on the cutting edge of technology.
True story: I am a Verizon customer, currently signed up for the Freedom Package at $59.95. I received a postcard from Verizon, promising me the same services for $39.95. All I had to do was call a tollfree number!
I tried to call about five times. It was always busy. On the sixth round, I got a recorded message. "Due to the volume of calls, this number is busy. Please hang up and call again." This from a telecom company! Haven't they ever heard of voice mail?
My seventh try landed a real human being. After I gave her my name and number, she told me I would have to call my local Verizon business office to sign up.
Friday, June 30, 2006
on the cutting edge of technology.
According to Mutha faq'r, a spokesperson for the PA:
Exact details on the type of agent involved were sketchy, but during questioning by media the spokesman let slip that it involved a lot of “real snotty Kleenexes” obtained from a local pre-school where a particularly nasty variety of the sniffles “was going around.”
“Let the Zionist dogs reap the whirlwind of our mighty sword of vengeance. We will never be content to be their servants and slaves. We will strike back with the blood of our martyrs and the nasal mucous of our children. Let the leaders of the Israeli people explain the great swath of devastation we will wreak in the midst, as their people suffer untold congestion, sore throats, and post-nasal drip. We will take great joy in their suffering and their raw, red noses.”
Posted by miriam at 10:20 PM
The Therapist analyzes the new Gaza games:
"Allah's team comes in relatively weak this time around," said one analyst. "Lack of conditioning, not to mention the much ballyhooed self-implosion techniques utilized by the martyrs, while pyrotechnically fascinating, ultimately weaken the team effort."
Jehovah on the other hand, stands to carry the day, ruling out any unforeseen dust storms that might engulf the Israeli army--many times attributed to Allah. Allah's goal protection skills have been in question in recent months with the deadly Iranian and Indonesian earthquakes plaguing the regions--both easily stoppable by the standards assigned to regional deities.
You go, Jehovah!
Posted by miriam at 10:10 PM
Mr Charm has some hang-ups about food. I could work with that. But he changes his mind often. He likes certain foods or restaurants for a time, then dislikes them. Sometimes he likes something and stops liking it and goes back to liking it.
Act I. Daughter serves him black bean soup.
MrC: I love black bean soup. (scarfs it down).
I make black bean soup. He comes to the table.
MrC: What's this?
Me: black bean soup.
MrC: I don't like black bean soup.
Act III: (at Panera's restaurant)
Me: I don't think I want the black bean soup--it's too filling.
MrC: I'm ordering black bean soup.
MrC: what are you looking at me like that for? I've always liked black bean soup.
We had a favorite Chinese restaurant. I suggested going there today, because I had to get something at a nearby store. He agreed. Not enthusiastically.
We got to the restaurant.
MrC: I don't know what to order.
Me: Order the shrimp with lobster sauce. You always like that.
MrC: I do not like it!
So he orders something else he does not like. He doesn't like it this time either. No surprise there. (Toys with food. Ostentatiously)
MrC: Let's not go there again.
Me: _________(Fill in blank with your favorite curse, muttered not quite under my breath.)
MrC: What did you say?
Posted by miriam at 4:14 PM
Library girl hearts used bookstores.
I love all libraries and I’ll give any new book store at least one chance. Used bookshops, however, are another matter entirely.
There is a definite art to putting together a second-hand establishment, and the great ones have a mixture of dependability in terms of quality, high turnover, and a degree of chaos. The true joy behind paying one a visit is browsing and serendipitously stumbling upon a gem. It’s also thrilling to have a title in mind and then find exactly what you’re looking for on the shelf. Such a pleasure is taken for granted in chains. There is also the specific sound of creaking floors in quiet rooms which I love, and a certain ubiquitous used-but-not-unpleasant smell that most seem to possess.
I order most used books over the Internet these days, but something is missing. The serendipity, for one thing. I have discovered some of my favorite books by taking a chance on a volume by an unknown (to me) author. I've also found old chestnuts on the shelves which gave me a thrill of recognition: Samuel Smiles' Self Help is one that I remember. Of course, you do get some of that in a library. But in a conscientiously run library, someone has patiently gone through the shelves and discarded all the books no-one reads. Unfortunately, those are the books I like.
The Wilmington Institute appears to have kept a lot of old books nobody reads. I try to take the poor things for an outing from time to time so that circulation records will show that someone has read them.
I liked the Hackensack (NJ) Library for the same reason. Every time I found a book with an old cover, perhaps a library binding, I took it home to read. I tried to read some dreadful books, it's true, but I also discovered some beauties. When the library converted to an automated system, these books ended up in the dumper.
I used to consult Jacques Barzun's wonderful book a Catalog of Crime, still available at Amazon. I try the "reduced for final sale" area of the local Barnes & Noble, and have found a few--very few--goodies that way.
Abebooks is a good source of older books, if you know what you want. but the infuriating thing is tht you can't discover something new that way. You have to know wht you are looking for.
Bookstores and libraries are above all venues--places to go, each with its own distinct personality. You can't get that from a database.
Posted by miriam at 11:06 AM
Thursday, June 29, 2006
An Austalian newspaper celebrates vision.
From the Age:
Treasurer Peter Costello is no stranger to the future....
[T]he Treasurer has shown remarkable resilience and, with that, something more unusual: a willingness to present a vision of how he sees the nation. There is, of course, a benefit for Mr Costello in putting what satirist Jonathan Swift, in a un-satirical moment, alluded to when he said that vision was "the art of seeing what is invisible to others". It bespeaks leadership. Pronouncing a vision is an effective way for a man waiting in the wings to step onto the stage while the protagonist is still very much in the script and on the stage as well.
Type for food has tried unsuccessfully to find this quote in Swift's writings. It is possible that he couldn't find it because Swift never said it. Fake quotes and fake attributions are the order of the day.
In the US, fake quotes are usually attributed to either Benjamin Franklin or de Tocqueville, like Bill Clinton's cheery Hallmark quote, "America is great, because America is good." I've never seen anything like this attributed to Swift, that old misanthopist. Maybe he did slip that remark to Stella or Vanessa when he had had a bit too much Irish whiskey, but I doubt it.
"The art of seeing what is invisible to others." You mean like the Palestians' longing for peace? Or the "good intentions" of the Iranians? Or the tooth fairy? Take your pick. They're all hooey.
Posted by miriam at 9:18 AM
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
How about this:
FRIEND, you are like mayonnaise. I am fond of you in small amounts ... and when accompanying other friends (much the way mayonnaise accompanies tunafish, bread, lettuce, and tomato). But the thought of you in massive quantities makes me so nauseous I have to chew gum. Also, black people don't like you.
Posted by miriam at 9:52 PM
PBI librarian reacts to library association's anti-American agenda:
Just because all the moonbats around you are bobbing their heads up and down like one of those stupid plastic dogs in the back of a car window doesn't mean your ideas have merit - it just means that you've managed to find other loons to surround yourself with. Right now, they're in the driver's seat...and they're driving the profession of librarianship right into the shitter. When the taxpayers finally figure out what's going on in the public libraries, the current funding problems will look like the land o' plenty compared to what they'll wind up doing to us.
Here's the MOTD for the ALA leadership:
1) the SRRT and other such groups should not be seen as the voice of librarians. The SRRT should be disbanded immediately as incompatible with the mission of the ALA.
2) Politics have NO place in the library. Yes, this means YOU.
3) Concern yourself with library issues. NOT everything is a library issue. Matter of fact, MOST things are not library issues.
4) Concentrate on how librarians can add value to information services. If the state of public libraries is anything to go by, all the MLSs will eventually be replaced with paraprofessionals. This is because YOU have allowed reference to degenerate into being a phone operator, social worker, nose wiper and floor mopper. The demise of librarianship will come about quickly once those holding the purse strings realize they are paying people with graduate degrees to look up phone numbers and point homeless people to the bathroom if we don't have anything else to offer.
5) Have I mentioned GET OUT OF POLITICS?
I've met some of these ALA bigwigs. Don't be confused by the bleeding heart rhetoric. They are ambitious and arrogant, and would speedily grind you up in one of Saddam's shredders if you get in their way.
The ALA should be disbanded. They don't speak for all of us. But librarians do have a mission--to defeat the armies of ignorance and stupidity.
Posted by miriam at 9:49 AM
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
A kid in my family sent a $50 check to pay a parking ticket. Turns out the parking ticket was for $53, so they sent him a letter threatening to suspend his license. Could he pay the $3 online? Oh, no. The ticket had to be paid personally and a copy of the receipt forwarded to the motor vehicle bureau, plus ten dollars "court costs."
New Jersey considers all of its residents who have driver's licenses as potential criminals who haven't been caught yet. If you don't have your license, registration, or insurance card you have to make a court appearance, even if your wallet was stolen and you are on your way to the Motor Vehicle office to get another license.
And car insurance: It's compulsory and expensive. If you have anything short of a major accident you'd be stupid report it to the insurance company. They will raise your premiums even higher. It's an extortion racket sanctioned by the State. When the Demos are in office, the price of auto insurance goes up. The Republicans, ditto. It's an equal opportunity mugging.
What has this to do with illegal aliens? Being an illegal alien is a real crime, getting a parking ticket is a trumped up "crime." Not having auto insurance is a trumped-up crime too, one that punishes the poor.
Posted by miriam at 1:37 PM
Monday, June 26, 2006
The Fly in Residence at the Charm household recently testified before the Senate Moonbattery Committee, chaired by Lincoln Chaffee (R-Rhode Island), co-chaired by Barbara Boxer (D-California). The Committee was formed to explore the possibility of impeaching President Bush, who as you know stole the 2004 election.
The fly, whose name must be kept secret unless the New York Times has a slow news day, made a statement, which follows:
I can no longer keep silent when the welfare of the nation is being endangered. The Fly in Residence Program must have its budget restored. This program is vital to children and working families, not to say minorities.
The FIR building, in Alexandria, VA, needs $380,210.17 for vital repairs immediately if the health of the 300 dedicated employees who work there is not to be endangered, not to mention the flies in the field.
The program is badly underfunded. I, myself, have been working 18 hours a day at the Charm household, but am totally unable to provide service to both Charm individuals at the same time. If I pester one of them, the other is enabled to finish his/her Cheerios in peace. One fly can do only so much. I have requested an assistant to serve Mrs. C, while I dodge Mr C's flyswatter. This will allow both of these citizens to have his/her dedicated fly. We can do no less for the citizens of this great country.
But there are graver issues. The lack of suitably trained bi-lingual flies is setting back recovery efforts in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast. We must do more to ensure the safety of these people, many of whom are poor, minorities, and single mothers--or all three at once.
More flies are desperately needed at the Mexican border to serve the undocumented-American community desperate to gain entry to our country and take low-paying jobs that Americans won't take. Here too, bi-lingual flies are not a luxury but a necessity.
The funds which were diverted from our program are now being channeled to Halliburton by the office of Dick Cheney.
After this fervent testimony, not an eye was dry in the Senate chamber.
Posted by miriam at 9:58 AM
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Detailed recruiter explains the process.
Recruiting...is a challenge, and it’s a challenge for which I didn’t volunteer (”detailed” is a nice way of saying “dragged kicking and screaming”). But it’s a fight that is almost as important as the ones being fought overseas. When my recruiting class graduated we were graced to have CSM Michelle Jones, the Command Sergeant Major of the United States Reserve, as our keynote speaker. During her address she told us to view our time in recruiting as our deployment. That without NCOs going out and finding the next Soldiers, team leaders, squad leaders, even sergeants major any progress made in the War on Terror would be for nought. I do believe in what I do as a recruiter. I hope that some day, 20 years from now, I’ll be reading the Army Reserve magazine and recognize some 1SG or SGM as someone I enlisted. Assuming I can still remember by own name 20 years from now that is.
Posted by miriam at 1:59 PM
Saturday, June 24, 2006
The British rioter is second to none. But one observer did have a slight problem:
Sadly, my enjoyment of the fighting was marred once again by the minority of idiots who insist on playing football. And droning on and on about it.
The English gentleman was once a model to be emulated by all the world. Now it's the English hooligan.
Posted by miriam at 10:52 PM
From cynical nation , a bit of satire:
If anti-terror officials are allowed to access banking records now, then how long before the IRS has access to them as well?
Of course this was said cynically. But some of the commentors took it seriously. Read the whole thing, comments and all. You couldn't make this stuff up!
I once had a judgment against me. It was trivial matter of $200 or so, but I forgot all about the court date, so a judgment was entered. Fair enough. Act like a doofus, pay like a doofus.
What I didn't realize was that the court could go into any bank accounts I had in the county and take the money. Which they did.
So it's not only the IRS that can access your banking information. Anyone can. Apply for a car loan. Your credit report will include all your banking information. And everywhere you've ever lived. Including a place I never lived, but somehow they think I did, in San Francisco.
When I was director of the library, our lawyer, the Master of Red Tape, insisted on background checks on every new employee, even 16-year-old high school kids. Each background check cost $15. I don't know how much info you got for the price. I doubt whether their international phone calls were reported.
Anyway, all this information is out there. If you don't believe me, just google one of your friends.
Oops! I almost forgot--ht to the biggie himself, instapundit.
Posted by miriam at 2:28 PM
Friday, June 23, 2006
Craig Henry shares this fireside chat from Roosevelt, which strikes at the heart of today's NYTimes revelation:
To all newspapers and radio stations -- all those who reach the eyes and ears of the American people -- I say this: You have a most grave responsibility to the nation now and for the duration of this war.
If you feel that your Government is not disclosing enough of the truth, you have every right to say so. But in the absence of all the facts, as revealed by official sources, you have no right in the ethics of patriotism to deal out unconfirmed reports in such a way as to make people believe that they are gospel truth.
Every citizen, in every walk of life, shares this same responsibility. The lives of our soldiers and sailors -- the whole future of this nation -- depend upon the manner in which each and every one of us fulfills his obligation to our country.
I wish Bush had gone to Congress on September 12, 2001, and asked for a declaration of war, officially, on all who want to do us harm. If that had happened, those who reveal our country's secrets could be tried for treason and punished.
Hanging is too good for them.
all of which are a pain the nether regions.
Staples will not sell me anything unless I sign up and register. My money is no good if they don't know who I am, I guess. Do they think I am a spammer, wasting their prescious bandwidth, instead of a customer seeking printer cartridges?
Unfortunately, I only want printer cartridges once in a while, and I always forget my username and password between orders. They must put a cookie on my site, but I guess it expires between cartridges, which I order infrequently. I don't like to print anything because I don't want to use up my cartridges so I don't feel guilty when I conceal the used ones in the trash, instead of recycling them. I don't like feeling guilty, but I really, really dislike keeping a bunch of trash until I have time to go to the recycling center. The Charm home is not a substation of Delaware Recycles. We like to get rid of stuff we don't want here, so we can buy more stuff we don't need and have a place to keep it until we need to recycle it (or conceal it in the trash).
When we lived in New Jersey, we used to recycle newspapers and other paper stuff. Some agency for reformed drug addicts picked it up and sold it for a pittance. This worked fine until New York City came onstream with their paper recycling, when the bottom dropped out of the paper market, and it became more expensive to recycle it than to dump it. The agency then refused to have their clients pick up the stuff; addicts or not, they were able to do the math.
Did this stop the city from having separate pickups for paper? Nosiree. They had special trucks which picked it up on a different schedule than the other garbage and then dumped it in the very same landfill. This cost the taxpayer extra but it made the politicians feel virtuous, and in New Jersey that is no little matter.
But I digress. Passwords. Usernames. Yes, back to the subject at hand. I wouldn't mind having usernames and passwords if I could use the same one all the time. But different sites have different requirements. Some demand at least 6 characters. some demand a combination of numbers and letters. Some need to know if your belly button is an innie or an outie. The computer is able to remember some of this garbage but not all of it.
What to do, what to do? I actually started to write this stuff down on a piece of paper. But I lost the piece of paper.
Posted by miriam at 9:17 AM
Thursday, June 22, 2006
I'm going to take my marbles and take to the streets!:
On July 2 Mexico will hold the most closely contested presidential election in its history. That in itself wouldn't be a problem if all the candidates were committed to the democratic process. But in recent weeks two of the three main campaigns have jointly pledged to challenge election results in the streets with massive unrest if their candidates don't win. If that happens, Mexico will be thrown into chaos and Mexicans will be the losers...
(From the Wall Street Journal--subscription required.)
There's a newfangled way to avoid standing in the sun holding a heavy sign--it's called an election. See, you go and vote in a nice air-conditioned place!
The street is for Arabs. That's why they call it the Arab street. We have other ways of choosing our leaders in a democracy.
Posted by miriam at 4:15 PM
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Things are rapidly getting back to normal in New Orleans.
E]xperts say that ... homicides are on the rise in the Big Easy at a time when other cities are seeing their murder rates plummet to levels not seen in decades.
The city’s murder rate is still far lower than a decade ago, when New Orleans was the country’s murder capital. But in recent years, the city’s homicide rate has climbed again to nearly 10 times the national average.
“We’re going in the reverse of 46 of the top 50 cities in the United States. Almost everyone is going down, but we’re going up,” said criminologist Peter Scharf. “There is something going on in New Orleans that is not going on elsewhere.”
Many of the killings are related to drugs and gangs — but police say more are simply disputes that get out of hand.
Along with reluctant witnesses, experts say the city has too few police and inexperienced prosecutors. Coming up with more cash has been a chronic problem for money-pinched New Orleans, which typically lurches from budget to budget.
Posted by miriam at 3:03 PM
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
From Lee, a complaint:
Now I have to make two trips if I want to buy lobster. I’ll use more gas, which will contribute to global warming, but at least I’ll feel much better about myself. And that’s what being a liberal is all about.”
But what is to be done with the lobsters if we liberate them?
A commenter suggests:
The next step for the Left is to get these recently rescued crustaceans registered to vote in the 2008 Presidential Election. The problem is that the assumed increase in lobster and softshell crab ballots will somehow bolster their base in conservative states. All these lobsters will end up doing is adding to the already saturated liberal vote in places like New York, California and Vermont.
Posted by miriam at 10:34 PM
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Posted by miriam at 9:48 PM
I'm just back from the Land of Baked Ziti. I attended a bat mitzvah and the ziti flowed like wine.* The wine, on the other hand, didn't flow much. I'd venture to say that there was more call for Diet Coke than wine, this being a largely Jewish affair.
There was a little problem with the steam table. The host and hostess had determined that the covers would not be raised on the hot food until the Bat Mitzvah girl had lit candles for all the relatives and friends, and one or two for World Peace. But an old gent came up to these tempting covered containers, opened them, and got a plate upon which he placed his food, in contravention to the intentions of the party of the first part, the host. One of the banquet managers hovered over him, trying to get him to go away and wait for his food, but he paid no attention to her. It would have taken an Act of Congress to stop him. So she didn't--just wrung her hands.
The MC spent three hours screaming at the top of his lungs and the disc jockey turned up the amps, to the immense gratification of everyone present, except me. When my ears started bleeding, I inserted earplugs. They helped some.
But it was a nice family occasion. The youngest was about two, the oldest were some of those aunts and uncles who come out of mothballs on occasions like this. They can't hear anyway, so what's loud music and screaming MCs to them? They sit together and talk about their doctors, their medications and their rheumatism. I can foresee joining this group one day soon.
The loud noise did something to my brain, much as repeated hammering with a baseball bat applied to the skull. It made me feel tired. Even dazed.
I stopped for gas in New Jersey, and someone else pumped gas for me. It was heavenly. I don't care if the guy was an illegal alien--he cleaned my windshield too. Gov Corzine wanted to allow--make that compel--New Jerseyans to pump their own, but there was such as outcry he backed off.
Now comes my poem:
I think that I shall never see
A refinery as boring as a tree.
I mean it too. The refineries along the turnpike call to mind Carl Sandberg's "Hog butcher to the world." Not that New Jersey is a hog butcher (neither is Chicago any more), but the coarse vitality of these tanks and smokestacks is interesting and impressive.
Not so the crappy, boring trees planted along the lower parts of the highway, no doubt to "beautify" it. The trees appear to be all of the same species and the same height. They are uninteresting trees, good enough for government work perhaps, but you would never cherish a tree like that on your property. The land is extremely flat too, adding to the sense of tedium. If they hadn't planted the trees, perhaps there would be a glimpse of farmland or even a warehouse to entertain the eye.
Driving through this featureless forest, I kept feeling my eyelids droop. I stopped for coffee so I wouldn't fall asleep and run into an 18-wheeler.
A word about the drivers in New Jersey. They are aggressive, they drive fast, but they are good drivers generally. Delaware drivers would be killed within a week, if they drove like that in good old NJ.
Delaware drivers! I'll get to them later.
*It's illegal for more than 20 people to get together if they don't serve baked ziti. The authorities are very strict about this.
Posted by miriam at 2:33 PM
Friday, June 16, 2006
Thursday, June 15, 2006
A bit of a disappointment, actually.
To be knocked out like that, before even reaching the quarter-finals, was a bitter blow. A very bitter blow. The Little-Frigging-In-The-Wold Gleaner had confidently predicted that this year would - once again - be our year.
Posted by miriam at 10:07 PM
Stuart Buck analyzes magazine ads.
You can tell a lot about a magazine's audience by the ads that appears in the back. For example, if the ads are all for $1.5 million homes in the Hamptons, you're probably reading the New York Times magazine, where the advertisers expect to reach a significant number of people who have a lot of money and are interested in that sort of conspicuous consumption.
So it was with interest that I looked at the ads in the back of the Sierra Club's magazine, which I just started receiving after joining a month ago. There are six pages in the back that are full of little ads. Some are for a variety of different products -- organic coffee, hammocks, portable water purifiers, etc....
But by far, most of the ads were for tours to exotic locations -- e.g., Antarctica, Peru, New Zealand, the Galapagos, the Alps, Malaysia, Tibet, and many more. I counted no fewer than 31 such ads in the six pages at the back of the magazine. In addition, the Sierra Club itself included a ten-page section listing probably 100+ Club-sponsored trips all around the world -- from backpacking in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to hiking in Nepal to a safari in Tanzania. Both the advertisers and the Sierra Club obviously expect to reach a lot of readers who have a good bit of disposable income, the time to travel around the world for weeks at a time, and the willingness to participate in huge amounts of carbon emissions. (I'm assuming that no one is going to paddle a canoe to New Zealand to go hiking there, nor will they swim to the Galapagos with a bicycle strapped to their backs.)
I am doing my bit for the environment by not taking a planned trip to Sicily. I feel quite smug about it. Although I have always wanted to visit Sicily. I am very fond of Greek ruins, any ruins, as a matter of fact. But I am abstaining at great emotional cost to myself. Nothing trumps my wish to save the environment, except perhaps the need to pay my dentist(s).
Posted by miriam at 10:12 AM
A peaceful protest by Iranian women calls forth brutal response:
"We are women, we are human, but we don't have any rights!" protesters chanted.
This is what they wanted:
- Banning polygamy;
- Reversal of men's uncontested right to divorce;
- Equal child custody rights for mothers and fathers;
- Equal rights in marriage (such as a woman's right to choose where she works, to travel freely, etc.);
- Increase in the legal age of children to 18 years of age (currently girls are viewed as adults at 9 years of age and boys at 15 years of age, making them eligible to be tried as adults);
- Equal value placed on women's testimony in court; and
- Elimination of temporary work contracts which disproportionately and negatively impact women....
From the BBC report:
"The viciousness of the police attack caused men who were passing by in the street to protest, our correspondent says. These are our sisters, how can you do this?" passers-by shouted at police. The women then gathered again on the other side of the square, but the police used pepper spray against them and onlookers.
As the police started making arrests members of the public who had nothing to do with the protest repeatedly shouted: "Leave them alone."
One man screamed at the police, saying: "Why do you take money from the government to beat women like this?"
Feminists of Europe, have some shame! These are your sisters being beaten up. They want the same rights as you. Why do you think Iranian women are not worthy of your support??????
Why don't American women get up in arms? Too busy traveling the world with Cindy Sheehan? Why can't I read about this in American newspapers? Don't these people matter?
A follow-up from the same blogger, an Iranian living in London:
One of the women who were taken to Evin prison after the rally in 7 Tir Square, was eighty years old!
The Islamic regime is therefore scared of an 80 year old woman who takes part in a peaceful rally!
My salutations to this 80 year old lioness who wants the new generation of Iranian women to have the rights which she enjoyed in her youth. If only all of the previous generation of Iranians who got us in this mess, had her courage.
Simin Behbahani, Iran’s foremost contemporary national poetess was also amongst the women who were beaten up.
Posted by miriam at 9:41 AM
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
..and I'm calling it the Patriotic Americans for Peace, Justice, Sustainable Living, Human Rights and Children. With a title like that it can't miss. Won't you join me?
I've noticed that organizations are given credibility in accordance with their title. Call you organization the Arab Anti-Zionist League, and everyone will sneer. Call it Arab Human Rights Organization Chowder and Marching Society, and you will get respectful attention in the press.
You don't have to have a fancy building. You don't even need a phone. You sure don't need a lot of members. The Hammurabi Society, which started all this carry-on about Haditha, consists of two guys. But that's good enough for Time magazine. Hammurabi! It has a ring to it! It must be important!
Words that will insure your organization's success: civil rights, civil liberties, human rights (but not human liberties, don't ask me why). Justice. Peace. Conservation. Environment. Especially Saving the Environment--if you call your group the League for Despoiling the Environment you're off to a bad start. Remember, saving, good. Not saving, not so good. In fact, saving anything makes a nice title: whales, forests, baby seals, wilderness.
And the trump card: children. Even if your mission statement includes cutting children into small pieces and feeding them to alligators, the MSM doesn't care. In fact, they'll never know. You could call it Society for Preservation of Children and Alligators and no-one would bat an eyelash.
Now that you know how it works, how about joining me? We have quite a lot of wine in the basement, and while we drink it we can figure out some excuse for our existence. And you'll get our newsletter absolutely free!
Posted by miriam at 4:06 PM
Somehow, I don't find that reassuring.
[I]f Mr. Berg were representing us, he would have had us sit down and listen to terrorists after they murdered 3000 of us on 9/11 and not give them preconditions for coexistence on Earth. However, the U.S. did listen. We heard what the terrorists had to say. They want us dead. They want us humilitated. They want our civilians to live in fear. It is a reasonable precondition that no one comes onto our soil and attacks our people. They violated it. And it is a reasonable to let the world know we will stand up for ourselves and for the liberty of others. Even Neville Chamberlain realized he'd been duped once Hitler started invading more countries. Appeasement didn't work to stave off World War II and it won't work with people whose goal is our destruction and subjection to their laws. There is no basis for discussion with the unreasonable.
As far as wanting world peace now, well, who doesn't? But pacifism doesn't buy peace. It buys oppression. Does the "rape of Belgium" ring any bells? Neville Chamberlain did Europe no good back in the 1930s and channeling him now won't help us today.
Michael Berg may mean well, but this kind of muddled thinking is not what we need from our leaders.
I don't think Michael Berg means well. I've cut him as much slack as I am inclined to, and then some. While he may forgive Zarqawi (the guy who first humiliated Nick and then killed him in an excruciatingly painful way), he is full of unreasonable and unreasoning hatred of Bush, who had nothing whatever to do with Nick's presence in Iraq.
He's not a pacifist--he just wants the other side to win.
Posted by miriam at 3:55 PM
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
The japing ape has a suggestion:
I have long advocated opening up the priesthood to gorillas. I took an aptitude test when I was a young ape and the clergy came second only to the circus. Obviously, you have to be able to perform in public (as most gorillas can), but there’s something else of vital importance: a priest has got to be good at scaring people. The fallen woman in the confessional box won’t truly repent of her sins if her pastor is a wishy-washy character who wouldn’t say ‘boo’ to a goose. Nor would the pious folk who go to Mass every week have any confidence in his ability to protect them against evil spirits. A priest must be the kind of fellow who’ll head-butt the Devil with nothing more than a crucifix between his teeth and a bible in his back pocket. In my estimation, that’s either a crazy-eyed dude who’s into flagellation or a gorilla. The meek may inherit the Earth, but they’ve got no place in the Roman Catholic clergy.
This is not to say that I would actually accept ordination into the Catholic hierarchy. The clothes and the Latin might be attractive, but the avenues for artistic expression are far greater in the Protestant camp. Many of these modern sects have taken variety entertainment to new heights, encouraging their ministers to write their own comic monologues and lead the faithful in festivals of song and dance.
Posted by miriam at 11:40 AM
Monday, June 12, 2006
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Saturday, June 10, 2006
A new Fly in Residence has been appointed to serve the Charm family and friends, and has already taken up his position in Wilmington, DE. The previous incumbent resigned in October to spend more time with his family.
There was some doubt as to whether the position would continue to recieve funding, due to Draconian cuts in the federal budget which hit women and children, not to say insects, the hardest. Luckily, however, the Ford Foundation stepped up to the plate, and the program is to be continued for at least one year.
Duties of the position include but are not limited to hovering over family members and guests, chiefly at mealtimes, quickly flying from victim to victim before lighting on the potato salad. Qualifications for the position include agility, persistence, creativity, and the ability to take direction.
The identity of the new appointee is being withheld for security reasons.
Posted by miriam at 7:14 AM
Friday, June 09, 2006
Neilochka wants to know why fake boobs can't be a bit more natural:
“When are they ever going to make fake boobs that don’t look like large bocce balls?”
I've only seen one pair that I could swear was fake: in the gym one day I encountered a woman whose boobs floated upward; they looked like helium balloons. They seemed to defy gravity. I watched in fascination to see if they would unmoor themselves from her chest and fly away.
The nice thing about fake boobs is that they are, well, self-supporting. Real boobs, large boobs, unfortunately need to be hoisted up like flags on a flagpole by some heavy-duty industrial bra that looks more like a truss than the cute flimsy things you see in the Victoria's Secret catalog.
Life is tough.
Posted by miriam at 3:03 PM
Not all of the Left has... twigged that multiculturalism is rather last century. Someone of whom I had hoped we had heard the last, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, made a predictable intervention in this debate from beyond the grave last weekend. He proclaimed that the coronation of our next monarch must be an "interfaith" event. The ceremony must, he added, have "very significant changes", so that it is "inclusive" of other religions in Britain.
Lord Carey clearly has in mind what Private Eye would term a "Rocky Horror" coronation service. Never mind your archbishops, or even your Christians, your imams, your rabbis, ayatollahs, your assorted holy men and other diverse priests, layers-on-of-hands and speakers-in-tongues: in accordance with the professions of religious belief on the 2001 census forms, I expect to see a few Jedi knights in the sanctuary, while devotees of Ras Tafari smoke ganja at the high altar. And, as one of the realm's noisiest atheists, I hope for a part in the proceedings, too, that I might feel "included".
Posted by miriam at 10:44 AM
Yesterday Blogger was down almost all day, and as luck would have it, some of the keenest, best reasoned and witty apercus came to my mind and were ready to be shared with a waiting world. These musings are now lost to posterity. I hope posterity will recover. Oh, well, they'll never know what they missed.
Firefox has been having a tantrum also. I downloaded the latest version. Every time I access Al Gore's internet I get a stupid page informing me that Firefox has been updated. (!!!) I know it's updated, I updated it, you clods.
Picasa is not working either. I e-mailed them and they suggested I download some cockamamie program which would improve my graphics. It didn't.
Posted by miriam at 10:07 AM
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Um, sometimes it's me.
I don't fall for the car insurance or the male enhancement products, but I do hanker for some of those kitchen gadgets I see demonstrated on television. The gadget that makes spaghetti in five minutes? Only $19.95, and if you act quickly you can get an extra one free? I want it. I would buy a bowflex in a split second, if I had the room and the money. I desperately want an Ionic Breeze.
Cleaning supplies--let me at them! A bathroom cleaner which eliminates all that tedious scrubbing--it's so powerful you don't even have to be in the room, perhaps not even in the house. You can clean the bathroom in absentia. That's for me!
Beauty products! At last, the key to looking and feeling 20 years younger--just what I was looking for. I know they don't work--but they might.
What have I got to lose, except money?
And the car commercials: all those nice views of people tooling along on some scenic highway, looking glamorous, the breeze in their hair, not a care in the world. If they showed fancy cars stuck in traffic on Rt 17 in New Jersey, who would ever buy one? But the urge to buy does come over me--and I'm a person who can't even identify my own car without looking at the license plate.
And I must admit, I have to supress the urge to call LendingTree.com and get a price on a second mortgage.
All these impulses are kept in check by the skepticism of Mr Charm, who thinks everything sold on television is an outright fraud. But, oh, those kitchen gadgets! They could change my life!
Posted by miriam at 10:18 PM
no way. But I noticed a funny thing about widows, or rather, my 85-year-old aunt noticed this and called it to my attention.
My aunt is, of course, a widow, like most women her age. And she hangs around with a lot of other widows, playing golf, wintering in Florida, playing cards, or going out for meals.
"A lot of widows never stop talking about their husbands. How they miss them. How hard life is without their beloved spouses," according to my aunt. In a discreet whisper, she added, "I knew a lot of the husbands when they were alive, and confidentially they weren't that great. Neither were the marriages."
I've found this to be true, generally. My grandmother lobbed grenades of sarcasm at my grandfather, the sweetest, gentlest man in the world, on a daily basis. According to her, he couldn't get anything right. But when he was gone, he was posthumously transformed into a saint. She never remembered one negative thing about him. If she did, she didn't mention it.
Can I just wonder whether these widows who parade their grief are entirely sincere? I know one or two widows who had great marriages, and they seem to have the grace to go on with life. It must be tough, but if they feel sad or lonely they put on a cheerful face, and do any mourning they must feel in private.
Posted by miriam at 9:59 PM
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Be afraid, be very afraid.
[T]his is how it happens: you start on a sit-up-and-beg bicycle and you are happy to wear clips around the cuffs of your trousers and an old anorak to keep out the rain. But pretty soon you see the need for a bright green jacket with reflective patches and a helmet - something you would have rather died than wear five years ago.
And then your bicycle is stolen. By now you don't know what you would do without one, so you march into the nearest bicycle shop and are happy to be talked into an upgrade. £500? But think of all the money you'll save, you tell yourself.
Once you have a new bike then you don't want to be faffing about with bicycle clips, do you? You want a pair of dedicated cycling trousers and special shoes and then some strange glasses that you know make you look like a giant insect but you don't care because they are for cycling.
After that it is a pair of fingerless gloves, cleats on the bottom of your shoes and Lycra padded shorts. And once you have all this - and you've spent all that money on a second new bike - it seems silly to use it just for commuting. What about a longer ride? A longer ride leads to even longer rides and even more expensive clothing and pretty soon... you are petitioning your friends and family to sponsor you to cycle to Dover and then on to Le Touquet in France, for reasons that you cannot quite put your finger on.
Well, that is my story. My name is Toby and I am a cyclist. And to those thousands of you who are taking it up, let me warn you what will happen next. I want you to think of the extremes that lie ahead, like the one I have just been through.
I'm sure it was those lycra biking shorts that did John Kerry in.
Posted by miriam at 10:21 PM
Monday, June 05, 2006
Which state has the most dumb drivers?
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The tiny state of Rhode Island still ranks rock bottom in terms of driving knowledge, according to a national test conducted by GMAC Insurance.
Oh, yeah, this doesn't explain Ted.
Posted by miriam at 10:09 PM
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Terry Teachout's essay in the April 2005 Commentary magazine (which unfortunately is no longer online) [is] entitled "Singing the Classical-Music Blues," an article-length review of Joseph Horowitz's book Classical Music in America: A History of Its Rise and Fall....but Teachout quotes Horowitz's view that classical music in America failed because Americans, unlike Europeans, "worshipped musical masterpieces and deified their exponents" and because American musical culture was "less about music composed by Americans than about American concerts of music composed by Europeans" -- that is, it was "culture of performance." Because it was a culture of performance, by the time we began to produce our own distinctive classical music, the culture was already locked up. Orchestras were playing the same European masterpieces. It was hard to persuade them to feature American music.
I suspect this is at most a half-answer. You'd have to include some other important factors: twentieth-century composers who so completely intellectualized their music that audiences rebelled; the dominance of popular culture; the general trend in art away from a belief in greatness; the financial strains of supporting musical institutions....
Allan Kozinn argues in this past Sunday's New York Times that, contrary to conventional wisdom and the opinions of some serious people -- and me, classical music is not dying. The article is called "Check the Numbers: Rumors of Classical Music's Demise Are Dead Wrong."
It's not dead. But the best composers of classical music are dead. I used to attend lots of concerts, living in New Jersey, in close proximity to New York. We heard the best musicians in the world. But every once in a while, these same musicians would perform work by modern composers. I can only guess that they went to Juilliard with these composers, or had borrowed money from them. There was absolutely no esthetic reason for these compositions to be given air time. Nine out of ten--no make that 99 out of 100--were earscreechingly awful. If the program notes revealed that these works were to be performed after the intermission, most of the audience had departed before the concert resumed.
Seriously, I suppose these musicians are trying conscientiously to introduce modern works to a wider audience in the hope that we will learn to appreciate them. But I don't attend concerts to be administered acoustic cod-liver-oil. It may be good for me but I don't want it.
We once attended a concert supposedly dedicated to the works of Henry Purcell. We braved a blizzard to attend, only to find out that the concert contained a spoonful of Purcell and a large dose of Wuorinen. Wuorinen himself presided, and a drier, more didactic and more pompous bore I have never seen. As went the man, so went the work.
At the interval, there was a mass exodus. Those in wheelchairs were running over their more ambulant fellows in an effort to get to the front door first.
Since then, I have never knowingly attended a concert featuring the works of living composers. It works for me.
Posted by miriam at 6:11 PM
Intellectual isolation is a widespread Arab phenomenon, not just an Iraqi one. Some of the statistics are startling. According to the United Nations' 2003 "Arab Human Development Report," five times more books are translated annually into Greek, a language spoken by just 11 million people, than into Arabic. "No more than 10,000 books were translated into Arabic over the entire past millennium," says the U.N., "equivalent to the number translated into Spanish each year."
A really good post. Read the whole thing.
Thanks to the heretical librarian.
Posted by miriam at 10:51 AM
Saturday, June 03, 2006
I'm having great fun scanning my old pictures. I had lots of pictures, from dances, etc, but can't find most of them. I had a nasty habit with these pictures. If I got fed up with the guy, I would cut his head out of the picture. I would put the severed head in a junk drawer and keep the picture. Apparently I wasn't mad at this guy, whose name I believe was Wayne. I think.
Old boyfriends are hell. I went to a wedding once, and ran into someone I had briefly dated. He was wearing a hearing aid! Of course, he was much older than me.
When I said hello to him, he didn't recognize me. He asked me if he had had an affair with me! I told him that he would damn well remember me if he had had an affair with me.
Posted by miriam at 5:19 PM
She doesn't mince words.
If you want to understand the nature of the enemy we face, visualize a tapestry of snakes. They slither and they hiss, and they would eat each other alive, but they will unite in a hideous mass to achieve their common goal of imposing Islam on the world. This is the ugly face of the enemy we are fighting. We are fighting a powerful ideology that is capable of altering basic human instincts. An ideology that can turn a mother into a launching pad of death. A perfect example is a recently elected Hamas official in the Palestinian Territories who raves in heavenly joy about sending her three sons to death and offering the ones wh o are still alive for the cause.
Even the Nazis did not turn their own children into human bombs, and then rejoice at their deaths as well the deaths of their victims.
Read the whole thing, and wake up. Ataturk was onto something.
Posted by miriam at 12:29 PM
Friday, June 02, 2006
A pretty lame list, if you ask me.
I can't believe no-one nominated Morte d'Urban, by J F Powers. Probably because no-one has read it. They are busy reading drivel like Fahrenheit 451.
From the Amazon review:
A comic masterpiece by a criminally neglected writer, J.F. Powers's Morte D'Urban has had a checkered commercial history from the very start. The original publisher failed to reprint the novel after it won the 1963 National Book Award, and although it's had various paperback reincarnations since then, these too have tended to disappear from the shelves. Perhaps any novel about Catholic priests in the Protestant Midwest would be in for some tough sledding. Still, it's hard to think of a funnier piece of writing, or one more accurately attuned to the deadpan rhythms of American speech. Doubters need only consult Father Urban's sermons, which mix pure banality and theological hairsplitting in such exact proportions as to suggest Babbitt in a clerical collar. Yet Powers also manages a kind of last-minute legerdemain, transforming his satiric romp into a deadly serious, and deeply moving, exploration of faith.
Posted by miriam at 2:35 PM
Thursday, June 01, 2006
An old but still valid post from last year:
WWho says you have to wear pajamas to blog? I assure you they are not compulsory. You can wear a tuxedo if you wish--or do as I am doing now, wear no clothes, as I wait for the fake tanning lotion to tan me.
Well, now the high in Philadelphia for the day is predicted at 93 degrees, and I've just taken a shower--so--can we plan naked (or nekkid) blogging week again?
A lot of work went into this last year, but the success of the event made it worthwhile. Matt, it's up to you!!!
Posted by miriam at 3:10 PM
Impoverished librarian want to move up in the world:
I kind of need to create something which will jettison me to riches and fame because I'm just going to put it out there - being poor and unknown has lost its shine. At first it was fun, oh yes indeed, there were good times had by all. Digging in the couch for change, wanting to eat ramen noodles because they're cheap but yet not being able to because ramen is FILLED WITH THE DEMON GLUTEN...in other words, fun. And then one day, not so much. The fun died as I watched Paris Herpesilton move her mountains of money around with bulldozers operated by lemurs in Louis Vuitton hats and Prada booties, money she's earned solely for having a hook nose and fake hair. I'm over it.
On my journey to riches by means of various ingenious inventions, I've run into a few roadblocks, chief among them I'm very lazy and unfortunately untalented with woods and metals. But necessity and spite should be able to overcome these roadblocks, eh?
Does anyone just want to go ahead and give me some money?
It's better than giving it to moveon.com.
Posted by miriam at 2:35 PM
Mr Charm has a gloomy world view. Not only is the proverbial glass half empty--it's probably two thirds empty, if the truth were known. And the half that is left is rapidly evaporating. The glass will soon be empty, and probably has a crack in it. And soon civilization as we know it will come to a halt.
I used to attribute his attitude to his obsession with history. He even has a PhD in history, which would give anyone a morbid cast of mind. But, thinking things over, I attribute it to his grandmother, who lived with his family when he was a boy.
Anyone who doesn't think depression is a communicable disease did not know Grandma. At the age of 50, she decided she was too old to go to the movies, and it went downhill from there. Her hobby was sitting all alone in her room, thinking about the days that were dead and gone.
A conversation with Grandma:
Me: Hi, grandma, how are you? I brought you some magazines to read.
Grandma: I can't read magazines anymore, my eyes are too bad. But thanks.
Me: Well, how have you been?
G: I'm an old woman, how should I be? I wish I were in the graveyard with M.
Me: Oh, the baby is crying. I'd better see what she wants. (Rapid exit)
Posted by miriam at 10:18 AM
The dentist's office called me and said he (the dentist) wanted to talk to me. Dire news! What could a dentist have to say that would need a special appointment just to talk? I felt like a young Bertie Wooster being called into the headmaster's office for six of the best.
Some background: I used to faithfully get my teeth cleaned every 3 months in Dr M's office (hi Lori!) for 25 years. Dr M purchased a nice van with a television set in the back for his son courtesy of our family.
By the time I retired, Dr M had done something or other to all or most of my teeth and many of my gums. Every tooth bore the mark of Dr M. So I canceled my dental insurance. What else could happen?
Ha! My last visit to Dr M, he started looking gravely in my mouth and muttering ominously. Then he called in a colleague and they both Viewed with Concern. Ominous predictions were hurled about. Bone Loss was mentioned. Plus I needed about 11 root canals.
I left New Jersey and Dr M precipitously. Then I cravenly avoided any dentist until a toothache led me to Dr L, the chape who called me in for a talk.
I have a friend who leaves the room when I mention dentists or even toothbrushes, so I will spare you the details. The good news: I get to keep my gums.
Posted by miriam at 10:04 AM