1 May, 2021

Seiza bench

Spent the evening making the simplest sort of seiza bench for D. so she will have something comfortable to sit on during the meditation retreat next week. My son had some wood and some tools, so that made the project a little easier.


I already have one for myself, purchased in the US a few years ago, though that's a more sophisticated version, and made to be portable.


Help India?

My wife sent me a donation appeal earlier to help India, with its COVID disaster; a campaign is being handled by AVAAZ. India certainly needs help, but I don't think a crowdfunding campaign is going to achieve much. (As I write, 44,000 people had contributed.) If I were a regular customer in some guest house, or knew someone who was personally suffering as a result of the crisis, I might send some money, but to help the nation of India, with its 1.3 billion people, I don't think so.


I've decided to move my blog to Hubzilla's "Articles" component, rather than using the channel timeline. I've done so in the past. Somehow, it feels a bit awkward putting whole blog articles in a fediverse public timeline, even though we can.

There are certain drawbacks: the existing categories refer also to channel posts, so if I include a category or tag cloud on the Articles page, these refers to items that don't exist in the Articles section. It would be theoretically possible to move all previous channel posts to the Articles section, but it isn't possible to backdate posts under articles (somehow I previously managed it under channel posts.

There's a certain line that can be edited in the configuration files (include/datetime.php, I think) that permits the backdating of posts. Mike Macgirvin once kindly explained to me how to do this once, but he's deleted most of his posts from the forum: I find my question, but not his response. Nevermind. I'll just continue from here, rather than moving blog posts over.

At the same time, I updated hubzilla. It wasn't quite as simple as /util/udall, since I had made a change in the configuration files. I had to precede /util/udall with a git stash statement, do the update and then give a git stash pop statement. Only then did it agree to do the update.


Time of the Gypsies

I was looking on YouTube and somehow hit on the

Ederlezi: Time of the Gypsies - Goran Bregović, Emir Kusturica
by Ένας αγέρας on YouTube
for Emir Kusturica's Time of the Gypsies. That led to downloading and watching the entire film, which is brilliant. It's from 1988, but hasn't aged much. Kusturica is interesting guy: part filmmaker, part actor, part musician, part writer, and he lives, according to Wikipedia in a town he created for one of his films. I enjoyed Roger Ebert's review of this movie, though, in my opinion, it deserved a higher rating than he gave it.

I've had Gypsies on my mind quite a bit lately due to the Achraf Kallel remix of the Charles Aznavour song in one of the Cafe de Anatolia songs I've been listening to.

Charles Aznavour - La Bohème (Achraf Kallel Remix)
by AODION on YouTube

The Roma people, according to linguistic and genetic evidence, hail from India, and there have been appeals to recognize them as a part of the Indian diaspora. One theory I read links them to the Bauls of Bengal (the grammar of their language is closest to Bengali); another to the Doma, another caste associated with music and dance.

As for the Ederlezi song and festival (for St. George's Day and the rites of Spring), that's interesting too; incorporating, as it does, Christian E. Orthodox and Turkish Muslim elements.


St. George, the hero of the Ederlezi festival, was a Roman soldier born in Turkey, who lived about 10 miles away from here, in Lydda, where his bones are buried. Lydda's celebration of his day takes place in November. George is sacred for both Christians and Muslims. Wikipedia has quite a lot about this.

George is described as a prophetic figure in Islamic sources.[31] George is venerated by some Christians and Muslims because of his composite personality combining several Biblical, Quranic and other ancient mythical heroes.[citation needed] In some sources he is identified with Elijah or Mar Elis, George or Mar Jirjus and in others as al-Khidr. The last epithet meaning the "green prophet", is common to both Christian and Muslim folk piety. Samuel Curtiss who visited an artificial cave dedicated to him where he is identified with Elijah, reports that childless Muslim women used to visit the shrine to pray for children. Per tradition, he was brought to his place of martyrdom in chains, thus priests of Church of St. George chain the sick especially the mentally ill to a chain for overnight or longer for healing. This is sought after by both Muslims and Christians.

March 7, 2021


In the morning I worked on a post for the School for Peace website. I think I've finally educated them to give me the magic four items I need for a post: title, excerpt, photo and text. I have a hard time composing excerpts and titles in Hebrew, and in Arabic I daren't.

In the afternoon I worked on a translation of a building estimate. It's surprising how many English words I learn from such translations. Often Google Translate knows more than I do; though it too stumbles on some technical terms. Today I learned the meaning of "coping":

  • a finishing or protective course or cap to an exterior masonry wall or the like.
  • a piece of woodwork having its end shaped to fit together with a molding.

The word the architect had used was also "coping". Hebrew has a special term for adopted foreign words like this, "luazit". I don't think English has such a term for foreign borrowings. D. thinks the word has a derogatory meaning, however.

In the afternoon, we went for a walk in the fields, climbing up to what the people call Hill 360, because it has a 360 degree view from the top. Someone has placed a wooden bench there, on which we sat for awhile. I took out my camera and snapped a photo of the view towards the nearby village Ta'oz.


Ta'oz is one of a few nearby moshavs in which the state of Israel settled Cochini Jews, who are mostly dark-skinned like South Indians. In Cochin (Kochi) itself, few remain; one can visit the old synagogue in "Jew Town". Most emigrated to Israel from the 1950s. With their assimilation in modern Israel, something has been lost.

The present moshav sits on the lands of the Palestinian village of Bayt Susin, which PalestineRemembered says was "Ethnically cleansed 26,579 days ago", having been occupied on May 30, 1948. The actual village was a bit off to the left of the photo, however. A few stone walls and enclosures that the inhabitants used for their livestock, remain, but the army bulldozers were particularly efficient in erasing almost all traces of the village's existence.

March 3, 2021

Carpentry workshop

Our boss organized for us a workshop with a carpenter. We restored an old table and built a new meeting room table. The old table was rather ugly but once restored has a certain charm. In the meeting room we had a fibre-border table that Abdessalam (Allah irhamo) built. For the new one we took boards from the burned-down School for Peace building. It's not finished yet. My conclusion is that it's amazing what you can do with old stuff, but it takes a really long time to get results.


More photos here

Links Blog

★ Why Israel fears the ICC war crimes investigation | International criminal court | The Guardian
"As Matthew Cannock, the head of Amnesty International’s centre for international justice, put it: “This is a momentous breakthrough for justice after decades of non-accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity."

The TV news said there was no difference between the reactions to this from the right and left side of Israel's political map; but by "left" they mean people like Benny Gantz, who has a good chance of being convicted by the court as a war criminal.

★ The best way to avoid an ICC probe: Don't commit war crimes "With every settlement and military operation, Israel has been paving its own road to The Hague."