Poland is paralyzed by unprecedented riots over … legalization of abortion … or trade unions … or something.

The news on all TV stations show people blocking streets and impossibly huge traffic jams.

A particularly dramatic shot showed a semitrailer getting out of the jam and desperately falling from a mountainous highway to the sea. The truck drowned, of course, but the driver got out somehow, and in an interview he said that he fully supports the protesters.

Interpol (Flash) wrote a song about it, called “What the Fuck?”

The great part about all of this is that since it came to me in a dream, i can perform this song as my own.



Happy birthday, Neil Young.

Yesterday i bought a bunch of CD’s in Tower Records – Sonic Youth, Sigur Rós, Neil Young, Portishead, Joni Mitchell.

Later i went to buy milk and bought Shlomi Shaban’s new CD. That’s right, in a supermarket.

When Americans talk about buying music (or computers) in the supermarket (usually they say WalMart), they usually refer to folks that don’t really understand anything about music (or computers).

The scary part is that of all those CD’s i bought yesterday, Shaban’s happens to be the one that i enjoy the most.

Did i become stupid and disgustingly mainstream?

Or did the Israeli music became so good?


There’s a Hebrew saying – “If someone is gossiping with you, he’s gossiping about you, too.” Which is probably correct. That’s why i hate listening to gossip even passively.

But there’s also another thing. Some people like to gossip about other people, and in the same time, either deliberately or compulsively, live their life in such a way that other people can gossip about them.

When i try to think logically, then the idea of gossip is supposed to be this: When you say unpleasant things about other people, you are supposed to imply that you are not like that. But that thinking is too naïve and positive – quite often the opposite is true.


I tried to upload my wedding pictures to Picasa and found out that the uploading software thinks that i am very stupid and i hate it. A sip of Drambuie helped me to calm down a bit.

So i tried to upload my wedding pictures to flickr and after 200+ pictures i found out that there is a limit that allows me to upload up to 100MB a month, which is reasonable, but only allows me to change the settings of the latest 200, unless i pay for a premium account. This is incredibly stupid, so in a rage of fury i deleted them all. I mean, come on, one megabyte of storage costs less than 1$ and i bet they make more profit from advertising, so why set limits which are so incredibly stupid? Of course i could trick it by opening several accounts or editing the photos into “sets” in some clever way, but i just don’t want to.

Can anyone recommend me a reasonable photo sharing site? I am exhausted of looking for one which doesn’t think that i am an idiot.


There’s a hyphen in Hebrew, which doesn’t look like the regular hyphen. It is called “maqaf” (מקף) and it is aligned with the top of the line like this: ־.

It appears in Torah scrolls and in most printed books and newspapers, however it doesn’t appear on keyboards, so most Israelis just write a minus instead when they type. So בית־ספר (beit-sefer, school, lit. book-house) becomes בית-ספר or even בית ספר. The rules for using the maqaf are not taught in schools, so many people – me too – use it inconsistently and often omit it altogether.

Apparently it has issues with Unicode – according to the Unicode standard, maqaf should be used as the hyphen for Hebrew, and proper implementation of Unicode will process it as a right-to-left character unlike the minus, which is a left-to-right character and should be used only with numbers. However, most popular implementations of Unicode (read: Microsoft Word and probably most web browsers, including Firefox) are not really correct. They make life easy for Israelis and treat the minus as the right-to-left hyphen, so it is easy to write this:

החנות פתוחה בשעות 09:00 – 16:00

(The shop is open 09:00 – 16:00)

The problem is that it disregards traditional Hebrew typography and few people seem to care. OpenOffice.org is correct as far as Unicode goes, but most Israelis think that it is just stupid that they can’t write the usual way and throw centuries of our printing tradition to garbage.

On my laptop i made a keyboard mapping that includes the maqaf and i try to use it whenever i can in email and documents. I use it in handwriting too. Some people on the Hebrew Wikipedia use it, although it is controversial. Some free-thinking Hebrew bloggers use it in their blogs (see Digital Words). And that’s about it.

But today i was pleasantly surprised. The maqaf appeared in an article about American junk-food on YNet (i wrote talkback 25). YNet is Israel’s number one online news source. I don’t think that all the articles use it – probably the author of this article was a crazy type like me, or maybe he used some auto-conversion software. I think that i’ll send an email to YNet asking them to use it everywhere.

Please tell me if you want the keyboard mapping with maqaf that i made. It is for Windows. If you use Linux, BSD or Mac, you are probably clever enough to find it on your system by yourself. If you have a server on which i can host it so the public will be able to download it, you’ll make me joyous.

People are a problem

Making the world a better place is hard. In the last few days i sent OGG files of our music to two people with simple instructions on downloading the OGG codec and both of them said that they couldn’t hear them.

People don’t like downloading codecs. That’s why porn sites often say something like: “There’s no need to download any codecs to watch our videos!”

People don’t realize that they can be sued for using MP3.

Now what can i do about it?

People Speaking – Customer

Someone called my cellphone from the 04 area code, which is Northern Israel. An elderly-sounding man spoke:

— “Hello! Are you Amir?”

— “Yes.”

— “Hello! This is Moshe! Do you know Moshe?”

— “No, i don’t think so…”

— “I am Moshe!”

— “I see …”

— “I am Moshe! I am Moshe, G.’s father.”

OK, i do know G., whose full name shall remain private.

— “Oh, hello. It’s good to talk to you.”

— “How are you?”

— “I’m fine, thanks.”

— “Can you help me?”

— “Ehh … I hope that i can. How can i help you?”

— “The remotes … they don’t work. We need to change them. Can you change them?”

— “What??”

— “The remotes, they don’t work.”

— “The TV remote controls??”

— “Yes, remotes for TV. They don’t work. They told us that we have to change them in the post office, but we have to pay 35 shekels. I want you to change them.”

— “But …”

— “… And also, we weren’t at home for two months, when the war was going on, and we didn’t watch TV, so we don’t want to pay for that time.”

— “Eh … you are talking about cable or satellite TV, right?”

— “What? We need to change the remote controls, they don’t work, can you change them?”

— “OK, let me understand – you have a problem with the remote controls for your satellite TV?”

— “What satellite? I don’t have satellite, i have YES.”

YES is the only satellite TV company in Israel. This conversation shows that they have a very strong brand – people know that they have YES, and some of them don’t even realize that it has something to do with satellites and dishes and all that. YES also do business with the company in which i work. I guess that’s the reason G. or his father Moshe made some connection between me and the problems with their satellite TV. Or maybe not …

— “Sorry, Moshe, i think that you are confused – you see, i work in a company that is related to the television business, but i can’t help you with the problems that you have with YES. You need to talk to YES.”

— “But my remotes … they don’t work … I need to replace them. Can’t you replace them?”

It nearly made me cry.

— “No, i don’t have anything to do with it. You need to talk to the customer service of the company called YES.”

— “But didn’t you sell us YES?”

— “No.”

— “Didn’t you come to our house and make us sign the contract with YES?”

— “No. I didn’t do that. I don’t work for YES.”

— “But you worked for YES once, didn’t you?”

— “No, i never worked for YES. Sorry. You’ll have to talk to them. I wish i could help you.”

I really wish i could help him. Poor guy. But he doesn’t give up easily.

— “You see, i need to replace the remotes for my TV, they don’t work and they told us to go to the post office to replace them.”

— “OK, so you probably should do that or maybe talk to YES one more time if there is some problem. I can’t help you.”

— “And you don’t work for YES?”

— “No.”

— “Really? Aren’t you Yaniv’s brother?”


— “No, i am not Yaniv’s brother.”

— “And you don’t work in YES?”

— “No.”

— “Are you sure that you are not Yaniv’s brother?”

— “Yes, i am definitely not Yaniv’s brother.”

— “And can you give me Yaniv’s phone number?”

— “No. Sorry. I don’t know Yaniv.”

— “Oh, i see.”

— “Sorry i couldn’t help you. Say hello to G. from me.”

— “OK. Thank you.”

Hadar told me that it was very nice on my behalf to talk to him at all.