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Showing posts from February, 2010

Babatunde Olatunji

Babatunde Olatunji (here playing the west-African Djembe) is one of the most important drummers of the 20th century. Babatunde Djembe performance.



The Mufti - My part in his downfall

An ex-girl friend of mine spends her life sending e-mails to millions of people providing details of the latest Israeli academic who is voicing excessive support for the Palestinians or recommending that the institution that pays his wages etc. be boycotted. I get about two of these mails every day. So it was with a certain sense of irony that I went to a symposium at Tel-Aviv University about the psychological impact of the "Nakba" (catastrophe) on the Palestinians, organized by "Psychoactive - Mental health professionals for Human Rights".  I'm curious to see if it makes her mail.
I went because my partner Neta's best friend, organized the event and because a former neighbour and friend, Dr. Hillel Cohen was going to be speaking.  Hillel is a Communist and a Zionist, at least that's what he told me five years ago, whose grandparents (well some of them anyway) emigrated from Afghanistan.  By the way did you know that the Jews were expelled from Afghanis…

Earthquake Fears in Tel-Aviv

The recent quake in Haiti has set off alarm bells here in Israel. Historically Israel gets an earthquake every century and the last one was in 1927 so our due date is coming up.  The first result was  that all the school children in the country practised getting under their tables.  No doubt that will really make a difference should anything happen.The good news is that most earthquakes happen along the Dead Sea's "rift valley" which is, of course, the lowest point on earth (one would expect it to be earthquake prone) and most of us live along the coast on the other side of the country. The bad news is that  Ramle which is 30 kilometers from Tel-Aviv gets devastated every 500 years or so, although it must be said that they aren't due for a devastation for another four hundred years. To be honest, with the exception of the Tomb of St. George (in nearby Lod), most of Ramle would benefit from a major rebuilding.
To encourage buildings to get earthquake protection the gov…

Me and Mister Goldstone

I recently saw an excellent film called American
Violet
, a true story about an honest single African-American mother wrongly accused and
arrested for dealing drugs in a small town in Texas.  Basically the local
sheriff would go into the African-American neighbourhood once a year
or so with a huge array of armed police and arrest a large chunk of the local
population.  A local informant would be found who would 'finger' people
who broke the law - in return for being exempt - and then using his list, lots
of people would be arrested and quickly tried.  They would be given the
choice of a plea bargain or an extrenely draconian sentence, so most pleaded
guilty: especially single mothers facing loss of their children like our
heroine.

The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) was looking to put an end to this
racist method of keeping the peace but couldn't do anything because most people
were pleading guilty or were involved in illegal acts. In this case they found
a woman who had been false…

My Wikipedia Habit

A few years ago I found myself with a fresh MA in History and not much to do. I had a go at publishing my thesis (British prison camps in Cyprus for illegal Jewish migrants to Palestine) but wasn't successful and didn't feel like sending out copies of it to masses of academic journals. So I decided to publish it on Wikipedia. I went in and found that there were masses of related items I needed to fix and so spent months working on material related to Israeli history culminating in the development of a page devoted solely to the History of Israel.
The joy of editing Wikipedia comes from realising that what you write there is likely to be more influential then any academic journal.  The problem is that you can't claim ownership or get any recognition and that any Tom Dick and Harry can come along and change your entry.  So if you want to keep what you've done you have to keep a constant eye on the content and be prepared to go in and fix things. Fortunately Wikipedia prov…

The Spartan's CV

Interviews, interviews.  Yes I'm out of a job and busily sending my CV off to potential employers. I wonder, where did this practiseoriginate?  Did people in the 14th century have a scribe write their work experience on a piece of vellum, then seal it with some wax and send it to the Royal Court in the hope of finding work as a bathroom attendant? Did ancient Egyptian architects send the Pharoh a papyrus with hieroglyphs describing their latest tomb design?  If this person is alive can we put them on trial?
I recently came to realize that I don't need to recount how I started work in computing twenty years ago and that achievements I regard as important just may not interest anyone any more - like getting my A-levels in England 15 months after return from ten years in Israel.  That was an awfully long time ago.
So I've created a Spartan CV containing just the last ten years of my work activity and sent it out and things have improved, which is to say that I am now being invi…