Saturday, October 29, 2005

Iranian rhetoric strikes again

Earlier this month I wrote a blog entry on "Wiesenthal's struggle remembered" about the ongoing presence of antisemitism.

Now the old pronouncement of Ayatollah Khomeini has reappeared:

The comments have been widely condemned but not so much in the Middle East (except for Egypt and the Palestinian Authority):

As usual the perpetrators claim the remarks are not anti-Jewish, just anti-Israel and anti-Zionist.

Update (Dec. 2006): Now Iran has sponsored a holocaust conference whose purpose is to deny that the holocaust happened. I agree with Canada's Prime Minister:

Google's satellite maps

If you haven't tried it yet, try Google Maps on your home town or a world capital that you have visited.

  • Enter a city in the search box (e.g., Edmonton or London - it's great!) and hit SEARCH.
  • Then select HYBRID, which brings up a combination of the street map and satellite image.
  • Hit the + sign to zoom in or the - sign to zoom out
  • Click and hold mouse button to navigate map (or use the arrows)
  • Select MAP for the normal street map view

It's pretty cool and really gives a sense of where things are in relation to each other, where the green spaces, rivers and lakes are, and what the buildings are like.

Interestingly, the satellite feature has raised security concerns in India:

Zooming in can reveal cars, boats, etc., which reminds me of a scene from John Le Carre's Little Drummer Girl - I think - where real-time satellite images were used to identify a training camp in the desert and target individual terrorists.

More about Google's satellite images

Monday, October 03, 2005

Wiesenthal's struggle remembered

Simon Wiesenthal has died and his passing is a watershed in the history of the Holocaust and its aftermath. He survived the Nazi death camps and devoted the rest of his life to bringing the perpetrators to justice, achieving considerable success:

Historical Perpective

For some reason I have always been interested in the history of WW II. Perhaps it's because so many of my relatives fought in it, some becoming medal-earning heroes, some suffering in prison camps for 4 long years, and all being indelibly marked by the experience.

Maybe it's why I started to read everything I could about 20th C European history, especially that of Germany and England. It wasn't long until I became fascinated by how citizens of one of the most cultured nations of the world could first elect Hitler to power and then actively or passively accept his "final solution to the Jewish problem":

Of course, Germans during the Third Reich weren't the only ones to target Jews, as violent attacks against the Jews (pogroms) flourished in Russia and Eastern Europe, notably Poland, in the 19th C and early 20th C.

Role of German Physicians in the Third Reich
To me, one of the most striking realities of Hitler's reign was the role played by physicians. For example:

Today, anti-semitism occurs pretty much everywhere and seems to be on the rise in Europe.

Could a holocaust happen again? Absolutely, unless we all recognize antisemitism and work to combat it:

Murder at 30,000 feet?

Have you seen the news that using cell phones on airplanes will soon be possible. Isn't that great?

I love what Thomas Friedman (NY Times columnist and author) wrote in several of his books and said in this speech about overconnectedness:

"If I'm being bombarded constantly by people wanting to get in touch with me, I, frankly, can't think.

Now, I don't know about all you, but people call my office and they say, "Is Tom Friedman there?" My secretary says, "He's not in." They say, "Well, connect me to his cell phone or his pager." The assumption now is that you are always in. You are never out anymore. Out is over. Forget about out. You are always in now. Of course, if you're always in, it means you're always on, and if you're always on, what are you like?

What else is always on 24/7, 365? Well, of course, a computer server. I, frankly, don't want to live my life like a computer server."

Friedman then goes on to discuss continuous partial attention, a term coined by Microsoft's Linda Stone. See

As a former instructor I know that being on all the time is stressful. And being constantly bombarded with external stimuli like e-mail, television, and loud music is stressful. How much stress can we take?

Which leads me back to cell phones on planes: Just think of it. Passengers all over the plane loudly letting us know how important they are by calling whomever about whatever throughout the flight. Scrap road rage. How about flight fury?

Murder at 30,000 feet may become commonplace (at least in our minds)! <8-)

Physicians who respect co-workers

Dr. Donald Buchanan (1914-1988), Medical Director of the Edmonton Blood Transfusion Service from 1949 - 1979, who did pioneering work in immunohematology (on the -D- and Fy3 phenotypes, as well as Diego and Lutheran blood groups) has been honoured as one of Alberta's

Dr. Buchanan was a remarkable man, and one of his most remarkable traits was that he treated medical laboratory technologists with respect and honored their expertise. For many reasons he was an inspiration to those who had the privilege to work with him and is most deserving of being a Physician of the Century.

Isn't it sad that treating other healthcare professionals with respect is a mark of distinction? What does it say about many (not all) physicians? Are things different in the 21st C? Just wondering....