Cluster Map

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Pollyanna is very sad

Pollyanna mourns the death of the three teenagers who were killed  by terrorists and whose bodies were found this week. All of us here extend condolences to the families of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naphtali Fraenkel.

Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naphtali Fraenkel

We also extend condolences to the family  of the 16-year-old boy, Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, whose body was found this week in a forest in Jerusalem with indications that it may have been a revenge killing by right wing Jews.
Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir

We hope that their respective religious faiths will give them strength to bear the unbearable burden that evil men  have laid upon them. We also hope that the arm of justice will find all these base killers and that they will pay for their foul deeds. The Reform Movement in Israel and its Rabbis have composed the following prayer and our apologies for those who lack Hebrew.

כִּי עָלָה מָוֶת בְּחַלּוֹנֵינוּ בָּא בְּאַרְמְנוֹתֵינוּ לְהַכְרִית עוֹלָל מִחוּץ בַּחוּרִים מֵרְחֹבוֹת" (ירמיהו ט, כ (

בלב שותת ואבל, המומים ודואבים, אנו ניצבים אל מול הידיעה המרה על הירצחם של נפתלי פרנקל, איל יפרח וגיל-עד שאער ז"ל. גדול האבל, עצום חרון האף, רבה הכמיהה לנקם ושילם.

יהי זכר ההרוגים לברכה לכל בני משפחותיהם ואוהביהם. יהי רצון שינוחמו מן השמים וימצאו כוחות רוח ונפש להתמודד עם אבלם. תהי האהבה והשותפות המורעפת עליהם מנת חלקם גם בימי המבחן המצפים להם.

יהי רצון, שברגעי מסה אלה נֵדע לזכור ולהזכיר שאנו מצוּוים להרבות חיים, לרדוף שלום וצדק, להביא מרפא, לתקן עולם במלכות שדי.

יהי רצון, שהעושה שלום במרומיו יעניק לנו ולשכנינו כוח אמונה ותבונת לב להיעשות אגודה אחת לעשות רצונו בלבב שלם. יהי רצון שישובו שמחה לארצנו וששון לעירנו, למען תקפוץ העוולה פיה ויעבור זדון מן הארץ (על יסוד תפילת העמידה לעשרת ימי תשובה) ונאמר אמן

הרב פרופ' יהוידע עמיר, יו"ר מועצת הרבנים המתקדמים בישראל  

We also append an anonymous prayer from Beliefnet for the victims of war  and terror:

Prayer for Victims of Terrorism
Loving God, Welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism. Comfort their families and all who grieve for them. Help us in our fear and uncertainty, And bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love. Strengthen all those who work for peace, And may the peace, the world cannot give, reign in our hearts.

We hope that the memory of the fallen will not be further desecrated by more acts of vengeance against innocent people. No matter the degree of outrage, we must strive for justice. We quote Knesset Member Zahava Gal-On:
“Kidnapping and murdering teens is a war crime that must be punished to the full extent of the law. At the same time, in these moments we must differentiate between those who are responsible for the criminal act and the Palestinians who rejected it, like Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas...We must take diplomatic action that will strengthen the moderates.”

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.

This week Pollyanna is choosing her charity in the light of the tragic death of the boys. She could not find any local charity in Israel that both helps terror victims and accepts online donations, both abroad and in Israel. She is, therefore, referring you to the OneFamily Fund, which is devoted to the support and help of terror victims in Israel. Please go to their home page and donate.

Pollyanna joins Bradley Burston in Haaretz in protesting the cynicism of extremists on right and left who would use the tragic killing of these three boys as grist for their political mills. On one side you have people whose hatred of Israel causes them to blame the bereaved parents for the loss of their sons and to use the killing of Palestinians as a justification for callousness towards the grief of us all. On the other you have the extreme right shouting for revenge and collective punishment against the entire Palestinian community. To both Pollyanna suggests going to a poem by Bialik written after the 1903 Kishinev pogrom, On The Slaughter, in Hebrew or in English. To Pollyanna the operative lines are "And cursed be the man who says: Avenge! No such revenge - revenge for the blood of a little child - has yet been devised by Satan." As Bradley Burston writes "There's a name for blaming all members of a group for the actions of a few. Whatever the target group, and no matter how religious or ideologically drive the person who preaches collective guilt and advocates collective punishment, it comes out the same: racism." The report of the murder of a Palestinian boy  possibly by revenge-seeking Jews shows us how futile our struggle for human values can become. We have an incompetent government that has no idea what to do and how to proceed and allows the settler lunatics to lead it by the nose.

Pollyanna is certainly unable to be glad this time around. Let us all look at ourselves, our world, our leaders and weep for the future of our children.

Pollyanna is not putting this under Goodies from Science because this is bad stuff from science. We are screwing up our planet and while the technical means of coping with , albeit not stopping, climate change exist, the will to do anything about it seems to be lacking. We run across people, some even close to us, who know less about atmospheric science than we know about medicine or Icelandic literature, who will hold forth in denial of everything that the data and the models are telling us. Bill McKibben writing in the New York Review of Books tells it as it is in terms of the end game of our confrontation with Nature. Pollyanna recommends his article to all of you who still want to think about the future of humanity.
John Weller/Rizzoli 2013 An Adélie penguin on an iceberg in the Ross Sea; photograph by John Weller from his book The Last Ocean: Antarctica’s Ross Sea Project, Saving the Most Pristine Ecosystem on Earth. It includes a foreword by Carl Safina and is published by Rizzoli.

We belong to a reform synagogue in Natanya and were naturally appalled at the hostility of our President-elect Mr. Rivlin to our movement. OTOH, it was nice to read that Uzi Baram of the old Labor establishment is considering joining us and regards us as the path to the future. A few more people chip in on this discussion. The public is becoming more friendly to us.
Rehearsals for a Reform Bat Mitzvah, May 8, 2003.
Rehearsals for a Reform Bat Mitzvah, May 8, 2003. Photo by Lior Mizrahi / BauBau

FIFA has granted 50,000 free tickets to the workers who participated in the building of the venues for the World Cup. Of course, they could have consulted the unions on the distribution, but let us not quibble.

A Chilean army engineers wearing protective gear uses a magnetic detector in a minefield on 26 May 2014
To date 161 states have joined the Ottawa Convention but the US, China and Russia are not among them

The US is inching towards joining the Ottawa convention against land mines. As of now, 161 states are on board, not including the US, Russia, China or Israel. We hope things move a bit more quickly.

Our friend and collaborator Ray has written an interesting piece for his local techie magazine about the Rosetta mission to Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It has been a long ride and we hope for interesting results. Cheers for Ray and the Rosetta team.
photo of author Ray Goldstein, Ph.D.
Dr. Raymond Goldstein, a staff scientist in the Space Science and Engineering Division, has an extensive background in the design, testing and data analysis of laboratory as well as space instrumentation. He led the preliminary design of an ion mass spectrometer that flew by comet Halley on the European Giotto spacecraft and has been co-investigator for instruments aboard NASA and European Space Agency missions, including DS-1, Rosetta and Bepi Columbo.
This mission could confirm  a recent finding that indicates that the essential building blocks of Titan formed under similar conditions as ancient comets in the Oort cloud rather than in the warm disk that surrounded Saturn when the planet was young,

man-made contemporary prehistoric hand-axes by ami drach and dov ganchrow
Man-made contemporary prehistoric hand-axes by Ami Drach and Dov Ganchrow
For more than a million years, the simple stone hand axe was one of our most important tools, but in the age of smartphones and virtual reality it can be hard to understand how revolutionary it really was. In their design series  "Man Made," Tel Aviv designers,  Dov Ganchrow and Ami Drach, use 3D printing to make the tool's importance a little more clear. With the help of paleontologists they made some nice stone axes. Cool says  Pollyanna.

Our beloved spacecraft Cassini entered orbit around Saturn on June 30, 2004. Since then it has been in flawless orbit. It delivered the Huygens lander to Titan and has gone on and on, alas with our CAPS experiment turned off since 2011 because of an electrical malfunction. As we write it is moving out to Apoapsis Rev 169 period = 24.0 days, inclination = 21.2°, r = 48.049 Saturn radii, phase = 76°. Let Carolyn Porco of the CICLOPS team express what we are all feeling.

The big guy that wiped out the dinosaurs and gave us mammals a chance also caused a rain of BB-sized(4.5mm) mineral droplets, called spherules.
Asteroid Impact Fueled Global Rain of BBs
A spherule that has been sliced and polished. The dark areas are clay minerals and the bright, reflective grains are spinels.
Credit: Frank Kyte

They did not kill the dinosaurs, but the information contained in them can tell us something about the direction of the incoming asteroid, as well as possible extinction scenarios, according to new research. The falling spherules might have heated the atmosphere enough to start a global fire, as one example. Cool and interesting says Pollyanna

white dwarfs

The future of the binary white dwarf system WD 0931 +444 includes a merger millions of years from now. Until then, they may prove useful in testing one of Einstein's predictions.
Drawing by David A. Aguilar (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
The flap about BICEP2 continues and we should have some answers in the fall. For
details see Pollyanna of June 7, 2014 and the links there. Now Bill Plait points us at another object, a white dwarf binary that could provide an observation of gravitational waves. It will be a few decades before the spacecraft is up for this, but you young folks can wait patiently.


What If? asks:What would happen if all the bodies of water on Earth
magically disappeared?

—Joanna Xu

Scary question and answer.

We have all at some time called tech support..

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     BC for 7/4/2014

Pearls Before Swine Cartoon for Jul/03/2014