Cluster Map

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pollyanna greets you with Happy Hannuka

Pollyanna is back after a foray to a bat mitzva in Winnipeg

and some relaxation with Titan and YandA in New York. She wishes all her Jewish readers a happy Hannuka. This holiday celebrates a victory over Hellenistic overlords in 168-165 BCE and a miracle involving a self-filling amphora of oil. A car with such a gas tank would sell very well.

For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Over two years have gone by without Miriam and 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 Pollyanna refers you to the charity AFYA. We had the opportunity to visit their facility in Yonkers NY last week and came away most impressed. We quote their mission statement:"Our mission is to recover targeted surplus medical supplies, hospital equipment and humanitarian provisions from the New York healthcare, corporate and private communities in order to establish categorized inventory to support ongoing health initiatives in Africa and the Caribbean." Please open the link and make a donation to this most worthy cause.


The man who invented electronic gaming died last week at the age of 92. In the summer of 1966 he had a vision that led to the first television game and eventually spawned the vast computer game industry of today.

Ralph H. Baer in Manchester, N.H., in 2005 with the game system he invented called the "brown box," later named Odyssey. He was also a co-inventor of the electronic game Simon, pictured in the foreground. Credit Ken Williams/Concord Monitor, via Associated Press

In March 1971, Mr. Baer and his employer, Sanders Associates in Nashua, N.H., filed for the first video game patent, which was granted in April 1973 as Patent No. 3,728,480. It made an extraordinarily large claim to a legal monopoly for any product that included a domestic television with circuits capable of producing and controlling dots on a screen.

Sanders Associates licensed its system to Magnavox, which began selling it as Odyssey in the summer of 1972 as the first home video game console. It sold 130,000 units the first year. The rest is history. A detailed obituary can be found in the NYTimes at the above link. It tells a fascinating story.


Pollyanna ranted last time about senseless killing of worshipers in a Jerusalem synagogue. Now it is a school in Peshewar, Pakistan. This city is burying its dead after a Taliban attack at a school killed at least 132 children and nine staff. Details are given by the BBC online. AVAAZ has started up a petition to keep children in school.   In too many places children, especially girls, are out of school because of fear.

Please sign asks Pollyanna.

Pollyanna is equally upset with the latest news from Nigeria about an attack, apparently by Boko Haram, which brought about the death of at least 33 people and resulted in the kidnapping of more than 100 others.
Members of the Abuja "Bring Back Our Girls" protest group sit during a march in continuation of the Global October movement. Once again, Boko Haram militants are implicated in killings and mass kidnapping in northeastern Nigeria.
Members of the Abuja "Bring Back Our Girls" protest group sit during a march in continuation of the Global October movement. Once again, Boko Haram militants are implicated in killings and mass kidnapping in northeastern Nigeria.
There seems to be no end to the stream of blood being spilled everywhere.


A major peeve of Pollyanna is the anti vaxxer group who refrain from vaccinating their children. As a result, infection diseases may break out and wreak havoc especially among babies who are too young to be vaccinated, for example against whooping cough. Now a major epidemic of whooping cough has hit the Latino community in California.  One cause may be fear of detection on the part of illegal immigrants. The highest rates of whooping cough are found in the Bay Area counties of Sonoma, Napa and Marin, which also have some of the highest rates of parents who opt out of vaccinating their children.
Nurse Julietta Losoyo gives Derek Lucero a whooping cough vaccination at the San Diego Public Health Center on Dec. 10.
Nurse Julietta Losoyo gives Derek Lucero a whooping cough vaccination at the San Diego Public Health Center on Dec. 10.

Doctors believe these kids are the root of the current and recent epidemics.

"We had a lot of unvaccinated children that acted as the kindling to start an outbreak," said Dr. Paul Katz, a pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente in San Rafael. "Those children were able to infect all the other children who were vaccinated but were too early for a booster –- they became the rest of the wood to start the fire."
The fact that the effectiveness of current vaccines wears off means that booster shots are important. Another factor may be cultural and linguistic difficulties caused by lack of communication in the language  of the immigrant population. Pollyanna thinks that the establishment of a firewall between the health and immigration authorities would help, if the illegal immigrants could be persuaded to believe it.


This may sound like Sodom and Gomorrah redux, but it is true that a growing number of cities in the United States have passed laws making it illegal to feed homeless people.
 According to Michael Stoops, a supporter named Tem Feavel submitted this image to the National Coalition for the Homeless in 2007, but there is no record of where it was taken.
Gene Weingarten puts it in perspective with Barney and Clyde.

Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Dec/01/2014
Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Dec/02/2014

Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Dec/03/2014
Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Dec/04/2014
Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Dec/05/2014

They also execute people there and have no real national health service or even national maternity leave. Yuck!


This week Pollyanna heard on the news that the latest test of the Arrow 3 antimissile rocket was a success. Pollyanna really dislikes being taken for an idiot. In fact, the test was a dismal failure as reported in the international media. She is reminded of the three strictures of Abraham Lincoln
  a. you can fool some of the people all of the time
  b. you can fool all of the people some of the time
  c. you cannot fool all of the people all of the time



Do you want to go to the park? Mango Doucleff, of San Francisco, responds to her favorite command by perking up her ears and tilting her head.
Do you want to go to the park? Mango Doucleff, of San Francisco, responds to her favorite command by perking up her ears and tilting her head.
Michaeleen Doucleff/NPR

We all that know dogs pay close attention to the emotion in our voices. They listen for whether our tone is friendly or mean, how the pitch goes up or down and even the rhythms in our speech. What about meaning? New research has found that dogs pay attention to the meanings of words and that  they process that information in a different part of the brain from where they process emotional cues in speech. The research is fascinating and anyone who lives with a dog will certainly find it relevant. Murphy says that this should have been obvious to us all the time.


A transmission electron micrograph shows Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus particles (colorized yellow).
A transmission electron micrograph shows Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus particles (colorized yellow).
Pollyanna is glad to hear that the ban on US government supported research on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome aka MERS has been rescinded. This is a disease normally associated with camels, but has passed on to humans in the Middle East and caused many deaths.


Even if the explanation for the methane turns out to be geological, the hydrothermal systems would still be prime locations to search for signs of life. Credit NAS


The Curiosity robot explorer has come up with  a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes. The other is that it is geological. The Curiosity results show that the gas is present at about 1 part per billion in the Martian atmosphere, or 4,000 times less than in Earth’s air. We should beware of jumping to conclusions since there are many chemical processes, such as the reaction of the common mineral olivine with water, that can produce methane without life. One must keep the caveats in minds and investigate further.


The source of terrestrial water has long been thought to be comet impacts when the solar system was young enough to be full of comets and the Earth cool enough to retain the water. Now results from Rosetta, in orbit around Comet 67P/Churymov–Gerasimenko show that the water on the comet has an isotopic composition different from that on the Earth.
Ice spewing off the surface of Comet 67P/Churymov–Gerasimenko Photo credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/ INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

So far, the deuterium/hydrogen (D/H) ratio, i.e. the fraction of heavy water, in which the hydrogen has been replaced by deuterium (nucleus contains one proton, one neutron), in the total water molecule population, has been measured on 11 different comets, covering both types, but only one has matched up with Earth: the Jupiter-family Comet 103P/Hartley 2. However, as reported in Science, Rosetta found that the D/H ratio was more than three times higher than the values found in Earth’s oceans and on Hartley 2.The task of providing us with our oceans now devolves to the asteroids. Meteoroids from asteroids have a water isotope ratio similar to that of Earth. Nonetheless, the conclusion requires further confirmation since the D/H ratio was measured in vapor exuded by the comet and may have been altered in space. Stay tuned.


Bursts of radio noise lasting only a few milliseconds have been detected since 2001 by a radio telescope in Australia. Since all were from one observatory, it was not clear that these blasts were astrophysical or some local glitch in the electronics or whatever (remember fast neutrinos). In 2014, the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico found such a burst, thus authenticating the five events found in Australia. No one has the vaguest idea what might be causing them which poses a challenge to theory. Science thrives on such discoveries.   Some theories have suggested that so-called FRBs originate from an evaporating black hole, or perhaps solar flares from nearby stars, or — and this is coming from one of the astronomers who first recorded the FRBs — they could even be “signatures from extraterrestrial civilizations.” Pollyanna is delighted to hear of such things--it shows how much fun science can be, although you may be sure that much drudgery went into the data analysis that led to these findings.


What If? What if I made a lava lamp out of real lava? What could I use as a clear medium? How close could I stand to watch it?

Kathy Johnstone, 6th Grade Teacher (via a student)

Interesting answer, but I would not like to have my kid in her class.


Our Minister of Defense, a nonredeemable jerk, has a strategic adviser, who is, in Pollyanna's humble opinion, someone who gives idiots a bad name. We think that the Minister would do better to  hire Wally:
The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animations and more

Then we all have financial advisers...

The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animations and more

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pollyanna is not extremely glad this week, but she is here anyhow

Pollyanna is with you again and is certainly not glad this week. She is outraged at the despicable attack on worshipers at a synagogue in Jerusalem and in general at the pointless spilling of blood that goes on all around us. Yes, "how many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?" Bob Dylan has an answer that no one seems to want to hear.

The mass execution of people in Syria is part of the same pattern. Pollyanna will spare you the images. The number of deaths from terrorism increased by 61% between 2012 and 2013, a study into international terrorism says, which tells you something about the global war on terror and how successful it has been. There were nearly 10,000 terrorist attacks in 2013, a 44% increase from the previous year, the Global Terrorism Index 2014 report added. The report said militant groups Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Taliban were behind most of the deaths. It is easy to be politically incorrect in the light of this statistic.

For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Over two years have gone by without Miriam and 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 Pollyanna gets to choose a charity. She refers you to the  the Fund for Global Human Rights. It has a high mark from Charity Watch and provides grants to organizations that defend human rights worldwide.
The mission statement:Securing basic dignity and freedom for people worldwide requires that front-line organizations challenge abuse wherever it occurs. The Fund finds and funds local human rights heroes who often work at great personal risk to strengthen and bring global attention to their struggles.
Their Web site provides details of their grantees and the functioning of the Fund. Please take a look and donate.



Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes
Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes celebrates the decision to allow female bishops
Pollyanna is very pleased with the decision of the Church of England to appoint women bishops. We have female rabbis in the Reform and Conservative branches of Judaism, but of course the Orthodox would never hear of the idea. We hope the CofE weathers the introduction of women bishops without too much difficulty. We understand that during a transition period there will be a senior male cleric available for parishioners who might be uncomfortable with a female bishop. Cheers for progressive thinking that broke through the stained glass ceiling. We hope it will not be accompanied by the same type of conservative thinking that caused difficulties when the first openly gay bishop was installed.


Ayan Qureshi is the youngest computer specialist in the world
Pollyanna gives a pat on the head to the five year old who passed the Microsoft exam to become a Microsoft Certified Professional. Ayan Quereshi, now six, whose father is an IT consultant, has set up his own computer network at home in Coventry, UK. The family moved from Pakistan to England in 2009. Note, little nerds, Ayan spends no more than two hours per day with his computer network. Cheers!


The government of India has agreed to increase a multi-million dollar compensation claim against Union Carbide over the 1984 gas leak from the company's pesticide plant that poisoned more than half a million people. This is a response to a nil-by-mouth hunger strike by five women, who began their action on 10 November.
Survivors and activists have long criticized the Indian government for massively underestimating the number of dead and injured after the Bhopal gas leak.
Survivors and activists have long criticized the Indian government for massively underestimating the number of dead and injured after the Bhopal gas leak.

“This is a major victory for survivors of the 1984 gas leak, but subsequent generations of Bhopalis continue to suffer as chemicals abandoned by Union Carbide 30 years ago still leak into the groundwater today,” said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Director for Global Issues. Pollyanna agrees most strongly.


Pollyanna is pleased at the news that the alleged terrorist accused of the Rue Copernic synagogue bombing in Paris in 1980 is being extradited to France to stand trial. She is also glad to note that Don Blankenship, former CEO of Massey Energy (King Coal in West Virginia), was just indicted for putting profits above the lives of his company's employees resulting in a 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. The mills of the gods may grind slowly, but they can grind exceedingly fine.



It has long been known that basic physics is in trouble. Quantum theory is needed to explain how the universe works at the microscopic scale, and is believed to apply to all matter. But it is notoriously difficult to fathom, exhibiting weird phenomena which seem to violate the laws of cause and effect.
As the eminent American theoretical physicist Richard Feynman once noted: "I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics."
There are several things in quantum mechanics that appear weird and attempts to resolve them have been going on for a long time. One of them is entanglement which insults our intuitions about how the world could possibly work. Albert Einstein sneered that if the equations of quantum theory predicted such nonsense, so much the worse for quantum theory. “Spooky actions at a distance,” he huffed to a colleague in 1948. Nonetheless, it appears to be real.

Attempts to explain this and other weird phenomena have made use of the many-worlds idea as far back as 1957, but have not been very successful. Now there are two new ideas about other universes that interact with ours and the claim is that weirdness goes away. One theory is from workers at Griffith University in Australia with a collaborator from California and the other from Texas Tech in the USA. The idea is that other worlds exist, interact with ours in a particular way and thus remove the exotic features of quantum physics.
Artist's abstraction (stock illustration). According to Poirier's theory, quantum reality is not wave-like at all, but is composed of multiple, classical-like worlds. In each of these worlds, every object has very definite physical attributes, such as position and momentum. Within a given world, objects interact with each other classically. All quantum effects, on the other hand, manifest as interactions between "nearby" parallel worlds.

Stay tuned says Pollyanna.


 Collage illustration of a human head, computer chip, digits and various abstract elements.
As technology and in particular cybernetic technology advances, it can be argued that eventually the symbiosis between homo sapiens and the intelligent machines that he creates will give rise to a new version of human beings. The issue is discussed in detail in two postings on the NPR Cosmos and Culture blog. The first, by Marcelo Gleiser deals with the concept of transhumanism. We are attached to our technological add-ons and, as Gleiser predicts, we will have technological devices implanted in our heads, etc. We are reminded of a novel by Marge Piercy, He, She and It, that takes place in such a future. In her world, men and women take radically different approaches to the creating of human-robot hybrids. The second post, by Adam Frank , addresses the question of the post-human species that will evolve from us.

Frank puts the issue very bluntly "From physical form (there will be many possibilities) to culture and behavior, it's hard to even imagine how alien our post-human progeny might seem to us or us to them. Given the likely completeness of the post-human transformation, how ready are we to be so completely replaced? It's a question that has to be on the table because we are, as a culture, rapidly pushing the enabling technologies forward right now."
It is something worthy of thought by all of us.


 Seneca, from double herm of Socrates and Seneca.  Antikensammlung Berlin.
The Roman philosopher Seneca (4BC-65AD) has recently experienced a revival of interest. James Romm in his new book,  Dying Every Day – Seneca at the Court of Nero, New York, Knopf, 2014, deals with what has become known as the "Seneca problem". This can be summed up as follows:the conflict of his wealth, partly gained through usury and imperial favor, and his embrace of political power as the tutor and “friend” of the Emperor Nero, and the severe moralism of the Stoic philosophy he propounded in his voluminous writings. Did Seneca, as a philosopher-statesman, successfully divide his public and intellectual lives or was he the worst sort of hypocrite?
Seneca, who had at one time been a tutor of the Emperor Nero, was ordered by the Emperor to commit suicide after being (possibly) involved in a plot to depose him . Romm's book is reviewed inNew York Arts by the critic Michael Miller.  Another life of Seneca has come out in Oxford Press by Emily Wilson, (The Greatest Empire: A Life of Seneca, by Emily Wilson, Oxford University Press, 288 pp, $29.95, ISBN: 9780199926640) and is reviewed by Frank Freeman in the Dublin Review of Books. Mary Beard discusses both books, Seneca and the Stoic philosophy in an article in the New York Review of Books, which may not be accessible to all.
Seneca wrote about many aspects of philosophy and took moral positions in writing, whereas in real life he betrayed his benefactress Agrippina to the point of participating in her murder. He lived each day as if it stood alone, or as he puts it: "We die every day. You see, every day a little bit of our life is taken away from us, and even at the moment we are growing, our life is decaying. We lose our infancy, then childhood, then adolescence. Even up to yesterday, all past time is gone; even this day that we are spending now, we share with death. It’s not the last drop that empties the waterclock, but whatever has flowed out before. "
Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen/bpk/Art Resource Peter Paul Rubens: The Death of Seneca, 1612–1613
It appears that Stoic philosophy never stood up to the real world, or as Cicero sarcastically describes it "A wise person never allows himself to be influenced... Philosophers are people who, however ugly, remain handsome; even if they are very poor, they are rich; even if they are slaves, they are kings. All sins are equal, so that every misdemeanor is a serious crime... The philosopher has no need to offer conjectures, never regrets what he has done, is never mistaken, never changes his mind." Cicero regarded Stoicism as nonsense and the life of Seneca shows indeed that it is not a viable philosophy.


There is no new What If? this week, but we will let Randall give us a bit more philosophy.


WUMO indeed give us cause for humility...
and Clyde is dangerous to the establishment, such as it is:

Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Nov/17/2014
The  Wizard strip which we quote so often has been out in the world for a full half century.

Wizard of Id Cartoon for Nov/17/2014

He even is appreciated by his colleagues:
BC Cartoon for Nov/17/2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Say Hi to Pollyanna

 Pollyanna has survived Halloween and is delighted to visit you. We are digesting the aftermath of the US elections and also have a few matters of interest for you. The Republicans now control Congress and Obama will have the same hard time during his last two years as had the previous three two-term presidents, Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush. When Harry Truman had an opposition Congress, 1946-48, he complained that they would have repealed the law of gravity if they could have. Certainly voters make their decisions wisely after being informed by political ads, as Mike Luckovich tells us so graphically.

Pollyanna hopes that some sanity and responsibility will creep in somehow. She also notes the transition to standard time as the season changes. This has deep historical roots.
Non Sequitur Cartoon for Nov/02/2014

For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Nearly two years have gone by without Miriam and 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.


CVT has helped more than 27,000 men, women and children rebuild their lives and become healthy, contributing members of their communities.

This week Pollyanna gets to choose a charity. She refers you to the Center for Victims of Torture. This is a Minnesota(old home country)-based  charity that functions with victims from all over the world. It has a high rating from Charity Navigator. You might want to donate to them on their Day of Give to the Max, sponsored by GiveMN, coming up next week.

IN MEMORIAM Tom Magliozzi 1937-2014 

tom ray magliozzi

Tom Magliozzi, right, with his brother Ray, who together co-hosted NPR’s Car Talk show until 2012. Photograph: Charles Krupa/AP

One of the two brothers of the Car Talk show died this week. Their radio show on NPR was a constant source of amusement along with good advice about cars and their problems. We listened to them faithfully while living in the  US and we continued to follow them on line from Israel. We append an obituary for Tom from the NYTimes. The Car Talk link will take you to their Web page and you can also listen to podcasts. To quote the New Yorker "As Tom might say, he is now in the good hands of “Car Talk”’s staff morticians, Barry L. Plotz and Sven Didigo, as well as the show’s Boston funeral director, Hadley Newham."


That is indeed a question raised by Hollaback, a society devoted to safety on city streets. As a promotion, the actress Shoshana B. Roberts spent 10 hours walking on the streets of New York. Her YouTube shown here gives you an idea of what it is like for a woman to walk on the street. Lilit Marcus gives it a Jewish twist in the Forward--how to deal with catcalls and the like from these oh so pious men walking around with God in their pocket. Over two thousand years ago a Phoenician king boasted that a woman could carry a sack of gold safely across his kingdom.


An Argentinian judge has ordered the extradition of 20 former Spanish officials accused of torturing dissidents during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, from 1939 to 1975, renewing efforts to pursue cases of human rights abuses beyond the country’s borders. The principle of universal jurisdiction applies to these cases. We hope the Spanish government agrees to turn these despicable men over for trial. Pollyanna thinks that the rule of impunity, by which atrocities can be committed with no fear of retribution or punishment must come to an end. It would be nice if it would happen much closer to home.


The Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (IM-Defensoras, Mesoamerican Initiative for Women Human Rights Defenders) will receive the Letelier-Moffitt award in Washington on Tuesday, October 14, 2014. This award, established in 1978 by the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), will be delivered to IM-Defensoras for its work over the last four years in defense of human rights.

  •    IM-Defensoras pioneered the use of a gendered approach in the documentation and reporting of attacks against women human rights defenders in Mesoamerica.
  •     Between 2010 and 2014 it helped improve the safety and welfare of over 100 advocates and their families and facilitated the development of 360 defenders in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua, to promote the adoption of appropriate  practices in safety and self care.
 Since 1978 the Letelier-Moffitt award has served as a yearly acknowledgement of the struggle for rights in the United States and the Americas.
    "We will continue working for the full protection of women human rights defenders, for the continuation and advancement of peace, equality and justice in Mexico and Central America": IM-Defensoras Steering Committee


Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai said the money would help children in Gaza get a good-quality education. Photograph: Tt News Agency/Reuters
 Pollyanna thanks the Nobel Peace Laureate Malala  Yousafzai for donating  $50,000 to reconstruction of Gaza schools. This courageous young lady who was shot in Pakistan for advocating education for girls should be a role model for all in the struggle to provide education for girls everywhere. The wanton destruction of schools in Gaza by Israel was no accident. It is part and parcel of the callous indifference to human suffering described in a recent report by Amnesty International. It is encouraging that there still are people like Malala around who care and are willing to take risks and do something about terrible things. Pollyanna, Titan and YandA salute you Malala!


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pollyanna post holiday season

Pollyanna too has survived the holiday season and is delighted to visit with you. She wishes all her Muslim friends and readers a Happy New Year AH 1436 which began on 1 Muharem or 25 October.

For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Nearly two years have gone by without Miriam and 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 Pollyanna gets to choose a charity. The overwhelming calamity in the world now is the Ebola pandemic in West Africa. Last week Titan ranted and raved about the incompetence being shown in handling the catastrophe. She endorses every word. She also follows Titan's choice and recommends MSF or Mercy Corps as the most effective way of helping in this huge crisis.
Fighting the Ebola outbreak

Nigeria has now been declared Ebola-free. This came about because of the brilliance and courage of Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoh who raised a red flag when attending to a Liberian patient at the First Consultant Hospital in Nigeria's main city, Lagos, in July. She diagnosed Ebola in a Liberian patient Patrick Sawyer and prevented him leaving the hospital despite his protests and the pressure from the Liberian embassy. Eventually he died, but the virus did not hit Nigeria. The sad part of the story is that Dr. Adadevoh herself contracted Ebola from her patient and died.

A candlelight vigil for Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoh  and other Ebola victims in Abuja, Nigeria on 26 August 2014
Many Nigerians are mourning the death of the doctor who treated him
The issue of containing Ebola is acute and the teams on the ground suffer from logistic inadequacies. Oxfam has called for a military intervention to stop the spread of the disease.

IN MEMORIAM Christopher Hogwood 1941-2014.

This famous conductor who is identified strongly with the performance of classical and earlier music on authentic instruments died last month. He was the founder of the Academy of Ancient Music and insisted on performance of works as they sounded when composed. We quote from an obituary by his colleague :"The death of Christopher Hogwood has deprived the world of the most successful exponent of early music there has ever been, or is ever likely to be. It has also reduced by one the
quartet of conductors who have been called ‘the Class of ’73’, a term coined by Nick Wilson in a recent study of the early-music revolution of the 1970s and 80s. It refers to four groups that were founded in that year that are held to have changed the face of modern concert-giving: Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music;Trevor Pinnock and his English Concert; Andrew Parrott’s Taverner Choir; and my own Tallis Scholars. Of these it was Hogwood who had the most immediate impact and commercial success. It is also fair to say that his recordings are the most numerous, but least played, of all the Class."
He founded the AAM in 1973 and it quickly became one of the most popular and influential organizations in the "authentic performance" movement. (Hogwood preferred the less confrontational term "historically informed performance" to "authentic.") We link you to an obituary in the Guardian and also give you a sample of his performance.

 CONGRATULATIONS TO RICHARD FLANAGAN, who on 14 October was announced as the winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for The Narrow Road to the Deep North, published by Chatto & Windus. Pollyanna extends felicitations. A review of the book is given in the Guardian.

Pollyanna salutes and admires the medical team that performed a near miracle. A paralyzed man has been enabled to walk after a pioneering therapy that involved transplanting cells from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord. Darek Fidyka, who was paralysed from the chest down in a knife attack in 2010, can now walk using a frame. It is hoped that independent walking will eventually be restored.The treatment, a world first, was carried out by surgeons in Poland in collaboration with scientists in London. Read more and watch the video.


In El Salvador, women and girls are expected to prioritize being a mother or wife above everything else. © Amnesty International
There is inequality everywhere, but Pollyanna wants to point out the glaring inequality that affects half of humanity and marginalizes and crushes women and girls. In honor of World Blog Day last week, Amnesty International put out a special blog to protest the treatment of women in general and in El Salvador in particular. There a woman goes to prison for having a normal miscarriage since she is accused of an abortion, which is totally illegal, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Photo of Isaiah Berlin
Photo of Isaiah Berlin by Mats Lund,
taken 3 February 1997
A recent New York Review of Books contained two articles that give rise to thought. One was a valedictory, a message to our century, from Isaiah Berlin on the occasion of his receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Toronto, just 20 years ago. He pushes his long-held view of the dangers of any ideology that tells people that it provides  the answer to the world's ills and the implementation of it justifies all means. His examples ranging from the French Revolution to Lenin and others are most convincing. Despite the evils of the 20th century, he believed the future to be bright and that liberal democracy would find its way even to China-"Great tyrannies are in ruins, or will be—even in China the day is not too distant." Of course this was expressed in the wave of optimism that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In the same issue there is an article China Strikes Back! by Orville Schell that shows how Berlin and countless others were wrong. China wants no part of liberal democracy, human rights or any other component of the value system of the West. The collapse of the Soviet Union generated fear amongst the Chinese leadership. By the time Xi Jinping became president and Party secretary in 2013, a virtual coup de grâce had been delivered to both Western and Chinese hopes for structural political reform. The Party’s new message was, in effect: “Because China emphatically rejects all Western forms of democratic governance as unworkable, Americans should forget their missionary-like dreams of bringing elections, human rights, and democracy to China. What you see now is what you’re going to get! Changes are not wanted.” We recall being told by a Chinese ambassador to Israel that people do not want democracy. Instead they want a strong leader who will relieve them of care and worry and take care of things for them. In the past Pollyanna and Titan have blogged about liberal democracy and its foes. In Israel, there are many such enemies and MK Ayelet Shaked is one of the most ferocious. In the wake of a High Court decision that the incarceration of asylum seekers is unconstitutional, she has initiated a bill that would enable the Knesset to overule the Court. As Haaretz points out in an editorial, this is a fatal blow aimed at human rights and democracy. Haaretz attributes to Ms Shaked a lack of understanding of how democracy works. Pollyanna is less charitable and thinks that she understands it well and opposes it.
In the meantime, the Milky revolution seems to have subsided (vid. Titan last week) and Air Berlin has come out with a burst of billboard ads in Israel. Pollyanna wonders what the connection might be. The public certainly has shown itself impotent in dealing with the way it is abused by the government. The people who are most vulnerable, the poor and marginal, are the most loyal supporters of the right wing corrupt government that crushes them. It even happens in Id.

Wizard of Id Cartoon for Oct/18/2014

Our Orthodox brothers have struck out again. Rabbi Barry Freundel in Washington, D.C. videotaped women in the Mikveh (ritual bath) of his Orthodox synagogue. We are not surprised.  In Israel, the Rabbi of the city of Holon told students that cheating and plagiarism are legitimate, sexual abuse has been covered up, you name it. Ramban aka Nachmanides ((1194 – 1270), a leading medieval Jewish scholar, Catalan Sephardic rabbi, philosopher, physician, kabbalist, and biblical commentator) coined the term “a scoundrel with Torah permission” to describe a problematic personality who meets all technical religious requirements while failing to lead a truly spiritual decent life. Indeed rabbis are human and have human failings, but standards must be maintained. Pollyanna salutes the Kesher Israel Board of Directors for not trying to cover up anything.

Apropos religious difficulties, Pollyanna is disappointed that Pope Francis failed to convince his synod that gay people are human and should not be excluded. It appears that the attitudes of the likes of Pat Robertson still prevail in religious circles.

Mike Luckovich Cartoon for Oct/23/2014


Deforestation in West Africa (AFP)
Deforestation in West Africa, here shown in Liberia, is believed to be contributing to the spread of Ebola. Photo by AFP
Ruth Shuster, writing in Haaretz, presents a somber picture of how climate change   enhances the spread of deadly diseases. It boils down to the irresponsibility of the human interaction with nature. The struggle to mitigate the effects of human activity on the environment is complicated by the powerful economic bodies that have an interest in denying climate change and its anthropomorphic source for the sake of large short-term profits. People need to stand up to this and push politicians to do the right thing. It is neither easy nor simple.

Shrinking Aral Sea
In the 1960s, the Soviet Union undertook a major water diversion project on the arid plains of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.
A prime example of human abuse of nature may be seen in the drying up of the Aral Sea. Excessive use of the water of its feeding rivers, in particular, the Amu Darya and and the Syr Darya, for irrigation by the Soviet Government, coupled with a decrease in rainfall has led to the catastrophe shown here. Pollyanna is most sad about this misuse of resources of nature.

Saturn's moon Mimas as observed by NASA's Cassini mission. The moon's prominent Herschel crater gives the tiny world the appearance of the Death Star, the science fiction superweapon from the Star Wars movies.
Mimas has always been regarded as one of the less interesting of the satellites of Saturn. Now it appears that it has a wobble in its orbit which is really unexpected. There are proposed explanations for the phenomenon. Read more and if you are really interested and have access, the work is described in Science.

There is no new What IF? this week, but Pollyanna with the aid of Randall can show you what happens when you are not careful with small objects.

  Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Oct/20/2014

Dilbert Cartoon for Oct/22/2014   

Dilbert Cartoon for Oct/23/2014