Cluster Map

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pollyanna has survived Purim

Dressing up for Purim

Pollyanna is back in the wake of Purim. It is a nice fun holiday although it celebrates a lot of bad guys getting killed, but as we say about Jewish history, "they tried to kill us, we won, let's eat." She likes a feminist twist on the Megilla provided in this short story.

For starters, as usual, we refer you to our Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action blog. Please open it and help the people who are so much in need of support in their trials and tribulations at the hands of oppressive regimes and corporations.

As you know, both Titan and Pollyanna rant about the war on women and about what is happening to women around the world whether or not you get tired of it. If it really bores you, then go out and do something about it in your environment. This week, we focus on Somalia and ask you to sign an AVAAZ petition. A young woman was gang raped by soldiers and when she went public, she was jailed for "insulting the state."
 Somalia: No authority to rape

We also call your attention to the witch hunting going on in Papua New Guinea where two women were nearly burned at the stake for "sorcery."A few hundred years ago, women were burned all over Europe and in North America for witchcraft. That was then, and this is now. Or is it?  Is today’s war on women in the western world so different from these events in Papua New Guinea, or the witch hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries?

For example: we learned recently that the Irish government has admitted and apologized for the fact that  for more than seven decades, it was in collusion with the so-called Magdalene laundries operated by religious congregations that kept generations of women and girls (as young as 12) in virtual enslavement.

Other instances of the ongoing war on women: Republican legislators in Iowa think it’s a good idea to put rape victims in jail. In Virginia, women are being forced to have ultrasounds before they can have an abortion. The state’s Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, has signed into law Virginia’s mandatory ultrasound law, making the state the eighth to require such a procedure.

As Pollyanna and Laila Ali, the author article on Somalia,  see it, misogyny continues to be alive and well worldwide.
Pollyanna is not glad and can and will rant as loud as brother Titan and their imaginary playmates YandA. She would like to call your attention also to the death, in mysterious circumstances, of a female human rights defender in Colombia
Colombian human rights defender Angélica Bello died on 16 February in controversial circumstances
© Private
and the use of rape as a weapon of war in Congo. This is very reminiscent of what the Serbian army did in Bosnia two decades ago. RANT, RANT AND RAVE!!

OK, Pollyanna hears you complaining. Where is the nice stuff you ask? We start with news of the economic recovery in Rwanda. This once war-torn land has picked itself up out of the mud.
Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuter
 Over the last decade in Rwanda, deaths from HIV, TB, and malaria dropped by 80 percent, maternal mortality dropped by 60 percent, life expectancy doubled -- all at an average health care cost of $55 per person per year. More developed nations could learn something from this example according to a report in the Atlantic. The organization, Musicians without Borders, has implemented a youth training program in Rwanda with lovely results. Here is a short film about the program.

As you all know, our Murphy

 is one step short of a Nobel Prize in Physics so it was interesting to read about the intelligence of dogs. For example, over 200 professional dog obedience judges ranked 110 dog breeds on the basis of their intelligence. According to them, the top dozen dogs in terms of intelligence are:

1. Border Collies
2. Poodle
3. German Shepherd
4. Golden Retriever
5. Doberman Pincher
6. Shetland Sheepdog
7. Labrador Retriever
8. Papillon
9. Rottwieler
10. Australian Cattle Dog
11. Pembrook Welsh Corgi
12. Miniature Schnauzer

At the low end of the intelligence rankings are:

106. Borzoi
107. Chow Chow
108. Bull dog
109. Basenji
110. Afghan Hound

Murphy is a cross between 7 and 10 on this list, which puts him at 8.5. The post goes on to show that having a too intelligent dog is not always optimum for the humans involved. Yes,they can outsmart you!


The date of the first publishing of Homer's Iliad has been estimated by means of the same techniques used to track mutations in genes. The result, that it was written down in the mid-eighth century BCE, is consistent with what classics scholars estimate for the date.
Homer's 'Iliad' codex from approximately the late 5th-early 6th century A.D.
CREDIT: Public domain | Iliad VIII 245-253 in codex F205 | Taken from

The universe contains two kinds of matter, normal and anti-. At the LHC, D-mesons have been caught in the act of flipping between the normal and the anti-matter state. Theory holds that four members of the meson family can undergo the matter - anti-matter oscillation - the matter and anti-matter quarks both flip to their opposites. Three particle types - K-mesons and two types of B-mesons had been caught in the act before. Now we have the goods on brother D. Lest this seem confusing, here is the particle lineup of the Standard Model of Physics.

• The Standard Model is the simplest set of ingredients - elementary particles - needed to make up the world we see in the heavens and in the laboratory

• Quarks combine to make, for example, the proton and neutron - which make up the nuclei of atoms today - though more exotic combinations were around in the Universe's early days

• Leptons come in charged and uncharged versions. Electrons - the most familiar charged lepton - together with quarks make up all the matter we can see; the uncharged leptons are neutrinos, which rarely interact with matter

• The "force carriers" are particles whose movements are observed as familiar forces, such as those behind electricity and light (electromagnetism) and radioactive decay (the weak nuclear force)

• The Higgs boson exists because, although the Standard Model holds together neatly, nothing requires the particles to have mass; for a fuller theory, the Higgs - or something else - must fill in that gap

With these ingredients, we can somehow, but not completely understand our world. Note that the gravity jar is not with the other spices. We do not yet have an understanding of gravity, the most noticeably pervasive force in our everyday world.

Usually one does not regard the plumber's craft, while essential to our well being, as a source of creativity and amusement. We refer you to the 31 finalists in the 2012 Funny Plumbers competition who are indeed astounding. For example:
funny plumber, bathroom fixes, dumpaday (8)

Last week, Titan had an IN MEMORIAM for André Cassagnes, the man who invented the Etch A Sketch.
 Bob Mankoff, the cartoon editor of the New Yorker challenged his cartoonists to use the device to draw cartoons. Of course, they could not find a real Etch A Sketch, so they used the apps. The results are amusing to say the least.

What If? deals with an interesting question, but this time he has a typo that can confuse you. We leave it as an exercise for the reader to find the typo.

The late great physicist Richard Feynman once said that while everyone is entitled to his own opinions, no one is entitled to his own facts. We now have a source of manufactured facts brought to our attention by Doonesbury. One example is the following:
Sometimes a bit of resourcefulness can go a long way:

1 comment:

  1. this is delightful as usual, but I quibble (of course) about gravity being the most pervasive force, electromagnetism is at least as much so!