Cluster Map

Friday, October 14, 2016

Pollyanna is glad about the holiday season

is taking her turn now. She spent Yom Kippur with her brother Titan at his lakeshore (methane) synagogue.
and is happy to wish you all a very happy Succot(Tabernacles) holiday, coming up on Sunday night.
אתרוג,לולב,הדס וערבה

They (Pollyanna, Titan and YandA) hope you will try to alleviate the effects of climate change through which we are all laboring. If you can find a denier, try to keep him/her away from air conditioning--they are not worthy of it.
In this holiday blog, Pollyanna will try to be glad, but will allow herself rants about women and girls or blatant human rights violations while mostly trying to be glad and positive. As usual, Murphy will provide companionship, humor and legal advice.

The Charity Corner has found a home on the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action site.  Pollyanna and Titan hope that you will visit there, take the actions and make the donations.



Conductor Neville Marriner, who led the Academy of St Martin in the Fields to become one of the world's most-recorded classical music groups, has died, the academy said Sunday. He was 92.
Marriner, a violinist in the London Symphony Orchestra, joined with several other musicians in 1959 to form a chamber group, which was intended to perform without a leader. The group's mouthful of a name, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, was inspired by the church in central London where they performed. The rest is history.

We have all enjoyed Sir Neville's musicianship and he will certainly be missed.   He became music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra from 1968-77. He then became music director of the Minnesota Orchestra 1979-1986, and directed the Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stuttgart, Germany from 1984-89.He leaves behind a huge discography. The NYTimes has an obituary and the Guardian a personal appreciation by one of his players. 
"Then there’s the famous encore story. Our three stock encores for many years were Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro overture, a Brahms Hungarian dance and the slow movement of Mendelssohn’s Reformation symphony. We had them ready in a prescribed order, all beautiful in their own right, but not when played simultaneously. Neville was standing there waving frantically shouting “idiots, idiots”. I think the Brahms triumphed after about 16 bars..."


Colombians have rejected a peace deal to end 52 years of war with FARC guerrillas, throwing the country into confusion about its future. With counting completed from 98.98% of polling stations, the no vote led by 50.2% to 49.8%, a difference of fewer than 54,000 votes out of almost 13 million cast. Turnout was low, with less than 38% of the electorate casting a vote. Analysis of Colombia’s "Brexit " moment showed  how politicians misjudged popular anger at FARC amnesty. All sides were left shocked by the narrow rejection of the peace deal which would have seen guerrillas guilty of war crimes escape jail.
Those who supported the peace agreement were shocked when the result was "no"

This result means that the deal cannot now be implemented. Polls before the vote predicted that the yes camp would win with a comfortable 66% share. Santos had been confident of a yes result and said during the campaign that he did not have a plan B and that Colombia would return to war if the no vote won. His opponents, led by former president Álvaro Uribe, said a win for their side would be a mandate for the government and rebels to negotiate a “better agreement”.

While it is unlikely that fighting will resume, it is indeed not clear what happens next. Uribe will certainly play a role in the next stage. Pollyanna wishes the best to the people of Colombia and hopes they manage to work out the problems.


Pollyanna is delighted to tell you that on Thursday 22 September, Andrew Holness, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, announced the ratification of  ILO Convention 189 – an international standard to protect domestic workers from exploitation. The Prime Minister announced the ratification in front of a global audience, while attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York (UNGA).

Mr. Holness said, “We are committed to the protection of rights of the most vulnerable among us and to ensure the welfare of domestic workers within the framework of our determination to promote a decent work for all.”

In the three weeks leading up to the UNGA, the Walk Free movement collected 52,412 signatures showing the Prime Minister the international support behind his mission to end domestic slavery in Jamaica. Pollyanna says Cheers and asks all to ensure that their country does the same.


Pollyanna would like to call your attention to an Amnesty International campaign on sexual and reproductive rights of young people in South America. We hear from six activists from South America working together through Amnesty’s It’s My Body! program empowering young people aged 13 to 19 years old to claim and promote their  rights.
Joaquin, from Argentina, and Sofia, from Chile (in the foreground) exchange their point of view on issues related to sexual and reproductive rights at the kick-off meeting of the It's My Body! programme. Lima, Peru, May 2016 © Amnesty International
They are from Peru, Argentina or Chile, yet all share the same goal: make sure they have the power and freedom to demand and access their sexual and reproductive rights. Over five years these young activists will work together to empower others to make informed decisions about their bodies and sexuality, and provide their peers with information and training on issues related to
sexual and reproductive rights.

As they meet for the first time in Lima, Peru, we learn what their participation means to them, and how they intend to change attitudes in the region. Pollyanna recommends that you read the full post and wishes them all success.

In this context Pollyanna is delighted at the action of the Polish Parliament. The members rejected by an overwhelming majority a law that would have added new restrictions to abortion rights. Poland already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, with terminations legally permitted only when there is severe foetal abnormality, when there is a grave threat to the health of the mother, or if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

The new law would criminalize all terminations, with women punishable with up to five years in prison. Doctors found to have assisted with a termination would also be liable for prosecution and a prison term. No one can say that Poland is liberal, but a social catastrophe was warded off for the moment.


Pollyanna calls your attention to this organization. The Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID) is an international, feminist, membership organization committed to achieving gender equality, sustainable development and women's human rights. A dynamic network of women and men around the world, AWID members are researchers, academics, students, educators, activists, business people, policy-makers, development practitioners, funders, and more. Pollyanna suggests that anyone interested in promoting women's rights and gender equality might wish to use AWID as a vehicle of activism.


Usually Pollyanna does not vent in Titanesque manner about politics, but the tragicomedy of the elections in the US is beyond the pale. Let us look to Shakespeare for some insight.
JooHee Yoon
In the early 1590s, Shakespeare sat down to write a play that addressed a problem: How could a great country wind up being governed by a sociopath?

The problem was not England’s, where a woman of exceptional intelligence and stamina had been on the throne for more than 30 years, but it had long preoccupied thoughtful people. Why, the Bible brooded, was the kingdom of Judah governed by a succession of disastrous kings? How could the greatest empire in the world, ancient Roman historians asked themselves, have fallen into the hands of a Caligula?
For his theatrical test case, Shakespeare chose an example closer to home: the brief, unhappy reign in 15th-century England of King Richard III. Read and draw your own analogies.



By Maria Semple
Illustrated. 259 pp. Little, Brown & Company. $27.

Reviewed in the NYTimes by

Maria Semple, 52, is the author of the bestselling Where’d You Go, Bernadette, which was shortlisted for the 2013 women’s prize for fiction and is currently being adapted for a film directed by Richard Linklater. Her latest novel, Today Will Be Different, is about a day in the life of Eleanor Flood, a woman who vows every day that she’ll be a better person. The reviews are favorable and she appears to be a writer worthy of further attention. Pollyanna recommends.

Édith Carron 


Pollyanna is delighted to pass on to you some recent updates from the world of physics. This is a website to which you can subscribe and it is always interesting.
Proxima Centauri as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. (Courtesy: ESA/Hubble)

An old but amusing What If--beware these wild elementary school teachers.



Friday, September 16, 2016

Pollyanna and Titan are returning in force


and Pollyanna

like to think of themselves as retirees who are relaxing after years of hard labor and ranting. They have, in their joint persona of T_P decided that it is not fair to their countless fans and readers to deprive them of the wisdom they can dispense. Yes, Virginia, we have a sense of the absurd. We also think that age is not a big deal; Pollyanna at over 100 and Titan at 4.5
billion hold out hope for all of us to say nothing of Biblical figures. 

They will try to alleviate the effects of climate change through which we are all laboring. If you can find a denier, try to keep him/her away from air conditioning--they are not worthy of it.

T_P have noted that things have not become better since they retired from active ranting. They have decided, therefore, that they will come back to a schedule, with Pollyanna at midmonth and Titan at the end of the month. Their recent move with their amanuenses YandA 

to a place full of retired people has renewed their energy and desire to bug people. As usual, Titan will rant mightily while Pollyanna will try to be glad, but will allow herself rants about women and girls or blatant human rights violations while mostly trying to be glad and positive. As usual, Murphy will provide companionship, humor and legal advice.

The Charity Corner has found a home on the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action site. Titan and Pollyanna hope that you will visit there, take the actions and make the donations.


This Philippine national who was a domestic worker in Indonesia is under a death sentence. Veloso was arrested in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in 2010 while carrying a suitcase containing 2.2kg of heroin. Her supporters say poverty made her susceptible to people traffickers, who promised her a job as a maid in Malaysia but instead made her an unwitting drug mule. It is believed in general that she was duped into carrying the drugs. Her execution was stopped in April 2015 with a temporary reprieve hours before she was due to be killed.
Mary Jane Veloso was sentenced to death in Indonesia for drugs trafficking. Photograph: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

Her reprieve came after Maria Kristina Sergio, a woman accused of recruiting Veloso, handed herself in to police in Manila. The former Philippine president, Benigno Aquino, made an appeal to Jokowi on the basis that Veloso would be needed as a witness in the case against Sergio.

Pollyanna agrees that drug lords should face prison terms, but is certainly against capital punishment and killing unwitting dupes who are victims of the drug empires.


Erik Satie 1866-1925 

This year we note the 150th anniversary of the birth of an interesting and often underrated French composer. He was scorned by the musical establishment, but has in recent decades enjoyed a revival of interest and appreciation. A complete CD recording of his solo piano music has been published in honor of the anniversary. We refer you to the KUSC site:

Erik Satie: The Complete Solo Piano Music Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano

A fixture in the avant-garde in Paris at the turn of the 20th-century, Satie was an important influence on such diverse figures as Stravinsky, Debussy,and Philip Glass. This new compilation includes 5 CDs of solo piano music performed by acclaimed French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and a bonus CD of four-handed piano music with Jean-Philippe Collard and Pascal Roge. Magnifique!

His short piece Vexation, designed to be repeated 840 times had its world premier 70 years after its composition, on 9 September 1963 before a gathering of off-Broadway actors and artists at the Pocket theater in Manhattan.   It took John Cage and his relay team of pianists, including John Cale who would later co-found the Velvet Underground, 18 hours and 40 minutes to perform the musical marathon from start to finish, playing continuously from 6pm until lunchtime the following day. Patience was rewarded: those who attended were refunded five cents of their $5 dollar ticket for every 20 minutes they stayed, with a bonus for anyone who crossed the finish line. Only one man did; another, as it finished, called out “encore”. Pollyanna is properly impressed.
Portrait of Erik Satie playing the harmonium by Santiago Rusiñol. Photograph: Heritage Images/Getty Images


Hieronymus Bosch 1450-1516 

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Jheronimus van Aken, the Flemish master who signed his works as Jheronimus Bosch. His imagination ranged from a place beyond the spheres of Heaven to the uttermost depths of Hell, but for many of his earliest admirers the most striking aspect of his art was what they described as its “truth to nature.”

The round anniversary has generated two major exhibitions and a spate of books. The New York Review of Books provides an interesting article to those who can reach it. 

The exhibitions and books include:

Hieronymus Bosch: Visions of Genius an exhibition at NoordbrabantsMuseum, ’s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, February 13–May 8, 2016Catalog of the exhibition by Matthijs Ilsink and Jos KoldeweijBrussels: Mercatorfonds, 191 pp., $35.00 (paper) (distributed byYale University Press)

Bosch: The Fifth Centenary Exhibition an exhibition at the MuseoNacional del Prado, Madrid, May 31–September 11, 2016 Catalog ofthe exhibition edited by Pilar Silva Maroto Madrid: Museo Nacionaldel Prado, 397 pp., €33.25 (paper)

Hieronymus Bosch: Visions and Nightmares by Nils BüttnerReaktion, 208 pp., $22.50 

Jheronimus Bosch: The Road to Heaven and Hell by Gary SchwartzOverlook Duckworth, 254 pp., $70.00 Hieronymus Bosch, Painter and Draughtsman: Catalogue Raisonné bythe Bosch Research and Conservation Project Brussels:Mercatorfonds, 607 pp., $150.00 (distributed by Yale UniversityPress)


Hieronymus Bosch: Garden of Earthly Delights by Hans BeltingPrestel, 125 pp., $14.95 (paper) 

The highlights mark links to reviews.
The Garden of Earthly Delights


The world refugee crisis continues to fester. Amnesty International has issued a call for people action. Right now, record numbers of people worldwide have beenforced to flee their homes. But instead of showing true leadership and protecting refugees, most countries are slamming their doors shut.

The world’s wealthiest nations are leaving a handful of countries to cope alone with nearly all the world’s 21 million refugees. Powerful media and politicians are manipulating reality and dehumanizing them, portraying refugees as “illegal”, or faceless “invaders” who are “a security threat”. They are evading their responsibility to protect people fleeing violence, persecution and conflict. And every single day that goes by, their indecision and inaction are causing immense human suffering.
William, 11, is a refugee living in a camp in northern Kenya. “I was born here in Kakuma, but I know we had a lot in Sudan. We had three houses: one for cattle, a shed and one that we lived in." © Amnesty International (Photo: Richard Burton)

But if we can’t rely on our politicians to change the world, we shall do it ourselves. Our recent survey of people’s attitudes across the world showed that 80% of us stand ready to welcome refugees into our countries, communities – even our own homes. Together, we are a movement of people who believe that the things that unite us are far more powerful than those that divide us.  We do not see refugees as a threat, but as people whose lives are under threat-people who need a safe place to start again and a chance to make a positive contribution to society. 
We appreciate the commitment of President Obama to accept 110,000 Syrian refugees, but the 10,000 so far is a  paltry fraction and the attitude of state governors is shameful
Please sign the Pledge.


Pollyanna is very excited about the apparent discovery of an Earth-like planet just around the corner at Proxima Centauri, 4.2 light years away. European Southern Observatory (ESO) officials have finally confirmed that they have discovered a newexoplanet candidate named Proxima b inside the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri - a red dwarf star in our closest neighboring star system, Alpha Centauri. While the experience of other recent "discoveries" that were later debunked (Big Bang echoes for example) should be kept in mind, this finding appears quite solid.
Artist impression of system

Nonetheless, as put so well by the late Carl Sagan, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" and David Hume wrote in 1748: "A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence", and "No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." In the case of Proxima b a group of researchers launched a campaign to ferret out the planet. They called this effort the Pale Red Dot — a nod to Carl Sagan's famous description of Earth as a "pale blue dot," and the fact that Proxima Centauri is a small, dim star known as a red dwarf. The results are most convincing.


Here us a link to a timeline of the variation of Earth's temperature. Thank you Munro.

This might be useful depending on the degree of idiocy of the denier you are foolhardy enough to engage in a discussion. As Andy Borowitz pointed out the in New Yorker (June 23, 2015) "Many Americans are tired of explaining things to idiots, particularly when the things in question are so painfully obvious, a new poll indicates...Of the many obvious things that people are sick and tired of trying to get through the skulls of stupid people, the fact that climate change will cause catastrophic habitat destruction and devastating extinctions tops the list, with a majority saying that they will no longer bother trying to explain this to cretins."

On the subject of climate change, Pollyanna is disgusted with the pussyfooting and hypocrisy of scientific organizations refusing to stand up to polluting corporations. In particular, as members of the American Geophysical Union, we signed the petition calling for the AGU to drop support from Exxon. The AGU board just received the petition with 50,000 signatures and we hope it will show courage and integrity.
Image Credit: The Natural History Museum


Here is a What If from the archive
Is there any way to fire a gun so that the bullet flies through the air and can then be safely caught by hand? e.g. shooter is at sea level and catcher isup a mountain at the extreme range of the gun. 
The answer is yes and we find it amusing.

Ed Hui, London 


Our leaders have a wonderful grip on reality

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Pollyanna and Titan are with you again.

Titan and Pollyanna like to think of themselves as retirees who are relaxing after years of hard labor and ranting. They have, in their joint persona of T_P decided that it is not fair to their countless fans and readers to deprive them of the wisdom they can dispense. Yes, Virginia, we have a sense of the absurd. We also think that age is not a big deal as long as you live with a sense of purpose. Pollyanna at over 100 and Titan at 4.5 billion hold out hope for all of us to say nothing of Biblical figures.


Titan, Pollyanna and YandA wish their MOT readers a happy Shevuot holiday.  It marks the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai and the bringing of the first fruits to the Temple.

It is customary to read the Book of Ruth in the synagogue.

Image result for book of ruth
Gleaning in the field

We wish our Muslim readers Ramadan Kareen.

The Charity Corner has found a home on the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action site. Titan and Pollyanna hope that you will visit there, take the actions and make the donations.


MOHAMMED ALI 1942-2016

Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, stands over challenger Sonny Liston, in 1965.
Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, stands over challenger Sonny Liston, in 1965. Photograph: John Rooney/AP
The famous boxer, philanthropist and social activist Muhammad Al died this month. He won fame not only as arguably the greatest boxer of all time, but also as a political activist who paid a huge price for his opposition to the Vietnam war. In a racist time and place, he never consented, as did many black athletes, to be a"white man's n***r" which ultimately earned him respect. In later life, beset himself by illness, he supported research on Parkinson's disease and founded the Mohammed Ali Center in Louisville KY with a stated mission:"... to preserve and share the legacy and ideals of
Muhammad Ali, to promote respect, hope, and understanding, and to inspire adults and children everywhere to be as great as they can be."
A full obituary may be found in the Guardian.


Victor Korchnoi, who died this month aged 85, was one of the most enduringly consistent grandmasters on the international chess circuit and reckoned by some to have been the strongest chess player never to have been world champion; in 1976 he became the first Russian chess grandmaster to defect from the Soviet Union and much of his later career was overshadowed by Cold War politics.

Viktor Korchnoi watches as his opponent Anatoly Karpov makes a move during their world title final match in Merano, Italy, in 1981.
Viktor Korchnoi watches as his opponent Anatoly Karpov makes a move during their world title final match in Merano, Italy, in 1981. Photograph: Mary Delaney Cooke/Corbis via Getty Images
He had an interesting and turbulent life both on the chess board and in the real world. The NYTimes has an obituary as does the Guardian.


As usual, the summer cultural agenda is rich. The NYRB lists a few such gems, as the Degas exhibit at the MOMA in New York,
Edgar Degas: Frieze of Dancers, oil on canvas, circa 1895
Edgar Degas: Frieze of Dancers, oil on canvas, circa 1895

 Matisse at the Morgan in NY and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

 Henri Matisse: Icarus, plate VIII in his book Jazz, 1947; from the Morgan Library and Museum’s recent exhibition ‘Graphic Passion: Matisse and the Book Arts’

The first fully illustrated edition of the Divine Comedy by Botticelli was at the Courtauld Gallery, in London which we managed to see before it closed in mid-May but a similar exhibition can be found at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, March 5–July 3, 2016.
‘Inferno XVIII’; Virgil and Dante in the eighth circle of Hell, showing the punishment of panderers, seducers, flatterers, and whores; illustration by Sandro Botticelli, circa 1490
‘Inferno XVIII’; Virgil and Dante in the eighth circle of Hell, showing the punishment of panderers, seducers, flatterers, and whores; illustration by Sandro Botticelli, circa 1490

Last summer we visited the new Whitney in the meatpacking district of Lower Manhattan and it was a lovely experience. In case you wondered what was going to happen with the old Whitney, it has been leased by the Metropolitan Museum and become The Met Breuer. To quote the blurb--"The Metropolitan Museum of Art's modern and contemporary art program includes a new series of exhibitions, performances, artist commissions, residencies, and educational initiatives in the landmark building designed by Marcel Breuer [BROY-er] on Madison Avenue and 75th Street. Now open to the public, The Met Breuer provides additional space for the public to explore the art of the 20th and 21st centuries through the global breadth and historical reach of The Met's unparalleled collection." Modesty was never their long suit.

The poet Frederick Seidel also went to the new Whitney:

Near the New Whitney

In the Meatpacking District,
Not far from the new Whitney,
In a charming restaurant,
I showed how charming I can be.
I showed how blue my eyes can be.
I showed I can be Dante first catching sight of Beatrice.

The maître d’ was new to me.
The sudden sight of her, so gently lovely,
Threw me at the pressed-tin ceiling, where I stuck.
I asked her where I was, her name was Emily.
I don’t know who the ceiling was.
I doubt pressed-tin was what it was.

I was moonstruck.
Now I could only look up.
American art used to be risky.
American art used to be frisky
And drink a lot of whiskey.
I looked up at Emily, not far from the new Whitney.

Seventy years ago,
There were violently drunkard painters downtown who,
Many of them, painted violently
In the Hamptons also.
Now they were in the splendid new Whitney, dead

I wished I had a sled dog’s beautiful eyes,
One blue, one brown,
To mush across the blizzard whiteout
Of sexy chirping chicks and well-trimmed
Bearded white young men.
You see how blue my old eyes aren’t.

I drank an after-dinner tumbler of whiskey
Not far from the new Whitney,
A present from the maître d’.
Sweet Lagavulin single malt filled me with infinity
Sixteen years old, while the girl
Smiled softly.

The exhibitions and the museum get a mixed review in the NYRB:
Wonders in the Met’s New Box Ingrid D. Rowland  

Nasreen Mohamedi: Waiting Is a Part of Intense Living    an exhibition at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía,Madrid, September 22, 2015–January 11, 2016; and The Met Breuer,New York City, March 18–June 5, 2016 

Relation: A Performance Residency by Vijay Iyer The Met Breuer, New
York City

Alas, YandA and TP are moving this summer and will perforce be
staying home.

It appears that morphine usually used as a pain-killer has the opposite effect and actually extends the duration of the pain. The result was found in male rats and published in PNAS. Pollyanna and Titan recommend you read this review of the subject of the treatment of chronic pain, highlighting all the causes that can contribute to the severity of pain and the necessity of relating to them, in the context of the alarming increase in abuse of opioids in the US, some even  available  OTC.



As Pollyanna noted in her last blog, a debate with a climate change denier is one of the worlds's greatest exercises in futility. Nature on the other hand, does not bother debating with anyone. Flooding across Western Europe this week has killed at least 18 people and displaced tens of thousands. That figure includes 10 dead in southern Germany, two in France, two in Romania, and one in Belgium, with more rain expected . Multiple studies confirm that these catastrophes are consistent with the predictions of global warming and will be exacerbated with time unless the political establishment of the world manages to get its act together before the tipping point is
Philippe Wojazer / Reuters

View of the flooded Seine near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on June 3, 2016, after days of almost nonstop rain. 


Dead and dying coral at Lizard Island on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The once brilliant coral is blanketed by
Te great wonder of Australia is The Great Barrier reef. It has been stressed for a long time by climate change and now it appears to be in its death throes. It is being  killed by bleaching which is caused by the rise of water temperature. The Guardian has published an expose on the subject that is very hard reading but must be confronted. When the coral dies, the entire ecosystem around it transforms. Fish that feed on the coral, use it as shelter, or nibble on the algae that grows among it die or move away. The bigger fish that feed on those fish disappear too. But the cascading effects do not stop there. Birds that eat fish lose their energy source, and island plants that thrive on bird droppings can be depleted. And, of course, people who rely on reefs for food, income or shelter from waves – some half a billion people worldwide – lose their vital resource. The people and governments who have caved into business interests that care only about short term profits are accountable for this catastrophe. Homo sapiens is not very sapiens, alas.


P_T are fed up with the campaign and will settle for what Mike Lukavich has to say about the choices.



Airbnb has been sending unsuspecting tourists to homes in the West Bank illegal settlements. The blog +972 has raised an outcry. A coalition of international organizations organized protests in cities across the world Friday against Airbnb’s operations in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. In addition to the international actions, local popular committees of Palestinian villages and cities like Nabi Saleh, Bil’in, and Hebron also participated. We hope the pressure works.


Members of Women of the Wall praying at the Western Wall on Passover, April 24, 2016.Olivier Fitoussi
read more:
A leader of Women of the Wall, the feminist prayer group, was detained by police on Tuesday morning after she was caught carrying a Torah scroll at the Western Wall, in defiance of regulations imposed by the custodian of the Jewish holy site. Law enforcement officials stopped Lesley Sachs, the executive director of Women of the Wall, as she was leaving the area at the conclusion of the group’s monthly prayer service, and took her in for questioning at the nearby police station in Jerusalem’s Old City. Pollyanna and Titan object to this violation of human rights and call upon all liberal people to make their protest and disgust known.


There is an old story of a woman who asked the rabbi if it is kosher to cook a chicken in a chamber pot. The answer was yes it its kosher, but it stinks. This is a good description of a judgement rendered this week by the Supreme Court of Israel that ruled by 2-1 that the term "kosher" is a monopoly of the official Chief Rabbinate and all attempts to provide kashruth supervision by alternate bodies are illegal. This confirms our long held opinion that kashruth is mostly a racket. Uri Misgav writing in Haaretz raises the issue of one of the judges who ruled in favor of the monopoly being a resident of a West Bank settlement, i.e. a criminal in his own right.


Add caption
The Sarona Market is an upscale complex in Tel Aviv that claims to be the heartbeat of Israeli culinary art. On an area of 8,700 square meters with 91 shops, stalls and restaurants of all categories, Sarona Market is Israel's largest, most unique indoor culinary complex.  Last week two Palestinian terrorists gunned down visitors to the mall, killing four and wounding six. Outrage is universal although there was some celebrating on the Palestinian side. If they think that this is going to help their cause, they are greatly in error. On the other hand a fierce collective punishment on the part of Israel would be equally useless. Those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.


Since rainbows are caused by the refraction of the sunlight by tiny droplets of rainwater, what would a rainbow look like on Earth if we had two suns like Tatooine? —Raga.
In fact we have primary and secondary rainbows on Earth, but the answer for binary systems is interesting.


The Kingdom of Id has its own take on jurisprudence.


Cynthia has a good question

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Pollyanna and Titan are with you again.


Pollyanna and Titan have decided to pay you a visit again, this time on Pollyanna's site for the sake of equality, under the nom de plume of P_T. This is best represented by an image of an inverted teepee..
inverted teepee...

Pollyanna, Titan and YandA, the amanuensis and imaginary playmates, would like to wish a Happy Purim
 Image result for purim 2016
and a Happy Easter
Image result for happy easter 2014

to those who celebrate them. They also congratulate those born in the Year of the Monkey Monkey
 which began on February 8, 2016 (called the Lunar Chinese New Year or Chinese Spring Festival) and will last to January 27, 2017. They also note that Daylight Saving Time begins in Israel next Friday and would like to remind everyone to move his/her clock forward,
well almost everyone.
Doomsday Clock


The Charity Corner has found a home on the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action site. Pollyanna hopes that you will visit there, take the actions and make the donations. We also invite you to go there for the sake of indigenous peoples and enslaved persons.


Harper Lee April 28, 1926-February 19, 2016

Writer Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama. In 1959, she finished the manuscript for her Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller To Kill a Mockingbird.
President George W. Bush awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Harper Lee during a ceremony on November 5, 2007, in the East Room of the White House. "'To Kill a Mockingbird' has influenced the character of our country for the better,” said President Bush. “It's been a gift to the entire world. As a model of good writing and humane sensibility, this book will be read and studied forever.” (Photo: Eric Draper, via The White House)
President George W. Bush awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Harper Lee during a ceremony on November 5, 2007, in the East Room of the White House. "'To Kill a Mockingbird' has influenced the character of our country for the better,” said President Bush. “It's been a gift to the entire world. As a model of good writing and humane sensibility, this book will be read and studied forever.” (Photo: Eric Draper, via The White House)
Soon after, she helped fellow-writer and friend Truman Capote write an article for The New Yorker which would later evolve into his nonfiction masterpiece, In Cold Blood. In July 2015, Lee published her second novel Go Set a Watchman, which was written before To Kill a Mockingbird and portrays the later lives of the characters from her first novel. Lee died on February 19, 2016, at the age of 89. A detailed obituary can be found in the Guardian.


Pollyanna is linking you to a New Yorker article about a scientific breakthrough that fizzled and came down to allegations of fraud and a suicide. A group of scientists in Japan and the US came up with the idea of STAP, for stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency. The idea was so simple as to be heretical: ordinary cells could be turned into stem cells by subjecting them to profound stress.
A group of researchers believed that subjecting tissues to trauma could give ordinary cells stem-cell-like properties.

 Few cells could survive the abuse, but those which did emerged transformed, apparently able to make any cell in the body. Alas, it turned out to be wrong and terrible things happened. It would have provided an infinite source of stem cells free of the ethical issues involved today in harvesting of embryonic cells. There is a  message here for all scientists. We have also posted it to Facebook.


Pollyanna and Titan always have a rant. This time they are outraged over a few things including the brutal murder of Berta Cáceres, leader and co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH), who was shot dead in her home on 3 March in the town of La Esperanza, in the province of Intibuc?, west Honduras.
 Image result for berta Cáceres
Her murder sends a chilling message to all human rights defenders in Honduras. If the perpetrators are not found and brought to justice, the Honduran government will have blood on its hands.

We also wish to call your attention to the widespread trafficking in human beings that has become a plague on humanity. Please lend your support to Stop the Traffik who are fighting the slave trade worldwide.


Pollyanna et al. are for Bernie, but of course will line up with whomever the party nominates. Otherwise...


For the first time ever, a gravitational wave has been observed. A team of global researchers announced the finding on Thursday, February 11. The discovery comes 100 years after Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in his theory of general relativity. This is a most exciting finding.

A hundred years ago, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of moving ripples in space and time.

 If the New Yorker link does not open for you, there are other  descriptions. Pollyanna has long regarded this as the Holy Grail of all science and is delighted. We recall our old professor at Maryland, Joseph Weber, who devoted his career to the search and our late colleague in Tel Aviv, Dror Sadeh, who thought he had nailed the waves in seismic observations. Imagine two monster black holes spinning down on each other in space. One has a mass which is about 35 times that of our Sun, the other roughly 30. At the moment just before they coalesce, they are turning around each other several tens of times a second. And then, their event horizons merge and they become one - like two soap bubbles in a bath. The amount of energy released was so huge that it was detectable at a distance about 1.3 billion light-years from Earth. Cheers to science done properly says Pollyanna.


Many people think that the San Andreas fault will be the source of the next major earthquake in the Pacific Northwest. Wrong, the Cascadia subduction zone will provide something much worse. The New Yorker gives us a detailed description of this calamity waiting to happen.
The next full-margin rupture of the Cascadia subduction zone will spell the worst natural disaster in the history of the continent.


You might find the essay on this topic by the Nobel Laureate physicist Steven Weinberg in the New York Review of Books interesting as well as the comment and exchange that followed. Whig history is a form of liberalism, putting its faith in the power of human reason to reshape society for the better, regardless of past history and tradition. It proposes the inevitable progress of mankind.

‘Scenography of the Copernican World System’; engraving from Andreas Cellarius’s Harmonia macrocosmica, 1660
‘Scenography of the Copernican World System’; engraving from Andreas Cellarius’s Harmonia macrocosmica, 1660
Pollyanna posted it to Facebook for those who might have difficulty in opening NYRB. P_T certainly agree with this attitude and pin their hopes for the future on the ability of human beings to be rational. Of course, a look at a newspaper paints a different picture. It may be rational in some perverted sense for the Koch brothers to deny climate change for the sake of their short term profits. What is depressing is that there are countless people who deny climate change out of contrariness or simple ignorance. We cannot but be reminded of the famous quote attributed to Giordano Bruno:"Ignorance is the most delightful science in the world because it is acquired without labor or pains and keeps the mind from melancholy."  Pollyanna will risk being sued by WUMO in order to get this point across.

In this context, P_T tell you of something that would be funny if it were not so tragic. It is hard to believe, but a town in the U.S., Woodland, North Carolina, has just blocked construction of a solar farm, in part due to fears it would drain the Sun’s energy, Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald reports. By a vote of 3-1, council members approved the rejection of the planned rezoning on the grounds of concerns that had been raised by the public. For instance, Woodland resident Jane Mann, a retired science teacher, feared that vegetation in the area would suffer through a lack of photosynthesis, an energy-making process that requires sunlight. Her anecdotal evidence comes in the form of dead plants she has observed around solar panels. Disappointingly, she is not alone in her beliefs: another resident also said that the farm would suck up the Sun’s energy. Obviously science education leaves much to be desired, Lord help us!


The Irish-language writer Máirtín Ó Cadhain published a novel in 1950 entitled  “Cré na Cille” (“Churchyard Clay”). It is considered one of the great masterpieces of Irish language literature, but languished without an English translation for nearly seventy years, mainly because no one dared to take on the task lest its place in the canon could be damaged. Now we have two translations, The first one, published under the title “The Dirty Dust,” appeared last March; the second one, more literally titled “Graveyard Clay,” is out this month. These two translations—different from one another in ways large and small—lay to rest the fable of the “perfect” translation. The New Yorker reviews both and a review of "The Dirty Dust" is in the Guardian. It is a novel in which all the characters are dead. They are buried in a graveyard in Connemara and continue with venom the disputes that sustained them in their previous lives.

'Ó Cadhain achieves a perfect synthesis of style and subject' … a graveyard in Ireland.
‘Ó Cadhain achieves a perfect synthesis of style and subject’ … a graveyard in Ireland. Photograph: Design Pics/Gareth McCormack/Getty Images/Perspectives
 Their only sustenance is when a new corpse arrives to tell them about the latest tittle-tattle, scandals, suppositions, rumors and even occasionally the truth about what is happening “up there”. A film, in Irish,  has also been made of the story.


What IF? 

What percentage of the Sun's heat (per day) does the population of Earth eat in calories per year? What changes could be made to our diets for the amount of calories to equal the energy of the Sun?

—James Mitchell The answer is interesting as usual.


Anyone who has gone through any form of therapy for nasty diseases in which the
the side effects are not much better than the disease will appreciate this.