‘The One State Reality’

A worth reading article in New Yorker by David Remnick.

Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, the new President of Israel, is ardently opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state. He is instead a proponent of Greater Israel, one Jewish state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. He professes to be mystified that anyone should object to the continued construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank: “It can’t be ‘occupied territory’ if the land is your own.”

Rivlin does not have the starched personality of an ideologue, however. He resembles a cheerfully overbearing Borscht Belt comedian who knows too many bad jokes to tell in a single set but is determined to try. Sitting in an office decorated with mementos of his right-wing Zionist lineage, he unleashes a cataract of anecdotes, asides, humble bromides, corny one-liners, and historical footnotes. At seventy-five, he has the florid, bulbous mug of a cartoon flatfoot, if that flatfoot were descended from Lithuanian Talmudists and six generations of Jerusalemites. Rivlin’s father, Yosef, was a scholar of Arabic literature. (He translated the Koran and “The Thousand and One Nights.”) Ruvi Rivlin’s temperament is other than scholarly. He is, in fact, given to categorical provocations. After a visit some years ago to a Reform synagogue in Westfield, New Jersey, he declared that the service was “idol worship and not Judaism.”

And yet, since Rivlin was elected President, in June, he has become Israel’s most unlikely moralist. Rivlin—not a left-wing writer from Tel Aviv, not an idealistic justice of the Supreme Court—has emerged as the most prominent critic of racist rhetoric, jingoism, fundamentalism, and sectarian violence, the highest-ranking advocate among Jewish Israelis for the civil rights of the Palestinians both in Israel and in the occupied territories. Last month, he told an academic conference in Jerusalem, “It is time to honestly admit that Israel is sick, and it is our duty to treat this illness.”

Around Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Rivlin made a video in which he sat next to an eleven-year-old Palestinian Israeli boy from Jaffa who had been bullied: the two held up cards to the camera calling for empathy, decency, and harmony. “We are exactly the same,” one pair read. A couple of weeks ago, Rivlin visited the Arab town of Kafr Qasim to apologize for the massacre, in 1956, of forty-eight Palestinian workers and children by Israeli border guards. No small part of the Palestinian claim is that Israel must take responsibility for the Arab suffering it has caused. Rivlin said, “I hereby swear, in my name and that of all our descendants, that we will never act against the principle of equal rights, and we will never try and force someone from our land.”



 Posted By F. Sheikh

Is Quantum Entanglement Real? By David Kaiser

FIFTY years ago this month, the Irish physicist John Stewart Bell submitted a short, quirky article to a fly-by-night journal titled Physics, Physique, Fizika. He had been too shy to ask his American hosts, whom he was visiting during a sabbatical, to cover the steep page charges at a mainstream journal, the Physical Review. Though the journal he selected folded a few years later, his paper became a blockbuster. Today it is among the most frequently cited physics articles of all time.

Bell’s paper made important claims about quantum entanglement, one of those captivating features of quantum theory that depart strongly from our common sense. Entanglement concerns the behavior of tiny particles, such as electrons, that have interacted in the past and then moved apart. Tickle one particle here, by measuring one of its properties — its position, momentum or “spin” — and its partner should dance, instantaneously, no matter how far away the second particle has traveled.

The key word is “instantaneously.” The entangled particles could be separated across the galaxy, and somehow, according to quantum theory, measurements on one particle should affect the behavior of the far-off twin faster than light could have traveled between them.

Entanglement insults our intuitions about how the world could possibly work. Albert Einstein sneered that if the equations of quantum theory predicted such nonsense, so much the worse for quantum theory. “Spooky actions at a distance,” he huffed to a colleague in 1948.

In his article, Bell demonstrated that quantum theory requires entanglement; the strange connectedness is an inescapable feature of the equations. But Bell’s proof didn’t show that nature behaved that way, only that physicists’ equations did. The question remained: Does quantum entanglement occur in the world?

Starting in the early 1970s, a few intrepid physicists — in the face of critics who felt such “philosophical” research was fit only for crackpots — found that the answer appeared to be yes.

John F. Clauser, then a young postdoctoral researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was the first. Using duct tape and spare parts, he fashioned a contraption to measure quantum entanglement. Together with a graduate student named Stuart Freedman, he fired thousands of pairs of little particles of light known as photons in opposite directions, from the middle of the device, toward each of its two ends. At each end was a detector that measured a property of the photon known as polarization.


Posted By F. Sheikh

Why John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight Is Better Than The Daily Show and Colbert

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

I haven’t watched an entire episode of The Daily Show or The Colbert Report in months. My disengagement coincided with the debut of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, which ended its first season Sunday night. Oliver’s show gives me the same giddy charge that really great segments of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report once did. If you’re a fan of those Comedy Central time-slot-mates, you share their embedded video segments not just because they’re repeating your favorite bits of received political wisdom (which is a huge part of their appeal), but because there’s a high level of craft happening from one minute to the next: clever writing, acting, editing, and graphics. But there’s a big difference between those shows and Last Week: When I watch John Oliver, I feel as if some sort of progress is being made.

Not political progress, mind you. I doubt any mainstream TV show can promise such a thing, even one that, like both The Daily Show and Colbert, combines the practiced irreverence of Saturday Night Live and the deep-dish research of a 60 Minutes or Frontline. The Daily Show has been calling out Republican retro-yahoo policies and Democratic hypocrisy and blundering with hard evidence ever since Stewart took over, and that stuff is still the show’s bread and butter (the “interview with an earnest ninny who doesn’t know he’s being made fun of” segment used to be equally central to the show but hasn’t been in years). No, I’m talking about a combination of aesthetic and journalistic progress. Last Week is doing what media watchdogs (including the Peabody Awards) keep saying that The Daily Show does—

practicing real journalism in comedy form—but it’s doing it better, and in a simpler, yet more ambitious, ultimately more useful way. If Stewart’s show is doing what might be called a reported feature, augmenting opinions with facts, Oliver’s show is doing something closer to pure reporting, or what the era of web journalism calls an “explainer,” often without a hook, or the barest wisp of a hook. Sunday night’sseason-ending episode of Last Week included a lot of terrific shtick, including Oliver’s riff on a CBS Sunday Morning segment celebrating a “salmon cannon” that helped salmon swim upstream against a dam-induced current to spawn; this led to a dadaist gimmick with him firing fish (somehow) onto the sets of other TV programs, including The Daily Show’s. 


Posted By F. Sheikh


Book Review: Gideon’s Trumpet submitted by Shoeb Amin


The book review category on the TF has not been used so far and i’d like to start with a review of a book I read recently. It is a book which is a “must read” for all students of law schools. This is a book about how a poor prisoner radically changed the justice system of the USA.

I hope more people will share their thoughts on what they have read recently; kind of have a virtual book club.

Shoeb Amin

Name of book: Gideon’s Trumpet

Author: Anthony Lewis

It is hard to imagine that as recent as 1962, if you were to stand trial for a felony and you were poor and could not afford an attorney, you had two choices. You either acted as your own attorney or you had to find a lawyer who would defend you pro bono.

And then came Clarence Earl Gideon. Gideon was a poor Florida man who had been in and out of jobs, in and out of jails, in and out of relationships and in and out of residences; essentially a bum. He was charged for illegally entering and stealing from a club. Being poor, he could not afford a lawyer. At his trial he asked the judge to appoint a lawyer for his defense; the judge refused based on the current State law. Gideon was convicted and sent to jail for one more time. From his jail cell he had the nerve to write a petition to the Supreme Court of the US. As luck would have it his petition – out of the hundreds received by the Supreme Court – was accepted. His case was assigned to a top lawyer, Abe Fortas, who took it on without getting paid.

The book describes the path Gideon’s petition takes in great detail from the secretary who opens the mail on through all the steps before reaching the Chief Justices, their deliberations, the oral arguments and finally their landmark decision.

The book is a great window into how the judicial system works; some may find it too technical. It describes how the law that was in effect until then came into being, how it had been challenged at both the appellate level and in the Supreme Court.

The law existing at the time offered the right to a “public defender” only in cases of murder and other major crimes, not for all felony cases. One of the main reasons it was not offered in minor felony cases was the worry that it would be too expensive. But those justices finally took the expense out of the equation and unanimously changed the law for all states to follow. Some fifty years later it is hard to imagine a citizen did not have a right that we now consider so basic. Could we be wondering the same 50 years from now that there were people who were trying to deny citizens another basic right – that of health insurance because it was too expensive?

All in all, Gideon’s Trumpet is a fascinating read.