Showing posts from 2009

New tolls

Sydney and the Toll Booth

Is it me or does the toll increase every 1 January around here? When most people are out having a good time on New Year's Eve on Sydney Harbour, the state government wants to remind everyone that our money is like the beer we drink at the pub. It's only ours for a short time. Some describe it as 'on loan.' We have it for now, but it will leave us very soon. Same with our funds in our wallets. The government will have it soon enough, thank you very much.

Take the increase in the tolls. Every three months the rates can rise. They could fall. (Someone wake me up-- I was dreaming for a moment) According to the law, the rates are fixed to the CPI the Consumer Price Index.

For instance, officially, the CPI has risen 36.5 per cent in the past 10 years, but tolls on motorways have gone up by between 52 and 100 per cent during the same period. I was a mathematics teacher in my 20s, and even though the governments of the world have brought in new maths, an…

Sherlock Holmes...action hero?

It's like reading a menu at a New Jersey diner. So much to choose from, so little time (129 minutes). A little CSI and NCIS. A little The Wrestler. Throw in characters from the original Arthur Conan Doyle. A little Butch Cassidy and Sundance. Mix in Da Vinci Code and Columbo, and you might have the movie Guy Ritchie made of Sherlock Holmes, this time around. And we shouldn't forget Indiana Jones.

Kenneth Turan and Michael Phillips didn't rave, in fact Phillips gave it 1.5 stars. Ouch. The queue at Sydney's Fox Studios yesterday went out the door; those folks don't read Chicago or Los Angeles reviews.

My head was in it, but the real thrill was the action. It was cleverly re-hashed before the hashing. In the opening sequence, Holmes is being chased and has to deduce his escape. "First point of attack, right ear," Downey whispers in voiceover. "Two, throat. Three, cracked ribs. In summary, neutralized." Clever indeed!

Ritchie is not the first to do th…

Two views

Looking back, looking forward

It can be confusing and downright dangerous to have your eyes looking in different directions. We are designed to be almost unidirectional. Our feet and our eyes and arms and ears all face the same way. If someone contorts into a different position we think they belong in the circus.

And yet at this time of the year we review. We look back. We want to know who died in 2009. We want to know what were the best moments on TV or the funniest interviews. We look backwards.

The Melbourne Age reported today the top 10 technology stories of the year. Safeguarding the internet from the scourge of illegal pornography, gambling and criminal activity was top of the national agenda this year as Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy continued to push his proposed mandatory internet filtering scheme.

Considered a misguided policy by many, the debate took a dramatic turn in March when a list of blacklisted websites was published online. The Government forged ahead regard…

Christmas... looking like this

Originally uploaded by Odessea Some say that Christmas should be met with barbecues and prawns, with beach side esky parties and shorts and thongs. That's the way we do it in Australia. But for many up north, this scene is more like they imagine. It's Christmas if it's snowing and cold. Culture is a funny thing. Irving Berlin, a Jew, wrote "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" no doubt with such a scene in mind. Tree tops glisten. No sleigh bells in this MOMA shot, though.

Others make Christmas into some shopping extravaganza with ribbons and boxes and all-night wrappings to make little ones happy when they awaken, way too early on this morning. The snow is designed to calm people, but little ones with trees and hopes for reward for being nice, not naughty, well it's too much for young ones.

Presents and trinkets, tinsel on the tree and merchandising. So much goes into making the holidays, the yuletide bright.

Or does it?

What about those millions of Ch…

End of an era....still singing

Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o'er the plain.

I like the chorus of "Gloria" in that Christmas carol. And I like the songs of the season. Maybe you do too.

But somebody sent me this link today and it reminded me of my old days, back in the early 1970s, singing at Full Faith Church of Love in Kansas City Kansas, with Brothers Ernie, Catron, and Tom Blasco and so many others, letting loose and thanking God. I imagined then that we were singing with angels. It was early charismatic days, the choruses abounded. The clapping was thunderous in the old building on South 42nd Street.

Were angels heard on high then? Were they singing sweetly o'er the plains of Kansas? Maybe, but the chorus lent itself to merriment and I liked things that way. Sung in the key of G, you know, high enough to make us sing louder.

Now Brother Ernie is doing so. He's singing with angels in heaven. This year, Nick Willems, Oral Roberts, Frances Hunter and Billy Joe Dougherty...and …

Hanukkah 2009

Originally uploaded by fantartsy JJ * Busy off and on* The lights will be lit, the dreidels spinning, the latkes frying... what a great time to be had by those who celebrate this holiday. The date roams around the December calendar, since the Jewish calendar is lunar. Each year, the holiday falls out on the 25th of Kislev, this year, that's 11 December. My family and so many others will gather worldwide to remember the holiday.

What is it we remember? The victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greeks, under King Antiochus Epiphanes in about 165 BCE. And the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem. And the finding of special oil, enough to last one day, but it lasted 8 days, according to the story.

Jews for Jesus will be celebrating this holiday together on 18 December, the last night, when all 9 candles are lit in Sydney. Specifically in Five Dock. For the info, check here...

Latkes, dreidels, singing, a Bible mes…

Hey, hey, is it comedy?

Controversy, worldwide controversy, was sparked last week in Australia. A group of medical doctors performed a skit on a television show on Channel 9. The show, “Hey, hey it’s Saturday!” was a hit for 27 years and many middle-aged folks remember the good old days of their youth. The fun features sketch comedy interlaced with cartoons popping up (much like an MTV popup) and interviews and celebrity guests.

Each two-hour show was packed with a kaleidoscope of guests both new and old plus the fabulous Hey Hey ‘live’ Band. And it wouldn’t be Hey Hey without Red Faces, Plucka Duck, Celebrity Head and many other classic bits.

[Pictured: Ozzie Ostrich and Daryl Somers in 1971]

So what’s the controversy?

Wednesday night on a reunion show, the doctors who performed the same skit 20 years ago, revived the Jackson Jive. (pictured)

Problem is the world is not the same as it was 20 years ago. We have grown and seen our world shrink in a new way. Isolation is not an option in the 21st Century. Good b…

Muslim leader wants Temple rebuilt

With apologies, this is a bit dated...
Posted: August 06, 2009

Originally found at

By Joel Richardson

In a historically unprecedented development, a famous Turkish Muslim leader and a prominent group of Israeli rabbis have joined together on one of their declared goals, to rebuild the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Adnan Oktar, who uses the pen name of Harun Yahya, is a controversial but highly influential Muslim intellectual and author with over 65 million of his books in circulation worldwide. Oktar recently met with three representatives from the re-established Jewish Sanhedrin, a group of 71 Orthodox rabbis and scholars from Israel, to discuss how religious Muslims, Jews and Christians can work together.

The objectives of the alliance include waging a joint intellectual and spiritual battle against the worldwide growing tide of irreligiousness, unbelief and immorality. But even more unusual is their agreement with regard to the ne…

Cleansing the graffiti

Cleansing the graffitti
Originally uploaded by bobmendo Behind our book shop in Bondi Junction, a council worker spends literally hours cleaning up what some vandal took only minutes to accomplish. The spray can of paints make a design or a tag or something by which the graffiti artist made his mark. The cleansing took much more energy and effort.

I suppose in this season of the Jewish holidays, when repentance and forgiveness is so much the theme, this is a good photo to consider.

What does it take to ruin a situation? What time and effort does it take to speak too quickly, to touch inappropriately, to leer and lust after something which isn't yours... it might only be moments, but the effects can be far reaching. And damaging. And costly.

In October 1987, A Momentary Lapse of Reason peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200. Pink Floyd's 'reunion' album was a big success. (Seems fitting to quote this album which also contained "Dogs of War" in light of so much reference…

Rosh Hashanah.. God is good?

God is good and ready to forgive
Rosh Hashanah message 5770
Given in Bondi Junction
18 September 2009

Tonight we greet a new year. It’s not like crowding into the Opera House steps to watch millions of dollars of fireworks go off on 31 December. The revelry of Trafalgar Square or Times Square is not apparent here. We might wear different apparel than usual, but not the wild and crazy clothing of New Year’s Eve. No, tonight is a night of awe and respect; it’s a night of self-introspection and repair. And, oh, please hear me, it IS a night of celebration. We are rejoicing in the newness that should characterize a new year. And it’s all based on the text of tonight, the Psalm we read early on, Psalm 86. And the key passage is “God is good, and ready to forgive.”

Last weekend I was in Brisbane, and enjoyed the first Brisbane Festival. The highlight was a large fireworks show called “RiverFire.” It was spectacular. The air force supplied a fly-over. I supplied a thousand Gospel tracts to the cr…

Questionable release

(Beijing, Scotland, CIA tapes)

China has released two prominent legal activists after representations from the US. The activists are seen as important to the development of rule of law and public policy discussion of problems in Tibet and Xinjiang.

The unexpected release of Ilham Tohti, a Uighur economist and commentator, Xu Zhiyong, a public interest lawyer, and his assistant Zhuang Lu, was met with relief by human rights activists after they had been swept up in a wide political security crackdown.

Over in Scotland, the news about the release of Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, met questioning by foreign press. As a result, Scotland's Parliament has been recalled to discuss the situation. The Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, is expected to defend the decision to free the only man convicted of the 1988 atrocity, which killed 270 people.

Last week he granted compassionate release to the terminally ill Libyan who had served eight years of a life sentence.

Britain is fac…

Was there a flourishing Palestinian society before 1948

NOT by Bob Mendelsohn, but written by Charles Oren
Tuesday July 21, 2009

Published here

Too many writers on ME conflict base their ideas on the premise that there was a flourishing Arab society in Palestine that was destroyed by the creation of Israel.

However, there were 200,000 Arabs here in 1830, and conditions were very bad, just as in every other part of the Ottoman Empire.

Conditions improved after 1832 when Mohamed Ali permitted infidels to buy land since he wanted European support for his campaign against Turkey. Arabs migrated to Palestine attracted by the prosperity created by Christians building churches, consuls providing law & order and then Jews draining the swamps. There were 600,000 Arabs here when the Mandate started. This grew to 1,200,000 by 1948 due to British policy to encourage Arab immigration so as to thwart Jewish efforts to create a state. Most of these 1.2 m Arabs were new immigrants, 'colonialists' jus…

Does the universe have a beginning?

From the internet...

Did the Universe Have a Beginning?

This article is online at

For some Q and A, read

Scientific discoveries revive the ancient belief in a beginning to the universe. If we could rewind the history of the universe, what would we discover about its origin and development? Did it really have a beginning, or was it always there?

The influential ancient philosopher Aristotle stated, “It is impossible that movement should ever come into being or cease to be, for it must always have existed. Nor can time come into being or cease to be.”

Meanwhile, the biblical book of Genesis famously starts off, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

Which is it? Is the universe eternal—has it always been here? Or did it have a start at some point in time—did it have a birthday, so to speak? These are the two schools of thought that have enrolled followers since early times. (Actually, the…

Jewish Christians in the Church?

Beth Hatefutsoth is the diaspora museum in Tel Aviv, Israel. The picture's caption reads:

Jews and Jewish-Christians prepare to worship at the Great Synagogue of Antioch, Syria, 4th century. Chrysostom, one of the fathers of the Church, reproves the Christians and demands that they separate from the Jews.

---Diorama, Beth Hatefutsoth, Permanent Exhibition

When I saw this diorama in Israel in 1983, I was amazed. Here was evidence in the 4th century of the reality that so many knock back...Jews for Jesus. Messianic Jews existed then and now, and caused a stir in each.

Rodney Stark makes a big deal, as do many about St John of Antioch, later titled Chrysostom (Golden tongue). According to Wikipedia, During his first two years as a presbyter in Antioch (386-387), Chrysostom denounced Jews and Judaizing Christians in a series of eight sermons delivered to Christians in his congregation who were taking part in Jewish festivals and other Jewish observances.[See Wilken, p.xv, and also "J…

Jews and Jesus. The Great Divide

AmyJill Levine and BobSydney
Originally uploaded by bobmendo Jewish people all over the world are thinking about Jesus in unprecedented numbers, and it's not because they believe in him as messiah and Lord. And it may not be because of godly evangelistic campaigns worldwide. Since the turn of the 20th century Jewish academics and theologians have been revisiting the identity and the work and ministry of the Nazarene.

And how significant is that? Today I was witnessing in Bondi Junction, nearby our book shop in Sydney. And three young chassidim, ultra-orthodox Jewish men, were readying themselves for Shabbat. They were out to share what they believed as was I. One wanted to know if I had wrapped myself with tefillin that morning; another wanted to know why I believed in Jesus. But to even mention Jesus with a bit of honour was a surprise. The third used the derogatory slur "Yoshke" for Jesus and I corrected him. He recanted. He started calling him "Y'shua."

Coverups and's all so secret...tell me on a Sunday

Seymour Sign City Road
Originally uploaded by bobmendo The secret things; coverups and mystery... and a revelation

This week news presenters and reporters in the US had a go at President Barack Obama over his smoking habits. He in reply admitted that it was a persistent problem, that he had licked it 95% of the time and that he never smoked in front of the children or his family. That sounded good. That sounded honest. What precipitated this was a bunch of obfuscating, dance-around-the-issue answering that he had given only days before. And he had promised his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, that he would quit, if she let him run for president so many years earlier.

What prompted this series of Q-and-A was a major health care bill before Congress just now which includes a serious ban on advertising for young people, so that they never get started on cigarette smoking.

In another secrecy caper, Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina admitted to having a year-long affair with a woman in A…