"indecision may or may not be my problem."
eight (!) new phrases in the american phrase book. thanks to dan, shahar, and mikey.
pretty soon i couldn't see anything. my headlights were reflected off the incoming snowflakes, resulting in a 100x speed version of the old starfield simulation screensaver. turning up the headlights to high beam only made it worse, amplifying the influx, and given the fact that the thick snowfall totally obscured my vision, i actually considered turning off the headlights altogether.
it's not new to my readers that i think america is insane in its attitude towards alcohol.
not only did they check i.d at the entrance to give us bright green wristbands identifying us as 21+ years old (which to me are as much a style and buzz killer as the red plastic cups for drinks), but according to "a new law", the bartenders also carded you every time you wanted to get a drink. no matter how old you looked.
and when i say "no matter", i mean they took that very literally - denying my friend's mom who was there with us, and who "used a senior citizen discount for the first time" that week, a drink. when the barman found out that she had a wristband (!), he actually called security to remove the hazard.
if all of that wasn't enough, there was additional alcohol enforcement in form of a burly guy with a bright orange jacket emblazened with the words "beverage control" strolling the crowds to make sure everything is in order.
seriously, sometimes it feels like going out in america is actually just part of a huge prison team-building activity.
from a 1968 book about the middle east:
American policy, in its habitual fashion, had resulted in creating the very situation which it thought to avoid.
maxime rodinson, "israel and the arabs".
I love how people treat me with respect in America. Sir this and sir that. I'm 33 but I look like I'm fifty so when I walk into a store, service people practically get down on their knees and beg me to share my old man's wealth. I can live with that.
hard to believe (for me) - massachusetts voters voted 'no' on a law proposition that would allow local towns to give permits to supermarkets to sell wine.
since there are obviously few more dangerous issues in the world, this was also the most expensive ballot question campaign in state history breaking the record held since 1988, when the state voted on nuclear power plants.
supermarkets shelled out $7 million on trying to get the law passed, while liquor store and beer distributors paid $4.5 million to stop the law from being passed.
at the end of the day, this is a common story of legislation.
a stupid-ass law is in place, protecting some economic special interest of a small group. this lobby-propelled law has over the years thoroughly been twisted into some heap of moralistic bullshit related to 'protecting our children', just about the most hipocritical thing you can imagine from liquor stores. and now some other special interest group wants to get in. so both groups shell out millions to make up campaigns tarteting some deeply emotional decision centers in our brains, making the decision about 'consumer choice' or 'teenage drinking'. yeah, right.
trying to appease the traditionally alcohol-spooked american voter, the law in question was phrased so carefully, that i couldn't believe anyone in their right mind would reject it. it basically allowed towns to hand out a limited number of permits to grocery stores to sell wine, and only wine. towns could of course not grant permits if they didn't want to.
but at the end the scare campaign funded by the liquor companies ("foreign owned grocery stores", "190 additional drunk driving fatalities per year", "fail to stop underage buyers"), worked. astonishingly, even very liberal voters that i've talked to, were flailing on election day on how to vote on this question. when pressed to explain why exactly they oppose it, they couldn't muster any good explanations, which is not surprising, since the campaign was mainly emotional and not rational. they usually said something like: "i mean, i'm for consumer choice, but...hmm.. i don't know something.... hmmm.... don't know if it's a good idea, really."
much has been written about the difference between campaigns of hope vs. campaigns of fear. but it really comes down to the emotional response at the ballot box - when you're all alone there with the pen in your hand, and something inside you that you can't quite explain is making you uneasy about a question, it's always a little more comfortable to vote with your fear than with your hope.
as part of my 'possibly last year in america' catching-up campaign, i made this the other day:
i'm not an american. by law and by plan i am but a temporary visitor in this country, and i appreciate the hospitality i'm afforded here. still, after over 4 years of residency here, and with all the humility of accepting that it is really none of my goddamn business, i feel entitled to at least comment on what seems to be a horrendous turn in one of the most admirable aspects of american political principle.
the american political system grew out of suspicion towards government. i believe that history shows us that this suspicion is based. many times in the past have political groups in power increased their power 'for stability' just to abuse it within a short amount of time.
this week it seems that a particuarly unbelievable undermining of some of the most basic constitutional rights has been signed into law, and as g.w.u law professor jonathan turley said "the strange thing is, weve become sort of constitutional couch potatoes. I mean, the Congress just gave the president despotic powers, and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to, you know, Dancing with the Stars. I mean, its otherworldly."
on another topic, i was surprised that many people don't know keith olbermann, who i consider one of the sharper political pundits on the left side of the spectrum (although he does look like a ken doll...). so killing two birds with one stone, watch olbermann's special comment on the military commissions act, and his interview of turley.
via the rude pundit.
during a recent conversation at a fancy boston restaurant, in a scene so ironic, it might have just been lifted straight out of a mike leigh movie - i noted that the big trend these days was for not-do-gooder types to "do good". the non-hippie hippie, the good samaritan capitalist. since this phrasing was met by some surprise by my co-diners, i thought i'd say a little something about it here, too.
so yeah - if you want to know what the hippest thing in america these days is, it's charity and changing the world. everyone who's someone is into it, and it's so trendy that even the biggest and coolest corporations are digging their hands deep into the do-gooder game. but don't confuse it with dreamy-eyed hippies. the deciding factor about the new do-gooder movement is that they're also looking out for themselves. turning a buck while saving a life, so to speak.
it's a strange blend between extreme capitalism and light tree-hugging. apple is doing it, bp is doing it, fucking timberland has now become a world leader in sustainability, and of course the list is endless - these are just the latest three examples i've seen in the last 24 hours.
timberland's slogan really captures this new trend: "make it better" - the vague "it", meaning: make great and expensive shoes, but also make the world better. no need for birkenstock, ma'am.
wherever you go in the high-powered circles in which i seem to commute these days, every over-privileged person i meet is working on some sort of idea on how to make the world a better place. this seems to come especially from people with professions that have not traditionally been connected to the love-and-peace crowd: investment bankers, economists, tax attorneys, and venture capitalists. they all emphasize the 'pragmatic' side of it, making sure i understand that this is not some lefty bullshit, but that there's a lot of money in it. as in: "i just want to say one word to you...just one word." -- "yes, sir."-- "are you listening?" -- "yes, sir. i am." -- "solar energy".
one of the reasons this new trend is possible is exactly that new twist on doing good: you can still look out for yourself, work in a top-notch creative job, get rich and famous, eat in fancy restaurants, and have only the nicest champagne at home. it's even part of the image!
another crowd that's drawn to the samaritan table is the designer crowd. the coolest names in design are all donating some of their time to good causes. some visionaries have caught on early, but designer houses around the country are catching on rapidly. here is the designer version of this trend: no need for crummy xerox prints of shiva drawn by untalented hippies. now the finest looking stuff in true haute fashion can be counted towards your global karma.
the trend has two big slogans. one is "like you give a damn", emphasizing the combination of caring and cool. the other is "doing good". you will see these come back over and over again.
it seems that this movement has been born out of a rebound from two extremes, meeting in the middle. on one hand people have become disillusioned from being unrealistic hippies (many have just gotten into the 30-something bracket, which requires a little more selfishness), and on the other hand people are getting a little sick with their selfish and empty lives after realizing that there's little satifsaction in choosing a great-earning or superficially hip or fun career. even the frequent dinners at the best bars in town are not helping. so the fusion of these two rebounds, has become this new 'good' movement.
i've been thinking about this for a while now, but it finally really hit me how big this has become, when i realized that the movement now even has their own wired-style magazine. and this is what their first editorial statement said:
We see a growing number of people tied together not by age, career, background, or circumstance, but by a shared interest. This revolves around a passion for potential mixed with fierce pragmatism and creative engagement. We sum all this up as the sensibility of giving a damn. But to shorten it, let's call it GOOD. We're here to push this movement and cover its realization.
afterword: i realize that this is a much bigger and more complex issue, which i have only touched on very lightly and from one angle. maybe at some later stage i'll write something a little more thoughtful on it.
three new phrases in the american phrase book: "let's just say...", "not great / not the best", and the related "not a good / great / the best fit".
topping off this bloggy day - this is from the nytime's wrapup of the world cup:
What a great tournament the Germans put on. As hosts, they were tremendous, making the Weltmeisterschaft a safe and joyous monthlong party for everyone.
of course. safety first. the first thing they call the world cup after it's over is 'safe'. great.
after watching the u.s.a-italy game today (btw, the yanks fought like tigers with 9 players vs. 10 - they even kept controlling the game - by karma alone they deserved to win this game):
cutting away to (the pretty empty) times square in the middle of an attack is not cool. and cutting to the u.s locker room during the czech game is also not cool.
then, why is 10% of the screen obstructed by the top bar, when the top half of it is just blank?
and covering up a quarter of the screen every 10 minutes to promote future broadcasts should pretty much cost a channel the fifa broadcast rights.
america, as i keep finding out never ceases to enchant me, and in many places is as remote and rural as any an exotic village you might seek out for adventures. utah in particular, as kurt the towing cowboy will later say 'is the last bit of true wilderness in the continental states'. and so i found it, too.
while i have much to say about the 'war on christmas', time will only allow me to share this ultra-generic holiday greeting i got over email today:
On behalf of the entire ISO staff, we would like to wish you a very peaceful and wonderful December/January holiday. Whether you travel to your home country, to some exotic place in the US or abroad, or you stay right here in Cambridge, we hope you find the time to enjoy relaxing moments with family and/or friends.
talk about covering all your bases.
the way i would imagine the gaza evacuation going down around here is:
(1) IMPORTANT DEADLINE: last date for application for monetary compensation is July 1st. If you are eligable for compensation, you MUST complete Form EVC-G/05 and Form MON-G/05 and mail them before July 1st. Late applications will not be considered.
* Please note important regulations regarding disorderly conduct and monetary compensation (p.23) . If you are arrested during the evacuation you might lose eligability for monetary compensation. Please contact your local Army civilian relations office for more details.
guess it's time to unveil a still under-construction side project of mine: american phrase book, aimed at teaching immigrants the nooks and crannies of american ideoms.
North American natives will usually phrase everything in a manner that creates the least social friction in any given interaction. In most cases this results in shying away from a negative description or opinion. Almost as often, it even means not saying anything definite, and instead just stating possibilities and options.
learn the real meaning of such gems as 'You might want to consider to do X', 'That's a great idea, but...', and 'I'll have to think about it'.
and please don't hesitate to contribute if you run into any others...
kar-ben publishers pulls together american culture and judaism. my favorite is 'matzah ball: a passover story'. the picture says it all.
Because Aaron is invited to the baseball game during the week of Passover, he must bring a bag lunch of matzah and tuna to the stadium. But while his friends are off at the concession stand, something wonderful happens.
via ayelet (links to hebrew page).
tomorrow i will have another stab at my legendary version of harosset. if it works out well, i will post the recipe here soon thereafter.
cute rant alea sent me about gambling drunk christians in vegas.
Oh, but if we could just tax hypocrisy in this country we wouldn't need any other taxes... all the atheists could afford to build science centers and the churches would go broke because all of their members would owe the government and have nothing left to tithe...
of course the sponsor of tennessees marriage protection act is facing divorce because of his alleged relationship with a senate aide.
guess his act was too late to protect his own marriage.
i've just about had it with hypocritical religious sexuality in america.
bill maher writes about abstinence in christian american teens with an abundance of puns, and really hits the nail on the head regarding the whole warped way many north-americans view vaginal intercourse.
Is there any greater irony than the fact that the Christian Right actually got their precious little adolescent daughters to say to their freshly scrubbed boyfriends: "Please, I want to remain pure for my wedding night, so only in the ass. Then I'll blow you." Well, at least these kids are really thinking outside the box.
boston metro has a scoop today: 'finding fulfillment in life, when money's so important, takes effort'.
Her colleagues in financial planning recount many a story of successful people, whose ambitions got them where they are, but whose habits of always needing and wanting more made them so restless that they couldn't enjoy their affluence. In an ironic twist, the very factors that allow for material success can and sometimes do undermine the ultimate goals: personal fulfillment, good health, strong relationships and other things that make life worth living.
no, really? this reader is shocked. honestly - sometimes i, too, feel like i'm surrounded by enormous [...] children.
but fear not, a solution is at hand. the groundbreaking philosophical findings of the metro weren't just leftist propaganda, but actually a lead-in to a piece about the new and blooming business of 'life planning', which is considered a sort of new-and-improved financial planning:
[They] ask clients: What is the purpose of money? Do you acknowledge the limits of what it can achieve? How much money is enough, anyway?
About 450 planners have taken a two-day workshop in "life planning," where the California-based Kinder Institute of Life Planning teaches them to probe what clients crave most deeply and then brainstorm creative ways to finance it.
Yup, that really gives off the sense that they learned the lesson taught by not being happy in the rat-race. And no -- as much as I wish I did -- I'm not making this up.
just found this wonderderful guide to the american culture put out by some military agency named SAFTA.
some gems include:
and my favorite:
Holding the hand up, palm forward with the fingers either extended or together means stop. This can easily be confused for a wave of the open hand which means "Hello". You can tell which gesture is intended by the look on the individual's face. Hello is usually accompanied by a smile.
reminds me of the guide to speaking up in class they handed out to international students when i was studying at parsons in new york.
at cvs today, easter monday, all the easter candy is 50% off.
that makes most chocolate incredibly cheap, cheaper than the same weight of chocolate that's not easter themed.
at a time where both my friendly neighborhood cvs and my friendly neighborhood star market are redressing their calendar-driven sections in preparation for the next holiday (i spotted sunscreen and american flags, but i'm not sure what the holiday is), being so-last-week is apparently really bad for business.
so chocolate actually gets penalized for being bunny-, egg-, or chicken-shaped. a bag of regular m&m's is $3.49, but an equally heavy bag with egg shaped m&m's goes for $1.49 today. as if it matters what shape your m&m's are. similarly, a huge chunk of easter-bunny shaped chocolate is only $.99 today.
star market has basically completely redecorated by the time i walked by at midnight tonight. only a measly shelf of easter chocolate was left there. and to think that only yesterday the resurrection of christ and related sugar products were still big sellers.
i love the days when all the supermarkets change colors.
on an unrelated note, i can't help but smiling at the somewhat depressing job-application terminal they have there. it's basically a big carboard back with a little screen and keyboard standing in front of it inviting passers-by in english and spanish to apply for a job. right there, right now. at the machine. no human interviewer necessary.
it's almost as if they're telling people: come work for us, apply right here to get a first hand impression of how efficiently we downsize workers and replace them with computers!
i like the idea that the states are like little testbeds for policy ideas, keeping the justice and government systems heterogeneous and experimental in a safe way. good policies ideas will eventurally travel between states, but if there's some fuck up, it can be more contained. finally the really good ideas will be implemented on a federal level.
The Department of Homeland Security is experimenting with a controversial new method to keep better track of immigrants who are applying to remain in the United States. It is requiring aliens in eight cities to wear electronic monitors 24 hours a day.
The ankle bracelets are the same monitors that some rapists and other convicted criminals have to wear on parole.
they should do it for all citizens! and allow public access to that information. that would be fun. i want to know where my friends are, too.
hmm, maybe that's too dangerous. how about they allow public access to this information only to people who are card-holding members of the republican party. that way the information won't go into the wrong hands. and that would also encourage people to join the party.
The vice president, however, was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower.
there's few things that annoy me as much as the general consensus of paranoia that's the staple of existance here, and the worst part is that it's spreading all over the world, where 'safety first' becomes the undisputed axiom of what's important in life.
i much prefer the high-risk but worthwhile approach.
particularily unnerving is the insistance of people in the u.s to wish their fellows a 'safe trip', where in every other language i know of people wish each other a 'good trip'. but here it's like - i don't care if you enjoy yourself, just don't die on me, please!
knowing that pet peeve of mine, my friend zoz forwarded me the following quote, 'from george carlin's latest book, 'when will jesus bring the pork chops?'':
always having something bad to say, however, i must point out that that 'creepy' is also one of my least favorite word in american english. not as bad as 'sketchy', but still.
walking and sliding back home last night, i thought how american it is that everyone is responsible to clear the sidewalk in front of his own house from snow and ice. it's not the city's business, but instead the home owners' problem.
the result: a patchwork of clean and slippery sidewalks, with the poor pedestrian at the mercy of the citizens' laziness. in other words, the problem is totally unsolved because of the privatization, and you stand a good chance to slip and break an arm.
the reason is supposedly that the sidewalk is owned by the home owner, so the city shouldn't be cleaning up other people's mess.
good thing cleaning the roads of ice is not the home owners' responsibility, otherwise we would have cars crashing into trees whenever they drive by a vacant lot.
talking to someone about this, she asked me if in israel the city clears the snow from the sidewalks. that's a good question, and we'll investigate it the next time there's ice on the sidewalks in israel.
what's next? 'i got syphilis' baseball caps?
unrelated: a blog entry here is #1 hit for 'MIT geeks'. strange.
a web exclusive: the top 10 emailed stories from cnn.com.
honestly, they really do reveal a sad state of the union in a year that brought us a major overseas war and a presidential election.
and someone is obsessed with dogs.
five: frequent sex cuts cancer risk
and the most e-mailed story by cnn.com readers:
i was invited by the commonwealth of massachusetts to perform my duty as an american citizen and serve on a trial jury.
naturally, i'm not allowed to do that, since i'm not actually an american citizen. i just need to fill out the right circle, telling them that i'm not, and send it back.
don't they have a way to tell who's a citizen and who's not other than asking the person? isn't that like an interesting statistic about people that the government would want to save on some computer file?
it seems odd (but not surprising) that the most powerful fingerprinting and photographing superpower doesn't even know which residents are citizens and which aren't.
nope, you can't get just one more thing done. and you can't pick up a bottle on your way to dinner, and you can't just grab a coffee, or just buy that 3/16'' screw you just remembered that you need.
It's far from over. The tunnel is just a little darker -- and longer -- than we imagined.
ok, sorry for the geeky title, i just spent a few days running algorithms in java.
anyway, the onion - once more - had it right when it called what happened two days ago as an 'attempt at democratic elections' european election monitors are appalled, and i hope nobody thinks it's beyond this administration to cheat their way through the elections.
but cheating or not cheating apart, by far my favorite story so far is that of the e-voting machine losing 4500 out of 10500 votes because it was running out of memory.
it's nothing new that this is not a very technology-savvy country, as i've noted a few times, but what kind of storage system did they use that can only store 3,005 (!) votes? an atari 2600? or maybe every vote was stored as a 100M movie file?
and there is no backup for the votes that were lost? hell, i back up papers that i write every night on two machines.
and the machine didn't stop accepting votes when the memory ran out? it just overwrote the old votes?
god. some programmer should be put in prison for malpractice on that one.
them liberals here at m.i.t look hazy-eyed over to canada. the more laid-back types eye mexico. they all note the well defined border between the blue states and the red states, and it's almost like secession is in the air.
looking at the map, an unnamed democrat here said: 'see all those blue states? what we should do is adjust the tax laws so that we pay less federal taxes and all those red states will starve and maybe then they'll find out that they're actually depending on us democrats to survive'.
i never understood why the north didn't let the south secede in the 1800s, or as udi once said 'i thought the union was a voluntary thing'. maybe now is a good time to reconsider.
in an unrelated story, a kind spirit bought me something called a floor rag, imported - no less - from israel. for my american readers, it's a piece of cloth that is aimed to collect the dirt from the floor with the intention of actually cleaning the room, instead of just wetting it, moving the dirt around and obscuring it with fragrance.
floor cleaning is not a big favorite here, and floor rags are a piece of household equipment almost impossible to obtain in the u.s of a.
you know, i've always wondered why shower-happy americans love to make fun of the french for just using perfume instead of washing the scum off, when that's exactly what they do with all their other clearning chores: wet, disinfect and distribute.
since nobody really gives a fuck what i have say on the topic, i will now announce that 'some words to not' calls the 2004 presidential elections for incumbent president and republican nominee george w. bush.
with florida gone and ohio nothing more than wishful thinking for the dems, it's safe to say that we are looking forward to another four years of great comedy in the white house.
there sure were some long faces on the t tonight. people were not very happy.
i know that there are supposedly some 1,000,000 uncounted votes in florida, but hey - i think it's over.
and it's the home of democracy (as another subway poster says). too bad that they're short 500,000 volunteers to staff the voting booths, because presidential election day is not a paid vacation day. for a country spreading freedom and elections all over the world, one would think that they would encourage people to attend their own elections. but that would be too much to ask.
if you ask me people should dress up for every party. it's just so much fun. there's always something to talk about and you are smiling like an asshole even before you had your first drink. not to mention what being dressed in a miniskirt riding the t does to your sense of self consciousness.
also girls seem to really embrace the holiday to dress down and dirty for that occasion. it's almost like the alcohol excuse - as if the high boots and sexy top are not really 'they', it's just a costume innit?
in general my anecdotal observation finds that guys try to dress up funny whereas girls really try to walk the boundary between having a recognizable costume, but still looking sexy. you don't see many of them dressing up in baggy bunny costumes, or covering their faces.
it's one of those lovely american things, where prudence and decadence fight it out. as long as it's a costume, it's fine. anything for the holiday spirit.
due to time and navigation constraints i ended up watching game four at 'spirit' and boy was i out of my demographics. the harvard m.b.a crew cut was mandatory and everyone was dressed business-casual.
what on earth made the democratic party copy the graphics from msn messenger for their homepage?
are they trying to be 'hip'? do they have a license for that?
What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.
In Europe the royalty and the aristocracy used to eat a lot better than the peasants - they weren't eating the same things at all. It was either partridge or porridge, and each class stuck to its own food. But when Queen Elizabeth came here and President Eisenhower bought her a hot dog I'm sure he felt confident that she couldn't have had delivered to Buckingham Palace a better hot dog than that one he bought for her for maybe twenty cents at the ballpark. Not for a dollar, not for ten dollars, not for a hundred thousand dollars could she get a better hot dog. She could get one for twenty cents, same as everybody else.
this is, of course, not true in general (you might have noticed that some people have nicer chairs than you, even in america), but it has a grain of truth in it that characterizes the american revolution. it's true for coke, and it's true for hot dogs, and also true for movies, and tv. even donald trump can't get better episodes of the 'sopranos' than you.
also, reading on, i was surprised to see warhol mention a technique to deal with things that i call my own, and just lengthily explained to a friend over the phone last week.
ok, this is old, and this is well known and maybe too personal for this blog's trend.
but, dear fellow americans:
if you want to say "no", say "no". don't say "this might not be the best idea". because i don't care if it's not the best idea, espcially if it only "might" not be the best idea. i can do the second best idea, no problem. and i'll just do it. "no" is just as easy to say.
and if you want to say "please do something", just say "please" and "do it", don't say "you might want to consider doing this". because i'll consider, and i'll debate and i might just do something else. beacuse you just told me to maybe consider. "please so this" is just as easy to say.
but i would be stupid to expect straight talk around here.
i heard that they are now planning to have first date rehearsals, as well. if you are planning to have a first date, they match you up with someone else who is having a first date soon, and you can rehearse the date before you go on your actual first date. there's even a buy-back guarantee in case you like your rehearsal date better than your real date.
you gotta be wondering about a nation that has bread so wrong.
it costs $3 for a pound, tastes like sugar, is soft like a marshmellow and molds within 2.5 days.
the only two other basic foods that are as malfunctioning here are coffee and milk.
i just switched to soymilk, because it tastes more like milk than milk. they actually try to make soymilk taste like milk, whereas they seem to try to make milk taste like stale water.
plus it's not very nice to drink some animal's mother's milk who is impregnated all the time just for that with no chance to see her young.
actually i'm being unfair, there are many basic foods that are as malfunctioning as bread around here.
someone told me that ¼ of americans are on a low-carb diet.
i don't know if that's true, but judging by the cereal-box and fast-food restaurant index, it might well be. if kellogs come out with a low-carb cereal and even burger king have a low-carb menu, everyone wants low carb (not to mention low-carb beer).
on the other hand, my instincts tell me that if burger king and budweiser are supporting something, i should probably steer clear away from it.
but really, i commend anyone who has the discipline to be on any diet. chapeau.
for me, in the past, only the eat the fuck less pizza and chocolate and exercise daily diet really worked out.
'but it's scientifically proven!' you say.
which reminds me of the old joke, in which this guy hits on a gal, and tells her that his watch can read her mind. and now it tells him that she has no underwear on. 'wrong' says the lady. to which the man counters 'damn, it's an hour fast'
at the rate that diet science moves, i'm always on the scientifically proven diet. my watch is only a few months off.
on the occasion of the jewish new year, haaretz came out with a special issue today about israelis and the world, entitled made in israel - israelis without borders.
i was supposed to write a piece for that, but ended up not having the time (the story of my life?)
anyway, seems like there are some interesting articles there, and starting to read one of yuval ben-ami's pieces (haaretz's correspondent in boston), i came across this quote, citing a daughter of an israeli couple that moved to new haven. she has never lived in israel, but misses 'home'.
in a short quote she manages to both explain what's weird about living in the u.s, how israeli she is, and how not israeli she really is.
the things i like most when i visit in israel, are the simple things. like when i tell them 'my name is yael', they say 'ah, cool, yael', and when i say 'i am moroccan', people get a little scared.
no, i'm kidding, you know, moroccan, knives, gotta be careful. i'm just kidding. in israel they get what 'moroccan' means. when i tell people here 'my name is yael', a whole saga starts of me trying to teach them my name. and when i tell them 'i am moroccan', they say 'ah, how interesting. where's morocco?'
may your new year be blessed with great love and small moments of happiness.
- i keep wanting his mom to come into starbucks, so that i can tell her that i'd be the best daughter in law she can imagine. maybe then she'll tell him to call me.
coming back this time was not easy. stepping off from a near-12-hour journey nursing an annoying cold, the first thing i notice are the usual american cultural icons that make me shake my head in disbelief:
it's almost like there's too many people volunteering, so some are just given random things to do.
'oh i wish i had some honey bunches of oats', says the well-trained american refugee. 'or some mountain dew red alert'. brands are american culture. and guess who's making a buck out of it. not you.
from a radio ad for an erectile dysfunction drug:
a scientifically supervised anecdotal study has shown that 98% of the participants reported an increase in sexual potency.
had lunch in the big city tonight, and saw the following inscription on a big building:
"the new england shelter for homeless veterans"
blaire wants to be engaged by the end of the year. thing is, she's not seeing anyone at the moment.
so, in a culture ridden by reality tv, the most logical thing is to make a competition out of it.
hope she wont be too disappointed when she realizes that prioritizing the state of marriage over the actual choice of husband might not be the recipe for happiness.
other than that, she doesn't seem half bad, so if you're a jewish male between 25-31 fitting all the standard american dating criteria (you know, gym, commitment, earning money and having a goal in life) and want to get married to a goodlooking jewish girl real soon, you should give it a try.
no spoilers. just thoughts.
this is the best the average consumer can stomach: image, image, image, flash, simplified claim, flash, soundbyte, image. i mean, seriously, who knows this better than the white house and fox news?
my guess is - it will soar.
and since everyone and their mothers are busting balls about this movie that it makes you sick, and i definitely have nothing to add on this topic, i'll just quote tony:
youre a dog in a dirty fight. the other dog is definately deceitful and mistrustful, and ugly, and selfish, and solely interested in its own agenda. the other dog told the nation that there were definately weapons of mass destruction in iraq and that those weapons needed to be removed in order to protect america. and yet some liberals are trying to pretend that that dog's inaccuraccy is on the same level as yours.
these days, girls is 'avin sex at younga ages, de's an increase in absentee fathers, and mo an' mo people is 'avin affairs... but we shouldn't just concentrate on da good thangs.
many of you have heard that ali g gave a commencement speech at harvard's class of 2004 class day this month.
fast forward the stuck up 'avahdites to 1:25:00, and make sure to stop the streaming video before the 'a-capella dream team' starts chanting. i kid you not.
"look buddy. you can pay $10 to have your package delivered. but if you want it really delivered, that will cost you another $7. just so that, you know, nothing bad will happen to it on the way."
an american friend visiting our common israeli friends, who have a little girl, found it hilarious that the child had a toy garlic press. i failed to see the humor.
only later i realized that she thought that a garlic press was a very yuppie utensil, as if the kid had a purple plastic champagne cooler.
to me, coming from the middle east, a garlic press seems almost as basic a household item as a knife, making it a natural fit for a child's play kitchen.
i'm aware that i'm probably biased by my mood, but this morning i just feel like i don't belong. to alleviate the pressure, i went to the common room and tuned into the israeli tv station. what a state of affairs it must be when i turn to israeli culture for some normality...
what's with that? is this a cocktail party or a border crossing?
the coffee machine in the lobby promises "coffee house taste", the cheese in my fridge boasts "deli style" and the tortilla chips in my cupboard are proud to be "restaurant style". as if mass-production vouches for fine taste.
in the little mediterranean country where i'm from, it's usually the opposite. you're supposed to feel ashamed that you're even buying packaged food. when you do, the label will reassure you that it's all "home style" and that it "tastes like self-made". no brand would want to be "restaurant style". hell, most restaurants try to call themselves "home style".
i guess in the u.s. there's more faith in the commercial.
walking home from lab today (admittedly in a melancholy mood), i noticed a saddening fact.
during almost two years of living in the united states, and knowing little about this country before i got here, i kept being surprised, amazed and shocked about various aspects of the culture here at the "hub of the empire". ever so often i would shake my head or rub my eyes in disbelief that such a place really exists.
but tonight, walking in the dark, when i tried to think about the ten biggest oddities of this place, what i came up with was pretty much a list of the most clicheed statements about america one can think of. it felt pretty useless realizing that my wildest emotional revelations, upon inspection, are nothing more than just the stereotypes i already had before moving.
overheard an ad for a dentistry school on the radio today
thanks to the dentistry school i have a job that pays well, that's flexible and that allows me to help people improve their appearance in ways that can change their lives.
and i thought that teeth were for processing food.
lack of time has postponed a posting i was going to put here about the inherent hypocrisy of u.s sexuality and its long-lived affair with alcohol.
in the meantime, some of what i had in mind on the topic was said in a great 'tech' opinion column published this week. like
when the breasts and butts that titillate us on a daily basis come without the packaging of a thin piece of cloth, the barrier of a pay-per-view fee or the apparent protection of an online adult verification service, entertainment suddenly crosses the line, becoming lewd and obscene exposure that should be banned, censored, fined, and lambasted.
the united states of america is a society in which trade plays a central role not only in business, but also in the public and private mentality. an american child learns from early age that every experience that's worth anything is intimately connected to a product or a service, and that happiness has a pricetag. one of the strangest things a foreigner experiences here is that almost all the child memories of the local people have some brand name in them (this can be a visit to "6 flags", bread with "peter pan" peanut butter, or a family outing to "tgi friday's"). this is not accidental. much money is invested in child-targeted advertisement, and this bulk of ads engrains the notion that if something doesn't cost money, it's probably worth nothing.
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content here by guy hoffman .. as seen times since march 2004