Saturday, May 31, 2008

j.r.simplot r.i.p.

mister simplot was definitely not one of the world's nicest men. he fell foul of the law a couple of times for tax fraud and manipulating the stock market. i must, however, note his passing, for this man was known as the spud king of america. as you may or may not know, my grandmother's grandmother was from minsk - the potato capital of all the russias. i have a genetic love for this tuber. yahoo states in its obituary that:

"He all but invented the first commercially viable frozen french fries in the world."

actually, i am not sure whether to laud him or blame him :-)

more schadenfreude

a winning entry from the grauniad photoshopping blog brought a smile to my face and energy to my recovery :-)

Monday, May 26, 2008

from peter brookes, a british political cartoonist

it is often strange to be an american with a european upbringing living in the usa , or maybe it just makes it easier to hate myself. seeing the way the current political situation is portrayed is both depressing and amusing. o well, at least this inspired me to look up some robert burns poetry:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!

the end of to a louse.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

a deodorant by any other name will smell

unilever wants to make more money, pots more money, so the company has decided to try and make 3 billion asians feel self-conscious about the way they smell. omg. this story in the times has got me spitting (unlisterined spit i should mention) spitting mad.

"Russell Taylor, global vice-president for Axe, the Unilever-made deodorant marketed as Lynx in Britain, said that no one had yet found a way of making Asians self-conscious about body odour. “Asia is a market we have never really cracked. They don’t think they smell, but people everywhere smell,” he said. He said that the region was a billion-pound opportunity – “the last empty space on the map”. He estimated that only 7 per cent of Asians used a deodorant, with consumption in India virtually nil, and his team is dreaming up advertisements that will induce shame about sweat stains and odour across the region."

and the shareholders looooooove russell taylor. i suppose in a capitalist world these guys are free to have a shot, and we consumers are free to say no. yeah, right. the article refers to the russian market:

"“Attracting a man is fundamental to Russian women so we told them, ‘If you don’t use a deodorant, you won’t look beautiful’,” Mr Taylor said. Unilever also tapped into the competitive spirit of Russian women in PR campaigns, which pointed out how little deodorant Russians used compared with their neighbours in Eastern Europe. “They took even more offence when they were told they used less than British women.”"

excuse me please, i need to go find a bucket ...

just like everyone else

from the scandalmongering pages of the mail on sunday come the latest "details" of jodie foster's breakup with her partner cydney. the mail claims that jodie has fallen for the soon-to-be-ex partner of melanie mayron (the cute jewish photographer from 'thirtysomething' with the unfortunate sartorial penchant for braces (us translation: suspenders)), cindy mort:

"‘It’s not easy to be dumped for the most famous lesbian in Hollywood. It is the biggest lesbian love scandal to grip this town in years.’"


Friday, May 23, 2008

lunchbreak at the building site

... or pandas rescued from the wolong reserve take time out for a bit of a snack. guess who has been checking out the bbc pictures of the day?!

german bees

not that i wish to bee boring, but news just in from germany that the bee population there has dropped by 25%. is anybody listening?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

what's that? a yankees win?!

darrell rasner pitches against the orioles

in last place, and seven and one half games behind the dread red sox, the yankees haven't had a very good may. as always, it is the pitching that seems to be the problem, although a lack of run support may also have something to do with it. however, a-rod is back, and the lesser-known mr. rasner is now 3-0 with this shut-out. a day of sporting cheer for the ravaj!

joba preserves the shutout

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

ultimate schadenfreude

poor old john terry slipped as he took his penalty

cannot help it. my reaction to manure's european cup final win on penalties with drogba being sent off as well just proves how shallow i am. the scummers lost and i, along with all my qpr friends, am ecstatic. football transcends reason once again.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

pics of panda rescue

some of the devastation near the wolong reserve

the pandas were terrified and had to be coaxed down

most of them were saved - only 3 reported missing

Monday, May 19, 2008

being sad

so i talked to my rav the other day. the rav of ravaj put it to me straight. people you love die, and it hurts like hell, and you keep going. why? because that's what you do. it is all you can do. and you do it again the next time. and again. and again and again.

in the middle of all this, i watch a doctor who episode about agatha christie and an alien lifeform and rather enjoy it; i buy some packs of baseball cards and pick out the red sox ones to trade with the 3rd graders for their yankees rejects; i eat mango someone else (or a machine) has peeled and sliced; i play scramble on facebook and i listen to a novelty record by david bowie ('the laughing gnome'). and now and then i cry.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

it has ceased to be

the dead parrot that john cleese tried to return to the pet shop turns out to have really existed. a fossil expert in norfolk, england, has discovered evidence that parrots lived in scandinavia 55 million years ago. read about it here.

"Michael Palin was amused when told about the discovery, saying: “All I can say is that it just shows that nothing is original.”"

pandas can anticipate earthquakes?

the ny times reported yesterday that the pandas in the wolong nature reserve in chengdu "were agitated and pacing" just before the earthquake. so far it would appear that while the human toll is utterly horrific - over 50,000 deaths currently estimated - no dead pandas have been found. the story of the escape of both humans and pandas is recorded in the article. *sigh*

an introduction to janis ian

janis ian last night in concord mass

at one point janis said that sometimes she wonders why she is not more famous, like joan baez. all i can say is thank goodness she is nothing like joan baez (you may remember i have a particular dislike for this woman based on her effing and blinding me in front of a packed hammersmith odeon). janis has a great sense of humour, and sang gentle and beautiful folkie songs plus a cool cover of 'love me do' by the beatles. this was my first exposure to any of her music except for the famous song ('at 17') and i had a very pleasant evening. i did not fall madly in love with her like my dear friend lg, but i am also in a bit of an emotional limbo right now as i come to terms with the loss of janet. i did notice that i was probably one of the youngest people there, which was utterly strange.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

a plaque

my dear departed father now has a plaque on the door of the leo baeck college library at the sternberg centre in london. it was affixed earlier this week, and the mother of ravaj was there to observe the affixation. hurrah.

ps after consultation with the mother of, i have learned that the plaque is not on a door but rather the end of a stack of bookshelves within the library. it is a custom of the college so to do.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

janet kohen r.i.p.

the marx sisters, purim 2003

many times i have blogged obituaries of interesting women about whom i had never previously heard. today i write with tears dripping all over my keyboard about an amazing woman that i knew well. she only died today, and the funeral will be tomorrow, so this will not be an obituary. i just wanted, ok, needed to say out loud that my friend janet was a mensch, and the world is poorer for her departure. later i might share stories of her strength and her kindness. today i mourn wife, parent, grandparent and dear dear friend. tomorrow we bury the vessel that was her body. may her soul be enfolded by the wings of shechinah.

rabbi albert h friedlander z"l

ahf by kitaj

yesterday, hrhg would have been 81 years old. this is a drawing kitaj tore out of his notebook (and apparently he did not usually do that). it is in the hall to the left of the front door, so it is one of the first and last things one sees upon entering or leaving the flat. *sigh*

manure on top

cristiano ronaldo puts utd in the lead vs wigan

in the end, the title goes to manchester, and i have to admit that the pics of the grieving chelski fans broadcast on sky alongside the triumph at the jjb stadium were quite enjoyable. schadenfreude got the better of me!

Friday, May 09, 2008

a weepie for you

ok the presentation by sportscenter is full of schmaltz, but the story is worth suffering the oil. tip o' the keyboard to ms snarker for posting this vid and story about the soul of sport. a young woman hits her first-ever home run, and tears her acl running the bases. the umpire rules none of her team may touch her, and if a sub goes in then the home run becomes a single. nu - two players from the opposing team pick her up and carry her round the bases so she will get her homer. brought at least three tears to my left eye. watch it. go on, watch it and weep :-)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

to be or not to be

yes a cultural reference but not to the famous soliloquy from hamlet but rather to my all-time-ever-most-thoroughly favourite movie starring jack benny and carole lombard as poland's greatest shakespearean actors. my thoughts were drawn to it just now because of a reference by dick cavett in his latest ny times column:

"Or maybe you know and revere as I do the classic Jack Benny/Carole Lombard/Ernst Lubitsch comedy “To Be or Not to Be.” (If you’ve never seen it, first things first: forget reading this and rent it.) I chose it as one of my all-time favorite films when it was my night to do so on Turner Classic Movies, getting to sit alongside the all-knowing and distinguished Robert Osborne."

wiki notes: "The film flopped upon its release, mainly because the American audience of the time was shocked at what they perceived as a film poking fun at the Nazis' 1939 invasion of Poland. They were especially offended by Colonel Earhardt's line: "Oh, yes I saw him [Tura] in 'Hamlet' once. What he did to Shakespeare we are now doing to Poland"."

do not, i repeat, DO NOT be fooled into watching mel brooks' remake. ok, the first scene where he and anne bancroft sing 'sweet georgia brown' in polish is passable. after that, however, it is a travesty of my beloved lubitsch creation. it's like he was trying to do 'springtime for hitler' all over again, and it does not work. i do not know how many times i have said this (worrying i blogged this a couple of years ago and am repeating myself). mel has made lots of lovely films. this is not one of them. listen to dick cavett. and listen to me!

the asteroid of wrath

from the times at the end of march:

"A clay tablet that has baffled scientists for 150 years has been identified as a witness’s account of the asteroid suspected of being behind the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Researchers who cracked the cuneiform symbols on the Planisphere tablet believe that it recorded an asteroid thought to have been more than half a mile across. The tablet, found by Henry Layard in the remains of the library in the royal place at Nineveh in the mid-19th century, is thought to be a 700BC copy of notes made by a Sumerian astronomer watching the night sky. He referred to the asteroid as “white stone bowl approaching” and recorded it as it “vigorously swept along”.

Using computers to recreate the night sky thousands of years ago, scientists have pinpointed his sighting to shortly before dawn on June 29 in the year 3123BC. About half the symbols on the tablet have survived and half of those refer to the asteroid. The other symbols record the positions of clouds and constellations. In the past 150 years scientists have made five unsuccessful attempts to translate the tablet.

Mark Hempsell, one of the researchers from Bristol University who cracked the tablet’s code, said: “It’s a wonderful piece of observation, an absolutely perfect piece of science.” He said the size and route of the asteroid meant that it was likely to have crashed into the Austrian Alps at Köfels. As it travelled close to the ground it would have left a trail of destruction from supersonic shock waves and then slammed into the Earth with a cataclysmic impact. Debris consisting of up to two thirds of the asteroid would have been hurled back along its route and a flash reaching temperatures of 400C (752F) would have been created, killing anyone in its path. About one million sq km (386,000 sq miles) would have been devastated and the impact would have been equivalent to more than 1,000 tonnes of TNT exploding.

Dr Hempsall said that at least 20 ancient myths record devastation of the type and on the scale of the asteroid’s impact, including the Old Testament tale of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the Ancient Greek myth of how Phaeton, son of Helios, fell into the River Eridanus after losing control of his father’s sun chariot. The findings of Dr Hempsall and Alan Bond, of Reaction Engines Ltd, are published in a book, A Sumerian Observation of the Köfels’ Impact Event. The researchers say that the asteroid’s impact would explain why at Köfels there is evidence of an ancient landslide 5km wide and 500m thick.

Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of Heaven; and he overthrew those cities and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities . . . [Abraham] looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and beheld, and lo, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.

Source: Genesis 19:24-28"

how does it make me feel when another scientific proof is discovered for an event previously considered by many to be an act of god? i certainly have no great need to know for sure whether it is one or the other. i also have no interest in a war between science and religion - for me they may co-exist peacefully. i do think it is kind of cool that people today have managed to crack a code of cuneiform symbols and understand a message from the past. kind of like someone in the year 5008 figuring out what a txt msj mns. or not.

cecilia colledge r.i.p.

for those of us who are ice-skating fans, i'd just like to note the passing of cecilia colledge. i'd never heard of her until reading her obit in the telegraph. it tells us:

"Cecilia Colledge, who died in Massachusetts on April 12 aged 87, was one of the finest exponents of British figure skating. She was world champion in 1937, British champion on five occasions (1935, 1936, 1937, 1938 and 1946) and thrice European champion (1937 to 1939 inclusive). She is credited with inventing the camel and layback spins, and the one-foot axel jump, to which she gave her name. She was also the first woman to execute a double salchow, when she performed it at the European championships in Berlin in 1936"

so would that axel jump be called the colledge or the cecilia?

could it bee?

am catching up on the latest season of doctor who. in two separate episodes now donna has mentioned the disappearance on earth of the bees. am wondering if this is a hint for a future episode.

o i do enjoy doctor who. and torchwood. maybe torchwood a little more because there are more welsh accents and of course eve myles. i do not watch much tv these days, but these are two programmes to which i always look forward.

nu - as my thesis professor doctor d. always says - bee good.

happy 60th birthday israel!

yesterday we observed yom hazikaron, and remembered all those who have died in order to preserve our right to a country of our own. today we celebrate the birthday of that country. i will not contradict any arguments that mistakes have been made along the way, by all parties concerned. i have, however, come to realise that i will not abandon the beliefs that israel has a right to exist; and that no matter what happens elsewhere in the world, there is one country to which jews may always return.

poor old gordon brown

why is it that nice, decent, kind intelligent people find it so hard to succeed in leadership positions in the modern western world? in the us reform rabbinate, it has finally been realised that it is almost impossible to succeed in a post immediately following a charismatic leader, and now they try to place temporary rabbis to bridge the gap. poor old gordon brown just jumped right in there. and now look at how things are :-( i feel rather sorry for him.

avram at auschwitz

grant and his family observe yom ha-shoah

a story in the telegraph by yakov ziv lifted from ma'ariv attempts to balance the continuing media attacks on avram grant and his personality and abilities. while i believe ma'ariv printed it in the context of yom ha-shoah, the telegraph seems to be offering it up as another perspective in the continual comparisons with jose 'the special one' mourinho:

"Avram Grant is a totally different person to the one portrayed in the media. To see him as the opposite to Jose Mourinho is a big mistake. He knows as much about football as his glamorous Portuguese counterpart but he also knows how to make allies of people. On the surface he looks dull, unimaginative, sour, grim - seemingly the most worried man on earth. But to see him back in Israel is to see a different man. He likes laughing, he likes good humour, he likes the good life. But don't underestimate his ambition. For an Israeli football manager to be leading Chelsea is like walking on the moon or finding a new planet. To understand his determination one has to understand his family's background. His 80-year-old father, Meir, is a Holocaust survivor and his whole life has been influenced by the horrific experiences his father suffered during the Nazi Holocaust."

either way, i am still in conflict about for whom i am rooting. while grant has already done more than his predecessor in europe, calls for his head do not stop ringing. it will be an interesting european cup final to watch! i'd better have a good supply of baby aspirin on standby in case my heart gets too excited.

puh-leez (part 43)

recently from the bbc:

"Lesbos islanders dispute gay name
By Malcolm Brabant

Campaigners on the Greek island of Lesbos are to go to court in an attempt to stop a gay rights organisation from using the term "lesbian". The islanders say that if they are successful they may then start to fight the word lesbian internationally. The issue boils down to who has the right to call themselves Lesbians. Is it gay women, or the 100,000 people living on Greece's third biggest island - plus another 250,000 expatriates who originate from Lesbos?

The man spearheading the case, publisher Dimitris Lambrou, claims that international dominance of the word in its sexual context violates the human rights of the islanders, and disgraces them around the world. He says it causes daily problems to the social life of Lesbos's inhabitants. In court papers, the plaintiffs allege that the Greek government is so embarrassed by the term Lesbian that it has been forced to rename the island after its capital, Mytilini. An early court date has now been set for judges to decide whether to grant an injunction against the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece and to order it to change its name. A spokeswoman for the group has described the case as a groundless violation of freedom of expression, and has pledged to fight it.

The term lesbian originated from a mythological goddess and poet called Sappho, who was a native of Lesbos. Sappho expressed her love of other women in poetry written during the 7th Century BC. But according to Mr Lambrou, new historical research has discovered that Sappho had a family, and committed suicide for the love of a man. "

not v. articulate at the moment but my most intelligent response to this especially the last part is yeah, right. don't these people have something else to do with this energy? i hear the nation of myanmar could do with some help ...

Monday, May 05, 2008

diana barnato walker r.i.p.

the story of another incredible woman - diana barnato walker was the first woman to break the sound barrier. the telegraph obit is one of the finer ones, containing many amusing and impressive vignettes. my favourites include:

"she described an occasion when, delivering a Spitfire, she decided to try some aerobatics but got stuck upside down: “While I was wondering what to do next, from out of my top overall pocket fell my beautifully engraved silver powder compact. It wheeled round and round the bubble canopy like a drunken sailor on a wall of death, then sent all the face powder over everything.”"

"The two girls were brought up by their mother and an army of nannies and governesses in a large house on Primrose Hill, but often went to stay with their father, who indulged them by allowing them to stay up late for dinner. Once Diana was placed next to Dudley “Benjy” Benjafield, the 1927 winner of Le Mans with SCH “Sammy” Davis. Noticing that her neighbour was nodding off into his soup, Diana politely tapped his bald head with her spoon. Later he presented her with a fine cashmere scarf for “saving” him from drowning."

"One evening in 1963 in the mess at RAF Middleton St George, the Wing Commander Flying, John Severgne, idly suggested that Diana might like to fly one of the RAF’s new supersonic Lightnings. She jumped at the chance and on August 26 1963, following clearance from the Ministry of Defence, she took off and reached a speed of Mach 1.65 (1,262 mph), making her the first woman to break the sound barrier."

another amazing aviatrix - may she rest in peace!

grauniad obit

Sunday, May 04, 2008

the season is over

rowly sees red

the season is over and the game was pretty much over after rowly was sent off for a clumsy tackle that may have deserved a booking but not a sending off. game over. season over. roll on august!

gazza gives his all

fanfare flop

the new club crest

after all the build-up over the past week about how this is the start of a new era, with the wildest rumour being that zinedine zidane would be revealed as the new qpr manager, it turned out to be only the introduction of a new club crest. *sigh* and in typical qpr fashion, when flavio made the announcement from the pitch, the awful tannoy system failed him. someone is going to find a horse's head in their bed tonight. finally, poor old zesh rainman is the core of our defence today, against a team about to win the league and move up to the premiership. am not very optimistic.

ps on the qpr listserve, mention has been made of how it is not difficult to look at this logo and see fallopian tubes and ovaries