Sunday, July 17, 2016

Titan and Pollyanna in the heat of summer



Image result for french flag
We grieve with you


 
Titan and Pollyanna like to think of themselves as retirees who are relaxing after years of hard labor and ranting. They have, in their joint persona of T_P decided that it is not fair to their countless fans and readers to deprive them of the wisdom they can dispense. Yes, Virginia, we have a sense of the absurd. We also think that age is not a big deal; Pollyanna at over 100 and Titan at 4.5 billion hold out hope for all of us to say nothing of Biblical figures.




They will try to alleviate the effects of climate change through which we are all laboring. If you can find a denier, try to
keep him/her away from air conditioning--they are not worthy of it.

This is the last T_P blog to be written in Hofit. Next month the aging amanuenses YandA are moving into a retirement village. You will hear from them from there. Titan is griping about Solar System working conditions that do not relieve him of orbiting Saturn after 4.5 billion years.

Pollyanna on her part never complains and is always glad to be with you.




July is a month marked by three national days which are probablyobserved by many of our readers. It starts with Canada Day on July 1

followed closely by the 4th of July just over the border.
 
We have an amusing tale of two isolated towns

on the Canada-US border who combine the two festivals into a long alcohol-soaked binge. Then on the 14th
 How to Change Your Facebook Photo to French Flag in Wake of Nice, France, Attack
our Gallic friends celebrate Bastille Day marking their great revolution.  As we wrote this, we learned of the Bastille Day attack in Nice-a known criminal drove a truck into a crowd and killed 84 people.

The terrorist was a 31-year-old Franco-Tunisian born in Tunisia, a police source close to the investigation has told Reuters news agency.

The man was not on the watchlist of French intelligence services but was known to police in connection with common law crimes such as theft and violence, the source said. The French prime minister, Manuel Valls announced  three days of national mourning starting on Saturday. Speaking in Paris before heading to Nice, Valls said: "Terrorism is a threat that is weighing heavily on France.”

According to a BBC translation, he said: “We are facing a war that terrorism has started against us. The objective of the terrorists is to instill fear and panic. France will not allow itself to be destabilized.”

He added: “Times have changed and we should learn to live with terrorism. We have to show solidarity and collective calm. France has been hit in its soul on 14 July, our national day. They wanted to attack the unity of the French nation. The only dignified response is that France will remain loyal to the spirit of 14 July and its values.”


 . All join the grief and outrage.

The Charity Corner has found a home on the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action site. Titan and Pollyanna hope that you will visit there, take the actions and make the donations.

IN MEMORIAM ELIE WIESEL 1928-2016 

Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, prolific author and outspoken activist Elie Wiesel died this month at the age of 87. Wiesel was perhaps best known for his major role in promoting Holocaust education,

Elie Wiesel outside the White House, Washington, in 2010 after a private lunch with President Barack Obama.
Elie Wiesel outside the White House, Washington, in 2010 after a private lunch with President Barack Obama. Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

and for perpetuating the memory of the Holocaust in the post-World War II era with his memoir “Night,” based on his experience as a teenager in the Auschwitz concentration camp. He devoted his life to preventing the Holocaust from being forgotten for which he received well-deserved honors and praise. He also, as pointed out by Peter Beinart, was totally blind to crimes committed by Israel and served as an unabashed apologist for many evil actions. Detailed obituaries can be found in Forward and the NYTimes.

RANTS OF THE DAY 

There are many to choose from, ranging from the misguided Brexit to which we shall return, to the idiocy of American politics. T_P think, however, that the wave of terror sweeping the globe must be the prime issue before the nations of the world. The NYTimes has prepared a compilation:In total, more than 1,200 people outside of Iraq and Syria have been killed in attacks inspired or coordinated by the Islamic State, according to this analysis which shows the distribution of attacks and we can see that no one is safe or immune.

Even if ISIS is defeated on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, it will continue to fester underground throughout the world. It is not obvious how the enlightened nations of the world can fight this monster successfully without severely impinging on the civil rights of the population. The reaction of the US to 9/11, the so-called Patriot Act, has been subject to severe criticism and it is not clear that it has been effective. We refer you to a detailed analysis of the issue. We would welcome your opinion of this necessary trade-off.

Titan and Pollyanna (and YandA) are extremely upset about the sniper killing of police in Dallas. This does not decrease by an iota their anger and dismay at the indiscriminate killing of black persons by trigger-happy police. `In Israel we are aware of this issue and the worse phenomenon that the army, police and most of the public do not think that there is a problem in shooting to kill at a fleeing suspect. The question of shooting at a suspect or prisoner who is running away was resolved historically by the so-called common law, which held that police could use any amount of force, including deadly force, to "seize"a fleeing felon. This dates back to the time when almost all crimes were felonies to be punished by execution. The practice was laid to rest in the USA in the Supreme Court's 1985 opinion in Tennessee v. Garner. 
 



A detailed analysis of the verdict and it implications is given in an article by Chad Flanders and Joseph C. Welling in the Saint Louis University Law Journal. The fact that police impunity for killing still exists shows that the decision is not honored as it should be. The article is long, but Titan and Pollyanna think it worth your time and effort. Of course police misconduct and racial harassment occur often without lethal results and are often hidden from the public eye, as in the sorry case of the police of Chicago.
Alfonso and Patricia Cavada at their home in Archer Heights with their sons Alfonso Jr., 14, and Michael, 5. In April 2011, the Cavadas were injured when a dozen Chicago police officers stormed their home in the middle of the night.


BAN A DANGEROUS CHEMICAL 

California red-legged frog
California red-legged frog

It's Time to Ban Atrazine Now 












A new analysis from the Environmental Protection Agency paints a grim picture for wildlife in the United States. The country's second-most commonly used pesticide, atrazine, is likely harming most species of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, especially in the Midwest where its use is highest.
Sadly the findings aren't all that shocking -- we've known about this for decades. The European Union banned atrazine a dozen years ago for exactly this reason.
Around 70 million pounds of atrazine are used every year in the United States on crops, lawns, schools, playgrounds and athletic fields. And it's not just harming wildlife -- atrazine exposure has been linked to birth defects and cancer in humans.

BREXIT 

We along with countless others think that the exit of Britain from the EU is a most misguided step that will come back to haunt them in years to come. On the other John Harris, writing in the Guardian, sees it as a sign of class warfare and a result of the economic bargain that made the rich richer and the poor poorer. In the words of a woman in a rundown suburb of Manchester, “If you’ve got money, you vote in,” she said, with a bracing certainty. “If you haven’t got money, you vote out.” It also showed how much the political class is Britain is divorced from the reality of the lives of ordinary people. The furies have been building up for a long time, but the people on top never noticed them.

Harris: "What defines these furies   is often clear enough: a terrible shortage of homes, an impossibly precarious job market, a too-often overlooked sense that men (and men are particularly relevant here) who would once have been certain in their identity as miners, or
steelworkers, now feel demeaned and ignored. The attempts of mainstream politics to still the anger have probably only made it worse: oily tributes to “hardworking families”, or the   fingers-down-a-blackboard trope of “social mobility”, with its suggestion that the only thing Westminster can offer working-class people is a specious chance of not being working class anymore."

What will probably happen is a turn to the right, a super-Thatcherism that will make things even worse for the working class, an evaporation of jobs and economic opportunity.  It is
similar to what happened to the workers who voted Reagan into office in 1980 and then the Bushes with their Wall Street cronies."It's the same the whole world over, it's the poor what gets the blame..."
Children near derelict houses on a housing estate in Collyhurst, Manchester.
Children near derelict houses on an estate in Collyhurst, Manchester. Photograph: Photofusion/Rex Shutterstock


The rich will continue to live in clover..

HOME SWEET HOME

RELIGIOUS STRIFE 

As members of a Reform congregation, we have a major stake in the struggle going on in Israel. Most recently the government reneged on a compromise that would have allowed us and our Conservative brethren to worship unsegregated by gender at the Wall in Jerusalem. Most recently, our leadership wrote to the PM that unless the incitement and violence cease, there will be bloodshed. Indeed it is the time for the alternative movements in Judaism to take off the gloves in dealing with Orthodox violence and arrogance.
Ultra-Orthodox protesters seek to disrupt egalitarian prayers held by Reform and Conservative worshipers at the Western Wall on June 16, 2016.Emil Salman


A new chapter in that sorry tale of arrogance is the appointment of a new Chief Chaplain of the Army. Rabbi Col. Eyal Karim was nominated for the top religious position in the army by Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot on Monday. His appointment now requires the approval of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. In the past he has gone on record saying that rape of enemy women is allowed, that women should not serve in combat roles nor be allowed to testify in court cases. He has also said that it is permitted to kill wounded suicide bombers and that gay people should be treated as people “sick or disabled.”

The Chief of Staff is standing behind the appointment and Karim has backtracked away from his most radical statements. Nonetheless, MK Ofer Shelah best pinpointed what is wrong with this appointment, beyond chauvinism...According to Shelah, the problems are Karim’s objection to women’s military service and his ruling that an order that contravenes Jewish law should be ignored. Indeed, the latter is a major threat to operational discipline in the army and is most dangerous.

NGO LAW 

The Knesset has passed a law that mandates special reporting requirements for nongovernmental organizations that get most of their funding from foreign governments, and, according to critics, disproportionately targets human rights organizations. Of the 27 NGO's impacted, 25 are human rights organizations. The law has drawn fierce criticism from the US government and from the European Union. Some of the worst features were removed such as requiring representatives of human rights organizations to wear badges inside the Knesset building. The organizations planned to wear yellow tags as well, which may have deterred some of the right-wingers In any case, human rights activities will go on.

"Human rights organizations are completely transparent,” argued MK Dov Khenin (Joint List), one of the bill’s most vocal opponents. “All their contributions are reported, and therefore, there’s no real reason for the government’s NGO bill except to divert the discussion and incite the public.”

“Where is transparency really needed? In extreme right-wing organizations,” he added, noting that these organizations receive millions of shekels from private overseas donors, “but there, the government has chosen to impose secrecy and obscure the money trail.”

BOOK REVIEW 

We have long admired Orson Welles, character flaws and all. He is a figure larger than life and looms, together with Hitchcock and a very few others above the rank and file of film artists.


Orson Welles on the set of Chimes at Midnight, 1964 Nicolas Tikhomiroff/Magnum Photos

A few months ago Michael Wood gave us a review of new writing about Welles in the New York Review of Books and we strongly recommend the read. He deals with:

Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen
Kane    by Patrick McGilligan Harper, 820 pp., $40.00

Orson Welles: One-Man Band    by Simon Callow Viking, 624 pp., $40.00
(to be published in April)

Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds and the Art of
Fake News    by A. Brad Schwartz Hill and Wang, 337 pp., $35.00

Orson Welles’s Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of the Wind   
by Josh Karp St. Martin’s, 336 pp., $26.99
Chimes at Midnight a film directed by Orson Welles

Callow has reached the third volume of his projected four volume biography of Welles. As Wood remarks "There is a special risk in writing about Orson Welles. The dimensions may get a little out of hand, as if they had to mime the physical size and imaginative
reach of the subject. Patrick McGilligan’s excellent biography of Alfred Hitchcock takes 750 pages to cover the director’s life and his fifty films. By page 706 of Young Orson, Welles is about to start shooting Citizen Kane, his first full-length movie: he is twenty-five years old, and he lived till he was seventy. There is a thirty-nine-page postlude about the day and night of Welles’s death."

The Road to Xanadu, part one of Simon Callow’s two-volume biography of Welles, appeared in 1996; Hello Americans, part two of the now three-volume biography, appeared in 2006; and One-Man Band, part three of the (maybe) four-volume work, appeared last fall in the UK and appeared in the US in April. Perhaps the most touching expression of this condition is the wistful remark that McGilligan makes about Welles in 1944 on page 726 of his work: “An entire book could be written about that single year, with much left out."

PLANET IX? 

The question of the existence of a ninth planet in the Solar System has us fascinated. We are referring you to a blog on the subject by Michael E. Brown and Konstantin Batygin from CalTech who are actively engaged in this search. Evidence for the existence of Planet Nine is scant, based on apparent alignments among the orbits of the six most distant denizens of the Kuiper belt Their oval orbits all point in roughly the same direction and lie in about the same plane, suggesting that a hidden planet, about five to 20 times as massive as Earth, has herded them onto similar trajectories. The topic is well worth your time.
The whole point of Planet Nine was to explain the orbital alignment of these six objects. The number of other phenomena that Planet Nine also explains -- essentially by accident -- is astonishing.

It can be touted in various ways:

 

SILLY TIME 

This is a very old question:
Image result for glass half full


Then we have the Wizard's take on the question:



 DNA testing has become the rage:




Image Murphy thinks this is hilarious and he has a point.




Thursday, April 21, 2016

T_P greet you for the Pesach holiday

Titan and Pollyanna like to think of themselves as retirees who are relaxing after years of hard labor and ranting. They have, in their joint persona of T_P decided that it is not fair to their countless fans and readers to deprive them of the wisdom they can dispense. Yes, Virginia, we have a sense of the absurd.So relax in our teepee dear friends and have some matzah and wine.


Image result for pesach images


HAPPY PESACH 

Titan, Pollyanna and YandA wish all their MOT readers a happy Pesach holiday. Y will be with her brood in Kiryat Ono, A with his family in Atlit and T_P will celebrate as usual on the shore of a methane sea.  Then YandA fly to Winnipeg to see our Canadian branch.

 


We all rejoice in the deliverance of our people from slavery in Egypt

 

and of course must relish the appreciation given to it by John Kasich who told the Hasidic Jews of Brooklyn about the blood on the doorposts. We would like to share with you the story of a Seder held by Jewish soldiers in the American Civil War. Joseph A. Joel, a Jewish private in the Ohio 23rd Regiment, told the story first – and best.

The Charity Corner has found a home on the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action site. Titan and Pollyanna hope that you will visit there, take the actions and make the donations.

 IN MEMORIAM

 JOHAN CRUYFF 1947-2016 



Johan Cruyff playing against Argentina in the 1974 World Cup. Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The great Dutch footballer died this month of cancer in Barcelona. He helped develop a style that
revolutionized the way the game is played, becoming the Netherlands’ greatest player and later a scolding conscience of the sport. He was 68.  Widely acclaimed as one of the best players in history, Cruyff (pronounced CROYF) teamed with the famed coach Rinus Michels in the 1970s to perfect a style called Total Football, a shape-shifting system in which players switch positions effortlessly.

A wiry and deceptively quick forward, Cruyff was the personification of the style, bursting forward to attack or drifting back to defend, but always ready to deliver an incisive pass or to appear in the perfect position when an opportunity to score arose. The Guardian devotes a page to Cruyffiana and the NYTimes provides a detailed obituary

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE 1564-1616. 

The great playwright died on April 23, just 400 years ago.
 Image result for shakespeare birth

Stephen Greenblatt writing in the New York Review of Books discussed how Shakespeare, at a distance of four centuries is still relevant and resonant in our time. His contemporary Ben Jonson for the first time evoked a larger landscape in which to understand the significance of Shakespeare’s career, one that would make it appropriate for a nobleman to acknowledge a connection to a middle-class writer of popular plays. Jonson wrote,
“And though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek,”
“I would not seek/For names; but call forth thund’ring
Aeschylus,/Euripides, and Sophocles to us.”

These immortals could worthily bear witness to the greatness of Shakespeare as a tragic playwright; as for his comedies, Jonson added, these surpass everything
“that insolent Greece or haughty Rome/sent forth.”
Jonson made Shakespeare into a global artist. Not in the sense that he imagined his work was or would ever become famous outside of England, but that he insisted it could bear comparison with the best that the world of letters had ever brought forth. Even if nothing in Shakespeare’s personal circumstances—his birthplace, parentage, education, affiliations, and the like—bore recording, he was nonetheless a national treasure.
“Triumph, my Britain,” Jonson proclaimed, “thou hast one to show,/To whom all scenes of Europe
homage owe.”
To this proud boast he added the famous line: “He was not of an age, but for all time!”
The Folger Shakespeare Library provides a biography.

MIGUEL CERVANTES 1547-1616. 

Many think that they died on the same day, April 23, but in fact they used different calendars. We mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Cervantes is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and the world's pre-eminent novelist.
Image result for Cervantes
His major work, Don Quixote, considered to be the first modern European novel, is a classic of Western literature, and is regarded among the best works of fiction ever written. His influence on the Spanish language has been so great that the language is often called la lengua de Cervantes ("the language of Cervantes"). He has also been dubbed El Príncipe de los Ingenios ("The Prince of Wits"). His biography includes military action, slavery as a POW and a struggle to survive as a government bureaucrat. He died just 400 years ago and was buried in an unmarked grave. Since his passing,  his work has inspired countless other authors, including Gustave Flaubert, Henry Fielding and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The story of Don Quixote has been retold in many ways,including in the popular musical The Man of La Mancha and in an artwork by Pablo Picasso.
 http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-wnYYfTojJRQ/UXUu6Cla41I/AAAAAAAAAOM/AysiydNAQho/s320/don-quixote.jpg


RANT AROUND A ROSIE, A POCKET FULL OF...

ANNIVERSARY OF AN ATROCITY 



Chibok, Nigeria, where more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram two years ago. Credit Sunday Alamba, via Associated Press
Two years ago over 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in the town of Chibok, Nigeria. Most of them are still prisoners. A worldwide outcry had no effect. A recent visit to Chibok by a NYTimes writer (called to our attention by Yosefa) tells the sad tale of this pathetically neglected region of Nigeria. It is most shocking to read and consider.

EVEN KILLERS HAVE HUMAN RIGHTS 

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik has won part of a human rights case against the
Norwegian state. He convinced the court that his solitary confinement was beyond the scope of his punishment and that actions taken against him were in violation of the European Convention of
Human Rights. We have long maintained that you must protect the rights of bad people in order to protect those of the good.

MIGRATION IN EUROPE 

The issue of the flow of refugees from the war zones of the Middle East has become central to European reality. We firmly believe that turning away asylum seekers is criminal, but of course political reality has a morality of its own. We refer you to a detailed set of discussions provided by CritCom entitled FramingMigration: Rhetoric and Reality in Europe. Much food for thought.

 
In  the meantime 500 asylum seekers drowned when a ship sank in the Mediterranean en route from Libya to Italy. More blood on  the hands of the politicians of Europe.

BRAZIL COMING UNDONE 

The lower house of the Brazilian parliament has voted to impeach President Dilma Rousseff. The case now moves on to the Senate. Ms Rousseff has vowed to fight the impeachment tooth and nail. The details of the unraveling of what was one of the great success stories of the developing world are discussed in analysis in the Washington Post. It may come to pass that while the Olympic games are taking place in Rio next summer, the public will be regaled by the trial of a President. 
Sic transit gloria mundi.

PANAMA PAPERS 

The world is still reeling from the huge leak of criminal banking activities by Mossack Fonseca.It seems that hiding money offshore is one of the major activities of the rich, famous and infamous.Cheers to those who exposed the scandal. Mike Lukovich gives it straight...
 




HOME SWEET HOME


KILLER CONVICTED 

The main suspect in the murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir was convicted of murder Tuesday, after a Jerusalem court rejected the defendant’s insanity plea. It certainly took the court a very long time to convict Yosef Chaim Ben-David on charges of murder, kidnapping for the purpose of murder and battery causing bodily harm. Let us hope that he is given a stiff sentence. What is really tragic is that the murder could have been prevented. The day before the same gang tried to kidnap an Arab child who was saved by his mother and neighbors. The police were called but did not respond. We have to understand that Arab lives matter.

KILLER INDICTED 

An Israeli soldier who shot a wounded Palestinian assailant to death in Hebron on March 24 was charged with manslaughter on Monday.  During the hearing, the military court in Jaffa cleared the soldier's identity for publication. He was named as Elor Azaria, 19, a resident of Ramle.

According to the indictment, Azaria opened fire in 
"violation of he rules of engagement, and without operational justification, while [Abdel Fattah] al-Sharif lay wounded on the ground ... and did not pose immediate and real threat to the defendant, civilians or soldiers in the area." 

This is most important since many of the public especially the right have rushed to the defense of the soldier. There was even a small rally in his support in Tel Aviv and our great PM phoned the parents in sympathy. After all, if you have raised a killer, you should be appreciated...

In fact, as Gideon Levy points out in Haaretz, the trial is a farce and the soldier will certainly get off with at most a slap on the wrist.  It is no surprise since the Army has a long history of covering up killings of Arabs and extra-judicial executions are part of its daily repertoire.

SETTLEMENT PRODUCTS 

Many of us try to avoid purchasing products made in the illegal settlements beyond the Green Line. It is illegal to call for a boycott on such products and one can be sued with no proof of damage. We make it clear here that we are by no means advocating a boycott and in fact the list that we are linking to may serve as a guide to supporters of settlements who wish to buy their products. In any case, we link you to a detailed article by Gush Shalom. There is also an old blog in Hebrew that "warns" against boycotting the settlements and gives a list of products that good patriots should buy.

CLOAK AND DAGGER AND A NAZI HIT MAN 

The story has finally come out about the killing of the chief German rocket scientist who worked in the 1960's to develop a missile capability for Egypt. It makes for fascinating reading, we will not spoil if for you.

BOOK REVIEW

Buried Ideas: Legends of Abdication and Ideal Government in Early Chinese Bamboo-Slip Manuscripts (SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture (Hardcover)) Hardcover – November, 2015 by Sarah Allan (Author)

 A trove of bamboo-slip manuscripts dating from about 300 BCE has been translated and published. They are from the time of the Warring States an era of turmoil that ran from the fifth to the third centuries BCE. before the unification of China in 221 BCE. The first dynast Qim did everything to stamp out intellectual freedom. These documents challenge our understanding of early Chinese history.
An eighteenth-century painting showing Emperor Qin Shi Huang of the Qin dynasty ‘burning all the books and throwing scholars into a ravine’ in order to stamp out ideological nonconformity after the unification of China in 221 BCE. ‘For over two millennia,’ Ian Johnson writes, ‘all our knowledge of China’s great philosophical schools was limited to texts revised after the Qin unification.’ Now a trove of recently discovered ancient documents, written on strips of bamboo, ‘is helping to reshape our understanding of China’s contentious past.’ Illustration from Henri Bertin’s album The History of the Lives of the Chinese Emperors.
Bibliothèque Nationale de France/RMN-Grand Palais/Art ResourceAn eighteenth-century painting showing Emperor Qin Shi Huang of the Qin dynasty ‘burning all the books and throwing scholars into a ravine’ in order to stamp out ideological nonconformity after the unification of China in 221 BCE. ‘For over two millennia,’ Ian Johnson writes, ‘all our knowledge of China’s great philosophical schools was limited to texts revised after the Qin unification.’ Now a trove of recently discovered ancient documents, written on strips of bamboo, ‘is helping to reshape our understanding of China’s contentious past.’ Illustration from Henri Bertin’s album The History of the Lives of the Chinese Emperors.
The book is reviewed in detail by Ian Johnson in the New York Review of Books and by   in Asia Times.  

SILLY TIME


What If? This is serious now- My boyfriend recently took a flight on a plane with wifi, and while he was up there, wistfully asked if I could send him a pizza. I jokingly sent him a photo of a parrot holding a pizza slice in its beak. Obviously, my boyfriend had to go without pizza until he landed at JFK. But this raised the question: could a bird deliver a standard 20" New York-style cheese pizza in a box? And if so, what kind of bird would it take?
—Tina Nguyen Maybe the hostess will serve a pizza...

 Indeed, the singularity will do great things for us...

Singularity

The creative process is explained by SMBC:


Note the importance of self-doubt. It is something totally lacking to people on the right and to stupid people in general. The need for self-doubt and the spirit of enquiry was  expressed beautifully by the late Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai. We present his poem both in original and English translation.


The Place Where We Are Right
by Yehuda Amichai
From the place where we are right
Flowers will never grow
In the spring.
The place where we are right
Is hard and trampled
Like a yard.
But doubts and loves
Dig up the world
Like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
Where the ruined
House once stood.

SMBC does to Jesus what it would never dare to do to Mohammed. Blasphemy in a free society comes under the heading of protected free speech. Alas, people often forget this fundamental truth:
http://smbc-comics.com/comics/1460732788-20160415.png

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Titan and Pollyanna aka T_P are back with you

Titan and Pollyanna like to think of themselves  as retirees who are relaxing after years of hard labor and ranting. They have, in their joint persona of T_P,
Crow teepee

decided that it is not fair to their countless fans and readers to deprive them of the wisdom they can dispense. Yes, Virginia, we have a sense of the absurd.

Happy 260th  birthday this week to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born January 27, 1756, Salzburg, Austria.

The Charity Corner has found a home on the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action site. Titan and Pollyanna hope that you will visit there, take the actions and make the donations.

IN MEMORIAM

Pierre Boulez 1925-2016

Pierre Boulez, the French composer and conductor who helped blaze a radical new path for classical music in the 20th century, becoming one of its dominant figures in the decades after World War II, died on January 6 at his home in Baden-Baden, Germany, at the age  90. He was one of the most recognized figures in 20th century classical music. His outspoken advocacy for the music of his time earned him fans — and detractors.  French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, “Audacity, innovation, creativity —that is what Pierre Boulez was for French music, which he helped shine everywhere in the world.”




Pierre Boulez conducting in 2008. Credit Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times


Mr. Boulez belonged to an extraordinary generation of European composers who emerged in the postwar years while still in their 20s. They started a revolution in music, and Mr. Boulez was in the front ranks. Detailed biographies and obituaries can be found in the Guardian and the NY Times.

David Bowie 1947-2016

David Bowie (ne David Robert Jones), an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, painter and actor, died on January 10 in New York. His  persistent innovations and personal reinventions transformed him into a larger-than-life rock star.
 david bowie
 Rolling Stone has a detailed obituary and Mike Lukovich expressed very well the feeling of his bereft fans.
 

A memorial concert will be held at Carnegie Hall on March 31.

Alan Rickman 1946-2016 

Alan Rickman an  English actor and director, known for playing a variety of roles on stage and screen, often as a complex antagonist, died on January 14 in London.
Alan Rickman in New York last year.
Alan Rickman in New York last year. Photograph: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

His role of Severus Snape was classic, the nemesis turned tragic hero of the Harry Potter series, only hinting at the character's nobility in his final moments. His five-time costar and friend Emma Thompson echoed the sentiment of many of his colleagues. "I have just kissed him goodbye," she wrote the day he died. "What I remember most in this moment of painful leave-taking is his humor, intelligence, wisdom and kindness. . . . He was the ultimate ally."
A detailed obituary can be found in the Guardian.

RANT AROUND A ROSIE, A POCKET FULL OF...

BLOOD SPILLED IN IRAQ 

A new UN Report tells us that nearly 19,000 have been killed by terror and violence in a period of less than two years.
Civilians are loaded in a truck to be taken to safe places Thursday as Iraqi security forces clear the Soufiya neighborhood of Islamic State fighters in central Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, Iraq.
Civilians are loaded in a truck to be taken to safe places Thursday as Iraqi security forces clear the Soufiya neighborhood of Islamic State fighters in central Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, Iraq.
Khalid Mohammed/AP

Here are some numbers for the epoch 1.1.14 to 31.10.15:

At least 18,802: Number of civilians killed between Jan. 1, 2014, and Oct. 31, 2015

36,245: Number of civilians wounded during that same time period.

3,855: Number of civilians killed between May 1 and Oct. 31, 2015. Baghdad governorate had the highest number, at 1,875.

1,717: Number of civilians killed by improvised explosive devices between May 1 and Oct 31, 2015.

3.2 million: Number of people inside Iraq who have been forced to flee their homes from January 2014 through September of last year.

More than 1 million: Number of school-age children forced from their homes during that same time period.

Between 800 and 900: Number of children abducted from the Iraqi city of Mosul by the so-called Islamic State for "religious education and military training."

Approximately 3,500: People from the Yezidi religious minority and other ethnic and religious minorities enslaved by ISIS. "Those being held are predominantly women and children," the report says.

This is totally unacceptable and constitutes a terrible blot on the conscience of what likes to call itself the international community or family of nations. T_P demand that something be done about it by the nations that bear the responsibility. Of course, Western intervention would be labeled a neo-crusade and unite the Arab world against it, but means must be found  to enable the Muslim world to free itself from this madness.

CLIMATE CHANGE CHARGES ON WHILE THE NEROES FIDDLE 

Climate records kept by two US government agencies show that 2015 has superseded 2014 as the hottest year on record. According to the NOAA analysis on Wednesday, every month in 2015 broke previous temperature records except for two: January and April. NOAA also announced Wednesday that for December, the “temperature departure from average was also the highest departure among all months in the historical record and the first time a monthly departure has reached 2°F (1.1C).” Please read this report carefully.
 
As expected, the Democratic politicians showed responsibility:
The release of the 2015 temperature data prompted statements from leading Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Clinton, in a Twitter posting, said, “Climate change is real. It’s hurting our planet and our people. We can’t afford a president who ignores the science.”
The Sanders campaign also tweeted a response, saying. “Climate change is real and caused by human activity. This planet and its people are in trouble.”
There were no immediate comments from the major GOP contenders, several of whom have been openly skeptical of the mainstream scientific view that human activity is causing the planet to warm. Front-runner Donald Trump has dismissed climate change as a hoax. We wonder where the Republicans got their degrees in atmospheric science.

THE DOOMSDAY CLOCK 


The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board announced today that the minute hand of its closely watched Doomsday Clock will remain at three minutes to midnight, since recent progress in the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris climate accord “constitute only small bright spots in a darker world situation full of potential for catastrophe.” Their bulletin states:“Three minutes (to midnight) is too close. Far too close. We, the members of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,want to be clear about our decision not to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock in 2016: That decision is not good news, but an expression of dismay that world leaders continue to fail to focus their efforts and the world's attention on reducing the extreme danger posed by nuclear weapons and climate change. When we call these dangers existential, that is exactly what we mean: They threaten the very existence of civilization and therefore should be the first order of business for leaders who care about their constituents and their countries.” Food for thought for all of us and cause for dismay when we consider our leaders.

SUGAR IS BAD FOR YOU 

NHS sugar tax
Simon Stevens says NHS sugar tax will help fight ‘national sugar high’. Composite: The Guardian
We are all too fat and lazy and consume too much sugar. We salute Simon Stevens the head of the UK National Health Service for taking steps to reduce this by imposing a tax on it. Hospitals across England will start charging more for high-sugar drinks and snacks sold in their cafes and vending machines in an effort to discourage staff, patients and visitors from buying them, the NHS England chief executive said. Cheers say T-P.

SPELLING IS IMPORTANT  

Boy's spelling mistake in class led to a visit from the police
Spot the difference
A ten year old boy in England wrote that he lived in a terrorist house. He meant terraced, but since there are rules the teacher had to report it. You can guess what happened. Idiots are everywhere.  As John Richardson, our friend at MIT, said to us, "nothing is fool-proof because fools are so resourceful."


WHAT IS SEXUAL CONSENT? 

This issue comes up often in rape trials and other difficult situations. The Thames Valley Police have come up with a brilliant video that uses the analogy of offering tea. It provides clear instructions as to what constitutes consensual sex. Open the site and watch the video.


This new 'sexual consent and tea' video from the police is brilliant

HOME SWEET HOME

DEMOCRACY?

One of the elements enshrined in the US Bill of Rights is the First Amendment guarantee of the right to assembly peaceably to petition for redress of grievances. In Israel only Jews seem to have that right. Since the government simply stalls on giving building permits to Arabs and there is a need for housing, homes are built without permits. Now that the government is trying to crack down on the Arab community to evade providing the funds appropriated for its needs, bulldozers are knocking down "illegal" houses in a wholesale manner.
Israeli Arab home in Taibeh being demolished. January 24, 2016.
Israeli Arab home in Taibeh being demolished. January 24, 2016. Credit:.Panet.co.il


When one, Ayman Hajj Yahya, posted a call on Facebook to gather to protest the demolitions, he and a friend were thrown into prison. It would be ludicrous if it were not so evil. The police even manufactured a charge of obstruction of justice, but withdrew it saying it was "in error."

KUDOS TO THE SECRETARY GENERAL

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon commented Tuesday on the recent wave of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, saying it was part of "human nature" to react to an occupation.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses a United Nations Security Council meeting on the Middle East at UN headquarters in New York, January 26, 2016.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses a United Nations Security Council meeting on the Middle East at UN headquarters in New York, January 26, 2016. Reuters
Of course the government and its pet media reacted with screams but it makes good sense. Some day the world will get tired of us and put an end to the nonsense. Michael Sfard, the human rights lawyer, predicts that the occupation will end suddenly  as other despotic regimes have fallen in the past.
Israeli border police check a Palestinian woman's ID next to newly placed concrete blocks in an East Jerusalem neighborhood, Oct. 15, 2015.
Israeli border police check a Palestinian woman's ID next to newly placed concrete blocks in an East Jerusalem neighborhood, Oct. 15, 2015.AP
Gideon Levy disagrees with him totally and questions his analogs. Indeed when Jewish money plays an important role in US elections and Europe lacks the backbone to stand up to Israel, Levy may well be right. The Swedish Foreign Minister seems to be the only courageous politician on the continent when she calls out Israel on extrajudicial executions.

LIBERALS UNITE! 

The situation for supporters of liberal democracy in Israel is rapidly becoming untenable. One pundit, Carlo Strenger,  calls for creation of a liberal autonomous region as exists de facto for ultra-orthodox and Arabs.
He writes in Haaretz: "Israeli liberals are the most disadvantaged group in the country. We carry all burdens, and get none of the extra perks. Hence, we should demand to get similar autonomy to the ultra-Orthodox, the national-religious and Israeli Arabs in the areas where secular liberals are concentrated like Tel Aviv, Ramat Hasharon, Herzliya and Haifa."  It is an interesting idea, since for liberals what is being done in our name is totally unacceptable. Avraham Burg sounds a call of defiance from the Left. Is anyone listening?

In this context, T_P welcome the rise of a liberal Zionist voice in Canada. JSpace appears to be gaining momentum and we hope it soon becomes an effective lobbying organization able to offset the right wing orientation of much of the Canadian Jewish community.

 SILLY TIME

Alas, too much silliness is from the real world.  We can start with Sarah Palin endorsing Donald Trump. It would be funny if it were not so frightening.  Mike Lukovich puts it in perspective:



AVIAN SPY 

A vulture captured in Lebanon and suspected of spying for Israel because of a Tel Aviv University homing device on its leg was repatriated with the aid of the UN.

A warm welcome by UN and Israel Nature and Parks Authority personnel for a 'spy' vulture captured in Lebanon Jan. 28, 2016.
A warm welcome by UN and Israel Nature and Parks Authority personnel for a 'spy' vulture captured in Lebanon Jan. 28, 2016.Moti Dolev/Israel Nature and Parks Authority
 \\


This is not the first incident in which birds have been suspected of spying in the crazy Middle East..

WHAT IF? is back and is really funny this time.
What if you built a siphon from the oceans on Europa to Earth? Would it flow once it's set up? (We have an idea for selling bottled Europa water.)

—A group of Google Search SREs
We also share a Randalism for the physics freaks among us:



Kepler
Empathy for frustrated grandparents: