Category Archives: politics and current events

Will 2011 Be Our Year?

I know it is only late January, but… It isn’t too early to start thinking about Eurovision 2011.  As usual, the contant rule changes (both internationally and here at home) have led to a new shake-down.  For the past few years, the representative singer was selected by some committee, and the public could only choose between four or five songs (also selected by the committee, written, on request, by major local composers).  But this year, the public will also get to vote on the singer. Yeah!  Stuff starts happening soon, with the final selection broadcast on 08 March.  We are hoping to get someone great with a kick-ass song to represent us in Germany.

Meanwhile, Eurovision Times listed the public’s choice of the Worst Eurovision Songs of all times. Several of my sister’s favorites are listed here (specifically numbers 10 and 11).  Actually, I thought that Dancing Lasha Tambai was hysterical and way better than some of the bland pop songs.  Hmmm…

Meanwhile, a new Avodah? Labor party internal explosion, with Barak leaving (along with Vilnai and two others), may be a Really Good Thing. If Yehimovitch can pull things together, we may have a rejuvinated Avodah, getting back to the good ‘ol labor ideals that helped found this nation.

Even geeks get sentimental: IBM puts out this fab video to celebrate 100 years of social and technological innovation.  RISC! System 36!  Punch cards! Fortran! Makes me weep with nostalgia.

Fire Watch

The Big Blaze: The fire that started in the Carmel Forest next to Haifa on Thursday is still burning out of control, with no hope for containment today. We’ve had firefighters from Greece and Bulgaria, with other help from Turkey, the US, and more… Ultra dry conditions and high winds have turned this into a nightmare. Death toll is at 41 right now.  Ein Hod (entire village) is destroyed; thousands evacuated. Additional fires have broken out in the Kriyot, Ma’alot, and elsewhere.  Arson suspected. If you are interested in following the news feed, Ynet has their English version feed at

Honoring the Good: William Cooper is honored at Yad V’shem.  Hat tip to my mom.

Rebuking the Idiots: The answer to the question, “Can you be an anti-Semite and still be a symbol of diversity?” is NO!  Glad that Wayne State recognizes Helen Thomas for the bigot that she is.

Thought for the Day

Hear, hear!  Bret Stephens says exactly what I have been saying for years (but does so for more articulately). It makes me bonkers when those bashing us don’t get this. Hat tip to my sister Tracy.

Naughty Dog strikes again: This morning’s walk turns into the Great Escape, as Terri decides to romp off and explore some fresh cow pats.  She returned 15 minutes later, tired out and looking quite pleased with herself.

That Old Double Standard

If it isn’t us, it isn’t on the front page: Afghanis killing Afghanis leads to no global outrage, eh?

Service without servility: One of the great myths about Israeli culture is our rudeness and poor service. Granted, you don’t get the groveling obsequiousness of a 1902 village greengrocer addressing Lord Mumbly Whosis. Then again, I’m not sure that kind of service exists anymore outside of the fond memories of a few aging snobs. I’ve had plenty of shoddy service in the US and Europe: snippy clerks, supercilious waiters, rude cabbies, and a host of others. I’ve been treated to large doses of ignorance and laziness (the former when I end up knowing more about a product than the person selling it, and the latter when I deal with someone who can’t be bothered to help at all). 

So here are a few raves for some locals who gave me something to smile about this past week:

  1. The guy who runs a little frame shop is unrelentingly cheerful and pleasant. After being told several times that my picture wasn’t ready, I ran him to earth in his messy rat hole of a workshop. He found the picture (still in the original bag), which was now missing one part of the frame. He is completely unapologetic about sitting on the damn thing for a year, yet he drops what he is doing, cuts a new frame piece, cuts the glass, and fixes the whole thing on the spot.
  2. A plastic clip on one of my ceiling lights broke. I took the pieces to Home Center. “We don’t carry replacement parts,” said the clerk, but he suggested that I try another supply place.  They also didn’t carry parts.  I then thought of the store that carries nothing but lights. “We don’t have replacement parts,” said the clerk, and she was fairly snotty about it.  I decided to wait for a few minutes and then tackled a different clerk. I asked for the manager and then explained the problem.  He took apart one of the lights in the store and handed me the clip! Voila!
  3. The guy who runs a little produce stand who sold me a watermellon with the promise, “If it isn’t wonderful, bring it back!”

Who are your retail heroes?

Godzilla Flotilla

Now it makes sense: I finally figured it out—Turkey is behind the flotilla because they are pissed off at Israel for not giving them a single vote in Eurovision.  Hmmm.  Meanwhile, a song we can all sing. Hat tip to my sister Tracy.

A Cargo of Lies

Peaceful flotilla or armed weapons transport? Every new piece of info makes gives lie to the Turkish outrage.  Released footage shows the Israeli Navy hailing the vessel and shows the “peaceful” activists attacking the soldiers with lead pipes and trying to wrest their guns from them. Here’s one piece worth reading from Canada (despite the typo in the photo caption).  Hat tip to Central LS. And here’s more… plus an opinion piece that is interesting (though please don’t ask me why Ynet is selling ad space to Scientology knuckleheads!).

Meanwhile, there were several pro-IDF rallies today at most of the major universities and even some major intersections.  On the flip side, MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) is under police protection after an uproar in the Knesset, with hotheads calling her a traitor over her participation in the flotilla.  (Balad is an Arab party, BTW.)

Technophobe alert: I ran into three scary cases of the technologically-challenged over the past few days.

  • The first was when I faxed a document to someone. During the phone follow-up, he asked me if I needed the document back, because he could “fax it back to me.” 
  • The second was told to me by a friend who claims that her brother was so clueless that he would periodically confuse the cellphone and TV remote. She would get a call at an odd hour and hear the TV.  (Someone had obligingly programmed in her phone number as a speed dial, and that was the button that her brother would push, while aiming the phone at the TV.)
  • The third occurred during a meeting with a prospective client. They told me that they had met with another contractor who didn’t know what “hi-tech” meant. Had never heard the term. Aaaauuuuggghhh!!!!

Echos of Eurovision: Walking Terri the other night, we pass two young girls strolling along, playing music on a cellphone.  The song? Milan Stanković’s Ovo Je Balkan (Serbia’s entry in Eurovision).

Mop-up in the Med

Welcome to the clusterf*ck: Commandos attempting to land on one of the ships were attacked, opened fire, and ended up killing ten people. Confused? In a nutshell:

  1. We imposed a sea blockade of Gaza to attempt to stop the huge influx of weapons (aid to Hamas in their ongoing attacks launched from Gaza).
  2. We kept the supply of humanitarian aid (food, medicine, etc.) going through the land checkposts (via truck, etc.).
  3. A group of international activists (mostly Arab PA supporters) headed towards Gaza in a flotilla of boats, including a refitted cruise ship.
  4. Israeli Navy warns flotilla to turn back.
  5. A dawn raid with a small group commandos (rappelling down from a helicopter) was supposed to give us control of a ship and turn it back.
  6. The commandos came under attack (knives, lead pipes, etc.) from a large crowd on the ship.
  7. Our guys opened fire, killing ten.
  8. We towed the ship to Ashdod and brought people to hospitals (Rambam, etc.).
  9. International condemnation and outrage on all sides breaks forth, as can be expected.
  10. Turkey yanks its ambassador to Israel back home.
  11. People here are screaming for Netanyahu to get his butt back here ASAP (he’s currently in Canada and was scheduled to meet with Obama in another day or so). 

So, basically, another screwed up operation that will  further vilify us (if that is possible) to the world.  The big mistake seems to be that we didn’t wait until the ship was in our water; since the operation was launched while the flotilla was still in international waters, this is already turning into a major anti-Israel PR clusterf*ck. Damn.

Organic cows unite! Love the interrogation. Hat tip to my mom. 

A little herring, anyone? I hope that the Eurovision grand final in Oslo didn’t disturb this little darling. Hat tip to Central LS.

Lovely Lena: German strolls away with Eurovision. While Lena was one of the bookies’ favorites to win, Eurovision remains a gloriously bizarre crap shoot, so that any friggin’ song can win any year. Styles that do well one year are suddenly at the bottom the next; singers who are wretched get points over better singers; countries continue to show blatant favoritism by voting  for their neighbors, despite how horrific the entries may be (you have only to witness Portugal voting for Spain, or Greece voting for Cyprus; check out the full scoreboard here). As usual, the purposefully funny or satiric entries are way less entertaining than the supposedly serious ones. Unfortunately for all of us, the Eastern European and former Soviet Union bloc countries are getting much slicker and more professional, so there are not as many car wrecks on stage. I’m happy to say that Israel gave our douze points to Armenia, which was pretty good, but I was appalled that we gave ten points to Russia. You can still watch whatever you missed (Eurovision TV fixed their streaming feed, plus they have all the shows available to watch). You can also read all the juicy news, including the humiliation in the UK over ending up in last place (richly deserved, IMO).

Lena’s performance was significant in that there was not a sequin to be seen, no wild dancers, no pyrotechnics; just a fresh kid singing a fun and funky song. It helps that Lena can sing in English without sounding fake or awkward, unlike many of the participants who should stick to their native languages.

Strange Shining Orb

What’s that bright thing in the sky? We wake to a vaguely familiar sensation of… sun!  Yes, after some of the rainiest, stormiest weather that seemed to last forever, the sun is now smiling on us again.  Everything is completely soggy, including growing patches on my ceiling.  My office is still shrouded in plastic sheets as our building va’ad bayit (homeowners’ association) scrambles to get bids from roofing contractors.

The sunshine makes our spirits soar.  Terri takes off like a rocket. After days of depressed plodding through short, soggy walks, she is once again free to bounce, run, dash, leap, romp, frolick, and scramble up the rocks in search of hyrax.  She spins around, runs in circles, and generally acts like a goofball as she burns all this pent-up energy.

Why are they surprised: I find it amusing that the NY Times, in covering Israel’s spectacular response in Haiti, comments about the total absence of aid from any of the oil-rich Gulf states.  Uh, duh.  They didn’t help in the tsunami, they didn’t help in South American mudslides, and they didn’t help their own brothers, the Palestinians.  So what else is new? They will still stand up in the UN and condemn Israel, and many of the countries who are now cheering us on in Haiti will support them. Same old, same old.

Word of the day: I spent over an hour yesterday struggling to solve a graphics problem. Finally broke down and asked a colleague who is a brilliant graphics expert. He explained that the problem was Internet Explorer, not me.  “Oh,” says I, “it’s a case of YAMFU (Yet Another Microsoft F*ck-Up).”  I just made it up, but I like it. Sort of rolls of the tongue, don’t you think? Go ahead and use it. YAMFU. Let’s see how far it spreads in the next few months.

And lest you think that I’m an anti-MS rabble-rouser, I’m not.  I run a Windows OS, I use many MS apps, and I think that with some applications, they’ve done a bang-up job of improving Help and other user assistance.  But, yes, they are so massive that even screwing up 5% of the time causes a huge impact on users.

Hi-tech envy: Ever watch those action movies where the bad guy opens a laptop, goes clickety-tippety-tappity for five seconds, and in less time than it takes to swallow that mouthful of movie theater popcorn, the full 20 million dollar wire transfer has appeared in his account? OK, this really pisses me off.  First of all, what the heck kind of laptop does he have that goes from standby mode to fully functioning, online, WIFI enabled, etc., in one nanosecond? Second, what’s his bank? A client in the States sends me payment via a wire transfer on Wednesday, and 48 hours later, it still hasn’t shown up in my Bank Hapoalim account.  Is there an Evil Action Villain account package that I don’t know about?

Granted, I’m one of these nerdy people who notice all the plot gaffs, the logic problems, and the continuity errors.  What’s your favorite movie “oh, pul-eeeeze!” moment?

Here Come the Nutjobs

Even when we try to help: This nutjob (from Seattle, davka), is claiming that we are in Haiti to steal organs.

Smile for the day: Yes, that broad American English “a” is awfully hard to pronounce, eh?

A Glimpse into Hell

Haiti: Situation goes from grim to pure hell on earth.  We’ve upped the amount of aid and personnel on the ground, but it looks like the death toll may go way higher than anyone first anticipated.

Techno-terrorism: More hacks from Turkey.  While the Turks yell bloody murder over being having their ambassador “snubbed” (causing a lot of silly wasted time and two separate appologies on our part), hackers in Turkey are targeting more and more Israeli websites.  My former client WORDS had its site hacked.  Now Jersulem Online gets hacked, and their main page is filled with anti-Israel crap. It is being sorted out, but this kind of attack is such a pain in the butt.

Serendipity: The NY Times runs this article on the amazing hi-tech productivity in Israel. Hat tip to sister Tracy. Just yesterday I received the printers’ proofs of the cover of the TC book to which I’m a contributing author, and my chapter talks about this very thing!  Don’t expect this book, put out by Baywood Publishers, to make it to your local book store.  Heck, I’ll be amazed if more than 100 people ever read it, but…