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November 30, 2008

The gift season

Now that we're past Black Friday, death toll approximately one, it's time to focus on gifts for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever holiday the wiccans are currently planning for.

Dave Barry has his annual gift guide, which I find rather disappointing this year. Judge for yourself.

It's hard to believe Dave Barry left this off his list: Talking TP.

Even NBC mentioned it on the Today Show, along with a few other novelty gifts. You can see the video here.

Click here to read more . . .

Carnival of Maryland -- 47th edition

The 47th edition of the Carnival of Maryland is up at monoblogue. Check over there to see some of the latest writing from our Maryland bloggers.

The 48th edition is scheduled for Sunday, December 14, and will be hosted at The Political Octagon.

Send in your submissions by using the Blog Carnival form.

Click here to read more . . .

November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

A Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. Here are some links from previous years:

1. Don't deep-fry your turkey. (video)

2. Don't mention God near a public school in Maryland.

3. If you do mention God, say Psalm 100.

4. Watch out for turkeys if you take the train in New Jersey.

5. If tofurky is fake turkey and toficken is fake chicken, have I got a business idea! It involves fake duck.

6. Speaking of turkey, I sometimes wish, purely for the sake of entertainment, that our congressmen were more like the Turkish.

Click here to read more . . .

November 25, 2008

Post-modernism meets the Nigerian email scam

Tonight, I received a typical scam email from Nigeria, and specifically from a Dr. Mrs. Veronica Amadi, KTT UNIT CBN -- the CBN apparently being the Central Bank of Nigeria. Mrs. Amadi says: "I am taking this bold step because of my belief as a Christian." The bold step, of course, is getting me a heap 'o dollars if I open an account elsewhere, blah blah blah.

But I also received my post-modernist, self-referential email scam today, what you might call a second-order scam. It was from a Mr. Johnson Ibe, Accountant General of the CBN.

Good day

We wish to nofity you that the present Government of Nigeria in conjunction with the Central Bank of Nigeria has conducted a financial investigations through all the commercial banks in nigeria,which we discovered that alot of banks here has been invlvoling in all kinds of fraudlent transaction with beneficiaries abroad,thereby bringing bad image to this nation,in that view the government has taken adquate measure against such banks,and the good news is that the federal government has approved a total sum of US$ 91,000,000.00 (NINETY ONE MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS ONLY) to compensate all beneficiaries who has been a victim of scam in the past from this country.

We have a good news for you,your name has been short-listed among the victims (beneficiaries) of such scam,therefore you are entitled to receive a payment of US$7,000,000.00 (SEVEN MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS ONLY) as a part of your payment and as well a compensation from the federal Government of Nigeria,this exercise is to redeem the good image of this country abroad " MUCH KUDOS TO THIS PRESENT GOVERNMENT OF PRESIDENT UMARU YAR'ADUA".
It goes on from there in poorly typed almost-English, but you get the point. I'm entitled to $7 million to compensate me as a victim of a Nigerian scam, so I should just go about doing whatever victims of such a scam do in order to get that money.

I'm going to take a pass. Feel free to respond to Mr. Ibe yourself.

Click here to read more . . .

November 24, 2008

The next French civil war

Those of us who are socially traditional tend to think that there really isn't much to be discerned between nudists and swingers. Both participate in a non-traditional lifestyle that's totally foreign to us.

But this just shows how naive we are. It turns out that, in France, anyway, the nudists are at war with the swingers (échangistes). In fact, the nudists have firebombed three swinger clubs, burning them to the ground. Yes, you read that right. In French terms, the town has been "plunged into anxiety," not to say ennui.

The normally peaceful Cap d’Agde, a magnet for nudists in the south of France, has been plunged into anxiety. Investigators suspect “fundamentalist” naturists of harbouring a grudge against the échangistes, or swingers, who are drawn to the town by the promise of sex.

A so-called boîte échangiste, or wife-swapping club, called Glamour, where couples engage in group sex, was the first to be razed, in April. The next day the Palme Ré, another orgy venue, went up in flames. In September the Tantra club and Zen, its neighbouring bar, were destroyed in blazes.
The tensions appear to be based on the resentment by traditional nudists of the swingers who show up looking for sex. "'What goes on in certain places is not naturism,' said Guy Delfour, former head of the French federation of naturism. 'Nudity is just one element of naturism. There are other values to recognise, such as the protection of nature.'"

I see. Who could possibly object?

But even if this article were not as inherently entertaining as it is, I would still commend it to you for its quotation of the phrase "mullahs of chaste nudity":
Some in Cap d’Agde attribute the fires to fundamentalist “mullahs of chaste nudity”, as one magazine called them, who have often harangued holiday-makers venturing onto nudist beaches in bathing costumes. Others denied that naturists could have been involved.

“We don’t want to put the échangiste places out of business,” said Gilles Beaumont, a naturist and regular at Cap d’Agde. “It’s true that we don’t like being mixed up with the swingers. But we respect other people and their right to behave as they please.”
I'm really tickled by the concept of naked Taliban. I suspect things would have developed far differently in Afghan history if the Taliban had been nudists.

And now, it's time to handicap this war. I place my wager on the swingers for these reasons:

1. Concealed weapons. Swingers can hide their weapons under clothing. Where are the nudists going to hide theirs? (Don't answer that.)

2. Cooperation. Swingers are used to working in groups.

3. Underwear. It's easier to get around when your personal regions aren't swaying in the wind.

4. Surrender. The nudists are French. (OK, so are the swingers, but I had to get that crack in somewhere.)

UPDATE: Thanks, Ace, for the link.

Click here to read more . . .

November 23, 2008

Reboot and roll the dice

If you call tech support with a computer problem, what's the first thing they tell you to do? Reboot it, right? Have you ever wondered why?

Some people say that the Tier 1 techs are given scripts, and they're required to run through the scripts with you over the phone. The script starts with "Make the customer reboot the computer. While that's happening, you can finish your game of Minesweeper."

But I'm not so sure this is actually what happens. Because I've just located the device by which these techs probably come up with their solutions for you: PC Dice. They can't be less useful than simply reading the script.

On an entirely unrelated note (and speaking of stream of consciousness): I couldn't let this article slip by: "Washington prisons settle lost penis case." (via protein wisdom)

By the time a doctor at Grays Harbor Community Hospital in Aberdeen found Manning had necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating bacteria, and he was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, the bacteria had spread to his pelvic area.

Surgeons had to remove several pounds of flesh, including his penis and a testicle, to save his life, DeLue said. A replacement penis was made with skin from Manning's thigh.
One of the pw commenters had this take: "Is that a thigh in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" "No, it's a thigh."

All I can say is it's too bad body parts can't be rebooted.

Click here to read more . . .

November 21, 2008

Bill Clinton plans a siege

For previous Clinton photo comics:

Bill Clinton agrees to campaign for Obama

Bill Clinton responds to the New York Times

Bill Clinton gives an interview

Hillary engages in some racial healing

Bill Clinton evaluates HillaryCare II

Bill Clinton supports Hillary's cleavage

Bill Clinton grabs some contributions for Hillary

Hillary responds to Kate Michelman

Hillary begins a conversation

Click here to read more . . .

November 19, 2008

The Pillage Idiot No-Markup Store

A while back, I told you I'd tried to set up a Pillage Idiot store with Cafe Press but didn't like the goods.

I've just tried again and have been a little more successful. Two products: a white teeshirt with a large Pillage Idiot Advisory System image on the front, and a large mug with a small PIAS image on the back with an excerpt from a particularly immature post of mine on the front, about a woman who was held for questioning because she lit matches on an airplane.

You can see the products at this link. I've ordered both the products for myself to make sure they don't suffer from excessive suckitude. And I'm happy to report that the suckitude level is only Code Yellow.

When I say "no markup," I mean that you can buy them at Cafe Press's base price. I make nothing on the deal -- zero, zip, nada. I've often said I don't want to make money at Pillage Idiot, which is why I have no ads and why, now, I have no markup.

If you have any requests for new designs, feel free to email me about your ideas.

UPDATE: In case you want to see the images, I'm including them here. The large PIAS is roughly 6-1/2 by 10. This is a shrunken version of the image I used.

The front of the mug looks like this:

Click here to read more . . .

Frontiers of plastic surgery

Here's my pedantic musing of the day: How many times do you have to write about the same subject before you have to stop referring to it as a "frontier"? Four? Six? One and a half? I ask because plastic surgery of the genitalia, female division, is a booming industry, while keen observers will note that the automakers insist on flying to Washington on their private jets to demand a taxpayer bailout.

In any event, the latest on the subject (and I don't mean the auto bailout) comes from Time (via HotAir). Time's article, of course, doesn't play the plastic surgery story completely straight; it's too easy a subject for joking, as I can personally attest.

On the youth sex-education website, dozens of teenage girls can be found commiserating about their labia. "i REALLY h8 mine! They hang really REALLY low and r SO long!" reads one comment. Meanwhile, on, a consumer site that sells special bras and other gear for women recovering from plastic surgery, women of all ages submit photos of their nether regions and ask for feedback on whether they should get nipped and tucked down there. Welcome to the strange new world of female genital cosmetic surgery, where body insecurity issues are fueling a small but growing Western market for such procedures as labiaplasty, clitoral un-hooding, G-spot augmentation and hymen reconstruction, a.k.a. "revirginization."
Although I personally wouldn't participate in a protest -- even if they agreed not to make me wear the costume -- I can understand what motivates these people:
Appalled at the popularity of so-called designer vaginas, a grass-roots organization called the New View Campaign staged its first-ever protest on Monday outside New York City's Manhattan Center for Vaginal Surgery. Two dozen women — ranging in age from teenagers to, ahem, sexagenarians — handed out index cards and held up orange poster boards with the message "No Two Alike," while two members of the group donned giant cloth vulva costumes.
This whole subject is really sad for what it says about our culture, as I've remarked before. But at least Time does stop to acknowledge that it's also a troubling issue for the women's mental health.

And the article closes with what I'd say is pretty good advice. To paraphrase: If you're thinking of this surgery because your boyfriend made a negative remark about your anatomy, you might think about surgically removing the boyfriend.

Previous entries in this vein are collected here.

Click here to read more . . .

November 18, 2008

It's Greek to me, but it's Jew to you

The latest, biggest nonsense to hit the internet is that the ancient Greeks were a bunch of wacky jokesters. Or, as this news story would have it, they invented Monty Python's dead parrot sketch. You can find the sketch written clearly on their joke parchment.

I have nothing against the Greeks personally, certainly not against those who have become Americans, nor have I much against the ancient Greeks, at least the handful of them who left the Jews alone. But query this: Have you ever known a funny Greek? Did Papadopoulus and Papandreou exchange "knock knock" jokes? Did Aristotle Onassis tell fart jokes while he was romancing Jackie O? No, I thought not.

And the whole notion that the ancient Greeks were funny is risible. If you need proof of that, take that classic Greek comedy, Plato's Republic. Tell me if you think this stuff is funny:

Nonsense, he replied. But let me add something more: There is another side to Glaucon's argument about the praise and censure of justice and injustice, which is equally required in order to bring out what I believe to be his meaning. Parents and tutors are always telling their sons and their wards that they are to be just; but why? not for the sake of justice, but for the sake of character and reputation; in the hope of obtaining for him who is reputed just some of those offices, marriages, and the like which Glaucon has enumerated among the advantages accruing to the unjust from the reputation of justice. More, however, is made of appearances by this class of persons than by the others; for they throw in the good opinion of the gods, and will tell you of a shower of benefits which the heavens, as they say, rain upon the pious; and this accords with the testimony of the noble Hesiod and Homer, the first of whom says, that the gods make the oaks of the just--
And on it goes in this vein for ten whole books of side-splitting laughs.

So why in the world do some people now want to give the ancient Greeks credit for originating humor, when we all know it was the ancient Hebrews who pioneered on that front? After all, the world's oldest joke was told by Cain, and it went like this: "So I'm like, Am I my brother's keeper? What's the deal with that?"

Then there's this: Q. How did Joshua defeat the Amalekites when Moses held his arms up? A. Moses had very bad body odor.

And speaking of the 40 years in the wilderness, where do you think all the fart jokes originated? I mean, have you ever eaten manna? Whew! It's a lot worse than Mexican food, and they didn't even have dogs to blame it on. "Hey, Shmuel, did you just let one rip, or are you going to blame it on the cattle again?"

The fact of the matter is that the ancient Greeks were simply too busy drawing forth their trenchant swords and piercing their enemies through the chest to be much concerned about humor.

Whereas the Jews were spending several millennia getting the living crap kicked out of them on a daily basis. In those circumstances, how can you NOT see the humor in things?

Click here to read more . . .

November 17, 2008

Messianic salute

First, he did it to Hillary. Then, he did it to McCain.

Now, he does it in a pose showing how deep and thoughtful he is.

As Baseball Crank (to whom that last link goes) said last spring, he really should be more careful with his finger. I know we'd all like him to flip off the U.N., but if he tried it on, say, Putin, I think there might be international repercussions.

Click here to read more . . .

November 16, 2008

New Hampshire relaxes after the election

Story here.


Click here to read more . . .

Carnival of Maryland -- 46th edition

Here we are with the 46th edition of the Carnival of Maryland, a project run by the Maryland Blogger Alliance but open to anyone living in or writing about Maryland.

Normally, when I host the Carnival, I start with the miscellaneous topics and work down to the political ones, on the theory that it prevents the non-political posts from becoming lost among the political posts, which tend to dominate. This time, however, politics seems to loom even larger, with the recent presidential election, so I'm going to bow to reality and start with politics.

This is a long post, so I'm putting the submissions below the fold. Click for more now.


mad anthony did his patriotic duty on Election Day, writing, "I voted!"

So did a 108-year-old woman in Gaithersburg, who, I noted, did not seem to think McCain was old and experienced enough. She voted for the even older guy, Ralph Nader.

At Common Sense, the Patriot Sharpshooter gives us a red-blue map of the country, by county. Quite interesting.

Will at Pour It On, Boys thinks that Obama has made quite a few campaign promises, and that he will have difficulty carrying them out.

Meanwhile, from the left side of our Maryland Blogger Alliance, The Ridger writes at The Greenbelt about waking up the morning after the election and feeling happy. Don't miss the gorgeous photo at the head of the post.

Joyce Dowling also says she's excited about the results, at Creating a Jubilee County.

Stephanie at Jousting for Justice is surprised to find herself weepy about voters who really want to vote, even if the outcome is all but certain.

In the aftermath, Kevin Dayhoff writes in The Tentacle about "The Incredibly Shrinking Republican Party."

Mike Netherland writes about Stupid Party "victories." That's the Republicans, by the way.

At Red Maryland, streiff argues that former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele is not the best person to head the Republican National Committee.

Clark, writing on his non-Alliance blog ROTUS, discusses the congressional election in the First District, where Frank Kratovil, a Democrat, narrowly beat out Andy Harris in Wayne Gilchrest's old seat.

Maryland Politics Today says that Harris has conceded in this bitter race.

And Insane Baltimore has more on Kratovil and Harris in "City of Firsts sure took its time."

BaltoNorth posts that Baltimore County employees were offered a premium to act as election judges: election judge pay plus regular salary plus an extra vacation day. Nice job if you can get it.

Looking forward, as well as backward, Matt Johnston, of Going to the Mat, suggests that there's reason for Democrats to be concerned about a repeat of 1994, the mid-term election following the election of Bill Clinton with a Democratic Congress.

Money Blue Book takes time out from personal finance to argue for abolition of the electoral college, because, for folks like us in Maryland, our vote "does not count." As someone who's effectively disenfranchised by living in Montgomery County, I feel your pain, but in a close election, how do we deal with Florida 2000 in thousands of precints all across the country?

Call me juvenile, but I found this amusing: Psycho Phil tallies the site hits for certain political search terms.

Local Politics

Stan at blogger1947 wants to repeal the county's ban on private possession of stun guns, which he argues could be used in self-defense.

Zinzindor discusses the Ficker Amendment at Leviathan Montgomery. The amendment requires unanimity in the county council for certain tax increases.


Dave Wissing at The Hedgehog Report raises an issue I've been pondering myself: whether the recent post-election plunge in the stock markets is based on fear of Obama and Democratic control of Congress. Maybe it's a coincidence, but I noticed that the market was up 1450 points in six trading days before the election, at a time when the polls supposedly were tightening.

Brian Gill, at Annapolis Politics, complains about the secrecy accompanying the bailout, and in particular the refusal of the Fed to identify the recipients of emergency loans.

Michael, at monoblogue, writes about Pennsylvania's efforts to curtail use of electricity through mandates and the impact of similar ideas in Maryland.


For Veterans' Day, Greg at Baltimore Jewish posts a video interview with Eugene Resnicoff, a Jewish Baltimorean who fought in World War II.

Steve, at new member blog Steve Likes to Curse, has a Veterans' Day post (without curses) that concludes with a discussion of the final recorded combat death in World War I, an American named Henry Gunther.


Clark, of Clark's Picks, writes about trombonist Edward "Kid" Ory, who developed the "tailgate" style of playing, which, sadly, does not include barbecue and beer.


Once again, The Ridger provides us with beautiful nature photographs, this time of several different kinds of birds and red leaves on a gray morning.

Soccer Dad submits photos taken on a bike ride with his seven-year-old daughter and her friend.


That being said, I liked this post about an annoying phrase at new member blog, Boomer Twilight.

Local News

Julie gives us a round-up of local news along the Red Line at On the Red Line.

What's New in Maryland? Choosing a name for the Baltimore Aquarium's dolphin calf.


Oriole Post notes that the Orioles' season ticket prices are staying the same next year. Maybe Mr. Angelos has tapped another mother lode of asbestos cases.

Phil at Gunaxin submits a post of "random sports jersey" photos -- people wearing a jersey for a player who flopped or was on the team at the tail end of an otherwise good career. There's a discussion of our local Maryland team, the Redskins (of Landover).

Last, The Ridger makes an unexpected foray into American football, European "metric" football, Canadian football.


Well, that's all for today, folks. The 47th edition is scheduled for Sunday, November 30, and it will be hosted at monoblogue.

Send in your submissions by using the Blog Carnival form.

Click here to read more . . .

November 15, 2008

He may be the Messiah, but can we expect miracles?

Clyde Haberman, New York Times, Nov. 14, 2008 *

* The online edition reduced the demand a little: "Can Obama Help Kill Baggy Pants Look?"

Click here to read more . . .

November 12, 2008


Got this from Dave Barry's Blog, where he links it with the warning: "Men: Do not click here."

But, you know, it's kind of silly, isn't it, to tell people NOT to click when you fully expect them to click out of sheer curiosity? Like all those "Dude" headlines at HotAir, when you figure there's about a 1 in 4 chance of confronting something truly awful at the link. But I click, anyway. Naturally.

Which is all a long way of saying that I'm just going to give you the ugly news up front. This story out of Australia sounds really grisly:

A MAN says he could have died after an operation left him bleeding heavily and turned his penis black.

Michael Eglington, 53, went to Royal Darwin Hospital last Tuesday to have a wart removed from the base of his penis, The Northern Territory News reports.

He said he collapsed from blood loss as he rushed back to the hospital less than an hour after being discharged.
Dude. Want more?
"Why did they let me go?" he said. "I could have passed out while I was driving."

The internal bleeding caused his penis and testicles to turn black - and his testicles swelled to more than three times their normal size.

The Northern Territory News reports it has seen photographs to prove it.
NTN has seen photos? And all we get at the link is a photo of the victim of this incident posing as if for a publicity shoot? Aren't we entitled to see the damage in its full glory?

Now, in case you're wondering, as I was, what this man could possibly have been thinking by seeking an operation on that particular appendage, let me assure you he wasn't tricked into the surgery by spam email promising testicles three times their normal size.

According to this NTN article, he was having an operation "to have a wart removed from the base of his penis."

Exit question: What kind of loss of function must this wart have caused to justify his having an operation on "the base of his penis"? Because no man in his right mind would allow a doctor anywhere near there. We'd rather try to convince the doctor we don't even have one.

Click here to read more . . .

November 11, 2008

Tuesday night mini-linkfest

A short mini-linkfest tonight.

1. Headline of the day: "Fake penis under attack for staying limp." (via BOTWT)

2. Quotation of the day from the same link: "It's easy to think that it's pretty strange to approve prosthetics that can't get erect, because that is after all what penises do - get erections."

3. How to hide your booze at the stadium.

4. Speaking of booze, here's a beer that uses gene technology and might extend your life.

5. And on the subject of inventions, here's a device for the kid in all of us: a gizmo that makes and throws snowballs.

Click here to read more . . .

Protocols of the President-Elect

Office of the President-Elect
Ready to Rule on Day 1

"Yes, We Can; Therefore, We Will"

November 11, 2008


RE: Protocol for Press Meet-Ups with the President-Elect

The following rules will apply during any meet-up between the President-Elect and Accepted Media Subjects. They will be strictly enforced. Violations will result in subjects' classification as "unaccepted."

1. Prior to any meet-up, Accepted Media Subjects will leave their cell phones, pagers, blackberries, computer laptops, and other electronic devices with presidential security.

2. Meet-ups will begin PROMPTLY at the announced time, give or take 20 minutes. Accordingly, Accepted Media Subjects will be in their assigned seats no later than 30 minutes before the announced time.

3. Accepted Media Subjects will sit ONLY in their assigned seats.

4. There will be no talking while waiting for the arrival of the President-Elect.

5. When the President-Elect is about to enter the room, the meet-up organizer will announce his entrance, and the Civilian National Security Force Concert Band will play "Hail to the Chief-Elect."

6. The protocol for the entrance of the President-Elect is that all Accepted Media Subjects will stand at attention. One Accepted Media Subject will be designated in advance to ask the first question of the President-Elect, which will be in precisely these words: "Mr. President-Elect, the Accepted Media Subjects beseech you to permit them to be seated." No one may be seated until the President-Elect indicates that he so permits.

7. Questions for the President-Elect are to be asked by designated Accepted Media Subjects from the list of approved questions that will be distributed in advance.

8. Follow-up questions are not permitted.

9. The President-Elect will depart through the rear. He will walk down the aisle between the two sections where Accepted Media Subjects are seated. Accepted Media Subjects may indicate, by raising their list of approved questions in their right hand, that they wish to kiss the President-Elect's ring.

10. At the conclusion of the meet-up, an official summary of the answers from the President-Elect will be distributed to all Accepted Media Subjects, and all news stories must follow this official summary. Departures from the official summary will result in classification of the Accepted Media Subject and the Accepted Media Organ for which he or she works as "unaccepted."

Click here to read more . . .

November 10, 2008

If Barack Obama were Jewish, instead of the Second Coming of Jesus, Part 14

Obama (shouting into his cell phone): . . . yeah, Ma . . . yeah . . . yeah . . . a national holiday . . . yeah . . . yeah . . . cultish . . . yeah, that's a . . . that's a good word, Ma . . . and you know what? . . . no . . . no . . . you know what, Ma? . . . yeah . . . the orthodox . . . yeah, the frum folks want . . . they want to observe . . . yeah, Ma . . . they want to observe it for . . . for two days, Ma . . . a two-day yontiff, Ma . . .

Story here.

Click to enlarge.

Click here to read more . . .

November 09, 2008

Knives out for Rahm on the left?

I've been getting a lot of hits today for my post about whether Josh Bolten, Bush's chief of staff, is Jewish.

I'm guessing the sudden interest is related to the fact that Obama has now chosen Chicago thug Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff. Rahm is Jewish, too, so you can stop your frantic googling right now.

But it turns out that for rabid Obama supporters on the left, being Jewish is NOT A GOOD THING AT ALL. As Omri Ceren explains at Mere Rhetoric (via Ace),

Pro-Carter shill MJ Rosenberg is asking the far left to eschew anti-Semitic attacks on Emanuel. Not because anti-Semitic attacks are wrong per se - what would the contemporary DNC ever do? More because Emanuel is apparently one of those "good Jews" that DKos cretins compare to "Likud German/Jew Fascists" like Joe Lieberman.

(More from Soccer Dad.) In my experience, a lot of liberal Jews think pretty much everyone to the right of them politically is either an anti-semite or a Jesus freak, which is probably about the same thing to them. To me, this is nuts. On the right, I've come across a small number of anti-semites, but I've been astounded at how many philo-semites there are, given that, politically speaking at least, the Jews are not terribly appealing to them.

In contrast, many Jews seem oblivious to the outright hostility toward Israel and, in many cases, hostility directly toward the Jews themselves that radiate from their allies on the left. So the way I see it is that if the Obama presidency, with Rahm as chief of staff, tests anything, it'll be the willingness of Jewish liberals to continue to turn a blind eye toward "progressive" anti-semitism.

And no, I'm not suggesting Obama himself is an anti-semite. But it would be nice if he told his anti-semitic supporters to put it where the sun don't shine.

Click here to read more . . .


Artscroll is the Microsoft of Orthodox Jewish publishing. People use it because it's everywhere, not because it's particularly good.

When I say it's not particularly good, I mean that it doesn't really translate the text as much as it spoon-feeds the reader its preferred interpretation. Sometimes I'll be reading it -- even modern Orthodox shuls have succumbed to the monopoly -- and I'll say to myself, "That can't possibly be what the Hebrew means," and I'll turn to the Hebrew and think, "How in the world did they get that from it?"

The most extreme example is with shir ha-shirim, the Song of Songs. This book is a love poem, and the rabbis decided eons ago that it was really meant as the expression of love not between a man and a woman but between God and the Jewish people. Fine, I guess it has to be that way, or else it would not have been made part of the tanakh. But Artscroll goes a step further. Not only does it inform its readers that this is the true meaning of the book but it refuses to translate the text. In place of a translation, it provides what it calls an "allegorical" reading attributed to Rashi, the great commentator who lived in France in the 11th century and early 12th. The allegorical reading is based on the same idea that the text refers to God's love for the Jewish people. But it drifts into bizarroworld in a few places, like when it "interprets" the line "your breasts are like twin fawns" to be referring to Moses and Aaron. Michael Wex, in his book "Born to Kvetch," has a little aside about young yeshiva boys using "Moses and Aaron" as a euphemism for breasts. Artscroll's insistence on perpetuating this as the only English version it provides is pretty silly.

But that's not what led me to write this piece about Artscroll.

Yesterday, at the end of the Torah reading, God tells Abraham to have all his men circumcised and to circumcise newborn males at eight days. The Hebrew text says "b'sar orlato," which means "the flesh of his foreskin." After initially translating it that way, Artscroll switches abruptly and begins to translate it as "the flesh of his surplusage."

His surplusage? I thought only lawyers used that word. ("We must construe the statute to avoid surplusage.")

So when an uncircumcised man goes to the doctor, does the doctor ever tell him, "You need to keep your surplusage clean"?

And more seriously, when Moses deflects God's order that he speak to Pharaoh by saying, "va-ani aral s'fatayim" (I have uncircumcised lips), is he really saying, "I have extra lips"? No, he's saying "uncircumcised lips." This forces us to confront what the Torah's text could possibly mean by "uncircumcised lips." There are roughly a gazillion pages written on the subject, with all the great commentators weighing in. So why can't Artscroll -- which translates it as "sealed lips" -- simply give us the actual meaning of the text and refer us to the commentary in the notes below? Why does Artscroll think it has to spoon-feed us so that we can't possibly get the "wrong" idea by taking the text literally? And is Artscroll really so prudish that it runs from the f-word "foreskin" as soon as it possibly can? I've been to a lot of brises in my life, and I have never once heard the mohel speak of the boy's "surplusage."

The Artscroll siddur (prayerbook) is another story entirely, but I can't end this screed without citing to the most famous Artscroll publication of them all: the Artscroll Shakespeare. (Warning: it's probably funny only if you've used the Artscroll siddur, but then it's hilarious.)

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November 06, 2008

Winning the 108-year-old vote

McCain apparently wasn't old or experienced enough for this Gaithersburg woman: "Woman, 108, votes in her 22nd presidential election."

From the article:

Though she predicted victory for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), in part because of his ability to mobilize young voters, she just couldn't get herself to buy into either Obama or Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). So the 20-year Asbury resident — who moved to Annapolis in the 1920s and worked as a teacher — broke from the Republican ranks for the first time to vote for Ralph Nader.
Because there's a guy with gravitas.

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The Obama Dow Jones Death Watch

"This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal . . . and the Dow Jones Industrial Average began to plummet."

I apologize for being a little serious here, but it's Day 2 after the election and the Dow has plummeted again. Down over 10% in two days since the election. Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea for the man to say, "You know, we're not going to raise taxes after all, and we're going to push for a capital-gains tax cut for everyone." I mean, the election's over, and he can say whatever he wants, including things that actually make sense.

The suck-up and spin headline award goes to AFP: "Despite Obama win, Wall Street turns to hard days ahead."

This one makes more sense to me, from AP: "Stocks plunge as investors ponder Obama presidency."

And if you think I'm just being mean and vindictive, consider this: It's the worst two-day percentage drop since the crash of October 1987.

Consider what this means, too: "World markets traded lower Wednesday despite strong gains in Asia overnight as investors booked profits after Senator Barack Obama won the U.S. presidential election and the Democrats took a firmer hold on Congress." Booking profits means they're expecting the market to fall. It doesn't mean what the article suggests -- that investors were somehow doing well as a result of the election.

Biggest post-election plunge ever.

UPDATE (11/8): OK, the Dow went up 248 points yesterday, recovering just over a quarter of the two-day loss. It won't go down forever.

But Dana Milbank, one of my least favorite Posties, made this amusing point about Obama's press conference on Friday:

When Obama began his speech, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 255 points for the day.

The AP's Nedra Pickler asked what economic measures he would take in his first 100 days. He offered boilerplate about how "my transition team is going to be monitoring very closely what happens over the course of the next several months." The Dow's gains shrank to 145 points.

ABC News's Jake Tapper asked how he would respond to a congratulatory letter from Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "I will be reviewing the letter from President Ahmadinejad, and we will respond appropriately," Obama answered. The Dow's increase on the day had shrunk to 131 points. Only after Obama disappeared behind the curtain did the market resume its advance.
Now that the election's over and their guy won, I guess they can loosen up a little.

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