Cluster Map

Friday, February 27, 2015

Pollyanna is waiting for spring

Map of polarization of dust in the universe as seen by Planck--more below

Pollyanna is with you again as we enter the Hebrew month of Adar during which we are all supposed to be very happy.
Image result for happy adar
We soon will have our Purim holiday and spring is right around the corner.

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 Project Concern International. PCI is rated highly by Charity Watch and is committed to fighting poverty worldwide. PCI’s mission is to prevent disease, improve community health, and promote sustainable development worldwide. We recommend it to your consideration. In particular, Pollyanna recommends the WE-Women Empowered initiative as worthy of support.


Rodney Reed in Texas was about to be executed for a crime for which he was convicted on flimsy evidence. We are told that a stay of execution has been granted for the presentation of new evidence that may exonerate him. Also, a Dominican man arbitrarily deported to Haiti on 19 February was able to return to his hometown in the Dominican Republic. These things show that human rights actions really work, so please join the activists, says Pollyanna. She is also pleased with the legalization of pot, not that she encourages its use, but thinks that the resources expended on fighting it should be used for  stopping the spread of hard drugs. She also adds a cartoon that won the Herblock award this year and congratulates Jen Sorensen the artist:


Pollyanna is pleased to share with you a posting by Rabbi Melchior of Oslo. A ring of young Muslims came to protect the synagogue this week.


Pollyanna is happy to tell you about a new horizon that has appeared for cancer patients. It involves using a "basket" of drugs to treat tumors that share mutations. It has opened a vista of hope for many patients who were considered terminal and we all hope to see the research continue and expand its scope. She is also pleased to pass on the news that the mortality rate from Ebola has decreased in Africa although the doctors from MSF are puzzled by the effect.
Benetha Coleman, an Ebola survivor and nurse’s aide, comforted a baby with Ebola symptoms in Liberia, as seen through a net. Credit John Moore/Getty Images


Pollyanna is in full support of the striking oil refinery workers in the US. They are on strike for health and safety, demanding stronger measures to protect workers and surrounding communities from  hazards inherent in the industry. Workers cite outsourcing, short staffing, and forced overtime that produces dangerous fatigue—in a job where mistakes can be fatal.

Photo via USW's facebook page


Eight British schoolgirls have traveled to Syria in the last seven months using a route which has become known as the 'jihadi bride trail' - and hundreds more besotted British women have proposed marriage to extremists online.

This week  three British schoolgirls vanished and are believed to be headed to Syria to join the Islamic State extremist group. They were good students at an East London high school and no one thought that they had been radicalized.  It is apparently done online.


In Israel the macho sexist exploitative behavior of a large number of senior police officers including the deputy to the national Chief of Police has finally led to some real investigations. Unfortunately, the investigations and the interrogation of the victims amount to a second rape. The pressure is extreme and the investigators go into intimate anatomical details. One woman complained that she fainted during the interrogation. These women are victims,not accused. Pollyanna cannot suppress a feeling that this is an attempt by the investigative body in the Ministry of Justice, which includes police officers, to protect their colleagues who are under a cloud at the moment. It implies the norms of the Mafia, as we have seen with our "most moral in the world" army, as well.

ESA’s Planck space telescope has much to tell us about the universe in which we live.
[4/7] Planck investigates the cosmic infrared background
Planck sees the microwave background

Planck was launched on 14 May 2009, and the minimum requirement for success was for the spacecraft to complete two whole surveys of the sky. In the end, Planck worked perfectly for 30 months, about twice the span originally required, and completed five full-sky surveys with both instruments. Able to work at slightly higher temperatures than HFI, the Low Frequency Instrument (LFI) continued to survey the sky for a large part of 2013, providing even more data to improve the Planck final results.
Planck was turned off on 23 October 2013. The high-quality data the mission has produced will continue to be scientifically explored in the years to come. Now ESA has given us a new interface for Planck data and  a summary of the findings up to now. They include the result that gravitational waves are still elusive, information about the magnetic field structure in the Rosette  Nebula, studies in galactic structure and much more. While much of the standard cosmology has been confirmed, there are discrepancies that will necessitate more modeling and rethinking, which is great because that is how science works.


UCLA physicists offer a possible solution to the mystery of the origin of matter in the universe.
Credit: NASA
[Click to enlarge image

Have you ever wondered why the universe is primarily made up of matter and not antimatter?  Pollyanna certainly has lost much sleep over  the  question. At the time of the Big Bang equal amounts of each kind of matter were produced and should have annihilated one another totally. Nonetheless, here we are and here is our universe.  Recent work by physicists at UCLA and the University of Minnesota claims to provide an answer on the basis of the behavior of the Higgs boson and the Higgs field associated with it in the early universe. It is an intriguing idea says Pollyanna.


 What If? asks What would happen if all of the rivers in the US were instantly frozen in the middle of the summer?

Zoe Cutler: The answer is around as bad as it gets. Please, Zoe, do not freeze the rivers.

Pollyanna is pleased to share with you some of her knowledge of fundamental physics:

Fundamental Forces

Physicist also talk a lot abut the vacuum and the great zero point energy:

She also thanks Randall for giving us the speeches that, to our great good fortune, were never given:
Apollo Speeches

Technology is great, but sometimes, if you try to combine voice recognition software with GPS:

Dustin Cartoon for Feb/22/2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Pollyanna sends a belated Valentine's greeting

Pollyanna is with you again after St. Valentine had his day. It was also the birthday of our beloved Hadass and Joey is coming up next. It is nice that there is a holiday of sorts, with or without the Catholic Church connection,
 Wizard of Id Cartoon for Feb/14/2015
 devoted to the idea of love.

It certainly does wonders for the economy, flowers, taking your wife/partner/girlfriend to dinner and other fun things. In Paris, the florists go one step further in promoting love and we admire them for it.

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.


Combatants for Peace Promotional Film by idanbarir

This week Pollyanna refers you to Combatants for Peace, a joint Israeli-Palestinian nonprofit made up combatants who have taken an active part in the cycle of violence, Israelis as soldiers in the Israeli army (IDF) and Palestinians as part of the violent struggle for Palestinian freedom. After brandishing weapons for so many years, and having seen one another only through weapon sights, they have decided to put down their guns, and to fight for peace. They engage in a broad spectrum of activities aimed at achieving this goal. One of the more recent ones is the building of a playground in village of Yanun in the Nablus region, in memory of Abir Aramin.

She was the daughter of Bassam Aramin, one of the founders of Combatants for Peace. Abir was killed at age ten in 2007 by an Israeli sniper, on her way from school. The killer was never prosecuted although the Aramin family won a wrongful death suit, the proceeds of which they donated to the cause of playgrounds in which Palestinian children can play in safety, away from the killer  soldiers of the Occupation.


We have a few things to cheer about this week.


"Buret," 11, the day before his release from the Cobra Faction in late January.
Pollyanna is pleased to hear of the demobilization of hundreds of child soldiers  of the Cobra faction of  South Sudan Democratic Army. The release of the soldiers was engineered by UNICEF in the wake of a truce in the South Sudan civil war.  "I don't want to be a soldier," one boy, aged 12, told UNICEF. "I will end up with nothing by being a soldier and I know one day I'll get killed if I continue being a soldier. First, I want to go to school, then later I want to study medicine." Pollyanna hopes that the rest of them will also be released soon and sent to school where they belong.


A pediatrician holds a dose of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.
In this Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015 photo, a pediatrician holds a dose of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine at his practice in Northridge, Calif. Photo by AP
Pollyanna is also encouraged by the news that in Israel the health authorities take pride in the World Health Organization having declared in July 2014 that Israel has eradicated the disease. Make no mistake, that does not mean the disease, which is extremely contagious, is completely nonexistent in Israel. 
"It means that there are no long chains of infection within Israel," the Health Ministry explained to Haaretz. "But sporadic cases can occur, among travelers who were infected outside the country, or Israelis who came into contact with such people." There are pockets of anti-vaxxers, mostly in the ultra-Orthodox Haredi community, but they presumably have particular protection from Above. Pollyanna thinks that people whose children are not vaccinated should not  receive child allocations and their children should be barred from public schools.



 Pollyanna would like to call your attention to the persecution of the Bushmen of Botswana.
Survival's 'Bushmen aren't forever' campaign led to supermodel Iman quitting her contract with diamond company De Beers over the persecution of the Bushmen.
Survival's 'Bushmen aren't forever' campaign led to supermodel Iman quitting her contract with diamond company De Beers over the persecution of the Bushmen.
© Survival International
They are being driven from their ancestral homes because of the profits to be made from the marketing of diamonds discovered there. She joins the call of Survival International to boycott the diamonds of De Beers. She also supports the tourist boycott of Botswana. Think  about what it means for the locals before you go on safari.


Pollyanna is distressed by the tragedy in the Mediterranean in which hundreds of would-be migrants from Africa to Europe are drowning. The Italian government has discontinued its Mare Nostrum rescue program and  efforts made by the EU are totally inadequate.
"The humanitarian crisis that sparked the need for Mare Nostrum has not gone away. With people continuing to flee war and persecution, EU member states must stop burying their heads in the sand whilst hundreds keep dying at sea." John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International


There has been much talk in the past few years of taking proactive steps to control climate change. Most of them involve meddling with natural processes in the atmosphere, such as blocking sunlight by introduction of artificial pollutants (e.g. sulfur dioxide or saltwater). Pollyanna calls your attention to the strong opposition by Naomi Klein in which she points out correctly that the scaling of lab results to planetary scale is not a test of geoengineering, but the act itself. In principle, the entire concept of geoengineering does not allow for testing without encountering the dangers being tested for on a planetary scale.


Kayla Mueller
Kayla Mueller. Photograph:

Pollyanna mourns the death of Kayla Mueller, who was captured by ISIS after going to help at a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Syria. She was reported by ISIS to have been killed in an air raid, but there is no proof of this and her captors may have killed her. The Guardian tells her sad tale in detail. The means of her death do nothing to absolve ISIS of its responsibility. Pollyanna has only contempt for those who are smearing her memory.


NSL Studio's Facebook page
The ad was posted by NSL Studio
 Pollyanna is incensed about an advertisement for a job in France in which it was said the candidate should "if possible not be a Jew". The ad was posted on Monday by Paris-based NSL Studio on the jobs site The company and the Web site have apologized although the explanations offered by NSL Studio have varied. Now they claim to have been hacked. Yeah, sure, says Pollyanna.


Over this weekend there were terrorist attacks at a cafe and a synagogue in Copenhagen, all connected to portrayals of the Prophet Mohammad as a dog in cartoons.  As tweeted by the journalist Morten Frich the sum of the day "15.30 1 civ. killed, 3 cops wounded 01.00 1 civ. killed, 2 cops wounded 04.50 Suspect opens fire, killed by police"
For his full tweet report click here.    As the Daily Beast puts it "...the defense of art, of the right to blaspheme, and the freedom to speak grows more dangerous by the day." the meantime in Washington and Jerusalem:
Mike Luckovich Cartoon for Feb/12/2015


Pollyanna invites you to upload and read 18 short stories by the Nobel Laureate author Alice Munro. Try it, you will like it and it will be good for you.



We usually think of Isaac Newton as the greatest mathematician and physicist of his time. But buried in a notebook Newton used during his undergraduate days, is half a page of text on plant function, which has been reviewed in the journal Nature Plants by Professor David Beerling of the University of Sheffield. In his notes, Newton describes how water is drawn up through a plant's roots and out through its pores.
 extract of Newton"s notebook
This was understood in modern times only at the end of the 19th century. Amazing genius. Pollyanna is impressed.


At Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, doctors are testing a new type of cancer treatment known as immunotherapy. "Immunotherapy for cancer means developing treatments to harness your immune system and using your own immune system to fight the cancer," says Dr. Julie Brahmer, an associate professor of oncology. Immunotherapy graphic
Pollyanna is delighted about this new hope for cancer patients.


What If? asks What would happen if the Moon were replaced with an equivalently-massed black hole? If it's possible, what would a lunar ("holar"?) eclipse look like?
—Matt The truth is not much.


Gene Weingarten ,writing in Below the Beltway, waxes nostalgic about the old days in the sexist, boozing, smoke-filled and foul mouthed atmosphere of the old time newsroom. You are invited to sympathize with him if you have nothing better to do.

Poor little Cynthia is trapped by modern technology and her addiction to it..;
Barney & Clyde Cartoon for Feb/12/2015