Man vs. Machine – matchup in 4 rounds

With all my feminist pretensions, in some aspects I’m still that old-fashioned “Man”. One of these aspects is my deep relations with the car. Controlling the car is one way to prove your manhood.

When we went to visit our son in North Carolina last autumn, I ordered a rented car to pick up at the airport. I asked for a cheap car, only to have 4 wheels and a motor. Apparently there were not really cheap cars to offer, so I order the cheapest available.

When we arrived at the agency to take the car, the model that we ordered was not available, as the yard was full of luxury cars and jeeps. The agent went to the neighbors to borrow something that will not be too much above what we were paying for. Still it was an automatic car more modern than anything I’ve seen before.

“You can go; it is all yours!”car_tamer

But I didn’t find the ignition to put the keys in and rotate. I was looking around, confused, and had to leave the car where it was, blocking the lane, and went to call him back from the office to the cold night.

“How do I start it?”

Well, there was a simple “Power On” button just in front of me, as if the car was a damned dumb toy.

I drove out and started to get used to the automatic gear that lets lazy drivers just press the gas pedal…

* * *

The real challenge came as we were driving in a narrow park road in the Appalachian Mountains. We took a wrong lane and wanted to make a U-turn. I entered in reverse an even narrower road that joined the park road. It was steeper than what I imagined. I stopped the car with its tail down and prepared for the driver’s ultimate test of leaping up a steep slope.

But where are my hand brake and my clutch pedal that I should release gradually and carefully? All I had is this lousy automatic gear and one gas pedal. I didn’t believe we will make it and had a strong feeling the car is going to roll down back into the valley.

As I pressed the gas pedal, the car moved quietly up the steep lane and into the park road. It didn’t show any tendency to roll back, not even by one inch. (Yes, it was an American car – so it was thinking in inches, not centimeters).

I was shocked. The car simply knew that while it is on “drive” and not “reverse”, it shouldn’t go back. It didn’t need any of my manly superior capabilities to tell her how to do the right thing.

* * *

As I started to doubt the future of mankind and ask existential questions, I didn’t notice that something went wrong with the car. I tried to speed up but it hardly responded – or rather responded by loud vocal roar of the motor but little motion.

I tried to slow down and accelerate again, but it was still the same thunder without lighting.

Finally I understood.

While taking the leap up on the steep slope, the car entered the power gear mode.

I had to stop and power off the motor in order to get it back to normal driving mode.

I was reassured of my manly superiority over the foolish car.

* * *

As we drove to the airport and turned the car back to the agency, they asked me whether it was all OK.

Well, pretty much so. I said. There’s only one problem. When I lock the car with the remote control, sometimes it locks, sometimes it doesn’t.

The man laughed at my provincial ignorance and showed me the trick.

If you lock the car but stretch your hand back to the door with the keys in your hand, the door senses the proximity of the keys and unlocks…

Well, maybe I’m still smarter than the automatic gear, but I’m surely no match to this damned thought-reading creepy door.

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The battle for Hattin is still being waged…

Going on a trip to the Horns of Hattin forces you to think about history.

I was reading about the historic battle, back in the hot summer of 1187, when the Arab forces, led by their Kurd commander, Salah ad-Din Al-Ayubi, defeated the armies of the Crusader “Kingdom of Jerusalem”. No doubt, one condition for the victory was the ability of Salah ad-Din to unite the Arab and gather armies from Egypt, Syria and Trans-Jordan, to confront together the European invaders that were already entrenched in Palestine for 88 years. But, from another viewpoint, Salah ad-Din was actually in truce with the crusaders’ king Guy of Lusignan. Only attacks by loose extremist settlers, led by

FadilSabaMountofBeatitudes_Hittin_at_time_of_British_Mandate

Hittin village at the time of the British Occupation – more than 2000 years old

“Raymond of Tripoli”, against Muslim pilgrims and their threat to attack Mecca led Salah ad-Din to call for Jihad and gather his forces for the decisive battle.

 

Our first stop on the route has even deeper historical roots. It is the remains of the Arab village of Hittin that was inhabited and known by this name already in the 3rd century BC. It was the Zionist Ethnic Cleansing of 1948 that uprooted this village after more than 2200 years. Now only the mosque and some half-destroyed structures are still standing to testify of what was a village of 1380 people.

After a long walk up the mountain, much of it is closed by all kind of fences for archeological, industrial and probably military areas, we turned to climb the southern “horn” from the main tourist route on its south. We try to read the official sign, planted there by the park’s authority… It is speaking about the geological history of the volcanic mountain, which was throwing hot lava some …. years ago… Well, someone deliberately scratched the numbers out. We turned to the English text, but it was scratched out also. Only with great effort we succeeded to make sense of what was left of the

The_tomb_before_desecration

Church of God memorial before desecration

writing: 4.3 million years ago. Apparently somebody decided that this writing was hereditary and tried to save our innocent souls from reading it.

 

In the internet site where we read about the route, we were told that we will meet a Christian Memorial next, on our way up the mountain. We were lucky to have the chance to read it before we came there – as when we reached the black stone it was all scribbled over and we couldn’t figure out anything of the holy writings that were there once.

A Bedouin Arab couple that we met just near the memorial told us that it was a holy girl_near_desecrate_tombsign brought from the Vatican. They shared our condemnation of this new expression of the desecration of Muslim and Christian holy places by extremist Jewish settlers at the name of religion… They even let their small girl be photographed with the desecrated stone. Being a resident of the area, this young girl may represent the future of Hittin, which is still torn by invaders and religious extremists, but will inevitably return to its people.

(Coming back home, we discovered a video describing the erection of the memorial, not so long ago, in the autumn of 2014. No, it was not coming from the Vatican, but from “TheChurchOfGod.org”. We also discovered that the news about its desecration was already published in the Arab press on December 1, 2015. So it is not hot news, just business as usual in occupied Palestine).

 

Hittin_mosque_beyond_Barbed_Wire

Hittin’s mosque beyond barbed wire

Being Israeli all the way…

While the state of Israel is hunting down and killing Palestinians every Netanyahu_to_be_Israeliday, its hate-mongering Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke in Tel Aviv and called on the Arabs in the 1948 occupied territories: “Whoever wants to be Israeli must be Israeli all the way”.

This reminded me of an old joke about one Arab Palestinian family that decided to take the challenge and do just that…

Muhammad and Fatimah were fed up from being victims of discrimination and applied to convert to Judaism with their two small kids.

The state of Israel is not fond of Arabs that like to be Jews, neither are the religious Jewish authorities easy to convince, as they don’t want Arabs that just look for material benefit. They will only convert true believers. So they requested the couple and their children to prove their devotedness by swimming across the Jordan River at the middle of a storm.

Muhammad was a strong man. He was the first to reach the other side of the river and became Shlomo. Fatimah almost drowned in the water but with her insistence and devotion she finally made it and became Shlomit.

As they were sitting together on the shore, they witnessed their two kids struggling with the water and finally drifting down the stream.

Now, being Israelis all the way, they told each other: “Never mind, it is two Arabs less.”