Whistling in the dark

Yaffa Phillips writes sporadically

Thought on Ariel Sharon’s death

Ariel Sharon, the 11th prime minister of Israel was a participant in the majority of Israel’s wars. He was considered a great military strategist. I would need to read a lot more about wars to be more specific than that.

As housing minister, he encouraged Jewish settlement in such a way Hamitnahalim Geder Bitahonas to make the Green line blurred through his Seven Stars housing plan. Many supported him for religious or nationalist reasons, others thought it would help with security while others took part in settlements for economic betterment through subsidized housing.

I am sympathetic to those who took/take part in this activity out of a genuine if misguided belief it would help keep Israel safe. The sticker above at right is translated as “The settlers are the true security fence”

It’s a shame that Ariel Sharon fell into a coma just as his hawkish ways were turning toward Peace with quotes like “You can not like the word, but what is happening is an occupation — to hold 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation. I believe that is a terrible thing for Israel and for the Palestinians. ” Source

I remember left wing protesters at the time holding up placards with the words of Ariel Sharon, which was quite a switch from this parody of a playful children’s song sung at protests against wars in Lebanon.

Red Eleynu protest songThe lyrics of the song are

Come down to us Aviron (airplane) - רד אלינו אוירון

Take us to Lebanon - קח אותנו ללבנון

We’ll fight for Sharon - נלחם בשביל שרון

And return in an Aron (coffin) - ונחזור בתוך ארון

The original lyrics were Come down to us plane, Taking us to the sky to play above the trees to be like the birds.

My perception is that Israel trusts its old men. State builders and hawks who turn into doves have greater credibility in the eyes of the general public. Whether they transform in light of newfound knowledge and maturity obtained in later life, due to the practicality of the two state solution in terms of population numbers or a self-centered eye toward their historical legacy I don’t know.  

I wonder if Benjamin Netanyahu will one day turn toward Peace and whether he will be in a position to effect change. It will be sad if Peace waits for him or those that come after as that would mean the founders of the state of Israel do not get a chance to see Peace in their lifetimes, similar to Moses being unable to enter the land of Israel as the biblical story goes.

It is easy to forget that these politicians are also people. There was an exhibition in 2008 “Moments of Home – רגעים של בית” featuring photographs by David Rubinger and Ziv Koren of Israeli politicians/public figures in their homes to serve as a reminder. This exhibition was part of Israel’s  60th birthday celebrations. It took place in Shuk Hapishpishim in Yafo -  June 25, 2008 – July 2, 2008. There were postcards of some of the images. Below are two photographs of the ones of Ariel Sharon.

Lily and Ariel Sharon in their home, Havat Hashikmim – Sycamore Ranch, 1989

Photo by David Rubinger - דוד רובינגר

1989 ,לילי ואריאל שרון בביתם, חוות השיקמים

Ariel and Lily Sharon at Home 1989 photo by David Rubinger

Ariel Sharon in his home Havat Hashikmim – Sycamore Ranch, 2001

Photo by Ziv Koren - זיו קורן

2001 ,אריאל שרון בביתו, חוות השיקמים

Ariel Sharon at home, 2001 photo by Ziv Koren

Another pair of Ariel Sharon photos can be found in Ziv Koren’s book Milestones. Screenshot below in case the site goes down. At left is an opponent of Disengagement from Settlements reading a biography of Ariel Sharon, at right Ariel Sharon is at a Picasso exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Screen Shot of p36-37 of Ziv Koren's milestones

And then there was also this randomness in 2003.

RIP Ariel Sharon. Obituary in Tablet Magazine here, with a famous photo of Ariel Sharon holding a sheep.

posted by Yaffa in Israel and have No Comments

Stargazing at RSPB Saltholme

RSPB Saltholme puts on great activities for families. Just as BBC Stargazing Live returned to our screens they held two live stargazing events on the reserve. Both events were fully booked well in advance so it is worth pre-booking early.

Volunteers from the Cleveland and Darlington Astronomical Society helped out for the evening. They generally meet monthly at the Wynyard Planetarium.

There were 3 activities to keep everyone busy. We took our two nephews and were lucky to have a clear night.

We were at capacity and split into two groups.

Our group went outside first. The volunteers had telescopes set up.  There was a small one pointed at the moon’s craters – well within reach of little ones. There were also step-ladders to reach the eyepieces on larger telescopes.

We could see Jupiter and its rings with four moons, a yellow star near a blue star, and given a historical eye test. The telescopes needed to be readjusted all the time as the stars moved due to the Earth’s constant rotation.

A great tip from the volunteers was that an amateur would do well with a pair of binoculars rather than a telescope as it would have a wider field of vision that wouldn’t have to constantly be readjusted.

It was a bit chilly so we went inside to have a warming cup of delicious vegetable soup and a bun and take part in activity 2 to make planispheres.

It was then time to swap with the other group and go upstairs for activity 3. A star dome, a portable planetarium was set up from Teesside University. You have to crawl into it, it looks like an inflated igloo. There is a moment when the tunnel is pitch black. I was concerned my younger nephew would panic and freak out (flashbacks of his former 5-year-old self at The Forbidden Corner shrieking and crying). Happily he pushed past his initial fear :o) One of the volunteers then showed us different constellations inside the dome, telling stories with drawings overlaid on the stars.

As we left they handed  out the BBC Stargazing calendar for 2014 – available online as a pdf.

A great early evening activity with the boys at “the bird place” who are now looking forward to the Big Garden Birdwatch

More star resources linked to from the BBC website:

60 Second Adventures in Astronomy

Star Party Pack

Stargazing Event Pack

posted by Yaffa in family,Hartlepool,Middlesbrough and have No Comments

Food Friday 2014 – Alzheimers and food

A friend recently linked to this article on Facebook. There is some research that Alzheimers may be Type-3 Diabetes.

There is also this 2012 piece by Mark Bittman, the comments question the scientific rigour of his piece but I think in addition to the scientific research there is value in a parallel public conversation that gets some of the initial ideas out there a la the god particle.

Does a potential link between the food we eat and Diabetes and/or Alzheimers affect your motivation to eat well?

I’m hoping these links will help me to make long term changes.


posted by Yaffa in food and have No Comments

A half day in Middlesbrough

Had a great time last month with a friend from abroad visiting. We spent a Wednesday morning in Middlesbrough and I thought I’d share our itinerary if you find yourself with a few hours.

eamonn-with-works-199x300We took the train into Middlesbrough Railway Station. On Platform Two we took a few minutes to look at the Best of Boro Paintings by Eamonn McGovern.

These are posters of his paintings of landmarks including Teesside University, the Dorman Museum, Riverside Stadium and more.

Photos from the launch event are on Facebook.

We exited the train station via the exit at platform 2. There is a taxi rank just outside it if you have enough time to go somewhere outside the Town Centre likeThe Captain Cook Birthplace Museum and Stewart Park. We were very restricted in time as my friend needed to catch a train back to London.

We walked up Cleveland Street past Boho 4 – Gibson House toward the Tees Transporter Bridge.

Boho 4

Boho 4 – Gibson House was built in 1872 and is a Grade II Listed Building.

It was named for architect John Gibson (not Steve Gibson, owner of Middlesbrough Football Club).

It was built on the site of the home of John Gilbert Holmes, one of Middlesbrough’s first Shipbuilders, and began life as the National Provincial Bank in the 19th century.

At the top of the front of the building you see Britannia and supporters, an ironworker and a miner, representing Middlesbrough’s industries of the time.

It is now prime office space in the Boho Zone home to digital & creative businesses.

Transporter Bridge by Mike Kipling

The Tees Transporter Bridge is currently undergoing refurbishments so we could not ride on it. It is still impressive to look at and a great way to bring up Middlesbrough and Teesside’s history of building bridges and structures around the world.

The Transporter is a total of 851 feet (259.3 metres) in length making it the longest Transporter Bridge remaining in the world.  The gondola can carry 200 people, 9 cars, or 6 cars and one minibus.

Happily there are some street banners on the road we were walking on featuring a head-on view of the bridge so she could get a better idea of the gondola (similar to the photo at left by Mike Kipling).

Pressed for time we missed the nearby Python Gallery.

We walked back toward the station and turned on Bridge Street toward Middlesbrough College and Riverside Stadium. It is a nice walk on a sunny if cold day. Passing by Ian Horn’s poem on the right, we were caught up in a stream of students heading to classes.

Where alchemists / Were born / Below Cleveland’s hills / A giant blue dragonfly / Across the Tees / Reminds us every night / We built the world, / Every metropolis / Came from Ironopolis.

We walked in through the College building, out the other end to have a look at Temenos by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond.

Temenos Sunset by Stephen Grey

From there we popped into Brasserie Hudson Quay for a couple of cappuccinos, the great atmosphere and a warm and had a great view of the dock and the old clock tower.

We walked back to the town centre via the Cinema onto Corporation Road past Doc Browns and La Pharmacie. We popped into Gallery TS1 to admire the works by local artists. It’s also a great place for unique souvenirs/cards to send to people as many of the works are inspired by local landmarks.

We passed the Middlesbrough Empire, the Grade II listed theatre, where Harry Houdini once performed and the impressive Grade II listed Middlesbrough Town Hall with four life size statues in niches on the façade of the building representing Music, Painting, Literature and Commerce.

We headed into the shops. If we had a bit more time we would have done the Department Store Dash with BHSDebenhamsHouse of Fraser and Marks  & Spencer all within walking distance of each other. We managed to pop into PrimarkThe Works and Claire’s Accessories on the hunt for One Direction presents for a little girl back home. (They are big abroad too).

It was great to realise just how many options we have for a warm drink and a snackMink,White’s CafeEspresso 10CaffechinnoThe Olde Young Tea HouseChilli Cake Deli,Elliott’s and The Baker Street Kitchen along with EsquiresCaffe NeroCosta Coffee andStarbucks plus the great cafes in the department stores mentioned above.

I pointed out Baker Street as we walked up Linthorpe Road to hit Lots of Loveliness,Psyche and Howl (which was on her list to see because of all the daft photos I share on Faceboook!)

If we only had a couple more hours we would have walked all the way up Linthorpe Road to the Dorman Museum and Albert Park. There were some great exhibitions on.

Aliya at the Bottle of NotesKeeping an eye on the time we headed back to Centre Square for a visit to mima to see the fabulous William Tillyer exhibition and for a quick pose by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Bottle of Notes inspired by Captain James Cook.

On the way back to the railway station I will admit that with all of the great eating out and cafe options we went to McDonalds. Sometimes fast food is just what you’re in the mood for.

We had a great time!

Would you have done anything differently if you had a guest in Middlesbrough for half a day? Please share your ideas below!

Also published on the Love Middlesbrough blog.

posted by Yaffa in art,food,Middlesbrough and have No Comments

Recommended newish music

The Villagers, Alessi’s Ark, Woodpigeon, Fake MajorCattle & Cane, Ghost Kollective & Sara Dennis.

Also really enjoyed the video below mocking what is wrong with country music, and thoroughly enjoyed the creator’s recommendations for decent country/Americana/folk.

posted by Yaffa in music and have No Comments