World of potential for mercy and compassion,
of room for grace and reconciliation,
teach all your children in the Middle East:
Jews, Muslims and Christians,
Bahai’s, Druzes and Buddhists,
Atheists and Agnosticians,
Palestinians and Israelis and Syrians and Iranians,
Let us value and love our fellow human beings
more than we value our beliefs, God or Gods.
Let hatred be turned into love, fear to trust, despair to hope,
oppression to freedom, occupation to liberation,
that violent encounters may be replaced by loving embraces,
and peace and justice could be experienced by all.
Let us swear that we shall never let Gods incite war and hatred among human beings.

The best ten Seinfeld episodes

Several years ago, there was this series “Seinfeld”. I did not watch it from the beginning, but near the end I got more and more drawn to it.
One day it was going to be over. I saw the final program where they had a trial and were convicted due to all their sins.

There was a contest where people chose the best ten episodes, and they were aired one after another one evening when I did not going to have time to view them. I asked a friend to record the episodes in a VCR, and the friend recorded them.

The episodes were aired in reverse order of their rankings, so the best episode was the last one to be aired.
The video recording was cut off in middle of 9th episode (the 2nd best one). So I missed the best two episodes.

Few years later the best episode was broadcasted, and I enjoyed the story of how Elaine caused the Nazi soup establishment to be closed. It remained to view the missing part of the 2nd best one – The Contest. Today I decided I must at least read its transcript. Quickly I located it in Seinfeld Lists – The Contest.

Ohh-Uhh, now I can have a good night’s sleep [sic].

One goat kid, one goat kid

One who knows?
One I know.
One world.

Two who knows?
Two I know.
Yen and Yang. Fractal duality.

Three who knows?
Three I know.
The basic linguistic concepts of subject, verb and object. The IDF tradition of dividing everything into three parts. The RDF triplet for linking two concepts together.

Four who knows?
Four I do not know.
Four only Arthur Clarke and his story-whispering extraterrestrial ghosts know.

Infinity who knows?
Infinity I know.
Infinite is the world.

The 5th Deaf and Hard of Hearing Student Day

The 5th Deaf and Hard of Hearing Student Day was held in Tel Aviv University, Mexico Building on last Thursday 27th October 2005. The Day was jointly sponsored by the Institute for the Advancement of Deaf Persons in Israel and the Tel Aviv University Student Association.

The Institute for the Advancement of Deaf Persons in Israel celebrated its 13th year of operation. When they started the pilot project for helping deaf and hard of hearing students in Israeli postsecondary educational institutions, in cooperation with the National Insurance Institute (the Israeli counterpart of Social Security), they helped 6 students. Now they are serving 300 students in a full spectrum of topics of study.

The formal program of the event consisted of three parts:

  • Handing out of scholarships
  • Panel discussion about the world of work in Israel and integration of people with special needs into it
  • Art program


Five scholarships, donated by the Globes newspaper and by Motorola Israel, were handed out. In her acceptance speech, one of the scholarship recipients, Yifat Ben-Zeev, a M.A. student in conflict resolution, pointed out the difficulties she endured in her B.A. studies before Sign Language interpreting or notetaking were available to students. Today’s situation is a dream relative to the situation several years ago.

Panel Discussion

The panel discussion hosted two employers of deaf persons, three administrators of various rehabilitation programs, and two working deaf employees.

There was one glaring accessibility problem in the event. The hall, in which the formal program was held, is not accessible to people with wheelchairs. They are forced to stay in the hall’s back and they cannot reach the podium where speeches are made. The representative of the Tel Aviv University Student Association told the audience that they are fighting for full accessibility of the university halls.

It is easier to make workplaces accessible to hard of hearing employees than to deaf employees. This is because the hard of hearing need only equipment, which is one-time cost (plus deprecation), whereas the deaf need Sign Language interpreter or notetaker, and this is a recurring expense.

Today, the bottleneck in employing people with special needs is with educating the employers. Self-help NGOs which work with people with special needs serve the important role of bridging between the know-how accumulated in them and the employers, who were not exposed yet to this know-how.

In the past, deaf boys learned metal working and deaf girls learned to be seamstresses, and everyone was happy with this state of affairs. Today several well-paying professions need a M.A. or M.Sc. degree. Accordingly, the Institute for the Advancement of Deaf Persons in Israel and the National Insurance Institute started a pilot program for helping deaf and hard of hearing students study for their M.A. or M.Sc. degree. Today there are 50 students in the pilot.

Art Program

The art program was supposed to include a group of drummers. However, they did not show up. The other three artist groups did show up. One of them was a group of folk dancers. The second was a single woman, who rated a wow wow. The third was a couple of man and woman acrobats.

The wow wow woman had a rubber-like body and danced her way into and out of all kinds of seemingly impossible positions. She had plenty of talent left over, and she poured large part of it into making the dance a sensuous one. Her clothes, while covering most of her skin, were uncovering her beauty. Overall, this was a wow wow.

Sara, the deaf Bedouin

On September 28,29,30, the Kamri Theater and Ariella House in Tel Aviv are holding a festival of art by people with disabilities. This is the first festival of its kind in Israel, and it is called “100% Art”.
On Sept. 29, three short movies were shown in the “Visual Sound” track.

One of those movies was about Sara, the deaf Bedouin. Her deafness is hereditary, and she has lots and lots of deaf relatives.

Her primary education was with Jewish deaf children in “Niv” school, Beer Sheva. Her deaf nieces and nephews now have their own class in the local Bedouin primary school. The deaf in her tribe use a Sign Language, which is different from the Israeli Sign Language. Sometimes it was confusing in school.

Anyway, the thing which struck me was the simplicity of her life ambitions. She wants to be the first wife of a Bedouin man, rather than 2nd (or 3rd) wife like her female deaf fellows. She wants to have her job back. And the job was not an engineering one or top level management. It was folding clothes after having been washed in a laundry. She worked in this job and had to leave it for few months due to health reasons. Then she had to struggle with tradition to get her job back. She got her job back and was happy with it. And she did not look to me mentally retarded or so. Just a woman bound by her limited education and limiting tribal traditions.

I wonder whether she is alive today, because near the end of the movie, she mentioned a nice man whom she met at work. And her people have a tradition of “family honor” killings.

When the “Visual Sound” track movies were shown, there were only five people in the auditorium. Two workers who operated the projection equipment, a newspaperman and his girlfriend, and the TDDPirate. Sometime in middle, the journalist and his girlfriend had to leave. At the end, the TDDPirate exchanged quips with the two workers and left the auditorium. Apparently there was insufficient public relations effort.

Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith

I saw the movie. The rapid transformation, which Anakin Skywalker went through from being a Jedi into a servant of the dark side of the Force, caused me to feel the unsettling feeling of someone thrown into a new situation in life, which he was not prepared to handle.

There are some moral issues illustrated by the movie, but since they are spoilers, I am discussing them in attached notes.

A bit of culture but surprisingly relevant to startupists

While going over one of the Israeli Deaf forums, I saw an announcement that a lecture by the author Amos Oz, to be held this evening in Chess House in Ramat Aviv, will be accompanied by Sign Language interpreting.

I needed to finish the financial details with the interpreter in question (she interpreted also in the Linux Accessibility lecture on last Sunday) so I decided to kill two birds with one stone – both finish the process of paying her and soak a bit of High Culture by listening to a cultured lecture by one of the most esteemed Hebrew language authors in Israel.

The author talked about the book “The tiger with patches” (in Hebrew: “נמר חברבורות” – I am not sure my translation is exact) by Yaacov Shabtay. The book was about an entrepreneur full of dreams and very slim contact with the ground. The portrait of the entrepreneur drawn by the lecture reminded me of some of the dotcom bubble startupists.

The forest at entrance to Jerusalem

Yesterday evening I was in a meeting, which will lead – if there is enough interest – to a creative writing workshop.
We were asked to write about an imaginary forest.

My version of imaginary forest was based upon the real forest at entrance to Jerusalem.

When driving on road No. 1 toward Jerusalem, after you survive the drop after Qastel and the Motza Illit junction, you leave the road for a road, which goes to Beit Zeit. There are buildings of Motza Tahtit, but you proceed toward Beit Zeit. The area is not well-developed forest. When you arrive near Beit Zeit, you take turn to the left, pass near the public swimming pool of Beit Zeit (or at least whatever remained of it).

You eventually do enter the forest and continue driving the narrow and one-way road toward one of the entrances of Jerusalem. You feel you would like to have the forest continue forever, or at least for considerable distance.

However…it ends after few Km, and there are rubble, trash and buildings on the sides of the road. The trees end as well.

Such a place makes me feel sad. There are not enough areas of nature around in this small part of the world.

Maybe once there are Dyson spheres, there will be enough room for wild nature together with much larger human population with all its civilization trappings.

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