Cluster Map

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pollyanna winds down February

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Venus and Moon at dawn
 Pollyanna is back with you and wishes all a nice weekend full of things to be glad about. She is glad to share a lovely picture of an old moon meeting a morning star crescent. If the picture has vanished, as NASA images often do, go to the site.

For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Over a year has gone and 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.

A Bushman woman in the street in New Xade, the government resettlement camp to which many Bushmen have been relocated in the last ten years.
A Bushman woman in the street in New Xade, the government resettlement camp to which many Bushmen have been relocated in the last ten years. Beer and AIDS dominate the atmosphere.
© Dominick Tyler
Pollyanna is pointing you this week to Survival International, which is a human rights organization formed in 1969, that campaigns for the rights of indigenous tribal and uncontacted peoples, seeking to help them to determine their own future. Please donate and support.


Maya, our granddaughter, defended her BA Honors thesis at the University of Oregon and passed "with distinction." She wrote about "Nihilism in Children's Literature" which must be a unique topic, creatio ab nihilo, as the Bible tells us. Pollyanna, Titan and YandA are all very happy and proud.

Pollyanna is ranting this week about the plight of women in Somalia where rape is the norm and the security forces, who are among the worst offenders, enjoy complete impunity. Human Rights Watch has published a report on the issue and has called upon the government of Somalia to take steps to curb the widespread sexual violence to which women in Somalia are subjected.The 72-page report, “‘Here, Rape is Normal’: A Five-Point Plan to Curtail Sexual Violence in Somalia,” provides a road map for the government and its international donors to establish a comprehensive strategy to reduce rape, provide survivors with immediate and urgent assistance, and develop a long-term approach to end these abuses. The report focuses on improving prevention, increasing access to emergency health services, ensuring justice, legal and policy reform, and promoting women’s equality. A summary of the report is provided by AWID.

The police are worse than indifferent to these cases. We quote:
Maryam, a 37-year-old single mother who was gang-raped in her makeshift shelter, was the only survivor Human Rights Watch interviewed who attempted to file a police report. The police officers at the station humiliated her after she bled from injuries sustained during the rape.
“Before they let me go, they told me I had to wash the floor where I was bleeding,” she said. “I sat down, they gave me a brush and I cleaned the floor.” She never returned to the police station to pursue the case or report a second gang rape three months later.

Pollyanna thinks that it is totally wrong and unethical for someone to pretend to put out real meteorological predictions that are false and are just designed to enhance hits on a Web site and thus get more ad money. The prediction of a huge storm in the US next week by a huckster named Kevin Martin has been exposed as a hoax by El Blogo de Weatherdudeo writing in the Daily Kos. This sort of panic spreading is pernicious and even if it may be protected free speech, it is important that the truth be put out to protect people. Please read the blog and reassure your social circles that there is no storm to fear.

The Oscars will be handed out Sunday night. We like Nebraska, but it may not be the front runner. Here is a prediction for whatever it is worth. . Here is a list of the nominees.


We have long known that it is not a good idea for women to postpone maternity. It now appears that men too have a biological clock. A new study  of over 2 million children in Sweden over a long period shows that children of older fathers are vulnerable to a range  of disorders.
Comparing children of a 45-year-old dad to those of a 24-year-old father the study indicated:
    autism was more than three times as likely
    a 13-fold increased risk of ADHD
    double the risk of a psychotic disorder
    25 times more likely to have bipolar disorder
    2.5 times more likely to have suicidal behavior or problems with drugs
    lower scores at school

The results were published in JAMA Psychiatry. 

A large meteorite crashed into the moon this week and created a burst of light visible to the naked eye on Earth.
the impact of a large meteorite on the lunar surface of the moon
The flash was picked up by two telescopes in Spain's Midas observatory. Photograph: J Madiedo/Midas
 It was estimated to be about 400 kg in mass and its speed at impact was estimated to be about 61,000 km/h, the largest meteorite impact on the moon ever recorded! Pollyanna is impressed.

Zircon crystal
This zircon, which is about twice the width of a human hair, is now confirmed to be the oldest bit of the Earth's crust ever discovered. It was found in the Jack Hills region of Australia. (Courtesy John W. Valley/University of Wisconsin-Madison)

A piece of ancient zircon found in Australia indicates that the crust of the Earth was solid slightly less than 4.4 billion years ago. This has implications for the origin of life since solid crust is needed for viable life. During the Hadean era (named for its hellish conditions) the Earth was too hot and the surface molten. If the crust indeed had formed so long ago, maybe life is older than the 3.4 billion years indicated by the fossil record. The result was published in Nature Geosciences. The use of tomography to track the mobility of radiogenic lead was the key to the experiment and Pollyanna says this is cool.

Clovis point
Example of a Clovis fluted blade (Photo : Virginia Dept. of Historic Resources/ Wikimedia creative commons )
There has been some dispute whether the Clovis culture that existed for a few centuries long ago represented the ancestry of Native Americans. DNA analysis of a 12,600 year child skeleton buried with Clovis artifacts in Montana shows that indeed this is the case. The boy's genome showed his people were direct ancestors of many of today's native peoples in the Americas. This puts paid to theories of European or Melanesian origins of New World populations.


What If? Assuming that you have a spaceship in orbit around the Earth, could you propel your ship to speeds exceeding escape velocity by hitting golf balls in the other direction? If so, how many golf balls would be required to reach the Moon?

—Dan (Kanta, Ontario) Fun answer indeed. Cheers Randall.

Kids get in trouble at school by shooting their mouths off. Hadass picked up a story from Facebook that gives an example.

Then we have Cynthia:
Barney & Clyde

We have not visited SMBC for a while. Maybe that was a good idea...


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