Lonely Man of Cake

July 29, 2007

Jerusalem Heat II

Filed under: Environment,Israel,Weather — lonelymanofcake @ 1:17 pm

Check out today’s high temp (and compare it to the forecast temperature for today in my last post):


Many apartments in Jerusalem, especially those lived in by students, do not have air-conditioning.  In the States, you can go to your local Home Depot and pick up a 7000 BTU window unit for your bedroom for $100 or thereabouts.  Here, a 7000 BTU unit costs upwards of $500, not including an installation fee of $75-$100 which entails drilling through walls; something that not all landlords approve of in lease agreements.  Aging window units can be seen hanging precariously from some older apartments but are no longer manufactured or imported.

Save me…


July 26, 2007

Jerusalem Heat

Filed under: Environment,Israel,Weather — lonelymanofcake @ 12:12 pm

‘Nuff said.


July 15, 2007

Jerusalem of Gold… and of Stolen Cars

Filed under: Automotive,Israel,Security — lonelymanofcake @ 8:16 pm

While foreign governments may recognize only Tel Aviv as the capital city of Israel, Jerusalem, political arguments aside, is the uncontested stolen car capital of Israel.

In 2006, more cars were stolen from Jerusalem (4,539) than from any other city in Israel, according to an article published on Ynet today.  Surprisingly, Tel Aviv came in second place, with 3,891 thefts.  All in all, some 20,000 cars were stolen in Israel last year; an astounding 7% of all cars in the country!

What are people stealing?  The top three contenders:

  • Subaru: 5,208
  • Mitsubishi: 2,449
  • Mazda: 2,379

I’ll spare you the color commentary.  I can rant to you in person, if you so request.

July 5, 2007

New 2 Shekel Coin

Filed under: Currency,Israel,Judaism — lonelymanofcake @ 8:52 am

The Bank of Israel is set to issue a preliminary run of a new 2 Shekel coin, which, if successful in answering to various tests and sets of standards, will be mass produced in the coming weeks.

Information about the pending release is scant, and explanations regarding the need for such a coin are nowhere to be found.  There is also something of an uproar regarding the fact that the coin will be produced in Holland, and not in Israel.   What we do know is that the coin will be larger than the 1 Shekel coin and smaller than the 5 Shekel coin.

A sample of reactions (talkbacks) to the news:

  • How about a 99 Agorot coin?
  • Why a “Hellenistic” motif on the coin and not a Jewish one?
  • Will vending machines recognize the new coin?
  • Why does the English on the coin (and all coins and bills) mix languages and say “New Sheqalim” and not “New Sheqels”?

June 12, 2007

The Future of the Golan Heights Wineries

Filed under: Israel,Politics,Wine — lonelymanofcake @ 6:12 pm

With mounting speculation that an impending peace deal with Syria would most probably require Israel’s withdrawal from the Golan Heights, one of the more interesting, but less publicly debated, ramifications of such a deal would involve the fate of the numerous wineries in the area.  On my recent winery tour in the north, we visited two of (at least) seven wineries in the area: Bazelet ha-Golan (amazing Cabernet) and the bio-organic Bashan Winery (amazing Port).  The Golan Heights winery–which we were not able to visit–is the institution that put Israeli wines on the map and that put the myth of all-kosher-wine-taste-like Manischewitz to rest.

This article in Decanter Magazine discusses the issue, and while the article does not introduce much new material to the discussion, it is interesting to note Daniel Rogov’s casual feelings about a possible withdrawal, and the misplaced (and naive) projection of the CEO of the Carmel Winery that such a move would encourage wine tourism in Israel.

What are your feelings on the issue?

June 11, 2007

Pedantic Petulance

Filed under: Academia,Hebrew,Israel — lonelymanofcake @ 8:54 pm

My recent positive posts shouldn’t serve to overshadow my general state of annoyance at the way things are in Israel. Here’s another pet peeve:

Israeli pop-star Harel Moyal has had a song of his yanked by Israel’s state sponsored, commercial free music station, Galgalatz. Why? Galgalatz refuses to continue playing the song because Moyal “mispronounces” a single vowel. His pronunciation reflects the colloquial articulation, which vocalizes the initial vowel in מכיר as mekir, instead of the correct makir. Moyal will need to re-record the entire song as a result.

This instance is but a small illustration of an upsurge of the almost French-like pedantic punctiliousness among Israelis when it comes to the spelling, pronunciation, and accentation of the modern-Hebrew language.  Did the FCC file an injunction to cease broadcast of System of a Down’s song “Lonely Day” because it contains the grammatically incorrect refrain “the most loneliest day of my life”?  Should country music songs containing the contraction “ain’t” also be re-recorded?

Hebrew subtitling on Israel’s channels 1 and 2 will consistently correct the grammar of people being interviewed.  It is a favored pastime of “talkbackistim,” i.e., people who leave comments on Israeli news websites, to point out either the bad grammar and/or spelling of other commenters (commentators?).

Linguistic pride is a wonderful virtue.  A country that takes a recording artist to task for mispronouncing a single vowel should treat its leaders with the same level of accountability.

June 4, 2007

Hesder Army News IV

Filed under: Army,Israel,Religion,Security — lonelymanofcake @ 10:00 am

Amir Peretz, in perhaps one of his final significant meetings as Defense Minister before either Ami Ayalon or Ehud Barak take over the Labor Party, has officially placed a moratorium on General Elazar Stern’s plans (previously discussed here) to prevent Hesder students from joining Golani and the Paratroops in the upcoming August draft.

It appears–assuming that the chain of command places the Defense Minister over the Chief of Staff–that the ultimate arrangements for the August draft will be to the satisfaction of the Hesder students.

June 3, 2007

Israeli Gas Prices, June 2007

Filed under: Automotive,Israel,Transportation — lonelymanofcake @ 11:33 am

The new Israeli gas prices, which are calculated in the final days of a given month and updated on the 1st of the month,  as of June 1, 2007:

$5.64 per-gallon of 95 Octane (which in Israel is considered “regular unleaded”).
This is calculated at 6.07 NIS per-liter, with the shekel closing at 4.07 NIS to the US Dollar.

While this constitutes a 1.34% increase over the May 2007 price of 5.99 NIS per-liter, the change is not represented in the dollar amount of $5.64, which, because of the recently strengthened US Dollar, remains equivalent to the May 2007 price.

May 22, 2007

Back to School!!!

Filed under: Academia,Education,Israel — lonelymanofcake @ 1:12 pm

On March 28, 55 days ago, Pesach recess began.  And it will finish only on Thursday.

The representatives of the various student unions finally mustered a vote last night, which unlike three previous voting attempts, was not disrupted by belligerent students who are intent on continuing the strike, citing the continued inadequate offers from the government.  Because of these disruptions, voting was planned, but could not be held on either Saturday or Sunday night.  The representatives attempted to evade the protesters by surreptiously changing venues, but the protesters would quickly discover and converge on the new location.  For the vote last night, the student representatives hired a security firm to facilitate smooth proceedings.  The vote was carried out successfully, with more than 60% of the delegates voting to accept the government’s latest offer and end the strike.

Unfortunately, it appears that students in this academic year will have a heavy price to pay for their benevolence, in both tolerating duration of the strike and implicitly supporting its aims.  This strike was never about the current generation of students.  The government made it quite clear in its first offers to the students that the higher tuition would be “grandfathered in” and apply only to the next generation of students.  It is those students and their parents, as well as future students and their parents, who should have been leading the strike.  Not students who stand to gain nothing, i.e., us.

This imposed altruism cost us, the students of today, over one month of the semester and has also created an erosion of faith in the student government.  We will pay for the watered down agreement with a semester that will now extend long into July, extended class hours (some classes will go until midnight!), classes on Friday, and an exam period which ends around Rosh Hashana.  One of the principal aims of the strike was to bring tuition to an affordable level for all students.  This aim was not achieved, and irreparable financial harm will now be inflicted on those students who designate the summer months as the period in which they take jobs in order to afford tuition and the cost of living.

The National Union of Israeli Students, the organization which led the strike, though its director himself attends an institution which did not strike (!), will no doubt declare victory and highlight the concessions of the government.  In doing so, they will have emulated the government’s penchant for doing the same: declaring victory where they are the unambiguous loser, and leaving the citizens/students to pay the price.

May 16, 2007

Hesder Army News III

Filed under: Army,Israel,Judaism,Religion,Security — lonelymanofcake @ 11:46 am

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has responded to the petition sent to him by Hesder students angered by a policy change which would prevent them from serving in the Golani brigade or Paratroops in homogeneous Hesder platoons.

It appears that the petition did the Hesderniks more harm than good.  Under the previous proposal, the students would at least have the option to serve in Golani and Paratroops, albeit in mixed platoons.  Ashkenazi took this one step further and decreed that this latter option would be unavailable as well and that Hesder students would under no circumstances be allowed to serve in Golani and Paratroops, not even in mixed platoons. According to Ashkenazi, the decision emanates from the popularity of the two latter brigades, the recent exponential growth of Hesder programs, and the army’s logistical need to fill the ranks of less popular units.


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