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Friday, August 30, 2013

Pollyanna says Shana Tova


Shana Tova

Pollyanna is back and wants to wish all our Jewish readers a Shana Tova U'mevurechet, שנה טובה ומבורכת a Happy and Blessed New Year for 5773 that begins next Thursday. Let us all hope that this next year will see a lessening of struggles and bloodshed around the world and a chance for peace. This is the time of year to assess yourself and maybe go to synagogue to think about what being Jewish means. Pollyanna refers you to the Reform Synagogues in Israel, sites in English, Russian and Hebrew. She also wishes a happy Labor Day weekend (Labour Day in Canada) to her North American readers. For the graduate  students going back to school in the Northern Hemisphere, Pollyanna dedicates the following

For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. As the weeks and months go by without Miriam, we continue to realize what we have lost. She got us into the human rights struggle. Please act on behalf of people who are so much in need of support in their trials and tribulations at the hands of oppressive regimes and corporations.

This week it is Pollyanna's turn to promote a charity. Her choice is Doctors Without Borders, an international NGO that does wonderful work around the world, from Haiti to Congo.
 “Refugee children are incredibly vulnerable to developing vaccine-preventable diseases, so why do we keep hearing the players in the global vaccination community tell us these kids aren’t their problem?” asked Kate Elder, vaccines policy advisor at MSF’s Access Campaign. Read more
 Please donate via the Web site. She also gives a thumbs up to the hospitals and doctors in Israel who are  treating victims of the Syrian civil war.

On August 28, 1913, the great operatic tenor was born. He was one of the truly great ones. Here you can hear him singing Celeste Aida under the baton of Toscanini in 1949

Of course, Pollyanna cannot resist letting you hear Nessum Dorma.

He was also a wonderful cantor, indeed, he started in the synagogue. Here he is singing Kol Nidre which is appropriate for this time of year.

We heard him in Tel Aviv a few times. When Zubin Mehta gave us a bicentennial of Beethoven in 1970, he called on Richard Tucker for the Ode to Joy. Tucker related in a TV interview then that when he first sang Rhadames under Toscanini at the Met, he sang with pathos in the death scene at the end during a rehearsal. Toscanini banged the podium and shouted "You young fool, you are dying with the woman you love, sing with joy!" On Thursday, various events were held around New York in honor of Richard Tucker Day. We remember him fondly.

Pollyanna asks you to join the Amnesty International Campaign for My Body My Rights

This is a campaign about empowering young people, especially women and girls, to make their own decisions about reproductive and sexual health. She also would like to ask people of good will in Israel to show up on Saturday night at 19:00 in Habima Square in Tel Aviv to demonstrate against the forced eviction of 40,000 Bedouin citizens from their homes. In addition, she asks everyone  to sign on to stop the Spanish government from further promotion of bullfighting as a Spanish cultural value.

Each year 250,000 magnificent animals are tortured and killed for human amusement. This is not acceptable.

On August 28, 1963 he delivered his "I have a dream" speech. We have nothing to add to it.

Today there is a black man in the White House. Yes, there are still inequalities and injustices, but the march of progress is there. Note his quotation from the prophet Amos.
ויגל כמים משפט וצדקה כנחל איתן
Let judgement flow like water and justice as a mighty stream.

Pollyanna says thumbs up to the Muslim girls of the UK who have found a simple way to avoid being sold by their fathers into a forced marriage (read abuse and slavery) in the homeland of their parents. A spoon in your underwear, the security magnetometer goes off and you have a chance to tell someone in authority what is being done to you. Bravissima girls. Almost half of the 1,500 cases a year handled by the Forced Marriage Unit involve Pakistan. Bangladesh counts for 11 per cent, and India eight per cent, the remainder being spread across about 60 countries, including Afghanistan, Somalia, and Turkey. The youngest victim they have come across was aged two, the oldest was 71.


The most recent common ancestor of today's women, our mitochondrial Eve, lived about 150,000 to 240,000 years ago. The most recent common ancestor of men had been thought to be much younger. Now Y chromosome Adam has been found to have lived 120,000 to 156,000 years ago. That’s roughly the same time that the last common ancestor of women is estimated to have lived, researchers report. No one says they were a couple, so creationists relax. Another study pushes the Y chromosome age back to over 300,000 years ago. It is  interesting that the this Y chromosome age is much older than the homo sapiens fossil record. This will require more study, stay tuned. Sex with hominids, perish the thought.

The fortuitous discovery of a pulsar in our galaxy whose line of sight to us passes near our local black hole Sagittarius A* gives us a handle on the intensity of the magnetic field of the black hole. The change in the polarization of the waves, known as Faraday rotation, is related to the magnitude of the field. The field near the black hole may be as high as hundreds of gauss although uncertainties remain. Read the Nature article if you can access it. Pollyanna thinks this is cool.

The use of iron extracted from ore is thought to have begun in what is now Turkey in about 1300 BCE. New research indicates that thousands of years before that the Egyptians were using iron found in meteorites to make jewels and ornaments. They even had a word for the material, "metal from the sky." The Egyptians had a passion for jewelery, but use of meteoric iron certainly required the ability to reach high temperatures and contributed to the evolution of metal working and extraction technique

In terms of evolutionary biology, there would appear to be no reason why women should live on past their fertility years. It had long been thought that this was simply an artifact of better nutrition and health care, but now there is evidence that women lived past their childbearing  years back in Stone Age times. There are various theories about it. Our primate cousins do not normally survive their fertile years, but oddly enough killer whales do. It has been proposed that grandmothering contributes to survival of children, i.e. the DNA of grandma survives in her granddaughters. Other theories deal with the apparent preference of human males for younger partners.   Interesting question, not fully resolved.


What If asks :If you could teleport to a random place of the surface of the Earth, what are the odds that you'll see signs of intelligent life? The answer is interesting.

Wally who is the most dysfunctional person in the most dysfunctional company ever created by anyone's
imagination has good advice for us on how to prepare for disaster.

Dilbert Cartoon for Aug/25/2013

Our young friend and gym trainer Shira is studying to be a veterinarian. Pollyanna takes the liberty of pointing out what the profession may entail.

Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Aug/28/2013
We have long been concerned with our living wills. We are glad to see that Maxine has resolved the issues with hers.

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