Friday, August 9, 2013

Titan says Eid Sa'eed and welcome Elul

Titan wishes all our Muslim friends and readers Eid Sa'eed and reminds our Jewish friends that we are entering Elul and gearing up for Rosh Hashana.

Titan just registered for Blog Action Day October 16, 2013. Join us all fellow bloggers and take part in a huge global discussion. The theme is human rights.

For human rights we refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. As the weeks and months go by without Miriam, we continue to realize what we have lost. She got us into the human rights struggle. Please act on behalf of people who are so much in need of support in their trials and tribulations at the hands of oppressive regimes and corporations.

This week it is Titan's turn to promote a charity. His choice is Rabbis for Human Rights

and in particular their education program at the Hebrew University where they teach students about the connection between our Jewish heritage and human rights. You may donate in the currency of your choice on the English and Hebrew pages of their Web site.

Garry Davis died last week in Vermont at age 91.
Garry Davis, leader of a movement for global citizenship, died at 91. (Peter Huoppi/Burlington Free Press via Associated Press)

Only the geriatric component of our readership will recall his lifelong campaign to do away with nationalities and all the reasons why people go to war. He flew bombers over Germany in WWII and lost his brother who had served in the Navy. It was while flying over Brandenburg that he had a moment of insight, “Ever since my first mission over Brandenburg, I had felt pangs of conscience,” he wrote in a memoir. “How many bombs had I dropped? How many men, women and children had I murdered? Wasn’t there another way, I kept asking myself.” He devoted his life to the idea of creating a world free of separate national entities. Many considered him a fool, but others including Einstein, Camus and Sartre took him very seriously. The Washington Post has an obituary. It describes a unique life.


The Curiosity rover landed on Mars on August 6, 2012. It has been a great year in terms of scientific achievement and we congratulate the Mars Science Team at JPL. Let them tell you about it themselves. Read the story and watch the videos. Enjoy!


Titan has a riddle for the readers this week. What do the three men portrayed in the photographs above have in common? The prize for the correct answer is a six-pack of the beer of your choice. Titan will raffle off the prize between the correct answers arriving within a week of publication. The answer will be given in the next Titan blog. The beer can be picked up at Titan's by spacecraft owners, but can be provided to others by more conventional means.

Perseid Meteor Shower 2012: David Kingham
Night sky watcher David Kingham took this photo of the Perseid meteor shower from Snowy Range in Wyoming on August 12, 2012.
Credit: David Kingham/DavidKinghamPhotography

Prepare for the annual passage of the Earth through the residue of the tail of Comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids will be with us on the nights of August 12 and 13, 2230-0430. Find a dark place and marvel at the sky.

Last time around, Titan ranted about some aspects of the Muslim community around the world, such as jailing a rape victim, cannibalism and barbaric laws coupled with a hypersensitivity that causes them to explode in violence if someone shows disrespect for the Prophet. This week Titan is at a loss whether to rant or just laugh at the latest from the Muslim Brotherhood. It appears that the interim President of Egypt, Adly Mansour, head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, is a Jew! He is said to be a member of the Seventh Day Adventist church, which is, hold on to your hats, a Jewish sect. It would be funny if the Egyptian people were not so unfortunate as to have these people as their elected leaders. On the other hand, they elected them fair and square so perhaps too much sympathy is out of place.

Lead is a toxic metal and we have wisely removed it from many parts of our environment. The Center for Biological Diversity is fighting to remove lead from hunting ammunition because many species, especially scavenger birds, ingest the spent bullets and die from lead poisoning. It is a perfectly reasonable action and California already requires hunters to use lead-free ammunition. Needless to say the NRA as true enemies of humanity, have started a campaign to protect their "right" to use lead bullets. US readers, please sign the petition against the NRA on the link given above and Richard, thanks for calling our attention to this issue.

A recent study by a prestigious scientific panel in the US has raised the question of overdiagnosis of cancer and the danger that people are getting treatment that they do not really need. Something shows up for example on a mammogram, is examined by biopsy, declared to be cancer and maybe off comes the breast.
The panel said that some premalignant conditions found in mammograms should not be identified as “carcinoma.”
Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press The panel said that some premalignant conditions found in mammograms should not be identified as “carcinoma.” Face
We showed a PSA of 10, had a biopsy and then hormone treatment and radiation for prostate cancer that maybe was not aggressive and could have been left alone. The results of the radiation showed up six years later as real bladder cancer. Titan recommends that all read this long article carefully. Thanks to Yosefa for pointing it out.

New data obtained by electroencephalography (EEG) recordings to measure the amount of signaling occurring between brain areas in children indicate that Asperger's syndrome and autism show up in connections in different parts of the brain. This flies in the face of the new DSM that merges the two disorders as a continuum. It may be harmful to lump them together since the needs of the patients can be quite  different. This issue is far from closed.


Justin Lane/European Pressphoto Agency
Ken Kidd and other protesters at the Russian consulate in New York on July 31, rallying against a Russian law that bans “homosexual propaganda.”
The games are to take place in Sochi, Russia and there is a severe danger that gay or gay-supportive athletes can be kicked out of the games. This can happen because of the Russian anti-gay laws and, worse than that, the acquiescence of the International Olympic Committee, which is more concerned with its own internal politics than with support of the human rights of the athletes whom it is supposed to support and represent.

Titan thinks it is outrageous that Orthodox rabbis who should provide moral and spiritual leadership appear to be totally insensitive to other ethnic groups. In particular, we see that African-Americans are becoming the target of rabbinical racist slurs. The most recent is by the newly elected Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel, David Lau, who referred to professional basketball players with the Hebrew equivalent of the N-word. He is now trying to pass it off as a "joke" and one apologist even claims that the rabbi is so provincial and ignorant that he did not know that what he was saying was inappropriate. Maybe, but then think of Talleyrand who once said that stupid is worse than criminal. Rabbi Lau was trying to tell yeshiva students to stop wasting time watching basketball and to get back to their Talmud tomes. He could have said it without invoking the skin color of the players, but chose to make his point in a racist manner. We also had the worse case of Rabbi Schachter of Yeshiva University who said that sexual abuse by religious Jews should not be reported to the police immediately lest the holy soul be put in a cell with a "schwartze" which is the Yiddish equivalent. Nice moral leadership. The late Prof. Yishayahu Leibowitz who was Orthodox by persuasion but normally an enlightened person whom we admired, once referred to soccer players as hooligans with no reference to their ethnicity. The hooligans we see are not honest athletes working in the sports entertainment industry, but religious thugs with ritual fringes on the outside of their belts, who spit at little girls, send women to the back of the bus, break bus windows, beat up priests and monks and burn mosques.


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) makes a statement with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (L) and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat (R) during a press conference on the Middle East Peace Process Talks at the Department of State on July 30, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee / Getty Images)
John Kerry has got the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators back to the table after a hiatus of three years. We would like to hope that this time, with an imposed nine month deadline, something positive might come about. There are diverse opinions about how the negotiations should be conducted. Alon Ben-Meir suggests that the borders issue be dealt with on its own and then a long term process of trust building be allowed to function. On the other hand, Emily Hauser writing in the DailyBeast points out the positive side of having all the issues on the table. The fact that only Kerry will report to the public and that the negotiators will clam up is a good idea and might keep extremists from their usual sabotage. In this context, Titan would like to share an interesting article by Natasha Gill explaining and giving the historical background to the fundamental NO that the Arabs of Palestine gave to the Zionist project from its very beginning. "The Arabs said No to the idea that they should pay the price for longstanding Christian persecution of the Jews, and they expressed deep resentment at the hypocrisy of the Europeans, who were promoting a home for the Jews in Palestine as they closed their own doors to the victims of Christian/European anti-Semitism." Titan agrees that this point is valid, but today irrelevant. What happened to the Jews in Europe was not persecution. Jews have stood up to that for centuries. It was genocide, followed by the refusal of the Europeans to allow the surviving Jews to return to their homes in Europe. In Poland there were riots against the return of the Jews and the slogan was "Jews, go to Palestine." When people are driven out by ethnic cleansing such as was done in Europe, they will go wherever they can. The Arab fantasy of the Jews returning to Europe has no basis in any reasonable expectation of the future. A deeper analysis of the conflict up to 1999 is given by the late Baruch Kimmerling and  Joel Migdal in their book The Palestinian People: A History reviewed in the Guardian by Ian Gilmour The Observer, Sunday 8 June 2003.

Rabbi Moti Elon, outside the courthouse in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Moti Elon, outside the courthouse in Jerusalem. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
Rabbi Motti Elon, once head of Yeshivat Hakotel and a highly regarded religious teacher was convicted in Jerusalem Magistrate Court of two counts of sexual attack on a minor. The verdict has shaken up the religious Zionist community. Frankly, in view of what has come to light with the Haredi community in New York, we are not surprised. The fact that the investigation took three years is disappointing. Titan can only hope that the Court will impose an appropriate sentence so that this sexual marauder will not have access to young and vulnerable boys.

Women of the Wall supporters praying in the Western Wall Plaza.
Women of the Wall supporters praying in the Western Wall Plaza. Photo by Michal Fattal

The struggle for prayer rights at the Western Wall in Jerusalem goes on. Despite the court order, the police are failing to provide the women with access to the women's area of the wall which is blocked by hundreds of girls from haredi seminars. It is apparent that the courts will have to be called upon again to make the police do their duty.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett at the Knesset, July 29, 2013.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett at the Knesset, July 29, 2013. Photo by Michal Fatta
We commented above on the idiots elected by the people of Egypt when they finally got a chance for a real election. Perhaps we should retract a bit--we are not much better. As you all know, the European Union is imposing sanctions on Israeli entities connected to the illegal West Bank settlements. There has been much wringing of hands but the booby prize goes to our Minister of the Economy  Bennett who thinks that we should take steps to boycott the EU.   When a fly bites an elephant.... Israel is threatening to refuse to sign any agreements that exclude the settlements. Someone will come up with something creative, but we doubt that the Europeans will buy the usual Israbluff


What If asks What if a huge mountain—Denali, say—had the bottom inch of its base disappear? What would happen from the impact of the mountain falling 1 inch? What about 1 foot? What if the mountain's base were raised to the present height of the summit, and then the whole thing were allowed to drop to the earth? The answer is quite interesting as usual. Randall Munro has the answers.

Two weeks ago Titan tried to bring you the picture of the Earth from Saturn orbit. It somehow evaporated from the blog so here it is again.
The pale blue dot is Earth as Titan sees it
Of course when an astronomer explains this to the public it gets a bit iffy:

Pale Blue Dot

 We dedicate this to our dog Murphy who has some opinions of his own:
Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Aug/08/2013

 and this to our supporting community, in both Hofit and Kiryat Ono, who make sure that we have our emergency buttons:
Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Aug/05/2013

Finally we acknowledge the hard life of  our military people who  are now facing economic reality as the public gets fed up with their huge budgets.

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