Cluster Map

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pollyanna is recovering nicely from the Olympics and is enjoying looking around at her world.  She also would like to tell you that her scatterbrained brother Titan told our readers about a rediscovered story by F. Scott Fitzgerald that was rejected by The New Yorker in 1936 but forgot to give you the link to the story itself, which was published recently in the New Yorker.  Enjoy!.
She also would like to call your attention to our weekly Human Rights blog and to ask you to act on the cases listed there.  In particular, the Pussy Riot sentence is beyond the pale.
Usually Titan and Pollyanna shun what Click and Clack of Car Talk call shameless commerce. We are making an exception  to plug a hotel in Yucatan, Mexico run by the daughter of dear friends and her partner. Please check out the Mayan Beach Garden Inn-Hotel if you plan a vacation in Mexico.

Pollyanna is delighted with the successful landing and deployment of Curiosity on Mars.

The technical achievement is great and we can all look forward to much and illuminating data about Mars and the possibility that it might have harbored life in the distant past.  Of course, then there is the more recent past...

Pollyanna is more than a bit amused by the latest modesty gimmick of our ultra orthodox coreligionists (?).   Thanks to Hadass for calling it to our attention.  They are now using special glasses that blur their vision beyond a few meters so that they can be spared the vision of our immodestly clad wives, partners, daughters whatever.
Photo from

As pointed out by  Allison Kaplan Sommer  in Haaretz, this is really a great idea, mainly because it inconveniences them and their base impulses rather than the objects of their desire, women. In fact, we will not be terribly sorry if they bump into a few trees or poles, but they really should not wear them while driving.
A Haredi man gazing at the Jerusalem skyline. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
We were at the beach today and noticed that extreme poverty has indeed caused some girls to settle for less than complete bathing suits. We have noticed at weddings and other social events that this socio-economic problem pervades our society.  We think our haredi friends should devote more thought to making the means to purchase complete dresses and blouses available to our poor womenfolk and less to their lecherous leanings.  OTOH, maybe it would be OK for them to drive with their new glasses in their own neighborhoods.
Pollyanna is not in the least amused by the story of a woman who is suing El Al for being forced out of her prebooked seat because of orthodox men and sent to fly in the back of the plane. We sympathize with her and hope she wins her lawsuit, but no one forced her to fly a crappy air line like El Al. We boycott them as much as possible because we are not comfortable with being flown by Israel Air Force alumni who have a near certain probability of being war criminals.
 Helen Gurley Brown, the long time editor of Cosmopolitan magazine and the author of Sex and the Single Girl, died this week in New York at the age of 90.
Helen Gurley Brown

Her book is credited with being a major step to revolutionize single women’s attitudes toward their lives. The book, published a year before Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique,” sold millions of copies and became a cultural touchstone with its message that single women didn’t need to be married to enjoy sex and didn’t need to apologize for it, either. She was both praised and attacked by feminists, the latter for presumed objectification of women.  We append an obituary from the Washington Post and leave the evaluation of her life and work to you.  
  Pollyanna definitely agrees that nice girls do!
While on the subject of women, we would like to share with you a speech by Meryl Streep in which she introduces Hilalry Clinton.  Thanks to Yosefa for passing it on to us.

Pollyanna is very pleased that the US government has come out for the first time ever with a detailed strategy to fight violence against women.  It is a sad statistic that one of every three women in the world experiences sexual abuse during her lifetime. 
 The strategy’s four key goals are:

    Increase coordination among U.S. government agencies and other stakeholders such as human rights organizations;
    Fully integrate gender-based violence protection and response efforts into existing U.S. government work;
    Improve research and data collection to improve gender-based violence prevention efforts; and

     Expand and enhance U.S. government programming that addresses gender-based violence.
Survivors of sexual violence unite in Bogotá, Colombia.  1 in 3 women will be victim of violence worldwide. (Photo Corporación Sisma Mujer)

Pollyanna is excited and glad about a new result reported at an AIDS conference in Washington DC and called to our attention by Yosefa, thanks.  The famous "Berlin patient",  Timothy Brown, was treated for leukemia with a bone marrow transplant that happened to come from a donor with a genetic mutation that makes immune cells resist HIV infection. The transplant replaced his own infected cells with healthy, AIDS-resistant cells. He is HIV-free five years later.   Researchers are trying to make this lucky fluke something that can be utilized to help patients.  Two men unlucky enough to get both HIV and cancer have been seemingly cleared of the virus, raising hope that science may yet find a way to cure for the infection that causes AIDS, 30 years into the epidemic.  The key was that they received bone marrow transplants while undergoing chemotherapy.  We hope this can lead to a major breakthrough.  Over 25 million people have died of AIDS and 34 million are infected today. Read the full article here.
People look at quilts in memory of AIDS victims at the "Keep the Promise" rally of AIDS advocates in Washington on July 22. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a leading U.S. expert in the AIDS pandemic, said there is "no excuse" scientifically for not putting an end to the disease that has killed some 30 million people since it emerged in the 1980s. Speaking to reporters on the first day of the International AIDS Conference in the nation's capital, Fauci said science has the tools needed to combat HIV/AIDS. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP - Getty Images)
Pollyanna finds it interesting that the wandering of Jewish migrants in the Diaspora in North Africa, Ethiopia, Yemen and the Caucasus can be tracked genetically.  The study is interesting and follows previous studies of Jewish genetic traces elsewhere.  We find it amusing that 10%  of the male Iberian population
still bear Jewish and Moorish genetic material.  The Reconquista was not totally successful at the molecular level.

We are delighted to learn that three of our universities, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Haifa Technion and the Weizmann Institute have been ranked in the top 100 in the world by the prestigious Shanghai Jiao Tong University ranking. When ranked according to specific fields, Israel fares even better. In Mathematics, three universities made it to the top 100; The Hebrew University in 16th place, Tel Aviv in 30th and the Technion in the top 74.  In Computer Science, four Israeli schools were ranked in the top 100. The Weizmann Institute was ranked 12th, the Technion came in 15th, the Hebrew University 27th, and Tel Aviv University - 29th.  We hope this is a sign that the long deterioration of education in Israel is being turned around.  Of course, someone will have to upgrade high school and elementary education as well.

Pollyanna would like to call your attention to an article about religion and society by Scott Atran.  He an anthropologist at France's National Center for Scientific Research, the University of Michigan, John Jay College, and ARTIS Research, and is  author of Talking to the Enemy and In Gods We Trust among many others.  He brings up some thought-provoking ideas.

Our friends at XKCD have instituted a What If? column in which they respond to readers' queries.  We recommend reading it  The link will take you to the latest one,  but you can easily scroll back to previous weeks.  They are all fun.

Also XKCD gives us an insightful comment on the blarney that is printed for our edification and stupidity on the wrappers of far too many products.

 Pollyanna shares some insights from Barney and Clyde--Gene, we miss Below the Beltway.

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