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 Tizag.com

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 engadget.com 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: www.jewlicious.com

And while we are on the "icious" thing, del.icio.us: just type del.icio.us 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. ynetnews.com

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 ynetnews.com 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...