Lonely Man of Cake

July 4, 2007

And We’re Back!

Filed under: General — lonelymanofcake @ 11:45 am

It’s July 4th, and as promised, I’m back blogging. Things have been quite topsy turvy since I last posted. Though I (somehow) got out of one major assignment which would have been due two days ago, I was not afforded any extra time for blogging because I’ve been taking care of the insurance claim on a stolen car for someone near and dear to me. That has occupied the past week, and dealing with some insensitive people and major bureaucratic hurdles sent me into an outrage so deep that on Sunday I was ready to pack a small bag, take a taxi to the airport, get my open ticket stamped, and get on the next flight back to the States. I recovered towards Sunday evening, but it happened again on Monday. I recovered once again, but suffice it to say that if the insurance company comes up with some lame ass excuse not to dole out a full settlement (or anything at all)…

Here’s what’s been going on:

  • The heat in Jerusalem was unbearable last week and did not even give the usual nightly respite of your typical Jerusalem summer. Thankfully, a cool front moved in on Saturday night and the weather has been hot, but pleasant.
  • Israel’s eighth president, Moshe Katsav, was offered–and accepted–a watered down plea bargain which is an affront to the justice system and any woman who has ever stepped forward in Israel after being sexually assaulted. While Katsav is indeed innocent until proven guilty, it boggles the mind that this case was allowed to circumvent the court system. No detailed explanation has been proffered, as of yet, from Israel’s attorney general, who drafted and offered the plea deal.
  • Israelis enjoy the various satirical programs offered on television, but nothing comes close to the incisiveness and intensity of satire and criticism found in Anglo blogs writing on life in Israel (my own included). Here is an article (Hebrew only) from the Israeli portal Nana (Israel’s “Yahoo”) which reflects on the electronic musings of Anglos, with specific reference to the blog Zabaj, which I have mentioned here in the past. As is my custom, I perused through the comments to the article to assess how Israelis handle their portrayal. Some comments are flattering towards Anglos, while others (surprise, surprise) assert the superiority of Israeli tact, poor pronunciation of English, and overall bad manners.
  • Wine, as you know, plays a central function in my social life. In a period of snobbishness, in which I shunned Merlot and vowed to drink only Cabernet, I completely lost my appreciation for other red varietals and especially white wines. So I resolved that I would get back into whites, especially considering that I deem my palate for whites much more evolved than for reds. (It’s easier to say that a wine has aromas and flavors of peach, pear, and apple than blackberry, blueberry, and raspberry when I am much more attuned to the differences between the former group than the latter.) I enjoyed, along with company, an inexpensive bottle of Gamla Sauvignon Blanc last week, which was delicious considering that it was chilled and the heat oppressive. I’ve also been foraying into Rose`, but haven’t yet found anything to write home about.
  • Speaking of wine, Gary Vaynerchuk, the host of Wine Library TV, the daily video blog which I urged you to watch over the “break,” was featured in TIME Magazine. I haven’t had the fortune of meeting Gary personally, but having watched the show for a few months now, I agree with everything stated in the article. Go Gary!
  • MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann is my hero. Watch this video to understand why.
  • The iPhone is now a reality. As much as I covet the device, I’ll hold out (minimally) until the next generation of the phone.
  • Pursuant to this article and the appended recipe, I prepared my first batch of cold brewed iced coffee. I’ll let you know how it is after I’ve mustered up the bravery to drink it.
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7 Comments »

  1. Why do you so easily and readily state that Katsav’s case not going to court is a travesty to the justice system. Perhaps the travesty is that the case got this far at all in the first place. That something is wrong is sure, but why are you so sure that what’s wrong is that there wasn’t a trial? Innocent until proven guilty also means that the prosecution has to put up a good case before sending something to trial.

    Perhaps, you’ll say that given that there are so many people accusing the President then obviously there is some decent evidence to go to trial. Well, not so fast – check out this blog post to see why that may not be true: http://www.thejewishinvestigator.com/the-moshe-katsav-case/could-10-women-lie

    Comment by searchmarketingcourses — July 4, 2007 @ 6:21 pm | Reply

  2. I am all for conspiracy theories. But there is a reason that democracies have court systems, and that it in order to assess the mass of evidence, questionable as it may be, and render a decision. That there are numerous precedents for multiple false accusations in rape trials does not serve as evidence weighty enough for preventing this case from reaching trial altogether. I think you would agree that there is a healthy amount of precedent for acquitting murderers as well, despite what appears to be a preponderance of damning evidence. But that should not mean that the accused party should never see his day in court. To cut a murderer a pre-trial plea deal in which he admits to assault (but not murder) without the case seeing its day in court, is comparable to the affront to the justice system I witnessed with the Katsav case.

    Comment by lonelymanofcake — July 5, 2007 @ 7:23 am | Reply

  3. Justice isn’t necessarily served by going to trial if the evidence is weak and insubstantial. Just because the media and the attorney general have played up Katsav’s guilt does not mean that they actually have enough evidence to warrant a trial. We have witnessed this whole affair through police leaks and press conferences – we don’t know what the real facts are. Who are these 10+ accusers? Why didn’t they come forward earlier? Did they come to the police or did the police track them down? Do these women stand to benefit in any way from having the legal status of having been sexually abused (for instance, perhaps they are entitled to certain government benefits and assistance as a result)? If so, were they aware of those benefits when they were interviewed by the police? Are there any other reasons why we might suspect their testimony (maybe they have a history of making false accusations, maybe they have a history of psychological “issues”, maybe they have been convicted of crimes which undermine their trustworthiness, etc.). Is there any evidence undermining their accusations?

    We, the public, do not know the answers to these questions and as such we have no idea whether or not this case should or should not go to trial. We are making all of our assumptions on shallow headlines and news stories. Hardly a responsible way to determine whether or not justice has been done.

    Also, there is a big difference between false accusations of murder and false accusation of sexual abuse. Murder relies on a body of evidence (witnesses, confessions, forensics, etc.). Sexual abuse cases often times rely solely on word of mouth (sometimes by forensics also). That inherently leads to a greater likelihood of false accusations since there can be numerous reasons why someone might falsely accuse someone else.

    Finally, no one is talking about conspiracy theories. This is an inherently gray area as it usually rests on one persons word against another and proof one way or the other is often times hard to come by – particularly when the accusers claim the crime happened years ago.

    Comment by gdmseo — July 5, 2007 @ 11:53 am | Reply

  4. I’m not defending the media here. I think that there was something of a lynch-mob approach to the way all of the major outlets jumped to conclusions and pursued the president-as-rapist angle with zeal. That said, your blanket assertion that the evidence in the Katsav case is “weak and insubstantial” without any evidence having been released to the public is equally guilty of bias.

    It was not for naught that two appeals were issued to the Supreme Court requesting that an injunction be placed on the plea bargain and that the attorney general was ordered to issue a detailed explanation, in public, for his having offered the deal in the first place. And while an indictment is not tantamount to culpability, it is also not for naught that both the police and the attorney general’s office saw fit to issue indictments implicating the president for far more than misplaced hugs.

    You assume that murder cases rely on a greater body of evidence than sexual abuse cases and therefore shy away from equating the two. I think that we could both bring evidence for murder cases in which the personal vendettas of witnesses led to false accusations of the defendant as well as cases of sexual abuse in which the “more extensive” body of evidence that you claim is exclusive to murder is used to incriminate a sexual predator.

    Finally, I fear that using an extended delay in coming forward to further a claim of innocence suffers from two central problems:
    (1) It ignores the deep psychological trauma suffered by women after being sexually abused and which in many cases holds them back from ever coming forward.
    (2) It is precisely the type of rationale potentially invoked by a sexual predator before committing the act, thereby serving as an emboldening pretense for the act.

    Judging by the formulation in your response as well as the masculine moniker in the e-mail address which you left, I’ll paraphrase the question posed by Bernard Shaw to Michael Dukakis in a 1988 presidential debate:
    If your wife or daughter were (God forbid) raped or sexually abused, would you be equally as eager to let the predator roam free?

    Comment by lonelymanofcake — July 5, 2007 @ 3:14 pm | Reply

  5. A few points:

    1) You wrote: “your blanket assertion that the evidence in the Katsav case is “weak and insubstantial” without any evidence having been released to the public is equally guilty of bias.”

    But I never said that the evidence is weak and insubstantial. I’m saying we don’t know whether or not the evidence is weak and insubstantial and therefore we don’t know whether or not this case should or should not go to trial.

    2) You wrote: “It was not for naught that two appeals were issued to the Supreme Court requesting that an injunction be placed on the plea bargain and that the attorney general was ordered to issue a detailed explanation, in public, for his having offered the deal in the first place.”

    The fact that someone requests something of the supreme court means nothing. People request things of the supreme court all the time. It doesn’t mean that the evidence was good and substantial or that there is any basis for a trial. For more on this see my next point:

    3) You wrote: “And while an indictment is not tantamount to culpability, it is also not for naught that both the police and the attorney general’s office saw fit to issue indictments implicating the president for far more than misplaced hugs.”

    I don’t know if it’s for naught. Perhaps they went on a witch hunt (which in this case seems like a distinct possibility). I’ve lost a lot of faith in the system since Mazuz has become Attorney General. His decision on Sharon seemed strange. The case against Ramon seems absolutely ridiculous (as is the fact that he was convicted) and in this case he seems to be utterly and totally irresponsible. Why then should I value the fact that they wanted to indict Katsav? Particularly when cases in history when police departments and attorney generals were irresponsible. If this was a normal case I wouldn’t seriously raise this possibility, but since it does indeed look like one possible understanding of what happened is that the police and attorney general have created a case (rather than discovered a crime) I think it’s a possibility that has to be seriously considered (just like the possibility that Katsav is guilty has to be considered).

    4) You wrote: “You assume that murder cases rely on a greater body of evidence than sexual abuse cases and therefore shy away from equating the two. I think that we could both bring evidence for murder cases in which the personal vendettas of witnesses led to false accusations of the defendant as well as cases of sexual abuse in which the “more extensive” body of evidence that you claim is exclusive to murder is used to incriminate a sexual predator.”

    Did you read the links on The Jewish Investigator? If so, I’m not sure how you can write this line. Three studies cited in the various links all talk about the high levels of false accusations in sexual abuse cases.

    5) I don’t know whether or not waiting a long time to report sexual abuse is common for people who have been abused or not. That’s a question that needs to be answered by evidence from experts – not by repeated “common knowledge”.

    6) Your last question is not an honest one. Because just like I wouldn’t want such a man to roam free, so too I wouldn’t want an innocent person to be pubically persecuted. There are two possibilities in this case — one that a guilty man has been let off the hook. The other than an innocent man has been unfairly dragged through the mud. Your question focuses on one possibility while ignoring the other.

    Comment by gdmseo — July 5, 2007 @ 8:28 pm | Reply

  6. Wine’s become a big part of my gastronomical life, too, thanks to a new semi-kosher wine cellar in boston and some combined efforts to ship in some good wines from chicago. I still haven’t made it to a vineyard though…maybe you can take me when I’m in Israel next. Some recent personal favorites: the dry Cabernet Sauvignon from Beit El Winery (supposedly) and moscato galilee from Golan, for some good light wine.

    Comment by yeho — July 10, 2007 @ 10:34 am | Reply

  7. Happy to hear, yeho… If you’re still into chemistry, you should look into the winemaking process and its very scientific side. There are the different types of fermentation (carbonic maceration, malolactic…), the catalysts and yeasts, the sulfites. And of course, a good winemaker will regulate the temperature of the “must” during fermentation because of the heat that the process produces and the need to hold the temperature down. And then there are the pH, Brix, and alcohol tests.

    In general, I urge you to watch WLTV, especially some of the episodes that I referred to, to really train your palate and get into things.

    Comment by lonelymanofcake — July 10, 2007 @ 5:21 pm | Reply


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