A Voice of Reason in Islam

I was visiting Israellycool and came across the following. The full article is well worth reading and is fascinating.

At a time when the Muslim world seems to have been taken over by Islamic extremism, worshipping shahidim and virulent hatred of Israel and the west, Sheikh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi is an outspoken critic of this fanaticism, suicide bombings and jihad and supports the "Jewish divine right" to the Land of Israel.

Speaking with In Jerusalem, Palazzi states that he views the dominance of Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabi heresy as the main problem facing the Islamic world today. He views Wahhabi as a "totalitarian cult that stands for terror, massacre of civilians and permanent war against Jews, Christians and non-Wahhabi Muslims."

Since the rise of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia, some 300 years ago, Sunni scholars have written hundreds of books and issued thousands of fatwas declaring Wahhabism to be a heretical cult, refuting its mistakes and exposing its deviances. And, by virtue of his ijazzah, Palazzi believes it is not only his right but also his duty to publicly refute this heresy.

In this, he is not alone among Muslim scholars. What distinguishes Palazzi is his views on Jews and the Land of Israel.

Palazzi believes that Israel exists by "divine right" and that the Koran clearly states (Sura 5:21) that God granted the Land of Israel to the Children of Israel and ordered them to settle there. In addition, it is predicted that before the end of days, God will bring the Children of Israel to retake possession of the Land, gathering them from the different countries and nations (Sura 17:104).

Oddly enough, Palazzi's reading of the Koran is backed up by, of all sources, Al Qaida.

The Al Qaida website recently carried an article entitled, "The Jews Are Unworthy of the Promised Land. As translated by DEBKAfile.com, the article reads, "Allah decided to test the Jews when they were still an oppressed people [while in Egypt]. He seeks to lead them to the path of faith and victory and therefore urges them to conquer the Land of Israel. They [the Jews] are even more afraid to fight for the Promised Land than they are of God. For this reason, the Jewish People does not find it hard to break the covenant between God and Abram which awarded the Land of Israel to the Jewish People for all generations."

But while Al Qaida comes to the conclusion that the Jewish People has not lived up to its end of the bargain and therefore the covenant is abrogated, giving Muslims the right to the Land, Palazzi believes that the covenant is still very much in force.

The Koran states that Israel is for the Jews and even Al Qaida acknowledges that Israel is for the Jews. Why would people who follow Wahhabism wish to subjugate themselves to this type of cult? Why embrace a cult of suppression and of death? And as far Al Qaida's contention that the Jews are afraid to fight for Israel, what does the past 50 years show? They have withheld off Arab army after Arab army and contend with murdering, cowardly terrorists on a daily basis. Logic and truth have no basis among Islamic extremists or terrorists.


Cartoons are a quick and effective way to show an idea. Muslims across the world have been in an uproar about the ones posted in a Danish newspaper. Cox and Forkum have one of their own showing what Muslims across the world need to be outraged about instead of threatening to kill people over some cartoons.

The President's State of the Union Address

Until 9-11, I never watched the President's State of the Union address. I watch it every year now. While some have stated that the State of the Union address is no longer needed, I disagree. It gives Americans the opportunity to observe the members of Congress during the speech. There was clear party lines and Ms. Clinton's smirks were priceless. Poor thing hasn't a clue.

Anyhow, there were certain key points he made. The first being that we will not leave Iraq until the job is finished. We will not be snatching victory away from our men and women who have done a tremendous job over there.

I suppose I can stop sending my e-mails to President Bush now. I used to e-mail him every month asking him to set-up a Manhattan like project to seek alternatives to oil for our energy needs. He has pledged to allocate more money for alternative energy sources. It is one of the most important things we need to do. By having a dependence on foreign oil, it makes our country weak. It gives our money to those countries who even though they are supposed to be our friends, such as Saudi Arabia to fund activities that promote one of the most extreme forms of Islam. Those extremists tend to turn into terrorists like Bin Laden.

I also liked what he had to say about funding programs to increase math and science programs in our schools.

There was one thing I didn't like. I didn't feel he was forceful enough about Hamas winning the Palestinian elections. Congress needs to pass the bill to stop all funding. I do not want my tax money going to terrorists that are dedicated to killing people in Israel.

One thing I am curious about. What did ya'll think about him addressing the people of Iran directly?

Lunch Break

My boss surprised me with a lunch of fried shrimp today. Great boss! Of course after eating it, I needed to take a walk. I become a little bit sleepy after eating fried foods. It was a gorgeous day. Of course I took some pictures.

A duck looking for his lunch on Biloxi's Back Bay

The duck swimming under water toward me

The duck dove under water once again after seeing me and took off


You Can Help

I have written a few posts about Soldier's Angels Project VALOUR-IT. Blackfive has written a post about other needs that our soldiers in Iraq have. Currently, Soldier's Angels Armor Up program has received requests for forty-six (46) more blankets from units in Iraq. At $935 per blanket, $43000 is the amount needed. I was awed by how much was raised during the competition for Project VALOUR-IT. Let's see if we can do the same for this worthy program that will protect our servicemen and women in the field.

They will be used to provide added turret protection in Bradley Fighting Vehicles at check points. They can also be used for added floor protection from blasts from IEDs. Our guys over there are finding more and more uses for these versatile armor blankets.

If you would like to help out, click here to donate. Or spread the word about this program by e-mail or posting at your site.

Goodness of Heart

While the Palestinians have voted in the terrorist group Hamas and even voted in someone with the nickname of Hitler, Israelis still are providing a light unto the world. Mustafa Dalau was born in Gaza and has a life threatening heart condition. He is being treated at the Israeli Hadassah-University Hospital in Ein Kerem.

Even when faced with terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, and the numerous others, Israel still reaches out and provides life saving hospital treatment for Palestinians of all ages.

Dr. Yuval Weiss, Hadassah Ein Kerem's deputy director, commented that the surgery was a straightforward procedure. "It was just to save his life," he commented nonchalantly. According to Weiss, Mustafa will need additional surgery later this year to follow up on the initial surgery performed to strengthen his heart.
Weiss noted. "We are very proud of this. In a way, we are a bridge to peace," he said. "We treat people according to their medical condition, not according to their religion or nationality."Jerusalem Post

Mustafa is not the only Palestinian baby currently at Hadassah. There are five Palestinian babies in the pediatric ICU.

This reflects the spirit of humanity that abounds in Israel. Even as the majority of Palestinians are calling for Israel's destruction, Israelis are still reaching out to help Palestinians. If the Palestinians would just abandon their culture of hate and death, they could learn so much from Israel. Israel wants peace. Now it's up to the Palestinians to decide if they want peace or if they will continue in their calls of destruction of Israel and it's calls for murderous attacks against Israeli citizens.


5 Months

It has been 5 months since Hurricane Katrina slammed into my hometown of Gulfport Mississippi. Things are improving. There are FEMA trailers all over the place. In fact one of my neighbors has three in his yard and another has one.

This FEMA park in D'Iberville is for the elderly and disabled. I was talking to one of the men who lives there now. He said the house his grandfather and father built was destroyed by Katrina. He is in his 70's and would not be rebuilding. His house was about 3 miles south of mine. Which makes it 7 miles inland, close to a creek that the storm surge followed and swamped his house.

A big thanks goes out to Mark at Knockin' on the Golden Door in December wrote Congresswoman Woolsey on our behalf and e-mailed the response he received:

Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2006 9:44 AM
To: Deleted the e-mail address
Subject: Message from Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey

January 25, 2006

Mr. Mark D. Firestone
Deleted address

Dear Mr. Firestone:

Thank you for providing me with the link to your friend's incredible
pictures of the destruction wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and for
sharing your thoughts about the need to allocate relief to the Gulf Coast.
I appreciate the time you have taken to contact me.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita tragically affected many people in the Gulf
Coast region. In addition to the destruction of many lives, the disasters
devastated wildlife, infrastructure, and communities. It will be crucial to
rebuild this area with immense consideration for the importance of
environmental barriers as well as the rich cultural history of this region.
Additionally, the Gulf Coast needs to be rebuilt in a responsible and
comprehensive way, centered on rebuilding structures that will last and will
contribute to the economic and social rejuvenation of the many communities
impacted by the hurricanes. Please know that I will keep your thoughts in
mind as Congress continues to allocate aid to Gulf Coast rebuilding

Mark wanted to know what my thoughts were on her response. While I'm addressing the needs that Mississippi has, it's important that Congress knows of the full destruction along the coastal states. Rebuilding is going to be a mammoth task and we in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama will need more funding. Ms. Woolsey addresses the fact that monies allocated need to be spent in a sensible manner and I agree with her. There are so many issues that are facing us in rebuilding in Mississippi and we need to make sure that we rebuild in such a way as to avoid destruction on the scale we faced during Katrina. Right now architectures from Southern Cal and Norte Dame are on the Mississippi Coast and documenting the destruction and drawing up plans to help us rebuild. Governor Haley Barbour has a Renewal Commission that focuses on rebuilding smart and he has called in planners from all across the country to formulate the best plans. These plans look to incorporate our rich historical architecture that was lost and plan for the future.

First Presbyterian Church courtyard on Hwy 90 in Gulfport. The church was flooded.

The tall building in the background is the Markham Building. It was built in 1920's and it's fate is still uncertain. It maybe torn down. This was the sight I saw when I was first able to get close to Hwy 90 in November.

Downtown Gulfport, the tall building to the left is Hancock Bank.

We on the Coast are resilient and are piecing our lives back together. Hancock Bank started a campaign right after the storm, "Together, We Rebuild" and it's one we are taking to heart. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers. It's going to be years, maybe even decades before we can finish rebuilding.

Defining a Word

Words have the ability to conjure up images in our minds. Some, such as the word no, can be used to convey all sorts of meanings when certain tones and facial expressions are given. Other words defy description. One such word is hooah. What exactly does it mean? It's used extensively in the US Army and I've seen it at numerous milbloggers. The Urban Dictionary gives several definitions. The following are two that seemed most reasonable.

Phonetic spelling of the military acronym HUA, which stands for "Heard Understood Acknowledged." Originally used by the British in the late 1800's in Afghanistan. More reciently(sic) adopted by the United States Army to indicate an affirmative or a pleased response.1: Sgt: "Y'all got the game plan?"
PFC(s): "Hooah sargeant(sic)!"

U.S. Military Slang.

Referring to, or meaning anything and everything except "no." Generally used when at a loss for words. Also:

Good copy, solid copy, roger, good or great; message received, understood.
Glad to meet you, welcome.
I do not know, but will check on it, I haven't the vaguest idea.
I am not listening.
That is enough of your drivel--sit down.
Stop sniveling.
You've got to be kidding.
Thank you.
Go to the next slide.
You have taken the correct action.
I don't know what that means, but am too embarrassed to ask for clarification.
That is really neat, I want one too.

From the second definition, hooah is a very diverse word. I like 'stop sniveling' and 'that's really neat, I want one too'. What's your favorite use?


The Stars

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer
by Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I was sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

Bug Nebula - Sapce.com

The New Ping Pong

To see what happens when the world of ping pong encounters the world of the Matrix, click here.

School Memories

A friend e-mailed an interesting link to me. This site has school photos from all over the world. You can probably find your school photo. I checked it out and was amazed at rapid way it find my photo from the year I graduated It also found another of me with some friends.

World School Photographs

Check it out and let me know what you think.



This past Friday and Saturday, I made an effort to start incorporating the Sabbath into my life. I did not light the candles nor say the prayers. I did slow things down in my life. From what I've read, the Sabbath is a time to be free of work and the daily concerns of your life. In effect, it's a way to step out of the world for awhile. It's a day of freedom.

Like all aspects of a Jewish life, the Sabbath makes you think about your actions. When I first started delving into Judaism, I was surprised that theology didn't crop up very often. But the more I learn, the more I realize why. I've always known that to be Jewish affects every aspect of your life. I am learning why. I spent this past Sabbath reading To Life by Rabbi Kushner.

To be Jewish means that you strive to sanctify the everyday things in your life, from the words you speak to being conscience of the food you eat. One of the things that struck me most in Kushner's book was prayer. The 73rd Psalm is used to illustrate Jewish prayer. He writes, " We don't ask G-d to change the world to make it easier for us. We ask Him only to assure us that He will be with us as we try to do something hard".

There's much to reflect on and much more to learn. I'll be going back to Kushner's book and have started another. The most surprising thing about the Sabbath was how invigorating it felt. It may have been Kushner's book but I believe it was just turning my mind and actions away from the worries and cares of daily life. Truly a day of freedom!

The Palestinian Vote

The Palestinians voted in a Hamas majority. Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. It has been since it's inception. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, since September 2000, 227 Israeli civilians have been killed, and 1393 wounded in suicide bombings carried out by the Hamas.

The cartoon posted by Dry Bones in December is even more apt today:

By their vote, the Palestinian people have clearly shown that they do not want peace with Israel. The vote can be seen as a testament that they want Israel wiped from the face of the earth.

Long live Israel!



My boss just called. Wanted to know if I'm dragging my sick carcass into work today. Today, yeah, I'll be in. I'm not sneezing and coughing every two minutes anymore. Just every 15. Bye, bye sweet blanket and tender ministrations by my cats who help keep my feet warm by sleeping on them.

Update: Sudafed's Shower Soothers do give you quite a bit of relief, two or three hours. However, since I can't see myself taking showers every three hours, I disregarded the instructions on the box. I placed one of the tablets in a potpourri dish and kept it on throughout the night. First decent nights sleep I've had in a couple of nights. No getting up at 3 in the morning!


A Fisking We Will Do

People have the freedom of speech in this country. And it's an incredible freedom we have. But some people are just elitists and need to be shown how incredibly stupid they are. Uncle Jimbo's post at Blackfive has given a proper fisking to Joel Stein's Warriors or Wusses in the L.A. Times.

It's with disbelief I read the following by Stein:
I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea. All I'm asking is that we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions, mental health and a safe, immediate return. But, please, no parades.

Stein's whole article is in this same vain. The very men and women who he says we should not have parades for the incredible job they are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan are the very ones who ensure our freedoms. Very magnanimous of him to say our soldiers shouldn't be spit on. Go read Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive . A very proper fisking is on hand for Stein. This country's greatest disgrace was how the Vietnam Vets were treated after they came home. My father proudly served his country and served two tours of duty in Vietnam. He, and the men and women he served with did not deserve the treatment they received. Our men and women who are serving today do not deserve article's like Stein's. It's up to us to show our servicemen and women how proud we are and as a nation how grateful for the sacrifices made by them and their families.

Doing the Right Thing

The PC-USA has made a call for divesture in Israel and some of it's leaders have met with the terrorist group Hizbollah. In Birmingham AL during the week of June 15-22, 2006, the PC-USA will hold it's 217th General Assembly. There are some members of the PC-USA who object to the calls for divesture and other measures. I am proud to state the Presbytery of Mississippi is one who is calling for the these measures to be overturned. A rabbi from The Simon Wiesenthal Center was recently on the Coast in part because of the stance of the Presbytery of Mississippi. I went to the PC-USA site to find more information on the upcoming assembly. The Mississippi members of the PC-USA are doing the right thing and I applaud them for their efforts and hope their common sense attitude will prevail. For the calls for divesture in Israel are one-sided and blatantly wrong. Below is a excerpt from the Presbytery of Mississippi:

As a matter of conscience, the congregations comprising the Presbytery of Mississippi cannot support divestment as an economic sanction against American companies legally doing business in Israel and/or Palestine. The underlying purpose of divestment is to inflict economic hardship and harm on companies doing business in Israel or Palestine. In clear cases—like genocide or apartheid—such action can be justified. In the present situation, however, where there is justice and injustice on both sides, it is unjustified and inappropriate.

The price of phased selective divestment falls disproportionately on one party to this conflict, namely Israel. Such remedies do not make for peace. The use of economic sanctions as a weapon in peacemaking puts the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in the position of a judge passing judgment and imposing a sentence rather than a partner for peace. To rank and file members of the church, it appears arrogant, condescending, and punitive. Such actions, however well intentioned, do not make for peace.

Blanket condemnation of the security wall does not further the peacemaking process. The wall may be, for now, a necessary evil to deter attacks and counterattacks. To criticize the encroachment of the wall into Palestinian territory is legitimate. To tell a nation that it cannot protect its borders or defend its people from mortar or suicide bombers is naïve, arrogant, and hypocritical. The United States has protected borders to prevent illegal immigration. To tell Israel that it does not have the right to protect itself against enemy attack is simply wrong.

More of the PC-USA's congregants need to do the same thing. Divesture does not serve the interests of peace and Israel has the sovereign right and duty to protect her citizens. Each person has the moral obligation to speak out against injustices. The PC-USA's stance is clearly an injustice to Israel. Let's hope reason and justice will prevail in the upcoming General Assembly.



For some reason, I was in the mood for poetry tonight. I guess we all need escapes every once in awhile. I picked up Ogden Nash and had a few laughs. Then I picked up Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Great poetry is timeless. There was one of his poems that spoke of the greatness of living in a democratic society. For it is democracies such as the United States that dissent is the surest sign of freedom. We have the freedom of questioning our leaders, of questioning which direction our country should go. In an ironic way, it's the voice of the dissenters that help keep our country free and preserve our precious rights. The right of free speech, the right of freedom of religion, and all the other rights we as a nation are blessed with. While the voices of dissent may be shrill and illogical at times, their voices are needed. I am not sure when Whitman wrote the following poem but it as apt now as then in the 1850's or 1860's.

To The States

To the States or any one of them, or any city of the States, Resist much, obey little,

Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved,

Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever afterward resumes its liberty

The men and women who serve in our Armed Forces defend with their very lives the rights of all Americans to voice dissent. They have succeeded in bringing fledgling democracies to the people of two countries long surprised by brutal governments and dictators.

Got Nothing

There are a few things that I'll post about later this week. One is about my beginning to incorporate the Sabbath into my life and the other is my take on the Confederate flag. Now I have a cold and am about to go to work. So for your amusement or pain, whatever the case may be, more photos.

Biloxi - Hwy 90, Demolition of the President Casino is almost complete. It slammed into some apartments during Hurricane Katrina. It traveled about a half mile from it's moorings.

Me and my shadow. I liked the colors from the street lights and the pattern.

Biloxi - Hwy 90 across from the Mississippi Coast Coliseum, Lot of debris still around from the apartments, hotel, and casino barge.

Moses Pier - Gulfport, Least sandpiper. These little birds are fun to watch. When they are at the waters edge, they scurry back and forth with the waves.

I haven't posted too many pictures of the buildings and homes in Gulfport that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. I suppose it's because those are the ones that hurt the most and I'm not ready to expose the pain.


In Defense of the ACLU

There have been calls to stop the ACLU. I disagree with this idea. Why? Because every nation needs a group that scrutinizes and tries to protect a country's citizens from the intrusion of the government. Let's take the issue of school prayers. Many lament the fact that prayers in schools have been largely abolished through the actions of the ACLU. Do prayers benefit? Yes they do, but what prayers should be said? Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhists, or Wiccan prayers? The problem is that there are many religions and each person in this country is guaranteed the right to pursue the religion of their choice or free to be an agnostic or atheist.

When I was in the 2nd grade, the ruling came down that prayers should not be held in schools. My teacher defied those rulings and led us in the Lord's Prayer every day. She was exercising her right for religious freedom, but what of us kids? I did not mind but when you're 8 years old, you do not see the consequences. In fact, I admired her courage in defiance of the ruling. But the older you get, the more time you have to reflect about the issues at hand.

If a parent chooses to raise their children in their faith, is it the governments responsibility to ensure that the children say prayers in the school? No, it is not. And that is what school led prayers do. It takes away the parents responsibility and foists it upon the schools. Religion or the choice not to worship is one of the most precious rights we have in this country. The Founding Fathers wisely put in that the United States government would not establish a state religion. Each one of us is free to pursue whatever beliefs we hold dear. Groups like the ACLU help ensure that the government does not intrude upon our civil liberties.

The Superdome's New Sponsor

I try not to say too much about New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina left it a monumental mess much like the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Unlike our mayors of the Coastal cities and our governor, the New Orleans mayor and Louisiana's governor have done a very poor job of helping the city to rebuild and in leadership. I received the following via e-mail. Apparently the Superdome has a new sponsor:

Peaceful Coexistence

Two of my cats have been having "tensions" since I first got them over 9 years ago. Frisky takes every opportunity to hiss and swat at Smokey. Smokey for his part likes to chase her around the house and annoy the heck out of her. However, there has been a seeming truce. They have been sharing a new throw I bought last month. The hissing, the growls, and the items knocked to the floor have been few and far between since the purchase.


Why does it always have to rain on the weekends?



In a previous post I had shared some things that I learned about my grandfather and grandmother. I was so glad to have learned more about both of them. My Dad had been estranged from his father for many years. I only knew my grandfather for 14 years before he died. My grandmother died when Dad was still a child.

When I spoke with my cousin who is his 90's, he had shared more information with me. My grandfather was a bit of a maverick in his day. Not only did he buck tradition and marry a non-Jewish wife, they also divorced later. That was something unheard of in the 1930's. I do not know the circumstances and nor should I know. Some things are best left between the people involved.

My grandfather was in his 20's during the Great Depression. He was sent to Philadelphia in WPA program. He had a good grasp of accounting and business. He was assigned to the some sort of public works and there he met the woman I always considered to be my grandmother, Dorothy. Her daughter Mary Louise was an aunt to me in every way. When I visited Chicago, she would take me to the art museums and other places. But I digress, I'm talking about my grandfather.

While in Philadelphia, he put in a bid to do some major water and sewage work. He won the bid. The only problem was he didn't actually have any capital to secure the workers and materials needed for the job. I am sure that if he had the resources necessary, he would have done a wonderful job. He was moved backed to Chicago with his new wife and step-daughter.

During WWII he served his country by doing what he knows best, construction. He supervised construction sites in Salinas, Kansas and in New Mexico.

I hope to learn more about my grandfather. He was a fascinating man.

More Experiments

I haven't taken very many pictures at night. The HPM407 I have does a somewhat fair job. Below are some I took tonight along the beach at dusk and nightfall.

Practice will make prefect. These are least terns. The are an endangered species and their nesting grounds were devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

A light drizzle was falling when I took this one.


Jerusalem Among the Stars

The arrow points to Jerusalem

A minor planet in the belt between Mars and Jupiter has been named Jerusalem. Dr. Michal Kocer and his wife Martina from the Klet Observatory in the Czech Republic discovered it in December 2000 and requested it be named after Jerusalem. The International Astronomical Union gave approval for the name.

In a letter addressed to Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, to which they attached a certificate of authenticity along with an orbit diagram, the Kocers explained that their decision was meant to express "our blessings for the city of peace, the most beautiful city we've ever been to."

In reply, Lupolianski thanked the Kocers for the gesture, adding poetically: "The light of this star will not fade, just as the star of the city of Jerusalem has continued to sparkle for thousands of years among the Jewish people and across the world." Jerusalem Post

Another Horoscope

I read my horoscope daily. They are a lot of fun and not to be taken seriously but sometimes, they are appropriate. Like mine for today:

You mustn't expect any enormous changes today, dear Scorpio. However, the process you began three or four years ago will accelerate slightly. You are changing the moorings of your identity, the ideas that make you sure of who you are. Your family, background, and education no longer count as much as your own spiritual foundations. Don't be afraid of this shift - go with it. MSNBC

I have always had a fascination with Judaism. Throughout my life I've marveled at how Jews have been able to maintain their identity throughout the many prosecutions against them. Since I've started on the road to come home to my Jewish identity, I've had to reflect on many of my beliefs. The one question that people ask me is about Jesus. Since I've called myself a Christian for much of my life, this is the most difficult. I've been reflecting on it for over a year now and have come to some conclusions.

Even when I was going to Mass on a weekly basis and teaching catechism, all my thoughts and prayers were directed to G-d. I do not believe I've ever directed one prayer to Jesus as Christians do. G-d was always the main focus in my life. In other words, even though I called myself a Christian, I was not. This is a hard thing to realize because it seems I've been living a lie most of my life. I did try very hard to live a Christian life but believe my heart and soul is a Jewish one. When I first become a Catholic some 30 years ago, even then I realized if I knew how to go about converting to Judaism, I would have.

By taking the road to becoming a Jew, I feel like I'm coming home. I am no longer living a lie.


Truce Is a Dirty Word

Whenever news reports come out of Israel about another suicide bombing, the word truce is used for some strange reason. How can you call it a truce when the unglorious, death loving suicide bombers keep trying to find ways of killing innocent people who are at malls? It makes a travesty out of the word and turns it into a word akin to f@@k.

Of course, for some strange reason, the news media likes to report these murdering inhuman beasts as "militants", "insurgents", and other inappropriate euphemisms. How can news reports keep saying the "truce" is threatened once again when Israel faces daily Kassam rocket attacks, suicide bombers who keep trying to get in and are stopped at the very necessary checkpoints?

There has never been a truce for Israel. Her citizens have to face daily the very real prospect of terrorist attacks. And yet, even in that atmosphere are able to hold together a vibrant, stable, innovative, and stable society. It makes you wonder how a movie such as Paradise Now could have possibly won a Golden Globe award. It speaks volumes that a movie that basically glorifies suicide bombers could win this award and so many other international awards.

Luckily, today's suicide bomber did not kill anyone. It wounded ten people standing in line at a food stand. A suicide bomber at a mall targeting innocents who are just trying to grab a snack. Remember that the next time you hear about criticism of the Israeli governments checkpoints, the security wall, and it's unwillingness to allow unrestricted travel between the Gaza and the West Bank.


I Like 'Em

Since Hwy 90 has reopened, I've taken to going to the beach again. It seems like I go most every day now. I guess it's because it had been denied to me for so long. Of course I had my ever present camera and took some more shots. These are the two I liked best from today.

Biloxi Cemetary - Hwy 90 The storm surge did not respect the rest of the departed.

The median along Hwy 90 in Biloxi. I liked how the sunlight seemed to light up the two oak trees.

Survivor's Guilt

It's weird but one of the strongest emotions I've had to deal with in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is guilt. When I see the destruction of all the homes around and my house is unscathed, there is guilt. It seems such an odd emotion to have to contend with but it's there. Part of it could be that there is so many people hurting and you want to help each and every one but know you can't.

There are 16,000 lucky homeowners in the coastal counties of Mississippi that can say the same as me, their homes are undamaged. I was talking to one today. He said he can't bare to go visit his friends because they have lost so much. He also said he felt guilty. He pointed out space after space of where the homes of his friends once stood.

He also related how 23 of his neighbors had to escape the storm surge as it engulfed their neighborhood. They sought the shelter of his home. His house is a mile inland from Biloxi's Back Bay in the small town of D'Iberville. The water surrounded his home but did not get inside.

We talked about the feelings of guilt and I suggested to him that there was a reason his home wasn't destroyed. His life and the lives of 23 others were saved because it did survive.

There's a profound sadness about the destruction and the many lives that have been changed. There's also the realization that the Mississippi Coast will never be the same again. Many of the historical buildings are gone. Even the cemeteries were damaged.

The grieving goes on. It will take time to heal the spiritual, physical, and mental wounds that are present. G-d's love is helping with that. It's in the faces of people as we work together to rebuild. It's in the hope that the Mississippi Gulf Coast will be better and stronger. It's in the helping hands of the college students from Vermont, Connecticut, and elsewhere. It's in the helping hands of volunteers from Minnesota, Michigan, Nevada, and other states.

Can't Stop Laughing

Senator Lott has made the decision to run for re-election. I was hoping against hope that he would do the honorable thing and not run. He is an embarrassment and a disaster for the state of Mississippi.

The Clarion Ledger's Marshall Ramsey is a very talented political cartoonist. The one today had me laughing out loud.


4700 Minutes

That is how many minutes my son spent last month on his cell phone talking to his girlfriend in Indiana. He was smart about it though. He made sure all the minutes were free. The secret lives of young adults!

Your Cheating Heart...

will tell on you. Maybe not your heart but your boyfriends parrot may. A man found out that his live-in girlfriend was cheating on him when his parrot began mimicking the woman's phrases. Phrases such as "I love you Gary", and "Hiya Gary", when his name is Chris. Also, the parrot would start making kissing sounds whenever the name Gary was mentioned on tv. Sadly, the owner of the noble parrot, Chris, has decided he could not bear to hear the name Gary anymore. He got rid of the girlfriend and the parrot.

Chris made a good move getting rid of the girlfriend but he should have kept the parrot. The parrot seemed like he had his best interests at heart.


Thanks Are in Order

A couple of weeks ago I sent e-mails to numerous bloggers asking that they post about an editorial the Sunherald did called Mississippi's Invisible Coast .

I am overdue thanking the following bloggers for helping out:


Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler

Confederate Yankee

Sgt. Hook

Basil's Blog


I do not know of any link between our efforts and for the news item which has recently shown up at Yahoo News but it does mention the editorial. It also mentions a few facts which tend to get overlooked. New Orleans had 1,038 deaths, Mississippi had 238. New Orleans had 6,000 homes destroyed, Mississippi had 65,000. I grieve for the loss of lives in both New Orleans and in my state. My wish is for Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi to continue rebuilding. The slogan along the Mississippi Coast is "Together, We Rebuild".

Monday Funnies

Neptunus Lex has some funnies.

The Dream

When my family first moved to Mississippi in 1965, my grandfather was very concerned because of all that was going on. The civil rights movement was in full swing and Mississippi was one of those states in which murders had been committed because people wanted their rights. I was too young to understand what was going on. I would like to think I would have had enough courage to stand up for what was right and join those who wished to abolish the Jim Crow laws, the poll taxes, and all the other evil things that kept an entire people from exercising their voting rights, their rights to a livelihood, their rights to dignity and their rights not to live in fear of death and violence.

Today, as a nation we honor Dr. Martin Luther King. I honor him as a person who helped changed the landscape of my state for the better. His words in his I Have a Dream speech are available at The King Center. Those words resonate with me.

His death at the hands of a cold blooded killer kept him from seeing the changes that he helped bring about.

PS: I did have a quote from the referenced speech but have since learned that permission must be obtained before using them. The King Center has most of his speeches available.


Rainbow Tornado

The Spitzer Space Telescope is providing a unique look at space. Some of the images that it has captured are breath taking. The latest one captures what looks like a rainbow tornado in space that is .3 light years long.

Photo from MSNBC

According to the MSNBC article, the formation is known as a Herbig-Haro object. These objects are formed when highly energized particles are ejected from a young star and then collide with interstellar dust and gas. The shape of this one is unique. They usually look like the wake of a speeding boat.

Cool and beautiful things lurk in the heavens.

Cleaning Up the Beach

When I first made it down to the beach in Gulfport back in November, I wondered how it was ever going to be cleaned up. Hurricane Katrina left if a big mess. Contents of containers from the port were all over the place. Debris from homes, trees, and boats littered the sand.

Shirts from a container dot the sand close to the Grand Casino in Gulfport. There were also packages of pineapple, bags that had once contained bananas, and other assorted goodies. The Port of Gulfport can be seen in the background.

This stretch of beach is also in Gulfport. It is east of the port. The debris here is mostly from homes, businesses, and churches.

I wanted to organize some volunteers to start cleaning but Harrison County's beach director had a more realistic solution for the beaches. There are machines that can sift the sand and get rid of the debris. WLOX has a news report that shows the machines in action. When I went to Long Beach last weekend, these machines were busy and the debris piles of the sifted sands were two stories high. All 26 miles of beaches will be cleaned by these wonderful machines. The only remaining problem is that so far there, is no solution for the debris in the water.

The waters east of the port. Miles and miles are like this.

Biloxi - Some of the debris in the water around the remains of the Porter Ave pier.

A pelican in Gulfport makes good use of an overturned boat.

The beach is just a minor story along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The remains of the smashed houses, cars, and businesses in the wastelands left by Katrina are the real story. Some parts of the coast have not yet been touched by the bulldozers, backhoes, and other heavy equipment needed to clean up the monumental mess.

Biloxi - The Bombay Bicycle Club

The task of cleaning up the mess is proceeding but some stretches along Hwy 90 look like they haven't been touched except for the highway being cleared.


Some Interesting Reads

Ireallycool has a interesting post on Genetic Study on Ashkenazi Jews

It's A Matter of Opinion shows the true colors of PETA

Solomonia asks Who's responsibility is it, anyhow?


Man's Best Friend

One good deed leads to another:

Three-legged pooch revives owner

In March, Lowman saved Percy from certain death by adopting him from the local Humane Society as he was recovering from an accident that took his right hind leg and severed his tail.

HOME, Pa. — A three-legged, tailless pooch named Percy might look like a bedraggled Benji, but he's got the heart of Lassie. The terrier-mix's owner, Christina Lowman, 47, credits the small mutt with saving her life after she took a fall on Christmas morning. Lowman said she slipped on an icy ramp outside her home and was knocked out cold. She's not sure how long she lay outside in the 11-degree weather, but she said she could have died if not for Percy. ''When I woke up, the dog was licking my face,'' Lowman said. ''He brought me to by licking my face and barking.''USA Today

Comfortably Numb

Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone home?
Come on, now.
I hear you're feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain,
Get you on your feet again.
I need some information first.
Just the basic facts,
Can you show me where it hurts?
There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd's lyrics for Comfortably Numb can give someone who has never suffered from clinical depression a brief glimpse to what it's like sometimes. You ask the question of yourself, where are you? Where are the feelings? There is no anger, no joy, and no passion for the injustices of the world. Is there anybody home?

The real you seems to come through only in waves. I made a mistake after Hurricane Katrina in not continuing the drug treatment that I had to start once again back in July. I am now paying the price. I hate this depression. For someone who is usually optimistic and ready with a joke most of the time, this is the most offensive thing to be cursed with.

Some may argue that it's merely a pattern of thinking that leads to the episodes of depression. I say, hogwash! In my case, it hits without reason. This dis-ease is an affront to everything I hold dear: the preciousness of life, the joy of life, and the bountiful gifts that G-d brings to life.

A ship's smoke is on the horizon. It's coming closer to shore and soon I'll be able to get rid of this numb feeling. Comfortably numb is not something I've ever been except when the grey curtain of the depression descends. L'chaim!


A Debate

In the Sunherald's Sound Off column, there is a lively debate going on. Ocean Springs and D'Iberville are going forth with their Mardi Gras plans. Biloxi is going to hold one this year instead of the usual three on Mardi Gras day. I haven't heard anything about Gulfport plans. I for one, am excited that this tradition is going to be kept by some of the coastal cities of Mississippi. To me, it's an important step toward rebuilding and getting back some normalcy.

But others along the Coast disagree. They say it's a waste of money. That it also may hurt the number of volunteers who are coming down to help. Others point out that there are still some who are sleeping in tents.

To me, the parades are a symbol of defiance in face of the destruction that was wrought on August 29. The Mardi Gras parades on the Coast are family affairs. Families usually stake out a space along the parades routes and have barbecues.

I say, Laissez Le Bon Temps Roulet. I'm curious as to what others think.


Taking a Cue From Seinfeld

In this post, I'm taking a cue from Seinfeld. It's about nothing. Thanks to G4 tv station, I've been watching reruns of the best Star Trek series ever, The Next Generation. Last night, the rerun had one of my favorite characters on, Roxana Troi. Every time I begin to think my Mom is bad, I just have to picture Deanna Troi and her mom. It puts things in proper perspective.

Another favorite character was on a rerun tonight, Q. That evil, costume loving, god-like being who delights in tormenting the crew of the Enterprise. He appears to have an abnormal dislike of Captain Picard.

Which I don't understand. Picard is the best captain of the Enterprise ever. He never willingly puts the crew in danger. He shows much more maturity than Captain Kirk ever did.

It's fun to compare the differences of the orignal series and see how the concept had evolved. I stopped watching Star Trek when they came out with Deep Space 9. It's good to see the reruns of The Next Generation.


A New View

Sorta of looks like a giant eye, doesn't it?

Picture is from Space.com

The Helix Nebula gets a new look in this Spitzer Space Telescope view released today.

This image, released today at the 207th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington D.C., offers a new portrait of the Helix Nebula.

While named after its apparent coil structure, previous studies have shown it consists of two vast disks of gas arranged almost perpendicular to each other. The Helix Nebula sits about 650 light-years from Earth toward the constellation Aquarius.

You can read the rest about this beautiful nebula at Space.com.


Senator Lott, Do Us A Favor

Do not run again. Your actions in the past few years have not helped our state. Your remarks at Thrumond's birthday party destroyed any clout you may have held and cost you to lose the Majority Leader position in the Senate. You spoke at a meeting of Council of Conservative Citizens and denied you knew nothing of their racist ideology. You failed to condemn the group after learning of it.

Please Senator Lott, for the good of Mississippi, do not run again.


An Effort to Help

The Democrats are struggling to come up with a plan, any plan. Ferdy, the Conservative Cat has a flash video that may help. Click to watch.

Long Beach

I made it back to the Long Beach Small Craft Harbor today. It was the first time since Hurricane Katrina hit. It was one of those beautiful days that make you thankful that you live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, even with all the destruction around. The skies were so blue and the water was crystal clear. More and more people have started coming to the beach since Hwy 90 has reopened. When I took the pictures of Biloxi and Gulfport close to the beach, the lack of people was more disheartening then the destruction that is all around. Long Beach was devastated and is one small part of the 66 miles of total destruction along the Mississippi Coast. When I say total destruction, I mean houses, businesses, and apartments reduced to toothpicks.

Before and after picture of Long Beach Small Craft Harbor. Surprisingly, the piers were in much better shape than the ones in Gulfport.

This man's home which is south of the railroad tracks close to the harbor was the only one that survived. He evacuated but sadly a friend of his in Biloxi wanted to ride out a hurricane and she lost her life when the waters engulfed her apartment on the beach. She had never been in a hurricane before and he had told her not to stay.

This is the Friendship Oak on the Gulf Park Campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. It is 500 years old and tradition says that when people walk together in it's shade, they'll remain friends for life.

St Thomas Catholic Church - It had been rebuilt after Hurricane Camille and it was hoped that it's shape would save it from destruction. It worked in the sense that the shell is still there and not just a slab like after Camille. I've known Father Louis Lohan for over 20 years and the parish of St. Thomas is in no better hands to guide them. It was so beautiful inside.

The Mississippi Coast is blessed with so much beauty and wildlife. The live oaks are rebounding and they do not look so odd now that their leaves are coming back. They stay green year round. One of the things that always delights me is when I'm able to get a good photo of the beautiful birds, such as this blue heron.

I took this shot off Moses Pier in Gulfport. It's the first one of a blue heron I've been able to take in flight without it coming out blurry. They look ungainly when taking off but are fast!

A Word About Seabees

Some may think that Naval Construction Battalions or Seabees do not face the hazards during war that other service members do. This is not true. My Dad, who served two tours of duty in Vietnam would relate some of the fire they came under. What sticks most in my mind is the friends he lost who were on convoys. The Seabees in Iraq face the same dangers.

The Sunherald is reporting that 4 Seabees were injured by an IED outside Fallujah. Two of the Seabees were able to return to their unit, the 133rd. Two others were flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and will return home to Gulfport at a later date.

The Seabee motto is, "We Build, We Fight", and that held true in the case of the IED in Iraq. The Seabees had the foresight to warn the others behind of the danger thus preventing more injuries.


Goodbye Flipper

A few days ago I posted about the that the dolphins from Marine Life located in Gulfport might be going to the Bahamas. Back in September there was happiness that all of the dolphins that had been swept out to sea were rescued.

All but one of the seven dolphins which were at the Seabee base started the journey to the Bahamas today. The others that are in New Jersey, Florida, and Maryland will soon join them.

Goodbye and safe journey.

Four by Four

Mark at Knockin' on the Golden Door tagged me with the following meme:

1. Four jobs you've had in your life: office cleaner, night desk clerk, survey taker at a movie theater, bookkeeper

2. Four movies you could watch over and over: Wizard of Oz, The Lord of the Rings, Dune, & Star Trek: Generations

3. Four places you've lived: Raliegh NC, Germany, Tarrytown LA, & Biloxi MS

4. Four TV shows you love to watch: Cash in the Attic(BBC), Junkin, Mythbusters, & ER

5. Four websites you visit daily: Castle of Argghh, Solomonia, Wuzzadem, & Wizbang
(Hoorah! Castle of Argghh has passed the 1 million visitor mark!)

6. Four of your favorite foods: Hamburgers, chili cheese dogs, Cobb salad, & New York strip steak

7. Four places you'd rather be: Chicago, Australia, Tel Aviv, or the Louvre

8. Four albums you can't live without: The Best of Eric Clapton, The White Album(the Beatles), Supernatural(Santana), & Kilroy Was Here(Styx)

You four are now tagged:
Patrick H

St Casserole



Smile, Be Happy

Smile, be happy are words that people who suffer from depression loathe to hear. It's not like people who suffer from depression choose to be unhappy. It's just the way their brains are wired. Past research has shown that the levels of serotonin in people who suffer from depression are low compared to others who do not suffer from it. New medications such as Zoloft, Paxil, and many were developed based on this research.

But scientists still did not understand what processes are involved in depression. They are getting closer. New research has come to light that a protein called p11 seems to play a major role.

Most depression medications used today are members of the Prozac family that work by making more serotonin available to brain cells. They stem from a theory that depression patients might not have enough serotonin, a neurotransmitter, or chemical that carries signals between nerve cells.

Then scientists discovered the serotonin connection was more complicated, dependent on how well the neurotransmitter binds to receptors, or docking ports, on cell surfaces. Fourteen different serotonin receptors have been discovered.

The new research focuses on one of those receptors, dubbed the "1B" receptor, that seems to play a particularly big role in major depression.

Greengard and colleagues discovered that the p11 protein increases the numbers of these receptors on the surfaces of cells, mobilizing them so they're available for serotonin to do its job.Yahoo News

People, like me, who suffer from depression have benefited greatly from the new drugs that are available. It's exciting that research is continuing and the complex issues of brain chemistry are being unraveled. This research offers hope and should lift some of the stigma associated with the dis-ease of depression. New and better treatments are sure to follow. Then perhaps to people with depression, the words, "Smile, be happy" will elicit a smile instead of the urge to punch someone.

A Mitzvah or Two

There have been so many church groups that are helping us in Mississippi rebuild our lives after Hurricane Katrina. There is Samaritan Purse, God's Pit Crew, the Southern Baptist Convention, the St. Vincent DePaul Society, Catholic Charities, and so many others. Today, I learned about another one.

The Mississippi Coast Interfaith Disaster Task Force is one such group. This week, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein with the Simon Wiesenthal Center was busy repairing roofs on Biloxi's Nixon St with a nail gun in hand. He is here this week in conjunction with Hillel, a campus based Jewish youth group.

The Wiesenthal Center is not geared for disaster relief and is primarily concerned with humans rights. But there is a connection between the actions of Pete Bloss, the vice-president of the Mississippi IDTF and the Wiesenthal Center.

What initially brought the Wiesenthal Center here the association with Bloss, a Gulfport attorney and IDTF volunteer vice president. Last year, Bloss and others at his church, Westminster Presbyterian in Gulfport, protested a Presbyterian-USA General Assembly decision to visit with the anti-Israel Hezbollah and to withdraw investment in Israeli companies. The protest drew the attention of the Wiesenthal Center, the largest Jewish human rights non-government organization.

"They had the courage to stand up to their national leadership," Adlerstein said. "When we heard of the interfaith disaster task force here, we came down to express our gratitude and see if we can help.

"This is people of conviction and faith making a difference, finding the neighborhoods where the people don't have the resources and giving them hope to rebuild again".Sunherald

The many groups that are down here cannot be thanked enough. The college kids who are giving up their breaks to help out should be commended. Mr. Bloss and his church should be commended for standing up to the PC-USA's national leadership.

Mitzvah's all around!

Worse and Worse

This morning, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was rushed back into surgery after a CAT scan revealed there was more bleeding. He needs our prayers more than ever.

May G-d who blessed those who came before us in history and in life, heal Ariel Sharon who is ill. May the Holy One, have mercy upon him . Strengthen him ; O Lord, reduce the pain and bind the wounds. Give skill to those who help in healing. And speedily restore him to perfect health, both spiritual and physical. Amen.


Looking to the Future

It's going to take awhile to rebuild the 65,000 homes that were destroyed in Mississippi by Hurricane Katrina. Right now, we in Gulfport, Biloxi, Long Beach, Pass Christian, Bay. St, Louis, Waveland and other cities have choices to make. What is the Coast going to look like when the rebuilding begins in earnest? Are we going to rely on old ways of building or will we look to the future and implement sound buildings that can hold up and take into account a massive storm surge?

There are many plans floating around as to how the Coast will look in the future. Some of them seem very unrealistic. But I recently saw a new technology that can build homes out of steel and concrete. These homes can be produced at a rate of six a day with a crew of 30. It takes into account the potential for storm surges by having a garage on the ground floor and the living space on top of it. It also promises to be affordable to those who make living wages. This technology has already been used in Key West FL and those structures held up well during the 4 hurricanes that have hit.

There's a project called Restart the Gulf Coast that hopes to bring this technology to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It promises that with just 6 crews, 5,000 homes can be rebuilt in a year's time. Even at that rate it will take 13 years to rebuild the homes lost. But in looking over the site, it seems that this might be an option worth looking into.

Something new needs to be done. The buildings created by this technology are attractive and well built. It remains to be seen how affordable they would really be.

In another development, a Mississippi based company has come up with a pre-fabricated cottage that could replace FEMA trailers while homes are being rebuilt. I am less sure about this idea. The cottages are only 300 sq feet and coast $25,000.00. It doesn't seem like they would be much roomier than the FEMA trailers. The only advantage I can see for replacing the FEMA trailers with these cottages is that the people living in them would not have to worry about giving up them up after 18 months.

felis left this comment at another post:
In many places in Oz we have some kind of earth wall systems, and dunes where also shrubs, and other green things are planted to hold it together.
They serve double purpose (I think); preserve the beaches and take some impact in case the ocean gets "“angry"”.

While this has been tried at a few places along the beach and was nosuccessfulul during Katrina, it's worth looking into. But instead of having a buffer zone like the one in the quote directly on the beach, if it was moved across Hwy 90, it might have some very goobenefitsts. The first and most obvious of course is that it would be a buffer between the homes and businesses and any raging seas. The second is that it would fit into with the character of thappearancece of the way the Coast looked before. Since the majority of homes and businesses no longer exist on the 66 miles that face the beach, now is the time to consider an idea such as this. The buffer could also serve a beautiful park area.

There are so many options open at this time. A lot of consideration needs to be taken into account so that no longer will we be confronted with the loss of so many homes and the Coast can truly be rebuilt better and stronger. In the rush to rebuild, serious planning must not be overlooked that can reduce the cost of future storms.


What Next?

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is in the hospital after suffering a massive stroke. He is fighting for his life. Powers have been transferred to his deputy Ehud Olmert.

IRIS has numerous updates on the medical condition of Sharon. It looks like the blood thinners originally prescribed after his first stroke may have contributed to the cerebral hemorrhage. It does not look good for Sharon and he may not make it. He needs our prayers.

Israel is at a dangerous time. There is the threat of Iran's mad president and the increasingly real threat of nuclear annihilation. There is the constant threat of suicide bombers and increasing lawlessness in Gaza. The Palestinian terrorists now have rockets with longer range.

Not only keep Sharon in your prayers, but Israel as well. She is going to need strong leadership in the upcoming months. It doesn't appear that Olmert has the backing needed to lead the Kadima party.

It looks like the Likud party could stay in power.

High-ranking Likud sources hinted that the Likud could end up staying in the government if Sharon's health situation turns out to be serious, but a Netanyahu spokesman said the party would not issue any statement other than to wish the prime minister well. Jerusalem Post

In times past, as the recent celebration of Hanukkah has reminded us, strong leaders have arisen. Is there a Maccabe or a Ben-Gurion that can lead Israel through these times?

Life is Tenacious

I have noticed recently that sunflowers are popping up all over the place. The seeds were scattered by Katrina's waters from unknown sources and are a sign of hope and life in places that have been stripped bare. It's a gift and proves to me that life is tenacious and just as the sunflowers sprout all over, in the coming years, houses will have sprouted all over.

The corner of Central Ave and Racetrack Rd, D'Iberville MS

The corner of Central Ave and Bayshore Dr, D'Iberville MS

A flag flying so proudly means that this homeowner will soon rebuild. The FEMA trailers are small in size but appreciated. Central Ave, D'Iberville MS

There is always a promise somewhere in the worst of times that things will get better.


They're Out to Get Me!

I swear that two of my cats are out to get me. They're so sweet with the purrs. They want to jump in my lap all the time. I spend time petting them and telling them how beautiful they are but it's just not enough for Smokey and Frisky. They are out to get me!

This is Frisky. She may look all sweet and innocent but she plans her attacks against me with stealth and strategy. Some mornings, when I'm still half asleep and stumbling to the kitchen, she attacks my ankles after hiding under the desk, rocking chair, or table. She lulls me into a false sense of security by not attacking for several days, and then like lightening she cuts in front of me and attacks.

This is the second culprit. Don't let the sleeping fool you. As soon as Smokey hears the door opening and sees that I'm carrying something, he cuts in front of me as I'm going down the steps. Stumble, stumble, but no tumbles. He is almost impossible to photo. Every time I try to take a picture, he has to start walking toward me and will not sit still.

This is the only innocent one out of the whole bunch. Guido is a sweet cat. Never once has he tried to get me.

Where's Mr. Bigglesworth?

Mr. Bigglesworth used to reside at Souvenir City in Biloxi. He once had luxurious accommodations and was pampered by meals that were unique to him. There was some concern about him after Hurricane Katrina struck. His residence was one of the many along the Mississippi Coast that was destroyed. Why all the fuss about Mr. Bigglesworth? He is a 12 foot albino Burmese python who considers jumbo rats to be a delicacy. But fear not. Mr. Bigglesworth's owner evacuated him and he now resides at a pet store in Biloxi. In fact one of his fellow siblings also resides there so it's like a homecoming for him. Though he appears to be surly from the change. He's just not used to the cramped quarters he now has to live in.

So, Mr. Bigglesworth is having to make do with cramped quarters like so many thousands of Coastal Mississippians. It is to be expected that there will be a certain amount of surliness all around.


Hoping for the Good

I took another of those quizzes and guess what? It turns out I'm an idealist. I do believe we are moving toward something greater.

You scored as Idealist. Idealism centers around the belief that we are moving towards something greater. An odd mix of evolutionist and spiritualist, you see the divine within ourselves, waiting to emerge over time. Many religious traditions express how the divine spirit lost its identity, thus creating our world of turmoil, but in time it will find itself and all things will again become one.



Cultural Creative














What is Your World View? (updated)
created with QuizFarm.com

This Does a Heart Good

The PA is facing many problems. There is rampant lawlessness a lot of it perpetrating by the security forces of the PA. Terrorists have free reign and attack Israel with Kassam rockets and suicide bombers. Now they have apparently run out of money. Lo and behold, the European Union turned them down!! Will wonders never cease. There's hope for the world! PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is going around Arab countries with the old tin cup out. Good luck fellows. Since the Arab countries only sent in a third of what was pledged last year, it'll be tough getting them to part with anymore of the green. Read the Jerusalem Post article.

I'm all for helping people out but when aid from the US and the EU is continually misspent and misappropriated, a line has to be drawn. Hopefully, the EU's refusal to help out this time means they are serious in promising a cut in aid if Hamas wins in the upcoming elections.


It's been said that there are angels among us. It's been a sober and reflective New Years for me. Yesterday, I went to my Mom's to celebrate the New Year with a traditional Southern News Year dinner which consists of a pork roast, black-eyed peas seasoned with salted pork, cabbage seasoned with corned beef, and cornbread. No one noticed the fact that I did not actually eat any of the stuff that had pork in it. It's one of the Jewish dietary laws I am slowly incorporating into my life. It was nice to spend time with my family, though at times, they do drive me nuts.

When I left, I had to go to the store to pick up a few things. A nice elderly man said I looked unhappy and asked if he could give me a hug. It took me by surprise but seeing that maybe he needed a hug almost as much as I, we hugged. Two strangers seeing a need and reaching out. It brightened my day and left me with a good feeling. I believe that G-d does look out after us and at times sends angels in the form of strangers to help us out.

Wine Review

For New Year's, I usually buy two bottles of wine. I usually buy a nice Italian pinot grigio and this one I use during the year for drinking with supper or just to have a nice glass of wine. I usually buy one other to celebrate the New Year. I tried my best to find an Israeli wine after reading some very good reviews on them, but alas no luck. So this year I tried another wine, a shiraz from Australia.

I was pleasantly surprised by it. It's a very sweet wine and there was no huge bitter after taste. I am by no means a connoisseur but I do know what I like. I would recommend this wine from the Wolf Blass vineyards to anyone.


So Long and Thanks for All the Fish?

Marine Life in Gulfport was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Several dolphins and sea lions were swept out into the Gulf of Mexico and were subsequently rescued. All of the dolphins, sea lions, exotic birds which once called Marine Life home are now spread throughout the country. Kinda of like the human inhabitants of the Coast.

The dolphins have been spread out around the country. Five are living at the Gulfarium in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., eight are at the Seabee base on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, two are in a national aquarium in Baltimore and two are at a Six Flags theme park in New Jersey, said David Lion, the president of Marine Life. Forbes

David Jacobs and Dr. Moby Solangi, who own Marine Life, are currently in a court battle which will decide the future of the dolphins, sea lions, and exotic birds. Jacobs wants them to go to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas and Dr. Solangi is opposed to the idea.

Rothe, a civilian, said the Navy generally does not keep animals in the temporary pools for more than three weeks. While they are not in immediate danger, the dolphins living in Mississippi have been confined to the pools for several months.

"The animals really ought to be getting into a larger environment that is set up to better facilitate their husbandry and good health," Rothe said.Forbes

This is a very emotional issue for us on the Mississippi Coast. The rescue of the dolphins that had been swept out to sea was uplifting and in a way has become a symbol for the rebuilding. But since the owners of Marine Life have both said it will be years before the facilities can be rebuilt, I think the dolphins, sea lions, and birds should go to Atlantis.

The Forbes article has described the home that is waiting for them and to me it would be paradise for them.

The dolphins will live in seven interconnected resident pools at Atlantis, with more than 6 million gallons of sea water. The dolphins will each have 250,000 gallons of water - more than 10 times the amount required by U.S. regulations.

All but seven of the dolphins have already left the Mississippi Coast. It would hurt to have them go but realistically, all 17 of the dolphins, the 24 sea lions, and 22 exotic birds will be better off at Atlantis. These dolphins have been together for years and they should stay together. Atlantis has even made the generous offer to sponsor Mississippi Gulf Coast school kids to visit the dolphins. I don't want to see them go but I also want them to be together in facilities that are conducive to their good health. Perhaps a deal could be made with Atlantis to keep the animals until Marine Life can be rebuilt and then they could return to their Gulfport home.

Frontal view of Marine Life in Gulfport

Hopes for the New Year

Last night, Coastal Mississippians brought in the New Year with a loud and beautiful display of fire works. This has been a tradition for families for ages and even though there were numerous bans, it didn't stop too many people. It never has because fireworks are not allowed in the city limits. It was good to hear and see the New Year welcomed with such hope and joy.

Repairs continue

Rebuilding continues

May the promise be kept that all who need a FEMA trailer will have one by the end of January

May the waters remain still and calm throughout the new year