Friday, September 9, 2011

Last Titan before terrestrial Autumnal Equinox

Cassini captured this image of a dimly lit Titan as Saturn's largest moon was eclipsed by the planet on May 7, 2009. Lit terrain seen here is on the Saturn-facing side of Titan. In Saturn's shadow, the southern hemisphere of Titan is lit by two sources: sunlight scattered through the planet's rings and refracted sunlight passing through the edge of Saturn's atmosphere. Stars in this image are smeared by the long camera exposure time of 560 seconds needed to capture the faint light on Titan. (NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute) #

Titan has had a busy week as have his blogger friends YandA and sister Pollyanna.  In honor of our equinox he is showing us a picture of himself at Saturn's equinox when he was captured in eclipse by Cassini's cameras.  The equinox at Saturn happens every 15 earth years or so.  If I were wont to make such statements, I would say that he is like a shadow of himself.

Salvatore Licitra  died nine days after the 43-year-old suffered severe head and chest injuries in a scooter accident in Sicily. As is common in southern Italy, he was not wearing a helmet. He was considered the heir of Pavarotti and will be missed in the world of opera. We append an  obituary from the NYTimes.
Opera singer Salvatore Licitra in La Forza del Destino at the Royal  Opera House,  Covent Garden. Photograph: Mark Ellidge/ArenaPal

Ayala Zacks Abramov, a collector of modern and Israeli art who gave scores of works to museums in Israel and Canada, died Aug. 29 at 99 in Tel Aviv.

She collected works by Delacroix, Corot, Pissarro, Gauguin, Rodin, Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, Chagall, Paul Klee and Giacometti, and the works of Israeli artists such as classic painters Marcel Janco, Mordecai Ardon, Reuven Rubin and Anna Ticho, as well as contemporary Israelis Ofer Lalush, Liliane Klapisch, Yigal Tumarkin and Joseph Zaritsky. She was certainly Israel's greatest collector of art and patroness of living artists. We append an  obituary.

A blogger has been in prison since March for "insulting the Army" on Facebook.  Obviously, any protest from us in Israel would do him more harm than good, but we are posting the Amnesty call for letters in the hope that our readers outside of Israel will make their displeasure known to the Egyptian authorities.

PAKISTAN: Many people have been "disappeared" since the beginning of the so-called "war on terror" in which Pakistan has become an ally of sorts of the United States.  We in Israel are again unable to help, but the rest of you, please act on this terrible matter.

UNITED STATES: It is incredible that people will kill one another just because of racism and skin color. We have a case from Mississippi in which teen agers were filmed beating up a black man and then running a vehicle over him.  They had the bad luck to commit their crime in the field of view of a security surveillance camera.   Here is a video of the story from CNN.
The difference between this story and the past is that the alleged killers are being prosecuted by a black District Attorney. It is a reversion to the dark past of the American South. We would like again to refer you to Cornell West  who points out the pernicious nature of racism in society. Titan discussed this in detail in his last blog two weeks ago and you are invited to revisit it.

LIBYA: The war in Libya seems to be winding down and many embarrassing things are coming out that should cause the great Western Democracies to blush violently. The  collaboration with Gaddafi predated his so-called rehabilitation in the wake of his pledge to help in the war on terror and his renouncing of nuclear-weapons in 2004. Kudos to the good people of  Human Rights Watch who got on the ground quickly and made sure that nothing was destroyed. There will have to be an accounting for this although the establishments are already fighting their defensive battles. We fear that a whitewash will ensue. Another aspect of the barbarity of the Gaddafi regime has come out in reports of the arrest and abuse of women.

CHINA The persecution of dissidents in China is particularly harsh in the so-called autonomous regions, Tibet and Xinjiang, which are really conquered regions where ethnic Chinese rule the indigenous populations with an iron hand.  Please join this protest for prisoners in Tibet

BURMA Despite the release of Aung Saung Suu Kyi, the repression goes on.    Please lend your voice to the protest.

Nwanaokwo Edet killed as a "witch"
CHILD WITCHES IN AFRICA  A frightful combination of superstition and Christian evangelism has led to the abuse of children denounced as "witches" in Africa.   The phenomenon is widespread and it is incumbent on the governments of Africa to put a stop to it.

POLLUTION IN AUSTRALIA : Please sign the petition to support the bill that would make polluters pay. You may be sure that if Murdoch is against it, it must be a good idea.

You will all recall the case of John Galliano who shot his filthy mouth off in Paris vilifying Jews and expressing his love and admiration for Hitler.  The courts have dealt with him, possibly a bit leniently.

In this article in Haaretz, the question is raised whether our leadership that has over the years primarily come from the military will ever be able to break the mold and change  a paradigm. The article discusses some of the disasters caused by charismatic leaders in the past.     Indeed, we are in a rut and I hope that  new leadership comes out of the civilian revolt that is happening now. We were reminded of General Stanley McChrystal who was fired by Obama for a Rolling  Stones interview.   In his biography posted on Reuters we are told  
"By McChrystal’s account, at West Point Military Academy he was “a troublemaker” who endured hundreds of hours of punishment drills for violating the   drinking ban. Once he was nearly shot by police when he organized a mock attack on a school building,  using real guns and rolled-up socks as grenades. Yet he was made a battalion commander, one of only a   dozen. He graduated in 1976 and two years later enrolled in special forces, where he discovered his true metier."
Indeed, one would like a creative general like him in the field, but please not in the corridors of political power.   When we look at our leadership and the foolish decisions that they make, one is tempted to subscribe to the theory that they are suffering from decision making fatigue.  

The quality of the decision making ability of our government shows up on the political scene.  For example, the deterioration of our relations with Turkey which could have been anticipated under the Lieberman foreign policy doctrine has reached a pathetic stage. The idiotic handling of last  year's flotilla has come home to roost. As Akiva Eldar points out, the effects of this foreign policy  blunder (one of many) may well create a situation in which Israel will be up to its neck in financial  catastrophes associated with the collapse of our international position. Indeed, those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad. There may be no source of money to implement any social changes. Of  course, we elected these characters, so presumably we deserve what is happening to us. Israel also will be in a state of political isolation from the world, as pointed out very cogently by Roger Cohen in the  NYTimes (thanks to Yosefa who pointed this article out to me.)

Social activist Anat Hoffman, pictured in Melbourne, is taking on what she calls Israel's ''holiest cow''. Photo: Rodger Cummin
Before getting on to the social protest movement, I would like to pay a tribute to a local human rights defender, an Israeli version of Erin Brokovich or Rosa Parks.  I refer to Anat Hoffman   who heads the legal arm of Reform Judaism in Israel and has fought relentlessly against social injustice and gender discrimination for many years.  She was arrested for wearing a prayer shawl and carrying a Torah scroll in public.  It shows what sort of country we are and how hard it is to bring about change.

PROTEST IN ISRAEL Last week, Pollyanna gave a full description of the big rally that took place in Tel Aviv last week. Titan and I would like, however, to expand the coverage a bit by linking you to the   Daily Kos which provides the full text of the main speech by Daphni Leef  in English. In a related article, Merav Michaeli calls on the female leadership of the protest not to succumb to the sexist  pressures exerted both by the establishment and their macho colleagues. She makes the valid point that the male leadership may cut a deal that will obtain a few paltry concessions, but a feminist voice is needed  to institute real change of the social system. Of course, we are being told that we must not break the budget. Nobody talks about increasing the budget by having employers chip in on health costs, levying corporate taxes and charging those who use and despoil the nation's resources such as the Dead Sea Corporation or the natural gas concerns. Tom Toles says it for us too:                                         

One of the many Holy Grails that physicists seek is the detection of gravitational waves.  These are perturbations in space-time, predicted by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Gravitational waves are produced when massive objects in space move violently. The waves carry the imprint of the events that cause them. Scientists already have indirect evidence that gravitational waves exist, but have not directly detected them.  When I was a graduate student at the University of Maryland in the 1960's, the professor who taught me quantum mechanics Joseph Weber was one of the people who devoted their careers to devising a means of finding gravitational waves.  There have been many spurious "detections" including a claim by the late Dror Sadeh of Tel Aviv University to have fount them in seismic records.  The book review for this week Gravity's Ghost: Scientific Discovery in the Twenty-First Century, Harry Collins, 2010 University of Chicago Press £22.50/$35.00hb 200pp  describes the history of this search.  Collins has followed it for four decades.  The review is in Physics World  and we hope you find it interesting.

In the absence of Gene Weingarten we look elsewhere for humor
Of course, we could not let you go off without some pearls of new knowledge from Andy Borowitz on the Republican Party and politics in America and a few goodies from  Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal who give us a good take on Creationism

and on the Catholic Church:

and on quantum mechanics

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