Painting of the Month (23) November 2011: Lucian Freud

Lucian Freud, Self Portrait 1985

The British artist Lucian Freud, who died in July this year at the age of 88, was a grandson of Sigmund Freud. He came to London in 1933 to escape from Nazi Germany. One of his portraits achieved the record price for a living artist in New York in 2008 of over $33 million.

He was renowned for his portrait painting and known for his impasto style. Impasto is the technique of applying paint to a surface in thick layers with a brush or palette knife so that the paint stands out from the surface.

Self Portrait 2002

He took many hours to complete a picture and usually required the model to be present in the studio all of the time - even if he was not actually working directly on their appearance. One of the reasons he took so long was that for each individual patch of colour he mixed the paint from scratch until he was satisfied.

The results were, I think, sensational. If you double-click on the picture you will get a better idea of how striking this portrait is and how honest his portrayal of himself is. He had a way of revealing some deeper psychological aspect of his subjects including himself.

President Gog Present And Accounted For Sir!

Obama In Israel

Gog is supposed to land in Israel 3 times..are we embarking on the 2nd time? Is Obama willing to take his place in history and assume his destiny? Any secretly Islamic self proclaimed Imam Mahdi should, no?

May it be so:

Former President George W. Bush waited until his eighth year in office to touch down in Israel. His father, George H.W. Bush, didn’t go at all. Neither did Ronald Reagan.
But for President Barack Obama, the call of Israel has always been more urgent.

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Jewish leaders have been pressing Obama since he took office to carve out time for Israel, arguing that a trip is needed to repair missteps in the relationship with the key U.S. ally. But the window — and the expectations — for a visit are quickly diminishing, leaving a potential missed opportunity for a president who has been dogged by questions about his commitment to Israel.
“It is an error,” said former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who made peace with Obama in September after being sharply critical of his record on Israel and agreed to support his reelection. “If he didn’t go this year and he didn’t go next year, it would result in an even greater reduction in Jewish support.”
Complaints about Obama stem from the perception that he has been too tough on Israel in his pursuit of Middle East peace — concerns that peaked last spring when the president gave a speech calling on Israel to embrace the country’s pre-1967 borders, with “land swaps” as a basis for peace talks. Although that approach was long what American negotiators had contemplated, Republicans accused Obama of abandoning Israel.
The White House gave “serious consideration” to a summer trip to Israel, said former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), a lead liaison for the Obama campaign with the Jewish community.
But domestic distractions piled up, and there are no longer any plans in the works, at least at this point. Obama travels to France, about a five-hour flight from Israel, for the opening of a conference Thursday of the world’s largest economies. And next week, he leaves on a nine-day trip to Hawaii, Indonesia and Australia. The winter holiday season is typically off-limits for foreign travel.
If Obama doesn’t go next year, he would break with the precedent set by his two most recent Democratic predecessors, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, both of whom made the trip during their first term.
The White House wants to reserve a trip for a time when the president can advance the peace process, according to people familiar with administration thinking, but there is no immediate prospect of a breakthrough. And once the calendar ticks over to 2012, a presidential trip to Israel could be viewed as an overtly political exercise, further dampening the likelihood of a trip.
Still, the political lure may be hard to resist heading into a tough reelection fight in which Republicans intend to stoke doubts about Obama’s record on Israel, which he last visited in 2008 as a presidential candidate.
“For other presidents it might have been a less glaring omission than for a president who chose to make these issues a centerpiece of his foreign policy and has had such a difficult time showing that his ‘unique approach’ has succeeded at all, if not set back the prospects for peace,” said Joshua Block, senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute and a former spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “In many ways, he is in a greater need of going to Israel.”
At a June fundraiser with Jewish supporters, Obama faced pressure on this very question.
A donor asked the president whether he realized that he needed to go to Israel “now” or at least in his first term, according to a source familiar with the event. Obama responded that he would visit the country, but the time had to be right and he didn’t want to go purely for a political benefit, the source said.
J Street, a liberal Jewish group, launched a petition last spring urging Obama “to go to Jerusalem” and detail his plan for achieving a two-state solution for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
“It’s time for a presidential visit to Israel,” the petition stated.
“I got a big smile,” Rothman said of Obama’s response. “I don’t think the president gets enough credit for all that he has done for Israel.”
Wexler, an early Obama backer and president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, said he fielded the question frequently — until about two months ago.

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“The focus was, ‘Where does the president stand on Israel?’ and to the extent that there were questions, the trip to Israel was a part of that narrative,” Wexler said in an interview. “But that narrative has been answered in the strongest of terms.”
First, Obama took a personal role in ensuring that Israeli diplomats caught in an early September siege of the country’s embassy in Cairo were brought to safety. Then, later that month, Obama delivered a speech at the United Nations strongly condemning the Palestinian Authority’s quest for statehood through a U.N. resolution. After that, Newsweek revealed that Obama had secretly agreed in 2009 to sell 55 bunker-busting bombs to Israel, making good on a request first pursued during the George W. Bush administration.
“Those three items are so powerful in terms of the impressions made in the American-Jewish community that a trip to Israel would be gravy,” Wexler said.
An administration official said not visiting Israel in the first term “isn’t unusual,” but “that doesn’t change the fact that the bilateral relationship is very strong.” The official cited the president’s numerous one-on-one meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Obama’s support in ensuring Israel’s security, including $205 million in aid for a short-range missile defense system known as Iron Dome.
His popularity in Israel does appear on the rise. A May survey of Israeli Jews found only 12 percent thought U.S. policy was pro-Israel and 40 percent viewed it as pro-Palestinian. A survey taken after the U.N. speech showed that 54 percent thought Obama’s policy was favorable to Israel and 19 percent said it was pro-Palestinian. The Jerusalem Post commissioned both polls, but they were conducted by different firms with different methodologies, making direct comparisons difficult.
In America, Obama’s support among Jews has declined over the past three years, mirroring his drop in support among all voters, according to the Gallup Poll. He won 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008, and although he is expected to win a majority again next year, some worry he won’t perform quite as well.
A group of Obama’s closest Jewish supporters — including Wexler, senior campaign strategist David Axelrod and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz — launched an offensive earlier this year to counter Republicans such as presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who said Obama “threw Israel under the bus.”
“Much of the narrative that was out there was trumped up by Republicans,” Wasserman Schultz said. “I reject the notion that there was widespread concern other than it was from Republicans who cared more about partisanship than Israel. … Presidents go to Israel at some point in their presidency. The president will be no exception.”
David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said Obama’s trips earlier in his presidency to Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia “only make Israelis want the visit more.” But now Obama should wait until he can advance the peace process, Harris said.
Block disagrees, saying there are many reasons to visit Israel, even if it’s simply to show support for a key ally in a volatile region. Obama has moved the relationship in a positive direction in recent weeks, and a visit would only reinforce the trend, Block said.
“If he doesn’t do it,” Block said, “he is missing an opportunity to underscore that our relationship with Israel goes well beyond simple questions of the peace process, and it leaves him open to criticism that he didn’t go.”

Moshiach and Gog V' Magog in 5772?


The world population has reached seven billion, give or take a few New Zealands. It's still growing scarily quickly, although not exponentially (a lot of people use that word without knowing what it means). To give some idea of how fast it has grown:

If you're 10 today, there were 6.22 billion people in the world when you entered it
If you're 20 today......................5.41 billion
If you're 30 today......................4.56 billion
If you're 40 today......................3.79 billion
If you're 50 today......................3.11 billion
If you're 60 today......................2.59 billion
If you're 70 today......................2.33 billion
If you're 80 today......................2.10 billion
If you're 90 today......................1.89 billion
If you're 100 today....................1.76 billion

Mum and Dad spent the weekend with me; they flew back this afternoon. Just like last time we were lucky with the weather. We looked at a couple of open homes (for me), visited Te Papa briefly, had dinner with my cousin, ate at a Thai restaurant the other night, did a lot of walking, and played two games of Scrabble, neither of which went well for me. My parents seem to enjoy Wellington - they'll be coming up this way again in early December. Overall it was a pretty good weekend.

Both the places I looked at are up for tender, with the same deadline day (this Thursday). They both had serious promise. The first was a three-bedroom flat in Aro Valley; it was the first time I'd been to that area which has a slightly bohemian feel. It had a lot going for it but two problems - it's probably out my price range and it doesn't get a lot of sun. The second flat was a smaller (and more affordable) two-bedroom one in Hataitai, part of a rather bizarre-looking Disney-style complex built in the sixties. I didn't expect much but was pleasantly surprised when I ventured beyond the weird exterior. It was actually very nice inside and I might be tempted to put a conditional tender in.

We had the autism group tonight. A turnout of nine including two new people. There was a wide range of topics as always. One young woman there was an exceptionally good French speaker, far better than me. The pronunciation of "vase" somehow came up: this poem tells us all how we should say it:

Some greet with lusty “Rah”s
A reference to a vase.
Another bares his claws
At folks who don’t say vase.
But many use the phrase,
“Please put these in a vase,”
While still a stronger case
We now can make a vase.

I discovered Foster the People today. I really like Pumped Up Kicks. With one YouTube view for every 200 people on the planet, it must have had a lot of airplay, but I hadn't heard it until today. Which planet have I been living on?

God's Tribe: Noahides and Jews : The Quest Of Levi

Click Here For Shiur About Bnei Noach And Their Connection To The Kohen Gadol And The Tribe Of Levi!

  • Who was Shem? (Shem Ben Noach)
  • Was Shem a Kohen?
  • Did Jacob Tithe Levi?
  • Why do we wear Tzitzit?
  • Does Tzitzit have to have a blue thread?
  • Can an angel bring one before God?
  • Can a Non-Jew be like a Kohen Gadol?
  • Are you serious?
  • Is there a tribe of God?
"I the LORD have called unto you in righteousness, and have taken hold of your hand, and submitted you as the people's covenant, as a light unto the nations"

One-Day too far away

(Photos: Sydney Magazine, SMH)

Australia, you're dreamin'!!!

- of course we'd love our men dished up on bicycles as portrayed in last week's SMH Sydney Magazine' but in reality this sexy guy would be up for a chat with the police, a $59 fine or a day in court the latter of which would then automatically mean a $67 bill for the Victim's Compensation Levy (VCL)!!!

With regards to my grossly unfair VCL bill & current battle with AG's Dept, I finally received a letter from the AG himself:

$ No - he will not grant me an exemption, in fact no-one will, AND

$ Yes - I still have to pay this arbitrary tax for this victimless crime, BUT

$ I might be interested to hear that last month NSW pollies decided that at a date to be decided maybe the VCL oughtn't apply to section 10(1)(a) dismissals anymore (YAY!), HOWEVER

$ this restored state of affairs would not retrospectively apply to me, THEREFORE

$ I must cough up money to settle my exponentially-rising VCL bill pronto!


Is This Our Gog V' Magog Earthquake Shaking?

Come on Assad, play your part in the Saarei Yismael falling...What Number Are You?

Western powers risk causing an "earthquake" that would burn the Middle East if they intervened in Syria, President Bashar Assad said in an interview with Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

"Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake," he said. "Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans?"

Syrian forces kill 40, protesters demand int'l protection 

"Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region," Assad said.

Assad's comments came as Arab ministers said on Friday they had sent an urgent message calling on him to end seven months of violence against civilians following the killing of 40 pro-democracy demonstrators by Syrian forces.

It was the Arab League's strongest message on the relentless crackdown by Syrian forces, who on Friday shot dead at least 40 protesters calling for international protection for Syria's pro-democracy protesters, activists said.

The League's Arab Ministers Committee on the Syrian Crisis said it sent an "urgent message ... to the Syrian government expressing its severe discontent for the continued killing of Syrian civilians."

The Committee "expressed the hope that the Syrian government would take action to protect civilians," the statement said. Arab ministers are due to meet Syrian officials on Sunday in the Qatari capital of Doha.

The killings were mainly in the cities of Hama and Homs where men loyal to Assad have raided homes in their efforts to stop protests and a nascent armed insurgency against his autocratic rule.

....and they all [The Jews] lived happily ever after, after Assad epicly failed, in his success to bring Moshiach by fighting God...come on Assad, bring her home.


Parasha: Lech Lecha (Go To Israel Nu!) [With Ramban]

Parashas Lech Lecha לך לך

Click Here To Listen To Parsha, And Leave Lot at Home!

Aussie helmet law sees another cyclist in court

(Heading home down Liverpool Street)

(See you later / in a bit!)

(Disappearing into the Friday arvo melee)

Australian legislators continue to tie up valuable citizen, police, & court time with their blinkered insistence of bicycle helmet regulation. Consequently, in the Downing Centre today, another conscientious helmet-objector took the stand to argue his innocence by way of the defence of necessity.

Dan Woodall was ably assisted by Dr Veronica Harris (child psychologist) and Prof Chris Rissel (professor of public health at Sydney University) both of whom lent considerable weight to the elements of immanency and necessary belief.

For immanency, Dan argued that it is essential for him and his children to spend as much time with each other as possible (after all decreased father & child time is a risk to the family) & that the best way for him to maximise this beneficial time together is to use a bicycle for transport as opposed to any other method.

Dr Harris expressed that it was entirely reasonable for any father to undertake to spend more time with his children, and that if such a father was able to organise his affairs to do this, 'Dad-time' would be immensely beneficial. Moreover, research indicates that small children are 'solidly at an advantage' to have intensive 'Dad-time' bearing in mind their particular needs at this age, and cognitive retention rates.

Yet the law places Dan in an impossible position as it insists that he must wear a helmet should he decide to use a bicycle despite his necessary belief that helmets increase risk of serious head injury.

Prof Rissel recounted that there was a long history of head injuries attached to cycling, and that if someone believed that angular acceleration, diffuse axonal injury, and the risk compensation factor of helmet wearing increased their chances of serious head injury then this was a reasonable belief.

But this is Australia, and at the end of the day no matter how much the court accepted Dan's evidence supported by his experts' evidence, it remained constrained by the intent of the regulation. Thus Dan received a mixed bag of 'curial' goodies to take home by way of 1 small fine, a s10(1)(a) dismissal & an outright dismissal.

Importantly for all of us, Dan had his day in court, was truly heard, and was 'the' most eloquent & persuasive advocate for himself & for all bicycle users in Australia who would like to be free to choose their own hat options!

Brilliant, Dan, absolutely brilliant!!!!

Relationships, changing and unchanged

Time changes people, changes relationships.
Death changes people, changes relationships.
Life changes people, changes relationships.
People change. Relationships change.

Long-time readers of this blog may be astounded to learn that one of Nick’s sisters has been staying with us for a few weeks and will be for a few more. But-but-but-but, I can hear you sputter. I thought Nick’s siblings weren’t any part of your life. Things change.

Su is an attorney who’d been unemployed in New England for over a year. She got a 6-month contract to work in one of the DC suburbs and is staying with the boys and me until she has a paycheck or two in the bank, when she’ll get a furnished apartment closer to her work. So far, it’s working out well.

Of all Nick’s immediate family, Su is the only one who’s ever called me just to see how things are going, to let me know she’s thinking of me. It may have been only 4 or 5 phone calls in the last 7 years, but that’s 4 or 5 more than I’ve gotten from his other siblings or his parents. I’m no fool: I’ll take what I can get.

I’ve always liked Su: She’s funny and intelligent and generally easy to get along with. She’s made some pretty bad life choices along the way – mostly rooted in low self-esteem – so I haven’t always respected her, but I’ve always liked her. And she’s turned her life around over the years I’ve known her: Nick was proud of her.

It’s been really nice to have another adult around in the evenings, someone who appreciates both the silly humor on Facebook and the outraged reactions I have to the current socio-political goings on in this country. I’ve enjoyed having someone who doesn’t take a hot meal at the end of the day for granted, and after her grueling commute home, Su is very grateful for the hot meal waiting for her. So grateful, that I haven’t washed a dish or scrubbed a pan since she arrived. How nice is that? And she makes a fresh pot of coffee every morning! (I tend to nuke yesterday’s leftovers: The reality of a fresh pot every day is pure luxury.)

Even more important, the boys are enjoying having her around. Where’s Auntie Su? Is Auntie Su working late again? Welcome home, Auntie Su! I am glad for them to have a chance to get to know her and have some kind of relationship with her: It takes the edge off missing the family we left behind in Arizona and may even give them a tenuous sense of connection to Nick’s family.

If her office weren’t so far away, it would probably be tempting for her to consider staying with us for the duration of her contract. But it’s a long drive and really wears her down. Plus, winter weather is coming, and I don’t let her smoke inside the house! For now though, it’s nice for both of us, and we’re both very happy with how this has been working out.

Long-time readers of this blog may also be surprised to learn that my relationship with my sister has been somewhat dicey since I moved back East. But-but-but-but, I can hear you sputter, I thought she supported your moving back. Yeah, well. Sort of. In a way. Not really. Kind of. But. Things change.

As it turns out, Jane was pretty angry with me for actually leaving Arizona when I did, with our mother so close to death. She doesn’t think she would have made the same decision had she been in my position, and she says it was a very selfish, unloving choice on my part. And so, she’s been angry and hurt, and it’s taken a toll on our relationship, as I respond to the anger and hurt with – you guessed it – anger and hurt of my own.

She says that she knows she couldn’t have made the same choice I did, but I have learned that none of us really knows what we would do if we found ourselves walking in another person’s shoes. We think we know what we would do if faced with a DNR, or an unwanted pregnancy, or any of a myriad of painful, unfathomable situations. But the truth is that we can’t know what we’ll do in a given unthinkable situation until we find ourselves in precisely that situation.

So things between Jane and me were fire and ice for a few weeks. But we keep talking. We do both value the relationship and we do cherish each other. But in many ways, my sister and I live in different universes and will never understand each other.

Some things change; others remain the same.

Pollard And The Shechina: Together In Galus

Pollard existed for the sake of Shalit: Shalit existed for the sake of Pollard!

"Gilad Shalit's release gives me hope. I hope I get out of (prison) alive too," Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence on the United States, reportedly told his wife Esther.

According to a Thursday report in Yedioth Ahronoth, the comment was made in a phone conversation between the Pollards, held several days ago.
Esther Pollard said that her husband had prayed for Shalit's safe release and was moved by the news that the IsraelHamasprisoner exchange deal proved successful.

"Gilad Shalit's release gives us new hope about Jonathan's release… since (Shalit's) release I've received many letters from people all over the world, expressing their hope that our nightmare will also be over soon.

"People have said that they can't believe that even at a point in time when things with Hamas are getting done, even with the friendliest country to Israel and even with President (Barack) Obama who believes in justice and human rights – this issue remains open and they don't free him."

Pollard's wife mentioned that during the past few weeks her husband has been suffering from severe pains and was even unable to make it to the phone on a number of occasions. Sometimes Congress members had to be called in to intervene so Pollard would be given pain killers to ease his suffering.

"When I heard about US Vice President Joe Biden agreeing to meet with Jewish leaders to discuss Jonathan's release I felt, for a moment, that I can see the end is near.

"Even the CIA chief, state secretaries and numerous senior officials maintained there is disproportion here and that he must be set free. Meanwhile, three weeks have gone by. I just hope it happens before it's too late. I feel that Jonathan is struggling everyday to make it to the next day."

What is in Pollard's Name? :

  • יהונתן = נתניהו ...two souls bound up in each other at the crucial time in history for both.
  • יהונתן בן (a son of Klal Yisrael) 573...derech eretz chen דרך ארץ חן: the Gentiles have the mitzvah of Derech Eretz has being Bnei Noach. Noach = Chen/Grace נח/חן...For the Jews our Derech Eretz is to do Pidyon Shvuyim for a fellow Jew, and for Obama, it would be tremendous Derech Eretz to do the job.
  • יהונתן בן מוריס : is 889, the Gemara says there are 889 Gardens in the future of Jerusalem, that Pollard Shall B'H see in his lifetime.
  • יונתן = the value 516 התקוה: supreme Hope / and Israeli Pride, as this is his Home.
  • יונתן פולארד = is 837 הארץ ישראל which is what his concept really is about, The Land of Israel and its implications.
  • Roshei Tayvot: מבי Moshiach Ben Yosef....a Bechinah of Yosef in prison, as stated by Ha Rav Mordechai Eliyahu.
  • Sofei Tayvot: דן הנס as seen by his Gematria of 573-5 "ה", which is 568 פינחס בן אלעזר, what is the connection: Pinchas relied on a miracle when he was zealous for God, and tradition says without the miracle, he would have been chayav misa: Pollard who acted zealous for God shows us a death penalty when we don't have a miraculous help from heaven..."judge the miracle", we must daven that he be a true יהונתן "God- Given."
  • מלכה מוריס is 411: תהו chaos, atbash of אמת...we must see through chaos and reach the truth.
  • יהונתן: works into ינון and the other letters into צא [to] go out [to war] in the name of Yinon, a name of Moshiach, and its full gematria: עוד יוסף חי Yosef still lives, Pollard must remain alive, and see the Geulah, Bechina klal Yisrael/Yaakov.
  • יונתן (God put) בן (his son) מוריס (blackened, like the Shechinah in Galus) מלכה (the Queen, Yisrael who is black like the Shechinah as described in Shir Hashirim)
  • דן ס''ד (end letters) : May he be judged with Siyata D' Shamaya to show the Glory of God.
  • גלעד יונתן (atbash) 466 is שמעון: don't hear "shem avon, the name of sin, rather שמוע-ון, a state of being heard...גלעדי יהונתן = (atbash) = 596..ירושלים...may it be this year with both there to see it, as brothers amongst Klal Yisrael.
  • Morris spelled in Hebrew functions as a valid Gematria according to the Gra who says we have 7 names at least, and what we are called functions as 1/7 ; Pollard means Small and Brave, which is what a Jew in Galus must feel like - Small, amongst the Nations, Brave, amongst the Nations.

    Moshiach and Geulah 5772...Yerushalayim Rebuilt.

    Who needs scientific fact when there's populism?

    All the world can see that it's not 'cycling' that causes trouble for cycling but 'motoring'

    All the world can see that it's not people using bicycles who are the problem but people using cars


    Only Australian politicians see people using biycles as a menace


    Only Australian politicians continue to blame cyclists for what is a global transport & ecological problem...


    London Monopoly (2): Whitechapel Road

    Whitechapel Street Market. Photo: Silk Tork

    Whitechapel Road completes the first set of properties (brown) and, like the Old Kent Road, can be bought for £60. However Whitechapel Road is much more interesting.

    One of it's most famous buildings is the London Hospital founded in 1740 and since it's 250th anniversary in 1990 known as The Royal London Hospital. It is now the headquarters of the Helicopter Ambulance Service which operates from it's specially adapted roof.

    The Blind Beggar Pub


    Whitechapel is in London's East End and famous for being the haunt of Jack the Ripper whose identity has never been discovered. More modern criminals associated with the area were the Kray twins. The Blind Beggar pub is at 337 Whitechapel Road and that's where, in 1966, Ronnie Kray shot a South London gangster who had called him a 'fat poofter' (He was gay). Apparently nobody in the pub was able to recognise him and a barmaid failed to pick him out at an identity parade!

    Also worth mentioned is the still-functioning Whitechapel Bell Foundry where Big Ben was cast. Big Ben, it should be noted, is name of the bell itself, not the tower which houses it!

    Lastly, the newly-refurbished Whitechapel Art gallery is a leading exhibitor of modern British Art and worth a visit if one is in London. It is partly responsible for the very high number of artists working in the East End.