Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vader Eunt Domus?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Auntie Chaya and the mysterious package from Shanghai

Seems like I've been reading about Chinese topics lately, especially on certain blogs,
which got me into a Chinese mood. Unfortunately, Chinese culture is completely foreign to me - so the best I can do is offer this little song...

It is a funny little tune with a mottled history. Originally, there was a song in 1920's Odessa which had a bunch of verses like:

Good morning Auntie Chaya,
There's a package for you from Shanghai [ Shanghai rhymes with Chaya in Russian]

It then went on saying good morning to a bunch of people with very Jewish names, making up a rhyme to finish each couplet.

Then, in the late 1960's a couple of famous Soviet underground musicians improvised on this song. They added music from an old foxtrot called "Josef", and came up with a story about a guy named Yozif (actually based on a real relative of theirs), who is suffering from painful corns and for some reason is really on the outs with Auntie Chaya.

They also elaborated on the refrain by adding a couple of lines to the end. The meaning is somewhat mysterious.

Good morning Auntie Chaya,
There's a package for you from Shanghai,
And in this package are three Chinamen,
Three Chinamen painting eggs.

So what's this about Chinamen painting eggs? Perhaps it is just a nonsense rhyme. Perhaps it is a euphemism for another expression - "eggs" in Russian, as in Yiddish, can also mean "testicles", and there is an expression to "scratch your testicles", meaning to sit around idly.Or perhaps it is actually referring to the ancient Chinese art of egg painting, called Eglomise in French.

Anyway, here is the song. Enjoy...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Charlie Mingus - Moanin'

It's been too long since my last music post :) We need some classic jazz around here...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Solve terrorism - kill them all !

A very disturbing article in the New Yorker about the Sri Lankan government campaign against the Tamil Tigers. Depending on who you ask, the Tigers were either freedom fighters or terrorists, but in either case, the government finally decided it had enough and so this is what it did.

It basically kicked out any journalist or NGO etc out of the north of the country and then proceeded to bomb the crap out of the Tamils - Tigers and civilians alike. It actually created "no fire zones" and told the civilians to seek refuge there and then bombed the crap out of the "no fire zones". So this is how they won the war.

A couple of things that are worth pondering that arise out of this...

One is that this strategy has one unanimous admiration from many military commanders in the West - it seems to be the most effective way of rooting out counter-insurgency.

Two - when the Western powers that be tried to set up various tribunals and investigations into possible war crimes, etc. Sri Lanka basically told them to go fuck themselves. They basically see China as the world power in the region, and could care less about what the USA or the UN think about their actions. Needless to say, China did not have strong objections to their methods of handling the Tamil Tigers.

Three - of course the hypocrisy of the world in ignoring this and standing by silently while at the same time treating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the next Holocaust.

Friday, February 11, 2011

If meat is murder, I'm a serial killer...

This song will probably make my buddy BOTH pass out!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Karaite Kenesa in Kiev

Lately I've found myself learning about the architecture of Kiev, the city where I was born. To my surprise I found that one very famous building is the Karaite Kenesa (Synagogue?) which was built at the end of the 19th century. The project was funded by the brothers Solomon and Moisei Kogen, wealthy Karaites who came to Kiev from Crimea and founded a tobacco/cigarette factory which made them a fortune.

Apparently, Kiev was home to about 800 Karaites at the time. How they came there I don't know. I surmise that they came from Crimea to work in the Kogens' factory.

When I have some leisure time, I'd like to learn more about these Karaites. I am especially curious about their relationship with the non-Jewish world as well as the Rabbanite Jews. If I remember correctly, the Karaites were not bothered by the Nazis during the Holocaust, which is very puzzling to me. Did the Nazis only have a problem with Talmudic Jews? Clearly the Karaites were non-Aryan, they spoke Hebrew, and they maintained similar religious practices to the Rabbanites. Why would the Nazis make such a fine point distinction?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Wake up and smell the cat food in your bank account

An oldie but a goodie by They Might Be Giants

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Torah Prison

Apparently, there is a prison named Torah in the middle of Cairo. I wonder what the etymology of that name is...


Sums it up pretty nicely...