I am not a great fan of German achievement. I believe that a Lexus or a Cadillac is better than a BMW or Mercedes. But I do acknowledge that Germans have a way with words. They created words that other languages simply do not have. Schadenfreude is such a word. In case you are not familiar with it, it takes 7 English words to define it: "malicious satisfaction in the misfortunes of others". The dictionary also explains it with a quote from the New York Times about historian Peter Gay, who felt Schadenfreude as a Jewish child in Nazi-era Berlin, watching the Germans lose coveted gold medals in the 1936 Olympics. He said that it "can be one of the great joys of life."
All this is a prelude to inform you that I felt and greatly enjoyed Schadenfreude recently. A friend had recently come back from a trip To Russia . He told us that he saw beautiful flowers at an expensive flower shop in Moscow and asked where these out-of-season flowers had come from. "Holland", he was told. "Most of our flowers come from Holland but the Dutch buy a lot of them from Israel and resell them throughout Europe. We are lucky to get them. They are so beautiful."
Another friend spent a week in the French countryside where he enjoyed a wonderful tasty fruit, apparently some kind of a cross of a peach and a plum. He asked what it was and was told that it was imported from Israel, the only place where it was cultivated.
I am sure that at least some of the flowers, fruit and vegetables that cater to European sophisticates came from the more than 3000 Gaza Greenhouses. They were all built on barren empty land by the Jews who, until a few years ago, employed over 12,000 Palestinians there.
Since the start of the last Intifada and several terror attacks by the more demented employees, the number of Arabs working the greenhouses was drastically reduced, and they were replaced by Thais, Africans and Filipinos. During the months of preparation for the Israeli withdrawal there were many questions on what should be done with the greenhouses. They were state-of-art agricultural marvels, with their own sophisticated temperature and humidity control systems. They turned out millions of dollars worth of produce yearly and they were a source of employment for thousands of people in an area where close to 40% were unemployed.
Should these marvellous structures be destroyed? Moved? Abandoned? And then a wonderful and heartwarming solution was found. A small group of wealthy American Jews decided to buy the greenhouses from Israel and donate them to the Palestinian Authority. One of the donors was former World Bank president James Wolfensohn, who put up $500,000 of his own money. All in all, $14 million was collected, the deal was done and appreciative Palestinian spokesmen announced that the greenhouses would become the cornerstone of the future Palestinian economy.
So where is the Schadenfreude, you say? Happy ending for all, right? Palestinians get the greenhouses, Israelis get $14 million and the small group of admirable Jews in America get the warm feeling of having made the world a more tolerant and loving place where Arabs appreciate Jewish kindness and are less eager to murder Jews, right?
Well, no, not really. Have you heard the old story about a scorpion that asked a fox to carry him across a river? The fox refused. "You are a scorpion and you might sting me," he said. The scorpion scoffed."Don't be ridiculous. Why would I sting you? We would both drown if I do," he said. The fox thought this made sense and told him to climb on his back. Halfway across the river, the scorpion stung the fox. "Why? Why did you do that? We'll both drown," cried the drowning fox. "I know, my friend, but this is the Middle East," said the scorpion before dying.
Just an hour or so after the Jews left Gaza, thousands of Palestinians swarmed into the empty settlements. The Palestinian police stood and watched the mob demolish the abandoned synagogues and set them on fire. They also watched with interest as part of the crowd turned on the greenhouses, breaking windows, taking plates of glass, wiring, computer and electronic parts, irrigation pipes and timers. It didn't take long - after a few hours or so the greenhouses that it had taken years to build were just so much junk.
And so I have Schadenfreude. The Palestinians will not export flowers to Holland or fruit to France. The greenhouses will not be rebuilt. The Palestinian economy, such as it is, will continue to be mired in corruption, hatred and violence. They will suffer Schadenfreude, but still, they'll never admit that it was their own fault.
And I also have Schadenfreude towards the naive rich Jews who thought that the Arab reaction to their gift would be based on logic and not on inbred hatred. You silly people. Didn't you learn yet that this is the Middle East where scorpions sting, even if this means their own destruction? You lost $14 million and you know, I am glad you did. I only hope that Israel cashed the $14 million check before it was too late.
This story is hard to verify because the person in question is dead, but if it is true, it's very funny. So this is how it goes. When US astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon, he spoke some immortal words: "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind".
But what was not broadcast on that momentous occasion was something that Armstrong muttered immediately after those words. Apparently Armstrong whispered: "Good luck Mr Gronski". For decades, NASA personnel who were aware of this had never been able to get Armstrong to reveal why he said this. But here is the explanation.When Neil Armstrong was a little kid playing in his backyard, he happened to overhear an argument between his neighbours, Mr and Mrs Gronski. When Mr Gronski complained that his wife refused to give him a blowjob, Mrs Gronski allegedly shouted, "Gronski, you will get a blowjob from me when that kid next door walks on the moon."
In 1933, a beautiful young Austrian woman took off her clothes for a movie director. She ran through the woods, naked. She swam in a lake, naked. Pushing well beyond the social norms of the period. The most popular movie in 1933 was King Kong. But everyone in Hollywood was talking about that scandalous movie with the gorgeous, young Austrian woman.
Louis B Mayer, of the giant studio MGM, said that she was the most beautiful woman in the world. The film was banned practically everywhere, which of course made it even more popular and valuable. Mussolini reportedly refused to sell his copy at any price.
The star of the film, called Ecstasy, was Hedwig Kiesler. She said that the secret of her beauty was "to stand there and look stupid." In reality, Kiesler was anything but stupid. She was a genius. She'd grown up as the only child of a prominent Jewish banker. She was a mathematics prodigy. She excelled at science. As she grew older, she became ruthless, using all the power her body and mind gave her.
Between the sexual roles she played, her tremendous beauty and the power of her intellect, Kiesler would confound the men in her life including her six husbands, two of the most ruthless dictators of the 20th century and one of the greatest movie producers in history. Her beauty made her rich for a time. She is said to have made and spent $30 million in her life. But her greatest accomplishment resulted from her intellect, and her invention continues to shape the world we live in today.
You see, this young Austrian starlet would take one of the most valuable technologies ever developed right from under Hitler's nose. After fleeing to America, she not only became a major Hollywood star, her name sits on one of the most important patents ever granted by the US Patent Office.
Today, when you use your cell phone or, over the next few years, as you experience super-fast wireless Internet access via something called "long-term evolution" or "LTE" technology, you'll be using an extension of the technology a 20- year-old actress first conceived while sitting at dinner with Hitler.
At the time she made Ecstasy, Kiesler was married to one of the richest men in Austria. Friedrich Mandl was Austria's leading arms maker. His firm would become a key supplier to the Nazis. Mandl used his beautiful young wife as a showpiece at important business dinners with representatives of the Austrian, Italian and German fascist forces.
One of Mandl's favourite topics at these gatherings - which included meals with Hitler and Mussolini - was the technology surrounding radio-controlled missiles and torpedoes. Wireless weapons offered far greater ranges than the wire-controlled alternatives that prevailed at the time. Kiesler sat through these dinners "looking stupid," while absorbing everything she heard.
As a Jew, Kiesler hated the Nazis. She abhorred her husband's business ambitions. Mandl responded to his wilful wife by imprisoning her in his castle, Schloss Schwarzenau. In 1937, she managed to escape. She drugged her maid, sneaked out of the castle wearing the maid's clothes and sold her jewellery to finance a trip to London. She got out just in time.
In 1938, Germany annexed Austria. The Nazis seized Mandl's factory. He was half Jewish. Mandl fled to Brazil. Later, he became an adviser to Argentina's iconic populist president, Juan Peron.
In London, Kiesler arranged a meeting with Louis B Mayer. She signed a long-term contract with him, becoming one of MGM's biggest stars. She appeared in more than 20 films. She was a co-star to Clark Gable, Judy Garland and even Bob Hope. Each of her first seven MGM movies was a blockbuster.
But Kiesler cared far more about fighting the Nazis than about making movies. At the height of her fame, in 1942, she developed a new kind of communications system, optimised for sending coded messages that couldn't be jammed. She was building a system that would allow torpedoes and guided bombs to always reach their targets. She was building a system to kill Nazis.
By the 1940s, both the Nazis and the Allied forces were using the kind of single-frequency radio-controlled technology Kiesler's ex-husband had been peddling. The drawback of this technology was that the enemy could find the appropriate frequency and jam or intercept the signal, thereby interfering with the missile's intended path.
Kiesler's key innovation was to "change the channel." It was a way of encoding a message across a broad area of the wireless spectrum. If one part of the spectrum was jammed, the message would still get through on one of the other frequencies being used. The problem was, she could not figure out how to synchronize the frequency changes on both the receiver and the transmitter. To solve the problem, she turned to perhaps the world's first techno-musician, George Anthiel.
Anthiel was an acquaintance of Kiesler who achieved some notoriety for creating intricate musical compositions. He synchronised his melodies across twelve player pianos, producing stereophonic sounds no one had ever heard before. Kiesler incorporated Anthiel's technology for synchronising his player pianos. Then, she was able to synchronise the frequency changes between a weapon's receiver and its transmitter.
On 11 August 1942, US Patent No 2,292,387 was granted to Antheil and Hedy Kiesler Markey, which was Kiesler's married name at the time. Most of you won't recognise the name Kiesler.
And no one would remember the name Hedy Markey. But it's a fair bet than anyone reading this newsletter of a certain age will remember one of the great beauties of Hollywood's golden age - Hedy Lamarr. That's the name Louis B Mayer gave to his prize actress. That's the name his movie company made famous.
Meanwhile, almost no one knows Hedwig Kiesler – aka Hedy Lamarr - was one of the great pioneers of wireless communications. Her technology was developed by the US Navy, which has used it ever since. You are probably using Lamarr's technology, too. Her patent sits at the foundation of spread spectrum technology, which you use every day when you log on to a Wi-Fi network or make calls with your Bluetooth-enabled phone.
It lies at the heart of the massive investments being made right now in so-called fourth-generation LTE wireless technology. This next generation of cell phones and cell towers will provide tremendous increases to wireless network speed and quality, by spreading wireless signals across the entire available spectrum. This kind of encoding is only possible using the kind of frequency switching that Hedwig Kiesler invented.
As is the case with many of the famous women inventors, Lamarr received very little recognition of her innovative talent at the time, but more recently she was showered with praise for her groundbreaking invention. In 1997, she and George Anthiel were honoured with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Pioneer Award. And later in the same year, Lamarr became the first female recipient of the BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award, a prestigious lifetime accomplishment prize for inventors that is dubbed "The Oscar of Inventing".
Proving that she was much more than just another pretty face, Lamarr shattered stereotypes and earned a place among the 20th century's most important women inventors. She truly was a visionary whose technological acumen was far ahead of its time. And now you know the rest of the story.
Why are so many colleges and universities openly opposed to permitting Thomas Sowell to lecture their students and faculties? Sowell grew up in Harlem, New York City. He served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University and obtained a Master’s degree from Columbia University. He is an economist, social theorist, philosopher, author, senior fellow at the Hoover institution, Stanford University. He is a recipient of the National Humanities Medal, Francis Boyer Award and other honours. Sowell said the following:
No society ever thrived because it had a large and growing class of parasites living off those who produce.
The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, as how many conservatives there are in their sociology department.
Too much of what is called “education” is little more than an expensive isolation from reality.
The welfare state is the oldest con game in the world. First you take people’s money away quietly and then you give some of it back to them flamboyantly.
It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions into the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.
One of the consequences of such notions as “entitlements” is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to grace us with their presence.
I have never understood why it is “greed” to want to keep the money you’ve earned, but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.
Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.
The following revelations are attributed to the wartime leader of Britain and they are very wise words indeed.
Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions.
You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.
Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.
A nation that forgets its past has no future.
The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible.
If you're not a liberal at twenty, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative at forty, you have no brain.
Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy. Its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.
There is nothing government can give you that it hasn't taken from you in the first place.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
A good speech should be like a woman's skirt: long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.
A pessimist seen the difficulty in every opportunity: an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea.
One man with conviction will overwhelm a hundred who have only opinions.
The main vice of capitalism is the uneven distribution of prosperity. The main vice of socialism is the even distribution of misery.
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.
You don't make the poor richer by making the rich poorer.
A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.
Life can either be accepted changed. If it is not accepted, it must be changed. If it cannot be changed, then it must be accepted.
We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
I'd rather argue against a hundred idiots than have one agree with me.
Islam is more dangerous in a man than rabies in a dog.
In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.
Life is fraught with opportunities to keep your mouth shut.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Free people are not equal. Equal people are not free. (Think this one over and over…makes sense!)
A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and don't have one, you'll probably never need one again.
Here are six Conundrums of socialism in the United States of America.
Think about it! And that pretty much sums up the USA in the 21st Century. It makes you wonder who is doing the math.
These three, short sentences tell you a lot about the direction of the current US government and cultural environment.
"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools." - Plato.
1876: "The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys." — William Preece, British Post Office.
1876: "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication." — President of Western Union, William Orton.
1903: "The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty - a fad." — President of the Michigan Savings Bank, advising Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Company.
1943: "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." — Chairman of IBM, Thomas Watson.
1946: "Television won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night." — 20th Century Fox studio executive Darryl Zanuck.
1959: "Before man reaches the moon, your mail will be delivered within hours from New York to Australia by guided missiles. We stand on the threshold of rocket mail." — US Postmaster General, Arthur Summerfield.
1961: "There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television or radio service inside the United States." — Federal Communications Commission commissioner TAM Craven.
1966: "Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop." — Time Magazine.
1977: "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home." — Founder of Digital Equipment Corp Ken Olsen, in a speech to the World Future Society.
1981: "Cellular phones will absolutely not replace local wire systems." — Inventor Marty Cooper
1995: "I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse." — Founder of 3 Com, Robert Metcalfe.
1996: "Apple is a chaotic mess without a strategic vision and certainly no future." — Time Magazine.
1996: "Apple's erratic performance has given it the reputation on Wall Street of a stock a long-term investor would probably avoid." — Fortune Magazine.
1996: "Whether they stand alone or are acquired, Apple as we know it is cooked. It's so classic. It's so sad." — Forrester Research analyst quoted in the New York Times.
1997: "Apple is already dead." — Former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold.
2002: "Within five years, I predict the tablet will be the most popular form of PC sold in America." — Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in a speech at Comdex introducing the Windows tablet PC.
2003: "The subscription model of buying music is bankrupt. I think you could make available the Second Coming in a subscription model, and it might not be successful." — Steve Jobs interview with Rolling Stone.
2004: "Two years from now, spam will be solved." — Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum
2006: "Everyone's always asking me when Apple will come out with a cell phone. My answer is, 'Probably never.'" — New York Times journalist David Pogue
2007: "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share." — Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.
If anybody wondered why immigrants from non-English-speaking nations find it so difficult to grasp the English language, especially the spelling, here is the explanation. Just one common suffix - "ough" - will demonstrate the utter stupidity and illogic of English.
This is only a small example of the many illogical ways that English is written and pronounced, so we should feel very sorry for anybody who is trying to learn the language. Foreigners completely mastering English from scratch are few and far between.
In the 1400s, a law was passed in England that a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence we have the "Rule Of Thumb".
Many years ago in Scotland, a new game was invented. It was ruled "Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden" and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language.
The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV was Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
The first novel ever written on a typewriter was "Tom Sawyer".
Coca-Cola was originally green.
Bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers and laser printers have one thing in common. All were invented by women.
In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When somebody pulled on the ropes, the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on, hence the phrase "Goodnight, sleep tight".
It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the honeymoon.
In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them "Mind your pints and quarts and settle down." It's where we get the phrase "Mind your Ps and Qs".
Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim or handle of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle" is the phrase inspired by this practice.
Hogan's Heroes was a hilarious and iconic 1960's American TV series, set in a World War 2 Luftwaffe prisoner of war camp. Colonel Robert Hogan and his band of undercover agents masquerading as prisoners of war, along with the bumbling commandant Colonel Wilhelm Klink, the impossible-to-hate Sergeant Schultz and the cast of excellent actors made this show a smash hit that is still revered to this very day.
One of the almost bizarre facets of Hogan's Heroes was the casting. Not many people realise that many of the actors and nearly all of the regular Nazis in the show were actually Jewish actors, some of whom had fled the Nazis and had actually been incarcerated in concentration camps.
For really terrific and comprehensive biographies on the Jewish cast of Hogan's Heroes, Hogan's Jews is hard to beat and makes very fascinating reading.
The shortest war on record was fought between England and Zanzibar in 1890. Zanzibar surrendered in 38 minutes.
Iceland consumes the most Coca Cola per capita in the world.
Lake Superior in the USA is the world's largest body of fresh water.
New Zealand was the first country to allow women to vote.
Iran, formerly Persia, is the oldest country in the world.
The Queen of England has a toilet with a diamond seat and marble base.
Libya is the only country with a solid single coloured flag. It is green.
Saluting derived from the custom of knights raising their visors when passing their monarchs.
In Alaska it is illegal to look at a moose from any flying vehicle.
People in England used to wash their faces with urine to keep them smooth and pale.
Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii is the highest mountain in the world when measured from its underwater base.
Ancient Vikings navigated their ships using fleas because fleas always jump to the north.
Every day, more money is printed for Monopoly than the US Treasury.
Men can read smaller print than women can, but women can hear better.
It is impossible to lick your elbow.
Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.
Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history: Spades - King David, Hearts - Charlemagne, Clubs -Alexander the Great, Diamonds - Julius Caesar.
111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died because of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
The only food that doesn't spoil is honey.