my kingdom for a needle and white thread

Inscentinel: using bees to sniff out bombs.


I was pulled into a conversation recently regarding first impressions, social interaction and all manner of related sundry, and it came out that I was being asked for basic rules of conduct. Oddly, I had some. Here’s what spilled:

Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t steal. Never agree to be in a relationship kept secret. Never stay for love alone or if the other is in it purely for sport. It might not feel like it, but there are six billion people on this planet and you are compatible with a fair chunk of them, so don’t lose hope if it doesn’t work out. Fib if you must, on the level of secret surprise birthday parties or spending the morning in bed with your lover but telling your boss you’re sick, but nothing more important should ever be anything but truth. In games, in relationships, any time you are responsible for someone else, you had better damned well be responsible for them, and make sure you take care of them as well or better as you care for yourself. Campground rules, ever and always, making sure everyone is better when you leave them then when you found them, always and ever, amen.

There was some other blather, (if you’re showing yourself as other than you are to make a good first impression, then don’t expect people to stick around later when you reveal yourself to be other than you presented, not to worry so much about comparing yourself to other people, because that’s precisely what those other people are doing too), all basics, but new to my friend, which got me thinking again about what other people take for granted that I don’t know yet.

It was years before I discovered the best way to brush my hair is in the shower with conditioner, but as soon as I had the revelation, and explained it, it seemed it was an accidental secret, everyone else just assumed I knew.

So, in the interest of education, amusement, and conversation, what’re yours?

Warning: Contains kinderwhores.

A nine year old girl in Peru won a television station contest where she got to star in a remake of her favourite music video. Unsurprisingly, she chose a Britney Spears video, Toxic.

9 year old Toxic

As a refresher, the original video.
Behind the Scenes video, (spanish). Backstage video.
Photos of her at her kinderwhore television job.

Once you get past the initial shock, as polarizing as stumbling upon a beauty pageants for kids, I think it’s a powerful statement, however unintentional on her part or that of her parents or the people who helped put it together. (Consider how many people must have been involved. Location, make-up, the teeny tiny wardrobe, cameras, post, etc. It’s more than just a few.) A significant number of comments criticize the video and her parents shouting child abuse, exploitation, and paedophilia, but very few have asked why this video appealed to her in the first place, why it’s normal now for children to be worshiping hyper sexualized pop tarts, a much deeper, dirtier manipulation, shameful yet largely ignored. The questions that should be asked are nastier, “since when did we start marketing Sex Sells to those under twelve? Why are teenagers our sex symbols and prostitots now just a matter of course?” Bratz dolls, the Spice Girls.. Remember when little girls in stripper-wear lip syncing to songs about sex was still weird?

William Strawn put it most concisely, over on my Facebook where I posted it last night, “Is this really sick? Or a reflection of all the little girls who imagine themselves in Britney’s position? Or even just an idea that we have a very vague line in our society where it starts being okay to exploit women, putting them in highly sexuallized roles. Britney was 17 when she started, look how well that all turned out for her.”

Randa just brought me back a keffiyeh from lebanon

Copied from spiderfarmer via James Grant:

Palestinian doctor has house shelled on Israeli news.

If you cannot see the subtitles do the following:
1. Play the video
2. Click the triangle button at the bottom-right corner of the video
3. Click the Turn on captions button that looks like the letters CC.

Israeli TV broadcast a father’s heartbreak Friday night when a Palestinian doctor living in Gaza made a frantic phone call to a newscaster saying an Israeli tank had shelled his home, killing three of his daughters and injuring other family members.

Izz el-Deen Aboul Aish, who speaks Hebrew, worked as a gynecologist in an Israeli hospital. Even as the crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel had largely been closed in recent months, he had traveled frequently from one place to the other. But he had remained in Gaza since the Israeli offensive began 21 days ago. He gave frequent interviews to the Israeli media on living conditions in the seaside enclave. He spoke of having tanks around his house and of passing through checkpoints; he told Israelis what it was like to be Palestinian.

Minutes away from a scheduled phone interview on Israeli TV 10 with newscaster Shlomi Eldar, Aboul Aish called Eldar’s cellphone, screaming and weeping in Arabic and Hebrew. The doctor’s home had been struck by a shell:

“Oh God, oh my God, my daughters have been killed. They’ve killed my children. . . . Could somebody please come to us?”

Sitting at his news desk for one of Israel’s main evening news broadcasts, Eldar held his phone up. For three minutes and 26 seconds, Aboul Aish’s wailing was broadcast across the country.

Eldar welled up. He put his head down. He looked at the camera. He looked at his phone. He made pleas for helpfor the family, but the doctor kept crying, his voice scratchy, like sand on paper, until Eldar took out his earpiece and walked off the set to try to arrange for help. The newscaster’s bewildered face seemed to capture a bit of pause in a nation that has largely supported its military campaign and prefers not to question its course.

News reports said there had been shooting in the area of the doctor’s house before the shelling. The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

Israeli officials permitted ambulances carrying members of the doctor’s family to cross the border to a hospital.

Aboul Aish was a single father. His wife had died of cancer. He made his daughters sleep close to the walls of their home in hopes that would keep them safe if airstrikes or artillery collapsed the ceiling.

“I don’t know how this man will stand on his feet again after this tragedy,” Dr. Liat Lerner-Geya, an Israeli who worked with Aboul Aish, told the Hebrew-language news website Ynet. “He would come to Israel and sleep at friends’ houses for three nights. Even though he had all the necessary permits, they always gave him trouble at the crossings. But he believed there should be coexistence and practiced this in his work.”

After the newscast, Eldar met with reporters. He said the doctor told him that evening “that since his wife’s passing, the girls had been his entire life. He said his eldest daughter wanted to study at Haifa University. Just today another one of his daughters had told him she had gotten her period. ‘In the middle of a war you get your period. You are a woman now.’ ”

She and her sisters are dead. The news spread across Israel’s websites; the video of the doctor’s broadcast quickly made it to YouTube.

Eldar said of Aboul Aish: “It is simply surreal. He is part of this place yet not of it, belonging and not belonging.”

Even so, across Israel the doctor’s anguished voice kept playing over and over. Sobelman works in The Times’ Jerusalem Bureau.

Photo from BBC News, Gaza, Early January 2009, via Warren: