Thanks to Judy for sending us the ultimate scientific controversy of history as seen above. Obviously more C^2 is needed in our imperfect world.
IN MEMORIAM Dick Gregory 1932-2017
This great comedian, who was a pioneering force of comedy in the 1960s and parlayed his career as a stand-up comic into a life of social and political activism, died Saturday of heart failure.
“It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory, departed this earth tonight in Washington, D.C.,” his son Christian Gregory said via a statement from his father’s rep. “The family appreciates the outpouring of support and love and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”
Early in his career, Mr. Gregory insisted in interviews that his first order of business onstage was to get laughs, not to change how white America treated Negroes (the accepted word for African-Americans at the time). “Humor can no more find the
solution to race problems than it can cure cancer,” he said. Nonetheless, as the civil rights movement was kicking into high gear, whites who caught his club act or listened to his routines on records came away with a deeper feel for the nation’s shameful racial history.
He broke into mainstream comedy with a replacement gig at the Playboy club in Chicago in 1961. On the big night, club managers had misgivings; the house was packed with businessmen from the Deep South. No matter, Mr. Gregory said. He insisted on performing.
“I understand there are a great many Southerners in the room tonight,” he began his act. “I know the South very well. I spent 20 years there one night.” He so won over the crowd that Playboy’s Hugh Hefner signed him for three more weeks, then extended the contract.
He used the comedy stage as a means of getting white America to look in the mirror and see its own injustice.Some lines became classics, like the one about a restaurant waitress in the segregated South who told him, “We don’t serve colored people here,” to which Mr. Gregory replied: “That’s all right, I don’t eat colored people. Just bring me a whole fried chicken.” Lunch-counter sit-ins, central to the early civil rights protests, did not always
work out as planned. “I sat in at a lunch counter for nine months,” he said. “When they finally integrated, they didn’t have what I wanted.”
He marched, demonstrated, was arrested and beaten by police, but gave all for the movement. In a Birmingham, Ala., jail in 1963, he wrote, he endured “the first really good beating I ever had in my
He added: “It was just body pain, though. The Negro has a callus
growing on his soul, and it’s getting harder and harder to hurt him
BORN IN AUGUST
Barack Obama was the 44th president of the United States, and the
first African American to serve in the office. First elected to the
presidency in 2008, he won a second term in 2012.
He is 5-time NBA champion, 3-time Finals MVP (Most Valuable Player) and 3-time NBA MVP who spent his entire
13-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was named to 12 NBA All-Star games and led the league in assists four times.
Antonio Salieri created some of the most popular operas of the day, becoming a
leading musical figure in Viennese, Parisian and Italian circles. He later focused on religious compositions and was a court musical director, also becoming a sought-after teacher of other classical greats. Salieri died on May 7, 1825. His rivalry with Mozart gave
rise to the book and film Amadeus. (Prometheus and Pandora cannot resist chuckling a bit at the stupidity of the editors of the bio web site who define his profession as “songwriter.”)
The 2008 Republican Presidential nominee who was a prisoner of war for five years
during the Vietnam War. He became a United States Senator from Arizona in 1987. He is known for his advocacy of campaign finance reform in the Senate and most notably co-wrote the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act. He is known for his courage and integrity and unfortunately has been found to be suffering from a brain tumor.
He was widely known for his solo improvisations. Parker is considered one of the founders of the genre of bebop and was often referred to by his fans as “Yardbird.”
DIED IN AUGUST
Thomas Mann won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929. One of his best-known novels is Death in Venice.
August 16, 1977 Elvis Presley Actor, Film Actor, Singer(1935–1977) Born on January 8, 1935.
Elvis Presley came from very humble beginnings and grew up to become one of the biggest names in rock ‘n’ roll. By the mid-1950s, he had appeared on the radio, television and the silver screen. On August 16, 1977, at age 42, he died of heart failure, which was
related to his drug addiction. Since his death, Presley has remained one of the world’s most popular music icons.
Comedian and film actor Groucho Marx was one of the Marx Brothers. He spent nearly seven decades making people laugh with his snappy one-liners and sharp wit.
French engineer and physicist Charles de Coulomb made pioneering discoveries in electricity and magnetism, and came up with the theory called Coulomb’s Law.
Astronaut, military pilot, and educator, Neil Armstrong made history on July 20, 1969, by becoming the first man to walk on the moon.
RANTS OF THE MONTH
Before getting into our regular rant, there is something that calls for a shout from Prometheus and Pandora–the pardon of the criminal sheriff, infamous for his persecution of Latinos and his disregard for the courts and the rule of law.
Once you get into the mood for pardoning, things can really get out of hand says Mike Lukovich:
WHO IS A MONSTER? WHERE LIES JUSTICE?
The memory of the atrocities committed by Germans and their collaborators in WWII is fading as those who experienced them first hand as victims or perpetrators pass out of the world. In the meantime, the lessons of the Nuremberg trials were not really learned even by the powers who pronounced judgement on the Nazis. If we look at the opening statement of chief US prosecutor Robert H. Jackson, in which we find the trial’s most famous words, we see that indeed we need to look into our hearts and ask hard questions:
“We must never forget that the record on which we judge these
defendants today is the record on which history will judge us
tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it
to our own lips as well. We must summon such detachment and
intellectual integrity to our task that this Trial will commend
itself to posterity as fulfilling humanity’s aspirations to do
With this in mind, Prometheus and Pandora would like to share with you a review in the NYRB by Ian Buruma of a documentary film:
The Memory of Justice
a documentary film directed by Marcel Ophuls, restored by the Academy Film Archive in association with Paramount Pictures and the Film Foundation
available on HBO
The film, made in 1976, shows interviews with the Nazi criminals and also goes on to the French atrocities in Algeria and those of the Americans in Viet Nam. Of course, Ophuls makes no claim to put these crimes on the same level as those of the Germans and their collaborators, despite such unfair criticism from some who accused Ophuls of trivialization. One shocking interview is with a lawyer, Otto Kranzbühler, who served for the defense at Nuremberg and went on to have a career defending the likes of of Alfred Krupp against accusations of having exploited slave labor. His formulation of his own role during the the era of the Reich:
“if you were ignorant of what went on, you were a fool; if you knew, but looked the other way, you were a coward; if you knew, and took part, you were a criminal.”
A major point made by Yehudi Menuhin is that this all happened in Germany, but it could have happened anywhere. This is the main point of Ophuls’s film as well: there was nothing special about the Germans that predisposed them to become killers or, more often, to look away when the killings were done. There is no such thing as a criminal people. This point may be arguable since, as pointed out by the historian R.O. Paxton, Germany and Italy were the only states in Europe that evolved into full-fledged fascist entities in the 20th century. Prometheus and Pandora will address this issue in a future blog. We accept the point that any quiet-spoken young architect can end up with more blood on his hands than a Jew-baiting thug. This is what Yehudi Menuhin meant by his warning. When Hannah Arendt covering the Eichmann trial for the New Yorker made the same point about the banality of evil, she was crucified by Jewish public opinion around the world.
This issue is extremely important for those of us in Israel who refuse to be fools, cowards or criminals. Our sons and daughters whom we send to serve in the army are far too easily seduced into becoming monsters enforcing the Occupation of the West Bank and the remote control of Gaza by means of artillery and air power, to say nothing of power outages and general brutality. Watch this film of soldiers from the elite Golani brigade dealing with an eight year old child in the city of Hebron. These soldiers abused a child with total impunity–neither they nor their superiors were sanctioned for this. The child is left with a trauma, the soldiers with a taint in their souls that will prevent them from ever really becoming decent human beings. They are true criminals.
ARBITRARY REVOKING OF CITIZENSHIP
The Israeli government is revoking the citizenship of Bedouin residents of the Negev including some who have served in the Army or whose family members have served. The process is completely arbitrary with no readily available avenue of appeal. The claim of the Ministry of the Interior is that in these cases citizenship was granted “in error.” Prometheus and Pandora suspect that there is more behind this than meets the eye.
Adala, the human rights organization has taken the matter in hand–Adalah’s appeal to the interior minister and the attorney general demands an immediate halt to the citizenship cancellation policy. Attorney Sausan Zahar from the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel argued that the people affected by it don’t even have the right to a hearing before their Israeli citizenship is taken away from them. In addition to infringing on their right to citizenship, she wrote, the policy blatantly infringes on their right to equality. It is discriminatory based on nationality, since no Jewish citizen has had his citizenship revoked due to a mistake in his parents’ or grandparents’ registration under the Law of Return.
“I’m afraid that what has been exposed is only the tip of the iceberg and what hasn’t been revealed yet is even more serious,” says Touma-Suliman. She says that if Dery and Mendelblit do not resolve the issue soon, it will go to the High Court of Justice. “There is no justification for this policy,” she says. “The ministry is blatantly violating the law. It’s unacceptable that in one family living under one roof, half the children are citizens while the other half are residents or people with indeterminate status.”
This is unconscionable, but it is what we can expect from a racist regime like the present government of Israel. We see the despicable action of the occupation authorities who confiscated solar panels from Bedouin even while the issue was in court and indeed a restraining order was issued, but after the confiscation.
TIDBITS FROM SCIENCE
MAPPING A STAR
To the unaided eye the famous, bright star Antares shines with a strong red tint in the heart of the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion). It is a huge and comparatively cool red supergiant star in the late stages of its life, on the way to becoming a supernova.
A team of astronomers, led by Keiichi Ohnaka, of the Universidad Católica del Norte in Chile, has now used ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile to map Antares’s surface and to measure the motions of the surface material. This is the best image of the surface and atmosphere of any star other than the Sun.
As stated by the authors in their paper in Nature-“The two-dimensional velocity field map obtained from our near-infrared spectro-interferometric imaging reveals vigorous upwelling and downdrafting motions of several huge gas clumps at velocities ranging from about −20 to +20 kilometers per second in the atmosphere, which extends out to about 1.7 stellar radii. Convection alone cannot explain the observed turbulent motions and atmospheric extension, suggesting that an unidentified process is operating in the extended atmosphere.”
This is a very exciting development and we are all looking forward to continued research at both Antares and other such stars. Cheers say Prometheus and Pandora.
CASSINI GOES OUT WITH A BLAST
Cassini is about to terminate its mission at Saturn. If this link fails to open for you, you can find a write up on Cassini here. We were involved in the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS) until it was, alas, turned off in 2011 to keep it from endangering the entire mission because of its electrical malfunctions including short circuits. Now the spacecraft is on its death trajectory. On the final orbit, Cassini will plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere, sending back new and unique science to the very end. After losing contact with Earth, the spacecraft will burn up like a meteor, becoming part of the planet itself. This will eliminate the danger of pollution of a prebiotic satellite with terrestrial bacteria that would confound findings.
Farewell Cassini. “It’s hard not to anthropomorphize the spacecraft,” says Matthew Tiscareno of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., who has been working on Cassini since it entered Saturn’s orbit in 2004. “We’ve been riding on its back for these 13 years, and it’s done everything we’ve asked. I think it’s the most spectacularly successful mission that NASA has ever run.”
Here is a shot of back lit Saturn:
NFL COMING UP
As the NFL season approaches, we feel guilty about watching these millionaires who work for billionaires bashing each other’s brains out: Signe Wilkinson puts it well.
I understand that the New Horizons craft used gravity assist from Jupiter to increase its speed on the way to Pluto. I also understand that by doing this, Jupiter slowed down very slightly. How many flyby runs would it take to stop Jupiter completely?
Certainly more than humanity could afford. Randal answers very well.
For anyone who has a guardhouse lawyer kid…
WUMO please forgive us for posting your cartoon, Prometheus and Pandora could not resist: