Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kent Brockman - Quote of the Day

"Ladies and gentlemen, uh, we've just lost the picture, but what we've seen speaks for itself. The Corvair spacecraft has apparently been taken over -- 'conquered' if you will -- by a master race of giant space ants. It's difficult to tell from this vantage point whether they will consume the captive earth men or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; the ants will soon be here. And I for one welcome our new insect overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves."

I could be arguing in my spare time...

I am still visiting the smoldering remains of several blogs where people are discussing the same old topics they started to discuss five or six years ago during the heyday of the Jblogosphere. It doesn't feel like the arguments have progressed at all, but now it feels like they have gotten more efficient. It reminds me of the joke about the prisoners calling out numbers.

If nothing else, the blogs have inspired a certain sub-group of people to become quite proficient in rhetoric, logic, theology, ancient history, etc... These people are (I assume) for the most part laymen, yet they fire back at one another which these succinct salvos of "No true Scotsman", "Ad hominem", and "You're begging the question".

It reminds me of the description of Alexandria of Late Antiquity and the amount of religious strife over the question of Jesus' Godly Essence in Rubinstein's book "When Jesus Became God":

The almost obsessive quality of these disputes is nicely captured by a famous churchman, Gregory of Nyssa, writing twenty years after the lynching of Bishop George. In a sermon delivered at his church in Constantinople, Gregory deplored the contentiousness of his fellow Christians. "If in this city you ask a shopkeeper for change," he complained, "he will argue with you about whether the Son is begotten or unbegotten. If you inquire about the quality of bread, the baker will answer 'The Father is greater, the Son is less.' And if you ask the bath attendant to draw your bath, he will tell you that the Son was created ex nihilo[out of nothing]"

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

WHAT? - Arab guilty of rape after consensual sex with Jew!

A Palestinian man has been convicted of rape after having consensual sex with a woman who had believed him to be a fellow Jew.

Sabbar Kashur, 30, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Monday after the court ruled that he was guilty of rape by deception. According to the complaint filed by the woman with the Jerusalem district court, the two met in downtown Jerusalem in September 2008 where Kashur, an Arab from East Jerusalem, introduced himself as a Jewish bachelor seeking a serious relationship. The two then had consensual sex in a nearby building before Kashur left.

When she later found out that he was not Jewish but an Arab, she filed a criminal complaint for rape and indecent assault.

Although Kashur was initially charged with rape and indecent assault, this was changed to a charge of rape by deception as part of a plea bargain arrangement.

Handing down the verdict, Tzvi Segal, one of three judges on the case, acknowledged that sex had been consensual but said that although not "a classical rape by force," the woman would not have consented if she had not believed Kashur was Jewish.


What if I told a woman that I was rich and then she found out I lied - would I be a rapist? Isn't this a perversion of what the crime of rape is supposed to be?

Delayed Music Monday - Johnny Cash

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Presidio Modelo de mi Vida

The place where I have been working is built out as a trading floor. It is an open, square space, each side slightly longer than the length of a football field. Offices line the walls; cubicles fill the inside of the square. Almost no windows, but a lot of glass block to let in the light. The ceiling is high, at least sixty feet. Another ring of offices is lofted over us, with their glass walls looking down onto our floor. This is where the C-level execs dwell.

The space is a giant echo chamber. A sneeze on one side of the floor travels amplified throughout the cavernous space. I can hear a Hispanic woman screaming into the phone at her significant other. Another man is negotiating a mortgage refinance. Food odors waft through the air, making it hard to fast this Tisha b'Av.

A few days ago I had the occasion to go up to the lofts to pick up a package. Looking down onto the sea of cubicles, you get a view of what everyone is doing below. This is quite surprising, since while sitting down in the cubicles, you really don't realize how exposed you are. It's kinda like being inside a Panopticon.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Porn Star Killers - B'Ivrit b'vakasha

So I am reading this story on Drudge...

Jason Andrews was a bisexual Chicago DJ with a British accent, whose chiseled jaw and good looks landed him roles in countless gay porn videos.

Amanda Logue was a married, bleach-blond Georgia woman who once owned a lingerie shop, dabbled in prostitution and starred in several X-rated videos herself.

Florida detectives claim that together they stabbed and bludgeoned to death a 41-year-old tattoo shop owner with a sledgehammer.

Blah, blah, blah...

As detectives pieced together the slaying, Logue and Andrews were arrested May 18 in a neighboring county after trying to use Abrahamsen's credit card at Home Depot.

But officials didn't have enough evidence to link the pair to the killing, and released them. On May 19, Logue went home to her husband and child in Georgia.

On May 21, Andrews wrote on his Twitter account in Hebrew: 'Amanda please let me know when you are ok, really. My heart can't take the weight of the fear that I would never see you again.'

Come again? What!!! Why the heck would this dude post a tweet in Hebrew???? Yep - here it is: http://twitter.com/hearveritas

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jimi Hendrix - Machine Gun Live

The master...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Meditation on Laws

Since Tobie framed the legitimacy of Sealand in legal terms, it got me thinking about the emergence of laws and the more I thought about it, the more confused I got. This is usually how it is for me which is why I like to not think about things. It's like repeating a word over and over out loud until it starts sounding weird to you. Or maybe it is like looking at an oil painting when standing too close - a bunch of ugly splotches.

In a way, the whole notion of international law seems like a game of musical chairs. For as long as we can go back, nations would grab land or lose land through force. Then all of a sudden, we get these laws that say you can't do that anymore. Or perhaps, you can't do that unless you have a 'good reason' :) So the music was playing, and this country took over that country, and this kingdom built these colonies, and then all of a sudden, the music stopped. Except it's like the guys that were standing in front of the chairs got to decide when to stop the music.

It's like this with nuclear non-proliferation - the US and Russia and the West get to build a bunch of A-bombs, but then after they get a nice stockpile, they decide it's a bad idea and really no other nations should have the Bomb.

Or pollution - first the industrialized nations get to poison the world and get rich from spoiling everything, and then they decide - oops, this whole pollution thing is bad for the Earth. So China and India and whoever else is trying to get a leg up is shackled by these regulations that conveniently weren't there while the first world powers had their opportunities...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


I almost want to say that this is a hoax, but apparently truth is stranger than fiction. (All of the following is a paraphrase of Wikipedia)

During WWII, Great Britain constructed several floating 'forts' a few miles outside its territorial waters to prevent the Nazis from mining its shipping lanes. The forts consisted of a pontoon base, with two hollow towers rising from the base, holding up a deck. by 1956, the structures were abandoned.

In 1967, a guy by the name of Major Paddy Roy Bates, a British pirate radio broadcaster, and his family, occupied the abandoned platform. He declared the platform the 'Principality of Sealand', with him as the head of state.

A year later, when a group of British workmen approached the fort to service a buoy, Michael Bates, the 'Crown Prince' chased them off with gunfire. In the subsequent court case, the British legal system ruled that as the fort lay outside the 3 mile British territorial waters, they had no jurisdiction over the fort and dropped the case. By 1975, Sealand had a constitution, an anthem, a currency and passports.

But wait, the story gets weirder. In 1978, while the 'Prince' and 'Princess' were visiting Austria, Sealand was attacked by some German dude named Alexander Achenbach, who declared himself the 'Prime Minister of Sealand'. Achenbach and a group of German and Dutch mercenaries attacked the platform, taking the 'Crown Prince' hostage. However, upon return from Austria, the elder Bates managed to turn the tables. He re-captured his platform, freed his son, and in turn took Achenbach and his band hostage. They were charged with 'treason' and a ransom was levied against them.

Various European governments petitioned Britain to intercede, but the Brits refused, citing lack of jurisdiction. Finally, Germany wound up sending a diplomat to Sealand and negotiating Achenbach's release. Upon regaining his freedom, Achenbach set up a 'government in exile' in Germany.

I have to say, this is one of the weirder stories I've come across in my life... I don't even know what to say about it, other than - I need to find a platform somewhere in the Carribean and declare myself His Serene and Most Excellent Highness Prince E-Kvetcher the First.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Muppet Music Monday - Beaker/Ode to Joy

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Two weeks ago I quietly celebrated my fortieth birthday. I wanted to not succumb to the old cliches about 'midlife crisis' etc, but it looks like I got hit with it anyway. Well, not really a crisis, but a pervasive contemplation of what I have accomplished thus far in my life. Let's just say it did not fill me with pride or satisfaction.

Hence the writer's block. Lots of ideas are swirling in my head, but they are too helter-skelter. I cannot seem to lift my hands to type right now.

Later, peeps.