Sunday, November 29
Friday, November 27
Me, at bed time: "Knock if off! You kids are acting wild."
Madeleine: "Well, Dad, we were born to be wild."
Madeleine: "So then, um, I made a hamster trap. And I put a trail of hamster food across the (upstairs, carpeted) hallway into a shoe box. And mum was, like, um, not very happy about that. And so she told me to put the trap away."
Thursday, November 26
Eitan: "Once Natasha found a worm in my hair" (Eitan's uncombed hair an ongoing battle with Sonnet)
Eitan: "It was green. She also found a spider web and a lady bird."
Eitan looses all privileges following bad-behavior reflected by five demerits. This includes Sunday's KPR match, which he did not reckon I would take away. So today, walking home, we discuss how he can get back the demerits.
Me: "What are some things I would trade for? What do I need?"
Madeleine: "Good behavior. Not complaining when doing chores!"
Eitan: "How should I know?"
Me: "Well, what do we send out every time this year?"
Me: "To all our friends?"
Madeleine: "Christmas Cards!"
Me: "Good. And what do we not have?"
Madeleine: "Christmas cards?"
Eitan: "A Christmas photo."
Me: "Yes, good. That is what you call leverage. Now how shall we use it?"
Eitan: "Um, Dad, if you take away a demerit, I will take a Christmas photo."
Me: "I will take away one demerit if you take the Christmas photo with your hair combed."
Eitan: "That is so unfair!"
Me: "Make it worth your while"
Eitan: "Four demerits"
Me: "You've got a deal. Well done."
Wednesday, November 25
Walking to school, me: "what is the thing you value most?"
Madeleine: "Doggie. And Foxy."
Eitan: "Well, Teddie. And then you and mum."
Me: "How about your skills? One day, they may be quite valuable."
Madeleine: "I don't have any skills."
Me: "Sure you do. How about your times tables? I imagine somebody would value that."
Eitan: "I'm doing remainders. I'll bet that is worth ten pounds."
Madeleine: "No it is not!"
Eitan: "Yes it is!"
Tuesday, November 24
Britain is doing the right thing regarding the mess that is now Iraq: an investigation, open to public hearings, which begins today. There was initially considerable backlash from White Hall about transparency while guys like Tony Blair balked. Due to the public's anger - and free from repercussion - Tony will. The panel, appointed by Gordon Brown, will not lay blame nor establish criminal or civil liability. The panel will offer stern reprimands, smack a few wrists soundly with a yard-stick and make a recommendation or two. Nobody to be held accountable. No one discredited for perhaps the greatest strategic blunder of the last fifty years. Notes panel Chair John Chicot: "Our determination is to do not merely a thorough job, but one that is frank and will bear public scrutiny." Milk toast. The report done by the end of 2010 and not in time for the next general election which must be held by June 2010. Super Gee did a good job on that one, though I suppose we should be grateful to have any serious review of Iraq. The stakes high too: 179 British soldiers dead, a broken country and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians displaced or perished. A failed state, terrorism and a resurgent Iran who actually builds a nuclear bomb. Nobody would have thought Viet Nam, again, either. But we should have learned.
"Let Freedom reign!''
--George W. Bush (scribbled on a note to Condalisa Rice)
"The War President" montage of American deaths in Iraq from "Faces of the Fallen" Washington Post online exhibition.
Monday, November 23
Us dads and some mums stand on the sideline drinking Starbucks cappuccinos and chit-chatting current events. We know we're wimps. Sunday's air-time the French-Ireland double-touch fiasco and we all agree that a replay of the match untenable. Still, instant-replay, in my opinion, also no good as it changes the dynamic of the game yet it also does not serve when millions of TV viewers know the ref missed a critical call. Ireland, suffering economic malaise, could use a shot in the arm and football brings ££s of advertising, merchandising, tourism and other commercial crapola. It also provides a monumental distraction from these hard times and may raise a nation's spirits to unimaginable highs (England, '66) or lows (England, ever since). Whoever thinks 'just a game' has never a clue in the world.
Here are a couple of self-righteous, conservative God-fearing douche bags - Coburn and Ensign, who represent me and all Americans, bastards. Today's headlines: "Senator Tom Coburn on Sunday denied that he had a role in helping Senator John Ensign negotiate a payoff of a former aide and close friend, whose wife had an affair with the Nevada Republican Senator." Do you have any faith in Coburn's denial? Who are these people?
Sunday, November 22
I bring Madeleine to my office so she can do her homework sans distraction. She: "Dad, will you stop working so I can work?"
Our friends Ramsey and Jennifer over for brunch. Eitan, whispering to me: "Tell the story when I sleep-walked and peed down the stairs."
Saturday, November 21
Friday, November 20
I have often wondered where the expression "the beautiful game" originated, and learn the phrase coined by Brazilian superstar Didi - the Brazilian expression Joga Bonita (to "play beautifully) parallels this phrase. In 1977 Pele, named his autobiography "My Life and the Beautiful Game" whose dedication reads: "I dedicate this book to all those who make the game beautiful."
Thursday, November 19
Tuesday, November 17
Monday, November 16
Sunday, November 15
I enter Eitan's room to have the conversation. Eitan reading his ManU magazines and the last thing in the world he wants is a discussion about girls, and whatever comes with that package. I remember being about Eitan's age, lying on my bed on a lazy Sunday reading comics (Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider Man - issues #1-25 mint) and my father having the same conversation. In the UK, sex education is a compulsory part of the national curriculum in primary and secondary schools to cut teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, which I applaud though many uncomfortable with the general early start. Britain has some of the worst statistics in Europe. A new personal, social and health education (PSHE) curriculum, expected by 2010, will include compulsory sex and relationships education as well as better advice warning children against drugs and alcohol. Children will learn about body parts and the fact that animals reproduce from the age of five, puberty and intercourse from the age of seven and contraception and abortion from the age of 11.
Madeleine and I spend the entire afternoon at Eitan's 8-11 borough swimming championships, watching him compete two laps. At least they were 33 meters and he tries the butterfly. Madeleine is to die from boredom and, frankly, so am I.
Saturday, November 14
Thursday, November 12
Wednesday, November 11
Tuesday, November 10
There are some indicators that London coming out of the financial mess, including commercial property values which have snapped back from their deepest slump on record and now worry pundits we are entering another bubble. Oy. I am not convinced, however, that we are through the tunnel. The Financial Services Authority, which regulates the UK's financial industry, saw 247 new applications for authorisation in the third quarter, the lowest in three years, while 643 firms cancelled their registration (source: IMAS Corporate Advisors). The country's financial engine, The City, continues to shrink even while bonuses return to 2007 (Goldman, bastards). The real worry, however, 2012: this when 'bullet payments' come due on company debt issued in a leveraged buy-out in 2007. This, of course, being the top of a toppy market. Company valuations were then out of wack with historicals and now these investments underwater (like negative equity on a house). Nobody really cares about value flucuations as long as the debt serviced .. which it typically must be in five years after the issue date. If the economy has not returned to terra firma, we may see defaults which could .. only hurt a struggling economy further.
"If your love life is rife, it could save your life."
--A losing entry for a new, national condoms campaign
Monday, November 9
One I am watching closely: Britain's Supreme Court decision regarding 'Jewishness.' Here's the stem: a 12-year-old applies to North London's Jews' Free School (founded in 1732); the boy's father Jewish and his mother a 'converted' Jew. JFS does not accept Mom's religion, boy denied entrance and family sues JFS. The Supremes will decide whether the school's test of Jewishness based on religion, which is legal, or on race (or ethnicity), which is not. The issue divisive and all the more interesting, through my American peepers, as JFS could not exist in the US as state schools (for now) not allowed to consider religion in the classroom (never you mind 'creationism,' deary). Every community in England confronts this issue at some point as state-sponsored religious schools often better than the local general primary or secondary.. how far would you go, as a parent, to ensure the best education for your child? In the case of JFS the question goes deeper: who decides what is Jewish? The school? Community? Local rabbi? Courts?
I can honestly say, after three countries and 42 years, I have never experienced anti-semitism. I am also not a practicing Jew nor look particularly Jewish, whatever that may mean. Hooked nose, I suppose. Many of my friends are Jewish (none with hooked noses) - in fact, probably the majority - which I have wondered about from time to time. I think this because of personality or success or whatever, not because of similar last names - but, really, who knows? Maybe we are all drawn to what is familiar despite whatever. In any event, I am proud race was never much of a consideration in Berkeley. Just look at my sixth grade class photo. Thank you, Moe and Grace.
Sunday, November 8