Yaba Yaba

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Archive for May 2008

Mac users don’t like people touching their kit

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Cognitive daily reports a dramatic and statistically significant difference between how much PC and Mac users let friends try out their new devices.


I wonder what the results would have been for Linux people.

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Written by yishaym

May 31, 2008 at 1:52 am

Posted in LOL, technology

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An open letter to Ehud Barak by Bassam Aramin

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Bassam sent me this letter a few days ago. I thought its should be shared. I can’t say I agree with every word, or with every tone, but I think Bassam deserves an answer. More than that – he deserves justice.

An open letter to the Minister of Defense, Mr. Ehud Barak

by Bassam Aramin, co-founder of the movement “Combatants for Peace

translation by Mimi Asnes

Honorable General Ehud Barak, you don’t know me personally.  I am a seeker of peace, and I struggle with all my strength and ability for the realization of a just peace that will bring calm and prosperity to Palestinians and Israelis together.  I have suffered personally from your criminal occupation and I have paid a heavy price.  Firstly, I was imprisoned when I was 17 years old and wasted seven years of my life in your barbaric prisons.  Secondly, have you perhaps read or heard about what happened to the young girl Abir Aramin?  She was a ten-year-old that your soldiers killed with a rubber bullet from a distance of 15 feet on January 16th, 2007 in front of her eleven-year-old sister Areen.  Despite this I, the father of Abir—may she rest in peace—believe in the right of the Israeli person, as in the right of all people, to exist and to live in peace and security.  So why do you not believe in our right to enjoy these same things, sir?

Where was the democratic nature of your state when your heroic soldiers killed my daughter before the eyes of her friends at the entrance to her school in Anata?  Where were your democratic ideals when you closed the investigation file into Abir’s murder for lack of sufficient evidence, this despite the fact that the crime is clear and was committed in front of more than ten witnesses?  Was Abir really a threat to your soliders, sir?

I carry on, in my possession the weapons with which Abir threatened those soldiers.  I have in my hand her school backpack, reinforced and armored, of course—the mechanical pencil she had, laden with dangerous lead cartridges, and her math book in which class she had a test the same day, which of course included detailed instructions on how to prepare chemical weapons.  In addition to all this, she had a sharp ruler, which could for sure be used as a weapon to stab someone.  Lastly, I found in her possession two pieces of chocolate that perhaps contained a bit of enriched uranium that would have certainly brought devastation upon your state, if she hadn’t been tempted to take them in her hand for a taste seconds before she was shot.

Here I have to give your soldiers credit in their incredible ability to incapacitate and kill with such deadly accuracy.  The bullet hit Abir exactly one centimeter from her hypothalamus—this caused her to immediately enter a coma and she died thereafter and went to dwell in the presence of God, sparing her the continuing pain and heartache herein expressed.

Thus, Abir Aramin can be added to the list of great successes and security accomplishments in the name of the State of Israel.  But I request, Minister and General, in that I am the father of this young girl, at the very least an admission of responsibility for this murder, or its cause.  It is your duty to bring the soldier who murdered Abir to court so he may be tried and judged a murderer and criminal.

I believe that there is no military solution to the conflict and when those cowards murdered my daughter, I announced that I did not want revenge, I wanted justice, even though revenge is much easier.  The real fighter is one who chooses the harder path of the two for the sake of peace, and revenge is the path of the coward.

Sir, the Palestinian people cannot forever pay the price of the fear and suspicion of the Israeli people.  Free my people from this abominable occupation so that your people may live in prosperity and be free from fear.

For sixty years, the Palestinian people has paid the price of the Israeli military occupation an occupation which, in celebration of the Israeli state’s inception, carries out acts of outright antagonism that spill the blood of Palestinian fighters, women, children and elders indiscriminately.  It is the Palestinian general public that provides a target for your war machine that does not protect the small from the grown.  Our people has faced the same murderer since Gaza in 1956—and the never-ending series continues.

I will not remind you now of the massacres that your government committed against my people; you know them far better than I.  I read about them, heard about them—but you took part in them.

The question I pose to you is this: in light of your rich military experience, and as someone who himself has seen sixty years of conflict go by, when will Israel have the strength to finish the conflict militarily and realize a complete victory over the Palestinian people?  Do you continue to believe that what cannot be done by might may be done by more might?  Does the occupation conceal in its bag of tricks additional methods of killing that the Palestinian people have not yet had the misfortune to know?

If this is the case, perhaps it is a good idea for the Israeli government to try and use those methods.  And perhaps they will be able to accomplish that tantalizingly complete victory…in another 60 years.

Sir, when will you understand that the conflict between us cannot be ended with an army?  For despite all the effort and conceit of the occupation, it could not stop the stones of our children from hitting your occupying soldiers.  How will you be able to stop the Palestinian uprising?  This is a dream that will never come true, even in another 1000 years.  Why are you not telling this truth to the residents of Ashkelon and Sderot, that there is no solution that will stop the Qassam missiles flying at them from a destroyed and blockaded Gaza except if there would be an end to the occupation?

This is the truth you’ve been running from for a long time.

Believe me, sir, that you will gain nothing out of continuing to detain people.  More than 750,000 Palestinians have been detained from 1967 until today.  What result has been achieved except an increased determination on our part for confrontation and resistance?

The policy of occupation only creates more and more people who rise up to fight occupation and refuse to accept its burden.  The Palestinian prisoners who sit in your jails are among the most learned and erudite of our people, those are the most sensitive and humanistic.  They have become educated in the tradition of liberty and democracy—and for this reason they will never agree to accept the occupation and subjugation.  It is these men and women who will fight for peace, and if you want to realize peace you have no option but to set free these soldiers of peace first and foremost.

How much have you really benefited from your strategy of home demolitions, uprooting of trees, confiscating lands for questionable reasons and then establishing illegal settlements on those same lands?  How much has it helped you to set up disgraceful checkpoints in every corner and every road of the West Bank and Gaza and at each intersection for the purpose of humiliating the residents of those areas, among them workers, students and political leaders.  What is the expediency of all this, sir?

When will the bloodthirsty bullets of your soldiers be sated from the blood of our children?  When will you be satisfied with our blood that you have already spilled and leave us?  When will you leave our waters and our heavens?  Do you not see the helmets upon which your soldiers write, “I was born to kill”?  Do you not see your brave men killing children every day?  How can you decide to prevent the people of Gaza from acquiring cooking gas and at the same time send them teargas and tanks and warplanes?

Only now do I understand the will of an Israeli woman in Italy—my colleague Eidan and I met her when we participated in a peace march from Perugia to Assissi as representatives of Combatants for Peace.  When I asked her, “You aren’t planning to return to Israel?”  She answered me: “I swore that if Ehud Barak won the election, I will leave Israel forever.”  She continues to live there because you act according to a policy that says there is no Palestinian partner.

I cannot begin to express in this short letter the enormity of the moral failures that have harmed Israeli society.  The newspaper “Yediot Ahronot” said that 40% of new recruits to the IDF have criminal files and this may go a long way in explaining the long list of acts against Palestinian civilians that they commit during their service.  This is supposed to be the most distinguished, moral army in the entire world, no? Is this why we find that 25% of the soldiers of the army of the occupation took part in instances of torture and punishment of innocent civilians or were witnesses to such acts?

Sir, I want to submit that I have read the shameful report that says that every man of conscience would be horrified by, that talks of the torture of children in Hebron.  And this—the strangling of Palestinian children by soldiers to test how much time they can stand without breathing, incidents that were committed by captains in your army, the most moral army in the world–this is the crown of shame on the brow of the occupation.

Sir, how do you justify your soldier’s use of children aged 10 as personal shields that they tie to the front of your patrols when they search for wanted persons or break up a demonstration?  Where does international law permit this?  I am trying to understand if this use of children as human shields is in some way related to the science of modern warfare, for the accusation that I hear in all instances of the killing of children in particular and in the killing of Palestinian citizens in general is that the Palestinians fighters use citizens for human shields to hide behind.  How can there be a legal justification and distinction even in the Israeli terminology, but not in the international terminology, between Israelis and Palestinians?

How can you justify the deaths of those innocents just trying to peacefully pass though the checkpoints that your soldiers put up at all entrances to villages, cities or camps that prevent pregnant women from walking to hospitals to deliver?  Would you ever agree to let this happen to your wife?  What would you do then?

There are, however, military men, Israeli soldiers that used to do battle with the Palestinian people who at the moment of truth found that they are no more than pawns in the hands of the occupation.   They had the courage and the valor to announce unanimously that they refuse to be occupiers.  They exposed the falsehoods of their leaders who claim that Israel is reaching out her hand for peace but she has no partner on the Palestinian side.  They discovered that they had never met a real Palestinian fighter face-to-face in combat, and that instead their day-to-day work was chasing schoolchildren, enforcing closures, destroying houses and putting up checkpoints and roadblocks to stop children who aren’t even 13 years old.  They took a moral and courageous stance and without any difficulty found themselves a Palestinian partner from within the heart of the Palestinian movement, people who wasted the spring of their youth in the prisons of your occupation.  Together they founded the organization Combatants for Peace.  The name itself exposes the false promises and the policy that says there is no partner for peace.  This organization, united in courageousness and and morality, is made up of people from both sides who understand that there is only one shared enemy that conceals the path of realization of peace and life together as two nations.  This enemy is the illegal and immoral Israeli occupation.  I am a member of this organization, and I call upon all who are searching for a true peace to join us.

We tell our peoples the truth, only the truth.  We are committed to nonviolent resistance to the occupation, and I call here, in this very missive, to the people of our Palestinian nation that has been written in the pages of history as the epitome of resilience, that has had the humanity to withstand decades of abuse and occupation with the purest steadfastness.  I call also upon the people in Israel to accept moral and historic responsibility for the establishment of these two states together, and for a national, humanistic, peaceful intifada, a rising up against this unjust occupation that has transformed your children into war criminals and to abject murderers.  You Israelis—stop sending your soldiers—your sons—to kill our children, because the blood of our children and the blood of all those Palestinian innocents will chase your soldiers and the generals of your army to judgment in international courts as the rest of the war criminals in the world.  You must learn this lesson.  The honorable general must surely be aware that the majority of captains and generals in the Israeli army are forbidden from entering any European state for they will be wanted persons there, to be arrested and taken to court as war criminals and for crimes against humanity?

One last word – the blood of Abir will remain as a black crown on the brow of every Israeli and every Jew in the world until her murderer is brought to justice and passes the remainder of his days in jail, among the murderers and the criminals.

Bassam Aramin,

Co-founder of Combatants for Peace


Written by yishaym

May 29, 2008 at 2:40 am

Science confirms: reading makes you a better person

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You might say this is yet another science-confirms-the-obvious, but to me, this is the most poetic piece of neuro-psychology I’ve seen in years.

This study demonstrates that turn-of-the century prose by Chekhov can make university undergraduates experience and report themselves as more different than those who read a documentary–style text with the same content, complexity and potential to garner reader interest. It shows that reading literary art can have an effect even on non-avid readers, and that you do not have to be a booklover for reading to transform you. We hypothesize that the effect involves a softening of what are usually the rather rigid boundaries of our self-schemas. By projecting ourselves into fictional stories and the minds of fictional characters, we open ourselves up to greater possibilities for who we may become. It is important for us to stress that participants did not show a collective change in the same direction: not all of them became more extraverted, or open, or conscientious, for example. In other words, they were not persuaded by a moral embedded in a story. Rather, each reader experienced a unique fluctuation in their entire personality profile. Reading Chekhov induced changes in their sense of self – perhaps temporary – such that they experienced themselves not as different in some way prescribed by the story, but as different in a direction toward discovering their own selves. Whether this effect can also be realized with other sorts of fiction has yet to be investigated.
Is it possible that, over months and years of reading, we could sum and consolidate such small, and perhaps temporary, changes of the kind we have found here to create movements in the development of selfhood? Our finding with Chekhov’s story prompts us toward believing the claims by avid readers that their favorite literary works have transformed their lives and changed their personalities. We might even start to think of literature in particular, and art in general, as functionally related to human personality development. Might we perhaps take this functionality as a clue to the longevity and persistence of art across millennia of human civilization?

I wonder, would you get similar results for video games, e.g. – let people play WoW or Mario and then ask them to describe themselves.

PDF Mar, R. A., Oatley, K., & Djikic, M. (in press). Effects of reading on knowledge, social abilities, and selfhood: Theory and empirical studies. In S. Zyngier, M. Bortolussi, A. Chesnokova, & J. Auracher (Eds.). Directions in Empirical Literary Studies: In honor of Willie van Peer

Written by yishaym

May 27, 2008 at 3:39 pm

Hey guys, look what I found in Israel

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So Sergey hops over to Israel for a couple of days, and the next thing, what do you know – Google.org announces an investment in BrightSource Energy.

Arnold Goldman, Founder and Chairman of BrightSource Energy, Inc., was also the founder of Luz International, Ltd. (no longer in operation).

Luz II, Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of BrightSource, provides product development and engineering, project engineering and management, and solar field manufacturing and supply services.
Luz II is headquartered in Jerusalem, Israel.


Written by yishaym

May 20, 2008 at 11:48 pm

Frankencrops are the new green

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Wired argues that bioengineering may be our best bet for the two greatest challenges of our times: food crisis and global warming.

| digg story

Written by yishaym

May 20, 2008 at 9:43 am


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This is the day that John McCain lost, and a new generation won. A generation that knows not only how to speak truth to power, but also how to make its voice heard. Jean Sara Rohe, I salute you.

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Written by yishaym

May 19, 2008 at 8:44 pm

Go Harry, go!

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Osama called the Taliban, he said,
Let’s kill the Brits,
They like a beer, they like a laugh,
They like girls with big tits,
Let’s kill them all, those infidels,
Let’s kill their wives and kids,
But Queen Liz overheard them both,
And this is what she did

She shouted out “Oi Harry,
Get in your fucking van,
Put on your best shit-kicking boots,
Drive to Afghanistan,
Those Taliban are fucking cunts,
Their shit has got to stop,
Get over there and shoot those fucking bastards in the cock

Shoot them in the cock, yes shoot them in the cock,
Osama and the Taliban, shoot them in the cock,
Shoot them in the cock, yes shoot them in the cock,
Osama and the Taliban, shoot them in the cock,

Prince Harry swapped a helmet for his diamond-studded crown,
He took his ermine robes off, donned fatigues of desert brown,
He pulled on his shit-kicking boots and gave those cunts a shock,
When he fucked off to Afghanistan to shoot them in the cock,

Shoot them in the cock, yes shoot them in the cock,
Osama and the Taliban, shoot them in the cock,
Shoot them in the cock, yes shoot them in the cock,
Osama and the Taliban, shoot them in the cock

Now Harry is our hero,
He’s as hard as fucking rock,
He got those fucking Taliban,
And shot them in the cock,
He charged into their fire shouting,
“For England and St George!”
And when he’d shot them in the cock,
He shot them in the balls

For England and St George!
For England and St George!
He shot them in the cock and then he shot them in the balls
For England and St George!
For England and St George!
He shot them in the cock and then he shot them in the balls
For England and St George!
For England and St George!
He shot them in the cock and then he shot them in the balls
For England and St George!
For England and St George!
He shot them in the cock and then he shot them in the balls

The things you find on the internets when you have a solid deadline. (ht http://www.rathergood.com/)

| digg story

Written by yishaym

May 19, 2008 at 9:37 am

Matan Israeli, 21 days in prison for refusing

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Matan Israeli has been sentenced on Tuesday 13/5/08 to 21 days in prison for refusing to serve in the Ramallah area (OT).
Matan, 28 years old, lives in west Jerusalem and studies art at the Bezalel academy. He also works at the Museum On The Seam in Jerusalem, a gallery dedicated to “contemporary art that deals with different aspects of the socio-political reality”.
Please email your letters of support to:
“yesh gvul” <yeshgvul2001@yahoo.com>,
Or send directly to:
Matan Israeli
Military Number 6411305
Prison 6
If sending from abroad, email is better.
(Source: Yesh Gvul)

Written by yishaym

May 17, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Nakba, and beyond

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Today is the Nakba day.
Mohamed writes a beautiful piece on why Israel needs to recognize the Nakba for its own sake.

Meron Benvenisti, who acknowledges it as much as anyone could, urges Palestinian Israelis to
move on
, stop morning and instead celebrate their achievment.

The number of Israelis willing to confront the Nakba is growing steadily. In percentiles, Israelis are probably second only to the Palestinians in commemorating the Nakba. But we need national, institutional recognition.

Last week, Bassam and I talked about how Palestinians (at least those in Palestine) know more about the Holocaust and respect the sentiments it provokes, yet most Israelis are still afraid of the word Nakba.

Palestinians learn about the Holocaust because they understand that is has direct implications on their every day life. In that sense, it is part of their history. Israelis know that the Nakba is part of their history, but they are afraid of the implications admitting it – even to themselves – will have on their lives. For a Palestinian, the image of an old woman holding a rusty key is a symbol for the pain, the humiliation, the yearning. For most Israelis, it is a direct threat.

Acknowledging the Palestinian narrative does not imply accepting their most naive and uncompromising dreams. We need to learn to face each others pains, dreams and desires, while at the same time maintaining the principle that the living have precedence over the dead. Respect the past but commit to the future.

One day we will note the Nakba and Independence day together.

Written by yishaym

May 15, 2008 at 2:21 pm

an inside view on US role in Israel – Palestine

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Aaron David Miller tells a tale of how Palestinian and Israeli leaders made an art of missing every opportunity, and how American administrations, left and right, helped them perfect that art.

Disclaimer: I only read the book review by David K. Shipler

One gloomy day in January 1997, an experienced negotiator from the State Department, Aaron David Miller, found himself crawling around with a tape measure on a street in Hebron, figuring how to create a boundary between Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the seething West Bank city. Only Americans could implement this aspect of the Oslo accords, apparently; neither side trusted the other to measure the width of a road.

The incident became a famous metaphor at the time, illustrating the desperate suspicions that had frustrated American “peace processors” for decades, and Miller now tells the story as a bit of self-deprecating comedy. “I felt small and ridiculous,” he writes, “certainly as a representative of the world’s only superpower.”

The verdict on American contribution?

Sometimes, when the United States gets intensely involved, the parties negotiate more with the Americans than with each other, setting up an unhealthy dynamic. And major progress has been made behind Washington’s back: the first Egyptian-Israeli breakthrough in secret talks between Moshe Dayan and Hassan Tuhaimi; the Oslo accords of 1993, hammered out by Israeli and P.L.O. officials meeting without Americans; and the 1994 Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty, worked out clandestinely by the two countries on their own.

But as always, Bush tops them all:

In 2004, the President arrived for a photo with nearly 200 Israelis and Arab teenagers who had spent three weeks at a camp in Maine run by Seeds of Peace, which Miller led after leaving government. Having reached across the chasm of distrust, the youngsters represented hopeful elements of the next generation, and when Miller asked Bush if he’d “offer a word or two of encouragement to these remarkable young leaders,” Bush replied, “Gotta go, gotta go,” strode away, then stopped and called back over his shoulder before disappearing, “Gotta implement that road map, gotta do it.”

According to Miller, for the last couple of decades America has been treating Israel as that cute spoiled nefew:

He blames himself as much as anyone else. Under Clinton, he admits, the Office of the Special Middle East Coordinator, headed by Dennis Ross with Miller as deputy, was insular, improperly supervised, and imbued with such a “pro-Israel orientation” that “not a single senior-level official involved with the negotiations was willing or able to present, let alone fight for, the Arab or Palestinian perspective.” As the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Gaza grew by 46 percent during the Rabin years, “None of us ever gave much thought to challenging the prime minister,” he observes. “I don’t recall a single tough, honest conversation in which we said to the Israelis, Look, settlements may not violate the letter of Oslo, but they’re wreaking havoc with its spirit and compromising the logic of a gradual process of building trust and confidence.”

but that doesn’t mean they were any better with Arafat –

Paradoxically, the Clinton administration didn’t lean hard enough on the Palestinians, either. “We failed to press [Yassir] Arafat sufficiently” on the corruption, cronyism, incitement, and terrorism over which he presided as the Palestinian Authority, created by the Oslo accords, took over parts of the West Bank and Gaza, Miller says.

Should we call in Putin?

(digg story)

Written by yishaym

May 15, 2008 at 12:08 pm