What did Ezekiel See?
Last Wednesday, I read the Haftara (Prophetic Reading) in synagogue and it was wild. In the first chapter of the book of Ezekiel the prophet described a vision that boggles the mind. When I returned to my seat, Yosefa whispered to me "what was he smoking?" Indeed a good question. Go read it in whatever language you wish.
colleagues have come up with the idea that he may have witnessed a low latitude aurora borealis. These events are rare but they do happen and 2500 years ago the north magnetic pole was far east of where it is now. I invite you to view this movie of an auroral display and to imagine how a priest in Babylonia in 593 BCE would have interpreted what he saw.
We are informed that Martin Gardner passed away this week at the age of 95. Over the years I, as a goodly proportion of you, have spent many a wonderful hour with his games and comments in Scientific American. He contributed to the quality of our lives as scientists and just informed lay people. I post a tribute to his memory.
Let us stay with science and nice things before getting on to the politics, rants, ravings and disgust that envelopes us all around the world.
This month we are marking the thirtieth anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. It was a monumental event with the sound of the blast heard at a distance of over 1000km. View a video of the eruption. We experienced something of this magnitude now in Iceland. Man is indeed puny compared to nature.
Planetary systems abound in the galaxy and universe, but some of them are stranger than others. In general, you can see interesting stuff in the Bad Astronomy blog listed on the right hand side of this blog as something that I follow. Obviously quality control in making uniform planetary systems is deteriorating. Do not, please, tell the Creationists.
You may have noticed that the weather has been a bit cooler these past few days. In European folklore, these are called the days of the ice saints. Indeed, there is a cooling trend at about May 20 on the Gregorian calendar. I have never found an explanation for the phenomenon despite having been a meteorologist in the far past and having many colleagues who work in the field. Odd indeed.
Judy sent me the following link to a bit of history of physics. Goudsmit and Uhlenbeck discovered the spin of the electron but for reasons that I cannot fathom never received the Nobel Prize for this incredibly important work. The lecture that Goudsmit gave nearly forty years ago is fascinating especially to those who toil in the vineyard of physics or chemistry. Thank you Judy.
Many pregnant women use antidepressant drugs to deal with the stress and hormonal chaos of pregnancy. New studies in pharmacology indicate that these drugs may have subtle and not understood effects on the development of the brain of the fetus. No one is suggesting stopping the use of these medications, but it is food for thought.
New species of animals have been discovered in Papua Some of them are quite striking. Enjoy the slide show.
Before we start in with our local mess, let us look around our lovely world. Sri Lanka has come out of a civil war and the human rights violations roll on with total impunity. Chutzpa! They seem to think that they are Israel! Please join the call to investigate.
It is incumbent on the UN to do something about this deplorable situation.
In Mexico a human rights defender has been indicted on a fabricated murder charge. Please join
Amnesty International in protesting this use of the justice system to put down dissent. More on that later.
In Myanmar/Burma, the situation is no better and is getting worse. I call upon you to join the action on behalf of a political prisoner
who is being denied medical treatment in detention.
THE MESS AT HOME
OK, where do we start? What pile of garbage has the highest priority.
At home it has been a fairly quiet week except for things that
you do not want to know. Zohar flew off to a meeting and
scientific visits in the US and we heard Cherubini's Requiem in
Abu Ghosh. Yosefa sang with her choir in a performance of
Athalia. We go on with our lives in our little bubble, but some
of us find it hard.
Before we get into the excrement, let us share the story of a young
woman who can inspire hope in all of us. I refer to Emily Schaeffer
who provides an example of courage and integrity to all of us. This is the
kind of human rights defender who is effective. God bless her and the likes
On the other hand the political scene has been unbelievable.Uri Avineri speculates
that the behavior of our government derives from nostalgia for the good old
days when everyone hated us and therefore we were not accountable for our
Noam Chomsky was denied admission to the West Bank by our
enlightened government. Everybody has been ranting about it and
all the obvious things are being said in the press about our
increasing isolation from the civilized world and the erosion
of democratic rights in Israel. Indeed it is frightening to
realize that we live in a country in which the regime is driven
by an ideology that brooks no argument. What is worse is that
most of the public support the regime and appear to be opposed
to democracy as a troubling thing that rocks boats. Gideon Levy
seems to see it correctly as does Bradley Burston
The smear campaign against Richard Goldstone
is another example of our disconnect from reality as seen by
the rest of the world. The Dubai disaster goes on with
Australia the latest country to respond to having its passports
cloned by kicking out a diplomat.
I have been asking myself what went wrong here and where was
the source of the original sin. I came here as a young Zionist,
but my Zionist vision was not that of the Revionsionists and
the messianic lunatics who control our policy and our body
politic today. Herzl is said to have been a liberal in that he
believed in separation of synagogue and state and that the army
should be kept out of politics. On the other hand, his thinking
was rooted in the colonial world of the 19th century and he
wrote of a bastion of Western civilization under the aegis of
the Great Powers. Indeed we came in after WWI as agents of
British imperialism and that may have been original sin number
1. The philosopher Achad Ha'am (Asher Ginsburg) called for a
moral Zionism but his voice was ignored. Today Chaim Gans makes
a case for A Just Zionism
but I suspect that he will have no greater impact than Achad
Ha'am. The fact that we were driven out of Europe is undeniable
but somehow we should have done a better job of minimizing the
impact of our settlement here on the indigenous population. The
belief that we can live on our sword (or the sword of the
Americans) indefinitely is both false and pernicious. It leads
to the eroding of democracy and of all humanistic values in our
society. Ben-Gurion and his Mapainik cohorts added to the
original sins, but had at least a vision of social justice t
least for Jews. Today we have a Bush style capitalism that
tramples on everything and everyone in the worship of Mammon.
The coupling of government, army and big money has subverted
our judiciary and totally distorted all national priorities.
The cases of Anat Kam, and Ezra Nawi are examples of how this
works. Both these are examples of how the judges are either lackeys
of the defense establishment or cowed by it to the extent of losing all
courage and integrity.
I must say that I found some encouragement last night when I
joined 6000 people at Tel Aviv Museum Square to protest the
deportation of 1200 children of migrant workers. These children
were born here, have no other homeland and belong with us. The
corruption of the revolving door system with imported labor is
a national scandal, but since the big money sharks are buddies
of the regime and our Interior Minister is a Fascist xenophobe
it is unlikely that anything will change soon. Maybe we can
protect these children.
I also get some encouragement from the results of surveys of
young American Jews who appear to be moving away from the knee
jerk support for every Israeli policy that characterizes the
generation of their parents. Our generation certainly ruined everything
by letting things happen while we were concerned with our own lives, careers,
raising kids, etc. Let us pin our hopes on the new generation both in Israel and the Diaspora
who might be able to turn things around. On Friday we will go to Sheikh Jarrakh to
If we get arrested for threatening the existence of the State, so be it.
To relax try Gene Weingarten Below the Beltway
or with what happens when kids are exposed to the Bible"
IT COMES FROM A CATHOLIC ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEST.
KIDS WERE ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS. THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS ABOUT THE BIBLE WERE WRITTEN BY CHILDREN. THEY HAVE NOT BEEN RETOUCHED OR CORRECTED. INCORRECT SPELLING HAS BEEN LEFT IN.
1. IN THE FIRST BOOK OF THE BIBLE, GUINESSIS. GOD GOT TIRED OF CREATING THE WORLD SO HE TOOK THE SABBATH OFF.
2. ADAM AND EVE WERE CREATED FROM AN APPLE TREE . NOAH'S WIFE WAS JOAN OF ARK. NOAH BUILT AND ARK AND THE ANIMALS CAME ON IN PEARS.
3. LOTS WIFE WAS A PILLAR OF SALT DURING THE DAY, BUT A BALL OF FIRE DURING THE NIGHT.
4. THE JEWS WERE A PROUD PEOPLE AND THROUGHOUT HISTORY THEY HAD TROUBLE WITH UNSYMPATHETIC GENITALS.
5. SAMPSON WAS A STRONGMAN WHO LET HIMSELF BE LED ASTRAY BY A JEZEBEL LIKE DELILAH.
6. SAMSON SLAYED THE PHILISTINES WITH THE AXE OF THE APOSTLES.
7. MOSES LED THE JEWS TO THE RED SEA WHERE THEY MADE UNLEAVENED BREAD WHICH IS BREAD WITHOUT ANY INGREDIENTS .
8. THE EGYPTIANS WERE ALL DROWNED IN THE DESSERT. AFTERWARDS, MOSES WENT UP TO MOUNT CYANIDE TO GET THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
9. THE FIRST COMMANDMENTS WAS WHEN EVE TOLD ADAM TO EAT THE APPLE.
10. THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT IS THOU SHALT NOT ADMIT ADULTERY.
11. MOSES DIED BEFORE HE EVER REACHED CANADA THEN JOSHUA LED THE HEBREWS IN THE BATTLE OF GERITOL.
12. THE GREATEST MIRICLE IN THE BIBLE IS WHEN JOSHUA TOLD HIS SON TO STAND STILL AND HE OBEYED HIM.
13. DAVID WAS A HEBREW KING WHO WAS SKILLED AT PLAYING THE LIAR. HE FOUGHT THE FINKELSTEINS, A RACE OF PEOPLE WHO LIVED IN BIBLICAL TIMES.
14. SOLOMON, ONE OF DAVIDS SONS, HAD 300 WIVES AND 700 PORCUPINES.
15. WHEN MARY HEARD SHE WAS THE MOTHER OF JESUS, SHE SANG THE MAGNA CARTA.
16. WHEN THE THREE WISE GUYS FROM THE EAST SIDE ARRIVED THEY FOUND JESUS IN THE MANAGER.
17. JESUS WAS BORN BECAUSE MARY HAD AN IMMACULATE CONTRAPTION.
18. St. JOHN THE BLACKSMITH DUMPED WATER ON HIS HEAD.
19. JESUS ENUNCIATED THE GOLDEN RULE, WHICH SAYS TO DO UNTO OTHERS BEFORE THEY DO ONE TO YOU. HE ALSO EXPLAINED A MAN DOTH NOT LIVE BY SWEAT ALONE.
20. IT WAS A MIRICLE WHEN JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD AND MANAGED TO GET THE TOMBSTONE OFF THE ENTRANCE.
21. THE PEOPLE WHO FOLLOWED THE LORD WERE CALLED THE 12 DECIBELS.
22. THE EPISTELS WERE THE WIVES OF THE APOSTLES.
23. ONE OF THE OPPOSSUMS WAS ST. MATTHEW WHO WAS ALSO A TAXIMAN.
24. ST.. PAUL CAVORTED TO CHRISTIANITY, HE PREACHED HOLY ACRIMONY WHICH IS ANOTHER NAME FOR MARRAIGE.
25. CHRISTIANS HAVE ONLY ONE SPOUSE. THIS IS CALLED MONOTONY.