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Skilled Angels Hand

Ghazal Dear,

I guess that must be your handwriting, that I found on a plastic envelope containing EtBr stained agarose-gels. I asked a friend at the Avicenna Bookstore here in Munich, to translate it into Persian, and she proposed that "24 wells" is " 24 خوب ".

If the date is right, than they were lying in the cool-room since two and half years. I thought to give them a trial electrophoresis with some fresh DNA samples we had for sequencing. And what a miracle: they are still giving excellent DNA patters. It must be your angel fingers while casting the gels that made them last forever.

Take Care my Dear Michael

----------------------------------------------------------------- Hello Michael, Yes this is my handwriting! So the gels are still there? Your friends translation was a bit misleading. She obviously just used a dictonary. "well" is "khob - خوب" yes its correct. but in english well is good and also what we use it in gels (like a slot or a hole. so "khob" means "good", but not "hole". And "24" in persian would be ۲۴ Don't forget, Persia was once leading in Mathematics, with men such as Al-Khwarizmi or Omar Khayyam. If you want to practise more, you can go here. So far, Take Care. Ghazal


Ich bin ein Berliner (says Nofretete)

Hello, my name is Nofretete, and I was born in Luxor in Egypt. 1912 some archeologists recovered me from this dark grave in the earth and brought me back to light. I, who together with my beloved husband Echnaton were so much fascinated by the divine nature of the sun had to spend 3400 years in the dark. When I was recovered and brought to Berlin, this not only caused a real Egyptomania and Nofretete-cult amongst the ordinary people, but the sun itself started to shine brighter and stronger for happiness to have me back.
Nofretetes bust in the Berlin Neues Museum

The Egyptians were always afraid of my beauty. 3400 years ago they hated my preference of the sun against all the single, little minor gods they were worshipping. Thats why they banned my statue and burried me deep under ground. After the German archeologists under Ludwig Borchardt excavated me 100 years ago in the meter deep dust in Amarna, and brought me back to sunshine, the Egyption authorities several times attempted to get hold of me. They ordered reviews from French lawyers that should proof how the Germans had violated a contract with Egypt and insidiously betrayed them by highjacking me to Berlin. I have to admit, that my escape from Egypt to Berlin did not happened against my own will: Without exchanging words, both Borchardt and myself understood that the Berlin New Museum would provide a more adequate place for me than an Egyptian dust bin. We were afraid that in Egypt, they again would try to hide my beauty from the public views. Now, 2012, 100 years after my rebirth, they introduce in Egypt the Sharia, ordering every woman to hide her face and her beauty. In Egypt, wouldn't they put me under a hijab or a burka, before showing me to the public ? Or will the Salafists who occupied a couple of parlament seats and some governmental posts attack me altogether, destroy me as they did with other statues in Afghanistan and in Mali, because they fear that people will worship my beauty ? In Berlin in the New Museum, people from all over the world come only to see me, and yes, they worship my beauty. They like me, and I like them, and therefore I will stay in Berlin forever. I am nobodies property, I belong to the entire mankind. But in Berlin they toke always care of me, and they will do so forever. During the bombings of the 2. world war, when the city was turned into a ruin field, they found a saver shelter for me somewhere far away in a mountain village. They were so intrigued by Nofretete, that the emperor Wilhelm II and the East-Germans (who lost me to West-Berlin) both ordered identical copies of myself. I am nobodies property, not the Germans and not the Egyptians. But I am and will stay a Berliner. The local people call me a "Berliner Göre", and although this sounds turkish, it is their slang for "naughty little girl". Although this of course is a (typical Berlin) understatement of my beauty, I can life with it.

Will Keira Knightly leave the train trough the steam ?

Many times Tolstojs novel "Anna Karenina" was brought on the cinema screens, by not so famous film directors, but with actresses who after playing the leading character became movie stars (or were movie stars before already). Sophie Marceau, Jacqueline Bisset, Vivien Leigh and of course Greta Garbo. And now, we have the pleasure to enjoy a more modern Anna Karenina, using state-of-the-art 21st century cinematografic techniques. One of the most intriguing moments in the 1935 movie with Greta Garbo shows her arrival by train in Moscow, when she arises through a steam-cloud and leaves Wronski, who came to the train station only to meet his mother, breathless.
  Before I consider to see the new movie (staring Keira Knightly as Anna and Jude Law as Mr. Karenin and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Wronski), I first want to see how the train station scene has been set up. If this scene is weak, or a disappointment as compared to Greta Garbos one, I wont see the entire movie.


The Geffen Foundation: from Music money to Medical Research

I was looking for a colleagues work on cancer stem cells today in the internet. Found out that she now works at the David Geffen Medical School of UCLA. I got curious, since I red the name David Geffen already at a research institute in Tel Aviv. So this is what David Geffen, of whom I hardly knew anything untill today, did in his life (apart from founding some of the top centers of biomedical research).
He was born in 1943 as son of a poor tailors family, jewish emigrants from Europe who settled in Brooklyn. Young David attended a couple of colleges but always dropped out before graduation. When he seeked for a job in the then booming music- and entertainment industry, he falsified a letter that wrongly proofed that he graduated from UCLA (hic! This might be the reason for his later generosity in funding the UCLA David Geffen Medical School). This "degree" from UCLA now opened him the career at WMA, where big movie stars such as Chaplin, Clark Gable, Catherine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and music stars such as the Rolling stones, Beach Boys, Sonny & Cher were under contract. Later he began his own artists agency and the record label Asylum Records, where he was influential to the success of Crosby, Stills and Nash, Jackson Browne and promoted the career of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, The Eagles and others. His next record company, Geffen Records, produced Donna Summer, Neil Young, Aerosmith, Peter Gabriel, Nirvana, John Lennon, Yoko Ono and many others. In the 80s, Geffen founded his own movie production and distribution company Geffen Pictures. It produced little gems of cinematography such as "Little Shop of Horrors", "Risky Business", "Beetlejuice", "After Hours", "Men Don't Leave", "M.Butterfly", "Interview with the Vampire", "The Butcher Boy", and (my alltime favorite): "Beavis and Butthead do America". From the money he made here, he co-funded Broadway musicals such as Dreamgirls and Cats. To make clear that Geffen was not simply the lucky guy to discovered a gold-mine for himself (in particular when together with Spielberg and J.Katzenberg he founded DreamWorks Studios), consider where he spend much of his income. He donated large parts of his wealth to organize the UCLA theater Geffen Playhouse. Millioans of $ went to Bill Clintons and Barack Obamas election campaigns and to stop the homo-phobic Proposition 8 in the Californian constituition. His most eminent donations, I think, went to medical research. His 200 mill gift to UCLA to found the medical school was the largest ever privat donation to medical schools in the US.

So I wrote this not to show another typical cases of the american dream to rise from rags to riches. Geffen was not seeking for the quick success and low-risk investments. He was always following a vision. He had an idea that came to him before it became common sense. This might be a common character among the Jews, that its better to sit down and make up your mind and don't go the easy track, but follow your own intention. I think because Jews over the centuries were so often discriminated from starting the easy careers (in gouvernmental administration, academia, army, owning agricultural ground), they developed already very early the skills of converting "crazy" ideas into the business of the future.
But when I said in my early comments above that they not always acted like philantrops, at least there was one big-business where Jews were under-represented: arms production. The entertainment industry and careers in academia obviously absorbed so many of them, that no Jews were left to work in the weapon industry. No point to be ashamed of, I would say.
(A debate on the jewish philantrophy with Bahmani is here)


Where has my blood gone ?

Ghazal my Dear, Two month ago, in September 2012 Israel seemed to be the most relaxed and calm country one could imagine. Except for very rare security checks at the entrances of large shopping malls, concert halls or the Jad Vashem museum, there were hardly any signs of the immanent threat of violent attacks. As travelers we were more concerned about the possible failure of the air-conditioning in our flat, or about the trouble to release our car from the car-park that was suddenly locked on Sabbath. In an attempt to dissociate myself as far as possible from the tourists (many of whom visit Israel for its christian heir or because they come on a cruise with a one-day break in Haifa) I was lurking around Lev Hamifratz Shopping Mall. There, a memorial plate told that during construction of the mall in 1991 it had been hit by a scud missile launched by the lunatic Saddam Hussein. Some years later an attempted car bombing attack by the Libanese Hisbollah was prevented by police that sapped the vehicle on the car-park outside the building. This suddenly reminded me of an ever-present, albeit latent danger for life or injury in Israel, and this might to a certain degree prompted me to decline to the invitation by the Magen David Adom (the Israeli equivalent to the Red Cross) to donate blood right there at the shopping mall. 


I never donated blood before, except when it was recommended before a surgery in hospital. When I laid down on this rubber-covered bed I had some time to talk to the doctor and the nurse about the most likely occasion when my blood (of course processed and perhaps mixed with a lot of Israeli blood to dilute out the Goi-factors) was used for transfusion. Anything could happen in Israel like anywhere else: car accidents, surgical operations with sudden complications, caesarian sections. The prospect of a military conflict was rather unlikely, two month ago.
Now, after Israel started its counter-attack to protect its people from the Gaza-launched rockets, it appears that victims of air-strikes, bombs or rockets blowing living-houses will be more likely to be in need of blood-transfusions. If my blood finds a way out of the deep-freeze storage into the circulation system of a patient, it could be a civilian who's house in Ashkelon or Ofakim or even in the suburbs of Tel Aviv were hit by Hamas rockets. It could be an IDF soldier who is about to enter Gaza in an attempt to neutralize the terrorists of Hamas. But most likely, it will be an innocent person living in Gaza, who has been misused by the terrorists as a living shield, who finally is be the most vulnerable and least cared-for victim. Israels IDF recently circulated a Twitter news promising that it will open the Gaza check points to permit delivery of emergency medical goods, maybe including my blood.
When I donated blood in September in Haifa, I had to fill in the form below, and of course without understand much hebrew I simply followed the suggestions of the Magen David Adom nurse and clicked any field she recommended to me. I did not asked her, if any of these fields to fill in were refering to the intended usage of my blood. Did it possibly exluded its use during military operations ? Or for certain minorities ? Or could it even be that non-kosher blood from a Goi like me would only be used to rescue non-Jewish victims ? Everything is possible, but I hope in the case of life emergency, people forget about race, nation, faith, and give the blood to those who need it most.


Deja vu

I'm wondering how everything would change, if I could really see you every day, like it was two years ago. If we could go out for a walk through Pompej every night, Or sit next to each other in every new movie that comes to the cinema. If we could climb up to the TV tower not only once, but do it every sunny day, and watch the crazy world beneath our feets. Would you still like the black bracelet, if we would go to the little jewelery store in Vietri once every week ? And would the bone-fire on the riverbank still warm our skin and my soul, if we would have it every fullmoon night, and not only once in August 2010 ? And if IKEA would see us as frequent customers, not just once as passers by, would I still be this attentive student of the Swedish language there ? And if we would drive to Carefours supermarket every day after sunset, would the elder Italian lady behind the counter ask us again and again, what we have to do with each other, this enchanting young girl and the elder man? This meteor that stood still for 3 seconds when we saw it, it would not follow the same track again, even if we would go out to observe the Perseides each year. The magic of the moments wont come again, even if we try to repeat the same set-up, hoping that we will experience again what was wunderful before, we will find that the world cannot be copied and pasted. The moments with you that turned my life into a rush, and filled the air with the scent of eternity, wont come again. But there will be countless more occasions filled with magic and excitement. But because these moments will be rare, my Dear, painfully separated by long periods of separation, they will always give us this sensation of a never before and never again.


Pompeji - You only live twice

Hi Michael, Our walk through the ruins of Pompej during the Vietri-sul-Mare meeting, that finally had us loosing our way at night, and "being rescued" by this old Italian gentleman who gave us this very special guided tour with a torch-lamp, let me speculate if this glamourous roman population that lived there untill the year 79 ever had a second life after they all died and their house were buried in lava and ashes from the Vesuv volcano.

I found this video from the James Bond 007 film "You Only Live Twice", and therein are scenes showing the flood of lava. Maybe we, two visitors of the 21st century on their lonely walk through Pompeji, exactly 1933 years after the big catastrophy, were reincarnations of two of the victims of the eruption.


Full Moon's gender

Ghazal Dear, the moon tried to hide tonight, just like you. It took me the whole night through to shift away the clouds, so it only became visible in the early morning.

I always find it strange, that the moon is neutrum in English. In German the Moon is a male word. In many latin and slavic languages, Moon is female. How is it in Swedish and in Persian ?
Take Care, my Dear. Michael


An unconditional love becomes political in todays Iran ("Circumstance" by Maryam Kesharvarz)

Dear Michael, you wrote some articles here at your blog and at about the modern Iranian cinematography. I'd like to add a movie by the young Iranian filmmaker Maryam Kesharvarz onto your list , called "Circumstances" ("Sharayet" in its persian original).
I saw it recently with friends who got it on DVD, since it is not yet shown in the movie-theaters in Sweden. The movie is about two girls who go to University and are like sisters in mind. The parents of Shirin, the more quiet of the two, were obviously killed by the regime for participating in political opposition. The family of Atafeh, however, is very well situated and rich, although not conformist. A brother of Atafeh, in the past supposed to start a career as musician, returns from a long absence and makes a completely brain-washed impression. Still loved by his mother and dad, he is depressed and drug addicted and finally only sees a way out his mental problems by devoting his life to Allah and becoming a servant of the regime. The main person of the movie, however, are the two girls Shirin and Atafeh, who are both full of dreams of a career as singers, in a liberal and free society. This clashes with both the opressive political regime in Iran, with the dogmatic situation at the college, but brings them also in conflict with Atafehs well positioned family. In one scene of the movie, during a family celebration where usually everybody contributes a song on the piano, Atafehs brother insist that the girls should not perform any more, since he considers this as anti-islamic. Trying to avoid any conflict, her family declines to the brothers hypocrism and recommends their daughter to stay silent. Atafeh and Shirin look for freedom of thoughts and more wild experiences by joining the Tehran party scene. When one of these illegal parties is raided by the regimes Basidj thugs, they both get arrested. Whereas Atafehs parents manage to bribe some of the police officers to get their daughter out, Shirin is kept for longer in custody and she is mentally tortured there. Atafehs depressive brother suddenly appears to work for the police. When he finds Shirin he offers her to work for her release, but only if she agrees to marry her. Throughout the entire film, however, it is obvious that Shirin and Atafeh are more than just friends, they are connected by a deep, mutual love. This love between the two girls is the source of all their strength, of their endless confidence that a better and free life will come and they will start a great music career together somewhere abroad. The film finishes undecided, without happy end. At one moment, Shirin declines to the possessory claims by her husband, Shirins brother. But it is clear that she is only suffering here. The unconditional love between the two girls serves as the big contrast to a society which is driven by anxiety, lies and hate. When Shirin and Atafeh are together, their honesty and love is like a glance into a better future of the country.
And this is what I red in the UK newspaper Guardian about this marvellous movie:
"Circumstance's strength is in the exuberance of Atafeh and Shireen, filled with adolescent fantasies of escape (and cringeworthy lad's mag-style fantasies of each other: all matching underwear and high heels) and their rebellious rush to dance, drink and break rules. At times the sensuous hair-flicking and the way the camera lingers on their beauty feels overdone and their interest in liberalism seems to extend only to their right to party. But the film frames their insistence on following their desires, whatever the consequences, as a powerful form of dissent; Atafeh tells a friend: "Here anything illegal becomes politically subversive." Set immediately before the protests of the Green movement swept through Iran, the film aims to show where the anger behind the demonstrations came from. "In Iran where the state controls your behaviour … they want you to dress a certain way, and not speak to people of the opposite sex in the street – of course the personal is political," explains Keshavarz, "in a more explicit way than anywhere else.""


Andrej Sakharov price for two Iranian prisoners

Hi Michael, I was happy to hear that the EU is not only very generous in finacially supporting our life-science research and keep our genetic and mutagenesis projects running, but they at the end also became aware of the human rights situation in Iran. They gave this years "Andrej Sakharaov Price for Freedom of Thought" to two Iranians who are imprissoned for their continous fight for intellectual freedom and against political oppression: film director Jafar Panahi and the lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. It was an important message by the Europeans, since many politically active Iranians were disillusioned by the West for its hypocrisis when it comes to Iran. The oppression of the Iranian people was often considered a minor issue for the West, who was more concerned Irans nuclear program.

Take Care




Fullmoon, September 28th

For you, wherever you are Picture taken at 11:45 pm, Newton mirror telescope, Type Optus, F=700 mm SAMSUNG PL90 digicam


A Blasphemic Journey to the Holy Land

Day 0, Travel to Jerusalem (and keep your passport clean from any trace of the "zionost entity") Day 1: Wet hijab day at Banana beach, Tel Aviv Day 2: "yes, Mame, me and Shlomo are sitting here on an ice-cream; I promise ..." Day 3: Sunset on Tel Aviv Beach, the Big Orange Day 4: Jaffa Cafe: Delicious Menue Day 5: Tel Aviv: Russian Immigrant is doing Sewage Fishing on Tel Avivs Carmel Market Day 6: Jaffa: In addition to the many beautiful Arab girls, there are also very enchanting Jewish ones, like the one next to me (dont try to date her, since she is my wife now) Day 7: Jerusalem, YMCA Guesthouse : In the tradition of the crusaders - but after adopting a more tolerant policy they also serve non-gay customers nowadays. Day 8: Marmilla Street near Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem: Each stone tells a story.   Day 9: Jerusalem: Gentlemen prefer blond (at least here, where it is still considered something exotic) Day 10: Old town Jerusalem: Bargaining for the price of grapes. Day 11: Old town Jerusalem: Cooling down the mood with some icecream. Day 12: Jerusalem, Church of Sepulchre: For those who believe in it, this red stone plate on which Jesus was layed down after his death, can do miracles. I tested it with my mobile phone, and indeed it got fully recharged after placing it there for just one minute.
Day 13: Jerusalem/Al Kuds: School is out in the Arab quarter   Day 14: Jerusalem: Goes together very well: Tasty Taybeh beer from Palestine and genetically modified Cherry-Tomatoes from Israel Day 15: Jerusalem/Al Kuds: Sabbath at western wall.   Day 16: Qumran / Death Sea: The dream of many young folks: Exodus to South America Day 17: En Gedi / Death Sea: Taking a refreshing bath where King Solomon met Suleika.   Day 18: Death Sea Shore: Baywatch at 42 degrees.   Day 19: Haifa / Bahai Garden: Members only (unless you fit through this fence)   Day 20: Haifa / Alenby street: Kosher rubbish bins: left one for milky products, righ one for fleshy products.   Day 21: Haifa / Allenby street: The Sadam Hussein memorial shelters.     Day 22: Jerusalem / Al Kuds: Western Wall, Mount Muriah, Dom of Rock at the beginning of Sabbath.   Day 23: Jad Vashem: The Tree to honour Oskar Schindler.   Day 24: Jerusalem/Al Kuds: Top Soccer Players. Arab boys build their playground on the roofs of christian or jewish houses. Day 25: Tel Aviv / Hayarkon Park: Red Hot Chilly Peppers concert   Day 1 after returning home: Reading Saul Bellows "To Jerusalem and return" and trying to understand how much I missed and why I should come back.


Tel Aviv – Wet Hijab Day

When we arrived yesterday at Tel Aviv airport, I soon realized that taking pictures in Israel wont be a straightforward job. Before officially entering the country, the boarder guard asked me to delete all images on my digital cam, after he understoud that I tried to make a photo of him.
Therefore today on the beach near Jaffa I used the camera with more caution, in particular when a large group of tourists fro m the West-Bank came to enjoy a day at the seaside. I found this Jaffa variant of Baywatch much more inspiring and beautiful than the original.
Wet Hijab Day at Tel Aviv Beach
Wet Hijab Day at Tel Aviv Beach


Black and Blue

Coming from the north-east into Munich, perhaps one of the worst examples of 70th urban architecture awaits the traveler: The Arabella high-rising building, which harbours not only a large hotel of the same name, but office, medical practises and flats. What is less known: In the basement of this block once resided the most important music recording studio “Musicland”. It was of little domestic importance, because the innovative sound that sound-engineer Mack and pop-composer Giorgio Moroder produce there was more acknowledged by international stars like Freddy Mercury, ELO, Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones. They recorded a few of their best songs and entire records at Macks and Moroders Musicland Studios. For some of them, a special regulation in the british tax-law might have played a role in their decision to come here and live and work for at least a year in Germany, thus evading the astronomic income taxes of the labour government. But to large degree, it was the special Moroder sound and the savior-vive in the Bavarian capital that made Munich so attractive to them. Freddy Mercury liked to take the tram in the afternoon, to drive down across the Isar river to hang around at the beer-garden “Chinese Tower”.
The Rolling Stones produced the entire “Black and Blue” album at Musicland in 1975, but had enough time to meet Uschi Obermeier, the most enchanting of the Munich communards.
At the end of the eighties, Mack and Moroder came under growing pressure from the property owner Schoerghuber, who tried to rise the rent for the studio. At the same time, a new subway-line was build, only a few meters aside the studio rooms. From now on, subway trains running along caused too much noise to permit further music recordings. Giorgio Moroder left Musicland and went to the US, and Mack relocated the entire studio to the Munich suburbs.
About ten years later, rich Arabic families from the Emirates and Saudi Arabia discovered Munich as a save, convenient and pleasant place to spend the summer time, escaping the heat at home, spending large sums at daily shopping walks and visit high-class medical clinics for annual check-ups. It might be, that the Arabs were fascinated by the idea that the name “Arabella-Hotel” was a reference to their home.
I tried with little success to shoot a picture with one of them, and the record cover of the Stones “Black and Blue” in front of the former entrance to the Musicland studios. It took me several days to find out a trick, since none of the black veiled women or their husbands were very fond of appearing on a photograph, with reference to the Stones rock music.

Black and Blue - in front of the former Musicland Studios


Omar Khayyam: Misinterpretation in the 20th century

Ghazal my Dear,
you might have asked why I wrote this recent critical post about an Indian guru (Yogananda), and why I suggested that a modern singer like Maryam Akhondy is a much better interprete of classical Persian poetry by Omar Khayyam. Here is an example of an original Omar Khayyam rubbayat and the silly Yogananda interpretation. Also, at the end of the post, don’t miss Nancy Sinatras song “You Only Live Twice”, and tell me if you see any similarity to Omar Khayyam.
Here is the Rubbayat No 41 from Omar Khayyam (1018-1113) Translated by E.Fitzgerald 1859)

AWAKE! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light.

And here comes the
Keys To Meaning (Hic!!)  by Paramhansa Yogananda, (“Cristal Clear Publications” Hic!)
Morning — The dawn of awakening from delusive material existence.
Bowl of Night — The dark night of soul-ignorance.
Stone — Delusion-shattering acts of spiritual self-discipline.
Stars — Falsely attractive material desires.
Hunter of the East — Eastern wisdom, hunter and destroyer of delusion.
Sultan’s Turret — The kingly minaret of pride.
Noose of Light — The light of wisdom, which, like a lasso, haloes
Expanded Meaning  (For experts only !!)
Forsake delusion! Absorb into your innermost Self the calm light of wisdom.
Listen! your soul calls you to embrace a new adventure. As the sun travels from east to west across the sky, so does the light of civilization and of knowledge move across the earth. From the east comes Wisdom’s call: Awake! all you who sleep in ignorance.
What has pride brought you but melancholia and pain?—dark products of soul-ignorance. Dispel gloom forever: Abide from today onward in the light of inner peace.

What a rediculous attempt by this 20th century wanna-be spiritual leader to understand Omar Khayyams wunderful Rhubbayat. Since Yogananda has not the slightest clue of Omar Khayyams world of thoughts, his deep love for science, pure mathematics, astronomy, and his second love for wine, beauty and the attractions of woman, he can not do anything else than spoiling the clear language of Omar Khayyams rubbayat with “interpretations”.
Karl Marx, the great analytic of human society, would have called Yoganandas rediculous “Wine of the Mystic” the clearest example of “Religion as opium for the people”. But Marx died 10 years before Yogananda was born.
Omar Khayyam, this outstanding spirit of classical Persian poetry and science, did not only gave us the collections of rubbayats, but invented the binomial coefficients (important for combinatorial calculations), which in the west were attributed to B.Pascal.
Tomb of Omar Khayyam
Tomb of Omar Khayyam

Here is an interpretation of his rubbayat, that he would have definitely liked much more. It is the great song “YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE”, originally by Nancy Sinatra but this modern version by Bjoerk I like better .

In this 1967 title song for a 007 – James Bond movie one is indeed reminded of Omar Khayyams rubbayat. Read yourself, and build your own opinion. You don’t need a guru to understand this.
You Only Live Twice or so it seems,
One life for yourself and one for your dreams.
You drift through the years and life seems tame,
Till one dream appears and love is its name.
And love is a stranger who’ll beckon you on,
Don’t think of the danger or the stranger is gone.
This dream is for you, so pay the price.
Make one dream come true, you only live twice.
And love is a stranger who’ll beckon you on,
Don’t think of the danger or the stranger is gone.


Accelerating Evolution on Mars

Hello Michael, 
You have probably heard that last week a new mars rover landed succesfully on Mars surface, and how this event was enthusiastically wellcomed by NASA and the entire scientific community. It follows a long series of less brilliant failures to get a working mars robot up there, one that could produce more than just pretty pictures. This new mission of an explorer vehicle called "Couriosity" is officially intended to test the existence of lower forms of life on our neighbor planet. For this purpose, "Couriosity" carries on board a couple of sophisticated devices, some that can take samples from mars' surface or from deeper layers of the ground in order to apply sensitive detection methods for organic molecules, considered to be exclusively produced by living organisms. I am wondering if they are looking there for a sort of blood stains, or some traces of blond hair or spit-out chewing gum.
What makes this new Mars exploration so special (for me as a radiation biologist) is the fact, that the rovers energy supply comes from about 5 kg of plutonium 235, providing 120 W electric energy for at least five years. Thats fine, I would say from an engineers point of view, and I would also like to drive my old Benz with this sort of low-emission, low-cost and low-maintenace type of fuel.
But the radiation-biologist in me (and I hope you agree somehow) has to wonder about the long term consequences of 5 kg plutonium, a potent alpha emitter, if it comes to its mutatgenic effects on living organisms. Assuming the plutonium is accidentally released from the mars rover and evenly spread over the hypothetical mars ecosphere,  it would cause a tremendous rise of the mutation rate in all cells, whether low prokaryotes or in higher and multi-cellular creatures like plants or animals or anything else in between. This means the 5 years mission of the man-made Mars rover will not only explore the presence of live on Mars, but if there is any, it will also drive evolution by increasing the number of new mutants. So scientists will not only be the silent observers, but active players of an extra-terrestrial evolution of life.

I am afraid, that with this man-made mutation burden, the mars creatures will indeed soon look like those in Tim Burtons "Mars Attacks". But for this, we have to blame nobody else than ourself.

I am more than worried now looking up the sky at night. There are not only beautiful meteor showers and the romantic moon, but from now on there might also be a laboratory of accelerated evolution on mars.

Take Care, yours sincerely

75 political prisoners from Evin received pardon

Dear Michael,
You wrote last year about the imprisonment of Bahar Hedayat, who while beeing in the notorious Evin prison send such a wunderful letter to her husband. Somebody from the Iranian community told me today that 75 political prisoners from Evin have been granted pardon, probably in occasion of the end of ramadan, which the Iranian regime likes to exploit to demonstrate a certain degree of “clemency”. Do you know by chance if Bahareh Hedayat is among those who were released ?   If so, you should up-date your Evin-Rosetta website.
Hope that everything is fine with you. That you have a great summer in Munich and that work is fine.
I am fine. Just started my 2 weeks holidays. will travel with some friends so I am looking forward to it.
My phD is good. i like having students. almost 2 years have passed from my research. feels that a lot of time passes but not much gets done. but guess it is always like that.
So you are going to Israel, when will you go?
Yes it is stupid that you have to get a new passport to go to Iran! But what to do.
Take care!!
Ghazal my Dear,
Thanks a lot for writing, and thanks for forwarding this great news. In fact, I don’t care so much what was the intentiomn of the Tehran authorities when they gave pardon to 75 Evin prisoners. I doubt they did it for any philantropic reason. I’m sure they did it because they felt pressure, either from their own people who more and more show unease with the hypocracy of the regime, or maybe there is some battle within political system, and hopefully even the international pressure to make public the unjustice in Tehran contributed to this development. I doubt that the website I set up last year ( had a measurable effect, since I received very little response through the internet community.
The first prisoner, for whom I collected many translations of her letter, was indeed Bahareh Hedayat. I did not found her on the list of the prisoners who received a pardon now. I think I have to inquire about her. But at least one of the political activist about whom I wrote, Mehdi Koukan, was released now.
We will leave for Israel today in a week. I go with mixed feelings, considering the stupid speech by Ahmadenijad, where he repeated his prospect of destroying Israel.
I hope you are well up, and wherever you spend you vacations, you can relax.
Take Care


The Moon -- one year later, but more than one year elder

Ghazal my dear, 
What is age, and what is aging, if everyone uses a different measure for this. This came to my mind when I did another picture of the moon tonight. Tonight it was once again the night of the Persides meteor shower. But since nothing could top the spectacular meteor that we saw together with you at the same night in 2010, I put more attention to the moon again (1). A year ago at the same night, we have been at the Bulgarian blacksea coast, and then the Persides night fell together with the full moon. This year, however, the same day in the year (11th to 12th of August), the moon looked completely different. 

Its shape was already ascending to less than 25%, whereas full moon was already 10 days ago (exactly at August 2nd). So it is of some interest to understand why according to the solar calender exactly one year passed by (and even the Persides meteor showers declined to this (2), but the moon implies something different. As a proof, the picture on the left shows the shape of the moon as of tonight, and you can compare with the picture from a year ago.

The reason for this asynchrony is that the circular rotation of the moon around the earth and relative to the sun happens once every 29 days, 12h and ~4min. This means, that 12 month for the moon (or one year for it) take only 345 days, i.e. 11 days less than a normal year of 356 days. Therefore the full moon of August 2012 was visible 11 days earlier than the full moon of August 2011.

This means that for people who rely on the sun as their calender reference, a year has some 11 extra days, as compared to people who rely on the moon as a calender standard (like muslims). In the long term, after 33 solar years (which the western civilisation and the Persians use) an extra year has already accumulated for people in the islamic world. I have no clue if muslims indeed celebrate their birthdays according to the moons calender, and count one extra life year every 33 normal years. And it is not completely unlikely, that the processes of real biologically aging (or lets call it maturing) is influenced to some degree by the imagination of aging. Maybe somebody who really feels elder, if he or she suddenly discovers that instead of 33, he or she is already 34 years old. So therefore you might conclude (together with the early Beatles) that it is better to "....follow the sun":

Sun is definitely good for a couple of physiological functions (vitamin D synthesis, production of serotonin which makes us happy and satisfied), but in higher doses it is doing the opposite: You know better than anybody else how UV-A and UV-B can accelerate the entire aging process, since you work on this issue and even got a scientific price for this. The Isar island, where some black ashes might still mark the site of our camp-fire, and which looked pretty uncosy and barely populated three weeks ago, today saw masses of locals who followed the sun and took advice from the 1960 Beatles song, rather than from your 2011 publication in Mutation Research.

I guess that now you'd like to know why I waited for an entire year, before sending you another photograph of the moon again. The reason was that after the Persides night in Bulgaria last year, my camera broke. I somehow smashed the display, and from then on it was totally black. But I did not want to throw it in the waste bin right away, since this camera was always a brave and reliable companion to us. So I left it untouched on my desk, before in a quiet moment three weeks ago I started to take it apart (like I did it with your wrist-watch two years ago). I soon realized that the broken display can be removed carefully and replaced with a new one. And soon I found through Ebay a possibility to get even seperate display units for virtually every single digital camera. I quickly located a provider with the funny name of GLOBAL-SHINING (3). Mr. or Mrs. Global Shining appeared to be a Mr. Ho, living with his GLOBAL STAR SHINING in Flat S30 1/F, Shopping Arcade, Tsuen Wan Centre, Tsuen Wan, Hongkong (4).

When I received Mr. Ho's delivery, the small parcell contained not only the brand-new Samsung camery display, it also had as a little extra a special screw driver (not only fitting the microscopic steel screws that held together the camera back, but also of perfect size for chinese fingers) and a handwritten piece of paper saying "Thank you for considering GLOBAL SHINING as business partner". 
By help of the microscopic screw driver and some forceps from the lab I quickly managed to replace the camera display, and the pictures on todays post are the proof how well the whole camera is working again. Since I was so happy about revitalising the nice camera with the Mr. Ho's help, I decided not only to give him excellent reference points on Ebay, but also send him some words of gratitude on a postcard showing Castle Neuschwanstein. It is nice to imagine how Mr. Ho mounts the colourful postcard to the wall of his Flat S30 1/F in the shopping arcade of Tsue Wan, Hongkong.

Is there a final take-home message from this post for you, Ghazal ?
I hope you will find one.
Take Care my Dear


(1) Surely you know that the Moon symbolizes the pure, innocent beauty in Persian classicla poetry. This is independent of the exclusive role of the Sun in ancient, pre-islamic Persian culture, philosophy and science. But because poetry is very much influenced by arabic traditions, their spiritual preference for the moon as symbol in religion and arts got access into the poetry of Hafez, Rumi, Atta and Omar Khayyun.
(2) The Persides Meteor shower lives up to its name: same as the Persian people do, it follows precisely the sun's calender. I guess that it follows in a precise and constant time after Persian Nouruz.
(3) Initially I could not figure out, if the name of the company GLOBAL-SHINING was referring to the moon or the sun. But now that I know that it is a Hongkong based company, I guess they even mean the Shining Stars.
(4) I guess Mr. Ho wont mind having his business address published here on my blog. But it might further promoted his excellent business. Just that Tsuen Wan does not have a postcode might discourage Hongkong tourists to drop into his store and buy camera displays.

A redshift of our E-mail traffic

Ghazal, Dear,
For the delay of your e-mails relative of the ones I send to you, there is this easy explanation. If I send you about one message per day, and receive from you only one in response per 2 weeks, it must have to do with your own location getting further and further away. The great astrophysicist Edwin Hubble was the first to relate the observation of a redshift (i.e. the elongation of wavelengths of the star light) with the proposed expansion of the entire universe The long intervalls of your response e-mails are an equivalent to this redshift, but maybe as a passionate car driver you are more familiar with the Doppler-Effect that is used by the traffic police to measure the speed of vehicles. In essence, its the same physical phenomenon.
In our case, the observation that daily send E-mails from me to you experience a dilation of their responses to only one every two weeks results in a calculated escape velocity of your location relative to Munich by 1440 km/h. (Whow, thats more than the speed of sound !!).
The calculation please find below.
This once again convinces me that you are an angel, which accidentally had to do an emergency stop in Munich 2 years ago, but now you are again in your other world where Angels rule and drive cars with chocolate engines.
Take Care Michael


Omar Khayyam -- brought into music by Maryam Akhondy

On the occasion of the finissage of the "Servus and Salam - an insight to Iran" exhibition here in Munich, the great music singer Maryam Akhondy with her ensemble Barbad gave a concert in the Maximilian church. A strong voice, for which the term Diva would be approbiate, also she is anything else than diva-like. Her music and her very special kind of humor for me was the only valid interpretation of the Omar Khayyams poetry. When I read his rubbayat (naturally in the famous english translation by Fitzgerald) I was always touched by the wisdom, fine lyrics and human feelings that emanate from them. A very free author, great scientist, amazing spirit and precise observer put down in words how he saw his life, the pressure from the society, his love for beauty and for human desires, and all this about one thousand years ago in a poetic language that seems very clear, not modern, but of an ever lasting diction.

A while ago, however, I started to worry, if my unconditioned excitement by Omar Khayyams poetry might be the result of a very naiv misinterpretation. A friend of mine, a persian book-seller and philologist recommended to read Paramahansa Yogananda "The wine of the mystic", in which the author claim to provide the only valid interpretation (or better called decryption) of Omar Khayyams rubbayat. So for each 4-line rubbayat, Yogananda writes about 3 pages interpretation. Already in the introduction, the authors warns us that each time that Omar Khayyam mentions "Wine", he refers to the "Divine Spirit". Similarly, when Omar Khayyam writes about "Love to Girl", Yogananda wants us to believe that this means nothing more than "Love to the divine spirit". For me, this so-called spiritual interpretation of Omar Khayyams rubbayat is nothing more than a violent misinterpretation, a unsuccesful attempt to clear his most beautiful, human and real eternal poetry of all value and of all its real spirit. Yoganandas book is a bad example of the attempt to misuse a former great piece of literature for religious hypocracy, be it christian, islamic or this yoga-guru style of Yogananda (he later founded an organisation of Self-Realization Fellowship, which in my view is a religious cult like a million others, with the ambition to be in possession of the final truth). Eventhough I immediately developed a strong antipathy for this "modern" spiritual interpretation of Omar Khayyams lyrics, there was one strong argument. Yogananda was able to read Omar Khayyam as the original persian text, therefore claiming that his spiritual interpretaion is more authentic than the secular western ones (beginning by the english translation of Fitzgerald and later by the german version of Rosen). Yogananda complained that all western readers simply valued Omar Khayyam by the wrong idea that he praises love, wine and the beauty of the world in the way we used to do it in the west. Unfortunately, this was a strong argument, although for Yogananda Persian was a foreign language as well. It might even be that he did his "modern-spiritual" interpretation based on Fitzgeralds english translation as well, rather than reading the original text. Yogananda spoke hindi, and there are quite many similarities betwenn Hindi and Persian, two indo-european languages.

But to my greatest relieve, Maryam Akhondy, a true persian, a modern singer, a woman that does not need to attract followers like a guru, she obviously interpreted Omar Khayyam, one of the greatest representatives of classical persian poetry, in the same modern and human manner as I intuitively read his rubbayat. For me, Maryam Akhondys songs are the only valid interpretation of Omar Khayyam, but for the best and dedicated readers, his poetry is completely self-explained. Omar Khayyam does not need gurus (like Yogananda) who try to build an ideology around his beautiful and clear lyrics.


Red-shifted E-mails

Ghazal, Dear,
For the delay of your e-mails relative of the ones I send to you, there is this easy explanation. If I send you about one message per day, and receive from you only one in response per 2 weeks, it must have to do with your own location getting further and further away. The great astrophysicist Edwin Hubble was the first to relate the observation of a redshift (i.e. the elongation of wavelengths of the star light) with the proposed expansion of the entire universe The long intervalls of your response e-mails are an equivalent to this redshift, but maybe as a passionate car driver you are more familiar with the Doppler-Effect that is used by the traffic police to measure the speed of vehicles. In essence, its the same physical phenomenon.

In our case, the observation that daily send E-mails from me to you experience a dilation of their responses to only one every two weeks results in a calculated escape velocity of your location relative to Munich by 1440 km/h. (Woh, thats more than the speed of sound !!).

The calculation please find below.

This once again convinces me that you are an angel, which accidentally had to do an emergency stop in Munich 2 years ago, but now you are again in your other world where Angels rule and drive cars with chocolate engines.

Take Care


Modern Cowboy

DOWN IN THE VALLEY Set in the present-day San Fernando Valley, this movie revolves around a delusional man who believes he's a cowboy and the relationship that he starts with a rebellious young woman. Tobe, A young girl, (played by Evan Rachel Wood), is on her way to the beach with some friends, when she falls in love with a modern cowboy, Harlan (played by Edward Norton), who is working at the local gas-station. Tobes father (David Morse) is against the affair between his younger daughter an the elder Harlan. He soon starts an open hostility towards Harklan and even threatens him several times with a gun. When Harlan comes along Tobes house to take her away from the violent father, the two have a short argument during which Harlan injures Tobe with his revolver, from which a bullet is released accidentally. Tobe falls into coma for several days, and Harlan runs away on a white horse together with Tobes little brother. Tobes father starts a hunt and when he finds Harlan, he shots him dead in a tragic show down. Modern Times are not made for romantic modern cowboys.


The value of long words and of pictures

Ghazal my Dear, When we met two years ago and exchanged e-mails and messages after work, I was initially worried why you write everything in this short format, like an emergency SMS. This was such a contrast to the endless sentences I got used to write to you. You asked me what would be the longest word I could imagine, and I found it today in the Munich subway. 

The entire title (in an non-hyphenated form) would be
The proper english translation would be
Regulations for the usage of public lavoratories“.
But if I try Google Translator, look what comes out:
proper use of information on nursing homes need” (What a total confusion !)
Are long words, or long texts in general, a potential source for a severe misunderstanding ?  Is it really better to use pictures instead, as you prefer to do, to guarantee an easier reception of the message ? Does a picture really says more than a thousand words ?

I think that you are indeed a very visual person, Ghazal, this I understoud when I saw how quickly you answered an e-mail that contains some pictures or even a video sequence. You know what is funny: that in general men are considered to be more visual, whereas woman are more verbal. Woman are considered to love through their ears, meaning they respond very much to words, to nice talks and romantic stories and in particular to verbal compliments and charming speach. Men, in contrast, are considered to be much more influenced by images. They like and love what they see. In this sense, Ghazal, you carry a bit of males psychology in your soul. You respond to visual sensations. And in contrast to this, you are not typical female in the sense that verbal compliments, charming words that praise your beauty or your talent or your inspiring character, they are all not very appealing to you. To such words, whether they are told you in a personal talk or they are written in an e-mail, you seem to be very resistant. This is a pure, scientific observation, my Dear, and I could pretend that is has little to do with my own feelings for you. I could pretend that I am just interested to understand you, and find out what makes you happy (in addition to chocolate and fast cars, of course ) I can not even be sure that you still read to this point of my e-mail, maybe you have already deleted the mail as soon as you realized that it is too much focused on youself. And I am afraid that you even dont like to hear any words that have to do with you at all, whether these are words that praise your beauty or words that pretend to be of pure professional or psychological interest. What appears to be a conflict of communication is that for me visual information is not so important. If I see a picture of somebody, I instictively distrust this picture. I know how little it tells about the person. If I see a picture of you today, it is only important for me to remember how you have been here 2 years ago. It helps me to remember your deep, dark voice, your laughter, how you used to move smoothly like a cat. I can close my eyes, and immediately I recall how your face began to smile in certain situations. But if I see a picture of you today, I might think that “well, Ghazal was probably working hard these days when the picture was shot. She looks a bit tired”. But at the same time I know that you still would move the same way along the corridor, and it still would be the same smile or the same laughter that breaks out of you when I tell you some silly stories. And you still would speak with the same dark voice, and your eyes would still focus to something that is lightyears far away form our world. So what is so difficult to understand for me is that words are so meaningless for you, and at the same time you cannot imagine what all of these words end endless mails could be good for. I have to tell you, Ghazal, I have no answer for this myself. I just can say that for me words are a way of getting along with imaginations, fantasies, thoughts, with the conflict between reality and dreams. For you, maybe words dont help. But I doubt that pictures help a lot. And think pictures only produce more fantasies, and the conflict to reality becomes even bigger. But maybe I am right when I believe that you use music, to discover another reality. Music, of course, is also another type of language, and maybe you understand the music as a language, with tunes and melodies who are like words, that please your ears. Maybe I overinterprete some cultural aspects here, when I say that Persia had the richest poetry of all cultures, and that poetry is much more than words, but very close to songs. So it would be natural, that if your parents tought you poetry in childhood, you developed a special sense for lyrics. And the simple prosaic language that I used to use is simply to uncivilized for you. Ghazal, my Dear, maybe you remember I always run into problems with my lectures extending the maximum allowed time. I’m afraid its the same with my e-mails. I’m afraid you already fall asleep after reading the first 10 lines of it (like some students do after 10 min lecture). Therefore I have to wake you up with some more hard facts: I hope that you will have nice and relaxing and recovering time in August. I hope that life and people treat you very well and you enjoy every second of your free time. Hopefully, we will manage to visit Israel this year. Marina has some relatives there, our son learned hebrew in school (with very bad marks, of course, but at least he could serve me as a translator), and I will hopefully have soon a colaboration with a group in tel Aviv. The stupid thing is, that to visit Iran next year together with Omid, I will have to get a new passport, because Iran does not permit entrance visa to people, who have already a visa stamp from Israel. Isn’t this stupid, Ghazal ??? I hope that this is the old generations laws, and the future will see people more tolerant (like you). best greetings Take Care Michael


servus & salam

On Sunday the video and photo-exhibition "Servus and Salam - An Insight Iran" open at a Munich church. During his one-year long odyssee through the country, the producer and video-artist Dominik Fuhrmann had collected really amazing pictures of landscapes, people and sceneries. They all left the visitors with the impression to have seen something that is usually ignored by the official media and political reports. Big thanks to this young German film-maker for his excellent work. The exhibition will be open till August 15th 2012 at Maximillian church (just a few meters away from the Isar riverside, about 3 km upstream from the place where peoples use to have a camp fire).

صندلی‌های پر کلیسای سنت ماکسی‌میلیان مونیخ در شب افتتاحیه نشان از استقبال گرم آلمانی‌ها و ایرانی‌ها داشت

During the vernisage of the exhibition, one of the most famous persian (sufi ?) dancers, his derwish highness Mr. Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam, gave a mindblowing presentation of his arts.

شاهرخ مشکین قلم، هنرمند پرآوازه ایرانی زمانی که از اجرای چنین نمایشگاهی با خبر می‌شود، آمادگی خود را برای اجرای برنامه‌ای بدون دریافت هزینه در شب افتتاحیه اعلام می‌کند

شاهرخ مشکین قلم به بندیکت می‌گوید چون «در پی ارائه تصویری انسانی از میهنش است» او نیز حاضر به همراهی با وی است.

And Hadi Alizadeh, famous for his percussion music, filled the catholic church with a quite unorthodox sound.
هادی علیزاده دیگر هنرمند ایرانی از اجراکنندگان برنامه در شب افتتاحیه نمایشگاه \"نگاهی به ایران\" در کلیسای سنت ماکسی‌میلیان مونیخ بود.

At the beginning, however, there was a sort of "sales-fair" of several world religions. Buddhists, Moslems, Jews, Catholics and even some Bahai all got a 15 min slot to present their faith. It never was so obvious to me that all these religions are mainly interested in attracting new followers, and distracting them from the competitor faith. And I have to say:  For me they all used the same empty words. In particular if the issue of an open terrorist regime like the one in Tehran was ever present. A regime that not only oppresses, tortures and kills every political opposition or ever free intellectual spirit, but that is equally dictatorian and intolerant against people of other faith (in particular the Bahai, which are systematically arrested and sentenced to death by the Ahmadenijad regime).
I had a bit a problem, how acceptible it is to show beautiful picture of a beautiful country and its sympathic people, but without mentioning anything about the gouvernment, that has occupied this country, tortures its free spirit with a awful, inhuman islamo-fascist ideology and keeps the best people in virtual political hostage.

رانی ادری، گرافیست اسرائیلی و مبتکر کمیین \"اسرائیل ایران را دوست دارد\"، نیز وقتی از هدف  بندیکت برای نشان دادن تصاویری از زندگی مردم ایران آگاه می‌شود، به او می‌گوید که هر دو در یک راه قدم برداشته‌اند و می‌پذیرد که برای افتتاح نمایشگاه از تل آویو به مونیخ سفر ‌کند.