Turkey Makes A Choice

Can The Djin Go Back in the Bottle?

Earlier this week it was interesting to see Turkish policies
regarding ISIL, be exposed for the world, and specifically her NATO allies to
see. There’s been some question in Western capitals about who’s side exactly
Turkey is on in the fight against these militants. Up until yesterday it
certainly looked like they were doing the unthinkable and supporting the

Turks were not allowing the US or her Arab
allies to use forward Turkish airbases to attack ISIL targets in Syria and

Turkish Kurds were being kept from entering
Syria to help defend Kobani from ISIL.

ISIL has realeased 49 Turkish hostages, Turkey
claims no ransoms were paid, a covert operation was launched. That doesn’t
really explain how 49 people, including men, women and children were released
from the center of ISIL territory, transported to Mosul and brought home with
not a shot fired. By hey, it’s their story, their sticking too it.  Reality is there was probably an exchange of

There have been pro-ISIL demonstrations in
Ankara an Istanbul in recent weeks, fundamentalist Islam is not dead in Turkey.

Now we hear the Turks have “changed” their mind and are allowing
the Kurds in move into Iraq. For sure securing Turkish nationals changes the
Turkish calculus in this engagement; it frees their hands a little bit. I’m
also guessing that Edrogan and his Islamic AKP party is has realized that
Islamic Fundamentalists on their southern borders are far worse than the
Kurdish state they’ve been fighing against for the last 40 years.

Edrogan came to power in Turkey 2003, as many moderate
Islamic politicians do, by promising to clean up corruption. Religious folks
seem to have the monopoly on that argument. He maintains his power base in
rural Turkey away from the secular cities. During the Arab Spring he spent a
lot of time flying around the Middle East promoting pan Islamic cooperation and
a new alliance of Middle Eastern countries that would be self-reliant and not
dependent on the West.

Along the way he’s consolidated power, removed the
opposition where ever he can and introduced more  restrictions on the press and social
media/internet usage. He’s led a shift towards Islamic law in Turkey, which
traditionally has been a non starter in Turkey due her 80 year tradition of
secular reforms introduced after the fall of the Ottoman Empire by the modern
state of Turkey’s founder, Kemal Ataturk.

Now I have to wonder if Edrogan’s Islamic genie is starting
to have concerns. It’s one thing to leverage nationalism and religious fervor
to make political gain, but what happens when you can’t controls the fervor?
Clearly the Turks are trying to choose between two realities, supporting the
Kurds, with whom they’ve fought an on again, off again low grade war for 40
years or more. Or do they hold back the Kurds and in doing so, give tacit
support to ISIL.





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It would appear that they’ve chosen to support the Kurds,
pragmatically kicking the Kurdish issue down the road to deal with a more ominous
reality. A fundamentalist Sunni state on Turkey’s southern border would have
serious implications on Turkey’s internal politics. A rise of Islamic Fundamentalism
in Turkey would be a fire that even Edrogan would have trouble putting out.


Filed under Edrogan, ISIL, ISIS, KURD, Kurdistan, Kurds, Turkey

When do we get serious about Ebola?

Pardon me for being an alarmist, 99% of the time I’m not a conspiracy guy or one who gets too excited about things.. but this Ebola business…

When things were getting bad in Africa, I wasn’t particularly worried, after all I’ve been told for a million years all the reason that Ebola couldn’t come to the US, and if it did, why we would be able to contain it quickly, this isn’t a failed third world African country after all, this is the US. Modern western countries know how to deal with this. 


  • You can only get it from direct contact with body fluids. Granted Ebola patients tend to leak a lot of fluids.
  • Modern medical procedures, isolation practices, gowns, visors etc will prevent secondary infections. 
  • Public Health policies will enable us to track folks who might be exposed and contain the contagion. 

All summed up the messages have been “not to worry America, we have this under control”. 
Well pardon me for be alarmed. 

  • Modern medical prodecures have failed in three known cases so far. More to come I bet. Sad thing is, we don’t really know exaclty how what happened. 
  • The Dallas Patient Zero had to go to the ER TWICE to get treated, despite telling folks that he’d just come from the Ebola hot zone. Did he bother mention that he’d cared for a woman dying of the disease? Don’t know. 
  • Apparently he sat in a room with other patients, shedding virus through vomit and other displeasurable things for 90 minutes. 
  • The Dallas hospiltal where he was a patient has reported 72 people had direct contact with him has part of his care team. But, assured the CDC, they’re all being monitored. 
  • Today we learn a second hospital worker has become infected and that the night before she started having a fever… aka showing symptoms, she was on a comercial flight, with 100+ other folks. 

So, how exactly are working to contain this virus? I’m actually getting a little concerned to be frank. 
My favorite quote of the day, a college in Texas has decided to ban students from any country in Africa that isn’t free from Ebola. Ironic given that Texas is currenlty not free from it and the Texas Department of Health seems to be operating at about the same level of effectiveness as the Liberian Ministry of Health. 

One of the issues here is we seem to be intersecting political correctness with or pandemic response, which is bullshit. 

My questions for the gang at the CDC and our President- 

  • So, we’re screening passengers from LIberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the areas hardest hit. Great, why are we even allowing flights from those countries to land on US soil? On something that spreads this easily and has a 50% mortality rate, shouldn’t we maybe err on the side of caution? 
  • And why are we sending the US Military into those countries? If we can’t protect professional health care workers we sure as hell aren’t going to be able to protect soilders. Personally, I think I’d rather face ISIL if I was in the Military. Then, what do we do with all those soldiers when they get home and start getting sick? I’m sure they’ll be 100% upfront and honest and report to the isolation ward at the first sign of illness. [sic]
  • So, people who are exposed to this deadly virus and as such are identified as being at risk to contract and spread the disease, we’re monitoring these people closely? Apparenlty monitoring doesn’t include making them stay off a fucking airplane? For 30 days or so stay home, go to your hospital job where we can keep an eye on you, but don’t get on a damed plane. BTW, apparenly the CDC is now working with the airlines to figure out who the passengers are so we can “monitor” them. I have to ask, what about the 1000’s of people she potentially interacted with at the airport. Did she shed virus at anytime when she was there? 
  • Do we even know how this is spread. Nothing else we’ve been told has been 100% honest, to be honest. 

Bottom line in my heart of hearts I don’t think this is going to be a pandemic like some doomsday folks would describe. My concern is why the HELL we aren’t treating this with over due caution as opposed to what looks from the outside anyway, like the minimum requirements. When SARS was going through Hong Kong, and granted it was spread via aerosol, making it much more contagious, the authorities in Hong Kong locked down an entire housing development until NO NEW CASES were present. 

It seems to me that this would be the same protocol for Ebola, because frankly the CDC, the Texas Department of Health and the WHO haven’t proven that they know how to contain this thing. 

Before we all jump off the deep end on this- a little bit of good news to keep you sane. 
So far, and now we’re approaching the 21 day window of for incubation we have NOT seen any infection with the family he was staying with, nor the ambulance first responders who brought him to the hospital on September 29. This supports the CDC’s statement that as the patent deteriorates they become more infectious. More importantly it  should help the people on the Frontier Airlines flight feel a bit better about their chances of not being exposed to the virus. 
With 5000 cases in the last few months in Liberia, we have learned a thing or two about the disease. This is good. 
The two nurses who have contracted the disease were involved in the patents care throughout the entire 10 days he was in the hospital including his last two days when he experienced complete organ failure and intensive bleeding. 
It still doesn’t excuse the actions of the Texas Department of Health. As a matter of fact the second Ebola patent is being evacuated out of Texas, she’s being sent to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta where there’s experience and expertise dealing with this disease. 

I’m certain there’s more to come on this. 


Filed under CDC, Ebola, Ebola Transmission, Epidemic, Frontier Airlines, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Pandemic, Texas Department of Health, WHO

Long Overdue Dude

it’s been a week or two here SankWorld. I’d like to think we’re getting to the
point where things are getting better, but I don’t really see that happening.

is a bad thing given a little health scare I had a week or so ago. I’’ve been
told to do something’s differently. Both by the physician and by the resident
RN around here, Mrs S. 60 hour work weeks once in awhile, you do what you have
to to do, but every week… there’s a price for that and I’m going to wind up
paying it.

So change is in the works.

the easy one, it’s the weight loss that I have to get done as part of this
that’s going to suck.


no time like the present. Jewish New Year and all, the official time for making
changes. So lets get it done, before the choices aren’t mine anymore.

On more uplifting news-

It’s Fall here in the  Soon To be Great White
North. That means fall colors time. Lots of fall colors. Amazing fall colors
this year thanks to the 25” of rain we got back in June. Trees had lot of
nutrients to make great foliage or some damned thing.

Fall is, hands down, my favorite time of the year. Bugs are gone, the world around
here is painted gorgeous, crisp nights make sleeping easy.. so much to like.
Made it out for some fall fishing on Saturday. Launched the boat at 7:30 am, it
was 25 degrees out. Boat ride at 25 degrees means no need for coffee.

But it was well worth it for the photos I took…Enjoy


Filed under Life

Online Privacy- A Revolution is Coming

There’s a little revolution going on in America these days, a revolution that’s just a bit overdue in my humble opinion. 

Sunday night this fat man was in his local Target for a quick fill in trip. On almost every trip I make to Target I stop by the Starbucks counter to pick up a coffee.  On this particular night I did not, instead I went to the grocery aisle, grabbed a few things and checked out. When you check out at Target these day you get a handful of coupons. That night I got a coupon for 50% off any baked good at Starbucks when I bought a cup of coffee. Sweet right? Coincidence, no.  

Also this week we’re having some mouse problems around the house. Happens every fall, the temperatures start to cool down and the critters come in from the woods and look for places like my garage to overwinter. I googled pest control, surfed a couple websites and didn’t think anything about it. A few minutes later, I went to the Breaking Bad Wiki to look up a character there on the side of the page was an ad for pest control. 

*&%$! I’d been tracked. 

On the way home from the mouse trap store NPR ran a story about how companies are using your smartphones to track and plot your movements through out the entire day. If they know where you go, they can start to predict where you’re going to be, know more about your preferences, know more about the population segment you belong too.… Profiling you basically but since it’s for private use no one cares, or knows or both. 

The point of all this data is so that marketers, retailers and service providers can understand you, as each and every one of you better in order to serve you up more relevant advertising, more personalized offers, and predict what you like and what it takes to incent you to buy. 

Rest assured they tell us, there’s no identifiable information, just some benign averages that help them help you have a better experience on their websites, blah blah blah. 

Telemarketers are way ahead of the online tracking crowd when it comes to personalization and segmentation. They’ve been doing it a lot longer and although they may not have the sophisticated tools that the online folks, I almost never pick up a telemarketing call on my home phone that doesn’t start with “Hello Gary” or “Mr Sankary…” Not much more personal than that. 

I’m going to go on record with two statements, words of wisdom that I’ll pass along to my kids.

If you aren’t paying for it, you aren’t the customer, rather you are the product. 

I don’t want to be the product. I’m not for sale, or am I?

I think one of the most common little white lies I’m told these days is “we use cookies to give you a more personalized and richer experience on our website.” What they mean by that is “we use cookies to help us understand what you do online so we can fine tune our understanding of you and sell that data to just the right advertiser. 

Back in the day I had a geography professor who used to say that the one universal law of the world he’d found was “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”. 

This is the modern version of that axiom. Facebook is fun to use, but rest assured you ain’t the customer. It’s a very disarming and subliminal tool that folks have invented to get you to tell them all about yourself in ways that if they came out and asked you straight up, you’d tell’m to go sod off. Keep that in mind when you start liking companies and products. 

Nothing good ever comes from collecting human data. 

Oh I know, lots of medical advances can be attributed to statistical models and contact maps of people’s behaviors. There is a lot of sociology and psychology that relies on studying groups of people, and to study groups of people you have to segment them and look for patterns in behaviors.  

But what happens when all this “good” data goes to bad purposes? 

Years ago when I was working at a Big Box retailer we were listening to a presentation by a German company who had developed some really interesting statistical modeling and data analysis tools that they were using to segment people. They created a groups based on peoples age, race, gender, buying habits, propensity to shop in certain ways, at certain times. Great data for specific targeted ad campaigns. 

I however, couldn’t get the following thought out of my head; Man, those Germans just can’t stop categorizing people. 

You get my point. In 1935 they used IBM products to do it, now they’re using far more sophisticated tools. But this is 2014 and Google and Facebook and everyone else has promised to “do no evil” and a company isn’t the government and we should trust them to do good in the world. 

I argue they can’t help it. Once the data is collected it’s just too damn tempting. I hear from my kids “I don’t care if they tack me, not like I’m doing anything illegal or weird. I like getting 11 cents off my $4.00 coffee at Starbucks”. Or my neighbor, I think it’s great that Walmart will find any deals I missed and refund the difference to me on a card. 

So, you sign up for a service where you basically tell Walmart about every thing you buy from them, regardless of tender; credit card, check and cash and for that you get how much back? About 11 cents. 

So what’s the problem? 

Benign scenario - Gay households spend tend to spend more on home decor categories than traditional families. They also tend to have more disposable income, which makes them more attractive to retailers who sell these products. The clever analyst at the Big Box home improvement store uses data mining tools on social networks to figure out who likes the Advocate on Facebook,  who sends tweets and Foursquare updates from Gay bars. They mine credit card and loyalty card data to figure out who’s spending more on Home Decor than they’d expect. 

 Little cross referencing of emails and address in the customer database with their email address from social network sites, and add in some known website vists, known because the stores tracker beacons follow them around the net as they browse sending that data back to the mother ship, and boom, we have a list of folks who we think are going to be our best customers in Home Decor and we can start sending them offers to email, smartphones, texting when they’re in the stores (Because they signed up for our store app), it’s marketers dream, and they’re scrambling to get better and better at it all the time. See Big Data…

Benign scenario gone bad – That Big Box guy, while he many have no intention of his list ever leaving his organization, heck it’s proprietary. It will be safe behind the firewall of his big company. Which BTW was breached to the tune of 100M customer records just a few weeks ago, and now the list is in the wild and it’s on a radical groups website and it’s been retitled “Known Homosexuals”. Has their addresses, emails and maybe their credit card data. 

Get the point? 

As this scenario develops, as we tell the anonymous cloud more and more about us, the day WILL come when this information will be used for bad.  

So, what do you do? 

You protect yourself and your privacy. 

Rule number one for privacy I’m sad to say, don’t use Microsoft Explorer to surf the net. Even if you have Windows 8.1 and like the slick integrated web pages.. there are no add ons available for Explorer to block tracking or ads. This is a deal breaker for me. I use Firefox, Safari and Chrome. 

For those browsers there are two big players in the online privacy space to think about, I use them both. 

Ghostry-  Ghostery is browser add on that blocks almost 2000 commonly used web trackers and the list is updated almost daily. Included here are beacons, ad placement trackers, privacy trackers, widgets etc all of which monitor you online behaviors and send that data to an aggregation tool which either uses it or sells to the highest bider. That’s YOUR DATA being sold Seems to me like it should be yours to sell. 

Note that there are some websites that will pay for you allow yourself to be tracked for this purpose. They seem more honest than having LargeOnineStore drop a tracker on your web page that sends back information about our pornography preferences or your banking habits. 

AdBlockPlus- Ad block software finds places on websites where code from third party sites are placed. This codes allows ad tracker tools to layer in the specific ad selected for you. It blocks this code so you never need to see the ad. Iv’e been using it so long I can’t stand surfing without it. Your favorite websites, with adblocker running really look nice a clean, no side bar ads, no flash video bogging down your computer, no banners, it’s really nice. And, no ads running before the video or news story you want to watch. It catches misdirect before the piece you want to see and blocks it. 

Do these things work? Well, Google blocked them from the Play Store and Microsofts won’t even turn them so I’m thinking ya, they work. 

In addition you can turn off your cookies, or your third party cookies, or have them delete themselves at the end of your session. Means you have to sign into sites every time, but personally its worth it. Or buy 1Password, and sign in securely every time and don’t worry about remembering your pass. 

SmartPhones- These are tougher, the blocking software isn’t there, and the devices are controlled by the cell companies who are interested in selling data about where you go every day (Collected right from the phone and correlated from the cell towers.) 

An extreme solution, if you worried about this, is to buy a $20 faraday bag. Looks like a metallic envelope. When you walk into your favorite store, assuming you don’t need your phone, slip in the bag and the phone is isolated from all signals incoming and outgoing. You won’t be tracked, but you can’t be called either. 

Personally I just leave the phone in the car when I’m shopping. 

Better thought is to NOT use any retailers phone apps. Savings are minimal and those apps, that you allow to use your location services when you agree to terms of service, means when you are in the store, they’re tracking you movements, When you’re in a competitors store they’re also tracking your movements. 

So there’s a school of thought that says I’m bringing down the free version of the internet. Personally that would be OK with me, I’d rather pay $20 a month for ad free email than see stupid text messages at the top of my list of messages. (Which I don’t really see because they’re blocked). Personally I believe that this advertising has become so intrusive and such a clear violation of privacy I’m justified in trying to protect myself. 

And I’m not alone. Ad Blocker and Ghostry each are reporting over 150K downloads a month and the numbers are growing. 

Google, the worlds only real search engine these days, which is 100% about data mining and tracking is starting to notice a small search engine upstart DuckDuckGo.com, If you have’t heard of them yet you will. Their motto is simple “Google tracks you, we don’t”. This summer Apple made them the default search engine in Safari. 

The Europeans are ahead of us in this arena. In Europe there are much better protections for privacy than what we see here in the US. Cookies have to be disclosed, individuals can have their online profiles and data purged. 

Here every time congress has tried to enact consumer protection laws data companies, internet giants etc have successfully blocked it, claiming they can police themselves. I don’t agree. 

Between the Edward Snowden NSA disclosures and daily Russian and Chinese data breeches stealing our personal data blind we’re going to get to a point where Americans are going have and enough of all this intrusive penetration into our privacy. And I’ll be there rooting them on. 

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Filed under Ad tracking, AdBlocker, DuckDuckGo, Ghostry, Google, Internet, Internet Privacy, Privacy, Tracking

Random Family Observations on Family and Gender

Mrs S was backing her Camry out of her coveted spot in a Synagogues High Holidays parking lot. During the holidays any parking spot within in a mile of the shul is coveted.

It was my job to alert her if she was going to hit something. But, shock of all shocks, I found myself distracted. I was trying to calculate the delta between the value of my wife’s car and the new BMW she was about to back into. Strangely fascinating for some reason, and probably a significant gap in value, I’m guessing somewhere in the neighborhood of $73.5, $75K for the Beemer $1.5K for her 1997 Toyota Camry. That includes the $.5k for the new snow tires and rims that we just bought for it. BTW new lock tight, easy change rims that when asked at dinner last night by a friend “what are they for?” I answered “they’re a way for tire stores to build margin and sales dollars when housewives come in and ask about snow tires.”

Funny what distracts me, right after I said that I was distracted by Mrs S calling me something bad. Good thing we were with friends, or as I liked to think of them last night “witnesses”. “Have another glass of wine pumpkin”.

Good news is she didn’t hit the car, she saw it, no thanks to me mind you, and was able to avoid the collision. What a great way to kick off the new year with the family, ignoring my wife’s requests.

Speaking of rims, it’s never too early to start thinking about swapping out snow tires. Said the guy sitting on the porch writing this piece when it’s 82 degrees the Twin Cities. I think we might have a couple weeks or so before we have to start thinking about winter weather around here.

I had planned to go to the lake this weekend. This is the time of year when I make lots of plans to go to the lake but actually cash in on almost none of them. I feel like I haven’t been home in a while and since I had to come back early anyway for a friend’s wedding party tomorrow meh…

Mrs S was asking what we should get the 50 something year old newlyweds who have been living together for 5 years or so, and whom were married previously. [Not to each other, just to be obvious] I’m a great gift giver, Mrs S not so much. She takes too long to pull the trigger on gifts. Analysis paralysis. I’m a pick and go kinda guy.

“So what should we get them?”

“Lets gett’m a fantasy basket from Fantasy Gifts (allegedly the local “marital aids” store). I think gett’m some oils and gels and a few small appliances would be a great gift that they wouldn’t buy for themselves.”


More silence punctuated by indignation. Feigned indignation mind you, the very best kind.

First of all I am not a pig, I’m a normal 51 year old dude who is not quite dead yet. Close but not room temperature.

And what she might ask, and did ask, would I do if I got a gift like that from friends? Well I’d laugh, I’d pretend to be embarrassed, I’d close the box as soon as I opened it and remark how funny and clever everyone was and move on. And I’d put the box aside ignore it while my guests were around. BUT and this is a big but, I guaran-damn-tee-ya my heart of hearts would be high fiving my personal libido button about right then. Just thinking about trying out that massage oil that bursts into flames when you blow on it.. man, I’ve read about stuff like that and now here it is.

Homecoming at the Casa Del Sank-A-Ray this weekend. The daughter is going. I was not consulted, or conciliated. I guess that had I been consulted I would have to have been conciliated because I would have said “Nyet”. Hate dances, hate big teen events, hate socializing. Waste of time and money. Unfortunately my frugal relationship burning ways did not get passed on to the girl. And there’s this issue that Mrs S is down to her very last couple chances to get a kid all spit shined and polished up for pictures and an event. Boys never went to a dance. Hell they never went on a date that I know off. Fact is one’s 23 and ones 20 and as far as I know, the streak remains intact.

This homecoming thing has already cost me in hair appointments, which Mrs S assures me are like $12.00. Probably less since I’m told that’s the amount she tells me her monthly cut and color costs. Girl don’t need no coloring. Great Clips is like $10.00 last time I checked. Last haircut I paid for BTW… $8.00 in 1992. I digress. Dress came from Kohls so I know it was cheap. In every way mind you.

“Hey Dad want to see my outfit for the dance?”

“Sure” I never get included in anything around here.

She came down and showed it to me.

“What do you think Dad?”

“Uh, where’s the rest of it?”

Eye roll, the female exhale of indignation, blah blah blah..

The disembodied voice from Mrs S up in her room on the feinting couch.. ’cause if she don’t get her chill time in, it’s hell for all.

“Why did you bother to ask him?”

“‘Cause he things we don’t include him in anything.”

“He’s whining”

Blah blah blah

But you know, I hadda make a point “I can HEAR YOU GUYS”.

Which apparently is really funny to Mrs S because I can’t hear anything else she says.

Which is why I have a man cave, where it looks like I’ll be hiding out this weekend.

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Filed under Life

Weekend Update

Lake weekend. Not the best lake weekend I’ve had in a while. Motor problems.

New battery? Apparently not the answer, motor wouldn’t even click. @!#@T#%

Rider Mower.. started fine, I ran over something on the lawn and… dead.

As they say, deader’n shit.

All told the stupid thing is 12 years old. 12 years with narry an oil change and never a new spark plug to speak of, so you get what’s coming to you I suppose. Let’s face facts shall we, I don’t know shit about motors. I don’t want to start throwing ethnic stereotypes out there but they are they what they are. When my people have issues with small engines, big engines, siding or anything else, well… we pick up the phone and call someone. In rural Polk County, I’m just not sure who to call, help is a little sketchy.

Weather wasn’t conducive to boating and fishing, too windy. It was conducive to drinking beer on the deck as the temps were nice, and the fall colors are just starting. Another week 10 days or so and we’ll be in the full glory of Minnesota fall, glorious. We’re planning a few trips with dear friends to take in the fall colors, look for some update on this very site.

On the more spiritual side, this weekend is Slichot on Jewish calendar. The Shabbat that kicks off the Days of Awe aka the High Holidays. On Wednesday night and Thursday Morning we’ll be at the Shul for the Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashanah, in Hebrew “The Head of the Year” aka the Jewish New Year. This is the first day of the seventh month, which according Actually there technically 4 new years observances in the Jewish calendar, but this is the biggie. Like the secular new year, Rosh Hashanah is a time for reflection and resolutions. According to tradition Rosh Hashanah is the day when G-d opens the Sefer Chaim, the Book of Life and decides the fate of all Jews for the coming year. Who will have a good year, or a bad one, who will live and who… will not. The tradition continues that during the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur it’s possible to temper G-ds decision through prayer and repentance. My personal favorite teaching around this time, repentance from G-d is easy. Pray and ask for forgiveness. Repentance from people whom you’ve wronged or mistreated, for that you have to go to those people and ask forgiveness. That’s a lot tougher than praying, believe me.

And following the High Holidays we have the Jewish Thanksgiving, Sukkot and a few other minor holidays and then back to normal.

Speaking of Sukkot, I’m thinking I need to bring back the building of the sukkah tradition here the Casa Del Sankary. We lapsed on this after the kids got older and went off to school. The Oldest in Israel has a spiffy new pad in Haifa with a small yard, he’ll be building one, as will literally every one of his neighbors. I however, will need some help. I have no kids to assist with the design and construction. So, I’m trowing this out to my local blog friends- we’re doing to do this Amish style. If you’re local and interested in making a MItzvhah or like to drink Three Buck Chuck- respond here. Sukkah raising and meet the blogger = wine provided on Sunday Oct 5th. BTW Designs welcome.


Filed under Life

Trouble at Home

Mrs S is up in arms at the moment. For all my ranting and raving about the NFL these days, she’s about 10X as upset. She’s entirely focused on one thing; the abuse issues. We were watching some TV on Saturday and ad featuring and NFL player came on. I don’t remember what the ad was for, but it featured the guy working out, strength training etc in order to become big and strong so.. and this is where the voice next to me muttered “I can go home and beat up my girlfriend.”

If Mrs S is even a little bit close to the general opinion of women in this country, the NFL has a problem.

And timing being everything yesterday afternoon, having a shitload of freetime on Sundays now as I observe my NFL Boycott I sat down to watch a movie: “Kadosh”. Kadosh is an Israeli film about two sisters who are part of an ultra-orthodox Jewish sect living in Jerusalem. When we were there this summer we happened to take a bus that took us through Mea Sharim, where the folks who put the “Ultra” in Ultra live. And like any religious fanatics they basically have no tolerance for anyone outside of their circle who doesn’t share their exact beliefs. Think Mullah in Iran.

The story is about how these two women relate to their surroundings. The older sister has been married to son of the sects Rabbi for 10 years. In these Hassidic groups the Rabbi is all sense a dictator who’s word is law for the group. What he says goes. And in this case the couple are deeply in love but childless. And the dudes father is more or less ordering his son to divorce his wife. Reason? Because “a daughter of Israel has one role, to have children, to raise them, to cook for her husband and free up his time in order that he may follow G-d’s commandments and study Torah.” Not to mention the comment that “A childless woman is neither dead nor alive” and finally “a woman’s only joy comes from raising her children it’s all G-d has made for her.” You get the picture. For his part the husband, tries talking his father out of his decree, mentioning that Sarah was barren and Abraham didn’t abandon her, citing verse after verse about a man clinging to his wife, to no avail.

Never once a mention that the cause of infertility could be either or.

The gal, Rivkah, goes to the doctor, for what we think is the first time, and learns that according to all the tests, you guessed it, she’s fully capable of getting pregnant. The next step in process if for her husband to submit a sample because, as the doctor explains “it takes two”. And as she’s saying this the doctor looks at the woman and remarks that “which is never going to happen since your husband wouldn’t dream of participating, not to mention you could be in trouble just for being here..” Anyways about this point in the movie Mrs S had come downstairs as was watching, I was watching and doing some translating, which is hard when I’m not that good at it, the subtitles were unreadable and my audience was getting more and more angry as the scene unfolded. “WHAT’D SHE SAY WHAT’D SHE SAY..” Can you picture it yet?

Cheryl had commented when were in Jerusalem just how downtrodden and sad the women wearing headscarves and crappy wigs looked on the street, wearing head to toe coverings in 90 degree weather stringing 7 kids at time along with them. “You know these gals are in the same boat as the hajib wearing honeys”.

I new it was coming but at some point the “Men” word came out and it wasn’t in the most flattering way.

Well, to seal the deal the other sister is in love with a secular guy, but is being forced into marriage with a man she doesn’t love, the price of that relationship is having contact with all of her friends and family by staying in the sect. Her other is martial happiness but being outcast, shunned if you will, Amish style from the sect. She chooses marriage and we get to watch her wedding, she walks around her husband 7 times proclaiming her fidelity, obedience and her happiness and being at his feet, all the while she’s sobbing away while the men dance in their corner of the shul. We see her cutting her hair, Hassidic women are not allowed to show their hair after they’re married, except to their husbands. Something about being to sensual blah blah. So many women shave their heads and wear a wig. Typically a bad wig BTW. Or they wear a scarf or head cover that completely covers every strand on their heads. There’s the wedding night scene which is basically a sanctioned rape and a scene where she tries to talk to her husband about her sister and is totally ignored.

In the end Rivka leaves her husband as asked and takes a small room somewhere, the other sister steps out on her husband with her original love and winds up being beaten with a belt when she gets home and goes to live with her sister and this little uplifting tale comes to a close. Actually it’s a really really good movie, I think it won a Palm D’Or at Cannes. Sad to say it’s a pretty accurate view into the cloistered world of Hassidism.

But on a more practical matter it also caused a palpable sense of doom to enter into my quiet little household. Mrs S was fuming. About all she’d say was “men” and “you’re one”. Between the NFL and Hassidic Jewish lifestyles I thing she went on overload. Anti-man overload.

And then she set the bait- “you need to be a better example to your brethren dude”.

Which I took by saying “I’m a great example”. And boom it was game on. No one like to hear that that things are good when they’re in the middle of complaining about how they aren’t. My faults were; my NFL boycott hasn’t caught on meaning all my make friends are scum and I used too much garlic in the babagaounsh I made Sunday. Luckily her anger only lasted through a glass of Two Buck Chuck but still to be indicted with an entire gender, does that seem fair? “You want to see what an uncaring husband looks like? I’m going to watch another episode of the League on Netfllix and I’m not going to give a rats ass if you’re down here in front of the TV or not. HAH”. “You wouldn’t dare.” “Watch me!”

The problem with play fighting I used to tell the kids is someone always winds up crying. And this time it was me. Again.

But in hindsight if this is the worst of our issues, I’ll think we’ll be OK.


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