Thursday, May 31, 2012

Great Thinkers, Great Thoughts No. 15

1. Black boys became criminalized. I was in constant dread for their lives, because they were targets everywhere. They still are. - Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison (aka: Chloe Ardelia Wofford; born: 1931) is an American novelist, editor, and professor. Her novels are known for their  epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Among her best known novels are Beloved, Sula and Song of Solomon.  In addition to her novels, she has written short fiction, co-authored children's books, and written a libretto for an opera. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 and The Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1987. In 2012, she was  awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama

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2. Marriage is the greatest gamble. - Dean Atcheson.

Dean Gooderham Acheson (1893-1971) was an American statesman and lawyer. He was the U.S. Secretary of State from 1949 to 1953 during the Presidency of Harry S. Truman and he played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War. Acheson helped design the Marshall Plan for European reconstruction after World War II and played a role in the development of both the Truman Doctrine and the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). His most famous decision was convincing President Truman to intervene in the Korean War in June 1950. In 1968, he counseled President Lyndon Johnson to negotiate for peace with North Vietnam and during the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John Kennedy called upon Acheson for advice.

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3. A civilization which leaves so large a number of its participants unsatisfied and drives them into revolt neither has nor deserves the prospect of a lasting existence  - Sigmund Freud.

Sigmund Freud (aka: Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 1856 -1939), was an Austrian neurologist who  created  psychoanalysis. Although Freud's family and ancestry were Jewish and he always considered himself a Jew, he rejected Judaism and had a very critical view of religion in general.  As a student, he was interested in philosophy but he later became a neurological researcher . Freud went on to develop theories about the unconscious mind, repression, dreams and sexuality.  Though psychoanalysis has declined as a therapeutic practice, it has helped inspire the development of many other forms of psychotherapy, some diverging from Freud's original ideas and approach. Freud was also a prolific essayist, drawing on psychoanalysis to contribute to the interpretation and the criticism of culture.

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4. Great abundance of riches cannot be gathered and kept by any man without sin.  - Desiderius Erasmus

Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (aka: Erasmus of Rotterdam; 1466?-1536) was a Dutch Renaissance humanist, social critic, teacher, theologian and Catholic priest.  He was an early proponent of religious tolerance and was called during his lifetime  and afterward Prince of the Humanists and the crowning glory of the Christian humanists. Using humanist techniques for working on texts, he prepared important new Latin and Greek editions of The New Testament which raised questions that would be influential in the Protestant Reformation and the Counter-Reformation. Although Erasmus lived through the Reformation period and he was critical of the Catholic Church, he did not join the cause of the reformers. His middle road approach disappointed and even angered scholars on both sides. His best known works are The Praise of Folly, Copia, and On Civility in Children.
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5. A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues. -Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt (1858 -1919) was the 26th President of the United States (1901–1909). He is known for his exuberant personality, wide range of interests and achievements, his Progressive attitudes, his leadership  abilities, his "cowboy" persona, and his robust masculinity. Before becoming President, he held offices at the city, state, and federal levels. Roosevelt's achievements as a naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, and soldier are as much a part of his fame as any office he held as a politician. He also founded the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Roosevelt was 42 years old when sworn in as President of the United States in 1901 after the assassination of President William McKinley, thus making him the youngest President in U.S, history. He was also one of only three sitting presidents to have won the 1906  Nobel Peace Prize. (The others were Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama.)
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6. How quick come the reasons for approving what we like. - Jane Austen

Jane Austen (1775-1817) was an English novelist. Her works of romantic fiction set among the landed gentry  have earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature. She is noted for her realism and biting social commentary. Austen was educated primarily by her father and older brothers as well as through her own reading. The steadfast support of her family was critical to her development as a professional writer. Her artistic apprenticeship lasted from her teenage years into her thirties. During this period, she wrote and extensively revised three major novels and began a fourth. From 1811 until 1816, with the release of  Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816), she achieved success as a female author. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion both of which were published posthumously in 1818.
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7. There is no such thing as an impartial jury because there are no impartial people. -Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart (aka: Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz; born:1962) is an American political satirist, writer, television host, media critic, stand-up comedian and actor. He is widely known in America as host of The Daily Show, a satirical news program. He has hosted the television show since 1999 and is also. a writer and co-executive-producer of the show. The Daily Show has gained wide popularity, critical acclaim, and has resulted in his receiving sixteen television Emmy Awards. The Daily Show has also been nominated for news and journalism awards.  Stewart has co-authored two books, America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy In Action  (2004), and Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race (2010).

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8. A toothache, or a violent passion, is not necessarily diminished by our knowledge of its causes, its character, its importance or insignificance.  - T. S. Eliot

Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888 -1965) was a publisher, playwright, literary and social critic and one of the most important English-language poet of the 20th century. Although he was born in the U.S.A, he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914, and he became a naturalized British subject in 1927. His most famous poem is The Love Song of J. Alfred Prurock, which he started in 1910 and was published in 1915. It was followed by Gerontion (1920), The Waste Land (1922), The Hollow Men (1925), Ash Wednesday (1930) and Four Quartets (1945).  He is also known for his seven plays, particularly Murder in the Cathedral (1935). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948.

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9. Cleverness is not wisdom. - Euripides

Euripides (c480-406 BC) was one of great tragedians  of Ancient Greece. Some ancient scholars attributed between 92 and 95 plays to him. Of these, at least eighteen complete plays have survived. Euripides is identified with theatrical innovations that have profoundly influenced drama down to modern times, especially in the representation of traditional, mythical heroes as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. This new approach led him to pioneer developments that later writers adapted to comedy, some of which are characteristic of romance. Yet, he was also one of the most tragic poets and playwrights because he focused on the inner lives and motives of his characters in a way previously unknown. He was also unique among the writers of ancient Athens for the sympathy he demonstrated towards all victims of society, including women. His conservative male audiences were frequently shocked by the "heresies" he put into the mouths of characters. Among his greatest plays are Medea, The Trojan Women, Orestes, The Suppliants and Bacchae.

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10. A little learning is a dangerous thing, but we must take that risk because a little is as much as our biggest heads can hold. - George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950) was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. He wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his writings address prevailing social problems, but also contained a great deal of comedy. He examined such themes as education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege. Shaw was most angered by what he perceived as the exploitation of the working class. An ardent socialist, Shaw wrote many brochures and delivered many speeches for the Fabian Society. He became an accomplished orator in the furtherance of its causes, which included gaining equal rights for men and women, alleviating abuses of the working class, rescinding private ownership of productive land, and promoting healthy lifestyles. He is the only person to have been awarded both the Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938). The Oscar was for his adaptation for the screen of his play, Pygmalion. His most famous plays are Major Barbara (1905), Arms and the Man (1894), Man and Superman (1902-3),  Caesar and Cleopatra (1898), The Devil's Disciple (1897), Mrs. Warren's Profession (1893),  Saint Joan (1923), and Pygmalion (1912-13) which was later produced as the 1956 musical by Lerner and Lowe, My Fair Lady.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Church of Hate

Forty years ago, North Carolina pastor Charles Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church said, I’m God’s preacher. I just believe the book. Living in a day when, you know what, it saddens my heart to think that homosexuals can go around, bless God, and get the applause of a lot of people. Lesbians and all the rest of it? Bless God, forty years ago they’d have hung ‘em, bless God, from a white oak tree, wouldn’t they? Amen.
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The 71-year-old Worley delivered the sermon on May 13, 2012, Mother’s Day, apparently in response to President Barack Obama’s public endorsement a few days earlier of same-sex marriage. Just a day before Obama’s announcement, North Carolina voters approved by a considerable margin a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and same-sex civil unions in their state.
In the sermon, an animated Worley told the congregation of his independent Baptist church: I figured a way out, a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers but I couldn’t get it pass the Congress – build a great big large fence, 50 or a hundred mile long. Put all the lesbians in there, fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals. And have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. And you know what? In a few years they will die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce. If a man ever has a young'un, praise God he will be the first. Worley continued, his voice rising: I tell ya right now, somebody said, 'Who you gonna vote for?' I ain’t gonna vote for a baby killer and a homosexual lover! You said, ‘Did you mean to say that?’ You better believe I did!
Although gay rights and anti-hate groups responded with outrage when a North Carolina pastor called for gays and lesbians to be fenced in so they eventually die off, he was greeted with a standing ovation by his church members when he approached the pulpit, the Hickory Record newspaper reported. I appreciate all the support, Worley told the 100 or so congregants of his church. Several others in the congregation threw up their hands in support of their pastor. I’ve got a King James Bible, Worley said, according to the Hickory Record. I’ve been a preacher for 53 years. Do you think I’m going to bail out on this?
Ironically, the church web site specifies that it is a “moderate” cooperative Baptist Fellowship congregation of approximately 2,000 members. Jesus is our model for living and His presence is our source of strength for life, says a statement on the church’s web site. Jesus preached a Gospel of love. So do we. Jesus preached that we love our neighbor, whether that neighbor is like us or not.
Worley’s speech went viral after the North Carolina Catawba Valley Citizens Against Hate got a film clip of the sermon from the church's website and posted it on You Tube, the Reuters news agency reported. Over 1000 people lined the street near Worley's church one week later to protest Worley's statements.
Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, condemned Worley's statements. Pastor Worley's vicious and mean-spirited assault on gays and lesbians is bad enough, Lynn said. His pulpit command that people not vote for President Obama is a violation of federal tax law. I urge the IRS to act swiftly to investigate this matter. David Freidman, the regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, which fights hate speech, said Worley owed the gay and lesbian community a swift and unequivocal apology. And, a religious watchdog group has filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service, asking that it investigate the church’s tax-exempt status. Federal law prohibits non-profit groups from endorsing candidates. All churches in the U.S. are tax exempt because they are considered to be non-profit.
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This isn't the first time that the Bible has been used to justify anti-gay rhetoric. When claiming that the Bible forbids homosexuality, most people point to Leviticus 18:22 which reads, Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination. But, others have argued that the passage is merely one of many archaic religious laws that are no longer relevant to today's modern times and do not need to be upheld.
Below are other things that the Bible forbids. I wonder how many of these are  observed by those who object to homosexuality on religious grounds?
·       Eating pork- that includes ham and bacon. - Leviticus 11:7-8
·       Getting a tattoo. - Leviticus 11:7-8
·       Losing your virginity before you get married. - Deuteronomy 22:20-21
·       Rounded haircuts or beards. - Leviticus 19:27
·       Women speaking in houses of God - 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
·       Believing in horoscope or using a psychic. - Leviticus 19:31
·       Gossiping - Leviticus 19:16
·       Wives helping out their husbands in a fight. - Deuteronomy 25:11-12
·       Children cursing their parents. - Exodus 21:17
·       Eating shrimp, lobster, shellfish, any fish without scales, bottom-dwelling fish, etc. - Leviticus 10-11
·       Wearing polyester or other fabric blends. - Leviticus 19:19
·       Women wearing gold, pearls or expensive garments. - 1 Timothy 2:9
·       Men pulling out during intercourse before they ejaculate. - Genesis 38:9-10
·       Getting remarried after getting a divorce. - Mark 10:11-12
·       Working on the Sabbath. - Exodus 31:14-15
·       Men with injured or totally cut off genitals (penis and/or one or both testicles) are forbidden to enter any house of worship. - Deuteronomy 23:1

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Christians do not necessarily adhere to Old Testament rituals and laws. But, if a person is going to ignore the section of the Old Testament book, Leviticus, that bans about tattoos, pork, shellfish, round haircuts and polyester, how can the same person then possibly quote Leviticus 18:22, You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination, to justify their belief that being gay is against religious law?  

Unfortunately, many intolerant and bigoted churches and church-goers shield their hate of gay people by using selective portions of the Bible and they justify their attitudes by citing scripture.  And, the same preachers and their followers have enormous power in the U.S. and they have formed an unholy alliance with a political party, the Republican Party.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Knowledge Quiz, No. 37

              I dislike the term trivia. No knowledge is trivial. All information contributes to the whole of an intelligent human being. And, it is an essential part of critical thinking. That is why I did not call this a Trivia Quiz. Instead, I am calling it a Knowledge Quiz.
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Knowledge Quiz, No. 37
The answers are at the bottom.
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The Religions of the World Quiz

1. According to the religion of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, who was the god of the Sun?
2. Who was the Ancient Egyptian god, Isis?
3. Who was the Norse god, Thor?
4. What is animism?
5. What is shamanism?
6. Who is the traditional Hawaiian goddess of fire?
7. What was the Buddha's actual name?
8. Who are the Sikhs?
9. What three religions trace their roots to Abraham?
10. What are the names of the gods of The Hindu Trinity?
11. What is Wicca?
12. Who are the Zoroastrians?
13. What is the native religion of Japan?
14. What is Shenism?
15. What was The Great Schism?
16. Who founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormons)?
17. Is Confucianism a religion?
18. Who are the Baha'is?
19. What is Voodoo?
20. What is The Golden Rule?
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Answers
1. The god of the Sun was Apollo.  He was one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in both the Ancient Greek and Roman religions. Apollo was recognized as a god of light and the sun, truth and prophecy, healing, plague, music, poetry, etc. Apollo was the son of Zeus and Leto. He has a twin sister, Artemis, the virgin goddess of the hunt. 

2. Isis was a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout across the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the patron of nature and magic. She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans and the downtrodden, and she listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats, and rulers. The name Isis means throne, and when she was depicted in paintings or sculptures, her headdress was an Egyptian throne.

3. In Norse mythology, Thor was a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, healing, and fertility. The day of the week called Thursday (Thor's day) bears his name. The name of that day was used in the pagan period and continues to be used today.

4. Animism (from Latin: anima, meaning soul or life) refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle. Animism encompasses the beliefs that there is no separation between the spiritual and physical world, and that souls and spirits exist, not only in humans, but also in animals, plants, rocks, mountains, rivers, etc.  Animism played a major role in Native American religions, but elements of animism can be found  in Hinduism, Shinto, Buddhism and Paganism.

5. Shamanism is a term used to refer to magic-religious practices that involve a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to encounter and interact with the spirit world. A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters a trance during a ritual and practices divination and healing.  Western scholars also used the term shamanism in reference to similar magico-religious practices found within the indigenous religions of parts of Asia, Africa, Australa and the Americas.  

6. In the native Hawaiian religion. Pele is the goddess of fire, volcanoes, lightning and the wind. She is a popular figure in many stories of ancient Hawaiian mythology. Kawahine 'ai honua (the earth-eating woman)is a common Hawaiian euphemism for Pele.

7. The Buddha (the awakened one or the enlighten one) was Siddhārtha Gautama. He was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent and whose teachings formed the foundation of what became Buddhism.  In most Buddhist traditions, Siddhartha Gautama is regarded as the Supreme Buddha (sammāsambuddha or samyaksaṃbuddha). The time of Gautama's birth and death are uncertain. Most early 20th-century historians dated his lifetime  from about 563 BCE to 483 BCE, but more recent opinion dates his death to between 486BCE or 483 BCE. UNESCO lists Lumbini, Nepal, as the birthplace of Gautama Buddha, but other cities and regions also claim to be his birthplace.  No one knows for certain where he died.

8. A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. The religion started in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia.. The word Sikh has its origin in of two Sanskrit language term, either sisya, meaning disciple, student, or siksa, meaning instruction.  The terms are related to the fact that a Sikh is a disciple of the Guru. According to Article I of the Rehat Maryada (the Sikh code of conduct and conventions), a Sikh is defined as "any human being who faithfully believes in One Immortal Being; ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Dev to Sri Guru Gobind Singh; Sri Guru Granth Saahib; the teachings of the ten Gurus and the baptism bequeathed the tenth Guru; and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion". Sikhs believe in the equality of humankind, the concept of universal brotherhood of man and One Supreme God (Ik Onkar). Most male Sikhs have Singh (lion) and most female Sikhs have Kaur (princess) as their surname. Baptized male Sikhs can also be recognized by the Five Ks. They are a turban, uncut hair, beard and mustache (Kesh); an iron/steel bracelet (Kara); a small sword in a gatra strap (Kirpan); a type of special shorts that are all white (Kashera); and a comb under turban (Kanga). The most important site for Sikhs in The Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, India.

9. Three religions claim their beginning started with Abraham: Judaism (through his son, Isaac), Christianity (through Isaac), and Islam (through his son, Ishmael).

10. The Hindu trinity is composed of Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), and Shiva (the destroyer). They are also aligned as the transcendent Godhead, Shiva; the cosmic lord, Vishnu; and the cosmic mind, Brahma.

11. Wicca is a modern religion. Developed in England in the first half of the 20th century, Wicca was popularized in the 1950s and 1960s by a retired British civil servant, Gerald Gardener. He called it the witch cult and witchcraft, and he called its adherents the Wica. From the 1960s onward, the name of the religion was called Wicca. There are many different  theological positions within Wicca, such as monotheism, goddess worship and polytheism. The religion also involves the ritual practice of magic which is largely influenced by the ceremonial magic practiced  in previous centuries. Another characteristic of Wicca is the celebration of 8 seasonal festivals known as Sabbats.

12. Zoroastrianism (aka: Mazdaism) is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster (aka: Zarathustra) and was previously one of the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Persia (now known as Iran). In Zoroastrianism, the creator, Ahura Mazda, is all good, and no evil originates from him. Evil is constantly trying to destroy the creation of Mazda, and good continually trying to sustain it.The most important texts of the religion are the Avesta of which a significant portion has been lost. Only the liturgies have survived. The lost portions are known only through references and brief quotations in the later works, primarily from the 9th to the 11th Centuries. In 2004, the number of Zoroastrians worldwide was estimated at between 145,000 and 210,000.

13. Shinto (aka:, Shintoismor kami-no-michi) is the indigenous religion of Japan. It is a set of practices to be carried out in order to establish a connection between present day Japan and its ancient past. Shinto practices were first recorded and codified in the written historical records of Japan in the 8th century. Shinto today is a term that applies to public shrines suited to various purposes such as war memorials, harvest festivals, romance, historical monuments, and sectarian organizations. Practitioners express their diverse beliefs through a standard language and practice, and adopting a similar style in dress and ritual, dating from the 7th to the 12th Centuries. The word Shinto means Way of the Gods. There are currently 4 million observers of Shinto in Japan.

14. Chinese folk religion (Chinese: Zhōngguó mínjiān zōngjiào or Zhōngguó mínjiān xìnyăng) or Shenism (Chinese: Shénjiào) are labels used to describe the collection of ethic religious traditions in  China and among the Han Chinese people for most of their history. Shenism comprises Chinese  mythology and includes the worship of shens (deities , spirits, consciousnesses) which can be nature deities, Taizu (clan deities), city deites, national deites, culural hero, demi-gods, dragons or ancestors. Chinese folk religion is sometimes seen as a part of Chinese traditional religion, but more often, the two are regarded as synonymous. With around 454 million adherents, or about 6.6% of the world population. 

15. The Great Schism of 1054 (aka: The East-West Schism) formally divided the Christian Church of The Roman Empire into the Greek Orthodox and Western (Latin) branch which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. The relations between East and West had long been embittered by political, ecclesiastical and theological disputes.  Prominent among these issues was the Pope's claim to universal jurisdiction of world Christianity. Efforts were made to reunite the two churches in 1274 and in 1439. However, despite the formal reunification efforts, no effective reconciliation was realized.

16. Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805-1844) was the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement which gave rise to Mormonism. Smith was assassinated and is regarded by his followers as a prophet. According to Smith, beginning in the early 1820's he had visions, in one of which of an angel who directed him to a buried book of golden plates which contained Christian history of ancient Native- American civilizations. In 1830, he published an English translation of these plates as the Book of Mormon and organized the restoration of the early Native-American church. Church members were later called Latter Day Saints, Saints, or Mormons. The original book containing the golden plates has never been found. Mormonism classifies itself as a Christian religion. According to Mormons, a  great apostasy began in Christianity not long after the ascension of Jesus.  It was marked with the corruption of Christian doctrine by Ancient Greek and other philosophies.  Also, Mormons claim that the martyrdom of the Apostles led to a loss of priestly authority to guide the church. In order to rectify this, Mormons believe that God reestablished the early Native-American Christian church through Joseph Smith.

17. Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (aka: Kǒng Fūzǐ, or K'ung-fu-tzu; translation: Master Kong). Confucius lived from 551BC to 478 BC. Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching", but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han Dynasty (220BC- 206BC). Confucianism became the official state ideology of China until c.1912, but Confucianism still has a following in China, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam today. The core of Confucianism is humanism, the belief that human beings are teachable, improvable and perfectible through personal and communal endeavor especially including self-cultivation and self-creation. Confucianism focuses on the cultivation of virtue and maintenance of ethics, the most basic of which are ren, yi, and li. Ren is an obligation of altruism and humaneness for other individuals within a community, yi is the upholding of righteousness and the moral disposition to do good, and li is a system of norms and propriety that determines how a person should properly act within a community. Confucianism as an ideology does not involve a belief in the supernatural or in a personal god.

18. The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Baha'u'llah (1817-1892) in 19th-century Persia.  It emphasizes the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories. In the Bahá'í Faith, religious history is seen to have unfolded through a series of divine messengers, each of whom established a religion that was suited to the needs of the time and the capacity of the people. These messengers have included Abraham, the Buddha, Jesus, and Baha'u'llah, among others. In Bahá'í belief, each messenger prophesied messengers to follow, and Bahá'u'lláh's life and teachings fulfilled the end-time promises of previous scriptures. Humanity is understood to be in a process of collective evolution, and the need of the present time is for the gradual establishment of peace, justice and unity on a global scale. The word Bahá'í is used either as an adjective to refer to the Bahá'í Faith or as a term for a follower of Bahá'u'lláh.

19. Voodoo (aka: Vodou; Vodun, Vodoun) is a religion combining of different and often contradictory beliefs. It is practiced chiefly in Haiti, Louisiana (USA) and in forein countries that contain Haitian immigrants. Practitioners are called vodouists (servants of the spirits). Vodouists believe in a distant and unknowable creator god, Bondyè. As Bondyè does not intercede in human affairs, vodouists direct their worship toward spirits subservient to Bondyè, called lwa Every lwa is responsible for a particular aspect of life, with the dynamic and changing personalities of each lwa reflecting the many possibilities inherent to the aspects of life over which they preside. In order to navigate daily life, vodouists cultivate personal relationships with the lwa through the presentation of offerings, the creation of personal altars and devotional objects, and participation in elaborate ceremonies of music, dance, and spiritual possession. Voodoo originated in the French slave colony of Saint-Domingue in the 18th century when African religious practice was actively suppressed and enslaved Africans were forced to convert to Christianity. Religious practices of contemporary Voodoo are descended from and closely related to West African Voodoo.  

20. The Golden Rule (aka: ethic of reciprocity) is a maxim, an ethical code, and a moral idea that essentially states either of the following: (positive form) One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself, or (Negative or prohibitive form; aka: The Silver Rule) One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated. This concept describes a two-way or reciprocal relationship between one's self and others that involves both sides equally and in a mutual fashion. This concept is often contained and explained in a religious context and in religious terms.

Great Thinkers, Great Thoughts, No. 14

1. Life's cruelties are unending. - Jake Jeppson
Jake Jepson is a contemporary playwright. He has taught playwriting at Wesleyan University, the National Theater Institute, and the Orchard Project. He also is an Associate Artist at both the eXchange and Door Ten. In addition to being a playwright, Jeppson's non-fiction writing has appeared in the Washington Post Sunday Magazine and on Newsweek.com. Among his plays are Miss Heimlich, Cover Me in Humanness, It's Not Easy Being, The Clearing, and Fox Play.
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2. All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth. -Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche (1841-1900) was a 19th-century German philosopher poet and composer who wrote on religion, morality, culture, philosophy and science. Nietzsche's influence remains substantial in the philosophies of existential and nihilism. He radically challenged the value and objectivity of "truth". His key ideas include the death of God, perspectivism, and  the nature of power. Central to his philosophy was the idea of life-affirmation. That notion involved an honest questioning of all doctrines that drain life's expansive energies however socially prevalent those views might be.

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3. Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do. - Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin  (1706 -1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of The United States. and a signer of The Declaration of Independence. In his day, Franklin was a leading author, printer, politician and political theorist, scientist, inventor, musician, satirist, and diplomat. As a scientist, he is a major figure recognized for his discoveries and theories concerning electricity. He invented the lighting rod, bifocals, and the Franklin Stove. He was the first Postmaster General of the United States, and he created both the first public lending library in America and the first fire department in State of Pennsylvania.
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4. Love is so short, forgetting is so long. -Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) was the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean poet, diplomat and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. Neruda became known as a poet while still a teenager. He wrote in a variety of styles including surrealist poems, historical epics, overtly political manifestos, a prose autobiography, and erotically-charged love poems. In 1971 Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature. During his lifetime, Neruda occupied many diplomatic positions and as a Chilean Communist Party senator. Neruda was hospitalized with cancer at the time of the Chilean coup d'état led by the dictator, General Augusto Pinochet. Three days after being hospitalized, Neruda died of heart failure. Pinochet had denied permission make Neruda's funeral into a public event. However, thousands of grieving Chileans disobeyed the curfew and crowded the streets.

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5. If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it. -Andy Rooney
Andrew Aitken "Andy" Rooney (1919 - 2011) was an American radio and television writer. from 1978 to 2011, he did a segment of a television show, "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney", on the program 60 Minutes. Rooney offered satire on everything from everyday issues  to politics.  Sometimes he was controversial, irreverent and insensitive in his comments. His final regular appearance on 60 Minutes was aired on October 2, 2011. He died one month later, on November 4, 2011, at age 92.
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6, A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines (clergy). - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 -1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalism movement of the mid-19th century. He was a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States. Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his time, formulating and expressing the philosophy of Transcendentalism in his 1836 essay, Nature. He also wrote a series of essays most as lectures first, then revised them for print. His first two collections of essays published in 1841 and 1844 represented the core of his thinking. His best-known essays are Self-Reliance, The Poet and Experience.  
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7. At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want. -Lao Tzu
The name Lao Tzu means Old Master. No one knows his real name or the dates of his birth or death. However, scholars place his birth between 600 and 300 B.C.E. He is credited with the writing of the Tao-Te Ching (tao means the way of all life, te means the fit use of life by men, and ching means text). Lao Tzu wanted his philosophy to remain a natural way to live life with goodness, serenity and respect. He laid down no rigid code of behavior and believed a person’s conduct should be governed by instinct and conscience. In addition, Lao Tzu believed that human life, like everything else in the universe, is constantly influenced by outside forces. He believed “simplicity” to be the key to truth and freedom and encouraged his followers to observe and seek to understand the laws of nature, to develop intuition and build up personal power, and to use that power to lead life with love, and without force.
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8. A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side. - Aristotle
Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC) was a Ancient Greek philosopher. He was the student of Plato and the teacher of Alexander, the Great. He wrote about physics, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government ethics, biology, poetry, theater, and music. Aristotle's writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy. His most famous still-surviving work is The Poetics.

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9. All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…. -William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare  (1564 -1616) was an English poet and playwright . He is often regarded to be the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 152 sonnets, two long narrative poems and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Among his greatest plays are Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet.
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10. Truth is so rare that it is delightful to tell it. -Emily Dickenson
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (1830 -1886) was an American poet. She lived a mostly introverted and reclusive life. Thought of as an eccentric by the locals, she became known for her penchant for white clothing and her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, even to leave her room. Most of her friendships were therefore carried out by correspondence. Although Dickinson was a prolific poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems were published during her lifetime. Dickinson's poems are unique for the era in which she wrote because they contain short lines, typically lack titles, often use half or imperfect rhymes (slant rhymes) and unconventional capitalization and punctuation. Many of her poems dealt with death and immortality. Although most of her acquaintances were probably aware of Dickinson's poetry writing, it was not until after her death that the breadth of Dickinson's work became apparent. Her first collection of poetry was published in 1890.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Knowledge Quiz, No. 36

      I dislike the term trivia. No knowledge is trivial. All information contributes to the whole of an intelligent human being. And, it is an essential part of critical thinking. That is why I did not call this a Trivia Quiz. Instead, I am calling it a Knowledge Quiz.
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Knowledge Quiz, No. 36
The answers are at the bottom.

1. From what physical infirmity did the inventor of the phonograph, Thomas Alva Edison, suffer?
2. What is the capital of Ukraine?
3. Who wrote the opera Pagliacci?  
4. What is Greenwich Mean Time?
5. Who wrote Gulliver's Travels?
6. Who are the Mestizos?
7. In what modern country are the remains of the ancient city of Troy?
8. How may English kings were canonized as saints?
9. What is a road runner?
10. What is the English translation of the Greek word, epistle?
11. Who painted the painting known as Nighthawks?
12. What is an oligarchy?
13. In meteorology (the science of weather), what is a front?
14. Who was Buick?
15. What is the main ingredient in sake?
16. By the size of its fleet of airplanes, what is the biggest airline in the world?
17. What is  the common term for the tennis ailment lateral humeral epicondylitis?
18. How many African-Americans won Oscars for Best Actor and Best Actress?
19. In what city in India is The Taj Mahal?
20. How many moons does the planet Jupiter have?
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Answers
1. The inventor of the phonograph, Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931), was almost deaf. According to him, when he was 15 a train accident injured his ability to hear. He was picked up by the ears by a conductor to keep him from falling out of a train and to help pull him up. He said that he heard something "pop" inside his ears and soon began to lose much more of his hearing. However, most experts doubt that was the cause of Edison's hearing loss. It is not really known how he lost his hearing, but it is known that he had many ear problems throughout his childhood. But, Edison saw an advantage to being deaf. He said that it helped him concentrate on his work.
2. The capital of Ukraine is Kiev.
3. The famous tragic opera, Pagliacci, (Italian for Players or Clowns) was written and composed by Ruggero Leonacallo (aka: Giacomo Maria Giuseppe Emmanuele Raffaele Domenico Vincenzo Francesco Donato Leoncavallo; 1857-1919). It is a brief opera consisting of a prologue and two acts. It recounts the tragedy of a jealous husband in a commedia dell'arte troupe. It is the only opera of Leoncavallo that is still widely staged. Pagliacci premiered at the Teatro Dal Verma in Milan on May 21, 1892, conducted by the famous conductor Arturo Toscanini. It premiered in New York in 1893.
4. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is a time system originally referring to mean solar time at the Royal Observatory  in Greenwich, London. It has become adopted as a global time standard. It is  the same as Universal Coordinated Time (UTC). The term UTC replaced GMT on 1 January 1972, so astronomers no longer use the term Greenwich Mean Time. But, in the United Kingdom, GMT is the official time in winter only; during the summer British Summer Time is used. GMT is the same as Western European Time. Noon Greenwich Mean Time is rarely the exact moment when the noon Sun crosses the Greenwich meridian and reaches its highest point in the sky at Greenwich because of the Earth's uneven speed in its elliptic orbit and its axial tilt. This event may be up to 16 minutes away from noon GMT. The fictitious mean Sun is the annual average of this non-uniform motion of the true Sun, necessitating the inclusion of the word  mean (average) in Greenwich Mean Time.
5. Gulliver's Travels (originally title: Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships) is a novel by the Irish writer and Anglican clergyman, Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) The work is both a satire on human nature and a parody of the "travellers' tales" literary sub-genre. It is Swift's best known full-length work, and a classic of English literature.
6. Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America and Spain for people of mixed heritage or descent. In some countries it has come to mean a mixture of European and Native American. The term was used as a racial category in the Casta (caste) system that was in use when the Spanish controlled colonies in the Americas. The term was used to describe those who had one European-born parent and one who was a member of the indigenous population. In the Casta system, mestizos had fewer rights than European born or heritage persons who were immigrants or born in the New World with two European parents.
7. The remains of the ancient Greek city of Troy is in modern Turkey. That is because ancient Greece extended into part of what is now called Turkey. Turkey has more ancient Greek ruins than modern Greece.
8. Only one English king was canonized as a saint. Edward the Confessor (Ēadƿeard se Andettere;1003–05 to 4 -1066) was one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England and is the last king of the ruling family, the House of Wessex. He ruled from 1042 to 1066. He is seen as unworldly and pious. Edward was canonized in 1161 by Pope Alexander III  and is recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church and the Church of England. His feast day is 13 October.
9. The roadrunner is a fast-running bird that has a long tail and a crest. The bird is found in the southwestern United States and in Mexico. The roadrunner is also called a chaparral bird and a chaparral cock. Roadrunners are ground cuckoos and include about fifteen species of birds. Roadrunners generally range in size from 18 inches (46 cm) to 22 inches (56 cm) from tail to beak. Their average weight is about eight to fifteen ounces and they utter a dove-like coo. The roadrunner  spends most of its time on the ground but it is capable of flight. Roadrunners can run at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour (32 km/h).
10. The Greek word epistle (Greek: ἐπιστολή, epistolē) means a formal and elegant letter. The epistle genre of letter-writing was common in Ancient Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire. And, they were mostly written by professional letter-writers, the scribes. The letters in The New Testament of The Bible by the Apostles are usually referred to as epistles.
11. The iconic and often parodied painting, Nighthawks, was painted by the American painter, Edward Hopper (1882-1967). The picture Hopper's most famous work and it depicts empty streets at night and a few people sitting in a corner diner. Within months of its completion, it was sold to the Art Institute of Chicago for $3,000 and it has remained there ever since.
12. An oligarchy (Greek: ὀλιγαρχία, meaning a few, and ἄρχω, meaning to rule or to command) is a form of power structure or government in which all power rests with a small number of people. These people could be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, or military control. Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who pass their influence from one generation to the next.
13. A weather front is a boundary separating two separate masses of air of different densities. Fronts on weather maps are depicted using various colored lines and symbols depending on the type of front. The air masses separated by a front usually differ in temperature and humidity. There are cold fronts (which feature narrow bands of thunderstorms and/or severe weather) and warm fronts are usually preceded by dense cloud-cover and fog. The weather usually clears quickly after a front's passage.
14. David Dunbar Buick (1854 -1929) was a Scottish-born American inventor. He is best known for founding the Buick Motor Company of Detroit, Michigan. He headed this company and its predecessor, Buick Manufacturing Company, from 1902 until 1906. In 1906, Buick accepted a severance package and left the company that he had founded. But under new ownership, Buick Motor Company eventually became the cornerstone of General Motors.
15. Sake (sometimes spelled saki or saké) is an alcoholic beverage of Japanese origin that is made from fermented rice. In Japanese, it is called nihonshu (日本酒 ; Japanese alcohol). In English, it is sometimes referred to as rice wine. However, this term is a misnomer because unlike wine in which alcohol is produced by fermenting sugar that is naturally present in grapes, sake is produced by means of a brewing similar to that of beer. So, sake is more correctly rice beer rather than rice wine.
16. The biggest airline in the world for passengers is the USA carrier, Delta Airlines, with 744 planes.  The biggest cargo fleet is the USA's air-carrier, Fed Ex, with 688 planes.
17. Lateral humeral epicondylitis is more commonly known as tennis elbow.
18. Only 5 African-Americans have won Oscars for Best Actor and Actress. Best Actor Oscars were won by Sydney Poitier (Lilies of the Field, 1963), Denzel Washington (Training Day, 2001) Janie Fox (Ray, 2004), and Forrester Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland, 2006). Only Halle Berry (Monster's Ball, 2001) has won an Oscar for Best Actress.
19. The Taj Mahal (crown of palaces) is a white marble mausoleum located in the city of Agra in India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666) in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal(1593-1631). Both Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal are buried in The Taj. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as the prime example of Mughal architecture in India and the world.
20.  The planet Jupiter has 66 moons, the largest number of moons of any planet in The Solar System. The largest  moon, Ganymede, was discovered by Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) in 1610. Ganymede is the ninth largest object in the Solar System after the Sun and seven of the planets Ganymede is larger than the planet Mercury.