28 February 2007

28 January 2007

Not having a television and a properly working computer at home, I've been engaging in a rather surprising activity: reading. I know, it scares me too, but I'm engrossed in Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," given to me as a high school graduation present by one of my English teachers (as I never got into English Honors in high school, wherein they read this book, it was an interesting gift at the time which I'm only now appreciating.) As a I'm a huge fan of Self/Other discussions and wit-filled writing, this book is hitting the spot and getting me to think out loud about a lot of different issues, such as the following:

One of the great materialistic things about Israel for me is that clothing fits me, between the size and style norms. Granted, the propensity for what Americans would call "Eurotrash" here is very high -- to the point of it becoming ridiculous. Perhaps it's a product of getting older, but some of the stuff they sell here is too much even for me.
That being said, there's a handful of Israeli clothing stores, and that's it. If we take my belief that clothing should be both practical and some outward reflection of oneself, then this country tends to eventually look the same and become lazy -- lazy, in terms of outward appearances. Perhaps I'm missing the point and it means that somehow Israeli society as a whole has evolved to the point of looking inwards....Then again, with hairdressers on every block in every town here, not to mention the general Americanization of consumer culture here, that last comment is pretty much a joke.

(No kidding about the hair -- there are four different salons on two adjoining blocks in my neighborhood. And I haven't even mentioned the styles: mohawk with a mullet among teenage Jews, shaved on the sides with a Jheri curl on top among Arab teenagers.)

More important than aesthetics, however, is one of many criticisms leveled at the aforementioned "Americanization of consumer culture" here (or perhaps more appropriately, the development of consumer culture in Israel as part of a general Americanization); namely, the abundance of "Made in China" products. I have a lot to say on this matter, especially from my involvement in high school with the Free Tibet Movement, to the extent that I try as much as possible not to buy products with the above label. As a sad result, there's a lot of places in this country where I cannot shop, or if I do most products -- be they clothes or otherwise -- are out of reach. It's actually not so sad for my wallet.
Just as in America, or perhaps here more, the abundance of "Made in China" as a brand is staggering and gets me (at least) thinking about the need for material goods over values. I liken this phenomenon to Israel selling weapons to CapitalistCommunist China and prizing normalization of itself over values inspired by its prophetic heritage. For those who are engaged in the Jewish community and current politics, "Prophetic heritage" has become such a cliche that I have a hard time using it here; yet one of the main reasons I moved here -- like many other Anglos -- was to fulfill philosophy through action and make a difference.

Sorry if you were expecting something different here, but one can only write about the weather and frightening middle-age women in Israel for so long.
Don't worry, plenty more to be said soon about getting my laissez-passer and finalizing my resignation.

27 February 2007

27 February 2007

My computer is still possessed by some reincarnation of a Luddite, whom I'm convinced was blind in his/her life in the early 19th century, as my computer continues to function and play music off the internet but refuses to display anything after 10-15 minutes. As such, I've become a major fan/addict of WOXY.com, a former independent radio station outside of Cincinnati that has since begun broadcasting online. The WOXY Vintage station in particular is fantastic, with playlists that rival my iPod in diversity and weirdness.
The other saving grace is the computer lab on campus, with a very fast internet connection and very noisy student. Despite a colored laminated sign by each individual computer with a picture of a cellphone crossed out with a thick red line, everyone talks on their phone or at least lets it ring at the highest volume possible.

The strike proposed by the National Student Union on Sunday -- the first day of school -- was cancelled, yet there's still the strike planned for Wednesday by the Labor Federation. While one report claims it's not going to be a comprehensive strike, which would include the airport and banks, who knows? If there is one, it's supposed to begin tomorrow at 6AM....As long as it doesn't affect the buses, workers of the State unite!

(I'm really not that selfish, they're striking over a very legitimate cause -- not being paid after being promised)

Lots more to say, especially with the fact that I've been living here for 6 months now and tomorrow marks the Septennial of my first tiem in Israel. For now, gotta register for some new classes, finish up with my former job, and go to class.

11 February 2007

11 January 2007

At NYU we were warned about drug-dealers in Washington Square Park, and for women to be careful of their surroundings. What do we have to be careful of at Hebrew U? Packs of wild dogs.

Getting ready for a meeting in the evening, I heard the odd sound of dogs barking on campus. As the campus, like all of Israel, is overrun with feral cats (cats are to here what squirrels are to the States), the sound of barking dogs was very strange. I looked out the window, and sure enough dog after dog was pouring into a walkway between buildings, to the extent it looked like a remake of the scene from "A Christmas Story" where the next-door beighbors have a horde of bloodhounds that terrorize the protagonist's family. Ten dogs were now swarming the campus -- I called campus security, who promptly said "we already know the situation" and "we're taking care of it, someone from the Municipality is coming." The thought of running to my meeting for fear of running into this pack of wild dogs had me laughing to myself, something I definitely needed.
From the last post, not much as changed with work, I'm progressively unhappier there. I didn't get a job offer I was hoping for, but they promised to find work for me in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, the lack of recent posts has to do with the fact that my computer is once again going blank on a regular basis. I've diagnosed it as either a faulty screen, an overheating battery or the fan is not working well enough -- because of the last two, I end up putting the laptop in the fridge to chill, on the top shelf just under the freezer with its beard of ice. It really does work, and back in the States I've seen a "cooling" mat for laptops that I'm intending to buy (I was actually thinking of buying it before moving here, but for some reason I didn't).

Two more finals to go, both in prerequisite classes, so I can hopefully be done with htem and start the process of writing a thesis.