RIP Árpád Göncz and László Lugosi

Árpád GönczTwo famous Hungarians passed away today, that I know of. Árpád Göncz was the president of Hungary for ten years, between 1990 and 2000. Before, and possibly more importantly, he was a writer and translator. Some of his notable translations include E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime,  Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, Ernest Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and many more. As the commentators and obits mention He might have been one of the last politicians in Hungary who was respected and even liked across the political aisles.

László LugosiLászló Lugosi was the guitar player in the band called Beatrice. It’s a famous/infamous band with a rich history, see the linked wikipedia page. One of the first LP’s I ever got, probably when I was around 13-14, had 4 songs from by them. I listened to it repeatedly and that probably influenced me quite a bit in my formative years. The song below has Lugosi’s signature guitar sound. After the video I share the lyrics in Hungarian and my attempt of a translation. The song is called “Meditation” and a good one to reflect upon passings.

May the memory of both of them be a blessing.

Ha elnémul a város, oly magam vagyok
és egyedül sokszor rámtör; a depresszió,
Ó, nem, ó én nem tudom, hogy ki vagyok
Minek születtem választ nem kapok.
Mond miért él az ember és hol van a cél?
… és tényleg van-e Isten, mely bennünk él?
Ó nem, ó én nem tudom, hogy ki vagyok
Minek születtem választ nem kapok.
És sokszor sírnom kellett, ha nem bírtam már,
a cinizmus mögé rejtem, ha valaki bánt,
Ó nem, ó nem tudom, hogy ki vagyok
Az álarc lehullt, hát itt vagyok.
Ha elnémul a város, oly magam vagyok,
és egyedül sokszor rám tör a depresszió,
egy könny lefolyik az arcomon,
ha elhagy minden; hát meghalok…

When the city quiets down I am so myself
and when alone it often attacks me: depression.
Oh no, oh I don’t know who I am
What was I born for – I won’t get an answer.
Tell me why do we live and where’s the purpose?
… and is there really a God, who lives in us?
Oh no, oh I don’t know who I am
What was I born for – I won’t get an answer.
And I often had to cry, when I couldn’t stand it any more,
I hide behind cynicism, if someone hurts me,
Oh no, oh I don’t know who I am
The mask has fallen, so here I am.
When the city quiets down I am so myself
and alone it often attacks me: depression,
A teardrop runs down my face
If everything leaves me behind, then I die.

Films added in September 2015 to

Cartoonists: Footsoldiers of Democracy?In September I managed to add 43 films to Jewish Film Festivals. Some of them are old, others are new. There are shorts, feature films, documentaries and TV series among them. In the list below I used the English title for all them, but many of them are from other countries. the only thing common in them is that they were all shown at one more Jewish Film Festival this year. I hope you will find some interesting one films here:

  1. The Accidental Activist: Whoever Saves a Life… (2015)
  2. The Anarchist Rabbi (2014)
  3. Atlit (2014)
  4. Bess Myerson: Portrait of an Activist (1994)
  5. Cartoonists: Footsoldiers of Democracy? (2014)
  6. Casablanca (1942)
  7. TheCelluloid Closet (1995)
  8. Censored Voices (2015)
  9. The Chaos Within (2014)
  10. The Dowry (1969)
  11. Encirclements (2014)
  12. Every Face Has a Name (2015)
  13. Famous Nathan (2014)
  14. Five Broken Cameras (2011)
  15. Free to Be… You & Me (1974)
  16. A Fuller Life (2013)
  17. Good Luck/East and West (1923)
  18. Hebrew Superheroes (2015)
  19. Hefts Gets Screwed (2014)
  20. Here One Day (2013)
  21. TheHidden Spring (2012)
  22. Hirsch (2010)
  23. Imagine… Philip Roth Unleashed (2014)
  24. In The Presence of Mine Enemies (1960)
  25. Irwin & Fran (2013)
  26. It Takes a Shtetl: Leonard Nimoy’s Boston (2014)
  27. Josef et Aimée (2014)
  28. King Of Kensington (1975)
  29. The Last American Virgin (1982)
  30. Laura Adler’s Last Love Affair (1990)
  31. Lemon Popsicle (1978)
  32. The Loner: The Homecoming of Lemuel Stove (1965)
  33. Look at Us Now, Mother! (2015)
  34. Lookout (2014)
  35. Make Me a Match (2013)
  36. Mom and Dad, I Have Something to Tell You (2010)
  37. Phoenix (2014)
  38. There and Here (2014)
  39. Tightrope (2014)
  40. The Train (2015)
  41. Transport XX to Auschwitz (2012)
  42. Very Semi-Serious (2015)
  43. Women in Sink (2015)

Books posted on my Jewish Books blog in September 2015

I have a blog about Jewish books. Most of the time I post about new books, sometimes about events, book sales or older books. Here is the list of books that made it there during the month of September 2015:

  1. All About Rosh Hashanah by Judyth Groner and Madeline WiklerAll About Rosh Hashanah by Judyth Groner and Madeline Wikler
  2. The Ambassador by Yehuda Avner and Matt Rees
  3. Avigail by Chana Zauderer
  4. Black Earth by Timothy Snyder
  5. The Colors of Israel by Rachel Raz
  6. Days of Awe by Lauren Fox
  7. The Debate Over Jewish Achievement: Exploring the Nature and Nurture of Human Accomplishment by Steven L. Pease
  8. Forever Torn by Jason Greenfield
  9. Gersonides: Judaism within the Limits of Reason by Seymour Feldman
  10. The Grammar of God by Aviya Kushner
  11. Hannah Arendt: A Life in Dark Times by Anne C. Heller
  12. High Holiday Porn: A Memoir by Eytan Bayme
  13. The House of Twenty Thousand Books by Sasha Abramsky
  14. How’s Your Faith? An Unlikely Spiritual Journey by David Gregory
  15. Jewish Spiritual Parenting by Rabbi Paul J. Kipnes, Michelle November MSSW
  16. Jewish Stories of Love and Marriage: Folktales, Legends, and Letters by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and Peninnah Schram
  17. King David & Akavish the Spider by Sylvia Rouss
  18. Let There Be Water by Seth M. Siegel
  19. Maimonides the Rationalist by Herbert A. Davidson
  20. The Mental Yentl: Stories from a Lifelong Student of Crazy by Sally Fingerett
  21. Oedipus in Jerusalem by Kalman J. Kaplan
  22. A Of Many Generations: Judaica and Hebraica from the Taube/Baron Collection by David L. Langenberg
  23. On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks
  24. Out of Jordan: A Sabra in the Peace Corps Tells Her Story by Dalya Cohen-Mor
  25. Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott
  26. ThePeriodic Table by Primo Levi
  27. Renewal: Inspirational Lessons of Rosh Hashanah by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld
  28. The Salt Mine: The Trail of Nazi Blood Money by Patrick Nolan Clark
  29. Saving Sophie by Ronald H. Balson
  30. The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen: A Fresh Take on Tradition by Amelia Saltsman
  31. The Secret of Chabad by David Eliezrie
  32. Shanghai Sukkah by Heidi Smith Hyde
  33. Sisters in Law by Linda Hirshman
  34. Summer Haven: The Catskills, the Holocaust, and the Literary Imagination by Holli Levitsky & Phil Brown
  35. Tightrope: Six Centuries of a Jewish Dynasty by Michael Karpin
  36. Un bon fils (A Good Son) by Pascal Bruckner
  37. Underground in Berlin by Marie Jalowicz Simon
  38. When God is Near: On the High Holidays by Yehuda Amital
  39. White Matter by Janet Sternburg
  40. Why This Black Woman Married a Jewish Man by Nazaree Hines-Starr
  41. Yom Kippur – For Children by Rachel Mintz

Cost and automation of weapons (Lem vs Credit Suisse)

Today’s connection* is between a book and an article.

Stanislaw Lem's science-fiction piece "Peace on EarthOne of the books I am reading is Stanislaw Lem‘s science-fiction piecePeace on Earth from 1987. In it he envisions a future where warfare’s methods, locations and even actors are different. One detail of Lem’s complex vision is that because war machines are becoming more and more expensive only superpowers can afford them and even they only in limited numbers. Another aspect he predicted was that due to the increased pace of automatization “robots” (really, any sophisticated non-human machines) will do the actual fighting and then later will be in charge of strategy too.

As I was taking a break from reading it this article popped up on my screen. It is from Business Insider, summarizing a Credit Suisse‘s research paper titled “The End of Globalization or a More Multipolar World“. It is a fascinating and mostly depressing document. The BI article includes this quote:

“The growing automation sector could lead to robotics warfare, which will lower casualties and the risk to human life. It could also make war seem less costly than it is now, since robots are more replaceable than people.”

Lem’s novel from 28 years ago and the fresh report provides an interesting contrast. They both agree that there will be less humans on the frontlines of war. But they diverge on the cost aspect. Lem didn’t put a figure in his calculation on the value of human life and for him the cost of a few** big machine would result in the overall rise of expenses for war. But if you consider that robots are easier to replace and the cost of production is continuously going down robotic warfare is getting cheaper. That is a scary thought for me because we humans proved that if something is cheap we are more willing to use/abuse/waste it. I wish war would be so expensive that everybody would see that it is such a waste that could be spent better on constructive problem resolution and resource allocation.

*”Connections” are ideas that occur to me as I read books, watch movies and TV shows and sometimes even connect them to current events.

** In Lem’s estimate a superpower would be able to afford on 18-22 of the top of the line war machines, while other none or only a few.

#10 of 10Q: How Will I Feel by Next Year

The tenth question of 10Q*: When September 2016 rolls around and you receive your answers to your 10Q questions, how do you think you’ll feel? What do you think/hope might be different about your life and where you’re at as a result of thinking about and answering these questions?

SuccessMy answer: I hope that by this time next year I will feel more  comfortable with inevitable change (#9), more in touch with my wife (#8), more able to manage my grumpy mood (#7), have improved the quality of my life (#6), have been more in nature and be spiritually aware of it too (#5), have the refugee crisis in Hungary and Europe behind us (#4), have seen my wife having a successful first year at her job (#2) have spent less time on worrying/stressing (#2) and have seen my daughters grown physically, mentally, emotionally (#1). Based on the answers of the first nine question these are my hopes. This seems a pretty ambitious plan and right now I don’t believe in 100% success. so to answer the question how I will feel (as opposed to what I hope) I have to stay that I think that by next September I will have gained traction in all of these areas, but may not have achieved all of them fully.

* “10Q” is a series of 10 question to be answered between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

#9 of 10Q: Limiting Fear

ThinkerThe ninth question of 10Q*:  What is a fear that you have and how has it limited you? How do you plan on letting it go or overcoming it in the coming year?

My answer: The theme that keeps coming back to my thoughts is the fear of uncertainty; i.e. lack of security. I need to acknowledge that there are external conditions that may change that I have zero control over. Acknowledgement means stop fretting about it. E.g. worrying about a coming earthquake doesn’t help me. OTOH making sure that my home is reasonably earthquake -proof is something I can work on. So my tasks is find the things I can change, attack the cause of the fear I can.

On a more fundamental level I have to learn to embrace change. The opposite of uncertainty is not being overconfident, but realizing that (total) control doesn’t exist. Yes, planning is still important, including gathering the best information to base decisions on, but being attached to the plan under changing conditions just causes frustration. Plans need to change to eliminate the frustration from uncertainty.


* “10Q” is a series of 10 question to be answered between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

#8 of 10Q: Investigate in 2016

AnyaThe eighth question of 10Q*:  Is there something (a person, a cause, an idea) that you want to investigate more fully in 2016?

My answer: My wife. This year will include the tenth anniversary of our wedding. I have changed, she has changed, our lives has changed in this decade. I want to spend more quality time with her and re-get to know her. No, I don’t want to “investigate” her. :-) I do want to go beyond the mundane (, which is important and often fun) daily routine and make my life, her life and our family lives more meaningful, spiritual, and deep.

* “10Q” is a series of 10 question to be answered between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

#7 of 10Q: Self Improvement

The seventh question of 10Q
*:  How would you like to improve yourself and your life next year? Is there a piece of advice or counsel you received in the past year that could guide you?

hello-sunshineMy answer: I wrote too soon again. Yesterday, for the achievement questions I wrote stress less, which really should have been today’s answer. So the next best thing, although related to the first is mood management. When I get grumpy sometimes I am having  hard time to get out of it for no good reasons. I want to better utilize the tools I already know of and find new ones if necessary to change that. Snapping out of it is possible. Not getting upset or at least not showing being upset when doing so can cause more harm than ideal is also possible. I can learn how to do it.

* “10Q” is a series of 10 question to be answered between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippu