difficulty coping with the duties of office as his condition worsens, an official said Wednesday.

The assessment, completed in recent months, suggests the nonfatal but debilitating disease has progressed far enough to warrant questions among U.S. policymakers about the communist country's future in the next several years.

"The assessment is that he has the disease and that his condition has progressed. There appear to be more outward signs," said an official who is familiar with the assessment.
Update: It now appears that Castro is thumbing his nose at the Parkinson's report.

Firebomb Attack Against Jewish Blogger

Jameel Rashid at the Muqata is fortunately unharmed and his post gives us a valuable glimpse into how terror impacts the life of someone living in Israel. Mi shegemalcha tov, Hu yigmalcha kol tov sela.

Commenting in a later post on sympathetic Israeli reactions to the film "Paradise Now," he asks
Why do liberal Jews always turn black and white into grey? Is nothing definitive anymore? The terrorists which tried to kill me yesterday are really freedom fighters? Suicide bombers can be "understood"?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Charles Krauthammer Bets on the Rioters

Here Krauthammer makes a number of points that have been made by other writers, but with more memorable bits than most:
"With current trends," Professor Bernard Lewis has said, "Europe will have Muslim majorities in the population by the end of the 21st century." The future? "Europe will be part of the Arab west, of the Maghreb [Muslim northwest Africa]." Today's rioting youth are just a bit ahead of their time in claiming their upcoming patrimony.

The ethnic underclass, jobless and futureless, warehoused in sterile and isolated block housing, has been seething for decades. France has responded with willful blindness (even before this intifadeh, France was experiencing dozens of car arsons a night, but you did not hear about it because official France just accepted this as the norm) and pacification, creating a lavish welfare system to keep its angry youth well clad, well fed and well provided with cell phones.

But they want more than cake for eating. They want a future. The rest of France has for decades been wanting only a present--just a few more years of fine wine and steady work in a superregulated, 35-hr.-workweek, cozy social compact that makes it almost impossible for a worker to be fired and almost impossible for the offspring of immigrants to be hired.

Deprogram Vegetarians

Yeshivah Orthodoxy just noted that PETA plans a protest attacking Rubashkin at Kosherfest. Suggestions for a counter-demonstration: Educate people as to why radical animal-rights ideology leads to eco-terrorism. The following, for instance, appears under the heading "We Are All Animals":
Will future generations look back at ours with the same shame and horror we feel when we read about ships crammed with slaves or about the forced winter march of American Indians away from their homelands? An objective look reveals that our generation still operates in the same way. The only difference is that yesterday's victims—used and abused because they were "different" and powerless—are now of other species.
Further thoughts: So some of the signs in the counter-protest could read "Deprogram Vegetarians," or "PETA Thinks You're an Animal," or "Fur is cool."

Current Blogcomedy on Current Events

Protein Wisdom presents "9 rejected Democratic talking points for why Congressional Dems initially believed Chimpy McHitlerburton's WMD Intelligence LIES." See any of the most recent entries on Iowahawk. And finally, Scrappleface has the following: Zarqawi Backs GOP Call to Unveil War-Ending Plan An excerpt:
We think it is important for a democracy such as the United States to be transparent with the public,” said Mr. Zarqawi in a video statement released to al-Jazeera TV and CNN. “We’ll all feel better when we learn strategic and tactical details of how Mr. Bush intends to stop al Qaeda from turning Iraq into the first major victory in the global jihad.”

Maven Yavin

Three of the bloggers (Krum, Lamed Zayin, and On the Mainline) in the "Jewish (mostly Orthodox) Blogs" blogroll over there to the right just announced that they are joining forces and shall hanceforth appear in a group blog called Maven Yavin. At the top they print the following disclaimer:
The views expressed in any post belong only to its author and not to the other posters on this site. The rest of us probably disagree with that apikorsus as strongly as you do. Please feel free to express your displeasure in the appropriate comment thread.
The disclaimer should give you an idea of the tone of the whole blog. Update: A further merger: Fast becoming the ConAgra of the J-Blogosphere, Maven Yavin swallows up ADDeRabbi. Further update: Lamed Zayin reminds me that the individual blogs will continue.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Gerard Alexander: "A Continent of Broken Windows"

Gerard Alexander, writing in the Standard, provides a right-wing analysis of the current riots in France and elsewhere without focusing, interestingly, on Islam. Alexander places the riots in the context of the rising European crime-rate and its causes:
France's riots probably cannot be understood without reference to a welfare state so expensive that it stifles job-creation and closes the doors of social advancement to young people, especially minorities. The official French unemployment rate has fluctuated between 8 percent and 12 percent for almost 25 years straight (even more joblessness is concealed by early-retirement schemes). Ironically, Europeans used to lecture Americans that expensive welfare states at least ensured social peace by preventing the rise of an alienated underclass of the kind seen in American inner cities. Higher taxes for lower crime was a tradeoff many Europeans were prepared to make. Now they find themselves saddled with both high welfare costs and high crime. But placing blame on the welfare state only gets us so far, because crime is also high in the Netherlands and Scandinavia, where unemployment is lower thanks to serious reforms of their welfare states . . . if anything, property crimes reflect the something-for-nothing mentality that welfare states already inculcate and legitimize. And crime as a political issue is freighted with moral significance, involving, as it does, a rejection of the mores needed for any ordered society. In this country, the rising crime rates of the 1960s and 70s eventually brought a renewed appreciation, among liberals and conservatives, for the indispensability of certain social mores, like minimal respect for character, national traditions, and virtuous individuals. Crime helped many Americans remember how important it is that mores like these be instilled in society's members, especially its newest and youngest ones.

Two Interesting Posts at the Counter-Terrorism Blog

Steven Emerson: Arrested woman bomber a "treasure trove of intelligence"

Iraq's National Security Advisor: Most Al-Qaida Suicide Bombers are Saudi Nationals Crossing Through Syria

Pro-UN Editorial at

George Mitchell, former Senate majority leader and "senior fellow at Columbia University's Center for International Conflict Resolution," begins his essay in a way that suggests that he will address the UN's ability to reform itself following the oil-for-food scandal. In three paragraphs of astonishingly empty writing, Mitchell tells us what gives him cause for hope:
Reaching agreement on difficult issues concerning the U.N. is possible, even among people and organizations with divergent views. One need only look at the work of the congressionally mandated Task Force on the United Nations that I co-chaired up through this summer with former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Drawing on the collected views of experts and institutions representing the left, center and right of the American political spectrum, our task force submitted to Congress a 145-page report that included 16 pages of specific recommendations in five thematic areas: preventing and ending conflicts and building stable societies; preventing and responding to genocide and gross human rights violations; preventing catastrophic terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; ensuring the effectiveness, integrity, transparency and accountability of the U.N. system, and fostering economic development and reducing poverty.

The ability of a diverse group of Americans to reach agreements in so many significant areas regarding the U.N. should be noted and celebrated. To me, the task force's success signaled that the U.N. need not be a divisive political issue in the United States, and that Americans do see value in international cooperation.
145 pages! "Five thematic areas"! "16 pages of specific recommendations"! I feel better already!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Just Some Links

We begin with some Arafat items: Beauiful Atrocities has a profile of Suha Arafat. Motnews notes that the PLO is calling for a UN Investigation into Arafat's death. An item from Amshinover is actually a Newsweek story about a Reform Rabbi discussing sex with 6th-graders, but the tasteless illustration accompanying the post might be said to present what the world looked like to Yassir Arafat. Iowahawk has excerpts from a musical about the rioters in France (Arafat's spiritual heirs?). Smooth Stone notes an essay in the Spectator speculating on the spread of the French riots to England. Update: Oh, and LGF has something about Michael Jackson's appearance in a ladies room in Dubai wearing a Hijab. Further Update: IRIS Blog has an extensive round-up of articles on the French riots with the aim of proving that the Islamic connection has been played down in the MSM.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Claudia Brunner: "Sex and suicide bombers"

This from Ha'aretz, and I was led to it by Martin Kramer's excellent website. "The writer," we learn, "teaches political gender studies at Vienna University and is writing her PhD dissertation on gender as a category of knowledge . . . ." The real subject of this post is how and what you have to write to get a Ph.D. these days. Kramer asks "Is this a parody?" Here is Brunner announcing the aims of her article:
Instead of asking myself why a woman decides to become a suicide bomber or whether it is her own decision or not, I wanted to move from the micro level of looking for motivations and personal circumstances to a macro level of discourse analysis within debates on women suicide bombers: How do sex and gender appear in these debates, which discursive positions do make use of it, in what ways, and for what aims? And how can these elements contribute to a larger understanding of what is often conceived as an insoluble antagonism (suicide bombing plus a woman performing it)?
She detects certain patterns in discourse about female suicide bombers:
Adult women are described by their first names and as girls, their personal and sexual life is at the core of most of the explanations, and they are often described as patriarchally suppressed individuals who are neither aware of nor politically determined for their crimes; these elements are unlikely to be applied in writings on men.
Brunner's big insight seems to be that stereotypes about the Palestinians are actually sexist stereotypes about women:
Writing on suicide bombing as an isolated "phenomenon" is often associated with irrationality, immorality, emotion, anarchy, chaos, weakness, privacy, and other labels that one is quite familiar with when thinking of ideas of femininity in general, regardless of the biological sex of the perpetrators. Suicide bombing, in an imagery of the uncontrollable non-state actor that not only the citizens of Israel, but the very idea of the nation state has to fear, has become not only a real threat in everyday life in many regions of the world, but also a discursive frame in which the difficult task of re-establishing the rationality and legitimating of the use of (pre-emptive and repaying) force against its potential agents are being reorganized.

In that context, occidentalist representations enable Western analysts to conceive (potential) suicide bombers as "the other" and construct walls between "us" and "them," and gender seems to constitute a major implicit logic in that binary construction of orientalist stereotyping.
And exactly how are we supposed to benefit from this insight?
This clear distinction on a symbolic level is supposed to save the rationality of physically and discursively manifest "wars on terror," and it needs the irrational, the unmoral and the non-self-determined, but patriarchally suppressed other in order to maintain its legitimacy.

It is exactly in this respect that one can doubt the long term efficacy of such a dichotomy, because it not only applies to the specific other that really and intentionally threatens potential victims of suicide bombings, but also to the generalized other, the Palestinian people who by that construction necessarily remains irrational, unmoral, chaotic, weak, barbaric and therefore the enemy. And peace, you do not make with enemies.
There you go. Now you know why we haven't made peace with the Palestinians (and also Al-Qaida?) yet. If only we could avoid "orientalist stereotyping." Update: We seem to have a test-case for Brunner's theories.

A Music Review You Might Find Useful

In brief he gives good reviews to L'maancha by Eitan Katz and Bakesh Avdecha by Yosef Karduner. I can vouch for the latter CD myself. (Hat tip: Life-of-Rubin)

Jonah Goldberg: "Trouble in Gaulistan"

You wouldn't know it from the title, but Goldberg actually weighs in on the side that does not think the riots are "about Islam":
The Islamic leadership in France would clearly and dearly love this to be a Muslim riot. They could then stop it and become true Left Bank Arafats, able to fire up a rent-a-mob whenever convenient and thereby shake down the government for one concession after another. That's why the French government is so desperate to prevent the imams from becoming middlemen. If the riots are stopped by Islamic clerics, they will become Islamic riots — even though they didn't start as that. And once the conflict is Islamified, the conservative Nostradamus scenarios kick in and we can all get ready for talk of "two-state solutions," the need to make Paris an "international city," and so forth.

Their being Muslim surely contributes to these kids' invisibility, but French racism and snobbery is more sweeping. Unlike in America, where snobbery, racism and anti-Muslim bigotry can all operate independently of each other, in France they're always linked in a menage a trios. If a resume arrives at the patisserie with the name Hamid on it, it gets trashed without the recipient wondering whether he was unfair to a Muslim, a black, an immigrant or even a French citizen.

JTA Editorial: Solution to the French Riots? Diversity Training!

No this isn't from The Onion:
Two years ago, CEJI, the French acronym for the European Jewish Information Center, warned the French government that diversity should never be taken for granted, and that unless society learns how to deal with pluralism it will face difficult times ahead. We offered training for teachers and civil servants, but the government didn’t follow up.

Through our work in schools and peer training, implementing the “World of Difference” educational program and constantly working in the field of Jewish-Muslim dialogue and European integration, we know that education is the key to a peaceful society.

When violence erupts, it’s not the time to give up on our dreams and turn to simple and radical solutions. Rather, today is the time to work even harder to make our dream a reality. By valuing each other and discovering each other, we believe we can still create a more cohesive society in Europe.

French Rioters Aren't Targeting Jews?

This is from Arutz Sheva:
"Walter H," who lives in France, stated that the violence against Jews has been country-wide. "In Lyon, a car was rammed into a synagogue and set on fire. In
Montpellier, the Jewish religious center was firebombed [as] were synagogues in Strasbourg and Marseilles [and] a Jewish school in Creteil," he wrote in an e-mail..

He also related that a Jewish sports club in Toulouse was attacked with Molotov cocktails and that vandals painted the words "Dirty Jew" on a statute of Alfred Dreyfus in Paris. He added, "15 men beat up members of a Jewish football team with sticks" in Bondy.
Let's see--attacks on three shuls, a school, and a religous center, as well as other incidents.

Mehr: "Katrina inspires Iranian director to stage 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'"

TEHRAN, Nov. 12 (MNA) -- Discrimination against racial minorities in housing and the slowness in delivering relief after the destructive Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and other parts of the U.S. South have inspired Iranian director Behruz Gharibpur to make plans to stage “Uncle Tom's Cabin” in Tehran in the upcoming year.
Audience members who do not clap loudly enough after the performance will, of course, be sent to re-education camps.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

More from Mehr: Denying the Holocaust

The source is Iran's Mehr News Agency and the article's title is "Zionist power stems from West's belief in 'Holocaust' myth: Faurisson." The article itself is an interview with Robert Faurisson. For instance:
Q: What has to be done on the international scene by Islamic countries to oppose such practices?

Faurisson: My answer is simple: Islamic countries need to destroy the Jews' and Zionists' veritable "atomic weapon", that is, the appalling and gigantic imposture of the "Holocaust" that up to now has been poisoning the Western world and is henceforth imposed on us by the UN in the entire world. In your public demonstrations and talks, repeat after the revisionists: "The 'Holocaust' is a lie". Have the courage to proclaim this salutary truth.
After the interview we learn the following:
Robert Faurisson is Europe's leading Holocaust revisionist scholar. He was educated at the Paris Sorbonne, and served as associate professor at the University of Lyon in France from 1974 until 1990. He is a recognized specialist of text and document analysis. After years of private research and study, Dr. Faurisson first made public his skeptical views about the Holocaust extermination story in articles published in 1978 in the French daily Le Monde. His writings on the Holocaust issue have appeared in two books and numerous scholarly articles, many of which have been published in the IHR's Journal of Historical Review.
The IHR was created, of course, by that lovable Neo-Nazi Willis Carto. (Hat tip: Motnews)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Yiddish with Dick and Jane

Click to play the "educational recitation." (You need something faster than dial-up.)

Good Review of Academic Israel-bashing Book

Where is Eco-Milah When You Need It?

The training of Reform Mohalim is presented in this news item as a return to observance, but I'm not so sure. It seems that a certain number of Reform parents want their sons to be circumcised anyway, but they run into problems with the fact that the mother and the rach hanimol aren't Jewish:
There were . . . points of conflict engendered by the Orthodox and Reform understandings of who is a Jew. Traditional Judaism considers people Jewish only if their mothers are. But the Reform movement began counting someone as a Jew if either parent was Jewish.

In recent decades, intermarriage has been escalating: In some Reform congregations upwards of half the families have a non-Jewish member. Even when they later embraced Judaism, there could be problems when seeking the service of a mohel (the singular of mohalim).

"An Orthodox mohel might not accept a mother who converted to Judaism, if the conversion wasn't done by an Orthodox rabbi," said Rabbi Lewis Barth, co-founder of NOAM and dean of Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles.

Some non-Orthodox parents have been subject to a kind of shell game, noted Fred Kogen, who took his medical degree at the University of Chicago. The trick depends upon secular Jews not knowing the faith's liturgical language. He explained that a bris is something more than a circumcision. The latter is a surgical procedure; it becomes a bris only when the proper blessings are said, welcoming the boy into the Jewish people by name.

"Parents would get a Mr. Orthodox mohel, right out of central casting with a long white beard," Kogen said. "He'd change the blessing, murmuring something in Hebrew about it being done pending the `future conversion' of the child."

To free Reform parents from those dilemmas, the NOAM program was established, Barth explained. Participants, who are often recruited by their rabbi, go through intensive short-courses in the theology and liturgy of the bris. It can be a life-changing experience, say veterans of the program, which is offered at various locations around the nation.
Instead of pretending that the Jewish part of the Bris is negotiable, it would probably better for a non-Jewish baby to have a regular secular circumcision in a hospital. For ceremony, they could just do something completely meaningless, the milah equivalent of Eco-kashrus: Ze ha'alfalfa sprout gadol yiyeh . . . (Hat tip: Yeshivah Orthodoxy)

Guess It Really is California After All

Its official, the whole California Intitiative thing completely went down in flames. I always thought there was something Cinderalla-like about Arnold's victory in the recall election. It is now past midnight, the carriage has turned back into a pumpkin, the coachman has turned back into Gray Davis, and DovBear has cause to gloat.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Make that *All* Propositions Losing

Almost All Propositions Losing

Evidently DovBear's admonition to vote Republican had no effect on California voters.

Fearless Iranian Journalists Expose Zionist Lobby in France

This is from something called the Mehr News Agency in Teheran:
TEHRAN, Nov. 6 (MNA) -- Iran’s Association of Muslim Journalists (AMJ) issued a statement on Sunday condemning the violation of Muslims’ civil rights in France and calling on the French government to cooperate with them in establishing a fact-finding commission in order to investigate the conditions of French Muslims.

The AMJ said that the mistreatment of Black French Muslims over the past two weeks has deeply influenced Iranian public opinion.

“We suppose that the French government has carried out the recent discriminatory and anti-human rights acts under the influence of the Zionist lobby in France to limit the social and personal freedoms of the Muslims residing in the country, which is quite unacceptable on the part of a country that claims to be democratic,” part of the statement read.
(Hat tip: Motnews)

Monday, November 07, 2005

California Initiatives

You hardly ever see evidence that this blog originates in California, but
here is how to vote tomorrow:

73 Yes
74 Yes
75 Yes
76 Yes
77 Yes
78 Yes
79 No
80 No

Update: Here is a link to see how they are actually doing. Further update: The ones I really cared about--74, 76, and 77--are all now losing.

No, this isn't The Onion dept.: "Iran to present Mideast 'peace plan'"

This is from the Jerusalem Post:
According to [Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr] Mottaki, the proposal was to be based on the ideas of Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini.

Khameini said last week that the solution to the conflict involved, "a national referendum in which all true Palestinians would participate, whether they are Muslims, Jews or Christians, including Palestinian refugees throughout the world," on how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
I wonder who would qualify as a "true Palestinian."

Y-Net: French Rioters Target Synagogues

We all saw that coming, didn't we?
The Jewish community has watched the riots increase in intensity, fearing new assaults against its members and synagogues.

Community security services however say the number of anti-Semitic attacks in the suburbs is until now unchanged.

Arsonists threw at least two Molotov cocktails at synagogues in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine and Garges, leaving worshippers unhurt.

Elsewhere, near the synagogue of Stains about 40 rioters confronted police forces who were braced for an attack.

Jacki Brami, Garges’s rabbi, and his sons have been, "as usual", insulted, according to the anti-Semitism vigilance bureau

“It’s business as usual,” Samy Ghozlan, head of the anti-Semitism vigilance bureau told EJP. “These communities are used to these daily assaults. It’s worrisome, but we fear the worst is still to come.”

“Now that the media decided to reduce coverage of the riots, the thugs may intensify the violence against the Jews, to regain media attention," he added.
Actually these attacks are a fiendish Zionist ruse to prevent people from realizing that the riots are a Jewish plot.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

France: The Two-State Solution

This has been a long time coming, hasn't it? Steven Plaut gloats:
First, until this plan is implemented in full, we must insist that the French government acknowledge that there is no military or police solution to the problems of violence in its suburbs, and only through recognizing the legitimacy of the demands of the murderers and rioters outside Paris can the problems be resolved.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Noach and Science

In a recent thought-provoking post, Lamed Zayin discusses various approaches to reconciling Science with Parshas Noach. One of the approaches he discusses is the following:
. . . since the Flood was miraculous anyways perhaps part of the miracle is that it left no evidence (what we can call the "magic water" theory). Of these three, only the last is reasonable, and it's theologically difficult. It requires assuming that God intentionally plants evidence to decieve our senses, and is akin to Gosse's suggestion that the world was created to look ancient.
I think he is dismissing this line of reasoning too glibly. We do believe the flood was a miraculous event. How can we know what sort of evidence it would leave if we do not know exactly what happened? How exactly do the waters of a miraculous world-wide flood behave? What was the process of removing the waters like? And while we don't believe that God "intentionally plants evidence to deceive our senses," don't we believe that cognitive dissonance is part of being a religious person here in the physical world? Perhaps it is our modern lot to worry about the physical evidence for the flood, while the ancients were more concerned with worrying about why the wicked often seem to prosper, but reconciling fatih and the empirical realm is not exactly a new problem.

I wonder if my background in Chassidus is influencing my thoughts here. Chassidus, after all, stresses that concealment is part of creation and that galus is particularly a time of concealment. The question is not so much why G-d would deceive us, but why did He desire this sort of world exactly. What sort of world would it be if science confirmed everything in the Torah? Lamed Zayin states:
Our tradition is quite to the contrary, that one should be able in theory, like Avraham, to recognize God from observing the world, not that the world was created in a way to hide God's presence.
Except that there is a quite extensive tradition in Judaism of saying precisely that "the world was created in a way to hide God's presence." Start with a Google search on the word "tzimtzum."

First Madonna, now Boy George

Hat tip: Yeshiva Orthodoxy

Amir Taheri: "Why Paris is Burning"

This is from the New York Post. Isn't it interesting that Conservatism and Liberalism influence the extent to which Islam is openly mentioned as an element of a news story? Here is Taheri:
How did it all start? The accepted account is that sometime last week, a group of young boys in Clichy engaged in one of their favorite sports: stealing parts of parked cars.

Normally, nothing dramatic would have happened, as the police have not been present in that suburb for years.

The problem came when one of the inhabitants, a female busybody, telephoned the police and reported the thieving spree taking place just opposite her building. The police were thus obliged to do something — which meant entering a city that, as noted, had been a no-go area for them.

Once the police arrived on the scene, the youths — who had been reigning over Clichy pretty unmolested for years — got really angry. A brief chase took place in the street, and two of the youths, who were not actually chased by the police, sought refuge in a cordoned-off area housing a power pylon. Both were electrocuted.

Once news of their deaths was out, Clichy was all up in arms.

With cries of "God is great," bands of youths armed with whatever they could get hold of went on a rampage and forced the police to flee.

Taheri continues:
Some are even calling for the areas where Muslims form a majority of the population to be reorganized on the basis of the "millet" system of the Ottoman Empire: Each religious community (millet) would enjoy the right to organize its social, cultural and educational life in accordance with its religious beliefs.

In parts of France, a de facto millet system is already in place. In these areas, all women are obliged to wear the standardized Islamist "hijab" while most men grow their beards to the length prescribed by the sheiks.

The radicals have managed to chase away French shopkeepers selling alcohol and pork products, forced "places of sin," such as dancing halls, cinemas and theaters, to close down, and seized control of much of the local administration.

A reporter who spent last weekend in Clichy and its neighboring towns of Bondy, Aulnay-sous-Bois and Bobigny heard a single overarching message: The French authorities should keep out.

"All we demand is to be left alone," said Mouloud Dahmani, one of the local "emirs" engaged in negotiations to persuade the French to withdraw the police and allow a committee of sheiks, mostly from the Muslim Brotherhood, to negotiate an end to the hostilities.
Compare this to NY Times coverage:
While the vast majority of the young people behind the nightly attacks are Muslim, experts and residents warned against seeing the violence through the prism of religion. The cultural divide between these second- and third-generation immigrants and the native French is deeper because they come from Muslim families, but to date the violence has had nothing to do with Islam.
I visted Paris around 1988 or so. I wouldn't go now.

AP: "JDL Member Imprisoned in Bomb Plot Killed"

Earl Krugel, 62, was killed in an assault Friday evening at the Federal Correctional Institution, said FBI agent Richard Murray.

Murray wouldn't release further details but said federal authorities had opened a homicide investigation.

Krugel's wife, Lola, said FBI investigators told her an inmate had struck her husband on the head from behind with a cement block.

"Earl never saw it happening," she said. "He was exercising."
What are the chances of Krugel's killer turning out to be a Muslim? 80%?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Fondness Rampager Disaster Area--Anagrams for Red Sea Pedestrians

News For Members Of The Tribe presented some anagrams today made from names of current figures in the news of interest to Jews. He concludes "Try it yourself" followed by a link to an anagram generator called Anagram Genius. OK, here goes:

'Shulamit Aloni' anagrams to 'Loutish animal.' (I couldn't make this up myself)
'Michael Lerner' anagrams to 'Manlier lecher.'
'Mahmoud Ahmadinejad' anagrams to 'Aha! Demi-human, odd jam.'
'Madonna Esther Ciccone' anagrams to 'The moronic ascendance.'
'Judeopundit' anagrams to 'Joint up dude.'
'Yitzchak Judeopundit Goodman' anagrams to 'Junk dozy gumption to acid-head.'
(Two attempts to use myself as a subject--both yielded drug references--what could this mean?)
'Solomon Shechter' anagrams to 'More chosen sloth.' (I know I mispelled "Schechter," but I got a great anagram.)Update: And even more anagrams.

Daniel Pipes: "Iran's Final Solution Plan"

Daniel Pipes is constantly called an "Islamophobe" by CAIR-types although he is actually in the "Islam itself is not the problem" camp. Here he is typically thoughtful on the subject of Ahmadinejad's recent statements and their significance. The following is particularly disturbing:
Israelis estimate that the Iranians could, within six months, have the means to build an atomic bomb. Mr. Ahmadinejad implicitly confirmed this rapid timetable when he warned that after just "a short period … the process of the elimination of the Zionist regime will be smooth and simple." The imminence of a nuclear-armed Iran transforms "Death to Israel" from an empty slogan into the potential premise for a nuclear assault on the Jewish state, perhaps relying on Mr. Rafsanjani's genocidal thinking.
Does this give the lie to the often repeated claim that the "Holy land is holy to three peoples"? Desiring to transform a land into a radioactive wasteland doesn't seem to go with cherishing a land as holy. This also gives the lie to the assertion that the other Arab and Muslim states are motiviated by sympathy for the Palestinians. Ahmadinejad just proposed vaporizing the Palestinians. If you want to object that the other Arab and Muslim states do not necessarily agree with Iran, it is worth recalling all the news reports about the lack of condemnation for Ahmadinejad's statements.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

You know you're a Ba'al Teshuvah when . . .

You know you're a Ba'al Teshuvah when you learn most of the famous Jewish melodies you know from your kid's kiddie music tapes. So you're at a wedding, and the band starts playing some melody that everyone else associates with Hebrew words, and what flashes through your brain? Uncle Moishy words! "If your sister lost her keys, help her find them won't you please . . . "

My Zmanim

If you don't know already, My Zmanim seems to be the easiest to use of the various internet tools for looking up sof zman krias shma, shkia, etc.

Theodore Dalrymple: "The Suicide Bombers Among Us"

I was alerted to this by LGF, and I wish they would present more items like this. It tells us 100 times more than an excerpt from a news story about a terrorist act or oppression of women along with a thread-title about the "ROP." The following, for instance, is a corrective to both left-wing and right-wing notions about suicide bombers. While the right tends to picture suicide bombers as merely youth indoctrinated by evil clerics, the left tends to picture them as patient, long-suffering victims of oppression finally driven over the edge etc. Dalrymple offers a corrective to both views:
The dissatisfactions of young Muslim men in Britain are manifold. Most will experience at some time slighting or downright insulting remarks about them or their group—the word “Paki” is a term of disdainful abuse—and these experiences tend to grow in severity and significance with constant rehearsal in the mind as it seeks an external explanation for its woes. Minor tribulations thus swell into major injustices, which in turn explain the evident failure of Muslims to rise in their adopted land. The French-Iranian researcher Farhad Khosrokhavar, who interviewed 15 French Muslim prisoners convicted of planning terrorist acts, relates in his book, Suicide Bombers: Allah’s New Martyrs, how some of his interviewees had been converted to the terrorist outlook by a single insulting remark—for example, when one of their sisters was called a “dirty Arab” when she explained how she couldn’t leave home on her own as other girls could. Such is the fragility of the modern ego—not of Muslims alone, but of countless people brought up in our modern culture of ineffable self-importance, in which an insult is understood not as an inevitable human annoyance, but as a wound that outweighs all the rest of one’s experience.