Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Radio Kiyev

Blood was spilt today,” said  Yankovich.  “We are with one foot in the door of a civil war. The Kiev junta has issued a criminal order to use armed forces."  CIA director John Brennan (pic) visited Ukraine and it was after the meeting that Kiev ordered the military operation. Brennan “de facto sanctioned” the use of weapons and thus provoked the bloodshed, Yanukovich said.
Dimitriy Medvedev says that the Ucrainian situation is very sad. The civil war has started... 
На Украине снова пролилась кровь. Страна в предчувствии гражданской войны. Это очень печально. Причина украинской трагедии в том, что законная власть даже не пыталась сохранить правопорядок в регионах страны, когда там начались захваты административных учреждений. Поэтому такую власть умножили на ноль. А нелегитимные правители, напротив, надеются восстановить тот порядок, который они сами цинично попрали, придя к власти в результате вооруженного мятежа....

Solving the Reinvestment Riddle

It  was a most boring Passover Seder (Pic.: Yemeni Jews a century ago).  Half of the table were "Nature Lovers" (Eat no murdered animals, no eggs, no cheese, no fish, no vegetable oil. Much lettuce.)

Today is stock exchange holiday. Having counted my (digital) gold coins, I see it's dividend season and they have bred, posing me the reinvestment riddle.

It's Krugman's world here: Central Banks are creating credit to frighten off depression. Henry Dampier has also noticed that...

...the current boom ...  has been driven by low interest rates and money-printing on the part of worldwide central banks. Part of the reason why this has been concealed is that, unlike the more recent housing bubble in the US, the inflation (creation of credit and cash) has been channeled mostly into stock markets both public and private.     .....    Because most Americans are reprobates incapable of saving much money, this has isolated most of the gains through printing to the upper middle class and higher.

Reprobates are those wicked beyond salvation in the Calvinist doctrine. Since I'm no Calvinist, I should benefit from the boom. My logic is impeccable: Expanding into riskier sectors (like pharma start ups) is rational and right. Israeli startups will continue to be lavishly financed by foreign funds as well as the newly rich (thanks the Leviatan gas field) State of Israel.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Eating tape worm eggs to get skinny

"I heard they had a magical pill that would make you skinny. The magical ingredient was tape worm eggs that hatched in you stomach and ate all your food keeping you skinny.

What I wanted to know, is if there is anywhere you can buy live tape worm eggs so that I can get skinny? "

Good idea, but I "Pass" as they say in poker. Thanks, B.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Liberation of Eastern Ucraine

Russian speaking groups with Russian weapons are taking over police stations and army camps in Eastern Ucraine (pic). They look like the people that first occupied Crimea. They will advance, I presume, till NATO reacts. Which may be too late or never.

Fire Hatzrony!

Prof. Hatzrony (pic) teaches Communication in the University of Ariel and is about to be fired because he wrote in his Facebook that "some women complaining of sexual harassment have created a personal phantasy world full of sex, when in the real world even the most desperate rapist would not touch them" (free translation). The University accuses him of insulting "human dignity" (פגיעה בכבוד in the original), contempt of women and their free will and making of them second class citizens (sic).

I think that the University is RIGHT ! Each and every complaint of sexual harassment is always absolutely true and factual, from implicit disrespectful language and causing them blush when they feel they are being looked at, to the extreme of using M-Rays to implant in her brain video clips with explicit, uncouth visual content, as only Communication professors know how to do. It is not a question of intentions, it is inconsequential that the Professor never intended to insult or to hurt, what counts is her subjective feeling. A woman's phantasy world is, for her, real reality while the Professor's reality is a pallid  shade dancing on the cave's wall, as Plato explained 2500 years ago.

I am 100% with the University. It is being attacked because it is on stolen land, for Fascist, for discriminating against Arabs and because. It cannot tolerate to be accused, in addition to all the bizarre crimes it is boycotted for, as a place where sexism rules. Publicly Shame and Fire Hatzrony Now! I also propose to re-hire Hatzrony with the assignment of organizing an Auto-da-Fe ceremony for himself that would become a viral videoclip and wash our image of sexism.

Microprinter Raised 2.5 million dollars in 4 days

This thingie start-up is a success.  Selling for 200 $. B is right, it can be done.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

La Deuda (The Debt)

Argentine journalist Jorge Lanata's documentary investigates Argentina's monstruous foreign debt: how it came to be and its relation to child desnutrition in marginal areas. Who signed those loans and where was the money spent? He discovered that the disorder had been such that there was no agency or office accounting the country's foreign debt, no one had any idea if the money had been actually received, to which ministry or institution it had been transferred, how it had been spent or if it had been paid back. When the crisis came, the Central Bank established an unit with that objective and this unit had to ask foreign banks about how much money Argentina owed them. One of the employees of the unit tells Lanata on camera that the system was to pay without asking questions to all foreign banks that demanded payment: If a bank in Texas demanded one hundred million dollars and if there was money in Treasury, the order was to pay. The unit collected all the claims and that was the Argentine Foreign Debt. They say in front of the camera that yes, most of the money was stolen. The funniest part is when Lanata asks the Central Bank governor to take him to this unit's offices, and the man leads him to the wrong building and loses his way (near min 44). Towards the end, Lanata travels to Davos to the IMF's meeting, and is told squarely that Argentina is not anymore a Spanish colony and the responsability for its financial affairs is in the hands of the government of Argentina.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Haggadah (The Tale)

We are preparing for the coming Seder dinner celebrating the Jewish Pessach. The ceremony has a well established traditional format, similar to the Athenian symposium, with a detailed script of when to eat what and drink a drop or two glasses of wine, who has to ask what and who has to answer what. The script is called the Haggadah - the tale.  The rationale of the ritual is the Biblical mandate to memorialize the liberation of the Hebrews from the house of the slaves in Egypt and their journey to freedom in Eretz Israel. Specifically, each one has the obligation to tell the story of liberation as if it had happened to him personally and in our generation, not a something that had happened long time ago and to someone else.

That is what the Bible specifies to do, and what is what we to do? We read the Haggadah, a script book that starts with a bunch of drunken sages reclined in the village of Bney Brak, commenting on how other sages used to celebrate their Pessach dinners. The Haggadah ends with lyrics of stupid drinking songs. I never liked it.

It behooves us to do what the Bible says and some Reform Jews do : to cut out the nonsense of the Haggadah and insert personal stories of their escape from slavery to freedom. If not their personal story -  telling it in public could result too emotional - then the story of their parents or grandparents, or just a story from one of the thousand stories of Jewish escapes. I for one could never tell the story of my mother, who was a prisioner condemned to death, marked with a number in her forearm, in Auschwitz, or my father, a forced laborer aka slave of the Hungarian Army in the Ucraine Front. It would be too hard for me. But I could read sections of a short book by a Bagdadi Jew working in Bahrain for the Anglo-American Oil Company, who organized the escape of the community to Bombay during Arab riots. Millions of Russian (pic: Yoseph Mendelowitch) and American (pic: Demonstration for Soviet Jewry) Jews lived the epical liberation of Soviet Jewry. Yemeni Jews are escaping today, Persian Jews are walking frozen mountains to the safety of Turkey, and these very day Ucraine Jews are feeling unsafe for their being Jews. The dramatic story of flight from slavery to freedom is a story of our generation, it is verily happening in our generation and we should be telling it in the Seder table as the miracle of our times and not telling stories about the infantile "sages" of Bney Brak.

How it feels to be a Ghost Hunter?

The pic left shows an authentic Ghost Detector Back Pack (sold on eBay) in working condition, which inspired me to write the following moral story: Lately I'm not seeing the protests at Weisman and Bussel Streets corner against the cell-phone re-transmission antenna. The prominent antenna had been causing headaches, vomiting and cancers all over the neighborhood. The Ministry of Environment had sent out its radiation fighters with their heavy orange protective overalls and menacing-looking detection packs, and it appears that they intervention was effective. May be the retransmitter was removed or only camouflaged, I dont know.

Now, radiation professionals are perfectly aware that cell-phone retransmitters emmit non-ionizing harmless radiation and their street theater was pure ghost hunting spectacle for the benefit of ignorants. Do they enjoy their celebrity? Do they feel they were social workers calming baseless fears? Do they feel they are public employees, something like traffic police with speeding radars enforcing the law? Maybe all they care is keeping their public employee jobs with steady salary.

The Weinbergs, an amiable Russian immigrant family that lived above my apartment, had rented out their balcony to a cell-phone company that installed a retrotransmitter. That was years ago. I denounced them to the Ministry of Environment writing that they were endangering the neighbors's health. Soon the antenna was gone. Should I be sorry for destroying an income source for my struggling immigrant neighbors? Was mine a lowly, ugly aggression on a fake basis? Attacking the Weinbergs, I knew that there were no radiation risks - what I had in mind was the fall in the value of my property, which was real. This story is related to yesterday's incident in class (see below). My point is that life is complicated and we should be careful in judging people (a most original insight, hum?)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Utopian Idealism

Today in class we talked about sedimentation and I projected the Shafdan (Tel Aviv) Wastewater Treatment Plant's old pic (left). Explained why sedimentation basins are circular and students asked about the large polishing ponds at the right. Originally, those large shallow ponds were the treatment plant itself, a lagoon system, but after the electromechanical plant was built in the seventies, a use was found for them for effluent polishing. After TAHAL's SAT tertiary treatment was implemented, polishing too became superfluous. The Municipality of Rishon LeZion claimed the land, which is a most valuable real estate, but SHAFDAN resisted and claimed - falsely - that it was essential for its operation. The Municipality contracted me to write a technical report showing that the lagoon was not needed and I did so. Soon after I was hired by the Netzivut HaMaim (the Water Authority) and  my first assignment was to defend Shafdan's position, because "we in the water sector want the land to stay in our hands for future development". I argued so in several meetings but in the end, the land was transferred to the Municipality. In class, I made a comment that wanted to be satirical, that in actual professional life, one compromises. It was badly received: the students murmured about integrity and yosher (honesty).

Oh, Youth! Oh, Idealism!

Preparing for Pessach

Worked hard this week : Forty years of accumulated reports, books, technical articles, correspondence, diaries, memoranda, etc. were one-by-one reviewed and 90% shipped down to the trash room. The last time I did a similar Pessach-style cleaning the house was a few months before I left Argentina: Then I burned my library (for fear that it would stigmatize me as subversive, books were suspect) and my fishing/hunting equipment (it was dangerous to possess "weapons"). This week I filled three heavy trash bins (3 cu.m.). Forty years worth of incessant labour and collecting background material on areas like odor psychology and control (that was my main worry when managing wastewater treatment plants); I also had an immense amount of maps and drawings about Israeli water distribution system, reports of each foreign missions and projects, etc. It is still not done: there is much that I am still sentimentally unable to throw away. My wife and daughter have no such sentiments: they had sacks and sacks of schmattes (dozens of shoes and barely used, expensive, textiles) cleaned out. This annual Pessach cleaning is a good thing - we leave behind the past and move forward with little baggage. And an opportunity for the females of the house to claim that they have nothing to wear.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Betting on Biotech May Have Been a Mistake

The biotech sector shares are falling in TASE, Israel, and the world. In only one week after I bet on the Israeli molecule startup business it has been shown as a mistake, a bad move, a disaster. Today it feels that I was (am) one of the animals in the stampeding herd that always buys at the top. Next week, in the Pessach holidays,  I shall analyze in detail and extract conclusion from this sad mistake that should not have happened to me. Even TEVA is losing its shine, as a new Indian conglomerate has emerged (Sun, formed by Israel Makov, TEVA's former genius) and it lost the Copaxone franchise.  No one among my ancestors suffered from senility, they all died with their brains in working order and I hoped that will be case with me too. Am I mistaken on that too?

BIOLINE is liquefying my brain and draining my savings. This "promising" startup has a "concept" for celiac disease.
Celiac disease is a chronic, autoimmune, inflammatory disease of the small intestine . 1% of the world’s population is affected by celiac, and prevalence is expected to increase dramatically with improved diagnosis and awareness of the disease. The celiac market is projected to reach $8 billion by 2019. There are currently no treatments approved for celiac disease and the only treatment option is a life-long, strict, gluten-free diet, which is difficult to maintain. 
Yes, but as for this week, the stock has lost a third of its worth. Pfuiia.