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things that just are

Friday, December 31, 2004

New credit card for Jews won’t work on Sabbath;
Israeli bank, ultra-orthodox leaders say card can protect holy day

NBC News - Dec. 6, 2004

All over the globe the weekend is the busiest time for shopping.

Consumer life in Israel is no different, despite the religious observance of the holy day of Sabbath from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. For example, the biggest revenue day at the Shfaim shopping center, just 15 miles north of Tel-Aviv, is Saturday.

However for Jews who strictly observe the Sabbath — the holy day of rest, according to the Jewish religion — shopping and any form of entertainment are forbidden. Moreover, ultra-orthodox Jews are even stricter and will boycott shops and restaurants that operate on Saturdays.

Now, Bank Leumi, one of Israel's largest banks, and a group of ultra-orthodox leaders and entrepreneurs see a business opportunity in this niche market. They plan to introduce a special credit card that will not work on the Sabbath and that will not function in stores that don't observe the Sabbath.

Continue reading the story...

Talk about out of hand...

ABC13.com: Robbers scared off by Playstation game get jail time

A video game notorious for violence and mature content may have actually saved a Santa Fe family.

Back in March, Sandy Wilson was taking care of her three grandsons when a group of men attempted to burglarize her home, pointing a gun at the kids.

The children happened to be playing a video game called Grand Theft Auto at the time. The game has dozens of random police scanner messages, which blare out calls such as "This is the police! You're surrounded!" Believe it or not, Wilson says the burglars heard that message and thought police were outside the door waiting for them.

Galveston County Asst DA Michael Elliott explained, "The police in the game were staying, 'Stop, we have you surrounded. This is the police.' The burglar, unknowingly, thought this was the actual police and panicked ... being apprehended by Playstation."

"Thinking that it was pretty funny," recalled young victim Chaze Fisher. "How they were, like, ran off, and they got all scared over a game."

Police arrested the four men. Samuel Woodrow received a five-year prison sentence this week. Ronnie Farris is serving four years. Lucas Griffin got probation. And Zachary Brandenburg's trial is in January.

Just like in Home Alone

Israeli gel helps clear rescuers' noses

A Tel Aviv-based company is participating in the tsunami disaster relief efforts in Asia by protecting aid workers' noses.

Patus said Thursday it has donated thousands of its OdorScreen products to counter the crippling odors on-scene. OdorScreen, designed at the Weizmann Institute of Science, is an "olfactory perception-altering gel compound" applied under the nose, and works by modifying smells to the user for up to two hours.

The FDA-cleared gel-like substance also contains special calming fragrances, including a vanilla aroma for reducing tension in stressful environments.

"Every current report from the devastated areas emphasizes the awful problem of the aftermath's smell as a major obstacle to conducting rescue and recovery operations," said Patus CEO Guy Hirsch. "OdorScreen will be made available by the Foreign Ministry delegations to national and international agencies engaged in relief operations."

"If Patus and OdorScreen can reduce the psychological toll on workers, we feel that we will have done our part," said Hirsch
Here is how it works

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Video footage of the tsunami

From Waxy.org

Tree Thief Leaves Coniferous Trail
When an 18-foot blue spruce disappeared from the front yard of a home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, two days before Christmas, it wasn't too hard to figure out where it went. A trail of pine cones and needles led from the tree's stump to the front door of a house across the street. Inside was the tree, which the occupant claimed he'd bought from a door-to-door tree salesman. "It's got to be the dumbest crime of the century," apartment caretaker Cindy Peterson told the Associated Press.

From The WSJ Evening Wrap

Monday, December 27, 2004

Naughty Turns Nice
An online casino purchased $5,300 worth of Nintendo gear from a Pasadena, Calif., father whose sons, ages 9, 11 and 15, had misbehaved. The family's decision to auction the game systems on eBay made national headlines, intriguing GoldenPalace.com, which has made something of a name for itself bidding on eBay oddities. The Antigua-based casino agreed to bid on the game systems as long the family promised to donate the proceeds to charity. The family plans to buy a new heater for its church. "Everybody knows Santa doesn't come to naughty kids," a company spokesman said.

From the WSJ Evening Wrap

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Fake or Foto?

Is each photo real or computer generated?

Friday, December 10, 2004

Cellphone Vigilantism
"This is so long overdue it’s crazy. The Society for HandHeld Hushing, aka Coudal.com, made up this PDF with special notes you can print and hand out to anyone who feels that they absolutely need to have a loud cellphone conversation in public about how wasted they got last night or how their husband can’t get it up anymore."

Get your cards here.

From Engadget

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The New York Times: "What Corporate America Can't Build: A Sentence"

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - R. Craig Hogan, a former university professor who heads an online school for business writing here, received an anguished e-mail message recently from a prospective student.

"i need help," said the message, which was devoid of punctuation. "i am writing a essay on writing i work for this company and my boss want me to help improve the workers writing skills can yall help me with some information thank you".

Hundreds of inquiries from managers and executives seeking to improve their own or their workers' writing pop into Dr. Hogan's computer in-basket each month, he says, describing a number that has surged as e-mail has replaced the phone for much workplace communication. Millions of employees must write more frequently on the job than previously. And many are making a hash of it.

"E-mail is a party to which English teachers have not been invited," Dr. Hogan said. "It has companies tearing their hair out."

Continue article

Hanukkah Hey Ya!

Created by Eric Schwartz

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Fourth-grader suspended over suspected 'Jell-O shots'
AP: December 7, 2004

NEW ORLEANS -- An 8-year-old girl was suspended for nine days for bringing to school what appeared to be about 30 'Jell-O shots' -- though it was unclear whether they contained alcohol.

The incident occurred Nov. 29, as the girl stood after classes outside Geraldine Boudreaux Elementary School in Terrytown, a New Orleans suburb. A teacher spotted liquid dripping out of the student's bookbag and found what looked like the small cups of alcohol-laced gelatin that are sold in bars, schools spokesman Jeff Nowakowski said.

The girl told the principal that her mother, who works in a bar, makes alcoholic shots at home and sells them at work. The fourth-grader said her mother had instructed her to take the shots to school and sell them, three for $1, to make some money for Christmas, Nowakowski said.

The gelatin was turned over to the sheriff's department for testing to see if it contained alcohol. The girl was suspended for violating school rules against possessing or trying to distribute a 'lookalike,' or something that appears to contain drugs or alcohol. Under the lookalike rule, the girl's suspension will stand no matter what the sheriff's department finds.

'The school system's position is, it doesn't matter if it had alcohol in it or not,' Nowakowski said.

The names of the girl and her mother were not released. The mother must also allow school officials to test her daughter's hair for signs of drug use, Nowakowski said.

Photo-Blocker:: Don't get caught by photo enforcement cameras.

From Engadget

Reality Television


"Who needs 'reality television' when you live in Israel? Just being a citizen of this country is enough to make you feel you're participating in a reality television program.

The world's eyes (and news cameras) are upon us, and every day there are fiendish new challenges that seemed designed to test our mettle. Call it Survivor: Israel, or Zionist Fear Factor.

Maybe this explains my disinterest in all the Israeli versions produced in the past year of such hit US reality shows as The Amazing Race, Big Brother, The Bachelorette and American Idol. What's more, these programs haven't really offered any interesting local twists on their American originals.

Instead of an amateur singing contest, why not a competition in which Israeli soccer fans vie with each other to see who can be the first to be thrown out of a stadium for obnoxious behavior? And rather than a single woman choosing from among a flock of hunky male suitors, why not have outcast Shinui MK Yosef Paritzky being wooed by different parties as he decides how to cast his sole Knesset vote on each proposed bill?"

To continue reading...

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

What Every New Business Needs
For businesses in every industry, some investments are indispensible -- you know, stuff like skilled employees, savvy marketing, product development, haunted walking canes and magical sandwiches. Antigua-based online casino GoldenPalace.com has bid $65,000 in an eBay auction for a haunted walking cane from Indiana. The fledgling company plans to put the cane on the shelf right next to the grilled cheese sandwich it bought last month for $28,000 -- the 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich embossed with the image of the Virgin Mary. It was unclear how these items would benefit the company, exactly. "It's just the new Americana thing," casino spokesman Monty Kerr told the Associated Press.

From the WSJ Afternoon Report

Monday, December 06, 2004

73% of Israelis Keep Soup Nuts in Pantries

One of the most popular foods in Israeli households is soup nuts. An astounding 73 percent of Israeli households have the product in their kitchen cabinets, according to Osem Industries, the leading manufacturer and distributor of soup nuts.

Soup nuts, says Osem, are very popular with the young. Unilever Israel, parent company of Telma, which owns about 10% of the soup-nut market and dominates the prepared soup market says that soup nut customers behave along cultural and seasonal divides. Cultures in which soup is a regular part of the diet logically buy more soup enhancers, explained a Telma spokesperson. The biggest increase in soup-nut consumption occurs in the winter months of November to February, when Osem increases its soup-nut production by 280%, a company spokeswoman said. Osem soup nuts are a big seller in the American kosher market as well. Tracy Cross, manager of the kosher food department for a major chain in Austin, Texas, confirmed that the store stocks Osem soup nuts year round.

For American Jews, however, their association with soup nuts is undeniably linked with the Pesach holiday, a phenomenon somewhat confounded by the fact that Israel's major soup-nut producers do not even manufacture kosher-for-Pesach soup nuts. Manischewitz sells a whopping 50% of its entire soup-nut production during Pesach, said Robert Sheckman, marketing director for Manischewitz. To be more precise, the company manufactures an average of 10 million individual soup nuts throughout the year at its New Jersey plant and at least five million with matzo-meal substitutions during the Pesach high season, Sheckman said. To prepare for the holiday, Cross increases his soup-nut inventory to include Manischewitz along with the Streits and Goodmans brands.

From Kosher Today

Sunday, December 05, 2004

My Frist Buck Photo Gallery