15 February 2015

The Important Things

A great deal of wonderful, interesting, frightening, confusing things are happening in the world today.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is once again deciding which of the most popular big budget mainstream Hollywood movies should be deemed the best out of the hundreds of movies released last year. None of the tiny handful of movies are what I would consider the best, but they never seem to ask me.

We are going to have more elections next month. Yet again there are attacks and accusations. Yet again the newspapers are complaining that he said this and she said that. I read an article the other day that, hand to God, could have been about pretty much any election with minor changes in candidate names and dates. The one saving grace is that I do not live in the United States. Those election campaigns are simply juvenile.

Paul McCartney wrote and recorded a few songs with Kanye “bigger than Yeezus” West. This seems like an unusual collaboration on the surface but Mr McCartney is nothing if not a whore for money. Disagree with my assertion? Then explain why “Ou Est le Soleil” was released in no less than 14 000 different versions.

Jordan recently bombed an Isis base after a single Jordanian soldier was murdered. Ironically, there were no United Nations resolutions against Jordan. The International Community did not call Jordan's actions a disproportionate response. There are to the best of my knowledge no serious movements to boycott Jordan. I have yet to hear Jordan accused of committing the greatest crime against humanity for attacking the smaller, less organised terrorist organisation. The western media have not published a string of thinly veiled hate against Jordan's largest religion. On the contrary, many people seem to be praising Jordan for standing up against terrorists. Abdullah must be happy that his country is not full of Jews.

Last week I remembered that I have a blog and thought about whether or not I should add to it. The jury is still out on that one.

But there is something of greater importance to mankind than any of these world events weighing on my mind at present. I am thinking about going back to work. Not so much today but in the near future.

I went on maternity leave in July and my daughter came into the world kicking and screaming in November. There is no job in the world of greater importance or with greater reward than being a mother. But sometimes you want a little peace and quiet away from all the kicking and screaming. Flying combat support for the most successful air force in the world* is far less hectic than raising a child.

Are there risks involved? Of course. There are risks in driving on Ibn Gabirol just before Shabbat. I am far more likely to be killed by a fuming taxi driver who wants to get home than by a feudal Arab who wants my home.

Who will watch the baby if I go to work? A woman's place is in the home, etc. The first part is easy. I have a mother who lives entirely too close and who loves nothing more than to babysit any of her grandchildren. I also have sisters. Most of whom have children of their own. All of whom are fully capable of keeping an eye or two on my spawn. My sister Dara's son is as dysfunctionally young as my daughter. Watching them together is like juggling ten bowling balls instead of eight. If they both get hungry at the same time? That is why women have two breasts and not one giant Russ Meyer mondo tit. [Edit this out of the American version since Americans tend to go apoplectic when it comes to feeding little humans from big human body parts].

The second part is equally easy. A woman's place is wherever she wants to be.

* According to Google. Google knows all.

20 July 2014

Last Full Measure of Devotion

Raise your hand if you have never been shot. In an ideal world most people would put their hands up. I always assumed that I would always be in this category. Even when I joined the IDF and my family were terrified that something untoward would happen to me I assumed that nothing would. I was never in a combat position, and other than the rare occasion that I was actually sent into a combat area, I was always relatively removed from the action.

I was sent to the Golan during the Second Lebanon War. I went to Bint Jbeil. That was bad but I was never in any real danger. I have been sent to Gaza several times. I witnessed much of the destruction from Operation Summer Rains and Operation Hot Winter after the fact. I was more directly involved in Operation Cast Lead but there was still very little chance that I would never come home alive.

They call it the Israel Defence Forces for a reason. Defence is a key strategy. Putting Israelis in harm’s way is never the objective. An Israeli soldier in combat is far safer than an American soldier in combat. Casualty figures are always very low compared to other combatants. And I have always been several job titles away from combat.

We all knew that tensions would be high when the brutal dictators who rule Gaza declared that they would “open the gates of hell” and wipe Israel off the map. Again. It is politically incorrect to point this out but if your religious leaders repeatedly say that they control the gates of hell, what does that say about your religion?

Predictably, Israel’s high command announced that Hamas would finally be dealt with once and for all. Again. We have heard that song for the last eight years. It may be time to put on a new record.

When hotter heads prevailed and it became painfully obvious that I would likely spend some more time in Gaza I remained confident in my survival. I have always felt safe even when people are trying to genocide the entire Levant. Some people think the entire region is one big exploding sandbox. With the “Arab Spring” that is more true now than it used to be but Israel is not in a state of chaos or civil war. The odds of being killed or shot in Israel are very low. Most of us go our entire lives without ever exploding.

Then I got shot. To be fair, this was not in Israel. So my above statement still stands.

My team was minding our own business and doing our job, admittedly not in a neighbourhood where we are the most popular of visitors. When the shooting started I thought somebody was setting off firecrackers. The AK-47 has almost a high pitched airy sound. It can easily sound like those tiny firecrackers Chinese children throw in the streets during festivals. Especially when fired from a distance. When I lived in China I was very close to a temple and I quickly grew accustomed to the sound of fireworks at all hours. The M16 has a deeper sound and if you are going to mistake it for firecrackers it would have to be those larger smoke things they use during all the various gods’ birthdays. The TAR-21 has a more guttural sound and would never be mistaken for a firecracker.

The baby is perfectly safe and sound. I suppose I should have led with that. At this point in time she or he only takes up a small percentage of real estate. That will change, of course, but they say if you are going to get shot during pregnancy then you might as well do it early on. I am not entirely sure who they are but they say a lot of crazy things.

I am also perfectly safe and sound. Had I been killed I would not likely be typing this. Though one never knows. I live in a place where people rise from the dead all the time.

I was hit by a single round in the leg. Had it been an action movie I could have got up immediately and saved the world for democracy with nothing more than a trickle of blood and hardly a moment’s notice. But movies are bullshit. Bullets are small metallic projectiles that travel at around 2000 feet per second, depending on several factors. When they tear into your flesh it hurts. A lot. A flesh wound may not affect the average action star or Black Knight at all but they cause a good deal of pain to the average human. Bleeding is also a greater concern in the real world than it ever is in movies. Action heroes bleed buckets and run around as if they had a bee sting. Fortunately I was surrounded by medical personnel who never mistook me for Arnold Schwarzenegger and I received medical treatment far sooner than anybody could ever expect.

The funny thing is that I was literally the last person to know that I was hit. When the firecrackers started going off I fell on my tuchas. I thought I simply slipped and fell. There was no initial pain other than landing on my cushioned butt, which just so happens to be more and more cushioned every week. Then my leg started burning like a radioactive super mosquito dug in after fasting for a month. I thought I had landed on some broken glass or something sharp that was poking me. The flight surgeon quickly picked me up and put me in the aircraft before I even knew what was going on. He knew exactly what had happened. One of the paramedics later told me that he saw a small explosion of blood shoot out of my leg. He said it was like watching a tiny volcano erupt. I think I would like to see that. Unfortunately I did not have the best vantage point.

I wanted to take my seat when I was told that I should probably take a break. My point of view was that falling on a piece of glass would most definitely not preclude me from operating the aircraft. It was only after I insisted that I be allowed to do my job and those around me insisted that I stay still and accept medical treatment that I realised what had happened. It was only after I consciously understood that a round had penetrated my flesh that the pain fully made its presence known. I have no idea if that is a psychological matter or the result of increased adrenaline gradually subsiding.

The people I was with at the time are all perfectly safe and sound. We completed the task at hand without further incident. My support pilot was fully capable of taking us all to an appropriate evacuation site. The patient that we were there to transport and I were treated and are both expected to fully recover. Though I shall not be climbing any mountains any time soon.

One of the best things about the AK-47 is that it is not the most lethal weapon in the world. It is very popular because it is cheap and easy to use but developed countries tend not to use it because you can cause far more damage with more advanced weapons. The AK-47 round tends not to fragment on impact, which is good news for anybody who gets hit. The worst thing a bullet can do is break apart inside your body and create multiple cavities. The M16 bullet is specifically designed to fragment. Its track is compared to a hammer while the AK-47 track is often described as a pencil. Would you rather be stabbed with a hammer or a pencil?

The irony is that I was hit in my left leg. This is the same leg that took the full force of what the American NTSB called an “uncontrolled descent and impact with terrain” in 2002. It is ironic to me at least. Some would say it is a message from God. Others would say it is God’s punishment for not doing things their way. I say those people have issues. If God has anything to do with this then he clearly has a problem with my leg.

My intention was always to continue working until I could no longer sit for hours at a time comfortably. I live in a country that does not hate children. In fact, we are rather fond of them. We also do not punish women for being pregnant, either at work or in the stoning yard. Our maternity leave schemes are rather liberal and we have not honour stoned a pregnant woman since ever. I could have taken time off from work the second my pregnancy was confirmed with no negative repercussions. I simply wanted to keep working.

There is a relatively famous story of a combat commander who got pregnant and remained on active duty until her child was born. What made her story noteworthy is that she completed a 55km hike in full uniform whilst seven months pregnant. Much was said of the fact that she remained in uniform up until her maternity leave. Officers are exempt from wearing any uniform at any time during their pregnancy, regardless of job title or duties. I think the more exceptional aspect to this story is that she made the hike whilst seven months pregnant. Who cares what she was wearing.

Working until I drop is no longer an option for me. I could return to work as soon as I am medically approved but more than a few people have expressed their opinions rather unambiguously. Everybody I know has told me to sit this one out. My natural reaction is to go against whatever I am told to do. There are also psychological considerations. Not returning to work as soon as possible could make it difficult to return later. Shoot me off my horse and I want to get back on straight away. The last time I forced myself to stay away from flying professionally it took me eight years to get back.

But as soon as the doctor says, “Congratulations. You got knocked up,” your priorities have suddenly gone pear shaped. All that independence goes out the front door. Another person comes first. As soon as they start shooting at your baby it is time to let somebody else do the job. Defiantly standing up for yourself is never as important as protecting your child.

Technically nobody was shooting at my baby. It is highly unlikely that any of the masked freedom fighters who are keeping the world safe for totalitarianism even knew that any of the infidels they were trying to liberate from life were pregnant. According to the experts, they were trying to kill our patient. Not that it matters at this point.

More than a few people have criticised Israel for letting pregnant women serve in the military. More than a few people have criticised Israel for letting any women serve in the military. More than a few people have criticised Israel for even having a military. I think the system works pretty well. Rather than punish women for being pregnant, as most countries do, Israel lets the woman decide what she can and cannot do whilst pregnant. She can take maternity leave at any time or leave her job altogether. She can stay up until the point that she, and not some old men, decides to take a break.

I have read how this means that Israel hates women. Ignoring the hypocrisy of how women are treated by the countries that want all Israelis dead, I think it shows how much Israel respects women. Everybody is supposed to serve at least two or three years in the IDF. Theoretically. There are a million ways to get out of compulsory service. Especially for women. All of my sisters got out of it. Women who serve generally have more options than men. And pregnant women can do pretty much whatever they want.

But the fact that a pregnant woman can choose to serve in a combat position scares the hell out of a lot of people. Sooner or later there is going to be a photograph in a newspaper of a pregnant soldier lying dead on the ground. That will not be a good day for anybody. There will be reports issued by committees. Options will likely be reduced. Women’s groups will complain about regression. I would never want to be the face of that campaign. Especially since it would require my untimely demise and the likely death of my unborn. I am glad that I have the choice and since I do, I choose to keep us safe.

One of the best things about getting wounded in service to your country, aside from all the fun scars and party conversation topics, is the food. Take a bullet for your country and you get all the ice cream you can eat. They say babies eat whatever their mothers eat. I hope this one likes chunky monkey.

03 July 2014

A Tale of Two Systems

It was neither the best of times nor the worst of times.

I am not at all unbiased when it comes to the relationship between Israelis and the terrorists who want to murder all Jews, most Arabs and any Muslims who disagree with their fanaticism. Some might even argue that that sentence shows a complete lack of impartiality. It is true. I do not want my family, my country and my entire culture to be wiped off the face of the Earth. Strange as that may sound.

Some might even say that my portrayal of this is too extreme. But is it? One side wants to be left alone. One side wants to kill every last man, woman and child on the other side whether they are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze, Baha’i, other. You know you must have taken a wrong turn somewhere when you want to blow up the Baha’i.

I may be biased but those do not sound like equally balanced goals. If my side wins then everybody gets their own state and people can live their lives in peace and Coca Cola. If the other side wins then most of the people I know are dead. So I am obviously biased toward the peace and lack of genocide option.

But let’s see if we can look at this objectively. Three Jewish teenagers were kidnapped and murdered. Then an Arab teenager was murdered. Four children are dead but is there any difference in how people responded to those murders.

The Jewish teenagers were kidnapped because they were Jewish. They were likely kidnapped so that they could be traded for convicted mass murderers or money. The people who kidnap teenagers for ransom consider kidnapping a legitimate course of action in their crusade for domination over both the land and its people.

The Arab teenager was probably murdered because he was Arab. He was either murdered in retaliation over the Jewish teenagers or he was murdered by Arab terrorists. Time will tell. People who murder each other in retaliation know that it is wrong. People who murder their own kind in order to incite hatred of another group think that such a thing is a legitimate course of action.

Israeli leaders held Palestinian leaders, especially Mahmoud Abbas, responsible when the Jewish teenagers were kidnapped. Abbas said that it was none of his business since Hamas kidnapped the children and he does not control Hamas. That used to be a convenient excuse for complete inaction, especially since Hamas and Fatah spent more time killing each other than they did killing Israelis. But now they are supposedly united. If Abbas is their anointed dictator as he claims then he is responsible for their actions. If he is not responsible for their actions then he is clearly not their united leader. I am perfectly willing to accept either option but no one should accept both.

Palestinian leaders held Israeli leaders responsible for the Arab teenager. Abbas specifically singled out Netanyahu, saying that the leader of a people is responsible for the crimes of those people, even though he has always absolved himself completely of any and all responsibility of crimes committed by his people. Say what you will about Mahmoud Abbas but the man has chutzpah.

Israeli officials acted immediately when the Jewish teenagers were kidnapped and the area was thoroughly searched. This prompted an outcry from leaders of the searched neighbourhoods who felt that their people should be left out of it. There was no offer from Palestinian officials to help bring the murderers to justice.

Palestinian leaders demanded that Israel immediately find the murderer of the Arab teenager and bring him to justice, even though that would require searching neighbourhoods and upsetting some of those people.

Israeli citizens sat back and waited to see what would happen when the Jewish teenagers were kidnapped. There were prayers and condolences but the officials in charge were allowed to do their jobs and find the children. There were more prayers and more condolences when the bodies were found. People called for the murderers to be brought to justice but there were no chants of genocide or ethnic cleansing.

Palestinians rioted and attacked soldiers and each other in the streets when the Arab teenager was found. There were chants of “death to Israel” and “death to Jews” and somebody somewhere is probably making a few explosives.

Some Palestinians danced in the streets when the Jewish teenagers were found dead and people publicly rejoiced at the murder of three children. Some Palestinian leaders praised the kidnappings and the murderers were immediately praised as heroes.

No Israelis rejoiced at the murder of the Arab teenager. Israeli leaders, as well as the families of the murdered Jewish teenagers, publicly condemned the killing. As did the United Nations, United States, several other countries. The murderer is seen as a criminal in Israel.

The memorial services for the Jewish teenagers included crying, public support for each other and families, lots of prayers and hugging.

The memorial services for the Arab teenager included flag burnings, rocks thrown, chants of death to Israel and the United States.

When a Palestinian child is killed, people say that children should always be left out of it. There is international outrage and all the American news outlets interrupt their endless coverage of Syrians and Iraqis killing each other. Everybody says that these children are innocent bystanders who should not pay for the actions of their fathers and grandfathers. I agree with that completely. Unlike the United Nations, the International Community and CNN, I also agree with that even when it is Jewish children who are paying.

One side of this conflict teaches their children that there are disputes and disagreements. The other side teaches their children that Jews are evil monsters and must be murdered indiscriminately at all costs, as should any Arab “collaborators”. Which is more damaging to both sets of children? A checkpoint is inconvenient but it will never kill your child. A bomb strapped to his chest almost definitely will.

I was just wondering.

20 June 2014


I have given some thought about pregnancy and childbirth in the internet age and I have decided that my child will be the first, and likely only, child born in the year 2014 that will not have a Facebook account, Twitter account or have thousands of portraits online before she or he is even old enough to know what a portrait is. I shall indeed photograph the crap out of this child but those images are for people who can see them without a computer.

When my sisters and I were children our parents took pictures of us. But instead of plastering them all over the internet, which would have been quite the feat at the time, those pictures were stored in bulky books we used to call photo albums. When visitors came over they could look at the photo albums or choose not to. Those pictures were never thrust upon anybody. Our parents were somehow able to live full and satisfying lives without illustrating their every thought with pictures of their little angels. Amazingly, against all odds, we survived.

Maybe in 20 years I will do whatever the equivalent of a blog will be then and flood it with 20 years’ worth of zlap files and holograms. But for now this child is going to have some semblance of a private life.

At least until the teen years. Then I will close my eyes and hope for the best.

10 June 2014

The Pregnancy Pledge

I, state my name, pledge not to turn this into a pregnancy blog. The only people who find those even the least interesting are other pregnant women. Pregnancy is like climbing Mount Everest. People want to hear that you are doing it and they want to hear the end result. But only those who have also done it want to hear about all the details in between.

I pledge to only mention my frequency of urination whilst pregnant as much as I did before pregnant.

I pledge not to ever use the phrase “mucus plug”. Other than just now.

I pledge to never tell Cyberia how dilated my cervix is or discuss the goings on of my uterus.

I live in a culture where pregnant women are automatically the centre of attention. I have a mother who has been on me to have children for almost half of my life, and sisters who are desperate for another niece or nephew. I do not need Cyberia for attention.

But I am going to point out just how completely surreal it is to be pregnant. For most of your life, aside from those teenage years, your body is your body. Suddenly it takes on a life of its own. I suppose technically it is the life growing inside that takes over. People who jump from 135kg to 60kg or people who become paraplegic probably know what it all feels like but most of us have relatively consistent bodies. Those of us who stay in shape are accustomed to feeling a certain way and knowing that we can count on our bodies to do whatever it is supposed to do. Pregnancy changes all of that.

Swimming is still in. Swimming is a great way to exercise at every stage of pregnancy. Being the size of a whale is irrelevant under water. In fact, actual whales do much better in water than out.

Rock climbing is out. Minor falls that I would never give a second thought are suddenly cause for concern. My doctor also suggested I not do any skydiving in the immediate future but I have not willingly jumped out of a plane in some time.

Surfing is still ok but my centre of gravity will gradually shift. That will likely make it all far more difficult than it needs to be. Surfers spend a lifetime working on balance. There is probably a reason you never see a nine month pregnant woman on a surfboard.

Running is still in but I am going to have to gradually slow down in the coming months. I suppose now is not the best time to sign up for a marathon.

Now I am supposed to watch my heart rate. Nobody should ever let it get too high but it was never something I paid much attention to before. When I push myself too hard there are usually a million other things that go before my heart.

I probably had more to say but I have to get to the bathroom now.

01 June 2014

Venom of Asps

If you love to read somebody bloviate on politics and religion, and who does not, then you are in luck. The soon to be phenomenal international best seller, Venom of Asps, is on sale now.

Barnes and Noble

Cast of Characters:
Jimmy Carter
Mohandas Gandhi
Thomas Jefferson
Judea and Samaria
Tzipi Livni
Nelson Mandela
Paul McCartney
Benjamin Netanyahu
Barack Obama
Sarah Palin
The previous pope (that German one)
Marion Robertson
Gilad Shalit
Ariel Sharon
Margaret Thatcher
Moshe Ya’alon
Helen Zille
and Jacob Zuma as the bad guy

27 May 2014

So a Pope Walks Into a Church

What I don’t know about Christianity could fill a new testament. I am not about to pretend that I understand everything there is to know about the various conflicts and divisions amongst the various sects. But I do know that the current pope went to Jerusalem to heal the wounds of the past. Good luck with that. If Jerusalem has seen one thing it is people holding ancient grudges.

Christians from my point of view are all the same religion. Different groups have different ways of doing things but so do Jews. I see all Jews as Jews, not orthodox, traditional, heredi.

Many Christians would obviously disagree with me. And I am in no position to counter whatever their argument is. Be one religion, be one hundred religions. Whatever works for you.

Whatever you think of the pope, his mission to Jerusalem seems like a decent enough idea to me. He will likely never reach his goal but Jerusalem welcomes all anyway. It is a democratic city in a democratic country. Even a pope is free to visit.

I cannot say where the pope went exactly or anything about his itinerary but I know that he went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Say what you will about all that murdering in the name of Jesus but that is one impressive looking church.

Was Jesus really executed there? Was he buried there? Is that where he came back to life? Each question seems less likely than the last but who cares. It is a really good looking church. Anybody visiting Jerusalem, whether Christian, Jewish or miscellaneous, should have a look.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

That ladder they are not supposed to move

The sepulchre

Entrance to the main church

Ceiling over the main church

The smaller of the two domes

A few mosaics

Greek Orthodox choir

A mosaic near the “Stone of Anointing”
This shot is an unusual angle because it was taken from above the stone on Calvary

Chapel of St Helena

From one dome to the other

Under the larger of the two domes