Friday, July 28, 2006

Observations on Body Image and Insanity

I read "Cathy" - you know, the comic strip. This week Irving is having an image crisis, because he's sure that he's fat and that everyone last week was staring at his stomach in his bathing suit. Cathy assured him that they've always stared at his stomach. That didn't help.

I also am a member of eDiets. I have 2 boards I'm a member on, and last week a friend of mine wrote a long post about how she'll never be a size 6,and is any of the denial even worth it.

Today, I was reading Poor Impulse Control, and Tata mentions wanting to be a size 2, and that she's sure that she'll achieve this goal just one year after her death.

What I noticed was the difference in goals. Irving wants to be "ripped", my eDiets friend is despairing over a number, and Tata goes out of her way to insist that she's looking for good health above all, but you can tell that she has to remind herself of this constantly.

I do want to be healthier, it's true. Not that I have as many problems as I could; I have normal blood pressure and good cholesterol levels, but there's plenty of issues abounding. As much as I want to be a healthy body, though, there's always that part of my brain that assigns value to the random numbers assigned by the fashion industry. This has been, recently, a predominantly female issue. According to "Cathy", this is now happening more and more to men, as well. What are we going to be like if we're all crazy obsessed about how we look? I can tell you now, we are not going to be universally hot.

This could get *actually* ugly.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Because I'm Jewish

I have an email in my inbox from the American Zionist Movement (am I a member of that? I don't even know) advertising an "Israeli fact-finding trip" from August 7-9, for just 1600 dollars or so, including airfare.

Now, I'm pretty intrepid, and I absolutely support Israel, but I'm not walking in to the middle of a war on purpose. No one needs me there. It is amazing that these groups would ask it of us. Don't be fooled, this isn't a volunteer mission for soldiers or aid workers, this is just a "meet and greet" with some "Israeli leaders". Could anything seem any more elitist and ignorant? Deliberately obtuse?

Today my opinion of the war is (and remember, it changes pretty much every damn day):

I wish that Israel wasn't holding back. A half-assed war will give them only death for death's sake, and no political gain. Innocent people are already dead as a result of bombing areas where Hezbollah has been headquartered; to have them die for something that amounts to a fruitless vanity charge would be more tragic than even I can support. War has already started, I cannot change that. Since this is true, I want Israel to abandon the small-unit ground force idea that obviously is not effective and just win.

I know, I know, if they do, then who's going to actually be the "peace-keeping force" in that mile-and-a-half buffer zone Israel keeps talking about? I have no idea.

You know, a lot of times, I start writing this stuff down, and as I go, my ideas become clear, and I re-write, and I edit, and I come up with something cohesive and coherent. When it comes to this stuff, though, that just isn't happening. I'm no help, here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Backwards Americans

With all that's going on in the world today, perhaps you haven't had time to notice that there's a new version of Monopoly available in the United Kingdom.
The new card, which resembles a debit card, is inserted into a small plastic reader/writer that can display and update the balance on the card. Traditional money is gone altogether, though purists can still purchase the original version. Visa's partnership with Parker Bros. seems designed to bolster the belief that using paper money is baffling and insecure.
Now, maybe you think this is cool, or maybe you're all up in arms, because you like your games exactly as you left them when you were a child, thank you very much. Well, no worries:
No word on when the debit card version will reach US shores.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Monday, Busy, High Pressure

I have a headache. Anyone else have a headache, too?

Been reading pro and anti-Israeli opinions about the current violence. I'm still anti-violence (in theory, sometimes my patience snaps, as you all know). I feel like I'm losing a battle with myself.

Still, I haven't punched anyone in years, and I've never shot anyone, so maybe I'm doing all right on a personal non-violence level.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Pressed For Time

Sorry, other stuff is interfering with my blogging time.

I'd love to tell you about cheese, since it's Friday, but I'm in a rush. This week I had a fabulous combination of chevre with apricot jam that made me realize once again why expensive cheese is worth it.

Before I go, I must tell you that I've learned a new word from Jill at B@B: Kitler.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I'm of Two Minds

First things first - killing people is bad. When I read that a 16-year-old is among the latest casualties, I'm obviously upset by it. Of course I am, I have a heart. I had a conversation with my 17-year-old cousin just yesterday, and if he were killed by a tank, I'd be devastated.

Next, though, next comes common sense. If my 17-year-old cousin were living in a settlement near a location that was launching missiles over the border into another country, I can't say that I'd be surprised if he got killed by a tank.

Living near violence is dangerous. Purposefully moving to a turbulent area is either brave or stupid, but it's also always dangerous.

I'm still all torn up about this. What I'd like to happen - that all parties just stop shooting each other and start focusing on the lives they have on the land they have - is a naive dream. Admitting this is true, and being as opposed to war as I am, I can't say what I think should be the strategy.

When I boil down my feelings to the bare bones, I want there to be an Israel, and I want it to be a Jewish homeland. Knowing that, I suppose in the end I'm going to support whichever method seems to be most effective at accomplishing this goal.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

History Repeats Itself

Presidential Groping (Crooks and Liars)

Can someone tell me why Bush has been behaving exactly lke Henry VIII? Next thing you know, we'll be hearing about how he's been sleeping with the Boelyn girls.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Holy Cow, am I Sad.

(warning, this may be a little free-form)

All weekend I thought about whether or not we (the world) are already in World War III. If you sit back and think about the number of countries involved in attacking or defending against other countries, it sure looks like it.

People try to justify war. They say things like "some people won't be negotiated with, and that means that they must be destroyed, or they will destroy us", but it doesn't seem like a good solution to me.

What makes me sad is that there are people who won't be negotiated with. It makes me sad that there are people who think that war is a good idea. It makes me sad that there are people who think that the world will be a better place if others are wiped off of the earth through violence.

I only make those kinds of statements when I get crazy angry and frightened (and goodness, I certainly did). Within a day, I regret saying violent things. Within 3 days, I regret that there are so many that cannot step back from their anger and fear long enough to think that there is another way.

I live in the United States, where, it has been pointed out to me, war never comes knocking at my door with a rifle. I think it is often the case that people can only understand that something is an atrocity that should be discontinued if they are sufficiently removed from said atrocity for at least a generation. By not experiencing war on a daily/monthly/yearly basis, I have formed the opinion that life is much better when you don't worry all the time about Daddy getting taken out by shrapnel on his way home.

Of course, I think that this kind of pacifist thinking can also be carried too far, as in the case of vegetarianism. I still don't think that eating meat is an atrocity. Maybe I just need to be separated from it some more, though, who knows.

I am thinking of the people in Beirut, and the people in Haifa. I'm thinking about the parties we held in the bomb shelter when I lived on Kibbutz, because we could turn up the music without anyone hearing us. We got shut down, by the way, when it was discovered that there were men and women dancing together. I'm thinking about people using those bomb shelters to protect them from explosions, instead of a strict daily routine. I'm thinking about how there will be war for a very long time, and it's going to have to be incorporated into my daily thinking as something that just is, not something that people are working to stop, or prevent. The dichotomy of planning to attend a party next month, or an event in November, or my sister's wedding next year with the stark facts of families being killed all at once in places that I've been, on streets that I've traveled.

I regret the hot-headed words I said a few days ago, and I'm glad that they're only words, and even though they're out there forever, they don't have the power to end anyone's life. I'm so very sad that people whose words do have that power are the ones living daily with the anger and the fear, and the hate.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Why the Phrase "War on Terror" is Stupid

Cross-posted at Running Scared

Barry at Cynical Nation puts up the following cynical Q&A:

Q: How does the U.N. determine when to call for a ceasefire?

A: When Israel starts shooting back.
My comment to him:
I understand that the world seems to be worried right now that they've given Israel too much unquestioning support, but you've nailed it on the head, there.

Know why a cease-fire wasn't called for before this? Because no one else doing the attacking represents any kind of government that the U.N. can officially reprimand.
DivaJood over on Journeys with Jood weighs in with a similar observation:
With yesterday's kidnappings of Israeli soldiers, Hezbollah acted as a sovereign state. The militants' raid is a sign that it sees itself as an independent force in Lebanon and beyond.

Hezbollah chief Sheik Hassan Nasrallah went on Lebanese television, acting every bit like a head of state. In a not-so-veiled threat, Nasrallah said that criticism of the raids and kidnappings would be colluding with Israel. "To the Lebanese people, both officials and non-officials, nobody should behave in a way that encourages the enemy to attack Lebanon, and nobody should say anything that gives cover to attack Lebanon," he said.

Hezbollah has attempted this attack, unsuccessfully, before. This has been long planned, and it has nothing to do with the kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit by Hamas in Gaza. While Nasrallah attempts to link the two, it really is a message to the rest of Lebanon, other neighboring states, and the West. Hezbollah is laying claims to being an independent state, at a time when Lebanon is trying to get them to give up arms.
So if I'm making the point that Hezbollah (the way I've decided to spell it from now on, because I don't like the look of "Hizbollah") is not actually a nation in itself, then why would Israel treat an attack by this terrorist group as an act of war by Lebanon, and bomb the Beirut airport? It could be plain old-fashioned Military strategy. NBC's Robert Windrem writes:
Analysts say there are two possible reasons and they are not mutually exclusive. Israel wants to keep Iranian arms from getting in and Israeli captives from being flown out.
At least that makes some kind of sense to me.

Now, back to my statement about there not being a central government for the U.N. to scold. It's just true. If we are, in fact engaged in a "War on Terror", then who is it that we're fighting? Al Quaeda? Iraqi insurgents? Are they really terrorists?

What about Hezbollah, and Hamas, and Islamic Jihad? Palestine Liberation Front? Is the IRA still considered to be a terrorist group by our government? Should we be fighting them, too?

Terrorism used to be viewed as a crime, and those who committed acts of terrorism were considered to be criminals. By declaring this a war (as if that was all it really took to legally make one), I feel like Bush has almost legitimized terrorist efforts. In a war, there are two sides, and neither is necessarily wrong, they're just both trying to protect their own (conflicting) interests. Sometimes stalemates are reached, and peace settlements can be made through negotiations and treaties. The current terminology makes it easy to forget we're not supposed to be negotiating a treaty with criminals; we're just supposed to arrest them.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Feeling a Little Better

Well. Re-reading yesterday's rant, I see that I was a bit uncontrolled. Quite frankly, I'm surprised the words "bomb the shit out of your infrastructure" really made it into the final post. I guess I was pretty damn upset. Still, my only comment (while I'm writing this) was "you are an idiot". Yikes.

While I admit that once I've calmed down, bombings and killings don't seem like the way to peace anymore, I also have to stand by some of what I said. Let's face it, I'm not a reporter, paid to give you the facts, I'm a blogger who specifically says up front that I'm here to give opinions.

Yesterday the opinion I was trying to voice is that the extremist Muslim method of operations involves killing people who aren't actively plotting against someone else, and convincing innocent youths that giving your life for a cause as a suicide bomber will bring you rewards after death. Israel's not like that. Even the factions in Israel who think that violent actions will solve problems aren't encouraging 14-year-olds to hang out at the border and throw the biggest rocks you can at people. The school curriculums don't include why Arabs have to be wiped off the face of the earth because they don't worship properly.

When Israel executes a violent military plan, it is because they want people to stop trying to eliminate their country. When I lived there, every day was full of bomb threats and random searches - every day. When you become used to the idea that entire countries full of people would like to kill you because of what you believe, sometimes the inner controls snap.

What's that you say? I shouldn't take this all so personally? I'm an American Jew, so these people who are fighting wars against Israel could care less about me? They wouldn't actually like to kill me because of my religion? Don't be naive, of course they would. I'm lucky because I only lived alongside those people for a short part of my life, but just that taste was enough to convince me that they're very real, and they're very scary.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Day I Lost Perspective

You know how I'm all "war is bad" and "every human life counts" and "any death of another person makes me sad" all the time? Well that's over.

Israel kills 23 in Gaza, targets Hamas commanders

Normally I'd be anxious about this, because war s a terrible thing, and any death... whatever you get the point. Then I read this:
"Israel will pay for daring to hunt the lion of Qassam," said one Hamas activist who gave his name as Ahmed, speaking near the wrecked building, a tangle of twisted metal, broken concrete and blood.
Right. Well you know what Ahmed - which I'm sure isn't your real name? Fuck you. Fuck you, and everyone who lives near you. Israel needs to bomb the shit out of your infrastructure and kill all those who would educate their children with only words of hate. Are these words of hate I'm spewing now? Maybe, maybe they are. I'll tell you this, though, there's no such god damn thing as "the lion of Qassam". There's just men. Men with families who bleed and die like the rest of us.

Israel is not run by terrorists who tell their people that the reason they have no modern conveniences is because the Jews have Israel. Israel does not have to explain away the crazy unevenness of a country where there is a street modeled after Rodeo Drive, but America is the great satan. Israel does not tell its soldiers that if they die in combat, 72 virgins await them in heaven for eternal pleasure. Israel has a central government that works, and random groups of people are not lobbing missiles willy-nilly over borders because no one cares to stop them.

Israeli children have schools where they learn how to read, and write, and do math. They are never taught that killing a group of people in an open market place or on a bus just because they aren't Jewish is the right thing to do.

Is the retaliation over-aggressive? Maybe. I cannot think so, though, not when the retaliation is for acts that deliberately provoke, acts that deliberately harm non-military personnel. The Israeli bombings are not random, they are targeted at terrorist leaders. At this point, I feel like we don't need to keep those terrorist leaders alive, any more.

So it *is* an Act of War, Then

Israel calls Hizbollah capture of soldiers act of war
MARJAYOUN, Lebanon (Reuters) - Hizbollah guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers and killed up to seven Israelis in violence on either side of the Lebanese border on Wednesday, further inflaming Middle East tensions.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert described the Hizbollah attacks as an "act of war" by Lebanon and promised a "very painful and far-reaching" response.

I have previously said this:
We have a militant group kidnapping a soldier, which if you ask me, seems like the kind of stunt that people pull when they're trying to start full-blown wars.

This is not an item I want to be correct about. I am possibly doubly alarmed about the fact that this particular kidnapping was committed by Hizbollah, and the one I previously spoke of was Hamas. The number of terrorist organizations that would call themselves governments continues to worry me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Firefighter Honored

Franklin Township, NJ is renaming a street to honor Kevin A. Apuzzio, a young firefighter who lost his life responding to a house fire earlier this year.
"It means a lot to the family," said his father, Joseph Apuzzio. "It also means a lot to the public. My son touched a lot of lives for the better. I think it's a way of remembering him. We as a family really appreciate it."
We, as a community, appreciate men like Kevin, as well.

Personal Stuff

The job I applied for has been filled by someone else. I am pissed.

Not because I got beat out by someone whom the interviewers thought was more qualified, or funnier, or better looking, or younger, or cheaper, but because my application was never forwarded to the interviewer for consideration. At least, that's what my manager told me yesterday.

The words "unfair work practice" have been mentioned to me.

I knew something was wrong when a friend let me know that this job - did I mention that they wrote the job description for me? Actually came to me, asked what I know, and then wrote exactly that on the posting? - this job that I was so sure would be mine was posted on the internet, and she saw it on "hot jobs". I told her to apply, even though I already had. She declined, not wanting to cause awkwardness. She really should have applied, because apparently, I never did.

Why did no one call and ask me where my application was? Why did I not check to make sure that my boss had really sent it where it was supposed to go? Why did I take such a hands-off attitude on something I wanted so much?

Was it really just a system failure, that an email got lost somewhere in the ether and no one knew to look for it? Maybe. Was I deliberately screwed over by someone so that I couldn't change departments? Maybe. I can't know which, and it's making me crazy.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Non-Violent Tendencies

You know what? It's a good thing that I'm not a young man with gallons of testosterone pumping through my bloodstream.

Why? Because I believe that the second amendment is in place so that Americans can rise up and revolt when the government gets too uppity and forgets that it's "of the people" and "by the people". OK, that phrasing wasn't around yet when the second amendment was written, but it's too pithy to not use. We do not have a secret cabal government; will someone please remind the current administration of this fact? You know, so that no one actually *does* go for the guns?

Friday, July 7, 2006

Friday Cheese Blogging

To celebrate the re-opening of my state, and the acceptance of a budget that I feel deals with property taxes in an idiotic way, I purchased:
Mmm, truffled cheese

Pecorino Tartufello
A fresh raw sheep's milk cheese with whole pieces of black truffles. Buttery and intense with the aroma of damp pastures, lanolin and earthen fungi. Smooth, buttery and intensely satisfying, permeated with the essence of truffles.

Region: Toscana
Country: Italy
Type: Hard
Beverage: Old World Red
Milk: Raw Sheep

I will enjoy the cheese, and I will continue to write letters about how only through additional state aid to the municipalities, and not through rebates can real property tax relief be achieved. My new crop of letters are going straight to state senators.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Today I Bring Us All Down

Hey, New Jersey's bleeding money.
My take on the issues that are being discussed:
I don't care if we get a 1% tax raise. I hate the idea of taxing magazines and the fees paid to temporary employment agencies.

I want the state to open again, and the fact that the state senate and the governor can't EVER agree on a budget on time (well, maybe sometimes, but the late thing has happened before) is pissing me off. Agree on SOMETHING that will allow the state to start bringing in revenue again, folks! Forget the political aspects and try and remember that you're supposed to be aiming to make the quality of life better for the people who live in New Jersey. ALL of them. A budget that doesn't do everything you want is still a starting point, so please figure out a compromise, today.

Also in the news today,
Israel kills four in Gaza as fighting intensifies
Yes, everyone's favorite violent peoples remain violent today in the increasingly badly named "Cradle of Civilization". Remember folks, if you wipe each other out, nobody actually wins.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

I Know I'm Petty

Monday my father told me that he'd opened a letter that was intended for me, because it was addressed to him. I looked, and it was a letter from my congressman, Frank Pallone. It seems that 2 months ago, I emailed him that I was upset about him voting "no" on a Net Neutrality bill that I was hoping would be supported. I admit that the letter was informal, and probably a little insulting. I believe the text went something like this:
You voted against
'net neutrality? What gives?
I was very surprised when I never got any sort of an email back. Every other congresscritter that I've ever written hit me back with an auto-mailer almost instantaneously. While that doesn't give me confidence that my letters are being read, at least it lets me know that my letter got there. Incidentally, eventually I have actually received direct replies from every single letter I've ever written, which is nice. Even when I wrote President Carter, back in the stone age, I got a nice autographed picture of his family sent to me, with my name on the envelope and everything.

But not last Monday - and so, even though I know it's stupid, pointless, and beneath me, my ego wrote Frank Pallone another letter, and this time instead of being irreverent, I was just pissy:
To The Honorable Frank Pallone Jr.,

I would like to thank you for getting back to me about your position on "Net Neutrality".

I would like to, but you didn't actually get back to *me*. Instead, whomever it is on your staff that reads these letters completely ignored the fact that I sign my letters "Tami", and instead mailed a response addressed to my father and my late mother.

While I am heartened to read that you say that you support the same position I do in the idea of keeping the Internet on an equal footing for all, I can't help but wonder at why the response was addressed to my parents. I may not be a property owner, but I pay my federal taxes just like anyone else, and can't seem to get past the fact that my actual name wasn't anywhere on that letter. Perhaps it's an insignificant detail to dwell on, but we all have egos, and mine's a little bruised.

If by chance, you decide to write me back about this by snail mail instead of email (the medium that I'm using to contact you) in another 2 months, please address the letter to me, and not my father. If that's too much to ask, please leave the "Mrs." off, since she's been deceased since 1987, and it's a bit jarring to my poor dad to see that on a letter these days.


And that's almost exactly what I sent him, except for the parts with my real name, and my address.

Seriously, when I was 11, I got my own letter from the president. Now I'm 38, but the letter gets sent to my daddy and (dead) mommy. That's not right.

ed: wait - I'm 37, not 38. Damn.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Half empty

OK, ABC is on, and there's a special report for the space shuttle launch, and I swear, they're doing everything except screaming "THEY'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!"

Monday, July 3, 2006