Monday, January 28, 2013

Iran's Space Monkey

Photograph: Iranian Ministry of Defence
Photograph: Iranian Ministry of Defence

Iran has sent a monkey into space (according to Iran). The monkey was not very happy about going into space; the Iranians seem more enthused. The chronology of the pictures, released by the Iranian MoD, is not certain, but judging by the numbered filenames, this appears to be the likely order.
The Iranian space monkey all dressed up and ready to go.
The Iranian space monkey having second thoughts.
The Iranian space monkey is deeply regretting this idea.
This is the rocket the Iranian space monkey went into space in. The actual flight was reported by Iran's state-owned Fars news agency to have peaked at 120km, 20km above the international-boundary for space.
The monkey, back on earth alive. According to the Iranian government.
Before you apportion too much blame to the Iranian government, space monkeys tend not to be very happy. This is Miss Baker, sent to space by the US government in 1959

New Book: The Jesus Discovery

The paperback edition of The Jesus Discovery is to be released February 19th.

There is lots more on the discoveries in the Talpiot “Patio” tomb coming soon…stay tuned. 

In the meantime don’t miss Simcha Jacobovici’s latest post below:

Sounds of Silence: Prof. Kloner and His Colleagues Don’t Answer Simcha’s Criticisms

In my post, I pointed out that there is something very, very wrong with Prof. Kloner’s report. Specifically:

1. He is very enthusiastic about his “new revelations” concerning the “Patio tomb” in the Talpiot suburb of Jerusalem. This tomb which is under an Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) license to Prof. Rami Arav and Prof. James Tabor as an ongoing excavation is only 60 meters from the alleged tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. Kloner was in the tomb in 1981. Why did it take him 33 years to publish a report? Incompetence? Laziness? Cover up?

2. Over the past 33 years, he said there were seven ossuaries in the tomb. He then revealed that there were eight. Why did he misreport?

3. He published that there were two inscriptions in the tomb. He now admits that there were three. Why the misreport?

4. He said that the two inscriptions were “Greek names”. He also said he did not have time to read them before he was chased out of the tomb by Jewish ultra-orthodox activists. He now admits that all along he knew the names. Why did he misreport?

5. The third inscription is not a name at all, but a declaration of faith. Why did he not report a four line inscription that is not a name? Why did he misreport?

6. In the official catalogue of IAA ossuaries, Rahmani misreported the location of the tomb. Kloner now says that this was done on purpose. Why did they misreport the location of the tomb?

7. Kloner first reported that he was only a few minutes in the tomb, then he changed his story to 15 minutes, then to two hours and 15 minutes, now it’s two days. Why did he misreport the time the archaeologists had in the tomb?

8. Kloner had no physical anthropologist with him, did not remove the bones from the ossuaries or from the tomb, and has never said anything about the physical remains of the individuals buried in the tomb. He now publishes exact numbers of individuals buried in every single ossuary, estimating that there were approximately 21-26 people buried in the tomb. Since everyone knows that it’s impossible to ascertain how many people are buried in an ossuary in a matter of minutes, or even hours or weeks, is Kloner misreporting what happened to the bones? Or is he misreporting the number of people buried there? Why?

9. Kloner took pictures of the ossuaries in their niches where you cannot see the images or inscriptions. He now admits that all the ossuaries had been pulled to the center of the tomb before being pushed back into the niches by the orthodox activists. Kloner has now published the pictures of the ossuaries in the niches i.e., where you can’t see anything. Why has he not published the pictures of the ossuaries after they had been pulled out of their niches?

10. Kloner says that he had only minutes in the tomb. And yet, he has just published drawings – yes, drawings! – of the four line inscription and controversial image of a fish. He had no time to read a name, but he had time to draw. Furthermore, he says he had the drawings at home for the past 33 years and he has only now seen fit to publish them. What else does he have in his files at home? Why hasn’t he turned over all his information to the IAA archaeological files and to the archaeologist presently in charge, Prof. Rami Arav? Why is Prof. Kloner still misreporting the findings?

11. Most disturbingly, the drawings that he has published do not correspond to the ossuaries themselves but to replicas that we recently made, complete with an error! How is this possible if they are, indeed, 33 year old drawings of the originals? Is Prof. Kloner misrepresenting the nature of the images on the ossuaries?

Despite these serious concerns, Prof. Kloner has not offered a single response, nor has his co-author Prof. Zissu, nor any of the people involved in the Bar Ilan conference which gave a platform to Prof. Kloner and his seriously flawed report.

Healthcare in the Arabian Gulf Countries

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The World's Most Valuable Actors of All Time

Source: Thinkstock

There are movie stars, and then there are actors whose involvement appears more important than the movie itself. Some are so critical to success that studios will pay them tens of millions of dollars to be in their pictures. Johnny Depp just signed a contract to make a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean, and some members of the press are speculating that Depp could earn as much as $95 million. That’s a big paycheck when the most recent Pirates movie grossed roughly $1 billion worldwide.

There are a small number of actors whose involvement in movies has resulted in billions of dollars in tickets sales. Because of their continued popularity and success, some careers have stretched over decades. Based on a review of films’ gross box office sales, adjusted for ticket price inflation, from online movie data resource Box Office Mojo, 24/7 Wall St. identified the most valuable actors of all time.

In order to make this list, an actor needed to star in multiple hits, and not just a single powerful franchise. For example, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, who starred in all eight installments of the extremely successful Harry Potter series, are both among the top 20 actors based on the gross sales of films in which they have starred. However, they have only appeared in five other movies between the two of them. At this point, they may be typecast as one-franchise wonders, unable to break out of the role they have gained their fame through.

Nearly all the actors that made our list have starred in several high-grossing franchises. Harrison Ford, who is among the most valuable actors according to our measure, was in two, the Star Wars trilogy and the four Indiana Jones movies. However, all of these actors were also in multiple standalone films, showing their versatility by playing very different characters.

Sean Connery, for example, starred in seven different James Bond films, all of which grossed more than $100 million adjusted for ticket inflation. This would alone be enough to put him top 100 grossing actors, but Connery also starred in such hits as “The Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October,” each of which grossed well over $200 million adjusted for inflation.

Success in the box office is not the same as success with the critics. A look at the top actors on this list makes that clear. While a few are decorated actors, such as Tom Hanks who has won two Academy Awards for acting, most on this list have received little positive attention from critics. Harrison Ford, among the highest grossing actors of all time, has never won an Oscar for acting. Meryl Streep, who is the 43rd highest-grossing actor of all time, has won three.

To identify the most valuable actors of all time, 24/7 Wall St. ranked nearly 700 leading actors in Box Office Mojo’s database. Actors ranked higher if they starred in more films, if the films they starred in averaged high ticket sales, and if they had among the highest combined box office gross adjusted for ticket price inflation. This last component was weighted more heavily. All film gross numbers are based on U.S. ticket sales only, and, unless otherwise noted, are adjusted for ticket price inflation, as calculated by Box Office Mojo. Awards, such as Oscar wins and nominations, came from the IMDB.
These are the most valuable actors of all time.

10. John Travolta
> Total film gross: $4.3 billion
> Average film gross: $99.7 million
> Films: 43
> Top grossing film: Grease
> Acting Oscars: 0

After starting his career on the TV show “Welcome Back, Kotter,” John Travolta’s film career took off in the late 1970s with starring roles in “Saturday Night Fever,” which earned him an Oscar nomination for best actor in a leading role, and “Grease.” Adjusted for inflation, these remain the two highest grossing films of Travolta’s career. Since then, Travolta has starred in blockbusters in several different genres, including comedies such as “Look Who’s Talking” and more-violent films such as cult film “Pulp Fiction” and “Face/Off.” But not all films Travolta has starred in have been successful. In 2000, Travolta’s “Battlefield Earth” was released to universally negative reviews and was named by the Razzies — which highlight the worst movies and performances in film each year — as the “Worst Movie of the Decade” in 2010.

9. Clint Eastwood 
> Total film gross: $4.3 billion
> Average film gross: $93.3 million
> Films: 46
> Top grossing film: Every Which Way But Loose
> Acting Oscars: 0

Clint Eastwood has been a well-known actor for the past 45 years, with his first film — “A Fistful of Dollars” — released in early 1967. His highest grossing film, the 1978 blockbuster “Every Which Way But Loose,” brought in more than $283 million in current dollars. Other films starring Eastwood that have earned more than $150 million include “Dirty Harry,” “The Enforcer” and, more recently, “Gran Torino.” Eastwood also has been a successful director, winning a best director Oscar for “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby,” both of which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of the Year. He has yet to win an Oscar for his acting.

8. Morgan Freeman
> Total film gross: $4.5 billion
> Average film gross: $95.8 million
> Films: 47
> Top grossing film: The Dark Knight
> Acting Oscars: 1

Morgan Freeman was first nominated for an Oscar for his supporting role in the 1987 film “Street Smart.” Over the course of his career, Freeman has been an Academy Award nominee five times, winning once, in 2005, for his supporting role in “Million Dollar Baby.” Freeman has also starred in a number of major box office hits, including the Batman trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan — one of the most successful franchises of all time — and the comedy “Bruce Almighty.” Freeman may be best-known for his voice, and has served as a first- or third-person narrator in a number of movies, including “The Shawshank Redemption” and “March of the Penguins.”

7. Sean Connery
> Total film gross: $4.5 billion
> Average film gross: $122.9 million
> Films: 37
> Top grossing film: Thunderball
> Acting Oscars: 1

Sean Connery is one of six actors who have played the role of Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Between 1963 and 1983, Connery played the secret agent in seven films. Adjusted for ticket price inflation, two of these movies — “Goldfinger” in 1964 and “Thunderball” in 1965 — each earned more than $500 million. Connery also has starred in a number of successful action movies, including “The Untouchables,” for which he earned his only Oscar, “The Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October.” Connery is currently retired as an actor. His last film, released in 2003, was “The League of Extraordinary Gentleman,” based on the comic book by Alan Moore.

6. Dustin Hoffman
> Total film gross: $4.6 billion
> Average film gross: $117.5 million
> Films: 39
> Top grossing film: The Graduate
> Acting Oscars: 2

Although Dustin Hoffman has appeared in nearly 40 movies, his first, 1967’s “The Graduate,” remains his highest grossing film, after adjusting for ticket price inflation. For his performance in the movie, Hoffman received the first of his seven Oscar nominations. He went on to win his first Academy Award for his leading performance in the 1979 drama “Kramer vs. Kramer” and his second Oscar for his role in “Rain Man,” in which he starred alongside Tom Cruise. In all, one-third of Hoffman’s films have grossed at least $100 million, ranging from political drama “All the President’s Men” to the comedy “Tootsie.”

5. Tom Cruise
> Total film gross: $5.0 billion
> Average film gross: $153.0 million
> Films: 33
> Top grossing film: Top Gun
> Acting Oscars: 0

Tom Cruise is one of just a handful of actors to have grossed more than $5 billion in inflation-adjusted ticket sales. At just 23, Cruise starred in “Top Gun,” a film that went on to gross $370 million. Other movies starring Cruise that grossed more than $300 million include “Rain Man” and the first two Mission Impossible movies. Cruise has never won an Academy Award, but has been nominated three times for his roles in “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Jerry Maguire” and “Magnolia.” Cruise has also been nominated for seven Golden Globes, winning three.

4. Robin Williams 
> Total film gross: $4.8 billion
> Average film gross: $108.4 million
> Films: 44
> Top grossing film: Mrs. Doubtfire
> Acting Oscars: 1

After starring on the TV series “Mork and Mindy,” Robin Williams began his film as the title role in “Popeye” in 1980, the first of his 16 films that would gross more than $100 million in inflation-adjusted ticket sales. Among Williams’ smash hits were comedies such as “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Flubber,” as well as dramas such as “Dead Poets Society” and “Good Will Hunting,” which earned Williams his only Oscar to date. Williams has also lent his voice to two of the highest grossing animated movies of all time, “Aladdin” and “Happy Feet.” His one Oscar came in a noncomedic role, as best supporting actor in “Good Will Hunting.”

3. Eddie Murphy 
> Total film gross: $5.9 billion
> Average film gross: $154.6 million
> Films: 38
> Top grossing film: Shrek 2
> Acting Oscars: 0

Eddie Murphy, a comedian whose acting career took off at age 19 after he joined “Saturday Night Live,” has become one of the most successful comedians of his generation. He has been in 11 films that grossed more than $200 million in inflation-adjusted terms, ranging from “Mulan” to “The Nutty Professor.” His two highest grossing films, “Shrek 2” and “Beverly Hills Cop,” have grossed more than a half-billion dollars each. Despite his success, Murphy has never won an Academy Award, although he won a Golden Globe in 2006 for his role in “Dreamgirls.” On the flip side of Murphy’s career, he won a Razzie in 2010 for worst actor of the decade, noting his appearances in busts such as “The Adventures of Pluto Nash” and “Norbit.”

2. Harrison Ford 
> Total film gross: $7.4 billion
> Average film gross: $218.3 million
> Films: 34
> Top grossing film: Star Wars
> Acting Oscars: 0

Harrison Ford is best known for starring as Han Solo in the original Star Wars trilogy, which grossed nearly $2.9 billion after adjusting for ticket price inflation, and as the lead in the Indiana Jones franchise, which grossed more than $1.8 million. Outside these series, Ford has starred in numerous blockbuster action films and thrillers, including 1985’s “Witness,” for which he received his only Oscar nomination, 1993’s “The Fugitive,” and 1997’s “Air Force One.” Following Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in October 2012 and the announcement that new films would be made for the franchise, rumors have circulated that Ford may be open to starring in future Star Wars movies.

1. Tom Hanks 
> Total film gross: $6.2 billion
> Average film gross: $155.4 million
> Films: 40
> Top grossing film: Forrest Gump
> Acting Oscars: 2

Since his film career began in 1984, movies starring Hanks have grossed, on average, more than $155 million in inflation-adjusted ticket sales. However, many of Tom Hanks’s films have grossed significantly higher. The highest grossing film was “Forrest Gump,” with an adjusted total of more than $611 million. Other films that grossed more than $300 million include “Saving Private Ryan,” “Cast Away” and all three Toy Story movies. Hanks has been nominated for five Academy Awards and has won two: best actor in a leading role for “Philadelphia” in 1994, and the same Oscar again in 1995 for “Forrest Gump.”



By-Laws and History of Lodge Johore Royal, No. 3946, E. C. was pubs fished by the Lodge in Johore Bahru, capital of the native Malay state of Johore near Singapore. 
It was issued “With the Compliments of His Highness the Sultan of Johore, Worshipful Master of the Lodge.” Its title page bears the dates, Year of Masonry 5922, the Mohammedan Year 1341, and 1922 A.D. 
It is “illuminated with one hundred and one extracts from the Holy Koran, containing advice, admonition, and the true principles of life.” 
His Highness the Sultan w as Raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason in the Lodge, June 5, 1920; was invested Senior Warden on the following July 16th; and in the following year was installed Worshipful Master. 
The list of 83 members in 1922 was headed, in addition to the Sultan, by Their Highnesses Prince Ismail (Crown Prince), Prince Abu Bakar, and Prince Ahmed; the majority of members were Englishmen. The Lodge worked under a regular charter issued by the Grand Lodge of England, the Duke of Connaught being Grand Master, but was immediately answerable to the District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago, which dated from 1858. 
The first Lodge in Malaya was consecrated in Penang, under a Charter from the Antient Grand Lodge in England, in 1809, under name of Lodge Neptune. It became extinct in 1819. Lodge of Humanity with Courage, in Penang, was warranted by the District Grand Master of Bengal in 1821 Lodge Zetland-in-the-East was consecrated in Singa pore in 1845; St. George was consecrated in Singapore in 1867; Read Lodge, No. 2337, was consecrated in Kuala Lampur, in 1889; a succession of Lodges in Malaya have followed since. Sir Ibrahim, Sultan of Johore, was born September 17, 1873; was crowned Sultan in 1895.
NOTE. The above may remind Masonic students that five years after he had been named Charter Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge of Researeh, No. 2076, in London, Sir Charles Warren was installed District Grand Master of the Eastern Archipelago; his was one of the most remarkable careers in modern times because he had a place of leadership in the founding of the period of modern Freemasonry in England Africa, Palestine and the Far East. The period to which the name “modern Freemasonry” applies may be roughly set as beginning at about 1875, because in that generation not only Lodges but District, Provincial, and Grand Lodges became permanently and prosperously established in every settled country in the world, each regular Lodge and Grand Lodge being fraternally connected with each and every other one in a network which literally covers the earth.
This establishment of World Masonry, once the prophecy of it had become a realization, settled, onen and for all, two facts: that Freemasonry was not a possession of the Anglo-Saxon peoples, or even of the Occident; that it was not the peculiar possession of any one race, religion, or culture. Universality is a present fact Speculative Freemasonry began as a local fraternity in the City of London about 1717 – 1725; in what way and to what an extent it will be inwardly transformed by becoming a world fraternity it is too early to predict; thus far only one fact is certain, that henceforth Masonic statesmanship cannot tolerate any local custom or doctrine which violates the reality of world-wide universality.

Jewish History in Singapore

Community Beginnings

Map of Singapore
In 1819, the Sultan of Johore permitted English businessman Sir Stamford Raffles and the East Indian Company to establish a trading post in Singapore. At the time, Singapore was a small, swampy fishing village on the Malay Peninsula. Nevertheless, with grand prospects ahead, several Jewish traders from Baghdad migrated to Singapore and established the highly successful trade center Change Alley.
In 1824, the Sultan ceded the 200 square mile area to Great Britain, and in 1830, according to historical records, the Jewish population totaled nine Jewish traders living in Singapore. In 1840, the wealthy Sephardic Sassoon family established business interests in Singapore, and the Jewish population soon increased. The Jewish community managed to build a 40-person synagogue on a street still called "Synagogue Street." By local custom, the Jews were allowed to travel by rickshaw on the Sabbath. 
The Jewish population, mostly Sephardim, migrated mainly from Baghdad and other communities in the Near East. The new community also included Sephardim from Persia and Ashkenazim from Eastern Europe, searching for both religious freedom and economic opportunity. Some went first to Malaysia, and then on to Singapore when Malaysia did not offer the freedoms and opportunities they had originally sought. The Orthodox Singapore community was small but tight-knit, strengthened by religious bonds, common geographic origins, and years of close marriages.

The Maghain Aboth and the Chesed El Synagogues

By 1879, the community population totaled of 172 members, 116 males and 56 females. With the steady increase in population, the 40-person ‘Synagogue Street’ synagogue was clearly no longer suitable. On April 4, 1878, the new Maghain Aboth Synagogue on Waterloo Street was consecrated. It was a single story building, but an upper gallery for women was added later. Even today, the synagogue counts both Sephardim and Ashkenazim among its members.
Stain Glass Windows at Chesed El Synagogue
Menasseh Meyer, supposedly the richest Jew in Asia, contributed funds to build the new synagogue. He had arrived in Singapore at age 15, poor but ambitious, and eventually owned nearly half of Singapore's property. He grew wealthy as a real estate dealer and as a trader of opium, legal under British rule. Some Jews of the Maghain Aboth Synagogue bear nameplates for Menasseh Meyer and his son Rueben Menasseh (it was the practice for the eldest son to inherit his father's first name as a surname). The Queen knighted Menasseh Meyer for raising the cultural level of the city. 
A 1904 argument with a fellow member of the Maghain Aboth Synagogue led Sir Menasseh Meyer to build his own private synagogue, Chesed El, in 1905. To obtain the minimum ten men required for communal prayer, Menasseh Meyer employed “Minyan Men.” But in 1920, his Minyan Men went on strike, demanding higher salaries and rickshaw fare for their daily services. The Chesed El Synagogue was built on the grounds of Meyer's luxurious residence on Oxley Rise, and is architecturally magnificent. The deep green trees that surround the structure accent the traditionally designed white exterior of the building. Impressive doorways, windows, and pillars complement the white marble floor, and the gold motifs add to its beauty. 
In 1905, when the Chesed El Synagogue was built, there were roughly 500 Jews in Singapore. The community numbered close to 600 Jews in 1911, and 832 Jews in 1931. The 1931 census also indicated that there was a significant Arab population as well, which together with the Jews, were the largest property owners in the city.

World War II and Today

In 1939, on the eve of World War II, there were 1,000 Jews in Singapore, most of whom were interned by the Japanese during the war. They were forced to wear armbands and medallions with the word Jews inscribed on them; the men had to till the fields. After the war, many of the Jews left for Australia, England, the United States, and Israel. 
The former president of the Jewish community, David Marshall, stayed in Singapore. He was born in 1908 to a Baghdad-Persian Jewish family and studied law in England before he joined the British Army as a volunteer and traveled to Singapore. When the British granted Singapore partial independence in 1955, Marshall was appointed as the first Chief Minister. 
But when Great Britain denied Singapore full sovereignty, David Marshall, Singapore's "Father of Independence," resigned from his post in protest. Singapore joined Malaysia in 1963, but withdrew two years later and became independent. After full sovereignty was finally attained, he was elected to the legislature and later served as Singapore's ambassador to several European countries. 
Today, Singapore is approximately 80% ethnic Chinese, 15% ethnic Malay, and 5% ethnic Indian. The Jewish population numbers around 300. Anti-Semitism in Singapore does not exist. Religious life at the Maghain Aboth and Chesed El Synagogues is active, with daily services, adult education, and other community activities. A Jewish community center offers Sunday school for youngsters. The annually elected Jewish Welfare Board, created after World War II, manages community affairs. 
In 1968, a trade agreement was signed between Israel and Singapore, and in May 1969, diplomatic relations were formally established. The two countries signed a trade agreement in 1970. 
In 2004, it was revealed that the Singaporean army, which is considered one of the strongest in southeast Asia, was initially set up by Israel. In December 1965, an Israeli military delegation headed by Major General Ya'akov Elazari arrived in Singapore under a veil of secrecy and started to build the various branches of the armed forces there. 
Since then, security ties between the two countries have strengthened, and Singapore is now considered one of the biggest customers for Israeli arms and weapons systems. Singapore's founding father and prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, asked Israel to help establish his country's army almost immediately after Singapore received independence from Malaysia in August 1965. He had earlier requested help from India and Egypt, but they turned him down. 
The Israeli delegation consisted of six officers, who were divided into two teams. One, headed by Elazari, set up the defense and internal security ministries, while the other, headed by Maj. Gen. Yehuda Golan, established the military infrastructure. They followed the model of the IDF, with a standing army and reserves. 
The officers also served as instructors in the Singapore army's first basic training courses and its first course for officers, both commissioned and noncommissioned. The members of the delegation that went to Singapore were trained by the late cabinet minister Rehavam Ze'evi, who wrote the blueprint for Singapore's armed forces.