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Archive for the ‘science’ Category

Hallelujah! Star Wars the Last Jedi has finally opened on this side of the pond; Bob and I started our Friday morning by buying tickets online for the megaplex outside of town. Out of 21 theaters in the art deco masterpiece, 12 were featuring Star Wars! We opted to go after lunch, thinking other times might be sold out, plus first we had a date with the Little Pumpkin!

The Festival of Lights is in full swing and the Temple Preschool invited parents and grands to a Hanukkah Shabbat service. The sanctuary was shimmering in sunlight as the Rabbi strolled in wearing a dreidel on her head! Children played, the Cantor sang and we all laughed and watched an amazing juggler. Pop Bob even had a few latkes, with apple sauce. I remembered why I liked this religion so much.

As our tiny red head sat on the Bride’s lap, clapping and singing, time was suspended for a moment of pure joy.

Now I don’t want to ruin the new Star Wars movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, but we all know it’s about an epic fight between good and evil – the Light Last Jedi side vs the Dark Conflicted Kylo Ren side. Returning to its existential roots, the latest film in the series does not disappoint, and seeing General Leia (always the princess to me) was bittersweet to the point of tears. I only wish the latest villain, General Hux, wasn’t a red head…

Returning to “reality-based” villains, maybe Alabama turning Blue was the last straw for Mr T? Because I awoke today to this little tidbit of news from the esteemed Washington Post on my phone:

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”  

The analysts were naturally skeptical, they thought maybe this was a joke? I thought it must be an Onion satire when I first read about our government banning words from official documents. After all, HHS has already archived information on LGBT rights; isn’t it better NOT to relay critical methods used to stop HIV infections in certain communities? It would seem we are slipping into the Dark Ages, where climate change is challenged, evolution can be debunked, creationism taught, and women senators humiliated via Twitter at the puny hands of our Groper-in-Chief.

After a thrilling Friday, my morning is sunny and bleak. We gave our Little Pumpkin a Star Wars super duper light saber kit for Hanukkah. His sister had painted his nails black and we sat outside looking for “mean guys.” We must do better with this next generation, and teach them to put the earth and science above myth and money. It’s time for every American to choose the Light or the Dark side.

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What’s happening in the world. As Tillerson jets to Russia with a “Make my Day” kind of deal, an Asian physician is dragged off a United plane while passengers documented every minute. This morning, the United CEO has done an about face, finally apologizing for the incident; and simultaneously lovely Melissa, oops, Sean Spicer got his apology right on the third try. Yes Sean, Hitler DID use chemical weapons on innocent people, they just happened to be Jews.

The Jewish people are used to this kind of thing. In fact, a dear friend just told me that one of her son’s friends/acquaintances is a Holocaust denier. And that they actually don’t say it didn’t happen anymore, just that it was more like what we did with the Japanese internment camps…. You know, like a “Holocaust Center?!”

Over the years, I’ve met relatives with numbers on their arms. My first supervisor at an outpatient mental health clinic was a child of Holocaust survivors. One of our Big Chill friends was conceived at a refugee camp in Italy after his parents were liberated from a concentration camp in Poland. I’ve been attending Seders now for almost 40 years, and yet this was the first time I actually ran the show. I knew something would go wrong. I forgot to give everyone some parsley, so I started a new tradition of a parsley posey.

This is the first time I’m actually afraid for the survival of the human race, not just one group of people. Seriously – will Russia decide to sacrifice another pawn. Or maybe North Korea will put us into checkmate?

What kind of plagues should God rain down upon us this time? At least I didn’t poison anyone at my Seder. I’m a compulsive germaphob in the kitchen. Ever since I nearly killed my first husband with a salmonella infested sandwich I picked up at a deli in Harvard Square. I made Great Grandma Ada wash her hands all the time, and we cooperated on the prep for the haroset. Maybe Mr T will get a bad case of boils? Or locusts could infest the Rose Garden?

Our trees are greening and birds are singing. Spring is a time for rebirth, not sarin gas and armageddon. In fact Sean, you were right in one detail, Hitler did NOT use sarin to exterminate 6 Million Jews, “innocent” people, even though it had been discovered by a German scientist. Some speculate it was because he was gassed in the First World War. But most scholars say it was because Churchill would have retaliated if he tried to use gas on the battlefield or in the camps.

“War is chess. Hitler would have sacrificed a lot of pieces that he couldn’t afford to lose.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/04/11/hitler-refused-to-use-sarin-gas-during-wwii-the-mystery-is-why/?utm_term=.9dc38985fc9d

The Nazis constantly searched for more efficient means of extermination. At the Auschwitz camp in Poland, they conducted experiments with Zyklon B (previously used for fumigation) by gassing some 600 Soviet prisoners of war and 250 ill prisoners in September 1941. Zyklon B pellets, converted to lethal gas when exposed to air. They proved the quickest gassing method and were chosen as the means of mass murder at Auschwitz.

At the height of the deportations, up to 6,000 Jews were gassed each day at Auschwitz. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005220

6 Thousand a day, 6 Million in WWII. Holocaust centers, killing camps. Sarin gas vs Zyklon B vs chemical weapons. A gaffe is a gaffe is a gaffe. And this whole Trump administration is one big gaffe.

Today we rode along Skyline Drive to get the long view, the balcony shot. I wish we humans could just decide not to play chess with our lives on this planet.  IMG_0305

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You’ve got to hand it to this Pope. This morning we hear he’d like all divorced Catholics to come back to the fold, opening up the possibility for bishops everywhere to debate the age-old practice of annulment, ie a Catholic divorce. Pope Francis actually called up a woman and told her she should come back to mass and receive the Sacrament.

But what didn’t make most network news feeds was the Pope’s recent encyclical on climate change. It actually took a Twitter exchange for me to come up to speed. Katherine Hayhoe, a climate scientist, recently spoke to a room full of Evangelical Conservative leaders in Portland, all men, in order to enlighten them – or school them I was thinking as I read her Tweet.

Last year, Hayhoe was named one of Time’s Hundred Most Influential People. She is a young professor at Texas Tech, who hails from Canada. She has worked on Showtime’s science documentary, Years of Living Dangerously, and she coauthored a book, “A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions” with her pastor husband. She combines her  knowledge of fact-based science with her evangelical faith – a powerful if paradoxical combination. And this is how she wove the Pope’s message into her talk on Climate Change: http://collegevilleinstitute.org/bearings/climate-change-evangelicals-and-the-pope/?utm_campaign=coschedule&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=CollegevilleIns&utm_content=Climate%20Change

First she told them about how the poor will suffer disproportionately in the future. Compassion for the most vulnerable among us, I’m sure, resonated well in that room last month.

Peppered frequently throughout the Pope’s encyclical are references to the “poor.” For example, in the section on water Francis addresses “water poverty” (¶28), the “quality of water available to the poor” (¶29), and the world’s “grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water” (¶30). Evangelicals would have little difficulty affirming words like these: “It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted” (¶91).

Hayhoe’s second point, however, may not have struck the same chord. “Free Market Economic Policies Will Not Solve Climate Change!” That almost bears repeating..it harkens back to Obama’s redistribution speech. In other words folks, capitalism won’t cure climate change. Did we hear one comment on this topic at the Trump Show and Debate? Remember, that Donald Show that has devolved into silly sexist semantics. Evangelicals everywhere, who are mostly GOP/Conservative/Christians, will most likely cringe at the Papal challenge to free market economics of the privileged few and their worship of private property..

“In order to uphold “the fundamental rights of the poor and the underprivileged,” Francis puts forward the “principle of the subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods, and thus the right of everyone to their use” (¶93).” The Pope also called for “…a new dialogue” and “a conversation that includes everyone” (¶14); later, he underscores “true wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounters between persons” (¶47).

Dare we dream to find consensus between Progressive/Feel the Bern/Hillary supporters and the ten men on stage the other night? Only John Kasich, who went to a friend’s gay wedding, seemed to speak from the heart and embody the compassionate conservative viewpoint. If anyone might start that dialogue, I’m betting on Hayhoe. But first, the bloody hands that take money from the NRA, and/or oil and gas companies, need to be washed Lady MacBeth style.

Out, damned spot! out, I say!–One: two: why,
then, ’tis time to do’t.–Hell is murky!–Fie, my 40
lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we
fear who knows it, when none can call our power to
account?–Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him.

Somali refugees displaced by flooding - Getty Image

Somali refugees displaced by flooding – Getty Image

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