|Pollyanna predicts Giants 35-31|
Kfar Saba Hawks.
Pollyanna also wants to wish you all a Happy Groundhog Day, and to tell you that at 7:25 a.m. Thursday morning EST, amidst mostly cloudy skies, and temperatures in the low 30s (~-0 C), Groundhog Phil saw his shadow in the little town of Punxsutawney, PA.
According to folklore, Phil’s sighting of his own shadow means there will be 6 more weeks of winter. Had Phil not seen his shadow, it would have meant “there will be an early spring.” For more details on rodent meteorology, read on.
We must confess that when we worked as forecasters or taught meteorology at University, we did not make much use of Phil and his prognosticating ability. Maybe we were overlooking something important. BTW, Groundhog Day was an excellent film.
IN MEMORIAM We share the grief of the people of Egypt for the victims of the football violence. The senseless football riots that took the lives of 74 people in Port Said last Wednesday have led into a continuation of the violence. BBC reports that at least four more people have been killed and that thousands are gathering in Tahrir Square. The actions taken by the government in the wake of the incidents appear to be woefully inadequate. We have heard calls for as much as the resignation of Tantawi himself and his military junta.
OUR FEMINIST RANT
Before we move on to the glad stuff that we all love, Pollyanna wants to let fly on some issues involving women and girls. In this area, as in matters of the environment, she is as political as brother Titan.
First we want to deal with the painful issue of child marriage. Every year, all over the world, 10 million girls are forcibly married before the age of 18, many as young as 12 years old. That is more than 25,000 girls a day. “I knew that there was an institution of child marriage,” said Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. “But I was devastated to discover how widely it occurs, and on such a huge scale.” Tutu is a member of an organization called The Elders, which has announced an ambitious goal to stop this abuse of girls “in one generation.” The Elders are mounting a campaign and we wish to express our support and to call for yours. Please click on this link and become involved.
|Girls in Rajasthan, India, where no child marriages have taken place, say villagers, since they learned of the dangers. Photo: Graham Crouch/The Elders|
The other issue involves R., an employee of PM Natanyahu's office who was reportedly stalked and sexually harassed by her boss. The case is being referred to the Civil Service Commission for disciplinary action instead of to the police. The lady refuses to testify, most probably out of fear for her future. The women whose testimony sent former President Katzav to seven years in prison are essentially unemployable.
|Ayala Hasson speaking at a media conference recently.|
Photo by: Nir Keidar
A BIT OF POLITICS
If any of the readers in Israel is a member of the Meretz party, Pollyanna calls upon you to cast your vote for Zahava Galon as Chair of the Party. The party was founded by a woman, Shulamit Aloni, who recruited Zahava long ago. In the meantime, the party has gone downhill under the leadership of a series of male politicians. If it is to be restored to a position of leadership in the country, it requires the hand of a strong and talented woman at the helm. Zahava Galon is the right person at the right time. The elections will be held online on Tuesday, February 7.
LUCRETIA: A FEMINIST VIEW
Our Texan friends, Ray and Jane are going to see Britten's Rape of Lucretia in Houston this weekend. We wish them a good time. They will also see Verdi's La Traviata and will return home with the realization of what Hadass told us long ago, to wit, the soprano comes to a bad end. Of course, in opera buffa, she gets the tenor, for good or ill and now we shall remain PC silent.
|Lucretia, Rembrandt, Metropolitan, New York|
DO PLANETS WEAR OUT?
In 2008 the long sought-for planet, expected to be orbiting the nearby star Fomalhaut, was thought to have been found in two Hubble Space Telescope images taken two years apart. Everything fit including the observed motion. Now the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is far more sensitive in the infra red, failed to find it, which indicates that planet Fomalhaut b does not really exist. Hubble apparently observed a clot of dust bright enough to be mistaken for a planet. For the chagrin of the astronomical community and details of the findings or non-findings, we refer you to Phil Plait and his Bad Astronomy blog.
STARBURSTS AND HUGE GALAXIES.
A recent study has shown that in the early days of the universe, frenetic star birthing was eventually throttled by loss of matter into huge black holes and the creation of huge galaxies, much younger and nearby. The results hint in a tantalizing manner at interaction with the elusive entity known as dark matter. As Alice said "curiouser and curiouser.
|"Starbursting" galaxies can be seen by the APEX telescope, overlaid with an image from Spitzer|
LITTLE ICE AGE
|Pieter Breughel the Elder, 1565, Winter Scene with Skaters, Brussels Museum|
The collapse and extinction of the Norwegian colonies in Greenland, discussed in detail by Jared Diamond in his book Collapse, is certainly associated with the cooling. We should note, however, that the Inuit who had arrived in Greenland well after the Norse, adjusted and survived. The so-called civilized Europeans failed to make the transition and died out. Food for thought.
Aidan Dwyer is a thirteen year old who figured out a way to use Fibonacci numbers to design improved solar panel exposure techniques. We recommend this video. It is most impressive.
We have been a bit remiss in our book reviews and will try to do better. Now Pollyanna wants to mark the 50th anniversary of a book that made a huge difference for girl readers, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. It is the first sci-fi with a girl as protagonist and constituted a major breakthrough, It is reviewed in the New York Times by Pamela Paul who also addresses the question of what puts girls off science fiction and indeed science. Pollyanna wishes to give Meg Murry a warm hug from one girl book heroine to another. “Part of what made it seem so liberating to so many girls is that it allowed those with an analytic mind and an interest in the pursuit of science to read about a subject that at the time was not perceived of as a suitable course of study for girls,” said Leonard Marcus, author of a biography of L’Engle, “Searching for Madeleine,” to be published this fall. “At the same time, at its core it’s about a girl’s love for her father, and that emotional level transcends the genre aspect of the book.”
Sloth is our favorite deadly sin (OK, our second favorite), with gluttony a distant third. We are, therefore, full of empathy for Wally in the latest Dilbert cartoon.
Finally, Pollyanna allows herself a wee dram of cynicism: