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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, January 2011 Column 2


A Bnei Brak yeshiva student decided to temporarily protect the value of the 1.5 million NIS ($428,571) proceeds he received from the sale of his apartment by investing the money on the stock market until he could buy a new flat. Although he probably wouldn't recognize a Playstation 4 or a Sony Reader if he tripped over them, on the advice of a friend the Talmudic scholar chose Sony Corporation stock - thought to be a safe and solid investment.

It was only four months later when he went to sell his shares that the green investor discovered to his horror that due to an unclear telephone line, the investment banker had misunderstood his wishes and put all his chips on "Coney," not "Sony" - the wildly speculative and volatile stock of a Coney Island horseracing corporation.

Blissfully unaware that the home and hearth he didn't yet own was riding on Lady Luck alone, only when the student ordered his banker to sell his Sony stock did the newbie get wind of the windfall that had fallen into his hands. Apparently he lived a charmed life: The high-risk high-profit Coney stock had spiraled from 1.5 million NIS to a whopping 5.5 million NIS ($1.57 million) in a mere four months.



A Ben-Gurion University working paper, "Are Good-Looking People More Employable?", flies in the face of conventional wisdom that handsome people get the best jobs. Don't count on it, say the authors; there's a double standard in the subtext that stonewalls pretty women.

Attractive men who include a head shot in their resumes registered a 20 percent positive response - inviting them to come in for interviews - while plain-looking males with the same credentials only received a 9.2 percent response to meet face-to-face. Conversely, attractive women are penalized in the recruitment race: Women candidates who sent no picture received 22 percent more responses from HR personnel than plain-looking females, while invitations for an interview were 30 percent higher than attractive females who sent in their pictures.

What's going on?!

Well, it turns out that 98 percent of human resources staff are women. And 96 percent of the screeners were 23-34 years old and 67 percent were single. Having factored out other possibilities, the researchers - PhD candidate Ze'ev Shtudiner and economist Dr. Bradley Ruffle - rushed in where any man in his right mind would fear to tread: "Indeed, the evidence points to female jealousy of attractive women in the workplace as a primary reason for their penalization in recruitment," said Dr. Ruffle gamely - no doubt ruffling more than a few feathers. (BGU press release) 



In 1939, Yitzhak Pinchas was nine years old. When everyone in his Jewish day school contributed three grush to help victims of a Turkish earthquake, his destitute family didn't have a dime to spare. A little girl in his third grade class slipped him the requisite sum to save face, and he vowed he'd return the debt when he was able. In the meantime, his father died and Yitzhak Pinchas had to quit school to help support his family... but he never forgot his vow.

Now, 71 years later, Pinchas - a successful Israeli businessperson - has repaid his three grush debt with compound interest, donating several million dollars to building an entire 33-classroom 658-pupil elementary school in his home town in Turkey.



The chutzpa of metal thieves certainly knows no bounds. A power outage at a kibbutz in the western Negev turned off the lights, paralyzed the community's factory and disrupted irrigation in Dorot's fields early one evening. For hours, the Israel Electric Company stumbled around in the dark seeking the source of the problem only to discover that in the interim a gang of copper thieves, who had caused a short in the system without electrocuting themselves, had cut the dead cables and taken off with three kilometers of copper wire from the high power line leading to the kibbutz.

Five days later, at the other end of the country - on the Golan Heights - another free-ranging metal and electronics thief was caught red-handed trying to walk off with the air conditioners and electronic surveillance equipment in an unmanned army base, even taking down the metal signs leading to the camp.



Israel recycles more than 80 percent of its sewage water and 50 percent of all irrigation is recycled water - the highest percentage in the world; Spain (which is mostly semi-arid) takes second place - with 12 percent recycled water. So why do farmers say that there will be less fruit next year and higher prices?

It's a double whammy, and then some: unseasonably warm weather that has 'confused' peach trees and other deciduous orchards into blooming as if it were spring before winter set in, and further cuts in water quotas for agriculture are going to affect all crops. After the driest November in 48 years and with the Lake of Galilee lower than it has been in 83 years, farmers not only face a serious cutback in sweet water usage. Water is also a double-whammy for growers: There will be a 15 percent cut in irrigating with recycled sewage water from the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area, as well


An aggressive advertising campaign targeting households to conserve water has been so successful there is a lot less sewage water for farmers.