Thursday, December 28, 2006

Torah in the Air

Ilan Ramon took a scroll up into space on the ill-fated Columbia mission in 2003. Then, Henry Fenichel and Steve Maclean brought up another on the Atlantis. Israir Israel Airlines has now announed plans to permanently install a sefer on one of its commercial airliners on the New York - Tel Aviv route. Israir's claim that it's Sky Torah is "making aviation history" may be somewhat inflated, but it will be a service welcomed by religious Jewish passengers and further weaken ElAl's grip on the religous market. (article)

Gerald Ford (former US president) dies at 93.
Jewish rapper Y-Love's blog: This Is Babylon.
Yeshiva World News.

For those of you who have been keeping up:

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Pope Tries to Help

He's been in the news a lot lately. Appeared on my Google Homepage in 3 out of 17 stories:

The Pope urged Middle-East peace efforts (BBC)
The Pope appeals for help for the world's abused children (CNN)
Worship God not technology, Pope says (Google News from MSNBC)

The NYT, meanwhile, led of with a story about Archbishop Akinola, but its tone was less preachy. A number of American churches left the Episcopal Church after it consecrated a gay bishop. The Nigerian Achbishop Peter Akinola created a North American branch to accomodate the American churches. "In doing so, he has made himself the kingpin of a remarkable alliance between theological conservatives in North America and the developing world..."

Oh! I'm surprised I didn't make the connection sooner: It's Christmas. I guess people want some religious stuff in the news for the holidays. Maybe next time, just report: Happy Christmas, say Pope! and spare us his politics. Reminds me of the Christmas dinner in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Joyce) where Dad, Dante, and the Uncles couldn't stop fighting over church and politics the whole meal and everyone's holiday was ruined. Let's just celebrate and forget why we do, okay? It's so much simpler.

It's the end of the year, and you know what that means. Year-end specials! Every newspaper, magazine, and periodical worth chopping down trees to publish will roll out their predictions for next year, their year-in-review, this-year-in-pictures, etc.. The Economist led off early, with its annual The World in [2007] special. Look for these wrap-ups in your favorite media source (or don't). If you find any especially interesting or informative ones, please let me know. It might be fun to put together a ranking. But why bother? And who has time?

Speaking of time, it is almost Finals season (I know many of you are on vacation now, but the European academic calendar is different (and Israel is a little different even from the rest of Europe (yes, Israel is part of Europe. Or Asia. Or Africa (but Africa less so). Or the Middle-East. Whatever that means. (Yes, I know well what the Middle East is, but it isn't its own continent, you know)) because it doesn't officially celebrate Christmas or New Year's) from the American one) so I'm going to be more busy studying and have less time to post.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Would You Like a Green Card?

The weirdness of the US government: I got a spam e-mail that looked like an offer for a free sample of Crest WhiteStrips, so I figured why not and clicked on it. Up pops a form to apply for the Green Card lottery. I'll forgive their forgetting that I am already an American citizen but have they become so desperate for foreign workers that they need to hide the Green Card lottery in a spam mail from Crest? And this amid all of Bush's talk of stricter immigration laws!

Civil Rights for Robots?

It may be the wave of the future, at least according to the the UK Office of Science. The BBC reports that in the next 20 to 50 years robots may become entitled to suffrage, Social Security benefits, and other rights of citizens. I hope Asimov's 3 cardinal Laws of Robotics are preserved:

1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2) A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

0) A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

In an unrelated story: Jesus Christ the next King of Poland? 46 MPs voted for the bill last week. Don't fret, the Virgin Mary is already their honorary Queen. It might look funny to have a mother and son as King and Queen. Maybe they'll demote the blessed virgin to Queen Mother... The BBC manages to come up with the strangest news.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Aaron Carter is with Kaci Brown

See, this is why Aaron Carter's life is so much fun to follow. He's a papparazzi dream. A good looking guy who hangs with hot girls; different girls all the time. And what's more is that he has this cute, naive way of saying this is the girl with each one, after knowing them for just a week.

Reasons to Love NY, from New York Magazine

Pondering the Future

The whole nasty question of my future has begun to rear its ugly head again. I am trying to decide where to finish college, what to do after, etc. When I think, "What do I want to do with my life?" My first response is usually, "I don't." There is nothing to which I really want to devote my life; nothing I want to do day in and day out. Certainly nothing practical. So when I think these thoughts, suicide becomes the obvious choice. But I have problems with that course as well and haven't seriously considered it.

I heard other ways to look at the decision: How do you see yourself five years from now?* What do you have to do now to avoid regrets down the road? So I'm thinking about it. Basically I'm thinking finish college, start going out (shidduchim), go to yeshiva full time for a few years, maybe work in the summers and bein hazmanim, then go to grad school, and get a job. It's time to start applying for summer jobs/internships. So much to do: it's almost time to study for finals, register for Spring classes, GRE and whatnot. It's confusing.

I spoke to a friend who has left yeshiva to work full time, and he expressed regrets that he could not be learning. It got me thinking about the opportunity of being in yeshiva. Chanukah seems a good time to "get back into it". Start taking my Judaism** more seriously, start learning better, davening better, being more careful about halakha. Would you be surprised if I said I am considering Lakewood (aka BMG)? It is getting harder to get accepted there, so many people want to go. It has become the de facto yeshiva for serious bochurim returning from Israel. Few large yeshivos can match the high level of learning there. Maybe I won't be accepted? Maybe I won't fit in? I don't know. If I decide to continue learning it would be hard to do it anywhere else.

*"Married with one kid and one on the way" is a classic answer to this question. Isn't that funny?

**Technically, there is no such thing as Juda ism. But I don't have time to explain the theory, for now I use the term in its colloquial sense.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Attack on Freedom: Hell is Other People

The Rabbi came into my room 3 days in a row now. Uninvited. Just got a key from the landlord and marched in. Opened my closet, and looked around. I inquired as to whether he has taken anything of mine. He answered in the negative, but added that he had thrown out something that he found under my bed. I asked what that might have been, and he replied that it is disgraceful to talk about it, that my room lacks the "look" of a yeshiva, that I can't possibly understand a Tosfos if I read secular books, and that I shouldn't allow my corruption to spread to the other guys in the apartment. I responded that my intention was never to influence others or entice them to sin. He said there are guys who wouldn't read these things, but will if I put it under their faces. I tried to explain that the inside of my closet is not, under normal circumstances, under anyone else's face unless they have violated my space. He didn't want to discuss it. Told me to gather all my books and hide them where no one will see them. He did offer to pay for what he took, at least (v'heishiv es hag'zeila asher gazahl).

My best guess is that the book he tossed as objectionable was a collection of plays by existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964 "for his work which, rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom and the quest for truth, has exerted a far-reaching influence on our age." Sartre refused to accept the prize for "personal and objective reasons". The collection previously in my possession included No Exit, a scene from hell; The Flies, the story of Orestes and Electra's quest to avenge the death of their father Agamemnon; Dirty Hands, a political drama about an assassination; and The Respectful Prostitute, about a black man framed for a white man's crime.

I imagine it was this last that drew the Rabbi's ire for its uncouth maintenance of the word prostitute in the title. Though the story concerns itself with the universal values of freedom and cruelty, and is far from vulgar, any author who could use this word is assuredly incapable of writing anything but trash. Nachon? Ideas, the spirit of freedom, and the quest for truth just doesn't jive in haredi society. Note, I hate bashing people like this, but I am upset about a personal afront.

My problem is not that he disapproves, or wants to run his yeshiva a certain way. That's ok, but deal with it like a mentsch. Discuss with me what problems you have; we can agree to disagree or maybe compromise. Or maybe I'll have to accede, or maybe you'll convince me, but at least we will understand and maybe even respect each other. And that way I would learn something: it can be an educational experience, instead of a display of bigotry.

Looking Forward to Vista

I'm looking forward to Microsoft's next-gen OS Windows Vista, whose delayed launch has been scheduled for January 2007. I don't mind the delay, though. If it's still buggy and you need to fix things, by all means delay it again: Launch it when it is ready. Nobody benefits from a bug-infested product, even if it's loaded with great features. That said, there is much to anticipate in Vista. One major advance is multiple-screen support. You can hook up several monitors and have programs running in each. So you can have your e-mail always open on one monitor, without cluttering your other monitor on which you are typing or whatnot. Many cool products are on the way to take advantage of this feature, including all manner of Bluetooth-enabled gadgets that sync to your computer. A photo frame (if anyone starts calling these things phrames, you saw it here first) that gets pics from your comp (or from your friends on flickr, picassa, etc.) and also runs a stock ticker on the bottom. Here's a scenario from the not-so-distant future: You are at your desk at work, when your Bluetooth wristwatch alerts you that someone rang your doorbell at home. You use your cell phone to speak with the visitor, realize it's your brother, and let him in by typing a code in your phone.

If You Wake Up

If you wake up in a red room without windows or doors... don't panic. You're just in my heart.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Some Random Stuff From My Life

Shabbos was great. Friday night we made a meal in the dira, and I had a really cute guy from Florida sleep over in my room. He was a cousin of a cousin of another guy in the dira and was in the neigborhood visiting his grandparents and needed a place to stay. My roommate was away and I was more than happy to oblige. Next day I ate at a cousin and then went to visit a friend nearby. Saturday night I was introduced to Family Guy, but did not get hooked. I also saw The Last Kiss and The Departed. Not major breakthroughs but entertaining, both. Dicaprio was better than Damon in The Departed, though I'm usually a big Matt Damon fan.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

SMS Peeping

A: Hi
B: Hi Im at the tachanah merkazit
A: You want me to meet you at the tachana?
B: Sure, when?
A: Now?
B: Well just read ur email from this morning if it can lead somewhere ill meet
A: Where it will go depends a lot on u
B: What do u mean? I think u know where i want it to go
A: Tell me about it
B: So do u want that also? If so lets make it happen!
A: Idk what u want and idk what i want until i meet u
A: So u dont want 2 meet unless u can fuck me? What if i'm fat and ugly?
B: I said lets meet i just want the sex to be a possibility dont want to meet if u only want to talk and thats it
A: Ok where r u?
A: Whats the deal?
B: Net cafe on 3rd flr
B: Where are u?
A: Tower
B: Where? Come into the tachana

Remember Candid Camera? Well, smile, you're on Candid Texting! You think people would behave better if they knew who was watching? You think this makes people loook absurdly shallow and/or dumb? You think this is made up?

Let's take the opportunity to point out some of the pitfalls of the medium. Notice that when B said "you know where I want it to go," A replied, "Tell me about it." Then B assumed that, "You want that too." To which A answered, "I don't know what you or I want." Apparently, A's "Tell me about it" was not intended as a sarcastic synonym for "Of course that is what I want," but was a sincere request for information.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Kolko Blogs, YU Radio, and Paris

There is this J-blog that talks incessantly about the Kolko case and bashes everyone. You know who I am talking about, so I won't do him the service of another link. I understand that this blogger has complaints against the system and several individuals. He lodges serious grievances about things that must be dealt with. But his impudence is astonishing and shows a great lack of compassion or even rational thought. He uses incendiary language and is wholly single-minded.

Get this:
News blog of note.
Someone who thinks?
World's Best Mayor contest.
Muqata writes.
Cross Currents or Cross-Currents? It's the battle of religioblogs.
Is this comedy site a "Things that make you say huh"?

Listened to YU Radio. They play some weird sh**. Bunch of song parodies, I caught a line about someone sleeping with a goat. Oddball radio. Is all campus radio like this? I suppose they can't play Top 40 because of copyright infringement. Here's another lyric sample: We got no class, We got no principles. No more pencils, No more books, No more teacher's dirty looks.

Once I was happy, once I was sappy, Nylons are green, Like an old goat, To sleep with a snore, Betrayed by a maid in her teens, Noodles you're hair is getting thin, Well who wants fat hair, Did you put the cat out, I didn't know he was on fire, Horizontal bars, His actions are horrible, No he's very good, Did you hear about the owl who married a goat? They had a hootenanny.

Potato cakes, Hash browns, There's no kind you haven't tried, You planned a trip to Idaho, Just to watch potatoes grow, You like them whether they're plain or stuffed, You're addicted to spuds, Late at night you always dream, Of potato chips and sour cream, Might as well face it, You're addicted to spuds. I used to hate 'em, Now they're all that I eat, Might as well face it, I'm addicted to spuds.

They made everybody green, I really wish they'd cut it out, They wasted everybody on my block, There goes the neighborhood, They're not nice to the human race, And they just won't go away, And the evil look and grin, And they sure could use a manicure, I sure hope they don't come in here, Run for your life, They're really making a mess of this place, Look out here come flying creatures from outer space, They're making a big fat mess of this place.

I also meant to mention the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe. He was in Jerusalem last week to announce the gift of the city of Paris to Jerusalem, a 25 meter high 1/12 scale replica of the Eiffel tower. He also gave 30,000 Euro to a child development center in Qiryat Shemona.

No Indents and Borat Blamed for Racist Blunders

Standard html doesn't allow for indenting. It is one of those odd little quirks of computer programming that is the bane of any webmaster. Lucky me just discovered it; my belated condolences to all those who have had to put up with this garbage for years.

Two unnamed (and apparently racist) students have sued Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat) for comments they made that appeared in Baron Cohen's recent movie Borat: Cultural Learnings from America for Make Benefit Glorious Kazakhstan Nation. That's right, he's being sued over comments they made. The claim is that they were drunk when they signed the release forms, so they cannot be held responsible. The plaintiffs demand that Borat not be released on DVD and they be reimbursed for physical and emotional damages resulting from the exposure of their privately held beliefs and attitudes. They further claim to have been tricked into making the comments that aired in the movie.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Saturday Night

Showered, getting dressed last night. Wasn't sure what my plans would be, just decided to go out, maybe take in a movie or something. Guy comes by, asks, "You have any plans for tonight?"
"Nothing specific."
"You want to go out?"
"Alright. What do you have in mind?"
"Your call."
"I dunno. You wouldn't go to town, right?
"No. How about taking a stroll, we can go to the old city."
"Pick me up on your way out, then."

Had a feeling this was one of those "Save His Soul" missions, but figured wth. So we went. Got down to the old city, picked up a few beers, and sat down to chat.

"So, who's the odd man out it your family: you or your brother?"
"I wouldn't say either of us are. I guess we are different, but we get along well and respect each other."
"It just seems, he's well, I don't know him too well, but he doesn't seem like the professional type. He is not in college like you are."
"So? He's working hard and accomplishing in his field and I in mine. We don't have to compare."
"Fair enough. What do your parents think?"
"About our lifestyle choices? My parents don't insist on any given way of life for us. Just that we should be working hard toward something we want and be successful at it."
"So if you're happy, they're happy?"
"I guess you might say that."
"And if you're not happy they are not happy."
"I suppose that kind of follows."
"So what?"
"So are ya happy?
"But you're not... You... Well, a while back I switched schools. I got to the new school wearing my jeans, sneakers, colored shirt. My father's a butcher, I didn't know better. The school didn't announce its dress code, and I wasn't trying to make a statement, but I realized I stood out from everyone else - the way they were dressed. It took me three years, but I learned that you don't have to flaunt your differences."
"It's a shame you learnt your lesson so well."
"Why is that?"
"Well, it might not be fun to always flaunt your differences and have to fend off all the flack you get, but it is also uncomfortable to stay in hiding about yourself."
"There's a middle ground between flaunting and hiding. Let me take for example the pictures you hung up on your wall. Especially that one with the - I can't even tell if it's a boy or a girl - with the bleeding eye and skull ring. What is that for?"
"I thought it was interesting."
"It looks like you want to make a statement."
"What statement do you think it makes?"
"I thought it just looks like you are trying to make a statement. That's the statement."
"Really? I just thought it would be nice to have some decorations on my walls. Instead of them just being bland. It's like a conversation-starter."

We walked around a bit more, found a restroom, and then continued. Passed a bagel shop, and went in for a bite to eat.

"You want to get a bagel?" he asked.
"Not really, but I don't mind if you do," I answered.
"Alright, how about a poppyseed with cream cheese and lox. You think they speak English?"
"Yah, but not well."
"I see I got you, you're having a bagel too."
"Yah, while we're here anyway."
"You know, it's been several months since I quit smoking. I smoked for 7 years. Wouldn't mind a cigarette now, but it's not what I really want."
"I shouldn't understand what you said, but I do."
"Yah. Quitting smoking is like life: what you think you want for the moment is sometimes not what you really want."

Gotta go. I'll try to continue this sometime. Any comments?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Words, Words, and More Words

The nice thing about modern media is that it allows you to use outdated words. To name a few: dernful (sad; lonesone), molestful (troublesome, but nobody today is going to believe you; they'll think it means a molester or something), aborning (in the act of being born), Averroism (a late 13th century philosophy), Artemovsk (a city in Ukraine), Angelystor (creature from Welsh mythology), zafirlukast (an asthma drug), paraphrastic (having the nature of a paraphrase), biblioclast (a person who burns or destroys books; we are familiar with those), ecdysiast (stripper), accoast (to sail along the coast), epanorthosis (correction of one's statement as one is making it; immediate rephrasing for emphasis), fysigunkus (if you don't look this one up, you might just be one), apodyopsis (the act of mentally undresing someone), insalubrious (unhealthy; unwholesome), zinjanthropus (what they used to call the australopithecus), catawampus (diagonal; askew).

What an amazing language! Now, your homework is to write a story using at least 10 of this week's spelling words. Extra credit if you use them all.

Worth a look. I just noticed someone found my blog after searching for "conscription government tearing." I am curious about this. Don't you just love search engines. For that matter, there were some hits from Einstein College of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, Covad Communications (is that who I think it is?). Cool. And yikes, I won't say where a NYC government employee was surfing on the job. Just a friendly reminder that no one is truly anonymous online; another reason to oppose the Fed's right to subpoena private information. Or was this employee perhaps working on just such a government scandal - er, I mean, project? Big Brother is watching. Anyway, I think it's time for a big thank you to all my readers. Did I just give away too much? Too little? Go Baltimore! (Baltimore?)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Leftovers Were Good

Some who didn't make the song: Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe, former Yeshiva of Far Rockaway head Alan Stadtmauer, Doogie Howser star Neil Patrick Harris, singer Lesley Gore ("It's My Party"), singer George Michael, Grey's Anatomy star T. R. Knight.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hanukka Song, Revised

With Hanukka around the corner (I know it must be because all the bakeries in Israel have just begun selling doughnuts; growing up in NY, we never had a "doughnut season", you could invite obesity, ruin your heart, and titillate your tastebuds with a fresh deep-fried pastry any day of the year - but here, doughnut season is Hanukka-time.) I started thinking, as I always do when Hanukka comes around, of Adam Sandler's Hanukka song.

Here's the gay version, part II. See Follow the Yellow Brick Road, April 11 for the first listing.

Time to take out the manora
Put on your Yamaka
Its time for Chanukah
So much funnaka
To celebrate Chanukah

Chanukah is the festival of lights
Instead of one day of presents
We get eight crazy nights
So when you feel like the only kid in town
Without a girl or three
Here's a new list of people who are gay
Just like you and me

Rosie O'Donnell, watches QAF
Then spins a Dreidle with E.M. Forster and Edmund White
Guess who gives and receives
Loads of Chanukah toys
Computer genius Alan Turing and three of the Scissor Sisters
We got Congressman Mark Foley
And governor Jim McGreevey
Leo DiCaprio, isn't gay
But he plays one on TV

Put on that yarmulka
Its time for Chanukah
Pablo Picasso's matron Gerstrude Stein
Played for the other team

O.J. Simpson still not a homo
But guess who is, Pavel Tchelitev whose work hangs in MOMA
Sir Elton John was born that way
He likes it from the back,
Lance Bass of 'N Sync is gay too 'Cause we're pretty good in the sack.

Guess who got bar-mitzvahed
On the fashion runway
No I'm not talking about BEP's Fergie
I'm talkin' about Mr. Carson Kressley.

So many gay people in the show biz
Vladimir Nabokov isn't gay
But they say his brother is.
Tell the world-amanaka
It's time to celebrate Chanukah
It's not pronounced Ch-nakah
The C is silent in Chanukah
So read your hooked on phonica
Get drunk in Tijuanaka
If you really really wannaka
Have a happy happy happy happy Chanukah

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Floating and Reading

You ever feel like the world is flying by, you are in a big rush, and then you see some beautiful creature whose mere presence slows everything down and you are suddenly in slow motion... walking in a haze... floating? Until at some point the world just pops back into focus, but you are left with this uncanny sensation that it is somehow different now.

Woke up 'bout 4:00AM this morning. Couldn't fall back asleep after that. So I listened to some music, read a little, and then picked up a pen and notebook and just started scribbling thoughts. Maybe I'll post some of them here later.

Noticed a bunch of books were missing from my room. I asked my flatmates if they had seen them, and turned up a handful of books they had borrowed. That's cool, I don't mind if guys borrow books. On the contrary, I feel like I'm helping to stave off stupidity; I prefer living with people who are literate. But most of the books never turned up. Which makes me wonder if we have book snatchers invading our apartment. I hear this is not uncommon in ultra-orthodox areas. It's like the Mind Police or the Firemen: They try to censor everyone's reading material. In fact, my landlord has commented in the past on my library ("I heard there are students in this apartment with books. I don't want any books here. I know you are one of the troublemakers from ----.") and I begin to suspect...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Jewish Wedding

Just got back from a friend's wedding. It was separate: no mixing of the sexes. This helps take the focus of the guys off the girls and focus their attention on the groom and his celebration of monogamy. The extreme joy at these affairs often surpasses the passing pleasure of a dance with a girl, and offers a haven from the prickliness of dancing with multiple girls and trying to gauge what each thinks of you and what you think of her, and trying not to hurt anyone or not caring and hurting people, or being hurt by someone you liked, etc. Like this, all the guys just dance together, and the girls separately with each other.

Idk why I just wrote that. If you have been privileged to attend such an affair, that is old hat. And if you never experienced it, well, my explanation isn't going to convince you.

The custom in my community is for the groom's friends to kiss him when they congratulate him at his wedding. I believe I enjoyed this kiss more than the next guy. There, you have my soul. It's fragile. Please take good care of it.

Interesting bedtime reading. The statements in this link reflect the opinions of their authors and do not necessarily represent the views of this blogger.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ran across some new sites.

Let's see, there's this one that provides way too much info on properties. And this search site that talks to you. And this message board is the most active board I've ever seen. Hard to keep up with. For no-nonsense help with html coding, see

Been developing this theory that people don't often read to be influenced; that is they don't read these boards with an open mind, a willingness to change, an intellectual honesty. People just want to promote their own views. I must be right. Always. The whole dialogue (polylogue?) taking place on the blogosphere begins to resemble a monologue, with netizens more interested in their own thoughts than those of the people around them. I admit that in this I am not guiltless, but I try.

It might be a cool experiment to insist on publishing a quota, say one a week, of retractions. Make myself admit I can be wrong. I have been wrong. I was wrong. I am sorry. Sorry, I was wrong. I understand that I can be wrong. I don't think I can handle it.

P.S. I'm so proud of myself for correctly forming the word polylogue (an exchange of ideas or information between many individuals or groups). You will likely encounter an alternate form of the word: multilogue. Polylogue is preferred because Greek prefixes are best applied to Greek roots, as opposed to the Latin prefix multi.

And to Brianna, I was too lazy to write this myself so I took it from Eminem.

My tea's gone cold, I'm wondering why I got out of bed
at all
the morning rain clouds up my window and I can't see
at all
And even if I could it'd all be grey, but your picture
on my wall
it reminds me that it's not so bad, it's not so bad

Anyways, I hope you get this bri, hit me back, just to chat
Truly yours, your biggest fan, this is Stan Teddy.

P.P.S. Google just scared the h*ll out of me. I was about to search for "strikethrough html" to learn how to use it, when i accidentally hit (uh oh I feel a tangent coming on: is the key with the right-angle arrow the "enter key" or the "return key"? And should it really be called either of those things? This belongs in a footnote. Maybe footnoting will be tomorrow's html lesson) the aformentioned key (see parentheses) too early and searched for "strikethrough" instead. But Google read my mind and spit out 3 top links on html for strikethrough. Eerie.

In the word eerie with a capital E, it looks like the big E is about to eat the little e. New! Rate this post:

Loved it :
Greek to me :
Still off on the 3rd tangent :
Boring :
Borat :

N.B. The poll doesn't actually work, my programming is not so hot yet.

Of Carrots and Consciousness

"Have you ever pictured yourself as a carrot? I mean try to really convince yourself you are a carrot and imagine how you would feel and act. I tried believing I was a dog the other day and it is crazy the ideas you'll come up with!"

Some people are blessed with wonderfully clever imaginations. The above quote is from a conversation I had last night. The guy asked if I think that is strange.

"Not at all. Most people have imaginations and wacky thoughts running through their minds. You happened to be brave enough to discuss it."

"No, not everyone has this kind of mind."

"Well, whether it is common or not, I think it's cool."

"But you are crazy anyway."

"Yah. I guess I am."

Your turn. Do you ever have these types of thoughts? Do you ever enjoy playing with your own mind, stretching it out just to see what it can do? Am I right that there are other people out there like us cognodelics?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Alleyways of Yore, Today

Some random pics I found:
Here are two curious pics outside a toy store. 1 2.
And two more of some unsusual grafiti 3 4.
Click here to see above pic under different lighting.
Now back to my psych homework.

P.S. I noticed 1, 2, 3, and 4 only published small versions. If you want them full size, write me.

Pics from Ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim (sans riots)

click on photos to see full size

Return of the Conscientious Objector

The Rangel draft bill makes me sick. We elect a Democratic Congress to pull us out of Iraq, out of war, and we get Charles B. Rangel, Democratic Representative from Harlem, NY, demanding mandatory conscription. Why won't he open his eyes and look what the draft does to a nation. I cry as I write this, but look at Israel. People leave the country in droves so they will not have to send their kids to the army. The army spreads a set of mores that are controversial and it's unfair to enforce this on the populace. Not only that, but conscription invites corruption; draft dodgers would have been good citizens, but the draft made them hate their country.

The United States government's arms will be tied by a draft; poor decisions will be made because of powerful pressure from a group like PoSiHW (Parents of Soldiers in Harm's Way) that will be created when parents fear for their drafted children. Or the military will grow too powerful, as it has in Israel, and gain undue influence over the civilian government. We'll have a situation where the military battles the parents lobby over policy decisions, instead of our elected officials making them.

Besides, Rangel's figures are off. I don't know what his agenda is, but he is not talking sense. We don't need more troops; if we institute the draft, the extra "soldiers" will be put into community service posts, which amounts to forced labor. We don't need our youth on a slave market . We do need to pay the army better, and maybe that will encourage more volunteerism, which will bring pride and patriotism. Drafting young people to fight in wars we don't believe in will result in another Vietnam. I can only conclude that instituting the draft is a political ploy by Rangel to call attention to himself.

Interesting aside: Remember what John Kerry said during the recent election campaign? About the importance of education, "so you don't get mired in Iraq"? Many took this to mean that the uneducated often end up in the military and slammed Kerry for being unpatriotic. Kerry later explained he meant that a guy like Bush will end up leading a war in Iraq and it was not a knock to the soldiers. It seems Rangel and Kerry do not see eye to eye. Talk about splits in the Democratic party!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Pleasure Man's Blog and Other Stuff

The Terminator turned Gubernator, and I figured I'd try Evaluator. Not as exciting, but whatever. I considered other stuff first: Aggregators are useful for RSS feeds and alligators can eat you. Adaptors make our appliances work on Israeli currents and a flux capacitor got the kid Back to the Future. The New York Times has a section called Opinionator.

Rodef Tanugot discusses his favorite music on Lamah Atah Me'atzben Oti? (Why Are You Annoying Me?). How's my translation? I kinda like the Hebrew touch, the rough edges, the in-your-face-I-was-an-Israeli-or-will-be-an-Israeli thing. Anyway, major potential there. May benefit from a spring cleaning, but why should he bother blogging when he's still got great weather outdoors. Computers are for rainy days. Anyway, check him out.

Hey, they called off the OJ interview! Crazy country. Well, if Fox doesn't want it, some cable station will pick it up and get high ratings. Sure, people are outraged at Simpson's audacity, but ratings are ratings and people will watch by the thousands just to get disgusted.

They mean well, but this is an unacceptable desecration of civil rights. It's not 1984. We don't need government surveillance technology in our cars. Also, Newark's unconventional Mayor Cory Booker may have some good ideas about resolving his city's problems.

They Called Him Paganini

This pic caught my eye, and I don't know why. Had a sort of calming effect that drew me in, made me want to stare at it, gaze into it. It looks almost haunting but in a reassuring way. Full of silent music. Am I crazy?

I would write a poem about it (Ode on a Green-tinted Picture of a Parking Lot?) but I'm too tired to think and I'm not in enough pain (good poetry always comes from pain).

Expanding Blog World, Answer Service

Holy cow! (I didn't mean to get off topic so quickly, but yes, I recently picked up How To Expand Love by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This follows a study of Nabokov's Lolita and Pale Fire. Also studying for LSATs. Anyway, back to the scheduled post.)

I am just discovering the huge "geek world" going on on the web today. There are really 2 groups (or more) of net users. The in-the-know people who have their blog feeders/readers and read sites like for info about their Wii and PS3, then you have the AOL and MySpace people. They just want content without the techie lingo.

BTW, AOL is still really really bad. I hadn't given them a look since the America Offline fiasco of the 1990's and then the 'net became free and there was no need for AOL. Then their ill-fated merger with Time-Warner sent their stock tumbling, but somehow they are still around. Anyway, I recently needed to get in touch with someone whose only contact info I had was her AIM screen name. So I made myself an account and was shocked by how buggy the software and service still are. Wake up, it's 2006!

And lets not forget our new feature: Readers are invited to ask any question they might have about the science of the mind. Be creative: psychology, neurology, neuroscience, mental health, neurosurgery, psychoanalysis, counselling psychiatry, etc.

We'll try to answer as soon as possible or refer your question to an appropriate source. So far I am just an undergrad psych major, but with access to the faculty and resources of the university I hope to be able to provide quick, reliable information. For me this is a class project, a beta test, a public service, and a way to practice my new knowledge and challenge myself. For you, this is a chance to get free information and advice, learn something you always wanted to know about the brain and its contribution to your life, or just waste my time. ;-)

Vandalism or Art?

Some guy smashed my front door in Friday night, wanted to impress his girlfriend. Probably was drunk. My friends chased him out. But it got me thinking about the effect of the physical barriers in our lives on our level of psychological closedness. Don't we feel uneasy when we go to sleep without a door separating us from the street?

Think about how it's OK to share a house with 10 other guys and not close our bedroom doors, but it's not OK to share our personal space with strangers. Without the door, the living area becomes wide open. So you could look at it as losing privacy or as building an extension that incorporates the outside into the inside and provides a whole new perspective: Imagine a world without borders.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Al-Jazeera in English, OJ Woulda Done It Like This

Good luck to Al-Jazeera on the launch of your new English-language station. Your even-handed coverage of difficult stories has made you a choice source for Middle East news, and I wish you all the best in your latest endeavor. May you contribute to peace and freedom in the world.

OJ Simpson has taken to explaining how he would have commited the murders with a new book and a Fox TV special called, "If I Did It, Here's How It Happened". OJ seeking to set the record straight on how he would have killed Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman? This is too absurd.

PM Olmert on tour in USA, Mr. Bush heads to Asia.

New PM for PA; other News

Mohammed Shbeir is expected to become the new Prime Minister of a unity palestinian government. Palestinian PM Ismail Haniyeh's (Hamas) government began talks with opposition leader Mahmoud Abbas (Fatah) to create a unity government after his Hamas government was incapacitated by international sanctions. Hamas, which is listed as a terrorist group by the United States, Canada, the European Union, and other nations, has declared that any unity government will not recognize the right of Israel to exist as an independent country:

"The new government has not been asked to recognize the Zionist enemy," Radwan told Haaretz Tuesday, despite the fact that this is one of the conditions that the Quartet laid down for recognizing the Hamas government that is currently serving. The Quartet's other demands were that the government renounce violence and honor previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. Moussa Abu Marzouk, the deputy chair of Hamas' political bureau, also said that the new government "has not been asked to recognize Israel, and therefore will not recognize it." Haaretz

"We reject the two-state solution, which is the vision of U.S. President George Bush, because it represents a clear recognition of Israel," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said. "Our position in this regard remains unchanged. We reject joining in any government that recognizes Israel." Israel National News

The prospective leader, Shbeir, is an American-educated microbiologist (West Virginia University) from Gaza with no previous political background.

Haaretz, Al-Jazeera, Jerusalem Post, and BBC News have contributed to this story.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Affirmative Action in Hyperdrive

It's just a hunch, but I think Hollywood's got affirmative action in hyperdrive. Remind me to do a formal study of the amount of media portrayal of minorities and ethnicities sometime. But it's not just movies. Companies like to showcase their African American employees. (Is "African American" still PC?) Prestigious scholarships will always prominently feature a poster-boy Black or Asian winner. In contrast, my flatmates were arguing the merits of social Darwinism the other day. Weird world. Weird that we are capable of thinking "weird world".


Israeli (Alexandra Rosenfeld) named Miss Europe; Israeli (Nathan Shaked) named Mr. Gay International.

Featured blog:

And while we are on the "icious" thing, just type into your browser, no need for www. Powerful finding-stuff site that may be the next best thing since google; the face of the future; our savior from the googlemonster (until google buys it). Or not. Maybe its a fad. Anyway, I'm beginning to suspect that Google is refusing deliberately to list this blog. They may soon find a discrimination lawsuit on their hands. After I take the LSATs. And get into law school. And complete law school. And pass the bar. Nevermind, by then Google will control the courts and own the world. (Notice how they started mapping out their territory with satellite photos?) ;-)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Legal Limits on Google: I Vote For; Other News

Hi, Google. Do you see me? Yes? Good. I know you are watching. You always are. You see me in the Morning and in the Afternoon. Drunk at 3:00am, you are there. In bed with a partner, there you are. ICU (I see you) peeking, out from under the desk, from behind the mirror, from inside the light bulb. Do I sound paranoid, readers? Google knows it's true. They are also watching you! Doing homework, studying, eating, working, conversing, shopping, Big Brother is watching. YouTube, GoogleVideo, GoogleSearch, GoogleNews, GoogleEarth, GoogleScholar, Gmail, GoogleAhhhh the list goes on. About 20% of my daily time on the 'net is GoogleTime. Their products are great. Their privacy policy is nil. They have become ubiquitous and their growth is exponential. According to the latest predictive mathematical algorithms, there will soon be more than 24 hours of GoogleTime in every day. I love their functionality like the early colonials Americans loved George Washington, but I don't want to be ruled by a King. We have fought time and again for a free democracy, now we are heading towards a world-wide Googleocracy. What has seldom been accomplished by war is being done by bits, bytes, bots and URLs. W e l c o m e to the new BLOGGER.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programme. (US readers: program). In the end, the police canceled the gay parade and granted permits for a limited gathering in a football stadium instead. Some people on both sides said they won, others on both sides claimed they were discriminated against and treated unfairly. Propaganda and idiocy were strewn all about. We need more journalists and freedom of the press in this city. Problem isn't media censorship, it's reader who only want to read their views, whether it happened that way or not.

U.S. steps in to veto anti-Israel bill in the Security Council, again. The SC and the whole UN is primarily an Israel-bashing body that sometimes does some other stuff on the side. Israel is in a shaky position as the world heads toward nuclear disaster and the 3rd World War. Instead of dealing with the Nuclear Arms Race in Iran, North Korea, and half a dozen other rogue nations, it spends its time Israel-bashing for the hell of it. We are returning to the position of the Cuban Missile Crisis era, US superpowerdom is disintegrating, the world political situation is destabilizing, I wish I didn't have to sound so damn apocalyptic, please excuse the rough language, it's probably en vogue to spell excuse without the "e" (xcuse), Oliver North went back to Nicaragua, Ehud Olmert is back in America, and that's the way it is. Take it or leave it. Comment.

P.S. Court finds Dankner guilty of slandering Ben-Gvir on national TV, but fines him less than a quarter (US$0.23). Absurd.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Gaza Blunder Rains On Parade

Hey, what do you know? For the second time this year, the Jerusalem Pride parade was postponed. This past summer the government attributed its refusal to the need for troops in the North during the Hezbollah crisis, this time its reason is the tense situation in Gaza. And as for those two big news stories in Israel (see last post), they come together dutifully, beautifully, as one story today. Everybody wins! And not least of all, NO more burning trash.

Nevertheless, I must admit I enjoyed the excitement of the spirit of anarchy that reigned the past few days. I discovered it wasn't just about religious people protesting a potentially offensive parade, it was about freedom. It was about putting an end to tyranny. It was about saving the land and its people. It was about the right to go to school in Israel without the police banging down your doors and arresting students (see story below): The freedom to live a chosen way of life unobstructed by others who want to force their views into your face. (Ironically, this is the tag-line of marchers on both sides.)

Police entered one of the buildings on campus after several protestors fled there from from a nearby rally. Police followed the protestors to the university dorms, but students denied the police entrance. Bedlam ensued. As police, some mounted, other in riot gear, clubs extended, tried to force their way into one of the dormitories, angered students who had been getting ready for bed assaulted the cops from 3rd, 4th, and 5th story windows with anything that was handy to throw. Others blockaded the doors. The American students especially did not take kindly to Israeli police intrusions into their life and liberty without due cause: none of our students, they reasoned, were involved in the rally. Therefore, the cops do not belong here. Note, that presence of riot police means citizens will be beaten, and some arrested, even if nobody is guilty. The stand-off continued until the Dean met with police officials and it was decided the cops would go in return for a promise that no students would return to the rally.

If the gay parade continues to result in war, and the organizers don't stop trying to march, they are putting us all in danger. I don't just mean the game of cops and robbers (the cops are the bad guys here, and it is a fun game. The rules are as follows: instigate a commotion at a protest rally by some harmless activity that draws the police, then run away from the evil cops. Repeat as desired.) The war in Lebanon and the new one we are poised to fight in Gaza were timed just perfectly so as to rain on the parade. Interesting.

P.S. What do you think of the new Google toy at the bottom of the page?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Fascinating World of Journalism

Which is more important: The Gay Parade in Jerusalem or IDF incursions into Gaza? It depends who you ask. In discussions with people on the street, the parade is on eveybody's lips. The controversy surrounding the event has become an actual part of residents' lives as traffic is stopped, garbage burned, and marketplaces or the city square become the site of clashes between protestors and police. Jerusalem reeks of melted plastic and manure from police horses. Haredi leaders suggest impending perils if the parade takes place. Homosexuality is on the daily agenda of people who normally wouldn't dream of discussing sex over a family dinner. Clearly, this is an issue that concerns the public in a real way. Does that make it newsworthy? What should be "in the news"?

Today, leading Israeli newsmedia faced sticky issues. The Jerusalem Post and Haaretz led off with the Gaza story, the latest round of contention in the 14 month struggle toward a terrorism-free Gaza following Israel's unilateral pullout in 2005. Meanwhile, Haaretz, Maariv and chose to give the parade more attention. Even this breakdown doesn't tell the whole story, however. Some outlets covered police response, others discussed potential routes, while receiving slightly less attention were the riots that made me hold my nose and fear police brutality as I peacefully returned from home from classes.

Some analysts will interpret the differences as reflecting political agendas. Maybe they do. Maybe they reflect an attempt to cater to different populations or different geographic locations. Perhaps some are more local-focused, while others seek national or international relevance. These are concepts that must be dealt with daily by editors under the pressure of deadlines, but are rarely contemplated by media consumers.

News media comprises a fascinating new world that is very much a part of our lives, yet its intricacies casually elude our awareness. Reading list: It Ain't Necessarily So, Freakonomics, anything by Chomsky (just disregard what he spews concerning Israel). Much more, check back here for the updated list.

Open any newspaper or magazine and a critical reading will leave you disgusted by the near-lies and misinformation you find inside (and don't get me started with TV). Google takes an intriguingly novel direction at GoogleNews, but their achievemnent is half their downfall. Think about it. You just can't know. If you know a way to k-n-o-w, please let me know.

Special Report. We interrupt this boring blog to report on what in a preliminary reading appears to be an exciting development: City Journal, insightful (inciteful?) essays on contemporary issues. Also, check out Spectrum and Seed (just google 'em; they are both the top links. These have not yet been subjected to our thorough review process.)

Another interesting development: A parody-parade is planned for tomorrow; following the proposed parade route, farm animals will march with the theme "We Are Proud Animals" in a jibe at the concept of gay pride.

Monday, November 06, 2006

To Each His/Her Own

Seems it's Protest Week in Jerusalem. The airport baggage workers strike was court-ordered to end, but religious anti-gay protests are in full swing in response to the Gay Pride Parade planned for this coming Friday in Jerusalem. So while the haredi Jews riot in protest, the Jerusalem Open House spews freedom-of-expression propaganda and the police have their hands full keeping the peace. This they do [ironically] with violent force, breaking up roadblocks with water cannons, bludgeons, horses, motorcycles, and many arrests. Meanwhile, the Black Rights movement entered the fray today, holding a protest at a central square near the entrance to the city. Though Israel does not discriminate based on skin color and Ethiopians have always been granted equal rights, many still feel bitter about the generally lower standard of living this new-immigrant population often endures. Clashes are expected to escalate throughout the week...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Thanks for Visiting, Please Come Again

Thank you to our recent blog visitors from Canada, Brazil, Israel, Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, Korea, and of course, the USA. Thank you also to the not-so-recent visitors from Argentina, Australia, Poland, Ireland, Greece, Spain, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the UK. We miss you guys.

Bush says he's sorry for the static, but don't worry because it's only from the dead people. And the rest of the world isn't any better. (Most countries are much worse. Even you neutral countries cannot escape blame because you have responsibilities too. Many of America's blunders come from trying to help, but we'd all be worse off if they just stayed out.)

The Pope does not apologize b/c he is the Pope and that's how it is. What a shame. He really insulted Islam. He also insulted the Jews not long ago if I remember correctly. Its blunder after blunder for poor Pope Benedict. Really a shame after John Paul did so much to improve inter-religious relations and correct the historical wrongs of his predecessors. It looks like we are back in the Middle Ages. Speaking of going off on a tangent (is that what we were speaking of?) Yale University created a center for the inter-disciplinary academic study of anti-Semitism. The University cited growing levels of anti-Semitism in Europe and other parts of the world and the need to understand why hostilities erupt between religious factions.

Random! Anyway, drop me a line. Comment please. Anything.

Twink Links

Watch him go from this

To way past this

Cute Twink with a Bubble Butt

Young Guy Posing on a Futon pic set at Tyler's Room

Josh Hartnett is Suddenly Everywhere

And thank G-d for that! I happened to see 40 Days and 40 Nights the other day (loved it) and next I know, Josh turns up on the cover of GQ (October issue). He just took a (short) break from Hollywood to learn boxing for his upcoming movie Resurrecting the Champ. Josh takes his roles very seriously, gets fully into them, and does a great job. He's more than just a pretty face. Josh's filmography already inclues Sin City, Black Hawk Down, The Black Dahlia (2006), Lucky Number Slevin, Pearl Harbor and more. It's worth checking out the spread in GQ.

Pic of the Day

Ben Savage Lives

MySpace has done it again: The web-world has gone crazy over Boy Meets World star Ben Savage after MySpace pranksters reported that he died in an auto accident. Fortunatley, Ben is alive and well, performing a small-time role in movie Palo Alto. Ben was great in BMW, but apparently is past his prime.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Self proclaimed "pop star" Aaron Carter (18) breaks off an engagement to older brother Backstreet Boy Nick Carter's ex-girlfriend after only 6 days. Aaron popped the question to Playboy model and former Miss Teen USA Kari Ann Peniche on stage after he had known her for just days, then admitted he had gotten, "caught up in the moment" and "made a mistake."

Aaron's music is only mediocre but he's really cute and he's still young. And the girls sure love him: Lindsay Lohan and Hillary Duff are just a few of the names on this phenom's growing list of ex-es. His next big gig is a TV show he's set to do with Nick called House of Carters. Find out more about AC at

Former President Bill Clinton made headlines for his heated response to Chris Wallace's pointed questions about bin Laden during a television interview. Clinton was interviewed about his Clinton Global intitiative, a large-scale humanitarian and charitable project out to solve the worlds problems. Clinton has raised over $16 billion for the project which plans, among other things, to install playground equipment in African towns that will serve the dual purpose of powering underground water pumps to provide fresh drinking water to the residents. Wallace took the opportunity to press the former president about his handling of al-Qaida during his presidency. See the Clinton Foundation site at

Chris Simms of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL) had his spleen surgically removed after sustaining damage during a loss to the Carolina Panthers. Team officials have expressed hope that he will play again. From

Preferred Blogger:

Song of the Month: Wake Me Up When September Ends by Greenday. (That would mean 5 more days of sleep.) It's that back-to-school feeling, that end of an age, a so-long to innocence and long sunny afternoons, parties and freedom. Summer has come and passed/The innocent can never last/Wake me up when September ends/Here comes the rain again/Falling from the stars/Drenched in my pain again/Becoming who we are... But don't get me wrong, I like school and love to learn. I'm working on a fascinating research project now, and I'm going home to the States soon for a week-long visit, which I am looking forward to. Last time I went home for a month and was not a happy camper, but I think I've matured a lot in the last 6 months and anyway, this time will only be for a week.


Stunningly gorgeous.

More Hot Pics


Why get dressed to do the ironing when you can just tie on an apron and show off what you've got?

Can't wait to see those pants come off.

Tell us what you think of our new look!!

Hot Pic Series

What do ya think?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Verdict Is IN

America's favorite nonfiction writer is... Noam Chomsky. He was the only author listed twice on's top 25 bestsellers. Everything he writes turns to gold. He has 3 books that recieved 3000 or more citations on Google Scholar and an additional 7 works in the 1000 cite club (3/7). For comparison Einstein has only 1 article in the 3000 club (1/0) and Darwin never made it (0/4). Ok, so google.scholar isn't a perfect record, but trust me any researcher will tell you it's pretty good. A highly useful resource. Anyway another citation superstar, Al Bandura made the 3000 club 4 times and has another 2 articles in the 1000 club (4/2). Some dude PK Smith earned over 5000 cites for a biochem piece, but he was a one hit wonder (1/0). Chomsky's success is rare, but often well deserved. His genius is darkened only by his awful anarchist politics, his idiotic stance against Israel, but his good ideas are not to be ignored.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


(The original of this post got lost, and you now how the rewrite can never match the original, but here goes.) I went to a friend's wedding last week. It was a lot of fun. Beautiful. The groom was stunning. I've actually had a crush on him since we met about 4 years ago, but apparently he's not gay. Oh well. As long as he's happy, that's the main thing. Cute couple. Pretty girl, wonderful sweet smile, but I still think she got the better deal: he's hotter than she is. I disgust myself - there is so much more to a relationship, and especially a marriage, than just looks. They are preparing a whole life, they have plans together, education, careers. They care for each other, entertain each other, enjoy spending time with one another and doing things together (and not just, ahem). I have a lot of maturing to do.

I danced like mad at the wedding, and didn't even drink. I've been trying to loosen up more w/out booze. It's hard. I've often relied on alcohol to loosen up and have fun at parties, but I know I have to grow up and learn to just be who I want to be without chemicals. Oh, I remembered the other part I had written in this post. It was a bit, I've probably written it before, about how I want to be less selfish and help others. I said, my life must seem pretty boring to you. ;-( If I would do more for others it would probably spice up my life, but that is not why I want to do it. I want to make the world a better place. Cliche? If only it would be more of a cliche, you know what I mean?

P.S. Looks like they found the original copy. It is better; see below and compare for yourself.


I went to a friend's wedding last week. It was a lot of fun. Beautiful. I danced like mad and didn't even drink. I've been trying to loosen up more w/out alcohol. It's hard. I've often relied on alcohol to loosen up and have fun at parties, but I know I have to grow out of that and learn to be who I want to be without chemicals. Anyway, the groom was stunning. I've had a crush on him since we met about 4 years ago, but apparently he's not gay. Oh, well. As long as he's happy, that's what counts. His bride's grandfather died three days after the wedding and the couple flew to California for the funeral. Sad. Kind of awkward. Life is full of these odd quirks. All the best. You think my life is boring, don't you. ;-( I think most lives are, even many of the ones that we think would be interesting. 1 important thing that is missing from my life is helping others. I got to do more for other people and be less selfish. That would probably spice up my own life, but that isn't the reason to do it. I want to help people, "to make the world a better place". Cliche? If only it would become more of a cliche, you know?

The Quickie

Yah, I don't have much time now, b/c the dude wants to close the maabada (lab). Just wanted to check in and tell y'all more is on the way. Isn't "y'all" a cute expression? Well, the way this cute boy in my school (who unfortunately isn't in my class) says it it seems divine. Anyway, it's almost time to register for Fall classes. I wonder what I'll take. The summer break was great. Relaxing. Hard to get back to work, to schedules, responsibilities. Stuff happened, I guess. Wonder if it interests you... I moved. Switched apartments, only about 5 blocks from where I was, nothing major. Got two weeks notice from the lanlord at my old place that we all have to move out. That was it: 2 weeks and you're all out. Just like that. No reason given. The rent was all paid up on time. Spent four days 'on the street', hopping between friends' places till I found this place, but now I'm settled in there and it's cool.

Oh, the Question of the Day: You're seeing a guy for a while, you've slept together several times, hung out, gone out, when does he become your "boyfriend"? How does it get official? I mean, also, like this: you spent 3 or 4 nights together in a week. Who knows how many people he was with that week besides you? Ok, so he's not like that. He's not a slut. But the truth is you don't know where people are holding. And you don't want to push things where they are going to get prickly, you don't want to assume too much - or too little. Whatever, I guess we'll talk it over. When he comes back from New York... Thing is also - and I've told him this - I eventually want to get married - to a girl - so this thing, though we're loving it, can't last. I want him to enjoy his vacation in NY. I can't be there. I'm in Israel. I don't know if he's "on the prowl" there or he wants to be "faithful" to me, I don't know if we even have that kind of relationship that there is such a thing as that he's "faithful to me". But I don't begrudge him his fun if that is what he wants. I want him to be happy, why should he ruin his vacation that he looked forward to for so long (if that's what he wanted) just because we met several weeks before?

Shit, relationships! (Sorry, I'll try to watch my language.) I sometimes try to keep my emotions out of it so as not to get hurt. Some of this is conscious, some unconscious. I think, so what if I date a guy and he's seeing other people too, if he's there for me and cares for me, and I for him, who cares what he does when I'm not around? And if the concern is STDs, that is a problem anyway and that is what protection is for. I sound pretty vulgar. I wish I had answers. I do't even know what I want. I wish I could express better what I feel; I don't think I did justice here now, it came out a little one sided - lacking the proper balance that I would have liked to provide. But time is short.

More later. G'bye! XOXOXO

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Jerusalem Update: WorldPride, Arts and Crafts Fair

It's been a while. Well, we're in-between semesters now, so I have a bit of a break. Participated in Jerusalem WorldPride - smaller scale than some would have predicted, but very nice, to the point. Health conference, youth day, party at HaOman 17 (one of Jerusalem's big dance clubs), film festival, meeting at Jerusalem's City Hall (which in Hebrew is called Kiryat HaIriyah, which translates literally to Municipality Complex, or what Americans might call City Hall. It's a nice set of modern buildings at Kikar Safra, Safra Square, in downtown Jerusalem and there is a terrific view from the top which was opened to the Pride participants by. Wouldn't have gone to the parade anyway, so its just as well that part was war-cancelled. And it's great that the war has finally ended (at least for now); people can stop dying and get back to work, maybe I'll get to do some touring.

I went to the closing night of the Jerusalem International Arts and Crafts Fair. It was fabulous: a wealth of beautiful creations, breathtaking, charming. Loads of great food, superb music. My biggest regret is that I had no one to share it with. I called several friends, but couldn't find anyone to go with. This one had to work, those two were out of town, two others couldn't be reached by phone, etc. The event contrasted in my mind with New York's Javits Auto Show which I reviewed several months ago. The two were similar in that they were large, themed collections of exhibits and displays from different places and attracted huge crowds, but the differences are strikng. The J-lem fair was excellently executed, impresive , and delightful. But it seemed on a smaller scale. I'd estimate there were about 25 - 50 thousand visitors a night during the two weeks of the fair, so it wasn't small, half -baked or cheaply produced, but compared to NY, it looked almost like a low-budget knockoff. Not that this doesn't have its own charms - it does. The Israeli crowd will sit down on the grass. I know, most of you find this pretty normal, but watch New Yorkers - they won't just sit down on the grass in front of a stage to enjoy the music (eww, the graassss! You want me to sit where?).

I went on a tour that included a visit to a natural spring. Israeli youth just stripped to their underwear in the hot weather and jumped in (from atop a 15 foot cliff - I can hear the American whining "that is soo dannngerousss, how could they let them dooo that") for a cooling swim before getting back to their daily activities. Some stayed for a BBQ spring-side. It was so natural and beautiful (and you should see some of those bodies), I longed to jump in, but the American group was too civilized for that. You see, there is a certain quaint charm in the Israeli chilled-out-ness that Americans can learn from. Israel is just high-tech and modern enough to provide the comforts of 21st century living without giving up all of the charm of "backwards" third-world fun. The combination is great: hard-working, serious, studiousness mingles with the most laid-back attitudes imaginable and in a blink switches to the gruff abrasive manner that made Israel famous. Just one more reason to say, "Ain Kmo Yisrael" (There is no place like Israel). Remind me of those ads: fill-in-the-blank by day, Bacardi by night.

Some random sites: (unrelated to above)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Couch Potato Nation

Obese people claimed to eat healthy and exercise in a new survey. Interesting. Psychologists will enjoy explaining why they think that.

Saw the movie Basic. I had heard from everybody what a great movie it is. I won't say I was blown away, but I wasn't disappointed; it was pretty solid. has a lot of good content, but the site design is so awful, it runs slow, it is unstable and full of pop ups. I'm thinking boycott.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

Movies, War, and World Pride

In the movie dept., I saw Pirates of the Caribbean 2. It was great if you can put your brain down on the seat next to you while you watch. Try thinking about it, and you are left with a filler made because we live in the post-sequel era of the trilogy. Anything good must be not doubled but tripled. Anyway, many people do enjoy leaving their minds on the side while they watch a movie, so don't take my comments as a knock to the film.

Also saw Luck Number Slevin. I liked it. Leaving Josh Harnett's shirt off for the first 39 minutes of the movie was an excellent call by director McGuigen. The movie was a little lopsided; they needed a lot of time at the end to sew up the plot and close loose ends. There were a lot of killings, but not much real action scenes. Some of the punches and plot lines were trite, stereotypes of Blacks and Jews abounded, but it had a feel-good kind of feeling to it and a hot lead actor that pretty much make it worth watching.

World Pride Jerusalem is coming up next week. I'm trying to decide whether to offer to host visitors. I have room, but you know how Mom always said never to talk to strangers. I mean, I'd love to be nice and offer a place. I'd really love it if I found a hot guy to offer it to ;-) , but I'm a New Yorker. You just don't invite strangers in; they rob you blind. It's really a shame, though.

I think it's better in J-lem than NY (it feels like we're all family here - amazing), but just the other day I was printing a big file at the university computer center and someone snatched my print card from the card reader while the machine was printing and I walked back to my computer to wait. Luckily, there was only about 5 shekel left on the card ($1.15), earlier I had had as much as 30 (~$7).

The Pride Parade and some events were cancelled, but much of the itinerary will go forth as planned. At this point, I'll stick in my feelings on Gay Pride: Cut it out. There is no need to parade around being proud to be gay and show off your sexuality in the streets of city after city. Sex is something private; do what you enjoy, but where is the "pride"? Is being gay an achievement that you are proud of it? Did you work hard to make yourself gay and now have increased self-esteem because you succeeded in becoming gay? I'll spare you the science of homosexuality and the nature/nurture debate, but point is you probably are gay by no conscious effort of your own. Even if you were, what is there to be proud of? We don't see heterosexuals showing off their "Straight Pride". So let's be clear, the Pride is not over a choice of sexual orientation, but rather "pride" as in not being embarrassed or discouraged from beng open about it. The idea is faulty. The real emotion here is not pride, but some mix of assertiveness, self-assuredness, and independence. This wouldn't sell to a mass market, so the Gay Lobby created this Pride thing which does us somewhat of a disservice even as it furthers our cause.

I, personally, would have trouble marching in a Pride parade on ideological grounds. I disagree with the idea of Pride (see above). My feeling is that people who are in touch with themselves and know their emotional attachments and sexual attractions, let them hook up with those people. Have a good time, do what you like. That is the Western ideal of individuality and the pleasure principle. But, there is no need to put sexuality on parade. It degrades the person; makes him/her nothing but a sex object. I see this with some of my gay friends who become nothing but "gay. It subsumes their whole identity. I prefer to have a whole personality, one part of which is my sexual orientation. But I am much more than gay. To submit to Gay Pride is to lose your identity, not to flaunt your individuality as some would have you believe. IF YOU DISAGREE, PLEASE TELL ME. I would love to hear from the other side on this debate.

As far as the ongoing War in Lebanon, I think a lot of us thought it would blow over by now, but it is still going strong. It hasn't been felt in J-lem, but up North, they are taking it pretty hard, living in bomb shelters, getting hit by Katyusha rockets. The poor Lebanese have been hit very hard. I feel bad and want Israel to stop, but realize that they are working to protect my safety and that the fault ultimately lies with Hezbolla. Yeah, the Israelis are behind the trigger, but they wouldn't be there if Hezbolla would leave them alone.

Monday, July 17, 2006

In the Trenches

The violent conflict here is frightening and unfortunate, but Israel is still awesome. Though parts of the country are confined to bomb shelters, life has gone on as usual in J-lem. We all got a kick out of George dubya Bush's comments to PM Tony Blair in St. Petersburg, "what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this sh*t, and it's over."

On the topic of humorous comments by political figures, Arab MK (Member of Knesset) Ibrahim Sarsur addressed the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee regarding the upcoming gay pride event in Jerusalem. reports: A ripple of laughter went through Israeli parliament meeting when Arab MK Ibrahim Sarsur said, "I have never had to participate in such a discussion, because in Muslim society we don't have this problem."
(credit to this place: I don't know who it is or how I even got there)

But it is not all fun and games. People are dying and being blown up, rockets and missiles are hitting towns and cities. Soldiers on both sides are risking their lives and sometimes losing them. Parents are worried about their children. It is crises like these that often inspire a desperate recourse to God as the only source left for comfort and order in a terrifying, painful, unpredictable, and uncontrollable world.

News agencies the greatest beneficiaries of war. In wartime, keeping up with the latest news becomes a widespread fascination, even addiction. The mass psychology of crisis and war is really intriguing; everybody goes through predictable, identifiable progression of phases that actually impact events in a big way.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Buffet Gives Billions to Charity Fund

Lets try something short this time.

Warren Buffet to contribute $30 billion dollars to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, bringing the value of the fund over $60 billion dollars. The donation will ensure the BMGF remains one of the world's largest charitable funds. It towers over just about any other private collection of wealth with the notable exception of Harvard's endowment.

Escalation of Violence and Psilocybin

Israel responds to repeated kidnappings of its soldiers with strikes on Hamas positions in Gaza and Hezbollah positions in Lebanon. Parents of students from overseas worry about the safety of their children in an unstable Middle East. The University assures the safety of Jerusalem, warns against travel to the North, and advises students to stay informed of developments and make their own decisions to stay or flee the region.

Unrelated random stuff: Effects of Coffee? Portrayals of Science in Popular Media? Idiot America?

Studies support a role of the psychedelic mushroom and its main ingredient psilocybin in creating positive religious experience which can be studied using neuroimaging techniques. Detractors warn against positive portrayals of illegal drugs. SHAME on them. Your concerns about drug abuse should not be allowed to adulterate scientific research. Science deals with empirical descriptions of what is. How people should behave is studied in separate fields such as philosophy, theology, and ethics. While there is an interaction, a scientific discovery does not imply any change in suggestions for behavior. This point is often confused in popular science which will recommend coffee-drinking because niacin, riboflavin, bioflavanoids, and caffeine have been linked to various health benefits. This does not automatically follow from the science, and other human factors mediate the interpretation and suggestion for action. Further, scientific discoveries of a natural "norm" does not impact the propriety or dispropriety of a given course.

When Your Biggest Fan is Your Worst Nightmare

The paradoxical nature of people is unescapable; it is scary. As part of a seminar the psychology of Israeli-Palestinian relations, my professor brought in several Israeli settlers who live in the West Bank to give their story. I was shocked and astounded to hear them come in so clueless about how to reach the modern university student. Though they spoke a relatively good English, it was like we were speaking different languages. Their lack of critical thinking was horrifying, especially because there are many people who will identify their views with mainstream Israeli opinion. They attributed all morality to God, discrediting completely opposing ethical systems. They saw the Palestinians as non-entities with no legitamate claim whatsoever, and were generally inflamatory and underinformed. My classmates and I tried to listen, tried to understand her perspective, but though many of us share Zionist leanings and ideas, found ourselves turned off to their viewpoint and offended by their declarations. They have a revisionist history and a lack of tolerance and vision. Magical thinking may also factor in here. Theoretically, these settlers should be the greatest ally of the Zionist dream. Until I met these people, I was supportive of some of their positions. Now, though I haven't changed my poitical opinions because of a few hapless souls, I am inclined to see less sympathetically their plight. It should be reiterated, of course, that the majority sentiment is not like this and that most of the settlers are more rational than this small minority group.

In an unrelated story: Random site of the day:

Monday, July 10, 2006

As for America...

Remember the Greenday song, American Idiot? "Don' wanna be an American idiot!/One nation controlled by the media" It is showing up all over. The complacency of America, the way the cash keeps rolling in when Americans don't work for it. The laxity of the education system from the bottom to the top. High school teach so little their diplomas aren't recognized internationally, colleges inflate averages so everbody can walk around sporting 4.0 GPAs. It worked for a long time; the money being made from investments and the internet revolution kept the USA on top of the world without recourse to a stitch of work. But that is changing now thanks to competition form India and China, the European Union and the up-and-coming African Union. It is time to reawaken the sleeping giant. The USA must violently shake itself into action, create goals and ideologies. There is no more WWI, WWII, Cold War. These forces created the push that gave the country no option but to advance. There are also new socio-economic factors at play. A respect for the educated that we once had is gone, along with economic incentives in medicine. Why work hard, when money comes easy? This is the mindset of Idiot America. The good life, midboggling degree of material comforts, take it easy, it's good to be lazy and dumb. Have fun.

Increasing international competition will make this mindset obsolete. It is time to consider our comparartive advantages as a nation and work to contribute to the global economy in areas where we can produce good and services better, faster, cheaper, than others. A SWOT analysis is in order. USA's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats need to be considered and apporpriate action taken. Advertising and propaganda is needed to change the mindset; galvanize the population to value a work-ethic and restore the falling glory of the nation.

The language threat: If the sciences advance internationally to the point of critical mass (Gladwell's Tipping Point), the language of world science will, change, making it harder for American students to joint the world academic community. This is catastrophic because Americans are the only ones in the world who are, as a rule, monolingual. The widespread use of English today not only reflects America's current scientific superiority

The spirit of competition was lost after the Cold War and Americans, who think of their win as some eternal victory that will leave them champions forever. But the title of Superpower is like a boxing title or the Stanley Cup. The winner must repeatedly fend off challengers to retain the award.

Going on a bit of a tangent, here is a great idea. The US has become too soft, focusing on small things that would not be issues at all if there were any larger issues on the table. As Richard Farson explained in his respected writings on management, the response to improvement of a situation is complaints. But the important thing is the quality, not quantity, of the complaints. As in Maslow's Hierarchy Theory of Human Needs, when a lower level need is fulfilled, fulfillment of the next higher level need is sought. Thus complaints arise, but of a different nature than previously. i.e. an employee who complained of low salary, may, after a raise, complain that he needs more vacation time or a private office. This granted, she will demand a promotion. Next, greater influence in the decisions of the company. Note though, that the new sanitary hire at Microsoft Inc. will not complain that he is not VP, will not demand a window suite, and will not ask to influence the direction of research funds or the features included in the new product.

Back to America, citizens used to work hard to fulfill basic needs like sustenance, human rights, national security. When these were more easily acheived in a more prosperous nation, people moved to squabbling over increasingly petty things. Abortion issues, gay-rights issues, feminism, sexual harrassment, tobacco lawsuits, child hyperprotection (in the form of strict policies controlling teacher-student relations i.e. hitting, touching), tax reform, welfare reform, whatnot. These are all issues that should be dealt with. Many are the fabric of our society and what makes us unique as a nation. I don't say they are unimportant. But I point out that they would be total non-issues if we had some higher level concern. When Americans were working hard to feed their families, we did not have tobacco lawsuits. When people appreciated being able to afford quality medical car, we did not have rampant medical malpractice suits. That is not to say higher level concerns should not be addressed. After all, this is the very goal of progress and maturity. Nevertheless, perspective is imperative. If we keep in mind that these needs are indeed high-level, and that they can never be allowed to detract from maintenance of our basic needs, we can acheive a balance. But if we lose sight of the basics and chase perfection, we will ultimately collapse like an upside down pyramid. (Maslow's hierarchy is indeed often drawn as a pyramid, right side up. If we weight the top too much, though, it will tumble.)

Okay, long post. I finally had something to say after a while of being quiet.

Nun.Bet. (Hebrew. Americans use P.S.) I like some of the ideas of Students for Academic Freedom, and the concept of an Academic Bill of Rights. It is unfortunate to have to come to this, and legislation is not an ideal solution, but this is the age we live in. An age of dead ideas and writing-things-that-will-sit-in-a-box. But repeated violations by educators require something to be done. It is silly to think we can legislate a good education, and the guideline will prove killer-hard to draft positively, but some ground rules are presumably in order. It's a pandora's box. But so is inaction.

A few comments on Israel

Studying Middle Eastern history and conflict this semester (Summer). Got interested in a bit of the news, and it's just totally crazy. I was dumbfounded when I saw the long list of anti-Israel resolutions from the UN. It's a long story and it's not the topic of my book (It'll come out one day ;-)), but I thought I'd mention the ridiculous state of double standard and lack of objectivity, ignorance of historical precedent, and misapplication of concepts that goes on in media coverage and world opinion in all things regarding Israel. Two interesting sites presenting unique (but my no means comprehensive) coverage are and On the topic of weird but enlightening sites, try this off-center news source: I take NO RESPONSIBILITY for anything written there, nor do I necessarily agree with or endorse the positions of the writers. That said, there is a wealth of information (judge its accuracy for yourself) on the topic. But look around. Complete understanding comes (never, but to get close to it comes) from critically examining a wide variety of sources from different viewpoints. Unless you just get hopelessly muddled and confused and stop trusting anyone. (One of my maxims has always been, Newspapers always lie. Anyone with firsthand experience or knowledge of any topic covered in the news media already knows this well.) I find it fascinating.

Whoa. Lot of disclaimers up there.^

Before I forget, I wanted to note that an idea has been forming slowly in my head: The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded for idiocy, evil, discord, and damage to civilization. I could have sworn that is not what Lord A. Nobel wrote in his will. I think the will was more like "benefit for humanity" or something. I have to look it up and follow this up with details from the sources. For now, just a thought. (note: research ElBaradai)