Authentic Falafel in Wellington, New Zealand?

Well yes! We found this authentic Falafel factory called “falafel fellas” in Wellington CBD. It is quiet a unique place not only because they make 5 different types of Falafels, but also because they make it inside a small food cart!

The taste reminded us the Falafel we had in Ramallah. The family running it is claiming they are making falafels for 7 generations already, as they moved all around the Middle East, from Iran to Iraq -> Syria -> Lebanon -> Palestine -> Egypt and Israel.

A must try!


Saint Petersburg – old and new

I’m more than 4 weeks now in Saint Petersburg with lots of experiences and impressions collected so far. The first two weeks where a bit shocking for me – the crowd, the hot and humid weather, the size of the city, the way everything is built, the noisy and dirty public transport…. We are staying in the apartment of my wife’s mum, this is a 1 bedroom apartment in one of the outside suburbs – even that it is only 60sqm it looks huge comparing to other apartments that I have visited so far. The water is treated and quiet ugly (like in most cities) – even that we have carbon water filters in the apartment – I’m not used to city water as I use clean stream water in my farm, so the taste and the influence on my stomach pushed us to start buying bottled water. The sidewalks are huge, but still there are so many people in the streets that you bump into people all the time. The spaces between the buildings are also big, with lots of big green areas, sometimes big parks, but most of them are quiet dirty. The cars on the roads are mostly expensive cars – and there are shops everywhere. Many shops are open 24/7, and when I say “shops everywhere” I really mean it – the first two floors of every apartment building are for shops, while there are huge supermarkets, shopping malls, building shops, fashion shops etc from a walking distance of every apartment building. The city center is huge – with miles and miles of canals, bridges, shops, museums, coffee shops, theaters, and – people – mainly women. This is something which I have noticed – more women than men here, especially old men are hard to spot. In summary, it looks like the nicest, the busiest, the most interesting and the most cultural European city I have ever visited, most likely not only in Europe but the whole world – the best one for shopping (not the cheapest though, actually everything is MOST expensive) and for cultural activities, the issue is that I don’t like big cities and I don’t like shopping either.

A typical Russian suburb from the soviet union times: lots of shops, huge slams, trams lines in the centre, 6 - 8 lanes for cars.

A typical Russian suburb from the soviet union times: lots of shops, huge slams, trams lines in the centre, 6 – 8 lanes for cars.

Speaking about culture, Russia is probably the only place in the world where you could pay $10 for a concert ticket in the first line of the “Capela” – the private concerts hall of the Royal family. The “Capela” is a small hall that was inside the Royal family palace, and the concert was just amazingly professional. After the revolution the soviets has captured the families assets – they run away to Europe and still leave there – while the members of the public are enjoying the Museums that have been replaced the private owners. The British royal family is, by the way, related to the Russian one, this may explain their financial claims against Russia and some other parts of the history which affect the current “warm war” situation. So there are Museums everywhere, and for everything you could dream of: animals, music, food, history, war, peace, art,… not to mention the “Hemitage” which we haven’t visited yet.

Outside of the Capela

Outside of the Capela

The Capela – where the Russian Tzar (=”king”) was listening to private concerts, is allowing every visitor to enjoy concerts as well for….$10 ticket

The Capela – where the Russian Tzar (=”king”) was listening to private concerts, is allowing every visitor to enjoy concerts as well for….$10 ticket

Some additional comments:
- Officially there are 4.5 million people in the city, but in fact there are probably 1-2 additional unofficial migrants / residents around. It makes everything very crowded and busy. You could identify some of the migrants that come from other parts of Russia, as I never saw such cultures (a very interesting mix of Asians, like the “Kalmiks” which are types of escymos). I could see and identify Some of those new faces in the “Russian folklore museum”.
- The media looks quiet open and diverse (comparing to New Zealand and the US). They are very busy now with the Ukraine war and the situation of the civilians there with lots of criticism of the war, and the typical un avoidable government propaganda as well.
- I personally saw, and took pictures many gays (mainly women) in the streets, in contrast to what the western media is trying to convince us. I actually see the people here more open with affection in public, which may raise some questions about why the western media is trying to demonize Russians.
- The Russian sense of humor, self-criticism and government criticism is very impressive. One joke I heard in the TV here – “The FSB needs to cut 50% of the employees due to the recession. There will be only 80 million Russians working for them now” (meaning that all Russians are spies). Criticism of Putin and the government is everywhere, even that it won’t be smart for a foreigner to participate.
- Security, by the way, looks quiet loose, definitely comparing to the US and also comparing to NZ
- English: most people don’t speak English here, and don’t like foreigners. They have mentioned, though, New Zealand and Australia in connection to the Ukraine crisis, as ANZAC paid a big price to protect Russians interests during WW1
- MOST Russians grow their own food, this is just IMPRESSIVE. I saw stats that mentioned 40% of the food production is done in “dachas” (the Russian village batches). It may be even more than this – what is impressive is that in the weekends most of the city-people go to the villages and spend most of their time in growing vegetables.
- Most Russian flats are free-hold. This is allowing Russians to pay higher food prices (per salary) and to buy cars on debt.
In the photos:
- The Capela – where the Russian Tzar (=”king”) was listening to private concerts, is allowing every visitor to enjoy concerts as well for….$10 ticket (from the inside and outside)
- A typical Russian suburb from the soviet union times: lots of shops, huge slams, trams lines in the centre, 6 – 8 lanes for cars.
- Parks everywhere and museums. The torture bed is authentic from the Russian inquisition times.
- Tens of bridges on the Neva River are opened every night, to allow ship to cross.
- Lesbians in Nevsy Prospect, this is the most respectful and public area of the city. I walked behind them for quite a while. In general you could see couples touching and presenting affection in public – much more than in any other country I visited.

The architecture of Peter the Great was to present power and control - most of the buildings are too high to overlook from below (unlike the 19th+ architecture)

The architecture of Peter the Great was to present power and control – most of the buildings are too high to overlook from below (unlike the 19th+ architecture)

Tens of bridges on the Neva River are opened every night, to allow ship to cross.

Tens of bridges on the Neva River are opened every night, to allow ship to cross.

The torture bed is authentic from the Russian inquisition times.

The torture bed is authentic from the Russian inquisition times.

Until next time…

Putinistan – first impressions

After a week in Saint-Petersburg I already collected lots of impressions about how different it is, and I must add – very interesting.

Saint-Petersburg is a HUGE city, both in the number of people living here and the area of the city: officially there are “only” 5.2 Million people in the city but this is Russia and official numbers are different to the real ones. In fact there are millions of immigrants and refugees from the “past USSR” areas, so the streets are full with people. The area of the city is also huge: the main type of buildings is a monstrous blocks of apartments of between 10 to 20 floors (could be more). The blocks are built as huge fortresses with an internal green area, it is so big that it is hard to see the neighbors from the other side. The green area has non maintained gardens, playgrounds and benches. The fronts of the buildings are facing the main roads – which are also HUGE – between 6 to 10 lanes for cars, in the central part of the road a tram line, and extremely wide sidewalks to the sides. If it wasn’t so dirty and old, I would think that I landed in the most central city on the planet. So yes, everything is old, dirty and hardly maintained – even that the council taxes are quiet high. “our leaders are professional in stealing – they have techniques that evolved in 200 years of theft. So we pay the taxes, but they take the money to their pocket” – this is one saying that I have heard here out of many that are criticizing the government – another aspect of the Russian life – is “criticism”. Living in New Zealand and experiencing other western countries – cynically enough – I’m not used to people that directly expressing anti-government opinions without fear!

A typical Saint Petersburg's apartment building

A typical Saint Petersburg’s apartment building, built like a fortress in the soviet union times, while modern building don’t look different. Each complex has an internal “yard”, and its own hot water / heating system

Saint Petersburg's streets

A typical Saint Petersburg’s street view: wide sidewalks with un-maintained green areas in front of the apartment blocks. The roads are wide – 6 to 10 lanes, with tram lines in the center

The old city of Saint-Petersburg is in the center of the megapolis and is a presentation of power and wealth by the royal families of Russia from the period pre-the USSR. I already noticed two differences between it and other old cities like Rome and Athene – first – the size is (again) HUGE comparing to other historical cities like Rome for example, I would say even 10 times bigger. The second difference is the magnitude of the buildings – they are bigger and designed to present POWER and CONTROL, it a way that is reminding ancient Egypt rather than European cities from the Roman or Hellenistic era.

This historical cathedral - the "Kazanskyi Cathedral"- is probably the magnitude of the "Colosseum" building in Rome, is emphasizing how Saint-Petersburg originally was built to present power, control and wealth.

This historical cathedral – the “Kazanskyi Cathedral”- is probably the magnitude of the “Colosseum” building in Rome, is emphasizing how Saint-Petersburg originally was built to present power, control and wealth.

People of Saint-Petersburg are highly dependent of the public transport: trams, trains, buses and the metro. Most of the infrastructure is inherited from the Soviet Union time and in first was a shocking experience: I name them “Tram Boom Boom”, “Metro Boom Boom” etc because the noise they produce is SO high you could hardly speak to people when using them. The infrastructure on the other hand is amazing – the trams go anywhere – every road has a two direction tram line, and I could count one tram every 3 minutes during rush hours, and almost the same frequency at midnight. The Metro is an amazing project for itself – dag in depth of 100 meters under the ground the metro line is running under lakes, rivers and the ocean. The metro train is so noisy and so shaky (a reminder to the New Zealand – Kapiti trains) that I was sure it is running at the speed of 150km/h. But a quick check showed me that actually its speed is 40km/h!

Saint Petersburg's trams network

Saint Petersburg’s trams network – Saint Petersburg’s trams network was built during the soviet union times. It consists of a grid of lines and trams that goes all around the city

Saint Petersburg’s Metro – The escalators of Saint Petersburg’s Metro are taking passengers 100m deep into the ground. Originally built as an atomic bomb shelter, the metro is serving more than 2 Million passengers daily


The Washington Post revelations that NSA is spying after our Facebook, Gmail, CellPhone accounts are not only outrageous but also require a special setup by smart internet users. Internet users should avoid contributing private information over the internet, or any personal details that may be used to identify your online activity. Users may use free encryption programs to decode their online activity, emails, messages and articles. It is not the right of websites to ask you for your date of birth, occupation or any other private information that later on may be used against you by those spying agencies. Private information is used to double-cross your identity with your location, IP or other information. You may want to consider to delete all your personal information from Facebook and Gmail, or maybe even obscure your identify with faked photos, faked ideas, faked private information. Encryption can be also done in the source of information – by encrypting the documents you email to your friends and colleagues, for example. Changing servers and using several email addresses is also a good idea. Note that If we flood the NSA and SIS with the wrong data, their spying methodologies won’t be able to beat us.

The fact that even Obama, who was our hope for better and just world, is justifying those acts of tyranny architected by George W. Bush, should make us all very worried.

New Zealand, considered to be a “free” country, has also given excessive spying power the police, the SIS and other spying agencies. Add this to the new “electronic spying bill” being pushed forward quiet aggressively by John Key and our government,  while in the background we evident a collapsing paper-money economy, we should all wonder if the foundation of our democracy are at risk.

Not a lot could be done at the moment – except sitting on the fence and watching the plot. If any non-violent legal demonstrations are scheduled around you, you should participate. We should all look carefully at our Parliamentary candidates and select those which strictly oppose the new regulations of dictatorship. In case of change of government, a new government should be committed to rolling back into sanity by de-regulating those laws of tyranny.

(*) “Democtatorship” is a term originally used by Eran Ben-Shahar as a name for Dictatorship government hidden in a democratic government by all sorts of “democratic rules” which concentrate the power in the hands of specific authorities.

A better government

Stephen Blackheath

They say we get the government we deserve.

The Australian government is busy legislating itself the ability for psychiatrists to order sterilization of children they deem mentally ill without their parents consent if they have “sufficient maturity” to consent themselves, or if the family court authorized it (without anyone’s consent).

The same government has been secretly blocking websites.

People have the idea that because the motives of governments are not easy to prove, we shouldn’t guess what they are. A court considers it good enough to infer the motives of a person from their actions, but somehow this doesn’t apply to governments.

Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, two governments we can be sure in retrospect had evil intent, first obtained power and then they used it. Soviet psychiatrists believed that to challenge the authority of the state was itself a mental illness, and this was used against dissenters on a vast scale.

Today Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a childhood “mental illness” where a child has a consistent pattern of actively refusing to comply. In the near future in Australia, it might even be grounds for sterilization. If you were diagnosed with it as a child, it would be on your medical record. What might the authorities think of that later if you decided to challenge them?

Many of us think there’s a certain line that governments shouldn’t be allowed to cross: It only takes a very small loophole to gain great power. So what are the Australian government’s motives? Are we actually living through one of those great historical events we read about in our history books? What to do?

Well, I’ve decided to improve myself. I want to deserve a better government.

UN promotion

by Stephen Blackheath

In a speech to the NZIIA Major Economic & Foreign Policy Issues Seminar, NZ Green MP Kennedy Graham said,

We do not see the world as being composed primarily of an international community of sovereign nation-states.
Rather we see one planet, whose beauty and bounty is shared by humanity with other species.

The speech talks of the UN in glowing terms:

Global Community: A world in which societies respect the cultural beliefs of others, embracing the common global values identified by the UN

He called for people to get behind UN programmes that will have huge effects on everyone’s lives:

The Green Party calls for humanity’s Ecological Footprint to be of a sustainable size by 2030. This will require collaborative support through the UN, building from the pioneering initiative of UNDP with the Human Development Index that began two decades ago, expanding that to embrace the current work of IUCN, WWF and the Global Footprint Network

He called for global governance infrastructure to be built up:

The effective resolution of these problems requires a restructuring of our institutional architecture – through far-reaching reform of the UN and Bretton Woods system.

This is just the sort of talk the NZIIA likes to hear, since the NZIIA (New Zealand Institute for International Affairs) is a branch of the RIIA (Royal Institute for International Affairs), and the United Nations is a project of that group.

The United Nations likes to promote war. For example, “UN general assembly backs resolution on Syria”:

The UN general assembly has overwhelmingly denounced Syria’s crackdown and demanded the securing of its chemical and biological weapons.

Voting was 133 in favour, with 12 against and 31 abstentions.

The resolution says “the first step in the cessation of violence has to be made by the Syrian authorities”.

How is this promoting war? The Free Syrian Army, who are painted as fighting for freedom against the tyrannical Syrian authorities, were funded and armed by NATO, so when the UN calls the Syrian authorities the aggressor, this is a deception for the purpose of war promotion. They’re drumming up support for “humanitarian intervention” (i.e. military invasion).

And… the people who speak for the Free Syrian Army in the media turn out to be working for the Council on Foreign Relations – another group connected with the RIIA!

Oh what a tangled web we weave.

Is it really wise to entrust a warmongering bureaucracy called the UN with vast global legislative power? Is that really the solution to our environmental problems?

The UN certainly thinks so. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll see UN promotion creeping in everywhere – your local library, city council, schools, children’s magazines, etc. And it’s your money they’re spending to promote it.

Supermarket Plastic Bags are not so bad…

Even that I’m greeny in philosophy and in lifestyle, I find it thrilling and annoying every time that I finish my shopping trip and the cashier is asking me “can I stick it all to one bag?” or sometimes “do you want to buy a re-usable bag?”

Honestly, are those plastic bags the major environmental problem originating from the supermarkets? I will show in this article that the answer is “Definitely not”, yet the supermarkets (and also some other organizations) are massively campaigning against those plastic bags, decepting the public opinion from the real and major environmental issues that supermarkets create.

1.       Other supermarket packages have larger imprint on the environment

About 40% of each and every product that we buy, either food product or other products, is actually plastic packaging. Plastic bottles (Milk, fuzzy drinks, yogurts, milk products…), shrink plastic (cheese, meat, fish, dried food…), hard plastics packages (plastic boxes, shampoo containers, soap containers, yogurt contained products, peanut butter containers….) cans (conserved food, tin cans)…. All those packages have much bigger molecular weight than a plastic bag (each pack is about the weight of 20 to 50 plastic bags), they consume much more energy and raw materials in order to produce. A plastic bag that carries your shopping has no more than 5% impact in comparison to those other packages, as you can carry about 20 products (in average) in each plastic bag.

2.       The supermarkets are promoting major environment-poisoning products

Plastic is actually NOT such a bad material: it is organic (mainly carbon based) and when sealed back into the ground, its impact is not as high as other dramatically poisoning materials that have major affect on the future of this planet: the heavy metals. Production of heavy metals is massively poisoning our water reservoirs, oceans and soil as it requires poisoning materials like arsenic to be damped someplace. When the heavy metals are damped back to the soil in the shape of old electronics, liquid “health care products”, food conservatives, etc…: nothing can make them disappear. Aluminium, Cadmium, Nickel, Radium…. Have fatal affect on animals, plants and humans and are a major environmental concern.

Another environmentally poisoning material which the supermarket distributes without any control is….  Protein. Protein is a NON NATURAL molecule produced inside the buddy of mammals and designed to be used for internal consumption and internal consumption only. NOTHING in the environment can break a protein except if it is consumed by a living organ. When milk products are dumped back to the environment (either by the dairy factory, which usually have lots of Milk washed down to the sewage and from there to the soil / rivers / ocean, or by the private household that dumps the leftovers to the sewage system) the affect on the environment is fatal.

3.       The supermarkets are promoting non healthy food and nasty chemicals

This point brings me back to the starting point: as a greeny I tend to buy only healthy food. However I find it quiet hard to find healthy food in the supermarket: 99% of the supermarket products contain nasty chemicals and genetically engineered amino acids. The affect of those on the environment is not yet known, however their affect on human beings is obviously not good.

So why supermarkets are “so concerned” about the environment when it comes to plastic bags?

You must note that when you buy a supermarket product, the 40% of packaging is already reflected in the products’ price. But when you finish you shopping and ask for a carry bag, the price of it is paid by the supermarket only. The supermarket is highly motivated to LOWER this expense, since:

  • Margin profit on food products is fairly low – 5% – 10% only.
  • If we said that every carry bag is about 5% of the packaging, and packaging is about 40% of the average product, so the maths yourself: the supermarket is adding an expense of about 2% pay for packaging, which is eating about 0.5% from their profit!

If they really wanted to assist the environment, they could have used the technology to produce “100% compostable” carry bags from sugar canes or cannabis plants: those have zero affect on the environment, and if they really wanted – the large supermarket cooperations could have invested money and use those environmentally friendly bags.

However, a supermarket is a business, and as a business they don’t really care about the environment, but about…. leveraging and maximizing the profit.

So next time they ask you about those plastic bags, remember that the supermarket is USING your environmental awareness in order to…. keep their positive profit, and not in order to genuinely solve any environmental problem.

Legal poison in our food

My family is not buying organic – because of the high price – but we do make an effort to buy simple and healthy food. However, an intellectual investigation of the supermarket food will exclude 99% of the products that a healthy eater could buy. What I am trying to say is that finding healthy food in the shops is becoming almost an impossible mission.

The personal process I experienced was not because I am an “organic fanatic” or the type of person that is fighting for animal rights: my agenda was different: All I wanted to achieve was self sufficient lifestyle. So I bought a little farm, and started to grow my own food.

In order to succeed, I figured out that my shopping list should shrink…. Coca-Cola is out of the list merely because I can’t grow Coca-Cola on my land (I never drink Coca-Cola, this is just an example). After all – how could one become self-sufficient if one continues to consume things that one could NEVER self produce? So the thumb rule was very simple… – We buy only what by potential we can grow ourselves.

It was a very interesting process: first, we had to examine HOW to grow things. The questions were –

  1. Can this plant / seed / herb / animal grow or raised in our farm?, and –
  2. How can we grow (or riase) it (how to start, how to take care of it etc..)

But in order to succeed in those two challenges, we have had to face the basic challenge, and it is to understand WHAT actually each product that we buy is made of. It means that in order to understand HOW to grow things, we needed to KNOW what is exactly inside them! Then, if we break each product / dish to its basic ingredients, we could (by potential) become self sufficient

But in order to know this, we were required us to do two things –

  1. First – to read the list of ingredients on each product that we wanted to buy, and –
  2. Research carefully what each specific ingredient is actually: does it have any alternatives or maybe it could be spared at all

I will give an example… my wife likes Yogurt. We have wild goats on our land. Milking the goats is possible (by potential). Making yogurt is (relatively) simple process of warming the milk to 60 deg. Cel. , introducing a bit of Yogurt starter and letting it cool gradually. So Yogurt is IN OUR SHOPPING LIST.

Now things become tastier… apples can grow on our land – conditions are good for that here. In the supermarket there is a yummy Yoplait Yogurt with bits of apples inside. So Apples Yogurt is in the shopping list, as well as many other types of Yogurt. This we slowly built our shopping list: lots of veggies, nuts, flour, corn based products, etc.

But wait a minute… should the Yoplait Yogurt really be in our list??? Well… theoretically yes, but as I said in (3) – I examined the label of ingredients…. OMG! Well, the plain Yogurt has milk some bacteria inside, this is obvious. But what the hell is that long lost on the “Apple Yogurt” label? I was quiet surprised to find a very long list of un-identified ingredients there – with LOOOOOOONG names that fit a chemistry lab.

That’s how I discovered on the huge amount of poisoning chemicals introduced into our food. Cancer, heart diseases, other illnesses – when I googled the names of the chemicals in our food – I GOT SHOCKED!

Suggested reading:

Guilt and GMOs

by Stephen Blackheath

From Natural Society:

A new GMO study may very well change the way that the world looks at GMOs once and for all. Complete with shocking and very disturbing photos of rats with tumors larger than a golf ball in size, a new French GMO study has concluded that rats fed a lifelong diet consisting of Roundup-containing genetically modified corn suffered serious consequences. While the onset of tumors was the most obvious and damaging effect, the researchers reveal that the rats also received heavy amounts of damage to multiple organs.

GMO (genetically modified) foods are now difficult to avoid – especially in North America where there are no labelling requirements at all. More and more people are becoming aware that the food their children are eating is likely harming them. I’d like to examine the question of culpability.

My question is this: Has a crime been committed? The New Zealand Government has openly promoted GMO foods, and funded it handsomely while giving no support whatsoever to organics (organic farmers have told me this). The NZ Royal Society has published statements in support of GMO foods. Bill Gates and others have promoted them as the solution to world hunger (at considerable personal gain). Science has been manipulated, and scientists persecuted.

For serious crimes, the English system requires proof of both actus reus (a guilty act) and mens rea (guilty mind). Since we can’t look into someone’s mind directly, we infer the state of mind from the person’s actions. The usual standard is recklessness as to the consequences of the act. In the case of rape, it would be recklessness as to whether consent was obtained. Recklessness is defined as the conscious taking of an unreasonable risk (by the standards of an independent observer).

It seems to me these concepts are applicable to the question of culpability for inflicting GMOs on the population. We need to start the process of finding out who knew what and when, so that we can ultimately hold these people to account – because – if we fail to do so, they will act again.