Learn Hebrew While You Drive

When I wanted to know how to get to a certain address in Jerusalem, these were the travel instructions I got from Israel’s leading mapping website emap.co.il:

English Route Instructions Software Bug | emap.co.il


7.  Straight on Agripas
8.  Turn left on Ki’akh
9.  Straight on Ha-Nevi’im
10. Take ramp to say what?

Yes, it is not a software bug; it is an induced-Hebrew-learning feature.

Trunk Shot – Tarantino’s Trademark Camera Angle

Quentin Tarantino’s trademarked the trunk shot camera angle and used it in every movie he directed. For your viewing pleasure, here is the visual proof, including 4 trunk shots, 3 reverse trunk shots, 1 hood shot and 1 reverse hood shot.

Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992) - Trunk Shot
Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994) - Trunk Shot
Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown (1997) - Trunk Shot
Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) - Trunk Shot
Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof (2007) - Hood Shot

Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992) - Reverse Trunk Shot
Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown (1997) - Reverse Trunk Shot
Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) - Reverse Trunk Shot
Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof (2007) - Reverse Hood Shot

‘When A Man Loves A Woman’ Film Quote about Being an Addict

Nothing has to happen for me to have a bad day.
That’s the thrilling part of all this.
It just comes and hits and runs me over like a goddam freight train.

Alice Green (Meg Ryan) – When a Man Loves a Woman (1994)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XenCEkE_xy0

He Is the Greatest Israeli Soldier the World Has Ever Known

His training is lethal
And his skills are legendary
But it was time for a change
This summer
He is leaving it all behind
Entering a new world
And pursuing his dream
Now
His old life
Is catching up with him

The trailer for Adam Sandler’s new movie ‘You Don’t Mess with the Zohan’ was recently released, and it looks like it is everything you would expect from a Sandler/Schneider film about an Israeli Mossad agent that fakes his death to become a hairstylist: lots of laughs, no need to think, your run of the mill summer hit.

The film features some Israeli actors (Ido Mosseri, Ori Pfeffer), some hot Israeli girls (Moran Atias, Yamit Sol), and some amazing Israeli scenery. You can check out the trailer here:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmMXk0bA8gk

If you liked the music in the trailer you might be interested to know it is by Israeli funk band HaDag Nahash. You can check out the entire track here:

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Pay No Attention to the English-Speaking Israeli behind the Facebook

There is no way around it, when it comes to computers, I am old school. When I first laid my hands on a keyboard, I was about seven years old and all the letters were in English. It was an Apple II clone, there was no hard disk, instead of a mouse there was a joystick, and of course there was no Hebrew involved.
The grown-up world was still trying to make these business machines work, so making them work in Hebrew, a language used by a few million people, was unheard-of.
To this day whenever I get an annoying ‘my computer does not work’ phone call from one of my computer illiterate friends, the first thing I am trying to establish is what pretentious action was executed to make a popular software fail. One time it was Nero not being able to burn Hebrew-named files onto a CD. Another time it was a graphics editor that kept refusing to open photos from a Hebrew named folder.
This is why I consider myself old school, as I always try to make it work and never insist on making it work my way. My thinking is always: it worked for a couple billion users, what possibly could Dana from Jerusalem do to make it break down?

Shahar with his Apple clone computer - 1984

I am aware, though, that I am pretty much alone in this battle: while I consider Hebrew an added bonus within the IT world, most Israelis approach it with a sense of entitlement. ‘If it does not work in Hebrew – it does not work’ some say. Others confess to not even trying to read any English, pressing the [Yes] or [No] buttons arbitrarily or by gut instinct.
The number 1 movie database is in English? Let’s use database number 700 – it’s in Hebrew!
You Google for answers in Hebrew and get none? Chances are you stumbled upon one of those eternal unanswered mysteries of the universe!

Shahar and his brother Liran with their Apple clone computer - 1986

This was pretty much the mentality around here, until MySpace and Facebook arrived. All of a sudden, Israelis found out they can read and write in English when they want to, and they started seeing the benefit in communicating worldwide using one universal language.
For all those people (some of which are my best friends) I hold the utmost disdain:
You who have frowned upon your (copied) software for not doing what you wanted it to do,
You who have allowed your personal computers to contract viruses, Trojan horses and venereal diseases because the warnings were in English,
You who have called your geeky friends in all hours of the day and night, horrified that your computer stopped working after clicking ‘Yes’ to an ‘Are you sure?’ message box you have not read,
All of you should be ashamed.

Only now did you discover you can actually put to use the second language your country made you learn from grade 4 to 12?

Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Israeli architect and part-time blogger Sharon Raz meticulously documents decaying buildings all over Israel in his incredible Disappearing Architecture website (which has a less than incredible navigation interface).

Decaying Hadar Cinema in Haifa | Disappearing-Architecture.co.il

Here are four photo essays he posted documenting the decadence in Israeli cinemas (#1, #2, #3, #4). Living in a state that has a short history, with citizens that have a short memory, I found his ongoing project nothing short than brilliant.

Is Perez Good for the Jews?

Perez Hilton by Hanoch PivenAside from covering ‘What’s Britney doing now‘ stories, gossip blogger (and Forbes’ 2007 Web Celeb) Perez Hilton publishes from time to time posts from the real world, in an effort, I guess, to educate his celebrities-obsessed readers on other things they should care about.
As an avid reader myself [you may choose to pause for laughter here] I have read a number of posts that hit close to home, including positive coverage on Israeli singer Ivri Lider’s first video in English, positive coverage on budding Israeli singer Yael Naim, and appropriate coverage on conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s incredibly insulting Jews-need-to-be-perfected speech.

Now granted, Perez being gay gives him enough reason to bash equal-opportunity-hater Coulter and praise Lider’s gay openness – plus Naim being half French doesn’t hurt – still, with the disproportionate number of Jewish/Israeli related posts, I have to ponder is Perez Hilton good for the Jews?

Why I Saw So Many Bad Movies in the Eighties

Engbrew Translation 101: Film NamesAs a teenager during the 1980’s we went to the movies a lot. Before a movie came out there was no hype, no buzz, no trailers on YouTube, and no behind-the-scenes shown on TV, so picking what movie to see often boiled down to the single-colored text-only poster that each cinema in my hometown published on the public billboards.
I guess the Israeli film distributors were aware of these facts, and decided that if all they have to work with is the name of the film, then by golly they would make it work.

You see, I believe a movie is a work of art from beginning to end, including its title, and when distributing it in another country one should try to translate it with great respect and fervor. I guess the local distributors here do not share my ideas, as they pretty much translate the titles whichever way they see fit, or whichever way they think would make more money.

Sometimes these translations are far-fetched like ‘White Palace‘ (1990, Susan Sarandon, James Spader) that was translated to Hebrew as ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’, preceding the movie ‘When a Man Loves a Woman‘ (1994, Andy Garcia, Meg Ryan) that then had to be translated to Hebrew as ‘The Love of a Man for a Woman’.

Other times it seems the distributor was on vacation, as the movies were just phonetically translated and so Big (1988, Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins), Heat (1995, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro) and Elephant (2003, by Gus Van Sant) remained the same words spelled phonetically in Hebrew: ביג, היט, אלפנט

But during the eighties the biggest film distributors’ shtick was riding the coattails of a successful film and naming an unrelated film in a way that would mislead a teenager to think this movie is a sequel to a movie he already saw.
The number one example for that is ‘Police Academy‘ (1984, Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall), originally translated to Hebrew as ‘A Drill for Novice Policemen‘. After the movie became successful there were six sequels made, but in Israel all of a sudden many unrelated films became ‘A Drill for Novice Something-or-the-other’.

Here is a partial list:
Gotcha! (1985) – A Drill for A Novice Spy
Doin’ Time (1985) – A School for Novice Convicts
Bad Medicine (1985) – A School for Novice Doctors
Buy & Cell (1987) – A Drill for Gambling Convicts
UHF (1989) – A Station for Novice Anchormen
Beach Movie (1998) – A Drill for Novice Surfers
Miss Cast Away (2004) – A Drill for Novice Models
Gladiatress (2004) – A Drill for Novice Gladiatresses

The really sad part is that I actually fell for it and went to see most of these movies.

If you ever need to decypher the original name of a movie, you can check out Targumon, a website dedicated just for that purpose.

Spam: Don’t Get Mad – Get Even!

Note: Projects discussed in this post have been discontinued. Just scroll down and watch the analog spam-trap video.

I am pretty sure that within the mass of people who say they hate spam (and that is all they ever do against it) there may be a few that actually want to fight back.
As a believer in proactive measures against spammers I was an avid fan of Blue Frog, an Israeli software that started causing spammers actual financial loses. After its sad demise in 2006, which left me with a lot of spam and nowhere to shove it, I had to find a path to which I can direct my anti-spam energies.
Until the new and improved Blue Frog project (called Okopipi, or Black Frog) will mature, I was left with SpamCop.net, a free spam-reporting tool that has been around since 1998, but was never aggressive enough for my taste.

I have been using this tool for a couple of months now, and thought it is nothing to email home about. Basically, it identifies the IP where the email originates (thus allowing the ISP to identify the spammer) and the server that hosts the website selling the advertised product (thus allowing the hosting company to identify the seller who paid the spammer for the marketing campaign).

I could not get excited about SpamCop because you never know if the reports you file are ignored or acted upon by the anti-spam personnel at those companies. After reporting more than 1500 emails, I could not answer truthfully if I made any difference.

Until today!
This is the email I just received and wanted to share:

Hi
 
Thank you for your report concerning this Unsolicited Bulk Email incident.
The account concerned has been identified and suspended under the terms of the Sky Broadband Acceptable Use Policy.
Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience that this incident may have caused.
 
Kind regards
Anthony Edwards

Sky Broadband Abuse Team

That’s why I will keep on reporting my spam with SpamCop, knowing that others will do the same, and hoping that the small dents we might make in the big spam machine will accumulate and lead to its beautiful demise.

To leave you with a smile, here is a video documenting an art installation by Bill Shackelford. It is an analog spam-trap machine, consisting of a computer that monitors email accounts, a printer that prints any spam that arrives, and a paper shredder that automatically shreds any printed spam.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHtDHyS_QIc

Watch This Film and Become a Better Citizen of the World in 90 Minutes

I have recently watched ‘No End in Sight’, a jaw-dropping documentary that chronicle the reasons behind Iraq’s descent into guerilla war, warlord rule, criminality and anarchy. While essentially a talking heads film, it is the ultimate insider’s tale of wholesale incompetence, recklessness and venality. Watching the film guarantees you would have a better understanding of our world and the political forces that drove it to its current state. The film provides a candid retelling of the events following the fall of Baghdad in 2003 by high ranking officials such as former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Ambassador Barbara Bodine (in charge of Baghdad during the Spring of 2003), Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, and General Jay Garner (in charge of the occupation of Iraq through May 2003) as well as Iraqi civilians, American soldiers, and prominent analysts. The movie shows how the use of insufficient troop levels, allowing the looting of Baghdad, the purging of professionals from the Iraqi government, and the disbanding of the Iraqi military – largely created the insurgency and chaos that engulf Iraq today.

No End in Sight

How did a group of men with little or no military experience, knowledge of the Arab world or personal experience in Iraq come to make such flagrantly debilitating decisions? ‘No End in Sight’ dissects the people, issues and facts behind the Bush Administration’s decisions and their consequences on the ground to provide a powerful look into how arrogance and ignorance turned a military victory into a seemingly endless and deepening nightmare of a war.

You can watch the movie trailer here and purchase the DVD here.