Saturday, August 26, 2006

When you wish upon a star...

I just got back from Walt Disney World Friday night and am completely exhausted... Will post on the insanity of last week in the next few days, bli neder.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Lat night I was putting my son to bed. He is seven, but he still likes to cajole us to lie down with him and tell him a story. It doesn't happen very often that we comply, but last night the wife was out and I figured I'd make him happy.

I started telling him a story about how when I was a little boy, I'd spend my time running around outside playing war games. It was always the Russians against the Nazis. Long negotiations would always ensue about who got to be the Nazis, since everyone wanted to be the good guys. Since WWII movies were a staple on television and in the theaters when I was growing up, we all knew how to play the game. The Germans would scream "Schneller!" and "Hande Hoch!"; we ran around shooting each other, capturing prisoners, tending to the wounded.

My son asked how many Russians were killed in WWII. I told him - twenty million. He asked how many Jews; I told him - about a million. I told him before about the anti-semitism in Russia and so he asked me if the Russians helped the Germans kill Jews. I said, yes, but also some Russians helped Jews as well. I told him that just like all people there were good Russians and bad Russians, good Germans and bad Germans, good Jews and bad Jews.

It was then he looked at me and said, "Daddy, wouldn't it be great if there were no bad people in the world? Then you wouldn't have to worry about talking to strangers, or going outside by yourself, or locking the doors at night."

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Why do you cry, fair maiden?

My new CD came a few days ago. It is called "Music in the Land of Three Faiths", by the band The Ivory Consort. I have much to learn about the details of this music, but so far I have enjoyed it immensely. The CD is a sampler of Christian, Muslim and Jewish music from the 10th to the 13th centuries, the time known as conviviencia, a time of harmonious living together of the three faiths.

It is striking to hear how much the songs have in common with each other. And of course, the Spanish Phrygian scale is pervasive throughout the music. If you are a Klezmer fan, you will recognize the Spanish Phrygian, also known as the Ahava Rabbah scale. It is classic Klezmer. How weird is it to hear it in Medieval Portuguese romances or Arabic love songs?

I am considering contacting the band because I am very curious about many of the details of the CD. For example, one of the songs is a combination of what seems to be a love song in Arabic and the Hebrew prayer "El Adon" which is typically sung in the Sabbath morning service. Another song is what appears to be a Jewish song sung in Ladino, "Porque Llorax Blanca Nina", or "Why do you cry, fair maiden?". It is supposed to be a song of farewell between lovers, but why are the characters in it a knight and a maiden? So much to learn, so little time.

Buenas noches, mis amigos.

Friday, August 11, 2006

My first Shabbos nightmare

I was sitting in Shul on Friday night, and for some reason was working on my laptop as services were going on around me. Then suddenly I realized that I cannot be working on my laptop because it is Shabbos. I looked up and saw the rabbi and everyone else looking at me. Extremely flustered and embarrassed, I tried to explain that somehow I didn't realize that Shabbos had started already...

I think this is the first time in my life that I can recall having a nightmare about violating halacha. I wonder if I have reached some internal level of frumness without being aware of it?

Good Sabbath everyone.


... is the German word for "coming to terms with the past."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Der Spiegel on Israeli PR

It is interesting that while Jews in general seem to agree that the Israeli PR effort is lousy, the Arabs and apparently some Germans disagree...

News on a Platter

By Matthias Gebauer in Israel

Propaganda is part of every war, just like bombs and soldiers. Still, it's remarkable how professionally Israel deals with foreign journalists, catering conscientiously to all their needs. Lunch included.

Continued here...

Book Meme

[Edited: I think I broke some kind of blogoprotocol by not mentioning whence came the meme-tag (sounds like a Dutch word). Unfortunately, I'm too lazy to make the books links. Google is everyone's friend though, so I leave it as an exercise to the reader]

1. One book that changed your life? Haven't found it yet :(

2. One book you have read more than once? Shogun

3. One book you would want on a desert island? Portnoy's complaint

4. One book that made you laugh? The Adventures of the Brave Soldier Shvejk

5. One book that made you cry? The Joy Luck Club

6. One book you wish had been written? What G-d really wants

7. One book you wish had never been written? Understanding Differential Equations

8. One book you are currently reading? Born to Kvetch

9. One book you have been meaning to read? Juggling for Dummies

10. Now tag five people.

Back of the Hill

The rise of Khomeini is our fault

Quotations from an article on the web by a Sunni religious scholar (I assume) denouncing the Ayatollah Khomeini. Of course, he blames the rise of Khomeini, and actually the entire rise of Shi'ite Islam on space aliens. Oh wait, not aliens, my mistake. On Jews.

For those not interested in the whole megillah (which you can find here but I don't want to link to it), some pithy quotes:

The dissidence over the new doctrine persisted among the Shiites, but was overshadowed by the massive support which Khomeini's revolution received from all the parties who resented the Shah and his rule, coupled with the American Zionist lobby and the active Jewish propaganda which portrayed Khomeini as a mythical hero. As a result, the Muslim youth were captivated by the glitter of this revolution.


The Jews masterminded and initiated Shiism through Abdullah bin Saba', the Jew who laid down the cornerstone of this false religion. The contemporary Jews, with the influence they enjoy in America, have found the opportunity to establish their rule in Palestine more peacefully, to divide the Muslim world, and to replace its faith with Shiism whose adherents have been their allies throughout the history. Therefore they have contributed generously to the establishment of the Shiite state.

Monday, August 07, 2006


I often read the ArabNews website ( to see what the Saudis publish for consumption by English speaking foreigners.

Found an article in the World/Arab View section. This particular article is outraged by the "Zionist propaganda" fed to Americans. He goes through lamenting the fact that the Israeli's get special treatment by the UN. That they will not accept King Abdullah's generous peace proposal. And he concludes in frustration...

"You know what? Maybe the Arabs should stop trying to make their point by arguments alone. Maybe, the US Founding Fathers’ armed way is the only way. Maybe Hamas and Hezbollah’s way is the way."

Wow. I had no idea the Arabs were trying to make their points by arguments alone!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I ain't goin' down that Middle Eastern nation's road no more

Fighting the war with humor.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

At the Back of the Hill

I've been remiss in not adding this guy to my blogroll much earlier. He is a mystery wrapped in a Dutch enigma.

Doing my part in Tikkun Wiki-Olam

Today I made a minor correction in a Wikipedia article. I feel strangely happy with myself.