Friday, February 29, 2008



the opposition to war and violence as a means of settling disputes. Pacifism may entail the belief that the waging of war by a state and the participation in war by an individual are absolutely wrong, under any circumstances.

In the ancient world, war was taken for granted as a necessary evil by some societies, while in others it was not even regarded as an evil. …

Pacifism is a utopia dream. It can work like in the case of India and the peaceful demonstrations against British rule. In this case, the British responded morally by not attacking the demonstrators. But as seen recently in Burma, peaceful demonstrations will not work when the opposing side has no moral scruples and responds with violence.

It was the demonstrations of the peace movement that led to the US pullout of Vietnam. While the demonstrators felt good about themselves; the consequences of that withdrawal were horrendous. It led to Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. It led to more deaths in the long run.

In the run-up to World War II, Hitler was appeased time after time in an effort to avoid war.

My question: Does pacifism respect life?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Israel and Human Rights

A lot of people are focused on the supposed human rights violations Israel commits. A Google search on boycott Israel reveals a staggering 206,000 results. There is a great outcry no matter how Israel tries to protect her citizens. The latest insult comes yet again from the UN Human Rights Commission. It blames Israel for the terrorist attacks by Palestinians. They say the living conditions in Gaza are so bad, the Palestinians have no choice but to seek to murder innocent Israelis. But the thing is, those living in Gaza actually a higher standard of living than Egyptians.

Israel has wisely closed its border crossings into Gaza. And yet people claim Gazans are starving when enough flour flows in per day to provide almost a ton of flour for Gazan.

Israel is criticized if she employs military actions to stop the Kassam attacks. Israel is criticized for using check points to stop Palestinian terrorists from infiltrating. Israel is criticized for closing border crossings to all but humanitarian aid. Israel is criticized for cutting power to Gaza for periods of time.

The Palestinians are given a free pass to keep sending Kassams into Sderot. The Palestinians are given a free pass for the hatred of Jews that are taught in classrooms and children's tv shows. Nothing is said about the Palestinian Authority's supposed inability to stop terrorists groups. Instead of criticizing terrorism, it is justified.

The Palestinians have been used for generations as political pawns. Treppenwitz points to an excellent essay that was printed in The Atlantic Journal. It pinpoints how Palestinians had become pawns in order to demonize Israel. This article was written in 1961. Much has changed since then. The rhetoric against Israel borders on the insane.

Today, Sderot suffered through another 11 Kassam rockets. These rockets may be crude and homemade but they have the desired affect: to create terror and to maim and murder. Some people say that since only x number of Israelis have been killed or injured by the Kassams, they don't really count. Try telling that to the relatives of those killed or injured.

In the past, Israel has been accused of cruelty for flying jets over Gaza. What of the citizens of Sderot who are bombarded daily and only have 15 seconds to seek cover after a warning? What of the parents in Sderot in fear for their children in school? Just this past year when Sderot schools opened, they were greeted with Kassam rockets.

I guess Israeli human rights do not count. And while the focus remains on Israel, others whose situations are so much more perilous than Palestinians languish.

Darfur is a well known example. Less known are those in Congo. 5.4 million have died there and many more continue to die.

China harvests organs from political prisoners. But I suppose that can be largely ignored since China will be hosting the Olympics. Wouldn't want to impose on the hosts and all that.

It used to big news about North Koreans starving. I haven't heard much about them lately. I don't think their situation has improved much.

And the world's silence on the situation in Burma is damning.

This graphic says it all:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Mottel at Letters of Thought has posted Close Every Door to Me. Below is one of the verses:

But I know the answers lie
Far from this world
- Children of Israel
Are never alone
For I know I've been told
They may ruin my body
But never my soul


You may have seen the commercial for an office supply company. Someone in the office is in a panic and someone else brings out a big red button with the word easy in white letters. The button is pressed and everything is taken care of. If only there was something like that to help my ravaged Mississippi Gulf Coast!

Much rebuilding has been done but at times the task seems daunting. It is not merely trying to replace the homes and businesses washed away: It is also wading through the endless maze of new building codes, new zoning, new elevation requirements, trying to find insurance, material shortages, and rising prices.

It is also trying to save every scrape of historic buildings that somehow did not get washed and blown away by Hurricane Katrina. Each 100+ year-old that is restored is a cause for celebration. Each announcement that other historic buildings may be torn down is a cause for sadness. We lost Grasslawn, the Father Ryan House, the Dantzler House, Tullis-Tolando, and so many others.

There are two historic buildings whose fate is still uncertain: the downtown Gulfport Library and the historic Markham Building.

Countless hours of studying, research, and the introduction of children to the rewarding world of reading had been spent at the Gulfport Library.

The Markham Building was a designated fall-out shelter. In the 1920's, it was a grand hotel and had been remade into a beautiful office building. Proms were once held.

The Markham Building is the white one in the background:

These two buildings represent the intangibles that were lost. How can you quantify memories?

After Hurricane Katrina, cities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast came up with rebuilding plans. These plans are grand and beautiful. But they leave out some important considerations: the people who live here. The plans call for transforming harbors and downtowns into showplaces. They also tend to forget the majority of those who utilized the harbors and piers before Katrina. The plans are not geared toward to the men and women who just want to go and fish after a hard days work. They are geared toward the rich.

And this brings up another problem: Housing for the working poor. Time after time, developers who are encouraged to incorporate affordable housing into their plans are voted against in council meetings. It is sad when the Regional Housing Authority has to sue a city such as Gulfport in order for affordable housing to be built. People are scared of the term low-income housing. What many don't realize is that many teachers, firemen, policemen, retail workers, and many others are included in the term low-income wage earners.

The plans for rebuilding are cities are beautiful and it would be nice for them to go into effect. But I worry that as in the case of housing, those who are considered the margins of society will be pushed further away. The plans for making our Coast beautiful should not and cannot neglect the service workers in the tourism industry.

We should build better and stronger but cannot ignore the together part. If there is no affordable housing for waitresses, construction workers, and so many others, how can we maintain the basis for a tourism industry? If there is no increase in low-income housing, how can we maintain the many industries that have made the move from Louisiana to Mississippi?

I want nothing more for the ravaged spaces along the Mississippi Gulf Coast to be rebuilt. But the reality is, we cannot neglect the intangibles nor can we neglect our working poor, our disabled, and our elderly. We cannot neglect our neighbors and we cannot ignore the increasing numbers of homeless as the FEMA trailer parks are emptied.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Two for One

Last week, I neglected to post Haveil Havalim - 154.

This week, Jack is falling Asleep at My Computer. I've read a couple of the linked posts. And based on some, like Enough With Sheep Throwing and A New Religion, I don't think it was from boredom.

Friday, February 22, 2008

An Eye for an Eye

An eye for an eye is one of those verses from the Torah that is mistranslated and misunderstood. It gives some people comfort to use this verse to prove that Jews are a vengeful and are intent upon retribution.

It is used out of context as well. It is a tradition that has been ongoing for over two thousand years.

Michelangelo's Moses has two horns on his head because Michelangelo's Bible, the Latin Vulgate, mistranslated Exodus 34:29 as "Moses had horns" instead of "Moses' face shone." With similar results, Exodus 21:24-25 is commonly read as requiring "an eye for an eye."

By translation or mistranslation, the Hebrew Bible has probably supplied more staples to the Western cannon of quotations than any other book (or set of books), including Shakespeare. Certain Biblical lines stand out, though the distinction is sometimes a dubious one from the perspective of scholars of Hebrew and of the Hebrew Bible. For reliance on mistranslation, projection of preconception, brutality of intent and ignorance of the Biblical context, probably no Biblical verses are more famous, or infamous, than this Torah portion's "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise" (Exodus 21:24-25).

Here, we are told, is vengeful, unbending, even inhuman justice, only too typical of the "Old Testament." Here is the "Law" against which Paul of Tarsus inveighed so heavily; here is Judaism's absolute, untrammeled and altogether one-sided rigor. Here is the transmogrified teaching of the jealous G-d of Moses - Him Who needed to be replaced, or, at the least, developed into Paul's G-d of love, mercy and understanding.

It's worse still. When the Talmudic rabbis came and read "an eye for an eye" to connote not sadistic punishment but monetary compensation for bodily injury, this, we are told, was but the sophistry of the Pharisees, the embarrassed apologia of rabbis too intellectually dishonest to admit to the decisive impugning of Biblical Law offered by its critics.

Every aspect of Jewish life is rooted in respect for life. A discussion during Shabbat services three weeks ago brought this to the forefront. In the d'var Torah, we were asked the question: Which is the easiest commandment to follow and which is the hardest?

The easiest commandment is not to take eggs or chicks from a nest while the mother bird is present. This is to prevent the mother bird pain from seeing her eggs or chicks taken. Kashrut is followed for similar reasons. These rules are meant to make us conscience of all our actions. It governs our speech as well.

The hardest commandment to follow is to honor our mother and father. This is very difficult, especially for teenagers and adolescents. And again, it is an aspect in which we are meant to govern our actions and speech in order to avoid giving pain.

And these rules follow us when war is necessary. Peace is to be pursued but this cannot be ignored: "not standing by while one's neighbor's blood is shed". Pacifism is antithetical to Jewish thought and it may seem paradoxical in light of trying to live and be respectful of all life. But if thought is given to this idea, it would seem to be a logical progression. If someone is coming at my neighbor to kill my neighbor, do I stand idly by? Or do I intervene?

If someone seeks to kill me, do I turn the other cheek or do I defend myself?

And even during war, we are guided by principles:

In sum, there clearly is a license to wage certain kinds of war and kill certain people in the Jewish tradition. However, in order to exercise this license, one must first seek peace; this peace must be sought prior to declaring war, prior to waging a battle, and prior to laying a siege. While war permits killing, it only permits the intentional killings of combatants. Innocent people must be given every opportunity to remove themselves from the field of combat.

Are these the principles of a vengeful people?

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Since humans first began agriculture, we've experimented with the genetics of living things. From cultivating certain types of figs to the domestication of dogs and other animals such as cows, we've been very, very busy.

As impressive as our ancestor’s efforts in genetics were, those efforts cannot hold a candle to what is being done today. I'm currently watching National Geographic's Extreme Genes.

Take a look at the monster beef in the video below:

The show is fascinating. the featherless chickens are weird looking.

Genetically altered fish that grow twice the rate, rice that is being genetically altered so that it has Vitamin A, and genetically altering pigs so that their waste produces less sulphur seem like beneficial ideas.

The most exciting break-through discussed was growing artificial 'mini livers" by using stem cells.

There were two segments that made me very squeamish. One showed how cloned cows are altered and produce human antibodies. The cows whose blood is being harvested for human antibodies looked to be in distress. In order to produce the antibodies, the cows have to be infected.

The second discussed human stem cells being injected into sheep fetuses in an effort to genetically alter the sheep so that human organs can be harvested.

It is disturbing to think of human genes being mixed with animal genes.
To me, a line has been crossed.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


My cats are very sweet. I have two that stay outside most of the time and one that stays in most of the time. The two outside cats like to surprise me with "gifts". Usually the "gifts" consist of birds. I give them a very stern lecture when I see the birds.

One time, they left a rabbit. I was so flabbergasted by that one; I couldn't find the words to lecture them.

When they leave field mice, I tell them good job! Same for when they leave the voles that have been tearing up my yard.

This morning, they left something very annoying and still alive: a snake! I checked the cats to make sure they were okay and they were. I think it was a king snake. I used a hoe to finish it off or so I thought. Still using the hoe, I picked it up and placed it in the garbage can. The last I saw of it, it was slithering on top of some of the garbage.

I told my son the next time he takes out the garbage to be careful.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Virus Alert

The pink stomach medicine had been my best friend since Thursday evening. It started mildly enough: chills, dizziness, and aches here and there. The oddest thing, Sunday evening, when I finally could look at food without grimacing, I wanted sliced beets with onions and cheddar cheese. It may not seem like a good idea to eat something like that after having thoughts of the best way to convert your bathroom into a sleeping area.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

How Do I Say I Love Thee?

Valentine's Day is here!

Britney celebrated early by getting married!

Perhaps her and her new husband will find this offer of a free divorce for Valentine's Day useful.

One of the most popular gifts today is chocolate. But these sweets are not so sweet.

There are always some who wait to the last minute to buy their love a gift for today. There is a new option for these last minute buyers. What better way to say I love you than to have a cow named after your girlfriend!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Today's Weather Report

This is what it looked like this afternoon at 3:

This is what it looked like this afternoon at 4:

I didn't stick around too much longer. I wasn't going to stay in the trailer we've been using since Hurricane Katrina. The wind was gusting enough that it made my car shake.


Mississippi will not and cannot change until we who live here strive to insure justice for all. Our record is shameful during Civil Rights. It took over 30 years for murderers to be brought to justice. Today, injustice once permeates throughout Mississippi.

Over the weekend, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced that 51-year-old Albert Johnson had been arrested for the brutal rape and murder of two three-year-old girls in the 1990s. Johnson had been an early suspect in both cases, but despite the fact that the state had samples of his DNA on file for more than a decade, it never bothered to test it against the DNA found in the little girls.

That's because Mississippi District Attorney Forrest Allgood decided early on in both cases that he had his man, and little could convince him otherwise. One of those men is Kennedy Brewer, a mentally handicapped man who served more than a decade on Mississippi's Death Row, then served another five years even after DNA evidence had cleared him. Allgood insisted on retrying Brewer anyway, arguing that bite marks on the little girl's body matched Brewer's teeth.

Curiously, Allgood resisted testing the DNA from the crime scene against that of a man he had earlier convicted of an eerily similar crime—another rape and murder of a young girl in the same area. It now seems clear why Allgood resisted the test. As it turns out, the man he'd convicted for that crime, Levon Brooks, is innocent, too. Brooks had been sentenced to life in prison.

It was the efforts of Innocence Project which led to Kennedy Brewer being exonerated and saved from the death penalty. This is just the story of two men who have been caught up in a systematic effort to deny justice.

Justice is supposed to be blind. It is supposed to equitable. It is supposed to be justice. But sadly, once again, Mississippi is proving to be anything but just.

"It’s well known across Mississippi that Steven Hayne works closely with police and prosecutors to make determinations in autopsies that suit their criminal investigations and prosecutions. It’s also well known that Michael West will dispense with professionalism and objectivity to provide favorable testimony for prosecutors, even if his misrepresentations and fabrications could lead to the execution of innocent people. Their hubris and misconduct sent the innocent Brewer to death row and the innocent Levon Brooks to languish in prison for the rest of his life," Neufeld said. "These cases are an urgent call for a thorough review of how crime scene evidence gets analyzed and makes it into Mississippi courtrooms and how we can make sure only the most credible, objective, reliable science is used in criminal cases."

District Attorney Allgood, Dr. Steven Hayne, and Dr. West, prosecutors, and criminal investigators across the state have made Mississippi's justice system a mockery. But a complacent citizenry allows it to go on. Think about Brewer and Brooks. They could be your brother, father, or husband in the hands of a flawed and unjust system. I'm starting a petition. I urge others in Mississippi to do the same. Below is one that I created.

Working Toward Peace

What happens when Jewish and Arab citizens in Hebron seek peace? This is a very positive effort and yet the Palestinian Authority and some so-called peace activists seem reluctant to let these people who live together try to resolve issues on together.

Monday, February 11, 2008

6 Degrees

Last night, National Geographic had 6 Degrees Could Change the World. It was interesting but I couldn't help but wonder what other facts they had wrong.

First, great prominence was given to NASA's Jim Hansen. As you may recall, calculations he did on the mean temperatures proved to be in error.

On Aug. 4, however, the well-known climate change skeptic and former mining executive Steven McIntyre — who previously challenged climatologist Michael Mann's 1998 finding that temperatures have increased rapidly since 1900 A.D., compared with the previous thousand years, forming a distinctive "hockey stick" temperature pattern — observed a strange jump in the U.S. data occurring around January 2000. He sent an e-mail to NASA about his observation, and the agency responded with an e-mail acknowledging a flaw in the calculations and thanking him for his help, he says. By Aug. 7, he says, the agency had removed the incorrect U.S. data from the GISS Web site and replaced it with corrected numbers for all 1,200 stations.

The issue didn't end there, however. The corrections made almost no difference to global temperature trends, NASA reported, while U.S. mean annual temperatures from 2000 to 2006 were all reduced by about 0.15 degrees Celsius. Most significantly for climate change skeptics, however, the year 1934 now edges out 1998 as the hottest year in the United States.

Scientists are saying the errors were minimal. But if basic data such as temperatures are not correlated correctly, how can we, the general public, have confidence that the computer models used to project global warming/change are correct?

In programming, there is the adage: Garbage in, garbage out. New studies have shown that clouds play a critical role in warming and cooling the earth. Reputable scientists who challenge the status quo of the doomsayers for climate warming/change do not seem willing to look at data that contradicts their findings.

Now two new studies have been published in the February 1 issue of Science showing that something is indeed going on in the tropics that is consistent with Lindzen's iris effect (though it does not confirm it). Researchers at two NASA institutes have found that the tropics have become less cloudy over the past 15 years. According to the paper by Junye Chen et al., "satellite observations suggest that the thermal radiation emitted by Earth to space increased by more than 5 watts per square meter, while reflected sunlight decreased by less than 2 watts per square meter, in the tropics over the period 1985-2000." In other words, on balance, more heat escaped into space than was added by the additional sunlight that fewer clouds let in. This process tends toward cooling down the atmosphere.

Why are these studies important? Because as the Lindzen study points out, "Whether the iris feedback ultimately proves as effective as our results suggest, the inability of existing models to replicate the relevant observations suggests the need for model improvement in an area potentially crucial to the determination of climate sensitivity." In other words, the current climate models may be missing important effects that would dramatically reduce their projections of future global warming.

One factor I don't remember ebbing discussed is sunspot activity. In 2004, sunspot activity was being reported as very active. New reports suggest sunspot activity is going quiet. Perhaps it is the sunspot activity that is impacting our climate more so than man's activity:

Looking back through sunspot records reveals many periods when the Sun's activity was high and low and in general they are related to warm and cool climatic periods. As well as the Little Ice Age, there was the weak Sun and the cold Iron Age, the active sun and the warm Bronze Age. Scientists cannot readily explain how the Sun's activity affects the Earth but it is an observational correlation that the Sun's moods have a climatic effect on the Earth.

Today's climate change consensus is that man-made greenhouse gases are warming the world and that we must act to curb them to reduce the projected temperature increase estimated at probably between 1.8C and 4.0C by the century's end. But throughout the 20th century, solar cycles had been increasing in strength. Almost everyone agrees that throughout most of the last century the solar influence was significant. Studies show that by the end of the 20th century the Sun's activity may have been at its highest for more than 8,000 years. Other solar parameters have been changing as well, such as the magnetic field the Sun sheds, which has almost doubled in the past century. But then things turned. In only the past decade or so the Sun has started a decline in activity, and the lateness of cycle 24 is an indicator.

The show talks about Hurricane Katrina. It managed to get one key fact wrong. The show stated New Orleans was hit directly by Hurricane Katrina. This is so patently false that it casts into doubt any of the other facts presented. If they cannot even manage to get that one fact correct, what others are wrong? Hurricane Katrina made its first landing in Buras Louisiana and then came ashore at Lakeshore Mississippi. The show did manage to state correctly that Katrina's storm surge played a role in the levee failures.

The ice sheets of Greenland were given much prominence. The most striking was the film of the rivers of water at the top of the ice sheet gouging a hole to the bottom of the ice sheet. At the beginning, the ice sheet was mentioned to be 1500 meters thick, but when the scientists measured the depth of the water tunnels, it was said to be 73 meters. What gives? Surely, the ice sheets hadn't melted that much or else coastal cities would already be under water.

It would be safe to assume that those readings were done at the margins of the ice sheet and not the interior. I found this study to be very interesting. It shows the interior ice sheet is actually growing and that there appear to be 11 year cycles, much like sunspots occur in 11 year cycles.

By combining tens of millions of data points from ERS-1 and ERS-2, the team determined spatial patterns of surface elevation variations and changes over an 11-year period.

The result is a mixed picture, with a net increase of 6.4 centimetres per year in the interior area above 1500 metres elevation. Below that altitude, the elevation-change rate is minus 2.0 cm per year, broadly matching reported thinning in the ice-sheet margins. The trend below 1500 metres however does not include the steeply-sloping marginal areas where current altimeter data are unusable.

The spatially averaged increase is 5.4 cm per year over the study area, when corrected for post-Ice Age uplift of the bedrock beneath the ice sheet. These results are remarkable because they are in contrast to previous scientific findings of balance in Greenland's high-elevation ice.

One good thing about shows like 6 Degrees, if you pay attention to the facts presented, it should make you question the science behind the conclusions. One thing that struck me was the pictures of the glacier that feeds the Ganges River. A quick google search shows that 1956 was a record year for low temperatures. Could it be the retreat of this glacier also corresponds to sunspot activity?

I agree that we all should make attempts to conserve as much as possible. But I think that there are more variables into global climate change than just the amount of CO2. Other shows have indicated the role of sulphuric acid produced by volcanoes, sunspot activity, cloud cover, and many other factors. Each of us should do our part to conserve water, fuel, and other natural resources.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Pascagoula: Let Her Continue to Sing

The Pascagoula River is also known as the Singing River. Legend has it that a doomed love affair is the result of the disincentive humming the Pascagoula makes. The Pascagoula River is a beautiful treasure that is facing a serious threat. The proposed Richton Strategic Petroleum Reserve will have serious consequences not only for the Pascagoula River but for Gulf of Mexico as well.

The plan calls for using 55 million gallons of water a day from the Pascagoula River to flush out the Richton Salt Dome. Then, the water from the salt dome will be expelled into the Gulf of Mexico. This plan is idiotic. The amount of salt to be pumped into the Gulf of Mexico will affect estuaries and marshes.

How is it that we on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are so far behind on acknowledging this threat, not only to the existing beauty but also to the livelihoods of many?

The biggest problem is when the public comments were held. The Department of Energy held public hearing on October 18, 2005 in Jackson MS. This was only a month and half after Hurricane Katrina had slammed onto the Mississippi Gulf Coast. People down here were trying their best to get their lives back in order and the main focus was cleaning up the mess, finding housing, and dealing with limited supplies of all types. We, on the Coast, were in survivor mode.

The The Clarion-Ledger expresses our concerns very well:

Digging a hole in the ground near Richton is not the problem, nor is storing 160 million barrels of oil in a salt dome. The real flaw in this project is the method used to dig this hole: pumping the waste to Pascagoula and dumping it into the Gulf of Mexico.

We already have one huge dead zone in the Gulf near the mouth of the Mississippi River, which is the result of nutrients and phosphorous from farmlands throughout the Mississippi River basin. Within this dead zone no marine life exists.

Dumping 160 million gallons of salt brine into the Gulf could easily fill a 10-square-mile area, two to four feet deep. This high-salinity brine will remain indefinitely, and it will affect salinity levels for hundreds of miles surrounding the dump site. This salt solution will not only kill every living thing in the immediate dump location, but it puts at risk the marsh breeding grounds for shrimp, fish and all manner of marine life. A change in salinity would affect the food chain of marine organisms.

And, as a hurricane approaches the shore, it brings with it a wall of water filled with mud and whatever may be lying on the floor of the Gulf. The storm surge from any future hurricane which crossed the salt dump area could easily dredge up that 160 million gallons of brine and dump it all along the coast of Jackson County, destroying coastal marshes and contaminating the soil.

But it is not just Jackson County that will be affected. The whole Mississippi Gulf Coast is in danger from this ill-thought plan. Birds, fish, shell-fish, marsh plants, and people will be affected from Lakeshore Mississippi to Escatawpa Mississippi.

The tourism indsutry as well as the seafood industry will be affected. We can't let this plan go through. We need to preserve this river so that future generations can enjoy the charm and beauty of the Singing River.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Inner and Outer Worlds

When I contemplate paintings such as Degas' The Dancing Class, I enter another world. There are faces with anticipation and boredom. There is warmth and coldness. In some of the dancers, I can see them just waiting to bust out and dance, dance. And the instructor seems to entrance.

And then I see pictures from the Hubble Telescope of the Magellanic Clouds grasping at our galaxy and waiting to intertwine.

Tis a good way to start the day. Now back to reality and time to leave for work.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Super Cell Tuesday

Yesterday evening, tornadoes ripped through the South. Arkansas and Tennessee were hit hard. Mississippi and Alabama were struck by tornadoes as well but there has been no lose of life reported in those two states. Kentucky has tornadoes as well.

To help those affected by the tornadoes, click here and select the Disaster Relief Fund.

Where's the Humanity?

This is day tow of Gulfport's siege. Yesterday started off normally and the water pressure was fine. As the day progressed, the water pressure kept dropping and dropping, until there was nary a trickle to be had.

I called to find out what was happening. I was informed there was yet another water main that had broken. Only problem is the water main was no where near where I live. An hour after my call, water once again flowed and there was an opportunity to wash the dishes I had started three hours ago. So with the reassurance all was well, I went to sleep.

I just tried to take a shower. Once again, low water pressure greeted my attempts. Now after Hurricane Katrina, I made do with the slow trickle of water and felt good just to have that little bit of cold water. It was actually a treat then because the afternoon shower was the only luxery available when there was no electricity.

However, I've become long accustomed to civilization once again. Hence, I want my shower! City of Gulfport, where's the humanity?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Recipes Needed

I've cooked lentils before. Unfortunately, I treated them like black-eyed peas and kidney beans. The results were not promising. Also, I'm looking for some easy recipes for making chickpea cakes. In return, I offer this recipe for a cherry dump cake.

Preheat oven to 350

1 can crushed or chunk pineapple
1 can cherry pie filling
1/2 box yellow cake mix

In a cake pan, first dump the pineapple. Next dump in the cherry pie filling. Spread the cake mix evenly over. Place butter pats across the cake mix, making sure to cover the cake mix as fully as possible. Cook for about 45 minutes.

Electile Dysfunction

The inability to become aroused over any of the choices for president put forth by either party in the 2008 election year.

I must admit, I'm not enthusiastic about any of the people who are desperately running for president. Hillary Clinton keeps crying and her husband has acted like a rabid bull-dog. Huckabee will be worse than "lust in my heart" Jimmy Carter. Is Obama just all words or is there any substance to him? I like a few things about Romney but am neither sure nor excited about him. Like most, I'll probably end up voting for McCain.

Than again, I may just vote Democrat this time. President Bush was the first time I voted Republican since Reagan and I only voted for him in 2004. Nader got my vote in 2000 because I didn't trust Bush or Gore. It was a protest vote.

In many ways, I wish it would be possible for my governor, Haley Barbour, to run for president. He is more than capable of leadership as he has proven after Hurricane Katrina. But I doubt if he would ever be a nominee. His biggest drawback will be that he is the governor of Mississippi. Mississippi is still the poster child of racism. Mississippi always scores near the bottom on income and education.

Mean Streak?

Is it too mean of me to keep reminding my son as he is getting ready to go to work that I have the day off?

Just about everything is closed today on the Mississippi Gulf Coast as 4 Mardi Gras parades will roll. Me, as soon as the sun defeats the fog, I'll be heading for the beach!!! Temps look to be in the 70s today.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Moral Depravity

I read Jimmy Carter's Lust and North Korea's Nukes this past Saturday. Below is an excerpt:

Carter's formulation of morality is entirely self-centered. For his purposes, the adulterer and the lothario exist only as instruments, enabling him to display his own ability to be nonjudgmental. What does not figure into Carter's equation at all is the wife and children the adulterer betrays, or the string of women the lothario uses. It is a morality in which intention counts for everything and consequences for nothing.

This is where the analogy to a certain kind of liberal foreign policy becomes clear. The idea is that America (or another Western country, usually Israel) is not perfect, and therefore has no business passing judgment on the affairs of its adversaries. All nations, like all men, are predisposed to sin, and the greatest national sin of all is for a dominant power to exhibit pride. By this reasoning, it is morally worse for an American leader to call (say) the regimes of North Korea, Iran and Saddam Hussein's Iraq "evil" than it is for those regimes to undertake actions that deliberately hurt or endanger innocent people.

When applied to public as opposed to private morality, this kind of above-it-all attitude, this self-regard masquerading as humility, provides an excuse for inaction in the face of evil. To be sure, sometimes inaction is a wise course, because available actions would only make matters worse. But this is a practical question--one of consequences, not intention.

This applies not only to public policy but to what is happening In Israel. "Evil" Israel must be castigated without letup. Palestinian terrorists are given a free pass and in some cases, admired. The vast majority of the Palestinian terrorist's targets are Israeli citizens who are just going about their business. But every measure Israel undertakes to protect Israeli citizens is met with condemnation and headlines screaming the latest supposed outrage.


During times of crisis, the most immediate reaction is for those to connect with loved ones. After Hurricane Katrina, it took me almost an hour, while dealing with a land line that kept losing dial tone, before I was able to hear my son's voice and know he was okay. One I first logged on this morning, I scanned the news as I always do. My heart skipped a couple of beats when I see the words suicide bomber in Israel.

I don't even read the article. I go and check my blogroll to make sure those in Israel are safe. But what of friends from the US who are traveling in Israel? Much harder to check on them.

Treppenwitz, in his post, And So It Begins, writes what it is like to watch a co-worker checking.

Suicide bombers make the international news. But the attacks on Israeli citizens by Palestinian terrorists using Molotov cocktails, rocks, guns, and knives are largely ignored.

Since Israel's disengagement, the scene of checking on the safety of loved ones has been played out over 4,000 times in the town of Sderot.

Israel Matzav and Israellycool are both updating as more news comes in.

And, lest I forget, today's two suicide bombers are curtesy of Israel's "peace partners", Fatah, via Hamas and the destruction of the border crossing.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

I Don't Think They Have A Chance

I'm not a football fan. I mark the Super Bowl as to how many more months before baseball season will start. Though I must admit, I have been known to watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. But since many of those now appear on Youtube, I don't watch the Superbowl at all. But even I know that it will probably take a miracle for the Giants to beat the Patriots in today's game.

Here is my line-up for today:

Haveil Havalim-152: The Patriots Must Lose

Nefesh B'Nefesh Webinars for making aliyah

And possibly, Puppy Bowl IV.

But more than likely, instead of the last one, I'll be outside, if it doesn't rain, doing yardwork.

Good luck to the Giants in today's game.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Occupied Palestine

One of the narratives most frequently heard for supporting the vile acts of murder attempted murder by Palestinian terrorists against Israelis is that Israel is "occupying" Palestinian land. The charter of Hamas and even the supposedly changed charter of Fatah both proclaim that Palestine will be free from the river to the sea. In other words, both proclaim the destruction of Israel.

Now Palestinians are claiming charges of more "occupied land". This time the culprit is Egypt:

Ahmed Yousef, political adviser to Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, called for the "demolition and removal of the border between Palestinian Rafah and the Egyptian territory and the seizure of thousands of acres built on the border" claiming that the ownership back to the Palestinians.

Youssef claimed in an interview with the Arab channel tonight that "Hamas' destruction of the wall was intended to restore to the Palestinians their land allegedly taken to build a border wall is about 13 thousand acres" and said: "We do not want the continuation of the wall because we do not prefer the existence of any wall between us and deepened Arab" as he said.
The Egyptians have also foiled an attempt by Hamas members to raise Palestinian and Hamas flags on top of several government institutions in Sinai's Rafah and el-Arish.

The semi-official Al-Ahram newspaper reported that the attempt to place the flags was seen as a serious "provocation" by many Egyptians.

Since the claims of Palestinians in regards to "occupied land" are always met with little regard to truth, I'm sure Methodists and other church groups will immediately seek to divest from Egypt.

As I'm sure these same groups will seek to divest from Lebanon since the Lebanese attacked Palestinian refugee camps.

Of cousre, they'll need to include Jordan in those divestment plans. After all, in Black September, Jordan expelled such, fine upstanding terrorists as Arafat and other PLO leaders and fought against the Palestinian terrorists in Jordan.