Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Am a Leading Adopter of Computer Viruses

When it comes to catching the latest computer virus, I am a leading adopter. Just caught the new javascript bug that's going around. Even the guys who know about it and can remove it (SohoTech in San Diego) don't know exactly on which ordinary activity/website it is a stowaway just waiting to be activated again.

But I've got a great idea for something that these obviously talented virus creators should be doing instead of complicating our lives: Cripple Al-Qaeda. Then their efforts would warrant a Congressional Medal of Honor instead of jail time.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Yale Closes One Program on Anti-Semitism; Opens Another

Yale University launches new program on anti-Semitism

The school is "not willing to engage in a comprehensive examination of the current crisis facing living Jews," says head of scrapped program.

  NEW YORK – After summarily closing the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA) earlier this month, Yale University has announced the creation of the Yale Program for the Study of Anti-Semitism (YPSA), a program devoted to “serious scholarly discourse and research” on anti-Semitism and its manifestations.

The new program was announced by a letter from Yale University Provost Peter Salovey this week. “I am hopeful that this program will produce major scholarship on the vitally important subject of anti-Semitism,” Salovey wrote.

Flash! Yale will study anti-Semitism
Premium: Yale to shut down interdisciplinary study of anti-Semitism
Yale, Jews and double-standards

Reactions to the announcement varied. Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman released a statement saying the ADL is “satisfied that Yale University understood the critical importance for continuing an institute for the study and research of anti-Semitism.”

While describing the ADL as “disappointed” that YIISA’s director, Dr. Charles Small, would not be involved in YPSA, Foxman said the ADL is “confident that the study program will continue to strengthen its status, importance and significance in combating global anti-Semitism.”

“We hope that the decision to close the Yale Interdisciplinary Initiative was only a blip, and that in the long run this reconfigured approach will help to stabilize and strengthen the study of anti- Semitism at Yale,” Foxman’s statement read.

Others were more skeptical. YIISA’s former executive director and founder Charles Small said the announcement of the new program “underscores [his] greatest concern about the university’s vision for the study of this subject,” which is that Yale has chosen to examine past, rather than present and future, anti-Semitism.

“Anti-Semitism is a 21st-century relevant issue,” Small said in a statement.

“To focus on its roots and history, glosses over issues scholars must address today, especially when it comes to the threat of contemporary radical Islamist anti-Semitism.”

Emphasis on Yale’s library and archival resources, Small said, only “underlines its inability to engage its focus on contemporary forms of genocidal anti-Semitism which is an urgent threat, not only to the Jewish people, but to democratic values and principles.

“It appears that Yale, unlike YIISA, is not willing to engage in a comprehensive examination of the current crisis facing living Jews, but instead is comfortable with reexamining the plight of Jews who perished at the hands of anti-Semites,” Small’s statement read. “The role of a true scholar and intellectual is to shed light where there is darkness, which is why we at YIISA are committed to critically engaged scholarship with a broader approach to the complex, and at times controversial context of contemporary global anti-Semitism.”

The conference “Global Anti-Semitism: A Crisis of Modernity,” held by YIISA at Yale’s campus in New Haven, Connecticut, in August 2010, exemplifies this ethos – but also may have brought the ax down on the program, as many sources who preferred to remain anonymous conjectured that the conference’s condemnation of anti-Semitism in Muslim nations may have alienated prospective Yale donors, to Yale’s chagrin.

Similar points were made about YIISA’s research on Iranian Holocaust denial.

Kenneth Marcus, director of the Anti- Semitism Initiative at the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco, told The Jerusalem Post he was concerned that “Yale may be killing a forward-looking, critically engaged institution and replacing it with a quieter, more historically-minded center.

“This would not be a problem if anti- Semitism were a mere historical problem. Given the recent resurgence of global anti-Semitism, a more active scholarly response is necessary.”

“YIISA is in conversation with several academic institutions that understand the importance of our mission and they have expressed interest in YIISA becoming part of their academic community,” Small said in his press release. “I wish YPSA success in their efforts, we are all colleagues on a subject matter with profound implications.”

Friday, June 24, 2011

Delta's New Alliance with Saudi Arabian Airlines Expected to Result in Ban on Jewish Passengers

Reprinted from The Jewish Week, June 24, 2011

Outrage Over Delta Saudi 'No Jews' Flights

A partnership between Delta Air Lines and Saudi Arabian Airlines will lead to what critics are calling “Jew-free flights,” with Delta barring passengers who openly identify themselves as Jews or have passports stamped with an Israeli entrance or exit visa.

The two carriers became partners in January, when the government-owned Saudi airline joined SkyTeam, the global alliance that includes Delta and more than a dozen other companies. But the story broke this week on a right-wing blog and has spread to other, more mainstream publications, igniting a controversy and putting Delta officials on the defensive.

Although Jews have traveled to Saudi Arabia for business, anecdotal evidence suggests that the kingdom has withheld visas from travelers with Jewish-sounding names. The country also bans anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport and, in accordance with strict Islamic law, requires women entering the kingdom to be dressed modestly. In addition, say critics of the partnerships, religious articles unrelated to Islam are banned from Saudi Arabia.

For Delta’s part, a spokesman for the airline said the carrier doesn’t discriminate, nor does it condone discrimination against anyone on the basis of race, nationality, religion or gender. At the same time, international airlines “are required to comply with all applicable laws governing entry into every country” they serve, according to the spokesman, Trebor Banstetter. He also noted that those requirements are dictated by the country’s government, not by the airlines, saying, in effect, that such matters are beyond Delta’s control.
But Jeffrey Lovitky, a Washington attorney who has contacted Delta officials and board members to protest the agreement, told The Jewish Week Thursday that their decision to form an alliance with Saudi Arabian Airlines was “purely voluntary” and something they could control.

A flight to Saudi Arabia “is essentially a Jew-free flight,” Lovitky said, adding that his assertion is “common knowledge” among professionals in the travel industry. “No individual can admit to being Jewish and still be permitted on that flight.” It’s inconceivable that Delta wasn’t aware of that discrimination, he said, and it’s even more astounding that the company’s officials “thought it prudent to enter an alliance with a carrier that practices such policies.”

Questions remain about what the alliance would entail. Lovitky, for instance, said that such partnerships involve “co-shared” flights, in which each flight would carry a Delta number and a number from the other airline, and the pooling of certain services, including reservations. Defenders of Delta, however, say the airline won’t be sharing flights with Saudi Arabian Airlines or operating flights to or from the kingdom.
Neither Delta nor any other American carrier currently has flights to Saudi Arabia, although United, American and Continental are all parts of alliances with European carriers, such as British Airways and Lufthansa, that do. Noting that, some people have said that singling out Delta is unfair.

But Lovitky differs, saying that “part of the problem” is the Saudi airline itself. British Airways and Lufthansa “don’t have discriminatory hiring practices,” he added, but he’s sure that the Saudi carrier wouldn’t hire Jewish crew members.
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If the U.S. bans discriminatory practices, should an American company be allowed to partner with one that actively 'discriminates'? What do you think?

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Glorious Opportunity to Play a Stereotypical Jewish Mother

Last week, my youngest son, Jesse, came home to handle some "business" and begin his West Coast tour with his and another band. For the first few days, it was only Jesse with his bandmates from Town Hall (folk music; quite a distance from Jesse's previous main band - Witt - which played "Math Rock"), and on Friday the second band, The Relatives, arrived. Almost all of them attend NYU together, which is where they hooked up.

It was so great having a full house of such nice kids who are so easy to talk to. They didn't treat me like I was from another generation or another planet, and I really enjoyed their company.

And I got to be a stereotypical Jewish mother (except that I don't dispense guilt) for a few days, constantly feeding them, which college kids on a budget really like. As they are all vegetarian, we had pancakes, french toast, waffles, bagels and fruit for breakfast; quinoa-black bean salad, lentil salad, tomato-mozzarella salad and sourdough baguette for lunch. One night I took them out to dinner at a fantastic San Diego vegetarian restaurant -- Spread -- which we all enjoyed a lot; another night they went out on their own; and the final night I made Jesse's favorite pasta dish, which went over well with everyone: Penne, feta and broccoli, with an herb salad, garlic bread, and any extra tomato-mozzarella salad. I would have made pots de creme for dessert but my stove broke the first morning everyone was here, which eliminated pancakes and french toast but allowed for waffles.

As I kept bringing out platter after platter of food, they all said that I didn't need to do so much for them, that any one dish would have made a great meal, but Jesse explained that he and his brother didn't eat breakfast or let me cook for them once they had their drivers' licenses, so this was all the pent-up cooking I had wanted to do for several years (he knows me well).

When they finally had to leave to continue their tour , which began in San Diego (with the special, surprise appearance of Witt), I was prepared with cases of water, Pellegrino water with orange and lemon, and Squirt (a future corporate sponsor of the band); a case of granola bars, a case of fruit cups, dehydrated fruit, cheezits (which was by special request), pop chips, red licorice, and several more things I can't remember. Jesse can't asking me to stop because the cars were so full, what with having to accommodate people, luggage, and band gear, but a few of the kids helped me fit more stuff into each crevice of the car. A few cans of Squirt remain at home for Jesse's stopover at the end of the tour before he returns to NY.

Once they left, I was still on a high from having them, but the exhaustion also caught up with me. Thank goodness my dishwasher, which never in its life ran 4 loads a day, held up.

I hope they come back through San Diego again. I'm already planning meals for their next visit.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Which is the Greater Indignity of Aging: Wrinkles, or Falling Behind on Technology?

I swore it would never happen to me, I would never become part of the 'older generation' who couldn't get the hang of that new-fangled technology. I can open up my PC and add or replace boards or memory; I can run (if not understand) computer diagnostic tests and fix my own computer, and I perform regular maintenance on it so as not to fall behind. I certainly don't shy away from new things.

But I began to worry that I was becoming like 'them' when it became necessary for me to begin using Twitter. It wasn't a problem of 'How,' but rather of 'Why.' Part of the problem was that I resisted it but for the good reason that I did not need another distraction, which all of social networking is likely to be for someone like me who gets distracted easily.

It wasn't, however, until this week that I finally met my match. I had prepared a direct mail campaign that was going to be sent out to a small, targeted email list. The gentleman who runs the email company was kind enough to advise me that, instead of sending out a letter, I should design my pitch for maximum visual content, ie, create a web page. OK; I hadn't done that before but I knew that people did it all the time. I could learn. And I quickly found a site called which purported to have easy tools for creating web pages. Great. It wasn't exactly 'easy,' but I finally accomplished it. Only to learn that all I could do with the page was upload it for hosting by Wix. No way to transfer it, copy it or do anything else with it. And I couldn't find or figure out any other way to create an HTML page to give to the mailing company.

I was at a loss, so I asked each of my kids for advice. (Of course, I didn't really understand it). But, fingers crossed, between the two of them I 'might' just be able to accomplish what I want. Just in case, does anyone have a suggestion for me on where/how I can create a standalone web page that I can transfer to someone else?

I await the advice of the younger and more experienced among you.