Sunday, December 30, 2007

Funniest Moment of 2007

King Juan Carlos I of Spain tells Hugo Chávez, "Why don't you shut up?" (¿Por qué no te callas?).

The incident occurs in the 33rd second of this clip:

For more on the story, click here.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Kual este el riko el ke se alegra kon su parte

I got home today and I was just down. I couldn't really explain why but I just felt sad and unhappy. The roller coaster of life, the ups and downs, is something every human being goes through. But as I sat down to think about why my mind had chosen this time to start getting all somber, my wife walked in with her infectious smile. Walking into our bedroom, she realized something was up and asked what was wrong. When I told her, "Just one of those moods," she understood and left me alone to hang the laundry. As I walked into the lounge, she offered me a gift ... Instantly, I smiled. The gift itself was lovely, exactly what I needed for my daily combat drills with the Jerusalem cold, but that's not what made me happy.

You see ... There's no real point to this blog. What I'm about to say is obvious beyond belief but sometimes just needs re-stating. I really have no need whatsoever to let these unavoidable moods keep me down (at least not for too long). I have the most amazing, warm, caring & loving wife, and an equally loving caring family. I have a good job, a roof over my head and food on my table every day. In essence, I have everything I need and want. In essence, happiness is the 'wealth' described in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers)

Who is wealthy? One who is happy with his portion
Ethics of Our Fathers, 4:1


Happy 30th Anniversary to my dear parents ... What a milestone ... Mazel Tov

Sunday, December 23, 2007

King Zuma & the end of the 'New South Africa'

When Mandela was released from prison in 1990, a 'New South Africa' was promised. Fast forward some 17 years later, the country is struggling with an extremely high crime & AIDs rate, increasing brain drain and now, the distinct possibility that Jacob Zuma will most likely be the new president.

Despite no formal education, Zuma has risen through the ranks of the ANC after being active in the formative years of the struggle (He spent 10 years on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela after being arrested and convicted of wanting to overthrow the government). When Apartheid ended, he was one of the first ANC leaders to return from their exiles abroad and along with the ANC's rise to power in 1994, Zuma became the National Chairperson of the ANC. His career continued to skyrocket until he was finally elected the head of the ANC this past week (Dec 18, 2007).

Sounds impressive right? Well, it is until one looks at the corruption allegations levied against Zuma during the Schabir Shaik trial, or the famous rape charges in 2005. Those were made even more famous by Zuma's idiotic remarks that he took a shower to try to reduce his risk of infection. Although the court found him not guilty, the man who headed the National AIDS Council even had the 'audacity' to admit that he slept (raped?) an HIV positive girl with no condom ... Brilliant, eh? What a wonderful role model for the new South Africa ... It's a sad testament to what Mandela & the ANC fought for that such pathetic idiots will further push this once proud country into the ground. The 'New South Africa'? Oh please ...

A few classic Madame & Eve comics poking fun at this 'leader':

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Where in the world is ...

It took a few hours to get back to the swing of things at work after I got back from our week long honeymoon in Europe last Tuesday. After booking our flight to Geneva to visit her dad, Talya & I decided we'd take a few days and visit a city we'd both never been to in Europe. Looking at the cheap options made available by EasyJet, we decided on Barcelona. Needless to say, we were not disappointed with our two days (Wednesday through Friday) in the capital of Catalonia. Traveling on the Barcelona Bus Turistic, we saw most of the city's sights, stopping at the Waterfront, Park Guell and quite a few shops obviously! Although we were there for such a short time, we really enjoyed our time there and we both hope to be back on the Iberian peninsula in the near future. Returning to Geneva on Friday, we spent the weekend there before trekking to the French Alps on Sunday for a few hours of fun in the snow. I haven't seen that much snow since I left New York, so I was obviously happy! We returned back to Israel on Tuesday and although I'm happy to back home, it's tough leaving the relaxed mode I was in as a tourist and vacationer!


Yehoram Gaon made a very good point on Reshet Bet on Friday afternoon. The famous singer said that the $7.5 billion raised for the Palestinian Authority last week will ensure we don't see peace for a few more generations. His reasoning? The last few decades have seen billions and billions of dollars pumped into the Palestinian cause and who sees most of the money? The top brass & the terrorist groups (& Suha Arafat obviously). His 'solution' for this problem is rather intelligent. The donations should be a 'promise' to build hospitals, schools and the like. In other words, use the money to develop the infrastructure of the territories. Granted, this won't happen and as with most donations to the Arab world, Arab leaders will get richer, terrorists will get better weapons, the poor will continue to be deprived and the hatred and blame will fall on Israel's shoulders.


As Talya & I walked home today from her grandmother, we walked by Natan Sharansky. Damn, he's short! On a more serious note, I wish honest human beings like him still had a say in our government.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Reservists - The Good & The Bad

We'll start with the bad ...

In a rather disappointing article, 40 colleagues rallied in support of Nizar Hassan, a Sapir University teacher who kicked out an IDF reservist from his classroom. Last month, Eyal Cohen, an intelligence officer in the reserves, was asked to leave Hassan's class after coming to it in his army uniform ... Hassan's reasoning? He does not teach soldiers, policemen and officers in uniform. When he refused, Hassan hurled negative comments at him and the IDF. Hassan, on a temporary contract warning him against mixing ideology and politics in his lessons, was rightfully suspended. However, 40 of his colleagues are now protesting to have him reinstated. Mind boggling eh? His supporters should be ashamed - throwing Cohen out of the class is a gross violation of academic freedom. Hassan has no right to decide who he teaches based on dress code - and he should be severely reprimanded and warned that any other outbursts will result in his termination.


And now the good ... Haaretz reports that the cabinet has approved a package of benefits for reservists. I think this is a good start to bolster and support a sector of our country which too often is taken for granted. Although Gabi Ashkenazi, the IDF Chief of Staff, reacted positively to the news, the reservists' organizations were unhappy with it overall. The chairman of the reserve soldiers forum, Aleh Minkowsky, was unhappy with what seems to be just a baby step, "All the cabinet decided was to set up a ministerial committee, which would present a plan to implement the benefits within 45 days." Ro'i Ron, the head of the Baltam reservists movement, also voiced disappointment, "We demand larger financial benefits, based on the average wages rather than minimum wages. Reservists must receive a meaningful compensation, like the one proposed in the bill submitted by the reservists. The cabinet's decision brings us no significant tidings." While I understand their frustration, Rome wasn't built in a day ... This is a positive step and it needs to be built upon.


Hanukkah is tonight ... So on that note, a piece about Hanukkah in the Soviet Gulag by Natan (Anatoli) Sharanksy.

Happy Hanukah! !חג חנוכה שמח

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Hi, My Name Is ...

I've been working for over a year now as a Pricing Analyst (don't ask what I do, I still don't explain it well!) with IDT Telecom. Despite thousands of e-mails and IMs, I still hadn't met most of the people I converse 'with' in the RoW (Rest of World) team. This past week changed that as many IDTers from countries as diverse as South Africa, Spain & Hong Kong were flown over to London for IDT Europe's Holiday party. It was fun to interact with them and discuss non-business related matters ... and also, it was rather nice to put faces on all these e-mail addresses & AIM names! I really enjoyed the week (always great to see the lil sis too) and think it will serve myself and our team well as we try and attain IDT's goals for the new quarter


Despite not making it to Euro 2008, Israel had a very solid qualifying run. A lot of quality youngsters were introduced and the team tied England with 23 points. That strong finished improved Israel's ranking and allowed us to get an 'easier' draw for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. UEFA's Group B will include Greece (Euro 2004 Champions), Israel, Switzerland (boooo!!!!), Moldova, Latvia & Luxembourg. I think this is the most favorable group we've had in decades and we should manage to qualify from this group. Looking forward to it! Come on Israel!