We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Wednesday, November 28. 2012
Most days on the way home from school, I take the boys in to Jamba Juice. It's healthier than cookies for an after-school snack. And, I usually have twofer coupons. Another treat is that Bronson is a Jamba Juice Juggler as he prepares the healthy drinks. Jason used his iPod today to make a video of Bronson's performance.
Tuesday, November 27. 2012
For those of us who enjoy destructo videos, this one is a champ...for chumps.
According to 11foot8.com, this train trestle is 100 years old, so it was built at a time" when there were no standards for minimum clearance." They are not raising it because the Norfolk Southern Railroad doesn't care: it's their bridge and the only thing they want is to guarantee the safety of their trains. "As far as they are concerned, they solved that problem by installing the crash beam," 11foot8 says. Any potential solution ”like raising the bridge or loowering the road” is too expensive to be worth it. The city of Durham installed warning signs along the three blocks that precede the bridge, but imbeciles keep ramming into it on average once a month.
Monday, November 26. 2012
"Jamie Foxx calls Obama ‘Our Lord and Savior’ during Soul Train Awards"
This leads to twitter reactions.
My favorite "#If Obama was Jesus..." at Twitchy:
I am humbled to have as a good friend Del Vecchio. He writes in hopes you'll read and give. The Vietnam Healing Foundation gets needed prothetics, food and money to the wounded soldiers, sailors and airmen of South Vietnam, who are still maltreated by the conquerors from the North. If you haven't blown it all on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, please give.
This satirical video is intended to show that much of Western aid to Africa " is more about making donors look good than about doing good for the needy."
Thursday, November 22. 2012
There are apparently sharp differences among commentators on the Gaza ceasefire. Regardless, the Gaza thanksgiving lesson is that Israel and its supporters have far more to be thankful for, and hopeful for, than does Israel's enemies.
On the one hand are those who say that Israel accomplished its primary objectives: degrade Hamas’ rocket and terror capabilities, retain good will of the Western governments that are usually so offended by Israel’s defense measures, establish self-interested constructive relations with the Islamist rulers of Egypt and not undermine the frail not-attacking PA in the West Bank.
On the other hand are those who say that Israel should have launched the ground operation in to Gaza to further punish and eradicate the threats from there and further degrade Hamas’ capabilities, and that the ceasefire agreement is toothless at restraining future Hamas re-arming and attacks.
Emotionally and militarily I lean toward the second hand. As a practical matter I lean toward the first hand. Anyone who has participated in or observed house-to-house fighting knows its brutality and costs in lives, including our own. This time, I don’t think it was worth another Israeli soldier’s life, as little as I care for the surely much heavier Hamas toll or that on the Gazan civilians who back Hamas. Then, regardless of the public words of any ultimate ceasefire agreement, I don’t think that they would hold water unless Hamas were to actually commit to the actions, and non-actions, necessary to their fulfillment.
Meanwhile, we do not know whether Egypt has committed to or will increase its relatively minor blocking of tunnels into Gaza. We do know that President Obama has committed to increasing support to blocking arms imports to Gaza and to increase funding for more Iron Dome anti-rocket defenses. We do know that aside from bluster the Arab states and Turkey were inactive. They could really care less about Hamas, particularly as far as it is allied with Iran. Even Iran, aside from attempted new smuggled weapons, was inactive, as was its other cats paw in the area Hezbullah in Lebanon.
So, regardless of which side of the debate you take, or another, I think the lesson from Gaza is to give thanks for what we have accomplished.
Israel was not weakened but will continue on to successfully defend its right to exist. Since 1948, when Israel’s fate seemed more dire, to now, Israel has managed to survive and prosper. There’s little reason to believe that will change. The Arab states have not prospered nor advanced. As their oil wealth fades and is substituted from US, Israeli, alternative energy, and other sources, their influence or importance will fade. Hamas has created a stinkhole in Gaza, except for those at the top of the regime and its favors who live luxuriously and will pay the price eventually as impoverished Gazans take their measure.
As to those in the West, the decreasing number of dreamers, who propose trading land or rights for peace, their illusion is thinner than ever, at least until there is a miraculous transformation among Arabs. The necessity of strong security measures cannot be denied by any honest peace-hawks.
There’s much to give thanks for, far more than regrets, on this Thanksgiving.
Re-posted from last year. I add in 2012: No matter what the circumstances, whatever you have is to be given thanks for, and someone else always has less, and they may surprise you that they give thanks for that.
Wednesday night, my son Jason and I were greeters at our synagogue for the annual Interfaith Council Thanksgiving Service, which brings together ministers and congregants from many varying religions. A real eye-opener for Jason as he met people, US born and from all corners of the earth, all sharing thanks for our bounty and generosity. The service ended with all standing to sing "America the Beautiful." (I wish they'd also added Emma Lazarus' poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty.) I hadn't read all the words to "America the Beautiful" in many years. So, like me, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, you may want to refresh your memory.
America the Beautiful
Words by Katharine Lee Bates,
Melody by Samuel Ward
O beautiful for spacious skies,
Posted by Bruce Kesler in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 01:29 | Comments (4) | Trackback (1)
Wednesday, November 21. 2012
Anthony is the Reuters Social Media Editor, integrating the “ambient wire” that exists on social networks, where news now breaks before anywhere else, into Reuters platforms. He's also host of Reuters TV's "Tech Tonic" and a Reuters columnist.
This is the kind of media bias that must be exposed. In this case, with impact. Thanks to Honest Reporting. (free online subscription)
5:48 pm: At the beginning of the day, I noted an ugly tweet by Reuters’ Anthony De Rosa. One response to De Rosa was sufficiently embarrassing and, uh, viral enough to make the wire service’s social media editor remove his tweet.
A ceasefire is supposed to start tonight. There doesn't appear to be anything that will ensure a lasting peace. Whether and how long it lasts is really up to Hamas.
Hamas' celebration of today's terror bombing of a bus in Tel Aviv is not promising.
How come the 3% get all the media attention?
Poll: What Are Your 2012 Black Friday Plans?
Total Voters: 713
This artist just released an album using biblical instruments trying to re-create the music in the Temple in Jerusalem. Remember, the first pilgrims were Jews going there to give homage to G-d. Hence, "halleluja".
Rabbi Bill Berk, who retired from a large Reform congregation in Phoenix to lead educational cultural tours in Israel, is definitely a liberal -- by US or Israeli standards -- politically. Regardless of liberal or not, almost all Israelis are unified in supporting the Israeli actions in Gaza. That may come as a shock to many Western liberals who have become accustomed to taking positions negative toward Israel.
Below is Bill Berk's "Letter To My Old Friend" in the US who wrote to him criticizing Israel's actions against Hamas in Gaza. Berk's old friend wrote him (as Berk summarizes):
Below, Bill Berk demolishes those ignorant assertions. Berk's rebuttal is comprehensive, and provides better understanding than you'll see in most of the Western media.
Continue reading "Dispatch From Israel: Liberal Rabbi's Rebuttal To Criticism Of Israel"
If you want to watch the video this screen capture is taken from: http://youtu.be/1E7bNUiw48U
Tuesday, November 20. 2012
I get a chuckle out of this one.
Israel is a democracy, with rights of free speech, petition, and protest. The tiny number of far left Israelis are vocal and often ally with radical Arab-Israelis. In this video today, they held a protest in Jerusalem against Israel bombing Gaza. Then, they scurried away as soon as the air raid siren went off that a rocket may come in from Gaza.
From the Comments to this Youtube video:
Couldn't have said it better myself.
To illustrate the credible range of debate or discussion within the Jewish community, excluding the left-fringe J Street's usual meowing for a mythical peace with those who adamantly and violently refuse peace, please read this short column by a professor and the reply by another. I favor the reply, because dire realities cannot be wished away.
Hamas fired off more Iranian rockets toward Jerusalem. One landed in a West Bank Palestinian village.
Hamas not only tries to kill Israeli civilians but doesn't care about killing fellow Palestinians.
Meanwhile, to continue the report linked above:
Hillary is on the way, to talk in Ramallah with the PLO. Gee, that will do a lot of good, since for Hamas and the PLO each other are enemies. She'll be in Jerusalem, presumably to muscle Israel into not launching a ground operation in Gaza to eliminate more rats. Then she'll visit Egypt, whose "mediation" sits on a table etched with anti-Israel statements. Soft diplomacy yields to soft-headedness. At least, one Associated Press reporter called out the State Dept. spokesperson on ignoring Turkey's calling Israel a "terrorist state" at the same time considering giving the faux-NATO partner US Patriot missiles along its Syrian border.
Reporters Without Borders accused Israel of a war crime, targeting innocent civilian journalists. The Reporters Without Borders, first, need to better understand the Geneva Conventions. The International Committee of the Red Cross is the authority on the Geneva Conventions.
That does not protect those masquerading as journalists nor does it protect terrorists hiding among journalists. Today, Israel killed five of them. Further, Reporters Without Borders has not protested Hamas directly denying journalists in Gaza their right to leave Gaza.
Reporters Without Borders are without the confining borders of journalistic ethics. Quelle surprise!
Monday, November 19. 2012
Instead of watching Anderson Cooper on CNN say "Wow! What a big blast"(*actual quote below, just as uninformative and inane), supposedly providing useful reporting from within Gaza (actually a "safe" location there), you'd get more info and quicker via the rapid postings from the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) blog. Israel has every interest in getting facts out there before the pro-Pals and enablers among the international media can distort and lie. Bookmark the site to keep up on what's happening. (Remember, Israel time is 7-hours later that NY and 10-hours than California.) Here's a sample of what's available:
* Actual quote: "Whoa!" he said, as he dove nearly out of the camera's frame. "Well, that was a rather large explosion," he added as he stood up straight again. "That was probably the largest explosion that we have heard just in the past -- really in the past hour."
Sunday, November 18. 2012
The below email just reached me. The Good People Fund is a nonprofit that operates with the highest transparency and lowest costs, to steer funding to small needs that may fall beneath the radar of the giant charities or governments. See the Guidestar review for its 5-star rating. If you can give, please do at the US address below. Make sure to mark your check or credit card contribution with "Package From Home." - Here's a description of the lady who started this program.
Dear Friends of A Package from Home,
It is now 6:30 PM Saturday night and we have just watched the TV pictures of our troops gathering at the Gaza border. A few minutes ago, I received a call from Lt. Col. Zvika Levy. You may remember that he is the Commander that I deal with concerning the needs and problems of Lone Soldiers and other needy soldiers. . He was on his way from his Northern Kibbutz down to the border at Gaza He told me that there is an immediate need to provide 1.000 packages containing a warm fleece jacket, long underwear, boxer shorts and anti-fungal stockings. The total cost of the packages will be $33,000. As always, I told him that I would do the best I could to fulfill the need.. The urgency is for the warm clothes to be distributed immediately to them while they are waiting, alongside the border, for orders to enter Gaza. The package will also include a washable hand knitted woolen ski cap that is sent to us from knitters around the world, even as far away as New Zealand.
If you are wondering why the Army is not providing these things automatically to each soldier, I will give you the answer that the Army gave me at the beginning of our project, 13 year s ago. I was told, “The Army has a budget and when they have to choose between ordering M-16s and fleece jackets, they buy the M-16s”.
Israel can no longer restrain itself in dealing with those who would indiscriminately kill our citizens. As a result our soldiers have been ordered to report to their units at the
Gaza border.. The weather in Gaza is very cold. The tanks are not insulated. The need to supply these packages at this time is evident. We need your support to enable us to provide some comfort for the soldiers who are putting their lives on the line in order to eliminate the firing of rockets against Israeli civilians. Once again, I turn to you for financial support. The current situation is an emergency which requires immediate action.
May Hashem protect our soldiers.
Tax deductible shekel or other currency contributions can be made to the AACi ,and mailed to POB 53349, Jerusalem 91533, Israel. Please make a notation that your gift is for A Package From Home.
Tax deductible dollar contributions can be made to Good People Fund 384 Wyoming Ave, Millburn, New Jersey, 07041 USA. (For a credit card donation, please see Good People Fund web site at www.goodpeoplefund.org and follow donate here prompt. Please make a notation that your gift is for to A Package from Home.
About 1500 Jews and Christians attended a rally today in San Diego to Stand With Israel.
A group of about 25 pro-Palestinians showed up and tried to interfere with their vile chants of hate through a loudspeaker. The leader of the chants read them off a phone. When the leader stopped for a moment their crowd stopped, like the puppets they are. -- As I and my family were leaving, a young guy shouted his curses in my ear. I flipped him off and told him to come on and try me. He backed off as I called him a "xxxxxx" (begins with f and ends with t). Pro-Pal punks.
Saturday, November 17. 2012
Here's another way Hamas stashes its armaments. In this case, under a Hamas leader's house, hit by the Israeli Air Force. Note the secondary explosions.
Here's a depiction of other ways Hamas hides its arms, as discovered during Cast Lead (late 2008-early 2009), and disregards Gazans' safety and lives, indeed callously uses their lives as sacrificial shields and pawns.
Below is a dispatch from Israel, bold emphasis added, from -- who woulda believed it -- the frontline in Jerusalem. Yesterday, an Iranian supplied missile landed just miles from the holy sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I haven't seen a mention in the press reports of this that fanatic Muslims are indiscriminately targeting not only civilians but the holy sites of billions of people.
Bill Berk is a transplanted American in Jerusalem, Israel. In his earlier career, Berk was rabbi of a large congregation in Phoenix, Ariz. Now he leads educational cultural tours within Israel. He will be the rabbi for my son's Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem on April 8.
Friday, November 16. 2012
Last night I pointed out Hamas' ambition to rocket Jerusalem. Then there's this: Rockets land in field outside Jerusalem as war looms over Gaza. Where's the outcry from world religious and political leaders about the potential destruction of Jerusalem? About the same place it has been from the destruction of Jewish sites in Jerusalem by Jordan in 1948-9, or the destruction since then in other countries of religious sites by fanatic Muslims. -- BTW, the above news link says the rocket landed just outside of Jerusalem. According to a London Telegraph report, the Iranian rocket landed near an Israeli town. Jerusalem is largely surrounded by Palestinian areas, which could have been hit. What if Palestinians had been or are hit? Will there be a protest against Pal on Pal atrocities?
There is this good news: The Obama administration and the US Senate are standing behind Israel's right of self-defense. The question is whether, if Israel must escalate, as it appears it well may, will the Obama administration flake out? Jonathan Tobin is pessimistic:
Read it all for more realistic pessimism about Israel's and Hamas' strategic positions.