Amazing, as I have never read the New Testament. But there are so many literary references to the Bible, they get into your consciousness automatically.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Amazing, as I have never read the New Testament. But there are so many literary references to the Bible, they get into your consciousness automatically.
Silly Americans, making such a big fuss...
The LA times puts it all into perspective:
Even if one counts our dead in Iraq and Afghanistan as casualties of the war against terrorism, which brings us to about 6,500, we should remember that roughly the same number of Americans die every two months in automobile accidents.
By this standard, the assassination of John F Kennedy wasn't that bad, was it? After all, only one person died. Even if you count Lee Harvey Oswald, the total is only two. More people than that get killed every day jaywalking. In fact, more women are beaten to death during the Superbowl every year. So what is the fuss about?
Let me take a deep breath and explain it, if I can. In the first place, if the terrorists' plans had worked out, 50,000 people could potentially have been killed at the World Trade Center. The White House, or the Capital, might have been destroyed as well. So the terrorists did their best. But I digress.
The number of people killed in automobile accidents has nothing whatever to do with the World Trade Center bombing, any more than the number of turkeys eaten on Thanksgiving does. They are two separate issues. If this knucklehead doesn't get it that an attack on one of our principal cities--a center of our civilization--is a blow to our hearts, he is a moral clod.
The number of days we have spent in the Iraq War has nothing to do with the number of days World War II lasted either. Wars last until somebody wins. You fight until you win. Or lose. Or give up and throw in the towel. But that's a story for another day.
Why attack the World Trade Center, instead of Hackensack, New Jersey? Because symbols matter. The terrorists know this. New York City matters as a symbol. So does the Statue of Liberty. The Pentagon. The White House. The Washington Monument. All these are powerful symbols.
So is the President. Killing the President doesn't have anything to do with the number of people who are killed in knife fights on Saturday night in Topeka, Kansas. The president is head of state--he is a symbol of our peoplehood, our citizenship, our existence as a nation. His death matters more than yours or mine would. I'm sorry, but that's the truth of it. The death of a columnist--like you--or a librarian--like me--would undoubtedly upset our friends and relations, but is not an earth-shaking event. Our passing will not be recorded in history books. John F Kennedy's death will.
Posted by miriam at 10:26 AM
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
I've been tagged by gazizza.
Okay, here goes:
I really am a duffer at blogging. For instance, I don't know how to do a trackback. (Blushes.) I've read the instructions over and over, but I can't seem to master it.
Ice cream is my favorite food. Give me a spoon and a gallon of the good stuff, and come back a couple of hours later. It will be gone.
I was born in Columbus, Ohio.
I like big cities: New York, Chicago, Paris, London. Not necessarily Columbus, Ohio, though.
I love old movies. They don't even have to be very good.
Posted by miriam at 10:01 AM
Not for lack of something, anything, to say. I can usually think of some lame idea or half-baked theory to put out there.
It's just the idea that if I post aforesaid lame idea, etc., someone is likely to read it. And find it stupid, sophomoric, mean-spirited, or just generally dopy.
And what if I post something I think is brilliant and people think it is stupid, sophomoric, mean-spirited--you get the idea.
And what if no-one ever comments about anything?
So please comment. Since many of you are really busy and don't have time to think of some incisive comment that really sheds light on the matter at hand, here are some suggested comments to get you started:
ROTFL; Good post. I agree. Great blog. Thanks for sharing that. What a brilliant idea!
I'm sure my readers can take it from there. And if you can't think of something nice to say, don't say anything.
Posted by miriam at 9:43 AM
Monday, January 29, 2007
I really hate it when a relationship that seemed to have so much going for it ends, don't you? Where did we go wrong? I'm real sorry to lose you as a friend, but since you don't respond to my voice mails or e-mails, I suspect our relationship is over.
The first rift in the lute occurred when you started sending two of everything we ordered in December, one item from yourselves and another from one of your "associates." Thus we got two scanners and two CD changers in short order. The ones that came from the real deal Amazon were possible, if difficult, to return, but the ones from your associates were not! At least to the two college graduates who live in this house.
One of the scanners (the one I liked least) could not be returned, so I kept it, even though I don't like it. To make matters worse, you took two payments for one scanner and one for the other from my husband's bank account via his debit card. Now we ordered one, received two, and were billed for three. Unfortunately, we don't want any of them.
The CD changer? We got two (of course), neither one of which was usable with my husband's other equipment. So we sent back one (which I will refer to as the Amazon model) and then got permission--we thought, to return the other (associate model). We duly schlepped them to the UPS office and left them there. Imagine our surprise when we came home one day and found one of these #$^^*!!! CD changers left on our doorstep by the UPS guy. Apparently the method which we used to send it back was not pleasing to your associate. Nobody told us that the associates could set their own standards for returning items. Silly us, we thought you guys would stand back of your products.
I really enjoyed our relationship. I loved to order stuff over the computer, wearing my pajamas, or worse. I liked ordering books, other gismos, and especially toys, which allowed me to skip a trip to the accursed ToysRUs store. Fortunately, we have made an astounding discovery! Amazon.com is not the only on-line source for these items! Other companies offer merchandise online! Who'd a thunkit? Barnes & Noble springs to mind, also Abebooks.
So, although I will have many good memories and regrets for what might have been, trop est trop, as the French say, meaning enough is more than adequate.
Meanwhile, please be advised that we don't want to pay for any of these CD changers.
A fond farewell,
The family Charm
Posted by miriam at 4:04 PM
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Friday, January 26, 2007
Thursday, January 25, 2007
He is a Conservative when it counts: i.e., when he is in charge.
[I]t was astonishing how fully he followed through on his conservative principles once elected, no matter how much he upset elite opinion, no matter how often radical advocates took to the streets in protest, no matter how many veiled (and not so veiled) threats that incendiary figures like Al Sharpton made against him, and no matter how often the New York Times fulminated against his policies. In particular, offended by the notion that people should be treated differently and demand privileges based on the color of their skin, Giuliani was fearless in confronting racial extortionists like Sharpton. Early in his tenure, he startled the city when he refused to meet with Sharpton and other black activists after a confrontation between police and black Muslims at a Harlem mosque.
He respects the rule of law:
For Giuliani, the revival of New York started with securing public safety, because all other agendas were useless if citizens didn’t feel protected. “The most fundamental of civil rights is the guarantee that government can give you a reasonable degree of safety,” Giuliani said. He aimed to do so by reinstituting respect for the law. As a federal prosecutor in New York in the 1980s, he had vigorously hunted low-level drug dealers—whom other law enforcement agencies ignored—because he thought that the brazen selling of drugs on street corners cultivated disrespect for the law and encouraged criminality. “You have to . . . dispel cynicism about law enforcement by showing we treat everyone alike, whether you are a major criminal or a low-level drug pusher,” Giuliani explained.
He speaks straightforwardly:
“Seventy percent of long-term prisoners and 75 percent of adolescents charged with murder grew up without fathers,” Giuliani told the city. He insisted that the city and the nation had to reestablish the “responsibility that accompanies bringing a child into the world,” and to that end he required deadbeat fathers either to find a private-sector job or to work in the city’s workfare program as a way of contributing to their child’s upbringing. But he added that changing society’s attitude toward marriage was more important than anything government could do: “[I]f you wanted a social program that would really save these kids, . . . I guess the social program would be called fatherhood.”
He understands the GWOT, which he saw up close and personal:
Like great wartime leaders, Giuliani displayed unflinching courage on 9/11. A minute after the first plane struck, he rushed downtown, arriving at the World Trade Center just after the second plane hit the South Tower, when it became obvious to everyone that New York was under attack. Fearing that more strikes were on the way—and without access to City Hall, the police department, or the city’s command center because of damage from the attacks—Giuliani hurried to reestablish city government, narrowly escaping death himself as the towers came down next to a temporary command post he had set up in lower Manhattan. “There is no playbook for a mayor on how to organize city government when you are standing on a street covered by dust from the city’s worst calamity,” one of his deputy mayors, Anthony Coles, later observed.
I don't care about his private life, or his opinions on abortion or guns. I want someone at the helm who understands what danger our nation is in and is determined to do something about it.
Posted by miriam at 12:33 PM
So, women of America, knock it off.
All right, ladies, the gig is up. It's time for all of us to get married, including you.
I refer to the recent New York Times report on women living without husbands. After sorting through US census data, the Times determined that for the first time in American history the majority of women — 51 percent — are living without a husband.
The story tore through the media like a lightning bolt. A slew of "I am woman, hear me roar" stories hit the airwaves. The storyline was clear: women are finally free and independent now, and the last thing they need is some sloppy spouse who leaves his socks lying all over the house.
Well, nuts to that. Look, ladies, deciding not to marry for your own well-being is one thing, but it is us you're not marrying in the process. Your decision is killing us single men — literally.
Single men partake in more risky behavior than married men. We eat badly, smoke more, and avoid doctors' offices. We die younger. We're far more likely to wake up in a pile of crumpled newspapers still clutching the tequila bottle we began sipping from two days before.
Straighten up, girls.
Many thanks to gazizza, a Delaware blogger. BTW, what's a gazizza? Is this something everyone in Delaware knows about but people formerly from New Jersey can only scratch their heads and wonder if there's something in the water or if we're just not in the loop?
Posted by miriam at 11:36 AM
We met them when our oldest was an infant. In fact, we all belonged to the same baby-sitting cooperative. Ed and Sue Granola (not their real name) were anti-war activists before there was an anti-war movement, namely during World War II. Ed was a conscientious objector during this war and was sent to work on a farm harvesting something or other.
They were the first, but not the last, people I ever met who ate granola, yogurt, and whole wheat bread.
There were four little granolas. You know how all enlightened parents say they don't care what their children do, whether they go to college or whatever, as long as they are happy? Most of us are lying: I believe sincerely that the road from the cradle to the grave leads straight through a 4-year baccalaureate program. The Granolas really did not care what their children chose to do: take ten years to finish college, join a commune or a far-left political movement, ride around New York City on a bicycle without a helmet.
The Granolas quietly backed all sorts of leftish movements. They boycotted Nestle because the company sold infant formula in Africa. Right after 9/11 we visited them and they had a "Not in Our Name" poster on their door.
As you might guess, politically we have nothing in common; nevertheless they are good friends. We have gone on vacation together when our children were small, and we made their house our headquarters whenever we visited New York. They had a large brownstone and always had people staying there: once on Thanksgiving there was a Buddhist monk in saffron robes and an exchange student from Ukraine at dinner.
They were not knuckleheads like most lefties: they were bright, read widely, and generally kept their opinions to themselves. Not that they were ashamed of them; there were other, more interesting things to talk about. They were fun to be with, relaxed, enjoyed most things, and were always reading interesting books and going to exotic places. The last time I saw them, Sue was busy with her garden and Ed was reading all the works of Balzac. We keep in touch, but don't see each other as frequently as we used to.
The only reason I write about them here is because friendships like ours across political lines are rare and becoming rarer, and civility is rarer still. My familly, for instance--lefties, the whole lot of them and totally intolerant of others' views. With these relatives I avoid politics entirely for fear of a knockdown dragout fight which would destroy family relationships.
There are other things in the world besides politics. Like shoes.
Posted by miriam at 10:47 AM
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
I'm referring to the reaction of Senators, some of them Republicans, to President Bush's Iraq plan. These people literally make my gorge rise. They should back the president and fervently hope that his plan succeeds. Instead, they goad him like picadors at a bullfight, incidentally giving aid and comfort to our enemies.
Their resolutions and grandstanding speeches notwithstanding, Congress cannot prevent the Commander in Chief from prosecuting the war in the way he sincerely believes is our best shot at success. What they can do is undermine his authority, dishearten service people, and allow our enemies to gloat. A pox on all of them.*
What is especially galling is the behavior of our legislators before and after the SOTU address--jockeying for places near him, shaking is hand and smiling like the hypocrites they are.
These are folks who only know two ways to behave: sucking up and kicking in the balls. But it unusual for even them to perform both these activities within a 24-hour cycle.
*Special mention to Chuck Hagel, ass**** extraordinary.
Posted by miriam at 5:52 PM
As it turns out, there was nothing wrong with me.
Monday night, I started getting chest pains--dull but persistent. As a veteran of two angioplasties, I thought I'd better be super careful and call 911. I knew I would feel like a perfect jackass if nothing turned out to be wrong, but what kind of a jackass would I feel like if I was wrong and woke up dead this morning?
After an overnight stay in a freezing cold room off the emergency ward, with the lights blazing and a blanket made of paper, I was pronounced fit and came home. I do feel stupid, yes, but overwhelmingly grateful to be home, where I have blankets to keep me warm and access to the 101 beauty products--night cream, moisturizer, conditioner, detangling spray, etc, etc, etc--which I find necessary to use before leaving the house.
I was none the worse for wear, but Mr Charm did not sleep a wink for worrying. He worries easily. I remember when my youngest daughter was in college she would call and pour her woes out on him. This undoubtedly made her feel better, but he would hang up with the weight of the world on his shoulders. She went her way rejoicing, and his whole day was ruined.
Posted by miriam at 11:29 AM
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
I can't understand people who sneer at the sour grapes philosophy. I have found it quite useful in coping with everyday life.
Once I was interviewed for a job which I was seriously interested in. I could just see myself seated behind the desk in the attractive corner office, ordering everyone around, sending memos, holding staff meetings. Drinking coffee from Starbucks. Putting my feet on the desk. The job seemed cut out for me.
Alas, it was not to be. A friend of mine who was in the know told me that the board in question wanted to hire a man, and they did. I met him, a very nice man named Steve, worked on committees with him, and got to know him and like him. In the course of whatever project we were working on, I called him. Steve informed me that the Board was the Board from hell. He, and his predecessor, and her predecessor, all went to the mayor and asked that the Board president not be re-appointed. The mayor re-appointed her, and Steve quit his job and went into another line of work. He wanted nothing to do with libraries after working at that one.
I thanked my lucky stars that I had not gotten that job, sat behind that desk, looked out the window in that corner office, etc. I liked being a library director and did not want to forge a career in shoe sales at that time of my life.
Ever since this event, I had a whole new attitude. I decided that anyone who didn't want to hire me was pond scum. Any restaurant where I couldn't reserve a table must have lousy food. Any movie I missed was probably rotten. Anyone who dropped my friendship was a shmuck. And so on.
It has made me quite content with my life in this best of all possible worlds.
Posted by miriam at 4:41 PM
Your favorite journalists at work:
The media's job is to raise important questions about the candidates not provide simplistic answers. The American people can provide the simplistic answers on their own. So far the media has raised a lot of important questions about Barack Obama. Who is Barack Obama? Why is his middle name Hussein? Is he secretly a Muslim? Does he smoke? Does he work out? What is he wearing? If he were a tree, what kind of a tree would he be?
No one knows very much about Barack Obama. He has written only two books, which no one has ever read, and given very few interviews. 
The fact that we know so little about Obama is very suspicious.
Debbie Schlussel, who fights Muslims with the same passion she brings to her battles against unauthorized use of the airbrushed photo she uses on her website, has publicly accused Barack Obama of has publicly accused Barack Obama of being a Muslim Manchurian Candidate. ...Although some of Schlussel's critics say that she is not the expert on Islam she claims to be and may, in fact, be mentally unstable, at least when she is not taking her medication, a chain email circulating around the Internet confirms her conclusions. ... Although Obama denies that he once admitted that he was Muslim or that he is one today, most people are more likely to trust an email than a Presidential candidate.
The mainstream media, which increasingly is taking cues from bloggers and chain emails, has begun to jump on the story of Obama's secret Muslim identity. Insight Magazine, which is owned by Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, a religion that is not trying to take over the United States, as far as we know, has raised more suspicions that Obama is secretly a Muslim and attended a madrassa when he was young. It has also accused Hillary Clinton's campaign of trying to plant those rumors by quoting unnamed campaign "sources," which as any journalist knows are the most reliable sources of all. With this story Insight cleverly made two candidates look bad, Obama and Clinton, without having to actually prove anything.
Unfortunately, many members of the mainstream media are still operating under the old rules of journalism, which requires two unnamed sources with axes to grind before a story can be printed. So they have had to rely on insinuating that Obama is not one of us by bending facts that are known. Many have pointed out that Obama's middle name is Hussein, which just begs the question, What kind of a person would let his parents name him Hussein? Most of our early Presidents didn't even have middle names. It has only been in the last century that most of our Presidents had middle names, but most of these were good American-sounding middle names like Gamaliel, Delano, Fitzgerald, Baines and Milhous. Two of our Presidents just had the middle initial S, which didn't stand for anything controversial at all.
CNN's Jeff Greenfield expanded on suspicions about Obama by pointing out that he often wears a jacket without a tie, which is the same uniform Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wears. Greenfield then claimed it was a "joke," which makes sense because Greenfield was an alumnus of Harvard Lampoon during the time when it stopped being funny. By making his "joke" about Obama, Greenfield was able to get out the information about Obama's possibly being traitor without having to say it. CNN was following a similar strategy when it "accidentally" mixed up Obama's name with Osama Bin Laden's.
Of course, CNN is not the only mainstream media outfit trying to spread important innuendo about Obama. Fox News, which quickly picked up the Insight story and ran with it, recently asked, "Would you vote for a smoker as President?" It turns out that Obama is also secretly a cigarette smoker though he has never been photographed publicly with a cigarette just as Franklin Roosevelt was never photographed in his wheelchair. Both liberals and conservatives agree that smoking is un-American, which is why we are trying to drive smokers out of their offices and homes. It is no coincidence that countries with the highest number of smokers just happen to be countries that are our enemies.
In the coming months I am sure there will be many other important questions raised about Obama. Do we really want a President who has lived in another country, or even traveled to one, especially a Muslim country? Is Obama too pretty to be President? Does being black make Obama too angry to be President? What negative information is there about his wife? What kind of underwear does he wear? If the hard-hitting reporting we have already had on Barack Obama is any indication, the 2008 Presidential election is shaping up to be the most substantive and rigorous examination of candidates yet.
Posted by miriam at 10:36 AM
Monday, January 22, 2007
Sunday, January 21, 2007
from an acute observer.
Women of action can run, do karate, kickbox, climb ladders and perform highly acrobatic movements while wearing six inch heals and either a miniskirt or a tight leather cat suit.
If you´re getting kicked into the face, there´s no real problem with that. Regardless how hard you´ve been kicked, you will stay unconcious for the maximum of five minutes. Then, after saying "Ouch!", you´ll be able to get on your feet again and rescue the world. You don´t have broken cheek bones or jaw fractures, of course. And there´s not even the slightest hematoma to be seen.
Every city - despite of its size - has at least one old lady who drives herbelongings in some old baby buggy or shopping cart around. If the lady is a guy he always uses a shopping cart and never a baby buggy.
German soldiers/terrorists seem to be able to pronounce only two phrases correctly: "Jawohl!" und "Herr General!". For all the other words they mostly use some kind of guttural Orc language. This assumes that they all have short names like Karl or Franz. Names with more than one syllable don´t occur because they wouldn´t be able to pronounce them, anyway... The more consonants a German surname has, the more evil the character is. If he also has some kind of aristocratic prefix he´s the incarnate evil. So, "von Strattmann" is likely more evil than "Strattmann".
Posted by miriam at 11:53 PM
This must hurt a lot.
Herbert A. Millington
Chair - Search Committee
412A Clarkson Hall, Whitson University
College Hill, MA 34109
Dear Professor Millington,
Thank you for your letter of March 16. After careful consideration, I
regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me
an assistant professor position in your department.
This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually
large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field
of candidates, it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.
Despite Whitson's outstanding qualifications and previous experience in
rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet my needs at
this time. Therefore, I will assume the position of assistant professor
in your department this August. I look forward to seeing you then.
Best of luck in rejecting future applicants.
Chris L. Jensen
Posted by miriam at 11:41 PM
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Short answer: Yes.
The weather used to be the concern primarily of farmers and ranchers. It determines how well or not crops would grow and herds will thrive. As America became more urbanized, the rest of the population wanted to know whether to bring an umbrella or what to wear. Now it is a source of daily anxiety over the fate of the Earth.
To make matters worse, people are being told and actually believing that what they do or not can affect the weather in ways to keep the seas and temperatures from rising. It is no longer the domain of the sun, the oceans, volcanoes and clouds. These puny things are nothing compared to what kind of car you drive or what you use to heat your home.
That is a definition of insanity. It is so far removed from reality that Hollywood has to conjure up films showing New York under miles of snow or so-called documentaries demanding that industry must come to a stop in order to save the Earth.
I suggest we need to save the Earth from the legions of fear mongers who are seeking to control our lives for the crime of having abundant food, longer life spans, technological and scientific advances, or that permits you to get on a jet and be anywhere in the world within hours. We take for granted that trucks, the heart’s blood of an economy, will deliver anything you purchase on Monday by the following Wednesday. Try to imagine our nation without cars?
Let me provide an example of how far we have come since I was a child nearly seventy years ago. We had an icebox, not a refrigerator. A man would come and provide a big block of ice to keep food cool for a day or so. Air conditioning meant opening the window and turning on a fan. Washing clothes involved using a washboard and then hanging them out to dry in the sun. There was no television, no computers, no iPods, and no cell phones. Milk was delivered by a horse-drawn wagon during World War II because gas was scarce. Polio crippled thousands of people, including then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Do you really want to return to those “good old days”? In essence, that is exactly what the Global Warming Gestapo wants to inflict on every American these days.
Posted by miriam at 5:54 PM
kill a cow.
Boris Johnson tries to atone for taking a family vacation:
Stop, stop. I can feel the guilt building up already. I can feel the self-loathing welling in my skull, the horror at my appallingly affluent consumerist lifestyle.
I must atone! I must make a sacrifice! I must offset my emissions and appease the great irascible Sun-god as he prepares to griddle us all. I had heard somewhere that you could be "carbon-neutral" by planting trees before you fly. That's right. Shove in a few poplars, I was told, and bingo, you can feel all good about your skiing holiday or your winter break in Tunisia.
So I dialled up the eco-websites and — what's this? It turns out they have got it all wrong! ...
It now appears the scientists think the trees just make things worse. Far from soaking up your share of CO2, most trees in non-tropical areas are thought to trap heat and thereby increase global warming.
Aaaargh! Bad trees! Killer trees! But what can I do to exculpate my sin? Here I am, a caring, modern, green politician, proposing some time before the end of this year to take about six people in a plane for no better purpose than simple recreation....
So I have done my homework, and I have come up with a far more effective solution. As ever, I have consulted the ancient texts, and have been reminded that the Greeks and Romans were also convinced of the importance of making a sacrifice before any tricky voyage. You will recall that the Greek task force for Troy actually killed Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon, in the hope of guaranteeing good sailing weather — with bad consequences for Agamemnon's conjugal relations.
Now we are only taking a family holiday, and I don't think Zeus or Jupiter would desire anything so extreme. A single cow would be about right. If I were an ancient Roman setting out on a family holiday, I would get some old milker and do her up as if for a party. She'd have her hair washed and combed and cut, and there would be ribbons and purple woollen fillets about her horns.
Then my chums and I would decently cover our heads and we'd drone loads of stuff in Latin and chuck some sacred meal about the place; and then one of us would hold a handful of food under the poor old girl's nose, and as she bent her head to snuffle it up we would take this — praise be! — as a sign that she had assented to her death, and at that auspicious moment she would be whopped hard on the side of the head and her throat would be cut; and then Jupiter would nod, and Olympus would tremble, and the whole family would be able to go off on holidays with a clear conscience.
Posted by miriam at 5:23 PM
When Jon Corzine first ran for the Senate, one of my friends voted for him on the grounds that he was too rich to be dishonest. In New Jersey, that decision makes sense. Pick the richer guy.
But you can only do that the first time. After one election cycle, they are all rich. An example: the former Mayor of Albany, New York, Erastus Corning, who set a world record for holding on to his job. Starting out penniless, he became a millionaire in short order. This must have happened through shrewd investment of his $9,000 annual salary. Can you think of another reason? The man should have been an investment counselor, offering his talents to a wider audience.
Now there's Harry Reid, who managed to make a tidy sum by selling a property that wasn't even his. Wow! What a guy! His talents are wasted in the Senate. He's also known as a caring family man, practically all of whose relatives are on the public payroll somewhere or have lucrative lobbying careers.
John Murtha, despite his geographically challenged brain--he thinks it's a short stroll from Okinawa to Iraq-- has pocketed a lot of money over the years. That's pretty good for a man who couldn't get a job in the mailroom of a medium-sized company on the basis of his brains.
Another Congressman, this chap Hollohan, is a brilliant investor, who managed to turn a lump of coal into a nice piece of change through his brilliant investment strategy.
It's not only Democrats, however. I think the Republicans may be too dumb to get away with much chicanery, which is saying a lot about their brains or lack thereof. Many Republican legislators have recently taken up residence in local jails upon advice of a jury of their peers. Ney comes to mind. Perhaps member of the Grand Old Party should be more honest. Or more circumspect.
And strolling down Memory Lane, back in the 20th century, Spiro Agnew took a bribe while a sitting Vice President. (Nelson Rockefeller, another Vice President, never took a dime. See what I mean about the advantage of being rich to begin with?)
Posted by miriam at 9:28 AM
Friday, January 19, 2007
I've been trying to log on the Silent Running so as to join their website. But WordPress has rejected me. To wit:
188.8.131.52 does not like recipient.
Remote host said: 550-"The recipient cannot be verified. Please check all recipients of this
550 message to verify they are valid."
Giving up on 184.108.40.206.
Rejected by a website! What humiliation! I haven't felt this bad since Publisher's Clearing House failed to award me a million dollars. Maybe they found out I was mean-spirited.
Posted by miriam at 5:52 PM
The Dutch try kindness and understanding:
Following the 2004 assassination of Theo van Gogh by a young Moroccan immigrant the Dutch minister of Integration, Rita Verdonk, installed four so-called “intervention teams for interethnic tensions.” The teams are made up of social workers whose task it is to advise local authorities on ways to deal with groups of unassimilated and criminal youths. 
Dick Corporaal, the coordinating president of the intervention teams, told Dutch national radio on Wednesday that “multicultural tensions between youths threaten to lead to an uncontrollable situation.” ...He advised the government to devote more funds to youth work and to increase the number of intervention teams. He also accused the local authorities of treating all troublesome youths similarly, while according to him different approaches are needed when confronting the various groups
The intervention teams recommend an expansion of the social worker approach to defuse the situation. ...Last year the police of The Hague sent officers on a “cultural training” trip to Morocco because, as Gerard Bouman, the The Hague police chief (who has meanwhile been promoted to head of the Dutch state security services), said, “Criminal Moroccan youths […] do not behave like indigenous Dutch. They rave about Moroccan culture. Hence, we have to know the latter, too.” In Morocco, the Dutch police officers discovered that their Moroccan colleagues were astonished to hear that the Dutch have problems with criminal Moroccan youths. In Morocco officers are known to beat the hell out of criminals.
Corporaal’s recommendations, however, do not seem to go down well with many ordinary native Dutch. A poll conducted by Elsevier, the largest Dutch weekly, indicates that 80% of its readers prefer a “harsh treatment” of troublemaking youths rather than “sending in more multicultural intervention teams.”
Maybe we can learn something from the Moroccans after all.
For the link, many thanks to hillbilly white trash.
Posted by miriam at 1:55 PM
Thursday, January 18, 2007
We've been over this territory a few times before. Yes, there are close to 40 million people without health insurance in America. While some of them have been denied health insurance because of preexisting conditions and genuinely need help, most of them are uninsured by choice. These are mostly younger people who fall in an income range between the truly poor and the middle class. They earn enough money that they don't qualify for Medicaid, but feel that the cost of health insurance is higher than they're willing to pay. The vast majority of this group are relatively young, working, but on a tight budget, so they choose not to get health insurance, even if they could afford it.
Perhaps the cure is worse than the disease?
Right now the Democrats are putting together their plans for solving the health insurance 'crisis'. Chances are it will be similar to HR 676 brought up for consideration last session by John Conyers who has become one of the most powerful figures in Congress now that the Democrats have taken control. This bill would take the current medicaid system which was designed to provide basic healthcare to the poor and extend it as a national healthcare system for the entire population. 
So we end up with health insurance for everyone, except that now millions more are unemployed, the economy is in a tailspin and the average citizen has seen a tax increase of several thousand dollars a year -- more of an increase in taxes than he would have paid for decent private insurance under the current system.
Posted by miriam at 1:06 PM
According to Rachel,
The average American woman owns 30 pairs of shoes; the average man: 15. I'm pretty sure I own more than 30; certainly more if slippers are entered into the equation as I believe I own four pairs of slippers alone. And that's just off the top of my head.
Only 30 pairs? How can they bear this dreary existence?
I'm not going to count my shoes, but I'm certain I have more than 30. Let's see: the spare room closet is overrun with shoes; my study contains at least 20 pairs, and there are some Summer shoes in the basement.
I'm aware that this is excessive. I am always giving shoes to the Goodwill, or there would be many more pairs stashed around the house. My problem is not discarding, it is acquiring. I cannot pass a shoe display without trying on several pairs and finding one that I cannot live without.
I am searching for the Platonic ideal shoe--one that is beautiful, sexy, comfortable, and goes with everything. So far, the ideal seems to elude me.
Shoes always seem to fit beautifully in the store, only to rub, pinch and squeeze my feet when I actually wear them. Some prove unwearable at once: they are too big, too small, or feel weird, like I am going to pitch forward on my face when I put them on. Others feel okay for a while, causing agony only after actually trying to walk somewhere in them.
I forgot to mention that my feet change shape from day to day; at times they are bigger, or smaller, or wider, or shorter. Also, when you get older, the pads of fat on the bottom of your feet wear away, the only time any fat in the body goes away of its own accord, making your poor foot bones more prone to hurt when you walk on hard surfaces.
So, as a practical matter, I only have about three pairs of shoes that are comfortable, day in and day out, and I wear them all the time.
Posted by miriam at 10:05 AM
Maybe, if you do it right. This is worth remembering:
Above all, terrorism is always dependent on extensive, external financial support.
So--if we can cut off foreign funding (from Saudi Arabia,Iran and Syria, in this case), Muslim terrorist movements will be starved to death. There is more, much more, to this article, which I urge you to read in its entirety.
My thanks to Texas scribbler for leading me to this site.
Posted by miriam at 9:36 AM
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
How do you say "hypocrite" in French?
Faced with taunts Ségolène Royal, the doyenne of the French Left, suffered an embarrassing blow to her image as a presidential candidate yesterday when she was accused of tax dodging....[S]he denied being rich, instead claiming that she was just "well off".
Not only does she part-own three impressive homes with her boyfriend, François Hollande, the Socialist Party chairman, but the couple have set up a real estate company to manage the properties.
This has enabled them to reduce the amount they pay in l'impôt de solidarité sur la fortune (ISF), a notoriously high tax imposed on anyone with assets of more than £500,000.
The revelations, which originally emerged on internet sites critical of the hypocritical Left, are particularly embarrassing for Miss Royal because she recently launched a tirade against Johnny Hallyday, the rock star, for moving to Switzerland to avoid high French taxes
Posted by miriam at 10:10 PM
Today I went to a local WaWa for soup, bread and a soda. At the counter I touched the bottle of soda and noticed that it was icky. The young lady behind the counter took the bottle into the back room and washed it off and dried it before ringing it up.
Me: "Wow, that was nice of you!"
Clerk: "Anything for a WaWa customer."
Me; "You must be employee of the month."
Clerk: "I don't know about that. All of us at WaWa try to treat our customers right."
I swear that is what happened. I left the store with a new respect for the WaWa management.
Posted by miriam at 9:56 PM
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
but I think I'm gonna anyway, mean-spirited as I am:
The straw that broke board member Steve Berman's back, he said Thursday, appeared on Page 213, in a passage he quoted from memory: It was imperative, Carter wrote, that Arabs and Palestinians "make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals" of an internationally proposed peace accord "are accepted by Israel."
"What does that say to you?" asked Berman, a commercial real estate developer in Atlanta. "It says they can stop when they get their state. He's condoning terror as a means of obtaining the objective of a Palestinian state."
Berman, who emerged as the resignation campaign spokesman, answered one question before it was asked. "It's fair to say," he said in an interview, that "most" of the people he contacted about the book were Jewish, as were the signatories of the resignation letter. "But that wasn't a subject that came up in our discussion."
He and the others who signed Thursday's letter say Carter went too far. "The thing that really disenchanted all of us--it broke our hearts--was to see the president abandon his traditional position of mediator, promoter of peace and honest broker [to become] an advocate for one side of the conflict."
Rachel says it best:
I hate to break it to you, Steve, but Carter abandoned "his traditional position of mediator, promoter of peace and honest broker" a long time ago. In fact, it could be argued that he's always been an advocate for one side of the conflict. Still, better late than never.
Berman and his associates are an example of delusional lefties--many of them Jews. They were willing dupes who drank the Koolaid with relish..They lent their prestige to Carter because they refused to see him for what he is, was, and will ever be, an arrogant, sanctimonious, spiteful politician. He refused to give up power when the people threw him out of office, but has made a career out of thwarting the policies of his successors. And he is an anti-Semite to boot.
Memo to JC: You lost the election in 1980, now shut up and go back to the peanut farm.
And bad cess to you. I hope your peanut crop is infested by worms.
Posted by miriam at 1:38 PM
Thursday, January 11, 2007
According to Francis Poretto:
In the early part of the Twentieth Century, the electorate appeared to respond more readily to brainy politics -- that is, to claims of intellectual elevation -- than anything else. Look at the presidents of that time:
* Woodrow Wilson, a former college professor.
* Calvin Coolidge, a professor of law.
* Herbert Hoover, "the Great Engineer."
* Franklin D. Roosevelt and his "Brain Trust" of socialist theoreticians.
In five of the six presidential elections from 1912 through 1932, the electorate chose the man with the more credible claim to high intelligence and an advanced education. This pattern came to an end with World War II, after which the supposedly brilliant Adlai Stevenson lost twice to retired general Dwight Eisenhower. A transition from brainy politics to fearless politics had occurred;
I can remember how everyone on the left thought Eisenhower was dumb. How dumb could he have been, if he successfully ran the war in Europe? Reagan was "an amiable dunce"--I guess it was just blind good luck that caused him to triumph over Communism. And now Bush is "stupid," "delusional," etc--while at the same time being diabolically crafty and dishonest.
If Jimmy Carter was a smart president, I'll take dumb every time.
Posted by miriam at 10:13 PM
What's truly a bagel, and what isn't?
At what point does a bagel become a tasty roll? This cinnamon crunch thing on my napkin is pretty close. It doesn't have the texture or the consistancy of a bagel. You also wouldn't put plain old butter or cream cheese on it. Once you start getting into the flavored spreads, you're out of the realm of bagels as far as I'm concerned.
Weird flavors are forbidden. And that's where the cinnamon crunch thing falls. Bagels are plain or poppy or sesame or garlic or egg or salt or everything or pumpernickel. I guess whole wheat is acceptable. Some will include cinnamon raisin but not me. Once the bagel starts tatsing sweet, it's a roll. Or a muffin. Cinnamon crunch, asiago cheese, french toast and the like are not bagels. They're rolls.
I stopped by a local bagelry and was appalled by the flavors listed on the menu. Blueberry? Unthinkable, but available. I bought some plain, etc. but when I got them home I found that their insides were beige instead of white. They were passable, just, with cream cheese and lox. They didn't have that bite which makes a real bagel so heavenly.
I always had a theory that New York City was the center of bageldom, and that the further you got from New York, the less bagel-like the product. Long Island and New Jersey bagels are acceptable. North Dakota? No way! That was my theory, but I'm going to revise it. I now believe that good bagel production relies on having a substantial Jewish population in the area. This keeps the bagel bakers honest. If the public schools are closed on Yom Kippur in your area, you have the makings of a good bagel. For instance, when I lived in Southwest Florida many years ago, the bagels were awful. People tell me they are pretty decent now.
Bagels used to be made by bagel-bakers, who rolled the dough, boiled it, and then baked it. It was a very special skill. I haven't done an actual study on this, but I think bagel shops are now owned mainly by Koreans. Not that they're not good, they are. But I think some places cheat and do not boil the bagels first. Bagels made in this fashion taste like Wonder Bread. Ugh!
Mr Charm and I once tried to make our own bagels. We followed the recipe exactly, but these were not bagels, they were more like big fat pretzels.
I'm awfully hungry all of a sudden.
Posted by miriam at 2:14 PM
It's not a pretty picture.
Posted by miriam at 2:11 PM
A different view of dental treatment:
I find periodontal work strangely satisfying. There's something therapeutic about that scrape, scrape, scrape, a feeling I can only compare to that of picking a scab, or scratching athlete's foot.
I swear this is my last dentistry-related post.
Posted by miriam at 2:04 PM
Rachel laments the little old ladies of yore, in an ode to galoshes:
Still, galoshes were the province of children and little old ladies, whom I remember wearing galoshes like the ones on the left. They also wore plastic rain caps. But no one else did. My mother, for example, didn't. And now that she qualifies as a little old lady she still doesn't.
The styles for little old ladies change, just as the styles for everything else does. My grandmother wore her hair (grey) in a bun at the back of her head. She had three dresses and a cardigan sweater. On her feet were old lady shoes. They wouldn't sell them to anyone under the age of 60. They had sturdy 1 or 2 inch heels and laced up. No trousers, oh dear no. Makeup? Surely you jest. And no fancy uplift bras. Old ladies had busts like bolsters.
My mother, on the other hand, wore hats. They were small and perched on her head, and for some unknown reason, also had veils. No slacks. She always wore high heels and was inordinately proud of her small, shapely feet. She actually wore a girdle.
The old ladies of the present day--I wouldn't call them little, as some of them weigh over 200 lbs-- wear nothing but pants. Sweats, for preference. They have their hair done every week, and use enough hairspray to keep the hair in a rigid shape until the next hairdresser appointment. Hair is grey or dyed blond, never any other color. They wear sneakers, but who doesn't? No galoshes, however. No girdles. Sensible, industrial strength bras.
Posted by miriam at 1:46 PM
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
I have a reason for asking--today I put down a downpayment for a car for my dentist. And yesterday Mr Charm bought him at least a couple of headlights and a car stereo.
I went in for a routine visit, just checking some work he had done. I happened to mention that one of my teeth was loose, and he was off to the races. You don't want to know the gory details, but I was in the dental chair for two and a half hours. I truly thought I would get bedsores before I left. The hell of it is, this was just the hors d'ouvres of the particular job he has in mnd for me. I have to go back for the main course, salad, and dessert. By that time, he should own the car outright.
Have you ever been in the dental chair for so long that you had an intermission? I was. He left for a short spell with another patient, and I hobbled to the bathroom. And back. My feet had fallen asleep.
I go back Thursday. Oy vay!
Posted by miriam at 9:43 PM
Monday, January 08, 2007
Sunday, January 07, 2007
It's starting to look like it:
They’re training for the mission as a contingency and the only nukes involved are bunker-busters with a one-kiloton yield, roughly the power of the Trade Center collapse, to be used at a single site.
I for one am shocked. I thought Olmert was too busy picking out roses to send to Abbas for Valentine's day to consider going the military route. Actually, I think Israel would like us to do it. And we would love for them to do it. But I don't like either contingency. Why?
If Israel attacks Iran in the same spirit in which it fought Lebanon, it's not worth it. If Bush were to attack Iran, the Democrats would have a putsch to remove him from power. Not good, no?
I think I've got an answer to the predicament: Australia should attack Iran!
Now before you burst a blood vessel, consider the following facts:
1. The Aussies are tough. Good fighters!
2. John Howard is tough. I have never seen him quoted making fawning statments about his great love and respect for the Religion of Peace. He seems to speak his mind, and he was re-elected not so long ago, which shows that he is popular. He could get away with it. Bush would be crucified on the White House lawn, and Olmert is a living demonstration that not all Jews are smart.
Posted by miriam at 9:24 PM
Nits and lice are the little things that remain to be done when your big jobs are finished. I use it to describe stuff not worthy of a post in itself, but which I feel like sharing. To wit:
I just got a check from my publisher; unbelievably, more copies of my (our) book sold this year. I love love love getting royalty checks--they're like a kiss from heaven. The first year, the royalty was for a respectable amount; now it's dribs and drabs. However, I don't have to do anything to get these checks. How cool is that?
I feel sad when I find a personally autographed copy of a book in a book sale, with an inscription like, "To my old friend Charlie, in remembrance of good times." I also feel sad when I find old photographs for sale. Didn't anyone care any more about that picture of great-grandma in her first communion dress? i would never throw away a picture of my forebears.
I hate to file. Despite the upcoming paperless society, my files are bursting. And the pile to file just keeps growing.
Never buy anything from one of the associate dealers at Amazon.com. It's almost impossible to return anything to one of their satellite dealers.
Late model cars are better than older ones were. My Taurus ran uncomplainingly for years, up to 128,000 miles. Then the bottom fell out. Literally. Our old cars were cranky and unpleasant. One would never start in the rain. It hated getting its tires wet. Another drank oil; we had to carry a case of oil in the trunk and periodically pour in a quart or two. Don't let me get started about our cars!
Too late, I'm off: Our first car, purchased when Mr Charm was a college student, was bought from a man in New York doing business under the name of Meyer the Buyer. We couldn't even get it home. It kept stopping on the West Side Highway. (This was before the highway fell down.) I can't remember how we got it home.
Several cars later, we had a car with a rotary engine. Mr Charm thought the rotary engine was the New Good Thing in cars. It wasn't. Several Chevys later, he decided that Diesel powered American cars were the leading edge of automotive engineering. We discovered from bitter experience that only Germans could make good Diesel engines. The thing spewed black smoke, just like buses used to do. It also did not like to start in cold weather. Or often, in non-cold weather.
Now we both drive old rustbuckets. In fact, they are so old that they are on the cusp of being classic cars.
Posted by miriam at 3:01 PM
Friday, January 05, 2007
I'm not kidding.
Posted by miriam at 9:33 PM
|You Should Be A Poet|
You craft words well, in creative and unexpected ways.
And you have a great talent for evoking beautiful imagery...
Or describing the most intense heartbreak ever.
You're already naturally a poet, even if you've never written a poem.
Posted by miriam at 4:51 PM
Thursday, January 04, 2007
and how much they think they know.
The complaints about the Fairfax Library are just the tip of the iceberg.
Libraries can't be all things to all people--why not? They actually manage to do this pretty well. They supply bestsellers to those who want to read them, and great books to those who want to read them.
But libraries are voluntary--you can't force people to read a book (unless you're a teacher). If classics are not being read, perhaps it is because the library copy is old and tattered and smells bad. If you order a new copy and put it on the new book shelf, people will take it home.
Even if you select a random bunch of books and place them on a book cart near the front entrance, people will browse them and take some of them out. If you put out a book display, ditto. Closeness to the main entrance is the key. Hide the ephemeral stuff at the rear of the library and force patrons to walk through the building.
When a library discards a book because no-one reads it, and puts it up for sale, an amazing thing happens. People buy it, paying money for a book which they would not read when it was free.
Writers are always bitching about purchasing some classic at a library book sale. What's wrong with that? At least the book has a chance of being read by its new owner. In my last library, one of the missions in our mission statement was to encourage love of books and reading. It says nothing about high circulation. Circulation is not what matters, necessarily, in the end.
Reading is what matters.
Posted by miriam at 11:06 PM
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
A fellow blogger has characterized me as "mean spirited." I protest vehemently. I am fond of dogs and cats, give to charity, and volunteer my time to the religous establishment of my choice. My friends and family are inordinately fond of me.
I guess I got tagged with that unfortunate characteristic because my blog is snarky. It's a whole lot easier on both the reader and the writer to write snark than praise. You can be wittier, for one thing. If you really like a writer, all you can say is, "Wow! That's great!" The same with a person: "He's a terrific guy." There, you've said it all. But you can be snarky in a dozen different ways.
Another definition of "mean spirited" is that I am a Republican. I didn't know that was a matter of shame. This will come as a big shock to the approximately 50% of American voters who are registered Republicans.
Rightwingers cannot be "compassionate." We don't think that giving more government money to school districts, labor unions, etc, is an effective way to run a country. When not busy grinding the faces of the poor, we are selfishly complaining about high taxes.
My real sin is my dislike of Jimmy Carter. This sanctimonious old fraud is the cause of most of our problems in Iran and North Korea, but set that aside for a moment. JC's disgraceful actions at Coretta Scott King's funeral were the deal breaker for me. This disgrace to the American presidency and Americans generally is puffed up with monstrous self-regard. I consider him a truly evil man.
His crooked dealings with the Arabs, in the form of bank loans form BCCI, is only now being revealed. He had generous help from his Arab buddies in rescuing his peanut business. His financial relationship with the Saudis is just beginning to come under scrutiny and I am sure more will be revealed.
In my opinion, this man is so crooked that I seriously doubt he can hammer a nail straight. I bet the houses he helped build for Habitat for Humanity are falling down.
Note: More of Carter's high-minded ethics at work:
The ex-president's irritating opinions on Mideast matters are one thing. But the funding of his Atlanta think tank by big-money, state-linked Arab sources is quite another — and points to a conflict of interest.
Read the whole thing. Jimmy C gives whited sepulchres a bad name.
Posted by miriam at 10:19 AM
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Mrs. R was a devout Christian who checked out all the Chanukah books and kept renewing them to keep the public from being depraved by reading about the Festival of Lights. She really thought her scheme had a chance--after all, she had prayed for the library to be closed on Sunday, and lo and behold, it happened! (Budget considerations had nothing to do with it, of course.)
By a combination of pleading and threatening, we finally got the Chanukah books returned. Amazingly, none of the other library patrons converted to Judaism, even after reading about Chanukah. So that crisis was averted.
However, she continued to take books out, but not to return them. We sent the requisite first notice, second notice, threatening letter, etc., but no soap. So Michael, the nicest person in the library, called her house and asked to speak to her. When he asked her to please bring the books back as a personal favor to him, he heard Mr R thundering in the background, demanding to know who it was, what they wanted, and why she was such a big damn fool. She was terrified that we had called.
The two of them used to come into the library from time to time. She was a tense, red-faced woman, shaped like a dumpling, with thin curly grey hair standing out all over her head. He was a grouchy, red-faced loudmouth Santa Claus lookalike, without the jolliness. It was clear that she was intimidated by him; she scurried around like a frightened rabbit.
Because of the situation, we cut her a lot of slack. But he always seemed to cotton on when she had done something wrong, and shouted at her. It was most unpleasant to watch.
Mr R died unexpectedly. Shortly thereafter, she called to renew or request a book, and started crying over the phone, she missed him so much, he was such a wonderful man, they had a great marriage, and she was inconsolable.
Posted by miriam at 3:34 PM