Wednesday, January 31, 2007
On the day my daughter was born not a single person
died in the hospital, and at the entrance gate
the sign said: "Today kohanim are permitted to enter."
And it was the longest day of the year.
In my great joy
I drove with my friend to the hills of Sha'ar Ha-Gai.
We saw a bare, sick pine tree, nothing on it but a lot of pine cones. Zvi said trees that are about to die produce more pine cones than healthy trees. And I said to him: That was a poem and you didn't realize it, Even though you're a man of exact science, you've made a poem. And he answered: And you, though you're a man of dreams, have made an exact little girl with all the exact instruments for her life.
- Yehuda Amichai
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger's tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.
From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill--
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.
- Charles Simic
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Turns out she is the lead singer of The Sounds, a Swedish rock band, and they have a new album out. Here's the video (NSFW) for Tony The Beat, the single off of their new release.
via Cliptip who has more info about the video.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
I found his speech interesting, although his ideas were not earth shattering it incredibly encouraging to hear a Muslim speak in this manner. In know it shouldn't matter who the speaker is, but I get defensive when debating the Middle East I cite a Jewish author and the person I'm debating disqulifies or diminshes the authority becuase of its bias. Dr. Haqqani was a great speaker often cracking jokes here are some (incomplete)notes from the talk:
On Muslim Countries
1. The biggest problem in the Muslim countries is the lack of literacy.
2. Their is a deficit both in economic development as well as deficit in freedom.
3. Only five Muslim countries are considered free - they are not what you expect - all of then are located in Africa (I didn't write the down).
The Creation of the Problem
1. There was no serious set back for the Muslims until the 17Th century.
2. In 1445 the Ottoman Empire took an anti-technology position, they were against the printing press.
3. The West was changed by the printing press - example: Reformation.
4. In 1699 Muslims began an inward phase. Unlike Britain or France.
Turning the Colonist Argument On Its Head aka Hussani's Argument
1.Muslims are not weak because they were colonized. Because they were weak they were colonized.
Is the problem religious or secular?
1. Hussani claims it's political.
2. Osama's and others have a common question: Why did we lose our greatness? How do we get it back?
3. Each Muslim country has its own version of the reason for humiliation and lack of success.
4. Muslim intellectuals have blames external factors like Israel or in Pakistan India is blamed.
5. There is no internalizing.
6. The ideology: Power comes through force.
7. The answer to problems is getting rid of the external "bogeyman" not looking at internal problems.
The situation right now
1. Missed his first point.
2. Support modernists in the Middle East.
3. Watch out for secularist, they can become a problem too.
4. Demand internal changes - like changes school curriculum.
His feelings on CAIR
1. The name CAIR - Council for American Islamic Relations underlines that Islam and America are different, the name itself is dividing. By definition seems to align the rule between arbitrary two rivals - not conducive to what CAIR is supposedly trying to do.
How to proceed with American foreign policy. (He called it more nuanced.)
1. Culture of victimhood has not helped Islam. Needs to be discussed more. According to Mr. Haqqani the dialogue is starting.
2. Don't make it open end it.
3. Re-evaluate relationships with Muslims
4. Stop believing the Israel-Palestinian problem created all the other problems.
5.Make major investments in education, change the composition of what is being taught. Like that Jews are not out to drink Muslim blood.
6. Stop giving a pass on bad aspects. Don't give money for promotion of Hatred. Example: Egypt - Eiders of Zion movie.
7. Engage with non-government groups that want real change
8. Start a translation movement - translate many more books into Arabic and other languages.
A- available or single? - I'm with Gib on this -"Ummm, who wrote this thing where your two options are the same thing? Neither. "
B- best friend? Don't like the whole hierarchy thing of friends. Besides one is in Mexico, one is in NYC, and one I'm not talking to (sigh).
C- cake or pie? Pie.
D- drink of choice? - G&T, grapefruit juice, water.
E- essential item I use every day: - My computer. (So addicted.)
F- favorite color? - red, but it depends on my mood. I like white and brown as well.
G- gummy bears or gummy worms? Gummy bears. I like to eat the head first.
H- hometown? St. Petersberg, Russia and Brookline/Needham, MA
I- indulgence? Television. Sandwiches, tea, and books on cold, dark days. Blogs.
J- january or february? February
K- kids and names: Hypothetically - Tzodik, Isaac, Dina
L- life is incomplete without? Family. Dreams I dream at night.
M- marriage date: Come again later.
N- number of siblings: One older sister. She's my favorite.
O- oranges or apples? They both have drawbacks - apples are too mundane and oranges are too messy. But enjoy them both.
P- phobias or fears? The dark.
Q- favorite quote? There's the Life of Brian quote I have up.
For ideological reasons I like the falsely attributed quote by Churchill "If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain."
Another one I like is "Sometimes smashing things is very pleasant." - Dostoevsky
"That really hurt! I'm gonna have a lump there, you idiot! Who throws a shoe? Honestly! You fight like a woman!" - Austin Powers
R- reasons to smile? My bed. Puns, especially bad ones.
S- season? Autumn in New England. Spring in Israel.
T- tag: Pretty Numbers, Bitter With Baggage, Isophorone
U- unknown fact about me: It's unknown for a reason.
V- vegetable you don’t like: It used to be celery but I have crossed to the dark side and started eating it. I guess brussle sprouts.
W- worst habit: Not being able to say what's really on my mind. Inability to manage time, I'm always late.
Y- your favorite food? Fried potatoes with garlic.
Z- zodiac? Aries.
Friday, January 26, 2007
I really dislike people who tend to proclaim that "They don't regret anything in their lives." And please spare me such platitudes as, "If I didn't make the mistakes then I wouldn't be the person I am now." I'm sorry but this is utter crock. This is not how I've experienced life. (I'm sure there are a lot of sincere people who think "what doesn't kill them makes them stronger," but these people obviously have never been hit by a car without health insurance.)
I have tons of regrets - things I should and shouldn't have said, people I should of kissed more (and less), classes I should have paid more a attention to, times when I should of played hooky, times when I should have stood up for myself, etc. Many, many, many things I would cross out and do over. Some are trivial and some are of life and death proportions.
I guess becoming an English major ranks somewhere closer to trivial than life and death and yet it recently has been the regret I think about most. Not only because I've been having serious lack of confidence in terms of finding meaningful employment and finding that my skill level is much lower than I imagined it to be. The worst part of being an English major is the fact I cannot even write properly. This reminds me of one of my favorite Conan O'Brien quotes in which he contemplates the legacy of going to Harvard,
You see, you're in for a long lifetime of, "And you went to Harvard?" Accidentally give the wrong amount of change in a transaction and it's, "And you went to Harvard?" Ask the guy at the hardware store how their jumper cables work and hear, "And you went to Harvard?" Forget just once that your underwear goes inside your pants and it's, "And you went to Harvard?" Get your head stuck in your niece's doll house because you wanted to see what it was like to be a giant and it's, "Uncle Conan, you went to Harvard?
substitute "you went to Harvard?" for "you majored in English" and you pretty much you have my situation.
I was never one of those students who secretly hoped to write the next great American novel. Creative classes were not for me. Students who tended to have "creative writing" concentrations seemed incredibly unoriginal in their quest to out weird each other with their suburban ennui. I kind of felt that everything that needed to be said has been said better, more beautifully than I could ever could say, by a great deal more talented people than me. All I wanted to do is sit and read lots of books, delight in an imaginative turn of phrase and rich symbolism. I liked being "right" when it came to analyzing novels. Every time I learned how to "read" a book it was like finding a key to one of the doors from Alice in Wonderland. It was exhilarating because it made me feel smart and privy to "secret" information.
But then I got to Edinburgh and my whole worldview felt apart. Yes, being an English major was interesting and many times challenging. But suddenly I realized that the "key" I was so delighted in uncovering was pretty much bullshit. Yes, there was merit in studying literature but for the most part it was intellectual masturbation. Thesis after thesis were written about things no one cared about, or more importantly matters that were utterly useless by using theories that only made sense to a handful of people. It felt chaotic and a bit insane. Everything that I was doing had no practical application - I felt like I was the professors monkey fetching the opinions they wanted and found correct.
Now that I'm done being an "English major," the expectation of writing well, using proper grammar and well as constructed thoughts, weighs heavy on my mind. Especially since I started tutoring in English. Thus resorting to Conan's quote on being a Harvard grad seems quite appropriate and takes the sting out of feeling sorry for myself. I majored in English and I regret it.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
"Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly." - Harry Lime
That's one way rationalize war.
Friday, January 12, 2007
The San Francisco caricature is quite, um, apt.
The last part I could do without.
Thanks to my brother-in-law for the heads up.
Update: Kind of relates, Zombietime headed over to Berkley to look at some cars as well. The findings are quite amusing and educational.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Some things to consider: I never had any experience with a Soldering iron and some of the photos are fuzzy.
I don't really believe in psyching readings but I was still a bit miffed by her pronouncement. I should have been satisfied with the prospect of having a "fulfilled" life but the feeling of disappointment still nagged at me. Why couldn't I be happy and rich?
It seems in my mind and in many others being rich was being happy. Then again being rich is all relative, back when I was nine ten dollars a week sounded pretty good now a any salary below $30,000 a year makes me cringe. I know plenty of people who are well off and miserable. So it's not like I have a simplistic formula of lots of money = happiness. However, I do recognize that with money i can travel more, see people I love, do more things, and in general have a life less stressful where every dollar earned is counted and recounted. To me money means freedom, not necessary instant happiness. And yet it makes me sad that potentially I will not achieve the wealth level I see myself living in.
That's why I find the story of Briny Breezes so interesting. Briny Breezes is a tiny community of mobile homes sitting on prime south Florida real estate. For years developers have tried to get the residence to sell their properties with no luck. Now there is an offer to buy the mobile homes for one million dollars each and some members are caving in, while others hold out.
For most people living there it is an ideal way of life,
Here's where money and happiness collide. The people who live in Briny Breezes seem to really think they are living the ideal life. So how does a million dollars equal something you can't buy for money? It seems to me a pretty easy decision, and yet I remember my disappointment and wonder what I would do in their place?
Briny Breezes is a relic of old Florida, surrounded by glamorous multimillion-dollar homes and splashy high-rise condos.
The Briny Breezes brochure calls it a "self-governed mobile home community of kindred souls." Residents of the Palm Beach County town cruise the narrow streets on golf carts, passing palm trees and tiny, neatly manicured yards. They wave to each other and chat about the next neighborhood outing -- water aerobics at the pool, shuffleboard near the clubhouse, bowling night.