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Newest Gig: RapidFire Video June 17, 2009

Posted by Jay Bailey in Uncategorized.
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Here’s my latest adventure…RapidFire Video, at http://www.rapidfirevideo.com. After leaving Answers, I had a lot of people asking if I could still develop videos for them. At first, I had decided to put it behind me. But I really missed the creativity and the response I got from clients, so I decided to re-open the shop as RapidFire. Take a look at the site, watch the video, and then forward away to folks who might be interested!


I’ll have one of everything, please! November 12, 2008

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To whoever happens to be subscribed to the Jerusalem Artichoke…

While I still may post periodically here (random life stuff), I’ve begun a new blog called Dream Dishes. It has a very specific focus, as you’ll see when you visit. And for the non-RSS-enabled, you can subscribe to the Feedburner e-mail from a little form on the left side of the blog over there. Hope you’ll join me!

“Day at the Museum”? June 5, 2008

Posted by Jay Bailey in Experiences, Israel.

Not sure anyone still sees this (please put a comment below or send me a note if you’re seeing this), but I had to get this out.

“Really insane museum experience” is a phrase you don’t often hear.

So here goes: I hadn’t been to the Jerusalem Bible Lands Museum in about seven years and the geeky historical novelist in me wanted to drop by to see what was new in the world of 3,000 year-old bits of stone. As I buy my ticket, the guy tells me that a (free) guided tour is about to start so if I wait a minute I can join. Turns out I was the only one, so I was really jazzed to get a provate guided tour. Can’t be bad, right? Hmmmm.

So the 70-ish year-old lady begins the tour near the stone seals. This was like that Tamar took from Yehuda — it was a stone ring or etched tube that you’d roll in clay as a signature, guarantee, or assurance of value, etc. So she’s showing me the various designs and she says “they’d take all kinds of weeds and grasses and make ink to dip these in.” Now I happen to know that this wasn’t how they were used. People were using these on clay tablets and jars; there was no paper back then, and ink wouldn’t have held up. I shrugged, thinking maybe it was part of specific use for something. As she spoke I scanned the write-up on the wall. Nothing about ink.

Then we get to a map that she explains is all about how Abraham moves around in long, wandering paths to eventually reach Canaan. I’m looking at the map and I’m seeing trade routes for spices, gems and timber. Still confused (later I’d notice the map she was actually referring to, in a similar position in the next room), I let her guide me to a display of idols. There are two identical idols connected at the feet, and she says “this is a very early example of homosexuality. You see, it was part of idol-worship. When the Ten Commandments talk about not being homosexual, it wasn’t random; it was against a form of idol worship.”

Okay, I’m going through them in my head, and I’m pretty sure homosexuality isn’t in the Big 10. And these two guys are just standing there. Sure, they were naked, but so was pretty every statue or etching in the museum.

At this point, I’m looking around for the candid camera. This is too bizarre. Did she miss the part of class where they, well, EXPLAINED HISTORY? Maybe she stayed too late at recess instead of coming for the game “Match the artifact to the explanation”.

Ten minutes later, after a vague lecture about how the Philistine Sea people came in and found Jews in many lands where they landed along the various Mediterranean countries (um, there were actually not too many Jews anywhere when that happened…it was somewhere around Joseph’s time), we approached a large wooden coffin. I heard about the man’s life a scribe and how the various images painted there tell the story of his life. Later, I returned to read the panel, which explained it was a nobelwoman, the only character clearly highlighted in white, and the images were a narration of the Egyptian afterlife.

Next we saw a statue of an Egyptian warrior holding a bow over his shoulder, and I was informed that it was Moses looking over the Nile before a plague.This was simply not Moses. She said it was amazing he got so far, even with this stutter.

Then we saw the Iron-age sword, just the blade and animal-head hilt, missing the wooden handle. (Oops, the card says it’s a board-hunting spearhead with a hilt made to keep it from running through the animal.)

Then we saw a model of Babel, 600 B.C.E.; I’m thinking that it’s pretty cool to see where the Jews were exiled to.The Tower of Babylon\'s great-great-great-great-great-great grandson. She points to a large ziggurat temple and explains that it’s the Tower of Babel where one person asked the other for a hammer and he got a screwdriver. She sort of missed that by like a thousand and a half years.

Finally, we reached the last room, dedicated to Christian artifacts, where she simply mumbled something about “and then there were Christians and things changed.”

At last, she bid me farewell. I took a deep breath, walked to the beginning of the route, and did the whole tour myself.

15 Seconds February 17, 2008

Posted by Jay Bailey in Uncategorized.
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This speaks for itself (well, after you’ve watched about 3/4 of it):

Going to that great big vacation beach town in the sky February 11, 2008

Posted by Jay Bailey in Entertainment.
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See, I knew that when I reached my 30s it’d start to happen. Actors who were simply normal-aged “people”I saw in the movies growing up would start to die. (My big “scary moment” is absolutely going to be Madonna.)

So bon voyage to Roy Scheider.  All I can say is that when I’d see your name in the credits in the video store, it was a keeper. Without you, Jaws would have been, well, alive.

I know, I’d better get used to it. Lou Diamond Philips got way too old, Zsa Zsa Gabor is like 90 (really! And yes, still alive) and Bill Murray…well, let’s say he’s looking more like the scary characters in Ghostbusters.

I’m going to develop celebrity attachment issue. Steve Carell makes me laugh. He’s just a funny guy. But any day now I’m going to turn around and this isn’t going to be make-up.

It’s a (way too) wired world February 7, 2008

Posted by Jay Bailey in Tech.
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Many of you (the ones born when I was in high school but are somehow real people now) will roll your eyes at this, but here goes:

Just sat down with my laptop to check in with work for 10 minutes. I was about to go exercise, but wanted to see if anything needed my attention. I traded a dozen emails, looked at a screenshot, the usual stuff. 10 minutes was just right. But then I:

  • Checked my stock portfolio
  • Made corrections on two limericks I had written for the OEDILF
  • Checked on flight schedules for a trip in March
  • Got an e-fax from my Mom.
  • Checked in on 200 friends on FaceBook.
  • While there, played my turn in two Scrabble games
  • Answered a question about woks on WikiAnswers
  • Posted a comment on a friend’s blog and on a business blog that needed to know about one of our products
  • Checked my calendar for early next week
  • Made a change to a plot outline for a novel I’m considering starting
  • Found out that Romney is out of the race.
  • Looked at the weather forecast for tomorrow
  • Checked my Israeli bank account to see if a check had been deposited.
  • Wrote this blog entry

There’s no turning back…the capabilities are there. The question is how these technology companies (mine included) are going to make this aggregation process easier. RSS feeds and widgets are the tip of the iceberg; in a year or two, I’m hoping that I’ll be looking at a single dashboard that more or less presents ALL these things to me in an integrates space.

For now, I’m still going to wake up every morning amazed as I think about how I’d have done each of these tasks (the ones that existed in the first place) just 5 years ago. Each would have been a disparate process, taking up a lot more brain juice.

Now, if I could only get it to work out for me… 😉

Tel Aviv & Tech Predictions for 2008 February 6, 2008

Posted by Jay Bailey in Israel, Tech, Travel.
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This morning I attended a Deloitte seminar in Tel Aviv, where an analyst discussed their predictions for trends in Technology, Media and Telecommunications. I took the bike and was wondering if I’d find a little corner of the parking lot of the Azrieli (Round) Tower. Well, yeah, they have some space to park motorcycles. Sort of a surreal dream.

Anyway, the discussion was fascinating. A few from the list:

  • People will continue with the trend to give away information about themselves, as long as they think they get something back. Security hasn’t gotten better, necessarily, and the speaker said he predicts a few MAJOR identity theft stories in the news. But the “hype” behind Big Brother knowing all about you simply doesn’t bother most people if they get free stuff or if the ads become more relevant. (By a raise of hands, half the people — Israelis — in the room had FaceBook accounts; the average age was probably 40.)
  • Related to that, this should finally become the year when authentication gets serious. A credit card number is fine, but a centralized system that simply says “this is absolutely me” for things like parental okays for kids using sites, or to replace anonymous blog comments, etc., is coming. There’s a GREAT video that I used as inspiration for my videos at work…it’s all about this. Here’s the link.
  • The notion of e-Books hasn’t taken off quickly enough (though I’m drooling over the Amazon Kindle), it’s possible that it’s because of the attachment we have to books. We’re not ready to give them up. But call it e-Reference (I know a great site for that!) and it’s a little more “functional” and the trend can take off. Fiction will follow naturally. But emphasize How To, Maps, Cookbooks, etc., and you have a less emotional fight.
  • Water purification and supplies are going to be serious financial investments as the planet’s weather patterns continue to be fairly topsy-turvy and drought is common. A billion people don’t have clean water and it’s getting wors, moving closer to more “domestic” areas. Israel is the perfect example of that, of course. He pointed out that a common way to bring oil to the surface is to flood it with clean water and it all rises. In many locations, 4 barrels of water is used to pull out 1 barrel of oil.
  • Music needs to get tangible again. Odd story — after a hit album was given away for free online, CD sales of the physical version still skyrocketed to #1 for weeks. People like holding something. Apparently, it seems that people are okay buying an expensive iPod or going to a $200 concert. It’s there. It’s physical. But to download music for a dollar — good value — is too intangible. This might lead to people getting free digital music with a concert ticket as an incentive, or cover art in the form of posters, etc… he was a little fuzzy about the ramifications, but it was clear that things are a little odd in this area…
  • Oh — and his most interesting prediction is a massive backlash against plasma TVs as they are today. We all hear about switching to fluorescent bulbs so save pennies (and over time, dollars) but these big TVs take 5X the power of regular ones, and the home theater sound systems even more. He predicts stickers, by the end of the year, just like those on dishwashers; this will raise the issue and force companies to design smarter.

Gold for Gold Stars? January 1, 2008

Posted by Jay Bailey in commerce, history, Holocaust, Israel.
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The JTA (and others) reports today that:

An Israeli auction house drew censure for selling off Holocaust memorabilia.

Among hundreds of items sold Sunday by the Ben-Ami Andres auction house in Tel Aviv were two yellow Star of David badges which Jews were forced to wear under the Nazis. They were sold for $240 and $160.The buyers were not identified, but auction organizers said there had been interest in the items from children of Holocaust survivors who voiced desire to commemorate their parents’ suffering.

Yet other Holocaust survivors were far from sanguine about the sale, describing it as profiteering.”

I think it’s despicable,” said Yosef Lapid, a former Israeli justice minister who is now chairman of Yad Vashem’s board of governors. Speaking on Israel Radio, he added sarcastically: “When I was a child in the Budapest ghetto, I had no idea that the badges I was forced to wear could prove so valuable.”


I don’t quite understand the objection. Consider:

  • Israeli (and American, of course) basic rights provide for the buying and selling between parties, as long as the merchandise are not contraband (weapons, drugs, stolen, etc.). How can you forbid the selling of an object without any consideration of the who the buyer and the seller are? What if the buyer is an artist, looking to create a memorial? Or an author, or a Jew who wants to always remember…
  • Museums are apparently exempt, as their goal is commemoration. But what about someone who wants to commemorate on his own? And what if the seller is a Pole who took it from a dying Jew, vs. from a survivor who is poor, old, and solves two problems with the sale (food to eat and a way to make sure the memory lives on)?
  • Wouldn’t this open up the door to selling any paraphernalia from any war or disaster? How about a pair of shoes found after the bombing of Hiroshima? Or a piece of a bombed bus (that wasn’t required as evidence)? Though it may not be a nice thing to do, it’s hard to imagine legislation limiting all these.
  • What is supposed to happen to the tens of thousands of items like this floating around? Should it be illegal to pass them down to your grandchildren? Should they all be funneled to museums or destroyed?

I’m generally pretty suspicious of human nature, and yes — there is obviously a chance that some people will “profit” from the Holocaust. But don’t Wiesenthal Center employees get salaries? Didn’t the hundreds of people who worked on Schindler’s List get paid? What about publishers who print fiction or non-fiction about the Holocaust? When people trade things, there is payment involved. How can anyone limit this type of interaction? (Please leave comments below. I’m curious to see if anyone out there disagrees.)

Maybe a little rape might help? December 30, 2007

Posted by Jay Bailey in Israel.
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Okay, this is too hard to believe. Hebrew U. is giving an award to a paper that states that Israeli soldiers are racist because they are not interested in raping Arab women, as is the custom with most armies around the world. Here’s the article.
I’m going to fanticize for a moment that the government recently hired a brilliant new PR guru who leverages cutting-edge guerrilla-PR technique generally used in the “Web 2.0” world of viral marketing. You know, the bizarre videos that get passed around, the rumors that make it to virtually every email list on the web?
Can you think of a better way to get out news about the Army’s morality (oh, there’s the whole “we go out of our way not to hurt civilians whose houses terrorists use as a launching pad” thing, but that’s too vague for most observers) ? Based on the chatter in the blogosphere so far, this is the best PR we’ve had in ages.
And who better to be the “author” than a left-wing academic? Ah, the brilliance of it all. I couldn’t have scripted a better plan. Any day now, we’ll find out Tal Nitzan Is actually an acronym for Liz Tannat, the world-famous spin expert who manages each week to keep Esterina Tartman in her Knesset job…
Damn. I just noticed that I opened with “the government recently hired a brilliant new PR guru”. Time to wake up from that one….

You all still out there? December 26, 2007

Posted by Jay Bailey in Weird Stuff on the Web.
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So I’m going to get back to blogging. Nothing too heavy, deep or earth-shattering. Mostly things I find online or that I see in day-to-day life…(And the ideas have been piling up. Micha has been bugging me daily to start posting again…how long can I mumble about not having time?)

Anyway, today on Woot they are selling Calendars. For about $5 you get three random 2008 calendars (some look nice, some odd with names like Pigs on Parade, Hula Holiday, etc.). Anyway, at the bottom is this line.

I had to stare at it for a second. Then I laughed out loud:

Warning: Calendars are not to be used for draining pasta. Turns out that’s something else altogether.