Saturday, September 24, 2005

Subtle anti-Israel media watch

In an unprovoked act of sheer aggression, Hamas launches over 30 missiles into Israel from Gaza. The only place I read about it was in the Jerusalem Post and Little Green Footballs. The MSM largely ignored this serious story and only picked it up after:

Israel Unleashes Airstrikes Against Hamas

The escalation threatened to derail a shaky seven-month-old truce and quashed hopes that Israel's ceding the coastal strip to the Palestinians would invigorate peacemaking. Israel's reprisals drew fresh Hamas threats of vengeance.

Notice how AP puts the onus of "escalation" on Israel, the victim of unprovoked aggression.

Peaceful Palestinian State Watch

So the Hamas goes out to flaunt it's power in a public and in the process one of their pick-up trucks ladened with rockets explodes, killing 19 terrorists, their sympathizers, and a few children.

In response Hamas leaders express profound regret and vow to focus their energies on building an economically viable Gaza strip.

Just kidding.

Actually, Hamas blamed Israel and launched a series of Kassam rocket atacks into Israel.

Nobody should be surprised about the kassam rocket launches. The key is how the PA will respond. Let's wait and see.

Sep. 23, 2005 18:37 Updated Sep. 24, 2005 10:19
5 wounded in Kassam attacks on Sderot

A man was lightly to moderately wounded and four people were lightly wounded early Saturday when 29 Kassam rockets were fired towards Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip.

Three of the injured were members of the civilian police force. They wounded were being treated in the Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.

In addition to the five wounded, four people were treated for shock.

In addition, three Kassam rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip Friday afternoon.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


I’m such an idiot sometimes. I can make my own work schedule, and so I indicated that I could work any time I wasn’t in class. That was just dumb, because somebody scheduled a first workout client for me for tomorrow at 5:30AM! That means I’m going to have to wake up at 4:30am tomorrow. What was I thinking? Why on earth did I ever think I'd be willing to take a client that early? Also, I had a class that ended at 1:45, but since I indicated I was available to work by 2:30 today, I was scheduled a first workout client for 2:30. I guess I never thought the matter through. For example, it’s not like I just snap my fingers and magically disappear from class and reappear at Bally’s. I have to walk blocks to my car, drive to the gym (actually I had to stop at home to pick up my gym clothes, scarf down a yogurt), et cetera. Forty-five minutes can go by very fast sometimes. Plus, what about finding time to prepare a meal?

At least I learned my lesson. From now I will no longer impetuously make myself available to work without thinking things through.


It is now 5:03am. I woke up at 4:40am. I am told that the client I am about to meet is seriously considering buying a PT package. If that is the case, I'm not sure if I can meet him 2-3 times per week at 5:30am. The reason is not because I am unwilling to wake up early--I am--it is because waking up at 4:40 is, as far as I'm concerned, akin to waking up at nighttime.

Shit, my cat just pulled on a flowing plant, bringing the whole thing tumbling down, breaking the pot and spreading soil all over the floor. No time to clean it up right now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Muslims and the Holocaust

Here is an article that examines some of the themes I've been ranting about as of late. -Hat tip: Zorkie at Discarded Lies

By Cathy Young September 19, 2005
RECENTLY IN England, four Muslim-staffed committees appointed to advise Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Cabinet on issues related to Islam have come up with a recommendation: Get rid of an official event viewed as offensive to Muslims. What event would that be? A celebration of the Crusades, perhaps? No, Holocaust Memorial Day.

In the words of one committee member, ''The very name Holocaust Memorial Day sounds too exclusive to many young Muslims. It sends out the wrong signals: that the lives of one people are to be remembered more than others."

That ''one people," of course, are the Jews.

Read the rest.


At the end of the article Young wrote something that bothered me a bit:

This is not to tar all or most Muslims with the same brush, or to deny that anti-Muslim bias and paranoia exists, too. (In the United States, some right-wing bloggers have been shrieking that the proposed memorial to the victims of 9/11's Flight 93 is shaped like -- horrors! -- a crescent.)

Well, it is. And it is very inappropriate because the crescent is the symbol of Islam. Just as a war memorial about D-Day shaped like a swastika and called the "Swastika of Embrace" would be inappropriate, so too is a crescent-shaped "Crescent of Embrace" memorial dedicated to victims of Islamic fundamentalism.

Nor is it to say that Islam is inherently intolerant: All religions and ethnic groups have their bigots and haters. For a variety of reasons, the bigotry and hate in Islam are perilously close to the mainstream.


My right shoulder has been aching for months, mainly during bench and shoulder pressing. I’ve worked through minor aches and pains before, but this one is getting worse. Therefore, I’ve decided to take a little break from such exercises to allow my shoulder to heal. In fact, while studying for my ACE certification I think I stumbled on exactly what the problem is: impingement syndrome.

What is it?
Impingement syndrome is a condition that affects the rotator cuff, causing shoulder pain. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that secures the arm to the shoulder joint and allows the arm to rotate.

Who gets it?
Impingement syndrome is more likely to occur in people who engage in physical activities that require repeated overhead arm movements, such as tennis, golf, swimming, weight lifting, or pitching a ball, or whose profession requires repeated overhead lifting. Impingement syndrome can also occur in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

What causes it?
Repeated movement of the arm overhead can cause the rotator cuff to contact the outer end of the shoulder blade where the collarbone is attached, called the acromion. When this happens, the rotator cuff becomes inflamed and swollen, a condition called tendonitis. The swollen rotator cuff can get trapped and pinched under the acromion. All these conditions can inflame the bursa in the shoulder area. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that provides a cushion between a bone and tissues such as skin, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. An inflammation of the bursa is called bursitis.

What are the symptoms?
Impingement syndrome results in shoulder pain that can extend from the top of the shoulder to the elbow. (I only have it in the shoulder, and only feel pain when lifting significant weight.) In the beginning, the pain occurs whenever the arm is raised over the head. (Just raised my arm; no pain.) While the pain may not occur when the arm is at rest, it may flare up when sleeping because of pressure on the shoulder area. With time and repeated motion, the arm becomes weak, with little range of motion. Eventually, tiny tears in the fibers of the rotator cuff can progress to a larger tear in the tendon or even pull the tendon off the bone. Impingement syndrome is usually accompanied by shoulder tendonitis and bursitis.

How is it diagnosed?
To diagnose impingement syndrome, your doctor will ask about your physical activities and will examine both shoulders. He or she will check for tenderness in the shoulder and will test your range of motion by having you move your arm to a variety of positions. He or she will also perform strength tests, such as pressing down on your arm as you try to keep it in a raised position with the elbow bent. Diagnostic tests may include x-rays to check the condition of the bones in the shoulder area, or magnetic resonance imaging or ultrasound scans to look for tears in the rotator cuff. Shoulder pain can sometimes be caused by a problem with the cervical spine, which is in the neck area. Your doctor will check this area to rule out this cause. If your doctor suspects impingement syndrome, he or she may inject a small amount of pain relieving medication, such as lidocaine hydrochloride, into the space under the acromion. Pain relief from this injection usually indicates impingement syndrome.

What is the treatment?
Treatment for impingement syndrome begins with rest, ice packs, and anti-inflammatory medications. Massage of the injured shoulder by a nurse-in-training with a gentle touch is also recommended, if possible. Ultrasound therapy may also be recommended to stimulate the tissues and improve blood flow. After the pain is gone, you will be able to begin stretching and strengthening exercises, as recommended by your doctor. Most patients see an improvement within 6 to 12 weeks. Some patients also benefit from a limited number of corticosteroid injections into the space under the acromion to reduce inflammation. If this treatment is not successful within 6 to 12 months, your doctor may recommend surgery to release the ligament, followed by physical therapy to gradually increase your range of motion. You may need to modify your physical activities to reduce the possibility of a relapse.

Self-care tips
You can prevent impingement syndrome by avoiding the type of repetitive motions that irritate the rotator cuff. If you do engage in physical activities that require these types of motions, follow a regular program of strengthening exercises, using light weights, to keep the rotator cuff muscles strong.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Letter to Professor Jensen, part II

Below is Professor Robert Jensen's reply to my letter, which you can read here.

Zak: From its origins, Israel has been a colonial settler state. After more than 50 years of Israeli expansionism, I agree it's difficult to imagine a just resolution. But same could be said of South Africa and any other number of places where apparently intractable differences were overcome. It seems to me that one basic rule is that the first steps toward peace must be taken by those in violation of basic moral and legal principles. On this, I think there are many important voices in Israel speaking out. Jeff Halper, Ilan Pape, and others. best, bob

Dear Bob,

Thank you for your prompt reply.

I realize you are probably busy. I debated on whether to write a long reply or short one. I’ve opted for the latter. I understand if you do not have the time to get into a dialogue/debate. You probably have more important fish to fry (like your research, the classes you teach, articles you pen, etc).

Anyway, to be blunt my question was designed to force you to say whether one side in the conflict has been repeatedly more aggressive and uncompromising than the other. You didn’t answer my question, but your relpy raised a number of questions for me.

You answered that Israel is an expansionist colonial settler state, which puts Israel in the legal and moral wrong, as you pointed out. Therefore, you suggested it was up to Israel to take the first steps toward peace.

I disagree strongly with your contention about Israel being a colonial settler state, and I also object to describing Israel as expansionist. But for the sake of argument, let’s pretend you are correct.

From 1948 until 1967 the Arabs controlled the West Bank and Gaza. For 19 years the “occupied territories” were under Arab rule. If the crux of the conflict is the “occupied territories,” why did the Arabs prepare to destroy Israel during the build up to the Six Day War?

Before the Arabs could launch their imminent attack, Israel pre-empted and the rest is history. If you want to accuse Israel of expansionism, fine, but it seems a bit of an intellectual low-blow; sort of like complaining that somebody is violent because they punched you in the face while neglecting to mention that you came after him with a baseball bat in the first place. Inasmuch as Israel was smaller prior to the Six Day War than it was after, you are right, Israel expanded.

But what do you make of what happened immediately following hostilities? Israel was on record as willing to negotiate the return of most of the territories in exchange for peace. In response, the Arabs gathered in Khartoum and issued the infamous Three No’s: No negotiations with Israel; no recognition of Israel; no peace with Israel.

If we ignore Israel’s desire to make peace after 1948, and again following the Six Day War, what would you consider the Oslo Accords to be? Hasn’t Israel already made the “first steps toward peace” by entering into the Oslo Accords?

I would argue that the Oslo Accords in 1993 were a good first step. Without getting into specifics, Israel turned over significant amounts of land and population centers to the Palestinian Authority in return for mere lip-service. Tangible land was traded for intangible signed agreements that were broken. Despite that, and scores of Hamas and Islamic Jihad suicide bombings later, in 2000 former Israeli PM Ehud Barak offered a far-reaching, sweeping peace deal that Arafat rejected out of hand without making so much as a counter-proposal.

But forget Olso. Do you think that the unilateral pullout from Gaza and the dismantlement of the settlements was a good step towards peace?

You say Israel is obliged to make first steps towards peace. I say Israel already has—numerous times. After the pullout from Gaza, do you think the ball is now in the Palestinians’ court? Do you think the ball can or should ever be in the Palestinians’ court? Or are they always going to be justified in their quest to eliminate Israel since you seem to believe Israel is illegitimate to begin with?

As for the colonial-settler nature of Israel, how can Jews be colonists in a piece of land that is historically connected to the Jewish people since antiquity? Whereas Europeans never lived in Africa or North America, Jews lived in the land of Israel over 3,000 years ago and maintained an uninterrupted—albeit at times small—presence in the land. If the Jews are no more than mere “colonizers” and “settlers,” how do you account for the fact that Hebrew is a Middle Eastern tongue? Even Yiddish, the language of European Jews, is a mixture of Hebrew and old German written in Hebrew script. Do you suggest that a bunch of Europeans got some cockamamie idea that they had Middle Eastern roots and went with it from there? Finally, one definition of “colony” is: a body of people living in a new territory but retaining ties with the parent state.

The European Jews who laid the foundations for the modern state of Israel left their “parent states” most often with the intention of severing ties, not to expand the power of the parent state(s). In many cases, they were escaping violent persecution. Therefore, when you scoff at Israel as being nothing but a “colonial” setter state, no different from a South Africa, I wonder why you are unable or unwilling to appreciate the complexity of Israel's origins.

True, the founders of the modern state of Israel hailed primarily from Europe, but soon after Israel’s birth, Middle Eastern Jews became the majority, a position they hold to this day. I find it curious how such people can be construed as “colonists” from the outside when they already hail from the region. I guess Israel’s Persian-born President and Defense Minister are “colonists.” So too the foreign minister, Silvan Shalom (Moroccan), and the countless of other Jews who were born in, or whose parents were from, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Lebanon, Afghnistan, etc.

My intention was not to quibble over the smaller details of the conflict, which I can do until kingdom comes. I wanted to get a general idea of where you stood regarding the larger contours of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

I’m not exactly sure what to make of your reply to me, as you did not elucidate your points. Maybe that’s just because you are busy. You seem to have argued that Israel doesn’t have a strong moral right to exist. If Israel doesn’t have much, if any, moral right to exist, does that make it's okay to destroy Israel? Does that mean that if you were alive in 1948 you would've been rooting for the 600,000 strong Jewish population of Palestine to have been anhiliated by the Arabs, even if several thousand of them were Holocaust survivors?

Your position, as it relates to Jewish people, is quite heartless. Do you believe the Jews don’t deserve or need a safe-haven, a homeland? Do you really believe that after centuries of pogroms, the Holocaust, the expulsion from Arab lands, that all of the Jews who have moved to Israel, European and Middle Eastern, are all living in “violation of basic moral… principles”?

Do you have any standards for how the Arabs should behave? I have not read about them in any of your articles. Does the widespread belief in wild anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and rank anti-Semitism, so common in the Middle East, disturb you?

If Iran dropped a nuclear weapon on Israel tomorrow, would that consitute restorative justice?

These questions may seem emotion-ladened, but what other conclusions can I draw based off of your hyper-critical views of Israel?

Intelligent gibberish?

Here’s a sample of a part of my readings for one of my classes:

This contention suggests, at least, that space may be the template from which the secrets of reality are to be read… However, Soja, similarly drawing on Lefebvre but also more on Foucault, does not see space as so passive, undialectical. Both Soja and Jameson share a common concern for spatiality, partly because this term is designed to reinstate space at the heart of a dynamic conception of time-space relations. But Soja wants to locate his argument on different terrain from Jameson; while Jameson sees space as a process of distance, Soja would rather treat distance as a dialectic between separation and desire to be close. This leaves the question of the individual’s occupation of subject positions in a different conceptual place. For Jameson, the individual is to be mapped by the spatial specificity of their subject positions, in order to uncover the hidden human geography of power, but Soja’s schema suggests that even this dynamic understanding of the situation is too solid; space is not an innocent backdrop to position, it is itself filled with politics and ideology.
The course is called “Global Media and Local Cultures.” I thought we’d talk about the media in other countries, globalization, etc. I'm still hoping we will. I suppose I shouldn't be drawing any conclusions yet, as the class just started. Sometimes when I read stuff like the above, I wonder if the authors' actually know what they're talking about.

War Against Drugs

I don't proclaim to the know the answer to drug problems in this country, but it seems to me that the War on Drugs hasn't exactly stemmed the problem. If prohibition didn't work and had the result of making organized crime worse, well, maybe the same can be said of the drug trade today?

Here's an article that examines the drug war:

Monday, September 19, 2005

Personal Training: First real client?

I got a reply from Professor Robert Jensen. I’m still in the process of writing him a reply, so I’m going to hold off publishing things just yet. Suffice to say, his answer was a bit lacking, as far as I am concerned.

Switching gears… I think I may be getting my first real personal training client. Here’s how the process works:

Somebody joins the gym. As a part of their membership, they get to have a workout with a personal trainer to see if purchasing PT sessions is something they want to consider. So, while I’m working them out and getting to know them, I have to be a bit of salesman in the process. I'm getting better at this.

Anyway, I trained a guy today and I think he’s interested in purchasing 24 sessions, which will net me about $400.00 over three months (two or so sessions/week). He’s pretty nice and I’m confident that I can help him to attain his fitness goals. He’s from France and is living in Milwaukee because he married a Milwaukee girl. When I told him that I could give him a body just like Dominique DeVellepin, he was like, “How much?” Just kidding. But he’s a nice guy and I really hope he'll purchase the sessions. The truth is, if he doesn’t, he’ll simply be a member of a gym with no idea how to use the gym to accomplish his goals. He'll pay his gym fees, but as he doesn't see progress, he'll stop coming. There are so many people like that. That is why personal training can be such a benefit, even if used for just a short period of time.

Iran girding for war with US?

According to Amir Taheri, the answer might be yes.

Incredible though it may sound there are signs that Tehran may be preparing for a military confrontation with the United States, and has convinced itself that it could win...

Read it all, here.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Merkel Looks to Be Leading German Election

BERLIN - Germans voted Sunday in a tight race between Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who touts his country's role as a European leader and counterbalance to America, and conservative challenger Angela Merkel, who pledges to reform the moribund economy and repair ties with Washington.



Why Israel should care

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