The last days at school

It is well known that at the last days at school the kids are able to do anything, just anything, to celebrate their new freedom after so many years of slavery…children-celebrating

So every freedom loving person should feel a bit happy for President Barak Obama that is finally freed from the obligation to serve his white racist masters at the white house.

It reminds me of my school years…

I never loved school but I had a habit of always preparing homework. I was so much obliged to do my duties that once, maybe twelve years old, when we were told to write a short description of every region of the country, I stayed home filling notebooks for several days because there were so many regions that should be described.

When I was in high school most kids already stopped doing homework, but I stayed with my obsession. Some teachers, as they didn’t want to have trouble, would simply turn to me at the beginning of the class and ask me to read homework.

I was lucky enough to leave school at the eleventh grade… I was allowed to make my exams directly through the ministry, so I didn’t have to attend classes. So, at last, in my last week at school, I didn’t prepare my homework.

My teacher, expecting a smooth sail, turned to me at the beginning of the class.

  • Please read homework.
  • I didn’t make it.

He was really shocked.

  • But why?
  • Give me a few minutes; I will give you a good excuse.

This is a basic human joy, being free at last.

Congratulations Mr. Obama for not being a slave of the Zionists any more.

My First Protest…

You can say I was a shy and quite kid, in those old days… I lived in a small village and the local school even didn’t have enough kids to open a new class every year. But for some reason, which I fail to remember now, I always regarded myself to be from the opposition, unlike the good kids that only wanted to do what the teacher wanted them to.

It was in the seventh grade, when I made my first public protest. My teacher was a narrow-minded woman that came to the school after finishing a religious teachers-seminar. At about the same time my aunt, which used to live in New York, lost her husband and came back to the village to live with the family. She started teaching English in the local school. At night we would all gather in my grandma’s “Tolstoyan” salon, speaking about life. Making fun of our provincial school was a favorite topic.kindergarten_paid_teacher

One day my aunt taught us an English phrase: “The teacher is not always right, but he is always the teacher”. I liked it. Soon I organized my best friend and together we wrote this phrase (in Hebrew, of course) on a placard, waited after school hours when the classroom was empty, built a pyramid of school tables and chairs, and hanged it on the top of the wall, just near the ceiling.

When the teacher came the next morning she clearly didn’t like what she has seen. She threatened to punish the whole class, so we admitted that we did it. But when she demanded that we put off the placard we refused, and were thrown out.

For several days we spent our schooling time in the yard. I don’t remember what we were doing there, but it could hardly be more boring that attending classes. After some days my best friend told me that he want to surrender – his parents were not happy with him spending his time out of class and he couldn’t stand their pressure. So he went on to remove the offending phrase.

I never told my parents about the whole issue. But a few days later, when my mom waked me up, she had something to tell me. “I hear you make problems at school.” She told me. “Your teacher talked with me. I don’t know exactly what you did. And I know that your teacher may be sometimes narrow-minded… But…”

“Yes, mama, I know. She might be wrong, but she is always the teacher.”

“Yes, exactly”

It was a special joy to be punished for telling the truth.

 

The Economist in China’s Wonderland

As Brexit and Trump elections discredit the lame Western Capitalism and Imperialism, Western media doubles its effort to discredit the rising Chinese Socialist power.

They have a special way to report about China where everything is negative.

On November 12th 2016 The Economist published a short report from Shenzhen about what seems as a totally boring subject: Chinese courier firms. It comes, as usual, under a patronizing title “China’s express-delivery sector needs consolidation and modernization”. But it contains such a glaring and laughable combination of contradictions that I found it worth bringing here to you.the-economist-on-courier-firms-in-china

We learn from the article that:

  1. The country’s express-delivery sector, accordingly, is doing well. In spite of a cooling economy, revenues rose by 43% year on year in the first eight months of 2016, to 234bn Yuan ($36bn).

Everybody knows that China’s economy is cooling. It is only the actual economic activity that is still red hot.

In fact the delivery sector is not just another branch of the economy. It is an indicator of other economic activities. It also signifies the rise of a more integrated and consumer based economy – just the direction that the Chinese government promised.

  1. Although the state’s grip on China’s economy is tightening, the private sector’s share of this market is actually growing.

Everybody knows that state control is tightening… only that the facts are different.

  1. The breakneck growth of courier companies masks structural problems. For now, the industry is highly fragmented, with some 8,000 domestic competitors, and it is inefficient.

We once thought that the capitalist economists would recommend competition as a driver for better services… But in China even competition between private companies is bad.

  1. Firms therefore find it hard to build up national networks with scale and pricing power. All the competition has led to prices falling by over a third since 2011. The average freight rate for two-day ground delivery between distant cities in America is roughly $15 per kg, whereas in China it is a measly 60 cents

Amazing how inefficient those Chinese are, so much so that delivery prices may be just 4% of what you pay in the most efficient US economy. Or is The Economist really shedding tears for the poor Chinese capitalists lacking the “pricing power” of monopoly?

And, no, wages in China are nothing like 4% of those in the US (unless you speak about wages of the top CEOS). In fact the minimum wage in the US is 7.25 US$, while in China it is between 1.6 and 2.7 US$.

And the troubles don’t stop here:

  1. More ominously, labour costs are rising. There are fewer migrant labourers today who are willing to work for a pittance delivering parcels. This week China Daily, a state-owned newspaper, reported that ahead of Singles’ Day, courier firms were offering salaries on the level of university graduates.

What an awful place China is becoming!

Connecting the Chicken and the Egg

How Low Can High-Tech Go?

They forced me to move again, as they always do. They just told me to take my computer and connect it in some corner in another room. I did just that.

But then the connection to the net in my new office was not working. Without the internal factory net and without internet I have no email, no access to my files, nothing productive to do at work.

It looks like a very simple problem that shouldn’t take more than five minutes for our IT service to solve.

I went down the stairs to the IT service room.

I told them that I was transferred to a new office and that I can’t connect to the net.

No problem, they said. Just file a request in our service site.

How can I enter the service site if I have no connection to the net?

Ask some friends to do that for you.

I have no friends… Can’t you open a service call for me?

At last they gave me a telephone number in Malaysia for the company’s central IT service. They promised me that these people in Malaysia can open a service call for me.

* * *

I climbed the stairs back to my new office and called IT in Malaysia.

There was a recorded message, saying that there is a new number for the international IT service, valid from August 1. It was August 1. The new number can be found on the international service site. Great news for me.

* * *

Waiting more on the line to Malaysia, there were some more options and finally I succeeded to talk with a person.

I told him I have no connection to the net.

Yes, he told me, just file a service request.

Can’t you file a service request for me?

I can, he said, but you need a local service…

* * *

Finally I robbed some other guy (who was not there) from his net connection.breaking the computer

I noticed that Malaysia opened a service request for me – and closed it, saying that the customer was convinced to open another request.

I pressed the “boo” button to open the request again.

I also opened a local service request. I promptly received an email with a link to my request on the service site. It very seriously promised to complete the logging of my request within 8 days, until August 9, 11:23 am. The handling of the request will be quickly handled until August 20, 11:23.

Having concrete commitment from IT, with such sharp timing, was reassuring. But the delicate timing made me also feel some uncertainty. What if my IT expert will have an urgent call exactly at August 20, 11:22? Wouldn’t it be smarter to leave some operational margins, making it 11:25, or even 11:30?

The next day someone from IT came in and connected my computer. It didn’t take more than five minutes.

* * *

When our artificial intelligence will start reengineering the system and come to the conclusion that the bug in the system is the human brain don’t pretend that you were subject to injustice.

 

Down and Out in Amsterdam 1973

As I was visiting friends in Amsterdam lately, I remembered my old days in Amsterdam in the autumn of 1973.

I was a shy, long haired, village boy and just finished my first year in the University of Jerusalem. I flew for a vacation to London and had an open return ticket from Amsterdam.

The war started while I was still in London. I continued according to plan and took the ferry to Amsterdam, but I definitely didn’t want to go back while the war was still raging, so I had to wait it out on low budget and hope for a fast ceasefire.

Amsterdam was a pretty good place for a young guy to kill time in that period. I embarked in a cheap youth hostel near the center. There were flocks of young people from all over Europe wandering around, still infected with the fever of the youth rebellion of the Sixties. You could sit with everybody to hear music for free in the open air. I was already pretty serious by that time about my political activism, but I wouldn’t say no to a joint if it passed by me.

Israelis looking for war

Wandering around just to keep myself away from war, I met some Israeli guys that were just looking for a way to go home to take part in the war. They were no regular flights but there were rumors about some flights that might fly to Lod from Amsterdam or some other European airports.

I remember especially one of them. He left Israel and already had good life in California. He came to Amsterdam as he heard that there may be some flight he could catch. It was not his first station in Europe. He told me how unlucky he was as he was only 18 in 1967 and just missed the war. He enlisted to the army later and continued to the USA, but he wouldn’t let himself miss another war. I still wonder whether he finally succeeded to get himself killed.

Criminal or just polite?

At the time you could hardly pass by in the streets near our hostel without having somebody whisper in your ear: “Hash, hash, hash… want hash?”

I could see where they took the willing customers. There was a middle-aged man seated always at the back of the longue in the hostel. They would seat with him while another guy would bring the stuff and soon they will go away.

Once I was hanging around in the street myself while one potential customer turned to me: Do you know where I can get hash?

Like the other guys (but without whispering in anybody’s ears), I brought him to the reliable source. I thought I’m entitled to get my fees for the service but decided to leave it like that, just being polite to everybody.

It was not a simple decision, as I was really running out of money.

Money problems

I was really naïve at the time. I had my last hundred dollars, and I tried to buy something in the street. The seller took the hundred dollar bill and requested me to wait while he is going to bring some change. He never returned. The other sellers around were looking at me like saying: you brought it upon yourself.

The war already finished and I had my flight back home, but for the last night I didn’t have money to pay the hostel, not to eat, not even to pay for the bus ticket to the airport.

In the evening I was wandering around in the streets of Amsterdam, just killing time, when some people called me. “Hey, they said, we know you from the hostel”. As I explained them my situation, they said they plan to sleep out on a boat and invited me to spend the night with them. I don’t really remember but I assume I even received some unexpected meal that night.

ComplicationsAmsterdam boats

Sitting with my new benefactors under the deck, I was not sure it was such a good luck. They were planning a robbery for that night. They went to sleep out so that there will be no evidence that they left the hostel in the middle of the night. There were maybe five men and one woman. It was her role to wake them up at around four o’clock in the morning.

I don’t think I slept much that night. But I was too egoistic to help my new friends and wake them up when the woman failed to do it. When they noticed it was already maybe six in the morning and the city around was starting to come to life – no good time for a robbery.

Happy End

I went to the station to take the bus to the airport.

As I arrived there I turned to the first man that happened to pass in the street.

“I have a ticket to go abroad, but I don’t have money to get the bus to the airport”, I told him.

He looked at me wearily.

“I know you’re lying. But I will give you the money anyway”.

I thanked him.

If you know him, please, thank him again.

 

 

Security Affair… in the Kindergarten

The following – completely true – short story is dedicated to all those people that are longing for the “democratic past” of Israel under “Mapai”.

In the middle Seventies, I was active in “The Workers’ League”, a small organization of the radical left that split from the famous “Matzpen”.

Two of our comrades were a couple of new immigrants from France. They came as Zionists but soon were disillusioned and became active in the Anti-Zionist organization. At the time that our story begins, the wife was working in a kindergarten that provided special care for children with Autism.

At the time there were not many institutions caring for these children. The kindergarten, in West Jerusalem, was affiliated to a local hospital. Our comrade was a specialist in her profession and did her best to help the children. She was loved by the management, the children and their parents.

Then, for some bureaucratic reason, the responsibility for the kindergarten was transferred from the ministry of health to the ministry of education.

As every Arab teacher knew very well at the time, in the ministry of education the last word about all appointments was given to the almighty Shin Bet – the Israeli secretive “internal security services”.

It came out that the Shin Bet’s authority didn’t spare Jewish teachers also, even not a kindergarten teacher that cared for autistic children. As soon as the ministry of education took control of the institution they informed the management that the leftist teacher should be immediately fired from her job.Dangerous_teacher

Finding a new qualified teacher for the hard task was not easy or fast, but the security authorities in the ministry refused even a temporary stay of execution until a replacement could be found. The parents faced a real problem also, as they couldn’t send their kids to the kindergarten without a teacher. Many of them had to skip work and stay at home. They organized a protest of their own, but, of course, their selfishness will not deter those responsible for the state’s security from fulfilling their sacred task.

All this was regular “no news” in the “Jewish democracy” under the “leftist” Labor Party. I wouldn’t waste your time with it unless there was a strange twist in the plot.

The teacher’s husband’s father happened to be one of the leaders of the Jewish community in France. When he heard the story he thought it is too foolish to be true. He didn’t support his son’s and daughter in law’s political activity in any way. But he thought that there is no reason that the teacher will be removed from work in a kindergarten where she obviously couldn’t have any subversive influence on the kids…

He remembered that he has a good friend. They went together to the same school and were active together in the Zionist movement. His friend made “Aliya” long time ago. By the time of our story his friend was already a pretty important minister in the Israeli government.

So he called his friend and told him of the extraordinary senseless persecution of his daughter in law. The minister quickly agreed that this doesn’t make sense and promised to speak with the responsible people and solve the problem.

The old French Jewish leader waited for a few days to hear from his minister-friend. There was no news. He tried to call him, but his good friend, untypically, was not answering his calls. He left messages in his office and home – but couldn’t get any response.

It was only a long time later when the two old leaders met by chance… The question of returning the daughter in law to her job was not relevant any more. The Israeli minister came to his old French friend and apologized: “I really tried. I did my best. But, you know, it was a security issue. I couldn’t do anything about it!”