Silflay Hraka

1/25/2003




Some hae meat and canna eat
And some wad eat that want it
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thankit


You must forgive me if this seems a bit disjointed, it's what comes of spending Burn's night with a Scotsman, especially once said Scotsman discovered that it was my wedding anniversary. Technically my wedding anniversary isn't for another hour and seven minutes, but try telling that that to a man with a big sword and a kilt.

My parents were drafted to babysit tonight, not that they considered it a.....noun describing a thing that the government does to force you into an action not of your own choosing. "Burden" would fit right into the flow of the above sentence, but it really doesn't communicate the correct sense of "outside forces compelling one into an action not of one's own choosing" as well as the word that I would have chosen would have if I had not had hoisted the celebratory Burn's night glass of expensive scotch after consuming the celebratory Burn's night sixpack of imported ales. That word will come to me, but likely not until I've been abed for an hour or three. Words like that have a predilection for coming at inopportune times, and any time that one sits bolt upright in the wee hours of the morning, in the bed one shares with one's six months pregnant wife, and shouts "Encumbrance!"?

Well......that's an inopportune time.

We'd owed the oxymoronic Scotsman and his wife a dinner visit for quite a while now, as they had blessed us with their presence last spring, but hadn't gotten around to discharging our debt until tonight. We should have done so earlier, as the Sainted Wife thinks very highly of the Scotsman's wee gel, and the Scotsman himself fulfills my desires in a companion admirably, as all I really want out of an evening is a chance to partake of rare liquors with a male who can appreciate them equally, or can at least fake appreciation in a believable manner.

I desire that appreciation, or the the appearance thereof, because it gives me an excuse to go to the specialty beer store. Should someone want to indulge in an appreciation of a liquor stronger than that of an imported ale, it's up to them to supply it. Yes, your wines are nice, and as I learned tonight, so are your single malts, but the beverages brewed with yeast and hops define my area of expertise, and without the specialty beer stores in the Triangle my claim of expertise would be a thin thing indeed. There is really only one specialty store in Raleigh, where the Scotsman and wife dwell, the Peace Street Market. Every time I go there the wife has to look at her watch, tap her foot and finally yell before I can leave. Tonight I bought a couple bottles of Konig Ludwig Weisse, and a four pack of Greene King IPA for the festivities. This ended up being in additon to the Boddington's and Young's Double Chocolate Stout already laid in by the Celt.

Both were greatly appreciated, as was the peaty heat that the Scotsman supplied in memory of Robbie Burns. I canna recall the name of said heat for the life of me, even though I read the label twice and asked the name of the whiskey again ere I left. Why I lack the memory, I cannot imagine. But there is little better in the world than expensive scotch and a Marlboro red outside on a cold evening in January, unless it's going back inside for more scotch.

Good night to you all, and to all the wee, sleeket, cowran, tim'rous beastie's that Robbie so loved. Slainte Mhath!

Update: Good Morning! Also forgot the Hobgoblin.


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1/24/2003




Hoist by Their Own Petain

So, after 58 years, the French have decided that they prefer Vichy after all. It's hardly surprising. When the Vichy regime was in power, one could pretty much do what one wanted when it came to those troublesome Jews. Yes, there were shortages and lots of Germans around, but that's not much different from the present. Plus, just like today, the truly intellectual could take pride in the notion that they were part of something larger than a piddling little nation state. And really, "Liberté, égalité, fraternité!" is just so passe. Vichy knew that too, which is why they were replaced with Travail (work), Famille (family), and Patrie (fatherland).

Not that those are any better. The modern Vichian motto might as well be ignorez, retarde, apaisez. Ignore, delay and appease describe the French character as well as anything else, excepts perhaps "Unions, Vacations and Occasional Showers!".

You can hardly blame the French. France is example number one when comes to natural selection of a nation's character.

Gallic Wars - Lost. In a war whose ending foreshadows the next 2000 years of French history, France is conquered by of all things, an Italian.
Hundred Years War - Mostly lost, saved at last by female schizophrenic who inadvertently creates The First Rule of French Warfare; "France's armies are victorious only when not led by a Frenchman."
Italian Wars - Lost. France becomes the first and only country to ever lose two wars when fighting Italians.
Wars of Religion - France goes 0-5-4 against the Huguenots
Thirty Years War - France is technically not a participant, but manages to get invaded anyway. Claims a tie on the basis that eventually the other participants started ignoring her.
War of Devolution - Tied. Frenchmen take to wearing red flowerpots as chapeaux.
The Dutch War - Tied
War of the Augsburg League/King William's War/French and Indian War - Lost, but claimed as a tie. Three ties in a row induces deluded Frogophiles the world over to label the period as the height of French military power.
War of the Spanish Succession - Lost. The War also gave the French their first taste of a Marlborough, which they have loved every since.
American Revolution - In a move that will become quite familiar to future Americans, France claims a win even though the English colonists saw far more action. This is later known as "de Gaulle Syndrome", and leads to the Second Rule of French Warfare; "France only wins when America does most of the fighting."
French Revolution - Won, primarily due the fact that the opponent was also French.
The Napoleonic Wars - Lost. Temporary victories (remember the First Rule!) due to leadership of a Corsican, who ended up being no match for a British footwear designer.
The Franco-Prussian War - Lost. Germany first plays the role of drunk Frat boy to France's ugly girl home alone on a Saturday night.
World War I  - Tied and on the way to losing, France is saved by the United States. Thousands of French women find out what it's like to not only sleep with a winner, but one who doesn't call her "Fraulein." Sadly, widespread use of condoms by American forces forestalls any improvement in the French bloodline.
World War II - Lost. Conquered French liberated by the United States and Britain just as they finish learning the Horst Wessel Song.
War in Indochina - Lost. French forces plead sickness, take to bed with the Dien Bien Flu
Algerian Rebellion - Lost. Loss marks the first defeat of a western army by a Non-Turkic Muslim force since the Crusades, and produces the First Rule of Muslim Warfare; "We can always beat the French." This rule is identical to the First Rules of the Italians, Russians, Germans, English, Dutch, Spanish, Vietnamese and Esquimaux.
War on Terrorism - France, keeping in mind its recent history, surrenders to Germans and Muslims just to be safe. Attempts to surrender to Vietnamese ambassador fail after he takes refuge in a McDonald's.

Let's face it. When it comes to war, France gets rolled more often than a Parisian prostitute with a visible mustache. They've been beaten so many times there's no fight left in them. There's no national anthem in the world as ludicrous as France's

To arms, to arms, ye brave!
Th'avenging sword unsheathe!
March on, march on, all hearts resolved
On liberty or death.

Oh liberty can man resign thee,
Once having felt thy gen'rous flame?
Can dungeons, bolts, and bar confine thee?
Or whips thy noble spirit tame?


Can dungeons, bolts, and bar confine thee? Or whips thy noble spirit tame? Yes, demonstrably. The question for any country silly enough to count on the French should not be "Can we count on the French?", but rather "How long until France collapses?"

You should keep that in mind, Herr Schroeder.

Update: Added the American revolution so as to satisfy the completists. Thanks Boulder Dude.

Also, those of who liked this bit of fluff might also like one of these.


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1/23/2003




Best Wishes, From Me And My Twisted Metal Penis.



Update: Friend of Hraka Any Ten Things reviews the Creepy Valentines.


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Blog Day for Venezuela



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My Old Neighborhood is Cursed

There's maybe 60 townhomes at most in the old complex we lived in before we moved to our cookie-cutter subdivision, so you would think the odds are fairly low that major tragedy would befall that small of a sample. You would be wrong. There was a early morning murder there back in October, and the townhomes were literally the last in the area to get power back after the ice storm in December. Now one of the neighbors we spoke to on a regular basis has gone missing.

The Sainted wife and I have our suspicions as to what happened, not that we have any basis for them.


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Prognosis: Civilization Doomed

Woundwort: hey man, I don't think I can make it to the superbowl, but I was hoping I could and come early enough to watch the ncsu vs. unc game that day. another couple of weeks and it will be easier to do that. maybe we could get together to watch the second game between them.
bigwig: you bringing the Bug?
Woundwort: when, to the second game? what do you care, don't you want to spend time with me?
bigwig: no, to the bball game Sunday
bigwig: let me put it this way,
Woundwort: if i'm not coming neither is she dipshit
bigwig: I know that dumbass
bigwig: what i'm saying the wife won't let you in the door without her
Woundwort: this is like reading a hallmark card, then what are you talking about
Woundwort: we got your card, thanks for sending it, it was funny
bigwig: card?
bigwig: Sainted wife have must bought one
Woundwort: I figured she must have sent one and signed your name, just know it was funny about having a boy
bigwig: ok
Woundwort: you are my best friend in the whole world
bigwig: so, are you and Bug coming sunday, then?
Woundwort: no, I don't think so
Woundwort: I will see again about the ncsu game, maybe we could just for that
bigwig: so, you could've come, but not with her, is what you were saying
Woundwort: no, what the hell are you reading? if I come I am bringing her. you suck, I thought you were supposed to be smart.
bigwig: quote
bigwig: hey man, I don't think I can make it to the superbowl, but I was hoping I could and come early enough to watch the ncsu vs. unc game that day.
bigwig: end quote
bigwig: what the fuck are you talking about?
Woundwort: correct, I don't think I can come, but I was really hoping I could because I would have liked to be there early enough to watch the other game with you.
Woundwort: end quote mother fucker
Woundwort: somewhere I hear elton and dionne singing "that's what friends are for..."
bigwig: for a guy with a fucking phd, your communication skills suck ass. read it again. it says
bigwig: don't think I can make it to the superbowl
bigwig: but I was hoping I could and come early enough to watch the ncsu vs. unc game that day
bigwig: implying that you can come early, but not later, asswipe
Woundwort: I know what it says, I just didn't think I had to spell it out so clearly but I will from now on. didn't know I was speaking with the rain man.
bigwig: I didn't realize you thought everyone was fucking telepathic
Woundwort: i'm so glad I wrote you
bigwig: me too
bigwig: So what time are you coming Sunday?
Woundwort: oh, my god........


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Why I Believe In God

Everyone has their own reasons for believing in a higher power, this is why I choose to believe.


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No, Not George Bush, For Once

A hundred years from now, when angry swarms of Killer African Hippos have spread up from Mexico into the southern United States, at least we'll know who to blame.


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Billie Jean Is Not My Precious

Gollum's secret identity, revealed at last.


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Not Just Cat Blogging. Bird Blogging

There's nothing like 2 inches of snow to shut down the entire state.

Birds as the feeder so far;

Blue Jays
Cardinals
Tufted Titmice
Carolina Chickadees
Dark-eyed Juncos
White Throated Sparrows
A Red Bellied Woodpecker
American Goldfinches
Pine Warblers
House Finches
and
Mourning Doves

All are very common feeder species around here. I don't know where the Wrens and nuthatches are, though. I keep hoping for a Grosbeak to show up, but I haven't seen one on one of my feeders for 20 years. The feeder here is just off the back deck, and the cats have been......barking at the birds. I don't know what else to call it. It's not a meow or a purr. It's a very short, back of the throat frustrated sound. Hissy ran out when the Sainted wife opened the door this morning to try and catch an avis, and promptly slid down the steps into the snow. She was terribly offended.

Zod: You'll update if you see wrens, right? I don't know if I can stand the suspense. And nuthatches? What about the poor little nuthatches!?
Sod off, you.

Update:
Common Flickers, the sexually liberated woodpeckers.
Carolina Wrens
White Breasted Nuthatches
Zod: More commonly known as Sheryl Crows.


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Striding With a Flaming Sword Across The Darkened Land

I said, "When it comes to corrupting the yokels, Mahmmy, we are Sauron, and we have the Ring."

Now there's proof.

Link via the Geek Horde


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1/22/2003




Another reason to hate Astroturf

I've learned a new term. Astroturfing. Someone in the Republican National Committee knows it well. Gary Stock of Unblinking has unearthed over 50 instances where people have sent an exact copy of this letter praising George Bush to the op-ed page of their local newspaper.

When it comes to the economy, President Bush is demonstrating genuine leadership. The economic growth package he recently proposed takes us in the right direction by accelerating the successful tax cuts of 2001, providing marriage-penalty relief and providing incentives for individuals and small businesses to save and invest.
Contrary to the class-warfare rhetoric attacking the president’s plan, the proposal helps everyone who pays taxes, and especially the middle class. This year alone, 92 million taxpayers will receive an immediate tax cut averaging $1,083, and 46 million married couples will get back an average of $1,714. That’s not pocket change for a family struggling through uncertain economic times. Combined with the president’s new initiatives to help the unemployed, this plan gets people back to work and helps every sector of our economy.


As Gary helpfully provided a list of the writers and their locations, I started looking up phone numbers via Anywho and started calling around. A couple of phone calls later, and I had the culprit, GopTeamLeader.com. The site appears to be overloaded right now, but I found confirmation over at Ben Hammersley.com. Paul Boutin has also listed GopTeamLeader.com as the culprit.

So who is GopTeamLeader.com? I tried joining, but as I said, the servers were overloaded. The administrative info according to whois;

Steve Ellis dns@RNCHQ.ORG
Republican National Committee
310 First Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
202-863-8670

Mr. Ellis, the Director of Network and Online Services for the RNC, has made his presence known on the Internet prior to this particular astroturfing, as part of a spam campaign prior to last November's election.

Why does he spam and astroturf? Campaign Finance Reform made him do it.

"The Internet has tremendous potential for campaigns to effectively target individual communications," said Steve Ellis, Director of Network and Online Services at the Republican National Committee. "It's important for groups to invest in the technology that increases the efficiency of communications, and then invest the effort to make it known that they have a viable and important channel."

Update: Unsurprisingly, astroturfing is not limited to Republicans. Bill Quick, The Daily Pundit unearthed an astroturfing instance back in June coordinated by the anti-war group MoveOn.org.


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Book Review: Crossroads of Twilight

Way back in 1994, I noticed the Robert Jordan "Wheel of Time" novels. There were three out at the time and I thought to myself: "A complete trilogy! How convenient. I can't stand to read a book and realize there are two sequels yet to come. I think I'll buy them all, read them back to back and be done with them." I read them, enjoyed them, and was much chagrined when I reached the end of the third novel only to realize that the series wasn't done. I would have to wait for a fourth novel.

I was stoked when the fourth novel came out. Finally, I could find out how the series ended. And then I reached the end of that novel. And then the fifth. And the sixth. And seventh...

Well, the 10th book in the series was finally released this month, and I hate to say it, but this series may never end.

Don't get me wrong. I've enjoyed the novels, for the most part. They were and are original, creative, and incredibly detailed. There-in lies the problem. After 9 novels, there have been so many detailed characters, places, events, etc. that, unless you go back and re-read the previous novels, you don't remember exactly how everyone relates to one another. Of course, you can assume that all of the women are stony harridans or doe-eyed rabbits, and all the men are frustrated and harrassed by all the women, and each is more powerful and dangerous than the next, but at least he deals with women, and that is something for fantasy novels. While I did enjoy the novels, I have no intention of spending the next three months catching up before reading the latest. Jordan also feels that each major character needs to have his or her own story told, which is fine, but Jordan is still introducing new characters and story lines.

In fact, he is so busy introducing new characters and story lines that you get the feeling that he's forgotten where he was going in the first place. The book is totally stagnant and there is no movement. Nothing happens in the entire book. Nothing. I mean it. No exaggeration. If you read the 9th book in the series and want to skip this one and pick up with the 11th when it is out, you won't miss anything. Really. I mean it. If you don't believe me, read the book. All the plot lines are left essentially where they were when the 9th book ended, and some of those didn't even make it into the 10th book. It's like the book was written almost entirely as filler, a means of extending the series without having to do anything like start to wrap things up. I even think that maybe Jordan inserted this book simply to make more money off the series. Hey, if you can sell millions of copies of each book, why would you ever want to end it? It's a money machine! People want to know how it turns out at the end! People have invested a lot of time to get this far, why would they turn away now? Who knows? Maybe he just wrote it to fulfill contractual obligations or something like that.

All-in-all, this is by far the worst novel in the series. I was very disappointed, because I do genuinely like the series. After reading this book, I am seriously debating just giving the rest of the series a miss, or picking up the remaining novels in paperback when the series is truly-and-for-real finished. I do enjoy the series, but I was offended by the latest shoddy offering, especially after forking over $20.00 bucks for the hardcover. If you really want to read the novel, wait until the paperback is out, or get it at the library.


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Nothing To See Here

Pay no attention to me, move along. I'm just blogging this so Ngnat can play with it later tonight.


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The End of The Music Swapping Era

I think our cd collection is about to stop growing.

Ruling Poses Risk to Music Pirates
by Ted Bridis, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (Jan. 22) - A federal judge's decision significantly raises the risks for computer users who illegally trade music or movies on the Internet, making it much simpler for the entertainment industry to tie a digital pirate's online activities to his real-world identity.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates ruled Tuesday that Verizon Communications Inc. must identify an Internet subscriber suspected of illegally offering more than 600 songs from top artists. He said Verizon argued a ''strained reading'' of U.S. law and that its courtroom argument ''makes little sense from a policy standpoint.''

The ruling means consumers using dozens of popular Internet file-sharing programs can more easily be identified and tracked by copyright owners. Even for consumers hiding behind hard-to-decipher aliases, that could result in warning letters, civil lawsuits or even criminal prosecution.


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The Captains and Kings Depart

Harold Pinter has written a new poem about America for the the British newspaper The Guardian. Sadly, The Guardian mistakenly printed a rough draft instead of the finished copy.

Here's what Harold meant to write.

God Bless America

Here they go again,
The Yanks in their armoured parade,
Chanting their ballads of joy,
As they gallop across the big world,
Praising Liberty's God.

The gutters are clogged with the dead,
The ones who wouldn't join in.
The Germans refusing to sing;
The French who are losing their voice,
For Europe has forgotten the tune.

The jihadi whips have cut.
Your head rolls onto the sand.
Your head is a pool in the dirt.
Your head is a stain in the dust.
Your eyes have gone out and your nose.
Sniffs only the pong of the dead.
But free you would be, and alive
If you'd believed in Liberty's God.

Link via Andy


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JailBait No Longer

This week's Carnival of the Vanities, the eighteenth, is being hosted by Meryl Yourish, who was the very first person to blogroll us. Without Meryl, we might not have kept going, so feel free to blame her for our continued existence.

Upcoming Carnival stops include;

1/29 Ipse Dixit
2/5 Plum Crazy
2/12 Dissecting Leftism
2/19 The People's Republic of Seabrook

If you'd like to host the Carnival, and Lord know we need hosts, drop us a line. Information on how to join the Carnival can be found here.


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1/21/2003




Why Attacking Iraq Hurts Al-Qaeda

The strategic rationale for a war with Iraq;

1. It takes out of the picture a potential ally for al Qaeda, one with sufficient resources to multiply the militant group's threat. Whether Iraq has been an ally in the past is immaterial - - it is the future that counts.
2. It places U.S. forces in the strategic heart of the Middle East, capable of striking al Qaeda forces whenever U.S. intelligence identifies them.
3. Most important, it allows the United States to bring its strength --conventional forces -- to bear on nation-states that are enablers or potential enablers of al Qaeda. This would undermine strategically one of the pillars of al Qaeda's capabilities: the willingness of established regimes to ignore al Qaeda operations within their borders.


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Satellite of Love

A day after he issued a ban on cable television in Kabul for being un-Islamic, The chief justice and president of the Supreme Court of Afghanistan, Mawlawi Fazel Hadi Shinwari, upheld a ban on male teachers teaching female classes.

In my view co-education of adults is not allowed in Islam, it is rather haram (forbidden),” Supreme Court judge Mawlawi Fazel Hadi Shinwari told the private Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) in an interview.

He also announced a plan to set up a shura, or council of religious scholars, to implement and enforce sharia law.

The shura will have offices in all 32 provinces and will work to implement Islamic laws, an Islamic system of government and for the eradication of un-Islamic activities, he said, without giving a date for its establishment.

Far be it from me to look for the subtleties here; my first reaction was curse George Bush for letting Afghanistan slip back into the darkness, but other stories on Mawlawi Fazel suggest that he is less powerful than his title would have one think.

Shinwari said he did not know whether U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai would enforce segregation of schools.

"It is up to the government and the education ministry whether to take steps to follow the law. I have told them about the issue and fulfilled my responsibility in this regard."


If you'd like more evidence, this isn't the first time he's issued an order shutting off cable television. Having to issue the exact same order barely more than a month after he first issued it suggests that not too many people are paying attention to him.

There's also this story, which carries more than a hint that not only is Karzai engaging in an extremely delicate dance with the various Afghani factions, but can get Shinwari to reverse himself at need.

Finally, the order doesn't cover satellite transmissions, which is not only very popular, but likely more widespread than cable, requiring as it does far less of a supporting infrastructure.


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Or is that Captain Hook?

H.G Wells was wrong. The Eloi aren't found in the distant future. They're here now.

And so are the Morlocks.


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I Got Your Fuel Efficiency Right Here, Baby

George Bush gives Arianna the finger.

In related news, Saudis order jewel encrusted solid gold urinals for public restrooms.


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A Woman's Guide to Chivalry, Part One

Men who hold the door for you look at your ass as you pass.


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On Half a Pint of Shanty, I Was Particularly Ill

Warning! Don't follow the link without a pop-up killer. They are porn-like in their ubiquity.

According to the Ethical Philosophy Detector, the philospher I am most like is John Stuart Mill, followed by Kant, and the Epicureans.

Sadly, I am least like Hobbes.

link via Chris Ruzin


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Welcome to River Dale, Frodo Baggins

The Spitting of Sauron Endured.

link via Meryl


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Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk

According to the The WildMonk Iraqi-War Personality Test, I am either a realist, or a capitalist stooge, depending on your political affiliation.

Link via The Daily Pundit


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"FAT" Chance

I do not mean to sound rude, and this comment is NOT racially motivated (I say the same for John Edwards), but you have got to be fucking kidding me. Stick to making mountains out of mole hills.


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Silly Rabbis, Suffrage is for Everyone.

Could someone please tell the Israelis that
A.) You're our ally in the War on Terror.
B.) We send you millions of dollars a year in arms and economic support, and
C.) The least you can do is to make sure Israeli men don't act like Arabs when it comes to women's rights?

Rabbis in Israel helped save a marriage by advising a woman not to vote in a general election on Jan. 28 after her husband threatened to divorce her if she voted for the center-left Labor Party.Confirming a report in the Maariv newspaper, Rabbi Menashe Miller told Reuters that the couple had turned to a rabbinical court in the port city of Haifa for arbitration.

"I fought for this country and I will not accept my wife voting against my will," the husband, who plans to vote for the right-wing Likud party, was quoted as saying by Maariv.

It quoted the rabbis as saying they were sure "the head of any party would be happy to lose her vote in the name of marital bliss."


D.) If C is not possible, could you at least work to make sure your religious leaders have some minimal knowledge of what the word "democracy" actually means? I read the story above and it reminds me of nothing more than Sharia Lite.


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Bizarro

Video Game Based on Jacko's Baby Dangling

Reuters

BERLIN (Dec. 24) - Michael Jackson's baby-dangling exploits have spawned a new video game in which the player has to catch babies in a basket as a cartoon version of the popstar hurls them from a rooftop.

At the end of the game, called ''Michael Jackson Baby Drop,'' players receive a score and a supposed evaluation of their parenting skills.


Here's a link.

UPDATE: Are your parenting skills better than mine? I scored a 970.


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Knocking Over the Elderly

In the name of science, researchers are intentionally making old people fall.............cool.

via The Associated Press

Study Probes Why Elderly Fall
By: Lauran Neergaard


WASHINGTON (Jan. 21) - The elderly man stepped onto an elevated track and began walking, sensors measuring his gait, muscle use and the force of each step. Suddenly he slipped - and cameras filmed his limbs flailing as he fought to stay upright.

In the name of science, soapy water was spilled on the track to make it slippery. But don't worry, Virginia Tech researchers had strapped the man into a safety harness so he never hit the floor.

Millions of elderly Americans aren't so lucky, taking tumbles that can cause broken hips and other serious injuries, and about 10,000 seniors a year actually die from falls.

There are precautions that people can take, from getting rid of throw rugs and updating glasses prescriptions to wearing hip-protecting pads. But experiments like Tech's aim to pinpoint the aging-caused physiologic changes that make one senior more prone to a bad fall than another - and find new, better protections.


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1/20/2003




Grannie Thought I Was a Razhkûl, Too

My elven name is Gwindor Séregon.

My hobbit name is Bingo Brockhouse of Loamsdown

My Dwarven name is Corin Stealthfeet, and my Orcish name is Razhkûl.

One of these links via Maru The Crank. Which, I'll never say.


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Balancing Out The Lullabies

When Ngnat was younger, when her attention span was still too short for bedtime stories, I sang to her at bedtime, as we rocked back and forth in the chair by her crib. That came to a fairly sudden end in August, after she got her first big girl bed. We still sang songs, for a while, but reading books aloud took up more and more time. She eventually discovered the pleasures of listening to night-night songs on compact disc, so multiple bedtime songs became a rarity.

She was tired tonight, though, so I turned off the light after reading Curious George Takes a Job and a couple of poems from the Tasha Tudor edition of My Brimful Book, and sang to her. I sang Rock-a-bye Baby, and Little Rabbit Fu-Fu. I sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, the ABC song, and Baa Baa Black Sheep, all of which annoy me no end, as they have the same tune, and Ngnat likes them sung all in a row. I sang her favorite, The Gypsy Rover, which I had probably sung to her every night for a year up until August. I'd never even heard of it until I downloaded a Clancy Brothers version of it from Napster just after she was born. Their live version is probably one of the prettiest songs I've heard, ever. I can't find it on any of their cd's, though.

Aside: If for nothing else, Hilary Rosen, I hope you burn for that one day.

And we sang the four Songs of Balance. I don't remember the exact thought pattern that led to the creation of the Songs of Balance, but it had something to do with my feelings, just after I started singing good night lullabies to Ngnat, that possibly religion was over represented in the lullaby category, and some redress was required.

So, whenever I sing Jesus Loves Me, I also sing Why Does the Sun Shine?*

The Sun is a mass of incandescent gas,
a gigantic nuclear furnace.
Where hydrogen is built into helium
at a temperature of millions of degrees.
The Sun is hot, the Sun is not
a place where we could live.
But here on Earth there'd be no life
without the light it gives.
We need its light. We need its heat.
The sunlight that we see,
the sunlight comes, from our own Sun's, atomic energy.

Chorus
The Sun is a mass of incandescent gas,
a gigantic nuclear furnace.
Where hydrogen is built into helium
at a temperature of millions of degrees.

The Sun is hot...
The Sun is so hot that everything on it is a gas--
aluminum, copper, iron, and many others.
The Sun is large...
If the Sun were hollow, a million Earths would fit inside.
And yet, it is only a middle-size star.
The Sun is far away--
about 93 million miles away, and that's why it looks so small.
For even when it's out of sight,
the Sun shines night and day.

We need its heat, we need its light
The sunlight that we see,
the sunlight comes, from our own Sun's, atomic energy.

Scientists have found that the Sun is a huge atom-smashing machine.
The heat and light of the Sun are caused by nuclear reactions between
hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon, and helium.

And whenever I sing Deep and Wide, or Jesus Loves the Little Children, or It Only Takes a Spark or any of the other 300 billion religious songs I learned as a PK, I also sing about evolution.

The Amphioxus Song

A fish-like thing appeared among the annelids one day.
It hadn't any parapods nor setae to display.
It hadn't any eyes nor jaws, nor ventral nervous cord,
But it had a lot of gill slits and it had a notochord.

Chorus
It's a long way from Amphioxus. It's a long way to us.
It's a long way from Amphioxus to the meanest human cuss.
Well, it's goodbye to fins and gill slits, and it's welcome lungs and hair!
It's a long, long way from Amphioxus, but we all came from there.

It wasn't much to look at and it scarce knew how to swim,
And Nereis was very sure it hadn't come from him.
The mollusks wouldn't own it and the arthropods got sore,
So the poor thing had to burrow in the sand along the shore.
He burrowed in the sand before a crab could nip his tail,
And he said "Gill slits and myotomes are all to no avail.
I've grown some metapleural folds and sport an oral hood,
But all these fine new characters don't do me any good.

Chorus

It sulked awhile down in the sand without a bit of pep,
Then he stiffened up his notochord and said, "I'll beat 'em yet!
Let 'em laugh and show their ignorance. I don't mind their jeers.
Just wait until they see me in a hundred million years.
My notochord shall turn into a chain of vertebrae
And as fins my metapleural folds will agitate the sea.
My tiny dorsal nervous cord will be a mighty brain
And the vertebrates shall dominate the animal domain.

She's trying, but so far she can't pronounce "Amphioxus" worth a damn. She's got "Jesus" down pat, though. I suppose I'll have to start singing "Jeebus Loves Me" until she catches them up.

*It's been covered by They Might Be Giants, but you can listen to the original version here.


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Mars and Venus

A woman's preferred instuments for cleaning the toilet bowl - chemicals and a brush
A man's preferred instument for cleaning the toilet bowl - erosion.


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Affirmative Action Jiu-Jitsu

In the days since the Bush administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that race as a factor in the University of Michigan's admissions policy is unconstitutional, Condoleeza Rice has issued a statement supporting the use of race as a factor in college admissions, and Colin Powell has stated his support for affirmative action. Another black cabinet member, Rod Page, hasn't said anything about it, even though he's the secretary of education. Rumor has it that he agrees with Bush's position.

In both cases, the easily excited mainstream media has characterized Rice's and Powell's statements as major breaks, exposing heretofore unseen rifts in the White House, with statements like the following.

It was a rare public acknowledgment of dissent with the president and with other top White House aides.

In an extraordinary departure from the White House's carefully crafted public stand on affirmative action....

Her statement quickly led to speculation that there were sharp differences between Rice and Bush.

Since the Bush presidency is notoriously lock-step in nature, those are hardly surprising angles to take, but while the rift in the administration angle is the most obvious, it's also the one with the least evidence. After months and months of toeing the administration line on all sorts of policies, the idea Colin and Condi have all of a sudden decided to cross that line on this one issue doesn't hold a lot of water. The muted response from a White House that is also notorious on loyalty issues further argues against this kind of analysis. If Powell and Rice were saying things the administration didn't want the to say, there would be a lot more reaction. Remember Paul O'Neill? He didn't toe the line wll enough, and now he's gone. If either Condi or Colin had the same penchant for running off at thee mouth, they would be gone, too.

The whole situation smacks of covering a political flank, and of throwing a bone to the black community. Does anyone realistically think that the Rehnquist court is going to uphold the Michigan quota system? Once the admissions policy is overturned, once the Bush administration has gotten a decision stating that admissions policies should be race neutral, the question then becomes how to attract black voters in the next election, especially when the Democrats can be expected to use the results of the case to play the race card for all it is worth.

And the Democrats will play the race card; lately it has been the only effective card they have.

The Republicans, knowing that the race card is going to be played, just face the question of how to minimize it's impact, not on blacks*, but on suburban white women. That's the audience the Condi/Colin statements are aimed at. For the next two years, administration statements on affirmative action will toe a new line, call it Merit Plus, where the Plus is a vague statement about the value of diversity, and references to ways non-quota means of ensuring diversity.

*If Karl Rove manages to lessen its impact among African Americans as well, that's gravy, as well as absolute doom for the Democrats.


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Another Blogger Flees Blogspot

No, we're not leaving anytime soon. We're very cheap.

ibidem has a new url and a new site. Glad tidings indeed for the devoted peridromophile.


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Guns Don't Kill People, Peace Activists Kill People

The story of Andrew McCrae, who killed a cop and then bragged about it on the net broke in the blogosphere over Thanksgiving. I must have had too much Turducken on my mind, as I totally missed it.

I did run across this today, which I haven't seen mentioned anywhere else as yet; McCrae was a pretty trendy leftie. Not only was he an anti-globalist, he'd traveled to the Holy Land as a human shield.

He'd also published a Declaration of Renewed American Independence calling for among other things, public sleeping, and end to skater harassment, and.....no speed limit?

They have wrenched our public property away from us by closing parks at night, preventing loitering, and harassing skateboarders. They have waged a war on poverty-

-outlawing panhandling, public sleeping, and hitchhiking. -allowing our justice system to be controlled by wealth, imprisoning small criminals, but allowing great criminals to go free.
They have harassed our children and stolen away the freedom of their youth by enforcing local curfews and underage drinking laws. They have contributed to an unhealthy social sexuality, declaring the human body 'indecent' by enforcing public 'indecency' laws. They have been the hand of censorship against 'obscenity.'

They have kept us from using fast, though safe, speeds that we know we can handle, becoming the willing tools in using us as a source of revenue.

They have sped faster than we do to stop us from speeding.


He reminds me of nothing more than the Leftist version of James Kopp, the right-wing assassin who killed Dr. Barnett Slepian after years of anti-abortion activism, and who is still a hero to some for that action. From the comments on some sites, I expect Andrew will be well on his way to a similar status within a year or two.


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1/19/2003




Pinky and the Brain

The itsy bitsy spider
Told me to knock him out.
I him in the brain
With a rusty shower spout.
Out came the guards
And cleaned up all the brains.
And the itsy bitsy spider
Got me 5 to 10 again.


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I Especially Enjoy Going Through The Neighbor's Garbage

Thanks to my keen detective skills, and my ability to read a referral log, I have tracked down the person responsible for The Money Dance. Welcome to Blogistan, Oscar.

Now, if I only knew how I managed to separate Oscar from his money in the first place, so that I could apply that skill to the world at large and buy the Silflay Hraka beach house sometime before the current target date of September 25th, 2216.


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Duuuuuuuuuude, Awesome Weed!
Announcing the First Annual or Whenever I Feel Like It Caption Ngnat Contest. Leave your caption in the comments. Enter as many times as you like, mathom prizes awarded on a completely subjective basis as I feel like it.



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I Knew He Was A Commie, But I Didn't Know He Was An Evil Commie

Hugo Chavez must go. He's started confiscating Venezuela's beer.

Also Coca-Cola, which I find less distressing for some reason.

Update: The Devil's Excrement, owner of possibly the best blog name ever, has lots of pictures, including one or two of the hopsnappers.


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Super Hero Trade-Off of the day

Okay, in the last super hero trade-off of the day, Tanya from Redsugar Muse suggested she would like to be Rogue, from the X-men, which prompted the idea for today's episode of Super Hero Trade-Off. (That's S.H.O.T if you turn it around a little. That's my super-power: making almost acronyms.)

Here's the trade-off dilema: would you take the super powers of Rogue if it meant that you could never have intimate contact with another human as long as you lived? Before you answer, here are the specifics of Rogue's powers:

Rogue possesses the superhuman ability to absorb the memories, knowledge, talents, personality, and physical abilities (whether superhuman or not) of another human being (or members of some sentient alien races) through physical contact of her skin with the skin of the other person. (Sometimes she also duplicates in herself outward physical characteristics of her victim.) The victim's abilities and memories are absorbed for a time sixty times longer than the amount of time Rogue was in physical contact with that person. The victim loses his or her abilities and memories for exactly the length of time that Rogue possesses them. Due to unknown factors Rogue has permanently absorbed certain superhuman powers from Ms. Marvel I. Rogue gained Ms. Marvel's superhuman strength and ability to fly.
And the bad:
Rogue cannot touch another human being without temporarily absorbing that person's memories, abilities, and superhuman powers (if any) and rendering him or her unconscious. Remnants of the personalities of victims whose memories she has absorbed remain buried in her subconscious indefinitely.
We already know how Woundwort and Laurence feel about it.
I think I might decline this one. Being able to fly would be tres cool and so would being nigh invulnerable. But what good is that if you can't share it with the ones you love? Forget for a moment that I am single with little or no prospects for being otherwise. Besides, I already have enough voices floating around in my head. So does BigWig.

Super Hero Trade-Off archive
Daredevil
Professor X.



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I Know Which I Prefer, Though

I added Sitemeter tracking here Friday at midnight, just to see what it would do. I know that it counts visitors somewhat differently than Extreme tracking which is what I've had here since last May, but it recorded almost five times the number of visitors that E.T. did for Saturday. Until I know better, I'll take the two numbers as the upper and lower estimates for Hraka visitors, but the difference in the numbers between the two is surprising. I guess that the explanation of the two could lie in the difference between repeat visitors and unique visitors, but I haven't found any explanation of how Sitemeter counts.

Anyone else run into this?


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He Dreams of Cthulhu

Don't ever give a toddler a can of Pepsi. If you must give a toddler a can of Pepsi, don't give her a can of Pepsi at eight o'clock that night. If you must give a toddler a can of Pepsi at eight o'clock at night, make sure she has something to eat first.

If you do give a toddler with an empty stomach an entire can of Pepsi after eight o'clock at night, expect the worst. Simply put, caffeine is toddler crack. First they're exuberant, and then they're exuberant and bossy. Then they'll do anything to get more. Since everyone who is not actually the parent of said toddler thinks this is cute, it's an extremely hard behavior to get rid of. It leads to a toddler who thinks nothing of running up and down fifty yards of hotel hallway until she's exhausted. Physically exhausted, that is. Mentally, she's doing a Bas Lurhrman Moulin Rouge can-can, which leads to her tossing and turning in hotel bed, falling into light dozes, and then having, if you judge them by her scream upon awakening, William Burroughs' dreams. This lasts until about two o'clock in the morning, after which she only calms down if she has a parent beside her in the bed. Said parent doesn't sleep, because said toddler kicks in her sleep.

The rehearsal itself was....survived, which is the best I think anyone not in the wedding party can hope for. I wasn't present in any official capacity, so I didn't have to look interested in the wedding director's manipulation of the wedding party. My job was kid wrangling.

Once we got to the Methodist church the wedding was to take place, I let Ngnat roam all over the sanctuary. I figured it was marginally more possible that she would walk down the aisle the next day if she was at home in the surroundings. She padded down pews, and ran down the choir pit, and colored the donation envelopes with the tiny little pencils handily placed nearby. Then we read a book, and colored some more, and ran down some more pews. The pews were padded, so she was not as quite as loud as you might think. I got a couple of warning glances from the Sainted Wife, but for the most part we were free to do as we wilt.

Meanwhile, the other little flower girl sat primly beside her mother, a bridesmaid, or lay down on the floor nearby, until Ngnat gave her the Boo doll she had gotten from Santa. After that she sat primly beside her mother and talked to Boo. Occasionally cries of "Mike Wazowski!" would echo through the sanctuary. I was jealous of the extra incentive she would have to get down the aisle come ceremony time, and plotted on how to overcome that advantage. I wasn't sure that the M&Ms the Sainted Wife's cousin had promised to Ngnat if she got all the way down the aisle were comparable to having a mother waiting at the end of the journey . Ngnat gets M&Ms from her Nana just for breathing, so I didn't consider it real likely that she would face down an audience of 300 strangers just to get some. A trail of quarters leading down the aisle would probably work, but I didn't the bride would approve of that particular stratagem. From the look on his face, I decided that the father of the bride would have hoovered them all up before Ngnat ever stepped foot in the sanctuary.

Both the girls successfully made their way down to the altar and back a couple of times during the rehearsal, though they required the assistance of the seven-year-old ringbearer to get back each time. He held their hands, and they walked solemnly back up the aisle. It was very cute practice, but, as it turned out, fatally flawed.

As you know, flower girls carry little baskets on the wedding day, and scatter petals from them on their way to the altar. We had no baskets, and we had no petals, so when Ngnat and her companion were presented with them upon the morrow, they alternated between dumping the contents out en masse, or declaring "Don't Wan Baket! and bursting into tears when the undesired bakets were forced upon them nonetheless.

Wedding Tip: Avoid any actions that stress your flower girls during the hour before the ceremony at all costs. Sadly, this can only be accomplished by deciding not to have flower girls in the first place.


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Lesson For the Guys

Admittedly, I make a number of mistakes as a husband. I speak before I think..........honestly, even when I try to think beforehand I still tend to say the wrong thing, but I have learned a few things over the past week that I think may help others to learn and make them better husbands, at least better informed husbands.

Lesson 1

We came home from the hospital over a week ago with the newborn and everyone got sick, as chronicled on here before. The only person (including extended family members staying with us) who didn't get sick was the new baby. He seemed to come through it all with flying colors. Perhaps I was not thinking straight, and seeing as I'm not exactly working on making a new baby right now (those of you having had children before know what I mean) I guess my mind was on such things.

My suggestion to my wife was, since he was so healthy, even in the face of such illness, it must have something to do with the immune system my wife is providing him through the breast milk. I thought that maybe if I hooked on in a similar manner then I could be healthy as well. Maybe the problem came in when I suggested that perhaps others should hook on too, like the hot chick from down the street, or her college roommate, or some other smoking female. Weird how freaked out she got about it. I guess I still don't know women very well.

Moral to men: You don't know women, you never will.........just accept it and deal with it as best you can.


Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.




"You're Going to Need More Body Bags"

Rambo just lost his only real friend...............RIP, Colonel.


Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.

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