When time stood still

Source: Wikimedia/S Sepp

Source: Wikimedia/S Sepp

This, from the BBC, is fascinating:

…It started as a headache, but soon became much stranger. Simon Baker entered the bathroom to see if a warm shower could ease his pain. “I looked up at the shower head, and it was as if the water droplets had stopped in mid-air”, he says. “They came into hard focus rapidly, over the course of a few seconds”. Where you’d normally perceive the streams as more of a blur of movement, he could see each one hanging in front of him, distorted by the pressure of the air rushing past. The effect, he recalls, was very similar to the way the bullets travelled in the Matrix movies. “It was like a high-speed film, slowed down.”

The next day, Baker went to hospital, where doctors found that he had suffered an aneurysm. The experience was soon overshadowed by the more immediate threat to his health, but in a follow-up appointment, he happened to mention what happened to his neurologist, Fred Ovsiew at Northwestern University in Chicago, who was struck by the vivid descriptions. “He was a very bright guy, and very eloquent” says Ovsiew, who recently wrote about Baker in the journal NeuroCase. (Baker’s identity was anonymised, which is typical for such studies, so this is not his real name).

There’s more:

It’s easy to assume that time flows at the same rate for everybody, but experiences like Baker’s show that our continuous stream of consciousness is a fragile illusion, stitched together by the brain’s clever editing. By studying what happens during such extreme events, researchers are revealing how and why the brain plays these temporal tricks – and in some circumstances, they suggest, all of us can experience time warping.

Read it all, here.


Put up time

I continue to hope and pray for positive news (and soon) about the kidnapped boys. Meantime, I have tried to not read too much into the ongoing media flurry of stories – within which I suspect there is a lot of garbage. However, I did spot this part of a Jerusalem Post report worth noting for future reference:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated on Sunday that Israel has unequivocal evidence that Hamas was behind the abductions of the teenagers Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Elad Yifrah.

“We are passing that evidence and information along to certain states, and soon it will be made public,” he said. Netanyahu said that once the public has this information, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ condemnation in Saudi Arabia of the kidnappings will be “judged practically.”

“His words will not only be judged in terms of actions taken to bring the boys home, but also by his willingness to break up the unity government with Hamas, which kidnapped the youth and calls for Israel’s destruction,” he said.

If the report is true, Netanyahu will soon face a moment of truth. Is the evidence credible? Substantive?

If Bibi can pass the test, it will probably be Abbas to whom the focus will switch. Because, if the evidence is good enough, how can Abbas stay in a power sharing arrangement with Hamas?

And that, for those who care, leads onto a certain President Obama.

So, Bibi, if you have the evidence, it’s time to put up. Or shut up.


He would have been 60 today

And the occasion is marked on Google Israel’s home page:


From Wikipedia:

Ilan Ramon (June 20, 1954 – February 1, 2003; Hebrew: אילן רמון, born Ilan Wolferman) was an Israeli fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force, and later the first Israeli astronaut.

Ramon was the space shuttle payload specialist of STS-107, the fatal mission of Columbia, in which he and six other crew members were killed in the re-entry accident. At 48, he was the oldest member of the crew. Ramon is the only foreign recipient of the United States Congressional Space Medal of Honor, which he was awarded posthumously.


Five for Friday

I won’t say it’s my favorite day of the week, but I am glad it’s here. I only wish there were good news to report about the three kidnapped boys. For some people, there are such overpowering emotions generated by this state of affairs, that it is difficult to focus on their own life, on normal day-to-day activity. However, life does go on. By way of proof, this week’s set of links are now presented to you:

And here’s a wee bonus video for you, with an example of the UN being exposed for what it is. And it’s not something nice:

Shabbat Shalom! Here’s hoping for good news, soon.


The gates to Hell must be revolving doors

From the Times of Israel:

Meanwhile Hamas threatened to “open the gates of hell” upon Israel should it deport group members it has arrested following the abduction of three Israeli teens near Hebron last Thursday

Sound familiar?

See here. That’s about the fifteenth time those gates have swung open, or it has been threatened. Revolving doors rather than gates methinks.

It would seem Hamas need some new script writers to freshen up their threats.


Giving them the finger

three finger

As reported by the Elder of Ziyon (here):

The IDF’s Arabic spokesperson, Avichay Adaraee, tweeted this cartoon making fun of the three-fingered salute that Arabs are using to celebrate the kidnapping of the three Jewish teenagers. I translated it.

Well done that man!




Approved by the Motors was the second album from The Motors, released in 1978. Naive fool that I was, I bought this on the back of the single release – Airport – and because I had liked an earlier song, Dancing the Night Away. I cannot say it’s one of my favorite albums, but several of the tracks rank highly for me.

For example, apart from Airport, Sensation, and Today are two good pieces of music at polar opposites of the guitar band spectrum.

And how could anybody resist a rock musician called Bram Tchaikovsky?


If you are looking for some hidden treasures, I recommend you have a look at all the albums by The Motors. Apart from the tracks mentioned above, be sure to listen to Love and Loneliness and Tenement Steps from the Tenement Steps album. Both are excellent.

These guys had talent, they created some fine music, and I’m only sorry there is not more of it.

[The musical journey of rediscovery through my record collection continues. Click on “Vinyl” in the Categories, or in the following links, to see previous entries.]


“…all my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb.”

It was the first book I shed tears after reading. It was the first book I enjoyed – though that’s not exactly the emotion it generated – but couldn’t read again. I couldn’t face the tragedy. I still cannot. I read it a long time ago, and it many ways its impact is still with me every day of my life. And, though I didn’t realize it at the time, it was one of the reasons I was so strongly drawn towards reading science fiction.

The book? Flowers for Algernon. It’s a first person narrative about a man of low intelligence who is experimented on to see if his intelligence can be increased, just like the laboratory mouse they succeeded with. The man’s language and his perspective mature through the book. It doesn’t last.

The reason for the blog post? Daniel Keyes, the author of that masterpiece, has died.

The Guardian obituary is here. But it’s also worth looking at Alison Flood’s blog article  (here) which includes the following:

I think Flowers for Algernon is heartbreaking, and utterly, completely brilliant. My copy has an introduction from Jon Courtenay Grimwood in which he calls the book a “work of genius”. High praise indeed, but I think he’s right. Flowers for Algernon is, as Grimwood puts it, “eerily perfect”. It’s one of those books which feels destined to have been written, somehow – the idea behind it is just so perfect, so horribly disturbing.

And this:

“We were, of course, greatly saddened by the news but there’s a comfort in Daniel Keyes having had a long life and that he left us with a great legacy; a wonderful, heartbreaking book,” said Simon Spanton, at Keyes’ UK publisher Gollancz. “In its pitilessly tight focus and tragic story arc, delivered in a first-person narrative whose very nature cuts to the core of what is gained and then lost, it is for me the most heartbreaking book in the genre.”

Let me join those saying goodbye – and thanks – to Daniel Keyes.


The three ticketeers


Ben and David joined me for this week’s regular session, fresh from a joint outing to a culinary event in Tel Aviv. So, they were well fed and well watered, and in a jolly good mood. Although when we started playing games, the competitive urge was still there, they kept the good mood!

We started off with Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries, and then played two games of Dominion.

Ben kept all 5 of his tickets. David and I kept 3. David spent a long time trying to get the right cards for the longest (nine train) route, but after playing it went into the lead.

Ben was doing well until I stopped him, er, in his tracks. Unfortunately for me, I was so busy congratulating myself on doing that, I forgot to complete one of the extra set of tickets I picked up. (Silly me.) And Ben recovered.

Ben completed four out of five tickets, as did I. David didn’t do that well…

Ben won. Well done, Ben!

In the first Dominion game, Ben got off to a good start, claiming the first 6 victory point card. But he could not quite get up enough momentum, and David and I closed on him. At the final count, I had secured the win by a narrow margin.

Ben got his revenge in the final game. David was having lots of fun with his Militia and Witch cards, but spent too long on them and not enough accumulating money or victory points. But he’s a novice at the game, so this valuable experience will stand him in good stead for the next time. In this game Ben did manage to keep up the momentum, and neither David nor I could keep up the pace. So, a win there for Ben.

Good fun.