Half-life

There’s been a flurry of media activity recently about the death of Yasser Arafat. They are going to dig him up to do some tests. Or not. His widow is going to raise a court action in France. Or not. He was poisoned. Or Not. And so on, and so on.

In many of these stories, apart from the inevitable blame being given to Israel, the detail that stands out is the alleged use of polonium. I bet if you did a survey now, people would tell you – as a fact – that Yasser Arafat died from polonium poisoning. (It’s a given who they will blame.)  And the evidence for this? Absolutely nothing. ‘But‘, I hear you exclaim, ‘what about all the polonium they found? Where did it come from? Explain that away.

Ok. I will.

Just see here, from which the following quote is taken:

The half-life of polonium is about 135 days, meaning that each year, there’s about 1/8 as much as a year prior, or 2**(-3). Over 8 years, this would work out to 2**(-24), meaning that of 32 million polonium atoms, one would be left. Try finding that one atom in Arafat’s stained boxers.

In a nutshell, it’s impossible, given current scientific standards, to measure what polonium might have existed in somebody (or their effects) 8 years ago (when Arafat died). Any polonium around now must have been more recently, er, introduced. Someone is, to use the vernacular, at it, and the whole episode is a bucket full of baloney.

A big thank you to Israellycool and Brian of London for confirmation of my suspicions.

What chance do you think there is of any mass media desire to solve the other Arafat mystery: what happened to all the money?

ConsimWorld Expo Haul

A late post: here are the games I acquired at ConsimWorldExpo:

I also bought some ziploc stuff from Victory Point Games and Minden Games. And acquired the ATO 2011 (?) Annual and the first issue of Decision Games‘ new magazine and game Modern War.

The post is late because I have had hardly any time since getting back. But over the last couple of days I, at last, managed to open the boxes, check out the contents and decide where I want to start with these additions to my evergrowing ‘to be played’ queue. Some of these items will definitely skip the queue.

Dear John

After too many serious pieces on anti-semitism, I don’t know about you, but I need a change of scenery. To go from the obscene to the sublime, here’s a cute piece about punctuation:

Thanks to Sandra H for this.

No, really; some of their best friends really are Jewish

From the algemeiner:

Anti-Semitic Cartoon Wins Iranian Festival Prize

A vilifying cartoon portraying Jewish worshipers praying before the New York Stock Exchange has been declared the winner in Iran’s first annual International Wall Street Downfall Cartoon Festival on Monday.

Really? I’m shocked.

The festival’s cartoon contest was reportedly held to demonstrate Iran’s solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement. The Iranian outlet Fars News co-sponsored the International Wall Street Downfall Cartoon Festival, to “help people in the United States take their message out to the world,” according to Radio Free Europe.

I doubt the Occupy Wall Street people are happy about such support.

Presumably this was an isolated incident. Wasn’t it?

At least several of the cartoon entries were anti-Semitic as well as anti-American. The contest’s winner, Mahmod Mohammad Tabrizi, drew three ostensibly religious Jews praying towards Wall Street, which is depicted as Jerusalem’s Western Wall. Tabrizi was awarded five thousand Euros, the festival’s statue, and a letter of appreciation.

Letter of appreciation? I wonder what it says. “Thank you for helping us spread the hate.” Maybe that’s not strong enough. How about: “Keep up the good work Mahmod. There can never be enough anti-semitic cartoons. And, by the way, do you have any pieces about Jewish bankers raping Greece?

Never underestimate the ability of the Iranian hatemongers to stoke the fires. But really; some of their best friends are Jewish.

You can see the cartoon and the full article, here.

From here you see things differently

A tale of two headlines.

First, from the ultimate in mainstream, the BBC:

Second, from the much more edgy Register:

I did a double take when I saw the latter headline. Was this ban a daft move? A piece of political grandstanding with no basis in reality? The article gives the answer:

The city authorities of San Francisco have banned departmental purchases of Apple hardware after Cupertino dropped out of the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) green-standards scheme.

“We are disappointed that Apple chose to withdraw from EPEAT,” Melanie Nutter, director of San Francisco’s Department of Environment, told The Wall Street Journal, “and we hope that the city saying it will not buy Apple products will make Apple reconsider its participation.”

City government departments are only part of the deal. Local educational facilities – a sector in which Cupertino is dominant – also require EPEAT classification, and will likely end up boycotting Apple products, as well.

Naughty Register! It is amusing – probably less so for Ms Nutter – and is a short, sharp, example of why the Register is one of my favorite web sites. It’s a plain language source of high quality, mostly independent and informative material about the world of technology. And the writing is sharp, rarely bland, occasionally lacking in PC standards, and often entertaining. Or, to put it another way, the type of content rarely present in the mainstream media.

Bribery and corruption

The latest session report of the Ra’anana Boardgames Group is up here. (The title of this post becomes clear from reading that session report.)

It was a good night of gaming, with every game enjoyable. As the host, I did my best to lose. (Well, it’s the only excuse I can come up with that hasn’t been tried before.  And let’s say I was a gracious host!)  However, I had a great time.  It was a pleasant change of pace to the intensity of gaming at ConsimWorld Expo, and for me that variety is one of the many pleasures of the hobby.

Lebanon lament

I don’t pretend to understand to have any expertise or knowledge about what’s going on in Lebanon, or any special insight as to what is likely to happen. I have not done any special research, and my reading has only been of mainstream sources.

However, I was surprised by the following opinion piece in the online version of the Jerusalem Post, which provided information about a new, active, faction in that troubled country:

A new era in Lebanon

Deep in a secret bunker underneath Beirut likely sits a dumbfounded Hassan Nasrallah. These days, the latest threat to his influence in Lebanon can be found riding his bicycle in the streets of the city of Sidon. For Sheikh Ahmed Assir, the unlikely leader of a civil disobedience campaign to disarm Hezbollah, bicycle is the preferred mode of transportation when touring his protest encampments in this southern coastal city.

Continue reading

A little respect

From the Jerusalem Post:

Peres cancels trip to London Olympics

President nixes trip because no hotels walking distance from Friday night opening ceremonies available

More detail:

The opening ceremony of the London Olympics will take place on a Friday evening. There are no hotels within walking distance of the stadium. Peres, who is a good walker, would not have mind walking the extra mile if there was a hotel at the end of it – but there isn’t, aside from which it would place a most unenviable burden on his security detail.

Rather than publicly desecrate the Sabbath, Peres chose to cancel his participation in the opening of the 2012 Olympics, though he would have dearly liked to cheer the Israeli team, as he did in Beijing.

Peres is not personally observant, but in his ministerial and presidential roles has always taken care to publicly observe the Sabbath and the dietary laws.

I never knew Peres was respectful like that. Well done him. It’s an example others could learn from. (I don’t even want to know where the team are staying…)

You can read the whole story here.