Friday, October 21, 2011

Titan says Welcome Home to Gilad

Gilad comes home

Titan is happy along with the rest of the community to welcome Gilad Shalit home after well over five years of captivity in the hands of the Hamas.  Of course, the media and the politicians are having their usual  festival of self admiration and sentimental blah blah , but that is something that we have  learned to live with.  Itzhak Laor puts it well into perspective. Titan, Pollyanna and YandA are happy that he is home and frustrated that a) it took so long and b)no one has ever been held accountable for the failures of the army that caused him to be taken prisoner and his comrades to be killed.  Let us hope that he will be left alone, given privacy with his family and manages to get on with his life.  He is 25 years old and there is a future before him.

Much is being made of the fact that killers of Israeli civilians are being released.  Indeed, these are criminal terrorists since by all criteria deliberate attacks against civilians are crimes against humanity.  Their actions did nothing to advance the cause of Palestinian independence which would be better served by a Gandhi-Mandela-King type of nonviolent resistance. They spilled innocent blood and are now are being welcomed as heroes by  a brainwashed hate-ridden Palestinian public and the temptation to puke is very strong.   Still, something rings hollow in our remonstrations.  Are these despicable murderers substantially different from the soldier who gunned down Abir Aramin in 2007 and has enjoyed full impunity with the backing of the Army since then?  Why are they worse than the air crew  and the chain of command above them who dropped a one ton bomb on an apartment building and killed 15 innocents including 11 children?   Does it really matter whether a terrorist is in uniform or not?  The Palestinian terrorists did do some tough jail time. Dan Halutz went to Harvard and now wants to enter politics.

Titan would like, however, to get on with his traditional matters. Scientists have long known that the lower atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan contains organic aerosols, or tholins, formed from simple organic molecules, such as methane and nitrogen. Researchers had assumed these tholins formed at altitudes of several hundred kilometers, but new information gathered by three particle spectrometers aboard the Cassini spacecraft shows tholin formation happens in Titan's atmosphere at altitudes greater than 1,000 kilometers.The results also show tholins form differently than previously thought

Scientists at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), the University of Kansas, University College London and The University of Texas at San Antonio reported results of the observations in the paper "The Process of Tholin Formation in Titan's Upper Atmosphere," published in the May 11 2007 issue of  Science.. "Tholins are very large, complex organic molecules thought to include chemical precursors to life," said Dr. Hunter Waite, an Institute scientist in SwRI's Space Science and Engineering Division, and leader of Cassini's Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) team. "Understanding how they form could provide valuable insight into the origin of life in the solar system." 

We start with China where the atomization of society by the regime can lead to dehumanizing of people.  A toddler was run over in a narrow market place street and people just walked or biked past in total indifference.  I do not think this degree of inhumanity is specifically Chinese.  It does not even require a dictatorship as anyone old enough to remember the Kitty Genovese murder knows.  She was stabbed to death while  38 people people in Queens looked on and did nothing to save her.  It is known now as the Kitty Genovese syndrome .  The degree of apathy and lack of empathy in modern society is frightening.

Another issue in China is the way people are treated after their release from prison.  The punishment does not end at the prison gate.  We call your attention to the case of Chen Guangcheng and and his wife Yuan Weijing 
who are being held in arbitrary house arrest by the authorities in his home village.  Please take a minute to click and act on their behalf

One might have expected that the regime that toppled Qaddafi would itself be supportive of human rights.  We are finding the opposite to be true.  The apparently arbitrary execution of Qaddafi himself

does not bode well for the future.  In our opinion, he should have been brought to trial in The Hague for his crimes against humanity. The new regime is detaining people, executing them arbitrarily and in general putting a  terrible stain on its first steps towards, we hope, establishing democracy in that long-suffering country.  Shlomo Avineri, the political scientist with much experience with post-totalitarian states, has often pointed out that it is nearly impossible to set up democracy in the absence of a traditional connection to it.  He most recently cites Egypt and Russia , but apparently the idea holds for Libya as well, which is indeed sad.  The counterexample that comes to mind is postwar Japan where democracy was imposed by the occupying power, the USA.  I wonder what Avineri has to say about that.  It is also not clear how Iraq will navigate the post Saddam era.  You might find this debate in print on the subject of democracy in Iraq interesting.

Seven thousand Suzuki workers in India are being abused by their employer and have been fired upon by police.  Please act on this along with the other labor issues mentioned in the letter from Eric Lee.

First, Suzuki broke its agreement. Now shots have been fired at strikers, and the government has called the strike "illegal"
Just as this blog was being published we got the delightful news that the international uproar worked and the company has settled with the workers.  This is a great victory for the solidarity of workers and unions around the globe.

Recently Uri Avneri wrote an article in which he made the point that our history has so warped our identity and character that we, as Jews, are incapable of creating a  democratic nation state that would satisfy the expectations of the modern world.  He attributed this both to the historic past and to the Holocaust and its long term influence on our mentality, our distrust of the "other" and of an overreaching supranational solidarity that places a Jew in Vancouver in a privileged position relative to any non-Jewish citizen living in Um el Fahm or Issefiya.  He thinks we need a second Herzl to set us on the right path.   It is interesting food for thought, although I do not agree with all of his contentions.  I think the plight of democratic values and the takeover by the settlers and the right in Israel derive from an absence of democratic tradition (vid. Avineri above) in the host countries of Jews, both in North Africa and in Eastern Europe.  The democracy that existed here in the early decades had its source in the Jews from Western European countries, most notably Weimar Germany, who have long passed on to their reward.  I do not think that we are on our way to classical Fascism as in Germany and Italy because we do have an ideology and we do not have a charismatic leader who can impose his will as Hitler and Mussolini could.  We are on our way to a much more authoritarian regime as can be seen in the anti democratic laws and initiatives.  R.O. Paxton points out (vid. THE ANATOMY OF FASCISM By Robert O. Paxton. New York: Alfred A. Knopf,) that  fascism requires a charismatic leader and a lack of real ideology.   This review from the NYTimes, by Samantha Powers will serve as our book review of the week. How this connects up to us in a cultural sense is another important issue.  Saul Bellow discusses his identity as a Jewish writer in a two part series in the NY Review of Books.  Part One has been published and is worthy of attention.

Let us wind up with a report on some criminal activity that should be dealt with firmly...

We also have good advice from  Goldman Sachs via Andy Borowitz on how we all can profit from Occupy Wall Street.  We hope that now that the holidays are ending our protesters will return to the streets and be part of the worldwide protest against capitalism run amuck.


  1. Hi Arkee

    1. The Palestinian prisoners are being welcomed by an occupation-ridden public, not necessarily a hate-ridden or brainwashed public.

    2. It should be noted that some of these prisoners committed legitimate acts against armed Israelis, and should not be labelled "terrorists".

    3. Many armed struggles for liberation have been effective. This option shouldn't be ruled out altogether (although some specific acts should be ruled out).



  2. Yes Ofer resistance to the military occupation is legitimate accord to Geneva IV. The bomb in the Sbarro restaurant or a Petach Tikva shopping center is a crime against humanity. I oppose the occupation as much as you, but the point I am making is that including criminals against civilians was something we had to swallow, but the inclination to vomit is still there. I also point out that Halutz and the Sbarro bomber are flip sides of the same coin, to which you certainly agree. The difference is that Halutz did not die.