Monday, November 29, 2004

this one's pretty good

best line: "Dorothy Parker employed both senses [of the word 'fuck'] memorably when asked by a friend why he had not seen her for some time: 'I've been too fucking busy and vice versa,' she replied."

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

huge huge huge thanks go out to Josh for his incredibly generous donation. if the little redheaded genious (and if you think i'm exaggerating go look at his blog and check out what he studies) has faith in me, then i feel much more confident.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

A handful of words is all it took. to bring me down, that is. the good news is that my advisor says he's getting closer to snatching up 500 pounds (i dont have that little squiggly L symbol) which would cover room and board for me in england for a month. i'm still not sure what will happen after that. there's a great looking scholarship to do research in Jordan with room, board, and stipend. hot dog. if i can get it. we'll see.

back to the handful of words...and here i warn you, this post will be more boring and whiney than anything regarding my thesis, so you may want to go have a giggle at despair while i ramble.

"is there anyone you want to bring?" there wasn't any particular tone, but there was that little catch of breath at the end of the sentence. that question within the question. the occasion is thanks giving and while i'd been mentioning to a few people that i think we should get a group together to celebrate, i happened to walk in on three of these folks right after class discussing it. pretty harmless, although the three are actually six, as in couples. now, i've nothing against couples. i've even been half a couple now and again, but my sebaticle/penance (my penaticle?) has left me one whole single person. which is just the dickens for me until a little gathering like this comes along. i sputtered some kind of acceptance although tomorrow i'll recind. just doenst seems like it would be a great little time until it just got completely and utterly awkward. throwing in another single person wouldnt aleviate things, you need at least three to make it work and there can't be any attraction between two of those three or youre even worse off than you were before (this, assuming, youre as neurotic and repressed as i am and find yourself analyzing these situations). point being, that said point has been driven home. i am single, alone, uno es el numero lonliesto, and completely free. i mean, i can hop over to london for a month, go to jordan for a few months, go back to new york, stay here, buy that pickup truck and cruise the states for a year....whatever. that's the upside, and for someone like me that's a big upside. the downside comes when youre drinking coffee and listening to old Platters tunes while swinging your heart around like a fucking yoyo. sorry for the splatter, please use the complementary wet naps.

well, the record comes to an end, and then you just throw on something else. music appropriate for speeding past desert towns at dusk. kicking up a handful of words like a handful of dust.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

It's late and i'm tired and i should be asleep (long day, but W's email surely cheered me up)...and now i've come across this article...

read it? now it's not something that new. a "lot" of papers have been printing this story. not giving it the attention it deserves though...still, i just want to point something out that i imagine most of us would normally just gloss over or mutter a "damn" under our breaths...it's this little bit:

"Just six metres away on the same street lay the decomposing corpse of a blonde-haired white woman, too disfigured for swift identification but presumed to be the body of one of the many foreign hostages kidnapped by the rebels.
It was initially thought to be either the body of Margaret Hassan, the Dublin-born aid worker with dual British and Iraqi nationality who was kidnapped last month, or a Polish woman kidnapped two weeks ago. A Polish official said today there was no evidence to suggest that the body was that of the kidnapped Pole."

can we just stop for a second. this is a human being. it's clearly one of either of these two women, and now both of their families have to live in worse fear and grief than they've already lived with. why on earth would they report this? what value does this hold? would it make a difference if they waited until the body was identified and the family was informed? i'm sure it would make a hell of a difference to the family.

really, beyond all else wrong with the media, beyond the simpering partisanship, the lies and forgeries, the feigned objectivity, the political motivation, there is this. the utter lack of humanity. the absence of decency and dignity and respect for human life. if it bleeds it leads. do we have to wait until it's the publishers family member found dismembered, rotting in the middle of a street for the media to realize their behavior? no, i dont think even that would make a difference. it's all about the story. getting it first or getting it like everyone else. after all, if one paper puts it in, they all have to put it in. and the lesson the journalists take from all this? go find that mutilated corpse first...go find that story first...because they're not people, they're stories.

so how does this affect me? well, i'll let you in on a little insight. looking for housing for my month in london i've looked at all kinds of places. one is a very nice little student housing organization. seem very decent and polite. during the exchange of emails one of the questions they asked me was what my nationality was, so as to find the most suitable match for me (they stick me with a family, seems like a nice time)...but i have to sit there for 15 minutes deciding if to put down American or American/Israeli. Because i can hide the Israeli part if i have to. i did it travelling in jordan and there's no way anyone can tell the difference. But this is england we're talking about, not Jordan. but considering the worldly impression of Israel and Israeli's in the past few years (decades, if we're going to be honest, although it's been much worse recently), i have to actually wonder if i can be honest about who i am. why? because when i tell someone i'm israeli it's not unusual to be looked at the way a person looks at a television. i appear two-dimensional. i'm not real. i'm a part of the story, i'm as real to that person as a mutilated corpse rotting on a fallujah street. think i'm exaggerating? then you dont know about my email exchanges with Prof. Wilkie over at Oxford. You might know him as the guy who denied an Israeli Ph.D. student acceptance because he would "never work with an Israeli." Wilkie doesnt see Israeli's as individuals, as people, any more than he sees Iraqi's as people (perhaps he's changed since we spoke, but somehow i doubt it).

The difference between sympathy and hatred, and empathy and love is that the latter require you to see people as individuals, the former demand you see them as a reflection.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

<<=========== Take a gander over yonder. See that? that's what it's come down to. Well, actually, it's just another part of the grand plan to get to Washington D.C. and London to get research done for my M.A. thesis. So I thought i'd give a little insight into what this thesis business is all about. Well, it's on Black September: the 1970 Jordanian Civil War. Like i've said before, no one has ever throughly researched the topic. There are good reasons for this. One is that the archive material in D.C. and London has only recently been released (this is the stuff i need), beyond that there is the fact that the Jordanians don't talk about it for good reason, and the Palestinians don't talk about it for very good reason. After all, creating a violent state-within-a-state the way they did does not exactly come off as very endearing. So to this day no one knows for sure how many Palestinians were killed in the fighting (Arafat was screaming 30,000 dead when he met with Nasser a week into the war, but Red Crescent figures put it at 3,000). Most of the information out there has to do with the US, Israel, Britain, the USSR and the UN. Still, even lots of information on what these outside players were doing has only recently been released from the archives. What i can tell you is that the entire story is incredibly fascinating. It explains what happened in the formative years of the PLO after Arafat took power, the origination of airline hijacking for "political gain", the secret Israel-Jordanian relations, how the Arab states manipulated the Palestinian issue after '67, and how the middle east played into the cold war (more than one washington insider saw this as a possible lead into all out war between the superpowers). Perhaps most fascinating, it tells the story of the early attempts at making peace agreements between Israel and the Arab states. It shows how the patterns of what is attempted and what fails repeats itself in ways that are remarkably similar. Envoys and accords, inqueries and submissions. The events showed how treacherous Arafat could be, and the precarious position of King Hussein. The war solidified the Jordanian identity and served as a strong lesson to be learned by both the PLO and the Arab states in dealing with the organization.

The birth of modern terrorism, a cold war hotspot, famous players, a conflict that changed everything below the surface....you'd think someone would have tackled this issue. But alas, it has been swallowed between the events of 1967 and 1973.

Here are a couple of fun tidbits:

Two years after the war ended there were still mild pockets of fedayeen around Irbid, Jordan. The King had the army make one final sweep to fully rid the country of the problem. Some of the fedayeen chose to kill themselves and their families rather than surrender to the army, and about 200 fled across the Jordan towards Israel.

During the crisis Israeli Defense Minister Rabin called Secretary of State Kissinger to discuss Israel's calling up of its Air Force. Kissinger, desperatly seeking Nixon, finally found him...bowling in the basement of the Executive Office Building.

----------------

As for the grant hunt, it's still going on. Nothing new yet, but keep your fingers crossed. It's a bit of an odd topic, and the main actors in the story just wont fund it, especially when it's an Israeli-American writing it. Still, here's hoping...

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

sweet toddle jesus breakdancing on the subway...how am i going to pay for this thesis? i've basically narrowed my need down to accommodation in london. considering that it's the most expensive city in the world, and as i'm a broke grad student (hey, i'm only 900 bucks shy of paying off tuition this year!...fuckblaargle)

perhaps i could just tent out somewhere in the city. surely they have homeless shelters in london. again, fuckblaargle.

here's something neat: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/

back to being fucked...yeah, i'm doing the grant searching, but it's not looking good. shouldnt someone out there want to support a grad student researching something that no one has ever studied before? i mean, black september was a big deal! c'mon folks! it explains so much about how we got to where we are in the middle east, especially in the palestinian realm. *sigh* i'm tired..........

Saturday, November 06, 2004


by county Posted by Hello

gosh...how many crazy things can happen since i last wrote? i never commented on how the red sox won, which, while sad for any decent new yorker, is still pretty amazing. arafat is gonna die. it's about time and i hope he's suffering. there's some rumors going around (they've been around for a long while, but now that he's about to kick the eternal bucket they've resurfaced. ready for this? arafat has aids. yup, the rumor is that he's been known to have sex with young boys and orgies with his security guys. it's great that no matter how old a person can be, or even if they've become the leader of a national movement, his opponents can still come back with, "you're gay!"

biggest political news, obviously, that little map down there. pretty interesting. you hear a lot about how people in new york are so upset and believe that bush just carried all those ol' time religion jesus folks in the middle of the country. well, hate to burst that little bubble, but that's crap. no matter where you are, the margin was very slim. bush carried some 40% of new york. so even if youre living in manhatten, remember, it's not folks in the midwest that you hate, it's your neighbors.

there's all this talk about how people voted because of values. well, perhaps they did. not born-again christian values, but a different kind of values that people traditionally look for in a leader. someone who doesnt waver once he's made a decision. someone who isnt afraid to tell who he really is. a lot of people like the idea that their president prays. personally, i dont much care either way, since W isnt asking me to go to church. i like that he values idealism. i mean, what other president in the last 40 or 50 years would have the courage to decide we're not just going to destroy the taliban, but turn that country into a democracy. i know that it's barely been noticed, but the same day that bush was elected, hamid karzai was officially made president of afghanistan. afghanistan held an election! there is now democracy in a place that has known war for a century. a nation built of tribes and clans. of course we'll only know if this was a true success after an election that peacefully transfers control to a new government. still, considering that the challenge comes from religious extremists and not political challengers, it's been an amazing election. imagine walking for 3 days in the rain to vote? just think about that. if nothing else, Bush will go down in history as having done something incredible.

i wont go through bush's economic plans. i'm not an economist and dont pretend to be. i know that considering the pseudo-recession started before he came into office, and that 9/11 happened so soon after he took office, the economy has held in there pretty darn well. healthcare is still a big issue, as it always was. the problem is that the health care industry in america is a 2 trillion dollar a year industry. how the hell can anyone manage that? universal healthcare has worked very well in france and well in germany. however, in england it's been a nightmare, and in canada its teetering on the brink. (note to unmentioned hollywood types: might want to rethink your little move to our northern neighbors) So to blame bush for it is a bit unreasonable, considering that there is indeed a war on.

and back to iraq. how many times do the points have to be made? everyone believed there were WMD's and Saddam wasn't denying it. History showed that he had them and liked using them. to be upset that innocent people have been killed is reasonable, natural, and one hopes that everyone is upset by that. but where were all these people when saddam was killing off millions of innocent men, women, and children. pathologists that worked in bosnia have been working the mass graves in iraq. they're saying that they've never seen anything like this. bosnia generally had graves full of men agest 16-30, but they're finding mass graves of women, elderly, and children. one pathologist described finding thigh bones the size of match sticks. do i really need to repeat that or will you go ahead and read it again, please? maybe things could have gone better in iraq after the war, maybe they could have gone worse. but i know in my head and my heart that pulling out (as kerry promised he would. first after two years, then later he said after one year, then he said after six months) would have been a horrible mistake. i know that all the talk about afghanistan two years ago was similar to what we're hearing now about iraq. i hope that in the next two years we see a huge change in iraq. for the better, naturally.

there's a lot to say about all this, naturally, but i just dont have time. papers to write, things to read.