Nobody ever asks who are the dumbest Americans. Unfortunately, most of them serve in the US Senate or the House.
My ten biggest dopes:
1. Barbara Boxer; others abide the question, she is free, in the words (cribbed from somewhere else) of the master P G Wodehouse.
2. Nancy Pelosi: she ran a good race, but Boxer outclassed her.
3. The despicable Carl Levin.
4. Arthur Sulzberger the Third or whatever number he is--apostle of political correctness.
5. Howell Raines, ditto. I hope he has found his true calling as a ditchdigger.
I'm tired now; I'll come up with the rest tomorrow. Nobody is going to read it, anyway.
Saturday, December 31, 2005
Nobody ever asks who are the dumbest Americans. Unfortunately, most of them serve in the US Senate or the House.
Friday, December 30, 2005
Thursday, December 29, 2005
The following is the wording of the printed statement that Neville Chamberlain waved as he stepped off the plane on 30 September, 1938 after the Munich Conference had ended the day before: "We, the German Führer and Chancellor, and the British Prime Minister, have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for our two countries and for Europe.
We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.
We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe." Chamberlain read the above statement in front of 10 Downing St. and said:
"My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time...
Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."
And the British slept for another year; then found themselves fighting the re-armed Nazis all alone.
Tht's what Munich means to me.
Posted by miriam at 5:11 PM
From a central NJ newspaper:
TRENTON — Departing Attorney General Peter Harvey is mailing law firms and others throughout the state a glossy 56-page report touting his accomplishments.
The first page of the 2003-2004 annual report bears Harvey's picture and greeting, as well as photographs of him in publications talking about how he turned heads in Trenton, demanded respect and was among America's top black lawyers.
The Department of Law and Public Safety, which Harvey heads, paid GraphiColor Corp. of Vineland $7,460 to print 4,000 copies. To date, the state has spent $6,500 in postage to mail 2,700 copies, or $2.44 per report....
Over the past few weeks, crates of the annual reports have been leaving
the Justice Complex in Trenton for dozens of law firms and the Atlantic City casinos, sources said.
The annual report contains six pictures of Harvey — five of them on the first five pages — including three on the opening page....
The annual report is full of newspaper clippings about fighting corruption, prosecuting fraud and protecting consumers.
The report contains none of the voluminous stories written during Harvey's tenure about the questions raised over cases that were not prosecuted or about the fine he paid for giving his wife and friends ringside passes to boxing matches in Atlantic City.
The State Athletic Control Board, informally known as the boxing commission, which Harvey placed directly under his jurisdiction and where he got into trouble over the ringside tickets, is relegated to a brief section on the last page of the report.
Also on the last page, with only one paragraph, is the Executive Commission on Ethical Standards, the ethics agency which fined Harvey $1,500 for the ringside violations. Harvey was the first attorney general ever sanctioned by the commission.
Hat tip to Newjerseyblog.
Posted by miriam at 10:25 AM
When I graduated from college, I was virtually unemployable, having been an English major, something the business world had never heard of, apparently. At last I got a job at a newspaper as a Junior Nobody. I was So low on the totem pole that I got to go to the local deli to get breakfast for everyone.
We started work at 6 a.m.--it was a morning paper-- and at 9:30 the bulldog edition was finished so people could relax. It was then that the staff gave me their breakfast orders. They were also supposed to give me the money to pay for them. Most of them did.
But there were two or three people who said, "I'll pay you later." Later never came. About the fifth time this happened, I was standing in the newsroom counting my money, and I realized I was paying for these guys' breakfast myself, and that I had no money left.
After that, I demanded cash on the barrelhead. Or no breakfast.
Posted by miriam at 9:45 AM
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
From All Things Beautiful, a challenge:
As a post Christmas/Hannukah Challenge, I invite the Blogosphere to name 'The Ten Worst Americans' in the last, well it will have to be 230 odd years! Considering most on the Brit list are Aristocrats (including Jack The Ripper, believed to be somehow linked to The Prince of Wales), we may have our job cut out for us.
My ten worst Americans:
Benedict Arnold; Aaron Burr; and Jimmy Carter times seven.
Posted by miriam at 9:55 PM
according to the reflections of Mark Steyn.
I spent one Christmas in London and it was the most boring day in my life. No restaurants open, no plays, no way to get to them if you wanted to, because no transportation was running. No taxis, no buses, no underground. The movies were closed!
How do the English while away the long, dreary day? They don't, as a rule, attend church. Do they eat a large meal in the middle of the day and then sit around burping? Do they talk to their families incessantly for twelve hours? Do they get drunk?
How do they get through the day without going to the movies?
Posted by miriam at 9:39 PM
Monday, December 26, 2005
Nice Jewish boy apologizes:
Being an Israeli (American) writer & director (and thus, a Jew), let me first apologize up front for belonging to a media-strong ethnic minority. Please don’t hold it against me.
Read the whole thing. It will take your mind off your lack of a New Year's Eve date.
Posted by miriam at 9:34 PM
The UMass Dartmouth student's report of being investigated by Homeland Security was a hoax.
Unfortunately, this sort of bubbamiesa (Yiddish for old wives' tales) has a long shelf life. Some people will always believe it. Tin hat wearers are walking around the country who firmly believe that the Dan Rather story about Bush was accurate though fake.
That plastic turkey Bush was supposed to have served the troops is still flying around. There's plenty of life in that old bird. The last sighting was by Tim Blair, seventeen months after its first appearance.
Posted by miriam at 9:11 PM
There's a contest on to provide a new slogan for New Jersey.
My first suggestion: New Jersey, we're too dumb to pump gas, has been rejected, but got me some interesting (but obscene) comments from the Garden State. I can't say it's made me a lot fo friends, though. My second suggestion, New Jersey: Home of baked ziti, also got a cool reception. So I am wracking my brain to come up with something more acceptable. How about: New Jersey: RefineriesRUS? or New Jersey, Home of big hair?; or New Jersey, Land of Tollbooths.
New Jersey? Why not?
New Jersey--whadda ya got to lose?
Anybody got any better ideas?
Posted by miriam at 3:20 PM
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Something nice happened to me today. A first.
I left an envelope in the mailbox for our mail carrier--I don't even know his name. And I received a Thank You note! The first thank you I've ever received from a mailman.
He had written a few personal words on the pre-printed card: To the _____ family:
Have a great 2006. May God bless you and yours. Good luck in your new house.
As I say, nice.
A great kerfuffle is being made over the whole Merry Christmas thing. I'm Jewish, and so are my kids. But not very observant. As a kid, I had qualms about singing carols in school, especially when they mentioned Jesus. But I love to sing and I like christmas carols, so I sang with the rest of the class.
We have Christian friends and relations, so we celebrate Christmas and Chanukah. I think the whole thing about the concerted attack on Christmas is a crock. Who cares? It's one fo those things that maybe Michael Newdow cares about, but he's a schmuck.
I get Christmas cards and Chanukah cards. I enjoy getting them all. I send both. I like the hustle and bustle surrounding Christmas. The decorations. The excitement. I especially love New York at Christmastime.
Anyone can say Merry Christmas or Happy Chanukah or Happy Holidays to me. I appreciate whatever they say, because they mean it kindly. If they said "F*** you or "dirty Jew"! I would resent it. But people are trying to be nice, and isn't that nice?
Posted by miriam at 9:31 PM
Revenge of the not so popular:
Every day, I check the obits in the town I grew up in.....
Today, I pop over to the newspaper online site to check the obits whilst having coffee this afternoon.
Lo and behold, there's this...person on the front page....
The realization hits me that I know a particular person pictured in one of the two pictures.
My next thought after that sinks in....
"OMFG! While it may be vain of me to think this because I'm a short, fat and frumpy size twelve, I look WAY better than she does and she was such a bitch in high school!"...
I'm also still married to the same man I started out with. (She has been married at least twice and at least two of those times was to the same man, which I'm not sure how that counts.)
I can also honestly say that my chest looks better in a sweatshirt than hers does and this is after having children and breastfeeding. (She looks pretty shapeless now.)
She was such a bitch in high school, a total snob and just not very nice in general except to a very select few people.
Posted by miriam at 10:38 AM
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Trend: the volunteer employee
I've been bussing my own tray in fast food restaurants for so long now it seems quite normal. Ditto feeding myself vile concoctions in preparation for a colonoscopy.
I also notice that the powers that be no longer clean up highways; There are proud signs at the side of the road proclaiming that the care of this highway is being undertaken by some organization: the American Nazi Party, the Marxist Collective, the League of Child Molesters; the Ku Klux Klan. Appparently no group is so depraved that they are unfit to clean up a highway, saving the proper authorities from having to perform such a menial task.
As for pumping gas: you must do it yourself in most States. The chap inside the store who takes your money will no longer even show you how. Some male motorist eventually takes pity on me and demonstrates the technique.
The reason I haven't mastered this quite simple task is that I live in New Jersey, where it is illegal for the motorist to pump his own gas. Our State motto should read: "New Jersey: we're too dumb to pump gas."
It suits me just fine. Every time I do pump gas I end up with gasoline on my shoes. I stink for hours.
At one motel in Massachusetts, I asked when the rooms would be cleaned. The proprietress suggested that some people prefer to clean their own rooms. I don't. I also don't like to re-use my dirty towels and sheets in order to save the planet.
Let the planet take care of itself. I'm already doing enough volunteer work.
Posted by miriam at 9:21 PM
and the result will be the same: suicide.
Not recognizing the political ground had shifted beneath their feet, Democrats continued to press forward with their offensive against the President. They’ve now foolishly climbed out on a limb that Rove and Bush have the real potential to chop off. One would think that after the political miscalculations the Democrats made during the 2002 and 2004 campaigns they would not make the same mistake a third time, but it is beginning to look a lot like Charlie Brown and the football again.
First, the Democrats still do not grasp that foreign affairs and national security issues are their vulnerabilities, not their strengths. All of the drumbeat about Iraq, spying, and torture that the left thinks is so damaging to the White House are actually positives for the President and Republicans. Apparently, Democrats still have not fully grasped that the public has profound and long-standing concerns about their ability to defend the nation. As long as national security related issues are front page news, the Democrats are operating at a structural political disadvantage. Perhaps the intensity of their left wing base and the overwhelmingly liberal press corps produces a disorientation among Democratic politicians and prevents a more realistic analysis of where the country’s true pulse lies on these issues.
With their publicly defeatist language, John Murtha, Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean reinforce these “soft on security” steroretypes, a weakness that more sober-minded Democrats have been trying to mitigate since the late 60’s and 70’s. Unfortunately, this mentality dominates the Democrats’ political base and more accurately represents where the heart and soul of the modern Democratic party lies than the very tiny sliver of Joe Lieberman Democrats. The Party of FDR, Truman and John Kennedy -- at least on foreign policy -- is clearly no more....
And while 9/11 has certainly faded in the consciousness for most in Washington these days (and for many in the country as a whole), for average Joe American security is still a critically important issue. And the bottom line is that average Americans’ sympathies are not with terrorists trying to kill innocents, but rather with our troops and security agents who are trying to combat these jihadists.
The public resents the overkill from Abu Ghraib and the hand-wringing over whether captured terrorists down in Gitmo may have been mistreated. They want Kahlid Mohamed, one of the master minds of 9/11 and a top bin Laden lieutanent, to be water-boarded if our agents on the ground think that is what necessary to get the intel we need. They want the CIA to be aggressively rounding up potential terrorists worldwide and keeping them in “black sites” in Romania or Poland or wherever, because the public would rather have suspected terrorists locked away in secret prisons in Bulgaria than plotting to kill Americans in Florida or California or New York.
The public also has the wisdom to understand that when you are at war mistakes will be made. You can’t expect 100% perfection. So while individuals like Kahled Masri may have been mistakenly imprisoned, that is the cost of choosing to aggressively fight this enemy. Everyone understands that innocents were killed and imprisoned mistakenly in World War II. Had we prosecuted WWII with the same concern for the enemy’s “rights” the outcome very well might have been different. One of the major problems working against Democrats is many on their side appear to be rooting for failure in Iraq and publicly ridicule the idea that we actually might win. When this impression is put in context of the debate over eavesdropping or the Patriot Act, Democrats run the significant risk of being perceived to be more concerned with the enemy’s rights than protecting ordinary Americans. This is a loser for Democrats.
If Democrats want to make this spying “outrage” a page one story they are fools walking right into a trap. Now that this story is out and the security damage is already done, let’s have a full investigation into exactly who the President spied on and why. ...
I have no doubt that the President’s use of this extraordinary authority was solely an attempt to deter terrorist attacks on Americans and our allies. Let the facts and the truth come out, but the White House’s initial response is a pretty powerful signal that they aren’t afraid of where this is heading....
With the resounding success of last week’s election, it will become harder for the press and the Democrats to frame Iraq as an unmitigated disaster....
The media may be writing stories about Bush “in a bubble” but they are two months late to that theme. Just like the spring and summer of 2004 when the conventional beltway wisdom said that Bush’s sub-50% job approval made him a political goner, there is a distinct sense this president is being misunderestimated again.
Hat tip to cartago delenda.
Posted by miriam at 8:54 PM
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
A promotion ceremony scheduled by the Mayor:
[T]oday was the promotion ceremony. My family was in the crowd and afterwards, my father told me, "I have never seen you smile so much and for so long." He was right; I was downright scary happy, which was why I only posted today's news without the usual editorializing. ...
Anyway, the promotees were to report by 0915 for the 1100 ceremony - which was moved up from 1000 to accommodate Philadelphia Mayor John "I ain't been indicted yet" Street. We were notified of the time change on Friday. After a run-through of the festivities, the show began more or less on time. As the dignitaries approached the stage, the mayor was absent. It was announced that "hizzoner" was running late, and my friend Tony said, "He ain't coming."
After the end of the procession, it was announced that the mayor would not be attending. Go figure. The crowd gave out a combination of giggles and sarcastic "awwww's," and we were dismissed to the second floor for our new badges (and "shields" for detectives)....
Editor's note: I realize that this post is much of the same verbal diarrhea, but I need another paragraph to explain Street to those who never dealt with him.
John Street is everything that is wrong with politics. His utter disdain for the police officers and firefighters in this city is almost laughable. He did not attend the last Police Academy graduation, nor did he attend the funeral of Gennaro Pellegrini, an officer who was killed in Iraq. What's worse is that today's ceremony was held at Temple University's McGonagle Hall, which is not only in his former council district, but a few blocks away from his home. It is also about twenty city blocks from City Hall. He could have walked there. God, what a scumbag.
Posted by miriam at 5:03 PM
Monday, December 19, 2005
Sunday, December 18, 2005
If you have to ask, you've never worked for government.
Government of any kind works in a stately, slow manner. Glaciers could take lessons from government.
In 2001, the governing body of the library where I worked finally agreed to install a new HVAC system. (For those who don't know, that is heating, ventilation, air-conditioning.) The damn thing kept breaking down, particularly the AC part, which kept spewing freon into the atmosphere, causing the library to be shut down and the fire department and the hazmat team to be summoned.
In 2002, they hired someone to write specs.
In 2003, they put it out for bids. The bids came in too high.
In 2004, they rewrote the specs.
In 2005, they did nothing. Yet.
Posted by miriam at 10:37 PM
Saturday, December 17, 2005
And it's nice, too. It's all photos, and judging from the pictures, he lives in Upstate New York, Home of Perennial Winter. Power lines sagging with ice--that's upstate, all right. Ditto, trees laden with snow.
We once lived in Albany, where the city fathers left snow removal to solar energy. They were ahead of their time in their respect for Mother Nature. However, in deference to the hilliness of the place, they put containers full of sand at really bad intersections. You either learned to drive in the stuff or stayed home permanently.
In the Spring, the frozen creeks would start babbling again, trees bloomed, and the natives went nuts. There was a feeling of giddiness in the air. We've survived! No more snow! Could this last? It never did.
Posted by miriam at 10:06 PM
Friday, December 16, 2005
Helen Farr Sloan has died and left Delaware poorer:
Helen Farr Sloan gave the Delaware Art Museum nearly half of its 12,000 works of art and more than half of the 30,000 books and papers in its library. She also gave the Wilmington cultural institution, which she called "my family," most of the second half of her life.
Sloan died Tuesday night in Wilmington. She was 94. She has left her entire estate, easily valued in the six figures, to the museum.
The widow of John Sloan, one of the Ashcan School of illustrator/painters, she visited the museum in 1961 to help mount an exhibit on the Ashcan School. Those painters, also called "The Eight," were among the first Americans to depict gritty urban street scenes. Her husband died in 1951....
Sloan gave the museum more than 5,000 of its 12,000 works of art. About 3,000 were paintings, prints and drawings by John Sloan. About 2,000 are works by herself, members of the Sloan family and other artists.
Helen Sloan donated letters and other archive material associated with John Sloan and his contemporaries. She also convinced art historians and friends of other artists to donate monographs, exhibition catalogues, periodicals and other papers, said museum Executive Director Danielle Rice....
Sloan herself would arrive with paper bags filled with art and art history books that she bought in used-book stores and at auctions....
Helen Sloan managed her estate carefully, Rice said. Its value grew as John Sloan's fame grew.
"She did not consider herself rich," Rice said. "She gave away as much as she could, whenever she could, and she lived very simply. Books and papers, that was her life. That and the artists she knew. She never traveled. She never owned jewelry."
One year, she gave every museum employee a John Sloan etching for Christmas.
An amazing woman! Read the whole thing.
Posted by miriam at 10:33 PM
The hardest thing about moving: leaving my hairdresser, John. He did my color right. My female readers will understand.
So I went for convenience. I called a local shop and asked for an appointment. They don't do appointments, they said. Just drop in. So I did, not once but twice.
My first session was with Rima. Rima put some stuff on my head to help the color develop faster that made me want to tear my scalp off. She washed it out, but my scalp was red for a week.
Six weeks later, Thanksgiving was coming, I was desperate for haircolor, and my eyebrows needed waxing. This time I dealt with Gina. The hair came out okay, but after she was done waxing, she put some stuff on my face to "soothe" my skin. I immediately began to break out in red bumps.
My skin ccame off in flakes for the better part of the week.
But even worse, I had one and a half eyebrows. She had tweezed the outer half of my left eyebrow off. I looked demented, and had to pencil in the lost half brow.
I'm not going back. I'd rather go to John in New Jersey--after all, it's only a three-hour drive.
Posted by miriam at 2:30 PM
My cousin Sam once told me the theme of his rabbi's most frequent sermon: It's nice to be nice. The Bushes, father and son, seem to have absorbed the lesson. They are unvaryingly kind to their enemies. Then, when they get kicked in the teeth, the act even kinder:
If you didn’t know that our current president only has female children you’d know it now: the man simply cannot withstand incessant, emotion-based nagging about trivial, unimportant shit — and yes, the fact that occasionally a captured terrorist we are questioning may get a couple of extra-hard slaps is trivial shit.... But this sends a great message to our enemies: “Yeah, we’re still softies at heart; we talk the talk, but we don’t really mean it!” I wonder which of our structures they’ll take out next. After all, it’s not like they’re really going to get punished for it. America’s like a dad all right — a dad who wants to be his juvenile delinquent kid’s best buddy, and thinks that a combo of stern talks, flattery, and buying the kid off with presents will do the trick....
I’ve said it before, I will say it now: the only reply to repeated accusations that we “torture” the poor little tewwowists should have been an ominous silence. NO, I’m not saying we should have actually tortured anyone, but why the FUCK should any anti-American leftist dickwad have to know one way or the other? We can’t do anything right in the eyes of these people, so why the hell should we even be talking to them? Let them bleat and screech all they want — they will anyway. You watch them start complaining about every single nitpicky thing now that we’ve given them a little inch of what they want. You just watch.
Thanks to dustbury.
Posted by miriam at 10:32 AM
the State of Unpreparedness.
Our water went off last night, around 9. I called the water company, of course, three times. Busy signal.
I called the county police, the non-emergency department. Asked if there was a water main broken or something which would account for this. They didn't know. They didn't say, "So far, we haven't heard of one." Just, "How would we know? We're only the police." So much for our First Responders. They made a helpful suggestion: call the water company. Gosh, I wish I'd thought of that!
I called the local newspaper. Way back in the 20th century, newspapers were open 24/7. Apparently this crew only work nine to five.
It reminded me of the early years of the Republic, when they would send a guy with a fast horse to inform the outlying regions who had been elected President. Sometimes they would get the news to the rustics in less than two weeks.
Now, I happen to know that the police have all this communications equipment, radios, etc. They also get money from Homeland Security, which they probably spend financing their annual hayride or barbeque. Or to buy the police dogs bulletproof vests.
If you called the Fort Lee, NJ police, they would know if there was a traffic backup at the George Washington Bridge. I think even the Newark (NJ) police would know whether there was a water main break or some reason citizens could not get water.
I want to tell you, brushing your teeth with seltzer just doesn't do it for me. Neither does cleaning your hands and face with baby wipes.
This morning, the water was restored. I called the water company to find out what had happened. The line was busy.
Posted by miriam at 9:37 AM
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Skirt-chasing playboy Daniel Anceneaux spent weeks talking with a sensual woman on the Internet before arranging a romantic rendezvous at a remote beach -- and discovering that his on-line sweetie of six months was his own mother!
The money quote:
[H]is father Paul -- Nicole's husband of 27 years -- wasn't too happy when the story hit the news and his beer-drinking buddies made him the butt of their jokes.
"Dad was ticked for a while and he forbid Mom to talk to anybody on the Internet ever again," said embarrassed Daniel.
Posted by miriam at 8:31 PM
What's next makes a point:
We only have rights because we accept a higher authority to give us the rights and thus protect us while we excersize them. It only stands to reason that if we grant someone else authority to protect us, that we not mock them while doing so. That's called respect.
I have never heard such calumnies uttered about a President as Bush gets. Even Nixon was treated more respectfully. If you can't respect the office, respect the man. Perhaps we should even support him, as Senator Lieberman suggests, because he is going to be president for another three years, and if he loses, we lose.
Posted by miriam at 1:10 PM
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
I used to take so much trouble with Christmas/Chanukah cards. Christmas stamps (not religious), Chanukah ditto, personal notes written to each and every one.
Not any more. I am addressing labels right now. And I'm using Ronald Reagan stamps, which is guaranteed to give them heartburn--all my friends are very, very blue. They're getting Ronnie, and if they don't love me any more, so be it.
Number of handwritten, personal notes on or inside cards: none.
Posted by miriam at 10:57 AM
Monday, December 12, 2005
A William and Mary student gets his head handed to him:
Attention: just because the rumor is being passed all over the Internet that “Tookie” might be innocent doesn’t mean that it’s TRUE.
Okay, Little Fishies, let’s play a game. Let’s say that “Tookie” is indeed innocent of the four murders for which he stands to be executed at 12:01 AM PST on Tuesday, December 13, 2005. As the founder of the Crips, one of the most notorious TERRORIST organizations in the world, do you think he murdered anyone other than Albert Owens, Yen-I Yang, Tsai-Shai Yang and Yee-Chen Lin Yang during his reign over the neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles in the seventies...?
And all you black, white and other “upholders” of the black race ...--if you concede that “Tookie” might have murdered others, do you think that any of those other people were black? As an aside, did any of you grow up in “Tookie’s” South Central Los Angeles of the 1970s like Cobb and I did? Do any of you live there like I do right now?
I’m curious about the answers to these questions for two reasons.
Leaving aside those who oppose the death penalty for moral/religious reasons, few of you have seemed motivated to move into my South Central LA neighborhood to see what “Tookie” and his Crip co-founder Raymond Lee Washington (who’s burning in Hell right now) have wrought for the last thirty-odd years. And I know that you won’t be choosing to live here anytime soon. That’s understandable; however, don’t tell me that we should coddle these TERRORISTS like “Tookie” and those he created if you don’t have to put up with them....
Secondly—and this is especially for people like Jeremy: black people are thinking, functioning humans who, when adult and without some actual mental deficiency that they can’t control, are just as responsible for their actions as are members of any other race of people. We’re not murderers by nature (that is, any more than any other set of humans are). Therefore, we don’t need a separate, lower standard of behavior in any area, whether it’s education, employment or criminal justice.
When black people do well, they deserve recognition; when they do wrong, they deserve the consequences—no more or no less than any other.
Wow! Read the whole thing. Thanks to dustbury.
Posted by miriam at 3:25 PM
Sunday, December 11, 2005
what's that all about?
I have received a number (okay, one) of inquiries as to why baked ziti is of such vital importance to my web site.
I was originally from New Jersey. Baked ziti is the New Jersey national dish. No-one of any ethnicity whatever is permitted to have a gathering of 12 or more people without serving baked ziti. The police are rather strict in their enforcement of this law.
After we eat our baked ziti (yum), we all go out and have gas pumped for us. (New Jersey state motto: We're too dumb to pump gas.)
But now I'm in Delaware, and I haven't seen a ziti (zito--could that be the singular of ziti?) since I got here.
And I have to pump my own gas.
Posted by miriam at 11:14 AM
Saturday, December 10, 2005
2005-12-08) — Democrats in Congress today suggested that yesterday’s Federal Air Marshall shooting of a mentally ill man, who claimed to have a bomb on an airplane, could be part of a larger Bush administration strategy to reduce federal spending on mental health programs....
[A]t a time when mental health agencies are being told to tighten their belts, one can’t help but wonder if that man in Miami died so that the Bush-Cheney cabal and their wealthy cronies can keep their tax cuts.”
Could this be true? They haven't sent anyone to take out Howard Dean yet.
Posted by miriam at 10:40 AM
Friday, December 09, 2005
The hatemongers quarterly complains about the quality of fortunes in Chinese fortune cookies.
After all, even an execrable Chinese food outfit ... has the typical fortune cookies. They’re the one part of the meal even they can’t screw up....
Don’t believe us, dear reader? Well, then take a gander at this odd fortune found in “Chip’s” latest cookie: “Opportunity always ahead if you look and think.”
Uh, that’s not even a sentence. And it’s not a fortune, either. Frankly, it doesn’t even make that much sense. If you ask us, the people at the fortune cookie factory are coasting. When we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” break open a fortune cookie, we want to see something like “You will murder your second cousin on your father’s side,” or “You won’t be the next Billy Joel.”
You know: Real fortunes. None of this preachy “You should appreciate life/A man with a friend is a happy man” garbage. If we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” wanted hackneyed, ungrammatical bromides about the essential goodness of life, we’d watch Dr. Phil.
I've always felt that fortune cookies lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. I prefer fortune cookies that are more specific: "Sell Enron stock right away," would be a nice one, if you had gotten it early enough. Or how about, "Buy this hot new Internet stock and get in on the ground floor before the suckers find out about it."
That's a fortune cookie I could get behind.
Posted by miriam at 7:19 PM
Problem: missing pension check
I called the NJ Department of Personnel and they said they had sent it, all right. I then called the Bank of New York and they said, sorry, they never received it. Called PERS back; they claimed BNY had rejected their electronic fund transfer; The bank said they had no record of it.
Both parties said I had every right to be upset, frustrated, worried, concerned. Both extended their heartiest sympathy. Both wished they could be helpful. But what could they do? It was the other party who was at fault.
Oh, that's all right then.
Posted by miriam at 3:32 PM
Tinkerty Tonk discusses the significance of hats throughout history:
I was reading this article by Theodore Dalrymple on hats, which led me to this article on the Turco-Egyptian hat incident of 1932, which essentially makes Dalrymple's point: It all starts with the hat.
A scholarly work confirms Dalrymple's observations:
Until the 1960s, the article of clothing that performed the most important role in indicating social distinctions among men was the hat.... Several new types of hats appeared during the nineteenth century and were rapidly adopted at different social levels.... Because hats represented a more modest expense than jackets and coats, they provided an ideal opportunity for "blurring and transforming . . . traditional class boundaries" .... Men's hats were also used to claim and maintain, rather than to confuse, social status, as seen in the fact that specific types of hats became closely identified with particular social strata. Elaborate customs of "hat tipping" as a means of expressing deference to a man's superiors reflected the importance of the hat in marking class boundaries (McCannell 1973)....
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, hats were worn by members of all social classes, including the lowest strata. In a photograph taken in Paris around 1900 of a group of ragpickers, twenty out of twenty-three wear hats or caps. In the same period, photographs of workers leaving factories (Borgé and Viasnoff 1993: 113) and of workers' demonstrations in Boston (Robinson 1993: 6) show virtually everyone wearing a hat or a cap.
My mother was certainly an adherent of this viewpoint. She would never leave home without her hat. Even if she was wearing a housecoat (a shapeless article now consigned to the dustbin of history), she would put on her hat and she was good to go, ready to face the world. It was not necessary to comb the hair under the hat, either.
My mother's hats looked like these.
Posted by miriam at 1:32 PM
My greatest domestic accomplishment is hanging things on walls. I wander the house with my little hammer and picture hangers, looking for new wall space to conquer. I love hanging pictures! plates! posters!
I finally figured out why I enjoy this mundane task so much. When you don't hit the nail right, you get a funny sound. But when you hit the nail on the head, you get a satisfying thwack. It sounds just exactly right.
Posted by miriam at 12:21 PM
Thursday, December 08, 2005
A very moving tribute to the last survivor of the Christmas truce of World War I:
Gates of Vienna: The Christmas Truce Leaves Living Memory
A Scotsman named Alfred Anderson was the last person alive who could remember the Christmas Truce of 1914. With his death on Sunday at the age of 109, that definitive moment of the Great War leaves memory and enters history.
Sgt. Alfred Anderson
According to the Scotsman, Alfred Anderson was the last of the “Old Contemptibles” - the British expeditionary force which went to war in 1914 - and the last surviving witness of the historic Christmas truce when opposing troops declared a brief and unofficial ceasefire to play football and share drinks and cigarettes in the hell of no man’s land. Mr Anderson served with the 5th Battalion the Black Watch until he was wounded by shrapnel in 1916.
The Great War divides our time from the age that came before. The four years of slaughter on the Western Front tore down the European structures that had existed since the Enlightenment, replacing them with what we call Post-Modern Times.
Men like Sgt. Anderson bridged the chasm between those two worlds. It’s staggering to think that until two days ago there still lived someone who had stood in the stinking mud in Flanders in 1914. He was a relic of what was truly a different age.
Neil Griffiths, a spokesman for the Royal British Legion of Scotland, said: “He was our last surviving link with a time that shimmers on the edge of our folk memory. There was something old worldly about him — he was honourable, dignified and had a tremendously droll sense of humour. He always stood erect and was always immaculately turned out. We will not see his likes again.”
Posted by miriam at 10:54 PM
The Religion of Peace gets some good publicity:
[CAIR] donated two "Rosa Parks Civil Liberties Scholarships" to college students last Saturday for the obvious purpose of trying to associate itself with the legacy of the former civil rights icon. The total price tag was a mere $1500, which is a superb example of cost-efficient public relations spending by an organization awash in Wahabbi funding. Split down the middle, the grant might cover about two semester's worth of cable television....
Before CAIR gets too hung up on the idea that it is "keeping it real" it might do well to remember that on their website (right below the self-indulgent article on the scholarships) is a link that allows visitors to order religious materials that refer to black people as "Raisin-heads," "collectables," and "men of no descent" with hearts "grosser than a donkey." The Qur'an that CAIR promises to send out, along with the Hadiths, also talks of leaving an African to die if injured and provides a "how-to" manual on slavery that's been serving the Muslim world for 1400 years.
Beyond an unflattering description of black people, the Islamic religion proscribes third-class treatment for dhimmis - non-Muslims under Muslim rule. Dhimmitude is Jim Crow on steroids, complete with diminished legal status for minorities, segregation, constant intimidation… and a much higher stack of dead bodies. Islamists kill more "unbelievers" every ten months, in fact, than the entire number of black Americans lynched in the last 120 years combined.
Posted by miriam at 9:24 PM
There are some remarkably unhappy Christmases in literature. My favorite (?) fictional awful Christmas is the one in Great Expectations. Pip has stolen a pie to give to the escaped prisoner, and is dreading the moment when his horrible sister will discover the theft. Meanwhile, the assorted guests keep teasing him in a nasty way. Dickens was, of course, a genius, and the sense of impending doom Pip feels is brilliantly conveyed. Not, however, one of his joyful Christmas scenes.
Frank O'Connor's memoir, An Only Child, has another depressing Christmas. It is Christmas Eve, and his mother is waiting for his father to come home with his wages so she can buy something for the boy. He grudgingly gives her a small sum. The poor kid wakes up and finds tht Santa has brought him a cheap trifle.
Can anyone think of another miserable Christmas in literature?
Posted by miriam at 10:11 AM
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Our local public library was a haven for the radio-receiver-in their fillings community. Sometimes singly, sometimes in groups, they drifted in, sometimes listening quietly to the voices in their heads, sometimes arguing back. Sometimes they got cleaned up--the Salvation Army made them shower if they wanted to stay overnight. They got their clothes from various charities, which would explain the Million Mom March t-shirt on one of the fellows, who I dooubt was a participant in said march.
Then there were the complainers: the glass-half-full community. Notable among this crew were Marty and Martha Martin. The two were a match made in heaven; they had everything in common, including the sour pusses they habitually wore. They helpfully pointed out the deficiencies of our small-town library. Typical conversation:
Marty: You never have the right books.
Me: What books would you like?
Marty: I don't know, but there aren't them.
Another annoying patron was Jim. Jim had wanted to be a priest but hadn't made the cut, and was still miffed. Jim wanted to return videos to the bookdrop, which was against the rules. He actually took a survey of video stores in the surrounding community and reported back to me that they allowed people to return books in their bookdrops. He came to a board meeting and made his point forcefully.
Mr McArdle was a smiling, genial man who once cornered me to explain that the US had never dropped a bomb on Hiroshima. He also bought up all our used books. Since he lived in a small apartment, he had to rent a storage facility in Secaucus to hold the overflow.
Another fellow was doing research and hoped to prove definitively the existence of God. He has not published his findings yet, but I'm happy to say is still at work on the project.
Our local library is a handsome modern building but seems to have some vital element missing. Perhaps it is the problem patrons?
Posted by miriam at 10:32 PM
blue skies, sunshine, gentle lapping of the waves, the works.
And standing in the surf, her back to the ocean, was a young girl in a bathing suit, talking on her cell phone.
Posted by miriam at 10:28 PM
Pillage idiot cuts to the chase:
... [N]ow that Wesley Baker has been executed, we won't have to write about it any more. Maybe, but I think I need one more post.
The execution brought out people who seem to have been transformed from mere opponents of capital punishment into murderer groupies. Here's an account from the AP:
"Wesley is my friend," said Bonnita Spikes of Beltsville, who held a poster with Baker's picture on it. "I've seen him every day for the past couple of months. I got to know him."
She said she last saw him about 5 p.m. Monday.
"He was upbeat, calm, his spirit is good," she said. Baker also told her that recent visits from Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore and state Delegate Salima Marriott, D-Baltimore, were "monumental moments" for him.
"It's hard knowing one of my friends is going to die tonight," said Spikes. "He was a victim of the system. Killing him is not the answer. This vicious cycle of killing will never end."
It will end for Baker, though. He won't be killing any more grandmothers.
Posted by miriam at 9:45 PM
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
I usually give a check to the Salvation Army, but here's a novel way to commemorate the season by pouring a little sunshine over the poor in spirit:
Once again the Christmas season is upon us. This is the time of the year that many of us look forward to above all others. A time for giving and singing and celebrating. A time to be spent with close friends and family. However, this can be a very difficult time of the year for those who are less fortunate than ourselves.
That is why I started the Adopt-A-Liberal Foundation. For about the same amount of money you would spend a month on ammunition or to buy Ann Coulter's latest book, you can make a huge difference in the life of a liberal.
Read the whole thing. Or else.
Posted by miriam at 10:28 PM
John Siegenthaler has a real beef with Wikipedia:
This is a highly personal story about Internet character assassination. It could be your story.
I have no idea whose sick mind conceived the false, malicious "biography" that appeared under my name for 132 days on Wikipedia, the popular, online, free encyclopedia whose authors are unknown and virtually untraceable. There was more:
"John Seigenthaler moved to the Soviet Union in 1971, and returned to the United States in 1984," Wikipedia said. "He started one of the country's largest public relations firms shortly thereafter."
I looked up one article which I know something about: the biography of Bessie Coleman. I found it illiterate, full of mistatements, so I rewrote it. I have no idea whether my changes have survived. My concern is that some student will mistakenlyh use this biography as a source, thus passing on errors and ommissions.
You can understand why librarians do not hold Wikipedia in high esteem and would prefer more authoratitive sources.
Posted by miriam at 3:56 AM
Monday, December 05, 2005
I live in something called the Brandywine Hundred. A hundred of what is shrouded in history, but you know where you are: everything is Brandywine, Brandywoods, Brandon. Brandywine Plaza, Brandywine Mall, etc. Another popular theme is Concord, as in Concord Mall, Concord Plaza and for all I know, Concord Tattoo Parlor, or Concord House of Ill Repute.
When they ran out of Brandies and Concords, the developers had to think of new names. So they called a place Smith Farms, after the farm that was obliterated on the site, or Smith Woods, if they had to cut down the woods to build the place. Sounds very woodsy or farmy, doesn't it? How about Smith Crest, which is at the bottom of a gentle slope? I thought a crest was on the top of a hill, but what did I know?
Eveerything has a hifaluting Norman or Celtic name: there are no Kosinsky Woods, no Cohen Woods, no Giuliani Farms. No Gupta or Sze. There's no Smith either; I made that one up. But you get the idea. Building developments is an Anglo-Saxon monopoly.
Posted by miriam at 5:08 PM
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Driving back from Nj is incredibly boring. From Exit 8 of the Turnpike to the end there is nothing but monotonous, humdrum landscape. I'm not talking oil refineries here. They are comparatively interesting. No, no, this is scenery designed to calm the mind of the most crazed motorist and lull him to sleep. Not that it works, they are still crazy.
Flat landscape. Trees. When Joyce Kilmer (from NJ, mind you) said he had never seen a poem as lovely as a tree, he was blowing smoke. I have seen Burmas-Shave signs way better looking then these trees. These trees have no distinguishing characteristics. They don't have cones, or flowers, or apples, or colorful leaves. They just stand there, looking average. Behind the trees you can occasionally see a really boring field, or a nondescript farmhouse or barn. Graffiti are more interesting than this landscape.
And it goes on for hours. Just you, the crazy drivers, and the trees.
Posted by miriam at 4:22 PM
Friday, December 02, 2005
Last night, I watched the Biggest Loser finale with my wife and, despite never having seen the show before, I came to a few conclusions:
1.) A guy won $100,000 for bringing his weight down from the 400+ pound range to 216 pounds. With that in mind, I feel as though NBC owes me $638 for quitting drinking, and my wife would like two or three grand for giving up the smokes. I mean, if you’re giving people cash for doing shit they really needed to do in the first place, then I’d like a few bucks for reading to my kid last night, thanks.
Posted by miriam at 11:17 AM
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Beautiful weather! San Juan is like Fort Lauderdale, only hillier.
I went to a big shopping mall. It wa just like any mall in New jersey--crowded with people who didn't speak English. But these people had an excuse. They were Puerto Ricans. I Puerto Rico.
The service in the hotel was not perfect--they forgot milk for your coffee, ketchup...or whatever. But they were willing and friendly. They were especially nice to my four-year-old grandson and to children and babies generally. Kind, really. That makes up for a lot. I can always get my own milk.
Another thing: judging by the visual evidence, it is not a sin in Puerto Rico for a woman not to be a living skeleton. Even fat people wore sexy clothing and were smiling and seemed to be having a good time. Most of the women had busts and bottoms, and some of them were gorgeous.
Posted by miriam at 9:01 PM