Archive for February, 2005

Hebrew on the TV series JAG

February 27th, 2005

The lead character (or the second lead, depends on who you ask) in the series JAG, Sarah MacKenzie (played by the excellent actress Catherine Bell), is fluent in many languages, including supposedly Hebrew.

In the recent episode "Straits of Malacca", when searching for
information on a captured pirate, one of the characters gets
information from a contact in Israel. But the information is in Hebrew.
He asks Mac how is her Hebrew, to which she answers "Not as good as my
Farsi" (The character, and the actress, speaks very fluent Farsi), but that she can
handle it.

She then stands in front of a computer screen, and with a look of
concentration starts to translate the information contained in the
email about the pirate.

They showed the computer screen, and the email. And it wasn’t even close to the alleged content.

First of all, the text was reversed, in a LTR direction instead of the Hebrew RTL
one. So when I tried reading it, it took more more time than it took
her to "translate" it. She must be a very fast reader. To illustrate, try reading the following:

noitcerid gnorw eht ni si ecnetnes siht

Fun, right? Very legible.

Second, it wasn’t a personal dossier, it was a news bulletin, copied from the website of the Israeli government.

And it doesn’t talk about a pirate. It is an announcement that the
site of the Ministry of Health has opened a new on-line forum on
paediatric preventive medicine. The text on the bulletin, and in the
email shown on screen on the show, talks about childcare: vaccines,
nutrition, and so on.

I do have to hand it to her, Catherine Bell is a very good actress.
The translation scene looked very convincing. She made all the right
facial expressions and gestures of someone reading a text in a foreign
Of course, not being able to actually read what’s on the
screen, she probably didn’t find it harder than any other acting chore.
Someone who can read Hebrew would have had an hell of a time trying to avoid
bursting out in laughter.

And I really don’t get it. JAG has a huge amount of viewers, both in
the US and worldwide. They know some of them can actually read Hebrew.
They went to the effort of finding text in actual Hebrew letters, but
not of getting relevant text.
I’m not sure how they did it. Did they
just found someone, told him "Go find a text, any text, in Hebrew" and
he went and found something? Decided that the likeliest place is the
government’s website, and picked the first news link there?
If the
episode was shot on Jan 4th (the date in the news bulletin, which is also
visible in the email message on the show), it could be. But it’s just
dumb. It’s too dangerous to show random real text. If you don’t care that the text is
totally unrelated, it’s safer to make a random jumble of letters.

But why have unrelated text? It seems very unlikely that they
couldn’t find anyone who can read and write Hebrew. Hebrew speaking
people are not that rare. How much would someone possibly charge to
write an actual page of text that looks like the beginning of a
personal dossier? Heck, they can turn to some fan of the show in
Israel, and have it done for the price of a name in the credits.

Hey, DPB :  I’d do it myself if you need any Hebrew text for future episodes. No problems. Seriously.
If you don’t like me, I can find other people here who will.

Putting a not-relevant text, and letting a main character treat it
as something else, looks very ridiculous and unprofessional. I don’t
like to use words like pathetic, but, well, if it quacks like a duck…
And if the text was indeed picked without any screening (which must be
true, since why use it if you have someone capable of screening it?)
that’s just poor judgement. You might have gotten a text about
anything. That’s very very risky. For a new low-budget home indie film,
that would have been understandable. But for a very serious,
successful, and high-profile series?!

Neighbor sues Sean Connery for bullying

February 25th, 2005

Apparently the all civilized Connery is only so dignified when he get
assigned a dignified role to play in a movie. When it comes to taking
care of his house, and relation with his neighbours, Connery is quite different.

Shocking, just shocking. Who could have imagined that an actor would
have a different temperament than the characters he usually portrays ?!
How can it be?!

What strikes me most odd here is that he certainly have more than
enough money to take better care of his property. He doesn’t have to
live in a place which is rat infested, for crying out loud. So what gives?
Being obnoxious I can get, liking loud noise I can get, liking bad smells I can get, but liking rats for company??

Observant judge

February 24th, 2005

Someone in the US ran a bogus contests. There was a lawsuit. The jury wanted to to award $1 million USD, and split it between the 1,800 contestants. So far so good.

Then someone made a mistake, and wrote the decision in a way that indicates each of the contestants is to receive $1 million USD,
not just their relative part. Well, mistakes happen, but luckily
everything has to be reviewed, so surely some clerk or the judge will
catch it, right?

Wrong. The judge apparently didn’t think a punishment of  $1.8 billion USD was anything extraordinary, the trial was concluded successfully, and the jury were released.

And since due process is… due, instead of saying oops and fixing it, there has to be an official motion and considerations.
I almost wish the judge would decide to let the jury decision stand, just to see how it will go…

Referrer log roundup

February 24th, 2005

All sorts of people arrive through the search engines (Mostly Yahoo! and Google, with very few hits from MSN and AOL, and a negligible amount from Jeeves, if anyone is interested in the statistics) looking for various things.

Some, surprisingly enough, actually find them here, despite the
relative rarity of posts I have here. Some, on the other hand, do
not… These are the latest ones worth mentioning (Yes, this does mean
there are ones who are not, or at least not enough):

I have a post dedicated to this, but so many people come looking for tsunma (why? why?), that I’ll mention it again. The word you are looking for is very probably tsunami.
Unless you’re Ms. Tsunma who is doing ego surfing, in which case I’m
sorry to tell you that I haven’t written anything about you so far, and
very probably won’t in the future. Nothing personal, quite the
opposite, I just don’t know you or anything about you at all.

rubber girl india
I considered adding her in here,
it was very tempting, but I decided I’m not flexible enough. You may
want to try in places located in, you know, India…

rockport shoelaces
Got a few of those. Another proof that those things are a problem. I even posted a link to a possible solution,
so I hope everyone found what they wanted. A pity they needed to find
it here instead of the official Rockport website, which doesn’t mention
any problem with their shoelaces.

aunty showing sex parts
Not around here she isn’t!
do have an aunt, but she isn’t featured on this blog, and she doesn’t
show her sex parts. Not to me anyway. And I’m very grateful for it, too.
may I recommend trying to find sex parts of someone who is not your
aunt? It would be a lot more legal in most places. Seriously.

underground hacks for security alarm keypads
I’m supposed to just publish those on an Internet-accessible weblog?!
Are you nuts?! The police have computers too, you know. Not that they
know what to do with them, but they might someday, and there’s no
reason to draw them here.
Now, for the right price, I may just be
able to arrange something. Contact me in private. If the price is right
enough, I may even not pass your message to the aforementioned police…

mozilla thunderbird not sent shut down started
you talking about a computer running Windows? Well, sorry to disappoint
you, but all running applications are notified when you try to shut
down. Really. This does include Thunderbird
If your version of Thunderbird ignores the close notifications then you must be doing something wrong. Try upgrading to the latest version. It works. And I never had a problem with it on shutdowns.

goverment home based buiness
Government is not
a home-based business. Government tend to be quite large, and are
usually run from very large and sprawling complexes of office
buildings, not homes.
Unless you’re in a dictatorship, you can run those from home.
As a dictator, you can even allow yourself not to spell government and business properly, and none of your subjects will complain. That’s a big big plus for you.
the other hand, if you’re really looking to start your own government
home based business, in your own little country, you may start by
getting a country. The rest will just tend to follow. The economic
advisers, to help you run it like a good business, can come later.
Priorities are important.

yahoo desktop search hebrew support
That’s an easy one. Yahoo! desktop search no Hebrew support.

yahoo mail problem
I think this is too technical
for me, with too many details. Very hard to know which of them are
important and relevant to the problem you describe.

greensleeves lyrics lorena mckennitt
It’s Loreena
McKennitt, not Lorena. Spelling it right may make it much easier to
locate lyrics. Try it sometime. Otherwise you will only find lyric
sites that can’t spell authors names, and we can all guess how well
they will spell the lyrics themselves…
In any case, this isn’t her song. It’s an old song. Try to run a search for "lyrics greensleeves". You’ll find lots of results. Many of them good. Promise.

Yaron Davidson
Yep, people were searching for me, by my name. Two of them. Yippee!

  • Were they my old friends, deciding to see if one of their friends
    have a web presence (I only told two about this blog, one apparently
    doesn’t quite know what a blog is and so paid no attention, the other
    probably doesn’t have the time to come visit too much, not that I can
    blame them as it’s not that interesting here) ? Nope, none of those.
  • Were they random strangers looking for someone else by the same name? Nope.
  • Where they nice friendly people I met on-line who want to know some more about they guy they’re chatting with? Well, almost
    Of the large group of people who recently came to know me on a certain
    group/forum, the two that came here looking for me are exactly the two
    who apparently really didn’t like me. Not the curios ones, not the
    actively friendly ones (and of course not the silent masses). Only
    those I managed to pissed off.

Tells you something about people, no?
Here’s an added fact, then: Guess among the people of this group, who
did I went to do on-line searching for (before, and so independently of,
seeing those referrer logs) ? Yep, you guessed right… An interesting
psychological insight… People only take the time to look for info
about people who annoyed them, or people they think they annoyed. Where
everything is nice and cosy, we’re all (For the sake of this argument,
assume I’m human enough to be included under the "people" category)
content with leaving well enough alone… Lazy buggers the lot us.

Very odd comparison

February 24th, 2005

I was working at the office, and my playlist reached a track by Aimee
Mann. While it was playing one of my colleagues came to me asking who is
the singer.
I told him it was Aimee Mann, and to my surprise he said he never heard of her.
Which was nothing compared to my surprise at his next statement… "She
sounds just like… what was her name… Shania". Shania Twain, as it
turned out after I asked him.

Shania Twain ?!  Aimee Mann sounds like Shania Twain ?! WTF ?!

This guy loves loud music. I think that probably his ears are damaged
and have stopped functioning properly… There can’t really be any
other explanation, can there?

P.S. Just in case anyone cares, I like both of them, and have most/all
of their CDs. Both Aimee Mann’s and Shania Twain’s. And yes, originals,
legally bought. If someone would have pointed a gun to my head and
forced me to give up ever listening to one of them ever again, I’ll say
goodbye to Shania, but I won’t be very happy about it.

Good driving hours

February 24th, 2005

Whatever complaints I may have about traffic density and the
prevalence of traffic jams, which are usually big and highly annoying
problems, none of it is relevant at around 03:00 (That’s AM).
Just drove back home after meeting with a friend, and all the roads
were totally free. There were a few cars here and there, but they were
an exception.

These are the only times when I can come close to realizing why some people think driving is fun.

I can safely conclude that I think driving conditions would be much
improved if far fewer driver’s licenses were issued, just as long as I
was in the limited group that got them…

Why would anyone care how popular they are when they’re dead ?!

February 21st, 2005

I mean, sure, wanting to be popular and remembered for ever and ever
(Like Ozymandias, for example) is a common human trait. I wouldn’t get
riled over someone who does something to help make himself remembered,
and gain a name for himself.

But to create a method to monitor your popularity, and have anyone who
express interest in you know how popular you are, after you’ve bitten
the bullet ?! That’s crazy…

And to create it as a closed technological solution that rely on
outside services, without forming any legal contract with those
service, that’s just plain stupid.

Enter the Ego Machine:

Sullivan said he wanted to create an urn that was visually interesting,
allowed some user interactivity and referenced the physical body. He
decided that his remains will be integrated into a computer processor.
A virtual agent running on the computer that contains his ashes will
scour the web for mentions of his name. As the mentions increase, an
on-screen image of Sullivan will morph into an image of his younger
self. But if the mentions decline, Sullivan’s image will age,
deteriorate and eventually fade away.


So I do very much hope this will remain just an art exhibit, but for
some reason I’m sure there are people out there who would take this too

Illegal homework ?!

February 20th, 2005

In the long line of Only-In-America (TM) stories, a pupil sues his math
teacher and school for giving him too much homework
for the summer.

Apparently the calculus homework really ruined all the fun the poor
kid had from his vacation… and it’s obvious the school should not be
able to assign homework for non-schooldays, no?

Stupid kid (Hey, it’s not libel if it’s true), and stupid legal system that could even entertain this notion… Just IMNSHO.

Hat tip to Overlawyered (which is one of the most aptly named websites out there, you’ll have to admit).

Math questions

February 20th, 2005

A really amusing article about questions to ask after a complicated math lecture, to give the impression you can ask a serious question despite the fact that you really didn’t understand anything.

Surely a useful knowledge to have…

It’s relatively old (1983), but I think some of the questions are actually usable.  ;-)

Hat tip to Foreign Dispatches.

Tying the knot

February 20th, 2005

Instead of going and buying new laces to replace those annoying round laces that won’t stay tied, I decided to try and search a bit.

This guy has an entire site devoted to shoelaces, with various lacing types, and knots types.
I checked his "Ian’s Secure Knot",
and it actually works! Very little extra work over the regular knots I
use, but this one hold my new laces tied, even when I walk with them
quite a bit. Drastic improvement.


February 20th, 2005

Timing is everything, as they say. Just after I go ahead and post about the suicide rate statistics, and how the suicide rate is relatively low here, someone I know go ahead and kills himself…

This guy was the manager of a small company we (the company I work for)
worked with on quite a number of projects. He was on good relations
with my boss. I met him myself a few times when working on some

He was a nice person, professional, easy to work with.

Last week he came to work in the morning, complete a few things, did a
few meetings, then at around midday he left, went home, and hang

His company was doing fine, business was good. According to rumours at
the funeral (my boss went) he was depressive, and had a few bouts of
rage and depression in the past.

A waste…

Witches are sweet and funny

February 14th, 2005

I posted this on a certain group/forum, as a part of some discussion
crazy (in a good way) to get into here, a few days ago. This is a
"proof" that witches are sweet and funny. Notice that this is about
your average fairytale evil witch, no relation no any sort of actual
wiccan religion.

Figured I might as well post this here. Very slightly edited to remove
personal references or things tied too closely to the discussion on the

Warning: This is crazy even compared to my usual level…

Let’s start with the easy one – funny.

From the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

2 : differing from the ordinary in a suspicious, perplexing, quaint, or
eccentric way : PECULIAR — often used as a sentence modifier
<funny, things didn’t turn out the way we planned>
3 : involving trickery or deception <told his prisoner not to try anything funny>

Witches differ from the ordinary in suspicious, perplexing, quaint and
eccentric ways. Surely you’d agree, no? And involving trickery and
deception is certainly the modus operandi for any self-respecting
witch. And let me tell you, among those who respect any witch, there’s certainly herself.

Ergo, witches are funny. I really can’t see how you could put up any valid argument against it.

Now let’s go to the more complex bit, proving witches are sweet. Please try and follow.

First, the easiest bit, witches notoriously have a sweet tooth. They
are known for their attraction to all sweet food morsels, including
cakes, cookies, and everything that would contain copious amount of
chocolate. They eat more of those than is healthy, and the high blood
glucose level is in large part responsible for the tell-tale of the
trade, the large ugly warts. Every witch has those, but they are not
caused by evil (Evil has no dermatological effects by itself), but by
the endocrinical imbalance.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking "Aha! But I know many
people who eat too much candy, and yet were I to drink their blood it
would be salty, not sweet! So you must be mistaken!". But no, you would
be wrong. Let me explain:

Witches try to avoid water. It is a well known fact, established by
several well-published experiments (some may even be detailed in your
collection of fairytales), that witches might melt if exposed to a
sufficient amount of water. So far it’s quite simple, but you must be
wondering what does that have to do with being sweet, right?

Well, this involves a little bit of basic chemistry. I’m certain you’re
familiar with the concept of osmosis. As you well know, osmosis is the
process in which, if I’d oversimplify, a solvent may pass through a
membrane when on one side the solvent is present with a higher
concentration of solute. Translated: If you’d add salt to a witch’s
blood, at some point the salt concentration will be high enough that
water from the air (and the air is full of water vapour) will be pushed
by the osmotic pressure into the witch. The witch’s skin, and blood,
will be exposed to more and more water.
And as I mentioned, we all know what happened to a moist witch. Not a pretty sight, let me tell you.

So while empirical data about exact dietary habits of witches is
minimal, we can safely assume witches try to eat as little salt as
possible. So the blood of an average witch, if drank, will not be salty.

But it will also not be plain bland. All this sugar we talked about, remember?

The end result is clear. Theory concludes that witches must be sweet.
Any other option doesn’t make much theoretical sense, and this model
will be adhered to unless some contrary experimental data could be
provided. And even if the data is contrary, which it’s probably isn’t,
the witches are reluctant to share, and we’re forced to stay with the
existing theory.

So witches in general are sweet and funny. QED (That, for everyone who
was forced to write this during planar geometry lessons at school and
have no idea why, is Quod Erat Demonstrandum in Latin, and very roughly mean "what we wanted to prove". Just FYI).

So there you have it.

British composure

February 14th, 2005

Yes, we all know that the British are civilized, cultured, composed, and all that. The epitome of dignity.

So it would take something really serious (sports not included. For
some reason nearly everybody tends to act like bloody morons when it
comes to sports) to get a large bunch of them so rallied up that
they’ll mindlessly run around acting like savages in a complete mass
hysteria. Right?

Something as serious as cheap furniture, at least. I mean, a whole new IKEA store was opened. If that’s not worth getting seriously hurt over, I don’t know what is…


February 14th, 2005

[Update: Found a way to tie the things]

Vindication, at last!

I knew these slick round laces had to be at fault. It couldn’t be that
I just lost my knack for tying shoelaces at the same time when I
replaced them.

I recently purchased a new pair of Rockport shoes. We’re repeatedly
buying them for a long time. All their models I tried are extremely
comfortable. In most cases a wrong size Rockport shoe still has a
better fit than a right size shoe by someone else (Of course, this is a
generalization, and there are exceptions).

Anyway, recently I purchased a new pair of black shoes, which came with
these new, round, shiny, laces. They look very elegant. Prettier than
the flat cotton laces I’m used to.

But they constantly and repeatedly untie themselves. A lot. When I’m at
the office, sitting in front of a computer, it doesn’t really matter.
But whenever I’m walking outside, I have to constantly stop and retire
my shoes. Most of my friends have already promised to get me a pair of
shoelaces for my birthday, which means I really have to go and buy a
pair myself before then.

This is becoming more and more annoying. No matter how hard I tie them,
they become loose nearly straight away, and untie soon afterwards. And
I do know how to tie shoes. I’ve been doing it quite successfully for
years and years.

But hey, now I found confirmation that the problem is indeed with the
laces. That’s good. I could now finally force myself to spend the time
of searching for a replacement. I don’t care how they look like as long
as they do their job, the priorities are very clear (Well, I may draw
the line at fluorescentic pink laces, as good as they may be, but you
get the drift).

Hat tip to Pratie Place for the link.

Evacuation notice

February 14th, 2005

At the start of this month broadcasting networks in the state of
Connecticut in the US announced to people that due to a state of
emergency the entire state is being evacuated.

How did this happen? They wanted to run a test of the emergency alert system and pressed a wrong button.

If it wasn’t so sad, I’d have started laughing. Oh, wait, I did…

This raises two important questions:

  1. Why the heck is there a button pre-wired to a message about the
    state being evacuated ?! Is this something common? Do they evacuate the
    state a lot? Do they really believe there are any likely events that
    would justify evacuating the whole state ASAP ?
  2. How
    do you evacuate an entire state or country? Where would you place all
    the people? Heck, how would you get them there? This is less a
    logistical nightmare, and more a logistical impossibility, no?

No wonder I love America. It provides so many wonderful amusements.