At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

FAT GREEN VIRGINS

In a posting discussing the dialectic style of Professor Heilman, fellow dovbearian guest-blogger Krum as a Bagel dives into fish.

His posting is here:
http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2006/06/heilmans-howlers.html


He writes:
"Another sign of the "slide to the right" could be seen in the Sabbath day culinary habits of members of putatively modern Orthodox synagogues. Post-services refreshments at these places of worship -- the kiddush -- which once featured sweet herrings -- either pickled or cream -- manufactured by old-time American food companies such as Vita and Season, were more and more often supplanted by the more traditional European salty herring, schmaltz, to the point where those who favored sweet herring would be derided by their co-religionists as Amerikainers, Yinglish for Stupid American. "


That's three types of herring mentioned in a posting which also mentions grampa Abe Simpson and onions.

You have my complete attention.

Unfortunately, treither of those three types of herring is, strictly speaking, edible.

Edible herring is green. Meaning so lightly cured as to be by American standards raw, by Midwestern standards unidentifiable, and by Dutch standards food for the soul.


Edible herring is a virgin.


Or as you might know it, a 'matje'.

Meaning a herring caught in mid to late summer, from Middle Dutch ‘maagdje’ (little virgin), modern Dutch demotic ‘maatje’ – in reference to their not having spawned yet. The reason matjes are prized is because in summer they will have recovered from winter (during which they do not eat) and have stored up fat, often having a fat content of over twenty percent, and are in consequence tasty and toothsome.


In the Netherlands (and to a far lesser extent Germany and Scandinavia ) the favoured treatment is removal of the gills, throat, and internal organs, with the exception of the alvlees klier (pancreas), whose enzymes will help ‘cure’ the fish. Immediately upon gutting it is lightly salted and packed in a cold place to ripen. The more salt is used, the longer it can be ripened.


According to Dutch food laws, it must be frozen (quick-freezing is best, as it keeps the flesh firm) for two days before being sold to the consumer, so as to kill the herring nematode. Hence those tasty fillets which you purchase from Van Altena’s spotlessly clean stand in front of the Rijks Museum will be completely safe – the more so because the merchant in question is well-known for the care with which he treats his fish, thawing them properly and keeping them chilled, nicely trimming and cleaning the fillets, and even chopping the onions precisely for the right flavour. Mr. Van Altena is an artist. A national treasure.


In the medine (Judeo-Dutch: the country districts), and especially further inland away from the coast, the preference is for a saltier herring – probably because in the olden days only those held up well when transported. Traditionally the herring sellers would board the trains with buckets of herring to be sold out in the hinterlands, at the consumer’s doorstep. The civilized and lightly salted delicacy we prefer in Mokum (Makom Alef: Amsterdam) would have been long spoiled by the time it was eaten under those circumstances. But with refrigeration, even the amharatzim can experience the farfeintere hoybstodlicher geshmak. Those lucky momzers.


The method used by the Dutch and Flemish for herring was discovered by Willem Beukelszoon Van Biervliet in 1380. Leaving the pancreas in ensures a fish which is tastier and keeps longer – in summer the pancreas produces a surfeit of enzymes which assist in the conversion of food to fat. And the fat gives the fish its divine flavour.

[Little linguistic silliness: Hebraicizing Willem Beukelszoon Van Biervliet might yield 'Ba'al ben Bikal mi Birblat'. Wow.]


Note that while Scandinaviim are fond of matjes herring, they are passionate about surstromming (herring packed in a vat with enough salt to allow fermentation, not enough to preserve it, so that it builds up a reek that can fell a mule, and the pressure might explode the vat), and lutefisk (codfish treated with lye and dried, which tastes like horsehide glue mixed with cat-litter). Both of these substances are considered delicacies and delightful. How strange.

[On shabbes, both surstromming and lutefisk are muktza machmas miyus mamesh (M4). The rest of the week their status is..... debatable.]


-------- --- -------- --- --------


Krum as a bagel can also be visited here:
http://krumasabagel.blogspot.com/
and here:
http://mavenyavin.blogspot.com/
[A shared blog - with other fine writers]


The other dovbearian guest-posterim are:

Akiva
http://mysticalpaths.blogspot.com/
And:
http://me-ander.blogspot.com/
And also here:
http://efsi.blogspot.com/
[The first and last are shared blogs, the last one very much so.]

Charlie Hall
[Internet whereabouts largely unknown]

Conservative Apikoris /CA /live "frei" or die
http://cj-heretic.blogspot.com/
[Great intro line to his blog: "Moshe goes to shul to talk to God, I go to talk to Moshe. Hi, Moshe!"]

Jameel
http://muqata.blogspot.com/

Mis-Nagid
[At present no active blog]

Nephtuli
http://primaimpressionis.blogspot.com/

Noyam
http://noyam.blogspot.com/
[Memorable quote: "That is why you are lying in a ditch on the side of the road right now and I am pinning this letter to your shirt."]

PinchasGiller
[Rumoured to be surfing off Malibu, if certain clues in the Zohar are to be believed.]

The Town Crier (TTC)
http://atowncrier.blogspot.com/


And Cousin Oliver.
[Famous man of mystery]

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INTERFAITH, SHMINTERFAITH!

NOTE: This piece was guest-posted on Dovbear's blog while Dov is on a secret mission - probably a summer cottage up in the Catskills, but who am I to call the details of his rich inner life into question?

It can be found here:
http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2006/06/interfaith-shminterfaith.html

The Dovbear blog is here:
http://dovbear.blogspot.com/


Recently a bunch of German visitors in Meah She'arim in Jerusalem were "persuaded" that they were not entirely welcome. I shall not dwell upon the different interpretations of the event - unless you live in a cave, you've already seen both sides in a number of different versions.
[If you DO live in a cave, WELCOME! Please share your wisdom - shut up.]


But I will say one thing: Orange T-shirts!


We can assume that these visitors were not Dutch monarchists. Or soccer fans.

The colour was not an accident.


Entirely aside from the deliberate statement behind the choice of hue, there is something, dare I say it, disturbing about a bunch of Germans all wearing identical shirts.........

The most positive spin on this is that it was a clumsy attempt at interfaith dialogue.


Much as I love the idea of communication and co-operation among groups, and feel that the more we know about what makes the other guy tick the more we'll all be able to get along, I am ambivalent about interfaith dialogue. And this is despite knowing that many of the people involved in the endeavor are estimable indeed, and much more intelligent and knowledgeable than myself.

Interfaith is precisely what it isn't. It's just two sides talking to each other.

Which is a good thing, to be sure, but forevvinsake leave the almighty out of it.


The understanding of the nature of G_d is explicitly different on the two sides of the Judeo-Christian divide; one cannot say that they share the same deity but differ on details - the difference is one of fundamentals.Even claiming that they have some source-texts and traditions in common is debatable. Once man's relation to existence comes into play the differences become even more glaring.

Necessarily any discussion between the two sides would have to avoid theological debate.Or even statements of differing opinions on certain fundamentals - to define the differences is already to disagree and evaluate the other.

Calling it interfaith-dialogue is somewhat misleading, as it suggests that only mere details differ.As if the various faiths are little more than menu choices at a Taco-Bell: same ingredients in similar proportions, only varying in how long they were in the deep-fryer.


I have no faith in a Fry-o-later. Do you?



PS. I could've also used the group-grope metaphor, but Dov said to keep it clean.
So I'll just bite my own tongue.



Instead of yours.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

GILAD SHALIT

[ -- Emotion, emotion, emotion. -- ]


I do not know Corporal Gilad Shalit. I have never met him, or any of his kinfolk.

And I am not Jewish.


There is a military campaign underway to rescue him. The Israeli defense forces crossed the border this morning after launching air strikes within Gaza.


On several Dutch websites I have read the usual anti-Israel venom, this time in bucket-loads. This does not particularly bother me. Yes, I have a certain empathy for the Dutch, a sympathy if you will, because I lived there for sixteen years and I am descended from Dutch settlers in the New World. It would be abnormal of me not to be able to see things from their point of view.

But they are nuts.

Their anti-Israel position is based on three things:
Anti-Americanism, Anti-Semitism, and Oil.


1. ANTI-AMERICANISM:
Like all Europeans, the Dutch had their share of progressives and liberals who echoed the communists during the Vietnam war period, and their left-wing parties by and large are still apologists for the communists. Since the seventies, to be progressive in Europe has meant that one despises America and Americans, and sees Yanks as somehow less than human, uncivilized, barbaric, and no more than the dregs of Europe.

Coupled with a Dutch sense of denial over their role in WWII, resentment at having been turned into a third rate power when they lost the Dutch East Indies after WWII, and the mythologizing of their negligible role in their own liberation at the end of WWII, the modern Dutch proudly oppose all forms of Americanism, while simultaneously aping all things American. They justify their aping of Americans by dichotomously maintaining in their minds an artificial distinction between that which is good and therefore European (like peanut butter, blue jeans, and rock and roll) and that which is bad and therefore American (like religious bigotry, French fries, and fascism).

And Israel is always seen as somehow an extension of the Americans. Which is probably because Europeans subconsciously realize that having done their damndest to exterminate the Jews there is something profoundly un-European about Israel's existence. If it were up to the Europeans, Israel would not exist.


2. ANTI-SEMITISM:
Europeans have never been able to confront their role in the holocaust, and the political cultures of most of the European countries standardly put all the blame for what happened on the Germans. Conveniently overlooked is that all the occupied countries had willing collaborators; people who not only sympathized entirely with the Nazi cause and held the same political beliefs, but also voluntarily co-operated with the Nazi authorities without compulsion and even without the profit motive.

Yes, there were those who validly can claim that it would have been dangerous to do otherwise.

That does not explain Holland having had more members of Nazi-front organizations than any other country. It does not explain the tens of thousands of Kaaskoppen (Cheese-heads) who volunteered to fight the Russians. It does not explain the betrayal of half a million of their own countrymen to the Nazis. It does not explain the Dutch banking system surviving the war intact. It does not explain the businesslike efficiency of the Dutch railway system during those years.

Anti-Semitism is the European disease, and the Dutch cannot legitimately claim to have avoided infection; the Dutch language has some marvelously pungent expressions that prove how deep-rooted the sickness is.

It is often remarked that Holland was the first country in Europe to allow Jews to practise their religion and welcome them in (way back during the golden age). This is true. What is not mentioned is that three centuries before Sefardi refugees settled in Amsterdam, at the same time as the Rhineland massacres and the plague, Jews had been exterminated.
Nor is it mentioned that Jews in the sixteenth century were valuable precisely because of their knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese commerce and colonialism. The Dutch sugar trade was entirely a creation of exiles from Catholic lands, and the Dutch trade with North Africa and the Levant was mostly a Jewish affaire.

Since the war, with the virtual disappearance of Dutch Jewry and the fading of the memories that there once was a Dutch Jewish community, most Dutch Gentiles are comfortable being openly anti-Israeli -- in a manner that leaves no doubt that to the Dutch mind, Israeli equals Jew, and Jews are the problem. When one takes a pro-Israel position in conversing with a Dutchman, one is automatically assumed to be Jewish, and one's point of view is disregarded because "you're a Jew and of course you would say that".

This does not mean that there aren't pro-Israel Dutchmen - there are, and they are not so small a number that they have become entirely invisible. But being pro-Israel in the Netherlands is like getting your face tattooed blue - to most people you thus advertise that you are shockingly abnormal and perverse.


3. OIL:
Let's face it, Holland has no oil. Like all of Europe it is dependent upon the Middle-East.

Since 1973 there has been no benefit to telling Arabs where to shove it, and Holland cannot afford to let France and Germany gain any advantages by jumping in bed with the Arabs. Besides, there is so much that one can sell to the Arabs.

Personally, I cannot think of a single Dutchman who would gladly give up driving. So while the Arabs have oil, and oil money to spend, the Dutch and the other Europeans will criticise Israel, and convince themselves that they do so from the most praiseworthy motives.



Okay, now that I have briefly dealt with current Dutch attitudes and why I think they should go do something incredibly nasty to their own anatomy with a wooden shoe, let me just add that as an American whose ancestors were traded to the British by the Dutch West India company, I have little reason to see eye to eye with my distant kinfolk across the Atlantic.
Sometimes I do. That's nice. That's also unusual. Most of the time they give me bile. Most of them. Some of them all the time.


A pox upon them.

Getting back to the issue of Corporal Gilad Shalit.

And the Israeli incursion into Gaza.


I do not want a permanent Israeli presence in Gaza. I really do believe that the best way to deal with Gaza is to be out of it, so that the Arabs can mismanage their own affairs. I see no reason for Arabs and Jews to live together at present, and I don't think they can.

But, if and when the Arabs in the areas which are not under Israeli control attack Israel, it is only right that Israel strike back. Hard.


If Gilad Shalit is killed by his captors, Israel should devastate Gaza.


I know that sounds awful. And it would be contrary to much within the Judeo-Christian tradition. Completely unethical by most Jewish standards. Very very Christian, in fact.

But what can I say? I am really not very enthusiastic about Palestinians, and while I had great sympathy for them twenty years ago, they really have done everything to erase that. Frittered away any moral high ground they may, as underdog, have had. Idiots.


I only wish that Israel could've bombed the Muqata with that disgusting little man inside it.


But now I'll settle for the safe return of Corporal Gilad Shalit.


However, if a bunch of Dutch anti-Israel activists want to go stand in front of the Israeli tanks and get run over, I will be overjoyed.


[So how about it, John Cheese? Do you want to go put your money where your big fat mouth is? ]

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

CHAZALIC INDIGESTION -- REALLY, I HAD NO IDEA WHAT ELSE TO CALL THIS POST!

The Godol Hador has an interesting posting here:
http://godolhador.blogspot.com/#115134043716276584
["Is Orthodox Judaism bad for you?"]


One of the questions he poses is how to justify the seemingly unethical parts of Orthodoxy to a non-Orthodox person?

And by extension, how do you justify the statements in the Talmud which are derogatory of Goyim?



I'm afraid that both of these questions presume that there is a simple justification for each of those problems. So of course the Godol Hador says that it is impossible.

Which is true.

But also, wrong.


Here's paragraph five of his post:

5. Unethical Teachings in the Talmud & Elsewhere
The anti-semites (and some skeptics) make a big deal about many seemingly unethical comments in the Talmud, which are derogatory about goyim or whatever. Mostly they probably have a point, though I think they overstate it. Nowadays we have all these PC answers (e.g. Sheloh asani goy is not derogatory but merely reflects our happiness at being given extra responsibility or some such fluff) but the statements remain, and of course nobody OJ is going to say Chazal were a bit racist. Even the Rambam calls negroes less than human in the Moreh, and basically says that stupid people can be killed.


Permit me to discuss.

"The anti-semites (and some skeptics) make a big deal about many seemingly unethical comments in the Talmud, which are derogatory about goyim or whatever. "

-----Those unethical or derogatory statements are taken out of context, and presented on their own. The anti-semites do not ever quote the ethical statements, or even give any indication that they have read more than that which they wanted to find in the Talmud (and many of them simply lift the data from other anti-semites directly, and add their own commentary).

The pro-goyim statements are never quoted. The statements which contradict the anti-goyim statements are never quoted. The openminded and outrageously liberal statements are never quoted.

In the same way that one can take statements in the Talmud to prove that Jews are racist bigots, one can take statements in the Talmud to prove the exact opposite.

The Talmud is not a coherent document, but a collection of discourses. The methodology is reasonably coherent, the discourse veers all over the map. And clearly includes much spleen.

I think I can probably find proof in the Talmud that acid indigestion was a major influence on talmudic thought. They should've had Pepso Bishmol.




"Mostly they probably have a point, though I think they overstate it. Nowadays we have all these PC answers (e.g. Sheloh asani goy is not derogatory but merely reflects our happiness at being given extra responsibility or some such fluff) ..."

-----The correct answer to 'shelo asani goy' is 'she asani goy'. A goy should not be grateful for having been created? Obviously a goy cannot say 'shelo asani goy'! Should a goy say nothing?



" ...but the statements remain, and of course nobody OJ is going to say Chazal were a bit racist. Even the Rambam calls negroes less than human in the Moreh, and basically says that stupid people can be killed."

-----And the Rambam reflects his time and place. Certainly a physician to the sultan did not live 'separate from the nations'; more to the point, he was drenched in the nations (and their attitudes). He was, in fact, a very Arabian gentleman.

The Ba'al ha Tanya says goyish souls are animalistic and evil - I too have irrational preconceptions and biases about Russians and Ukrainians.
We are coloured by our environment.

Our environment is, for many of us today, a much more complex place than people a century or more ago knew. Chazal, Maimonides, and Der Alter were indeed racists, by our standards. Not by theirs, and they had NO reason to know better - arguably, every reason to NOT know better.

--- --- --- --- --------- --------- --- --- --- ---

AFTERTHOUGHT: Why is it that some folks believe that a cursory whack-through of the Talmud is enough to prove their preconceptions about the beast? It isn't that the Talmud is even particularly difficult, just that there is an awful lot of it. The combination of Mishna, Gemara, commentaries, and cross-referencing, taken together, is sufficiently massive that much more reading is required than the typical light readers are capable of (especially as the brain needs to be kicked into gear for this). And there is more to Talmud than just Talmud - there is also everything since the Talmud - that too is Talmud.


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TIZKU L'MITZVOS

This week, while Dovbear is temporarily abstracted, he left the keys in the ignition and the motor running.....

No, that wasn't an invitation to carjack the Benz, but an indication that there will be several guest-posters on Dov's blog (http://dovbear.blogspot.com/).


One of them being Mis-Nagid, who wrote this post:http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2006/06/money-matters.html

In short, a heart-string tug, a moral lesson, and an imperative to donate to charity.


He argues that charity is one of the fundamental precepts of Judaism..... With which I disagree, considering it one of the fundamental precepts of civilization.
[Or you could call it a shared value. Whatever. It isn't limited.]

If we cannot assist those who are less fortunate, in what way do we deserve to be better off than them?
Yes yes, I know the Calvinist answer to that question, and I know the white-trash answer. Both are mistaken, and the suggestion that they are poor because they are undeserving is a load of codswallop. Not everyone is equally lucky or has equal chances, and sometimes things go disastrously wrong.

[I believe I know what I'm talking about - I do commercial collections, and you would not believe how many decent hard-working merchants have lost their nest-egg and everything else in the last four years. The most admirable people go broke as easily as everybody else.]


As part of his post, Mis-nagid suggest donating to Masbia, an organization that runs a kosher soup kitchen for the needy in Boro Park.

It is a worthwhile cause. Wherefore I too urge you to donate. Your soul will be the better for it.


SHOVE SOME MONEY WHERE IT HURTS - CLICK HERE:
https://www.masbia.org/donate.asp


[Oh, I hear you ask why you should donate to a kosher soup kitchen for the needy in Boro Park, when you yourself do not keep kosher, can't stand soup, and actually live in Brussels?

Dude, who said that this is the only organization to which you should donate? Donate to Masbia in addition to whatever else worthwhile you give money to, not instead. Donate to other charitable causes in addition to Masbia. Do not limit yourself, develop some self-confidence. And thank you.]

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Friday, June 23, 2006

HOLLAND PATIENTLY, SEVEN HUNDRED SLIPPERS!

I just love free translation pages on the internet.


This is why:

Holland patiently at 700 slippers of Surinam in 2004:

Into, which he goes from anus, it the 700 Dutch authorities produce, and have themselves hay mules from Surinam international nelly port Schiphol continue Amsterdam. The interfered areas avian of cocaine of the prisoners. Here informs the sissy yesterday in Hollands of the law, Piet Hein thunder. I carry explain that the names of the prisoners are taken up to a black list, and pod ran neater step on during proximal into 3 anuses feast. The information is edemas compartmental with the air airports, companies and the governments of l'Allemagne of France von Belgian and the Antilles Netherlandish. Of linsang, which appears approximately 1,600 Surinamese in the list.


This is the original:

Holanda detiene a 700 mulas de Surinam en 2004:

En lo que va del ano, las autoridades holandesas han detenido a 700 ´mulas´ provenientes de Surinam en el aeropuerto internacional Schiphol, de Amsterdam. Los detenidos habian ingerido bolas de cocaina. Asi lo informo ayer el ministro de Justicia holandes, Piet Hein Donner. El titular preciso que los nombres de los detenidos se incluyen en una lista negra, y no podran ingresar al pais durante los proximos 3 anos. La informacion es ademas compartida con aeropuertos, companias aereas y los Gobiernos de Alemania, Francia, Belgica y las Antillas Neerlandesas. Actualmente, unos 1.600 surinameses figuran en la lista.



And this is what it probably says in English, more or less:

Holland detains 700 mules (drug couriers) from Surinam in 2004:

This year alone Dutch authorities at Schiphol International Airport outside Amsterdam have apprehended over 700 mules, who had ingested 'balls' of cocaine. Yesterday, the minister of justice, Piet Hein Donner, informed that the names of the perps are on a blacklist of people who are not permitted entry for a period of three years. The list is shared with other airports, transportation companies, and the governments of Germany, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands Antilles. Currently there are over 1,600 Surinamese on the list."


Whatever you put in comes out more lyrical than you can imagine, at best.
Or like free-verse, at worst.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

FEEL THE LOVE

Best line seen today:

"This war brought to you by Cialis. Because the right time may be the last time.* Consult your voting booth for pointless wars lasting longer than four years. "


The writer of that line is a 'love-filled Hareidi"™
[Who can be visited here: http://dovbear.blogspot.com/]

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

VENISHMARTEM ME'OD!

[Or: 'Why I'm Hiding Behind The Refrigerator']


The importance of not harming oneself is stressed in the monotheistic tradition, and there are clear imperatives to preserve one's health.


It says in Dvarim (Deuteronomy), parshas Va'etchanan, psukim 4:15 "venishmartem me'od lenafshoteichem" -- you shall guard yourselves exceedingly (alt.: 'Venishmartem me'od lenafshoSeichem'), meaning that one must do all that is possible to guard one's health and avoid unnecessary risks.

Further, in Vayikra (Leviticus) parshas Kedoshim, psukim 19:26-28 "Lo tochlu al hadam, lo tenachashu ve lo te'oneinu. Lo takifu pe'at rosheichem, ve lo tashchit eit pe'at zekanecha. Ve seret la nefesh lo titnu bivsarchem, u ketovet ka'aka lo titnu bachem..." (do not eat with blood, do not divine and do not soothsay. Do not round the corners of your head, and do not destroy the corners of your beard. And further, (not) a cutting of the flesh (as a mark of grief for a dead person), nor any marks upon you, shall you make).

[There is a progression presented here from impurity, through false-belief and superstition, to heathen practices - all considered spiritual dangers with physical implications.]


By correct observances one may live, as it says in Vayikra, parshas Acherei Mos, psook 18:5 "ushemartem et chukotai ve et mishpatai, asher ya'ase otam ha adam, vachai bahem..." (guard my statutes, and my ordinances, which if a man do, he shall live by them...), and also "uvacharta ba chayim le ma'an tichye ata ve zareicha" (choose life, that you may survive, you and your descendants - Dvarim, parshas Nitzavim, psook 30:19).



Related hereto, let us consider smoking ba halacha u va briut (in law and as a health concern).


There is the famous dictum "vechol ha-mekayim nefesh achat be Yisrael, maaleh ahlav ha katuv ke ilu kiyem olam maleh" (who saves one soul among Israel, it is reckoned to him in scripture as had he saved an entire world - Sanhedrin 37a).

[Note: One should not read 'Israel' here as a limiting nationalist or ethnocentric term (as antisemites always do), but as a plural or group noun, usage-wise the equivalent to the singular 'chaveir' (companion). Thus, a single individual of your entire society - from the foreign bondsman at one extreme to the king at the other, from those in the gutter to those who are in high places. Remembering, of course, that all are descendants of Adam, and again all are descendants of Noah - none can claim any greater descent than their common humanity.]


In the Talmud, preserving life (pikuach nefesh) is considered of paramount importance and trumps many other concerns, as it says "sakanta chamira me issura" (dangers outweigh prohibitions - Chulin 10a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 173:2, but see also Rambam, hilchos rotzeach u'shmiras ha guf 11:5-6, concerning one's body; and Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah, siman 116, regarding risks).

Excepting three things, even ritual considerations are set aside to save a life.

[What are those three exceptions? Avodas elilim (idolatry), gilui arayos (forbidden sexual acts), and shefichas damim (spilling blood, or, bluntly put, retzichah - murder). One does not deviate from Halacha for the benefit of idolatry, perversion, or bloodshed.]


Smoking, alas, might endanger others. There are rumours that second-hand smoke might be a hazard. Or so I've heard. Which presents a quandary.


And though we know that "shomer petayim Adonai" (Hashem protects the simple - Psalms 116:6), we have an obligation to act out of consideration for others, as it says in Vayikra, parshas Kedoshim, psook 19:18 "Ve ahavta le reiacha kamocha" (you shall love your neighbor as yourself).


What this means, as it applies to smoking, is that one should not smoke in enclosed spaces occupied by other people - bars, restaurants, train stations, offices. Nor, if one is married, in the conjugal bedroom.
Even if you treat lightly your responsibility towards your own self, you must consider heavily your responsibility to others - remembering, of course, that their noses and mouths might derive no pleasure from your fumes, no matter how exquisite the aroma of well-aged Virginia and woodsy Latakia.



--- --- --- --- ---- - ---- --- --- --- ---


Please note that Savage Kitten came to substantially the same conclusion without any of this fancy textual stuff and pretense at Talmudism - she banished me, my pipes, and my stinky burning leaves, to the kitchen (closed door, open window).


So this entire post is merely an attempt to justify my internal exile, in a manner that makes me feel virtuous and intellectual.


The back of the hill, at home, can be found behind the refrigerator.

Boo.

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THE NETHERLANDS BECOMES EURABIC: AUTOCHTHONES AND ALLOCHTONES

There are around forty-five thousand Jewish people in the Netherlands.
There are, unfortunately, nearly a million Muslims there.


Why do I say 'unfortunately'?


Because the Muslims are largely drawn from the less educated levels of their own societies, and have become the less educated level of Dutch society.
There were enough ignorant people already in Holland, they did not need to import more.

Yes, I know that there are a very large number of Dutch Muslims who have already contributed enormously to the country and to its culture, in many fields - Abdelkader Ben Ali, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ahmed Aboutaleb, etcetera.

But other than the Turks, most Dutch Muslims seem to have mentally ghettoized themselves, in a country whose reputation for tolerance is based on little more than Calvinist apathy towards the heathens.
This means that the walls Muslims have built for themselves are further strengthened by the natives, who would rather neither see foreign elements nor deal with them as fellow-humans.


The Netherlands today is not the Netherlands it once was.


Since 1978, whenever I meet Dutch people, I am often asked why on earth I stay in the US, and wouldn't I rather go back to Holland.

Well, frankly, heck no.

You see, here I am 'autochthonous' (born in the country), whereas in the Netherlands I would be 'allochthonous' (born outside). The Dutch do not treat allochtones very nicely, unless they constantly reassure the Dutch what a splendid country it is and how jolly happy they are to be allowed to live there.

While I lived there, I often felt like a second-class Dutchman (at best). Whenever I have gone back for a visit, some people clearly considered me a failed Dutchman, because I now live in the US.


Furthermore, many Dutch people utterly despise the United States, and Americans, and all things having to do with the United States and Americans - which is why I usually did not mention, while living there (1962 to 1978) that I was a Yank.
[Not that I wasn't proud of my heritage, I just didn't like getting punched.]

Once people get to know you, they might put their bigotries regarding Americans on the back burner, and engage in decent conversation. You'll never entirely cure them of stupidity and their belief that you are perhaps a well-trained talking monkey, but they can be very nice. Plus many of them have weird interests and hobbies, and can talk intelligently about many things.


So yes, I do like the place. Amsterdam is a lovely city, the Spui square is the centre of the literary universe, and the cigars made by the successors of Mr. Pantaleon Gerhard Coenraad Hajenius are one of the subtle joys of the Rokin, about three blocks from the Centraal Station. To stay in Amsterdam is to partake of a civilized life in a very walkable and comfortable city, to enjoy a different time and place, with it's own cultural referents.


But after three weeks of eating herring, smoked eel, cheese, and Indonesian food, smoking cigars, buying books, and speaking Dutch, I'm a little fed up with John Cheese, and must return to San Francisco.

The sound of mental clogs and that bloody-minded superiority having by that time given me dyspepsia.




In addition to blinkered natives infesting the place and obscuring by their majority presence the existence of some extraordinarily broad-minded, well-read, and humane Dutchmen, there are also anti-Semites and Muslims.

Think of a Ven diagram - the overlap of the two groups is large, but they are not quite the same. There are some Dutch Muslims who are not anti-Semites, there are some anti-Semites who are not only anti-Semites but also thoroughly xenophobic and hate the Muslims, with a venomosity that is quite as repulsive as their verkrampte ideas about Jews.

Besides the anti-Semites and Muslims, there are a sprinkling of philo-Semites who are an embarrassment to be around, because their love of Israel is fueled by their loathing of Arabs, and far surpasses their knowledge of either.



In some ways, the Netherlands today is in the twilight of its own time, and the inheritors are milling about waiting to take over. Her culture is being replaced by something nasty and unloveable, her politicians cater to the hatreds of the mob. The carrion eaters are circling.



There's an interesting article in Ha'aretz today, which is relevant in this context:


http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/728863.html
[The protocols of the elders of Brussels, by Adi Schwartz]


EXCERPTS:

The original sin is attributed to Charles de Gaulle. Disappointed by the loss of the French colonies in Africa and the Middle East, as well as with France's waning influence in the international arena, the president of France in the 1960's decided to create a strategic alliance with the Arab and Muslim world to compete with the dominance of the United States and the Soviet Union. This alliance became the position of the European Community (pre-European Union) during the course of the 1970s, when an extensive European-Arab dialogue developed.

---[cut]---

This controversial thesis belongs to Bat Ye'or, the pen name of a self-taught Jewish intellectual who was born in Egypt and who currently lives in Switzerland. She refuses to reveal her real name for security reasons, she says, but her thesis is just the prologue to far-reaching conclusions and extreme statements about some European leaders who are kowtowing to Islam.

---[cut]---

"We are now heading towards a total change in Europe, which will be more and more Islamicized and will become a political satellite of the Arab and Muslim world. The European leaders have decided on an alliance with the Arab world, through which they have committed to accept the Arab and Muslim approach toward the United States and Israel. "

---[cut]---

Although all of these individuals (Oriana Fallaci, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, et al)are opposed to the
extreme right and its violence, they are warning that Europe as a secular, enlightened civilization with a Judeo-Christian background is dying.

---[cut]---

Since the 1970s, Bat Ye'or has published about 10 books, most of which deal with the life of the
Christian and Jewish minorities in Muslim countries. She bases her most recent research on the conduct of institutions in the EU, and mainly on the protocols of the European-Arab Dialogue (EAD), which she says aims to establish a strategic alliance by means of tightening political, economic, diplomatic and cultural ties.


Some quotes:

"What led Europe to accept the French policy was the energy crisis after the Yom Kippur War. Another issue is a security issue, because Palestinian terrorists began to strike on European land at the end of the 1960s. This policy is aimed at protecting Europe from the threat of terror."


"Sometimes the Arabs threaten Europe by shutting the oil faucet. They demand, for example, that Europe always speak out for the Palestinians and against Israel."


"Ultimately, it is Europe that created Yasser Arafat and the Hamas government."


"The EAD includes a policy of eliminating and delegitimizing Israel. In Europe there is a complete alliance with the Palestinians. There are those, for example, who say that Israel is the greatest danger to world peace. Or the initiative in Britain to organize an academic boycott in order to isolate Israel. This is a way to de-legitimize Israel."


"The Europeans will not do anything to protect Israel (in the nuclear crisis involving Iran). If at all, they will do something because Iran is threatening other Muslim countries with which Europe has good relations. Europe is not interested in Israel's future at all."

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Monday, June 19, 2006

THE MANNA OF BENEDICTIONS

The following is said when we cannot remember the actual appropriate benediction:


"Baruch atta Adonai Eloheinu, asher flabberei et-gasteinu"
[Blessed art thou our Lord, G-d, who allows us to be flabbergasted.]


There. You feel better now?

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

Why not "Baruch atta Adonai Eloheinu, melech ha olam, asher flabberei..."? Because we cannot comprehend the kingly aspect (midat ha malchus) of the master of the universe, and do not want to imply that it is precisely that by which we are flabbered, davka - that aspect of flaber dhi gastion is already inherent in our existence.

But some authorities are meikel this issue, and Tosfos have debated this extensively. Tzarich iyun.

NATION OF MERCHANTS

Only a Dutchman could have come up with this scheme....


For over a decade the Dutch government bilked the Chinese government out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by means of a fake Marxist-Leninist party (MLPN - Marxist Leninisten Partij Nederland) created by the Dutch secret services (BVD - Binnenlandsche Veiligheids Dienst) for the specific purpose of preventing funds from reaching any actual Maoists in the Netherlands.


The funds were transmitted via Albania to a local front organization (also set up by the BVD).


The 'party' adhered strictly to the Maoist interpretations of Marxist Leninist thought as propagated by Peking, thus convincing the Chinese that it was the truest representative of Maoism in the Netherlands. It also convinced the Chinese that it had the support of many workers. The party newspaper was printed in the basement of the BVD and sold by 'activists' and 'volunteers'.


The fake party survived from the early seventies through the eighties with Chinese funding. Over the years, several BVDers visited Peking as party members, including one BVD agent, codenamed 'jailer', who was photographed with the Chinese Communist Party chief.


Key is that it was a profitable enterprise. Paid for itself, plus.


All of this is mentioned in 'In Dienst Van De BVD' (booktitle: In The Employ Of The Internal Security Service), by former official Frits Hoekstra (BVD, Communist Section, retired), published in September 2005.

PARSEES

Heavy antique furniture. Picture of Zarathustra on one wall, picture of the queen (Victoria) on the other wall. Scotch whisky. Impeccable English...

Sometimes antiquated slang, from the nineteen thirties. A general lamentation that today's Parsi boys are not up to the manly standards of the past, plus an immense pride in the cricket-greats of the last century. A casual, affectionate aquaintance with European capitols.

If they're from Gujerat, a weird affection for Undhio. If not, they hate the stuff.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

LIME PICKLE

Dear reader, you may have noticed that I haven't posted much in the last week and a half -- I'm afraid I was somewhat preoccupied, and not really in the mood for posting. I'm sorry.
Still not quite in the mood, hence the somewhat oddish subjects of not only this post, but the two posts immediately preceding. Think of them as lazy lagniappes.

--------- --------- ---------

NIMBU ACHAR


The standard recipe for lime or lemon pickles starts off with three TBS salt and three TBS cayenne for either two large lemons or six, seven limes.
[The proportions are the same for a green mango pickle, using two very green mangoes.]


The lime or lemon is cut into quarters or eighths, salted, and put in a clean wide container to dry out for a day or two or three - in direct sunlight if possible. It is wise to cover it with cheesecloth to keep out shrotzim during this time.


And from there on it varies. The chunks of lime or lemon have by now reduced somewhat in size and exuded some liquid - all is scraped into a clean jar, and the cayenne is mixed in. One or two Tsp toasted brown mustard seeds are usually added, along with some fenugreek for flavour and a saucy mouth-feel, plus turmeric (teaspoonful) and asafoetida (generous pinch) for preservative qualities.


For the next week or so the pickle jar is put in the warm sun for a few hours and shaken once or twice per day to redistribute the juices and spices. Once it has reached the right stage of pickledness some heated mustard oil is poured over - enough to cover each piece of citrus with a thin film.


Hyderabadi lime pickle tones down the chili content, but adds garlic (which mellows with age) and accents the garlic with anise-type flavours (usually fennel seed).
Kalonji (wild black onion seed) is almost always added to muslim pickles (such as Hyderabadi lime pickle) - it is a taste preference that came with the Muslims from Afghanistan when they established their last empire in India (the Mughal empire).


Commercial pickles often use far too much oil. The oil functions as a sealant to the pickle, preventing exposure of surfaces to air. But the salt and acid (the juice of the limes or lemons) are what preserves this type of pickle - oil is far less necessary than with other pickles like cauliflower pickle (Poolgobi ka achar) or green mango pickle (Amb ka achar).


A well made lemon or lime pickle keeps nearly forever (because of the acid and salt), as also do other Indian pickles where the primary ingredient has been partially dried and heavily salted.


Final note: Kagzi nimboo makes excellent pickle.

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THE MODERN BUSINESS PLAN

-------------------------
The Modern Business Plan:

ASSETS
Grow like topsy, over-extend yourself, acquire everybody else in your field, and make sure to have plenty of non-core assets that can be unloaded at bargain-basement prices without actually damaging core infrastructure.


LIABILITIES
Be sure to plan your bankruptcy well in advance; have a strategy for maxing out on debt and forcing pennies on the dollar settlements for the majority, while renegotiating with key suppliers. Sequester capital and ownership in spin-offs, preferably independent entities with ownership offshore.


EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION
Remunerate top executives beyond all rational levels before bankruptcy, compensate them generously from reorg funds during bankruptcy, and cut them in for a share of the leaner, meaner, company after bankruptcy. This way they will be obedient, and can also be future capital reserves.


RECORDS
Map out the logistics of shredding and deniability in advance; compromise regulators, and anybody else who might take your chamor to court.
Obfuscate - "Your honour, I dinna rightly remember" (the Scotch accent might buy you time).
Document storage should be farmed out to several layers of out-of-state shell-corporations.
A weak firewall is an advantage; Mr. Virus is your friend.
So is Mr. Lighter Fluid.


COMPETITION
Undercut anybody who might benefit from your weakness, then buy them into the thundering freight-train with worthless stock; especially in those spin-offs that will be gutted or cannibalized during your bankruptcy. There is no reason they should profit, or have any advantages at all while the market readjusts. Your debts should bankrupt your competitors' suppliers - and also their clients, if at all possible.


PUBLIC RELATIONS
Strategically place yourself for a government bailout. This way the public has an investment in glossing over events. It helps if one other company is the villain, and several other companies are the victims.

-------------------------

Please note: The text above was written during a fit of cynicism right after WorldCom Inc.'s chief executive said that the company hoped to emerge from court protection within a year with a shrunken debt load and fewer peripheral assets. Which was hours after filing the largest bankruptcy in history.

Which was four years ago.

I'm over my cynicism.

Honestly I am.

LES BAGLEUX D'INDOCHINE

Shalom Shan,


In reference to that mishegoss with the missing bagels:

Visualize Keebler Elf Road kill, on the great Saigon to Hanoi highway (Route One) built by the French. Nha Trang is north of Saigon, before you get to Hue. Hot, sticky. And there, just south of the city, is the smear on the pavement.


The dead Keebler is slimy and turning greener than he already was, flies are nesting in the putrefying flesh. Buzz buzz buzz. The air is so thick, so moist, you can't breathe it, you swallow it. Like walking through hot Jell-O. And even disregarding the Keebler corpse self-alchemizing on the hot tarmac a few feet away, there is an unmistakable fecundity to the tropical reek.


Keeblers should never use camouflage grease on their faces or head into the bush; the tribals in the hills will kill them and take their heads for charms. Consecrated when the rice-wine has been made after the harvest, bubbles the size of missing bagels on the cream-cheese white surface of the fermenting brew. You can smell it a mile away.


Enjoy your lunch.

Monday, June 05, 2006

HEXAKOSIOIHEXEKONTAHEXAPHOBIA

A BBC article about Dutchmen minus minds:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5049516.stm


Goofballs. Totally.

NARISHKEIT, SHTARK UND GAZUNT!

Dovbear (soll seyn shtark und gazunt!), quoting Pinchus Giller (soll seyn shtark und gazunt!!) : "Most of the phenomena to which DB (soll seyn shtark und gazunt!!!) has objected seem far from the spirit of the Zohar & classical Kabbalah but are practices reduced to gratification of desires, a very modern, Western thing, right down to the slogan "Moshiach Now."

[Dovbear's zach:http://dovbear.blogspot.com/
Dovbear's post davke referenced above:http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2006/06/comment-of-day_05.html
And here's Pinchus Giller's comment mamesh:http://www.haloscan.com/comments/dovbear/114939077698646618/#298337 ]


That phrase 'Moshiach Now!' is VERY interesting..... Where have I heard that before?

...erm (davka?).

...uhhh (mamesh...).

...mmmh? (zach!).


Oooooh, yes! I davka remember, mamesh! It was a response hollered in a shtarke Litvish accent from the back of the Beis medrish during a recent riezige shiur by the Rabam (soll seyn shtark und gazunt!!!!)!

[And in mittn drinnen, one more outburst in the Beis Medrish like that, Yankie (soll seyn shtark und gazunt!!!!!), and you will lose your health-club privileges and zach! We are running a proper yeshiva here, mamesh, davka not some goofball 'mookata' for the Edomites (solln bleybn shtill, und nicht azoy oysbunterish, tattenyu!!!!!!) !]


Davka for your gratification, I post the lecture by the Rabam (soll seyn shtark und gazunt!!!!!!!) below, prefaced mamesh by an intro by Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein (soll seyn davka shtark und gazunt!!!!!!!!). Kindly note that Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein (soll seyn shtark und gazunt!!!!!!!!!) is the Rosh-yeshiva of Yeshiva Chipas Emess (World-wide zach located in NY, soll seyn shtark und gazunt!!!!!!!!!!), whereas the Rabam (soll seyn shtark und gazunt mamesh!!!!!!!!!!!) is mamesh the rosh-yeshiva of the San Francisco campus (noch alts sehr gazunt und zach, a dank!!!!!!!!!!!!), davka mameshedikke zachn.


Can you, dear reader (soll seyn shtark und gazunt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), spot exactly when the phrase was hollered?


--- --- --- --- ---


Rabboisai,


I am very pleased to share with you a Toirah bonus, so you can begin to prepare yourself for Zman Matan Toirasainu. The following drasha was written by my esteemed colleague (and poker buddy... err... chavrusa) the RABAM. As I am sure you are all aware, the RABAM is the Rosheshiva of the San Francisco branch of our fine Toirah movement.

I expect that you will treat him with the same degree of respect as you would treat me. That means: no talking during the drasha, no eating of traif gummy bears, and no throwing of spitballs at that hot new single woman on the other side of the mechitza.


Pinky
-------------



Shiur of the RABAM on Masechess Pesachim


"Tayere yingeln, we give a slight bow on being introduced to someone, because touching hands is sharing germs.

Or palm sweat - as it says in Vayikra 22:6 "nefesh asher tiga bo vetame'ah (a soul which touches it shall become defiled). And it is rude to immediately sterilize one's hand afterwards. Though the verse cited above goes on to say "...velo yochal min ha kodashim ki im rachatz besaro ba yamim" (...and shall not eat of koidesh things until he has washed his flesh in water). So neither should you eat after meeting strangers.

This is greater derech eretz than that of Mordechai, who refused to bow, wherefore Homon torched his embassy, as it says in Megillas Esther. Though Ben Bag Bag says it was because he doodled. Drew a cartoon of Ahura Mazda. And a camel. And there are several obscene jokes about camels.


Why is this not mentioned in the Megilla?
-- Because the version used by the P source was replaced, bitch.
-- Because the E source proved a point that the redactor also wanted to make.
-- Because the J source says "you are special, we are special, and forget about that other bunch".
-- Whereas the redactor says "we're ok, but that bunch there are truly nasty".


Say not 'we pissed off the Persians. We pissed off the Syro-grecians, we pissed off the Romans'..... But say rather 'the Persians were pissed at us, the Syro-grecians were pissed at us, and the Romans, having no imagination and being Amalek besides.... were also pissed at us.'

Reish Lakish asks: "Or rather, 'we pissed on the Persians. we pissed on the Syro-grecians, did we not also piss on the Romans?"

And Rabban Gamliel says that 'pissed' is a metaphor for engaging in the cloth trade.... because it is used as a fixative for dyes. Such as techeiles and argamom.

Whereas Elazar ben Hurkanos brings up the plural, to show that right and wrong are never singular. And are as opposite as red and blue.

Or as Rashi shatnez and Rabbeinu Tam shatnez (though some Chassidim wear both, to be hiddur mitzvah).


Why was this said?
-- So that you may remember the commandment.
-- So that you not invite Persians to parties where alcohol is served.
-- So that you write an eighteen page letter refuting the cartoons (and note: eighteen is the gematria of life - you shall write it that you may live).


But Abaye says 'so that you not draw cartoons for the newspapers of the nations, lest they hate us for it'.

Rashi explains newspaper as indicating that the text was edited. For there is no newspaper that is not edited. And there is no place that does not have a newspaper.

Shmuel says "Start reading the paper with mention of political disturbances in the land of Egypt (Dvarim 6:20) and move from the repressiveness of contemporary Middle-Eastern societies to political liberation.

Rav said: Start with Terach, Abraham's father and the state of golus to which we had descended. "Once upon a time our fathers lived among idolators who worshipped heathen gods. Now Hashem has brought us to vote for UTJ and Shas".

And know from this that even though we're really hosed, we are still better than the Arabs, because we have a free press and they don't (and following this is when it is customary to recite the blessing 'shlosha neenerim').


The Kitzer Shulchan Aruch explains that you should open the newspaper to the editorial page first. Then read the letters to the editor, starting at the top left hand corner of the page and proceding, with kavanah, all the way through to the last letter in the bottom right hand corner (if you are interrupted, start again at the top).
Finish that page by reading the cartoon. Then close the paper (along the crease), and compose an angry letter to the editor, so that it may remind you of tefillah.



But know that Lubavitch hold that there has been no editor since the Rebbe's petirah.

Satmar calls the entire question a depraved goyishe plot - there should be NO newspaper until the redeemer comes - and then we will ALL have newspapers.

Neturei Karta hold that it is best to read an Arab paper until the ketz. Ad mosai? Ad ki yavo....
Harav Kreiswirth (z.tz.l.), before he died, was meikel, but paskened that frumme yidden avoid the Nieuw Israelitisch Weekblad - at least until the techiyas hameisim.

Belz avers that like the students of Rabbi Ben Bag Bag, you should 'turn it over, again and again, for everything you want to know is found within it'.


Why does one read a paper?

Shimon HaTzaddik said: "The world rests on three things: on the sports scores, on the real-estate page, and on the want-ads".

Akiviya Ben Mehalalel said: "consider these three things and you will not fall into the clutches of sin. Know from whom you buy the paper, know to whom you will give the paper after you have clipped the coupons, and know where the coupons are redeemable."

Rabban Gamaliel said that whoever has not read these three things (the Washington Post, the Racing Times, and Playboy Magazine) has not fulfilled his obligation to disdain the goyishe world, lament losses at the track, and drool over unattainable hot shiksas. For in this you will know that you are truly in golus.


Regarding illustrated men's magazines, the Rambam says that one should not even look at the clothing of woman.

Why was this said?

Clothing reminds us (of the fig-leaves with which Adam and Chava clothed themselves), as is written in Bamidbar 15:39 "ve haya lachem le tsitsit u reitem oto u zechartem".

From this, know that it is a mitzvah and a blessing to look at pictures in Playboy magazine, because it recalls to us the Garden of Eden and man's primal purity.

And you should discuss this with your neighbor, on the road and in the home, whether standing or resting...until you are physically uncomfortable, and trembling (in awe). As it says "With all your heart, and all your means".


And now antshuldiks, I am stepping temporarily away from the shtender...

To buy a newspaper...., yes, that's it, a newspaper.

Grisn, und zolst hobn a gitn shabbes

http://www.geocities.com/npoj8/index.html

=====RABAM
Rosheshiva
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess -- San Francisco Campus



Mamesh.

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