Archive for 2002

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Do Away With Daylight Savings Time

I’ve been saying this for a long time… I’ll get it into official Rant form soon

[Unfinished Rant]

There is no new news in Canaan

[written 5-8-02]

Every day for 20 years. It pisses me off so much that EVERY SINGLE DAY, news about “the situation in Israel” makes the top of the headlines. I don’t freaking get it. The “situation” hasn’t changed one iota since the Six Day War in 1967. Where is the news? Why are newscasters taking up my time with this crap?

Let’s try a timeline:

As a reference for the reader, Palestine, Canaan, The Ottoman Empire, and Israel are all pretty much the same 180 mile by 40 mile strip of land. It’s just a little smaller than New Jersey. (hmm, that gives me an idea… nah… forget it)

1300 BC Egyptians enslave Jews. Jews displeased.

1100 BC Jews escape Egypt and conquer Canaan, "The Promised Land". Canaanites displeased.

1 AD A guy gets nailed to a cross for saying how nice it would be if we could all get along. Jesus, paradoxically, pleased.

70 AD Romans sack Jerusalem. Jews displeased again.

1516-1917 Muslim Ottoman Empire rules Palestine. By the end, no one claims ownership of the land. Jews and Muslims both live there. Both Muslims and Jews split their displeasure.

1917-1948 British take over Palestine. In a big PR move by the British government, they encourage Jews around the world to move there because the Jews want a homeland and no one else wants to host them. Upon leaving, the British (reminiscent of their glorious colonial days) split the land into 2 sections, Jewish and Arab/Muslim. No one displeased for a for a while, but just wait and see.

1948-1967 Jews gain in strength and numbers in Palestine/Israel, realize they can reclaim their ancient (G-d certified) Promised Land. But heathen Muslims are still living on "their" land. So as not to piss off the rest of the world too much, they try making life miserable for Muslims… maybe they’ll just leave.

1967 Six Day War. The Israelis got tired of waiting. Israel takes prime real estate from neighboring (Muslim) countries. Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon displeased (but that’s ok because we don’t like those guys anyway, right?)

1967-present. Everybody is pissy at everybody else.

   The present dialog:

  • Israelis to Muslims – It’s our land now, God promised it to us. So put on a yarmulke or get out.
  • Muslims to Israelis – Hey now, we’re just trying to get by on land we’ve been living on for the last 500 years, coexisting with your likes for a long while. Besides, Mohammad said we could live here.
  • Israelis to Muslims – Mohammad, eh? Our god said we could live here first, so git’!
  • Muslims to Israelis – You gave up your claim 2000 years ago! We’re a peaceful people but, respectfully, our God could kick your god’s ass if he wanted to.
  • Israelis to Muslims – We’ll see which claim is more relevant after we’ve kicked your sister down the stairs a couple times.
  • Muslims to Israelis – You evil bastard! I’ll come over and bash your teeth in myself!
  • Americans to Israelis – Here’s 1.6 trillion dollars. Have a party.

While this is going on, there’s folks on both sides are trying to find a compromise, but it’s hard to calmly deliberate compromise when one side knocks down your house with your grandmother still in it, and the other side takes sniper shots at the baby seat in your car. Ah, the joys of religious extremism.

So, they go back and forth, knocking over houses, blowing up busses, police playing rough, suicide bombings, "peace keeping" forces, riots, hatred, distrust, pre-emptive attacks, pre-retaliatory strikes (I like that one, it’s funny), hostage takings, hostage exchanges, tradable hostage playing cards, reform packages, summits, accords, terrorist attacks, terrorist counterattacks, counter-terrorist attacks, counter-terrorist counter-attacks (I’m not making this shit up! (Well, maybe just a little))

They’ve been playing this tit-for-tat game for 30 years. Neither side wants to be seen as the bad-guy, the monster, the genocidist, in the eyes of the world. Both each side is fed up with the other. So it’s become this big Public Relations campaign. Both sides are the advertisers, and we, via newscasts are the consumers. They want us to believe in the justness of their cause and get on their side (and give them money to run their war). But it’s a broken record, like most ad campaigns I suppose. I could get a New York Times articles from 15 years ago, change the names of the leaders, show it to you and you’d think it was today’s "Israeli Conflict" headlines. There is no new news in Israel.

The solution to their religious land war problems is difficult to find. But I resent that both sides have made the American people their pawns via their newscast pleas. Their problems are not my problems. It’s a matter between the Jews, the Muslims, and their gods.

There are so many other good things to talk about in the news! Why do news agencies keep talking about "the Israeli crisis" all the time? People die all the time from so many other reasons than bombs and guns. In 2001, 41,000  people were killed in America by cars. That’s more than 100 per day, every single day. But when was the last time you saw a news flash of a car-crash death? And how about showing good things in the news. How about a news program that shows 25 minutes of positive news and then finishes with a story of something bad happening. We only see the reverse happening in America. I’ll make that the topic of a future Rant.

There is no new news in Canaan.

 

Partial Bibliography

The "Here’s 1.6 trillion dollars" line was suggested by my friend WDuty. He sites Christian Science Monitor and HonestReporting.com.
Timeline of Biblical and World Events (Before Christ’s Birth)

The situation in Israel involves the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights

Zionism Table of Contents

On Philanthropy and Politics

[This was written in 2001 or so. I haven’t updated it but present it here for posterity. – Lee 9-20-05]

Politics

I am a soft Libertarian. I could talk for a while about this but I’ve got more important things to do than argue over the internet.

I’d rather yell at you in person.

See what being a Libertarian is about.

Hey, want to know what our congress is doing (or not ;-) right now? See the actual text of bills and find out what bills are coming up for legislation. Go talk to Thomas.

Here are some important documents:

Lee on Philanthropy

A while ago, I ran the web site at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline Mass and until September 2001 I ran their mailing list. I haven’t been to the theater in several years now… I’ve been living near NYC and don’t get up to Boston that much.

Several years ago, Julie and I decided to do volunteer work. We couldn’t think of what organization we wanted to volunteer our time to. We thought about Habitat for Humanity, soup kitchens, helping the homeless, and the like but it just didn’t get us excited. We thought about it a while and knew that we had to pick a charity that we felt good about. It’s easy to pick something that’s hard to do. If you are doing something that you’re not really good at, it’s easy to feel like you’re “working hard” at it. When actually, you’re just a thorn in the side of your charity. The goal here is to -do- something, not just feel all warm and gushy inside.

We also thought a long time about the kind of charity we wanted to donate our time to. We had to feel good about what we were accomplishing. If we helped build a house in Kentucky, then some guy or family a thousand miles away will have a roof over his head. Of course, that’s a good thing, but it doesn’t do much for my world. Saving starving children in Ethiopia, Bangladesh, or China is nice but getting a couple pictures and a story from the Save the Children Fund is still a bit distant.

We wanted something:
– hands-on – signing a check is too quick
– present – helping people thousands of miles away just isn’t satisfying
– that used current skills. My charity doesn’t want to have to teach me how to use a bandsaw
– that we could appreciate – after helping, I want to be able to stand back and admire it a little

It was a difficult choice, putting that last one on the list. It sounds too vain. But we figured out for ourselves that it’s ok for a component of philanthropy to be vanity.

So Julie and I began helping the Coolidge. I helped to run their web site and fully administered their schedule mailing list. Those were things that I was good at and they needed. It felt pretty good. I’m glad I did it. It feels good knowing that I helped The Coolidge stay around.

We picked the Coolidge I volunteered my services there because:

  • Indie film takes risks. Big Cinema often caters to the least common denominator. That usually makes it boring. It’s really quite frightening how people are attracted to such dreck. At least when Indie film is bad, it’s REALLY bad, and you still have something to talk about.
  • The Coolidge is an authentic 1920’s Deco Style theater. It’s just plain cool inside. There’s all these details and cool features that make me feel like this place was really made for the theater-going experience
  • They have pretty good popcorn.
  • The occasional live performance and event at the theater is always cool. They have folks like:
  • Annie Sprinkle, Sexpert
  • The Alloy Orchestra performing for silent films. Seeing them perform for their print of Metropolis in ’94 was an AMAZING experience. I heard a piece about them on NPR recently (4-20-02). They’re famous!
  • Each year, there’s the 24hr Science Fiction Marathon
  • It’s good to volunteer for a good cause. I know I’m not saving the whales or educating underprivileged youth but I’m doing something that I can believe in. I’m helping to keep alive a cultural icon that I think is very important.