Wednesday, March 20, 2002

If the internet is ever going to replace TV or print it's going to have to get as reliable as those mediums. Last night, I tried to log on after midnight to blog a bit and my cable modem was crashing hard. The lights were flashing weird patterns and the 24/7 service Time Warner is supposed to provide turned out to be taking the night off. I tried various resets, then went to bed. This morning, it was fine. Who knows why. Gotta love this brave new world.


Finally, there's another reason to visit Iceland besides the bands, volcanic landscape and sky-high alcholism - The Penis Museum. Yes, the Icelandic Phallological Museum is the place to go if want to compare your manhood against the shafts of other mammals. That monster above is a whale member. Six foot long when flaccid. Ouch! If you're feeling threatened, check out the two millimeter hamster bone.

Oddly, the museum is missing a human contribution, although an Icelandic doctor has promised to provide his when he's done with it.

The good point of missing a few blogs is you folks start writing me. Regarding my rant about copy protection schemes in CDs, the ever-rocking Otis noteed Here's the reason copy protection will never work. I can always plug my CD walkman in my iMac's sound input and make MP3s that way. Sure, more time consuming, but time is what these kids have.

True, true - the analog solution will always be there. All these schemes prevent digital-digital-digital copying only. Drop in an analog step and all bets are off. If worse came to worse, kids will figure out how to set up speakers and stereo microphone and rip music that way. Analog technology is so good that most people will never hear the difference.

Reader Foxy wrote that he Loved the thread on Ashcroft. I think he meant the Ashcroft singing thing. Thanks! The Guardian in London has such a great sense of humor about covering American politics. But my question is this -- who is Foxy? He signed his name, but I don't recognize it. Wow! A real reader! Somebody I don't know! That's as good as a non-relative actually buying my CD in a store!

But wait, there's more! A free Ginzu knife! No, actually, it's a thoughtful letter from The Kajun Hippie who wrote:

You know why Israel is such a "grand experiment doomed to failure"?

They want a theocracy. Seriously. They want to be a Jewish state, they want to set up an official home for Jews. Peopled by Jews and run by Jewish law.

And history tells us that theocracies do not survive long-term because they are beset on all sides by religious enemies, and they rot from the inside due to religious dissent.

Meanwhile in the United States, our First Amendment prohibits our government playing favorites with any religion, so all religions are theoretically allowed to flourish and there are no genuine holy wars going on. We still get crazies bombing buildings -- mostly women's clinics -- but the general consensus is that they're nuts, and nobody's denying them the right to be Christians, even if they're very bad ones.

I don't think a Palestinian state will be the answer to Israel's problems, or Palestine's either. I believe Israel needs to rethink its priorities. I think they need to go about creating a nation in which Jews and Muslims can peacefully co-exist because neither group is violating the other's religious rights.

I guess when hell freezes over...

Another reader I don't know! Wheee! And smart too. I like the thought of standing back from the brink and looking at the bigger picture, although I don't know that I agree completely with the Kajun Hippie. I think in Israel's earliest days, they were willing to create a state that embraced local Arabs as well as Jews. And there are Arab Israeli citizens. But over the years, they appear to have fallen to second-class citizen status. And as Kajun rightly notes, the bickering from within is a sign of internal rot

During my last exchange with Warren, he suggested I (and Chris in NJ) read The Flame for a more rounded view of Israeli history. FLAME stands for Facts and Logic About the Middle East . It is a fascinating site and I suggest everyone check it out. After doing so, I wrote back the following to Warren:

I did check out the Flame as you suggested and found it quite interesting. But you do realize that it's a propaganda publication, right? Granted, I'm pre-disposed to agree with much of the material because I believe Israel has a right to exist in peace and that regional Arabs are the aggressors who want to force Israel into the sea. But there's no way any impartial organization can look at five decades of Israel history and never find a single flaw with the country's policies except that they're not aggressive enough dealing with the Palestinians.

Are you aware of the history of the Flame? How it's an offshoot of The Camera, a similar but even more one-sided group that formed in the wake of the bad press Israel got in 1982 after the Lebanon invasion and refugee camp incidents. These are organizations formed by Jewish American supporters to promote Israel's hard right line in America and go after anyone who dares to disagree (The Camera has been fighting with NPR for years because NPR has the audacity to interview Palestinians on air). They might be correct on many points, but still they are not making any effort to be impartial.

Mind you, the Camera and Flame are not alone. For the Palestinian version, check out The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. It claims to be "published by the American Educational Trust (AET), a non-profit foundation incorporated in Washington, DC by retired U.S. foreign service officers to provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states." Bullshit. A simple read of the headlines announces quite clearly that WRMEA reps the Palestinian side of the matter.

In the end, I'll read them all because it's always good to know what the hard liners think. But just as Arabs really want Israel out of the region, the Flame makes it pretty clear that from their point of view, there will never be peace with Palestinians because Palestinians don't exist, the West Bank doesn't exist, and no Israeli occupation exists. Reading the Flame just confirmed my original thoughts about the problem - it's a depressing mess. You've got two side who are not even arguing about a common reality anymore, they're just inventing different versions of history and trying to circulate them to the rest of the world.

Didn't somebody once say that truth is the first victim in these situations

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