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May 29, 2005

Speeding Across the Pacific

Austronesia / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Historians used to assume that all those Polynesian islands were discovered and settled by chance, as a result of canoes full of fishermen happening to get blown off course. It is now clear, however, that both the discoveries and the settlements were meticulously planned. [...] Transfers of many species of crops and livestock from taro to bananas and from pigs to dogs and chickens, prove beyond question that settlement was by well-prepared colonists, carrying products of their homeland deemed essential to the survival of the new colony.

- from Collapse, by Jared Diamond

You have to have a lot of respect for a people who spread out of Taiwan, through all of Indonesia and the Philippines, northern New Guinea, eastward to every inhabitable landmass in the southern Pacific, including New Zealand, Easter Island, and Hawaii, as well as well as westward all the way across the Indian Ocean to settle Madagascar, off the eastern coast of Africa. With outrigger canoes - an idea Westerners got from them, by the way - and sails, oars, and muscles, they settled half the Southern Hemisphere while Europeans were still living under the assumption that the Earth is flat.

Anyone who still watches the candy-assed "Survivor" on TV, read a book instead.

Very Pretty

Because my mind works the way it does, I can't teach myself about a part of the world I'd never previously known much about without eventually checking out the guys. Now, I have an enormous crush on half the Samoan rugby team, Manu Samoa. In particular:

Lome Fa'atau / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
New Zealand-born, Samoan rugby hunk, Lome Fa'atau

May 28, 2005

Rapa Nui

Moai / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
The Easter Islanders' isolation probably also explains why I have found that their collapse, more than the collapse of any other pre-industrial society, haunts my readers and students. The parallels between Easter Island and the whole modern world are chillingly obvious. Thanks to globalization, international trade, jet planes, and the Internet, all countries on Earth today share resources and effect each other, just as did Easter's dozen clans. Polynesian Easter Island was as isolated in the Pacific Ocean as the Earth is today in space. When the Easter Islanders got into difficulties, there was nowhere to which they could flee, nor to which they could turn for help; nor shall we modern Earthlings have recourse elsewhere if our troubles increase. Those are the reasons why people see the collapse of Easter Island society as a metaphor, a worst-case scenario, for what may lie ahead for us in our own future.

Jared Diamond, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel – one of the most fascinating books I have ever read –, in Collapse draws an analogy between the almost complete implosion of Easter Island society in the 1400s that dragged the island's twelve clans into a constant state of war with one another, eventually reducing the population from 15,000 - 20,000 to 2,000, due to the Polynesians' unwitting over-exploitation of that tiny, isolated island's extremely fragile resources, and what we ourselves may face within our own lifetime.

And Speaking of Polynesia ...

Samoan Dancers / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
... Samoa, where I'd like to be right now.

May 26, 2005

This Blog Is Fasting

This blog is fasting today for Mojtaba

May 24, 2005

It's All in Your Head

Sarcastic Ball / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSent to me in a thoughtful e-mail by the handsome Mr. V, whose frontal lobes are functioning at full capacity, maybe even double. He had apparently thought of me when he read it.
Israeli psychologists draw conclusions from how brain-damaged people comprehend sarcasm - or not

Just what exactly are you trying to tell me, Mr. V?

A Tall, Dark, Handsome Man

Tarot / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usFor fun yesterday I had my tarot cards read yesterday and the results were most favourable. This was no mascara'd, faux-gypsy seer with an outrageous accent feeding me portentious news of great joy to ensure a repeat customer; it was just a naive friend with an enormous imagination who dabbles in tarot and kabbalah (Oy! What is it with the Goyim and kabbalah?). Plus for good measure, I followed along in the big flaky, new agey guidebook to see for myself that I wasn't being given a line. Successful career change, marriage to the man of my dreams (who I apparently already know), prosperity, contentment, peace, it's all coming my way.

Of course, my little Jewish pessimistic voice tells me I've just ruined it all by talking about it *spit three times*

Very Pretty

Alexandre Despatie / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
French-Canadian World Champion and Olympic diver, Alexandre Despatie

May 23, 2005

Massive Change

I had an inspirational weekend partly due to a visit from a good friend from Montreal whom I don't see nearly enough and partly due to a visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario to see their collaborative exhibit with the Vancouver Art Gallery, called Massive Change, an exhibit to show our "unprecedented capacity to plan and produce desired outcomes through good design".

Space Debris / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
There are nearly ten thousand man-made objects larger than a softball in Earth orbit. Of these, only seven percent are operational satellites. The remaining ninety-three percent consists of dead satellites, rocket fragments and debris. While these objects are generally very far apart, their presence and great velocity can potentially interfere with space missions and even threaten the lives of astronauts - a tiny speck of paint from a satellite once dug a quarter-inch hole in a space shuttle window. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking these objects since 1961. Today, before every critical launch, analysts perform a collision avoidance test to make sure the mission will not cross paths with any of these objects.

Ozone Hole / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
In 1983 scientists noticed strangely low levels of ozone, the layer of Earth's atmosphere that absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiation. They began to produce visualizations that showed an alarming ozone "hole" over the South Pole. These images were key to gaining the attention of the scientific community, the public and governments. By revealing that the ozone was being affected by emissions of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from aerosol cans, refrigerators and air conditioners, these images mobilized action worldwide that led to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, an international treaty to eliminate CFC production and consumption. Between 1986 and 1997, global production of CFCs dropped by eighty-five percent, a significant victory for the environment, and proof of the power of visualization.

Internet / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
In computing, a network is an interconnected group of machines. The Internet is a vast network of networks, all able to communicate with each other. This map of the Internet shows the hardware that serves as the "skeleton" or infrastructure of the Internet. The colors indicate geographic location. Despite its obvious complexity, this map represents just a fraction of the whole network - the rest is simply impossible to accurately represent. The structure of the Internet is constantly changing, not surprising when you consider its continued growth, with more than 24 million additional host computers added in 2002 alone. Fortunately, unlike many systems, the Internet's extreme interconnectedness is designed to be extraordinarily resistant to problems stemming from malfunction, war or natural disaster. When any part of the system fails, data is simply re-routed through a different path.

Earth at Night / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Observing the Earth at night gives us new perspective on worldwide access to electricity, and on population density in developed regions. National borders of North Korea and Israel are clearly depicted and human preference for settlement on transportation routes is obvious along the Nile River and Trans-Siberian rail line. The dark areas can be deceiving, because densely populated poor nations with low energy consumption are not visible. This visualization represents four primary types of light: human settlements (white), fires (orange), gas burnoff from oil wells (green), and heavily-lit fishing boats (cyan). The orange bands of fire that cover parts of Africa, Asia and Australia are the result of agricultural activity and natural causes. The extent of these fires is exaggerated because they occurred over the course of a full year - a single satellite orbited the Earth 2190 times to make this image.

May 19, 2005

Work Shmork

Whale / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usObviouly, working all the time makes me tired. It's not that I work all the time; it's just that a significant portion of my day is spent getting ready for work, gearing up for work, getting to work, working, running errands during lunch and after work, getting home from work, coming down from work, that suddenly my body decides that enough is enough already and I realise as I'm climbing into bed that I have accomplished nothing but work and work-related details.

It's as if I had been swallowed by a giant whale and I'm crouched on its tongue, staring out its blowhole, trying to catch a glimpse the outside world.

Very Pretty

Rahul Khanna / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Bollywood superstar, Rahul Khanna

May 16, 2005

Smoke 'Em if You Got 'Em - Away From Me

A poisonous cloud of someone’s lethal fumes / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
As anybody who has been assaulted by secondhand smoke while exiting a subway or walking on a sidewalk knows, the city can go much further. A total smoking ban on public sidewalks, or perhaps a campaign to get smokers to look behind them before lighting up, is in order.

I could not agree more. There is nothing quite like skipping down the street in a dreamy haze of how wonderful it is to be outside, enjoying your day, when all of a sudden you slam into a poisonous cloud of someone's lethal fumes and you are left retching and gasping for air.

When I was in the process of quitting smoking, I swore that I wouldn't turn into one of those self-righteous ex-smokers. But nay! I am as self-righteous as one can possibly be. Smoke at home, not in my face!

Schism Shmism

Martin Luther and his 95 Theses / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWestern religions are beginning to schism left, right, and centre about the left right and centre. There are the Anglicans who may divide in two over the acceptance of same-sex marriage. In Judaism, the Rabbis of the Conservative Movement voted recently as to whether to accept gay rabbis; even though the vote failed, they still said that being gay isn't as bad as they used to say it was. Meanwhile in Reform Judaism, same-sex marriage has been around for years.

More recently, the Catholic Church has been showing cracks as the more liberal members and the conservative elements are becoming increasingly vocal. Recently, congregants in a St. Paul, Minnesota church protested peacefully during the Sacrement. My knowledge of Catholicism is limited to having to memorise the order of the Mass in Music History class, but I seem to recall that the Sacrement is a pretty big deal.

And then there is that Church in North Carolina that equated good and evil and the right to attend that church on how one voted.

Religion is a great unifier. It has the power to reach the lives of many individuals in a much more meaningful way than anything we have come up with in the West to replace it, like TV or the Internet. Instead of fracturing, I wish the various elements would work together.

But then again, what I really mean by "work together" is "do exactly what I want them to do". I suppose it won't happen anytime soon.

May 14, 2005

Very Pretty

Gael Garcia Bernal / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Mexican actor, Gael Garcia Bernal

Lazy Cat

I don't want to spend me weekend cleaning, cooking, and running the errands I can't get done during the week. While I scrub caked on tomato glop off the kitchen walls (don't ask), he stretches luxuriously in the middle of the kitchen floor and yawns before going back to sleep. Useless beast.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Champagne Dreams

Tasteless. Insulting. Infuriating. Nauseating.
A German politician has been forced to resign after pouring wine over the head of a homeless man.
Eat the rich.

Eat the Rich / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

May 11, 2005

Don't Anger It

When one is grumpy and cranky, others often try to cheer one up by spouting off nauseatingly cutesy platitudes that do nothing more than irritate and enrage. Foolhardy souls, courting danger like that.

Pissed Off LionImage Hosted by ImageShack.us

Fire and Ice

The two extremes of my shower this morning, with nothing in between:

Fire Water / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Ice / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

May 09, 2005

My Rotten Entrails

Shrimp, the silent killer / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMy intestinal tract and I do not get along. Recently, I had those woes. In fact, I have had woes since 30 smacked me in the tummy and announced, "I now pronounce thy metabolism transformed!" Now I don't eat spicy food (often) and I never drink booze. If I do, the results are too ghastly to describe except for friends who actually pretend to be concerned over such things.

But I can state for a fact that my current wretchedness has little to do with age and more to do with marauding gangs of amoebas and microbes picked up, I suspect, from a batch of delicious shrimp I had for supper yesterday. Damn those microscopic barbarian mini-hordes!

Mmmmmmmm ... sacreligious / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThis is why I'm supposed to keep kosher? I gleefully order pizza with both meat and dairy on it. I slyly sneak bacon off the plates of Christian friends whilst brunching with them when I think no one is looking. And I'm brought down by the rotten innards of a mound of stripy, over-sized, aquatic termites? A shrimpy dietary law most Jews don't even pay attention to (although the bacon one is still pretty strong)? I protest!

On the upside, my boss steadfastly refused when I asked him to e-mail me a few files so I could work at home. It seems that an advantage of working for an HIV/AIDS organisation is that they take health concerns very seriously, even when you’re HIV-. It makes up for the lousy pay. Plus, now I look good without having to work on Monday. Unfortunately, I'll have to make it up in overtime ... I don't feel very well ...

Very Pretty

Ajay Malik / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Indian model, Ajay Malik.

May 08, 2005

NOW! 75% FACT FREE!

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
The thing about influence is that, as bloggers well know, it is only a matter of time before people start trying to hold you accountable. Bloggers are so used to thinking of themselves as outsiders, and watchdogs of the LSM (that's Lame Stream Media), that many have given little thought to what ethical rules should apply in their online world. Some insist that they do not need journalistic ethics because they are not journalists, but rather activists, or humorists, or something else entirely. But more bloggers, and blog readers, are starting to ask whether at least the most prominent blogs with the highest traffic shouldn't hold themselves to the same high standards to which they hold other media.

Politico-blogs are basically creative (well, some more than others) letters to the editor, the editor being the blogger's own self-delusion of grandeur and the gaggle of others in their little blog clique who will write right-on! comments to basically anything. The problems occur when they begin to believe that truth is, in actuality, a concrete object one can touch with one's fingers, and that they and only they know where to find it. This happens a lot since many bloggers appear to take themselves extremely seriously. Must be all the positive reinforcement from the commenting cheerleaders.

I, however, am the very first to admit that I am mostly full of shit.

Mumday

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usTo my Mum who is thousands and thousands of kilometres away (such is the life of a nomad such as I) and who doesn't know of the existence of this site, Happy Mummy Day! I'll call you tomorrow when you're actually near a phone.


Still Very Pretty

Eviatar Banai / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
He was very pretty a month ago and he's still pretty. Israeli singer/songwriter Eviatar Banai (אביתר בנאי).

May 07, 2005

Like, Whatever, Y’know?

Paris Hilton and associated slime / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI may have said this, here, but I was wrong. I do not miss my TV one single bit, especially when I read things like this. Even though it's satire, I'd still not have to lower my already dim view of humanity too much more with the thought that Paris Hilton and associated slime are somehow stars. People will watch any old crap.



Very Pretty

Sufjan Stevens / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Quirky, sometimes super-religious, banjo-strummin', pop, jazz, folk, American singer/song-writer/composer, Sufjan Stevens and his adorable little overbite.

May 05, 2005

Yenta Unmasked

Mask / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI’ve been found out. I’ve been discovered. I’ve been unmasked. My disguise is no more. I have been revealed to my close friend and main nemesis, AlefAlef. Other than a few bloggers I’d met through my old site, one of whom was a dear friend years before either of us had even heard of a blog, no one knows I do this. No family, no friends, no colleagues. I became a little too obsessive about my old blog and so I didn’t spill my sweet little secret about this one in order to keep my fantasy world and my day-to-day world separate.

Once he had found me out, in pointed AlefAlef fashion, the single query, “Do you care to explain your closetedness?” demonstrated a whole range of colours, from amusement to consternation at the slight.

“I didn’t tell you because it’s my thing to do with as I please. All for me,” was my somewhat lame, although truthful, response. AlefAlef has a mind like a steel trap and can read me like a children’s book, plus he seems to have some sort of weird mind-scanning technique (lawyers are scary people) so I can’t keep a secret from him even if I try, which I don’t bother to do anymore. This little story is but one example of.

Gasmask / Image Hosted by ImageShack.usHe had uncovered my secret while deciding whether or not to delete the bookmark to my old site. “Why did you link it if the plan was to have a masturbatory exercise?” You can always be sure to get a question that cuts straight to the heart of any matter from him.

Feeling trapped and sheepish, I hit back with good ol’ Jewish sarcasm. “Obviously I did it to annoy you and to give you something to ask me condescendingly.” Believe me, this is how Jews show love and affection.

“Well your plan failed, then. I was delighted, not annoyed.”

Well good. Delight is better than annoyance.

And now I really have to watch out for what I say about him because I have a new reader. And I’m glad for it. I can share all my worlds with AlefAlef, and I know he can keep a secret.

Very Pretty

Takeshi Kaneshiro / Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Taiwanese actor Takeshi Kaneshiro

May 02, 2005

Re: New Job

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI now recall why I left 9-to-5 for self-employment.
  • Yell at alarm clock

  • Yell at neighbours for using all the hot water before 6-fucking-30 AM already!

  • Yell at coffee because it’s too weak/too strong

  • Yell at cat for getting in the way

  • Yell at the toast for getting burnt

  • Yell at stupid drivers who try to kill pedestrians for sport

  • Sit in office wondering why the receptionist has such terrible taste in horrible radio-friendly crap fluff music

  • Type type type talk talk talk e-mail e-mail e-mail fax fax fax

  • Sit in office wondering why the receptionist has such terrible taste in horrible radio-friendly crap fluff music

  • Yell at stupid drivers who try to kill pedestrians for sport

  • Yell at washing machine for eating money

  • Yell at single red sock that escaped the confines of the colours and took refuge in the whites, dying brand new work shirt pink (good thing I’m gay)

  • Yell at food for burning and tasting like crap

  • Go to bed
In other words, it was Monday. However, the advantage of sauntering non-chalantly though the workday while self-employed was submerged by the extreme financial instability. I’m just never satisfied.

A Case of You

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Just before our love got lost you said,
"I am as constant as a northern star."
And I said, "Constantly in the darkness
Where's that at?
If you want me I'll be in the bar."
On the back of a cartoon coaster
In the blue TV screen light
I drew a map of Canada
Oh Canada
With your face sketched on it twice
Oh, you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you, darling
And I would still be on my feet
Oh I would still be on my feet

Oh I am a lonely painter
I live in a box of paints
I'm frightened by the devil
And I'm drawn to those ones that ain't afraid
I remember that time you told me, you said,
"Love is touching souls"
Surely you touched mine
'Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time
Oh, you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you, darling
Still, I'd be on my feet
I would still be on my feet

I met a woman
She had a mouth like yours
She knew your life
She knew your devils and your deeds
And she said,
"Go to him, stay with him if you can
But be prepared to bleed"
Oh but you are in my blood
You're my holy wine
You're so bitter, bitter and so sweet
Oh, I could drink a case of you, darling
Still I'd be on my feet
I would still be on my feet
“A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell