Cluster Map

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Pollyanna again

Fresco restored to Herodian palace at Masada
Pollyanna would like to provide some relief from the dour picture brother Titan unloaded on you last week. To his credit, he did have a few positive things to report. Pollyanna also has a few nice things to tell you. First, she is delighted to show you one of the frescoes restored to the palace of King Herod (37-4 BCE) in Masada. She salutes the team headed by Italian expert renovator Prof. Maurizio Tagliapietra of the University of Verona and including employees of the Israel Parks and Nature Authority. Cheers! Later she will also have some things to be upset about.

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

Last week we saw a beautiful documentary film about Louis Sarno, the musicologist who lives among his Bayaka friends and family in the Central African Republic.
 Donate to Global Voice

He spends much of his time and energy supporting the Bayaka in various ways, most significantly by distributing medication and food to those in need. But the current civic war in the CAR means that tourism – the most important source of income for Louis in recent years – has more or less stopped. Through "Global Voice“ you can help Louis and the Bayaka of Yandoumbé to survive even in these difficult times. If the link works for you, you can donate via PayPal. If not, as happened to Pollyanna, send a check to Global Voice Foundation 133 East De La Guerra Street #160 Santa Barbara CA 93101 USA Here is a trailer of the film.

Pope Francis adjusts his skullcap during the weekly general audience at St Peter's square.
It would better be to lower expectations ahead of next week's Mideast visit by Pope Francis. Photo by AFP
Pollyanna is delighted to welcome Pope Francis I on the occasion of his visit to Israel. She hopes that the visit will go off well and that no major hate crimes by Orthodox Jews sully the occasion. She agrees that the visit is primarily religious and no one should expect any great political or diplomatic effects. Already the anti-Christian graffiti have appeared, but let us hope that nothing worse happens.
Graffiti on the wall of a Be'er Sheva church. Quote:"Jesus is an SOB." Photo by Israel Police
Cheers to the Pontiff and enjoy your visit.

Pollyanna would like to call your attention to a Web site launched early this year as a cooperative effort of AWID, Mama Cash and the Guardian newspaper. The founders regard this collaboration as an opportunity to achieve these goals:

  •     bring a rights based analysis to a broad and powerful audience
  •     increase the visibility of women’s rights organizing and make the case for more and better resources for women’s rights advocates, organizations and movements
  •     influence key global policy processes and debates related to the post-2015 agenda
  •     raise the visibility of women human rights defenders at risk
  •     support more diverse voices to frame debates and set priorities about women’s, girls and trans* people’s rights and the changes that are needed at global, regional and national levels

Pollyanna recommends that you all take a look at the site as well as at the links to AWID and Mama Cash, a major funder for women's rights activity.
Transgender and Intersex Africa

Also, last week Titan promoted the initiative of a group of Israeli women to take Palestinian children to the sea. Although they live not far from the Mediterranean, most Palestinian children have never seen it. This project has taken wing and expanded. Please help take a kid to the beach. Pollyanna joins the call.

This week's rant is about the tragic coal mine accident in Turkey that claimed over 300 lives. It could have been prevented and serves as a reminder that privatization of an industry can lead to a lack of regulation and relaxing of safety standards. The BP massive oil leak catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico four years ago was, as stated explicitly by President Obama, a result of the cozy relationship between corporations and regulators. The privatization of British Rail in the 1990's led to an increase in accidents and the eventual renationalization of the main rail operating entity. The disastrous chemical spill in West Virginia is certainly related to the cutbacks in environmental control and supervision of the coal and chemical industries, as noted in the New Yorker. This quote tells it all:  
"The state has become a standard-bearer for pro-business, limited-government conservatism. The day before the chemical spill, the governor, Earl Ray Tomblin, delivered his State of the State address, criticizing federal environmental regulators and vowing, “I will never back down from the E.P.A., because of its misguided policies on coal.” Tomblin, a conservative Democrat elected in 2011, cut corporate taxes and denounced the federal government for overstepping its authority. To balance the budget, he tapped other government funds and called for broad cuts, including reducing agency spending by seventy million dollars. For the second consecutive year, West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection would take a 7.5-per-cent cut in state funds, dropping to its lowest level since 2008."
To Pollyanna, it is clear that the rush for short term profits and the corruption entailed by the government-industry cohabitation leads to an inevitable devaluation of human life and basic rights. The public needs to be more aware and to stand up to the bad guys.

BTW, Pollyanna notes that protesters were abused when PM  Erdogan visited the disaster site at Soma.
Yusuf Yerkel, left, adviser to Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, kicking a protestor as Special Forces police officers detain him during a protest against Erdogan's visit to Soma, May 14, 2014. Photo by Reuters

It is also typical that the a newspaper supportive of Erdogan blames the Turkish mine disaster on Jews. 

Last March a science fair of sorts was held in Tel Aviv. It was designed to tout the achievements of the hi-tech industry and of course to expose children to rockets and
weapon systems in the style of North Korea.  It might have been more appropriate to focus on medical research or even astronomy, but in militaristic Israel, this is what you get.
Daniel Bar On
The Israel Science Day at Rabin Square, Tel Aviv. March 26, 2014. Photo by Daniel Bar On
In one of the exhibits, set up to demonstrate rocket launching, an accident took place, three children were burned and there was no ambulance on hand. The children were burned badly and the mother asks about accountability for the lack of safety precautions at the site. As Haaretz wrote at the time, "Israel may have incredible technological accomplishments in weapons and defense systems. But when it comes to taking care of its own people, this country is as incompetent as an ambulance driver with a burned child." Her op-ed piece in Haaretz was unfortunately not translated. Pollyanna wonders why.

Israel's Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv basketball team defeated Real Madrid 98-86, in overtime, and won the Euroleague championship  in Milan on Sunday evening. This is the club's sixth European championship title. Thousands turned out at Rabin Square to cheer the champions. Pollyanna watched the game and is glad to extend her congratulations.

We have long been admirers of the literary work of John Updike.
‘A priapic male gaze? John Updike in the mid-1960s.
A priapic male gaze? John Updike in the mid-1960s. Photograph: Susan Wood/Getty Images

Pollyanna, therefore, welcomes the new biography of Updike which provides much insight into the life and work of the writer.  The book by Adam Begley  is reviewed in the Guardian/Observer. It is well worth your attention


The concept of a black hole as a one way road to oblivion has been called into question by no less than Stephen Hawking. Much attention is now being paid to the question of what happens at the so-called event horizon.  Imagine a poor astronaut arriving there.

Astronomers know that virtually every galaxy harbors a giant black hole at its center, shaping the formation of millions of stars and even neighboring galaxies with its immense gravitational influence. Galaxies also contain millions of small- and medium-sized black holes, each with an event horizon past which light is never seen again. The idea that if a black hole evaporates eventually all the information that has gone into is lost is in conflict with quantum mechanics. What is happening?  Read on to see details of this mystery. Pollyanna thinks it is cool that physics is facing one crisis after another. As the great Neils Bohr said: "How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress."
In her March 14 blog this year Pollyanna expressed her delight and hopes for new cancer therapies based on harnessing the human immune system. This week she wants to tout an alternative approach, a silver bullet particle irradiation therapy evolving out of research at the Large Hadron Collider where scientists are developing a new and more effective alternative to radiotherapy which treats tumors with high-powered beams of positively charged particles at a greater accuracy than current radiotherapy techniques. Proton beam therapy enables doctors to target precisely tumors with a focused beam of protons, leaving the nearby tissue undamaged which minimizes the risk of unpleasant side effects. We underwent gamma ray therapy in 2002 for prostate cancer which in turn, because of poor focusing, led to a bout of bladder cancer in 2008.  Pollyanna and her family wish all success to all who toil in the vineyard of medical research and the improvement of means of healing.

The Ice Saints is a name given to St. Mamertus, St. Pancras, and St. Servatius in much European folklore. They are so named because their feast days fall on the days of May 11, May 12, and May 13 respectively which , as discussed in the Guardian, are supposed to be days of cold snaps in May.
Young rabbit frosty May morning
It can get cold in May as this young Scottish rabbit discovered one frosty morning in 2009. Photograph: Duncan Shaw/Alamy
In the early 20th century, statisticians claimed to have debunked this as myth, but the so-called blackthorn winter belief persists and gardeners in many countries wait with spring planting until the cold saints have passed. While this indeed may be folklore, a climatological study carried out in the 1960's, using a century of meteorological data,  produced phenomena that showed preference for particular calendar days such as the breakdown of the stratospheric night polar vortex and intrusions of cold air in springtime into Europe.

What if?  asks:
What if you were to somehow ignite the pollen that floats around in the air in spring? Other than being a really bad idea, what effect would it have?
Jessica Thornburg
The answer is not reassuring to people with hay fever, but  otherwise it would not raise the temperature much unless you decided to concentrate it.

Finally the truth about the horny head boss:
 Dilbert Cartoon for May/22/2014

As mosquito season moves in, we swear by our blue light zapper. Fortunately, none of us hear well:
Barney & Clyde Cartoon for May/18/2014 

In Israel the Army is again demanding more money to pay its inflated salaries and buy more useless toys:
Wizard of Id Cartoon for May/14/2014

Friday, May 9, 2014

Pollyanna welcomes you to the merry rainy month of May

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.
Curiosity Inspects Mt. Remarkable on Mars
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech; Additional Mosaic Processing: Kenneth Kremer & Marco Di Lorenzo
Explanation: What has the Curiosity rover come across on Mars? Dubbed Mount Remarkable, the rolling robot has chanced upon this notable 5-meter tall mound during its continuing journey around, and eventually up, 5.5-kilometer high Mt. Sharp. Unsure of the density of the surrounding layered sandstone, the human team on Earth has instructed the car-sized rover on Mars to drill into a rock on the side of Mt. Remarkable to investigate. Quite possibly, water involved in creating the dense sandstone could have helped to support ancient life on the red planet. Mt. Sharp, the unusual central peak of Gale Crater, has a similar base-to-peak height as Earth's Mt. Everest.
Pollyanna would again like to provide some relief from the dour picture brother Titan unloaded on you last week. To his credit, he did have a few positive things to report. Pollyanna has a few nice things to tell you. First, take a look at Mt. Remarkable as seen by Curiosity on Mars."There are more things on heaven and Earth..."

For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Over 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 Pollyanna is referring you to the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War. This is a volunteer organization whose activities include a broad range of issues as they pursue their mission to create a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation. Pollyanna invites you to look over their Web site and to make a donation to a worthy cause.


The British actor and director  Bob Hoskins died this week in London. He was successful in the theater, film and television. Actor and director Dexter Fletcher pays tribute to the much-loved star in the Guardian. We saw him in several films and will go back to see them again, starting with the iconic Who Framed Roger Rabbit? His breakout leading role in the gritty British thriller "The Long Good Friday" (1980) established Hoskins' streetwise charm, and from there, the following he had acquired on British television and the stages of London's West End spread internationally. A New York mobster in Francis Ford Coppola's "Cotton Club" (1984), Hoskins lent an emotional depth to the ex-con he portrayed in Neil Jordan's "Mona Lisa" (1986), earning a Golden Globe Award for his performance and returning to the ceremony two years later as a nominee for one of the era's most inventive comedies, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" (1988). For a man who self-deprecatingly referred to himself as "5 foot six and cubic," Hoskins was perpetually booked, disappearing chameleon-like into portrayals of world leaders and charismatic self-starters like the role that earned him an Academy Award nomination opposite Judi Dench in "Mrs. Henderson Presents" (2005). Hoskins' gregarious charm and ability to bring humanness to heavies made him a much-loved player in both Hollywood and his native U.K. May he rest in peace. We shall continue to enjoy his legacy. Barbara Ellen writing in the Guardian/Observer claims that he was the last actor to rise out of the working class. We doubt it.

This week's rant is about the nearly 300 schoolgirls abducted by the Islamist terror group Boko Haram in Nigeria. The government of Nigeria is coming under increased pressure to do something about the intolerable situation and has been severely criticized for downplaying the event. Boko Haram means Western education is sinful and has just abducted eight more girls from a school. The leader sent out a video in which he announced that the girls would be sold. Imagine what would be happening if nearly 300 girls had been abducted in the US or in France. What is shocking also is that Patience Jonathan, the First Lady of Nigeria, has told Nigerian women that they should stop the protests and that they are bringing shame on Nigeria. Jonathan reportedly even accused the demonstrators of making up the incident and working with Boko Haram. Leaders of the womens' protest were even arrested at the behest of Ms Jonathan.  Obviously something is very wrong there and it is unacceptable that the Nigerian government should be indifferent to the atrocities of Boko Haram. Pollyanna is not glad, in fact she is foaming at the mouth with outrage.

A 13-year-old eagle huntress in Mongolia has aroused Pollyanna's interest and admiration. Hunting with eagles is a tradition going back over two millennia, but young Ashol-Pan, the daughter of a particularly celebrated hunter, may well be the country's only apprentice huntress.
Irka Bolen training his eagle

Pollyanna would like to call your attention to a project by Micah X. Peled, a documentary film about soccer played  by homeless people. We have had wonderful experience with Micah whose film about exploited textile workers in China, China Blue, won awards and contributed greatly to raising consciousness worldwide about the issue. We quote him on social soccer: "We are excited to find out that a group of social entrepreneurs has come up with an innovative approach to the age-old problem of homelessness. As the gap between rich and poor in the U.S. is increasing, huge resources and taxpayer dollars are directed toward this issue, without significant improvements. Nobody (outside a small circle) has heard of Street Soccer USA, so the film will bring some news on the homeless front, but also about what the impact sports can have on social issues.

Can soccer help people out of homelessness? The transformative power of sports launches Kay from Charlotte, Angelina from Sacramento and their teammates from around the country out of their shelters and lives at the margins of society to represent the U.S. in the Homeless World Cup. This initiative combines soccer with assistance in transitioning out of homelessness through job, education and housing. Boarding an international flight, the players embark on a journey of a lifetime, where they will meet and compete against homeless soccer teams from 50 nations, and be challenged to their limits."

Please go to the site and donate to support this effort.

Tom and Ray have been saying this for years. ( photo)
Tom and Ray have been saving this for years photo
Our old friends from CarTalk, Click and Clack aka Rant and Rave, join the campaign against talking on the cell phone when driving, even with a device in a cradle. Pollyanna tries to avoid it and recommends the same to you as well. She and Titan have ranted on this in the past. Live long and prosper fellow Vulcans.


Most people who are addicted to cigarette smoking, alcohol or other drugs manage to quit, usually on their own, after experiencing major attitude adjustments. Although relapses occur, successes ultimately outnumber failures. People can permanently walk away from addiction.

Evidence that addiction is a solvable coping problem rather than a chronic, recurring disease seems like encouraging news. But it is highly controversial. Neuroscientists and many clinicians regard drug addictions as brain illnesses best vanquished with the help of medications that fight cravings and withdrawal. From this perspective, drug-induced brain changes increase a person’s thirst for artificial highs and make quitting progressively more difficult.

This conflict over addiction’s nature plays out in two lines of research: studies of remission and relapse among treated substance abusers and long-term studies of the general population.

We managed to quit smoking 50 years ago, despite being heavily addicted, mainly because of  the Surgeon-General's report. The shock of the report and the fact that we were in graduate school at the time seem to have had some effect. Note these graphics:

Pollyanna salutes seven teenagers who came up with great ideas to improve life for people.


WHAT IF? What would happen if you tried to fly a normal Earth airplane above different Solar System bodies?

—Glen Chiacchieri

The answer is interesting. Have a nice trip.

Not all cartoons are silly. The Wizard of Id is such an example. Here is a profound truth:

Our Murphy has a nasty habit of picking up innocent turtles on the dune and running with the poor creatures in his mouth. In addition to the obvious PTSD, one might wonder if the turtle is believed when he comes home with the tale of having been kidnapped by a marauding dog. This can happen to many species on different time scales.
Pearls Before Swine Cartoon for May/06/2014

Chapter II or the joys of having or being a stepmother...
Barney & Clyde Cartoon for May/01/2014
This Wumo is cool or hot as you choose. We cannot reproduce it because of threats of copyright, but here is the link.

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