No Mysteries

Hamas says it won’t arrest militants who attack Israel
Incoming Palestinian interior minister Said Seyam: Hamas will try to coordinate militants’ operations.

Okay, let’s string these together:

  1. Hamas, an organization with an avowed goal to destroy Israel, is now in power.
  2. The PA considers itself an entity akin to a country (i.e., representation on UN, power to make international agreements, consular or diplomatic-esque representation in national capitals around the globe).
  3. They will not only allow, but coordinate militant operations, violating treaties with Israel signed by the previous government.

I believe we’re talking casus belli for Israel to attack the PA.

At the time of this writing there are over a dozen specific terror threats regarding suicide and other bombings or terrorist attacks against Israel, as it prepares to elect a new leadership. The ability for these terror cells to coordinate their activities will surely result in additional civilian casualties.

I can’t think of another country that would permit this kind of activity on its porous borders without eliminating the cause of the threat.

Of course, none of this involves oil, and it does involve Jews, so the United States will stay away from this on the grounds of the former point, and the rest of the world for the latter.

I realize this post doesn’t illuminate mysteries, but it shows how strong terror has become, how weak and unsupported Israel has become, and how indifferent to the situation the world has grown to be.

Copyright © 2005-2006 DaShlom. All Rights Reserved. Contact the author at dashlom (at) gmail dot com for reprinting and republishing or site linking requests.

Languaged stetted, ASAP?

There have been some pieces in the news lately about the crossover of IM and text message ‘speak’ into English. The cries of purists are amusing (kind of like the minority Canadian Quebequa wanting all signs in their province in French), especially since English is the original bastard language; just ask anyone who grew up with a rational language structure how hard it is to learn English!

We’ve architected English, verbed nouns, mashed words and done everything possible to give Americans more words than every not to know. When I recently had a co-worker talk about polyhierarchical taxonomies, she and I were the only ones in the room (with a group of college grads and educators) that could even parse the concept. Of course, anyone ever stopped for speeding knows what a radar gun is.

So now, IMHO, we LOL, sometimes even ROTF, in <3 with these book new words. To be added to lasers and scuba gear.

Hebrew, a language with a paltry 150,000 purely Semitic words compared to English, has been conjugating acronyms for millenia. Prime Minister Golda Meier used the phrase “Zabash’cha’ to create the word ‘it’s your problem’ from Ze Haba‘aya Shel’cha.’ When referring to a deceased person, Hebrew-speakers will say “Zahl” after their name, or “Zatsal,” meaning ‘blessed be their memory’ or ‘blessed be that holy person’s memory’ respectively.

English, with its incredible palette of words and phrases, changes slowly, word meanings generally outstripping new words. But as technology speeds memetic infection, each new communication facet will bring its own changes to work, culture and vocabulary.

Check out The-Ping for a short discussion on technology, linguistics and a universalist vocabulary.

Abbas: A Puppet Strangling on its String

Democracy relentlessly marches on. The power of the presidency is rightfully diminished, and the parlimentary system of multiple parties creating a sole or coalition rule waxes in a country least suited to almost any kind of rule except by the fist, stone, or gun.

Democracy is twelve years too late. Had both Israel and the Arafat regime taken the brave steps after Oslo, we might have had the ability to keep today from occurring. Neither side stepped up to the plate, as we have so historically managed to dodge solutions in search of obstacles.

And now we are left with a rapidly dissolving head of the PA, a man grasping at saving the Palestinians from ruining relationships he and his predecessors worked for decades to build. Hamas has brought a mountain=sized rock to the West Bank, and Europe, post-London, post-Madrid, post-9/11, is in a very hard place.

I admire Mahmoud Abbas for his attempts to stop Hamas from himself, and this, sadly, may be the only legacy left to him.

Copyright © 2005-2006 DaShlom. All Rights Reserved. Contact the author at dashlom (at) gmail dot com for reprinting and republishing or site linking requests.

H5N1 to 0

I think it’s clear that the H5N1 “bird flu” is coming and is, in fact, here to stay. It’s longevity and continuing spread remind me of the West Nile Virus more than a seasonal influenza.

While I am sure that the avian kingdom is in no danger, and that this is not the dinosaur die-off of the eon, I’d like to point something out: we’re breeding for failure.

When I lived in Upstate New York, near Binghamton, the hilltop around our house was mostly fallow fields and woods. There was a flock of turkeys that had made its home on our property. I think ‘herd’ when I say ‘flock,’ because they were mostly ground-bound, and took some kind of odd joy in running in circles around our house just after dawn.

Okay, they’re not the most brilliant birds, but compared to the ones I worked with when living on a kibbutz, these were Einsteins. The latter were SO dumb that when it was going to rain we had to bring them inside, because while they, like their wild counterparts, would face the sky and open their beaks to drink, they lacked the part of the gene involving closing said orifice before they drowned. If they didn’t first fall over from the absurd weight in what humans call the turkey breast. These were the ‘Pomela’ Andersons (or Loni’s) of the bird world.

When H5N1 hits, it’s the wild birds that will bear the brunt of the illness. We humans will safely ensconce our stupid, bred-to-be-eaten meat puppets in hermetically sealed havens (where, after x number of weeks, they’ll be taken out back and metaphorically shot). This will further reduce the spread and tenacity of the affected wild species, and further weaken our already shaky wild ecology.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a firm believer in eating whatever can’t argue its way out of the cooking pot. But I am concerned that in this mechanist society, where everything gets turned into a time-and-motion industry to push for the bottom dollar, that we are selling the global gene pool short when breeding for eatability instead of viability.

I’ll pay more for bigger bones, smaller “breasts” and healthier, more sturdy, animals. Ones that more relate to the ones that charged around my house at dawn than the ones, raised in cages, that are as close to sessile as animals can get.

Now I’m Confused…

Inflamatory cartoons have sent the Muslim world into a tizzy, if not frenzy. Non-Muslims insulting the Prophet Mohammed is seen as a horrible, terrible thing.

So what’s with the suicide bombers killing fellow Muslims in mosques, on holy days? Where’s the anger? Where’s the lashing out against terror? Where are these imams with their folders filled with cartoons now? Will the Sunni declare a holy war against the Shi’a? (No, wait, that’s already been tried.) And if not, then why not? Could it be that it’s okay for Muslims to blow each other to gobbets, while entire continents be held accountable for the acts of deluded Danish cartoonists?

This is a clash of Western vs. radical Muslim culture. Not Muslim, as the vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims are law-abiding, honest, peaceful people. But in our culture, radical fascism is met with legal action. In countries harboring or pandering fanatics, radicals are used as fuel for their unholy fire against rational, human conduct among — and within — nations.

Cartoonish Behavior

Yah, it’s offensive, blah, blah, blah. There’s almost too much media reaction to the original offense — except for the insane response by legions of enraged primitives. Thanks, Richard, for use of the cartoon.

Muslims are as wise, and dumb, as good and as bad as any other religion. Islamic rule has been tolerant, has fostered the sciences and has created art forms that are as breathtakingly beautiful now as when they were created many centuries ago. Now that I’ve gotten your attention (or at least confusion), lets deconstruct what’s going on.

  1. Muslim laws apply to Muslims. Otherwise Jews would get upset about non-Jews eating non-Kosher, Hindi would massacre anyone coming out an American McDonalds, and Southern Baptists would really Crusade to convert non-believers by forcing everyone to adopt their moral standards. Oops, that latter’s already happening… Shi’ites have pictures of Mohammed, as do other Muslim sects. I guess it’s not as much fun to torch one’s own embassy.
  2. Protesters, at most charitable, are being manipulated. Less charitably, they’re taking any excuse to rage against The Machine. Danish imams went on a pilgrimage to other Arab nations, taking with them portfolios not only of the offending, but also of much more henious ones that were never published, ones with bestiality, just to name one ugly. This was a calculated terrorist attack, one that has resulted in several deaths by this writing, millions of dollars in damage to innocents’ property, and uncounted millions in lost revenue by companies that probably despise the cartoonist even more than some Arab nations. The French, who have been far less sympathetic towards the inroads Islam has made, and the plight of the millions of young Muslims discriminated against for generations, seemed to have escaped this directed wrath for the most part.
  3. Terrorist countries are using this incident for their secular gains. Get serious, Assad — your idea of a good time during Ramadan is more along the lines of a trip to Paris than a delicious fast during the summer heat. Syria is a secular dictatorship, run by a clan in the same manner as the Saud family runs Saudi Arabia. Not like the Jordanian Hashemites, who have the good sense to run the country as if it were a democracy in terms of how they treat their subjects. So Syrian “protests” are no more spontaneous than their Syrian handlers allow. Because Hamma, as Thomas Friedman pointed out, still rules: cross an Assad and you get dead quickly and brutally.
  4. Glass houses, stones. Oddly enough, one doesn’t hear many protests about the almost continuous stream of vituperative calumny and calls for the genocidal murder of, for example, Jews. Oh, right, I forgot: we don’t count. The cartoons (pictures are good for the vast majority of illiterate Arab Muslims) are the perfect medium to showcase the Jews and their sins.

Okay, picture time.

The Bomb Cartoon Nope, not gonna put it up again. I agree with the Muslims on this one: ugly, nasty and negative. But there were others that I have a different view, so here is an exemplar below.
Is this Mohammed? Not according to the caption. Is this an insult to Islam, saying that too many men have martyred themselves in the name of Islam? I’d see this being printed in any of the secular or non-fanatic Islamic countries, including Egypt. I agree: too many people have died as martyrs. Period.

Yes, there were more cartoons. Like compulsive haters, I could put up a whole pack of these, and just keep people wound up (but Spongebob should do for this rant).

The point of all this is freedom. Western freedom to express ones views, and the freedom of terrorists to use whatever is at hand to advance their instilling terror in others.

The more terrorists and their uneducated lackeys burn things, the more they rant, the more irrational they behave, the more they distance themselves from the community of nations.

Maybe Iran wants this. I think Iran needs this. Remember Salman Rushdie and the death sentence imposed against him? Iranian. Certainly Iran is benefiting from this. (Note to self: how bad are the protests in Saudi Arabia relative to terror-held countries?)

Western nations need to keep centered on the freedom of speech, the value of real democratic freedom, and a careful, watchful eye on a part of the world that really doesn’t like any of us very much.

Buy Danish!

The most memorable things I’ve bought from Danes are pork ribs and Lego(tm). I’m sure there are many other things, but it is vitally important that we support a country that supports free press.

The Arab “street” has shown its true ability to understand free society and free press with their instinctive and LCD reaction to the cartoons printed in Denmark, and reprinted in other papers: The press = the government = the people.

So… Because some cartoonists have odd tastes in cartoons (I personally agree that the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb on his turban and a phrase from the Koran in it is tres gouche!), and some papers have a confrontational way to respond to complaints, the freedom of press is no reason to boycott all the goods of the entire country.

So show your support for free press, and help a country that suddenly is in need of free trade: buy Danish, and buy the cost of freedom!

Copyright © 2005-2006 DaShlom. All Rights Reserved. Contact the author at dashlom (at) gmail dot com for reprinting and republishing or site linking requests.

Blugging a Great Tool

Blugging being Blog plugging. Better than bluckstering (from huckster).

Anyway, pbwiki is a fantastic tool. I use it in a variety of ways:

  • It’s the repository for my multi-novel, screenplay and short story universe. It includes a handy encyclopedia and translating dictionary, as I had to invent a language along the way.
  • I use it to log all my writing project links. I write from mulitple computers, and keeping a wiki of projects and links is a great way for me to plug in and work from everywhere.
  • It’s a powerful novel writing and editing tool. I can have people look at chapters in progress and provide their feedback, without requiring any particular manufacturer’s word processing software or even language.
  • Next project is to use the pbwiki vehicle to put up a comprehensive family history, complete with video snippets, photos and reportage. Most of my family didn’t survive the Holocaust, but I interviewed my mom. 15Gb of video and over a thousand photos can be neatly linked with a single pbwiki

I’ll spare you the marketing gorp the pbwiki folks supplied me — I like my peanut butter crunchy. But I will eacho this: it took me about five minutes from the time I registered for the wiki to the time I had the framework for the wiki up and running. And it’s been betting better and better, faster and faster.

If Google has the requisite wisdom, it will purchase pbwiki and fold it into blogspot. That would make yet another game changer for Google.

A Plea for Filibuster

Last week I found a bumper sticker for my car. “The last time we mixed politics and religion,” it said, “people were burned at the stake.”

Yes, I bought it. No, I don’t think we’re near there — yet. But I am scared (a serious step up from worried) that President Bush and the religious right are at the cusp of controlling all three bodies of government. Judge Alito is a penultimate, if not the final plank in this ship of nightmares.

There are 11 states where women need to be rich, have friends, or be very brave in order to have even Roe-protected, first trimester abortions. As the father of a young teenager, I agonize now over whether I’d need (as opposed to want) to know about my daughter seeking an abortion. And what is at stake here is the freedom for me, as a parent, to decide that agony.

As a writer of fiction, of political commentary and on the Middle East, I look up articles and download information from the darker side of the Internet. I e-mail people that I don’t know that I’d want to meet in real life. These communications feed my art. I suspect that they are also grist for the NSA mill, and the basis for assumptions they might then make about people I know. And their friends. And others.
Cartoon by Richard Bartholomew

It’s because of my passion for freedom, for an unbiased judiciary, that FISA makes sense. And precisely for the same reason that Judge Alito’s penchant for fawning at the office of the President makes be believe that he is not the right choice to be one of the nine among equals, to sit at the country’s highest bench.

Let’s not kid ourselves; a liberal candidate is not in the cards. And a wise and balanced (or is it ‘fair and balanced’?) conservative is a better choice than a wild-eyed game changer.

I guess the core of my concern is that Samuel Alito is not his own man, does not represent the American citizen, and would not give the individual the rights they deserve especially in the face of the corporate Goliath.

Please help stop Judge Alito from assuming a throne from which he will help rule for the rest of his life, against the People’s common and secular interests.

Ooh, This One Might Have Spine!

Olmert is finally in the driver’s seat, it seems. By stepping up to the plate and making a stand against the silent, 380 kilogram gorilla of tacit government leniency on settler violence, he is making a winner-take-all move in a political arena where days, not months, decide the fate of the new party he now leads.

By blasting the police and civil servants in the Territories for their soft attitude when it comes to settlers rioting and destroying Palestinian property and lives, he is facing settler power toe-to-toe. This is not a bad gamble. At this stage of the game, the more he showcases the zaniness of the settlers, the more he gains on the secular and sane front.

Copyright © 2005-2006 DaShlom. All Rights Reserved. Contact the author at dashlom (at) gmail dot com for reprinting and republishing or site linking requests.