Friday, January 02, 2009


A few headlines from today's New York Times:

In A Broadening Offensive, Israel Steps Up Diplomacy

Well, yes. If your definition of "diplomacy" is "slaughtering hundreds of civilians for no apparent reason," then they're stepping up diplomacy. I could suggest the notion that since Israel's right-wing leadership seems determined to wipe Palestinians from the face of the earth, using Hamas as a boogeyman to justify their murderous racism, the word "genocide" would be a more appropriate term than diplomacy.

But to even suggest such a thing would result in being labeled anti-Semitic, so forget I even brought it up.

Donald E. Westlake, Mystery Writer, Is Dead At 75

I could have devoted the whole post to this. If you've never read any of Westlake's books, do so immediately. I'd start with his Parker novels, published under the pen name Richard Stark and which are among the finest, toughest crime novels ever written. You should read The Axe, even though it doesn't quite live up to its ambitions, and any of his old paperback originals, some of which have been recently republished. Oh, and I suppose his series of comic novels featuring professional thief John Dortmunder (imagine Jim Rockford on the other side of the law), though they strike me as Westlake's most formulaic creations.

The point is, Westlake was one of the best and, despite his advanced age, remained prolific as ever. A sad way to start the new year.

Kung Fu Monks Asked For Tourism Blessings

Any headline using the phrase "Kung Fu Monks" is automatically awesome.