Friday, January 25, 2013

a wintry poem


Stiff as noisy oars, my rocking chair creaks
in concert with me. Crows could sing better.

Always I shut our baby’s door, enclose my croon.
My arm braces her moonlit back, holds shadows

soft against her face. I sing Moon River, wider than
a mile, sing it as if each line were a raft slowly crossing.

When I reach wherever you’re going, I know I’m
singing the rest to myself until I tiptoe back to bed.

You are there, asleep, far from me as the River’s other side.
You old heartbreaker, I muse; that had been me. Old

Heartbreaker, you mischief maker. Not so long ago,
when our baby’s floor cooled my feet, you would

warm them. Heartbreaker. Now they are more than
cold. Wherever you’re going, I’m going… Going where?

You’re not going my way, don’t want to anymore. Still,
Mercer’s lyric plays, sticks to me like memories of our

Huckleberry days. Though your back is turned, I long
for you, so distant from our Moon River and me.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

hard to believe?

ACCIDENT or meant to happen?       When I think of words and what they mean, I seldom see the words AND their meanings personified. On Sunday night, my partner and I experienced just that.

“All we have tonight are a pair of seats for $135 each,” said the woman selling tickets at Manhattan’s Spiderman box office.

We wanted to see the show that seemed doomed due to its dangerous stunts [Spider-Man' Accident Captured on Video - YouTube  ' Spider-Man' Accident Captured on Video ... ( Dec. 21) Category ...' Spider-Man' Actor Returns to See Show by AssociatedPress 19,334 views;]; we wanted to see what made it that way and what made people rave about it. But we weren’t curious enough to pay what they were asking.

So we walked out, regretting that we’d missed the earlier matinee of My Name is Asher Lev   [Broadway Buzz | My Name Is Asher Lev - Off-Broadway ... My Name Is Asher Lev on], an adaptation of Chaim Potok’s book by the same name.

It had gotten colder; the wind felt stronger. I was about to suggest that staying inside for the evening might not be a bad idea when a tall young man in his late thirties approached us.

“Do you need a few tickets?” he asked in a voice no seasoned scalper would use.

Before we could answer, he added, almost apologetically, “I’m here with a group of students and two of them couldn’t come…”

We brightened, had a pleasant negotiation, then bought his two tickets.

“Where are you from?” I asked.

“Norfolk, Virginia,” he responded. Then he mentioned that the students he had brought were with a Jewish Academy there. “I’m a Rabbi,” he volunteered.

“Do you know Phillip Rovner? He’s my first cousin, with the Tidewater Jewish Foundation,” I said proudly.

“Yes!” he answered. “In fact, we’re working with him on a project…”

We spoke for a while longer and were pleased to find that we almost sat next to each other in the balcony. Our seats were perfect. We saw everything we’d wanted to see about the mechanics of the show.

So did the five and six year olds who sat in front of us. They were mesmerized; we wondered why OSHA hadn’t made the show put up safety nets.

Of course, we didn’t ask each other about that until after the show. Before then, we were too busy watching.

It was no accident that the Rabbi and his group were too!

                                                 B. Koplen 1/22/13

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Important medicine...

Almost a vaccination against the second Holocaust    Usually, I don’t begin one of my essays this way, i.e., quoting from someone who may be regarded by Obama supporters as an alarmist. However, my sense of our President is that killing Osama bin Laden may be considered by him to be the crowning achievement in our war against radical Islam. My perception of his having a willfully limited perspective regarding that enemy of peace makes the quote from the following article seem terrifying. The most pertinent sentence has been highlighted:

By Ben Stein on 1.7.13 @ 8:54AM
Obama, Israel, and Chuck Hagel’s nomination.

...As a student of anti-Semitism in Europe before, during, and after the Holocaust, no amount of hatred and loathing for Jews surprises me. Americans who do love Israel should be aware, though, that it is growing much more likely by the moment that there will be a second Holocaust. The only real friends that Israel has on this earth, evangelical Christians, will take note. Whether anyone else will is a big question.

“Second Holocaust”? Although just the thought of that prompts dire images, it also makes me wonder whether the world would allow that to happen…again. Sadly, I must admit that I don’t know the answer. When I see that responses to Iran’s threats to annihilate Israel are, at best, muffled, I simultaneously shudder and scream.

More than one Jewish doctor has done more than that.

“You know I’m a Holocaust survivor, don’t you?” Dr. Roger Loria asked me.

I didn’t. But, days later, I found this: Life lessons: Holocaust survivor visits fifth-graders ...
Dr. Roger Loria, 70, first spoke with Henry’s students in Marguerite Christian’s Center-Based Gifted program (CBG) two years ago during their unit study of World ... -

More than twenty years ago, Dr. Loria moved to the United States from Israel. Currently, he is a professor of virology, immunology, pathology, and emergency medicine at VCU. While talking with him, I asked about a drug he’d developed more than fifteen years ago. That’s when I’d last seen him.

“Nothing came of it,” he said. For a few minutes, we discussed the high cost of getting and maintaining patents. He explained that experimental drugs had to have sponsors to make their development possible.

But that unsuccessful enterprise wasn’t the one that concerned him. Less than ten years ago, he created a drug that could save lives of people who were trapped within the 10-50 miles radius of a nuclear detonation. His treatment could be injected by the person at the time of their exposure. Rather than having to be hospitalized, people could save themselves from certain death at a cost of no more than $75 per dose.

What actually happened to Dr. Loria’s discovery remains a mystery. [please see: Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals (HEPH) - NEUMUNE for Harbor ... “We continue to find HHS’ actions quite confusing,” stated Richard B. Hollis, ... We licensed certain patents related to NEUMUNE from Dr. Roger Loria, 3/16/2007]

However, Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals, a company whose stock soared to $35 at the news that the Neumune drug it had licensed from Dr. Loria had been awarded a sizable grant  [Hollis-Eden Announces Grant Awarded by  the Office of Naval ...Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... executes, and promotes the science and technology programs of the U.S. awarded DrRoger M. Loria, ... Eden+Announces+Grant... -], now sells for less than a dollar.

“What happened?” I asked Dr. Loria.

He didn’t know. “So I pitched it to the Israelis,” he said.

They didn’t want it either. Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals abandoned the project, tallied their losses at $90 million, and fired Richard Hollis, the founder of their company. [please see: Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals dismisses  CEO and founder ... Richard Hollis, chief executive of Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals, the company he founded in 1994, was fired Wednesday… -]

At least one bio-blogger was inflamed by the Neumune news after watching a 60 Minutes segment [Duck and Cover - and Kiss your Sweet Ass Goodbye ... The main competitors right now are Hollis-Eden, Amgen, and Akorn. ... according to chief executive officer Richard Hollis. ...] that discussed the man mostly responsible for NOT making Neumune available.

Alvira Black, the blogger, wrote:

Here's the 60 Minutes story in a nutshell. (Note: all quoted material unless otherwise noted is from the 60 Minutes transcript).
Hollis-Eden, a "small biotech company in San Diego" which had developed a drug which could serve as a "possible treatment for radiation sickness," was approached by the military in the summer of 2001. According to Bob Marsella, VP of the company, they were told during this visit that "we've been testing your drug and we've been looking for a drug like this for 40 years.'"
Two weeks after 9/11, the military came again and said they'd be interested in developing the drug for civilians as well as troops.

Marsella and his boss, Richard Hollis [my emphasis], did the numbers and realized that the potential market for their product could be huge--in the millions of units. They set about "circulating in Washington" trying to get investors in Washington who would get behind the drug.
But it was no go until President Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech. In it, he announced a new initiative.
'Project Bioshield' provided nearly 6 billion to create a biodefense industry. The program gave drug companies a powerful incentive to come up with new drugs to be used in the event of terrorist attacks. For the first time, there would be a guaranteed market for drugs if they tested successfully. It was the assurance Hollis-Eden had been waiting for....
With the prospect of a huge market, investors put money in the company and Hollis-Eden's stock soared from $5 to $35 a share....
Over the next three years, Hollis-Eden spent more than $100 million, with the expectation that the government would buy millions of doses.
And the beauty part? The new drug, Neumune, could actually be self-administered in the event of a nuclear attack.
So how does Simonson the Turtle--the man who oversees Project Bioshield-- shine in? Well, I'll tell you how. This past September, "the Department of Health & Human Services surprised everyone by announcing that it would commit to purchase a radiation drug from whichever company had the best product, but only 100,000 doses." Hollis-Eden's stock, needless to say, quickly plummeted.
"Assistant Secretary Simonson has been under fire for committing nearly a billion dollars to acquire a controversial new anthrax vaccine, but he has been given credit for successfully stockpiling drugs for smallpox."
Representative Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican who chairs the Committee that oversees Project Bioshield, feels that Simonson is "over his head" regarding this issue. Comparing him to Michael Brown, he observes that he has exhibited "the same kind of arrogance, a lack of expertise. This is a serious job at this point, and I think we need to have professionals filling it, not political appointees." As a matter of fact, Davis, who generally supports the Administration, called for the removal of Simonson from Bioshield in this 60 Minutes story.

Years have passed. Boxes of Neumune are not in a locked drawer of the desk of elementary school teachers in high population centers. Finding who is to blame could take much longer to unravel than the Benghazi cover-up. But that may not be necessary.

That’s because of a recent development that may achieve what Dr. Loria wasn’t able to with Neumune. Perhaps you’ll want to follow this story. I know I will.

New Drug Protects Against Nuclear Radiation
New Drug Protects Against Nuclear Radiation. ... protection in the event of nuclear or dirty bomb ... protection as they undergo radiation treatment. ...

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A drug developed with Pentagon approval offers protection from radiation in the event of a nuclear attack, U.S. and Israeli researchers said.
The medication could offer effective protection in the event of nuclear or dirty bomb attacks, an exclusive report published Friday in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth said.
The drug developed by Professor Andrei Gudkov may affect the future balance of world powers, the paper said, and will offer cancer sufferers better protection as they undergo radiation treatment.
The reporter spoke to Gudkov at his research laboratory at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. Israeli scientist Dr. Elena Feinstein, who was involved in the research, said the drug's effectiveness and safety has been proved although it does not offer 100 percent protection…

                                            B. Koplen 1/16/13

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Worth watching?

Relevance of Zero Dark Thirty       Every fall semester includes a class that is within days of the anniversary of the massacre of 9/11/2001. One of the first questions my class is asked to answer is an emphatic WHY? Most are honest enough to answer with blank expressions. Others either guess or insist that American actions provoked the attack.

We spend the next two weeks uncovering the real reasons. After watching Zero Dark Thirty, I’m hopeful many more will want to do the necessary research. That movie offers a place to begin. Quotes from bin Laden may attract more attention; if so, closer scrutiny may follow.

However, understanding Osama’s words requires a Rosetta stone. The quote that follows was taken from Osama bin Laden - Biography Osama bin Laden was the criminal mastermind behind Al-Qaida ... -.  I have already said that I am not involved in the September 11th attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children and other people. Such a practice is forbidden even in the course of a battle…”
As straightforward as this may appear, it is actually doublespeak, deception used as a tool of war. In Islam, the world is divided into the innocents, the believers of Dar al Islam, comprised of Muslims, and everyone else, non-believers, kuffar or infidels who belong to Dar al Harb, the world of war.  No one in the latter, Dar al Harb, is, by definition (since they are non-believers in Allah and Mohammed as the final prophet) is considered innocent.
That’s why, in an ideal world, jihad for the sake of Allah would successfully convert all of Dar al Harb to Dar al Islam. By grasping that core idea, it is easier to understand the imperial orientation of Islam. Non-Muslims must be confronted; they must be offered three choices. The first is to convert to Islam so that their misdeeds as kuffar will be forgiven instantly.
The second choice is much less appealing (if the first can be considered that). Non-Muslims can accept dhimmi status, i.e., can acknowledge that they are second class, (part of Dar al Harb) and that they must pay a poll tax or jizya to live under the protection of those who are part of Dar al Islam. Not accepting that status and its servile restraints leads to the third choice. Simply put, that’s war.
Regarding the first choice, examine this:
Osama bin Laden has urged Americans to convert to Islam in the first video message from the al-Qa'eda leader for three years, but issued no clear threat of attack as ...
You’ll find:
…Bin Laden addresses the American people directly, saying: "I invite you to embrace Islam"  [my emphasis] in order to achieve their "desire to stop the war" in Iraq and show "warmongering" major corporations that you have lost confidence in your democratic system".

Following the example of Mohammed, Osama reveals that his original claim that he had “…no knowledge of these attacks…” was false [please see the quote at the beginning of this piece]; he employed taqqiyah, deception, regarding 9/11 :

Bin Laden Claims Responsibility for 9/11. Published ... bin Laden said he wanted to explain,2933,137095,00.html

Targeting Osama was essential; his was an unpardonable crime. However, those who admired and praised him saw [and see] him as a martyr who had ascended to paradise since he was killed while waging jihad against infidels. [please see Surah 9:111 in the Koran] Muslims revered him for that.

One of my students, son of a Pakistani immigrant, spoke to me in distress the morning after bin Laden was killed. His father, a Muslim who was now an American, didn’t know how to feel about bin Ladin’s death. Although Osama had killed thousands, Osama was still a Muslim. And, according to my student, his father didn’t know whether he should be thankful for Osama’s death.

To find an answer, my student’s father called a relative in Pakistan. [Throughout Pakistan, population centers range from 95.3% Muslim to 99.6% Muslim; please see PAKISTAN - CENSUS POPULATION BY RELIGION ... Hindu: Qadiani: Scheduled: Others Unit (Jati) (Ahmadi) Castes : Pakistan: 96.28: 1.59: 1.60: 0.22: 0.25: 0.07: Rural: 96.49: 1.10: 1.80: 0.18: 0.34: - ] I’m not sure what advice the relative in Pakistan provided. I haven’t seen my former student since then.

However, after seeing Zero Dark Thirty, I wonder what the father of my student might think if he sees that movie. Chances are that his reaction would underscore its relevance.

                                                    B. Koplen 1/15/13

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