Scribe, ut possis cum voles dicere: dices cum velle debebis (Pl. Ep. 6.29)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Self Preservation Keeps the Crowd Alive

Last night Hadar told me a bedtime story. Something about entropy, quantum mechanics and waves of light with changing amplitudes. She's clever. Today she told me that she never saw me falling asleep so quickly.

When i was about five years old, my sister Olga, who was in highschool at the time, read to me something from her physics book. It was a chapter about some experiment with a surface which magnetized or electrified or something like that, and to which nails are stuck at the bottom, and when the magnetic power decreases, the nails start falling one by one.

Actually i just bullshitted you, i have no idea what that chapter was about, but i remember a picture that went something like this:

nails falling from the table

Olga read that chapter to me and in the end i asked her: "Could you please read it to me again? There's something i didn't understand." Everyone in my family remembers that and we laugh about it from time to time. I told Hadar this story. She said: "I can't believe it! You told her that there's 'something you didn't understand'?! You bullshited people back when you were five years old!"

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Gathering Moss 17 - Belarus

Israeli dysfunctional democracy often reminds me of its Russian counterpart. There, too, is the leader and some bland party with no ideology. The party's name changes from time to time, but most of the people in the middle remain the same. Once they used to call themselves communists, then democrats, now they don't bother to call themselves anything. They just support Putin. It's very important that Putin will remain in power, they say.

And there are a lot of other parties, other politicians with many ideas - the "liberal-democrat" Zhirinovsky, the communist nationalist Zjuganov, the social-democrat Yavlinsky, the democrats Nemtsov and Hakamada. There's also a bunch of conservative antisemites. There's some fuss about all of them, but somehow none of them is in power and the faceless "nomenclature" president-backing party always rules. Sometimes it even adopts the little politicians' ideas and takes all the credit. Really very similar to Israel.

But yesterday i understood that we have another political twin - Belarus. They are having elections soon too. The current president, Lukashenk(o|a), will likely win, without the need for too much falsification. Everyone all over the world seems to hate him, but Belarusians keep voting for him. He's conservative, he's populist, he's deeply rooted in Soviet culture, he develops a minor personality cult. He has some actual achievements to show. It is reported that the economy is perceived as stable and unemployment is not disastrous. Free speech and Belarusian national identity are in a bad shape, but the public doesn't care about it. Now here's the most striking resemblance to Israel: Lukashenko is said not to invest much effort in an actual campaign, because he's busy running the country. And that's just what Olmert says. His Kadima party is barely three months old, but he successfully positioned it as the ruling party. A party with National Responsibility! And change, in this case, wouldn't be any good. "Me and Tzipi Livni are so busy running the country that we don't have time to campaign. We don't bother to promise you anything, because we all know that politicians' promises aren't worth anything. So just vote for us and let's get over these elections. Who needs elections anyway."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I dreamt of a semi-intelligent self-learning robot bulldozer. It cost about two thousand dollars. It was female, so maybe i should call it a heiferdozer instead.

Gathering Moss 17 - Sad

The situation with Bibi Netanyahu is sad. As far as actions go, he's actually doing quite alright - he's doing his best efforts to amend the Likud constitution so that it will become more democratic and transparent and less corrupt and he's trying to portray himself as consistent, responsible and serious. That's good public relations work. But his actual campaigning is a disaster. His billboards suck - "Netanyahu. Strong against Hamas". How much did he pay the copywriters for that crap? The newer one says - "Smolmert gives money to Hamas". "Smolmert" is a wordplay on "Olmert" and "Smol", which means "left" and it is absolutely pathetic. (Hmm, it can be spelled "Smallmert" in English ... i pinch.) Likud now even uses "Smolmert" in all its "press releases". Which is even more pathetic.

And you should really spare yourself from the sad sight which is the renewed Likud website.

Of all the PM candidates, i guess that i haven't got much choice but supporting him and i actually believe that he has a tiny chance.

Just kidding.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Gathering Moss 17 - Yes

Unlike Lieberman's people, Kadima party's advertisers don't take any smartass risks. They have virtual slogans. In Hebrew it's "Strong leadership for peace", which, if you think about it, is so ambigous that it doesn't really mean anything. It's funny that their Russian slogan is worded a bit better - "(Kadima) leads Israel to peace". I could say that the Russian slogan makes the Hebrew one less ambigous, but actually neither one of them means anything. It's just there, 'cuz they had to put something. The party name in large bold white letters is the only real slogan there is. And the big letters כן, which is Kadima's sign at the ballot, and it means "Yes" in Hebrew.

I wonder if Lieberman's people considered it when they decided on "Da" as the leading slogan.

Everything is so confusing.

Kadima billboard in Hebrew and Russian

This billboard was shot on a bridge in Jerusalem, just a few meters away from Lieberman's. Notice the orange stripes, still here since the summer of Disengagement.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


I registered for OSDC 2006. I received an invitation to join the mailing list. I've done it a few days too late. Apparently there was a meal today in Jerusalem and Larry was there!

I feel so stupid. I am Larry Wall's number one fan. Now to console myself i'll have to catch him, drug him, tie him to a bed, break his legs and keep an eye on him until he completes Perl 6.

Gathering Moss 17 - No

Avigdor Lieberman's Our Home Israel party is going to be the "Shinui" of this election - it's going to be the main secularist party, it is going to get a surprisingly high number of votes (wait and see), it's going to be the most sought-after party for the coalition, it will get important portfolios - probably Public Security (a.k.a Police) for Lieberman, Ecology for Yuri Stern and maybe also Transport. They will also try to move forward with Lieberman's "Disengagement from Israeli Arabs" program, in which Israeli Arab towns which are near the border with PA will be just given to PA; it is so logical and pragmatic that it doesn't stand a chance. And then Lieberman will decide that it's a matter of time until he's gonna become a Prime-Minister, he'll resign from the government for some stupid reason, his party will break up to little pieces and he'll become a millionaire doing business with Moldova. (Maybe he'll draft for them a plan of disengagement from Transnistria.) And whoever will be the prime minister at the time will take the credit for all his achievements. It will happen; i didn't believe until very late that Shinui would break up so badly. But anyway, back to Lieberman.

Today i saw his new billboard. "Who will fight the crime? (Netanyahu) Nyet. (Olmert) Nyet. (Lieberman) Da! DA LIEBERMAN!"

Da Lieberman

The Russian words for Yes and No are written in Hebrew characters. Yet this billboard is not indended for the Russian speaking voters - that's what the numerous Russian newspapers are for. No, this billboard is intended for Israelis that appreciate Lieberman's Russian ... brutality? "Da Lieberman" is not really Russian, just like Shcharansky's "MVD pad nash control" successful slogan in 1999 was not really Russian; it is cleverly designed to become a buzzword in Hebrew. And it might just work.

Aharoni the Movie Producer

Three movies - or rather adaptations - that i want to produce:

King Matt the First
Janusz Korczak's most famous novel. Very bleak for a children's book, but i like the story's brutal realism.
Locked Room
Based on a novel by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. These unpronounceable names are Swedish. They were a couple of communists who wrote detective stories with a preachy social message. I read a few of them, they were popular(ized) in USSR and i liked the plot of this one - there's some chick robbing a bank, and some old trade union person found rotting in his apartment, and some incompetent policemen making a connection between the crimes and jailing a bunch of innocent people. But i want to completely change it and adapt it to Israel.
The Demented Motion Picture
This would be a live action version of Brian Kendall's "The Demented Cartoon Movie". It is old, but i only watched it last Friday. Yesterday i watched it for the second time and i still thought that it's funny. If you try to watch it and after five minutes decide that Brian Kendall and me are both complete idiots, you wouldn't be too wrong.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Creative Common Cold

Fever, headache, insomnia, lack of appetite.

It's the same - and still a little different every time.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Gathering Moss 17 - Hope

I'm certainly not the first to notice it, but: The jingle of Kadima party sounds like bad evening news opening music, has some girls humming the first notes of Hatikva, and its lyrics include only one word - Kadima. It is the worst elections jingle ever - and this party will probably win. Everyone has gone nuts.

gOD Punishes Me

Driving when you have common cold is not fun.

And by the way:

Quuuiity uouvyeorepyayyuienigu ufyoeru iyeouuiry iMaeidiiacaaotaiioenysy!y
Soayvyey eoevueura i6y0i%y iwoiityhy iPohoaaramoaaciye iEexipyroeisuse uSyhaoopi

Thursday, February 09, 2006

People Speaking - Stones

— "Hello, N. speaking ... No, he's not here right now ... I don't know, maybe he's throwing stones in some settlement."

I despise the people in the media who thoughtlessly give everyone who has any sign of identification with the settlements this bad image, and in the same time admire their effectiveness at influencing people's minds. Very controversial passage follows: Goebbels' ideology may be compared (not similar!) to settlers', but the effectiveness of his actual work is comparable to Channel 2, Maariv and Yediot. And technically they are not even state owned. And our press is officially considered quite free. Democracy at its best...

To What Purpose is This Waste?

This is an interesting development. Apparently there are Christians who care about the environment. Not just hippies - American Evangelical Christians, whose understanding of Christian theology can be summed up in these words: "Bible and Jesus good, same-sex marriages and abortions bad".

And with this What Would Jesus Drive campaign they are hitting where it hurts most, the most American of industries - cars and oil. Are we witnessing an actual schism?? A split between American conservative so called Christian capitalists and a new force bringing murky Christian values into this new progressive light?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Since i made order in the papers in my laptop bag it became so light that all the time i think that i was robbed or at least forgot something important at home.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Fabio, part 3

So, are you curious to know what that Italian syntax paper was about? It was about defining borderlines between different kinds of narratives. "Narrative" is a fancy name for "story". Here's what it means: In any given story we can see that the storyteller - especially if it's in first-person, like in this case - sometimes tells about a character's thoughts ("She was in a bad mood and wondered what happened"), sometimes about actual physical happenings ("He went to buy groceries and crossed the street"), sometimes about dialogues ("He said that he loves her and she replied that she did too") etc. Now - anyone who understands the language can identify different kinds of narratives and most people don't care about the big difference between them - they just care about the plot. Question is - are these different types of narrative marked by different grammar? And where is the line between a dialogue and a happening, for example? That's where linguistic analysis comes in. Not literary analysis - it deals more with style, metaphors etc., but there is a certain connection.

So i tried to find those borderlines in that Italian book. I analyzed the first chapter - it's especially interesting as it is the introduction to the whole book, the exposition. Francesco, the protagonist, who's also the story-teller, introduces himself, tells about his life, his family, his thoughts about writing, bits of his life philosophy, a dream he had once, and a visit to the doctor. He jumps back and forth from theme to theme quite wildly, which is, of course great material for analysis.

Here's the most interesting excerpt, the one that my professor loved the most:

Quella notte ho sognato mia nonna. A parte i primi giorni dopo la sua morte, non l'avevo più sognata.

That night I dreamt about my grandma. Except for a few days after her death, I haven't dreamt about here any more.

Ero davanti una porta, bussavo e qualcuno mi apriva. Entravo con le valigie in mano. [...]

I was in front of a door, I knocked and someone opened for me. I entered with suitcases in my hand. [...]

Mia nonna mi diceva: "Sono contenta che mi vieni a trovare [...] e ho preparato la stanza." [...]

My grandma told me: "I am happy that you come to find me [...] and I prepared a room." [...]

Io non ci volevo andare a vivere da mia nonna [...]

I didn't want to go to live with my grandma [...]

"Non ci voglio venire a vivere da te, nonna, mi piace la mia casa. [...] Come, non ho mai avuto una casa? Ho anche comprato il frigo nuovo. Blu."

"I don't want to come to live with you, grandma, I like my home. [...] Like, didn't I ever have a home? I also bought a new fridge. Blue."

Lei ha iniziato a ridere e poi mi ha detto: "... Credi che ti possa salvare un frigorifero? Ah ah ah".

She started to laugh and then she told me: "... Do you believe that a fridge would be able to save you? Ha ha ha".

In quel sogno cominciava a diventarmi antipatica.

In that dream she started to become antipathic.

Strano, però.

Strange, however.

Avevo sempre avuto un bel rapporto con mia nonna. [...]

I had always had good relationship with my grandma.

Notice the emphasized verbs. In Italian all the verbs that describe the happenings in the dream are in a tense called Imperfetto - not including the direct speech in quotes, but direct speech is a different kind of narrative. Imperfetto is described in grammar books as the tense that's supposed to tell about incomplete or continuous actions (was doing) as opposed to Passato prossimo which is used with an auxiliary verb and describes completed short actions (did). Now, Linguistics teaches us that this definition is primitive bollocks, and the text above is a proof. Entering the door, as in the example above, is a completed short action, but an exact translation would be "I was entering"; the same goes for most of the other verbs here. The only exception is the last thing that the grandma says; notice that it looks the same as in the beginning: Grandma/She + verb + : + opening quotes + direct speech + closing quotes. But in the beginning there's dicevo and in the end it's ha detto - it's the same verb, dire, to tell, in Imperfetto and in Passato prossimo.

Now the explanation is that in Italian - and, as my professor says, in many other languages - Imperfetto is the prefered tense for describing dreams and the usage of Passato prossimo marks the end of the dream. My professor accepts it ... He even said, "This is so beautiful." I suppose that he referred to this Italian idea of tense usage, not directly to my paper. But go figure. Some people are easy to impress if you press the right buttons...



I once met her. The bun said "Hi". I said "Hi".

I was still clean.

Then i couldn't stand it and took her and ate her.

I still meet her sisters several times a day. Every time they call me. I am becoming better at staying clean.


Whiskey Kiss

I shall move through all this hiss,
I shall you give you this whiskey kiss,
You don't want it classy,
You claim to be small,
There's almost nothing you miss,
Except what i don't give at all.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Beta Rant

I took a peek at Microsoft's IE7 beta website. It promises these nice things:

  • Tabbed browsing - In Mozilla (later Firefox) since 2001, in some other browsers (some of them IE-based!) even earlier.
  • Toolbar search box - in Mozilla since about 2000. For the sake of IE, i hope that it will at least support Mycroft plugins from the Mozilla world. (Mycroft, by the way, is supposed to be compatible with Sherlock technology, which is more or less standard in the Apple Macintosh world, but i never tried it.)
  • Instant RSS feeds - supported in just about every possible piece of software released in the last couple of years. MS were really nice to take the icon for RSS from some minor non-innovative open-source browser called Firefox.
  • Dynamic security protection - the release notes say that it means that ActiveX controls, CDF and IE-specific DHTML scripting are disabled by default. And in English it means this: Non-standard, non-portable, non-secure, useless, slow and outdated technology that was invented by Microsoft and botched into the monstrous medieval beast called IE4, is now removed by Microsoft from IE7. Because Microsoft, you see, is the leader of innovation in security. And in practice we're getting IE3 that masquerades as Firefox.
  • And, last but not least: Streamlined user interface and Printing advances - whatever that is. Maybe they will use Ctrl-T for opening a new tab.

All this so-called innovation under the tagline saying Change just became extraordinarily good. I suppose that this tagline is targeted at users who are afraid of change. Well, i've got news for Microsoft - these users are stupid enough to use Internet Explorer in the first place, who would ever think that they will understand the message of the tagline? Or, for that matter, bother to think at all?

And why, for God's sake, do Microsoft even call this "change"?

P.S.: I haven't tried installing the beta yet. It overwrites IE6 and i need usable IE6 for some tasks at work. Isn't it ironic that i admit it after writing all that?


Everyone Loves to GTD

I gave myself three tasks for the weekend: 1. Start and finish the midterm paper for the Amharic language course; 2. Sort all the papers in my laptop bag; 3. Sort the papers and all the little things in the computer room at home.

I surprised myself immensely - i actually completed numbers 1 and 2. Having finished the Amharic paper i'm essentially free of any University-related tasks until the beginning of the next semester and my laptop bag is significantly less heavy now. As for sorting the papers in the computer room (or should i call it the studio? the music room? or simply my room?) ... i started. But i did do some other pending tasks that i promised to myself and to Hadar - hanged a bunch of pictures on the boring white walls at home and sorted some FLACs that i downloaded from Dimeadozen. A drop in the bucket, but not bad.

What makes me especially happy is not just the amount of free time that i now have thanks to completing the obligations to the U., but the fact that i actually succeeded in putting will power to some use. GTD, anyone?


Saturday, February 04, 2006


I played with's blog importing script. It failed to work. Now i see why: That script made think that it's a script, and that Aharoni in Unicode, ya mama is a spam blog. The robots also added word-verification to posting interface. xbmmsfu/ygvguedq, ya mama.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Missed Again

This is the four hundred eleventh entry. I missed the four hundredth again.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Made Me Cry - Enemies

No, i'm not gonna talk about the destruction of Amona, even though the very detailed descriptions of demolishing the houses on the radio made me cry too.

I'm gonna talk about a song - Oh Comely by Neutral Milk Hotel, from their best-known album "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea".

It's eight minutes long. It's very sad. It has only vocals, acoustic guitar and bass and horns in the dramatic coda. Like most of the album this song's lyrics are a mix of several obsessions: sex, death and Anne Frank (the linked article actually mentions the band). I listened to this song many times, and only today suddenly noticed these lyrics:

And I know they buried her body with others,
Her sister and mother and five hundred families,
And will she remember me fifty years later,
I wished I could save her in some sort of time machine,

Know all your enemies,
We know who our enemies are.

Who are my enemies? Antisemites? Nazis? Nihilists? Religious fanatics of all kinds - Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Maoist? Hurt, miseducated and loveless people that wage wars?


Public Service - Smooth Transition to Firefox

Mozilla Firefox is a web browser, which can serve as a replacement to Internet Explorer. It is mature, complete and stable. It is well designed and easy to use; the user doesn't have to be a computer expert to use it. Any user of Internet Explorer can begin using Firefox without learning anything new. It also has tabbed browsing, which means that a user can open several websites in one window, instead of opening a separate window for every site, which is unbelievably convenient. It also has very advanced pop-up blocking and security features.

It also has several advantages that seem less important to the average user, but they are quite important in the long run: It is portable, which means that it can be used by users of different computers and operating systems, such as Macintosh or Linux. It is also built with standards compliance in mind, which means that it helps website developers to create sites that are supposed to look the same in all web browsers on all platforms according to the official standards published by W3C - World Wide Web Consortium. Moreover it is Free Software (Open Source), which means that you don't have to pay anything for using it, and if you are a programmer, you can improve it to suit your needs. Thus it promotes fair technological competition and innovation.

Firefox has only one significant disadvantage: Some websites are built to work in Internet Explorer only. It is not Firefox's fault - Microsoft dominated the web browsers market with nonstandard technology and many website developers never bothered to improve their sites to the latest standards. This is a simple manual that will help you to work around this problem.

  1. Get Firefox. Download and install it. Make sure that you download it in the language that you want.
  2. When you install Firefox, your bookmarks (favorites) will be imported from Internet Explorer. There are also programs that help you synchronize bookmarks after the installation, but i don't use them - i use Firefox almost exclusively and don't have any favorites in Internet Explorer at all.
  3. Firefox's functionality can be improved using "extensions" - little programs that are very easy to install and update. There a lot of useful extensions, many of which can find at the Firefox Extensions page. Here are two important ones to help the transition from Internet Explorer:
    • IE Tab - after you install this extension, when you will see a site that looks wrong in Firefox, with one click you'll see it as if it would be shown with Internet Explorer. Just click the little Firefox icon in the bottom-right corner of the window. You can also configure it to automatically show specific bad sites using IE by right-clicking that icon.
    • Google Toolbar for Firefox - it looks and works just like the Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer.
  4. Do you have favorite search engines or reference sites? Such as IMDB, Teoma, Wikipedia, Merriam-Webster, AllMusic, Lexis-Nexis, Sakhr or De Mauro? In Firefox you can search these sites easily and quickly using "search plugins". Default Firefox installation comes with search plugins for Google, eBay, and several others. More can be added from the Firefox search plugin collection, nicknamed Mycroft.

That's it for now. Please ask me more, if you have any problems. Make the move - it's easy and free and it is worth the try!


The new version of BitTorrent came out today. My name is in the credits!