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Monday, March 26, 2012

Haste makes waste

Back in the bad old days leading up to the disengagement, one of my chief complaints (accusations, actually) against those driving the disengagement was not so much what they wanted to do, as how they insisted upon doing it.

Nobody has ever been able to give me a convincing explanation of why the disengagement had to be carried out in a headlong dash before any arrangements could be made regarding the needs of those being transferred (ethnically cleansed, if we must be accurate) from gaza, such as new housing, compensation, employment, education, social services, etc.. 

There was also no attempt to coordinate the exit from Gaza with the Palestinians.  This resulted in the power vacuum that allowed Hamas to stage of a violent coup.

The Israeli leaders, and their cheerleaders on the left, simply kept chanting that we needed to get out of Gaza as soon as possible, and anyone who wanted to delay for any reason was called anti-peace and unpatriotic.

Remember that?  I know some of you do... and others have conveniently blocked it from your memory.

In the end, it was all about manufacturing a violent confrontation between the left and right where none was necessary.  Any compromise on the timing or scope of the disengagement would have helped defuse the conflict, so compromise and delay were unthinkable. 

Ariel Sharon had serious legal troubles looming, and the only way he could keep the press from hounding him was to make sure he continued acting in a way that pleased those on the left;  meaning driving the Gaza settlers from their homes, rather than offering them a way to move in an orderly, humane and dignified manner. 

The message was clear:  There was an enemy in Gaza that required swift and uncompromising attack... and it wasn't the Palestinians.

Now, with the Supreme Court's nullification of the Government's signed compromise with the residents of Migron, we are seeing a replay of this previous hasty insanity.

The Supreme court has taken a radical leftist position which, despite all claims to the contrary, has nothing to do with the rule of, or respect for, the law.

The primary issue is that some Arabs brought suit against Migron claiming that part of the settlement was built on private Palestinian-owned land. 

Now, in any normal country, if someone comes to you and says you are living on their land, the burden of proof is on the claimant to actually show that the land is theirs. 

Not here. 

To date the Arabs (and their leftist Israeli NGO backers) have never produced a shred of evidence to indicate that the land is theirs (or anybodies, for that matter).  In fact, at the crucial stage where they were required to present the proof, they simply didn't show up in court.

Again, in any normal country, at that point the case would have been dismissed for lack of evidence.

Not here.

At that point the Supreme Court decided that evidence wasn't necessary, and issued rulings demanding the destruction of Migron according to an arbitrary (and accelerated!) timetable.

Seeing the writing on the wall, the current Likud government began trying to work out a sane compromise with the resident of Migron which would satisfy their needs, as well as the demands of the Supreme court for the destruction of the settlement. 

Despite the claims from the left that the settlers were incapable of compromise, a reasonable deal was eventually reached which would serve everyone's needs (while ignoring the inconvenient legal fact that the original legal imperative to move had never been proven by the Palestinians and their Peace Now handlers).  A new settlement would be build a short distance away from the current location on land that was not in dispute.  And once the new housing was ready, the residents of Migron would move there... thus removing the key claim of settlers living on 'private Palestinian Land'.

Apparently, as with the disengagement, a compromise which would remove a source of friction/conflict between the right and left, was the last thing the Supreme court wanted.  So they nullified the compromise agreement and set an arbitrary and early date by which Migron would have to be demolished... a date by which it will be all but impossible to arrange new housing for the people who had agreed to the compromise in good faith.

Mind you, there is no need for this headlong rush to throw the settlers out of their homes and destroy the settlement.  To date there is still not a shred of evidence that the land belongs to any private Palestinian owner, so there are no damages that would be compounded by the delay called for in the compromise agreement.

There is simply an activist Supreme court which ignores, rather than supports the rule of law... and seeks only to punish those on the right who dare to challenge their agenda.

There was no need for the reckless haste of the disengagement from Gaza.  It only served to punish the settlers with homelessness, joblessness and a slew of social problems from which many will never recover.  And there is no need now for the reckless haste with which the Israeli Supreme Court is demanding that Migron be evacuated and demolished. 

The compromise which was reached between the residents of Migron and the Israeli government would have accomplished exactly what the court is demanding.  But it would have allowed the settlers to show their patriotism and desire to do what's good for the country (even when the law and common sense are in their favor). 

But the Supreme Court simply can't stomach a situation where the evil nationalists are allowed demonstrate their patriotism.  They must be punished... herded like cattle from their homes... maybe even forced into a violent confrontation with the army that will be sent to destroy their town.  Anything to promote conflict and antipathy between the left and right. 

The reason is simple:  If the left and right ever begin to work hand-in-hand, one of the first things they'll do is change the self-perpetuating nature of the Supreme Court (they pick their own successors!), and establish some sort of checks and balance to ensure an activist, unelected judiciary can't rule in place of the legitimate government of the country.

Posted by David Bogner on March 26, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Sunday, March 25, 2012

There are angels who walk among us...

Why not forego your morning $tarbuck$ tomorrow and instead donate $5 bucks to make more stories like this come true?

Posted by David Bogner on March 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Thursday, March 22, 2012

As if we needed more proof

Nearly every day the news is filled with stories of how we infidels have offended the sensibilities of Muslims somewhere in the world.

Cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohamed were enough to cause recurring international riots that have resulted in scores of deaths and countless wounded.

Periodically by accident or design a copy of the Koran gets desecrated, and that too triggers an international convulsion of protests and violence.

The very presence of Jewish visitors to the Temple mount in Jerusalem (a city which isn't even mentioned in the Koran) is typically enough to cause violent riots.  And if one of those Jewish visitors should have the temerity to whisper a prayer while there, they are subject to instant ejection or even arrest for defiling the Muslim holy place.

We infidels have become so conditioned to walking on eggshells around Islamic sensibilities that our leaders seem to have pre-written apologies in their pockets, ready for just about any occasion so as to head off the inevitable rioting and carnage when one of us causes offense.

But few seem to mind that Islam doesn't share the same sense of responsibility to respect other religions, cultures and customs. 

Jewish Holy sites in Israel are routinely vandalized by Muslims, and the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, in continuous use for 3000 years and containing more than 150,000 graves was systematically damaged by the Jordanians when it was in their control from 1948 - 1967, and has been under constant attack by Palestinian Arabs who break and steal headstones to this day. 

But it's not just Israel or Jewish shrines that bear the brunt of Islamic wrath.   Ask Buddhists in Afghanistan, Christians in Lebanon and Bahais in Iran whether their religious shrines, icons and customs are protected / respected.  Provided they aren't too terrified to respond, you are likely to get a terrifying picture of religious arrogance and cultural intolerance second to none!

Some of you may remember I wrote a few years ago about a volunteer project I was involved with to photograph the WWI Commonwealth Military cemetery in Beer Sheva for their online archives. Like all religious and cultural sites in Israel, this cemetery is lovingly maintained and treated with respect and reverence.

Sadly, there are similar cemeteries from both WWI and WWII throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa... lovingly maintained by the War Graves Commission to eternally honor the soldiers who fought in those wars.

The Palestinians in Gaza have repeatedly vandalized the British WWI Cemetery in Gaza, and now there is a video on YouTube of Muslims in Libya destroying Christian and Jewish soldier's graves in the Benghazi British WWII Military Cemetery there just this past week.

In short, it seems that nothing but Islam is sacred to Muslims. There's been no outcry following this kind of desecration, and certainly no apology will be forthcoming from any political or religious leaders for these unspeakable acts;   Just silence.

To anyone who is listening critically... that silence is deafening.

Posted by David Bogner on March 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Puleeze get over your angst-filled, bleeding-heart liberal selves!

At the recent 'South-by-Southwest' Technology Conference held in Austin Texas, a marketing company called BBH Labs decided to perform a 'charitable experiment' by hiring a bunch of homeless people to carry around Wi-Fi transmitters so that the crush of conference attendees (and their electronic gadgets) who were overwhelming the local cellular network could get, and stay, online.

It worked like this: 

BBH went to a local homeless shelter and hired 13 people for $20 a day (each), outfitted them with custom tee-shirts and a WiFi hotspot, and sent them out to mingle amongst the conference attendees. 

Their custom tee-shirts made the introduction, providing their name and the fact that for a fee, they could provide password-protected access to the Wi-Fi hotspot they were carrying.  The price for each connection was entirely negotiable... meaning the conference attendees were encourage to pay whatever they thought the service was worth.  And the homeless people were free to keep all of the payments they collected.  Sounds like win - win, no?


Not suprisingly, there was an outcry at the conference over the marketing ploy, and the New York Times even went so far as to write an article stating that it had 'backfired'.

Apparently what many of the conference attendees (and The Times) objected to was taking human beings and turning them into technical infrastructure (i.e. Wi-Fi- 'Hotspots').

Personally, I find this knee-jerk, liberal hand-wringing laughable.  Seriously people.  These are homeless people who were offered a paying temp job providing a service that was, by all indications, desperately in demand.  

Think about all the political campaigns and businesses that hire the unemployed to stuff leaflets under windshield wipers and stand on busy street corners wearing sandwich board ads.    One is a human transmitter and the other is a human billboard. How is that not the same thing?

But we don't have to go nearly that far. 

Most of us aren't affluent enough to be able to afford a staff of servants.  And even if we could, the very idea of servants - even well paid ones - is so remeniscent of slavery that even if money were no object, few would hire a butler and household staff. 

But if we step back and look at our lives, we all have a fairly large staff of paid servants to attend to our every need.  We just don't think of them that way. 

Who cuts our lawns and tends our gardens?  Who cooks and serves our meals when we're out... who comes in to clean the house, and who tutors our kids.  Even the cup of coffee we drink on the way to work in the morning is often brewed and served by someone with whom we barely make eye-contact.  And the cocktails we enjoy with friends are served by people who are expected to dress a little naughty so we might be inclined to tip them in return. 

We pay for all these services... but somehow, since these people are free lancers (i.e. serving many others as well), the guilt is diffused, making it okay to receive these kinds of ministrations.

So if we are okay with paying people to scratch so many of our itches, why does having homeless people providing internet access somehow cross the line?

I thought at first it might be because so many of the homeless are minorities.  If there's anything uptight, yuppie liberals hate it's even the appearance of prejudice.  But strangely that doesn't keep them from hiring Hispanic gardeners and African American housekeepers.

Several years ago in an episode of the TV drama 'West Wing' entitled 'A proportional Response', there was a telling conversation between Leo McGarry (White House Chief of Staff) and Admiral Percy 'Fitz' Fitzwallace (the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who happened to be black) about the possibility of hiring a young black man named Charlie Young to be the President's personal aide:

LEO:  Uh, hey Fitz?


LEO:  The President’s personal aide, they’re looking at a kid. Do you have any problem
with a young black man waiting on the President?

FITZWALLACE:  I’m an old black man and I wait on the President.

LEO:  The kid’s gotta carry his bags...

FITZWALLACE:  You gonna pay him a decent wage?

LEO:  Yeah.

FITZWALLACE:  You gonna treat him with respect in the workplace?

LEO:  Yeah.

FITZWALLACE:  Then why the hell should I care?

LEO:  That’s what I thought.

FITZWALLACE:  I’ve got some real honest to God battles to fight Leo. I don’t have time for the cosmetic ones.

That exchange perfectly sums up what bothers me about those who objected to hiring homeless people to provide a necessary service at South-by-Southwest. 

These homeless men and women were paid an agreed upon wage up front, and given the opportunity to make additional income by charging users for the service they were providing.  There was nothing demeaning about what they were doing.  And if anyone honestly felt demeaned... they didn't have to take the job.

Heck, they didn't even have to pay any start-up costs for the shirts, the transmitters or the service they were selling.  They were handed a ready-made business with no overhead!  Where's the downside?  Even a kid who wants to set up a lemonade stand has to invest in lemons, sugar, cups and the materials to make a decent sign, right?

I don't know... maybe someone can explain to me why it is more acceptable to let someone languish on the public dole rather than giving them an opportunity to benefit from an entrepreneurial windfall, however fleeting.

If you ask me, the whining is coming from a bunch of angst-filled, bleeding-heart liberals who can't admit that what was really bothering them was having the 'have-nots' shoved so far under the noses of the 'haves'. 

Well, to them I say, Sorry the sight of poor folk spoiled your good time, guys... but please get over yourselves.  Even the people who don't have iPhones and Blackberries deserve to enjoy the trickle-down of the high tech boom.

Posted by David Bogner on March 14, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

18 Candles [A guest post by Zahava]

...of remembrance.

Ima, today is your 18th yahrzeit.  I miss you terribly. 18 years is a long time.

I sat early this morning, as I do every year on the 19th of Adar, and look through volumes of photo albums. I remember all the good memories we shared together, and also those memories which have been generated since you have gone.

Nearly every day something occurs to me which I wish I could share with you. It might be something funny, it might be something sad, it might be something ordinary.... Living with 2 teenagers, nearly every day makes me wish that I could seek your sage advice (I can hear you, in my mind, laughing your tush off at this thought!) ....

When I was a small child, you took care of me, and our relationship primarily consisted of "the teacher and the taught." When I was a teenager, our relationship was probably better defined as "tug-of-war." When I went away for college, our relationship changed -- the physical distance was both difficult and good for both of us. We learned to see each other external to our relationship as parent-child, and we grew closer for the experience.

Though it was incredibly brief, I am so grateful for the time I had getting to know you as a young adult -- a fledgling professional, a young wife, and for the briefest of moments, as a new mother myself....

I am grateful that in the weeks before you left us that you took the time to express your love, your pride, and your hopes to me, Larry, Abba, and Grandma. The strength of that love has helped me overcome difficulties over the years. It has also helped me enjoy and savor the celebrations.

I hope that I was successful, too, in those last few weeks, of expressing my love, my pride, and my gratitude. No matter where I go, no matter what I do, I am forever your child. I forever miss you. I forever love you.

18th Yahrzeit
[click to embiggen]

Posted by David Bogner on March 13, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Monday, March 12, 2012

Israel Under Fire: My Predictions (with update at end)

For the fourth day, Israel civilian communities continue to be pounded by relentless rocket fire from Gaza.  Some of the rockets aimed at larger cities such as Beer Sheva, Ashdod and Ashqelon are being successfully intercepted by the new 'Iron Dome' system.  But the majority or rockets are still getting through.

Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh said that "Egypt is working around the clock" to stop the violence.  [source] But that is patently ridiculous.

The whole reason Israel signed the Oslo Accords with the PLO was ostensibly so that we would have one authority to speak with rather than dozens of independent armed militias.

I will remind everyone - supporters and detractors of Oslo alike - exactly what was written in the Letter of Recognitions signed by Yassar Arafat:

September 9, 1993
Yitzhak Rabin
Prime Minister of Israel
Mr. Prime Minister,
The signing of the Declaration of Principles marks a new era...I would like to confirm the following PLO commitments: The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security. The PLO accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. The PLO commits itself...to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations...the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators...the PLO affirms that those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel's right to exist, and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid. Consequently, the PLO undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant.
Yasser Arafat.
Chairman: The Palestine Liberation Organization.  [source]

Without the bold, underlined sentence I have highlighted above, Israel had no reason to even speak to the PLO, much less enter into an agreement with them!   And that, in a nutshell, is the central failing of the Oslo Accords. 

We signed the agreement in order to support Arafat and build him - and the PLO - up as the sole representatives of the Palestinian People.  We did this so that we would have one party with whom to negotiate a peace treaty. 

However, no outside party can solve the internal conflicts within the Palestinian (or any Arab) community.  They have to do that by themselves, and then offer some concrete proof that it has been done (such as formally disarming the various splinter groups and factions in their midst).

Yet the world keeps pushing Israel to enter into some sort of agreement with 'the Palestinians', while ignoring that fact that 'the Palestinians' is actually several distinct armed groups; each with feelings towards Israel ranging from 'we don't want to talk to them... right now, anyway', to 'we won't rest until Israel is destroyed'.  And there is no way to tell which of those groups/sentiments will be in power a day, a week or a month down the road. 

In short, there is no one central authority amongst the Palestinians that holds a monopoly on the use of force, much less the ability to disarm (or even control) factions/militias anywhere in the 'West Bank' or Gaza. 

As if we needed any more proof of this, in the past four days Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committee (just two of the many armed Palestinian terror groups), have fired hundreds of missiles at Israel from territory over which 'the Palestinians' ostensibly have complete control.  And as if the missiles inexplicably fell from a clear blue sky, Israel has nobody to hold responsible!

That was the whole idea behind the disengagement, right?   All the folks who supported the disengagement promised us that once the last Israeli was out of Gaza we (and the world) would be able to hold 'the Palesitnians' responsible for what happened there.  Remember that?  I have to tell you, the silence from the Israeli left on this important point is maddening.   Apparently bad decisions carry no consequences in this country.  At least if you are on the political left.

To quote St. Yithak Rabin:

"The horror stories of the Likud are familiar; indeed they promised us also Katyushas from Gaza. Already a year, the Gaza strip is mostly under the control of the Palestinian Authority, there has not yet been any Katyusha and there will be no Katyusha, et cetera et cetera et cetera. All the chattering; the Likud is deathly afraid of peace. The “peace cowards”, this is the Likud of today. This is not the Likud of Menachem Begin of blessed memory, who dared, and took initiatives, and was willing to pay a painful price to advance peace. The Likud of today is deathly afraid of peace, and therefore, it reacts in a way that is truly childish.

Hebrew Source: Rabin Peace Coward Speech

The sad part is that the leader of Hamas, who wrested control of Gaza from Yassir Arafat's political heir, Mahmoud Abbas, in a bloody coup, claims that he can't stop the rocket fire, and is now laughably turning to Egypt to get his own citizens to stop firing rockets.

This latest chapter in the never-ending story began with Israel assassinating one of the senior terrorists in Gaza as he and an aid were on their way to put into motion a large terror attack similar to the one that was carried out against Israeli civilians near Eilat this past summer. 

I'm sure there are many who sit in safe corners of the world who would insist that Israel not act on advance intelligence of impending attacks, but rather wait until the attacks actually occur, before retaliating.  And even then, the response must be 'proportional'.

Those who feel this way have never lost a loved one in a terror attack or seen the aftermath of such a blood bath.  The reason Israel's intelligence services are among the best in the world is because we can't afford to be reactive.  We can't absorb attack after attack in order to justify a measured response.  We have to know what the terrorists are going to do before they do it!

Sadly, one needn't be clairvoyant to see how the immediate future will play out.  The past offers a well-worn script which will have to be faithfully followed:

1.  The terrorists in Gaza will continue to fire missiles at Israel in numbers large enough to prove their virility, but below the threshold which would require an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza.  To ensure this delicate balance, they will fire only at southern communities (even though they have the ability to hit Tel Aviv); towns and cities containing a population they correctly assume the Israeli decision makers consider 'acceptable targets'.  Even one missile on Tel Aviv or its surrounding suburbs and you will see an immediate escalation of Israel's military reaction.  Sad but irrefutable.

2.  Throughout the Israeli response to the rocket attacks, the two main Palestinian factions; Fatah (led by Mahmoud Abbas) and Hamas (led by Ismail Haniyeh) will wring their hands and plead with the world to stop the Israeli 'slaughter of Palestinian civilians'.  The irony is that their pleas will contain the necessary grain of truth.  There have already been civilian casualties in Gaza, as there will surely continue to be as Israeli jets and drones try to target rocket launch cells before they manage to fire their weapons into Israel.   The simple reason for the truth of their pleas is that the rocket launch pads (and virtually all the terror infrastructure and weapons storage depots), are deliberately embedded deep inside densely packed civilian population centers of Gaza.  This was the case during Operation Cast Lead, and the terrorists learned from that experience that dead Palestinian civilians are a far more potent weapon against Israel than whatever weapons they might be able to fire over the Gaza border.  Don't believe me?  Does the 'Goldstone Report' ring any bells?

3.  At some point in the coming days Israel will increase the frequency and severity of its bombing runs over Gaza and two things will immediately happen:

a)  The rest of the world will begin loudly condemning Israel's actions.  From some quarters, such as the U.N. and Europe, the condemnations will be clear and unequivocal.  From others, such as the U.S., the condemnation will come disguised as luke-warm support (e.g. "While we support Israel's right to defend itself, we urge the Israeli leadership to exercise maximum restraint in order to avoid harming innocent civilians.").  Either way, the human rights groups will already begin lining up to offer testimony for the inevitable U.N. report that must be written condemning the savage Israeli war machine. [The pressure on Israel has already begun:  Here, and here]

b)  Hezbollah (in Lebanon) will threaten to open up a second front if Israel doesn't stop attacking Gaza.  It remains to be seen if they will make good on their threat, but what most people don't realize is that the threat is meant for European and American ears, not Israel's.  The specter of a 'regional conflict' is a sure fire way to get the world leaders off the sidelines and applying concrete pressure on Israel to back down.

4.  By late Tuesday or Wednesday of this week - the current drama will have reached the point in the script where enough pressure will have been applied to Israel, and enough missiles fired to assuage the slight to the Palestinian terrorist's virility, that a third party - likely Egypt - will be able to broker a cease fire.  That point would normally have been reached over the weekend, but the new Iron Dome system has provided the illusion of greater security which has kept the general population from applying too much pressure on the Israeli government to do whatever it takes to stop the rockets.  The silly part is that anyone with even a basic understanding of math should have been screaming days ago.  You see, the government has been touting a '90% success rate' of the Iron Dome system, while deftly soft-peddling the fact that that's 90% of the less than 10% of rockets that the Iron Dome system is actually engaging.  90% of 10% doesn't sound so good any more, does it?  Especially if you live in southern Israel.

5.  As soon as the cease fire is in place, and the Palestinian terrorists have fired the requisite closing salvo into Israel, Hamas will claim victory over the 'Zionist Regime' and all of the various despots and terror leaders around the region will trade a flurry of press releases and communiques lauding the Palestinian victory, and pointing out how this proves that 'resistance' is the only way to defeat Israel once and for all.  And the sad part is, you can't argue with their logic... or their results.

Well, Hezbollah remained strangely silent on the sidelines, but everything else happened as expected:  Israel increased the empo and severity of the bombing raids on Gaza... the US, U.N. and various others began applying pressure and making statements for Israel to 'use restraint'... a cease fire was brokered... the terrorists continued to fire rockets after the cease fire took effect so as to be able to have the 'last licks'... and in the end the following statement was issued from Gaza:

The Islamic Jihad welcomed the Gaza ceasefire with Israel, saying that it was "a victory for the blood of the shahids, the Palestinian people and the resistance."  [source]

Posted by David Bogner on March 12, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Sunday, March 11, 2012

And the rocket's red glare... (with updates)

UPDATE 2:   More Rockets.  Good thing schools here were closed today as the news is reporting a direct hit on 'an educational institution'.

Since Friday morning, when the Israeli Defense

UPDATE 1:  We just had a particularly interesting barrage... several [not saying how many for security reasons) rockets landed within earshot of my office.

Let's hope that was like the grande finale at the end of the fireworks show.

I hear rumors that Hamas is sending requests for a cease fire via Egypt... and firing off a big salvo just before it takes effect would be in keeping with their past actions.

Original post begins here:

Ministry's match-making department successfully introduced the Secretary General of the Palestinian PRC (Popular Resistance Committee), and one of his top aids to their 72 virgins, more than 100 missiles have landed in southern Israel.

So far the Iron Dome anti-missile system has had a 90% success rate in intercepting missiles aimed at large population centers.  But that is small comfort to those living in unprotected towns and outlying areas (not to mention those in the path of the 10% of rockets that the Iron Dome system missed).

It should be an interesting day at work today in Beer Sheva.

Posted by David Bogner on March 11, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Purim costumes digest (updated yet again)

Ariella made two costumes, so today she was showing off an ancient Greek motif:


Yonah in his ninja outfit:

He has my eyes. :-)


Here's Gilad and a few of his friends.

Gilad is the 2nd from the right in the Aladdin costume.

My family has been a bit camera shy over the past few years so I haven't been able to dare many Purim costume pictures.

This year I have a new strategy... Instead of trying to get everyone to post at once, I'm going to try to take pictures throughout the holiday.

I'm keeping up my tradition of spending all of Purim in my pajamas and bathrobe.

Here's Ariella in her Pulp Fiction inspired get-up:

Hopefully more photos to follow in the coming hours.




Posted by David Bogner on March 7, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

A fun new way to navigate

For years I've been toying with the idea of buying a GPS unit that I could put in the car or take with me on hikes.  The idea of using satellites to find ones way around has become commonplace… but to me it still feels like Buck Rogers (if you don't know who that is… well never mind).

The problem is that GPS units, aside from being stupid expensive (at least the well made, feature rich ones), only do one thing; navigate.  In this day and age of devices doing multiple tasks (phone, email, web surfing, camera, etc.), it seems criminal to have to carry an extra device around that does just one thing… even if it does it really well.

The other evening I had dinner with a close friend from the old country (hi Michael!), and one of the things friends do in this day and age is share their favorite apps with each other.

It turns out that there is a fun navigation app available for Apple and Android devices called WAZE.  Even better, the app is from an Israel company (although it works pretty much everywhere in the world and speaks about 25 different languages)!

What makes this app special are the following features:

1.  It's free.  Seriously.

2.  It combines a kick-@ss navigation app (complete with spoken turn-by-turn directions in a host of languages so you don't have to take your eyes off the road) with the fun of social media.

3.  The app is constantly updating itself with traffic reports, speed trap warnings, and other alerts from fellow users of the app.

4.  Even if no users are actively inputting alerts, updates or warnings in your area, just by having the app turned on, you are updating the system with speed data so the system can determine if there is a slow-down somewhere.

5.  It works a bit like a video game in that you can choose the icon for yourself, and as you travel, you can see other WAZE users around you on the road (obviously you can adjust the privacy settings to go invisible if you want).  Since the app wants the users to drive all possible roads on any given map, it sometimes offers incentives for you to take a small detour and 'gobble up' pacman-like little prizes which award you points.  

6.  You also get points for inputting alerts and traffic updates.  And the system encourages you to double check and confirm or debunk alerts provided by others so that a speed trap from two hours ago that is no longer there doesn't remain on everyone's map.

I'm pretty new to the WAZE app, so I'm not doing it justice… but I encourage anyone with an Phone, iPad, Blackberry, Windows, Android or Nokia smart phone to download it and give it a try.  

I have nothing to gain by you signing up, other than the satisfaction of sharing a neat app… because, you know, that's what friends do.


Posted by David Bogner on March 6, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Friday, March 02, 2012

Not exactly scooter weather


Snow isn't the first thing most people think of when they think about Israel. But in the two higher elevation locales of the country - the Golan heights and Gush Etzion - snow comes almost every year... at least for a few hours.

I actually got to go x-country skiing for an hour or so.

Life is good.


Posted by David Bogner on March 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Thursday, March 01, 2012

I stand corrected

[recently overheard]

"Women are Angels.
And when someone breaks our wings,
we simply continue to fly...usually on a broomstick.
We're flexible like that."

Posted by David Bogner on March 1, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack