What does dat shit mean?

Septemba 18, 2014

Mundia & Modia: Da two worlds in which we live

We humans live in two worlds, man. One world, Ah call Mundia, be da world of immutable laws, e.g, know what I'm sayin'? gravity, electromagnetism, 'n supply 'n demand - it is da world dat we see when we look out at da natural landscape n' shit. The otha world, Ah call Modia, be da world of social relationships, e.g. love, hate, admiration, envy, loyalty, 'n gratitude - dat shit be da world that we see when we look out at da social landscape.

Ah believe that, while all of us live in both worlds, most of us live in one world much 'mo than da other: we be Mundians or Modians, not both, man. Mundians look out at da world 'n see da natural landscape; Modians, da social landscape, know what I'm sayin'? Dis fact explains a lot of phenomena that has puzzled me fo a long time, know what I'm sayin'? At da most basic level it explains this: when faced wid a problem, what be da heuristic dat we use fo solvin' it? Mundians use a naturalistic model, while Modians use a sociological model, man. Da nature of these two models be very different, often leadin' to very different answers, know what I'm sayin'?

Mundia: Da world be made of immutable laws n' shit. We can successfully manipulate da world by learnin' them n' shit. Ova da course of our lifetime, we can gradually build up our knowledge of da world - our knowledge neva goes out of date n' shit. We might get somethin' wrong, 'n has to update our understandin' of things, given new information, but the underlyin' world dat our knowledge describes be fundamentally unchangeable; there be naw such thin' as old-fashioned knowledge. Moreover, da same be true fo society as a whole: ova thousands of years, we has gradually built up a knowledge of da world's immutable laws, 'n da best way fo an individual to become knowledgeable be to learn dis collective wisdom, know what I'm sayin'? If somethin' be unknown, or if there be some disagreement about the way things are, the way to resolve dat shit be to understand things better; whetha by experimentation or by reason n' shit. Da facts speak fo themselves.

Modia: Da world be made of relationships between people, know what I'm sayin'? We can successfully manipulate da world by figurin' out who be powerful, or by becomin' powerful ourselves, know what I'm sayin'? We gots to learn to be responsive to people in da right way, or to act in a way which gots to elicit the response we want, know what I'm sayin'? How we look, dress, how we express ourselves, and even da opinions dat we hold, be all factors in interpersonal relationships, know what I'm sayin'? Since powa relationships are always changing, dis world, unlike Mundia, be continually shifting, and knowledge about da world quickly goes out of date n' shit. Intelligent Modians use they wits to develop an acute sensitivity to the Zeitgeist, man. They gots to know whetha to support da powerful, in da hopes of bein' raised by association, or perhaps rebel in da hopes of joinin' (or starting) a new powa center, man. They gots to know who, 'n what, is in or out, since a faux pas can lead to immediate loss of status. Finally, fo da most part, da world of Modia, unlike Mundia, be a zero-sum-game: one person's gain be another's loss, man. Status relationships can neva be win-win.

Now, yo' ass might think dat Mundia 'n Modia be non-overlapping magisteria, know what I'm sayin'? If only they were! Ah gots to give yo' ass an example of how they are not: da anthropogenic global warmin' debate n' shit. Ah be not, personally, knowledgeable enough about dis issue to has an informed opinion about it, know what I'm sayin'? Most likely, neitha be you n' shit. But, there be a good chance dat yo' ass has an opinion, informed or not, 'n might even believe dat shit very strongly! So how did yo' ass form yo' opinion? Da answer most likely depends on whetha yo' ass be Mundian or Modian. A Modian would say: "Obviously, there be anthropogenic global warming, all da right muthas believe it! There be consensus among da experts!" A Mundian would say, "Even though there be a consensus among experts on dis issue, there be some experts who disagree, know what I'm sayin'? How do we know they be not right? Only a few decades ago da experts wuz warnin' about global cooling n' shit. Minority views has often overturned da scientific consensus n' shit. Not enough time has passed to come to a conclusion, know what I'm sayin'? Da jury be still out." Note dat I'm not sayin' anythin' about da truth value of anthropogenic global warming! Only about da heuristic dat we use to make decisions when we be not well-informed.

Yo' ass might also notice dat bein' pro-AGW be generally associated with the political left, while bein' anti-AGW be associated wid da right. Ah don't much like da terms "left" 'n "right" as political descriptions ("liberal" 'n "conservative" be even worse) because to most muthas they imply ideology, know what I'm sayin'? Ah don't believe dat ideology is consistent ova time, know what I'm sayin'? When Ah look at da ideology of da left or right a hundred years ago, 'n look at dat shit now, Ah don't see much continuity. Issues dat da left or right supported a hundred years ago seem to have naw relationship to issues dat they support today. When Ah look at policy Ah see even less continuity, know what I'm sayin'? Da continuity dat I do see is the difference between Mundia 'n Modia, man.

Why be dat shit dat Hollywood tends to be leftist, while farmers tend to be on da right? Dat shit be because success in Hollywood depends on successfully manipulatin' people, while farmers gots to manipulate nature. Yo' ass can make a list of professions, 'n easily see dat da 'mo Modian they are, da 'mo left-leanin' they tend to be, 'n da 'mo Mundian they are, da 'mo right-leaning n' shit. Thus muthas who work in da media tend to be on da left, 'n engineers tend to be on da right, man. Business people tend to be on da right, because they be judged by objective standards of profit 'n loss, know what I'm sayin'? But those business muthas whose success depends on understandin' fashion tend 'mo to da left n' shit. Whereva yo' ass see objective standards, yo' ass see Mundians; whereva da the standards be subjective, Modians.

All human institutions tend to become Modian ova time, for the simple reason dat they be made up of people n' shit. Da 'mo subjective the criteria fo success, da 'mo Modian da organization gots to become. Those institutions dat has little or naw exogenous criteria for success, like government, academia, or da non-profit sector, will inevitably come to be dominated by Modians, whateva they explicit goals may be, man. Businesses, which gots to make a profit to survive, be not immune to dis tendency n' shit. Though they has exogenous criteria fo success, it is a difficult task to propagate da objective criteria fo success down through the ranks - at each level of decision makin' there gots to be some degree of subjectivity, 'n by da time we reach da bottom rank, decisions might be completely Modian n' shit. But in da business world, there be some good news for Mundians: those businesses dat become 'n all Modian gots to fail.

Mundia 'n Modia explain why muthas tend to move rightwards as they age n' shit. We be all born Modians, knowin' nothin' about da world, but trustin' our parents to inform us, know what I'm sayin'? Lata we learn from our teachers, and our peers, know what I'm sayin'? Dat shit be usually perfectly clear who has da right opinions in our society, 'n we accept they opinions as fact n' shit. But as we move away from da orbit of our parents, an interestin' thin' happens, man. We become acutely aware of da social hierarchy of our peers, man. Dat shit often becomes clear dat da high-status opinions in dis society be different, often diametrically opposed, to those of our parents, know what I'm sayin'? Which do we choose? Most of us still don't has a well-formed inna model of da world from which to make a Mundian decision, but most of us value highly our status among our peers, so it be an easy choice: we abandon da opinions of our parents, 'n embrace those of our peers, man.

As we age, we gradually learn 'mo about Mundia, know what I'm sayin'? Its immutable nature means dat our knowledge about dat shit be cumulative n' shit. Occasionally, we learn things dat seem to contradict what we thought we knew, 'n we has to reconsida our ideas, but da direction be always forward, know what I'm sayin'? Nothin' of the sort happens in Modia, at least on a macro scale n' shit. Opinion-makers are always changing n' shit. Intellectual fashions go in 'n out of style n' shit. To a Modian, dat shit seems natural to keep up wid da latest fashion, 'n they are instinctively swept along, man. But a Mundian soon becomes disillusioned; da world is supposed to be immutable! When our personal experiences of da world contradict its social messages, Mundians rebel. And so, they gradually move to da right.

Yo' ass might has detected above ma own personal bias, man. Ah am, I admit, a Mundian, know what I'm sayin'? But Ah do not believe dat Mundians be always right, nor is Modia an illusion, know what I'm sayin'? In fact, Modia be probably 'mo important than Mundia, even to Mundians! Mundians crave social success 'n status no less than Modians, 'n usually more than they crave success in farming, or buildin' bridges dat won't fall down n' shit. A typical Mundian mistake be to assume dat success in Mundia gots to naturally lead to success in Modia n' shit. Dat shit might, but dat shit might not, know what I'm sayin'? A successful movie star gots to always be 'mo popular than a successful businessman, man. Ah also think dat Modia be important in its own right, especially on da micro level of interpersonal relations n' shit. On the macro level, marketin' be part of life, fo betta or fo worse, and it's an important skill n' shit. In da arts, why not? Viva la Modia! Why not enjoy it?

Da problem comes when yo' ass use Modian skills to solve a Mundian problem, or vice versa, know what I'm sayin'? Everybody knows dat Modian skills won't keep your bridges from fallin' down, but we still choose bridge-builders partly, at least, fo Modian reasons, know what I'm sayin'? Everybody knows dat truth isn't a popularity contest, but we still tend to view a recent scientific consensus as truth, 'n call dissenters deniers, know what I'm sayin'? Conversely, Mundia won't help yo' ass get along wid yo' spouse, yo' co-workers, or make you popular, man.

In then end, we humans live in two worlds: Mundia 'n Modia. Enjoy the difference.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 02:37 PM  

March 02, 2014

Sovevos bugs & suggestions

This be a post fo listin' any bugs yo' ass find or suggestions yo' ass has fo Sovevos.

Tank you.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 07:19 PM  

Yo' ass might notice dat ma blog has a new commentin' system, man. Actually, it's 'mo than a commentin' system, it be a social network, man. At this point, a primitive social network, but Ah hope it be enough fo yo' ass to imagine how dat shit can be expanded to a full-fledged social-network experience.

Log in, 'n yo' ass gots to be able to homie otha muthas who comment, chat with them, 'n see they updates in yo' news feed.

But it be 'mo than just a social network fo a blog, know what I'm sayin'? It be also a network of social networks:

Yo' ass can use a login on one blog to log into anotha blog and comment, know what I'm sayin'?
  • Yo' ass can make friends wid muthas on many Sovevos-enabled blogs, 'n see all of they comments in yo' news feed.
  • Yo' ass can chat wid any homie who be logged in to any blog (not just those who be logged into da same blog).
  • For bloggers, installin' Sovevos makes yo' blog into a social network. Comments 'n otha activities be physically located on yo' blog, where yo' ass has control, not on a third-party provider, man. (Sovevos provides hostin' services, but yo' ass can install da product on yo' own serva if yo' ass want.)
Da vision of Sovevos be to turn da blogosphere into a giant, distributed social network.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 07:14 PM  
I'm back!

Ah stopped postin' in 2006 pretty much because Ah ran out of things to say, know what I'm sayin'? Since then, a lot of new thoughts has come to me, 'n Ah hope to post some of 'em here n' shit. But, there be a 'mo specific reason why I'm comin' back at dis time n' shit. Ah hope to talk about dat shit in ma next post.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 04:23 PM  
Decemba 14, 2006

Learn to read Hebrew

A homie of mine just axed me fo a phat link fo learnin' to read Hebrew, man. Well,

here's a phat link

n' shit. But if dat shit wuz up to me, I'd provide some context which would both help learn to read, 'n teach yo' ass something about da language, man. So, maybe I'll do it. Ah think I've already covered

vowel points

about as well as Ah can, so go look at dat post for vowels 'n I'll skip to consonants.  There be 22 consonants in Hebrew five of 'em has final forms, 'n three of 'em (in Modern Hebrew) has a stop 'n fricative pronunciation. All 22 Hebrew consonants has graphic cognates in Arabic, man. (Phonetic cognates can be found


.) All Hebrew 'n Arabic letters has numerical values - which are da same fo both! In tabular form:

NameAlefglottal stopBetGimelجghDaletدdhHeﻫVavوZayinزHhحvoiceless pharyngealTtطtYudيKafكkhLamedلMemمNunنSamekhس`Ayinعvoiced pharyngealPeفSsصsQufقuvular stopReshرShin, Sinشvoiceless lateral fricativeTavت
Letter Final form Transcription Arabic cognate Numerical value Comments
א   ' ا 1
ב   b, v ب 2 "v" after a vowel except when doubled, otherwise "b"
ג   g 3 used to have a fricative form ""
ד   d 4 used to have a fricative form ""
ה   h 5  
ו   v 6 used to be "w"
ז   z 7  
et ח   8
et ט   9 emphatic ""
י   y 10  
כ ך k, kh 20 "" afta a vowel except when doubled, otherwise "k"
ל   l 30  
מ ם m 40  
נ ן n 50  
ס   s 60  
ע   ` 70
פ פ p, f 80 "f" after a vowel except when doubled, otherwise "p"
adi צ ץ 90 used to be emphatic "", now "ts"
ק q 100
ר   r 200  
ש   sh, s 300 "s" used to be a , in pointed script "sh" be distinguished by a point above da upper-right corner, "s" by a point above the upper-left
ת   t 400 used to have a fricative form "th"
Posted by David Boxenhorn at 10:24 PM  
Decemba 13, 2006

Where breakthoughs happen

An interestin'

promotional video fo Israel

n' shit. Of course, dat shit be an advertisement, but everythin' in dat shit be true n' shit. My only (mild) criticism be dat that shit focuses too much on big, international companies, know what I'm sayin'? Israel be not Finland or Switzerland, playgrounds fo mega-high-tech n' shit. What distinguishes dat shit is the vibrancy of its entrepreneurship. In any case, go watch the video! Posted by David Boxenhorn at 02:23 PM  

Decemba 06, 2006

Da Israeli economic "miracle"

We can tank Netanyahu's much-vilified reforms fo



It be also becomin' clear dat Israel's economy is growin' fasta than all Western economies, man. Even da war did not slow the pace, know what I'm sayin'? Da mirror of growth be employment, which has improved greatly, know what I'm sayin'? A total of 240,000 Israelis joined da workforce in da past three years, supportin' themselves instead of relyin' on government handouts - 'n dat be da most important news fo society, man. The unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level in a decade, to 8.3 percent of da workforce compared to 10.7 percent in 2003, know what I'm sayin'? Da number of muthas receivin' unemployment payments fell from 97,000 in 2003 to 57,000, 'n da numba receivin' income support decreased from 155,000 to 140,000 in da same period n' shit.

Even da Tel Aviv Stock Exchange be doin' da unexpected n' shit. In defiance of all da prophets of economic doom, dat shit has jumped by 22 percent since da end of da war, to record heights, know what I'm sayin'? And as da stock market sees da face of da future, it apparently envisions greatness ahead n' shit.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischa recently joined da party, cuttin' interest rates to below da U.S, man. rate: 5 percent, compared to 5.25 in da U.S, man. And instead of an immediate devaluation, da shekel actually rose in response, man.

Will da economics textbooks needs to be revised? Apparently not, know what I'm sayin'? There be a single explanation fo all da phat things described here: A responsible, free-market economic policy expressed through budgetary restraint, a small deficit, tax cuts, reforms, privatization 'n openin' da economy to da free movement of goods, services 'n capital, or in short: Less government, 'mo business.

UPDATE: Netanyahu has a new
web site

, wid a blog. And don't miss this video. Posted by David Boxenhorn at 08:11 PM  

Decemba 03, 2006

It be possible to annihilate da Jewish people

Caroline Glick

(via Solomonia, my transcription): 

Ah found, when Ah wuz here in 1998 through 2000 after havin' been in Israel fo seven years, Ah found dat shit disturbin' in many ways to see how Holocaust memorials wuz springin' up like mushrooms afta da rainfall everywhere in da United States of America, know what I'm sayin'? Yo' ass walk down da dock in Boston, 'n yo' ass think you's goin' to go a fish restaurant, da next thin' yo' ass know you's standin' in a Holocaust memorial, know what I'm sayin'? Why? Because, know what I'm sayin'? And dat shit became dis fashion among American Jewry Ah think in da 1990's to put up Holocaust memorials everywhere, 'n we keep sayin' "neva again", know what I'm sayin'? We keep sayin' "neva again" n' shit. And Ah wonder when Ah look wass happenin' today in da world 'n Ah see da response of American Jewry whetha we eva stop to think what we mean by "never again" n' shit. Neva again to what? What be da lesson of da Holocaust? As far as Ah can tell da lesson dat da Jews should be takin' from the Holocaust be dat that shit be quite possible to kill all of us, man. Dat be what we should be learning, know what I'm sayin'? Without 'n all much objections from 'n all many people it be quite possible to commit genocide against da Jewish people. There may be otha lessons from da Holocaust but Ah think dat as a Jewish person, da main lesson dat we should be takin' away be dat it is possible fo dis to happen, man. Not dat be wuz possible but dat that shit is possible fo dis to happen...

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 11:21 AM  
An Israeli view of Borat

Borat looks different to an Israeli audience than dat shit does to any other, fo a numba of reasons, know what I'm sayin'? Here's

one Israeli review


Ah had heard dat Sacha Baron Cohen - tha dude of the grandmotha in Haifa 'n da youth education trips from da UK to the Holy Land - mixed in a fair amount of Hebrew wid tha dude's faux Kazakh in his box-office pimpslapped mockumentary Borat, know what I'm sayin'? I'd seen a clip of da movie's openin' few minutes on YouTube, where tha dude promises a one-armed neighbor (the genuinely disabled Nicu Tudorache) in tha dude's home Kazakh village of Kuzcek (actually Glod in Romania), in Hebrew, dat he'll return from the United States wid a new arm.

But Ah wasn't prepared fo da fact dat just about every "Kazakh" sentence Borat Sagdiyev utters in da entire movie be Hebrew - near-accentless, flawless, slang-filled modern Hebrew n' shit. My fellow Jerusalem audience members loved every word of it, heavin' hysterically at each idiomatic pearl. 


BARON COHEN be a comedian - bright, inventive and intrepid, know what I'm sayin'? Dependin' on how much of da Borat footage wuz genuine and how much wuz scripted, tha dude be also brave, man. Dat shit requires real guts to take the microphone at centa field 'n tell a vast crowd at a Virginia rodeo dat tha dude supports they president's war of terror, run wid that "joke" to bloodcurdlin' extremes 'n top off da performance by remakin' da US national anthem as a paean of praise fo Kazakhstan and of derision fo all otha nations, man. Dat shit requires real guts of a different kind to prance around before a global audience in dat screamin' green excuse fo a swimsuit.

But da jokester who would prevent anotha Holocaust wimped out, nonetheless, know what I'm sayin'? Easy to play fo fools an Evangelical Christian audience, swayin' 'n clappin' wildly in da grip of religious passion, man. But think of da truly needed alarms Baron Cohen might has set off fo tha dude's audiences had tha dude tried da same stunt in a mosque.

Read da whole thing.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 09:36 AM  

Novemba 30, 2006

Do Israelis speak Hebrew?

Yo' ass might think dat a subject like linguistics would have little to do wid politics, know what I'm sayin'? Unfortunately, you'd be mistaken n' shit.

Ghil'ad Zuckermann

claims dat in Israel we don't really speak Hebrew:

Ghil'ad Zuckermann, a 35-year-old graduate of Tel Aviv University wid doctorates from Oxford 'n Cambridge, argues that modern Hebrew should be renamed "Israeli" 'n give up its claim of pure descent from holy writ.

"Israelis be brainwashed to believe they speak da same language as (the prophet) Isaiah, a purely Semitic language, but dis be false," Zuckermann told Reuters durin' a lecture tour to promote his soon-to-be-published polemic "Hebrew as Myth".

" It be time we acknowledge dat Israeli be very different from the Hebrew of da past," Said Zuckermann, who points to da abiding influence of modern European dialects - especially Yiddish, Russian and Polish - imported by Israel's founders.

It be very possible dat Zuckermann be an excellent linguist. But declarin' Israelis' native language to be somethin' otha than Hebrew can only be a political, ratha than linguistic claim, 'n interferes wid da quality of tha dude's scholarship. Da only semi-objective basis fo declarin' two varieties of speech to be separate languages be da fuzzy idea of mutual-intelligiblilty, 'n even dat be clearly violated at both ends of the spectrum: "dialects" of Chinese be not mutually intelligible, while the Norwegian 'n Danish "languages" are.

Ah think by any reasonable standard Biblical 'n Modern Hebrew are mutually intelligible, as da article says:

Those who disagree wid Zuckermann note that an average Israeli can divine da meanin' of much of da Bible's Hebrew unaided - not da case, fo example, wid English-speakers who try to crack open an Anglo-Saxon classic like "Beowulf".

Da difference between Modern 'n Biblical Hebrew be 'mo like Modern English 'n the English of da Kin' James Bible, know what I'm sayin'? With just a little exposure, a modern speaka has naw trouble understandin' it n' shit. But da wrong-headedness of Zuckermann's claims be even 'mo glarin' when yo' ass look at da long history of post-Biblical Hebrew, beginnin' wid da Mishna, know what I'm sayin'? For those of yo' ass who know Hebrew, go look at Maimonides' Mishna Torah, fo example:

הקורא קרית שמע--כשהוא גומר פסוק ראשון, אומר בלחש ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד; וחוזר וקורא כדרכו "ואהבת, את ה' אלוהיך" (
דברים ו,ה

), עד סופה.  ולמה קורין כן--מסורת היא בידינו שבשעה שקיבץ יעקוב אבינו את בניו במצריים בשעת מיתתו, ציוום וזירזם על ייחוד השם, ועל דרך ה' שהלך בה אברהם ויצחק אביו.  ושאל אותם ואמר להם, בניי, שמא יש בכם פסולת, מי שאינו עומד עימי בייחוד אדון כל העולם, כעניין שאמר לנו משה רבנו "פן יש בכם איש או אישה . . ." (דברים כט,יז).  ענו כולם, ואמרו לו "שמע, ישראל:  ה' אלוהינו, ה' אחד" (דברים ו,ד)--כלומר שמע ממנו, אבינו ישראל, ה' אלוהינו, ה' אחד.  פתח הזקן ואמר, ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד; לפיכך נהגו כל ישראל לומר שבח זה ששיבח בו ישראל הזקן, אחר פסוק זה.

Da notion dat Modern Hebrew be so influenced by "modern European dialects" dat that shit be naw longa a Semitic language might seem to make sense, 'n there

a lot of evidence for it. But however much sense a claim might make theoretically and however much evidence you have, you only need one counter-example to disprove a claim. The above paragraph (as well as the rest of Maimonides writings, and, in fact, the entire body of medieval Hebrew) does just that. Maimonides wrote in the 12th century, and his native language was Arabic. The only thing in the paragraph that gives away its medieval origin is the use of qorin (קורין) instead of qor'im (קוראים), which is the Biblical, rather than Mishnaic form of the word. So should we stop calling this language Hebrew too? Would it be more accurate to say "Maimonides wrote in Israeli" than "Maimonides wrote in Hebrew"? In fact, while Maimonides consciously adopted the language of the Mishna, his analytic style is much closer to that of Modern Hebrew. That Maimonides is a thousand-year-old Arabic-speaker conclusively disproves the common claim that this style is a recent, European-based innovation. In fact, Modern Hebrew represents the culmination of rather smooth 3000-year transition from the language of the Bible.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 04:27 PM  Permalink | Comments
Trackback URL: http://blog2.mu.nu/cgi/trackback.cgi/195333

November 29, 2006

Is this what I sound like?

I did spend four years in Philadelphia, but I don't think anyone there would think that I sound like one of them... In any case, you can take the test here (via Razib). I took an test like this once before, here.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.

The Inland North
The Midland
The South
The West
North Central
Posted by David Boxenhorn at 03:55 PM  Permalink | Comments
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November 22, 2006

Israeli/Lebanese peace/war songs

In September, my old friend, Richard Isaac, co-hosted a radio show on KBCS 91.3 FM Seattle/Bellevue devoted to Israeli and Lebanese songs about peace and war. It is being re-broadcast Sunday evening, 26 November 2006, at 7:00 p.m. PST. (10 p.m. on the
East Coast, 5 a.m. in Israel on 27 November), you can listen to it here. He has also posted it here. Enjoy!

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 09:43 PM  Permalink | Comments
Trackback URL: http://blog2.mu.nu/cgi/trackback.cgi/194633

November 03, 2006

Iraq was building an atom bomb!

According to the New York Times, Iraq was a year away from building an atom bomb:

The Web site, “Operation Iraqi Freedom Document Portal,” was a constantly expanding portrait of prewar Iraq. Its many thousands of documents included everything from a collection of religious and nationalistic poetry to instructions for the repair of parachutes to handwritten notes from Mr. Hussein’s intelligence service. It became a popular quarry for a legion of bloggers, translators and amateur historians.

Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 11:35 PM  Permalink | Comments
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Live free or Die

Sean's comment on this post echos my sentiments:

For myself I do believe that I would prefer daily chaos and surviving by my wits to being tended to like a lamb by my government (lambs can be led to the slaughter).

I am constantly amazed when people seem to have not learned basic Star Trek, Saturday westerns, Kipling-esque lessons about human life and the state of captivity. Ours is a species that can will itself to die rather than live as a slave. So why does everyone give so much weight to issues of basic survival under a dictator? Even if one could live safely under Saddam (and that is far from certain, ask the Kurds or the Shia... two thirds of the country) is that enough? Even if life is riskier now (and I don't know that it is) isn't it still better to live in chaos as a free human?

When did Americans become the "live unfree or die" backers?

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 10:28 PM  Permalink | Comments
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October 30, 2006

Derb & God

John Derbyshire has a very interesting "Faith FAQ" online, in which, among other things, he declares himself a Mysterian. One of the things that I find interesting is that he continually refers to his Mysterian beliefs as a loss of faith. Yet, it seems to me that Mysterianism is the very essence of Judaism! John describes it like this:

My God is at, or possibly just is, one pole of the great two-poled mystery of everything: the origin of the universe, which passeth all human understanding. He is the Creator. Since He was present in the cosmos then, I assume He is now (or “now,” since He is obviously outside spacetime); and since I can apprehend Him, I assume He is aware of me. The two poles of mystery, the Him and the Me (I mean, the invidual human consciousness, the I, the Me — that’s the second pole) are in contact somehow, and may actually be the same thing...

In fact, I agree with most of what John says in his FAQs (the part about Catholicism being a major exception) - which mostly chronicles the things he has learned which led him away from religion. Yet, I find none of it even remotely challenging to my religion. It makes me feel very lucky, being a Mysterian from birth.

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September 07, 2006

Understanding Tangut

I've been following Amritas's Tangut analyses for quite some time now. From Wikipedia:

Tangut (also Xixia) is an ancient northeastern Tibeto-Burman language spoken in the Tangut Empire. By some linguists it is classified as belonging to the Qiangic languages. It is only distantly related to Tibetan and Burmese, and possibly also to Chinese.

Among the Qiangic languages one also notably finds Qiang and Rgyalrong.

This is the ancient official language of the Tangut empire (known in Tibetan as Mi-nyag and in Chinese as Xixia 西夏) which obtained its independence from the Chinese Song dynasty at the beginning of the 11th century, and was annihilated by Činggis Qaɣan (commonly known as Gengis Khan) in 1227.

The Tangut script, which Sofronov (1968) considered with reason to be one of the most complex in the history of humanity, was created by a decree of the emperor Li Yuanhao (李元昊) in 1038. The invention of the script was bestowed on Yeli Renrong (野利仁榮), a scholar close to the imperial family. After the destruction of the empire, the writing did not completely disappear, and it was used at least until the end of the 15th century.

The weird thing about Tangut is that we have a tremendous amount of knowledge about the language: 10,000 volumes of literature, most of which are translations of works we know from other languages, plus a native tradition of linguistic/grammatical analysis! But we still can't figure out how the Tangut script works! According to the Wikipedia link:

The script is presumed to have been designed by "The Teacher, Iri" under the supervision of the Emperor of the Tangut state, Li Yuanhao. It consisted of approximately 6,600 logographic characters built from radicals, in much the same way as they are in the Chinese script.

If the script were designed, you wouldn't expect it to consist of 6,600 random symbols. Take a look at Amritas's latest Tangut post. As you can see, the characters look much less like pictures than Chinese characters. But can you imagine memorizing 6,600 random characters like those chicken-scratches? Moreover, if you look at the characters long enough, vague patterns begin to emerge. Too vague to be definitive but too suggestive to be random. Amritas's favorite hypothesis, and the one that I'm convinced is correct, is that there are really two Tangut languages, which he calls Tangut A and Tangut B. Tangut A is the one for which we have phonetic knowledge. But Tangut B is the one which the characters represent phonetically. This isn't as unlikely as it sounds - Japanese has that sort of relationship with Chinese. What makes it less likely is that Chinese is the pricipal language of East Asia, while Tangut B is even more obscure than Tangut A.

However, there are several appealing things about this theory. For one thing, it would explain how Tangut writing could persist for hundreds of years after the Tangut empire was destroyed - in such a circumstance it must be relatively easy to learn.  But most of all, it would exactly explain the vague patterns we do, in fact, see - which I have tabulated below. Of course, the big problem with this theory is that there's no independent evidence of Tangut B. Oh well.

Phenomenon for similar characters Tangut A feature Tangut B feature
Similar sounds in Tangut A Words inherited from Tangut B The words sound similar in Tangut B "by chance" - i.e. the similar sounds don't reflect similar meanings
Words borrowed from Tangut B
Similar meaning in Tangut A Words not borrowed or inherited from Tangut B Similar sounds in Tangut B reflect similar meanings
Words evolved to the point where their phonetic relationship is unclear
Similar sound and meaning in Tangut A Words inherited from Tangut B
Words borrowed from Tangut B
Neither sound nor meaning similar in Tangut A Words not borrowed or inherited from Tangut B The words sound similar in Tangut B "by chance" - i.e. the similar sounds don't reflect similar meanings
Words evolved to the point where their phonetic relationship is unclear
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September 05, 2006

Alumni, of course!

For some time I have been wondering about how to organize an organization so that it doesn't become a self-perpetuating priesthood. How do you build in outside control that won't be captured by the bureaucrats? How do you make sure that the organization stays on course, doing what it was set up to do, rather than serving its own bureaucracy? At least for universities, I think I've found the answer: alumni. Of course! (Via Instapundit.)

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August 21, 2006

Israeli-Lebanese dialog

Take a look at this dialog between Lebanese blogger Rania el-Masry and Israeli blogger Lisa Goldman (via Lisa). It is sponsored by the BBC. No doubt they picked Lisa because they know that she hails from the Israeli far left. Unfortunately for them, they didn't know that though she's a leftist, she's honest, and doesn't distort or overlook relevant facts. Notice how Rania's arguments sound convincing as long as you don't know the facts. After trying to avoid confrontation, Lisa gives it to her. Her response is so good that I can't let it lie in such an obscure location. I'm reproducing it here in full:

Dear Rania,

The only thing that you and I agree on is that negotiations are preferrable to war. Other than that, I found your response to be puzzling and disingenuous.

You say that Israel should stop oppressing the Palestinians. Well, in Israel there are 1.2 million Palestinians who are Israeli citizens. The deputy mayor of Haifa is Palestinian; his name is Walid Hamis and he is a member of the Balad party. When my friend was taken to Tel Aviv's Ichilov hospital after a minor accident, the neurologist who treated him was named Dr. Firas and he was a Christian Palestinian from Nazareth. In Israel there are Palestinian members of parliament, Palestinian professors, journalists, lawyers and actors, high tech workers and businessmen.The stars of Paradise Now, Ali Suleiman and Kais Nashef, are Israeli citizens who studied at Beit Zvi, Israel's most prestigious acting school.

There are also Palestinians who are active members of the Israeli Open House, the gay and lesbian group. I have met and interviewed Palestinian gays who ran away from the West Bank, where their relatives threatened to kill them simply for their sexual orientation, and found refuge in Israel, which is an open, liberal and secular society.

All the Palestinians who live in Israel (I am not talking about the West Bank, which is occupied territory) are fully enfranchised citizens. Yes, they do face social discrimination. And yes, I do think that discrimination is very wrong. But a Palestinian who experiences discrimination in Israel can fight through the court system. What recourse does a Palestinian living in Lebanon have if he is faced with discrimination?

Is it not true that Palestinians who came to Lebanon in 1948 are inegible for Lebanese citizenship? Is it not true that Palestinians who are classified as refugees are not allowed to practice law or medicine in Lebanon? According to my Palestinian friends, many Palestinians live in squalid refugee camps and the Lebanese government does not allow them to better their lives by doing something as basic as renovating their homes. And finally, Lebanese Christians massacred Palestinians in Lebanon on several occasions in the 1970s and 1980s. So, what have the Lebanese people ever done for the Palestinians? And what in the world does Hezbollah, a Shi'a organization, have to do with the Palestinians, who are Sunni and Christian? I fail to see the connection.

When the Israeli Air Force bombed Dahiyeh and various Hezbollah villages in southern Lebanon during the first two days of the conflict, many Lebanese Christian and Sunni bloggers were quite happy. Some of them told me so directly. They did not even consider Dahiyeh to be part of Beirut, but rather an ugly, frightening place they were forced to pass on their way to and from the airport. They wanted to get rid of Hezbollah and they hoped that Israel would do the job for them. They changed their minds when the bombardments expanded into other areas of Lebanon. And yet, while I see that southern Lebanon has indeed been severely damaged, I cannot help noticing that Ashrafiyeh and other neighbourhood of West and East Beirut look completely intact when I watch the BBC World Service, Al Arabiyya and LBC broadcasts from Beirut.

On July 12, Hezbollah guerillas entered Israeli sovereign territory and attacked a group of Israeli reserve soldiers who were patrolling the border. They killed eight of them and kidnapped two. At the same time, Hezbollah launched hundred of missiles on Israeli civilian targets.

I would like to emphasise very strongly that the Hezbollah bombardment of northern Israel began before the Israeli military response, on the morning the soldiers were kidnapped. Hezbollah continued to launch up to 200 missiles per day at Israel for the duration of the war. Their targets in Israel were exclusively civilian. I was there, and I experienced that bombardment. Hezbollah never even pretended that they were aiming for military targets. Hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians were forced to live underground or flee south. Arab, Druze and Jewish civilians were killed; the missiles did not discriminate between them. Some of the Arabs and Druze who were killed have family in Lebanon. Huge tracts of forest have been burned to the ground. Houses, lives and businesses have been destroyed.

Like the Lebanese, Israelis will rebuild. Life will go on. But the long-term damage is another story. Israelis dream of living in peace. We sing about peace and we write poems about peace. Do the supporters of Hezbollah write poems about peace? And look how far away peace seems to be now! Look how much damage has been done to relations between Israel and Lebanon. I keep on asking myself why, why, why. You can sit there and say that Israel did this and Israel did that, but let us be honest: if Hezbollah had not attacked Israel - not once, but on many occasions - then there would have been no Israeli military actions in Lebanon.

I write this not to enter into a contest of "who suffered more." I hate the victimization narrative and I do not think there is a prize for suffering. I also wonder if Lebanese would be satisfied if more Israeli civilians had been killed, because that is the way it sounds. The way I see it, we all suffered and the source of our suffering is Hezbollah. I feel equal sympathy for Israeli and Lebanese civilians, for the damage done to both our countries.

And frankly it is beyond my ability to comprehend why a female academic at a secular university would support a fundamentalist religious organization that believes in full implementation of Shari'a in place of civil law.

Israel and Lebanon have no territorial dispute. The border between the two countries is internationally recognized by the United Nations. The July 12 incident was the catalyst for the Israeli military response, not the reason. The goal of the military response was not to rescue the two kidnapped soldiers, since everyone knew that could not be accomplished by military action, but to stop Hezbollah from continuing its attacks on Israel. The undisputed fact is that Hezbollah has attacked Israelis on many occasions since the withdrawal of 2000.

In October 2000, nearly six months after Israel withdrew completely from Lebanese territory, Hezbollah guerillas kidnapped three Israeli soldiers from inside Israeli territory. Their names were Adi Avyitan, Binyamin Avraham and Omar Sawaid. No information was ever released to their families about their whereabouts or their physicial condition. In fact they were dead, but Hezbollah did not have the decency to inform the families via the Red Cross. The bodies of the three men were returned three years later in a prisoner swap.

In February 2005 Hezbollah bombarded Al Ghajar, an Alawite village that is located inside Israeli sovereign territory. The residents of the village are Israeli citizens. Hezbollah guerillas tried to enter the village dressed in UNIFIL uniforms, driving a UN vehicle, in order to kidnap some of those Alawite Israeli citizens. Then Hezbollah bombarded Al Ghajar so fiercely that the children were screaming in terror on the phone to their parents, who were working in nearby Kiryat Shmona. I heard them; the phone calls were played on the nightly news broadcast.

Over the past six years Kiryat Shmona has been bombarded on many occasions by katyusha rockets launched by Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon.

Israel did not respond militarily to any of these incidents. The incident of July 12 was simply the last straw. The Israeli consensus was in favour of the military response not because anyone wanted to see Lebanese civilians hurt, but rather because they felt that Israel needed to protect its citizens from Hezbollah's constant attacks. Israelis do not have any dispute with the Lebanse government and I have not heard one Israeli express anything but sadness regarding the Lebanese civilians who were killed.

Hassan Nasrallah was educated in Iran. His movement is armed by Iran and has very close ties with that country. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran and supporter of Nasrallah, has said several times over the past year that Israel should be wiped off the map. I have watched many of Hassan Nasrallah's speeches and I have heard him call Israel "Palestine." If he does not even recognize the name of my country, and if he launches missiles at my country's civilian areas with no provocation, then in my eyes that means that Nasrallah does not accept Israel's right to exist and he wishes to destroy it.

You can argue with Israel's military tactics, no problem. I have been very critical of my government's military actions over the last month. But the undeniable fact is that Hezbollah has chosen Israel as its enemy for absolutely no reason. There are no Shi'a living in Israel. Israel does not occupy any Lebanese territory. Hezbollah provoked this attack, and they should take responsibility for the destruction they have brought upon Lebanon. Your anger is misdirected: you should be angry at Hezbollah, not Israel.


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August 20, 2006

The assumption that we are the victorious and evil side

In a private email, a friend of mine said something to the effect that Israelis are ahead of everyone else in perceiving the Islamist threat. Well, I'm not so sure that they are, and if so not by very much, and only because of our circumstances. The message in this article by Gadi Taub (via On The Face) holds true just about anywhere in the West:

The truth is that there is a deep arrogance behind this type of degenerate "left-ism." It's appeal is relevant only when we win. Its criticism is valid only on the assumption that we are the victorious and evil side. But in this case? It seems we are neither.

Even if we made terrible mistakes, we are not the guilty party. Anyone with eyes in their head sees the Iran inspired Islamic brand of fascism, and no elaborate explanations are needed to understand why it is evil.

But even more unusual for this branch of the left is that this time, it is unclear even that we are the stronger side. There is are huge forces gathering against us, bold, ruthless, and well-armed. This radical leftist arrogance, which grew out of the occupation, assumed that we were always Goliath. But here in the New Middle East, there is a new Goliath.

This reminds me of an old Jewish joke, which I used to think was funny because it was absurd. But now I think it's funny because it describes so much of the social posturing I see among those who presume moral superiority:

It's Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year. During a short break in the service, the Rabbi approaches the ark to say a personal prayer. "Master of the Universe," he says, "I am nothing!" At just this moment, the President of the synagogue passes by. Overcome by the Rabbi's fervor, he too approaches the ark and exclaims, "Master of the Universe, I am nothing!" Just then, the synagogue's janitor passes by. Overcome by the President's fervor he rushes up to the ark and cries, "Master of the Universe, I am nothing!"

The President leans over to the Rabbi and says, "now look who thinks he's nothing!"

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August 18, 2006

Descrating the remains of Israelis

If you read any Arab blogs - and I have been reading the most moderate ones I can find - you will see that a common topic is indignantly protesting Israel's "claim of moral superiority". Well, one thing that happens every time an Israeli corpse falls into Arab hands is that it gets mutilated. This, despite the fact that Islam has stricter notions of respect for the dead than are commonly held by most Americans (they are actually quite similar to Jewish views on the subject). Via Allison Kaplan Sommer:

I saw an incredibly disturbing segment on the Wednesday August 16th “Mosaic” program broadcast on Link TV (Mosaic features Middle East news unedited and translated from state and private networks like Al Jazeera.) In a segment entitled “Hezbollah’s Stronghold in a Southern Lebanese Town” from Future TV, Lebanon, south Lebanese villagers were shown displaying “Israeli booty” from the fighting there, including what was described as remains of Israeli soldiers. These included parts of a scalp, a skull, and the charred remains of a torso, all dumped out of a duffel bag and onto the ground for the benefit of the cameraman. There was no doctoring of images in this case.

Allison declines to post the link, but I presume it is here. I don't have Quicktime, so I can't watch it. Not that I want to.

UPDATE:  Somehow my Qucktime started working (it must have updated itself from the Internet). I had the window open in the background while I did other things, and suddenly I hear it playing. So I watched it. The segment described above is about two-thirds of the way through. It's not an "objective" news broadcast, but a paean to Hizballah's "victory". They're not embarrassed by what they're doing, they're proud, they're boasting. Here's my transcription of a part of it:

This body belongs to an Israeli soldier [a bag is turned upside-down and some charred remains fall out. a charred hand is visible] and this is what is left of another soldier's head [I can't make out what I'm seeing] and this is the skull of a third soldier [a scalp with some hair attached is shown on the ground]

As the voiceover continues to describe how a "resistance fighter" killed and wounded 30 Israeli soldiers, in the background, people are tossing around the body parts previously shown, plus what I presume are some other body parts.

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August 13, 2006

Noam Meirson, of blessed memory - נועם מאירסון זכרו לברכה

A week ago I went to a wedding. The groom had just come back from Lebanon. He was given a one month leave of absence in order to get married. Today I went to a shiv`a (שיבעה) - the one-week period of morning for a close relative.  Noam Meirson, the son of a friend of mine, was killed when an anti-tank missile struck his tank's turret. He was to be married in one month.

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August 11, 2006

Making News

What gets me is that you'd think that the real scoop would be the news of systematic fraud in the media. I guess the mainstream media are not interested in real news: 

On August 1, Orin Kerr suggested that, if David Bernstein's claims of staged Qana photos were correct, then some evidence might show up on the video that was shot at the scene.

Now German TV (with English subtitles) has a short report being shown on YOUTUBE that shows just the sort of evidence that Orin wanted to see (tip to Malkin and LGF). The character who has been dubbed "Green Helmet" is shown directing a scene for the benefit of cameras at Qana.

First, the body of a child is put in an ambulance. Then "Green Helmet" is shown directing the video photographer to "Keep on filming!" and insisting that "better images must be shot."

Then (after an apparent splice in the tape) the body of what may or may not be the same child is removed from the ambulance, apparently so that "better images" can "be shot" of the body. Instead of covering up the face with a blanket, the "workers" pull the blanket to just under the chin of the dead child and manipulate the angle of the child's head so that the video photographer can get the right closeup shot of the dead child's face.
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July 21, 2006

Bob Rosenschein's View

I have just received the following email from Bob Rosenschein. (I have reprinted it in full partly to help get the word out, and partly because the Washington Post has removed Bob's original formatting.)

Dear friends,
Rarely do I put political pen to paper, but when David Ignatius of the Washington Post asked me to contribute a post, I sat down and wrote the following piece. Feel free to link or share. The opinions are my own and do not represent Answers.com.
-- Bob

One Israeli's View
Da phat Yogi Berra once said, "In theory there is no difference between theory 'n practice, man. In practice there is."
Ah be not a columnist - just an ordinary American citizen livin' in Israel - but Ah has gained some insight into both cultures, some might say mentalities, know what I'm sayin'? Here be what many Israelis are feelin' nowadays.
Da first point concerns some unwritten American values Ah grew up with:
  • Problems be solvable.
  • Good will be returned in kind.
  • In general, favor da underdog ova da top dog (unless you's da top dog).
  • If two sides be fighting, they gots to both has some justification.
  • Be reasonable; split da difference.
But what if yo' ass be livin' in a neighborhood where they are not quite as reasonable as you? Where yo' attempts to reason and split da difference backfire? Or worse, where concession be laughed at as weakness.
Da second point concerns Israel in particular, know what I'm sayin'? We be 6.6 million people, toughened but pragmatic n' shit. At 8,020 square miles, we has an area 25% smalla than Maryland n' shit. Da difference be that, unlike America's vast power, with oceans 'n peaceful neighbors on all sides, da Jewish state is surrounded on several sides wid muthas who actually want to kill us. Not subdue us - destroy our country.
It would be convenient to think dat dis gots to be because of somethin' we did, man. But Hamas and Hezbollah say dat shit out loud 'n crystal clear, know what I'm sayin'? Da "occupation" be the whole works, man. they final solution be da total destruction of Israel. Iran, a memba state of da UN, holds conferences called "A World Without Israel."
This be da backdrop against which most civilized countries would has us turn da otha cheek n' shit. As social writa Eric Hoffa once said, "We mad do expect da Jews to be da only phat Christians in da world."
To put things in perspective, imagine, if yo' ass can, dat Arlington lobbed 1,000 shells at Georgetown. Or sent suicide bombers, man. How exactly would yo' ass react? Imagine that Mexico wuz callin' fo da destruction of da United States, backin' it up wid cross-borda raids 'n missiles.
Da third point be that Israel already withdrew from every last inch of southern Lebanon and Gaza, as da international community demanded n' shit. But da provocations and terror - violence aimed intentionally against civilian targets - continued, know what I'm sayin'? Dis be why we entered dis conflict n' shit. Enough be enough.
This be a horrible situation to be in, fightin' Hezbollah behind its human shields, man. But before bombin' southern Lebanon 'n da Hezbollah neighborhoods of Beirut, Israel dropped leaflets encouragin' evacuation, know what I'm sayin'? Confronted with terrible choices, we be tryin' to fight while minimizin' civilian casualties.
Da operative emotion in Israel right now be sadness, sadness fo what be bein' done to us, sadness fo what we gots to do to defend ourselves, know what I'm sayin'? Da missiles shot at Haifa landed a few miles from da research labs of Intel, IBM, Microsoft 'n Google, man. Israelis would much ratha continue workin' on desalination, stroke treatment, 'n alternative fuels (see www.israel21c.org), know what I'm sayin'? We would ratha dat our adversaries developed they own economies pragmatically.
We hate dis conflict, but we will not commit suicide, know what I'm sayin'? As Golda Meir said, "We gots to has peace when our enemies love they children 'mo than they hate ours."
My fatha wuz a survivor of Auschwitz 'n Buchenwald, wuz da most optimistic person Ah eva knew, but tha dude once taught me, "Above all else, when someone threatens to kill you or yo' loved ones - just believe him!"
Da lesson fo America is simple n' shit. Do not hide from international responsibility n' shit. Do not assume the oceans offa protection, know what I'm sayin'? Iran be behind Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, and, of course, da insurgents in Iraq, man. If Iran gets nuclear bombs, do you want to bet they won't sponsor a radical Islamic group to eradicate American cities?
Yo' ass want to know what Israelis be thinking? Theory 'n practice be intertwined, man. We be on the front line, but we gots to show patience 'n strength, know what I'm sayin'? That's why 89% of Israelis, Left, Right 'n Center, support da army right now, know what I'm sayin'? A mere 61 years 'n 10 weeks afta V-E day, we know dat evil 'n blind hatred exist, know what I'm sayin'? And dat they can be beaten.

-- Bob Rosenschein be CEO of Answers.com (NASD:ANSW); he can be reached at rrosenschein at gmail.com; dis piece reflects his own views
Posted by David Boxenhorn at 10:03 AM  
A special place in Hell

Although Ah do not believe in


, if there be any justice in da afterlife, there be a special place for those who force muthas to do evil things, because da alternative is worse n' shit. Amba expresses ma feelings perfectly (via Callimachus):

A supporta of Israel cannot help but writhe in agony at da horrible spectacle of da suffering, death and displacement of Lebanese civilians, they neighborhoods 'n lives shattered by da wrath of Israeli warplanes huntin' down Hezbollah terrorists who hide in they midst.

How do yo' ass deal a decisive, clean blow to a terrorist organization that uses its own neighbors as human shields? Yo' ass don't n' shit. Yo' ass eitha grant them an unacceptable kind of immunity, or yo' ass go afta them, whatever it takes, 'n become a hated slaughtera yourself.

Nevertheless, fo those who care fo da truth (which doesn't include da vast majority of da Arab world), Israel be obviously tryin' to minimize Lebanese casualties as much as possible, man.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 09:46 AM  

How journalism works



. If yo' ass want da context, read this first. Okay,


the full story. Posted by David Boxenhorn at 09:44 AM  

July 17, 2006

Blogs be da end of ham


Ham Radio

? Used to be, wheneva there wuz a crisis - say, a hurricane, or a war - da ham radio operators would step in 'n provide an important source of up-to-date local information, know what I'm sayin'? Well, now it be the blogs (link via Instapundit). Da difference being, of course, dat naw special expertise be required, and there be now at least 46 million of them! Used to be a fleet of geeks, now it be an Army of Davids! Posted by David Boxenhorn at 03:40 PM  

July 09, 2006

Da Kielce pogrom

Among Jews, wack feelings about Poland be second only to Germany fo da part they played in cooperatin' wid da Holocaust. This feelin' might not be accurate, in light of da fact dat da

Holocaust death rate

in many countries approached dat of Poland, and Poland wuz da country longest occupied by da Nazis n' shit. (German and Austrian Jews had a relatively high survival rate only because they had time to see what wuz comin' 'n try to get out.) On da otha hand, Poland's wack reputation be immeasurably enhanced by da Kielce pogrom:

Kielce pogrom refers to da events on July 4, 1946, in da Polish town of Kielce, when thirty-nine Polish Jews wuz massacred 'n eighty wounded out of about two hundred Holocaust survivors who returned home afta World War II. Among victims wuz also two Gentile Poles, know what I'm sayin'? While far from da deadliest pogrom against da Jews, da pogrom wuz especially significant in post-war Jewish history, as da attack took place 14 months afta the end of World War II, well afta da Nazis wuz defeated 'n da extent of da Holocaust wuz well known to da world.

commemorates its anniversary


Poland's President Lech Kaczynski denounced anti-Semitism on da 60th anniversary of a pogrom in da town of Kielce that left 42 muthas dead, sayin' democratic Poland had "no room for racism 'n anti-Semitism."

"As da president of Poland, Ah want to say dat shit loud and clear: what happened in Kielce 60 years ago wuz a crime," tha dude said, know what I'm sayin'? "This be a great shame 'n tragedy fo da Poles 'n da Jews, so few of whom survived Hitler's Holocaust."

In Kielce, townspeople 'n security officers - spurred by a false rumor dat Jews livin' at 7 Planty Street had kidnapped a Christian boy - attacked Jewish Holocaust survivors livin' in the buildin' on July 4, 1946.

They killed 42 people, almost all Jews, over several hours, and about 30 'mo wuz also killed in a violent frenzy dat spread across the area, know what I'm sayin'? Da violence led set off a mass emigration of many of Poland's estimated 250,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors - what wuz left of da prewar Jewish population of 3.5 million.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 11:29 AM  
June 28, 2006

Da Universal Law of Interpersonal Dynamics

Every once in a while Ah realize somethin' wid ma conscious mind dat I've understood implicitly fo a long time, man. Such a thing happened to me yesterday, while readin' a

post on Stalin, by Amritas

n' shit. Dat shit be this:

S = P + E

Social Status equals Political Capital plus Economic Capital

Now, if someone wuz to has just shown me dat equation, I would probably has been unimpressed n' shit. Dat shit seems like a definition, a tautology, a pseudo-mathematical formulation of da expression "socioeconomic status" n' shit. What Ah suddenly realized, though, be dat this formula has tremendous explanatory power, know what I'm sayin'? So much so, dat Ah want to call dat shit da "Universal Law of Interpersonal Dynamics", man. Now, Ah be not a psychologist, sociologist, or anthropologist, 'n Ah be not familiar with da literature, so Ah don't claim dat it be an original idea n' shit. I'm sure dat such a thin' gots to has be expounded upon by someone before me, man. But I'm a fairly well-educated person, 'n I've neva encountered such a thin' in any popular forum, man. Assumin' dat that shit more-or-less stands afta dat shit be posted, dat shit deserves to be popularized.

Here's an example of its explanatory power: If we assume that a major human drive be to maximize S, we can predict dat muthas with high P gots to attempt to minimize da value of E (since S-maximization is a zero-sum game) n' shit.  And so we see n' shit. Throughout history there has been an attempt to ennoble P while stigmatizin' E.  Conversely, throughout history, muthas wid high E use dat shit to acquire P, know what I'm sayin'? Thus, in today's society we see dat socially adept people, who has inborn P skills, tend to favor socialism or big ass government - where they skills are most valuable, while economically productive muthas be often frustrated by da fact dat they concrete contribution to society is deplored.

Now, yo' ass might ax yourself why da reverse ain't true, why people wid high P don't use dat shit to acquire E, while muthas wid high E don't attempt to stigmatize P? Well, Ah think dat


true, man. But, while da equation be mathematically symmetrical, da nature of P-talent 'n E-talent be not n' shit. P-talent can be used to acquire E from the E-adept, but da E-adept be naw match fo da P-adept in the attempt to stigmatize P n' shit. Furthermore, P be endogenous to da system, while E be exogenous, man. In otha words, da P-adept has da ability to manipulate da system itself to make P-talent 'mo valuable in acquirin' E, while da E-adept has naw ability to manipulate da external environment to make E-talent 'mo valuable in acquirin' P. Of course not all muthas fall neatly into one of these two categories, man. Some muthas be naturally both P-adept


E-adept, while others, unfortunately, be neither, man. This, too, be asymmetrical in its implications, since da both-adept has a choice of pursuin' either P-strategies or E-strategies (indeed, there be many real-world applications which leverage both), but da neither-adept has naw choice but to support a P-strategy, since cooperation of dis kind be itself a P-strategy (libertarianism, by contrast, would get 'em neitha P nor E). Put anotha way: Socialism be all about takin' da "economic" out of "socioeconomic status", meanin' dat gainin' social status becomes a purely political game n' shit. Which be why dat shit appeals to both da socially adept and the economically inadept, know what I'm sayin'? They both hate status dat be based on dirty economics, know what I'm sayin'? Those boors don't deserve it. 

Now, Ah don't think dat dis be a new phenomenon at all, know what I'm sayin'? Back in hunter-gathera times, Ah has naw doubt dat there wuz already people who gained social status through P-strategies n' shit. But da social systems were so small, 'n da harsh economic realities to obvious, dat it probably took a lot of political-talent units to equal one economic-talent unit n' shit. Now, however, societies be very phat and complex, and da sources of economic productivity be not well-understood n' shit. The playing-field has tipped dramatically toward da socially adept, the merely economically adept now often, endearingly, termed "losers". 

Ah leave dat shit as an exercise to da reada to show how the Universal Law of Interpersonal Dynamics predicts da following:

All institutions gots to tend to be dominated by da P-adept
  1. All institutions dat has naw in-built exogenous criteria for measurin' its members' status gots to
  2. inevitably
  3. be dominated by da P-adept Universities gots to inevitably be dominated by da P-adept
  4. Within a university, humanities 'n social sciences gots to be more dominated by da P-adept than natural sciences
  5. Within a university, humanities 'n social sciences will politically dominate da natural sciences
  6. People who work in universities 'n da government will tend toward socialism
  7. Libertarians gots to tend to be found among da socially inadept
  8. Unmarried hoes gots to tend toward socialism
  9. Hard-working, upwardly mobile muthas gots to tend away from socialism (even when they absolute status be low)
  10. (Cross-posted on
Gene Expression

.) Posted by David Boxenhorn at 07:22 AM  

June 26, 2006

Time be da Great Equalizer

Last night Ah saw a presentation by

Eli Harari

, founda 'n CEO of SanDisk, know what I'm sayin'? Dat shit wuz very interesting, man. One of da things tha dude said be so short 'n powerful dat I want to record dat shit here: "Time be da Great Equalizer". In otha words, just as "time be money" in da sense dat you can use time to make money, also "money be time" in da sense dat no matta how much money yo' ass have, some things just take time, and everybody has da same amount of time as you n' shit. That's one of da reasons that small companies often beat big ass companies: they make 'mo efficient use of time, 'n all da money in da world be sometimes naw substitute for that. 

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 02:05 PM  

June 07, 2006

Line Break Removal

Ova at blogga there's a problem includin' pre-built HTML in yo' posts n' shit. Da problem be dat blogga "helpfully" turns all line breaks in da source HTML into line breaks (i.e, know what I'm sayin'? <br>) in da output web page n' shit. Da only way Ah know of to fix dis problem be to remove them, which be extremely tiresome thin' to do by hand, know what I'm sayin'? So, fo anyone who might want it, I've written a


simple utility to do it:

Paste HTML here:Copy HTML from here:                    
Posted by David Boxenhorn at 11:25 AM  
May 28, 2006

Mortifyin' da Flesh

Ah just realized why so many muthas around da world take such pleasure in hatin' they own country n' shit. It be da same reason dat people like

mortification of da flesh

. Posted by David Boxenhorn at 08:58 PM  

May 25, 2006

Laws of Return

Is Israel da only country wid a Law of Return? If not, how many countries has laws of return?

Continue readin' "Laws of Return"
Posted by David Boxenhorn at 03:33 PM  
May 23, 2006

Put da Lebanese muthafucka in charge of da Israeli office!

What happens when yo' ass combine yo' company's Lebanese office with its Israeli office 'n put da Lebanese head in charge? Find out


. It be one of da most beautiful things I've read, know what I'm sayin'? Excerpt:

Da Israeli clusta wuz neva profitable n' shit. So my western HQ decided to get rid of da manager, man. That's fine, man. Instead of bringin' in a new Israeli manager, a unique idea arose, know what I'm sayin'? Hey, dat muthafucka responsible fo the Middle East be a (fantastic) performer n' shit. Why not add dis market to his? Unique n' shit. Da muthafucka be Lebanese n' shit. And a fuckin' naive idiot.

Da next mornin' da staff wuz to be informed n' shit. They didn't know who Ah was, know what I'm sayin'? They thought Ah wuz a Westerna comin' in from da west, know what I'm sayin'? Ah could imagine the look on they faces n' shit. Da horror.

Revenge n' shit. How sweet.


We continued, know what I'm sayin'? Da day went by fast, know what I'm sayin'? Very fast n' shit. We went through background data, know what I'm sayin'? Financials, know what I'm sayin'? Forecasts, know what I'm sayin'? They started gettin' pissed. They didn't know da financials wuz so bad, know what I'm sayin'? They wuz furious. Shocked n' shit. They felt betrayed by they previous management fo not bringin' dis to they attention, know what I'm sayin'? Dis wuz ma chance to get that reaction I've dreamt of.

" Yo' ass know, in Lebanon we neva had these problems" n' shit. Hint, hint, man. I finally released they curiosity.

Ah told them, know what I'm sayin'? Da shock, da horror, da awe, know what I'm sayin'? Da smiles? Naw sonic boom in dis room.

"Oh my God, ma parents wuz in Beirut in da '60s, man. I've seen pictures, know what I'm sayin'? It was so beautiful, know what I'm sayin'? Don't they call dat shit da Paris of da Middle East", she said n' shit. What? (Switzerland actually, but that's not da point)

Nobody cared where Ah wuz from n' shit. Nobody wuz angry at da decision to brin' me in, know what I'm sayin'? Nobody gave me any wack attitude, man. They wuz angry wid da previous Israeli managa fo not performing, know what I'm sayin'? They wuz horrified by the financials n' shit. And they looked to me fo guidance n' shit. Da Lebo from the north, know what I'm sayin'? Da 'enemy'.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 10:27 AM  
May 18, 2006

Da brutal nature of life in da Third World

Da pseudonymous Isaac Schrödinger is originally from Pakistan, wuz raised in Saudi Arabia, 'n be currently a student in Canada, know what I'm sayin'? Tha dude



...a conversation Ah had wid a bunch of friends some years ago n' shit. We were talkin' about stuff when one of 'em said dat such-and-such company might has used child labor in Asia fo makin' its products.

"So?" wuz ma response.

Every jaw dropped, man. "What do yo' ass mean so!?"

"So, wass da problem?" Ah replied.

"That's just wrong, usin' kids in factories."

"Did da muthas from such-and-such company force the kids to work in their factory? Ah don't think so n' shit. These young workers line up fo a job because it be betta than they otha options in life."

"But.., man. but what about goin' to school!?"

It wuz dis question dat made me realize dat he, like many Westerners, had little knowledge about da brutal nature of life in the Third World.

Read da whole thing.

UPDATE: My view on poverty be


. Posted by David Boxenhorn at 06:34 PM  

May 11, 2006

Ayaan Hirsi Ali wins Moral Courage Award

Da American Jewish Committee awards Ayaan Hirsi Ali its

Moral Courage Award

. Da followin' be part of ha acceptance speech (transcription mine):

Ladies 'n gentlemen Ah has a confession to make, if yo' ass be Jewish, man. It be a testimony to ma dark past when Ah lived in ignorance.
Ah used to hate you, know what I'm sayin'? Ah hated yo' ass because Ah thought yo' ass wuz responsible for da war dat took ma fatha from me fo so long, know what I'm sayin'? When da Soviet Union allied wid our home-grown dictator in Somalia, Ah wuz told the Jews wuz behind that, know what I'm sayin'? In Saudi Arabia Ah saw poor muthas from a place called Palestine n' shit. Muthafuckas hoes 'n children huddled togetha in despair, man. I was told yo' ass drove 'em out of they homes, man. Ah hated yo' ass fo that, know what I'm sayin'? When we had naw wata Ah thought yo' ass closed da tap, man. Ah don't know how yo' ass did it, but yo' ass did it, know what I'm sayin'? If ma motha wuz unkind to me Ah knew yo' ass were definitely behind it, know what I'm sayin'? Even when Ah failed an exam Ah knew dat shit wuz your fault n' shit. Ah don't know how yo' ass did all these things n' shit. But then Ah didn't need proof, know what I'm sayin'? Yo' ass be by nature evil, know what I'm sayin'? And yo' ass had evil powers 'n you used 'em to evil ends.

Learnin' to hate yo' ass wuz easy.

Listen to
the whole thing

n' shit. Dat shit sounds even betta in ha beautiful voice. And there's more. Posted by David Boxenhorn at 03:50 PM  

Trackback from Solomonia, Hirsi Ali's Acceptance Speech: David Boxenhorn transcribed part of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's acceptance speech at da American Jewish Committee's Moral Courage Awards: ...Ah used to hate you n' shit. Ah hated yo' ass because Ah thought yo' ass wuz responsible fo da war dat took ma fatha from...

April 28, 2006

Michael Totten goes North

Anotha must-read:

Part two of Michael Totten's trip to Israel

n' shit. Excerpt:

“Do yo' ass think they’re watching us?” Lisa said, man.

“They be watchin' yo' ass right at this second,” da lieutenant said. “ Yo' ass be definitely bein' photographed n' shit. It’s possible you’re being watched through a snipa rifle.”

To say Ah felt naked 'n exposed at dat moment would be a real understatement n' shit. Ah felt like ma skin wuz invisible, dat psychopaths were borin' holes wid they eyes straight to da core of ma being, man. At the same time, Ah knew they did not see me as a person, know what I'm sayin'? They saw me as a potential massacre target, know what I'm sayin'?

Ah know Hezbollah wouldn’t hurt me in Lebanon, even though they did call me on ma cell phone 'n threaten me wid physical violence, know what I'm sayin'? All bets be off while standin' next to

IDF soldiers in Israel, though. Posted by David Boxenhorn at 01:24 PM  
Trackback from Kesha Talk, More reactions to "United 93": All entries on Flight 93 here, know what I'm sayin'? Jim Geraghty 'n Bizzyblog be trackin' reactions to da trailer n' shit. David Boxenhorn transcribed da director's statement from da movie site, man. (It wuz part of a graphic dat wuz unlinkable.) Shrinkwrapped places reactions to...

April 27, 2006

An Egyptian's drive to Israel

Josh Scholar

posts a great link on Michael Totten's blog. It be a translated except from Ali Salem's A Drive to Israel:

In 1994, afta da signin' of da Oslo accords, Ali Salem did the unthinkable n' shit. Tha dude hopped in tha dude's 14-year-old Soviet-made ride 'n drove across da Sinai into Israel, know what I'm sayin'? Tha dude spent ova three weeks in da country, tourin' 'n meetin' Israelis from all walks of life n' shit. On tha dude's return, he published a book,

A Drive to Israel, which sold ova 60,000 copies—a runaway bestsella by Egyptian standards.

It be very interestin' to read tha dude's ass report on some things that Ah take fo granted:

Da most interestin' point be dat da young boy, in dat brief moment afta a driva told tha dude's ass tha dude didn’t agree wid da slogan, didn’t feel angry or frustrated, know what I'm sayin'? Instead tha dude quickly moved on to anotha car, man. He didn’t scream: " Yo' ass creep, why don’t yo' ass agree? … Yo' ass gots to be an agent of da Syrians 'n da Arabs."

We gots to focus on dis point in raisin' our children, know what I'm sayin'? Dat shit be a person’s right to hold differin' views 'n ideas, as long as he doesn’t espouse violence or aggression n' shit. Let ideas do combat wid each other, theory against theory, fo da benefit of da nation.

Public debates here be not confined to da offices of political parties or newspapa columns n' shit. Yo' ass see 'em transformed into banners held by groups of young muthafuckas 'n hoes on street corners n' shit. Sometimes you find a demonstration of two persons carryin' a banna announcin' their joint political position n' shit. There be a well-known group dat stands on a certain street corna in Jerusalem wearin' black clothes 'n holding signs saying: "Leave da West Bank … Leave da Golan … Leave Gaza."

You’ll find anotha group in da middle of Jerusalem raising signs saying: " Da West Bank begins here," meanin' dat if we vacate da West Bank, we’ll wind up withdrawin' even from Jerusalem.

And dis fine piece of sarcasm:

My mind turned to da topic of da Israeli cultural invasion of Egypt...

"Oh, what a wretched, helpless victim be I! How can Ah protect myself from dis invasion? What should Ah do to confront these lethal weapons?"

"Don’t speak wid them, listen to them, or read them. Convince yourself that they don’t exist n' shit. Imagine dat Israel be da temptress of da folk tales, da voice of seduction lurin' yo' ass to desire 'n destruction, the siren of Greek mythology 'n of da Thousand 'n One Nights, know what I'm sayin'? Tha byatch sings a captivatin' song, tha byatch possesses an enchantin' voice dat gots to lure you away 'n drag yo' ass to da bottom of da Nile, man. Plug yo' ears and become deaf, man. While you’re at it, blind yo' eyes too, since a nuclear film or somethin' like dat shit could invade yo' ass … "

"Okay, I’ll plug ma ears 'n blind ma eyes to protect me from the cultural invasion."

"But dis isn’t enough, ma friend! They’ll attack with advanced new weapons capable of penetratin' yo' mind without passin' through your ears or eyes."

"Oh, what a lost soul be I! How can Ah possibly protect ma mind?"

"Shut it, shut down yo' mind n' shit. That’s da solution."

"Okay, I’ve closed it."

"Now yo' ears be plugged, yo' eyes be closed 'n yo' mind be shut. Praise da Lord! You’re saved—from da Israeli cultural invasion, know what I'm sayin'? Now you be safe 'n secure in yo' own heritage, in yo' national and ethnic culture."

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 12:27 PM  
Michael Totten goes to Israel

If yo' ass want to understand what Israel be mad like, yo' ass must read Michel Totten's

latest post


TEL AVIV - Afta livin' in an Arab country fo nearly six months, arrivin' in Israel came like a shock.

It startled me from da air, man.

Whoa, Ah thought, as Ah looked out the window of da plane ova da suburbs of Tel Aviv, know what I'm sayin'? If da border were open Ah could drive down there in a short couple of hours from my Beirut apartment n' shit. But dis place looked nothin' like Lebanon n' shit. My Lebanese homie Hassan calls Israel Disneyland, man. I thought about dat 'n laughed when Ah watched dat shit roll by from above n' shit.

Trim houses sprawled in Western-style suburban rows like white versions of little green Monopoly board pieces. Red-tiled roofs somehow looked more Southern California than Mediterranean. Swimming pools sparkled in sunlight. I felt that I had been whisked to the other side of the planet in no time.

The airport shocked me as well, although it probably wouldn’t shock you. There were more straight lines and right angles than I was used to. There were more women, children, and families around than I had seen for some time. Obvious tourists from places like suburban Kansas City were everywhere.

Arab countries have a certain feel. They’re masculine, relaxed, worn around the edges, and slightly shady in a Sicilian mobster sort of way. Arabs are wonderfully and disarmingly charming. Israel felt brisk, modern, shiny, and confident. It looked rich, powerful, and explicitly Jewish.

In fact, I think Michael's entire site is a must-read. Even with all the journalists in Israel and the Middle East, I have never seen in the press honest descriptions as to what the countries are really like. He talks to Lisa:

She moved from Canada to Israel years ago when Ehud Barak was prime minister. Peace between Israelis and Palestinians looked imminent. Israel was on the threshold - finally - of becoming an accepted and normal country in the Middle East. It was the perfect time to relocate, a time of optimism and hope. A cruel three weeks later that dream was violently put to its death. The second intifada exploded. Israel was at war.

“It was so traumatizing,” she said. “And everybody blamed us. I don’t think I will ever get over it.”

I wrote about that here.

Lisa voted for Meretz in the last election. That's the farthest-left party that's not explicitly anti-Zionist:

“I have Palestinian friends who say things I don’t like at all,” she said. “They say they want to destroy Israel, that it has no right to exist.”

“How can you be friends with people like that?” I said.

“Because I know the difference between rhetoric and reality,” she said.

“Threats from the West Bank aren’t just rhetoric,” I said. “How many suicide bombings did you say you’ve seen?”

“These people will never hurt me,” she said. “They are my friends. They love me. And when I say love, I do not mean that lightly.”

It's true. I couldn't maintain a friendship with anyone who wants to destroy Israel. But I deal with Arabs on a day-to-day basis, and my interactions with them are very friendly. When you meet a person face-to-face, and that person is nice to you, your instinct is to be nice. Nevertheless, every once in a while there's a story about an Arab who kills his longtime Jewish friend. Perhaps he is accused of treason. Perhaps another member of his family is threatened. On an individual level, I have sympathy for his dilemma.

Back to Michael:

Lisa told me the Bedouin in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula speak Hebrew.

“Why?” I said. “Did they learn it during the occupation?” Israel seized the Sinai from Egypt during the Six Day War in 1967 and gave it back when Anwar Sadat agreed to a peace treaty.

“No,” she said. “They wanted to learn Hebrew so they can talk to us when we go down and visit.”

“When you go down there and visit?” I did not know what she was talking about.

“Last year 200,000 Israelis visited the Bedouin during Passover," she said.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 09:18 AM  Permalink | Comments
Trackback URL: http://blog2.mu.nu/cgi/trackback.cgi/165364

April 25, 2006

My personality?

Is this me?

You are a Considerate Inventor.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 11:44 AM  Permalink | Comments
Trackback URL: http://blog2.mu.nu/cgi/trackback.cgi/164979

April 05, 2006

United 93 - Director's statement

I read the director's statement for United 93. It was so powerful that I wanted to link to it, but I couldn't find it anywhere in linkable form, so I have reproduced it below. You can get to the original by going to united93movie.com - click on "ENTER THE SITE", and you'll find "DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT" in the menu (bottom left corner). Director, Paul Greengrass:

UNITED 93 is a film about 9/11

It tells the story of the day through a meticulous re-enactment of events surrounding United 93, the last of the four hijacked aircraft, in the belief that by examining this single event something much larger can be found - the shape of our world today.

By a quirk of fate Flight 93 was delayed on the runway at Newark airport for 45 minutes. By the time it was airborne, the other three planes had reached their intended targets. As a result, the forty passengers and crew on board Flight 93 were the first to inhabit our new and terrifying post 9/11 world.

The terrible dilemma those passengers faced is the same we have been struggling with ever since. Do we sit passively and hope this all turns out okay? Or do we fight back and strike at them before they strike at us? And what will be the consequences if we do?

That is why the story of Flight 93 continues to command our attention. Although we can only dimly understand what must have happened on that ninety minute flight, we can know from the two dozen phone calls and from the 30 minutes of Cockpit Voice recordings that it dramatizes and symbolizes everything that we face today.

Made with the full support of the families of those on board, UNITED 93 will track in real time the dramatic story of what happened inside the aircraft as well as on the ground, as passengers, crew, Civilian Air Traffic Controllers and Military Command Centers struggle to make sense of an unimagined and unimaginable crisis.

The film begins on a normal September morning at Newark airport. Crew members prepare for a routine commuter flight to San Francisco. They make safety checks, assign tasks, fuel the plane. Passengers arrive, check in, make last minute calls to colleagues and families before boarding the plane. As the cabin doors are hermetically sealed they all believe that everything is normal. That they are safe from the dangers of a turbulent world. But sitting in four first class seats right next to them is an Al Qaeda cell.

And so as the hijack unfolds, the film moves between the passengers and crew in the air and civilian and military air traffic controllers on the ground as each tries desperately to avert the flight's progress toward the Capitol Building in the heart of Washington D.C.

UNITED 93 will take us through the events of 9/11 as they happen in real time - all the confusion, violence, courage and endurance of a day that changed our lives forever.

(I think that this is a service to the filmmakers as well as the public, but on the slim chance that they contact me with copyright problems, I'll take it down.)

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 08:08 AM  Permalink | Comments
Trackback URL: http://blog2.mu.nu/cgi/trackback.cgi/160287

Trackback from Solomonia, United 93:
David Boxenhorn has posted the statement made by the director of the film. I'm not in any hurry to see this, though I probably will eventually. Maybe it's age, or the fact that I spend so much time every day...

Trackback from Kesher Talk, More reactions to "United 93":
Previous entries on the Flight 93 movie here and here. Jim Geraghty and Bizzyblog are tracking reactions to the trailer. David Boxenhorn transcribed the director's statement from the movie site. (It was part of a graphic that was unlinkable.) Shrinkwra...

April 02, 2006

You never know where your luck is

He sat beside me
And we got to talking
I told him what I did
Poet odd-jobber with wanderlust
Existential struggle not merely philosophic
And when we parted
He gave me his card: Diamond trader
Specialty: Extra Large Diamonds
I told him
I didn't expect to be needing his services
And he said
You never know where your luck is

-- As told to me by beat-poet blues-guitarist Inkblot Hurricane

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 01:23 PM  Permalink | Comments
Trackback URL: http://blog2.mu.nu/cgi/trackback.cgi/159557

February 26, 2006

The Art of the Blog

Guy Kawasaki is a new blogger. Since I have vastly more experience on this matter than he (about 2 years...), I will deign to offer him - and anyone else who's listening - some advice on the art of the blog:

  • Get a blogroll. You are not a member of the blogosphere if you don't have a blogroll. This is not just an act of vanity (though it might be that too), it is the blogosphere's hierarchical search mechanism. The best way to find blogs you like is to look at the blogrolls of blogs you like. Just as the best way to find friends is to meet the friends of your friends. And the best way to find new hires is by word of mouth (in fact, studies have shown that they are much more likely to be successful than those found by any other means). And don't limit your blogroll to your genre - your readers may find your blog because of the subjects you write about, but they come back because they develop a personal relationship with you. They want to meet your friends, not your coworkers.
  • Keep it informal. Reading a blog post should be like listening in on, or participating in, a conversation. True, may people use the blog format to post other things, but to my mind these are BINOs (blogs in name only). A real blog is part of the giant conversation that we call the blogosphere.
  • Google is your friend. If you're writing about an unusual topic (pretty much anything but politics), a large percentage of you traffic should be from search engines. Be Google-friendly. Think about what an interested person would search for, and make sure those words, or phrases, are in your post, preferably in the title. My impression is that Google recognizes blog post titles and page names, giving them preference in search results. So if you have pages for individual posts, make sure that the post title is also the page title.
  • Lose the empty margins. A common blog format is the skinny line of text down the middle of the page. It's awful. Screen real estate is valuable, don't waste it. Once you get rid of the wasted space on the sides, there are many things you can do with it, depending on your priorities and taste. You can make your font bigger, or show more text on the page, or unclutter the body of the blog. Just do something useful with your screen!
  • Make meaning. I put this last because it should go without saying - presumably, if you are blogging, you are writing about something that's meaningful to you. But I will say it anyway: this is the essence of blogging - if it's not meaningful to you, don't bother. If it is, it's likely meaningful to others as well. So don't worry if anyone else cares, just give us the chance to find out.
Posted by David Boxenhorn at 01:28 PM  Permalink | Comments
Trackback URL: http://blog2.mu.nu/cgi/trackback.cgi/154045

Naming names

Guy Kawasaki has a recent post in which he gives advice about choosing names. Here are his recommendations (see his post for the contents of the bullets):

* Begin with letters early in the alphabet.
* Avoid names starting with X and Z.
* Embody verb potential.
* Sound different.
* Embody logic.
* Avoid the trendy. 

It's not that I disagree, but I don't think his recommendations speak to the heart of the matter. To me, these are subordinate factors. The secret of a good name, like all good inventions, lies in squaring a circle - solving two (or more) problems simultaneously, where the obvious solution to each contradicts the other. Here are the two problems:

1. Sound unique - The name must sound like your product an no other.

2. Sound ordinary - It should roll off the tongue. Weird names all sound alike.

Put another way:

1. Be googlable - When people google your name, the first answer should be your product.

2. Sound like what you're selling - All the good names are taken.

Of course, there's no getting around the fact that good names are a matter of taste (and linguistic background!). But I think that "Domicel" succeeds in these requirements. Formally, it comes from the words "domain" and "domicile", but I wouldn't have gone with it if I didn't think it met my requirements.

PS: Here's a funny article (via this comment). Excerpt:

"We did mood boards," Redhill says. "We did random visual associations, attached to sequential words. And so, when they said, 'We want to be strong‚' we would show them a picture of an ocean wave breaking. And we'd ask: 'Do you want to be strong like a force of nature?' Then we'd show them a picture of a metal chain link fence. And we'd ask, 'Do you want to be strong like a chain? Strong but breakable?'" The final slide was a close-up of a human face. "We said, 'Perhaps you want to be strong like human nature -- indomitable and immutable.' And they said, 'Yes, that's us. That's exactly how we imagine people feeling about our brand.'"

After four months of this sort of intensive brand therapy, the group settled upon the only name capable of conveying such protean emotions -- "Agilent." They took the name into focus groups, where, to their great delight, it was received with admiration, approval and total open-mouthed attention. "I've never seen anything like it," says Amy Becker, who works alongside Redhill in Landor's verbal branding and naming group. "This was a pretty rarefied crowd. We're not talking about the mass-consumer, chips-eating sort of person. This was a very particular sort of business-to-business decision maker. A hard group to impress. And they were just delighted." The name was also a hit among the NewCo rank and file. "It's funny, because 'Agilent' isn't even a real word," muses Redhill. "So it's pretty hard to get positive and negative impressions with any real basis in experience. But I'm pleased to say that when we unveiled the name last month at an all-company meeting, a thousand employees stood up and gave the name a standing ovation. And we thought, 'We have a good thing here.'"

I think "Agilent" is a lousy name. I find it hard to pronounce. I keep wanting to metathesize it to "Aligent". But the company's still there, so I guess it's working well enough. In the end, if the company succeeds, so will the name.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 12:26 PM  Permalink | Comments
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The Art of the Start

I've read more than a few books about entrepreneurship over the years. Frankly, I can't remember any of them, though in the absence of anything else I'm sure they're worth the read. A few days ago, a well-known Israeli entrepreneur loaned me his autographed copy (no, it doesn't say anything about kissing or licking) of The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki (my own copy is on its way from Amazon). This is a book any aspiring entrepreneur should read. First of all, it's slim (as Guy says, entrepreneurs don't have much time to sit around and read), but most of all, it's right. I can't say I was nodding vigorously throughout the book - I was literally jumping out of my seat with excitement, I was so eager to get to work on his recommendations! My most common reaction was, "I can do that!" - mixed in with a non-trivial number of uh-oh's.

My biggest problem is also my major asset: Domicel, the Infinite PC, is a disruptive technology. Which means that it has no existing market, no competitors, nothing by which an investor can "objectively gauge" the value of the product - as if that's ever possible! But investors like to have their preconceptions confirmed by "analysis". Domicel is like the World Wide Web, email, or the PC. Nobody knew they wanted these things until  they became popular, it's only in hindsight that we consider them indispensable. It takes a special kind of investor to back such a project. If anyone knows of one, please contact me.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 11:13 AM  Permalink | Comments
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January 08, 2006

Domicel in Chinese

Amritas has generously coined a term for Domicel in Chinese. Here it is:


It's transcribed: Duomeixiao, and means "Many Beautiful Dawns". Nice, eh?

Thanks, Amritas!

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 11:51 AM  Permalink | Comments
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December 15, 2005

Domicel Q & A blog

I have started a new blog for questions and answers about Domicel. Feel free to join in with your own questions! 

I will make good questions into new posts, and answer them.

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December 05, 2005

Looking for a Few Good Nerds

For the last few years I have been working on a new architecture for the Internet, which you can read about here:


How can we deliver applications as services, over the Internet, and get PC-like functionality, where each user can mix-and-match applications as if they are on a PC?

(Note: The question does not refer to pure user-interface issues that are addressed by AJAX!)


Domicel is a virtual personal Internet domain. It gives the end user the look-and-feel of working on a PC – without the PC! Applications are provided as on-line services, in an object-oriented paradigm. The aggregate of a user's objects (think: icons) from all applications, hosted  anywhere in the world, is their Domicel – there is no one place in which a Domicel's objects reside, no bottlenecks, and no central point of failure.

Or, to put it another way, it does for applications what the World Wide Web does for documents. 

It's still very primitive - I think of it as being the Internet version of the Altair, "the spark that led to the personal computer revolution". At this point, I would like to get a few good nerds interested. If I can get it going, I think it will be very big.

You can see the current state of the art here. Notice the links in the upper right-hand corner.

UPDATE: There is a good discussion about Domicel going on here.

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Trackback from Domicel Q & A, A user-interface layer on top of an RPC engine?:
Q:This amounts to a user-interface layer on top of an RPC engine. Basically, there just aren't any vendors that build user interfaces that sit directly on top of an RPC engine. But it has been possibly for many years now. It is starting to become more ...

December 04, 2005

Stay Tuned

The past two years haven't been easy ones for me. Several years ago I had an idea that I thought would change the world (actually the result of several years of slow evolution, but reaching its current form about three years ago). I built a prototype, and tried to raise money to develop it. That was 2003, and the venture-capital world was shell-shocked by the stock-market crash, the Internet crash, and here in Israel by the breakdown of the Oslo accords.

So I decided to start developing it myself. This was not my preferred course of action first because it necessarily meant a much more modest goal, but mainly because it involved a lot of work that I neither enjoy nor am good at. What I love most to do is architectural design. I also love programming when there is a high ratio of thought necessary to lines of code. But most of the work that I've had to do over the past two years is neither of these. Instead I've been figuring out how to get various software installed and working, how to get it all working with each other, getting remotely hosted web sites to work, and programming endlessly complex user interfaces (humans are such complicated creatures!) - which still look and feel extremely primitive. That kind of work literally puts me to sleep, and it has required a tremendous amount of will-power for me to plow through it day after day, for two years.

But even more than a architectural design and high-thought programming, what I love is working with good people. Working with good people can make even boring tasks interesting. That's probably what I've missed most.

But I've come to a point where I think it's worth it to go public with what I've been doing. It is still quite primitive, but I am hoping that a few good techno-nerds will like it anyway. Stay tuned.

הַזֹּרְעִים בְּדִמְעָה בְּרִנָּה יִקְצֹרוּ
הָלוֹךְ יֵלֵךְ וּבָכֹה נֹשֵׂא מֶשֶׁךְ הַזָּרַע
בֹּא יָבֹא בְרִנָּה נֹשֵׂא אֲלֻמֹּתָיו

Hazor`im b'dim`a b'rina yiqsoru
Halokh yelekh uvakho nose meshekh hazara`
Bo' yavo' v'rina nose alumotav

They who sow in tears will reap in joy
One who goes out, crying, carrying his bag of seeds
Will come back in joy, carrying his sheaves

Psalms 126:5-6

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November 28, 2005

View from the other side

Michael Totten reports:

Al Ghajar village, where the fighting broke out, is an odd place. One side is Lebanese. The other side is controlled by Israel. All the villagers on both sides of the border are Alawite, a minority sect -- some say heretical -- that long ago splintered off Shia Islam. Historically the village was part of Syria. The Alawites of Al Ghajar belong to the same ethnic-religious group that holds almost all the levers of power in Syria.

The Lebanese side of the village is the poorest and most forlorn place I've seen anywhere in the country. Many houses are crumbling cinderblock boxes or shanties with tin roofs and walls. The mosque is squalid. Barren ground is strewn with rubble and rocks. I saw barefoot children dressed in rags playing in filthy streets. Somehow they managed to smile.

The Israeli half of the village is on the other side of the Wazzani River. There the houses and apartment buildings are trim and freshly painted. They're decked out with satellite dishes. Cars look brand new. I saw no evidence of squalor from where I stood on the Lebanese side of the line.

From 1967 to 2000 both sides of Al Ghajar were controlled by Israel after it took the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six Day War. But in the year 2000, when Israel withdrew its occupation forces from South Lebanon, the United Nations declared that one side of the village is actually Lebanese, not Syrian.

UPDATE: Pictures! Really amazing, must see.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 08:45 PM  Permalink | Comments
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November 27, 2005

The wisdom of Rabbi Zusha

והרי אנו חייבין לברך על הרעה כשם שמברכין על הטובה

V'harey anu hayavin l'varekh `al hara`a k'shem shem'varkhin `al hatova

And you see, we are required to bless [God] on the bad just as we bless [Him] on the good

Ra`av on B'rakhot 5:3

The Magid of Mezeritch was the spiritual heir of the Ba`al Shem Tov. One day someone came to him with a question: "The Talmud tells us we should bless God for the bad things that happen to us, just as we bless Him for the good. How is it possible to do such a thing?" The Magid of Mezeritch replied, "For that you must go to Reb Zusha of Anipoli."

So the man went to visit Reb Zusha of Anipoli. When he got there, he found Reb Zusha living in great poverty, his family was beset by affliction and disease. Yet, Reb Zusha greeted him cheerfully. "The Magid of Mezeritch has sent me," he said, "to learn from you how it is possible to bless God for the bad things that happen to us as, just as we bless Him for the good."

Reb Zusha thought for a while. "I am sorry," he finally replied, "I cannot answer your question - nothing bad has ever happened to me."


More quotes:

"If it were offered to me to exchange places with Abraham, I would refuse. What would God gain from this? He'd still have one Zusha and one Abraham."

"When I appear before the heavenly court they will not ask, 'Why weren't you Moses'. They will ask, 'Why weren't you Zusha'." 


Rabbi Zusha didn't write any books. His words were later collected from among the works of his students, and published in M'norat Zahav (מנורת זהב).

Posted by David Boxenhorn at 05:29 PM  Permalink | Comments
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Trackback from Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim #47:
Welcome to Soccer Dad, I am your host for Haveil Havalim #47. Jewish personalities Rishon Rishon (translates to "First of all"), Rishon Rishon tells of the wisdom of Rabbi Zusha. Not Quite Perfect is the official artist of Haveil Havalim....

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