Tuesday, December 02, 2008

[jews] why this historical hatred for them

When it comes to Judaism, I don't claim any real knowledge and so this article is in the nature of learning rather than presenting any point of view.

Aisha Siddiqa Qureshi, which does not sound a Jewish name to me, wrote:

Whether they realize it or not, people are and have always been willing to hate the Jews for one simple reason: they gave the world the concept of an objective right and wrong.

In a time of universal barbarism and cruelty, the ancient Hebrews were the first to adopt for themselves the six values essential for civilized existence: the sanctity of life, education, family, social responsibility, equality before the law, and peace.

As a Christian reading a possibly Muslim piece on the Jews, I can't really comment on that quote. It's pretty clear though that the Jews are hated, always have been and always will be. I don't believe it is because they killed Jesus - that's an excuse for a predisposition already there.

It's easy to see why Muslims would hate them, easy to see why the hidden power would hate them:

"The Jews historically fought against the occult. See Deuteronomy and the Old Testament for how God through the Jewish people tried to cleanse the land of the occult groups that were operating there, such as those who worshiped Baal, Ashtarte, and other Canaanite and Babylonian gods."

What I couldn't quite get until I read an article on it was that there was an apparent split in Jewry in the 17th and 18th centuries, when people like Sabbatai Zevy and Jacob Frank put forward doctrines which gave a different slant to the Kabbalah and turned much of the moral framework on its head.

Further, it promoted western "secular humanism and reason" rather than Judaic precepts. In a people who were already not sure of their identity, these ideas could well have fallen on fertile ground.

This explains a lot - why one of the Rothschilds was escorted across the border by a high ranking Nazi, why that family has a seat among the thirteen, why Madonna, given her shaky moral compass, could embrace the Kabbalah and do that Christ mockery in Russia, why the Jews could be so led astray, so fickle, when Moses went up on the mountain, came down and saw his people worshipping a golden image in his absence.

The problem seems to be in the question, "What is a Jew?" Rabbi Daniel Lapin's answer also throws light on the conundrum:

Many of my Christian friends have expressed bewilderment upon hearing of self-described Jewish atheists. That is because becoming a Christian, as I understand it, requires a purposeful decision to embrace Christ. Thus any Christian professing atheism, knows that he has adopted a philosophy incompatible with his former faith.
However, many secularized Americans with Jewish ancestors, though unsure of exactly what their Jewishness means, nonetheless are convinced that their Jewish identity imposes no philosophical limitations. Somehow, their Jewishness is something other than having to do with God; therefore it is perfectly compatible with atheism.

Jewishness, therefore, is not universally seen as a "oneness" with G-d, unlike Christianity and Islam. It allows certain behaviour to fester and take hold, behaviour a Muslim would see as demonic and an average Christian as puzzling. In short - there is a portion of Judaism seeing it as a racial and national identity and the others seeing it as one of the monotheistic religions.

Therefore the "hatred for the Jews" is seemingly hatred for one chunk of the population referring to itself as Jewish. The other portion suffer for this and have done since time immemorial.

I don't profess to know about this topic, as I stated at the beginning but I would certainly like to know the truth of the matter.

[kindertransport] humanity and inhumanity

Jams O'Donnell has run a touching piece, in three posts, on the Kinder transport at the start of WW2.

Here is a good place to start.

[systems] making the week possible

Let's assume that you're not head of an organization with its own secretarial staff and that you're in the position most of us are - wondering how to handle the flood of emails, the shopping, cleaning, work commitments, home security and so on.

You could deal with this by using a concierge service but that's expensive and it cuts both ways. If you fail to handle even one detail a couple of times, it gets about that you're less than efficient and there goes your business. The people who stay in this business are good but the good ones are not cheap.

So you might get someone to handle your correspondence and hire a cleaning lady to do the house once a week. A friend in Russia, who set up an introductions business, hired a woman to put in about three hours a day and her main task was to arrange the emails in priority order, with permission to deal herself with much of the pile.

The way I ran my phone was to keep the answer machine on permanently. As there was no need to deal with people through the day and as I had commitments which required my undivided attention, I used no mobile. One friend asked me why I didn't get a number tracker such as he had, which intercepted all calls and filtered them for answering or blocking.

My phone system was part of my overall security system. Firstly, there was a coded metal door to our house downstairs. Then there was a metal door on my landing. Then came my first metal door and the lock was so old that the key had bent into an S shape. Everyone said it was impossible and I once asked a bad boy friend of mine [who could break in anywhere] to try getting through my door.

He concluded that special services could but the average punter couldn't. The wooden second door was not as secure.

Next, I had no domaphone, i.e. no one downstairs could buzz me. I also disconnected my doorbell but made it look like it worked. So there were only two ways through. Either email me or phone and everyone I knew knew that they'd have to speak on the answer machine and then I'd pick it up if I recognized the voice. I had a key in a padded wrapper. I'd then go out to the back balcony and throw it down to them and they'd come upstairs while I undid all the doors from inside.

That would be seen as OTT over here but only slightly excessive over there. No matter, it worked. Many hated this system and I lost a lot of outside business that way but even that was a good filtration system. The people who understood the reasoning were people I felt I could deal with. The rest - well, I was up to my eyeballs in commitments anyway.

We all need some system to cope with the weekly pressures. Wonder what yours is.

[snowfall] is it the alps, is it alaska

Plascassier and the snowcapped hills above Magagnosc/Chateauneuf

... no, it's L'Ombre's Côte d'Azur. Check the pics.

And for snow you'd expect to see - Cherie:

[flashpoints] global symphony, orchestral accompaniment

If ever there was an issue where people will argue from their entrenched positions, the powder keg in the sub-continent is it:

The point is, the India-Pakistan adversarial relationship with its undercurrents of mutual suspicion and bristling with countless animosities bordering on hostility, is so delicately poised at any given moment that it doesn't need more than a few hours to degenerate into a conflict situation on account of a misstep or two on either side, even when it is camouflaged in veneers of cordiality as it has been during the past three to four years.

There have always been tensions and wars in the region, as there have been in the Balkans and the Middle-East but the question is who is fomenting it? The first thought is a geographical one - if it's in India, it must be Pakistan, if in Iraq, it must be Iran and America.

But if you dig deeper than that, it is the ones who stand to profit, as they always have, from financing these things, the ones who profess a neutrality and yet have an almost religious commitment to depopulation. Doesn't matter where it is - Rwanda and Kissinger, the Sudan and the UN, Kosovo - destabilization, misery and depopulation are the key agendas.

It begins to look some sort of global 'club", membership of which requires an atrocity in your country for entry. Australia, whose foreign policy closely mirrors the U.S., kicked off with its Port Arthur, the U.S. followed up with 911; Russia, who were interested in playing in the world market economy at that time, had its theatre and Beslan atrocities, Britain did its bit to mark the Olympic "success" and now India has its own.

On safer ground, which pundits can more readily accept:

The current US thinking leans towards equipping select Pashtun tribes to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda. It is a controversial move that worries the Pakistani military, as it might ignite violence in the Pashtun regions inside Pakistan and fuel the Pashtunistan demand.

Add to that Gates' Afghan Tajik army proposal. In all of this is the forcing of parties in the region into more polarized positions and after all that, there is always the Kashmir issue to reignite. The warmongers are spoilt for choice. It's odds on that the U.S. will be the stirrer wherever they go, certainly in the minds of non-Americans.

Yet who is the U.S.? Certainly not the citizens, as witnessed in the anti-war movement. The leadership then. As Franklin Roosevelt wrote to Colonel House on Nov. 21, 1933:

"The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the government since the days of Andrew Jackson."

Meanwhile, people continue to slaughter one another and the government seems powerless:

The interior minister has been forced by an irate Congress party leadership to resign, owning responsibility for the massive failure to prevent the fidayeen from storming India's financial capital with such impunity.

Curious how exactly the same situation existed at all the other atrocity points, especially in Russia, which is a controlled space. Curious how so much incompetence has reared its ugly head worldwide just in the last few years, how the global collapse has accompanied the advent of terror and the re-opening of old war zones.

Curious how it blows up in one region, whilst the others remain relatively stable, then, when that region sees "peacekeepers" going in to thrash out a deal, the focus moves to another region - but no two at the same time.

[thought for the day] monday evening

Would you - back to the rustic village life?

You might like to view this as a fuller take on the issue. Consider:

The hankering after a presumed idyllic rustic past seems to be something that townies of various sorts hanker after. It isn't a new desire either. From all those 18th century philosphers and the "noble savage" to Tolkein with his hobbits, the desire to throw off the shackles of nasty urban life and return to something simpler has a long literary tradition.

It is also, pardon my French, Nucking Futs. Rustic life requires one to be occupied in a way that is 100% opposite to Pterry's prefered job description (indoors and no heavy lifting). Rustic life is hard grind.

Monday, December 01, 2008

[minutiae] and the gloom of the bus station

At first glance, waiting for a return bus from a cold and windswept bus station in the town centre, just as the dark had fallen with a thud, did not promise a scintillating time but stranger things have happened.

Having done the doings and thinking I was late, the jacket collar went up, the Thinsulate toque was tugged down, I got to the stand and there we all were, side by side in the gloom, grandmothers, grandpas, mothers with kids and shopping, young spivs, chavs, schoolkids and me. No one spoke; every one of the Pod People sported a blank look.

"N7 been along yet?" I couldn't resist asking the woman standing beside me, all muffled up, at which she showed bewilderment, "Not sure. N4 should have been 'ere at fifteen past. I got 'ere at quarter to and must a' missed it like."

A glance at the watch said 16:20.

"Nah, it never came," piped up a bearded type, front right, wearing a kagoul. "N7 neither."

"It's very late, the N4," spoke up a grandma to my left, sitting bolt upright on the rounded red steel bench, her shopping on the seat beside her. "It's already fifteen past and they're usually so punctual."

"Twenty past," I threw in an unheeded correction.

There were about thirty seconds silence.

"Must have been held up," added an elderly voice from a vaguely visible figure, further along to my right.

"Or roadworks," replied the grandma and everyone else stared fixedly towards where the bus stubbornly refused to come from.

"Oh look," a mother called out, "Is this it coming now?" Everyone peered into the gloom and it was certainly a bus which had swung itself round the corner and into our lane but ... and this was a big but ... it had stopped behind a stationary bus at the stand one up from us and wouldn't show itself.

Someone stepped onto the road and reported back, "Nah, it's the N7." I looked at the woman beside me and felt I needed to say something. "Never mind, the N4'll be along shortly." She smiled that resigned look and clutched her collar even more tightly to her neck.

The long, long queue finally got on, all were seated, the bus was heated and the lights inside meant you couldn't see anything outside, as the hiss near the driver signalled we were off on our grand adventure.

Immediately, behind me, some girl saw it as the cue to start up. "I bought an Advent calendar today, from Marks and Spencers." Silence, then, "I really like that tune, y'know. It's really nice like."

"Oh, I bought that one too," answered her friend. Silence. "I really like that tune too."

More silence. The first girl had obviously been considering this last remark.

"I'm taking it back tomorrow. I'm not havin' soomit wot evera'one else has."

Someone dinged the bell, eight or nine of us got up, the driver swung round the corner and jammed on his brakes, sending us careering towards the exit door. "Cheers," I called back to him, falling off the bus at the same time.

It was a bit chilly outside so I zipped my collar up to the top and pulled the toque down even further over the eyebrows.

[david] makes a comeback, clad in gold

All right, I admit I bottled out on showing those nether regions but if you're desperate to get a gander, here they are.

David's been restored for $255 000 in Firenze:

Museum director Beatrice Paolozzi Strozzi said the 15th century statue created by Renaissance artist Donatello was fully restored to its original glory using advanced laser technology ...

That is one question - what to do to restore - but what about the question of embellishing?

[The restoration] included the application of a thin layer of gold to the statue ... intended to add luster to the historic piece ...

This takes it out of the realms of restoration and into someone's modern notion of creativity. And so to another major question - how much money should be devoted to/wasted on restoration of world heritage items?

The "could have been spent on the poor" brigade have a legitimate argument but the opposite argument - that key restoration work preserves the world's treasures, something beyond one day's meal for the city's poor - that is also a powerful point of view.

This view holds that the poor would get value from the work of art anyway - they have little else to do during the day but to appreciate the city's beauty. Unless the work was hidden behind closed doors and was only viewable for an entrance fee.

What percentage of a nation's budget should be devoted to restoration anyway? Difficult to get the percentages for Italy but I found this:

  • Article 3 of the Budget Law 662/1996, providing for a portion of the national lottery revenue to be dedicated to the protection and restoration of cultural goods; and
  • Article 60 of the Budget Law 289/2002, establishing that 3% of public capital expenditure for "strategic infrastructure" should be assigned to the financing of cultural goods and activities.

It would seem not very much. Plus much cultural funding is expected to come out of national lotteries, which is hardly government allocation of moneys. Then there are the cuts in funding to existing bodies, such as English Heritage.

If one accepts that maintenance and restoration is not a N1 priority, compared to education and social services, then how much, in percentage terms of GNP should be allocated? And how does that compare to the massive wastage at every level, in so many diverse areas the governments administer, for so many years now?

[buskers] city's regulate them and eliminate the talentless

We don't seem to get too many of them where I'm staying - maybe the law is different here, maybe the democraphics.

Julian Lloyd Webber was the first of the "new London Tube buskers" in 2001, when the law was changed to allow a certain amount of it on the Underground:

Buskers are now able to perform legally on certain tube platforms (but not trains). A change in the local by-law came after eight out of ten passengers on the London Underground interviewed said they liked hearing live music as they travelled.

Nobody liked being hassled though, so prospective buskers are vetted and have to audition when they apply for a formal licence. Only two buskers per station are allowed, and they can have up to two hours each.

In Melbourne, the new Lord Mayor wants to "clean up the streets", register and regulate them, to eliminate "untalented buskers". Seems to me that the busking issue is a litmus test of libertarian credentials - does one nod on approvingly as the city officials move through busking ranks, deciding who shall eat and who shall not, the arbiter being the officials' musical taste?

Also, how much can someone earn in two hours?

So what is the reality in the UK as a whole, for buskers? One forum commenter said:

In my experience largely you don't need a license, unless you are on private property then you may need permission. Some city councils have introduced licensing, as a way to control busking but one could argue that this is not law. I have a simple policy— it is easier to say sorry than ask for permission.

What's your attitude to buskers?

[do the right thing] and let us all then move on

Giant blockage on the road to decency over there. Do the right thing, provide closure and then, yes, let us by all means move on.

Because until you do, with that person still subtly wreaking havoc in there, then it matters not what I nor anyone else does - your bona fides as a group is in serious question. So cease with your character assassinations with no evidence and do the right thing instead.

So yes, I move on and await the news that you decided it was better to act after all.

To the other readers - sorry about that and good night, sleep tight.