First published at the Words of Peace Global blog, Dec 31, 2010.

In 1982, when the war broke out on the northern border of Israel, I knew it wouldn’t be long before the reserves were called in: me included.

As a citizen of Israel — which I was at the time — I was a reservist soldier. I had my uniform, my boots, and my weapon in the closet.

So, there I was, a young man pursuing a path of inner peace — who loved life and loved people — suddenly confronted with a crude reality: you need to go to war and fight for your country. And so I did.

I served in a special unit of M60 Patton tanks in Division 252 of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). We were trained to fight in mountainous terrain: quite difficult for a 50-ton vehicle. My buddies in my armored platoon were puzzled when they saw me coming to join them. ‘What are you doing here?’ they said. ‘Didn’t you join some strange group of people that meditate and speak about peace all day long?’ They thought I had lost my marbles, and were not reassured to see me there. After all, would you go to war with a person that had devoted himself to fostering peace and believed in the sanctity of life? Would you trust that person to protect your own life when push came to shove? I understood where they were coming from.

So, after three days of preparation, we were on our way to the border to spend what ended up being fifteen long days in the frontline.

These days are a blurred memory of little sleep, endless drives on moonless nights, huge precipices right and left, the unavoidable confusion over the radio during combat, the clanging noise of the 105-mm cartridges falling inside the tank turret after firing, and terrifying moments of absolute fear: fear of the kind that I could never have imagined experiencing. But what I remember vividly is that most of what I knew about myself or what I thought about myself — my concepts, my ideas, my beliefs — all left me within the first minutes of the first shelling we took. All gone, as fast as rats abandoning a sinking ship. And that included my beliefs and concepts about peace.

All gone, but one thing did not. It was not big, not impressive: no booming voice from the sky or sense of spiritual enlightenment. None of that. Just a tiny, itty-bitty thing that did not leave me. It was a small understanding — nothing too impressive. But it was there and I could feel it. It was a seed of understanding about my life. Not what I thought about myself. Not what others thought of me. But it was real, and it was in me, and I could feel it.

I then recognized that this seed of understanding had been planted a few years back, after I had been introduced to Maharaji’s message. I had learned the techniques of Knowledge, and I had watered that seed for a while. It hadn’t grown a lot, but nonetheless it had grown enough, if just barely, for me to actually see it.

Did that seed of understanding protect me from bullets and shells? Of course not. Did it remove my fear, so that I valiantly stood on the tank turret, wind on my face, defying death? Of course not. So what did I really have, then? I had Knowledge. A simple experience. A cornerstone. Something that would never abandon me. Doesn’t sound like much? It was for me. And apparently for my buddies in the platoon as well.

After the cease-fire, when we cleaned our tanks, had a long-awaited shower and then some hot grub back at the base, many of them came over to shake my hand — they wanted to thank me. I was very surprised when they did.

In particular I remember Koren, a burly mountain of a man with a shaved head, John Lennon-style glasses, and a handlebar mustache. He thanked me for my courage and strength throughout the ordeal, for my calmness, and for lifting his spirits. I was amazed: I thought I was as afraid and confused as they were. But that little seed of understanding must’ve been much more than I thought.

Even when everything seemed to be lost, that understanding — as small as it was — was still there. It shined on its own. It was real.

Illustration by Sara Shaffer.


Today the ipinfodb server went down, creating disruption in all these applications that use the service for identifying a user’s location via their IP address.

The script provided by ipinfodb, does not have a timeout option, resulting in the function hanging for 30 seconds or more (depending on your PHP time out settings.)

The solution: Continue reading


“Whether you choose to dive in or not, know that there’s someone who cares, more than anything, about empowering your vision.”

“I’ve written this book fully intending to change your mind about the way we create. And to start a revolution in the context of your work.” Tessa Zeng

I first met Tessa in 2004, when she was sharing her art at DevianArt as a 14 year old amazing poet. Continue reading


Here are some of the flutes on my collection of Native American flutes. Originally when living in Argentina, I used to play the Adean quenas and monseños, and upon moving to the United States I found the wonderful voice of these Native American flutes. The flute at right was crafted by Chief Arthur Two-Crows, and features an exquisite carving of a bold eagle.


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Both the Andean wind instruments and the Native American flutes use the pentatonic scale, making the transition from one to another quite natural.

From Wikipedia:

Pentatonic scales are very common and are found all over the world, including Celtic folk music, Hungarian folk music, West African music, African-American spirituals, American folk music, Jazz, American blues music and rock music, Sami joik singing, children’s songs, the music of ancient Greece and the Greek traditional music and songs from Epirus, Northwest Greece and the music of Southern Albania, the tuning of the Ethiopian krar and the Indonesian gamelan, Philippine Kulintang, melodies of Korea, Malaysia, Japan, China, India and Vietnam (including the folk music of these countries), the Andean music, the Afro-Caribbean tradition, Polish highlanders from the Tatra Mountains, and Western Classical composers such as French composer Claude Debussy. The pentatonic scale is also used on the Great Highland Bagpipe.

The ubiquity of pentatonic scales, specifically anhemitonic modes, can be attributed to the total lack of the most dissonant intervals between any pitches; there are neither any minor seconds (and therefore also no complementary major sevenths) nor any tritones. This means any pitches of such a scale may be played in any order or combination without clashing.

Native American, cedar, by Rick Heller (2001)

This flute, crafted by Rick Heller in 2001, features five holes (G scale), and has a nice timbre and tonal qualities.


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Each year, at my birthday, I try and add to my collection. This year hope to add a low A bass flute from one of the few craftsman still creating these wonderful instruments.


As choice plays such an important role online — what we choose to click, read, download, watch, add to a shopping cart, follow, and so on — I was fascinated by the wonderfully insightful work of Sheena Iyenkar in her book “The Art of Choosing“. Continue reading


New book by Kevin Kelly, on the intersection of culture and technology. A must read.

Continue reading


The Mobile Content Switch Plugin is a free Joomla Plugin that will enable you to hide or show content depending if the user is visiting your site from an iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, or not.

Great to display an embedded Flash video  for non-Apple mobile devices, and a QuickTime movie for Apple mobile devices, or other such uses.

(Thanks to Peter van Westen from www.nonumber.nl for the help with regex)


  • {ipad}Display content to visitors ON an iPad.{/ipad}
  • {noipad}Display content to visitors NOT on an iPad{/noipad}
  • {iphone}Display content to visitors ON an iPhone or iPod touch.{/iphone}
  • {noiphone}Display content to visitors NOT on an iPhone or iPod touch.{/noiphone}
  • {applemobile}Display content to visitors in EITHER an iPad, an iPod, or an iPhone{/applemobile}
  • {noapplemobile}Display content to visitors in NEITHER an iPad, an iPod, or an iPhone{/noapplemobile}
  • {android}Display content to visitors on an Android device{/android}
  • {blackberry}Display content to visitors on an BlackBerry{/blackberry}
  • {palm}Display content to visitors on an PalmOS device{/palm}
  • {sonyericsson}Display content to visitors on an SonyEricsson (Nokia) device{/sonyericsson}
  • {symbian}Display content to visitors on an SymbianOS device{/symbian}


Important Notes: (updated June 6, 2010)

  • Set in  Global Configuration > Systems > Cache = no for the plugin to work, otherwise what you will see is the cached version of the article, which may have been generated by a device other than the one you are viewing the article on.
  • If you have caching enabled, and your content is in a module, make sure to set the module not to be cached (advanced parameters > caching)
  • If you use the plugin  in a module, make sure that the module is capable of running plugins (such as mod_placehere)


Version 2.1 – August 11, 2011

  • Support for Joomla 1.6 (Thanks to Louis Carlos)
  • Added {mobile}{/mobile} {nomobile}{/nomobile} parameters (Thanks to @Mano)

Version 1.7 – January 29, 2011

  • Added support for Android, Palm, Blackbery, Symbian, Palm, and Sony Ericsson

Version 1.6 – June 16, 2010

  • Resolved an issue with iPhone compatibility
  • To upgrade, unzip the plugin and copy the mobilecontentswitch.php and mobilecontentswitch.xml files to /plugins/content

Download the Mobile Content Switch Plugin for Joomla 1.5

Download the Mobile Content Switch Plugin for Joomla 1.6

Found the plugin useful?

All proceeds will be donated to Words of Peace Global


How do we assess data? What are we biased to see? How many times we miss the obvious?

From Jack Uldrich’ blog:

“Consider the case of Abraham Wald. During World War Two, he and a team of researchers were charged with protecting Allied bombers from German guns. As part of their work the researchers diligently recorded where on the body of the plane each returning bomber was struck by gunfire. The most common areas were the wings and the tails.

“In response, the researchers advised the military command to reinforce those bullet-struck areas. Everyone, that is, except Wald who suggested that those areas of the plane not struck by gunfire – largely the fuselage – be reinforced. His recommendation was initially met with incredulity by his peers and superiors.

“Eventually, Wald convinced them of the wisdom of his logic. The mistake his peers made was that they were only observing those planes which safely returned. What they were not seeing were those planes that didn’t return. Wald reasoned correctly that if a plane could safely return with bullet-ridden wings and tailfins then those areas didn’t need reinforcement and, counter-intuitively, the parts of the plane without bullet holes were the areas requiring additional armor.”

Read more


An excellent Survey from Alterian “offers insight into the methods and investments that marketers are currently exploring and implementing to engage with their customers”, namely a study related to the application of social media to marketing. Continue reading