Friday, March 6, 2015

Titan says Happy Purim to all his friends

Titan wishes a Happy PURIM to all who celebrate it.

Image result for purim
The holiday celebrates a victory of the good guys (us) over the bad guys (them) in ancient Persia. The story tells of a bad guy Haman who wanted to kill all the Jews in the kingdom, a good guy Mordechai who foiled him and a heroic Jewish woman Esther who just happened to be the Queen of Persia whose sangfroid and brains turned things around, so that the Jews took a heavy toll of their enemies and Haman and his ten sons were hanged. Kids dress up as characters in the story or whatever, we are commanded to get drunk for the occasion and a good time is had by all. The Book of Esther is read in the synagogue and the children are supposed to make a loud noise to boo Haman whenever his name is mentioned. Special triangular cakes are baked usually with poppy seed. They are known in Israel as Haman's ears and in the Ashkenazi Diaspora as Hamantaschen, i.e. pockets.
Cheers for the good guys. Michael Kagan, blogging in the Times of Israel, gives us a more serious view of the story in the context of long term history.

Titan also notes that March 8 is International Women's Day. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is the clarion call of UN Women’s Beijing+20 campaign “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!” -

There have been many achievements since Beijing 1995, but many gaps remain.

For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Over two years have 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 Titan refers you again to the Malala Fund for the providing of educational opportunities to girls worldwide.  We salute Malala who survived a gunshot attack and has gone on to be an icon for girls throughout the Third World.


We have three deaths to mark, one natural, one by accident and one by murder

Boris Nemtsov 1959-2015

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Nemtsov was a leader of the opposition movement in Russia. He was murdered on a bridge in Moscow very near the Kremlin. Suspicion falls on Putin and his government. Thousands attended his funeral.
Boris Nemtsov march

People march in memory of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow Photograph: Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

While few in the Russian elite came to Nemtsov’s funeral, some European politicians who traveled to Russia to attend were banned from entering the country, apparently as part of reciprocal sanctions imposed in response to western bans on Russian officials over the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine. The speaker of the Polish senate, Bogdan Borusewicz , was refused entry, as was Latvian MEP Sandra Kalniete , the country’s former foreign minister. Kalniete said she spent the night in the transit zone at Moscow’s Sheremetevo airport. She was sent back to Brussels early on Tuesday morning.

Russia’s foreign ministry confirmed the politician was banned, for her “anti-Russian activities”. A spokesman for the ministry said Latvian authorities had been warned of the ban, so her visit was a “provocation”.

Martin Schulz, president of the European parliament, said the bans were “being applied without the slightest element of reasoning or any forewarning” and were a “high affront” to Europe.

We may never know who was behind the murder. In such cases it is useful to ask cui bono? An obituary and evaluation may be found in the Guardian.

Bob Simon 1941-2015 

Bob Simon, the veteran CBS 60 Minutes correspondent, has been killed in a New York car accident.
Bob Simon, the veteran CBS 60 Minutes correspondent, was killed in a New York car accident. Photograph: Andy Kropa/Invision/AP

 The famous CBS news correspondent was killed in a traffic accident in New York. He had an illustrious career,  including being  a fixture on 60 Minutes, and served in many parts of the world, including Israel and the Occupied Territories.  He was captured by the Iraqis in the first Gulf war and held by them along with his team for over a month.

In Iraq

  An obituary is to be found in the NYTimes.

Leonard Nimoy 1932-2015

The famous actor,who made TV history as Mr. Spock, the half-Vulcan on Star Trek, died of  chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition he attributed to a smoking habit he had given up approximately 30 years earlier.
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Nimoy's greatest prominence came from his Spock role . It is considered one of the most popular alien characters ever portrayed on television. Biographer Dennis Fischer notes that television viewers admired Spock's "coolness, his intelligence," and his ability to take on successfully any task. As a result, he adds, Nimoy's character "took the public by storm," nearly eclipsing the star of the show, William Shatner's Captain Kirk. Nimoy and Shatner, who portrayed his commanding officer, became close friends during the years the show was on television, and were "like brothers," said Shatner. Star Trek was broadcast from 1966 to 1969. Nimoy earned three Emmy Award nominations for his work on the program.

While he was best known for his portrayal of the green-tinted Spock, Nimoy more recently made his mark with art photography, focusing on plus-sized nude women in a volume called "The Full Body Project" and on nude women juxtaposed with Old Testament tales and quotes from Jewish thinkers in "Shekhina." 
From Shekhina

He also directed films, wrote poetry and acted on the stage. An obituary can  be found in the Los Angeles Times.


Titan would like to share with you the story of a young black German woman, Jennifer Teege. She is coming to Israel soon for the   launch of the Hebrew translation of her book about her grandfather Amon Goeth, a notorious Nazi war criminal, who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews when he served as commander of a concentration camp at  Plaszow in Poland,

Jennifer Teege / Amon Goeth    

Jennifer Teege-Amon Goeth
The story is complex and fascinating. Titan will not spoil it for you with any more details.


There are, as usual, countless things to rant and rave about. This week, however, Titan will take up only two issues. The first is the publication of the Annual Report on Human Rights  in the World from Amnesty International. This document contains a detailed report, country by country, of the devastating effects of conflict, oppression and prejudice. We quote Salil Shetty, the Secretary-General of Amnesty International: "We must hope that, looking backward to 2014 in the years to come, what we lived through will be seen as an ultimate low point from which we rose up and created a better future."
The other issue is the document, linked above,  put out by the UN in honor of International Women's Day in which the failure of all of us to provide equal human rights to women is made clear, along with some positive comments on progress. In this context, Titan, in contrast to his usual conduct, is asking you to sign a petition calling on the governments who have not done so to criminalize marital rape.


Along with sperm, the in vitro procedure adds fresh mitochondria extracted from less mature cells in the same woman's ovaries. The hope is to revitalize older eggs with these extra "batteries." But the FDA still wants proof that the technique works and is safe.
Along with sperm, the in vitro procedure adds fresh mitochondria extracted from less mature cells in the same woman's ovaries. The hope is to revitalize older eggs with these extra "batteries." But the FDA still wants proof that the technique works and is safe.
Chris Nickels for NPR
About a month ago, Titan told you about the 3-parent baby technique just legalized in Britain. Mitochondria from a healthy woman are transplanted to the egg of a woman whose defective mitochondria prevent her from conceiving. Now a Canadian clinic is offering a new technique in which mitochondria from the same woman are transplanted to her ovum which is then fertilized in vitro. The idea is that younger ova have better mitochondria than a mature ovum. It is likened to replacing batteries in a flashlight. In the linked site, the pros and cons are discussed in detail. The FDA has not yet approved it for the USA and it is quite expensive. It is, as you may conclude from reading the post from NPR, quite controversial and there certainly are ethical considerations involved.


For those who loved the fantasy world of Tolkien, the new novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant, will be a delight. Ishiguro won the Mann Booker prize in 1989 for The Remains of the Day. His latest, his first novel in ten years, ventures into a shadowy realm of the gap in the historical record, argued over by archaeologists and historians, about what happened in Britain after the Roman occupation.
Illustration by Jonathan Edwards
Illustration by Jonathan Edwards

The book appears tantalizing and Titan will read it when next an interplanetary postal service gets to his neighborhood. Terrans might do better. The book is reviewed in the Guardian by Tom Holland. An interview and profile of the author are given by Alex Clark, also in the Guardian.


We in Israel have survived the Netanyahu speech in the US Congress and for the moment we are still here. Titan will spare you the speech, but will share the Jon Stewart dismantling of it with you:

 Mike Lukovich does a good job as well, with a reference to an
American soap opera:

Mike Luckovich Cartoon for Mar/05/2015

In an editorial Haaretz points out how much the attention given to Iran, personal rivalries etc., are distracting attention from the real existential threat to Israel, the Occupation and all that it entails.


As Women's Day approaches, we take a look at a few instances showing the treatment of women in Israel.

Leaders of women's organizations who are setting up a conference on polygamy have received threats but vow to go on with the event, which focuses on the Bedouin in the south.
Bedouin women (illustrative).
Bedouin women (illustrative). Photo by Itzik Ben-Malchi

The conference is scheduled for early next week at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Be’er Sheva. Because of the run-up to the election, it has become a sensitive issue. The organizers do not deny that the timing is linked to the fact that two men on the Arab community’s Joint List ticket are in polygamous marriages in violation of the law. Titan wishes the ladies luck and a safe conference.

A woman soldier reported having been raped in Tel Aviv.   She did not return to her base when her sick leave concluded, claiming she was in distress, and was AWOL for five days. For this she was tried and sentenced to 10 days in military prison. The incident was reported on TV and once there was some negative publicity out about the "most moral army in the world," the girl was released at once. Now there are calls from high places and the media to put her commanders on trial for their behavior. Do not hold your breath, the human garbage who chose military careers have gotten away with murder. This is small change.


What If?  asks: I have had a particular problem for as long as I can remember. Any time I attempt to heat left over Chinese food in a microwave, it fails to heat completely through somewhere. Usually the center but not always and usually rice, but often it will be a small section of meat. It's baffling and has made me automatically adjust heating times to over 2 minutes. In most cases this tends to heat the bowl or plate more than the food. So I suppose the question is what is the optimal time to heat left over Chinese food in the microwave, how about an 800 watt microwave?

The answer is interesting--

If any of you still believe in homeopathy, Randall has some advice:

We feel a strong identification with beloved Grandpa and he is usually right:

Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Mar/02/2015

WUMO present an interesting logistical problem. We give you the link only because of copyright threats.

We love our high-tech phones.

Dustin Cartoon for Mar/03/2015

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