Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Review of Douglas Coupland's Microserfs

Douglas Coupland did a real good job of capturing geek culture as it was in the 90s in his 1995 novel Microserfs. The novel is about a few tech geeks who work for Microsoft and then form a start-up in Silicon Valley in the early and mid 1990s. The book is about the personal feelings of the group as they strive to come to grips with the reality that they are busy shaping, attempting to exist in a paradigm that no one, least of all them, are prepared for.

The tecky life that was all about getting in on the bottom and creating something from scratch, the tecky life that threw all the young computer geeks who played D and D and watched Star Trek as children, the tecky life that made the boys who could never get dates and made them the big shots of earth, are well portrayed in Microserfs.

The book is really about the personalities, the humanity, the real-worldliness of the people who spent years trying to find themselves, while transforming the digital world. There is a culture that transcends the zillions of lines of code that were written in CA in the 90s. There is a culture behind all the money that was poured in to start-ups. The culture is of people who needed to be understood.

It is a really good novel. It sums up the culture well, and deserved to be as well received as it was.

New Years resolutions

So it is that time of the year when we get rid of the old and go in with the new. It is high-time that I made some resolutions to get me through this next year. I have a number of things that need to be resolved. Many of them just involve doing more work and being vigilant, and some are things that I need to do to just to feel better about myself.

Here are mine:

1) I will talk about politics with others less than I used to. I know I alienate people way too quickly when I talk about things like ethics, politics, religion, and morality. I will save that for my readers, friends, my students, and people I already know.

2) I will write my dissertation. It is about time I just did it. I will.

3) I will really get in shape. I will do more than just run. I will work out. I can still afford to loose a few pounds, and there are parts of me that still need to be worked on - a lot.

4) I will be more generous. I am a bit poor at the moment, but I think I can still afford to give more to my friends and to those who are needier than I.

5) I will write papers and other publishable things.

6) I will get a hobby. I think I will either take up stamp collecting again (uberdorky, I know) or resume my electronics hobby (ubergeeky, I know). I used to do both of these before I discovered adolescence, and I always wanted to continue. (If anyone can recommend a good hobby, let me know. I am not all that satisfied with my current choices.)

7) I need to learn more mathematics. One can never know enough about numbers.

8) I will work on a foreign language. I think I will really pursue either Arabic or German more diligently. (Those of you who read my summer blogs will know why I picked those.)

9) I will keep up with friends more. This is of course a life-long endeavor, but one that needs constant vigilance.

10) I will do more for my country than I have been doing until now. I have not figured out what, but I will do more.

11) I will improve my woman situation. (It really needs improvement. Here too, I am open to suggestions.)

12) If there is time, I will create a better website.

Monday, December 30, 2002

Conference in Filly

I just got back from Philadelphia. I had a nice time. I still did not see the bell or the constitution. It is disapointing. I was actually at a professional convention for that stuff I do that occupies all my time. I did not really leave the five block radius of where I was, execpt once to eat in this Italian place with some other people. The food was really good. It was odd, I wish I remembered the name. They first gave us a tour of the place, kitchen and all. Then they served us thes portions that were soooo big, we left over a ton of it. I tried to eat as much vegetable pizza as I could, and "E" was very nice helping me remove all my tomatoes (UGH).

Friday, December 27, 2002

Review of van Fraassen's The Scientific Image

Bas Van Fraassen's The Scientific Image is a very important work in contemporary philosophy of Science. It is the definitive statement of non-realism in science. The central claim is that the central claims of science are 1) empirical adequacy and 2) that a theory must fit the observable phenomena. There are three main theses that are given that show how a workable non-realist philosophy of science can handle the important issues in the philosophy of science. The three things are 1) there is a relation between theories and the empirical world, 2) there is no absolute notion of explanation, and 3) there is an empirical account of probability. The book is quite difficult and only for the serious student of philosophy of science.

While I tend toward realism in science, it does present strong reasons to take the non-realist position seriously. It is a real serious work, and I strongly endorse it. You must keep in mind though that this is not a popular account, and is not for the faint of heart. It is a very serious work in the philosophy of science.

While a real elaboration of the book is too long to go in to here, I thought I would just give a quick outline of the part of the book which deals with scientific explanation. This is likely to be the most enduring part of the book, though I the whole thing is worth reading and preserving.

An explanation is an answer to a why-question. So a theory of explanations must be a theory of why-questions. The why-question Q expressed by an interrogative in a given context will be determined by three factors: 1) The topic, 2)the contrast class, and 3)the relevance relation.

Furthermore what we need to understand this theory is 1) the contextual factors involved in the background of why-questions. (Those will delineate the set of answers) And 2) A way to evaluate the answers we get.

To evaluate the answers we look to other theories of explanation. For example, we can look to see if the answer addresses the rise in the probabilities of events happening to explain why they happened. This of course has all the shortcomings of other theories of explanations.

The upshot is that there is no right account of explanation. Rather, it depends on what the context is. Sometimes the length of the shadow really does explain the height of the tower. Sometimes the laws of physics and trigonometry explain the length of the shadow, and sometimes the length of the shadow is explained with reference to who van Fraassen's father slept with. Presumably this all goes to counter van Fraassen's realism, in the sense that there cannot be one account of explanation because there is more than one account of reality.

Goin' to Philly

It looks like I will be in Philadelphia tomorrow. I hope I get to see some of the great American stuff there. I was there once for a few hours, but I did not get to see the bell or anything else. I hope to have a chance this trip. I will be there through Monday.

Lefties and Korea

I wonder what the liberal concensus will be on Korea. On the one hand the US (under Clinton) helped North Korea (unwittingly) develop nuclear stuff. So the US is responsible, so it will be our fault when they sell nukes to Crapistan and the Crapistaninan terrorists use it against us. On the other hand all the Green lefties should not like nukes in general, so they should not like North Korea. But of course if the US has it, it is only fair if everyone else has it too, so the Greens still have an excuse to blame the US. But the anti-globalization people should not like it because it involves it involves lots of transference of technology and involves lots of global arrangements. But it is a communist country, so it must be OK. Of course it involves throwing out the UN, so the pro-UN types should not like it, but of course if the US and Israel could ignore the UN, then Korea should also be able to do it too. So I assume the real leftists in this country would do what they always do - blame the US and excuse the communists in Korea because they hate the US and love communists, and blame any fallout on the US for pioneering nuclear science in the first place, and exonerate the people who use it, because it is the fault of capitalism that forces the communissts to use it anyway. Did I miss anything?

Suicide bombing in Grozny

Suicide bombing in Grozny. What is it with Moslems? Draw your own conclusions.


Over the years I have read lots of papers written by pundits, theologians, bioethicists, and biologists about cloning. There are few good reasons for banning it. The reasons that are given are generally one of three types.

The first is theological, ie, God did not intend it that way. That is a stupid reason. God did not intend for people to mush up tomatoes, grate cheese, and put that all on some flat piece of dough, cook it, and eat it, but there are few people who ever consider banning pizza (execpt for a few orthodox Jews who have other problems with the way pizza is distributed). God did not intend in-vitro fertilization, democracy, nuclear weapons, or haircuts. As long as God didn't tell us that he minds, why should there be any problem. (What he tells people when no one else can hear, doesn't count.) I have read many of the worlds main religious texts, and never did I see anyone's God talk about how to make babies. If it is a real God, He would have known the future. If He would have minded he would have told us.

The second main reason is stuff about human dignity. Most of the arguments are hand-waving about individuality and uniqueness. Somehow people think that if someone is a clone they will be born differently than anyone else. There is a wrong belief that they are born without out a personality, or suddenly become identical to their parent. This sort of thinking comes from people who learned about clones from cartoons, and have not given it any thought since they were about six years old. From the instant of birth people develop their own personalitiies, regardless of whose DNA they share. Twins are still allowed, even though they are in principle similar to clones.

People may have seen the movie "Boys from Brazil" and assumed that the only purpose for cloning would be to make lots of copies of Hitler. Again, this is retarded. Even a modern-day clone of Hitler would not be the Hitler that we all know and hate. Someone who learnd about cloning from Austin Powers's Dr. Evil is not any more sophisticated.

Finally there are biologists. Biologists tend to favor cloning. Those who do not tend to oppose it for technical reasons. Of course they are right. IF, and this is clearly a big IF, they cannot do it safely, they should not. But if they can, then there is no reason to ban it.

There are many reasons one might want to clone someone. Therefore we should not oppose it if it were technically possible.

Today this French woman, who is clearly loony and should be locked up, claimed that she succeeded in cloning someone. Now this kid will grow up in a psycho religious cult. This would be unfair to the kid if he was born regularly or via a cloning procedure. I wish her the best of luck, and hope she gets help for her religious issues.

Moreover, you would think that the religious right would be happy about cloning. Less people now have to have sex, annd there is now a new way to be fruitful, multiply and fill up the earth.

On the down side though, I am so not looking forward to the first psycho who annouces that she really wants to give birth to bin Laden's clone.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

LOTR and British flicks in general

Last night I saw the new Lord of the Rings movie. First off, "The Two Towers" is currently a bad name for the movie, although I have to admit that you can't really help that because the book was named that too. Second, the graphics and animation was incredible. The stuff they did was nothing short of amazing. The actors that they added and the interaction between the actors and the scenery was very well done. The movie was a tad long (some 3 hours). I really liked it. (I'll leave out the details.)

There is something I noticed about a lot of british writing that you really don't see in American writing. I have not really look in to this much, but I wonder if the literature would support this: There is a large acceptance of monarchial thinking. What I mean is that if part of the plot hinges on someone having superior blood, or divine right, or something like that, it will be readily accepted as normal by British audiences. There are all sorts of kings in LOTR. Each one is respected and followed. People have real loyalty to their king, in the way I would be loyal to the president of the US. But the difference is that the kings here do not get their legitimacy from the people, rather they inherit it. Harry Potter (also British) has a similar situation. Remember, Harry's father was a seeker. It was in his blood, as Hermione said.

Again, two examples does not a theory make, but I think that given the history of the US and the UK, those of us here in the US would find these things very un-American. I do. I tend to look at the whole world of LOTR as a throwback to more barbaric times where there is little to learn in terms of values or morals. There is little to be emulated, neither by the bad guys, or the good guys. The good guys are just less brutal and wear brighter clothes. They both have undying loyalty to an illigitimate ruler, they both think everyone else should too. There are wizzards who inherit their talents, no one can aspire to wizzardhood. Harry was just waiting in his closet until his natural born rights were allowed to flourish. He did not work for them at all.

In the American version, you have a kid who has some talents would spend his nights being abused and working hard, sitting in the library until some lucky break allowed him to show off what he had worked so hard for. (I guess this would be Hermione, or some Good Will Hunting type of story.)

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Review of Negroponte's Being Digital

Although I read Nicholas Negroponte's Being Digital some seven or eight years after it came out, it is not really dated. There has been so many innovations since, and so many more of us are now digital that much of what he said when he wrote the book is now a bit passe.

However this should not diminish the accomplishments of the book. I learned quite a bit. Most importantly, I now see what it is like to have a digital imagination. Every page of the book is crammed with suggestions for the future. There is little that cannot be improved. And Negroponte has an idea for how to fix everything. He is right. He sees where millions of dollars are being invested in misguided enterprises to fix the wrong problem. He sees what the right problems are and how to go about solving them.

Negroponte knows what computers can do and he has the imagination to know what they should do. We can all learn something from this book.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Lazy day

I spent the past few days being lazy. There is a lot to be said for not shaving and sitting around for two or three days and watching movies on TV. The problem is that if you have a thousand channels then there is always something on. If there is always something on then you never stop, and you don't get anything done. I have a ton of reading and stuff on my desk and none of it is getting done. Can I get some help to get me out of my room, maybe someone want to offer me an incentive to get off my a55?

Friday, December 20, 2002

Review of Himanen's The Hacker Ethic

If you are reading this you know that computers are a rather indispensable part of the human condition for those of us in the western world. Presumably it will be the same for everyone, everywhere, eventually.

The Hacker Ethic: A Radical Approach to the Philosophy of Business by Pekka Himanen, is a statement of the values embodied by those who literally made the computer happen. The ethic is revolutionary and cannot easily be classified given the existing paradigms of social, political, and ethical philosophy.

(There is a cute introduction by Linus Torvalds, and a rather odd epilogue by Manuel Castells which is filled with lots of sociological gobbledygook that I am pretty sure would be false if it were written such that people could comprehend it.)

The book starts with an analysis of the protestant work ethic and compares it to the "passionate life", The protestant ethic is about work and making work a virtue in and of itself. In the "passionate" work ethic (ie, the Hacker work ethic) work is not an ends, it is not really a means either, it should be something enjoyable.

The Hacker ethic is contrasted next with the bizarre 9-5 lifestyle where the goal is to just be somewhere from 9 to 5. The hacker ethic is more concerned with accomplishments that occur over a long time. The whole corporate time structure is unsuitable to the achievements that hackers have made.

When it comes to money it seems that there are various hacker models of how one ought to feel. Various models are proposed in the book and there is no one that is taken as authoritative. The models vary from simple capitalist to get rich quick and become a philanthropist to the downright socialist.

Models of hacker learning are then outlined. The build-up of knowledge and the model for study is elaborated. There is also a social model that can be adapted from this. (I wish he would have talked more about this. You can see where he is going with the "open resource" suggestion, but it holds so much promise that it is worth fleshing out.)

Some of the staples of the hacker ethic, some of the hacker virtues, so to speak are addressed. Namely privacy and free speech are touted, rightfully so, as the cornerstones of what hackers need to survive, in the same way that humanity does.

The hacker ethic of personal development is addressed too.

Somewhere in the end there is a cute interlude as to what the world would have looked like if God had ben God inc, instead of the Hacker God, who just got off his but and created the world.

The book is full of references to Plato and Church theologians. There is a huge project of detailing the protestant ethic and contrasting it with hacker ethic.

It is really a wonderful statement of what the hacker lifestyle embodies. Hackers are a rather unique breed of people, but they ought not be. As a society, most of us are beyond the point where we need to work and structure our lives in a way that makes work a pure good. Many of us, especially those who work for companies can find ways of restructuring our lives so that we are happier living it. There is a strange need to think that we need to conform to the mold or our jobs will not get done. For most of us there is little need to coordinate our physical presence in the workplace all the time to achieve the fulfillment of our goals. There is little need for the types of regulation that goes on to meet the standards we have for the good life. Everyone should be a hacker. They will be happier. (Remember: a hacker need not be a computer hacker.)

The world of hacking is actually interesting in that it does seem like it is onne of the few places where the Anarchist utopias can really happen. In the Alexander Goldman and Michael Bakhunin-style anarchism there is no state control and everyone produced whatever they wanted and donated it all to the common pot from which all took freely. While this sounds ridiculous in the real world, in the world of information it makes a lot of sense and even ends up working. How? Well there is a system of rewards that people are all after, namely peer recognition. So it is not like good work and creativity go unnoticed. And, unlike real goods, when you give away information you don't have any less of it. So while you can't eat information, there is a start of a paradigm to work with here.

The hacker revolution was ideology-driven and ought to stay that way. (Gassett would approve, no doubt.)

Gibson no doubt would worry that worry that if it did not exist, and people went corporate too quickly then the upward spiral of technological improvement would stop. I suspect that we are seeing the first inklings of that now. (The tell is that Japan seems to be outstripping the US technologywise. Little creativity comes from Japan, only refinement of US technology. When the refinements are ahead of the innovations it says that creativity is in a lull.)

All in all though the book is an important statement of the hacker ethic. It deserves to be widely read and thought about, by the general public, sociologists, and corporations, and philosophers.

A few criticisms though, after all the hype about the ethics of open source there is still a whole copyright page which makes sure that the book itself is not "open sourced". Very disturbing.

(On the technical side, I wish the footnotes were on the page instead of in the back, and there is no index, which is annoying. )

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Review of Gibson's All Tomorrow's Parties

William Gibson's All Tomorrow's Parties is classic cyberpunk. (I assume the reference to the title is to the Velvet Underground) Without giving away too much of the plot, there is something really significant about to happen and it is up to those who can, to be in the right places at the right time. You never know who will be important. The style is classic, and Gibson's fans I am sure were not too disapointed. There was the whole post techno world and all the virtual stuff, and idorus and neat-o drugs. After reading this I remembered a Wired article article that I read about Gibson and his ebay obsession, just before this book was released. It now makes a whole lot of sense.

The book is also a platform for many of Gibson's pet theories. Many of them quite interesting. He offers various versions of why all of our computers are this stupid beige color. He talks about the bohemian life and why it is necessary and what happens when it disapears too quickly. And of course there is the reference to ancient programs that never get rewritten, only added to.

Enjoy the read, I did.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Star Trek and Drinks Afterward

I went to see the new Star Trek movie tonight with "D" and "D" and "L". It was kind of fun. It was not the best one yet, but I thought it was pretty good. (The vote was not unanimous on this.) We then went out drinking at Abby's Tavern on 3rd and 27th and then "L" and I went to "T" and "A"'s place where we drank more. I need to stop hanging out with Russians if I want my liver to make it to the next decade.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

UN condemnes Terror Attack (SIC)

In a magnanimous gesture yesterday the UN voted to condemn the terrorist attack in Mombasa a couple of weeks ago. This was of course significant, as it was the first time people who killed Israelis have been condemned. Naturally the Syrian ambasador voted against, because he understands the true mission of the UN and claims that said the resolution was "against the values and charter of the United Nations". Condeming terrorism is generally against the true values of the UN.

The ambasador actually went on to claim that the UN has ignored the palestinians and therefore they could not vote for this resolution. (the fact that about a third of the resolutions in the UN are about the palestinians, somehow escaped the ambasador.)

If you will pardon my cynicism, I wish to downplay the significance of this resolution. I do this simply because the message that was just sent out by the UN is that terrorism in Israel against Israelis is OK. It only stops being OK when peaceful Kenyans get hurt too.

This actually is a covert way of saying that terrorism against Israelis is OK - as long as it is done in Israel. The UN will not put up with anti-Israel terrorism outside Israel.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Why the US announced that it is prepared to use Nukes

The announcement two days ago that the US is prepared to use nuclear weapons has a many-fold purpose. 1) It said to the Iraqi people that they should really think twice before supporting their ruler in a war against the US. There are a host of reasons to have the Iraqis believe that. 2) It told Saadam that attacking Israel will not work. Iraq no doubt thinks that if it is attacked by the US it will attack Israel to 1) kill Israelis and 2) to gain broad Arab support. It is an old ploy that all Arab leaders know. You can oppress your people to death as long as you are perceived as fighting the Israelis. (Hence, the perpetuation of anti-Isrel as a national priority in all Arab countries.) 3) It told Israel to stay out of the war in the only way they will listen, by assuring them that there will be nuclear retaliation for an attack on Israel's soil using WMDs.

What Saadam was no doubt thinking is that if something happens he will attak Israel and will be able to keep his regime. What the US said is that if he attacks Israel, the US will attack Iraq with nuclear weapons. Remember Saadam cannot fire WMDs in his own country against US troops without shooting himself in the foot (by destroying his own army) at the same time. He does not have the capability to attack the US. We are too far away. He would not attack neighboring Arab countries for fear of loosing more Arab support among now friendly Arab countries.

So the only country left for him to attack is Israel. So that is what the US was refering to. The US wants Israel to stay out of the war, for the same reason Saadam wants them in it. Both the US State Dept and Israel have announced publically and repeatedly that Israel will likely use nuclear weapons if attacked with WMD.

So what the US is saying is that now Israel knows to stay out of the war because the US will do Israel's job for her. The US will nuke Iraq just to prevent Israel from doing it. The hope is that this treat will stop Saadam from starting in the first place.

This is however a dangerous bluff. I assume that if the US is not prepared to follow through, Israel is. So I hope this ploy works.

Why only the US should have Nukes

For all you fans of game theory out there, here is an argument for why only the US should have nuclear weapons.

Assume that very stable democracies want to stay stable democracies. Also, assume that one of our important goals is to avoid having anyone use nuclear weapons.

Weapons of mass destruction are hard to make. This is actually an empirical fact, but for an argument, if they were easy to make then we never would have evolved as far as we have as a species.

To make WMD you need a large number of people to cooperate in many and varied ways. We need universities and large amounts of funding, and people who are able and willing to work together for long periods of time under conditions of various governments and economic, social and political conditions. From all the cooperation literature we know that cooperation generally implies a peaceful socitey. A peaceful society, if it is a democracy, wants to stay that way. So it will not use WMD if it can avoid it, on pain of loosing their peaceful status.

Non cooperative countries, that is, countries that have not developed sufficient internal cooperation to build WMD have less need to stay stable, because they are not stable to begin with. Moreover, non-democracies have less insentive to avoid using WMD because they are not all that interested in not killing their citizens, because their power does not derive from the people whose lives are in danger. That is the nature of non-democracies. So getting in to nuclear conflict is not the big destabilizing factor that it would be in a stable democracy.

So the upshot is that coutries that 1) are stable democracies and 2) developed the resources and technology on their own, and did not purchase it from others should be the only ones with nuclear weapons. Of course it is preferable that that non have it. However, as long as there are other countries and this is the most effecient way to maintain the stability then it it moral. Moreover, for the same reasons, it is imperative that those countries who are morally justified in having WMD, ought to prevent those who are not morally justified from having it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

New Novel

This just in from the in-case-you-needed-another-reason-to-hate-the-French department: There is a new novel out in French that you will not see anywhere near my reading list this winter break. The novel is being published by Flammarion ( really large French publisher).

The novel is called Rever la Palestine and the Simon Weisenthal center is urging the publishers to stop the presses. They are not. Apparently they flew off the shelves in Paris just after the release. The novel is aimed at teens, and its author too, is 15.

From what I am gathering, the novel protrays some kid who grows up and dreams of becoming a suicide bomber. Eventually he does become one. I mean what the hell kind of f%#$ed-up culture produced this stuff? And who the heck in france is confusing this with Harry Potter? The book is supposed to contain the usual tirades about blood-thirsty Jews who deface mosques, rape arab women (God, like anyone would want to do that), and kill arab children BEFORE they become suicide bombers. At some point one of the main characters calls for a Jihad against the Jews and annihilation of Israelis.

This undoubtedly is a great text of sufferring and hope. One day perhaps all Palestinians can aspire to suicide bomberdom and get exonerated by pop-culture. For now, sadly, it is only the French-speaking ones.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Nut on the F train

I was on the F train tonight and there was this guy is a really gay looking hat (though you could make a similar case for my hat) who just pushes me for no apparent reason (except perhaps to be standing closer to the door when it would open at Delancy street. So I gave the guy some dirty look and continued talking to a friend who was also getting off at Delancy. I was not getting off at that stop. So then the guy says "I can't believe you have a problem with me pushing you." So I think to myself that this guy is just a real a-hole, and I say something like "a55hole" to no one in particular. Then the door opens up and the guy says "F--- you" so I say "F— you. You could be civil" and then he stands there by the door till the train leaves saying over and over "you want a piece of me?" Like, what is up with that? He looked normal, but apparently was just some sort sort of psychotic animal who had a bad day.

Monday, December 09, 2002

A parable on evil dictators

Let us say that there was a poor child in our community. We found out that this poor child and his friends were mugging people and breaking in to our homes, and vandalized our property. So once in a while we tried to punish him. But finally we realized that our punishments were cruel and we tried a different approach.

Completely out of our desire to stop the vandalism and muggings, we decided to give this child some money. We paid for an education, bought him his own laptop, clothing, and made this child a lot better off in many ways. The child goes through college and leaves college with a number of skills. One of those skills is the ability to maliciously hack in to computer systems.

One night this person goes on line to his home computer and steals money out of the bank accounts of those who have been supporting him for the past few years.

Who is to blame here for this child's behavior?

(For those who do not get the moral here, it is as follows: For all those people who blame the US for funding Saadam/bin Laden/Fidel/... and say that we deserve whatever we get because we funded these people to start with, I ask you what the difference is? All it means is that in addition to being depraved murderers, they are also ungrateful poster children for abortion.)

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Went to a Hanukaha party on Friday night in Brooklyn. "J" made some good food, and there were some nice people there. I got home at some crazy hour in the morning on account of the messed up Q train on the weekend.

Went to a few birthday celebrations last (Saturday) night. I met "J" in the Library on ave A and 1st for beer. Then "L" and I went off to Kush on Orchard Street, which was crowded, but it would have been nice. So we moved two doors down to this other place where I got completely wasted and forgot the name. Then some of us went to Sarafina on Lexington, and then off to Sugar in TriBeCa for more drinking. Sarafina and Sugar were so-so. We grabbed a limo on the street to travel around. A good time was had by all, and again I got home at an insane hour. (Yawn!)

Saturday, December 07, 2002

Parable about the UN

Imagine that the Unites States formed a Commission on Wife Beating. This commission was to be the main committee for the United States that would oversee arrests, information, education, and punishment for men who beat their wives. There was no other major organization that did this. This committee was made up of representatives from all the states, and was founded on the principle that all wives everywhere should be safe from abusive men.

That all sounds pretty noble, right?

So far, so good.

Now, this commission is working hard, and having lots of meetings, and working closely with law enforcement in the attempt to slowly curtail this national problem.

Then, a few months after the committee was formed blocks started emerge, and the political machinery starts to move. The southern states start to stick closely together. They refuse to let an investigation go on in their state because it would make them look bad as a a huge powerful voting block they can seriously impede any work in their states. So they focus all their energy and allow all the resources available to the committee to be used in making sure that all the attention goes to the northern states. No one can get any enforcement procedures going on in any other state.

But they are making some progress in some northern states.

Then a few months later there are rifts and other alliances that form. Some of the alliances are cultural, some racial, some religious, some economic, and some geographic. Before you know it New Jersey and California are the only states who are really under scrutiny. Because of this scrutiny the level of wife beating goes down. Not so much, because the commission is not all that powerful, but somewhat.

Wives are being murdered in Wyoming, and there are even special beaten-wife hospitals in Nevada. There is a sport that evolves in Texas whose main point is to see how many of your wife's fingers you can break with one hit of a baseball bat. But that gets ignored because of various racial and political wranglings.

And California is a rather large and powerful state, so nothing really happens there either. But New Jersey is tiny and no one really likes them anyway, so all of the committee's energies go in to attacking problems in New Jersey. Every husband in New Jersey, guilty or not, is under a microscope. When the committee is bored it just issues a warrant for some random husband in New Jersey.

Nothing really happened to the New Jersey husbands. But the state looks bad, and no one really wanted to marry men from New Jersey. Other states refused to do business with New Jersey based companies, and they all cited the overwhelming "evidence" the committee has to justify their discrimination against people from New Jersey.

After a while (to feminist screams of mysogeny) someone points out that there is something unfair going on. There are a lot of wives getting killed in other states who are getting ignored, while the New Jersey men are getting all the hassle. Moreover, doesn't this all point to a genuine problem? Should we not suspect that there is more going on then a desire to help wives? Doesn't this look like a way to get those loosers from New Jersey. After a while you would think that the point is not to help wives. If it was then they would be trying to help wives all over. More than that, you would start to doubt the veracity of any of their evidence. They seem to be just gunning for Jersey guys. Any incident in New Jersey is magnified so out of proportion because the committe has little to focus on and needs a constant outpouring of examples. Eventualy they even drop their pretexts and in a resolution declare that "living in Jersey makes men rapists".

Is an organization like that worth your trust? Would you, if you were interested in real justice, join such an organization?

Friday, December 06, 2002

I caught the last few minutes of an interview on CNN this morning with an important looking Saudi. I am not sure who he was, but I think he was being interviewed (I think by Wolf Blitzer). Anyway, he said something that struch me as typical of the way Saudi's see themselves, and I think offers a new definition of the word "chutzpah".

He was being asked about Saudi Arabia and terrorism, and he said that 1) bin Laden's original target was Saudi Arabia (which is true), and therefore Saudis and the Saudi Government deeply did not like him or his aims or goals (whcih cannot be true). Moreover, he claimed that there is no real evidence that Saudis had anything to do with flying planes in to the Twin Towers. But 15 of the 19 hijackers are saudi, Blitzer asked. To which this bujum responded: there were 15 saudis on the plane, but we have no evidence that they were at all responsible. Anyone on the plane could have done it. Why should we suspect that it was the Saudis?

It is the American prejudice that makes us assume this.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

The AP just announced that vandals broke into synagogue in SW France, ransacking main prayer hall, destroying holy books. What's new? It looks like the French and Germans have more in common than even they will admit.
Israel's president recently told an Italian newspaper that those behind the Mombasa bombing will have the same fate as Munich Olympic terrorists. Now operation wrath of God was pulled off really well. However it used to be Israel's style not to announce this stuff till AFTER it happened. Now we are going to have to listen to all these stupid human rights groups while about how terrorists are technically human, and as such they deserve better than extra-judicial assinations by Israel. I am still of course waiting for the pronouncements against the extra-judicial assinations of the victims. But I suspect AI has more important things on its plate then the fate of a few Jews in Kenya, who really can't be helped because they are already dead. So why advocate for them? The terrorists are still alive, and under pursuit, and thus in desperate need of shelter from all forms of punishment.
Extremists in Berlin have won approval to hold a demonstration in Berlin when Israel's president comes to visit next week. Germany is really starting to worry me these days. Germany really is trying to make up for the last 50 years of Israel making Germany feel guilty about that genocide that they committed during world war II. I fear that things will become much worse for Jews in Germany. I suspect that Germany will once again become one of the world's leading exporters of anti-semitism.
It is now snowing in New York. I really become a kid when it snows, though I was too preoccupied with thoughts about International migration (not mine, of course) this morning to play.
Though this did not get all that much press, there was mustard gas found in Iraq. It was expected, and known to be there. The inspectors were looking for signs of tampering and stuff. The lack of any big to-do suggests to me that all is in order so far. The UN really downplayed the significance, and so did the western press.

What should be completely unsurpirisng to students of Arab politics is when at the same time that all this was found there was some standard Iraqi damage-control. The spin doctors get up and do exactly what one would expect them to do when there is potential trouble. They attack The US and Israel. The attack in this case came in the form of a pronouncement that the UN is really a proxy for the US and the Zionists. The way to get the arab world to forget that you may have mustard gas that you will just as likely use on one of them is to claim that it is Israel's and the US's fault that it is there is the first place.

This is exactly what Iraq did during the gulf war. While under attack, it attacked Israel. As if to say "You see, we are just fighting Israel, why are you all worried about Kuait?". The palestinians believed him then, as did much of the arab world. This is no different.

The saddest thing is that this works.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

I am listening to the Saudi press conference about terrorism by Adel al-Jubeir. These are my notes.

I am now listening to the Saudi press conference talk about what a big victim Saudia Arabia is. Apparently that they have been the victim of at least four terrorist attacks since 1960. They also claim that they have been fighting terrorism since the beginning. They have also been unfairly maligned over the years. He is amazed that people can say with a straight face that "Saudi Arabia" is a breeding ground for terrorism".

This guy is amazing!!! He is really full of it.

He calims that all terrism by Qaida is against the US, Saudia Arabia, or a common interest. I wonder if he will still assert this if they discover a Qaida link to Kenya.

They have created sophisticated banking laws to be able to trace money.

He used the words "evil doer".

There are also new regulations requiring charities to be audited. Charities are part of their faith. And it would be very bad if the givers discover that their money is going to be spent killing Israelis.

He also just revealed that Saudis do not pay taxes. So what is their system for getting government revenue.

He used the word "Merciless" three times.

The guy is not a bad speaker though.

He blames everyone for 9/11, execpt Saudi Arabia. The soudis were "used for this". Pointing fingers and assigning blame is unproductive.

Monday, December 02, 2002

So England releases a dossier outlining a lot of brutality perpertrated by Saadam Heussain in Iraq, and instead of the applause you might expect from our good friends at Amnesty International, the first question they had: So why are you releasing this right now? They start accusing Britian of cold and calculating manipulations. There is no pleasing those barbarians who work for Amnesty. Where the hell were they all these years with information on Iraq? If they had said something (which they claim they did before the last war) then it would be common knowledge by now, and England wouldn't have to. It is too bad that they soft-petal the news that is too inconvenient for them. If they didn't then they should appreciate someone else doing it. The fact that they do not just tips their real agenda. They are just your average run-of-the-mill anti-American types. They just want control the rhetoric so that only THEY get to decide when there are human rights abuses and who is doing it.

Friday, November 29, 2002

I would like to wish you all a happy first night of Chanukah.
I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. I naturally enjoyed my mother's turkey, which was excellent. It was nice to see the family.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Attacks in Israel

The last few hours have been pretty disturbing. An Israeli airplane attacked with Stingers, Hotel in Kenya attacked with plane and car-bomb, and the Likud office attacked on primary day. The person who promises to kick Arab ass, and looks like he will follow through, will win. Sharon has been reported to encourage elections.

Al-Aksa Martys brigade claim that this was in retaliation for the two people killed last week. You should remember that the last person who attempted to retaliate for this accidentially blew himself up without any Israeli casualties.
I saw the new Harry Potter movie last night with "S" and her daughter "E". It was fun. It had all the same charm of the first one. I enjoyed it.
Overheard in Boro Park: (sorry don't mean to make fun of Jews) "Bloomberg is a gonif. Why? He raised property taxes, the only ones that Boro Parkers can't get away without paying.

Lunch at Circa

It has been a crazy and hectic past few days, and there will be more craziness and hecticness for the next two weeks. There are about a zillion things I must get done, and I have lots of big things due, and I suspect I am in real trouble if they don't get done. But anyway, I met "S" for lunch yesterday in Circa-ny on 33rd between 5th and 6th. Not to bad for lunch if you want kosher. The prices, however, are steep, and the service is pretty slow. The pizza was pretty good though.

Monday, November 25, 2002

Hassidic Wedding in Boro Park

I just returned from my cousin's wedding in Boro Park, Brooklyn. I go to Hassidic weddings about once a year. Most of them have been siblings of tonight's groom. Hassidic weddings are rather interesting events. It starts out with a modest shmorgasboard. Then there is the ceremony. There is a whole protocol for determining who gets which honor under the wedding canopy. Then there is eating and dancing. The dancing is, like everything else, done with men and women seperately. You can go through a whole hassidic wedding - dancing, ceremony, eating, etc - without seeing a member of the opposite sex. After the dancing (ended at around midnight), most of the guests leave, except for immediate family) and there is a mitzvah tance where someone is hired to make fun of everyone (well, all the men) in Yiddish and tell jokes. This is the only time where men and women sit facing each other and the men dance between jokes. Oddly enough, here the woman holds one end of a gartel (belt) and a man holds the other and they "dance". The function of the batlan is rather interesting. He is quite funny, telling lots fpo jokes and making fun of the family based on scant information provided by one of the relatives. The humor here is possibly worth an academic study by some sociologist. The whoe thing ended at around 2 AM.

Past few days

So let me catch you up on the events of the past few days.

Friday night I went to hang out with a bunch of philosophers in the lobbey of the New Yorker Hotel. It was an interesting gathering. I then had dinner with "B" and "Y".

Saturday I went to Brooklyn for the auf ruf of my first cousin. The auf ruf was in Boro Park. I forgot that there is now an eruv and every but the Gerrer Hassidim carry. (And even they do when no one is looking.)

Saturday night I went with "S" and "L" to Yaffa, and then I ended up in Cayote Ugly on 1st and 10th. There was table dancing and lots of men chanting "take it off" and stuff. Many women complied. I wish I had it in me to regularly be that shameless and vulgar. I simply do not.

I then somehow made it to Jersey (I am not sure which city), where I passed out till Sunday morning at "S"'s place. In the morning "S" and her daughter "E" who is really cute (she is around 6) and I went to this diner where we had the best chocolate chip pancakes. She then drove me back where I fell asleep again.

Friday, November 22, 2002

The very open society and its enemies

So there are Islamic riots in Nigeria over a remark about the Miss World pagent, an American nurse gets shot dead in Lebanon, El Al saw a hijack attempt, what the hell is the Arab world coming to? Roger Scrouton is now claiming that American Multiculturalism is too open, and I am starting to wonder about that myself.

There is a book that I read about 20 years ago (that inspired me to think about politics) called A Nation of Sheep by William J. Lederer. In that book the author described how the communists in China would take a student from every little town and bring them to Beijing or somewhere, and give them the royal treatment, educate them, and propogandize a lot. By the end of the student's education a sympathizer was born. Then they sent him back to the village he came from to work on the rest of the population.

The point I think was that it might not be a bad idea to allow a lot of foreign students to come to the US (on us) and learn about the wonders of democracy and freedom, so that they can go back and take some of this to their villages and hopefully get the world to be a better place than it is.

Somehow this is not working. I suspect the reason is that when we see a foreigner, we do not tell them what we are, we ask them to spread what they are, so that the US can be more "diverse". What we ended up with is a large taxpayer-funded platform for people to come in and preach militant Islamic fundamentalism and declare a Jihad against the people who finally give them platforms. This is unacceptable. We would look at all these people and patronizingly look at them and smile and declare their way of life so "interesting" and ignore the fact that it was actually quite repugnant to the values that allowed the person to be brought here int he first place.

We did not spend any effort in to assuring that the people who came here were not enemies of democracy, pluralism, and toleration or us. They are. And we are now paying for it.

Monday, November 18, 2002

Arab military optimism

It seems to me that there is this bizarre optimistic notion in the Arab world that any group of people, no matter how small, uncoordinated and under armed and underfunded can do anything, like take over a country. Even a half a dozen street kids with 4 old rifles between them. Most of the "militias" in Lebanon were like that during the civil war. The PLO believed it could take over Jordan. Then when it failed, it was simply looked at as a minor setback and they attempted to take over Lebanon (which was the Civil War). It still thinks it can take over Israel. This attitude is given credence when ther are such fortuitious events such as Israel pulling out of south Lebanon. Hezbolla not only takes credit, but actually thinks it caused it. (It was actually a function of Israeli politics under the dovish Barak.)

This of course explains the plethorea of groups that exist in abundance with avowed goals of taking over countries, liberating the Arab/muslim world, and destroying the west. This explains the popularity of Hezbollah and bin Ladenism. Bin Laden it is believed can take on the West and win. The Shiites and Allowites have also been such sects, and in the Allowites case, with some success.

(See also all the literature by Dominic D. P. Johnson, Richard W. Wrangham, and Stephen Peter Rosen on the adaptiveness of military incompetence, which this seems to be a prime example of.)

Conference on Antisemitism

Today I went to a conference at Kingsborough Community College on the Resurgence of Antisemitism: A Global Perspective. A friend was running it, so I thought I would attend. I only stayed for the first panel discussion. Dr. Michalel Bernebaum, Kenneth S. Stern, Mark Weitzman, and Tal Becker spoke. They were all OK. Nothing too academic, mostly just talking to a lay audience about anti-Semitism. There was a lot of interesting stuff said there.

Ken Stern made some interesting points about how the language of human rights has been co-opted to promote anti-Semitism. Words like "aparthide" and "racism" are now serving the purposes of those who have little interest in justice, but rather being anti-Semitic.

I found out that there was a conference on denying the Holocaust planned for Beirut a year ago. There was also a plan for one in Verona, and one took place in Jordan.

Tal Becker spoke well, I thought. He is the Legal Advisor to the permanent mission of Israel to the UN.

(I embellish his words, but their spirit follows:)

Tal spoke about the difference between the way Israel views itself and the way it is viewed in the UN. Israel views itself vis a vis the palestinians as a country with a territorial/political conflict with a neighbor. Israel and the palestinians did not recognize each other nor each other's right to exist. The handshake on the White House lawn between Arafat and Rabin was there to show that they now recognized each other's humanity and agree that each has the right to exist and the right to rights.

Others look at the conflict differently. The view at the UN is that there is a villian and a victim. Israel is of course the villian and the palestinians are the victims. Israel is incapable of being the victim.

He repeated something I have said before, and also something Thomas Friedman said in a recent column. It is OK to criticize Israel. That does not make one an anti-Semite. Every Israeli newspaper does that daily. It is OK to hold Israel to a VERY high moral standard. They actually appreciate that. Moreover, he stressed, it is OK to criticize Zionism. It may not be a universalist doctrine to everyone's liking. There is room there for reasonable people to disagree. What is repugnant, is when there is selective justice. Selective justice, he claimed, was when Israel is held to a standard that no one else is held to. When that happens, and say, Israel is criticized for responding with innappropriate force to a suicide bombing, and the suicide bombing is not criticized, then the person is not interested in any type of justice, rather they are interested in using justice as a weapon against the Israelis. That is anti-Semetic.

He also pointed out that the Human Rights Commissioner for next year will be from the Lybian (sic) delegation.

Becker mentioned a response he got from some EU delegate when they supported some resolution condemning the Israeli human rights issues vis-a-vis the palestinians. He asked why they are singling out Israel for such treatment. The answer he got was that "you gave us a guilt trip for the last 50 years, now it is our turn".

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Indian food

Today it was raining lightly, but in a most annoying way in New York. I had Lunch with "R" at Pongol on 28th and Lexington. (He paid.) The food was good. I had one of those Indian-named things like Masalla Mysore Dosa with Lassi and Sweet Chutni, or something like that. I am really getting to like it, but I still have no idea what I order. I am greatful that most of these places do not serve anything that used to be alive, or I would really be in trouble. It is the fact that it is so spicy that often gets to me. I often find myself drinking tons of water withyevery meal. There were many children there today. I am not sure why. Perhaps it is related to Diwali, and more families going out to eat? It could just be that I usually do not go on Sundays, and I am not used to the Sunday crowd.

Eventually I made my way to Brooklyn and had dinner with some family there, and "A-" and "K" came by to say hello. I will stay here for the night, and see if I can get some sleep.

Review of Sam Williams' Arguing AI: The Battle for Twenty-First-Century Science

I read Sam Williams' Arguing AI: The Battle for Twenty-First-Century Science in one sitting. It is not a hard book, nor was it highly informative. Basically the book starts with a chapter on the mathematical roots of AI. There Hilbert, Turing, Godel, and von Neumann are mentioned. There is nothing at all technical mentioned. The author barely understands it himself (or so it would appear from his references to Godel's making use of the power of infinity to provide room for all them Godel numbers!).

Then Williams goes on to the more familiar names in the early history of AI, including Marvin Minsky, John McCarthy, and Hans Moravec, and mentions that they did a lot of early research, especially when few understood the big problems.

Then it is off to chat about the gurus like Ray Kurzweil, Jaron Lanier, and Bill Joy. There is also a bit about David Stork and his HAL project.

The whole book is more of a long article on the gossip, culture, hopes, and prophecies surrounding these people. Basically if you have been either keeping up with Wired Magazine, or even if you have read Kurtzweil's books and the Lainer and Joy articles, you know all that the book has to offer.

The author apparently feels a lot more comfortable reporting the gossip then he does with the technical stuff too. This is a shame since understanding AI is all about understanding the philosophical and technical obstacles.

Otherwise it is a good way to kill two hours. The book is not worth the money. Do what I did, read it while leaning against the wall at your local bookstore.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Saying hello to the UN

I knew I would get in to trouble for this eventually.

I was doing my customary run up the East River, from the Lower East Side to the UN and back this morning. As usual I would stop at the UN, "clear my throat" and head back, to have a full 5 mile run.

Today a UN security guard walks over to me as soon as I hit the UN, as if he was waiting for me, and says "why do you always stop there?". To which I reply, "because this is where I turn around and head back.". "But" he replies "I see you do this religiously every time. Why do you have to [spit] in front of the gate where the staff members here pass? Can't you do it there [at the corner]?" To which I respond something like "sorry, I'll take that in to consideration." And then I ran off.

I think I better reconsider my policy of showing my disdain for the UN with saliva in the future.

But at least now I can say that I have tangled with UN security forces and emerged unscathed.


I had dinner with "B" in University Diner on University Place and 12th Street. It is just south of Union Square, and I kind of like it, even though I had this rather frightening waiter.

Afterward, I went to see "A-" and "K" (both just in from Berlin) today in Esperanto, a 24-hour cafe in the West Village. Esperanto is far less cool now than it used to be. They now have these overbearing waitresses. They are annoying. I used to just go up to the counter, get coffee, and sit and drink it. Now they have these people who annoy you all the time, asking you questions and disturbing conversations. I used to go there all the time, but now I go there much less. I actually stopped a while ago, and now just visit every now and then.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Review of Schiff and Ya'ari's Israel's Lebanon War

Ze'ev Schiff and Ehud Ya'ari are clearly superior journalists. Their book Israel's Lebanon War is very detailed, and comprehensive. If you want to know what happened during the summer of 1982 when Israel went to war with the Moslems and Palestinians in Lebanon, you could not find a book that is more comprehensive. There is considerable attention paid to the background to the war, and the events in Israel and Lebanon leading up to it. I really did find the book full of all sorts of information including the minutes of all the important meetings and phone conversations both on the Israeli side and the Lebanon side as well. These people were the journalists during the war, and their book is somewhat akin to a 317 page newspaper article.

Unfortunately that does not always make for facinating reading, and the book is a bit dry at times, though that is the trade-off one make for being detailed.

I do have a few criticisms. While their journalistic integrity is well intact and do not appear to be "taking sides" here, one can never shake the feeling that (1) They do not like Sharon, and (2) they blame the war and all that happened in it (including the massacres in shatilla and Sabra) on Sharon. There is a bit too much editorializing for my tase in the book, but to their credit it is kept to a minimum, and it never really mars the narrative.

Though one does learn a lot about what happened during the war, one sadly does not come away with the feeling that one really understands any of the events. What motivated all of them, what features of the Israeli or Phalange or PLO's, or any of the players' (political) psychology caused the events? We are not given that insight. That again could be to the credit or the detriment of the authors. Do they not understand or do they believe that it will ruin the book with interpretation?

The last chapter attempts to give some analysis, but it is short and not very satisfying.

There are also a number of other questions I would like to have seen dealt with more comprehensively that were not. First, what was the story with the bombing of the American embassy and Marine base? This was covered in a matter of sentences, and there should have been more detail as to the American role there.

Second, I would like more details about who killed Bashir Gemayel. The standard story is given, and I would like to know what the real story is. I, as well as others suspect Eli Hobekia, but was it? The book does not give enough detail there. It is not that I am even disagreeing with the recieved view, but I would like more details about it, like who were the players behind the whole thing.

Third, it is well known that unbeknownst to the Israelis at the time Bashir was making deals with the Americans to cut out the Israelis. Was this information uncovered too late to be in the book, or are there whole dimensions of this that were cut out of the story for some reason. It seems like the book needs to be revised in light of those details.

Otherwise this books deserves to be considered definitive. It is a real contribution to the literature, and worth the read.

Monday, November 11, 2002

German antisemitism today

I wanted to share a so far somewhat obscure piece of news with my loyal readers (the few of you that there are).

As many of you know I spent this past summer traveling the globe, but I spent all of August in Berlin. It was a strange experience being Jewish and contemplating German life and all. Having spent some time there in Germany and having many friends there, I still carefully keep up with the happenings in that city.

Despite all the emotions that surfaced while reflecting on German past and despite all the beliefs that people harbor (rather justly I believe) about German anti-Semitism, one would have to look pretty deep in to German culture to find any expressions of anti-Jewishness there. No one claims that German love Jews, but 60 years of post-nazism has put a very tight cap on what can be said in public. World War II rhetoric or Nazistic inuendo is enough to ruin a political career, as seen during this past election.

Which is why I was so surprised to hear the following story: A little over a week ago the Berlin city council decided to rename a street in Spandau from it's old name "Kinkelstrasse" to its even older name "Judenstrasse". The name was changed by the nazis to remove all Jewish references from the city street, so they changed the name from "Jews' Street" to "Kinkel Street" after some 19th century German revolutionary figure.

During the ceremony reportedly there were shouts of "Juden raus", or "Jews: leave". There were a number of demonstrators who under the guise of not wanting to change their business cards, vigourously protested the renaming of their street. The report was more detailed.

I remember hearing about the changing of many street names lately. It was done a lot in Budapest, if I am not mistaken after communism to remove all traces of the communist names of things. Many cities did such things. There must have been a whole bunch of "Lenin Street"s renamed back to their original old names. I am sure that bothered no one, and their business cards recovered. (I was quite pleased about Jackie Robinson Boulevard in New York.)

I have increasingly hearing stories of anti-Semitism in Germany lately. I even heard reports of challenges to the standard account of the Holocaust offered in academic contexts in Heidelberg.

I think I am worried.

A friend recently forwarded me an email with a line from his grandfather that went something like this: In the 30's one saw graffiti on German wals that said things like "Jews: go to Palestine", now one just sees: "Jews: get out of Palestine". While I do not see Germany attempting the fourth Reich, the days of unwavering support from Germany are waning, and I suggest the free world take heed.

Sideshow in SoHo

I went to see a sideshow on Saturday night at the SoHo Playhouse on Vandam Street. It was a lot of fun. It was actually somewhat better than I expected. I found out about it about an hour before I went, so I really didn't have time to form too sophisticated an expectation. The guy's name is Todd Robbins. He does the sideshow on Coney Island. The dude ate a glass lightbulb, blew up a hot water bottle till it burst, did some electricity tricks, and swallowed swords. There was also a knife thrower and a contortionist (who was so-so) too. It was a lot of fun. I went with "M" and "S" and "S" and about 7 other people. He spent a lot of time explaining that what he did was all an art, and at the end he seemed almost sad that it was a dying art.

We all went to The Other Room in TriBeCa for drinks, and then to Biny for Sushi and more drinks. The sushi there was good. Bini is a karoke place. There were these Japanese guys rapping in Japanese. It was very comical. We did a little singing ourselves, though yours truly stayed away from the mike. We broke up at around 4:30.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Books and their authors

It is an odd thing I noticed that in Ancient China books were normally named after their author. The Art of War, for example, by Hsun Tzu was actually called simply Hsun Tzu until Western translators decided to call it by the same name as a similar book by Machiavelli. Jews on the other hand often get named after the titles of their books. A prime example is say, the Chofetz Chaim. He is known after the title of his first famous work, ie, the Chofetz Chaim. It is perfectly normal (and perhaps the only acceptable way to say this) to say that the Chofetz Chaim wrote the Mishna Brurah, his other famous work.

Monday, November 04, 2002

What viruses can you get from cybersex?

So I have heard of viruses, and I am familar with computer viruses, but what happens when you date online? Can you get both?

Sunday, November 03, 2002


I woke up in the mornig to cheer on the marathon runners. Congratulations to all of you who participated.

Party in SoHo

Last night I went to one of these SoHo parties (On West Houston) that was right out of Zoolanders or a Bret Easton Ellis novel, complete with trust-fund babies, celebrety suck-ups, and people walking around asking each other "are you famous?". It was fun though. It was a Halloween thing and I of course was not in costume. Neither were the 4 people I came with. I was there with "M", "S", "Y" and "S". I have known "M" for long time, and it was good to see him. There was a lot of free Campari, and other bad booze. someone dressed as Winona Rider complete with the Winona hair, "Free Winona" shirt, handcuffs, and a Sacks Fifth Avenue bag took first place for costume. For a party with a suggested donation of ten bucks, we did OK.

Before that we ate at some resturant in TriBeCa (on Varick and North Moore) that was really good, but whose name I forgot, with the same people. I had the Cesar salad and some Jack and Coke, but everything that everyone had looked really good. After the party it was off to some other bar in TriBeCa, for beer, and then a 5 AM return to Williamsburg where I slept.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Review of Lycan's Introduction to the Philosophy of Language

Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction by William G. Lycan is a pretty good book if you want to get the basic idea of what is going on in contemporary philosophy of language. Contemporary philosophy of language started a little over 100 years ago, and has completely dominated the field of philosophy in the English speaking world. The offshoots are Philosophy of Logic, mind, mathematics, and science.

Lycan gives us the basics that we would need to really have a good idea of where the fiels stands, and what issues the practitioners take to be important. The classic questions of reference and meaning are taken up. The questions of reference is basically what is the relationship that our words have to the world that they talk about. How does the word "cat" come to relate to a cat? The question of meaning is: What does it mean for a word to have a meaning (as opposed to being meaningless), and what is our standing for ascribing meaning to some word.

The book takes up questions of pragmatics as well. It also refers to "the dark side" of philosophy of philosophy of language and takes up questions of metaphor. He really does sort of gloss over it perhaps unfairly, but then again, so does every other philosopher of language. (A friend of mine happens to study this, and I wish metaphor were not as maligned as it is.)

Overall I thought it was a pretty good book if you just want a basic outline of the theories and standard objections to the basic problems in the philosophy of language.

My only real criticisms are that it seems that the arguments are not presented comprehensively enough, which is understandable if you want to produce a good book in under 250 pages. But what annoyed me about the book is the style. Lycan obviously tries. He makes real attempts to be a cute, but erudite writer. He is not cute, and his erudition appears phony. His examples are not funny, despite the fact that he is obviously trying very hard, and frankly I do not think the book would have been less interesting if the examples were more vanilla and less obscure. The fact that he knows the first woman who won some Irish prize or other does not impress me. The fact that I have to sit and think about this while I am trying to keep a long chain of reasoning in my head annoys me. Few people can pull off what people like Hofstadter and Pinker do so well. Lycan does not. It is a shame that it marred this book.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Running in isolation?

I went running this morning in Marine Park today in Brooklyn. It is a nice park, but the scenery is a bit dull, and the running track is only .84 miles long. So I had to do it 5 times. I noticed that the people in Manhattan who run seem much friendlier than their Brooklyn counterparts. Are the Manhattanites so isolated that they are much more eager to reach out to others in friendship? I think that is the case. In Brooklyn (part of which is America's first suburb) people are not as isolated from all community as they are in Manhattan. The sense of community is much less.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Billsberg, Brooklyn

I have been staying in Williamsburg lately. One does not really appreciate all that is Brooklyn until you have really wandered around it alot. Bedford avenue has a cool part. This is a real shock to those who grow up in Midwood or Madison (like I did).

Grammercy Cafe

There is this diner that I eat in all the time. The food is pretty good, and it convenient to where I usually am. It is the Grammercy Cafe and it is always open. Worth eating there.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Proof that P (Ethics of Care)

Ethics of Care - Proof that p. (This might be funny for philosophers, I guess, who enjoyed some of the other proofs that P. It somewhat resembles Goodman's proof, I know.)

If a woman is in a mutually caring relationship with another woman they would both intuitively realize that p.

The fact that many men have thought up counterexamples to p is inconsequential, as counterexamples are just typical examples of the antoganistic nature of male oriented thinking. Women would never attempt to think up counterexamples. Rather we would attempt to reconcile our position with the opressed voice of not p, while shrugging off and transcending the hostile nature of masculine thinking.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Review of James Rachels' The Elements of Moral Philosophy

I finally finished James Rachels' The Elements of Moral Philosophy (fourth edition). It wasn't bad. Basically it goes through all the major moral theories and tells you what they are, and some of the associated problems. The book does a decent job of giving the opening moves in each of the theories.

The book is obviously designed for an undergraduate introduction to ethics course, and it is particularly well suited for that. It is very clear and lays out each theory of morality well.

There are a few flaws. First the book does not tell you what the point of giving you all these moral theories are. I mean, why is the book giving me theory after theory? Is there a right one? Actually, he tries to tell us in the last chapter what it would take for a moral theory to be right, and how you can take a little from here and a little from there, and you will get a satisfactory theory. However I think that he went way too fast on that chapter, and did not bother to deal with the obvious problems.

There were a few other weird things in the book, like, I think he never read the Bible too carefully, although he does take the time to talk about it. He seems to give equal time to cultural relativism, utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, utilitarianism, social contract theory, psychological and ethical egoism, feminist ethics, virtue ethics, and subjectivism/emotivism. This is a bad idea. Despite the fact that there is no real reason given to prefer one over the other, there are some that deserve more time than others. Cultural Relativism and Divine Command Theory definitely deserve less time than all the others, and this ought to be reflected in the text. It isn't.

But despite my criticisms it is one of the better books in the field out there on such an introductory level. I would recommend it.

Bad Lunch at Sidewalk

I had lunch yesterday in Sidewalk cafe on ave A and East 7th Street. The service really sucked. I used to like the place, but my waitress must have had an off day, though she initially seemed really nice. I didn't get everything I ordered, and it all was weird and the food wasn't so good. It was annoying.

Friday, October 18, 2002

The Wide Woman Problem

Along the same lines as my last post I want to talk about the problem of "the wide woman". Now before all you wide women jump down my throat, the wide woman is not necessarily a woman, nor is she necessarily very wide. It is just a convenient way of referring to her.

Here is the problem. There are many subway stops that have escalators. Some of those escalators are really not very wide, ie, two people cannot really go together side by side. There is also little chance of passing someone. Now, usually when people leave the train and go on to an escalator they start to walk up the escalator. They of course are not obligated to, but to get to wherever they are going quicker, and as a courtesy to those who are in a hurry (which is everyone, in New York) many people start walking.

However, I seem to have this rotten luck, that whenever I am on the escalator, there is a woman, usually too wide to pass who just stands there. She will just not budge. And you hear a collective sigh emenate from everyone behind her. It is occassionally somone who is obviously too old or pregnant, something like that, and you understand, but most of the time, it is just some lazy woman with an obnoxious expression on her face making everyone wait because she will not start walking. This woman will then get off the escalator at the top and then stop and try to figure out where to go.

I have since tried to stay in the part of the train that opens up right near the escalator, so I can run out and be the first one on, so that I do not have to be behind the wide woman, but it does not always work. sometimes there is one on by the time I get there and sometimes someone runs out on to the escalator just so she can be the wide woman. (Those are evil.)

I hate the wide woman.

On line in the Gap

I was in the Gap (on 6th and 34th) the other day waiting in line to pay for some stuff, when this chick in front of me starting to chat. She said stuff like "Nice shirt" and "My boyfriend likes that color" and other uninteresting bits of chit chat. After a bit, she was the second person in the line (I was third) and the person who was paying was trying to use a check. Now, the scene was right out of that commercial where the lady had to pull out identification and the check would just not go through, and it was really taking a lot of time.

So we are waiting there, and the girl I am talking to says something like "Of course she has to pay by check".

She said this loud enough so that the person paying heard her. So the paying woman said something like "Do you always talk about people or just those paying by check?" and the girl I am talking to said "Hey, free speech, lady" to which she responded "I choose to pay by check".

At that point the cashier told her that her check was just not going through and she would have to pay some other way. It was all quite annoying.

Lev Taffler (not his real name) makes a point in his rather silly book Fair New World that there ought to be seperate lines for men and women (well, he doesn't quite make this point, but you can take that away from reading the book). This is really a good idea. Call me sexist, but shopping (and paying) is similar to going to the bathroom - men just happen to take less time than women to do it. That is just the way things are. Possibly we can have it so that you can only pay for stuff in the men's department in the men's department, and the same for women's stuff. That would go a long way to making shopping a more plesant experience for male costomers. It would not eliminate the problem, but it would help a lot.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Party on the Intrepid

I went to the Intrepid a few hours ago. I haven't been there since I was a kid. I pass by the ship all the time. . . but who ever thinks to go in.

So "Y" got invited to this party sponsered by Guiness (the beer company), and he asked me if I wanted to join. Now I can't turn down free beer, so naturally I went. "Y"'s wife was unable to go, so I was in luck.

It was a pretty cool shinding actually. There were about 100 people there, and there was all the free Guiness I could drink. It was a lot of fun. Everyone was friendly and we had to listen to this speech by this drunk representative about the new Draught in a bottle that Guiness was introducing, while he told us how Guiness encourages us to drink responsibly, and he explained how Guiness was nitrogenated. Nitrogen bubbles are smaller than carbon dioxide bubbles, apparently, and this is supposed to be good for beer.

We all walked away with a free glass and T-shirt to remember our Guiness experience.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Reporter fallacy

Anyone who ever took a decent ethics course in college has probably heard of something called the Naturalistic Fallacy. The Naturalistic Fallacy is the fallacy that one makes when they attempt to derive an "ought" from an "is". In other words, when someone makes a claim about the way the world "is", and then derives a law about the way the world "ought" to be, they are making a mistake. One cannot derive an ought from an is.

A simple example might be, that if one claims that men are stronger than women (which is usually true), they cannot conclude from that fact that men ought to dominate women. There is no way to know what should be the case, if we just know what is the case. That is the Naturalistic Fallacy.

A fallacy is generally given a name because it is a mistake that many people make. Many people make this mistake because it there is this general feeling that nature can give us clues as to how we ought to behave. We may think that we can draw some conclusion about ethics by analogy with nature.

There is an odd form of this that takes place in the world of newspapers and other media. When one looks at reporters like Ze'ev Schiff or Thomas Friedman (for example), both top notch reporters, one gets the impression that they really know a lot about what is going on in the world. We then allow them to write about what they see or find out about the world. They have both have great careers reporting on the Middle East, especially Israel and Lebanon.

Somehow after doing enough reporting they seem to believe that they can graduate to editorializing. (Most reporters don't really bother to wait, but that is another story.) One gets to write their opinions after they simply demonstrate enough competence in knowing what is going on. It is like assuming that scientists have any special insight in to right and wrong because they have a special understanding of nature. (The New York Times' ethicist is the same way, only worse.)

This is so pitiful. Certainly many reporters develop a feel for the people they report about. They develop instincts about what will happen under varying circumstances. But that does not make them experts on what ought to be done. It simply makes them good at being able to predict what would happen under different circumstances. This is a useful skill, but not deceitful. We are eventually supposed to believe that they have special insight in to what ought to be done simply on the basis that they always sound like they know what is going on. This is the fallacy. They know what goes on, but that is about it.

Disturbed - New Album

I was listening to the new Disturbed album. It is pretty good. (I really liked the first one too.) It is also pretty puzzling that MTV is not playing the video to "Prayer". They have this bizzarre lame excuse about it being too disturbing. (No irony intended.)

I recently saw MTV doing a show on their most controversial videos. They were some of the lameist stuff I have ever seen, so I am not surprised that they find this too unplesant to play. They have standards that are somewhere between G and PG. They want to see these clean cut people dancing demurely while singing their song that has no offensive lyrics.

Get over it. This is not your parents' rock 'n roll.

Being sick

I have been sick for the past two days. Nothing serious, but I have had a sore throat. I stayed home.

Friday, October 11, 2002

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

On Sunday I saw "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". It wasn't a bad movie, but nothing special. It could have reminded anyone of their culture, and it was an interesting look at a clash of cultures. But unfortunately it had a very typical ending. They were all happy and life worked out well. Life is never like this. It was too "feel good", but not good enought to be the "feel-good movie of the year".

Political involvement and government efficiency

I wonder if there is a relationship between the level of political participation of the citizenry of some country and the level of satisfaction in their government's efficiency. In the US there is little political participation. Most of us just vote for the candidate with the best commercials. That is why the candidate with the most money wins. On the flipside, we are all pretty satisfied that the government will take care of most of our problems.

The only people here who think the government is completely incompetent are people like academics, who are also very politically aware.

Israelis display a very high level of political involvement, but they also have one of the lowest levels of faith in government efficiency.

It seems like a simple enough thesis to assert that satisfied citizens, or citizens who think the government is working, have little reason to worry enough to participate. The same will hold for countries where there is no hope of doing anything.

So countries where the citizens think that they can initiate change, and feel like there is a need to initiate change, will be politically involved.

The frightening thing is the following: What if a country which is doing fine for a long time loses its ability and tradition of political activism. Then it suddenly becomes necessary to continue it. What happens? Can a citizenry recover that sort of thing?

There is an old worry among political theorists that we are becoming a nation of sheep. We follow the dictates of the political infrastructure, and it motivates us more than we motivate it. It is a worry of mine too. I do trust my government. It is doing pretty well. But I worry that few people have a say in foreign or domenstic policy. I feel like the citizens ought to.

Baruch Diner

I ate dinner at Baruch (28th and Lex.) with my dad yesterday. It is a pretty decent deli in Manhattan, if you want kosher. It is open late too. I am not sure if it is named after someone named "Baruch", or it is named after the college a few blocks away (Bernard Baruch College), or it is named after the Hebrew word for blessing (which is also where the name came from). Next time I go I might ask them.

UPDATE: (1/1/05) Where did Baruch go?

Thursday, October 10, 2002

National Park to the North

It dawned on me yesterday while running alongside a bunch of parks that that large landmass north of the US must be a national park. I always thought it was a state. But it's flag is almost the same as the national park service (it just has a leaf).

Saturday, October 05, 2002

Dosa Hut

I had lunch today with "R" at Dosa Hut on 17th and Lex. Good Indian cuisine. Recomended.

Monday, September 30, 2002

Running and Edible Pickles

I went running this morning again along the East River. I made it farther than I did last time. I was quite pleased with myself.

I had a good lunch at this diner on Madison between 32nd and 33rd. They are the first diner in a really long time that put edible pickles on the table. That is truly rare. The staff was really nice too.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Muslim Day Parade

I was walking down 5th ave today, I passed by Madison Square Park (that's the one around 24th street) where they were holding the Muslim Day Parade. I spent about a half hour listening to people speak in half Arabic/half English trying to convince the media that Islam has is a religion of peace, though frankly they themselves didn't sound too convinced. I also listened to a bunch of Black Muslims who really looked like they were not sure what their relationship to the Arabic speakers was supposed to be.

Some representative of the Moonies spoke as well.

There was a lone person on a tiny cardboard makeshift table there with a small "Muslims Against Terrorism" sign. I assume that he was interviewed by all the members of the press earlier, but when I was standing next to his table, he looked pretty alone.

I was accosted by a psychotic Lyndon LaRouche groupie there. I guess they feel like a Muslim gathering is a safe place to be anti-semitic.

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Running along the East River

I went running this morning along the East River up the coast of Manhattan. It was really nice. I wish that they would jsut finish with all the construction and have the whole running lane all done with. It is great to run along the river, watching Brooklyn go by. I wish I had time to do it more often.

Past week

It has been a long week, and I feel bad that I have not been able to blog all this time. Life keeps me so busy. I walked in to Brooklyn from Manhattan last Saturday. Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the things I really like doing in New York. I wish I could do it more. Visited "Y" in Brooklyn on Sunday.

I met "J" in Jose Woods' Bar on Waverly. It was cooler when it was Boo Radley's and "J" worked there. Now he just drinks there a lot. It is still cool though. So is "J".

On Wed I went to hear "L" give a talk about his research in Brooklyn. After we ended up in the Jerusalem Steak House on Ave J. "A" complained about the food. He had legitimate complaints though. It was not the best. He tried to make it in to a kosher thing, but it was just bad.

On Friday I spent the whole day listening to logicians talk. Some of that was interesting, and some boring.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Explaining Orthodox Judaism

I was trying to explain the various details about Yom Kippur to "B" who is not Jewish, and has met few Jews in her life. I tried going through the details about muktzah and fasting, and all the other stuff, and was dumbfounded at the weirdness of the whole thing. I then met "L" and mentioned that "real thinking is the biggest impediment to taking orthodoxy seriously" and he seemed to find that interesting.

Yom Kippur

On Yom Kippur I went with "A" and one of his friends to the NYU Orthodox service for Ne'ela. It was nice, though the rabbi was a bit too friendly, I thought. We has Sushi right after it was over

Jackass - the movie

So this is a bit embarassing. I just saw the movie "Jackass" a little while ago. Somehow, I scored free early tickets. I laughed the whole time. It was so infantile, but it is really funny.

Sunday, September 15, 2002


The United States needs to redefine it's understanding of the nature of immigration. In the old days when there was a lot of space and a lot of optimism we were the land of the free and the home of the brave. People came here from far and wide seeking a better way of life. People came here to get the hell away from the places that were oppressing them, so that they can live free life, with others who came for the same reason.

There was a shared American dream. There was the vision of coming and making it. There was a vision that all was possible and there was security and anyone with a dollar and a dream, or even without a dollar, and just the willingness to work hard, would do well, or at the very least their children would.

Understanding immigration like this worked well for the US. We took in people who wanted to make the place better, and as Adam Smith would have put it, we all gained from some sort of invisible hand making sure that if we all try to work hard, we all do better. Everyone gained from most immigration. (This does not include those who came here to exploit our welfare system, but they are the minority).

Pat Buchanan and friends argue that unbridled immigration from outside will not change the US for the better anymore. He argues that if we allow people from other cultures to come in they will come with their culture, and their culture will overpower our own and will force a clash such that the US will start to look more like some Taliban nightmare, where women's rights are taken away, and Shariah law will take precedence over American law. This of course will only happen if we allow way more immigrants in, way too quickly. I am not overly concerned about such a possibility. We would need to let in millions each year for that to happen. We simply do not do that.

It is however somewhat of concern that most of our immigration is from countries that do not share our outlook, and the individuals who come do not share the same vision that most of out ancestors do.

What I am addressing though is asking the US to challenge the way it looks at immigration. Myself, as well as most people I know, as well as most Americans for that matter, are the benefactors of a wonderful and liberal immigration policy. This was the naive American policy that took in the poor, tired, and hungry, who simply yearned for the freedom to live without the tyrannous oppression that encumbered most of the rest of the world for most of human history.

The story is changing now. Can the US afford this? Can the US afford to be so naive? It is no longer people who want to make it. It is no longer people who are seeking a better life for them and their children. It is not people coming in to overturn our way of life and overthrow our country. We now have people who are here only to destroy America. Today we arrested five Arab-Americans who were aiding anti-American terrorism. How many have we missed. To their credit it was members of the Muslim American community who do share the an affinity for living and letting live that helped capture these people.

But we must be careful. The lessons of 9/11/01 should be clear. We cannot afford the naivete that we were blessed with till now.

Overweight apartments

Just like all people have an ideal weight, I tend to think of apartments in New York as also having an ideal weight. There is a certain amount of stuff that ought to be in each apartment, and not more, nor less. When something gets thrown out, I tend to think of the apartment as gaining weight, and when something gets brought in, I tend to think of it as gaining weight. In general when you have hit an ideal weight, you ought to strive to maintain that balance. If you bring in too many books, you ought to read some and store them somewhere. If you brought in a painting, you need to remove an old one. Clutter, is excess weight, and seems unhealthy.

Of Course the UN is not democratic

I would like to clear something up. There is nothing democratic about the UN. People seem to take it for granted that the UN represents all countries equally, and should therefore be heeded. That is the dumbest notion I have ever heard. The UN represents the leaders of most countries. The leaders, more often than not, are psychos. There is no reason to believe that they represent anyone but themselves. To that extent it is important to have a forum in which they are represented, because they do control armies and weapons and stuff. But they do not represent anyone. So they are not democratic except is some half-assed sense where we feel that all leaders of countries, no matter how illegitimate their reign is, should be given some say.

In addition, countries who refuse to heed some resolutions ought to have no say in how other get heeded. For example, the Saudi foreign minister was on TV this morning saying something like Iraq should not have to heed the UN resolution calling it for allowing weapons inspectors in to its country. Why? What was his reason? Because Israel has not heeded the resolutions calling for an end to its occupation of the Palestinian people.

This is a classic Arab ploy. Shift the focus of the problem to Israel. He is attempting to say that if only Israel would stop ruling the Palestinians then Saadam Heussain would not have chemical weapons. This is of course the clearest non sequitur that I have ever heard. Moreover, this fails to take in to account that most of the Palestinian problem stems from the Arab world's failure to take another of the UN's proclamations seriously: namely the creation of the state of Israel. Israel was created by the UN, and with the exception of Egypt and Jordan, is still not recognized by the Arab world. This lack of Israeli legitimacy is used as the justification for al their wars with Israel and support for anti-Israel and anti-Western terrorism.

But I digress. The UN is a bunch of dictators, and heads of democratic states who get together and have a place to scream at each other when wars happen. It is a convenient meeting place for everyone to tell everyone else what they think of each other. It is not a place where people make deals that they are bound by. People are bound by deals that they make when all parties act in good faith. The UN is not such a place.

Frankly it creeps me out that we have all these people coming in and out of New York. I wish it were someplace like Iran so that Americans have a good reason for not going there. The fact that all these people who represent some of the sickest genocidal people on earth walk the same streets as I do, only with diplomatic immunity, makes me very uncomfortable, and does nothing to make me feel like my city is host to a democratic institution.

The UN is not fair nor is it democratic. No matter how much it pretends to be it is not. When the security council, which contains China, Russia, and France, thinks it can have a say in how a democracy ought to behave we ought to just laugh.

When we look at the record of the UN on most things we really need to ask what the deal is. While I will not claim that they have committed many atrocities in the name of fairness and neutrality, I would certainly claim that they have done their share of unfair and unneutral stuff. The failure to hand over a videotape of an Israeli getting kidnapped, was just sick. I have this image in my head of some people in the UN sitting around at night watching and laughing about it, while these kidnap victims are being tortured by Hezbollah.

In 1991 when the Croats attacked the Serbs, the UN just hung around and watched. When in 1967 it was too inconvenient for the UN to do any peacekeeping in Egypt, it just left because Egypt did not want them to be there for the upcoming war. The UN sponsored a racist [sic] conference in Durban - naturally it was a fiasco, and it became a forum for anti-semitism. Just to remain neutral - they never thought it appropriate to condemn terrorism. That would offend the poor suicide bombers who died killing Israelis.

The whole UN makes me sick. Sometimes, in my own dark fantasies, I wish that the UN building would become infested with all the rats that live along the East River. Then I smile to myself and realise that whenever there is a general assembly, it is.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Last few days

I have been way to busy the past few days to post anything new, though so much has happened. On 9/10 I ended up downtown taking care of some legal stuff (it all went fine). I passed by a ceremony commerating the federal employees who had died almost a year before.

On 9/11, yesterday I started the day watching CNN and all the other channels that were showing the same thing. I was awake for the moments of silence and I watched the ceremony. As much as I had wanted to watch all the names being read, I finally had to give up.

I was feeling rather melancholy the whole day. Memories of last year came swelling back. I watched the towers fall from the roof of the apartment where I was staying. It was quite sad. I could do nothing the whole day. I had lunch with "B" in Maui Taco on 5th and 32nd. I met with "Y" for dinner. We went to Kosher Delight. I met "T" there. I ran in to "KN" on the street after leaving "Y" at the train. I had a late dinner (a cesar salad and coffee) at Cosi on broadway and 13th street. All were good, though KD still has a lot to learn about fast food, though they are one of the few games in town when it comes to kosher food.