Cluster Map

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pollyanna wishes all a Happy Hannuka, Thanksgiving and Thanksgivukka


Pollyanna notes that Thanksgiving and the first day of Hannuka coincide this year for the first time ever. It will happen again in 7,000 years. Enjoy Thankgivukka! When you sit down to your turkey and latkes, appreciate the blessings in your life.

 For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Now that a year has gone 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. She puts everything aside in the wake of the devastation caused by super typhoon Haiyan. She offers a link to a list of ways to donate to the aid of the victims.
Super typhoon slams into Philippines - Nov. 19, 2013

Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan react after not being allowed to board an evacuation flight from Tacloban Airport in Tacloban, Philippines, November 12, 2013.
Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan react after not being allowed to board an evacuation flight from Tacloban Airport in Tacloban, Philippines, November 12, 2013.

It is disgraceful that China came out with a niggardly offer and now is trying damage control. China initially offered a paltry $100,000 in aid and, after an international outcry, raised that figure to $1.6 million. It’s as if Dr. Evil decided to go into the disaster-relief business: “One point six million dollars!” Hence the headlines worldwide expressing outrage that China, the world’s second-largest economy, was offering less money than do-it-yourself furniture maker Ikea.

As you all know Pollyanna rants about matters concerning women and girls. She is very upset over the blaming of girl victims of sexual abuse for the actions of their abusers. In Israel, a famous pop singer is being investigated for the statutory rape of underage girls and already people are feeling sorry for him. While Eyal Golan was allegedly having sex with 15 year olds, his father is alleged to have done the pimping. The prophet Amos in this weeks Prophet reading refers to the practice:
 כֹּ   ז הַשֹּׁאֲפִים עַל-עֲפַר-אֶרֶץ בְּרֹאשׁ דַּלִּים, וְדֶרֶךְ עֲנָוִים יַטּוּ; וְאִישׁ וְאָבִיו, יֵלְכוּ אֶל-הַנַּעֲרָה, לְמַעַן חַלֵּל, אֶת-שֵׁם קָדְשִׁי
....They trample on the heads of the poor
    as on the dust of the ground
    and deny justice to the oppressed.
Father and son use the same girl
    and so profane my holy name.

In the US, as the nation watched the Steubenville rape case come to a close, we also watched something else happen: the coverage of multiple news sources sympathized with the convicted rapists while ignoring the narrative of Jane Doe. The good old Internet has exploded, calling out how media’s coverage was offensive to the victim and apologetic of the rapists. A Ms. Foundation for Women graphic with over 100,000 shares on Facebook and a petition with more than 280,000 signatures asking for CNN to apologize on air for their coverage are just the tip of the online criticism iceberg. It’s clear that rape culture is being publicly discussed more and more, creating progress by keeping the media accountable. However, we can’t just shout about how the media is wrong: we also have to point out specifically what is inappropriate and why, or else media will keep making the same mistakes. Pollyanna wants to call your attention to a group of teenage girls in New York who are using theater to raise awareness and take a stand against slut-shaming in schools. Slut: The Play's narrative about a teen girl being put on trial in the court of her community's opinion after being raped is timely and unfortunately commonplace. The above  link connects  you to an article and an interview with the girls. It is worthy of your attention.
In this context Pollyanna calls your attention to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November. The Reform Movement in Israel is devoting this Shabbat on which the Torah reading describes two acts of violence inside a family to the elimination of such violence. The two incidents are the selling of Joseph by his brothers and the abuse of Tamar by her father in law,  Judah. For the Hebrew readers, Pollyanna provides a link to the special prayer composed for this Shabbat.

Doris Lessing dies aged 94
Doris Lessing with her prize insignia of the 2007 Nobel prize in literature. Photograph: Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images
The literary world mourned on hearing that Doris Lessing, the Nobel-prize winning author of   The Golden Notebook and The Grass is Singing, among more than 50 novels covering subjects from politics to science fiction, had died peacefully at her London home aged 94.She was at age 89 the oldest winner of the Nobel Prize and the eleventh woman. Her reaction to the news was typically iconoclastic. When she learned she had won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature, she said, “Oh, Christ,” and waved her hand at the reporters who had staked out her home in London, shooing them away. Then she turned and paid for her taxi as her son Peter, who lived with her and whom she cared for while he was ill, looked on. A running meter demands attention; after nearly nine decades, the last step to literary glory can be put off for five more minutes. There is much to say about her rich and fascinating life and how she managed to irk the establishment. We leave it all for you to read in the beautiful tribute to her by Margaret Atwood in the Guardian Book Section.

John F Kennedy. His life and death have been the subject of thousands of books, documentaries and Hollywood movies. Photograph: PA
Just 50 years ago Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed President John F. Kennedy in Dallas TX. We old folks remember where we were and what we were doing on that Friday Nov. 22, 1963. His short term as President, 1,036 days to be exact, did not abound with great achievements except for one that dwarfs everything else. We were living just outside Washington during the Cuban missile crisis and we recall well the tension and fear that all was about to go up in a mushroom cloud. He was able to face down his hawks and deal intelligently with Khruschev and thus saved us all. His memory is clouded now by myths that were already circulating during his lifetime. He projected the image of the young leader with his young family in the White House compared to the geriatric bunch who ran the world. The Guardian, as usual, gives an excellent appreciation of his life.

BBC HardTalk raised the question of the surrogate reproduction industry in India. On one hand, it provides children for childless couples and money to poor women who rent out their wombs. Poverty is so endemic in India, especially for illiterate women, that they are easily recruited. We link you to an interview with Dr Nayna Patel, who is a pioneer in the field. She says it is a "positive experience" for surrogate mothers but HardTalk asks her  in a radio interview if she is exploiting poor, sometimes illiterate, women?   Pollyanna thinks the latter. You may listen to the interview and form your own opinion and if you wish, tell Pollyanna what you think.

Pollyanna wishes to congratulate Mr. Shai Nitzan on his appointment as State Prosecutor of Israel  and hopes that he will make a major contribution to restoring public confidence and to affirmation of the rule of law. We agree with the editorial in Haaretz that he faces major challenges, some of them of his own making.
Shai Nitzan
Shai Nitzan. Photo by Emil Salma
She also says cheers and thumbs up to the school text book publishers in Texas who refuse to buckle to creationist pressure and will provide biology texts that teach evolution.

In addition to the rant, Pollyanna is not at all glad about the acceleration of the deforestation of Brazil. The sacrifice of the rainforest to greed is something that will come back to haunt all of us.
Last year’s massive weakening of the Forest Code in the Brazilian Congress lead to a massive increase in deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon.
She is also very upset at the poisoning of school children in India and thinks it is most appropriate that the headmistress of the school involved and her husband are being charged with murder. Their actions went beyond the limits of mere criminal negligence.


Comet ISON s now plummeting fast toward its late November encounter with the sun –its perihelion, or closest point to the sun – on November 28, 2013. At perihelion, it’ll be lost in the sky’s glare. It’s getting closer and closer to the sunrise now. If it survives its passage near the sun, it’ll return to our skies in early December, and, indeed, early December may be the best time to try to see the comet. So get ready! The Comet ISON Observing Campaign had these encouraging words about ISON this week(Nov. 20):
    For those of you who remember C/2011 W3 Lovejoy’s beautiful sungrazing passage in December 2011, Lovejoy had an estimated total magnitude of about mag 10 when it was eight days before perihelion, and went on to reach approximately mag -3 at peak. ISON is now eight days from perihelion and is estimated to be around magnitude 4.5. I’m not going to speculate on what that means for its peak brightness, but note that ISON is about 100 times brighter than Lovejoy was at about the same distance!
Image: ISON
This stunning portrait of Comet ISON was captured by John Nassr on Nov. 15 from his Stardust Observatory in Baguio City in the Philippines. Nassr used a Nikon D7000 digital SLR camera coupled to his custom-built 16-inch f/4.5 Newtonian reflector to record the sungrazing comet’s intricate tail. The image is a combination of five 1-minute-long exposures at ISO 6400.
Here is a guide for the encounter with  Comet ISON with advice on photography. While ISON is harmless to Earth, there are indications that impacts of fairly large objects are more common than had been thought.
SPACE ROCKS This 570-kilogram meteorite was recovered from Lake Chebarkul on October 16.

DNA studies of a 24,000 year old skeleton of a boy from Russia indicate that nearly 30 percent of modern Native Americans' ancestry came from this youngster’s gene pool, suggesting First Americans came directly from Siberia.
Photo courtesy of State Hermitage Museum in Russia
Remains of 24,000 Year-Old Mal’ta Boy. Photo courtesy of State Hermitage Museum in Russia
The discovery raises new questions about the timing of human entry in Alaska and ultimately North America, a topic hotly debated in First Americans studies. It implies that colonization of North America took place well before the 14,500 years ago date inferred from archaeology. Pollyanna is fascinated.

The MAVEN, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, spacecraft is off to the Red Planet. It may give us an answer to the riddle of what happened to the dense atmosphere that Mars must have possessed in the past. Bon Voyage!!


Wolf descendant
The wolf to dog evolutionary path has long been a murky trail for evolutionary biologists. Darwin himself thought that dogs must have several ancestors because of the multiplicity of breeds. Now new research just published in Science indicates that dog domestication most likely occurred in Ice Age Europe, between 18,800 and 32,100 years ago -- much earlier, and much farther north, than previously believed.

Dogs, the authors argued, evolved from a now extinct species of European wolf that followed bands of nomadic or semi-nomadic humans who were hunting woolly mammoths and other large prey. Initially, the wolves sought out the carcasses and scraps of meat left behind by man, the authors suggest. Over time, these hang-around wolves began to fill a special role in human hunter-gatherer society, researchers say. Read more.

We are delighted that the Big Bang Theory sitcom is back with us. It is also nice that the actors are negotiating for a living wage. 
 The Big Bang theory-20110721-63.jpg
Pollyanna finds it amusing to note that the off screen lives of the actresses who play Penny and Bernadette have attracted attention and they both have been interviewed in Maxim, a sexist magazine aimed at the horny male segment of the population.
Kaley Cuoco Pics
melissa rauch maxim
Melissa Rauch

A new biography of the writer Norman Mailer has come out,
Norman Mailer, A Double Life, by J. Michael Lennon Simon and Schuster, 947 pp., $40.00. 
It is reviewed in the New York Review of Books by Edward Mendelson. We have long admired Mailer's work, fiction and non-fiction and we recommend the review. You would also do well to read something by Mailer and the biography gives you a long list from which to choose.


What If? The question-What is the furthest one human being has ever been from every other living person?
Were they lonely? Bryan J. McCarter; Interesting this time.

Letitia experiences the joys of stepmothering.
Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Nov/22/2013

Elections are coming up in Emek Hefer, our little corner of the world, the rural area of Israel from which this nonsense emanates. This is how it works:
Wizard of Id Cartoon for Nov/20/2013

We had occasion to peek and even post indirectly at a blog site that deals with questions of dating and social life for people who are no longer young. It is obviously not easy to sell yourself.
Dilbert Cartoon for Nov/19/2013

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