Monday, March 29, 2010

Moscow Bombing

From the BBC:
"Moscow Metro bombing masterminds 'will be destroyed'"

This morning bombs went off in several stations in the Moscow Metro. I have travelled the Metro many times and can only image what the scenes were like. Even on non-rush hour times the stations are jammed packed with people. I heard that an average 7 million people take the Metro everyday. This is not the first or even the second terrorist attack on the Metro and yet the Russians haven't really done anything to prevent them. I know that you can't always stop a suicide bomber but governments should at least try to.
It seems the same group of people are at it again. The movement for racial profiling has just moved closer to becoming a reality. While I know that some people that don't fit the profile will become terrorists in the last 10 years all the major terrorist attacks around the world (the US, UK, Spain, Russia, Israel, India, etc) have been carried out by Middle Eastern/Asian Muslims, both men and women. More needs to be done to keep track of the potential terrorists. All too often after an attack you hear that governments had knowledge of a group or person and yet did nothing to prevent the killings (as was the case with the man who killed the American soldiers at Fort Hood.)
People and governments should not overlook the facts that stare them in the face just because they want to be PC. Suicide bombers/hijackers aren't being PC when they kill innocent men, women and children. We can still live in a free society and curb the would-be actions of terrorists - it just takes a strong government with intelligent people who are willing to stop things before they go too far (ie follow-up and stop the terrorists before they can carry out their plans.)
People around the world, not just in Russia, need to understand that these terrorists will not stop until they are forcibly stopped. Some people may want to live in their little "bubbles" and pretend that these things do not happen, but that denial will not keep us safe.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


This week the teams went to the Seychelles. Unlike past seasons where the parts of Africa they went to looked like the typical, run-down, dirty Africa most of us know, the Seychelles were very clean and looked like it could be in the Caribbean.
I don't know why so many teams lost a coconut, but at least the "coconut pointer" was there to show them.
The Cowboys were almost kicked off even though the majority of the teams want the lesbians sent home. I am just glad the detectives didn't say that they could do these challenges because they are detectives - for once they didn't.
I would like either the Cowboys or the father/daughter team to win. The rest just aren't that committed to the game.

Russia: From 11 To 9

From Wikipedia:
"Time In Russia"

As of last night Russia went from having 11 time zones to having 9. The Udmurt Republic and Samara Oblast started using Moscow Time, thus eliminating Samara Time.
Kemerovo Oblast started using Omsk Time. The Chukotka Autonomous Okrug and Kamchatka Krai started using Magadan Time, thus eliminating Kamchatka Time.
During the Soviet Era many places (the Baltics, Belarus, etc) were forced to use Moscow Time and there were many time zones within the USSR. Since 1991, many of these countries have left Moscow Time.
Russia is also thinking of getting rid of Daylight Savings Time.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Avanim (2004)

I just watched this Israeli movie and have to say that I don't agree with the message. The main woman has an affair and her lover is killed by a terrorist bomb. Then she leaves her work (with her dad), her husband and starts an investigation against a Yeshiva.
The woman is made out to be the victim. She may have a bad marriage and home-life but that doesn't give you the right to go out and cheat. You can get a divorce and then move on with your life. Cheaters are the worse kind of selfish pigs in the world. Once a cheater, always a cheater. In today's society cheaters are seen as a normal thing when they should be made to feel that what they did/do is wrong - because it is.
The film also touches on radical religious groups - in this case: Judaism. I don't care what religion you are: Christian, Judaism or Islam any type of radical teaching should never be tolerated (especially any that degrades others or preaches violence.)

The Fire

I read this book because it was supposed to have a different view of the Allied bombing of Germany during World War 2 and I was curious to see if it would make me question my own thoughts on this subject. I have to say that it failed on both accounts.
The author states that Germany first bombed England during World War 1 and was also the first country to bomb civilian areas during World War 2. Not only did Germany start both wars, but they also determined how the war would be fought.
The Germans bombed Spain (although this happened before the war started), Poland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom before the first Allied plane dropped a single bomb on Germany. The Allies simply did what Germany could not (we finished the job.)
As for the plight of the "innocent" Germans who were killed in the air raids all I have to say is (1) the only innocent Germans were those that were born after 1928 - since they were under 18 in 1945 - and (2) what about all the thousands upon thousands of British, Dutch, Irish, Polish, Russian, etc innocents that were killed by German air raids? Had the ordinary Germans stood up against their elected government for basic human rights then the war and all the deaths would not have happened or at least not to the scale as they did.
What really got me is that the POWs, Jews and other slave laborers had to clean up the German cities after each bombing and yet the majority of them seemed glad that at least the Germans were starting to get what they deserved for all the murder and destruction they caused.
If the Allies were so heartless as some people now claim they could have left Germany in ruins for decades after the war. Instead we gave money to what would become West Germany (East Germany refused any money from the Marshall Plan) and that helped created the German "economic miracle" that brought first West Germany and then a reunited Germany to become one of the most prosperous European countries.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


This week's show was on a night earlier. Instead of one tribe being sent to tribal, both tribes went and both voted a person out. One person from each tribe got a change to win immunity and then played against the other to see which tribe would get hot dogs, soda and would get to hear the other tribe at tribal. Like usual, Boston Rob won both the immunity and the food. He came up with a great plan to get either Russel or Parvati out. It would have worked had one person (Tyson) stuck to the agreed plan. Instead Russel convinced Tyson to change his vote. Then Russel gave his idol to Parvati and Tyson was sent home. It was pretty funny to see Tyson's face when he realized it was because of his own stupidity that he was leaving.
As for the other tribe, it was almost assured that Colby was going home. Then, all of the sudden, JT had second thoughts about James and his leg and in the end James went. I was glad James went home, but wish that it happened a week earlier and that Tom was still in the game - he's the only one who seems the most down to Earth and can both play the game well and get things done.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Bill

Last night the Health Care Bill (officially called: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act)was passed by both houses of Congress. Now Obama has to sign it for it to become law. It is a very sad day for the US. This bill will do more harm than good (of course the only good part of the bill's passing is that come November ordinary Americans will be able to voice our disgust by voting out the Democrats (as no Republicans in either the Senate or House of Representatives voted "yes.")
Some of the main provisions of the bill include:

Effective six months after passage
- Prevent insurers from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions.
- Insurance policies must cover preventative care without requiring co-pays
- $250 drug cost rebate for seniors
- Lifetime monetary caps on insurance policies banned
-All insurers are fully prohibited from discriminating against or charging higher rates for children based on preexisting conditions.
- Children and young adults will be permitted to remain on their parents insurance plan until their 27th birthday.

Effective in 2014
- All insurers are fully prohibited from discriminating against or charging higher rates for adult individuals based on preexisting medical conditions.
- All insurers are fully prohibited from establishing annual spending caps.
- Expand Medicaid eligibility; individuals with income up to 133% of the poverty line qualify for coverage
- Establish health insurance exchanges, and subsidization of insurance premiums for individuals with income up to 400 percent of the poverty line.
- Offer tax credits to small businesses who have less than 25 employees and provide health care benefits for them.
- Impose a tax penalty on employers with over fifty employees who do not offer health insurance to their workers.
- Impose an annual fine on individuals who do not obtain health insurance; exemptions to fine in cases of financial hardship, religious beliefs.
- Creation of a new voluntary long-term care insurance program.
- Creation of tax credits for individuals who purchase private insurance policies
- Employed individuals who pay more than 9.5% of their income on health insurance premiums will be permitted to purchase insurance policies from a state-controlled health insurance option
- Pay for new spending, in part, through spending and coverage cuts in Medicare Advantage, slowing the growth of Medicare provider payments, reducing Medicare and Medicaid drug reimbursement rate, cutting other Medicare and Medicaid spending.
- Revenue increases from a new $2,500 limit on tax-free contributions to flexible spending accounts (FSAs), which allow for payment of health costs. Raising various taxes, and creating a new excise tax for high cost "Cadillac" insurance plans.

Effective by 2018
- All existing health insurance plans must cover preventative care and checkups without co-payment.

^ While at first glance many of these provisions seem ok, but if you stop and think about them (as every American should since it will effect all of us) then you see just how bad this new bill really is. Why would the Federal Government even think of forcing the majority of Americans to buy their own health care insurance or else face heavy fines. Don't you think those that could afford health care would already be covered? How can you buy health care (or pay the government fine) if you don't have a job? Shouldn't the Democrats stop working backwards and first create new jobs and get the economy back to normal before forcing health care down our throats?
I agree that the US health care system is desperately in need of reform. The over-crowded hospitals and ERs, the lack of doctors, being seen by unqualified people, the high cost of medicines and tests and all the waiting. As stated above, this new bill will do more harm than good. The Democrats want to take an already exhausted and overworked health care system and add millions upon millions of more people to it. This will cause the health care system to collapse. Any intelligent person knows you need to fix something that is broken FIRST before you expand it. Just look at the Eurozone - countries that use the Euro. The EU allowed too many countries to adopt the new currency without much thought or back-up plans and now numerous countries (Greece, Portugal, etc) are having problems that affect all the other Eurozone countries.
Those that try and compare the US to other Western countries do not fully understand the health care systems or politics of all the countries involved. While I am not an expert in every Western country I do know that the US has the largest population than any other Western country with a universal health care system. I also know that the majority of Western countries are openly and offically socialist while the United States is not (at least not yet.) What works in other, smaller countries does not mean it will work in the US and this new health care bill is one of those things that will not work here - no matter how socialist Obama and other Democrats try to make us.
I heard one Democrat say in any interview that there is no way the Democrats can win. If their new bill did not pass than ordinary Americans would see them as not being able to get anything done and if they pass their new bill than ordinary Americans would vote them all out this November because polls show the majority of Americans do not support the new bill. The Democrats and Obama have sealed their fate and I plan on sitting back and watching their careers vanish overnight. I know that the signing of this bill into law is not the end since around 30 US States are planning to officially oppose the new bill (including numerous State Attorney Generals.)

* The provisions were taken from Wikipedia:

Sunday, March 21, 2010


This week was good. I liked how most of them didn't know that Joan of Arc was a woman (Jordan even thought it was about Noah's Ark.)The detectives are very annoying. They always say that every challenge is just like their police work (which probably isn't true.) It wad funny that most of the French people sent the teams to a different place - with the same name - rather than look at the whole name on the clue. I thought the woman who worked at the place that everyone was wrongly sent to was going to get fed up and send the teams to Germany or someplace else just to have some fun.
I guess it is true what they say: that duct tape can fix everything. From airplane seats on Ukraine Airlines (I saw that personally) to cars.
I can not believe that anyone would attempt the champagne glass challenge. I would rather look at grapes for an hour than do the glasses. A couple of teams had their glasses fall.
In the end Jordan and Jeff were sent home. It was bound to happen since they were constantly having troubles with the challenges and directions. Right now I would like to see either the cowboy brothers or the father/daughter team win.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Moving: One Year On

It has been one year since I moved to here Like most places there are the good and the bad. One of the good things is that I got out of Virginia (I have a very big dislike for the State and the people I met there.)Back to NH.
I live in a fairly large, isolated mountain house literally out in the middle of no-where. It has really nice views of forests and the mountains. I also like the fact that the "main" road (which is the only road and is made of dirt) doesn't have many people, houses or cars on it.
As everyplace there have been bad things - although sometimes it seems that it was worse here in NH (mainly because we had to do many things around the house before winter set in.)Even moving up here was a nightmare. The small roads had signs saying no big trucks could go on them because of the mud (even though there was still snow everywhere.) So we had to have the moving van park a ways away and shuttle our things in a smaller van. Then there was the driver who seemed nice, but later we found out he had broken and stolen many of our things - the most during any of our numerous moves. We had 3 electricians at the house. The first one over-charged for everything and did little, the second one didn't know his job or the new codes and so had to have the third electrician come and fix everything (for which we were charged for his 2 hour round trip to/from our house.) We had 2 contractors come to: clear trees and some land to put a turn-around in our driveway and install a 1,000 gallon propane tank and whole house generator. The first contractor did part of his job (cutting down the trees) and only finished the job after we threatened to bring him to court - and he had the nerve to ask why we weren't going to use him for the rest of the job. The second contractor was a weasel who had an excuse every time we talked. His crew did the driveway, but his electrician (the 2nd one) did a bad job on hooking up the generator and all of this was supposed to have been included in our contract - instead we had to find someone else to finish the job. We also hired a guy to come and clear snow from our walkways and driveway and then hired him to do some carpentry work. In the end he over-charged us for each storm (sometimes claiming he had to come twice for one storm even when we told him that he only needed to come when the storm ended.) He also did only half the carpentry job. Then there are the other companies we had to deal with (mainly satellite TV - which we had to wait 2 weeks for them to find a ladder - and the propane company.)Despite all the problems with the contractors and companies we got the house ready for winter on-time (mainly using threats and finding last-minute people.)
Living in NH has been trying (especially when dealing with the locals.) I thought that living in a New England town would be like a Norman Rockwell painting, but I was sadly mistaken. Instead of the locals being friendly and neighborly the majority we have dealt with have been swindlers who knew we were not from NH and took advantage of that. Some people have said that New Hampshirites have to be on-guard all the time because they get many people from Massachusetts who come and cause all sorts of trouble - I am not from MA and never claimed to be and you would think people would be nice either way. Instead we had to deal with a power-hungry supervisor of the local dump who changed her rules every time I came (although I stood up to her and her minions and things have calmed down - knock on wood.) Then I learned the dump woman (who looks like the "feed the birds" woman from Mary Poppins) decided to run to be one of our town's selectmen - I have no idea if she won since our town's official website hasn't been updated in 9 months. At least I didn't vote for her. We also had to deal with a very stupid woman at the garage we used to bring our car too.
I tried to go back to college and get my Master's at the local State School (which is 50 minutes away) only to deal with both stupid people and stupid State regulations. Now I am looking for another place to go.
On top of all these things we had to deal with many doctors and dentists. It seems that NH has an unofficial rule that you can't get an appointment to be seen earlier than 3 months. We had one regular doctor that was basically useless. He never wanted to make any decisions and was never available when there was an emergency. I changed to a new regular doctor who is really good - although I had a fight with his stupid staff when an emergency came up, but the doctor talked to me about it and told me that in the future I should just ask to have him call me personally - that shows he cares. We have had to go to several hospitals and ERs this past year and while the majority of them were decent we had an issue with one in Concord (both with the specialist and his staff) and afterwards I found a new specialist and have been using him ever since. As for dentists: I have seen 4 of them up here. The first one did an awful job and treated us badly, the second one decided that since they didn't treat a certain issue they wouldn't tell me about it, the third was too expensive and their staff were stupid while the fourth was good (although you had to mention their $39 media special or they would charge you $200 for the same thing.)
Now a brief mention about our local vet. The first 4-5 times we went there we had issues because the staff decided to put our dogs under a different name and it took me several times reminding them about for it to get fixed. Now things seem fine - knock on wood. The vet himself is nice and I like that they have after-hours for emergencies.
As for living in the middle of nowhere it takes a lot longer to do basic things than any other place I have lived before. Our mailbox is 1/2 a mile from my house and you have to drive down a steep hill to get there. The closest Post Office (where I have to go to mail boxes to my dad in Iraq or to collect boxes) is 23 minutes away - as is the closest supermarket, gas station, etc. The closest fast food is an hour away, the closest hospital is also an hour away. The majority of roads around here are small, dirt ones that have one-lane bridges. When it rains there is thick mud everywhere. Of course we get a lot of snow, but since we have a whole house generator (which we have had to use a few times,) a fireplace, wood-stove, lots of wood and a stocked pantry we can just stay home when we get 1, 2 or 3 feet of snow at a time. We also have a snowblower and a plow guy. Sometimes even having 4 wheel drive it is difficult to drive in the mud, ice or snow.
There are some good things to living here. There is almost no traffic (although during the summer there are many tourists.)The two women who work at the Post Office have been very nice and friendly - anyone who knows my troubled past dealing with Post Offices around the world knows this local one is something unusual. There is also a nice woman who works at the Town Hall (even if small-town politics are kind of slow.) Another nice thing is the dog kennel and the owner who live 5 minutes from my house. We now live closer to our old house in New York and to friends in MA and so when we go for a day-trip we have to put our dogs at the kennel. The rates are fairly cheap and the dogs seem to really like it.
I guess all in all living in NH as a non-native adds more work on my part. I have to always be on my guard for contractors, companies and people who think they are smarter than me and try to cheat me (usually I catch it and give them hell.)When I can just stay on my mountain and not deal with anyone is when I really like living in New Hampshire.
I have lived in numerous States and countries and while New Hampshire isn't the State I hate the most (that would be Virginia) it also isn't my favorite (that would be New York.) I guess when all is said and done I consider New Hampshire to be just a stop on the road of places I have lived and will live in. I only hope that the next year will be better and that when I write about living in NH for 2 years I will be able to say that things and the people are nicer.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Air Passengers Like Cattle

I have been hearing and reading a lot lately about more and more people being stuck on planes or abandoned by airlines at airports and thought I had to write about it again.
There is nothing an airline or airport can do when there is bad weather. With that said there are many, many things they can do for their passengers when bad weather causes cancellations or delays. There is a saying that the true colors of a person or organization come out when something bad happens. It seems that the majority of airports and airlines in the United States show their colors poorly. Their policies and/or people lack basic skills to deal with the safety and well-being of their passengers during cancellations and delays. There is no excuse nowadays for airlines and airports to not have a back-up plan and to use it effectively. These incidents are part of a growing epidemic that have been hurting air passengers for numerous years.
In April new Federal Government rules will come into effect that will fine any airline that keeps its passengers stranded on-board for longer than 4 hours. I have heard of some airlines (such as Continental) that say they would rather cancel the flights rather than risk the fines. In this case the passengers would still be stranded, but would be stranded in the airport rather than on a plane. I, personally,
would rather be left at the airport than on a plane. At least you have a chance of leaving an airport than you do if you are on a closed plane.
If airlines cancel flights that is their right (although many travel sites now show the on-time performance of each flight and this would be shown in the percentage.) They also have a legal responsibility to care for their passengers at the airport once they do that (ie re-booking them on different flights, food vouchers, putting them in a hotel, etc.) Most people do not know that there is a regulation that if an airline does not get you to your destination within 2 hours from when you were supposed to arrive then they also have to reimburse you for that segment (in cash and not vouchers.)
I know these new Federal regulations are not the only answer to all these current issues, but it is a small step in the right direction. I think the regulations should also include the airports in this - especially if they refuse to let passengers off the plane and into their terminals. Passengers should also become aware of which airlines and airports treat you well during a weather emergency and which ones do not. Complaining to the FAA, the airlines, the airports and your Congressmen are ways to hold the airlines and airports responsible for their poor treatment. Also people should stop flying those airlines that treat its passengers badly. That is voting with your feet and if the airline looses enough money from this maybe they would start treating people better - or they will go bankrupt.
When all is said and done it is the passengers (not the airlines or the airports) who are the most important issue. Passengers need to start being treated like people and not numbers or cattle. If a weather emergency (or any emergency) comes up then it is up to the airlines and the airports to continue to treat the passengers as humans. While passenger safety is the first priority the second is covering basic human rights of food, water, bathrooms and shelter. As of right now the majority of airlines and airports are only focusing on themselves and their bottom-line and not about their passengers.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

US Census 2010

I got the Census form in the mail today. It is the first time I have ever seen one. I also do not know anyone who has ever filled one out before - which proves the Government isn't doing a good job counting people.
The form was very stupid and had too many race options. Instead of having:
Caucasian, African American, Native American, Hispanic and Asian it had these options:
White, Black (or African American or Negro), Native American (or Alaska Native), Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Guamanian, Chamorro and Pacific Islander. It did not have Hispanic as a race and could have included the Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese as "Asians."
I take offense at being called "White" instead of "Caucasian" especially when they don't call Asians as "Yellow" or African Americans as simply "Black." They also don't have Polish, British, German, Dutch, Russian, etc while they separate Asians.
I also see no need for them to ask for my phone number (which I left blank.)I see no problem with them asking my name, birth date, age and race, but they don't need my phone number - they already have my address since they sent me the form and that is enough.
It seems that you can tell just who the Federal Government "cares" about by the answers they allow you to choose from. In the future you would think the Census would be more "politically correct" and look as though they cared about everyone equally rather than simply the African Americans and the Asians.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


This week the teams went to a battlefield in France. Even when the show kept saying it was supposed to be a World War 1 battlefield the teams kept making references to World War 2 (ie Nazis, Normandy, etc.) You can tell which war it is from because the French soldiers were actually fighting - World War 1 - and not surrendering and collaborating - World War 2.
The detectives are so annoying. They are always saying that they can do all the challenges because they do the same things back home. I don't think they crawl underneath barbed wire in Rhode Island. They also said they were making Joe and Heidi do the U-turn because Joe is arrogant (the detectives should look in the mirror.) I'm glad that Joe and Heidi got sent home. I was sick and tired of always hearing him complain about his leg. At least it gave Jeff and Jordan a chance to do the extra challenge and stay in the game.

200th Post!

This is my 200th post. It just seems to sneak up on you when you're not looking. Hopefully, the next 200 will go just as quickly and still be interesting.

Georgian Hoax Isn't Funny

From the Georgian Times:
"Imedi Spoof Video on New Russian Attack Shocks Georgia"

This has got to be one of the dumbest hoaxes in the history of hoaxes. It is one thing to describe an alien invasion over the radio (something that has never happened before) and another to use old pictures and describe something that has actually happened in the past.
Georgia has been invaded and occupied many times by the Russians. First it was the Russian Empire then the USSR and then the Russian Federation. It has only been about 18 months since the last Russian-Georgian War (where the Russians made it to 25 miles from the Georgian capital.)The panic that this hoax caused was real because people remember what happened during the real invasions/wars.
The Georgian Government should punish the news channel to the full extent of Georgian law. It is one thing to "stir up debate" about what could happen and something very different when dealing when things that have happened.
Georgia is a small country whereas Russia is very large. The only real way to prevent the threat of more Russian invasions/wars is for Georgia to become a full member of NATO (joining the EU wouldn't hurt either.) Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were in the same position that Georgia currently is in, but the threat to the Baltic countries being invaded and occupied by the Russians (as happened in 1940 and then again from 1945-1991) ended when all three countries joined both NATO and the EU.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I do not understand what went on this week. James got hurt and rather than send him home and try to start winning challenges the tribe decided to try and keep their numbers instead. This season James has just been a very mean and bitter person and should have been sent home.
JT and Russel act as though they own their tribes. It would be nice to see both of them gone sooner rather than later. Now that Russel has the idol and everyone knows it I hope they vote for him to flush it out.
The fact that Tom was sent home shocks me. He was the only one on his tribe to do anything. They could have voted for Colby or Candace. Now I would like to see how well James does challenges while barely being able to walk. I hope it shows the tribe how stupid they were.

Sweden Does What US Refuses To Do!

From Yahoo News:
"Sweden labels mass killing of Armenians genocide"

It seems that Sweden was able to do what Obama and the Federal Government are too scared to do. Officially declaring what the Turks did to the Armenians during and after World War 1 is genocide and should be called as such. Other countries that have officially recognized the Armenian Genocide are: Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Russia, Canada, Lebanon, Belgium, Greece, Italy, the Vatican, France, Switzerland, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Poland, Lithuania and Cyprus.
So Turkey gets a little upset and sends their ambassador home for a while - big deal. If other major countries are willing to stand up for what is right then the US should too.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Greece To Join VWP

From The US Homeland Security website:
"Secretary Napolitano Announces Greece's Designation as a Member of the Visa Waiver Program"

Greece is finally going to be included in the US Visa Waiver program starting in 30 days. I am not sure why it took so long to include Greece, but up until 2004 they were the only EU country not to be able to go to the US without a visa. Then in 2004 newer EU countries were added. Hopefully, this opens the door for even more countries to be included to the US VWP (like Israel, Hong Kong, etc.)

Slow Russian Mail

From Russia Today:
"Mail-flooded postal service cuts Russia from eBay"

I included this article not because I really care about Ebay, but because I have several friends in Russia and every year I send them New Year's presents (like our Christmas presents) and it seems that every time I do the mail takes longer and longer to get there. This article says that the Russian Post Office now says it will take 2 months for mail to get from the US to Russia (instead of 2 weeks like the rest of Europe.) I can not believe that it would take them this long.
I remember when I went to live in Russia (the second time.) It was June and I had all my summer things with me. My parents mailed my winter things to do a week after I left and I did not get them until early December (when it was already very cold and I was leaving for home in a few weeks.) The Russian Post Office needs to get it's act together.

Local Elections

Today in my town there were local elections. It is the first time I have participated in small-town, New England politics. My mom and I went to the old Town Hall (right next to the new Town Hall) and it was pretty small, but very crowded. There were two woman at a table that asked our names and both of them looked at their lists and crossed our names off - not sure why it took two people to do that. Then they gave us each two ballots and we went behind the curtain. The first ballot was for the town. Many positions only had one candidate - it felt like voting in a Communist country. The second ballot was about the school. We left the curtain-area and had to go to another woman who crossed our names off again and then we went to fourth woman and handed in our ballots.
I was a little disappointed that I didn't get any black ink on my finger like the Iraqis do after they vote.
I will now have to wait and see who won and which things passed.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Shelter (2007)

This Israeli movie is one of the best I have seen in a long time. It has suspense, drama and everything in between. The main character is played by Yehezkel Lazarov and he does a great job - as does Stav Naggar. When you first start watching the film your mind goes one way with the storyline and by the end you have done a 360 turn. I don't want to say any more about this movie except that I think everyone should watch it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


This week's show continued to show just how dumb most of the teams this season really are. They flew from Argentina to Germany. There they had to bungee jump with another team, either eat sauerkraut or play soccer and then drink some beer. None of these things were truly hard (although I doubt I could do the soccer thing.)
Jordan and Jeff got stuck with a bad taxi driver who didn't know where he was going and wasted a lot of their time. In the end, they weren't sent home but they have to do an extra challenge next time (I think they won't be able to handle it.)
It was odd that the Cowboy brothers didn't do such a great job this week and even odder that the detectives got first place.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

US Closer To Armenian Genocide

From the BBC:
"US Congress panel accuses Turkey of Armenian 'genocide'"

I think it is about time that the US Government calls what the Turks did to the Armenians what it really was: genocide. US Presidents and other government officials have denied the truth for years simply because they didn't want to offend Turkey. Obama even pledged that if he was elected he would use the term "genocide" but did not when he was in Turkey and even called on Congress to "not hurt US-Turkish ties." That is such a spineless thing to do.
Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were murdered by the Turks during and right after World War 1. Even Hitler commented about the Armenian Genocide when he justified the killing of the Jews during the Holocaust (he stated that no one would remember what he did to the Jews the same way no one remembers what the Turks did to the Armenians.)
There are 20 countries that recognize the Armenian Genocide and while doing so may have strained their ties with Turkey in the end it did more for the victims by reconzing how they died and honoring them. I can only hope that the US will do the same and honor the victims.


I was glad that Cirie was kicked out. It just makes my night ever better. She was a very lazy person who thought way too much of herself and in the end she was shown that she wasn't needed or wanted (too bad it couldn't have happen to her on one of her other seasons.)
I still want Tom to win overall. I will be interested to see how he deals with Russel - if they both survive til the merge. All the others (except maybe Boston Rob) don't seem to have what it takes to deserve to win the game. Plus if Tom wins it will be his second time.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My New Passport

I got my new US Passport in the mail today. My old one was expiring this year and since most countries require 6 months validity to travel I renewed it early. I am still waiting on getting my old passport back as well as my Passport Card.
It is weird to see my new passport since it is a biometric one and it is completely empty. My other, older passports have been full of immigration stamps in them - I even had to get more pages added to hold them all. I guess I need to go someplace international to get more stamps. I'm sure that when my current passport expires in 10 years it will be full of stamps (although many countries - Canada, the EU - do not always stamp your passport) and I may need to add more pages to it later.

Russian/Georgian Border Opens

From the BBC:
"Russia-Georgia border crossing reopens"

It seems that this is a step in the right direction for these two countries. It is the only legal land border crossing for them. The relationship between the two countries have been strained for several years. There have been wars, border disputes and Russia recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent.
There are very limited direct flights (only a few weeks in January 2010) and that Switzerland represents both of them (since neither Georgia nor Russia have diplomatic relations with each other,) but with this land border opening it shows that both sides are at least willing to talk.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dubai's Double Standard

From Yahoo News:
"Dubai to use profiling to detect Israeli arrivals"

If Dubai is going to use racial profiling to not allow Israeli citizens to enter their country then I don't see why the US and other countries can not/do not do the same with people from the Middle East/Muslim world. It seems there is a double standard here. Many Arab and Muslim countries do not allow passports that have an Israeli immigration stamp in it since these countries do not recognize Israel. That is one thing - especially since most countries allow it's citizens to hold a second passport and avoid this problem.
I have a big issue with these countries (like the United Arab Emirates) who do not allow people in that they suspect are Israelis even if they enter the country with another passport. As long as the passport is valid and legal I don't seen any problems. That means that a person with a Jewish-sounding last name entering the U.A.E under a valid American Passport could be deported with no recourse - regardless if the person is Israeli or not since the immigration officer only has to suspect the person is from Israel.
Dubai is just continuing to discriminate against not only Israel but also Jews in general. I know if the US or any other major Western country did the same to Muslims or Arabs than we would be called racist, but it is supposed to be ok for them to do it themselves. We get a bunch of flak for requiring people from certain countries to under-go secondary screening before boarding a plane headed to the US, but no one seems to care that the U.A.E discriminates against Jews.
I have been to Dubai and didn't really care for it. I have also been to other Arab countries and feel the majority of them are too repressive (to both women and non-Muslims) and the only country in the Middle East that I would like to go to is Israel.
The world should not stand-by and allow double standards to take place.

US Asylum For German Family

From Yahoo News:
"Homeschooling: German Family Gets Political Asylum in U.S."

I am not really sure why the family moved here. I understand they want to home-school their children and German laws forbid it, but why didn't they move to Austria or another EU country that allows home-schooling? I think they did it just for show and not merely for their children's future. I don't think it is odd for Germans to leave Germany. The article mentions Germany is a Western country, but you have to also take into account whether this family is from the eastern part. The former East Germany is plagued with high unemployment and a brain drain (whole towns where all the young people have moved away for a better life in other parts of the country.)Even 10+ years and lots of money from the Federal German Government the eastern part of the country still doesn't have the same standard of living as the western part.
I don't know why Germany doesn't allow home-schooling. I think as long as the children are made to take the same tests that everyone else is made to then it should be allowed.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Walk On Water (2004)

"Walk on Water" (ללכת על המים) is an Israeli movie that is in Hebrew, German and English. It is a very dramatic movie that has numerous themes in it. The focal theme shows how young Israelis and Germans deal with their past (especially the latter.)
Lior Ashkenazi is the Israeli and Caroline Peters and Knut Berger are the Germans. All of them did a good job and worked well together.
I like that the movie does not place any blame on the young generations of Germans born after the war (since they had absolutely nothing to do with anything as they weren't even alive back then.) It does show the importance of continuing to bring the Nazis to justice despite their age or health. One aspect of German society that was also looked at is the generation that were very young during the war, but helped hide the Nazis afterwards. Those people are just as guilty for aiding the Nazis as the murderers themselves and should also be sent to jail.