March 24, 2009

The Malediction, by Rachid Mimouni

Rachid Mimouni's La Malédiction is an intense and poignant tale of love and hedonism, hatred and fundamentalism, revolutions and fate.

Two generations, two revolutions. The FLN and the Islamists. The ones who were "terrorists" for the French but are now the heroes of the Algerian nationalist movement. And the ones who waved the Koran to have their turn and would carry out the worst attrocities without hesitation in the name of God and his Prophet.

Written in 1993, two years into what became Algeria's "black decade" of civil war, Rachid Mimouni's text is at once a patchwork of tales told in the style of Naguib Mahfouz: with irony and wit, castigating corruption and glorifying love; a thriller set in the context of the islamist revolt; and an indictment of fundamentalism prefiguring Youssef Chahine's 1997 movie, Le Destin.

We follow Kader, an obstetrician who works at the Mustapha hospital in Algiers. His brother Hocine went missing while living in France with his wife, banned from their homeland. No one in the family knows whether to believe the French police when they say they found his body. Kader made the trip to identify the body and comfort his sister-in-law but he cannot stay: he needs to return to his elderly mother and his patients in the hospital.

Algiers is in the midst of violent Islamist demonstrations and in a matter of days, the hospital is the hands of the zealots. Kader is barred from providing care to his patients and obliged to submit their medical records to the new masters who want to expel unmarried mothers right away, whatever their health - they are shameless sinners indeed.

But this doesn't prevent Kader to meet every night Saïd, the lawyer-turned-truck driver, Rabah the deserter, Nacer the tuberculous believer and Palsec, the orphan, to listen to Si Morice, a picturesque character, telling them the tales of love and war of his younger days when he fought for the independence.

La Malédiction was Rachid Mimouni's last novel. He fled Algeria for Paris when the book appeared and died two years later.

Leaving to the wise Si Morice the closing words, talking about the fight for independence:
The justness of a cause does not have the immanent virtue of preserving us from injustice. On the contrary, our belief in being in our good right often leads us to being less watchful. And thus the drifting starts.

In the original:
La justesse d'une cause n'a pas l'immanente vertu de nous préserver de l'injustice. Bien au contraire, la conviction de notre bon droit a souvent tendance à nous rendre moins vigilant. Ainsi commencent les dérives.

March 16, 2009

New Website for the BrightSource Family

Did I mention that Luz II changed its name and became BrightSource Industries (Israel)?

BrightSource Energy, which has always been our parent company, has a new website, and you can find specific information on BrightSource Industries (Israel) at

The new website has a new design, more actual pictures, mainly based on our Solar Energy Development Center in the Negev, and updated information. Enjoy!

March 14, 2009

The Spammer Was a Poet

From an anonymous author:

Any skyscraper can negotiate a prenuptial agreement with a self-actualized abstraction, but it takes a real rattlesnake to satiate a dolphin behind a particle accelerator. When the so-called cashier is vaporized, the earring from a tomato trades baseball cards with an umbrella. A snooty nation is childlike. A vacuum cleaner inside a corporation is temporal. A fruit cake from a bowling ball hardly negotiates a prenuptial agreement with the freight train near an industrial complex, because the carpet tack barely writes a love letter to a paper napkin.

I found this text amazingly poetic. It was probably generated in order to bypass spam detection algorithms but I love the rhythm, the eclecticism and the idea that a "carpet tack barely writes a love letter to a paper napkin..."

March 10, 2009

My Leica

I haven't been able to understand fully why yet, but having my Leica with me or having a digital camera change things completely.

The Leica is heavier, longer to take out of its bag, fixed focus lenses and uses film which costs time and money to develop.

The digital camera is versatile, fun to use and pictures cost nothing.

But overall, taking a few careful pictures with the Leica, expecting the results from the development and knowing that the negatives will still be exist unless they burn or get lost in 50 years, however degraded is just a irreplaceable experience.

I bought, about a year ago, a Canon G9. It was stolen. It was a great camera (already superseded by the G10). From that period, I have hundreds of pictures, very few prints and no negatives.

When it was stolen I thought: "That's great, it will force me to use again my Leica!" And I'm indeed so glad I'm using the Leica again...

Here are four pictures taken recently with the Leica:

My roof...

In ein Guedi

Ein Avdat


I should mention that the G9/G10 is an amazing tool in many cases. For scientific and technical purposes, it's just unimaginable what a $600 piece of equipment can do for you.

Also, I haven't tried it much, but I think it's quite productive to try pictures with the digital camera and take them "for real" with the film camera: maybe some will call this unorthodox but I think it makes sense.

The Soviets sent a dog in space, her name was Laica.