Monday, December 19, 2011


Among many unforgivable sins, Israel is "cheesy," says Roger Cohen in an op-ed piece on Israel in the New York Times. The editorial starts as a complaint about an ad run by Israel , appealing to Israeli expatriates to come back to Israel, but the article quickly turns into an all-around "I hate Israel" denunciation.

Mr. Cohen sniffs that the Israelis offend the Egyptians by being dismissive of Egyptian democratic aspirations.  The Israelis may be dismissive, but let's stop for a moment and consider. The Egyptians just voted the Muslim Brotherhood into power. This is a group that wants to dissolve the Egypt-Israel peace treaty.  Israel should be cheering here?  5,000 people were chanting "we shall kill all the Jews" the other day at a Muslim Brotherhood rally.


Benign Muslim Brotherhood Members.

The Egyptians themselves can be quite dismissive of their recent election: read about the cynicism, confusion, and fear in Egypt during the run-up to elections. I wish the Egyptians all the best, but giddy optimism does not seem prudent.  The Egyptians elected violent Anti-Israeli parties into power.  Just because they were elected democratically doesn't mean Israel has to cheer.

Hitler got elected, for goodness' sake.  A democratic process does not ensure marvelous results.  As I am sure we here in the U.S. are well aware.

See more on the Egyptian elections here.

Mr. Cohen also notes that the Turks are offended that Israeli commandos killed some Turks on a boat in the Mediterranean. These Turks (a) were trying to run an Israeli blockade of the Palestinians (the blockade is permitted under international law) and (b) decided to battle it out with Israel commandos who boarded their vessel to enforce the blockade.  The results, predictably, involved a number of dead Turks.

Lesson learned: a blockade is a military operation.  If you try to run it you risk getting killed.  Don't start fighting with the commandos when they come on board to enforce the blockade unless your goal is to die.  In which case, well played.  Read more here.

BTW, the reason for the blockade is that the Palestinians keep importing rockets, which they shoot at Jewish grandmothers and babies. I wonder how Mr. Cohen would look at things if Canada kept lobbing rockets into Manhattan.

Mr. Cohen, still sniffing, tells us, quoting Leon Panetta, that Israel should "get to the damn table" with the Palestinians. May I ask "what table, Leon?"  The "commit seppuku" table?  That seems to be the only one the Palestinians have set.  Apparently the use of "damn" is unintentionally accurate, as in the "straight to hell with you" table.

This weird talk reminds me of a great song about negotiating with zombies who want to kill you and eat you. The zombie chorus sings "all we want to do is eat your brains; we're not unreasonable - I mean, no one's gonna eat your eyes." Watch Jonathan Coulton perform here.

This could be the Palestinian theme song.

The Palestinians don't want land for peace, except in the sense of getting all of Israel (land) and getting rid of all the Jews (peace).  "Land for Peace" has already been tried by the Israelis. They've given up land and still have no peace.

The Obama/Panetta agenda here seems to be modeled on Neville Chamberlain's adroit diplomacy at Munich in 1938, when he fed Czechoslovakia to Hitler on a lovely "Peace in Our Time" platter (watch YouTube footage of Chamberlain's speech at the link).  Chamberlain happily believed Hitler would stop threatening the rest of Europe if England gave him part of Czechoslovakia for breakfast.  Sadly, after occupying the rest of Czechoslovakia in about 18 minutes, Hitler still wanted elevenses, in the form of Poland.  And lunch: Norway and France.  And then tea and dinner: England and Russia.

Just as Hitler had no intention of honoring the Munich pact and stopping with the Sudetenland, the Palestinians have no intention of honoring negotiated agreements with Israel. They want Israel dead and gone.  Israel is an affront to their version of Islam.  We should believe the Palestinians, just as we should have believed Hitler, in Mein Kampf.  

Hamas is the very popularly elected ruling party in Palestine.  Hamas is also a wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.   MB just received 37% of the popular vote in Egypt, and may win as many as 50% of the seats in Egypt's Parliament.  MB wants to "renegotiate" the Egypt/Israel peace treaty.  Reflection on Hamas' policy may give us some insight on exactly what Israel finds so distasteful in the Muslim Brotherhood.

So let's take a quick stroll through Hamas' clearly expressed point-of-view on Israel:
  • "Our ultimate plan is [to have] Palestine in its entirety. I say this loud and clear so that nobody will accuse me of employing political tactics. We will not recognize the Israeli enemy." (Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, Future News TV, June 15, 2010, Source: 
Hamas, voted into office by the Palestinians in 2006, does not recognize Israel, whose borders were created by UN mandate in 1947. Hamas views all of present day Israel, including the land within the borders established by the UN, as theirs, under Islamic law.

Israel's neighbors have waged multiple wars of extermination against Israel since 1948. Having lost them all, the "neighbors" haven't given up. Give them an  "A" for persistence and consistency.
  • "We do not recognize the Israeli enemy, nor his right to be our neighbor, nor to stay (on the land), nor his ownership of any inch of land. . . We are interested in restoring our full rights to return all the people of Palestine to the land of Palestine. Our principles are clear: Palestine is a land of Waqf (Islamic trust), which can not be given up." (Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas leader and candidate to the Palestinian legislative council, Palestinian TV, January 17, 2006, Newsday)
  • "Palestine is Islamic . . . Jews have no right in it, with the exception of those who lived on the land of Palestine before World War I." (Hamas official Halil Al-Hayya, Al-Hayat newspaper, November 11, 2010)
Here are a few readings from Hamas' charter, to which they have steadfastly adhered:

  • "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).
    • "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."
    Mr. Panetta refuses to believe what the Palestinians say. What they say is that there is only one "solution" for the Palestinian question: Jihad.  One solution for the Jews.  Where have I heard that before?  I'm drawing a blank here.

    The rest of the world did not believe what Hitler said in Mein Kampf, at least not until he attacked Poland in 1939. A few years later, with 6,000,000 murdered Jews and Europe a smoking ruin, everyone was a little embarrassed they hadn't taken the chap more seriously.

    Western disbelief in Hamas' stated purposes is bizarre, fruit-cake, Halcion and Peyote influenced whacko.  Nevertheless I hear otherwise perfectly sane people uttering this nonsense all the time, as if the Palestinians were spoiled children who won't really set fire to the house, as they say they will.  They just want a little ice cream, is all.

    The Palestinians and Israel's other neighbors have been uttering these deadly threats with perfect sincerity since 1947. They've backed up the threats with actions - with their lives, in thousands of instances.  They commit acts of war on a daily basis.  Hamas is waiting for one of their faithful sponsors, the Iranians, to get nuclear weapons, which should greatly improve Hamas' chances of annihilating Israel.

    Hamas must believe we are brainless and illiterate.

    Mr. Cohen finishes his bitter editorial with this smug comment:
    •  "Here’s a suggestion for an ad campaign that might fly: A smiling Netanyahu shaking hands with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, beside the slogan: Come home to peace. Forgive me for dreaming."
    Since the Palestinians are committed to murdering Israel, Mr. Cohen's happy ad will probably have to wait. I suspect Netanyahu will refuse to snuggle with Abbas until Hamas stops lobbing rockets into Israel as part of its policy of genocide.

    I don't want to presume, but that's my best guess.

    Perhaps the Palestinians could discard genocide as the cornerstone of their Israeli policy.  Maybe that's asking too much.  Perhaps Mr. Cohen could write something sniffy about the Palestinians' genocidal foreign policy.  Maybe that would convince them to stop all that sassy talk.

    Mr. Cohen and Mr. Panetta's fulminations about Israel are morally and intellectually incoherent.  Intellectually, because unless Israel decides to commit suicide, their own self-interest dictates an attitude of complete mistrust and military readiness toward Hamas.  Morally, these fulminations are incoherent because there is no equivalence between Israel's policy toward Palestine - one of guarded and understandable suspicion - and Palestine's policy toward Israel - one of genocide.

    None.  Doesn't matter how fine a gossamer thread of sophism Mr. Cohen spins, zero is the moral content of the Palestinians' brief.  Until Hamas renounces genocide and accepts the existence of the State of Israel, Israel owes them not a thing, not intellectually, not morally, not economically, and certainly not politically.

    So sniff on Mr. Cohen.  No matter how many times you multiply zero, it still equals zero.

    Saturday, December 10, 2011


    My 22-year old daughter casually introduced me to a new word a few weeks ago. At least, it was new to me. I have been mulling it over ever since.

    I mentioned I liked her jacket and she said she had "horked it."


    She explained that she had borrowed the jacket from a friend a long time ago but had never given it back. She was pretty sure the friend had forgotten about it, and did not really mind, but was also pretty sure the friend would want the jacket back if it came to her attention.

    Honesty demanded my daughter say something more than "I borrowed it." But it wasn't stolen, either, since she hadn't taken it with the intent to "deprive the owner of its use and benefit," and her friend lets her borrow stuff all the time. Hence, "horked" was the exact word for the occasion.

    This was verbal terrain that needed a verb.

    "Perfeck!" says Pop Larkin.

    A dip into the urban dictionary reveals that the verb "to hork" has a variety of colorful meanings, all of which are pejorative and hover around some type of physical or moral chaos.

    Among computer and electronics folks, it is used to suggest that something is not just broken, but is causing mischief: "your code totally horked the build today; those new speakers horked my amp."

    The Canadian usage is the one my daughter adopted. Bob and Doug McKenzie memorably complained that someone had "horked their beer."

    While it is possible to say that Bernie Madoff "horked" 58 billion dollars, it would be inappropriate. "Horking" is the casual misappropriation of stuff among friends and families that is usually tolerated but sometimes causes an explosion in the "horkee." Horking does not involve interventions by law enforcement authorities. We rely on moral suasion to resolve horking controversies.

    Bernie: Something Greater Than Horking At Work.

    ("Horkee" is my addition to the language; just made it up. Thank you.)

    One can also "hork up" something through one's nose, in a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Eternal Optimist remembers saying something funny to a friend at H.A. Winston's, while my friend was swallowing chicken noodle soup. He tried not to spit up the soup, but internal pressure from the joke had to be released, and the noodles came rushing out his nose. This was much funnier than the joke itself.

    Last, and perhaps most objectionably, a cat can "hork up" a hair ball.

    The existence of this particular meaning is likely to hork up all other meanings of the word, I'm afraid, since vivid, ugly meanings normally overwhelm milder associations.

    Nevertheless, I'm glad I horked the word from my daughter.


    How cool is it to be in the middle of this insanely artistic world?

    There is a lovely artist at work in Internet Land, making beautiful wallet sized acrylic paintings of saints just in time for Christmas!!

    • Carry a picture of the saints around in your pocket so you don't forget the "better angels of our nature," as President Lincoln admonished!
    • Both Lincoln and Washington would have purchased these in volume, if they'd had the chance!! They didn't, but YOU DO!!

    Check out this link!!

    I am related to the artist and am enjoying doting.

    Have fun!

    Monday, December 5, 2011


    Fuchsia was a concept quite foreign to me until I met and married Mrs. Eternal Optimist, whose color palette is hundreds of times more detailed than mine. I have a very typical male "color wheel" in my head, which is to say, not much of one:

    Reddish - Greenish/Bluish - Yellowish - Black/Brownish - White/Grayish.

    That's it. All other color names confuse me, more or less. For instance, I know what purple looks like, but violet? Are they the same? And I am not clear on whether purple is close to red, or brown, or blue. Or all three.

    Fortunately I can learn things if they appear in dictionaries, encyclopedias, graphs or recondite articles. So I had to look up fuchsia. Which is a fascinating word, whatever color it is.

    fuchsia [ˈfjuːʃə] [Noun]

    1. any onagraceous shrub of the mostly tropical genus Fuchsia, widely cultivated for their showy drooping purple, red, or white flowers
    2. Also called California fuchsia, a North American onagraceous plant, Zauschneria californica, with tubular scarlet flowers
    3.a. a reddish-purple to purplish-pink color
    b. (as adjective) a fuchsia dress

    Fuchsia, the dictionary tells me, is of the Onagraceae family, which is "characterized byherbaceous plants having simple leaves, showy flowers with four sepals and four petals, and fruitin the form of a berry or a capsule." Relatives include the clarkia, evening primrose, and thewillow herb.

    Fuchsia is an attractive and popular color for lady's wear -

    But be careful. It is possible to go very wrong with fuchsia.

    The word derives from the name of the French monk and botanist, Leonhart Fuchs, who discovered the plant in Hispaniola in 1703. This makes the word relatively young and virile, and as with most such words, there are several competing spellings: fuschia, fuscia, fucsia. As far as EO can tell it usually takes at least 5 centuries before a word's spelling simmers down.

    It seems that "fewshia" would be the closest representation of how people actually say the word right now, at least in the United States. The spelling, "Fuchsia," is historically consistent, since it tracks the spelling of Mr. Fuchs name.

    I'm in favor of the historically consistent spelling, for several reason. As this is my blog, I will elaborate.

    First, English is filled with words that don't "sound out;" the letter values we give the words don't actually translate into an accurate rendition of how we say the word. This tendency is much derided, both by native speakers and foreigners.

    EO, however, finds the habit heartwarming. It is much like visiting with elderly friends and family on Sunday. Even though they can barely hear, and conversation is almost impossible, their remembrance of things past fills one's heart with a longing for good and happy times, honest and kindhearted friendships.

    The process reminds you that you are not alone; your life is neither the beginning nor the end. You are just here for a little while, and have a duty to those who came before and after you to be kind, gentle, honest and courageous.

    Thinking about old words reminds me of the Venerable Bede, who apparently wore something that could pass for Fuchsia while translating the gospel of John into the Anglo-Saxon tongue, circa 735 A.D.

    Contrary to my generation's world-view, we did not invent the English language ourselves. We received it from others who were gracious enough to love us, feed us, change our diapers, and teach us to speak.

    Second, there are plenty of alternate spellings in use, but none of them are overwhelmingly better than "fuchsia." Spelling it "fewshia," as it is currently pronounced, would be a visual abomination. We forget that writing is ultimately a visual art. No sense in being ugly.

    Third, unless an odd spelling causes auto accidents or results in the death of special forces operatives, better to leave well enough alone. Pronunciations change constantly, and the less you monkey with changes in spelling the less confusion you sow among native speakers.

    Baffling spellings that reflect ancient pronunciations are a small price to pay for having a highly adaptive living language. Given its history of invasion and dominion by foreign tongues, it is a wonder English survived at all. We should not begrudge our Mother Tongue her idiosyncrasies.

    One of the results of reducing a language to writing is to slow down the rate at which the language changes. The consequence is that generations of people far removed are able to speak to each other relatively easily through the written word. You would probably not understand one word in 50 of the Middle English spoken by Geoffrey Chaucer, but we can read his Canterbury Tales with a surprising level of comprehension.

    If we were constantly to change spellings to reflect each generation's different pronunciation of words, written English would change as swiftly as spoken English. That would be a very sad thing. Shakespeare is much more enjoyable as part of my native tongue, however far removed, than as a foreign language.

    So then, I say leave the spelling of Fuchsia alone. It honors Leonhart Fuchs and has the benefit of consistency and some logic. Leaving it alone does require us to learn to overcome the slight divergence between the written word "Fuchsia" and its actual pronunciation.

    If this proves a problem, here is a prayer from St. Bede to help.

    I am sure the English speaking peoples, having thrice in the past century saved humanity from the forces of evil (the two World Wars and the Cold War), and having traveled to the moon and back on a whim and a dare, are up to this trifling difficulty.