Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

Tomorrow is family fun day at work.
They might as well call it “Family Fund Day,” because they’re charging for at least some of the activities, from what I’ve been told.
They’re doing things like having a dunking booth, playing basketball and football, and cooking out.
Mr. Frodo is supposed to be in the booth from 13:00 to 14:00, and I’m so tempted to pee in an empty water bottle tomorrow morning just after I get up, and take it to work so I can pour it in there before he takes his perch.
Today I attempted to go through the training for The Source, which is one of the “resources” we have to use during calls.
It was inaccessible for the most part, because it consisted of a lot of graphics you were supposed to click on, as well as simulations.
Then there was the fun part of explaining to the trainer that Jaws wasn’t working with the training simulator.
Once again, the client took no consideration of accessibility issues, and they can’t say they didn’t know.
I was surprised at how much that realization stung.
It’s like not being allowed to play in all the reindeer games, except it’s not a game, it’s work, and once again I’ve been shut out.
I thought I had gotten used to that by now, but apparently not.
I just don’t get how people can go through their lives being, (as John puts it), aggressively ignorant.
Sometimes I think ignorant is too nice.
They just don’t give a fuck.
I wonder how they would like it if it was them in this situation?
But anyway, on to lighter things, like making Mr. Frodo’s dunking experience a memorable one.
I can’t figure out how I’d pull it off.
I’m too conspicuous.
I’d go out there, and someone would think I’m lost.
“Oh no, don’t mind me, just pouring a little food coloring in.”
Man, if I had some food coloring, I could have so much fun.
We could just tell him someone had a really bad accident after he finished his turn.
I’d like to get a picture of the look on his face after that one.
“One bottle of food coloring, $1; One opportunity to take a shot at dunking, $1; Mr. Frodo finding out someone had an accident in the water, priceless.”
I know all of this sounds really evil, but if you met him, you’d understand.
He makes everyone’s life difficult just because he can, and he thinks blindness is contagious.
At least that’s how he acts.
I also know I’ll never get to do anything like this, but one can dream.
And with that, good night all.

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

“I believe the resistance (fighters) should not be content with taking one Israeli soldier as a prisoner,” Osama Hamdan, Hamas’ representative in Lebanon,
who is close to Hamas’ political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal, told Al-Manar television in Beirut.

Mashaal’s deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk, told AP in Damascus, “This soldier is a prisoner of war.”

This is an opportunity if ever their was one for Israel to declare all-out war, and deal with the Palestinians accordingly.
If they want to play terrorist state, then fine, let’s treat them like a terrorist state.
No one on their side is even pretending to speak out against this, which makes them all responsible.
I think it’s time for the Israelis to start sending Hamasnicks to meet their seventy-two virgins.
This is exactly what the opponents of the expulsion warned against before it happened last year.
I also believe the international community needs to keep its collective mouth shut and let Israel deal with the terrorist problem that has ballooned in her back yard due to the insistance of said community that if only Israel would leave Gaza, then things would get better, and the Palestinians could practice their right to self-determination.
As far as I’m concerned, they’ve “determined” loud and clear that they’re all for terrorism, and that they want to stay at war.
Well, so be it.
Israel just needs to make sure they fight like they should, and do a thorough job.

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

The IDF confirmed early Thursday a report the Popular Resistance Committees issued from Gaza that it had executed Eliyahu Asheri, 18, of Itamar, who was
kidnapped earlier this week in the West Bank. Asheri’s family has been notified.

His funeral was scheduled to take place at 2:30 p.m. in Jerusalem, with the funeral procession to pass from Beit Sanhedria to the Mount of Olives in the

OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh revealed Thursday morning that the youth had been shot in the head immediately after the kidnapping on Sunday.

Yet Condelisa Rice keeps telling Israel to just settle down.
I guarantee you if it were an American kidnapped like that, especially on American soil, the Bush Administration wouldn’t be telling anyone to settle down.
Then again, maybe they would.
Bush managed to come up with words of condolence for the Russians butchered by the Iraqi terrorists, but not the Americans.
Not so much as a word.
May Eliyahu’s family be comforted, along with the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

If it is a tool we use in the fight against terror one can bet that the ACLU will
be against it. When the NY Times revealed classified information that we are trying
to track international phone calls of suspected terrorists, the ACLU took that ball
and are still running with it. When the
NY Times leaked classified information that we are trying to track international
bank transactions in order to catch terrorists the ACLU jumped on board with that too. If
the NY Times doesn’t leak it to everyone,
the ACLU will do its best by filing freedom of Information Act requests.

In the face of suspicions that the government is using cutting-edge
brain-scanning technologies on suspected terrorists being held overseas or at home,
the American Civil Liberties Union today announced that it has filed a Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) requests with all the primary American security agencies.

“There are certain things that have such powerful implications for our society
– and for humanity at large — that we have a right to know how they are being
used so that we can grapple with them as a democratic society,” said Barry
Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Project. “These
brain-scanning technologies are far from ready for forensic uses and if deployed
will inevitably be misused and misunderstood.”

I know that the ACLU claim to be the experts on rights, but I’m not sure where they
found this “right to know” every secret government program used in a time
of war. This must be one of those rights the ACLU made up out of thin air. Furthermore
the ACLU’s leap that it would be inevitable that the program would be misused and
misunderstood is pure biased opinion on their part.

Here is a brief description of the program.

FMRI is a technique for determining which parts of the brain are
activated by different types of physical sensation or activity, such as sight, sound
or the movement of a subject’s fingers. This brain mapping is achieved by setting
up an advanced MRI scanner in a special way so that the increased blood flow to
the activated areas of the brain shows up on Functional MRI scans. (See here for
a description of the physiology of the BOLD response.) The whole FMRI process will
now be briefly described.

The subject in a typical experiment will lie in the magnet and a particular form
of stimulation will be set up. For example, the subject may wear special glasses
so that pictures can be shown during the experiment. Then, MRI images of the subject’s
brain are taken. Firstly, a high resolution single scan is taken. This is used later
as a background for highlighting the brain areas which were activated by the stimulus.
Next, a series of low resolution scans are taken over time, for example, 150 scans,
one every 5 seconds. For some of these scans, the stimulus (in this case the moving
picture) will be presented, and for some of the scans, the stimulus will be absent.
The low resolution brain images in the two cases can be compared, to see which parts
of the brain were activated by the stimulus.

After the experiment has finished, the set of images is analyzed. Firstly, the raw
input images from the MRI scanner require mathematical transformation (Fourier transformation,
a kind of spatial inversion) to reconstruct the images into real space, so that
the images look like brains. The rest of the analysis is done using a series of
tools which correct for distortions in the images, remove the effect of the subject
moving their head during the experiment, and compare the low resolution images taken
when the stimulus was off with those taken when it was on. The final statistical
image shows up bright in those parts of the brain which were activated by this experiment.
These activated areas are then shown as coloured blobs on top of the original high
resolution scan, for interpretation of the experiment. This combined activation
image can be rendered in 3D, and the rendering can be calculated from any angle.
(See here for a brief overview of GLM analysis.)

Now why would the public need to know about this and debate it? This kind of information
is for our elected officials to decide, and our enemies don’t need to know about

Back to the ACLU…

The most likely technology to be used for anti-terrorism purposes
is Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), which can produce live, real-time
images of people’s brains as they answer questions, view images, listen to sounds,
and respond to other stimuli. Two private companies have announced that they will
begin to offer lie detection services using fMRI as early as this summer. These
companies are marketing their services to federal government agencies, including
the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, the National Security Agency and
the CIA, and to state and local police departments.

?This technology must not be deployed until it is proven effective ? and we are
a long way away from that point, according to scientists in the field, said Steinhardt.
What we don’t want is to open our newspapers and find that another innocent person
has been thrown into Guantanamo because interrogators have jumped to conclusions
based on a technology no one understands very well.?

Who does the effectiveness of the program have to be proven to? If it has to be
proven to the ACLU it would never happen. If the companies that have developed
the technology are providing this service to the government as a useful means they
are staking their reputation on its effectiveness. The ACLU admit that they don’t
understand it well. Who would better understand it than those that developed it?

The ACLU’s FOIA requests were filed yesterday with the Pentagon,
NSA, CIA, FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

?These brain-scanning technologies have potentially far-reaching implications, yet
uncertain results and effectiveness, said Steinhardt. And we are still in our
infancy when it comes to understanding the underlying processes of the brain that
the scanners have begun to reveal. We do not want to see our government yet again
deploying a potentially momentous technology unilaterally and in secret, before
Americans have had a chance to figure out how it fits in with our values as a nation.?

The Uncooperative Blogger says:

I say let’s experiment on terrorist, what better testing ground
can you ask for? The ACLU has become just plain ridiculous, and they are not working
in the best interest of our country. The New York Times, the leakers and the ACLU,
who I refer to as the American Communist Liberation Union, are killing us in the
war on terror!

So, what are we going to learn from an FOIA request? That they are using what I
just told you about? Gee, that will be very helpful to the American people won’t

I’d just like to know how the ACLU would have us handle the war on terror. It seems
they want us to fight the killers with kid gloves. If someone can name me one anti-terrorist
program our government has implemented that the ACLU has approved of we might have
a debate. I can’t think of one. If we are to fight the war on terror the way the
ACLU wants we might as well just go ahead and surrender.

Bill O’Reilly is right on target.

The anti-Bush crew, led by The New York Times and the ACLU want
civilian trials for terrorists, no coerced interrogation, no rendition for terrorists
to other countries, no war in Iraq, and on and on. As I opine, The Times and other
committed left media believe the Bush administration — and not the terrorists –
is the primary danger to this country.

That’s ironic, because every once in a while I think it is the ACLU and far left
that pose more of a danger to America.

This was a production of Stop The ACLU Blogburst. If you would
like to join us, please email Jay or Gribbit. You will be added to our mailing
list and blogroll. Over 200 blogs already on-board.

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

ST. LOUIS, MO — A burglar picked the wrong home to invade Thursday morning. The intruder had a knife, but the homeowner he encountered pulled out a gun
and started shooting.

After breaking Willie Brown’s window, the burglar walked upstairs into a bedroom where Brown was sleeping. But after grabbing Brown’s wallet, the knife
wielding thief received an unexpected and unwelcome surprise when Brown opened his eyes.

Brown said, “He was standing right at the door. He said, ‘I got a knife. Don’t move.’ I said, What? ‘I got a knife. Don’t move.’ Don’t move, huh? You got
a knife? Okay, you got a knife. And I shot him.”

He said, “Whoops!”

“I said it’s too late for whoops now. I’m going to put a whoops to this 38.”

The wounded suspect ran down the steps as Brown continued firing. A bullet hole is lodged in a wall along the stairwell. The thief made it to his car, but
was picked up by police a short time later.

Brown, a 73 year old former Green Beret, says he has protected himself since he fought in the Korean War.

“When I was in Korea I slept in a foxhole, with 5 hand grenades, a 45 automatic and a M-1 rifle”

But it was the 38 caliber handgun Brown kept tucked underneath his pillow that made a difference on Thursday. Brown said, “I keep it up there all the time”

While he said it was unfortunate to have to shoot the man, Brown believes it saved his life. “These days you got to have something to protect yourself or
you are going down, because they don’t care whether you’re old, young, whatever. Woman or man, they’ll take you out. They don’t care.”

The would-be thief got exactly what he deserved.
Jack says he almost feels sorry for the burglar, although I’m not sure why.
Why should anyone feel sorry for someone who breaks into another’s residence, threatens the occupant, and then gets shot.
And I’m not sure why the editor of the above story thought it strange for someone to defend themselves and their property.
I think the burglar got just what he needed.
He’s lucky he lived through the experience, and maybe it’ll teach him a little something.

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

by TD of The
Right Track

With any proposal, sooner or later the naysayers start their doom-and-gloom
predictions. The FairTax proposal is no exception. There are those out there whining
and crying about how “it won’t really work that way”, despite the fact
that the current income tax system isn’t working the way it’s supposed to work.
I suppose their fear is exchanging the devil they know for the devil they don’t
know. In this article, I’ll highlight some of their worries and attempt to dispel

A national sales tax will create a huge black market.

Among all the arguments to be made against the FairTax, perhaps this one
holds the least water. Arguments are made that this “black market” will
spring up, with people “illegally trading DVDs, cigarettes, canned foods”
yada yada yada. OK, illegally trading? What’s illegal today
about trading those items? Nothing! So what’s the problem?

“They’ll be avoiding the tax!”

And that’s bad, why? My wife buys romance novels at
a used book store now. She’d be avoiding the tax, too. She’s also reading books
that everyone else read weeks or months ago. I say, “Come on, black market!”
Only the market won’t be black. It can be right in a store front, advertising used
books, consignment shops for clothes, furniture, camping equipment, you name it!
A whole new type of business will emerge! That will be great
for the economy, right? Right!

The national sales tax will give government another reason
to make cash purchases illegal.

Those making this argument claim that paying with cash will make it easier
to avoid paying the tax. This is simply ridiculous. Number one, most businesses
are run by honest, dependable people. It’s not the business owner that’s being taxed,
remember, it’s the purchaser of goods and services. With penalties for those who
attempt to cheat the system, the onus is on the business to be open and above-board
in collecting and paying the tax. The businesses will keep a small percentage of
what they collect in order to offset their expenses in collecting and reporting
the tax! While the consumer might hope for a break from the tax, it would be the
rare businessman who would collude with the consumer in his scheme to avoid the

The tax will be used to track your entire financial life.

Coming so closely after the previous argument, you have to laugh. First
folks are going to pay with cash to avoid the tax, then the tax will be used to
track your entire financial life. Unbelievable. How so? You’re not filing a return,
are you? To do this, the government would have to:

  1. Obtain records of your purchases from retail or service center outlets
  2. Obtain records of your purchases from your financial institution
  3. Collate the records in order to see what went where
  4. Have a really good reason to waste their time doing

But remember, the tax applies to new goods and services only.
Don’t want the government to know you bought that new Humvee? Get last year’s model
from a used car dealer. Want a couple of evening gowns? Hit the new consignment
shop that just opened up a few blocks from your work. But do you know why the government
won’t track your entire financial life? Simply put, you’re not that big
a deal
. Sorry to deflate your ego, but why would the government care
to delve into your personal finances? They don’t care what you spend money on, as
long as they get their cut!

Simply put, any tax scheme can run rampant over the
American people without diligent and unceasing attention on the part of
the American taxpayer
. It is up to you and I to keep our government on
a short leash. We must realize that there are no free rides.
When the government gives you something, they have to take something away from you
first in order to do so.

As author Edward Abbey said, “A patriot must always be ready to defend
his country against its government.”


The FairTax Blogburst is jointly produced by Terry of The
Right Track Blog
and Jonathan of Publius
. If you would like to host the weekly postings on your blog,
please e-mail Terry.
You will be added to our mailing list and blogroll.

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

Unfortunately, I didn’t write this.
It’s beautiful enough to make me wish I had.

by Misnagid

First I’m going to get personal. Then I’m going to ask for money.

When I was growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money. We weren’t poor by any stretch of the imagination but no one would confuse us for rich. Luxury
items weren’t unknown, but I didn’t get a new weekday hat for my bar mitzvah. I was thick, and all these distinctions went right over my head. Material
things have never flagged my interest, so I was oblivious to money matters. I didn’t realize why my father “volunteered” for the yeshiva’s fundraising
until I was old enough to…well, let’s just say it’s embarrassing how long it took me.

My father is a baal tzedakah to the core of his being. He could no more say no to a request for help then he could flap his arms and fly. It physically
pains him to see someone suffer. When I was in my early teens my father was a volunteer for a local food delivery tzedakah. The organization delivers food
for Shabbos and Yom Tov to local families that need it. Every Thursday night my father would take the family car for many, many hours, coming home late
at night tired from shlepping boxes full of food and soul-weary from seeing suffering. For a few of those weeks, he took me along.

My father didn’t really need the help. I couldn’t drive and he was more than capable of carrying the food to the door, but he knew what he was doing. I
wasn’t helping him; he was helping me to a life lesson. I was too young and immature to truly understand the lesson, but every detail stuck with me until
I was old enough to.

I quickly learned that the job was not just deliveryman and that not just anyone could do it. Like the chevra kaddisha, it required someone of a certain
maturity, ethical sensitivity, tactful discretion, and lack of squeamishness. During my short tour of duty I saw apartments bare to the peeling walls with
a carpet of dingy mattresses for the kids to sleep on. I saw widows left helpless and yungerleit at wit’s end, all in neighborhoods you’d never guess contained
such things. I was pressed silent by the rush of awareness of my own lot, never again to be taken for granted. Quiet is how I remember it; my father allowing
the experience to speak for itself. But the incident that’s indelibly seared into my memory is one delivery to an unassuming-looking home.

It was towards the end of our shift, late at night. My father and I carried the boxes to the door, rang the doorbell, and shuffled the weight around in
our arms while waiting for an answer. We heard scuffling and the door was yanked open. In the doorway was a very tired-looking middle-aged woman with eyes
that said “Hurry.” But before she had a chance to even greet us, the night’s stillness was pierced by a shocking shriek. Her daughter, a girl of maybe
fourteen, was screaming at her mother with ferocity to behold, yelling at her for taking the food from tzedakah. The daughter was embarrassed and furious
and screamed and screamed right in her mother’s face. “I DON’T WANT IT! WE DON’T NEED IT! WE’RE NOT TAKING TZEDAKAH!”

The mother tried to talk her daughter down, to explain to her that they desperately needed it, think of your brothers and sisters, but the screaming just
got louder. The whole incident had thus far taken less than 10 seconds, but I was so shocked I was frozen to the ground. My father knew what to do. He
leaned over, whispered something into the lady’s ear, and briskly walked back towards the car. That snapped me out of it and I gratefully followed him.

In the car, he said something to me, but to be honest the exact words were lost on me. I was still shaken up, my ears were still ringing, and my head was
still swimming. We finished the rest of the route without saying much.

That night at 3AM, my father got up, got dressed, took the car, and delivered the boxes he had told the lady he’d be back at 3:30 for. He didn’t ring the

Have you ever been caught short at the grocery checkout and been embarrassed while putting stuff back in front of the whole line? Like sleep is one sixtieth
of death is that pain compared to humiliation of asking for food. Unfortunately, as my father was wise enough to show me, there is poverty in our communities,
hiding just below the sight line. It’s hard enough to overcome the shame of needing help, and in a community where stigma remains a powerful negative force,
asking for help is tremendously difficult. The Rambam understood this when he formulated his levels of tzedakah, which are sorted entirely by the issue
of the recipient’s dignity. See how wise was the Rambam, whose each improved level of tzedakah leaves the ani with more of his or her dignity:

8. Giving begrudgingly.
7. Giving less that you should, but giving it cheerfully.
6. Giving after being asked.
5. Giving before being asked.
4. Giving when you do not know the recipient’s identity, but the recipient knows your identity.
3. Giving when you know the recipient’s identity, but the recipient doesn’t know your identity.
2. Giving when neither party knows the other’s identity.
1. Enabling the recipient to become self-reliant.

From a NY Daily News Article: “Desperately embarrassed that she needs help feeding her family, a young Orthodox Jewish mother put on dark sunglasses as she approached one of the city’s
few kosher soup kitchens.
Inside, the woman, a victim of domestic violence, sat behind a row of plants set up to shield diners who don’t want to be seen at Masbia, a restaurant-style
free kitchen that opened in Borough Park a year ago.
“My kids don’t know it’s a soup kitchen,” said the mother of four teens who would not give her name and comes alone so there is more food for her children.
“They think it’s a restaurant – I don’t want them to be ashamed.”

When I read those words, I was instantly transported back to that night with my father, and my donation wasn’t far behind. The founders of Masbia clearly
know what my father taught me about the preciousness of dignity; that no one should have to choose between being hungry and being ashamed.

As the Rambam showed, Judaism’s concern for charity is nuanced and well-developed from long years of philanthropic activity. From Ruth’s author using charity
as a setting familiar to his audience to tell his tale to the story of Avraham receiving guests and greeting them with food, Judaism has long concerned
itself with charity. Judaism has had the mitzvah of tzedakah for far longer than it’s even had the name “Judaism.” Charity is so central to Judaism that
it shares the word for righteousness. There’s no doubt about it: charity is a 100% factory original part of Judaism.

We of the jblogosphere love to debate. There’s probably at least a mezuman of you right now thinking about debating that last sentence. But hunger can’t
be debated with. In the face of hunger, debate must cease and action be taken. Let’s put the power of the jblogosphere to productive purpose and support
a charity in the way of Judaism. Please click the image below and give what you can to allow the hungry to eat with dignity. Don’t even pause to add a
comment before donating. If you have a blog, please add a link to this appeal–right after you’ve donated. No matter if your frum or frei, chareidi or
chasidic, misnagid or Mis-nagid, show me that you’ve absorbed the ethos of your forebears, those rachmonim bnei rachmonim, by aiding those in need. Tizku

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

As I’ve said here before, I really hate it.
And it seems to be getting out of control.
More and more of it is getting through Akismet,, so it looks like I’ll have to add more to the arsenal.
These people should all be lined up and shot.
They’re probably all a bunch of child molesters.
They’re definitely thieves, and I hate thieves with a passion.
Whatever they are, I’m sick and tired of them.