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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, FEBRUARY 2015 COLUMN 2
ONLY DUST IN THE WIND?
When Israel was battered by a four-day gigantic unseasonal sand storm from the Sahara in mid-February, commentators were divided: Was the freak phenomenon a blessing or a curse? Columnist Yonatan Yavin exclaimed “the dust-laden air was a cover-up that made Israel’s multiplicity of flaws invisible from the distance of of a meter.” Climatologist Tel-Aviv University Professor Pinchas Albert explained the strange weather was a blessing in disguise: An estimated 30-50 million metric tons of fine dust dumped in Israel’s and neighboring countries’ turf in the short space of four days was a kind of free ‘topping fertilizer’ from North Africa rich in nutrients – a windfall that would be washed into the soil the next time it rained, nurturing trees and plants across the region. (Yediot, London & Kirshenbaum - Channel 10)
The current election campaign hasn’t offered many opportunities to laugh.
Yet, when Sara Natanyahu decided to give a decorator a tour of the Prime Minister’s Residence, revealing the sorry state of Bibi’s kitchen cabinets* with crumbling plaster and peeling Formica and other signs of serious neglect), the video tape was instantly turned into ‘incriminating evidence’ by the press. The kitchen in question was not the one used by the Natanyahu family on the second story; it was a second kitchen on the first floor “used by the staff only!” To cook meals…
The ‘news scoop’ took repeated attempts to beat Natanyahu at the polls by dragging his wife across the carpet (for sins both real and imagined …or substantively blown out of proportion) to absurd levels: One might think the ‘kitchen cabinet affair’ had revealed secrets from some inner circle of ministers and advisors to the PM in view of the fact that the former Shin Bet security chief Yuval Diskin felt duty-bound* to step up to the plate to take a swing at the prime minister’s wife, accusing her of “a severe security breach” by displaying the innards of the prime minister’s residence.
Closer scrutiny of the tape shows the only ‘state secret’ revealed in the video was that Bibi Natanyahu had ordered a member of Israeli’s secret service to stand firm in a particular spot in the reception room in the course of Barack Obama’s entire visit to the Prime Minister’s Resident during the American president’s March 2013 state visit to Israel…to cover up a hole in the carpet. (Yediot, Israel HaYom, Maariv, BizPortal)
* see segment 11:30-13:30 of the 15 minute tour
** Diskin is a self-declared Left-leaning Labor supporter
A SMARTER WAZE
Waze, the Israeli app that tells drivers where there are traffic jams and offers alternate routes has one blind spot: No way to warn those driving down a narrow city side street that they are about to find themselves stuck behind a mammoth municipal garbage truck!
Now there’s a solution, thanks to Bos Dimex (another Israeli high-tech company) that makes wireless electronic ‘track and trace’ systems which can tag vehicles with tracers for fleet management. Tagging the lumbering behemoths will allow Waze to forewarn other motorists where the pokey garbage trucks are located and where they are headed.
Can you teach an old dog new tricks?
When Niv Artzieli was demobilized from conscript service he was allowed to take his closest army buddy Norris* home with him.
Niv took the 10 year-old veteran from the IDF’s K-9 Corps back with him to moshav Fatza’el** in the Jordan valley, where the former dog trainer taught the retired German Shepherd to find another type of infiltrator than he was used to – a nasty Asian weevil that bores into palm trees at the base and lays eggs. When the larvae hatch they eat away at the trunk from the inside, causing hollowed-out palm trees to suddenly collapse without warning.
Up until now the only way to pinpoint ‘sick trees’ was with a doctor’s stethoscope – checking each tree for ‘munching sounds’ – one-by-one. Unleashed in a palm plantation, Norris makes a bee line for infested trees and bites scratches and licks the trunk. Artzieli hopes to establish a kennel which will raise and train dogs for this new form of biological warfare. (Yediot, Haaretz)
* whose full name is Chuck Norris
** Fatza’el is the same moshav where in 2011 six dozen crocodiles gave their keepers the slip when someone forgot to close a gate…two of whom were found two kilometers to the north, lounging in neighboring moshav Yafit’s swimming pool. (For the rest of the saga, see the “Toothy Problem” in the March 2014 column.
KAFKA IN TEL-AVIV
A senior employee at Israel’s Mifal HaPayis national lotteries ran into a string of bad luck when she sought to clear the air after a drawn-out miff with a fellow employee that poisoned the air. The luckless lady found herself suspected of trying to poison a colleague after she secretly sprinkled ‘holy water’ outside the door of the other employee’s office, just as a cabbalist rabbi had advised her husband.
The ‘act,’ it turned out, had been caught on a security camera setting off alarm bells. If that wasn’t enough, the ‘case’ was turned over to LAHAV 433 - the special police department devoted to combating organized crime, grave felonies, and public corruption; police detectives arrested the suspect – identified only as ‘Aleph’ – until the lab results came in the next day*…
* Although Alef was a an attorney in the Payis legal department it took her over a year to unravel the red tape to erase the charges from the records…
Yavne – site of the seat of the Sanhedrin, the council of venerated sages that became the highest authority for rabbinic Judaism following the loss of Jewish sovereignty after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE - plans to build a museum dedicated to Jewish wisdom…sort of a Jewish Hall of Fame to celebrate all the smart Jews throughout history.
The Hechal Hachochma shel HaAm HaYehudi (The Tabernacle to the Wisdom of the Jewish People) will celebrate Jewish excellence in all fields – from philosophy to science. Candidates for inclusion will be chosen by an international academic committee and a public committee of illustrious Israelis that includes former chief justice Dalia Durner, playwright Yehushu Sobol, and philosophy Professor Asa Kasher.
The only problem will be deciding ‘Who is a Jew.’
What makes a particular person attractive to another person? Researchers have theorized its body chemistry – smell and hormones, but physicians at Beilenson Hospital think they’ve found the real key.
An Israeli study of 1,310 couples whose geneticmaterial was used to establish paternity – that is, while not all were married to one another, all had been intimate at some time in the past – revealed they share certain genetic elements, regardless whether they came from the same cultural background or ethnicity. The same patterns where genes lined up like celestial constellations did not appear when researchers matched up men and women randomly.
OFF THE TOP OF HIS HEAD
The bone of contention in a recent medical negligence suit was truly unique: The plaintiff was a 58 year-old man whose head was bashed-in during a brawl in a wedding hall, requiring brain surgery at Rambam Hospital to stop the hemorrhaging. However, several months later, when it came time to put back in place a piece of his skull that had been removed to access the brain cavity, the hospital’s bone bank personnel were left scratching their heads, forced to admit the missing piece was nowhere to be found.
The former patient was forced to have an artificial plate attached (not surprisingly, choosing another hospital to do the procedure`). He then filed a medical negligence suit against Rambam…but not only for the wayward bone segment. Unabashed, the patient demanded untold millions for loss of memory and field of vision, depression, and seizures as well, which he now claims were the doctor’s fault.*
* What about the three assailants who bashed in his head? Oh, they do appear in the case. As co-defendants.