Saturday, June 26, 2010

Football World Cup

For me football is just 22 men chasing a ball. And when they reach the ball, they kick it! How logical! It is also a game, taken way too seriously by some. But most of all it's a huge business. For years I was outraged by the money some football players make, while they can't put 2 straight sentences together.

This year I changed my mind. I decided that professional football is, um... a profession. I just realized that stupidity and narrow mindedness can be found in many other professions, it's not a football exclusive. There are stupid waiters, carpenters, lawyers, actors, engineers, musicians and dentists and there are clever ones too. So the new way I'm going to look at football players is good old supply and demand. They have an ability in high demand, that's why they make the money they do. Suddenly, playing football looks like any other legitimate career.

Panem et circenses. There's nothing new under the sun.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Racist Segregation

I'm referring to the recent Supreme Court ruling following the on-going racist segregation in Emanuel. Reading about the differences between the two groups, instantly reminded me of the High Heels and Low Heels in Jonathan's Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Some people argue that we should not allow racist segregation in public schools, funded by tax payers' money. I say we should not allow it in private schools either.

But are we really that different than the 'lesser' others? Genetically, all humans belong to the homo sapiens sapiens species and there are no genetic differences between the 'races'. What makes us different is our cultural context. Different, not better. If one must be judgmental, then he/she should do so on in individual basis, not a collective one.

It's so easy to find differences. My mother and mother in law (God bless their memory) used to have this ritual conversation about a Hungarian dish called káposztás kocka (square-shaped pasta with cabbage). "Oh, you eat this with sugar, how interesting. We make it with salt and pepper". In this case, I can't even argue that pornography (or taste) is a matter of geography, as they lived in the same city, on different banks of the same river.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Multitasking: A Virtual Drug

A few weeks ago I attended a short lecture given by venture capitalist Michael Eisenberg. He spoke about key skills we should posses in order to be employable. One of them is the ability to multi-task. Being a high-tech worker bee,  I know too well what is he talking about.

In '7 Days' magazine of Yedioth Ahronoth, columnist Dana Spector defines multitasking as a person's lack of self-respect and lack of respect for her quality of life. Instead of enjoying something you do, you try doing two more things in parallel. She called her column 'multi-bullshit'.

Senior broadcaster Yitzhak Noy also spoke about multitasking in his Worldwide Sabbath program last Saturday. While reviewing international press, he mentioned an article in the International Herald Tribune that discusses the toll multitasking takes on us: it releases dopamine into our body and can be addictive. Furthermore, it diminishes our ability to concentrate on one thing, to analyse in-depth and reach the right conclusions. It can lead to severe brain damage. I, of course googled for the article and found it here.

A little multitasking makes us feel good, but avoid over-dosage like the plague.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I Have a Dream

I am at Terminal 3 of Ben Gurion Airport waiting to board a special direct flight to Oradea, along with many other Jews from there. We land after about 3 hours, full of anticipation for the long weekend ahead of us. It's a beautiful spring afternoon in 2015. We get on the buses waiting to take us to our hotel in town. We all check in, meet some others in the lobby. They arrived from the US, Germany, Hungary and even Australia. I tour the facility just to make sure all is in place and running on schedule: the registration desk, the convention hall, the big banner outside the hotel and in the hall. I am so excited, I can't fall asleep and decide to walk along the Koros river.

Day One: Introduction
Next morning, right after breakfast, the name tags are all neatly arranged on the registration desk, waiting for the crowds. People start walking in, get their tags and convention program, hang around the coffee and morning pastries, chit-chat and finally enter the convention hall. The Master of Ceremony opens the event. The first speaker is Oradea's mayor. He welcomes us and speaks about the linkage between past and present, about the Jews' contribution to the city's cultural and economic life. Then, the representative of the local Jewish community speaks. He mentions preservation and cultural activities of the community. The MC hands the microphone to attendees to introduce themselves, tell us about their linkage to Oradea, their current city and whatever else they want us to know. We spend the morning getting to know each other. The afternoon siesta is followed by a welcome cocktail party with live music and great food, in a beautiful Art-Nouveau style ballroom.

Day Two: Yizkor 
The next morning, we gather again in the convention hall to listen to scholars presenting the history of the Jewish community of Oradea, followed by a Holocaust memorial service conducted by former Zion Temple cantor Yossi Adler, at the Holocaust monument.
Day Three: Fun
The third day is packed with fun. In the morning there is a guided tour, where our spouses and family members and even the hard-core Oradea-born attendees discover the city. We all learn something new, take pictures and recall old memories from school, neighborhood and community activities. The afternoon is dedicated to music. First, we listen to local talents (for example Kovari Kati, Alexandrina Chelu) and the community choir, then to piano concerts given by [ex-]Oradea pianists attending the event (Roth Andris, Vogel (Grunberger) Nadia and Hausmann Gyuri come to mind). Finally, we all have fun by singing along with current and old-time community choir members. We finish the evening by singing Hatikvah.

Day Four: Grand Finale
The fourth and last day morning we spend out of town, at the Felix thermal baths. The event ends with a  gala dinner, music, dancing and great atmosphere.

The entire event is documented and the resulting pictures and videos uploaded to the Oradea Reunion (Varadi Talalkozo) Facebook page.

Do you share my dream? Would you like it to come true? Then, let's speak about reality. In reality, behind such an event there is a lot of hard work. I know because I planned professional conventions in the past. I am not yet sure I'm prepared to do this. However, here are a few starter needs that came to my mind:

  • Energetic person who lives in Oradea, with excellent organizational skills and ties to city council and Jewish community
  • Contact with the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania 
  • Contact with the Lempert Foundation (couldn't post a message)
  • Contact with the Avichai Foundation (didn't get back to me) to obtain their list of invitees to the 2005 event
  • Israeli travel agent to organize flight, accommodation and transportation
  • Media person to get the Israeli and local media interested in the event (press, TV, documentation, sponsorship)
  • Volunteers to maintain the contact list (I have a starting list of about 340 people and couples) 
  • Volunteer treasurer.
I'm sure this is a very partial list.

So what say you?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Simple Logic - Parent Perspective

I'm sick and tired to listen/watch/read any more commentary on the Gaza flotilla. Everybody seems to be convinced by their version of the truth, no matter the facts. I don't know the facts, nobody does. Even those who were physically there only saw/felt a small fraction of it.

So instead of facts, I'll just communicate my feelings as a parent of an IDF soldier. I fully expect a soldier to shoot a person attempting to lynch him or his comrades, even more so if the person is a supporter of my enemy, whose purpose is to kill me and my people. Can't be simpler than that.

And BTW, true peace activists/humanitarians don't attempt to lynch anyone.