Pollyanna and Titan have skipped a few weeks because of the illness (or malingering) of their imaginary playmates YandA. Now that things are back to what passes around here for normal, Pollyanna is taking her turn. She starts with best wishes for a Merry Christmas to all her Christian readers. She, Titan and YandA wish you all a happy holiday and for the religious amongst you a renewal of your faith and joy in your beliefs and practice. For the record, the picture above does not represent the historical St. Nicholas who was a fourth century Greek bishop in what is now Turkey to anyone except Kelly Megyn. She is a Fox broadcaster who announced to the world that Santa Claus and Jesus were both white. Lovely. She owes a big apology.
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 again the Mercy Corps who are doing important work in the Philippines in the wake of the tornado along with other activities around the globe. Pollyanna and Titan have signed on to become Partners in Mercy by making a recurring monthly donation and encourage you to do the same.
|This touching photo is of a girl living in an evacuation center a few days after Typhoon Haiyan raked the Philippines. The stuffed animal she’s hugging is clearly providing much needed comfort. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps|
IN MEMORIAM NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013
The past few weeks have been marked everywhere by the death and memorial ceremonies for the late Nelson Mandela. For us and all advocates of human rights he was an icon. He spent 27 years in prison for his beliefs. Much has been written in the past few weeks and there is not much that we could add. We refer you to a collection of news, comments and tributes amassed by the Guardian. We also would like to call your attention to the appreciation by Thomas Friedman in the NYTimes. He was brought to his final rest in his home village in a manner befitting a Xhosa chief. Rest in Peace and may your legacy inspire us. We quote his favorite poem.
Out of the night that covers me, Black as the Pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley (1849-2003)
IN MEMORIAM ANDRE SCHIFFRIN 1935-2013
IN MEMORIAM Peter O'Toole 1932-2013
IN MEMORIAM Joan Fontaine 1917-2013.
The actress whose career spanned a long era from her first major role in Rebecca in 1939 to her final roles in TV movies,( her last appearance was in Good King Wenceslas, on the Family Channel, in 1994) died on December 16, aged 96, at her home in Carmel CA. She won an Oscar in 1942 for Suspicion, a Hitchcock film, and had two other nominations. Sadly, she and her sister Olivia de Havilland were estranged throughout their adult lives. Detailed obituaries are in the NYTimes and the Guardian.
NOW CELEBRATE A LIFE
We note the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten 1913-1976. He was indeed one of the great musicians of the last century. It is odd and somewhat amusing that the life and work of this wonderful composer, who was openly gay, is now being celebrated in a festival in Russia, possibly the most homophobic country in Europe. Even his opera, Death in Venice, based on the Mann novel which has a clear homosexual theme, is being performed in Moscow. We give you his Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.
As you know Pollyanna can rant as loudly as Titan about matters involving the abuse of women and girls. She is foaming at the mouth over the proposal brought before a parliamentary committee in Afghanistan. Twelve years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan's government is considering bringing back a gruesome spectacle that has become synonymous with Islamist cruelty: the use of public stoning as a punishment for sex outside marriage. Pollyanna asks you to join the worldwide protest against the reintroduction of stoning along with amputation and flogging. It is also linked above in the Miriam Shlesinger blog.
A CALL FOR DONATIONS
|Rasta lost her hand during an attack by members of her village © Vlad Sokhin|
A GENTLE SLAP ON THE WRIST: GUYS STICK TOGETHER
At a totally different level Pollyanna chides the Israeli military justice system for its lenient treatment of an officer who sexually harassed three women soldiers under his command. He got off with community service and while he was demoted one rank and cashiered out of the army, it is quite probable that he will enjoy a pension. He certainly should have gone to jail, but the macho culture continues to rule. The concept that "boys will be boys" and misplaced solidarity have a pernicious effect. The fact that other armies, including that of the USA, have the same problem is of scant comfort. We have to meet our own standards.
BREAST CANCER AND PRUDERY
|Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times|
TIDBITS FROM SCIENCE
The brave little comet that dared to approach within 1.2 million km of the solar surface is no more. . It was one of the most observed comets in history and was tracked by thousands of telescopes and spacecraft. It may have been unrealistic to expect it to have survived such a close perihelion. While the expectations of a spectacular naked eye object lighting up the December sky were not realized, the ISON event cannot be considered a failure. Much data were garnered and a huge number of people because aware of astronomy and of the wondrous phenomena that go on in our solar system and universe.
GEYSERS ON EUROPA
|BLUE MOON Hydrogen atoms that could have originated in water molecules shooting up from an ocean buried by ice appear in blue, superposed on a photo of Europa.|
Long ago we wrote a paper on plumes of satellites and inferred from Galileo observations that Europa, a Galilean satellite of Jupiter, has an atmosphere. It is exciting to read that there appear to be transient geysers on Europa. Of course, we should wait for further confirmation, but the idea is very exciting to those of us who get excited about what goes on at the moons of the outer planets.
BEAUTY IN SCIENCE
Indeed some of you may wonder why people get excited about geysers on a moon of Jupiter or a little boson named Higgs that gives matter mass. The late Nobel Laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar gave a lecture on the subject of the beauty in science and showed that it differs not an iota from beauty in art, literature and music. Pollyanna would like to share it with you.
What If?? At what point in human history were there too many (English) books to be able to read them all in one lifetime? Gregory Willmot
A difficult question, but Randall does his best. We like his in jokes...
The Onion informs us that a rather slow-witted but persistent conspiracy theorist has discovered the amazing fact that NASA is funded by the Federal government. Wow! Here is the interview:
DEDICATED TO OUR FRIENDS IN NEW JERSEY
ONWARDS TO GLORIOUS HEROIC BATTLE