Oh, it gets better: if you read Sunday’s Backfence, which was the sound of a wounded pampered yup in full voice, you know about my cell phone kerfuffle. Bottom line: I wanted two phones, one for me, one for my wife. And I wanted our names to come up on Caller ID. Is that too much to ask? If you’re asking T-mobile, the answer is yes; they simply cannot assign individual identities to individual numbers on the family plan. Can’t be done. They have lost a dozen fine software engineers to cerebral hemmorages, it seems. The very idea make their brains bleed. So I went with Verizon, which I was assured could fill my extraordinary demands. And guess what? They can’t! Turns out they are unable to make your name come up on Caller ID, just your number.

My heart was filled with black despair when I learned this. Again I have to go back to Circuit City. Again I have to return the phones. Again I have to change my service. I went to Sprint to see if they could help; they could – but the phones were eight percent larger – unacceptable! - and they cost $300 more. The phones I got from Verizon are very cool – tiny, color screens. They make the others look like Leon Uris paperbacks. So do I switch and pay, or suck it up and wait for Verizon to grasp this thing we call “The 21st Century”? The latter. I just gave up. I’m done. They win, Life's too short. Even though the service contracts are long.

Good weekend, all in all. Did the Orchestra Hall concert on Sunday; more about that on Wednesday if I get this videoblog thing working. Watched two movies: Timeline, which was just wretched. Almost incomprehensible – and I read the book, too. My wife read the book as well, and she couldn’t keep track of anything either. Then “School of Rock,” which I loved, even though nearly every lesson it teaches is wrong. You really don’t care, because it’s funny, Black is aptly matched to the material, and it has such cheer and brio you can’t get cranky on it.

Speaking of classic rock: today backstage some of the musicians – high schoolers all – were talking about Led Zep in general, and Kashmir in particular. I wandered up, noted how I bought the album when it first came out. And then I said the magic words: I saw Zep in concert in ’77.”

Awe. I swear, a semi-circle formed around me. I felt like someone describing my role in a great battle.

"And so I looked to the guy next to me to see if he was rocking, but he had turned green, man, and I vowed that he had not rocked in vain so I said WHOOOOOO and the fellow next to me – never saw him before, or after, but I’ll never forget him – he took off his shirt and lit it on fire and waved it around his head like some Viking Bezerker just as Zep crashed into Immigrant Man, and I realized that we would forever pity the men who were not here to rock with us this day, for truly we had rocked in a way few have rocked since.

"And for an encore, my friends, they played Stairway to Heaven. No one saw that coming. No one."

The Iraqi prisoner torture story: very bad. I heard one caller to a radio show suggest that this might redound to our benefit, since all they understand in that region is strength. Well, this isn’t strength. This is weakness of character wearing the uniform of power, and the idiots who did this need to be punished. Of course, the story world wide won’t be Most Americas Appalled, it’ll be Some Americans Appalling. Nothing new there, and no sense on dwelling on the matter. It’s just how things are.

Yes, it’s very bad PR. But so is this – no, let me unlink that. In fairness I wanted to see if Al-Jazeera ran the story I was about to discuss. Hmm . . . not on the front page. Check the Mideast News.

Six killed in Gaza shooting

Two palestenian fighters were killed when they opened fire on an Israeli vehicle near the entrance of a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, killing 4 Israelis.

Here is the entirety of the piece.

Two palestenian fighters were killed when they opened fire on an Israeli vehicle near the entrance of a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, killing 4 Israelis.

The attack near the entrance of the Gush Katif bloc of settlements came as the ruling Likud Party was holding a referendum on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to pull out of Gaza.

The attack was the deadliest on Israeli settlers in Gaza in months, and it was unclear how it would affect Sunday's vote. Polls have shown voters are closely divided over the withdrawal plan.

In Gaza, an 8-year-old Palestinian boy was killed Saturday and 12 Palestinians were wounded, 10 of them minors, by army fire near Israeli settlements, hospital officials said. The army said soldiers fired in response to an anti-tank missile and several firebombs. Two teens got too close to a settlement, the army said.

In the West Bank, a 22-year-old Palestinian died of wounds suffered during a clash with Israeli forces, doctors said. Palestinians said he was a bystander.

You might find the story lacking in pertinent details. From the Jerusalem Post:

A pregnant mother and her four daughters were shot dead on Sunday by terrorists as they drove on the Kissufim road in the Gaza Strip shortly after noon.

Tali Hatuel, 34, who was 8 months pregnant, and her daughters, Hila, 11, Hadar, nine, Roni, seven, and Merav, two, were shot at point-blank range, after initial gunshots brought their car to a halt. The terrorists then sprayed the car with bullets to ensure that all the occupants were dead.

Hatuel was driving to Ashkelon, where she was planning to join her husband, David, in campaigning against the Gaza disengagement plan. Three other Israelis were wounded in the attack: motorist Haim Aharon, a resident of the Negev who works in Gush Katif, and two soldiers riding in a jeep. The wounded were all hit by shrapnel and were airlifted to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. Two were reported to be in satisfactory condition and the third in good condition.

Military sources said four terrorists participated in the attack. Initially, two fired at IDF posts along the route, while the other two began shooting at civilian cars. A bomb or grenade also exploded on the road during the shooting, but caused no casualties.

After several attempts, soldiers shot and killed two of the terrorists. The others fled.

Would you title that piece “Six killed in Gaza shooting”?

If this is the face they show to the West, what are they showing to the audience closer to home?

Couldn’t resist my daily dose of Dr. Kareem.

Today’s question:

Has the Islamic world replaced the old communist ideology as the greatest threat to mankind? (both wanted to export their beliefs)

Kurt, USA

Dr Kareem's Comments

Well if the belief is "democracy" then clearly during the last two years the Islamic world has been doing more importing rather than exporting. The greatest threat to mankind is man's (and woman's!) and corporations savage destruction of this planet by draining the earth of its resources.

Take a look at www.greenpeace.org to find the greatest threat to mankind.

Good point. I’ll never forget those Orca Whales slamming into the Twin Towers to protest the despoliation of the oceans.

And in case anyone thinks I wrote the above to deflect attention from the Iraqi prisoner case, let me repeat: jail for the guilty. In Bobby Fuller Four terms: breakin' rocks in the hot sun. But, of course, I haven't served, and to some that means I have no right to have an opinion.

I suppose this makes me a Chickenjudge.

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