Sunday, February 24, 2013

Favourite Oscars

Many of the media have been mildly distracted today, turning briefly away from the story of the South African athlete who shot his girlfriend towards a little awards ceremony taking place tonight in Los Angeles. I thought I'd add a little to the mix and thus present for your delectation and delight some other famous Oscars:

This is the Oscar Fish. Surely you recognise Astronotus ocellatus? It's a species of fish from the cichlid family and has many common names including Oscar, Tiger Oscar, Velvet Cichlid or Marble Cichlid.

If you are an amateur radio ham, you may have heard of the satellite OSCAR. No?

To be honest there don't seem to be any other particularly interesting Oscars. Except of course for the one and only, and my great favourite, Mr Wilde. As a teenager, I was so enamoured of him that I wrote a little poem of celebration

Am I in ernest when I say
That of puns I read as a child
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills'
Always drove me wild.

I am still waiting for the day when knowing Oscar Wilde's full name will be the answer to a vital quiz question. Meanwhile, I am always entertained by his wit. This quote seems apt for the end of this piece:

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."

Monday, February 11, 2013

More Arrests at the Kotel

Anat Hoffman wrote the following this morning:

"A unique gathering happened this morning at the Western Wall. During Women of the Wall's usual Rosh chodesh prayer service in the women's section of the Kotel, we were fortunate to be supported by some very special visitors. Veterans from the IDF's famed Paratrooper Battalion 66, the men who liberated the Western Wall in 1967, were with our supporters in the men's section. These men are living legends and among Israel's modern heroes.

It was only after the prayer service was over and the paratroopers had left that the police detained ten women, including myself, for committing the crime of wearing a tallit at the Western Wall. This group included two Conservative rabbis who were supposed to meet with Natan Sharansky today to discuss the Kotel issue, one Reform rabbinical student who is 8 months pregnant, two congregants from the Reform congregation in Kiryat Tivon, and several other women. As of this writing, we have all been released without restrictions."

This happens every month now, and perhaps it's no longer news for many people. Nevertheless these women continue to fight for our right to pray equally. Perhaps this month there may be a little more interest because there is a minor celebrity tangentially involved, i.e., the comedian Sarah Silverman, currently in London to promote her latest venture, has tweeted her support:

"SO proud of my amazing sister @rabbisusan & niece @purplelettuce95 for their ballsout civil disobedience. Ur the tits! #womenofthewall"

There is a report of the morning's events in HaAretz. Of particular interest is the quote from one of the paratroopers, Yitzhak Yifat, well known from his place in the centre of the famous photo taken at the liberation of the wall in 1967. As he stood in the men's section with other male supporters he said:

"I decided to come here to show my support for all those who wish to pray at the Kotel whatever way they wish, so long as they are not doing anything immoral ... It breaks my heart that the ultra-Orthodox have decided the Kotel belongs to them."

Happy Birthday Grand Central!

Grand Central station (officially known as Grand Central Terminal) in New York City will be 100 years old this month. It is one of my favourite places in which to wait if one has to wait for a train. I've experienced an impromptu Carly Simon concert in the main hall, walked within the giant glass windows at the far end, and am pretty sure that I once saw Kay Francis on her way to platform 220.

Happy birthday Grand Central!

Celebratory events for the year listed here.
Let Wikipedia tell you more about it.
Odd tidbits about Grand Central here.
festivities began last week - report here.
100 facts for 100 years via the Daily Beast

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Save the Bees Update

It's been a while since anything about bees appeared on this page I know. However, 2013 began with some excellent news for the bee community:  two giant DIY/garden centre companies have agreed to stop stocking products containing pesticides linked to the current decline of the bee population! Well done B&Q and Wickes ... now who shall be next?
(Read about it here.)

The insecticides in question are called neonicotinoids. And yes, they are chemically related to nicotine. No good for humans, and no good for bees. Who knew?!

UK MP's Majority Vote for Same-Sex Marriage

It's not over yet, but Equality in Marriage is one step nearer being law after it got through the first vote in the House of Commons yesterday. If you are on Facebook, you can keep up-to-date with what's happening on the Out4Marriage page here.

today's reports on the event include

The Independent
The Guardian
and even the Daily Mail eventually covered it :-)
NB the Mail includes a complete list of the MP's who voted against

Monday, February 04, 2013

UK Same-Sex Marriage Vote

Tomorrow Parliament will vote on a bill to allow same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom. Obviously the ravaj is totally for such a law. Remember this? If you agree, there is still time to contact your Member of Parliament and let them know that you would like them to represent you in this matter!

Meanwhile, I cannot decide the balance between feelings of cynical amusement and utter disgust upon hearing that the top Tories who went to Downing Street yesterday to try and talk the Prime Minister out of supporting the bill were focussing on the damage they thought it would do to the party's 2015 election prospects rather than any moral convictions they might have had. Viz the Sun headline "Tories:  Gay Marriage is Election Disaster".