Of Epic Proportions

[singlepic id=262 w=300 h=431 float=right]This is one of those ‘bear with me’ posts, as I try (again) to make a larger point out of a small (and petty) one:
In a previous post I listed the various new technologies that made TV worse, starting with distorted video proportions. Due to different broadcast formats and various TV set proportions, it is quite common to see people on the screen which are ‘thinner’ or ‘fatter’ than usual, as the footage is distorted to fit the medium.
While this is temporary until the 4:3 aspect ratio will eventually disappear, it affects our visual perception in the long run. As people get used to these proportionally-incorrect images, today’s compromise becomes tomorrow’s norm, and ‘incorrect’ is the new standard. If you’re having trouble following my train of thought just think of the cognitive dissonance of airbrushed people featured in magazines versus people in real life.

With that in mind I have to say I was shocked, shocked I tell ya, to find an outrageously distorted image in Israel’s leading newspaper, Yedioth Ahronot, and on the front page of all places. Take a look at the original proportions (left) and my attempt to correct them (right):
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You don’t have to be familiar with comedian Eli Yatzpan or singer Eyal Golan to realize that in real life they look more like my corrected version than the one that was delivered today to my door.

Israeli Newspapers Aren’t Dying – They Are Committing Suicide

[singlepic id=195 w=300 h=446 float=right]I watched a few of the first episodes of Israel’s first season of Survivor, but saw enough shots in which the female contestants’ backsides where filling up the entire screen, in order to determine this was no mistake, only another step closer to imitating the raunch culture oversees. When the Israeli media started referring to contestant Marina Kavisher as the “National Rump”, I noted to myself that this just might amount to sexual harrasment as defined by Israeli law – but kept my mouth (and keyboard) silent. As Israeli Survivor’s season 2 comes to a close, Maariv‘s fashion supplement Sig’non decided to commemorate this important event with “The Big Ass Quiz” which urges readers to match each backside with a face.

I don’t have anything particularly smart or funny to say about this. I just think this is another sign my countrymen are growing further apart from me – or vice versa.

Update: You can read this post in Hebrew here.

Media Mention: Shahar Golan Interviews with Haaretz Newspaper

I was interviewed for an article that was published today in the English edition of Haaretz newspaper, in regards to the 2008 US presidential election. Here are the relevant last two paragraphs:

As the U.S. presidential race reaches Israel, Hebrew-language campaigners try to choose words wisely

By Raphael Ahren


Some political items are created by people who can’t even vote in the United States. Obama supporter Shahar Golan, of Rehovot, crafted a poster with the Hebrew translation of the slogan “Change we can believe in.” After a smear campaign tried denouncing the Illinois senator as a Muslim, Golan felt he had to publicly declare his support for “Baruch Obama,” as he calls him. “As a born and bred Israeli, my interest in the U.S. elections is mainly because American presidents tend to influence the entire world,” the 31-year-old photographer and graphic designer said.” And since I cannot vote myself I create graphics that hopefully might call attention to a candidate worth voting for.” Currently, Golan is working on a new poster featuring a Hebrew version of Obama’s “Yes we can” slogan.

Golan knows that translations can be tricky. On his blog, he elaborated on his choice of words. “Translating ‘Change we can believe in’ proved to be somewhat of a challenge,” he muses, “as the Hebrew word for ‘we can’ (nuchal) is the exact one for ‘crook’ (nochel).” Not wanting to repeat past mistakes, he added that “even a hint of such subliminal connections can be bad.”

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Click image for higher resolution

Frivolous Murders and Frivolous Media

The Israeli media is reporting an incident that happened yesterday, in which a man stabbed another man to death in an argument over a parking space. All the major media outlets mentioned the parking space in their headlines, in an attempt to give the frivolous killing a reason.

This approach is ubiquitous in the Israeli media and is something I just cannot comprehend: When a son killed his own mother – does it even matter that ‘it was because she did not buy him a computer‘? When a man was killed in a robbery – does it even matter that ‘the robber got away with only 100 Shekels‘?

Is there an amount of money that makes the killing justifiable or understandable in the public’s eye? Do carcasses tease each other six feet under, saying thing like ‘Hey, at least I was killed for a couple thousand bucks’?

Walking Without Excessories Is Like Walking Around Naked

In the last couple of years it became common practice for Israeli newspapers to stuff themselves with supplements which look at first like genuine newspaper addition, but are actually just advertisements posing as articles. This is an effort, I assume, to give the inherit deceitful nature of advertising an air of objective news coverage.

[singlepic id=9 w=150 h=230 float=right]There is one such monthly supplement about cell phone models, one about office equipment, and a few that feature an array of products, linking fashion trends with things you can purchase. A new supplement which fits the latter is titled: URBAN – GET A LIFE STYLE [sic].
When I first laid my hands on it I thought I was reading it wrong, as I myself often feel the uncontrollable urge to tell people searching for style to get a life – and so having the very source of evil inadvertently tell the same to its readers, thinking it is a clever play on words – well, that just brightened up my day.

I started flipping through the magazine and had to really fight my gag reflex. The pages were filled with pseudo-new-age mantras, one nauseating mantra before each of the magazine sections [emphasis and capitals theirs]: It’s not who you’re sleeping with BUT where in the lodging section, Food is like desire. It’s much better in a PRETTY package! in the dining section, It’s not who you’re talking to BUT what you’re talking with in the cell phones section, There are two ways to achieve HAPPINESS: Be in love or drink fine wine in the wine section, There’s electricity in the air GET IT! – yes, you guessed it – in the electrical appliances section.

And then I hit the mother lode in the accessories section:
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You see, it is quite rare to be able to summarize a critique into a single sentence, much rarer to be able to summarize it to a single word – but to find one such word published by the very people the critique speaks against, well that is as close to force majeure as you can find.

Yes, excessories is exactly how I would spell the unnecessary daily purchases done by people trying to fill the void in their soul, and here it comes from the advertiser’s mouth. Oh! The humanity…

When I first stumbled upon the website Engrish.com which meticulously documents the Japanese’s futile attempt at mastering the English language, I laughed so hard at ‘those stupid Japanese’. I assume this is exactly what non-Israelis do when they look at us, as we also show the same negative correlation between how cool the natives revere the English language and how poor their actual English-language skills are.