23 July, 2007

My wheel of friends

Filed under: Online communities by Joel @ 2:04 am, 23 July 2007.

Friends wheel thumbnailAfter hesitantly accepting a few and later removing them, I’ve generally avoided the craze of Facebook applications. While I could imagine great potential for them, without more centralisation, most are highly redundant and plain annoying.

Nonetheless, I have for a long time wanted to know the relationships between my friends on Facebook. I.e., who of my friends know each other? More so, who is a common friend of a lot of my friends, but is not listed as my own? (more…)

20 July, 2007

Connected again – I have a phone

Filed under: General by Joel @ 2:03 pm, 20 July 2007.

This is the fourth time in the last year that I’ve informed you of a new phone number (the first was exactly a year ago). But keep this one well:

0435 079 945

For those overseas, it is:

+61 435 079 945

After a few days of indecision, I finally signed up for Virgin Mobile’s Bean Counter, which has good prices, although not as good as many cap plans in terms of flagfall and SMS. Its advantage is its flexibility: I have 45 days to use each $25 refill, which means I won’t have any problems if I go under. And I can have it refill automatically for me, which means I won’t have big problems if I go over… At least I have something to play with until I know a little more about my usage patterns.

Anyway, CALL ME!!

Home hospitality

Filed under: Society and culture,Travels by Joel @ 2:00 am, 20 July 2007.

So the year-and-a-day is over.

But I think it is remarkable that of those 366 nights, I stayed in a hostel / motel / hotel only:

  • 5 nights in San Francisco (July 19, 20, 23, 24, 25)
  • 4 nights in New Orleans (July 26, 27, 30, 31)
  • 1 night in Memphis (August 1)
  • 2 nights in Niagara (March 23, 24)
  • 1 night in London (April 30)
  • 2 nights in Amsterdam (May 1, 2)
  • 2 nights in Paris (May 7, 8)

That’s seventeen days in total!

I wanted to say an enormous thank you to everyone I’ve stayed with along the way, who have all been extraordinarily hospitable to me in finding somewhere for me to sleep, feeding me, taking me out occasionally, giving me their kids to play with… (more…)

19 July, 2007

Unerasable graffiti

Filed under: Hebrew,Israel,Judaism,Semiotics by Joel @ 3:03 am, 19 July 2007.

Graffiti at Efrat’s entry road There was some strange Runic-looking graffiti along the southern entrance to Efrat that I saw a number of times on the way to the Trampiada before finally identifying it. I eventually recognised the rightmost symbol of the large text as being the Hebrew letter yod (י) in an ancient Hebrew script (כתב עברי). The script we use today is a variant of the Assyrian script (כתב אשורי; or “square script”) adapted from that borrowed from Imperial Aramaic around the Babylonian Exile.

After recognising the first letter, I realised that I could identify (with confirmation online) that this large text was actually the Tetragrammaton, in Judaism the ineffable and most sacred name of God, albeit that its letters were highly stylised. Altogether, we have the phrase “יראת ה’“, “fear of God”.

Now because, for those who can read it, the graffiti includes the Name of God, does this mean it cannot be erased as would usually be the case with this four-letter name? (more…)

16 July, 2007


Filed under: General by Joel @ 1:00 pm, 16 July 2007.

The first two things I was invited to when getting back to Sydney were farewell parties. I thought that was amusing, and I just wanted to advertise it.

I didn’t farewell my brother, but we probably crossed paths mid-air between Bangkok and Tel Aviv.

15 July, 2007

Todo list

Filed under: General by Joel @ 1:46 am, 15 July 2007.

I am back. And there are lots of things I want to do in the coming months. And many of them aren’t listed here… (more…)

The taste of Tel Aviv

Filed under: Israel by Joel @ 1:42 am, 15 July 2007.

This trip to Israel was in many ways an altogether different experience of Israel to my last, when I was here for 11 months in 2002. Firstly, whereas that was for the most part an organised programme, here I was travelling in my own freedom. But mostly, whereas that was 2002, this is 2007, and the matzav (“situation”, a reference to Israel’s relationship with its neighbours) is on a practical level very different. Then I didn’t take buses, visit centres of town, markets or shopping centres, and barely entertained crossing the Green Line. These restrictions did reduce the risk of being blown up significantly (although I was near to many attacks in one way or another), and yet isolated us from some Israeli experiences. Maybe as a result of the increased freedom this time, I also tried to see places I did not explore much last time. For instance, some more eastern parts of Jerusalem’s Old City, Ramallah, Efrat, Hebron a little, and Tel Aviv.

IMG_9196panoout Tel Aviv might seem like the odd one out there, the others all being hotly disputed and potentially dangerous territory. Nonetheless, the Jewish tourists to Israel tend to be divided into those who love Tel Aviv and those who avoid it. Some might say it’s a matter of Tel Aviv vs Jerusalem, and it seems I’ve been pushed into the latter camp. Thanks to Shimrit, my sister-in-law-to-be, I finally had somewhere to stay, if but for a few nights, to sample a little more of the city than I had known. (more…)

11 July, 2007

Out of the frying pan, into the freezer

Filed under: Israel by Joel @ 11:05 pm, 11 July 2007.

Well that’s what I imagine it is going to be like. From Jerusalem at 32 degrees to Sydney at 15 degrees. Then again, maybe not into the freezer. That was Montreal. Fridge, then.

A day’s flight awaits.

8 July, 2007

Land entitlement and confusing grammar

Filed under: Hebrew,Tanakh by Joel @ 1:29 am, 8 July 2007.

In the parasha read this past shabbat, Parashat Pinchas, I noted a sentence fragment that is grammatically troublesome (Num. 26:55):

אַךְ־בְּגוֹרָל יֵחָלֵק אֶת־הָאָרֶץ; לִשְׁמוֹת מַטּוֹת־אֲבֹתָם יִנְחָלוּ׃

I can only translate it approximately while retaining some of the problematic detail:

Moreover, by lot will be divided (ACC) the land; according to the names of the tribes of their fathers will they inherit.

The first stark problem here is that יֵחָלֵק (will be divided) is a passive (נפעל) form, and so should not take a direct object as is marked by the אֶת (ACC) particle. In the present case, the verb seems to take “the land” as exactly this direct object it shouldn’t have. Semantically, one should expect “the land” to be the subject of the passive verb, and not to be marked as an object.

Moreover, it cannot be the subject either, because “the land” is a feminine noun, and the verb requires a masculine subject. I should say that there are a few cases where אֶרֶץ clearly is masculine in the bible (Gen. 13:6; Isa. 9:18 for instance), but this is far from the general rule for what is a fairly common word. (more…)

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