Silflay Hraka

6/01/2002




It looks like Osama is not the only person in the Middle East with a passion for chocolatey breakfast cereal.

Unholy Lands

If you ask me, and I know you didn't, Palestinians are not only nuts, they're butt-ass stupid. You don't win concessions from a democracy by attacking their citizenry, at least not in the long run. The only successful way to get anything from a democracy, be it Israel, Britain, or America, is through non-violent resistance. Most people don't have any idea who Griselio Torresola is, but you can be damn sure they've heard of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or Nelson Mandela. If Rosa Parks had blown up the bus, she have set her movement back years. I certainly doubt the shade of Griselio is real happy with how his vision of a free Puerto Rico turned out. Put bluntly, if you make the denizens of a democracy feel guilty, you're home free. If you piss them off, or make them fear for themselves or their children your cause is finished, and you are like as not a dead man. That's the reason Pakistan will never control Kashmir, and why we don't have to ask permission before we bomb the crap out of Vieques.

If the Palestinians really wanted a state of their own, they'd do the smart thing and surrender. Declare the intifada lost, over, a horrible failure. A few years down the road, you produce a television commercial starring the Palestinian version of Iron Eyes Cody, and you're golden. Of course, this means admitting that a bunch of Jews kicked your ass, but not admitting that certainly hasn't stopped them from doing it, now has it?

Update: Edward Boyd touched on this subject a while back.

Update: Joe Katzman at Winds of Change talks about Islamic non-violent movements in Islam's Other Voices


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I Probably Should Be In Therapy or Blame it on Dad.

Ahhh...the Worm Farm.



That takes me back a ways. I can remember the golden Summers of our youth spent trying to breed worms in that busted freezer. How many children do you supposed carried the goal of a worm farm through their youthful years, through young adulthood, into comfortable married suburbaninity? Hell, how many children spend any part of their life attempting to convince worms to be fruitful and multiply? I can't guess that there are many. I don't even remember why WE did it. I guess ostensibly the worms were for fishing.



You know, the more I think about the things we did as children, the more I am convinced that we are wholly abnormal. I blame it on dad. The gardening instincts certainly come from dad.



They say that man is made in the image of God. I think that if this is true, then it is most evident in the desire of man to create and grow and govern his own world. What better way to do that than through gardening? What better place than your own back yard? I am sure that Dad, being a man of the cloth, reflected God's image in this way. Dad is a man who, every April or May, plows under his entire back yard in obeisance to some primal call that's been passed down through the ages ever since Adam hitched up his plow-mule, laid aside his hunter-gatherer ways, and moved into the Garden. I remember those Spring days of my childhood vividly. He would plant tomatos. He would plant peppers. He would plant squash, and sunflowers, and pumpkins, and watermelons, and marijuana, and this stuff that I never could identify, but which dripped milk-white sap that made you itch like you had the crabs if it came in contact with your skin.



At first, it would be this beautiful, organized, well-planned garden. The tomatos were neatly tied to their stakes. The sunflowers tracked the sun in neat rows. The pumpkins nestled gently in the freshly turned soil. Dad would water the garden daily. He would weed with vigor. He would crap his own weight in fertilizer daily, adding roughly 11 times the potash to the potash starved soil of our lawn. And then the cyclical rebirth that is the Spring would give way to the soul-sucking heat of Summer.



Satan tempted Eve, Eve tempted Adam, Adam ate the apple, God gave 'em both the boot and the Garden of Eden grew thick with weeds.



By mid-June, the back yard was for all intents and purposes, impassable. Thanks to all the fertilizer Dad crapped into the garden, the weeds grew as high as an elephant's eye. The tomatos were overrun and dropped yellow from the vine. The smell of rotting tomatos lingers like the stench of death over my childhood memories. The sunflowers, overshadowed by a thick canopy, tracked in all different directions, individually guessing at the approximate location of the sun. The pumpkins grew voluminous, only to develop, in their gluttony and sloth, festering bedsores on their pale, fetid underbellies. Several neighborhood children wandered into the jungle that was our backyard and were never heard from again.



Anyway, I forget what my point might have been. I guess if I were your wife and knew the family history of gardening, I'd probably be annoyed if you bought a worm farm too.



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Books to torture your child with


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The real story of the Samaritan


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Annoying the wife, Chapter Two - The Worm Farm

For years, we lived in a townhouse. All of the yardwork was taken care of by the neighborhood association, other than the few flowers along the patio that the wife planted each year. My gardening philosphy vis-a-vis the flower beds was simple. "Throw down birdseed, and whatever grows there is the garden." This led to curious looks from the nieghbors, but I considered it a great success, in that after I threw down the birdseed, i was done gardening for the season. Unsurprisingly enough, this annoyed the wife, who much preferred impatiens to millet

Then we bought a house, with a yard. A massive yard, one that must be measured not in acres or hectares, but in Rhode Islands. This is of course a lie, but in comparison to the postage stamp of grass that we used to own, this is Pemberley.

We moved in, spent the night, and woke up the next day as the Jones's. Or I did, at least as far as the lawn was concerned. I had to have grass that grew faster, thicker and was of a more pleasing shade than that of my neighbors. My roses must be rosier, my azealas more zealous and my hydrangeas more...hydrangic. Come summer my tomatoes must be bigger, redder and above all earlier than those grown by the poor weak fools who live beside me. What is best in life? To outgrow your neighbors, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women. The only thing left to complete my transformation is re-register as a republican.

It's not just enough to fertilize, reseed and water constantly, or so I suppose. We've only been here 9 months, and turf wars are long haul affairs. You need a secret weapon, and one day, while ostensibly at work, I found one.....

Uncle Jim's Worm Farm. Properly fed and cared for, 1000 worms make another 1000 worms every couple of months, and each worm craps out his weight in fertilizer every day. Worm crap contains five times the nitrogen, seven times the phosphate, and eleven times the potash of the same amount of your regular topsoil. ELEVEN TIMES THE POTASH!!! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Look on my rye grass, ye mighty and despair! Thanks to the glory of the Internet, I can order the worm farm kit in a matter of seconds.

At dinner that evening, I paint a glowing picture of our yard in the not too distant future, a verdant eden, lush with flowers and the fruits of the vine, where our toddler could amble through turf thick as molasses and soft as down.

"You spent 65 dollars buying worms off the internet?" Warm.

I admitted that yes, I had indeed spent 65 dollars buying worms off the internet, but that the consequent money saved in fertilizer would more than adequately...

"You spent 65 dollars buying worms off the internet!!" Getting warmer!

"Yes dear, but I'll have THREE TIMES the number of worms that I ordered by September. And the lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood!"

"Don't worms come to the surface when it rains?" Getting colder!

"Yes, that's a plus you see, because their burrows allow water to penetrate deeper into the ground, which promotes a much stronger root system than one would normally.."

"So, after it rains, our lawn will be covered in literally thousands of worms." Monotone. "That WILL be the envy of the neighborhood."


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5/31/2002




Annoying the Girlfriend, Part the First, an Outgrowth of Annoying the Wife, Chapter One, or, as I like to call it: The 12 dollar REVERSIBLE belt



See, women are hard to please that way. My girlfriend would have been utterly surprised and completely beside herself with joy had I purchased an $80 dollar belt that says "Trafalgar" on it for myself. (You got screwed, BTW).



Evidently, I am a lot more like my father than my elder sibling. I have this one belt. I realized that it was my only belt, never really seeing the point in having more than one belt. Sure, some people like to have a black belt to wear with any outfit that requires black shoes, and a brown belt to wear with any outfit requiring brown shoes. I, in keeping with my notions about having only one belt, never really saw the need to have more than one color of shoe. All my shoes are brown, and therefore, any outfit that I might own goes perfectly well with brown shoes. And all this assumes that I have what one might refer to as an "outfit". I have blue jeans. Lots of blue jeans.



And then there's the camp that likes to have ONE belt to keep their pants up and ONE belt to keep the crappy, broken-down, Samsonite suitcase shut. But that's another story.



So, I have this one belt. It's brown. Being much more like my male parental unit than said sibling, I also believe in keeping my one belt until it fails utterly. It is old and worn and creased, and the several layers of the belt are separating. It's seen better days. It isn't the kind of belt you might wear with ANYTHING that one might refer to as an "outfit". It's fine to wear with blue jeans, but not with outfits.



Now, I had this friend who was getting married, as friends are wont to do. Marriages usually require weddings and weddings usually require outfits and outfits require belts and the one belt that I had in my possession was not quite suitable for outfits, as we've already discussed. I was in a fair quandry. I was put in the hard position of having to purchase a second belt. Being much like my father, but not entirely unlike my brother, the Earl of Julian, I went to Target. Target being, of course, the Walmart for those with aspirations to a seat in the House of Lords. I don't know exactly what Kmart is. Maybe that's the Walmart for people with no aspirations what-so-ever.



Back to our story. I'm in Target to buy a belt. There are black belts and there are brown belts. To my surprise, there were also belts of many other hues and shades. And then I saw it. THE belt. I imagine I felt much like Percival felt when he finally won the Holy Grail. IT was bathed in a holy glory of light. Choirs of Angels sang in praise. It was black. It was brown. It was reversible. And it was only $12.00 dollars. It was perfect in every way.



Needless to say, my girlfriend breaks into fits of derisive laughter whenever I wear it. I don't wear it anymore. Maybe I'll wear it again when next I have occasion to wear an outfit. Maybe I'll go to Julian's and buy a belt with a little tag that says "Trafalgar". Maybe next time I'll go to Walmart.



Of course, all of this begs the question as to WHY exactly do father's belts break? Sure they are cheap Walmart belts, but I'd bet good money that they would last a good deal longer than they do if Dad bought belts that fit him in the first place. You see, father doesn't buy NEW belts when one has grown too large for his diminishing girth, he simply creates NEW holes in the old belt by employing the family icepick as a leather punch tool, allowing him to draw the belt ever tighter, but wreaking havoc on the cheap Walmart leather.


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5/30/2002




Annoying the Wife, Chapter One, The 80 dollar belt

Yesterday, my parents were flying up to Boston to visit my middle brother and his family. As I am a dutiful son, I let them spend the night before they flew out with us, saving them an hours drive to the airport, as well as the week-long parking fee. The next morning Dad comes down and announces that we have a problem. His cheap-ass Wal-Mart belt has broken, and he wants to know if we have any rope to hold his pants up with. Rope. The man is a Methodist minister, has attended three colleges, and taught for at least two more, and he's turning into Eustace. We're living in Dogpatch, and we're not even Yokums, we're Scraggs.


Dad had hip surgery last March, and all the shuffling around before and after has carved a goodly chunk out of what once "came out of the night, more belly than man." His wardrobe appears to consist entirely of oversize clown clothes. He's pulling his pants up more often than a monsignor at altar boy camp. This is the second cheap-ass Walmart belt that has broken on him in the last three months, so he thinks perhaps he shan't buy one there again.


I gave him mine under the mistaken impression that I have other belts. This is a patently false notion, as they have been either mislaid in the move to the new house, or left under the pillow by the wife for the leather fairy. Since I can't be a proper geek without a belt for my pager, cell phone and other assorted Bat-tools, it now becomes imperative that I have a new one. My problem is this. Most people have an inner child. I have an inner drunken british aristocrat. His noblesse oblige means I buy the drinks, that I overtip, prefer that the house be full of preferably drunken guests, and that given the choice between patronizing Julians or the Gap, choose Julian's without a second thought. I mean, it's owned by Alexander Julian's dad, for god's sake. Most of the time he's the only person in there. Well, maybe not his dad. There's a guy in there who looks like a dad, and that's enough for me. Anyway, it feels like Saville Row inside.


It's a very nice belt. It's got a little tag that says "Trafalgar", which clinched the deal as far as the peer inside was concerned. It was brown, fit me, and was located in under two minutes, which is pretty much all I ever ask for out of a shopping experience. The idea of price never even entered my head, which is why 90% of the clothes I wear are presented to me, rather than chosen by me. Didn't even bat an eye when I saw the credit card slip, just signed that sucker and put my new belt on. And, as an added bonus, the receipt for my new belt is presented to me in a lovely purpley-pink envelope with "Julians" printed on it in Theodoric, the classiest of the fonts.


None of which really impressed the wife, except for the reciept envelope. I tried explaining that I had actually saved us money, on the theory that $80 belts last at least twice as long as $40 belts, but she was having none of it.


Which is bad, cause Alex's dad showed me some really nice suits.


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I've decided to start my own beauty pageant. It's going to be a beauty pageant for real women. Rather than the swimsuit competition, you'll have the "what do they look like first thing in the morning" competition. The winner will be the one that doesn't look like they've been out binge drinking several nights in a row, and whose leg hair doesn't leave angry red scars on your skin if they brush against you casually during the night. On second thought, maybe we'll keep the swimsuit competition. Maybe a lingerie competition? And for the talent competition? Dare I even suggest? If you're a man, you should know what the required talent should be.



Cooking.



What? What did you think I meant?



By the way, did you catch a glimpse of Miss Egypt? Can you believe that the Muslim world has beauties like her? And they want to cover her in a burkha? You've got to be kidding me.



So, who was your favorite Miss Universe contestant, and don't tell me you didn't watch, because I know you did.





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I have arrived. The Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs article is hysterical, and probably right in line. The problem being that I don't think that Osama bin Laden is out to start an all out war with the West. I think he's out to ruin our economy, and I think he stands a far better chance of keeping us in recession and knocking down the GDP than he does in winning any kind of shooting war. Of course, if he begins to truly threaten the economy of the West, WE'LL probably start the all-out war with those terrorist freaks, thus bringing about the scenario outlined in the article.



I think there might be toxic mold in my apartment. What do I do?


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5/29/2002




Osama Bin Laden - Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs

Link via Instapundit


I don't know if anyone remembers, but the day after the towers went down, there were explosions in Kabul. The first thing I thought was "Good. We should be bombing the Taliban just on general principles." Forget about bombing countries into the stone age. If you bomb a country long enough, you bomb them into democracy.


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I've been looking for ways to add functionality to the blog, specifically comments and tip jars, both of which represent the triumph of hope over experience. Investigating them feels like constructive work, though I suspect that it bears the same relationship to actual content that dry humping does to the position of the wife of indra. Still, since my latest tasks don't really have the edge-of-your seat suspense that UNIX text manipulation does, it's better than nothing.


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5/28/2002




The more things change the more they stay the same. Man creates computer chips which can hold a googaplex of information, they put men on the moon, match DNA to solve mysteries, and can make a sport like SOCCER popular, yet we continue to live in the past. While moving quickly into the new millennium we remain in the past whereas men’s fashion is concerned. At the rare times when I am forced to wear a sport coat I am amazed at our lack of progress. Why must buttons still be attached to my sleeves? I realize at one point the buttons actually worked, and am aware of their functionality, but those days are past. I am neither a band director, nor a sea captain, two occupations obviously in need of buttons on sleeves. They serve no purpose for the modern man but to get caught on tablecloths, or to hurt me as I rest my arm on the table, making an indention in my wrist so that I can see the hideous emblem in my skin. I suggest we start a movement, a revolution within the male fashion world. We will mobilize thousands, marching toward the future as we take to the streets screaming in unison, “We aren’t gluttons, remove our buttons!!”

No, it isn’t Shakespeare, but it is a foundation from which other revolutions may emerge. I was taught to believe in something and fight for those beliefs…………….this is a start………..a very small start. Join me in this crusade. Remove your buttons from your sports coats and throw them defiantly into the streets…………….or just wear t-shirts, whatever dude.


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