Reality – Jerusalem Bus Stop

… To further my point about fighting antisemitism by improving Israeli bus services.

jerusalem-bus-stop

An Israeli has hard time understanding this mumbo-jumbo, let alone a tourist. This bus stop is placed in the center of the city, a place bustling with foreigners, and at least one of these bus lines is relevant for tourists. Would you know which one, if you wouldn’t know Hebrew?

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Fighting Antisemitism

I helped two nice Italian tourists find their way in Jerusalem today. They knew English, but how could i miss an opportunity to practice my Italian? I barely touched any Italian for two years, so i spoke slowly, but managed to say complete sentences and didn’t mix in any Catalan words. They were pleasantly surprised, of course, and said that my Italian pronunciation was correct.

Now there’s a little less antisemitism in the world. But not just because of my Italian skills, but because the bus they needed to take arrived quickly, which, for Israel, is a miracle. So, Egged: Fight antisemitism, improve the Israeli bus services!

The more you drive the less intelligent you get

Since i remember myself, i had trouble falling asleep at the right time. I often spend hours bored in the bed until i actually fall asleep. Only in the last couple of years i finally discovered the cure that millions of people already found before me: reading.

Thank you, God, for giving me this insomnia. Reading books is great.

Lately i am reading even more, since i ride the train all the time. Driving would be much cheaper for me, but i choose paying for the train so i could read books.


I took the quote in the title from the cover of Radiohead’s “I Might Be Wrong” EP. Google suggests that a very similar quote appeared in the movie “Repo Man“; it’s not the first time i hear about it, so i guess i should rent it.

Poland

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.

Breach

At 01:45 am i received this SMS from a number i didn’t recognize:

hey amir. the police arrived and breached into the car while we found the person who work in nds and left is car here.-Y. Y.

The sender wrote his full name and it is Israeli; it is kept for privacy. NDS is the company in which i still work.

I already slept, so i ignored the beeps from the phone and only read it in the morning. First i was panicky – police? car? breach?, then i was angry – why does he bother to write in English if he can’t?

My car was parked outside and everything was OK. I called him and he didn’t have any idea what was it about. Maybe he works for the leasing company. I don’t know.

Why can’t people just write in their own natural mother tongue? I work in an environment where English is the default and sometimes it is understandable, because it is an international company, and you can’t expect that a CC’d guy in India or Florida will understand Hebrew. But sometimes it goes way over the top.

Signify

Art. Lebedev did it again: Короче. The title means “Shorter”.

You don’t need to know Russian to understand what he says there. The road sign at the first picture says:

DRIVER! FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS AND TURN ON THE DRIVING BEAM OF THE HEADLAMPS

The second picture says:

— Lights and seat belt!

Lebedev doesn’t just say that road signs should be shorter. He emphasizes the use of proper typography, which is not just nice, but practical too. In books the dash introduces direct speech, so when the driver sees it, he feels that someone is actually speaking to him and makes him want to do something in response. Proper use of capital and small letters instead of all-capitals makes the sign more easily readable, which is crucially important, ‘cuz you don’t want to make driving harder.

Lebedev doesn’t say much about the exclamation mark, but as a linguist i’d like to add that it is there because it has to be there, because a sentence that starts with a dash just has to end with something. It’s similar to the -es in the sentence “He goes to the bar”: textbooks say that the -es means “third person singular”, but in fact the He is the sign of “third person singular”, and the -es is there simply because the sentence “He go to the bar” would not be considered proper English by most people.

In the USA almost all road signs are just written in English in very short and standard sentences: “SPEED LIMIT”, “STOP”, “FOOD”. It’s not as beautiful as Lebedev’s proposal, but i do think that it is rather practical, because the driver doesn’t need to learn a hundred or so pictograms, like it is in most countries. It has one drawback: The driver has to know English.

Emitter/Schtinker

There’s a word in Hebrew – schtinker. It probably comes from Yiddisch and it means informer, snitch (“stinker” appears as an English word in Babylon dictionary, but not in Merriam-Webster). I do it.

I inform the Ministry of Environment (nonstandard) about people who throw garbage from their cars (mostly cigarette butts) and pollute the air with stinking black smoke from their exhaust pipes. I “schtink” on them, which may be not so nice, but the stench of what they do is worse.

Mr. Naphtali Cohen, who is responsible for air pollution in the Ministry of Environment called me before Passover and told me that my reports are really good. He has less than ten air pollution inspectors for the whole country and he depends on volunteers like me. That’s right, less than ten inspectors for a country of more than six million people. In the end he wished me happy holidays:

— “Happy holidays, teimani.”

— “Happy holidays to you too…” I wasn’t sure what was the last word he said.

— “Ha-ha! I am also teimani! Well, happy holidays.”

Then i got it: He saw my address – Giv’at Yearim. It is a moshav which was founded by teimanim – Jews from Yemen but is now pretty mixed.

Polluting emissions test

My car was tested for polluting emissions and passed (the red frame at the bottom). Now i know that while i am informing the authorities about other polluting cars, i am not a hypocrite.

Notice the emblem of the Vehicle Testing Facilities Union of Israel at the top right square – it looks quite a lot like Square and Compasses and also like the coat of arms of Communist East Germany.