Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Strange as it may seem, there are times when I can almost see things from the Islamist perspective.


They aren't all nuts. At least, not all the time. Sometimes they make sense and actually have something rational to say.

But then there are things like this:


"In an Iranian publication, the worldwide Harry Potter phenomenon was declared a global Zionist conspiracy....
Kayhahn, an Iranian publication closely affiliated with the ruling mullahs and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called the Harry Potter series "a billion-dollar Zionist project." The Potter books were designed by Zionist plotters, according to the Kayhahn editorial, to "disrupt young minds."

Dudes, you might as well call literacy and intelligence Zionist conspiracies. Apparently you lot are missing the point of both of those things.

Look, just because it's more readable than either the Quran or the rabid rantings of that depraved old pervert does not mean it's going to disrupt young minds - that's your job. The writings of Khomeini are a good start on that task in any case, but you don't hear us kvetching about it, do you?

[Regarding the Ayatollah Khomeini, the very same thing could be said about him and his heirs as my mother yelled when informed for the so-manieth time that Gandhi had been killed, in the bar on Telegraph Avenue where she was working on her thesis: "If I hear one more word about that dirty old man in a bed sheet, I shall scream!" Just thought you should know. Y'all should have put that sicko down when he returned from France. And hurriedly buried him out behind the midden. Or was that just too intuitive?]

Not everything is a Zionist plot. Heck, not even half of the things you lot call Zionist plots have anything to do with Zionism. Not even a fraction.

[If all the things which are called Zionist plots actually were Zionist plots, the Arab world would no longer exist, the alleged Palestinians would all be running Vodka concessions in Russia and Siberia, and Iran would be a minor agricultural province of India known for occasional tribal violence, incest, and syphilis. Kinda like Kentucky.]

The more you folks keep screaming about Zionist plots, the more likely it is that reasonable people will write y'all off as hopelessly insane, totally irredeemable, and just too much bother to ever deal with.

Are intelligence, perspective, common sense, rational behaviour, sanity, and reflection all just meaningless concepts in your world? Is it the climate? Is the mid-summer heat frying your brains?

Seriously, if you don't want to be treated as a bunch of whackjobs, consider medication. Valium. Or Librium. Heck, use both. It will help.

Oh, and by the way.... This blog is a Zionist plot. Seriously.


[Note: I first posted this as a comment in a slightly different form on Chardal's blog (here: http://chardal.blogspot.com/ , this post: http://chardal.blogspot.com/2007/07/well-its-start.html ).
Chardal means mustard, but stands in this case for Chareidi Leumi. He is both.]

I prefer Arabs in the gunsights to Arabs in the land.

Gaza is a cesspool. But Gaza shows what a disaster giving land to the Arabs will be. It is a perfect and necessary example of what is wrong with the disengagement option.
And as such, Israel leaving Gaza served an essential purpose - the testcase that proved that land for peace is a chimera.

I do not see much significant benefit remaining in negotiation with the Arabs either. Like disengagement it has reached its limits.

I am, despite knowing that in the modern world it cannot be done, becoming more and more inclined toward the idea of creating a several-mile wide no-man's land on the Arab side of the wall.

I supported Oslo at the time. In retrospect that was utterly wrong.
[I am not sadder and wiser, merely angry and bitter.]

I have always been opposed to any division of Jerusalem. Or any need to come to an agreement with the Arabs, Christians, or the UN on the status of Jerusalem.

The prospect of Hebron reverting to the Arabs is more galling with each month.
David Wilder (spokesperson for the Hebron Jewish Community) is at times far too strident. But without a large reserve of stridency there would be no Israel, no Jews in the land, and quite probably no Jews left at all. He's usefull, and I will only criticise him and his type mildly and intramurally. If at all.


On a different subject - weekly counterprotesting of the Bay Area Women In Black (notorious for backing the right of Arab return folks and supporters of Hamas and Hezbollah, sponsoring extreme anti-Israel speakers and events, and co-chanting 'falastin baladna w'al Yahud kalabna' at several rallies last year) is heading into it's fourth month. The tide may not be turning, but they aren't making any progress with the public in that neighborhood.
I believe that we are slowly making a difference. Being for something is so much more inviting and passer-by friendly than being against something.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Sometimes you run across a perfect exemplification of a stereotype.

Such as, for instance, a Dutchman making a narrowminded comment, or objecting to the expenditure of his money (but not yours).
Or an Englishman who is sodden-drunk, obnoxious, and ready to pound your head in because you said something that was intellectually beyond him.
Or a German who just does not understand a joke.

Or.... Jewish gallows humour.

In Yeshiva World News (http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/), under an article about an attack on a frumme Parisian Yid by a Maghrebi with an iron pipe, reader SammyGol writes:
"Antisemitism in France??? Impossible!! The Jews must have antoganized the driver by looking Jewish. "

And: "France is the most democratic Muslim country in the World. "

[This article: http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/General+News/9016/Paris:+Jewish+Man+Violently+Attacked+With+Iron+Pipe.html]

He ends his polite and peace-loving commentary with "Please respect the frogs, unless you do not freedom clean that greese from freedom fries off your freedom cuffed shirt. "

[One might think that 'Freedom cleaning' a shirt would qualify as tumah. But that entirely depends on who does the freedom cleaning. If it is a Chinese or Korean person, it is tahor.
If it is a Frenchman, there is a definite chezkas tumah.]


Addendum: Please note that aliyah from France is proceeding apace, with six hundred Olim returning to their ancestral land from golus in 'La Belle France' this past Wednesday.

[See this article: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/123182]

It was the largest single arrival of Tzarfatim in a long time. Over four thousand people have left France for Israel since January 1, 2006.
I guess this means that they've more-or-less told the French to go 'French' themselves. A sentiment that for several reasons I can find no fault with.


The XGH wrote:
"6 days of creation took 15 billion years. Thats roughly 2.5 billion years per day. So the next shabbos is not till another, well, about 15 billion years actually. That's the good news. The bad news is that shabbos will last for about 2.5 billion years, so better make lots of cholent."

That actually PROVES the seven days! Cooked food will start going bad within a few days (real earth days, our time), ergo no matter how much tsholnt you make, it will NOT last for the amount of time a cosmic (2.5 billion years) shabbes would take, or even a fraction of that time.
Proof that a day can only be within the same set of parameters that we are used to. No more than about eighty hours (approximate full-fermentation of cholent), no less than twenty hours (eighteen hours of cooking, and at least two hours for your acid-indigestion to hit its stride).

Unless, of course, the Master of the Universe intends to drop tsholnt from the sky at regular intervals (which suggests that mon and tsholnt have much in common, and that you should eat twice as much as normal during that period). Or twice as often if that is your minhag.


The above is pursuant a discussion of Torah truth versus Scientific truth taking place on Dovbear's blog (blog here: http://dovbear.blogspot.com/ post in question here: http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2007/07/science-vs-torah.html).


Nuggets comment-mined:

" But if we actually SAY this, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly known as 'Congregation of the Holy Office', inter alia) will undoubtedly have us burned at the stake."

" We were the people of the book. Now we are the people of the dogma."
" Does it follow that any word whatsoever that anyone has ever said about the Torah is true?"

" Since you seem fascinated in adopting a relationship with G-d which is based on scientific fact, rather than Torah truths, I'm curious how you handle this."

" Hey, maybe God did give the Torah at Sinai but he's an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent trickster God and nothing he wrote in the Good Book was true. I wonder if he would be impressed by our absolutely insane Kiruv proofs and rationalizations..."

" So, yes, "facts" can't contradict the "True" Quran, but they can contradict human, fallible perceptions of the Quran, and that, rather than the Quran itself, is what (often) needs to be reworked in light of newly discovered facts."

" And if you don't like Cholent, we might have to check and see if you're actually Jewish..."

" Ramban Shmos 21:2
Also discussing shmita, and the significance of seven cycles, he says: And the seventh was chosen for days, for years, and for shmita but it all relates to another matter and this is the secret of the age of the universe (sod y'mos ha'olam)

Also, in the Disputation, the Ramban says he does not believe that the word Yom always means Day in Hebrew.

I was planning to not attribute these quotes and tell you to cruise over there to read the entire comment thread instead. But then I bethought me that if I did that, you would stay there for hours and forget to read my blog. Which does not accord with your purpose in being here, or my intention in writing this.

A gittn & gebentshte shabbes oder wochnende, y'all.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Last year, after the Tour De France, there were some staggeringly vicious things in the European press and on Eury message boards about Floyd Landis.

I reacted.... nay, I over-reacted. See here:

In particular, I cited several commentators from the weblog of Jan Marijnsen, member of parliament for the SP (Socialist Party - the rebranded Stalinists of Holland), and from the general readership of the Algemeen Dagblad, Holland's premier news rag for the vast and barely sentient Dutch middleclass.


"Oh well, those Americans just do things in the way they've done them for years. Only difference is that by now they're so stupid that they get caught."

"such a damned sleazy nation, eh, Carl Lewis was also caught using dope but didn't have to turn in his medals. But the life of Ben Johnson (Canadian by birth) was ruined by the Americans. Armstrong, as should be abundantly clear by now, used dope in order to win the tour seven times. According to the Americans, he won on his strengths and no dope! Well, who doesn't remember the racket when Pieter van Hoogenband whupped the American favorite in Sydney? Per the Americans it was impossible without dope to deliver such a splendid achievement. Now and then they're just like children"

"Yeah, Greg Lemond also didn't achieve his three victories cleanly, then Armstrong though now the moron Floyd Landis, if I were in charge of the tour, boycott all those Yankee Doodles, they use doping like it was candy in the States"

There was more. The gist of which was that using performance enhancing tricks is typical of those cheating Americans, who are sleazy besides. Americans are so very very un-European.

Very well then.


Rasmussen out.
"Race leader Michael Rasmussen has been kicked out of the Tour de France and sacked by his Rabobank team."

Moreni out.
"Cofidis cycling team's future looks in jeopardy after Cristian Moreni's positive test for testosterone prompted the French outfit to pull out of the Tour de France on Wednesday."

Vinokourov out.
"Team Astana has denied that it will fold in the wake of Alexandre Vinokourov's doping case."

Sinkewitz out.
"German prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz, who tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone before the Tour de France."

I am quite enjoying this year's tour.
I seldom pay any attention at all to sports, but I frankly cannot wait until the next sleazy cheating " " " American " " " gets kicked out for doping.
I am anticipatorily quivering, even.

You are all winners, guys.



By the way, I put the word "American" in triple quotes, because I can't figure out how to do a strike-through here. It is meant ironically and sarcastically. I actually don't mean American in that sentence. I feel I need to clarify this, because some of my Dutch readers are incapable of "getting" the nuances of English. Or, at least, of American English.


[Warning: This post is about tobacco. Which might not be your cup of tea. In which case it would be slightly pointless to read this, wouldn't it? But don't worry, the regular mix of activist indignation, amateurish Talmudic references, and zany food posts may return shortly.]

The Dunhill pipe tobaccos which we fondly remember from our misspent youths are not the same as the Dunhill pipe tobaccos which are available today.

[I’m using the editorial we, because I’m assuming that you, dear reader, also have a misspent youth during which you scrimped your meagre funds to purchase fine pipe tobaccos.]


Alfred Dunhill Ltd was bought by Carreras International in 1967. Rothmans bought Carreras in 1972. The Dunhill manufacturing plant was kept in operation until 1981, when Rothmans consolidated all their pipe tobacco manufacturing at the Belfast plant (formerly Murray Sons & Co., acquired by Carreras in 1953). Other than minor changes in sourcing tobaccos, and substitutions for specific tobaccos which had become unavailable or prohibitive, there had been almost no change whatsoever up to that point.

But by 1982 the Murray’s versions hit the market, and it was clear that any considerations of quality had been thrown out the door.

During the eighties and nineties a large portion of each tin consisted of twigs and crud, and buying a tin of Dunhill meant mounting frustration for the next few days, until, grumbling and swearing that one would NEVER buy that muck again, one chucked the contents of the tin into the garbage chute and switched to something palatable.

Even with far less twigs and crud it would not have been particularly worth smoking. Mediocre is as good a descriptive term as any....... though that may be an overestimation. The degree of desperation needed to improve the experience was hard to achieve.

The name 'Murray' does not give me a warm fuzzy feeling, instead more like feverish fits of shuddering ague.

[I started smoking fine Oriental blends in the seventies; it is the pre-Belfast Dunhill mixtures which I remember. They were very nice. But it should be noted that Dunhill themselves also introduced changes occasionally – the blends were not quite the same as they had been in the fifties and sixties, due to supply lines shifting and some ingredients becoming unavailable.]


In 1999, Rothmans was bought by BAT (British American Tobacco), who closed down the Murray Sons & Co. factory and outsourced all pipe tobaccos to Denmark’s Orlik Tobacco AS.

That last was a considerable improvement – the sourcing of tobaccos was better, and quality control improved immensely.

Orlik did not produce the Dunhill mixtures as we remembered them. Syrian Latakia had been replaced by Cyprus leaf, and varietal Turkish types such as Yenidje, Samsoun, Izmir, and Djubec had largely been consolidated as 'Basma'.
But Orlik did produce mixtures labeled Dunhill that once again were worth smoking. Good stuff. Some darned good stuff.

Then in 2006 BAT and Orlik started going all Byzantine over the pipe tobacco brands, leading to diminished supplies of Dunhill. A few varieties were also discontinued – Aperatif, Elizabethan Mixture, and Standard Mixture Mild.
Three Year Matured and Light Flake also disappeared, though they may have been phased out earlier than the others. If Durbar Mixture is still being made, which I doubt, it is almost inevitable that it, too, will go the way of all flesh - none has been available in the Bay Area for half a year.


On February 20, 2007 British American Tobacco and Orlik Tobacco AS announced the sale of all pipe tobacco brands to Orlik, excepting Dunhill and Captain Black. What this means for the manufacture of the Dunhill mixtures remains to be seen, but as BAT is not geared towards boutique brands, it would not surprise me if they ended up selling the right to use the Dunhill name to some other company. Dunhill mixtures are now nearly impossible to find, however, and nobody seems to know when they will be available again. Or who will put them up.



My stockpile of Dunhill Pipe Tobaccos (as of July 25th., 2007):

London Mixture - 112 Tins.
Durbar - 83 Tins.
EMP - 82 Tins.
Standard-Medium - 81 Tins.
Standard-Mild - 15 Tins.
My Mixture 965 - 39 Tins.
Aperatif - 17 Tins.
Nightcap - 10 Tins.
Three Year Matured - 10 Tins.
Elizabethan Mixture - 13 Tins.
Light Flake - 3 Tins.

Four hundred and sixty six tins. Should last me nearly a decade.

London Mixture through Nightcap are English-style mixtures, meaning that they have Turkish and Latakia in addition to Virginias (also called 'Flue-cured'). London, Standard, and 965 are the medium-full range, Aperatif is heavy on the Turkish, Nightcap is about fifty percent Latakia augmented by Black Virginia and Cavendish.
Three year matured is a very fine Virginia whored up with of all things a berserk essence. Elizabethan is somewhat unremarkable. The light flake should be a medium Lakeland style aged press - but the last time I smoked any Dunhill flakes was in 1979, so who knows what is in those three tins.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Amazon occasionally sends me information about books based on what they think they know about my tastes. Their guesses are founded upon my previous purchases, and they fervently hope that I will buy again. And again. Prompted by a friendly bit of attention.
Their recommendations are tailored to the individual consumer.
It is both a clever marketing ploy and good customer service, and as regards suggested volumes, sometimes they’re spot on.

So I opened today’s e-mail from Amazon happily.

"Dear Amazon.com Customer,
As someone who has purchased Christian books....

Say what? The heck you say!?! I did what now? Huh? When?

My last order consisted of two authors who could not possibly have caused any confusion on that score: Rabbi Jeremy Rosen and Abdelkader Benali.

The order before that, back in 2005, was the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch - a two volume translation.

Before that, Sabbatai Sevi by Gershom Gerhard Scholem in mid 2005, Xena Warrior Princess and Forever Knight (two tv series cd sets for Savage Kitten's birthday), a translation of Ramban's commentary on the Torah, plus a copy of The Religious Thought of Hasidism: Text and Commentary (Sources and Studies in Kabbalah, Hasidism, and Jewish Thought) by Norman Lamm, and Halakhic Mind, by Joseph B. Soloveitchik.

I also bought some light reading about the Sfas Emes at that time.

Oh, and about four years ago I bought On Thrones of Gold: Three Javanese Shadow Plays.

Maybe it was that last item. Yeah for sure, Hindu-Javanese puppet epics look a lot Christian to the casual observer, I bet.

So anyhow, Amazon cheerily continues their e-mail with:
"you might be interested to know that the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) has announced the 2007 winners of the Christian Book Award, with Karen Kingsbury's "Ever After" taking home the Christian Book of the Year."

Christian book awards? There is such a thing?

Oddly, I find myself indeed interested.

Curiosity at peak, I click on the icon and am taken directly to the Amazon page.

"In this moving sequel to Even Now, Emily Anderson falls deeply in love with a young Army reservist who is about to serve in Iraq. At the same time, Emily’s parents seem on the verge of losing all they had gained. Will heartbreaking tragedy be the turning point for all of them? ---[CUT]--- In Ever After, bestselling author Karen Kingsbury has created a moving sequel to Even Now. The book opens as Emily Anderson, now twenty years old, attends college on a soccer scholarship. Through an off-campus job at Fort Lewis, Emily meets a young Army reservist, Justin Baker. Their love—deep, emotional, and built on the foundation of a shared faith.........."

Amazon really thinks that I'm likely to buy this book?

A patriotic fundamentalist Christian tearjerker is the best guess they can come up with for my tastes and preferences?

Gentlepersons, the definite suspicion that there is probably NO SEX in this book is the least of my objections.

Monday, July 23, 2007


My co-workers must be mad.

Our Belgian distributor came in today, and brought a generous box of Neuhaus chocolates.

It is irresponsible, insane, and in extreme bad-taste to leave an open box of Neuhaus chocolates un-eaten at the end of the day. I mean, don't these proletes have any taste?!? Divine and exquisite chocolate barely touched?!? Are they ALL worrying about their waist?!?

What are they, nuts?!?

What a waste!!!!!!!!!

Neuhaus is a sacrament. I know there are people who like Godiva, but feh I say. Neuhaus rules. Godiva is a cheap tart compared to Neuhaus, merely an exhibitionist, the immodest slut.
Mmmmm, Neuhaus!

This side of the office is entirely empty, except for myself. The late afternoon sun is shining in, reflected off the windows of other buildings. It is quiet. Peaceful.
There's a box of Neuhaus sitting on a table on the other side of the divider.
I am alone, in the presence of a box of Neuhaus.......
I have just bitten into my twentieth piece......

The box is now empty.
I have saved my idiot co-workers from a horrendous oversight.
I am both plete and plenished.

Neuhaus is coursing through my veins. I am happy.
I am feeling somewhat....... full.

I had better leave before I lose consciousness.


E-mail conversation from last year:

I will be in the SF office bright and early in the morning. So if you have any needs you don’t have to call, but can walk. You can still call if you want, but why not walk. Walking is good exercise.

If you ever send another e-mail where, if I didn't see your name as the sender, I would think it was from Einstein, I will rap your knuckles with a ruler.

That would be in reference to the subject line, of course.
In office tomorrow. Off next week. Out Saturday. In orbit oddly. Up and down, inside out. Yet.

Is this what rock cod does to you? I thought fish was brain food.

All synapses energized & shooting off at random. All six cylinders sparking. Tacquitos and hot sauce. Beano under lock and key at Walgreens, along with extra-strength anti-itch unguents, anti-bacterial creams, and all-day antacids. Because those get stolen most. Note the hyphens. Weird neighborhood.


No-one here gets out. Subscribed!

I’ve changed my mind… I’m staying home!

Overruled - bat'lah da'ato etzel kol adam (His opinion is nullified amidst those of the entire human race).

While this was going on, someone else in a different place was wailing that he had misplaced his shel rosh.

Are there any questions?


Treppenwitz discusses hachnoses orchim with some shabbes guests:
As I finished laying all this out before our guests, I could see from their expressions that they still didn't understand. It was at that moment I realized that I'd been giving them examples of how Jews extend (and expect) hospitality from one another... but not why!
I honestly couldn't explain why we do this odd thing. "

See here:http://bogieworks.blogs.com/treppenwitz/2007/07/can-i-ask-you-a.html

The question his posting poses is "Why would you invite a couple of total strangers to eat and sleep in your home for an entire weekend?"

Which is a good question. I suspect the answer will be multi-layered.

Part of it undoubtedly is the mitzvah aspect, and the example of Avraham inviting the malachim.
Part of it is a reflection of empathy with the other - the mind subconsciously asking 'what if I were in that situation, in a foreign city during shabbes? How would I have a kosher shabbes?
And part of it is being able to feel greater than oneself alone, part of a continuum and of a coherent group. All Jews are family, and there is a concern that kin have a kosher shabbes - and in relation thereto, the concept of helping another to do a mitzvah has such Yiddishe resonance that it needs no explanation.

Undoubtedly there is also the force of tradition, the deeply ingrained imperative to be hospitable. This is something not peculiar to Jews, but is a strong element in all the Semitic groups. They cannot help themselves, the drang to be a good host is woven into their language, their culture, their expressions, and their psyche. As such it can be said to be an Abrahamic cultural element shared by Jews and Arabs.

[And note that it extends most strongly to others who are 'within' the group.]

But a greater part may be simply the sheer pleasure of having guests - the exposure to different experiences, and the interacting with others, under circumstances that are familiar and which presuppose a level of trust and predictability. The new and foreign packaged in a comforting chezkas kashrus.
Even if not all these conditions are met, the supposition that they are in the main present calls forth a set of conditioned emotions and responses. That they know and wish to observe shabbes largely vouches for the strangers and sets the tone.
Though they are unknown, they are a known quantity.

How do my readers view this?
I keenly invite your feedback.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


This posting will be of no interest whatsoever to most readers.
It contains nothing of a Jewish nature.
It is not funny.
Nothing Dutch will be slagged.
Nothing Christian will be trashed.
There are NO deep and meaningful observations.

I have four products by DAN TOBACCO in my stockpile.

A dark flake, with 5% Perique.
It is woodsy, musty, spicy, and grassy.

Virginias with a top casing (which is melon-like).
Sweet and fruity – if not dried out a bit, too fruity. But it is clean smoking.
[One tin only – purchased so that the several tins of LIMERICK would have someone to talk to. I’m not crazy.]

Golden Flake.
Grassy, sweet, figgy. Mild and well-behaved. Smooth. Probably has a touch of Burley.
[A ‘veermaster’ is a four-masted ship much resembling a clipper. A kind of schooner, maybe. They're proud of it in Hamburg.]

Virginia and Perique (but probably less than four percent Perique, as it is does not stand out).
Nice little tangy slices of flake with a sweet top note. Of an ilk with Hamborger Veermaster.
[The lid bears the visage of Scandinavian naval hero Peder Wessel Tordenskjold ('thundershield'), born 1691, died 1720. There is a statue of him in his native town of Trondheim (the home of the Trøndurs).]

All told, around twenty tins. I do not smoke Virginias enough to overstock these products. Unlike the English, Balkan, and Oriental mixtures, of which I have over six hundred tins (over four hundred of Dunhill alone). But Virginias can be a very pleasant smoke, and do not off-piss the female of the species much more than is strictly necessary.

The other evening I was in the teevee room with a load of flake on, when Savage Kitten hollered from the other room: “Are you SMOKING in there?” I responded with: “I don’t know WHAT you mean!”. She then asked “Old Toad, are you LYING?” Again I answered “I don’t know WHAT you mean!
About fifteen minutes later she came in and discovered that I was indeed smoking (the trick to plausible deniability is not actual denial but dissimulation – please remember that).

Had I been smoking something like Durbar or 965, with the rich heady fragrance of Latakia and the delightfully resinous perfume of Turkish leaf wafting forth without restraint, I am sure she would not have asked whether I was smoking, but have firmly yelled something to the effect that 'nasty stinky brimstone weed belongs in the kitchen or out on the front-steps!'. Or even out past the end of the block by the colony of bums sleeping in the church doorway.

And there would have been no recourse.

Call me fragile, but I very much prefer to smoke indoors.


NOTE: I have several other Virginias in the stockpile, in addition to some blended MacBaren products. But I have no Dutch tobaccos, as they are putrid, hot-smoking, or bland - sometimes all three, with nasty tongue-burn guaranteed. Harsh and nauseating. No one should have Dutch tobacco. This is by no means a slag but simply a statement of fact.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


The hilchos of HTML markup
[By Dovbear commenter Yus, here: http://www.haloscan.com/comments/dovbear/5114975741916252412/?src=hsr#421099 which is the comment string for this post: http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2007/07/truth-shmooth.html]


To bolden, the b is in between the carats.

Correction; not carats (^), but rather less than and greater than < > symbols. HTML markup, that is the portion of the text which is not actually text but rather dictates how the text appears is always bracketed by <>. This markup in turn brackets the actual text which it marks up as follows:

<>afgsdfgsfgs< /i >

(In actuality, spaces are not embedded in the markup. I just did it that way for illustrative purposes. Otherwise, you'd just se the effect of the markup, and not the markup itself.)

In the following example the <> notation begins the markup block and the < /x > notation closes it. If you combine markup directives, nest them, do not overlap them.

Good: < x > < y >aasdfasdfa < /y > < /x >

Bad: < x > < y >aasdfasdfa < /x > < /y >

< i >Italics< /i >
< b >Bold< /b >
< b >< i >Bold Italics< /i >< /b >

Bold Italics

All you ever wanted to know about markup, but were afraid to ask!

Yus 07.18.07 - 8:02 pm #


Seriously though, that was way better than my explanation. I am in awe.


In the previous post I quoted Treppenwitz regarding the meme with which I recently tried to infect him ("tagged", in blog parlance).

I also "tagged" four other individuals.
Habib ben-Achim Marwan (http://clochardtimes.blogspot.com/).
Knitter of Shiny Things (http://stillinthewoods.blogspot.com/).
Spiros (no blog as yet).
Steg (http://boroparkpyro.blogspot.com/).

So far, of course, none of them have OBEYED THE MEME!

A shandah, or something.

It is the height of summer. What was I thinking?!?!
Habib ben-Achim Marwan is probably savagely flirting with bikini-clad blondes on the Costa Del Sol for the next two months, Knitter of Shiny Things is enjoying a summer break or digging up old things somewhere, Spiros is getting set to sell books of magic to the underage, and Steg is off for the summer and deep in the depression of the nine days.

These four individuals have a lot in common, though, and you may well wonder what that is. Habib ben-Achim Marwan's blog is in riotous obscenity-laced Flemish, Knitter of Shiny Things tells you what you need to know about mikvaos, Spiros reads and cooks, and Steg has a rich life.
I see certain key characterisitics which they all share (and which they do not share with Treppenwitz), but I would challenge my readers to recognize what these are.

[I should also mention that whenever I read the comments under articles in the Algemeen Dagblad on the internet I am reminded why I am glad that I no longer live in the Netherlands, and why I should have left earlier. But when I read Habib ben-Achim Marwan's blog, I realize that I really should go back more often. If he ever starts writing about Belgian food he'll really drive me crazy.]

I invite guesses about the similarities between these bloggers from my readers.


ADDENDUM: I just noticed that Knitter of Shiny things has indeed blogged the meme. See here: http://stillinthewoods.blogspot.com/2007/07/meme-from-back-of-hill.html
Hints: Height fluctuates. At least six or eight knitting needles.
She does not tag, however.


One of the people I tried to infect with the meme I got from Tzipporah was Treppenwitz.

It did not take. He is immune.

[For explanation of the meme: http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2007/07/eight-treasures-rice-pudding.html
For Tzippy's variant of the meme: http://midianitemanna.blogspot.com/2007/07/8-things-about-tzippy.html
For RWC's version: http://rabbiwithoutacause.blogspot.com/2007/07/eight-things-about-rwac.html
For a modern orthodox teenage misadventure: http://howtomeasuretheyears.blogspot.com/2007/06/tagged.html]

Trepp said (and I quote):
"OK, for the record, I hate memes. They make me feel obligated to do something that I'm likely to do voluntarily anyway. And the sense of obligation kills the drive. If you want to see 8 things about me, go to my archives and dig up my birthday lists. Every year I share a number of things about myself that roughly correspond to the number of trips I've taken around the sun. And that number is far greater than 8. I'm flattered to have been tagged, but must politely decline."

Well, that's pretty much par for the course. It doesn't look like any of the other infectees bit either.
So, just for the heck of it, I'll do Treppenwitz's list for him.

By listing some of his past posts which you should really read.

[Errrm, actually, this is complete laziness on my part. I didn't bother writing a post of my own today, and I got to reread someone else's stuff. But please, feel free to think of it as me doing his homework for him because he's too lazy to do it himself. Or something. Reinterpret and read between the lines, frevvins sake.]

[That's Dutch for 'acht treppen leist']

Quote: "But I'm not between two and four... I'm six!" [Aval ani lo bein shtayim l'arbah... ani ben sheysh!"]

Small acts of kindness
"... 30 - 45 minutes before they officially close, the owner goes around to each cash register and locks the drawers... and then goes home. The cashiers have instructions to tell anyone coming after the drawers are locked that they have no way to accept money ... "

Verbal shortcuts and random telepathy
" ... and you end up with a bumper crop of words in Hebrew that sound like gibberish to anyone ... "

Caffeinated Kids
"... what people report after drinking a cup of coffee; alertness, better ability to focus... even enhanced ability to reason and make mental connections."

Quote of the day
"... if we've learned nothing else from recent history it is that the leaders of the various Palestinian militias will eventually figure out that the only way for a faction to reassert its supremacy is to demonstrate its superior ability to bloody Israel's nose."

France Capitulates!
"... apparently it's never too soon for the Parisian government to start waving the white flag on their own - or anyone else's - behalf."

The smallest coldest room in the place
"... share your own experiences or theories concerning Israeli public bathrooms."

Boys with Boobs
"That stampede-like sound you hear is millions of um, athletic women running to the store ..."

Color me confused (and frustrated)
"... tell me there will come a point when I will stop inadvertently touching my ... "

Lastly, just in case you forgot, the best conversation between author and readers ever.

Warning: T.M.I.
"... now that I'm lying here next to my desk in the fetal position ..."

Well. That ought to keep you busy.
If you have any personal favourites, let me know.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


One of the people in our little Bay Area cell of the Vast Zionist Conspiracy co-hosts a blog.

It is an interesting blog. See here: http://seriesofjews.blogspot.com/
It will become more interesting with use.

Both cohosts are in their teens. Both cohosts are intelligent. One of the cohosts will probably end up smoking a pipe. What's not to like?

The pipe-smoking may even start sometime this summer, once I hook his dad up with some of GLPease's Westminster mixture and Kensington mixture. And once it is certain that there are working briars in the house.

No, I am NOT corrupting a young person!
I have plausible deniability. Once the tobacco has been introduced into the household it ain't my business what happens next.


I started smoking a pipe when I was fourteen. I always parked my bicycle in front of the tobacconists whenever I went to Priem's bookstore (which was several times a week). For nearly two months that summer I saw a pipe in the window display that I liked. So I finally bought it. That was the first time I had ever been at a tobacconists.
About a month later I finally bought some tobacco. Several weeks after that the cat discovered my pipes and tobacco underneath a cabinet in the downstairs living room, and the jig was up.

That evening, I got a very stern lecture from my mother about THE ! EVILS ! OF ! SMOKING !
Tobacco kills. Emphysema. Lung cancer. Mouth kankers. Throat disease. Asthma. Indigestion. Moral turpitude. Lack of sex-appeal. Stunted growth. Decay, depravity, decadence. Fie fie fie!

She smoked three cigarettes during the harangue.

Once she had finished, she turned me over to my dad for another lecture.

He told me sternly to 'utterly avoid sauced tobaccos, because a good product does not need a candy stench to be enjoyable. Cheap perfumed tobaccos do not taste good, and smell like a Turkish cat house'.

Having said what he felt was important, he returned to his book.

I've been smoking good tobacco ever since.

I admire the breadth of his experience.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Tzipporah (Midianite Manna: http://www.midianitemanna.blogspot.com/)
has tagged me to carry on a meme with the following rules:

Each player lists eight things (facts or habits) about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those things are listed. At the end of the post the player tags eight people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read the post and pass the meme and tag onward.

All righty then. Do I boast? Do I confess odd things? Do I ego-trip? Do I startle you? Do I bore with platitudinous detail?

[Do I mention that I am a horrible attention-whore? No, I guess I had better not.]

It's all about me, is it?

Eight things you do not need to know about me:

1. I like smells. I'll cross the street to get close to hot tar and durian. I inhale deeply in elevators. I love mildew. Rotten apples. Cheese. A woman's hair. Burning rubber. Ink. Cardamom. Freshly scrubbed stainless steel. Fish.

2. I learned Cantonese (粵語) from gangster movies made in Hong Kong (香港). You can imagine what that says about my vocabulary and accent. But I have quite decent handwriting, including chuan-shu (篆書) and running script (行書), so I'm not entirely a Tsim-tung (尖東) thug.

3. I own over one hundred and twenty briar pipes. Of which about half are of excellent quality, and the remainder are oddities, curiosities, and bang-arounders. This, by the way, is not unusual for pipe-smokers. What is slightly unusual is that I have nearly eight-hundred tins of pipe-tobacco stashed in my apartment - this should last me for the next decade and a half.

4. I enjoy my job.

5. I have no fetishes.

6. Coconut milk (santen), lemon grass (serai), chilies (tjabai), galangal (lengkuas), kemiri nuts and fish-paste are essential ingredients. So is cooking sherry. Kluwek are not, strictly speaking, essential, but it is very good to have some around for rawon.

7. Dutch is a remarkable language for poetry. Sonnets in Dutch can be terrific, heroic verse is divine. English, on the other hand, is good for doggerel - and there are some very fine doggerel meisters in English, make no mistake. But the English language has only a handful of actual poets, and sheer bucket-loads of nauseatingly bad verse. Sorry. It's the truth.

8. I have memorized much Chinese verse (律詩, 絕句).
Predictably, I like Li Po (李白), Tu Fu (杜甫), and Wang Wei (王維). Zhang Ji's famous poem 'night mooring at maple bridge' (楓橋夜泊) was the first Chinese poem I memorized: "Yue luo wu ti, shuang man tian; Jiang feng yu huo dui shou mien; Gu Su sheng wai, han shan shi; Yeh pun chong shen dao ke chuen" (the moon is low and a crow caws, frost fills the sky; river bank maples and fishermen's flares meet the tired eyes; Outside of SuZhou - from Cold Mountain Temple, The Midnight bell's chime - reaches the traveller's boat). During the T'ang Dynasty (唐朝) this poem rhymed, but the language has changed since then. Zhang Ji (張繼) wrote it on his way back home after failing the metropolitan examinations. He was despondent. Little is known about him otherwise. This poem is what everyone remembers, however, as it is included in the classic collection 'Three Hundred Poems of the T'ang Dynasty (Tang Shi San Pai Shou: 唐詩三百首), which in the past many students committed to memory.

9. Astrology is bunkum.

Enough about me.
Let's talk about you.

I'm tagging these gentlepersons:
Habib ben-Achim Marwan (http://clochardtimes.blogspot.com/).
Knitter of Shiny Things (http://stillinthewoods.blogspot.com/).
Spiros (no blog, but add your eight to the comments).
Steg (http://boroparkpyro.blogspot.com/).
Treppenwitz (http://bogieworks.blogs.com/treppenwitz/).

Enough. Panch main parmesvar - God is with five.

By the way. You may have noticed that I do not adhere very well to rules. Please do not make any snide comments about that, or I will walk all over the grass, cross in the middle of the block, and smoke around children, cripples and the elderly. I mean it.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Biggest spitfest on the blogs this past week: The discussion about Amnon De Hartog knocking Knesset-member Ya'akov Cohen to the floor.

What happened is this: in a 'debate' over funding for Hareidi schools which do not meet the standards for certain allocations, Attorney De Hartog, on behalf of the executive branch of the Israeli government, informed Ya'akov Cohen of the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party that approval would not be granted. Mr. Cohen got angry and said some things. Whereupon Attorney Amnon De Hartog said he would slap Cohen. Cohen responded "I'm waiting". And De Hartog did not let him wait anymore.

Two things especially should be noted:
1. It is Attorney De Hartog's job to ensure that every organization receiving funds actually qualifies. In that task he has blocked funding across the board, to organizations running the gamut from horrifyingly secular to sickeningly religious. The record shows that he has been honest and thorough.
2. The UTJ and Shas have both put pressure on Amnon De Hartog to break the law and pass funding for schools and programs which do not qualify. Because he failed to do so, certain elements in the Hareidi block have mounted a vicious campaign of harassment and character-assassination against him, going so far as to slander him in print and turn members of his own synagogue against him. This has been going on for years.

Now, what was it that Member of Knesses Rabbi Ya'akov Cohen said to De Hartog that elicited that slap?

"You are worse than the Germans. The Germans killed the body, you are killing the soul."

In effect, Mr. Cohen told De Hartog that he was worse than the very same Nazis who slaughtered over twenty of De Hartog's close relatives in the Netherlands during the holocaust - and it should be remembered that over eighty percent of Dutch Jewry were killed during the war.

Cohen. Said. That. He. Was. Worse. Than. Those. Who. Had. Murdered. De Hartog's. Family. And. Community.

Either Cohen is a remarkably ignorant piece of work with blinkers to boot, or he just has a low opinion of Dutch Jews in general.
Or, as De Hartog called him, Cohen is indeed a behaima.

In which Dov postulates that the Cohen fellow may have needed slapping.
In which Dov provides a link to another excellent blog.
Slapping in American politics.
Dov takes issue with Ed defending Cohen and attacking De Hartog.

In which, in his third point, he mentions the Behaima-slapping episode.
Mention of Dovbear's blog.
Which provides a more balanced perspective than many of us have been capable of to date.

What I REALLY think should have happened...
Dehartug: Um, bro, listen: You're schools aren't meeting the legal criteria, so according to the law I can't let you have the cash.
MK Cohen: Oh, I quite understand. And what you're saying is true. Our schools do fall short of the legal criteria, but I assure you that we still provide excellent educations.
Dehartug: Good sir, I don't doubt your assertion, but the law is the law.
MK Cohen: I quite agree. Well thank you for your time. Good day, sir.

Dehartug: Um, bro, listen: You're schools aren't meeting the legal criteria, so according to the law I can't let you have the cash.


Capping it all off, here's what Member of Knesset Avraham Ravitz said afterwards:
"Hartog attempted to expel the Haredim from Israeli society as if we were Darfur refugees, to keep us from receiving the bare minimum. The slap demonstrates the hate he has accumulated, merely because we tell him to his face what we think about his tricky tactics --- The master doesn't like it when the Jewboy tells him to his face what he thinks about him."

It should be noted that this is a frumm Jew speaking of another frumm Jew. Speaking in fact, of a frumm Jew who is a Hesder Yeshiva graduate and a religious Zionist.

There are several things one could say about people like Avraham Ravitz, Ya'akov Cohen, and their ilk in UTJ. Rather than going into detail, I wish to merely state that they should learn what the following terms mean: Ahavas Yisroel; Derech Eretz; Lashon Hara, Rechilus, Motzi Shem Ra'a, Ona'as Dvorim, Nibul Peh.....

Final note: De Hartog apologized publicly and completely for the slap. As of this writing, all Mr. Cohen has done is kvetch. He has not apologized for his odious statement at all.


Barak, gasping, wrote:

A gadol admit he made a mistake?! Wow! That Arctic breeze you just felt was from Hell. It froze over.Wonder if he'll apologize to Rabbi Slifkin for making Rabbi Slifkin's life a living hell for the past few years as publicly as he denounced Rabbi Slifkin and put him in Cherem...

Good heavens no. Instead, it will be precisely like the explanation for some parts of the Quran (a minor heathen religious tract, for those who do not know) flatly contradicting other parts.

Let's see:
1. This sura is from the Medina period, that sura is from the Mecca period; of course they say different things.
2. You are mistaken - the relevant details and circumstances are different.
3. That is explained using an alternative interpretation of an obscure term which you could not possibly understand.
4. Only applies to unbelievers, so why are you asking?
5. Kafir! Rafidi!

A gadol is by definition infallible. Ergo you must be mistaken. If you read the relevant material again with sincerity you will grasp this. Either that or you are incapable of understanding. Tshuva is required.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


While reading up on Peterson's Irish Flake, I found the following statement:

"Have yourself a nice meal, pour a slug of whiskey or strong black coffee, put something by John Ford on the box, grab your vorpal sword, and enjoy being a man.
Or, you know, a tough woman."

Source: Seamus on Tobacco Reviews dot com.

In his mind this relates to a blend of air-cured, flue-cured, and dark-fired, which has been pressed, stoved, and sliced thin - a strong tobacco.

For me, however, it both evokes a wonderful world of myriad (two) possibilities, as well as the individual I mentioned in the previous post, which you will find upon scrolling down.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


I have just had the distinctly disturbing experience of seeing the Head of International Sales wearing a scallop-shell bikini.

It is seared upon my eyes, yea even upon the backs of my eyes.

I hope that I do not wake up screaming in the night.

No matter how slender and trim the man, there are some garments that should not be worn by grey-haired boys in an office environment.


The Pakistani army yesterday overwhelmed the Islamic fanatics who had holed up in Islamabad's Red Mosque.

In doing so, they inadvertently whacked Abdul Rashid Ghazi, whom they had wished to capture alive.

Per the Pakistani government, some fifty whackjobs snuffed it alongside mr. Ghazi.
But according to a source within Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) who spoke to the Spanish news bureau (EFE) on condition that he not be named, the number of dead whackjobs is probably in the hundreds - over 286 Islamic whackjob cadavers had been recovered as of this writing. The source, who probably represents the whackjob faction in ISI, further said that the government intended to hide the scale of the bloodbath by burying the corpses of the deceased whackjobs in dead of night.

Given that the whackjobs holed up in the Red Mosque and the Madrassa compound represented the most repulsive type of Pakistani religious nut, and given their connections with AlQaeda (who have already gibbered about vengeance), with extremists in Waziristan, with terrorists fighting the Indian army in Kashmir, with Uzbeki gangsters on the run in Pakistan, and with the murderers of Daniel Pearl, what the Pakistani army really should do is burn the bodies of these whackjobs in public and cover the charred remains with a concrete slab, then bulldoze the mosque itself and turn it into a parking-lot for a Kentucky Fried Creature franchise.

Well, whatever. It is advisable that they now seize Abdul Rashid Ghazi's kinfolk in Rajanpur and most male members of the Mazari tribe - those who supported the insanity and nurtured it have done their nation a horrible disservice and it is fitting that they be questioned. Which is perfectly in keeping with local traditions in that part of the world besides. In Pakistan, a man's clan and tribe function as both his support-group and his enablers - if he snuffs it, no matter how justifiable his whacking, his clan and his tribe will seek vengeance. Depravity, treason, and psychosis are of no consequence in such matters, and certainly not foreign to Pakistani society in any case. Allowing these people to remain free will be a costly error. When you kill a spider, clear away the cobweb.

His brother, Maulana Abdul Aziz, must also be held responsible. He, you will recall, is the man who fled the Mosque wearing women's clothes. As Khatib of the mosque he set the tone and riled up the passions.
It is a dreary constant in the Islamic world that impressionable members of kawm and umma tend towards hysteria and mob behaviour every Friday after prayers. The sermons of fanatic khutaba are primarily responsible for this. Such preachers are usually staggeringly ignorant of everything except the most hateful parts of Quran and Sharia, these being the only works of fiction that they read.


Oh by the way, I am VERY tolerant of Muslims, why, even some of my best friends are Muslims. You might not have gotten that from the text above, so I feel I have to say it. Indeedy yes, I do love Muslims; they are FINE people, and SO friendly.

In fact, dare I say it, Pakistanis are the most perfect flower of Islamic civilization and culture, in whose reflected glory all other Muslims bask, and whose sterling example they follow. And having both Pakistanis AND Muslims, the world is doubly blessed.

PS. I also very much like the French and the English.


Attorney Amnon De Hartog of the Israeli Attorney General's office smacked MK (member of knesset) Yaakov Cohen (United Torah Judaism) in the face Tuesday morning.

And now Hareidim are in an uproar.

The incident, which resulted from bad blood between the Hareidim and the attorney over his repeated refusals of funding for certain Hareidi educational programs, reached a boiling point when De Hartog called Yaakov Cohen an animal. Cohen then took it over the top by saying: "You're worse than the Germans; they wanted to destroy the body, while you want to destroy our soul."

De Hartog, who lost over twenty members of his family in Holland during the war, then warned Cohen that he would hit him. Cohen dared him to do just that. So De Hartog knocked him to the floor.

De Hartog is religious-Zionist, Cohen is Hareidi-religious.

I am neither, so I should not have a bird in this cock-fight.

But obviously I do. I am vested emotionally in the justice and tzadkus on the side of attorney De Hartog and find mr. Cohen's comment to have been beyond the pale, reprehensible, and loathsome. A disgusting comment, for which that grauber cossack should be censured and excoriated.
I feel that De Hartog should've trapped that boerekinkel firmly in the kloten. But in lieu thereof, I'll settle for administering another frosk in ponim.

Other than that, carry on boys. Debate is good.


In other news, a Hareidi man who requested that several young Arab men on a bus in Jerusalem cease harassing Jewish girls also traveling on the bus was beaten up.

It's fairly clear who the civilized side in this incident is, isn't it? I mean, can there be any doubt? And it isn't as if this is an isolated occurrence, or out of character. Nor is it arguable that such behaviour represents years and years of frustration over injustice (even though I know that some people will claim exactly that). Harassing girls is just not cricket. Those shgatzim need to be worked over with a rubber hose and sent back weeping to their mommies.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


It isn’t what you think, you pervert!

Let me begin by first pointing you to the comments underneath a post on Dovbear’s blog (see here: http://www.haloscan.com/comments/dovbear/3363981839643963800/), and then pointing you towards a lovely photo on e-kvetcher's blog (see here: http://search-for-emes.blogspot.com/2007/07/if-youre-planning-to-run-with-bulls.html).

Now breathe deeply. What do you smell?


All of the above serves as preamble - this post is actually about tobacco.

I have a tin of Rattray's Jocks Mixture on my desk. I am airing it out - I had forgotten that I had added some extra moisture to it a while back, and the tobacco has since then turned a tarry speckled brown-black and smells marvelously figgy. I keep reaching over and sticking my nose into the tin - it's like smelling a spice-cake cooling on the rack. Perhaps after drizzling some whiskey down the center. Autumnal and toasty-rich. Pomegranatish.

Like an old-fashioned drogistery with a row of odd herbals. Like a countryside bar-billard in late autumn. Like a grossier's warehouse with crates of tea and boxes of spice.

I am sheerly intoxicated by the aroma.

Jocks Mixture used to be a blend of Latakia and Black Cavendish, full-bodied and spicy, with a wine-like fermented tang. Zesty.

In the day when the mixtures were still made in Charles Rattray's shop in Perth (at 15B High Street), the blends were truly magnificent. Then in the mid-eighties the blending was farmed out to the Danes, who made a complete pigs breakfast of it, followed by the Germans, who are actually fairly decent. Unfortunately by the time the Germans got a hold of the blends, it had become almost impossible to purchase varietal Turkish tobacco, and Syrian Latakia was nearly unavailable (and most blenders had substituted Cyprian Latakia).

So it has not been the same for years.

The Germans do make a good product. But there is something distinctly missing.....

The smell of Jock.



NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Monday, July 09, 2007


A new religion has been born. Like all religions it has revealed truths, and much is taken on faith. The principles and fundamental beliefs, when questioned, are fiercely defended, and skeptics are vilified and excoriated. Denying the fundaments of this new creed announces that one is a heretic and must be cast-out.

The primary credum absurdum is that Bush is an evil genius who controls everything, and that consequently it is a moral imperative to hate Bush.

Once you believe this, miracles are possible. In fact, once you believe this, a belief in the supernatural is obligatory. Illogic is logic.

Such as the mishegos that Bush ordered the 9/11 attack for a variety of reasons and with an array of interested parties benefiting.

Huge segments of the European public have converted to this religion, and even though most Western European democracies are avowedly secularist, people will relinquish healthy skepticism and rational debate in favour of asserting variations on the primary credum absurdum. All intelligent discussion ceases while statements that defy logic, boggle the mind, and epitomize conspiracy paranoia are gravely accorded validity.

Hatred of Bush means that such accusations reaffirm cherished beliefs, and provide comfort and a sense of superiority. People who believe such things feel that they have a measure of control over the facts, and a superior understanding of life.

France is particularly fertile ground for such nonsense.

A book that claimed that no airliner hit the US Pentagon in the September 11 attacks topped the French bestseller list in 2002. It was subsequently translated into several languages. But it was just one post-9/11 French obscenity. There were others.

More recently, when asked if Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks, the French minister of housing (Christine Boutin) had this to say: "Je pense que c'est possible. Je le pense d'autant plus que je sais que les sites qui parlent de ce problème sont des sites qui ont les plus gros taux de visites. ( - ) Et donc je me dis, moi qui suis très sensibilisée au problème des nouvelles techniques de l'information et de la communication, que cette expression de la masse et du peuple ne peut pas être sans aucune vérité. Donc je ne te dis pas que j'adhère à cette posture, mais disons que je m'interroge quand même un petit peu sur cette question" ('I think that it is possible. I think so especially when I know that the (web) sites that speak of this issue are the sites that have the greatest numbers of visits. ( - ) And so, I tell myself, I who am extremely sensitive to the hazards of new techniques of information and communication, that this point of view of the masses may not be entirely wrong. I'm not saying that I adhere to this position, but let us say, im kol zeh, that I have questions regarding this issue').

Bear in mind that she is not asserting outright that Bush did it. She is stating that it is a distinct possibility, and basing that on the fact that millions of people believe that it is possible and probable......

Millions of people were also convinced that Stalin and Mao were great men who advanced the cause of humanity, and millions positively knew that the Japanese emperor was a god. Millions of people once believed the world to be flat, and millions believe the moon landings were filmed on a Hollywood soundstage.

Millions of believers do not make a falsehood a fact.

Even if they are absolutely upstanding conspiracy-theorists.

Because she is a government minister, her absurd statement, in truncated form, is being used to "prove" that Bush done it - surely an article of faith believed by so prominent a person cannot be wrong.
[Especially as she is not American.]

Irrational Bush-hatred has become a religion.

Who says Europe has given up on faith?

Friday, July 06, 2007


Earlier today I lef this comment underneath a posting on a friend's blog:

Turkey Pastrami? Turkey Bacon?
Errk. That's like those weird white-folks tofu compounds. Enough to frighten one away from strange foreign foods entirely.

Extract from a fictional travel book: "The old Jewish quarter in Shinkenfressersburg on the river Knor was named 'Vegetariengasse', after it's main thoroughfare, where the oldest shul, Knesses Ha Tsimchonim, was located. After the rise of chassidus, dissidents in the community built 'Kehal Tivonos', which by the turn of the century ceased to exist due to chronic hunger, and, it is said, a complete lack of oneg shabbes."

The river Knor, as you probably remember, is a branch of the Maggi, which flows into Lake Hotchpots (Hoczpocz Foldvar) just south of Aggida.


If this travel book were to really exist, it would probably need to be illustrated by Eduard Blutig or E. G. Deadworry. And published by Black Doll Press (a division of Elephant House) in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts.


Dovbear posted about a cholent controversy (http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2007/07/cholent-controversy.html), which may have already lead to a conversion by the time you read this.

It turns out that someone's distaste for cholent suggested to some of the finest lomdishe minds that the afflicted person might not be, al pi halacha, Jewish.

Needless to say this excited the intellects of Dovbear's readers no end. As of this writing there were two hundred and thirty four comments. Names were being called, verbal fists were flying, and the Mishne Berurah was being cited with reckless abondon.
Again, two hundred and thirty four comments. About cholent. How keenly the kehal looks forward to the Sabbath.

"What", I hear you asking from your seat in the last pew, "is cholent?"

It is oneg.

Per Rabbi Schmeckelstein, part-time correspondent for The Knish, it is also something.
See here: http://www.theknish.com/article18.2.shtm
His description does not entirely clarify, however.

Genug tshernt for sechs mentshen, oych acht mit a helzel oder voss lechem.

Three quarters of a cup white beans (navy).
Three quarters of a cup red beans (kidney).
Half a cup pearl barley.
One and half pounds brisket or beef shortribs, attacked with a cleaver.
One and a half pounds potatoes, cut into large chunks.
One large onion, or two small - large chunks.
One large tomato, or two small, chopped.
Three to five cloves garlic, chopped.
One and a half TBS paprika.
Two or three bayleaves.
Salt, pepper, sugar, splash of sherry, jigger of Louisiana hotsauce.
Pinches ground cumin, turmeric, and dry ginger.
Olive oil.
Vinegar, to dash if wished.
Six hardboiled eggs, rolled to crack the shells.

[Bonenkruid (Satureiea Hortensis, or Summer Savoury), if you have it in your larder, is an excellent addition - a sprig or goodly pinch added to the pot of beans has a salutary effect. Please note that cumin, turmeric, and ginger aren't normative either. And really, more garlic is also fine.]

Soak beans overnight. Cast out the soaking water, and remove any grit or stones. Place in a large enamel castrol, with enough water to cover by an inch. Heat up the oil in a skillet, gild the onion and garlic, remove to the bean pot. Set the skillet aside for use in another hour or so for the meat. Bring the beans and onion to a boil, turn low, simmer for about three hours.

Salt and pepper the meat, and sprinkle just a pinch of sugar over, to facilitate browning. Put the meat in the skillet, brown a bit, stir in paprika and seethe with sherry before it burns, then transfer this also into the bean pot and scrape in the pan-crunchies after the beans have already simmered for about three hours. Add the pearl barley and everything else, burying the eggs and potatoes in the beans along with a helzele if you wish. Add a dash of vinegar also, and simmer on a backburner for an hour longer. Judge the liquid level and adjust (probably not necessary), then lid the pot and place it on the blech till Saturday afternoon, when you will serve it.

Have some bread on the side - good for mopping the plate. Place the bottle of Louisiana hotsauce in the middle for everyone to help themselves.

You will probably want to have some beano beforehand, and take two ping wei pien tablets afterwards for your stomach's sake. Tshernt is heavy stuff. But, as on shabbes you have an extra (degree of) soul, according to Resh Lakish (the neshomo yeteiro, Beitza 16a), you need extra oneg. Oneg is tshernt.


Note I: Helzel is what you do with a chicken neck. Think of it as a boudin or boiled savoury pudding. Having removed the skin of the chicken's neck by pulling it off like a sock, you rinse it and stuff it with matze meal, spices (paprika, pepper, salt), smous, and some chopped aromatics (onion, carrots, celery). But mostly matze meal and smous (English: shmaltz). Then you carefully tie it at both ends and lay it in the cholent to cook along. But you could also use all the ingredients to make a cholent kugel instead. Which is kind of an odd idea, but what have you.

Note II: The total amount of beans is one and a half cups before soaking. Kidney and navy are standard, but you could also substitute kik-erten (chickpeas) or another kind of gas-fruit for some of the reds and whites. The cooking will be long enough that the flavours will meld, and you want a pleasing appearance. Do not use Lima beans, as they are an abomination.

Note III: Placing the crackled hard-boiled eggs in the pot will give you beid hameen (hwevos haminados) of a sort. Most delicious.

If you're having lechem with your cholent as I suggested, you must say motzi (boruch atta Adonoi Eloheinu, melech ho olom, hamotzi lechem min ho'oretz).
Read all about motzi (http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2007/07/artscroll.html) beforehand.

If you're having this during the week, it can be served with white rice. In which case a bottle of Parbo or Red Stripe ("hooray, beer!") would not be amiss.


Chaim G. wrote:

DovBear is not anonymous. He is pseudonymous.

And I, changing my pseudonymous handles with great alacrity and rapidity, am Chameleonymous

Chaim G.

The Bray of Fundie
Knuckle-Dragging Barbarian
A Monsey Chusid
Beauty is false & comeliness vain
the Charedi Exorcist
Chaim G. the Haloscan Klutz
Godwin's Law Task Force
Mrs. Willy Lohman
neither G-d nor a Lady
Preference by Loreal
Ruth-the Queen Mother
The original ignoramus Chaim G.

There is a wit at work in this. I like it. Stay tuned for further nomens.


E-kvetcher (http://search-for-emes.blogspot.com/) seems possessed of a strange despondence.

He posted this on his blog:

Ani maamin b'amuna sheleimah b'vias ha Mashiach, v'af al pi sheyismameha, im kol zeh achake lo b'chol yom sheyavo
[I believe with complete belief in the coming of the Messiah, and though he may delay, with all this, every day I will wait for him to arrive.]

It is of course a standard rephrasing of one of the principles of faith expounded by the Rambam in the twelfth century. In modern times it recalls what was sung on the way to the gas.

I do not know what is going through his head. He himself says that he cannot well express it. And I do not know what to say. Perhaps you should visit him.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


It is the height of summer in the Bay Area. You wouldn't know it from the weather in the city, but across the bay, down the peninsula, and even up in Marin they're burning up energy like nobody's business. So we all have to suffer. Even in San Francisco. Where it is twenty degrees cooler, and the fog blows in every afternoon.
I've worn my overcoat every day this year.

Comes now an e-mail from building management:


Curtailment will be required this Thursday, July 5 from 2 pm to 7 pm, based
on the Cal I.S.O. load forecast expected to be over 45,000 megawatts. Please try to contribute by conserving energy in your suite.

--- --- ---

Subsequent thereto, from our office manager:

Here are some good ideas for the company to follow on this Thursday and onward....
1. Turn off all lighting not necessary for safety or productivity or where windows provide sufficient light (conference rooms, bathrooms, kitchen, your office....etc..)

2. Turn off office equipment, computers, printers, monitors, and other electrical equipment that does not require your productivity. (Turn off every night as well.)

3. Keep windows closed while HVAC system is running.

4. Turn off desk lamps, floor heaters and fans when you are away from your desk.

5. Take the elevator in groups of five employees or more.

--- --- ---

My own immediate e-mail contribution:

Looking for four other smokers with whom to co-ordinate elevator schedule.
Please advise.

--- --- ---

And that got me thinking......

The most efficient use of the elevator is when the "ambient" energy (meaning gravity) lessens the energy required to operate the machine.
Ergo, I urge all employees to only take the elevator down. Just think of how much energy you'll save by reducing your elevator use by half!

Then the coffee kicked in.....
And I thought about the huge amounts of oxygen created by fields of growing plants. Plants such as tobacco, for instance - a crop which utilizes vast acreages all over the world. Each smoker's beneficial impact on the planet is probably at least double that of a non-smoker, and each new smoker is directly responsible for an exponential increase in the amount of oxygen. Just think of how much oxygen you'll create by taking up smoking!

Having smoked since I was fourteen, you can imagine how freaking virtuous I'm feeling right now.

I'm a veritable tzaddik of green, oh yes.
I think I'll have another smoke now.
As is my saintly wont.

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