Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Although I'm involved now with science and pre-med, I still love the NY Times magazine, and all its politics and culture.

2 Sundays ago...a great article on Obama and Kennedy. This photo is from the article

Some worthwhile exceprts:
"But Obama has also demonstrated, not for the first time, two things about his emerging governing style that contrast sharply with that of his predecessor...The second is that he doesn’t seem especially bothered by the perception that he’s dithering. Bush often seemed to measure leadership by the number of seconds it took to make a decision. Obama displays a different kind of spine — the capacity to take his time, even when allies and critics are pounding at the door."

"...Obama is a leader who instinctively seeks the center lane of American politics. And in this way, more than any other, Obama is very much like the John Kennedy who emerges in historical accounts today, a self-confident president who governed at a time of heightened insecurity and proved himself insufficiently doctrinaire for both bellicose cold warriors and the new generation of liberals who considered him their own..."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I just happened to look up at a bookshelf at cabot science library last week, and saw a book called "imagined worlds," by Freeman Dyson, and for some reason it caught my eye. and i actually checked it out!

in the introduction, this strikes me as fascinating: "Two voices speak for the future, the voice of science and the voice of religion. Science and religion are two great human enterprises that endure through centuries and link us with our descendants...I do not claim that the voice of science speaks with unique authority. Religion has at least an equal claim to authority in defining human destiny. Religion lies closer to the heart of human nature and has a wider currency than science. Like the human nature it reflects, religion is often cruel and perverted. When science achieved the power of religion, science often became cruel and perverted, too." (page 7)

And here are some nice Fall photos--I'm a bit late and lots of leaves have already fallen off the trees!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Last week, in Biology, we started the half of the semester devoted to genetics! We're doing a lab tomorrow on plant cells in different stages of mitosis and meiosis.

The terminology is a bit confusing between chromosome, chromatin, chromatid, hapolid, diploid, etc! I was looking online for some clear definitions, and I like this image.

1-Chromatid, 2-Centromere, 3-short arm, 4-long arm.

In Chem we have a test this week on gas laws, thermochemistry, and the quantum nature of electrons (acting as both particles and waves). It's kind of cool because atoms required a new understanding of physics--neither classic Newtonian physics nor Einstein's relativity could work here: "Quantum physics deals with situations where the usual picture of reality breaks down. Photons (discrete units of light) and other very small things have some behaviors that resemble classical particles like billiard balls and other behaviors that resemble classical waves like water waves." (From Wikipedia)

And in Physics, still struggling but it's getting better. We just finished a chapter on angular momentum and torque. Don't ask!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I volunteer on a mobile health van

I started volunteering a few weeks ago on Harvard Medical School's Family Van. Since 1992, the van has provided health education, screening, and prevention services, as well as referrals to medical and social service agencies to an estimated 50,000 of Boston's most vulnerable and underserved residents.

It's a really amazing experience, and I get to do a lot of real medical stuff--take blood pressure, check blood sugar (with a lancet finger prick), glacuoma screenings, and more. It's a lot of hands on work, and interacting with real live patients.

Yesterday during my 3 hour shift, I discussed with various patients all the different medications they're on. Here's my list of what I managed to write down.

1. Simvastatin: used to treat high cholestorol. Used to be called Zocor.
2. Diovan: used to treat hypertension.
3. Hydrochlorothiazide (hctz): hypertension drug; one of the longest on the market.
4. Atenolol: to treat hypertension, a beta-blocker.
5. Lisinopril: another medication to treat hypertension.
6. Norvasc: another anti-hypertensive.
7. Lipitor: to lower cholesterol.
8. Crestor: to treat high cholesterol.
9. Metformin: to treat diabetes
10. Lavoxyl: treats thyroid problems.

And in other news: Mom is acquitted finally! Read about it in the Maui News.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I'm starting my 4th week of class tomorrow. Things are going well, studying all the time. Physics is hard.

In bigger news: my mom's indictment on medical assistance fraud is now going to trial. It starts tomorrow. Here's a short article from the indictment 2 years ago.

Let's hope and pray for her, and that justice will prevail.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Couch Surfing

We had out first (and last) couch-surfer about 1.5 months ago. Gustavo. He was great. From Brazil, animator, and currently lives in Barcelona.

He drew these awesome drawings of Oded and me.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Here I come

I've finally decided to do it. Medical School.

I will be moving to Boston in about 6 weeks to do the Health Careers Program at Harvard, to fulfill my pre-med requirements, and then apply to medical school!

I thought about it long and hard, and was confused for a long time, but now I feel purpose, direction, much excitement, and as if I'm perched on the edge of a big adventure.

One step at a time, one day at a time, and I will get there.

A friend just moved to Sydney, and started a blog, titled

"We go there where nothing is waiting
and find everything waiting there."
-Pablo Neruda

I like that.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Offense to our ears

"Revenge by Being Louder"

I thought this article was going to be about people (mostly teenagers) playing music in public places, on their cell phones, and other devices.

It turns out it's about "iPod leak...headphone leak. You know, that treble-drenched drone emanating from iPods halfway down the subway car."

While this is bothersome in Manhattan, this writer has NO IDEA what luxury he has there, compared to the far more irritating situation on intra-city buses here in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and even the looong ride from Eilat to center Israel (3+ hours).

Kids here simply put their music on and play it loudly for all to hear through their cellphone speakers, no headphones, nothing! They dont even try to keep it quiet. And it's often horribly irritating music...rap or something else discordant.

And of course, unlike the writer of the NY Times article, I am not shy to say something, as this is clearly rude and bothers many. Usually the offender looks at me, turns it down a bit, but continues to listen to his music outloud, for all to hear.

If this was the Manhattan subway, this offender would get more than mean, dissapproving stares.

But it's not the Manhattan subway, and for some reason, many people tolerate this horribly rude, irritating offense to our ears.


Friday, June 5, 2009

"The victim is shown a wall on which a staircase is drawn, and at the top is a drawing of a bicycle..."

Lots to update on, which I will do in my next post. Now, I'd like to mention some worthwhile reading. 

First is Daniel Levy's commentary on Obama's speech in Cairo. 

Second, my high school friend Reid, who is an artist/graphic novelist, mentioned to me in an email that he did a drawing for the New Yorker about a playwrite/performer, David Hare.  I found a fascinating article by him in the NY Times Book Review, about a month old. He apparently performs a monologue, comparing the Israeli "Separation Wall" to the Berlin Wall.  Below is the drawing he did for the New Yorker.

Now, some particularly interesting tidbits from Hare's article, link above:

"Professor Sari Nusseibeh of Al-Quds University puts it most pithily:
It's like sticking someone in a cage and then when he starts screaming, as any normal person would, using his violent temper as justification for putting him in the cage in the first place. The wall is the perfect crime because it creates the violence it was ostensibly built to prevent"

"The evening before, in a suburb of Jerusalem, I've been taking tea with an Israeli intellectual who outlines what he regards as the defining paradox of Israel: to the world it seems powerful and aggressive, yet to itself it seems weak and frail."

Quoting that intellectual: "We feel our being is not guaranteed. You might say we have imported from the Diaspora the Jewish disease—a sense of rootlessness, an ability to adapt and make do, but not to settle. After sixty years, Israel is not yet a home."

"The socialist idealism in which Israel was founded is long gone. In its place, a hardheaded practicality. But if it's hardheaded practicality you want, if it's beaches and machine guns, you can find those anywhere in the world. What will make the young choose to live in Israel?"

"One evening not long ago we'd been at a party in Ramallah. A guest told me about a Hamas torture technique against citizens of Gaza suspected of being informants:
The victim is shown a wall on which a staircase is drawn, and at the top is a drawing of a bicycle. The victim is told to go and get the bicycle. He says he can't get the bicycle because it's a drawing. He is then told if he doesn't bring the bicycle downstairs he will be beaten. "I can't get it. It's a drawing."

"Am I just a decadent Westerner who can't help thinking spirituality must have something to do with beauty? Jerusalem used to be beautiful. Now it isn't. As far as I'm concerned, Jerusalem is spoiled—How can it not be spoiled? It has a great concrete wall beside it—but then Jerusalem was never intended for me. It was intended for believers."

"Coming into Ramallah now. Raja Shehadeh, a lawyer who lives here, says that it is Ramallah's greatest good fortune not to be mentioned in the Bible. For that reason Ramallah is left alone, of no interest to fanatics, because its religious significance is precisely nothing. Nothing divine happened in Ramallah. What a stroke of luck for any town that wants to survive! Not to be named in any Holy Book"

 "What is so shocking about Israel is that these days it doesn't even have a protest movement. In the old days, there were peaceniks on the streets and long-haired students. Now they have almost no peace movement at all. What can you say? A country which loses its hippies is in deep trouble."

"This [Nablus] could be Marrakech: row upon row of raw meat, and fresh fruit, and flies and umbrellas and clothes and perfumes and spices, and dogs wandering, and children, and bubbling pans of kanafeh, of which the locals are famously proud: layers of Nabulsi cheese boiled with sugar, dyed dayglo-orange and scattered with crushed pistachios. Too rich for my blood. Even the smell sticks my tongue to the roof of my mouth. Up to 80 percent of the citizens of this town are unemployed. So there are few customers, and the prices are half what they are in Jerusalem. In the corner, a biblical hammam, up a short alley, nothing but steam and stones."

Friday, March 27, 2009

House Demolitions

I dont think the recently released orders for house demolitions in East Jerusalem have gotten much attention in the international media. Basically, orders are issued to demolish houses in E. Jerusalem for all sorts of administrative reasons-from building without a permit, to not paying an outrageous fee. There are also punitive house demolitions, as is carried out against terrorists' families, but that's a different issue.

"The planning policy in East Jerusalem since its annexation in 1967 is affected by political considerations and infected by systematic discrimination against the Palestinians living there. While extensive building and enormous budget allocations have been the rule in Jewish neighborhoods, the Israeli government has choked development and building for the Palestinian population." --read more on B'Tselem's website.

House's demolished, from B'Tselem's website.

Neighborhood 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
6 1 0 11 0 18
Old City
1 0 0 2 4 7
Beit Hanina
2 1 9 8 19 39
Abu Tor
0 0 0 0 4 4
Jabel Mukhaber
2 0 1 1 9 13
Ras al-'Amud
2 3 4 1 3 13
1 0 1 0 3 5
3 3 17 3 6 32
Sheikh Jarakh 0 1 0 1 1 3
0 0 0 2 10 12
Zur Baher
0 0 0 7 4 11
Total Palestinian buildings demolished
17 9 32 36 63 157
Total Jewish buildings demolished
4 6 6 13 1 30

It's an important issue, so here are some articles:

How archaeology is used to justify demolishing Palestinian houses:

Ir Amim provides a lot of documents on this issue:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

War crimes: Moshe "Boogi" Ya'alon & Khmer Rouge

First up on the international front: the first trial for Khmer Rouge war criminals has just started, 30 years after the end of the brutal regime. Many young Cambodians are apathetic and not interested, reports the NYTimes.

Now for local news: the Israeli national elections were over a week ago, and there is no Prime Minister or government, or anything clear. Recently released--if Bibi Netanyahu becomes the next Prime Minister, he will most likely appoint Boogi Ya'alon to be the Defense Minister.

This is the worst news I've heard in a LONG time.

Ya'alon is accused of war crimes. Wikipedia reports, "An Auckland District Court judge issued a warrant for his arrest for alleged war crimes arising from his role in the 2002 assassination of Hamas leader Salah Shahade in Gaza City, in which at least 14 Palestinian civilians were killed, saying that New Zealand had an obligation to uphold the Geneva Convention." Eventually the warrant was dropped.

Targeted killings is a complicated issue all based in the 4th Geneva Convention. "Israel's policy of targeted killings raises serious questions of international law, but the answers are not obvious. Although many observers view the policy as contravening international law, there is a substantial amount of uncertainty regarding the application of the relevant law to the situation at hand. Thus, good faith analysis could lead to starkly different conclusions on the legality of any such policy."

Also shocking, tragic, and unreal-a comment that Ya'alon has been rumored to have made: "The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people."

This man should never be in a position of power.

The NY times later said this quote is unverifiable, although many Israelis who heard the original interview are familiar with it. Commentary magazine provides another interpretation, acknowledging that Ya'alon said something similar. (And we all know where Commentary's loyalties lie).

AND just for good measure-Ya'alon doesn't travel to the UK for fear of arrest, as would have happened to Almog, had Israeli diplomats not warned him. Reported here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My first Israeli National Elections--Does it make any sense?

today i voted in the israeli national elections--my first time. it's a really intense, crazy situation here. here's a few of my observations and comments, but it's VERY difficult to sum up.

i voted for meretz. More on them, here. Notable--they are pushing a bill to give settlers compensation if they leave the Occupied Territories.

the voting places were nearly empty. i didn't wait at all. i came with the card i received in the mail + my ID card, and i was handed an envelope. you then go behind a big blue piece of cardboard, where there are 30+ different little pieces of paper with the initials of the party, plus the name written out smaller. then, you choose the piece of paper you want, put in envelope, seal, and then place in a big, locked cardboard box. and that's it. has anything changed in 60 years here? at least-no hanging chads!

there are 33 parties running, from:
- the arab party balad that was disqualified one month ago.
-yisrael beytenu with its #1 on the list a russian immigrant-avigdor liberman- calling for arabs to sign loyalty oaths
- meretz, a party pushing for ending the occupation and social justice
- the traditional big parties, including likud with bibi (who will probably win)
- kadimah which was started by sharon in late 2005, who is now in a coma, and led by tzipi livni, who says we need to remove all settlements,
- ehud barak who just was defense minister and led the useless, atrocious war in Gaza.

many Israelis didn't know who they were voting for up until they arrived to the booth.

many Israelis say--it doesnt really matter what party you choose, it's all the same hara (shit).

is there really a left? great article:

baruch marzel, extreme right wing settler, wanted to surpervise elections in Uhm al-Faham, Arab-Israeli city in the North. there was an attempt by Israeli's Attorney General not to allow him to enter the city, then the Supreme Court said he should be allowed, and then the head of the Police removed someone else from his far-right party from entering city. There were riots and other unpleasant experieces.

i can go on and on with the various stories and experiences of the eleections. it will be intersting to wake up tomorrow to a new reality.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Images from Gaza


This link takes you to see
Sharif Sarhan's photos of the current Gaza tragedies (this is his photo). He is a Palestinian artists who works and lives in Gaza.

With the virtual closure to most reporters and media, not much news or images manage to get out. Sarhan is one of the few.

For further visual understanding, here's another look into the Gaza-Southern Israel attacks. This is a Arte France project, showing short clips from both sides. Done beautifully and professionally. The last movies were made a couple weeks ago, but thanks to money from B'Tselem (where I work), there will be more movies soon.

Monday, January 5, 2009


I really try to avoid reading the "talkback" section at the bottom of online articles--the people that feel compelled to write in this space are usually the most extreme, reactionary, and ignorant.*

I was just reading this article, "Report: 7 family members killed in IDF shelling," and then went down to the bottom, to read the awful, incendiary comments, because sometimes I can't help myself. This is one of the comments:

9. Time has come

I want to say we must vote some new laws to deal with traitors.

First, this concerns arabs and leftists who demonstrate against our State during war.
Second, we have to deal against journalists who work for the ennemy's propaganda.
I feel very painful to see journalists as Charles Enderlin, and even Ali Waked saying whatever they want, without contradiction from our side.

יואל , רעננה (01.05.09)

Recommend this talkback click here Add talkback Close

I am amazed and shocked at this. Is he basically calling for an end to Free Speech?? Specifically, the line where he writes "this concerns arabs and leftists who demonstrate against our State during war."

Without people demonstrating against war or other kind of government policy, where would we all be today? The great tradition of protest got the US out of Vietnam and has brought some sanity to the situation in Guantanamo Bay , just to mention a few.

I more and more come to realize that, perhaps, Israel has a long way to go in terms of understanding the importance and necessity of criticism and analysis of its own government's decisions and actions.

If we don't ask why and demand answers, then what's the use in thinking?

*(If you're someone who does this, and happens to read my blog, you're probably not like that!)