Way too much has happened over the past few days to even let fly a fair recap; Kaia and I each have been juggling loads at work, and I saw a new Geico commercial featuring Little Richard (it's the one that describes a woman who hit a deer on Thanksgiving). Suffice to say, the work has -- for each of us -- been oppressive, but the Little Richard commercial has been nauseating. I'm not having nightmares -- yet -- but they're a-comin'. If you've seen that commercial, you know what I mean.
I'm pleased to mention, by the way, that the friend I mentioned in Michigan, the one who was near death due to advanced strep, bronchitis and pneumonia, is -- finally -- doing much better and is on her way to recovery. Her cell phone has been off (thanks to Caps for the info) but she is, for sure, on the mend. I'm not usually into that hokey "it was all that karma that helped!" kinda person, but after a small deluge of comments and (mostly) e-mails, I'd like to think that the good wishes/prayers/support sent her way at least in part contributed to her recovery.
As for Israel and Lebanon, now that this is going on for awhile, it's almost worthless to discuss it. There's not much progress happening, even with Condoleeza on site, so I have pretty much relegated myself to silent observation until there is something new to discuss. I certainly didn't mean to beat a dead horse with respect to this situation, but -- and I think most people would concur with me -- it's frustrating watching diametrically opposed combatants duke it out with fresh updates every hour or two. The one thing that I will say is that it's interesting to me that, over the past thirty or so years, the major problems this planet has experienced -- at least the ones involving humans and not geologic or oceanic events beyond our control -- have been a result, at least in part, of religious extremism, specifically Islam.
Before someone anoints me the next Salman Rushdie, please note I'm not referring to Islam as a religion; I'm describing Imams and other Muslims who encourage Muslim youths to hate and to destroy. It seems that most of the regimes in the Middle East, apart from Israel, have either sworn or recently (within the past decade or two) abandoned a state-sponsored commitment to destroy Israel. The main issue, as we are now seeing on a national level, is that even those Middle Eastern regimes who portray themselves as modern and progressive still steer their interests in one direction publicly and another privately. Syria and Iran, as an example, are stereotypical Middle Eastern nations: quick to defend or deflect blame from themselves publicly, but happily, in private, providing rogue groups -- Hezbollah, Hamas or whatever flavor of the month comes forward and proclaims their intent to destroy Israel, however possible -- with the means, whether arms, money, protection or a combination thereof.
This is nothing new -- Syria and Iran have and always will be nations that cannot and should not be trusted. The problem -- and what really, genuinely puzzles me -- is that there are a small but vocal contingent of people with whom I've spoken to categorically point their fingers at Israel for being the "aggressor" whenever these situations flare up. Some do the finger-pointing even when the status quo is below conflict level; many accuse Israel of occupying the nation of Palestine, and still more decry the abuses and the lack of human rights within the Israel-Arab interculture. Mostly, I try using facts and history to explain why these positions are fallacies; but more often I just shake my head and add these people to the subconscious list of morons I keep somewhere between my ears. It doesn't help asking these people to advise me when the nation of Palestine was established, or when Mohammad -- the prophet whose cartoon image set off weeks of rioting and calls for newspaper editors' deaths around the world --- visited Jerusalem. And it certainly doesn't pay asking Muslims -- devout or otherwise -- which direction they would face if they needed to perform their daily prayers and were located squarely between Mecca and Jerusalem. There's no point. People who would advocate strapping on an explosive belt to kill civilians -- or praise others that did so -- don't discuss facts, they are chanting their beliefs as if same are a mantra or a given; the fact that they are neither is irrelevant.
Incidentally, there was never a "nation" of Palestine until Israel (which was established in 1948) ceded land to a group of people who have so little in common geographically that they call themselves "Palestinians" rather than "Jordanians," "Egyptians," "Syrians," "Iranians," "Iraqis" or "Lebanese." Mohammad never visited Jerusalem, the quote-unquote holy land that in theory is the impetus for every cry for Islamic Jihad. And any Muslim that prays faces Mecca; they could give a shit for Jerusalem -- that is, unless it is occupied by people who pray to a different god than them.
There I go again...beating a dead horse. I'll leave this be for awhile -- but in the meantime, if anyone needs me, I'll be hangin' with Salman Rushdie; he and I have some cartoons of Mohammad to distribute.