Sunday, May 16, 2010

More on weird science, the Shabak as KGB and happy Shavuot

Shavuot is coming up this week.  It is a pleasure to have a real holiday coming up after the fake Israeli celebrations, the latest and most egregious  of which was United Jerusalem Day.  It was inflicted on us last Wednesday and served as an opportunity for the government and its messianic allies to serve up their usual goulash of lies, propaganda and racist incitement.  Shavuot has two aspects, the First Fruits to be brought to the Temple and the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai.  While the first was mainly good for the priestly economy and the latter mythic, there is an idea of introspection and thinking about basic things that goes along with it.
We have a tradition of eating dairy dishes which has no significance other than culinary, but it is fun and another chance for families to get together, share a meal and some companionship.   Chabad which is not my cup of tea has some recipes.

Science Weird and Otherwise

Accent on accent: Let me start out as a proud Papa and refer you to research by my daughter Zohar:
 She has published a paper that attracted attention from the Washington Post.
The study is certain to attract comments, both pro and con.

Male Contraception has long been a Holy Grail of reproductive science.  It appears, according to BBC reports that some progress is being made.  New understanding of the propulsion of sperm can
provide a means of approaching this goal.  Another proactive technique involving ultrasound could really help with population control in parts of the world where condom use etc. is less acceptable or common.

The Ah Ha experience in which insight pops up has happened to all of us who toil in the vineyards of science.  New studies seem to provide insight into insight.

Dark Matter has been long proposed as a means of explaining gravitational effects and how
the galaxies are held together.  Now there is a debate on whether or not it has indeed been detected and what the implications are.  While this might be weird astronomy and/or particle physics, at least we think we understand it.
Entanglement and nonlocality and what is reality are a different kettle of fish.
Last week I attended a mini symposium at Tel Aviv University in which the Wolf Prize laureates gave their version of what is meant by long range correlations, the concept of the here and now and whether particles have characteristics that preexist measurement and are independent of it.  It was fascinating and confusing.  
In the meantime, here in Israel a new record has been set at the Weizmann Institute for multientanglement of photons.  As Alice (might have) said to Bob in Wonderland, things are getting .curiouser and curiouser
The Wolf Prize was given for pioneering work done long ago.  One of the laureates wrote an enlightening article a few years ago updating things a bit and clarifying things somewhat for the uninitiated.  As technology progresses, we are seeing that the issues of locality and reality are being challenged again and again, i.e. entangled particles however far apart communicate instantaneously and the existence of characteristics of a particle that existed before the measurement and independent of it.
Enough of the fun and nice stuff and let us move into the rant section;
Let us start with China where the persecution of human rights defenders and in particular of
lawyers who take on cases that the government does not like has plummeted to new levels of
depravity.  Here is a link to a press release by Amnesty Internatonal

From this delightful situation we move on to the Catholic Church where the Pope is finally waking up to reality and acknowledging that the decay is from within.  Sometimes satire can be more effective than a rant.  This YouTube comes and goes and I suspect that someone has an interest in censoring it.

There are  religious issues  in Israel as well. Please act on this most important petition.
We went to Jerusalem on Saturday night to participate in a
demonstration against West Bank settlements.
Later we went to the local courthouse to protest the arrest the
day before of a large number of peaceful demonstrators from
Sheikh Jarrakh. The demonstration included a large number of
groups from the so-called Zionist left. I was happy to see
different movements in the same tent, although some of the
things that were said did not really resonate with me. I find
the argument that we must end the Occupation in order to
maintain a "Jewish and Democratic Israel" to be at best
specious and at worst self-serving and dishonest. A Jewish
Israel in which racism, religious discrimination and
infringement of fundamental human rights, including freedom of
expression and association cannot be Democratic. If the
Occupation ended today, we would still be far from having a
democratic, pluralistic and tolerant society in Israel.  I also
gagged a bit on the talk of "our brothers the settlers."  War
criminals are not my brothers and sisters.

On the other hand, I sometimes find inappropriate (in my view)
attitudes on the side of the more radical left. I believe
firmly in a two state solution to the conflict and at the big
Sheikh Jarrakh rally someone from the stage called more or less
for the elimination of Israel. Nonetheless, despite all these
differences, many of which are much more than nuances, we need to
get into the same tent and act together because the Fascist
right is taking over the arena of public opinion and it will
soon be too late to do anything. Uri Avnerii has stated
correctly that we need new young leaders since the old
political hacks are worn out.

The case of the Shabak vs Makhoul and Said gets more
preposterous as more information comes to light. Of course, the
Shabak pet judge from Petach Tikva has extended the no lawyer
decree and the gag order, but in truth, we now know what is
happening. It makes me wonder what I should do if I find a
scientist from an Arab country at a meeting and he/she wishes
to talk to me about the moons of Saturn. Richard Silverstein is
doing an excellent job on blogging this issue and the obfuscation
in our local press that fears to tell us that a Dr. Jaja is the great big
spymaster  who is running the evil spy in Israel.
. In the 1930's, Robert Benchley pointed out that you can always
be reasonably sure that when a fearsome spy scandal erupts, the
government is trying to hide something from the public.  I wonder
what scandal they may be trying to hide.  Was Eli Yishai caught at
McDonald's eating a juicy cheeseburger???
I also wonder if  any Israeli Jew who encounters an Arab colleague
at a scientific meeting would  be railroaded into a KGB type secret
arrest and denied legal counsel.  I have, therefore, decided to confess and
maybe avoid torture.  In 1963-64 I shared
an office at the University of Maryland with  a fellow graduate
student named Fuad Saidi who went on, I believe,
to a senior scientific position in Syria.  I also once rode a ski lift to a cookout
in the Cascades with Prof. Mahwadi of Cairo University (ca. 1974) and have
sent reprints to colleagues who may, Hashem forbid, be of the Muslim persuasion.
Shabak--I live at 30 Shaldag St. in Hofit.
Could the appearance of a gray whale 
off our coast for the first time in 200 years be an indication that the environmental
organization headed by Dr. Jaja the spymaster has recruited cetaceans  to spy upon us
and report via Dr. Makhoul?  I put no idiocy  beyond the reach of our stalwart
defenders.  You may recall how  well they defended Yitzhak Rabin, but what the hell, he was
selling out the settlers and making peace, which might have had a bad affect on their jobs
and budgets.  Just speculating of course...conspiracy theories are usually bunk.

OK, let us end with something that is intentionally funny.
Gene Weingarten is back and I have two posts of Below the Beltway  .
Here is the  second post.

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