Lonely Man of Cake

May 7, 2007

BREAKING: Herod’s Tomb Discovered

Filed under: Academia,Archaeology,History,Israel,Judaism — lonelymanofcake @ 10:49 pm

UPDATE: Hebrew University press release.

Archaeologist Ehud Netzer of Hebrew University will announce tomorrow morning that he has, after a quest which lasted over 30 years, discovered the location of Herod’s tomb. Apparently, Herod is entombed at the Herodium, “a fortified palace built by Herod some 12 kilometers south of Jerusalem,” confirming the location noted by the historian Flavius Josephus some 2000 years ago.

The Herodium, or Herodion, is a wonderful archaeological site which is unfortunately visited rarely because of its remote location in the territories. I had the fortune of visiting two years ago. A picture from that visit below:



March 29, 2007

Israel-German Relations in the Wake of the Holocaust

Filed under: Automotive,History,Israel,Judaism,Transportation — lonelymanofcake @ 5:12 pm

I was looking to get the contact information for Volkswagen Israel (to file a complaint about the abhorrent service at their Jerusalem garage), and I came across a short article from TIME Magazine, dated April 11, 1969 regarding relations between Israel and (West) Germany almost 25 years after the Holocaust.  Here is a poignant excerpt:

Two numbers tell much about the life and times of Chaim Serna, 43, a power-company foreman in Jerusalem. One of them, 108342, is tattooed on his left forearm, a souvenir of Auschwitz. The other is 612214 on the license of his blue Volkswagen.

The article indicates that it was stipulated that much of $900,000,000 in reparations paid by West Germany to Israel between 1953 and 1965 had to be spent on German goods.   Thus the rumor which I had debunked regarding why many Israeli taxis are of German manufacture may be founded on the memories of older generations.

(Does anyone else find it insensitive that the author refers to the survivor’s tattoo a “souvenir of Auschwitz”?)

March 18, 2007

Jeopardy Tie

Filed under: America,General,History — lonelymanofcake @ 2:29 pm

I caught this video last night from Metafilter. Watch, and see below for the discussion.

Some of the comments on Youtube are right on. The contestant who is in the lead going into “Final Jeopardy” will almost always bet $1 extra than the maximum sum his opponents can achieve. By betting on the fact that his opponents–who were already tied going into Final Jeopardy–would bet the maximum possible sum, Scott decided to match, thereby guaranteeing another round against those same opponents, over whom he displayed superiority. So next week, Scott faces the same players and will probaby secure at least one more handsome payday.

February 27, 2007


Filed under: Academia,Culinary,Education,History,Israel,Religion,Toaff — lonelymanofcake @ 3:00 pm

Nothing really special to report. A few musings:

  1. The Israeli press has decided to lynch recently declared Minister of Tourism Esterina Tartman. I think that her appointment, considering that she is a freshman MK and number five on her party’s list (i.e., the three MKs between her and Avigdor Lieberman should have precedence for the ministry task), smacks of corruption. The “controversial” opinions voiced by Tartman are rooted in her party platform, and are not her own creation. I think that the Israeli press, and public, are just plain afraid of a “strong” telegenic woman who speaks her mind. Accusations aside, though I think Isaac Herzog was a wonderful Minister of Tourism, Tartman will do a fine job.  I think that I may have changed my mind.  Tartman has apparently lied about her undergraduate credentials as well, after her MA was discovered to be bogus.  I believe that in addition to knowingly deceiving the government and the populace, having declared two degrees would also have given Tartman a nice salary bump; money which Israel’s taxpayers never owed to her.  I just wish that the press would pursue the lies and distortions of every politician with the same vigor they used against Tartman.
  2. Prof. Ariel Toaff has not only pulled his book from publication, pledged to donate the proceeds to the ADL, and recanted his theory, but some MKs are looking for ways to punish Toaff under Israel law (story here).
  3. The university strike was called off, but there has to be something to protest… I was handed a flyer today which encouraged me to boycott the cafes and food establishments on campus because of a recent hike in prices. My understanding of the issue is that prices, at least for coffee, had not been raised in some 10 years, which led to the remarkable espresso for 4 NIS. We caught the tail end of those prices, which were no doubt considered high when instituted in the late 90s. Considering the high rent paid by the vendors, including a purported “internal” Arnona (municipal tax) imposed by the university, the quality of the food/drink, and the required security guards (even inside the campus), I, for one, am willing to shell out a bit more for my eats.

February 15, 2007

Temple Mount Excavation Video

Two videos of note regarding what’s really going on at the Mugrabi Bridge:

Biblical Dates

Filed under: Academia,Archaeology,Culinary,History,Israel,Judaism,Religion — lonelymanofcake @ 10:43 am

This post is not about patriarchal pick-up lines.  (Hey, I, uh, noticed how nicely you were, uh, giving water to your camels…)

A researcher has managed to plant a 2000 year-old (!) date seed found at Masada.  Soon we will find out whether ancient Judean dates, referred to in the Bible as דבש (=honey), are as sweet as claimed.

February 14, 2007

BREAKING: Toaff Pulls Libel Book

Filed under: Academia,Diaspora,History,Israel,Judaism,Religion,Toaff — lonelymanofcake @ 5:16 pm

Professor Ariel ToaffProfessor Ariel Toaff has decided to suspend the distribution of his book Pasque di Sangue (Easter of Blood / Bloody Passovers: The Jews of Europe and Ritual Murders), bowing to pressure from Bar-Ilan University, where he serves as a tenured professor, and parties who he says “distorted” the claims of the book.

Haaretz reports that Toaff has not withdrawn the book altogether. Rather, Toaff has suspended publication to facilitate his “[emendation of] contentious sections.” In his comments printed in Haaretz, Toaff reiterated his claim that he wished to expose the existence of fundamentalist, and violent, elements in Ashkenazic Jewry. Though I know nothing about the contents of the book, I am relatively sure that his claims build to a large extent on the Hebrew Crusade-narratives, of which I have already quoted a short excerpt. I hope to post some preliminary comments in the near future.

By the way, the “talkbacks” (i.e., comments) on Israeli news websites are seeing some of Toaff’s (purported) students from Bar-Ilan alleging ulterior (i.e., contemporary) motives for the publication of this controversial theory, which Toaff would often hint to in his lectures. In this case, the claim would go: If religious fundamentalists would go so far as to butcher children in the Middle Ages, we need to be wary of contemporary religious fundamentalists as well for fear of what they might perpetrate.

ואין כאן מקום להאריך

February 13, 2007

On Blood and Libels

Filed under: Academia,Diaspora,History,Judaism,Religion,Toaff — lonelymanofcake @ 11:22 am

The women there girded their loins with strength and slew their sons and their daughters and then themselves. Many men, too, plucked up courage and killed their wives, their sons, their infants. The tender and delicate mother slaughtered the babe she had played with, all of them, men and women arose and slaughtered one another…A father turning to his son or brother, a brother to his sister, a woman to her son or daughter neighbor to a neighbor or a friend, a groom to a bride, a fiancé to fiancee, would kill and would be killed, and blood touched blood. The blood of the men mingled with their wives, the blood of the fathers with their children’s, the blood of the brothers with the sisters, the blood of the teachers with their disciples, the blood of the grooms with their brides, the blood of the leaders with the cantors, the blood of the judges with their scribes, and the blood of infants and sucklings with their mothers.

This is Jewish-Ashkenazic literature; a Hebrew narrative composed in the aftermath of the Crusades of 1096.

We’ll discuss the historicity and implications of these passages for the Toaff controversy in a subsequent post.

February 5, 2007

Do Chinese People Eat Chinese Food?

Filed under: Culinary,History — lonelymanofcake @ 10:34 pm

Here is an interesting article on the evolution of Hunan Cuisine in general, and the dish “General Tso’s” in particular. Regarding the latter, the article’s author says the following, thus answering somewhat the question which I posed in the title:

Despite its international reputation… the dish is virtually unknown in the Chinese province of Hunan itself.

The dish apparently rose to prominence in the USA because its inventor was affiliated with the defeated Chinese Nationalist Party, created the dish in the 50s while exiled in Taiwan, and ultimately popularized the dish in America in the 70s in his New York restaurant. It is now, much to the embarrassment of the Chinese, the most popular dish associated with Hunan Cuisine, even though the dish has no actual roots in the Hunan province of China.

Something to think about next time you come down with that MSG headache.

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