Saturday, April 20, 2002

Another email to my sister in Egypt:

Interesting you choose the Guardian. I hope you didn't spend any money on searching that archive of lies and willful ignorance. How about the "Independent" (methinks my lady doth protest too much!)? They were both reporting a "massacre" in Jenin which anyone has yet to substantiate. Hard to do, since Jenin has been destroyed by booby-trapped bombs as well as Israeli tank shells. Oh, yes, the refugees. The ones who were told to leave by the Arab armies, and that they would soon be able to return after all the Jews were dead. The ones who were expelled from Jordan in 1970, who took over Lebanon until Sharon attacked in the '80s, the ones expelled from Kuwait in 1991 - need I go on? The Arab world needs its "Palestinian refugees" just like Hitler needed his Sudeten Germans.

Oh, and is the average reader aware that there was no such thing as a "Palestinian nation" until 1967? Is he aware that terrorist attacks went on well before Israel, in self-defense, expanded the 1967 borders, by the simple expedient of crushing the armies of Arab nations with several hundreds of millions of inhabitants? Is the average reader aware that a return to the 1967 borders would not be the end of Palestinian terrorism, but merely a return to the pre-1967 terrorism? Is the average reader aware that Arafat at Oslo promised not to engage in terror or let armaments into the "West Bank"? And, on the strength of that promise, and under pressure from the ignorant and vicious Clinton admnistration, the Israelis let that snake reestablish himself in Judea and Samaria? Why do you think Sharon's in power? Oh, and does that average reader know that the "Al-Aqsa intifada" was planned and implemented long before Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount? Oh, the Israelis use three times as much water as a Palestinian? Maybe that's because they live modern lives, not the poverty Arafat is content to let "his people" languish in, while he disposes of the hundreds of millions the Saudis send every year, not to mention the 75-85 million of US taxpayers money that goes from the UN right to Mr. Ringo-without-a-shave. Did you ever notice how much Arafat looks like Ringo? What a joke, if people weren't dying.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002


OK, I’ve been trying to hide my shame and depression at not being able to make much headway on Cox and Rathvon’s “Loops” puzzle. I will give myself one more try. I am having much better success with Richard Maltby’s latest in Harper’s, entitled “Perfect Puzzle”, since the imperfect but always entertaining Mr. Maltby made a few booboos in his last effort.

Perhaps he bent a little too far over in the direction of making the puzzle easy, spending too much time checking and cross-checking each entry. Or do those ever-fallible computers do that nowadays? I don’t want to give away too many clues, in consideration of those of you who haven’t solved the puzzles yet, but I was particularly proud of my practically instantaneous brainstorm on number 28 across. The only thing that bothered me was that the solution was, while not exactly “uncommon” as Maltby signaled, was more of a traditional “crossword puzzle word” than one is used to seeing in these delightful cryptics.

You know the usual words, the ones that justify elderlies in spending Social Security money on crossword puzzle dictionaries instead of using their brains. Yep, I’m talking about words like “ai” for two-toed sloth, “ana” for a collection, “olla” or “ewer” for a jar, “etui” for a briefcase. Who ever would learn that sort of word if not for crosswords? They do make the composer’s job an awful lot easier. But they degrade the solver’s art to the memorization of useless jargon. So once again I’m picking on Mr. Maltby. Who knows, though? I haven’t finished the puzzle yet. Maybe he’ll stump me with his unclued lights. Stay tuned. And oh, yes, my email address is "" and I love to get thoughtful, acute emails.

Monday, April 15, 2002

Dummies and Idiots

Have you noticed the proliferation in the last few years of books titled "Linux for Dummies" or "Politics for Idiots" (that last a bit redundant!). Who buys these? Oh, OK, I will have to admit, I did buy one, called something like the Internet for Dummies. But really, what kind of self-image do you have to have to buy a book that says it's for dummies? Why would you think a book would help, if you're so far gone? Americans are really into other people telling them what to do, how to live, like "Relationships for Schmoes" that I saw the other day. Another good one was "Raising your Self-Esteem for Idiots". At least whoever would buy that book really needs it.

What does it say about us that we would buy books that clearly say to anyone who sees the book that this guy really doesn't know what he's doing, so he has to have everything explained really simply and slowly, like in the other book I saw, "The Alphabet for Morons" where you pay $26.95 for a book made of really heavy, brightly painted cardboard consisting of a hundred pages each with the letter A in a slightly different color? You have to buy twenty-five more books to get the whole alphabet. Hey, why not? We're dealing with morons here! Go for it!!

Maybe someday I'll figure out how to put my email address and links and stuff on my blog. Hey, what happened to that book I just bought, called "Blogging for Cretins"? I had it around here somewhere. Oh, god, don't tell me I flushed it down the toilet again!