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9/28/2005

Israeli latest music roundup

I got a bunch of CD's while in Israel, including some current releases. I finally uploaded some songs... these are the highlights by my taste, if you're interested in the current Israeli music scene.

Eviatar Banai - Tacharut Klavim (Dog Race) - "Running around in circles..." The artist comes from a large family of singers and performers. I heard this song twice on the radio while in Israel, so I guess it's some kind of hit. Sounds like Coldplay.

Shai 360 - Shai Higiya (Shai Has Arrived) - Shai 360 (I guess he actually goes by "SHI 360", but whatever) is clearly the breakout star of rapper Subliminal's TACT crew. This is from his new album "Chai", where he manages to rap in five languages (Hebrew, English, Arabic, French, Spanish).

Idan Raichel - Im Telech (If You Go) - A big world music guy. He's not singing on this one, just playing guitar or something.

Infeczia - Seret Shel Sex (Adult Movie) - Recommended to me by my Israeli friend. Catchy. These guys are like the Israeli Foo Fighters.

9/23/2005

I'm still here

Just a little busy right now...

Hey, there were parliamentary elections in Afghanistan! Did anyone notice? I didn't see anything about it on the news. And when I watch news, I usually flip back and forth between Fox, MSNBC and CNN like an attention-deprived monkey (though I'm usually checking email or whatever at the same time). I'd say once the parliament is elected and sworn in, it'll be safe to call Afghanistan an asterisk-less democracy. Which is pretty big news.

9/15/2005

Are you a neo-con?

Find out by taking the neo-con quiz!

Your humble correspondent was shocked to find out that he is, in fact, not a neo-con at all, but a Colin Powell-style "realist"! That can't be right. Maybe I should have checked more of the "NUKE PYONGYANG NOW"-type answers.

Via Exit Zero, who complains that neo-cons are too concerned with the rhetoric of spreading democracy and not enough with the rhetoric at "strike out at anyone who threatens us". I tend to agree more with the former. Though the latter is what the Christian Science Monitor quiz people seem to think neo-cons are. It's all sort of confusing.

9/14/2005

Who said what

Orange Ukraine has a roundup of the strange goings-on in Ukraine, where President Yuschenko fired his whole government: "So now the story has noble sacrifice for the beautiful heroine, a dastardly mogul working on back-room plots, ambition, and a house divided against itself. Last month I criticized western media for reporting on Ukraine as if political events were the script for a soap opera. This month, reading the news is giving me a strange craving for bon-bons."

I say that, regardless of the mess going on at the moment, if the Orange Revolution paved the way for free and fair elections then the struggle will have been worth it. I'm a big believer in the power of democracy for self-correction.

9/12/2005

Me and baldy

I've recently developed a little bald patch on my chin, in the shape of a circle about a centimeter in diameter. A web search reveals it to be a condition known as Alopecia Areata. Apparently my body's immune system thought the hair in question was some kind of virus attacking it. Silly immune system! Anyway, according to the page the chances of it growing back in the next two years are about two in three. I hope it does, although I'm not against the idea of having imperfections in my body. Flaws give character. Right now it just looks like a little light spot, though once it tans in it'll probably be less noticeable.

Has anybody else heard of this thing? Supposedly about 1% of people get it at some point in their lives.

Also, if you have the condition and are reading this you're not alone! There's at least two of us.

9/09/2005

Down comes the toll (?)

It looks like the death toll from Katrina will be significantly lower than the worst-case-scenario figure of 10,000 we've been hearing. Though of course we won't know for sure till they get to all those attics. I basically expected this; on the day of the Sept. 11 attacks, the initial estimates were as much as 10,000, then it was brought down to 6,000, where it stayed for a few weeks until that number was finally halved. There's always a tendency in the early confusion to overestimate deaths. Given that most of the people I've heard about dying in New Orleans have been babies and the infirm, my wild guess is the final number will be somewhere between one and two thousand, including the few hundred who died in Mississippi.

Though even at those numbers it's a tragedy, and of course there hundreds of times that many people who have been left homeless.

9/07/2005

Point of comparison

Ken Wheaton has a post on the many ways the Sept. 11 attacks can't be compared to the current tragedy in New Orleans, though it's natural to try to see the second from the perspective of the first.

Still, as he also points out, it's not hard to imagine that the same situation would have gone better in New York. Everything I've read and seen about the New Orleans Police Department, for instance, indicates that they're barely worth of being mentioned in the same sentence as New York's Finest. Here's one eyewitness report:
The US authorities were also castigated by British bus driver Ged Scott, from Wallasey, Merseyside, who was on holiday in the New Orleans area.

He stayed in the Ramada Hotel during and after the devastation with his wife, Sandra, and seven-year-old son Ronan. At one stage, Mr Scott, 36, had to wade through filthy water to barricade the hotel doors against looters.

He told the Liverpool Daily Post: "I couldn't describe how bad the authorities were. Just little things like taking photographs of us, as we are standing on the roof waving for help, for their own little snapshot albums.

"At one point, there were a load of girls on the roof of the hotel saying 'Can you help us?' and the policemen said 'Show us what you've got' and made signs for them to lift their T-shirts. When the girls refused, they said 'Fine' and motored off down the road in their boat."

9/06/2005

Barbour to the rescue

Chrenkoff quotes one of his readers noting how much better Mississippi's response to Katrina was than Louisiana's:
I really don't like to find fault at times like this, but one thing that was missing was a quick recognition that in such a situation the potential for civil collapse is nearly 100%. Once the weather settles, you need to immediately declare marshal law and send in the MPs. That's basically what Haley Barbour did in Mississippi - there were a few early problems but very quickly the MPs were patrolling what was left of Biloxi and Gulfport and keeping a lid on things. Back on Tuesday when I put on the news and we all saw Kathleen Blanco bursting into tears, I knew that was the wrong message and would bring trouble. ...

So I hope you're Watching Mississippi. Highly recommended - we may have found our next President out of this (you heard it here first). ...

Mississippi got hammered much worse than Louisiana but is barely in the news because the leadership has been much more competent.


It looks like Haley Barbour, by doing all the big things right, has started vaulting himself into the top of the Republican '08 column.

The historically-minded Von Bek thinks so too.

I wrote about Barbour as a presidential contender four monts ago; I'd point it as an example of my superior prediction skills if I hadn't gotten so many other things wrong before and since.

9/05/2005

More aid opportunities

Ken Wheaton is asking for donations for a church in his Louisiana hometown, which is housing and feeding a lot of refugees. This looks like a very good cause, and unlike the larger aid groups you can be more sure there won't be any wasted resources.

Also, Jane Galt is offering a free pound cake shipped to anyone who contributes $100 to a recognized charity, and a blog post on any topic (non-personal) for anyone who contributes $250. I have a feeling she may end up regretting the first offer, but the second one is very interesting. Could this be the discovery of a new source of income for bloggers?

9/01/2005

Hurricane roundup

Various things I've read today, because I've been reading a lot today:

Nicole Gelinas, a former New Orleans resident, has an essay explaining the political and economic mess that New Orleans was in even before the hurrican hit. It goes a long way toward explaining the total anarchy going on there now, and how hard it'll be to rebuild. )Via Best of the Web)

Murph, another former resident, says don't blame the people of New Orleans. I agree that it's way too easy to start assigning blame for a massive disaster like this one. (Via Ken Wheaton)

Current satellite photo of all of New Orleans (via The Corner, which says it shows the French Quarter still dry).

The San Francisco mayor's short response to looters after the 1906 earthquake, for historical comparison (also via The Corner)

Jane Galt comes out in favor of price gouging in the case of oil shortages. She's absolutely right: tinkering with the laws of supply and demand is done at our own peril.

Just wondering

It seems like some in the Bush-hating crowd have found a ready-made answer to the New Orleans flooding disaster: there was a levee-construction project in place for New Orleans, and Bush cut federal funding for it, among many other projects. I've seen this stated definitively by some commenters on the political blogs I read (including this one).

If you're wondering about the facts, I found a Chicago Tribune article that makes this same case.

So, first of all, for this argument to have any validity the project to shore up the levees, which it was proposed would start in 2004, would have had to be completed by last week with those extra funds. That's just one year, a rapidity I've never heard associated with any government building project of any scale. (The one exception I can think of is the post-9/11 Pentagon rebuilding, which took 11 months start to finish; but there they knew exactly what would be built ahead of time; there was no need for assessments, studies, and the like).

According to this same article, the need for stronger levees that could withstand Category 5 hurricanes (like Katrina was) has been known since 1965. So my question to this crowd is, if this hurricane had hit 10 years ago, would it have all been Bill Clinton's fault?

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