Friday, December 30, 2005

Horse Sex Story Tops “Seattle Times” Most Popular List

The “Seattle Times” web site published a list of the most clicked stories from the year 2005, and by far their most popular article dealt with a man who died from a perforated colon while having sex with his horse. The paper tries to pass off the interest in the story to the national public, as the story was linked to on the Drudge Report and other news cites. But there was evidently a wide margin between this story and the 2nd most popular story, enforcing that people from Seattle are sick!

No, I’m just kidding; I don’t judge people by their little fetishes (ok, big fetishes in this case; nothing small about a horse). And, of course, I don’t think that all Seattle people read the story, enjoyed the story (or accompanying video), or have regular sex with their horses. I mean, sure, you need something to do with all that rain there, but I doubt this is a widespread activity…

Still, was it me running that paper, I would have buried that article as deep as possible. And if people found it, and still made it the most popular news article of the year, I certainly would not have come back with a list of the most popular stories of the year; that’s just beating a dead horse (or a dead mounter of the horse, as the case may be).


Posted by Scottage at 11:17 AM / | |  

Essay by Farris Hassan, 16 Year Old Iraqi Traveller

OK, maybe this is bad blog etiquette, but I’m going to reprint here the highlights of the essay by Farris Hassan, the Florida teen who went to Iraq for his Christmas vacation. This is really good stuff, folks, and it’s hard to believe he’s 16 years old.

If each of us could incorporate a bit of the spirit of Hassan’s essay, I think the world would be a much better place. And I really hope to see the essay he creates having returned from the experience. So, without further ado, the essay created by Farris Hassan, half written in the US, half written in Kuwait, as he prepared to enter Iraq alone, armed only with the best intentions:

There is a struggle in Iraq between good and evil, between those striving for freedom and liberty and those striving for death and destruction. You are aware of the heinous acts of the terrorists: Women and children massacred, innocent aid workers decapitated, indiscriminate murder. You are also aware of the heroic aspirations of the Iraqi people: liberty, democracy, security, normality. Those terrorists are not human but pure evil. For their goals to be thwarted, decent individuals must answer justice's call for help ... So I will.

Life is not about money, fame, or power. Life is about combating the forces of evil in the world, promoting justice, helping the misfortunate, and improving the welfare of our fellow man. Progress requires that we commit ourselves to such goals. We are not here on Earth to hedonistically pleasure ourselves, but to serve each other and the creator. What deed is greater than sacrificing one's luxuries for the benefit of those less blessed? ...

I know I can't do much. I know I can't stop all the carnage and save the innocent. But I also know I can't just sit here ...

I feel guilty living in a big house, driving a nice car, and going to a great school. I feel guilty hanging out with friends in a cafe without the fear of a suicide bomber present. I feel guilty enjoying the multitude of blessings, which I did nothing to deserve, while people in Iraq, many of them much better then me, are in terrible anguish. This inexorable guilt I feel transforms into a boundless empathy for the distress of the misfortunate and into a compassionate love for my fellow man ...

Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless the one who gives them.

Going to Iraq will broaden my mind. We kids at Pine Crest (School) live such sheltered lives. I want to experience during my Christmas the same hardships ordinary Iraqis experience everyday, so that I may better empathize with their distress. I also want to immerse myself in their environment in order to better comprehend the social and political elements ...

I plan on doing humanitarian work with the Red Cross. I will give my mind, body, and spirit to helping Iraqis rebuild their lives. Hopefully I will get the chance to build houses, distribute food supplies, and bring a smile or two to some poor children.

I know going to Iraq will be incredibly risky. There are thousands of people there that desperately want my head. There are millions of people there that mildly prefer my demise merely because I am American. Nevertheless, I will go there to love and help my neighbor in distress, if that endangers my life, so be it ...

If I know what is needed and what is right, but do not act on my moral conscience, I would be a hypocrite. I must do what I say decent individuals should do. I want to live my days so that my nights are not full of regrets. Therefore, I must go.


Posted by Scottage at 10:58 AM / | |  

16 Year Old Runs Away to Iraq for Journalism Project

This is a great story. Basically, 16 year old Farris Hassan decided that that, to effectively write on the Iraq war, he needed to be there, to be immersed in the war. He had the advantage of coming from an Iraqi family, but he had never stepped foot in the county, didn’t speak any Arabic, and was quickly seen by the public as an American, a dangerous thing to be in Iraq today.

I have been a person who has always immersed himself in conflicts of this nature. Whether being in the USSR just before the conversion to democracy, being in Israel during the second antifadah, or being around smaller yet tumultuous conflicts at different times in my life, normally because it was in these places I felt like I could make a difference.

The other positive effect is that you’re able to see the true nature of the conflict. The media doesn’t alter your perception, and the close up look you get is often different from any you would have from overseas. The drawback is the danger, but that can be a positive to, as soon this danger provides a rush which, after being around a couple conflicts, becomes addictive.

I’m fortunate to have some other friends who are the same, who live for the types of adventures that I really thrive in. And I tend to think that these people are not common, and that there’s something special about people with this drive. Farris Hassan is apparently one of these people, the trait is showing itself early, and he should be proud of it. Whether he realizes it or not, he has made a difference with this voyage.

You know, the tendency would be to think a teen would exaggerate the story, make all of the tales a bit taller, and who would blame him? But I believe the whole of this story, save one line at the end, where the author says of Hassan: “He now understands how dangerous his trip was, that he was only a whisker away from death.” I suspect that Hassan is still elated by the experience, and maybe he’s even thinking about the next challenge. And he should be proud of that as well.


Posted by Scottage at 3:27 AM / | |  

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tensions Escalating In Israel

Everyone has been optimistic about Israel of late. Over the past two months, the Antifadah has been cooling down, suicide bombings became rarer and rarer, Israel had eased the closure in the West Bank, and had stopped political assassinations. Both sides moved towards elections that would hopefully bring into power two parties that could find to build on the strides made over the past few months, maybe two parties that could find a way around the differences that plague this conflict.

Oh what a difference a week can make. Early last week we saw the reintroduction of the Qassam rocket into the conflict, the rockets now having improved range, enabling Islamic Jihad to attack the Israeli city of Ashkelon from behind the fence in the Northern Gaza Strip. And of course this prompted attacks from Israel into Gaza, and the requirement of a buffer zone in front of the fence, limiting the land given to Palestine.

Next, we had the kidnapping of 3 English citizens in Gaza, one of whom was in Palestine as a member of Al Mezan, a Palestinian rights group. The kidnappings were followed by the firing of Katyushas from South Lebanon. To the surprise of everyone, those Katyushas seem to have been arranged by Al Qaeda from Iraq, yet another new player in this troubled arena, but Israel had already retaliated against group, the PFLP-GC. Expect retaliation from this group in Lebanon.

And now we have another suicide bomber who was thwarted at the border out of the West Bank, killing one IDF soldier and two Palestinians. Probably this is political posturing as groups on both sides of the conflict position themselves in the best light to gain power in the upcoming elections.

But don’t look now; it’s already starting to spiral out of control. The mistaken attack in Lebanon is exactly the type of trigger that quickly escalates things in the region. If we don’t take immediate actions to calm things down, we may be facing another long period of unrest in Israel/Palestine. Let’s hope this can be avoided.


Posted by Scottage at 3:40 PM / | |  

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Amir Peretz and Labor to Lease Land for Peace

Amir Peretz, the new head of the Labor Party in Israel, is campaigning on quality of life and social issues as opposed to campaigning on the issues involving peace and the Palestinians. But of course peace goes hand in hand with quality of life in Israel, and any person running for office needs a position on peace.

But like with every other issue, Peretz has out-of-the-box solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict, centering on the return of all settlements to Palestine, with Israel leasing large settlement blocks back from the Palestinians. Using the model of Hong Kong from the late 19th century, Peretz is now bringing a fresh set of ideas to a conflict which has not had an original solution since Wye River negotiations broke down in 1998.

I have no idea if Palestine would agree to lease the land to Israel. Nor do I know whether return of the land without giving Palestinians use of the land would be enough right now to stop the fighting. But I do know that some out of the box thinking is exactly what is necessary to get this stalemate out of the rut it is in.

I do wonder if other leasing options would be possible as well. For example, there is a sparsely populated area in Jordan, on the East bank of the Jordan River, which runs 15 miles north and 10 miles east from the Northern Border of the Dead Sea. 3 villages are in the area, Shunat Nimrin, Ash Shaghur and Al Mazar, but all three are sparsely populated by nomadic people. The land is right across the Jordan from areas of the Palestinian West Bank, and Ash Shaghur is due East of Jericho.

As part of a peace agreement, could Israel sign a long term lease for that land, and provide to the Palestinians in hope of creating a larger continuous Palestinian nation? This would grow the country tremendously, and would provide a much easier connection between the East and West Bank then will ever be found between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Again, it’s just one possibility just like Peretz’ solution. Maybe neither solution will work, or help, or come to fruition. But I think it can only help to start examining new ideas, such as Peretz is doing. Only by looking out-of-the-box will we find the solution for peace in the war-torn region.


Posted by Scottage at 7:30 PM / | |  

Professional Life or Lack Thereof

Professionally, I help develop young technology companies, moving them towards financial stability and success. And while I consider myself good at moving companies towards this goal, I’m not nearly so good at obtaining these goals for myself. The very assets I bring to the table necessitate my ruffling some feathers, changing corporate perceptions and actions to help the company advance. But this generally speaking pisses off some people, and leaves me vulnerable to dismissal.

Every company I’ve been at cites my hard work, dedication, and the accomplishments I’ve made at the company. I work my tail of, accomplish tasks that company people thought not accomplishable, and I do it quickly and efficiently, although sometimes the companies don’t completely realize the role I had in bringing about the desired outcome.

But I don’t tread lightly, doing whatever is necessary to accomplish the task at hand. As such, my resume is littered with good companies who have done well, companies where I have contributed, often greatly, but where I have not been recognized for my contributions, and have not ended up in a permanent role with a company.

I do not think that I am a jerk, or that my personality makes me impossible to live or work with. Actually, I think I can be a pretty nice guy, and I have great friends in my life as a result of it. And when I first get into companies, I think they like me as well.

It really is more a matter of doing what is necessary to succeed. Coming in as a manager, I’m responsible for the success of my department, and that requires taking the unpopular stance at times to improve my department’s performance and sometimes even the whole company’s image to the outside world. If I don’t have the courage to take the less popular road, the company never improves and we never reach our goals.

Take my last position as an example. I was brought in by a young technology company to develop their Customer Support department. And it needed work; the company’s customer base had quadrupled in the past 6 months, and the infrastructure had not grown adequately. Customers were experiencing slow service or no service on a regular basis. Problems called in were often not attended to expeditiously and customers could get different answers from different Customer Service reps.

The department was consistently playing defense; more often then not, the customers knew about issues before the company knew about it. Often the problem had gotten out of control by the time the department had realized it was more than an isolated incident. Many times the issues customers were experiencing were a result of improvements being made in the technical departments, and no communication between the departments was established to inform the CS reps.

These were issues I attacked immediately. I established better channels of communication and documentation within the department, so we would be able to more quickly determine when an issue was isolated or when issues were linked. I established regular lines of communication with the tech teams so that we would be informed of procedures that could affect customer performance, and worked with them to put these issues off until times when customers don’t use the system.

Periods of serious outages were less and less frequent and often happened when the system was relatively unused. Before issues could occur, we let customers know so they could be prepared for situations ahead of time. We knew about unplanned issues before the customers, and had common, technically based information to provide callers. And customers were happy about the improvements.

But to make these improvements happen, I had to rub some people the wrong way. Of course the technical people would rather make their improvements during the normal work day, as opposed to before or after hours. Having to inform CS of major operations can be seen either as an inconvenience or an intrusion. And the CS reps would not want to record and communicate the issues their facing 100% of the time. But only by making these things happen could I be successful at my job.

I lost the position because I didn’t “fit in with the corporate culture”. I had only been there two months, but the improvements in the customers’ perception of the company were very noticeable.

And therein lays the double-edged sword of my professional life. I think I am talented, and that I bring a tremendous amount to the table when I go to work for a company. I work my tail off, think out of the box, and help bring about the changes that can be the difference between success and failure for young companies. A company takes a risk on me, and I can help them reach heights they never thought possible.

But on my side, I will never find my dream company until I find a company that is willing to accept the challenges faced by making improvements, or unless I can find a way to make those improvements without pissing people off. Wish me good luck, folks, because I’m looking again for a company that will take that chance. I have a ton to offer, but it comes at a price. I hope this time to find a company I can call home.


Posted by Scottage at 6:18 PM / | |  

Professionally, I help develop young technology companies, moving them towards financial stability and success. And while I consider myself good at m

The big story coming out of Washington over the past few weeks has been the use of unauthorized wire taps by the NSA in monitoring US citizens. And while there can be questions as to whether the wire taps were legal, ethical, or necessary to prevent terrorism, there is no question that the use of these wiretaps on American citizens is exactly the type of effect hoped for by the terrorists. One could say the surveillance of our citizens is a victory for extremists and a failure for America in general.

Most people see the goal of terrorism to be killings. But in reality, the larger effect of terrorism is fear and the destruction of a way of life. Yes, the terrorist attack is much harder to defend against than a standard military attack and can be responsible for a considerable number of deaths. But the real advantage, the real devastation associated with the terrorist attack is the destruction of the safety people feel in their ways of life, and the destruction of the very principles which make our society special, the values which Muslim fundamentalists despise.

As a person living in Israel, you learn this lesson quickly. When an attack occurs, people immediately get back to work, go on with their normal lives. Do they grieve? Yes, they do, of course they do, but life moves on quickly, and people fit their grieving in where they can. And life moves on.

The fear can’t be prevented as easily. The attacks are normally on places where people go every day, on the things that are normal parts of life in Israel. Buses, the open markets, cafes, malls, office buildings, these are the targets of terrorist attacks n Israel. Some people will avoid any place with a lot of people, because you can never be truly safe from terrorism if there are a lot of people around, but every time someone takes this route the terrorist groups win a small victory.

In Israel we learn that the only way to defeat terrorism is to limit these small victories, which put together have a huge impact. But the US has not learned this lesson yet. Maybe the wire taps on US citizens is a necessity for our own security, but it is definitely a sign of our fear of more terrorist attacks, and it is clearly a huge step towards the disintegration of the values that make America so special.

I’ll leave the legality, morality, and necessity for other postings on this web site. Don’t worry, millions of people will be writing on those issues every day until Congress makes some sort of determination on the surveillance? But for this post, perhaps we should question whether, by trying to win the battle and prevent further terrorist attacks, we are losing the war on terrorism.


Posted by Scottage at 1:38 AM / | |  

Unauthorized Surveillance of US Citizens: Bypassing FISA was Stepping Over The Line

I’m going to dedicate a couple posts tonight, and invariably more over the coming days, to the unauthorized wire taps utilized by the NSA on US citizens. There are many different angles to look at this story from, and I’ll try to hit on all the angles that come to my mind. But feel free to chime in with a perspective I am not seeing.

I can understand why wire taps could be necessary to protect homeland security, although a part of me truly believes it’s too high a price to pay for a level of security that is far from comprehensive. But I do not believe that any branch of our government should have unlimited powers, and it scares me when any government organization bypasses the checks that are supposed to exist on their authority.

This has obviously taken place in the case of the wire taps. It was revealed that after FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) rejected or modified over 185 surveillance requests, the NSA decided to bypass FISA altogether. In other words, the organization designed to monitor the use of surveillance determines that the Bush administration is overstepping their bounds in wire tap requests, so the NSA stopped requesting the wire taps and just implemented them without approval.

Colin Powell said he sees "absolutely nothing wrong with the president authorizing these kinds of actions" to protect the nation. But he added, "My own judgment is that it didn't seem to me, anyway, that it would have been that hard to go get the warrants. And even in the case of an emergency, you go and do it."

If the government goes through the proper channels and determines that these wire taps are necessary, and then goes through whatever approvals are required in obtaining permission for specific surveillance, then how can I disagree? A huge part of what makes America great is that we elect a government that represents the collective will of the people, and makes policies reflective of that will. But the government must follow those proper steps to ensure the right to privacy of each and every American.


Posted by Scottage at 1:36 AM / | |  

Hamas or the PA as a Partner for Peace with Israel? Maybe There's a "Third Way"

In recent days I’ve devoted a number of posts to the potential of Hamas as the winner of the January Palestinian elections, and as a result Israel’s partner for peace in any upcoming peace negotiations that may occur. And I undoubtedly will dedicate more virtual ink to Hamas. But a 3rd party is evolving in the West Bank, and were this party to be successful, it would definitely be a beacon of hope from dark times in the state of Israel.

The “Third Way” party is intending to push the platform of an honest government, a government who truly is looking out for the needs of the people and is free from corruption. Good governance, peacemaking, and democracy will be the pillars for this party’s platform. The leaders appear to be Salam Fayyad, who has spent years as a World Bank official, and Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian spokeswoman for improved human rights and respect for the rule of law.

"Hamas has 25 to 30 percent of the public's support, but it's not just from religious people. It's people who are not happy with the [Palestinian] Authority," say Ali Jarbawi, a Bir Zeit University professor of political science, and one of the top candidates on the new list ticket. "So you need an alternative, one with a democratic, social, liberal outlook, and that alternative is not Fatah. The [new list] will be liberal and will be anticorruption, and that's what's attracting people to Hamas."

Only time will tell if this group can gain popular support in the upcoming elections. But they seem to provide a nice balance of providing for the social needs of the Palestinian people and being a good partner for peace with the Israelis. Mix in that this could be the most favorable government to the US, and I would love to see support for the “Third Way” party grow.


Posted by Scottage at 1:32 AM / | |  


You know, part of the reason I am such a nomad is that I really haven’t found a place I can call home yet. And I suspect I’ll continue wandering until I find someplace that seems reasonably like home to me. But it begs the question, what is home? I think it’s different for everybody, but that if you were trying to make a generality, it would be the place where a person feels truly comfortable being themselves, feels completely at ease.

For me, I definitely haven’t found that place. Philly would probably as close as I come; I’m from there, was raised there, much of my family is there, and many of my friends from growing up. People from Philly share many personality traits with me, and I feel pretty comfortable with Philadelphians. Plus, I love the sports teams, I bleed Eagles green, and I support the Phillies, Flyers, and Sixers to the death as well.

But I’ve done a lot to improve myself since leaving Philly, and when I’m in Philly I tend to fall back into my old patterns, my old tendencies. I recess to the high school guy, confident and cocky but making all the wrong decisions at all the wrong times, fearing the hurt in my parents’ voices more than the consequences of any actions, and always taking life to the extreme. Back in Philly, I immediately fall back into that persona, and all the gains I’ve made are washed away.

Israel feels like a home to me. My philosophical views are shared by many, maybe most of the people there, to some degree or another. Similar views, attitudes, perspectives. And a love of the region is shared by all; it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, and I’ve been to a lot of places. But life is much tougher there, with the threat of terrorism, the absence of many of the conveniences of life I’ve grown accustomed to, and the consistent uncertainty in the future. Maybe someday Israel will be my home, but not today.

Boston was a great city, but very expensive. Harrisburg PA and Richmond Indiana were both cheap, but prejudiced and red-necky, and sometimes prejudiced against me. I love life here in Rochester NY, for the most part, but wouldn’t it be nice if the same community feel were in a warmer location? I mean, the snow here is just ridiculous.

Or maybe home is really just the place where I find a person to become my love. Much of my focus now is on finding a life partner, a soul mate, and I suspect the home of my soul mate will quickly become my home. I will be comfortable there because she will be there with me.

Maybe I am too picky in looking for my home, or maybe my priorities are mixed up, or maybe when I find my home I will just know it. But for now, that’s how I judge this whole home issue. I hope one day I’ll find my home, and it will all be clear to me.


Posted by Scottage at 1:22 AM / | |  

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Hamas as a Partner for Peace: No More Terrorism?

Continuing on the theme of Hamas as a partner for peace, Udi Dekel, director of Israel Defense Force’s Strategic Planning Division, indicated that, were Hamas to win the January elections, they would modify their present terror strategy. Further, he indicates that if terror attacks would continue, they would be more “low profile”, with Hamas giving instructions to be carried out by smaller terrorist organizations.

Dekel is banking on Hamas’ need to be seen as a legitimate negotiator by the international community. But is this what we can really expect, or wishful thinking of a Sharon government who is recognizing the possibility of loosing the best partner in peace they’ve had in 40 years?

I’ve talked about Hamas’ potential role in the peace process before, and I want to emphasize again Hamas has not won this election, and I’m not so sure they will win in January. But if they win the election, I do not agree with Dekel at all; I suspect that Hamas will use terror as a tactic in pushing their objectives in the peace negotiations. And this terror will continue until the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem are returned to the Palestinian people, regardless of agreements reached along the way.

While Hamas may have long pauses between some of their attacks, Hamas leadership is smart enough to recognize how to use terror, including the absence of terror and the threat of terror, as negotiating tactics. And as Hamas campaigns actively on the PA having lost their bargaining chips by abandoning any military stance, I doubt Hamas will make the same mistakes (if they are mistakes) as the Palestinian Authority has made.

The PA links their present strategy to the need for international recognition, especially in the form of membership in the United Nations. Palestine has never been a member of the UN, which has prevented the Palestinians from trumpeting their own case for years. And most Palestinian leaders believe that, were Palestine a member of the UN, Israel would have long ago been prevented from committing what the Palestinians see as atrocities to the Palestinian people as a whole.

But Hamas has a voice in the UN. Hamas is Syrian backed, and Syria is a powerful player in the UN. While this is not the same as Palestine having membership, it is still a voice that can speak for Palestine’s causes in the UN, still a voice that can trumpet the Palestinian cause.

And with their ties to Syria, as well as strong ties to leaders of other Muslim nations (who have financed Hamas’ operations for years), I would suspect that Hamas wil do their best to maintain the support of the Muslim community, as opposed to the world community. And that may, and probably will, include militant actions.


Posted by Scottage at 1:58 AM / | |  


I truly believe that there is nothing as important in our lives as our friends. I’ve been blessed with an amazing group of friends; I suspect some of the best people a guy could ever hope to have as friends. And this, despite the fact that I often question if I’m a good friend. Not in the immediate sense, but as time goes on, and I’ve moved to a new location, the challenges of being a nomad set in, and I find it harder and harder to maintain my past friendships.

You see, it’s not easy making or having friends when you’re a nomad. Every place I’ve lived in has been a completely new place to me, a place where I knew no people and had no existing ties. So it’s always a challenge to make friends. I can’t even tell you exactly how I do it; I just am myself, try to meet people where I can.

What I do know is that to earn new friends you have to be a good friend, devote time and energy to the friendship, and just be there for them. It takes time and it takes patience; sometimes it feels like I have so little time to begin with, with so much going on as I acclimate to a new area, but I know I’ll never be truly happy unless I develop that network of friends to spend time with, talk to, share experiences with.

Unfortunately, there is a flip side to this; it doesn’t leave lots of time for the great friends you already have made along the way. I feel like I have only a few hours a day where I can be social, a few hours a day where I’m not working, exercising, practicing guitar, writing this blog, or doing whatever else I am doing at that time to continue improving myself. And while it may sound selfish, I just don’t feel like I have as much time I as I would like to dedicate to all my friends.

Around this time of the year, I try to get in touch with as many of my friends as I can, just to let them know I’m still alive and where I am. It’s not always easy; I’ve lost touch with many, many probably wouldn’t remember who I was even if I did know where they were and could write them. But I have great memories of each and every person, and they all have made contributions to who I am today.

Anyway, it’s times like this that I look back with regret on some of the people I’ve lost touch with, or some of the really amazing people that I haven’t been able to dedicate enough time to over the years. I would hope that, being as cool as these people are, they would understand.

Well, I have no idea if any of my old friends will see this log, but if you are one of those old friends reading this, know I love you all, and drop me a line, I’ll try to write back as soon as possible. And know how much I value your friendship, even if I don’t get to express it as often as I like.


Posted by Scottage at 1:20 AM / | |  

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Israel and the Palestinian Authority Conspiring to Postpone Elections?

Are the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority conspiring to postpone elections, preventing the Palestinians from electing Hamas as the Palestinian leadership and the negotiators in the peace process?

In an earlier entry, I discussed the potential advantages and disadvantages to the Palestinians in having Hamas negotiating for them. And while there is no certainty that Hamas would, or could, win an election with the PA (the PA is tremendously popular in Gaza), there is no question that it’s in Israel’s interest to be negotiating with the PA as opposed to a militant group like Hamas.

Israel has indicated they would prevent East Jerusalem Palestinians from voting in the elections in 2006, as these Palestinians now have Israeli citizenship and vote in Israeli elections. With 250,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, and a strong affinity with Hamas and their push for rejecting any peace agreement that does not give Palestine sovereignty over at least part of Jerusalem, there is no question these Palestinians could have a serious effect in January.

But Israel and the Palestinian Authority conspiring? This article claims that is there is “talk on the streets in East Jerusalem” of this conspiracy, but I don’t believe that two groups who can argue for weeks over who sits where at a peace negotiation are capable of working together long enough to have a conspiracy.

Don’t be surprised if Israel is preventing the East Jerusalem Palestinians from voting with the specific goal of delaying Hamas’ rise in power. To them, it’s a win/win. If the elections are delayed, they are spending more time negotiating with the PA while finishing the fence. If the elections go forward, ¼ million pro-Hamas votes probably don’t get cast.

So while I don’t anticipate a conspiracy occurring here, I have no doubt that Israel is playing its own cards in trying to win the upcoming Palestinian election. Perhaps the US should remind Israel what is meant by democracy, and tell them that if the US is going to push for democracy throughout the region that includes their allies.


Posted by Scottage at 11:42 PM / | |  

Making A Difference

I was looking at some other blogs the other day, and noticed that, even with sites like mine that focus on current events and issues facing the world, there are some entries dedicated to the blog owner’s personal life, thoughts and feelings. Thus, I thought that I should try to write some personal entries as well, and mix them in with the commentaries on current events. This will be my first attempt at a personal blog.

So this entry is about making a difference. You know, some people grow up wanting to be a fireman, or a doctor, a lawyer, a politician. I was never one of those people who knew what I wanted to do. My goal is much vaguer: I wanted, want, to make a difference. I have a wide variety of skills, ranging a good mind for analyzing a situation, the ability to identify problems well before they become problems, a charismatic speaker, and an out-of-the-box perspective to most situations, to name a few.

These skills could be valuable in a wide variety of industries, and I didn’t really care which industry I landed in, I just wanted to make a difference. You know, the feeling you get when you help someone, when you truly make a difference in their life, that is the best feeling I’ve ever had. It can be as small as talking to someone in a tough situation and as great changing an entire society, but making a difference, that’s the feeling I want in my life. That’s what drives me.

I’ve searched for that aspect in my career life, where I work for younger technology companies. I normally come in on the sales/marketing or customer service side, and build up the aspects of the company that act as a barrier towards success. It’s a chance to make a real difference to an organization, but it’s challenging; the job normally entails changing the way a company has always done something. People are resistant to change, so you necessarily are going to encounter friction.

If a person is doing the job well, they will piss off some people, it’s the nature of the game. As such, the positions I take are not easy positions, but their positions which, if accomplished, can make a huge difference in the future of the company and in the life of each individual in the company. And yes, though I try to be a nice guy, and to be as friendly as I can throughout the process, I piss some people off along the way.

It’s not always the easiest life. I often feel alienated from the company, and since I move around a lot, these are the only people I know. But when it works, when I’m given a chance and I make it all happen and help a company reach its potential, I have to say I love the feeling of having made that difference, of having really accomplished something. And that’s what drives me, what motivates me. Making a difference.

In future entries I’ll talk about other ways I have made a difference, organizations I’ve helped build, ways I’ve made a difference in peoples personal lives, teaching. But I suspect that this will be a common theme throughout the blog, making a difference. And hey, if you feel like it, feel free to tell me how you make a difference, either on the site as a response or in an email. I’m interested to hear.


Posted by Scottage at 1:52 PM / | |