Saturday, June 14, 2014

Titan comes to cool the summer heat, yeah sure...

Titan is back with you again and would like to share something enjoyable. Ten years ago in 2004 NASA's Cassini spacecraft entered the Saturn system. As it did so, it performed its first targeted flyby of one of the planet's moons. On June 11, 2004, Cassini passed Phoebe, the largest of Saturn's outer or "irregular" moons, at an altitude of just 1,285 miles (2,068 kilometers). This was the sole close flyby of one of the outer moons of Saturn in the entire
Cassini mission.

This montage of two views is published by the Cassini team to mark the 10th anniversary of the Phoebe flyby.

For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Over a year has gone by without Miriam and 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. In line with the rant below about rape, the increasing incidence and the tolerance shown towards it by both political leaders and people in the media, Titan is referring you to the Global Fund for Women. There you can donate and also click on actions and petitions for women and girls including for protection of rape victims. In his last blog, Titan described the rape and murder of two girls in India. A state minister from Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's ruling party has described rape as a "social crime", saying "sometimes it's right, sometimes it's wrong". Titan thinks that it is always wrong despite the attitudes of Indian politicians and a columnist writing in the Washington Post, of all venues.

The great Spanish conductor died on Wednesday in Pamplona, Spain. We heard him many times with the Israel Philharmonic. He was scheduled to conduct Carmina Burana in Tel Aviv this year, but failed to appear because of his illness, which was terminal. He will be greatly missed in the concert halls of the world. The NYTimes and the Washington Post
have obituaries.

Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, leading the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in 2005. Credit Richard Termine for The New York Times

RUBY DEE 1922-2014
Ruby Dee, the film actress, died on Wednesday in New Rochelle, NY. She was also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist and activist. Ms Dee is perhaps best known for co-starring in the films A Raisin in the Sun (1961) and American Gangster (2007)
for the latter of which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She was the recipient of Grammy, Emmy, Obie, Drama Desk, Screen Actors Guild  and Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Awards as well as the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honors. Ruby Dee and her late husband Ossie Davis were well-known civil rights activists. Ms Dee was a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Delta Sigma Theta sorority and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1963, Dee emceed the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  Dee and Davis were  personal friends of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, with Davis giving the eulogy at Malcolm X's funeral in 1965. In 1970, she won the Frederick Douglass Award from the New York Urban League.

For both of these we quote the statement by the 11th century sage Rashi "חבל על דאבדין ולא משתכחין",  we mourn those whom we have lost, but they are not forgotten.


In his last blog Titan ranted about the rape and hanging of two teenage girls in India about which the politicians and media in India are being very blase. Lest we think this is something associated with Third World countries, Titan calls your attention to a column in the Washington Post by George Will in which he he says in the lead of the piece that “when [colleges and universities] make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.” Second, Will suggests that the Obama administration’s initiative on campus sexual assault is an attempt to “excavate equities from the ambiguities of the hookup culture, this cocktail of hormones, alcohol and the faux sophistication of today’s prolonged adolescence of especially privileged young adults,” arguing that young men will be railroaded in order to confirm young women’s sense that they are victims. To say that this is outrageous is to mince words. His own colleague, Alyssa Rosenberg, takes severe issue with him while Charles Pierce, writing in Esquire, correctly defines him as a thoroughgoing disgrace to the craft of journalism.
In this Feb. 24, 2014 photo University of Iowa junior Patrick Took gathers with friends during a rape and violence awareness rally on the Big Ten school’s campus in Iowa City, Iowa.  (AP Photo/Iowa City Press-Citizen, David Scrivner)

Carl Gibson,in Reader Supported News, says it better than we can. The incredible gall to demean the suffering of victims leads us to demand that that Washington Post kick Will off their op-ed pages once and for all. Gibson refers us to the hashtag #SurvivorPrivilege in which rape victims share their feelings on this subject.


In his last blog Titan discussed the two Palestinian teenagers who were gunned down by soldiers on Nakhba day. The army put out a story that live ammunition had not been used. Autopsy results now show that one of the boys, whose body was exhumed, was killed by a live bullet. The army says it is still investigating. Titan has no doubt that the boys were shot with live ammunition while they constituted no threat to anyone.
Mourners carrying the body of Palestinian teen Nadim Nuwara, who was killed in a clash with Israeli troops on May 15, during his funeral in Ramallah, May 16, 2014. Photo by AP
 The bloodlust of the occupation army is not new nor is it a secret. We send our nice kids to the army to be turned into killers. Martin Luther King defined three evils that can destroy a society, racism, materialism and militarism. Yossi Klein writing in Haaretz makes the issue clear--we will spend $150 million on a plane to chase kids throwing rocks, but the military class will balk at nothing to maintain its privileged status in Israel.

Finally our benighted Ministry of Education has mandated that middle school students be exposed to the theory of evolution. Until now it was optional and most pupils had no exposure to it as befits a backward country. Now it will be taught, but the Lord knows how the religious schools will deal with it.
 Illustration by Amos Biderman
Illustration by Amos Biderman.

We note that a religious educator in the US has confronted the issue and seems to be comfortable with it. In general, our education minister, who is supposed to be from a liberal party, is a true enemy of all progressive thinking.

In an article in Haaretz, Prof. Eva Illouz, the Hebrew University sociologist, makes that point that the failure of Israel to evolve anything that resembles a true liberal democracy lies in the inapplicability of the social techniques that enabled our survival during centuries of diaspora and persecution as a minority to our life as a majority and dominant factor in a modern state. In particular these include self-segregation, ethnic arrogance (we recall that as a child anything stupid engendered the parental reaction "goyishe kop") and a sense of essential difference. As Prof. Illuz puts it: "The profound originality of the Jews consisted in the fact that they devised a set of laws that not only helped them overcome and counter the violence of the surrounding majority, but also to stand apart from it, to resist the temptation of conversion or assimilation, by turning Jewishness into an essence which made non-Jewishness into another essence opposed to the Jewish one. Jewishness then designated a group with fixed, innate properties, above national boundaries, difficult to enter or to leave. " Her article is definitely thought-provoking and worthy of your time.

Prof. Oren Yiftachel of Ben Gurion University takes issue with her in a response that attributes the failure to the occupation and to what he calls the process of the country’s takeover − namely, its ongoing “Judaization.” He accuses Prof. Illouz of falling into what he calls the classic “ethnogratic" trap: attributing inordinate importance to what is occurring within the Jewish “bubble.” Titan also recommends his article for your consideration.

Titan thinks that both of them are right and that both factors contribute to the sorry situation in which we find ourselves. The late Prof. Yaakov Talmon said, in a lecture that we attended long ago, that a totalistic movement such as Zionism is incapable of engendering a liberal democracy. If we may quote Irving Kristol in his review of Prof Talmon's book, Two Varieties of Democracy The Rise of Totalitarian Democracy. (Beacon Press. 366 pp. 1952.) "Talmon is concerned with drawing a distinction between “liberal democracy” and “totalitarian democracy,” both of which he sees as arising in the 18th century and coming into collision in the 20th. 'Liberal democracy' regards politics as a matter of trial and error, and political systems as pragmatic contrivances; it is solicitous of individualism and recognizes that there are legitimate areas of human activity outside the realm of the political. 'Totalitarian democracy' preaches absolute truth and a messianic vision of a 'pre-ordained, harmonious and perfect scheme of things, to which men are irresistibly driven, and at which they are bound to arrive'; its politics is but one aspect of an all-embracing philosophy. Both 'liberal' and 'totalitarian' democracy affirm the value of liberty; but for the first, liberty means individual spontaneity, for the second, reconciliation to an absolute, collective purpose—a kind of self-willed slavery, in fact. Both versions of 'democracy' arose in the thinking of the 18th-century philosophes, but  'liberal democracy' retreated before the bloody attempt to establish the City of God on earth and took refuge in the matter-of-factness of Anglo American practice, while 'totalitarian democracy' culminated eventually in Stalinism."

It is clear to Titan that Israel today is a totalitarian democracy with clear Stalinistic or at least Putinistic traits. The wave of antidemocratic legislative initiatives flowing out of the Knesset indicates which way the wind is blowing. Perhaps the unexpected (and unwanted by the right) election of Reuven Rivlin as President will help stem this wave. Indeed, Rivlin is an unreconstructed right winger and settlement supporter,  but he does support liberal democracy and received the endorsement of Haaretz, the only newspaper in Israel that tells the unvarnished truth about what goes on here.

OK, we have pontificated enough and now will let you relax a bit.


 What If? Did WWII last longer than the total length of movies about WWII? For that matter, which war has the highest movie time:war time ratio?


Yosefa sent us some half-baked news from Minnesota about the demise
of the Pillsbury Doughboy. Even crusty old curmudgeons like Titan mourn the poor soul who tried to rise to every occasion.

The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and trauma complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71.

Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth , Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch. The gravesite was piled high with flours.

Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded.

Born and bread in  Minnesota , Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes.

Despite being a little flaky at times, he still was a crusty old man
and was considered a positive roll model for millions.

Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, three children: John
Dough, Jane Dough and Dosey Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart.

The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.

Wumo has a sad tale to tell.

We have long been fans of dark chocolate, of course the kind that is grown without child labor and marketed with the Fair Trade logo.

Now we have proof that it is good for your brain.

The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animations and more

The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animations and more

When the cow jumped over the moon people complained that the price of beef had reached new levels. Here is a new twist on the nursery rhyme:

Wizard of Id

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