Cluster Map

Friday, May 9, 2014

Pollyanna welcomes you to the merry rainy month of May

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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.

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

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