Monday, April 28, 2014

Idioms



One of the most difficult aspects of English to understand is its idioms. An idiom is a combination of words that cannot be understood from the meaning of its separate words. The combination of words have a distinct meaning of their own. Unless you understand the figurative meaning of an expression, the combination of words of an idiom is meaningless.

The word idiom is rooted in the Greek word ἰδίωμα, which is pronounced idiōma and means "special feature, special phrasing". Idioms occur in all languages and they are a major problem when a person is attempting to learn a new language.

There are estimated to be at least twenty-five thousand idiomatic expressions in English and no one knows the origins of most them. However, it is likely that originally the words of what is now considered to be an idiom had a literal meaning.

The proper use of idioms also is an indication the speaker is a native speaker, a long-time user, or a proficient user of the language. The use of improper or twisted idioms may cause a native language speaker to start to laugh in an otherwise serious conversation.  Also, idiom usage often adds color and humor to formal or bland language usage.

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Here are some English idioms and what they mean. Why they mean what they mean is unknown.

let the cat out of the bag: to let a secret be known

move heaven and earth: willing to do anything

spill the beans: to tell the truth about something

all keyed up: very agitated

raining cats and dogs: heavy rain

rat on: to tell on someone who has done something wrong

pull my leg: telling someone an untruth in order to play a trick

feel blue: feel sad

keep an eye out: watching carefully to see if something  happens

fall off the radar: that which was important but no longer is

roll over and play dead: to just give up and be unable to cope with life or a problem

eat humble pie: to be forced to admit that you are wrong and to say you are sorry

a lot on my plate: to be very busy and/or have many commitments

turning the tables: changing a situation from a disadvantage to an advantage

wolf in sheep's clothing: something or someone that looks harmless but is very dangerous

called on the carpet:  reprimanded by your superiors or others who have  power over you

keep a straight face: look serious and do not laugh even though you want to

keep in touch: communicate frequently

I'll eat my hat:  you are absolutely sure that you are right and you are letting another person know that there is no chance of your being wrong.

off the charts: far exceeds the normal standards of good or bad for anything

sacred cow: Something that  is held in such respect that it cannot be attacked or criticized

zip it: be quiet

nest egg: money saved for future use

quiet before the storm:  knowing something is going horribly wrong but has not yet

dead right: something or someone is absolutely correct  or without any doubt

icing on the cake: something good that happens on top of an already good thing or situation

kangaroo court:  take the law into your own hands in order to control  or create outcomes

take forty winks: take a short sleep or nap

vent your spleen: releasing or expressing all of your anger about something

in cold blood: an evil deed done ruthlessly and without emotion

rack your brain:  thinking very hard  trying to remember something or thinking very hard to solve a problem

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Unusual or Uncommon Idioms:

Saigon moment:  moment is when people realize that something has gone wrong and that they will lose or fail

laugh to see a pudding crawl: to laugh at anything

back to the salt mines: returning unwillingly to work

laugh up your sleeve: look serious but secretly laugh

take the Mick, to tease someone

yah boo sucks and yah boo: idioms used to show that you have sympathy with someone

banana skin:  a banana skin is something that is an embarrassment or causes problems

bald as a coot: totally bald

rich man's family: a family with only one son and one daughter

vinegar tits: mean spirited women lacking in love or compassion

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Knowledge Quiz, No. 50


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. 50

The Name Game
What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. - Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, scene 2, lines 47-48; William Shakespeare (1564-1616).
The answers are at the bottom

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1. What was the original name of the actress, Marilyn Monroe?

2. What was the original name of  the actor, Cary Grant?

3. What was the original name of English writer, George Eliot?

4. What was the original name of American writer, Mark Twain?

5. What was the original name of Jesus of Nazareth?

6. What was the original name of the Buddha?

7. What was the original name of the French writer, George Sand?

8. What was the original name of the American short story writer, O. Henry?

9. What was the original name of Pope Francis?

10. What was the original name of St. Francis?

11. What was the original name of Josef Stalin?

12. What was the original name of the Spanish painter El Greco?

13. What was the original name of the Italian painter Caravaggio?

14. What was the original name of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat?

15. What was the original name of the Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Min?

16. What was the original name of King George VI of the United Kingdom?

17. What was the original name of Mother Teresa?

18. What was the original name of Elton John?

19. What was the original name of John Wayne?

20. What was the original name of Mata Hari?
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Answers


1 . Film star, sex symbol and singer, Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) was born Norma Jeane Mortenson. She appeared in many films  in the 1950's and 60,s and won a Golden Globe Award for Some Like It Hot in 1959. She was ranked as the sixth-greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute.

2. Cary Grant (1904-1986) was born Archibald Alexander Leach. He was born in England but became an American citizen in 1942. He was both Jewish and bisexual but those aspects of his life were not widely known during his lifetime. He was considered one of  Hollywood's most popular and debonair leading men. He was married five times and he never won an Oscar.
3. George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans (1819-1880). She was an English novelist, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She is the author of seven novels, including  Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss  (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch  (1871–72), and Daniel Deronda (1876). She said that she used a male pen name to ensure her works would be taken seriously.
4. Mark Twain was the pen name used by American writer and humorist, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910). His most famous works  are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer  (1876) and its sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn  (1885). In the 1859, he received his steamboat pilot license. It was this occupation which eventually gave him his pen name. "Mark twain" is the cry for a measured river depth of two fathoms.
5. Since early Christianity, Christians have commonly referred to Jesus as "Jesus Christ". The name Jesus is derived from the Latin word Iesus, (Hebrew: יהושעYehoshua). The name Yeshua (Joshua) was common in Judea at the time when Jesus was born.. The word Christ is derived from the Greek Χριστός (Christos) which is a translation of the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (Masiah), meaning the anointed and usually transliterated into English as Messiah. A typical Jew of Jesus' time had only one name, sometimes coupled with the father's name or the individual's hometown. Thus, in the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 26:71), Joseph's son (Luke 4:22), and Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth (John 1:45).
6. Buddha means "awakened one" or "the enlightened one." Siddhartha Gautama is the Supreme Buddha. Most scholars regard Kapilavastu, present-day Nepal as the birthplace of the Buddha. and he taught primarily in northeastern India. The times of Gautama's birth and death are uncertain; however, most historians in the early 20th century dated his lifetime as circa 563 BCE to 483 BCE and no written records about Gautama have been found from his lifetime or several centuries thereafter.
7. Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin  (1804-1876) is more commonly known by her pseudonym, George Sand. She was a French novelist and memoirist. In addition, she is equally well-known for her much publicized romantic affairs with a number of celebrities including the Polish composer, Frédéric Chopin, and the French writer, Alfred de Musset. Sand often wore men's clothing in public which she justified by  saying the clothes were sturdier and less expensive than the typical dress of a noblewoman. In addition, Sand's male attire enabled her to circulate more freely in Paris than most other females and gave her increased access to venues from which women were often barred.
8.The short-story writer popularly known as O. Henry was William Sydney Porter (1862-1910). O. Henry's short stories are known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterization, and clever twist endings. Most of O. Henry's stories are set in his own time, the early 20th century. Many take place in New York City and deal for the most part with ordinary people: clerks, policemen, waitresses, etc. Among his most popular short stories are The Gift of the Magi, Last Leaf, and The Ransom of Red Chief.
9. Pope Francis (Latin: Franciscus; Italian: Francesco) was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1936 and his original name was Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He worked briefly as a chemical technician and nightclub bouncer before entering the seminary. Francis is the first Jesuit Pope, the first Pope from the Americas, the first Pope from the Southern Hemisphere and the first non-European Pope since Pope Gregory III in 741 AD.
10. Saint Francis of Assisi (Italian: San Francesco d'Assisi) was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, but nicknamed Francesco ("the Frenchman") by his father. He was born in 1181/1182 and died in 1226. Francis was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. He founded the men's Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis. Though he was never ordained to the Catholic priesthood, Francis is one of the most beloved and venerated religious figures in history.
11. Ioseb Besarionis Dze Dzhugashvili (alternate last name spelling: Jugashvili) was the actual name of the U.S.S.R. Communist leader Josef Stalin (1878-1953). Stalin created a highly centralized command economy, launching a period of industrialization and collectivization that resulted in the transformation of the U.S.S.R. from an agrarian society into an industrial power. However, the economic changes coincided with the imprisonment of millions of people in correctional labor camps and the deportation of others to remote areas such as Siberia. Stalin also instituted a campaign against alleged enemies within his regime during which hundreds of thousands were executed. During World War II, his forces successful defended Moscow and halted the Nazi invasion of Russia. At the end of the war, the Soviet Union emerged as a world superpower with communist governments loyal to the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. In the years following his death, Stalin has been called a tyrant and his regime has been condemned on a par with the Hitler Nazi government in Germany.
12. The famous Spanish painter, El Greco (Spanish: The Greek) was born Doménikos Theotokópoulos (1541 -1614). He was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance.  In 1577, he moved to Toledo, Spain, where he lived and worked until his death. El Greco was his Spanish nickname and was a reference to his nationality and his Greek origin. El Greco has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school. He is best known for tortuously elongated figures and often fantastic pigmentation.
13. Michelangelo Merisi (or Amerighi)  (1571-1610) was a famous Italian artist of the Baroque period who was active between 1592 and 1610. His paintings combined a realistic physical and emotional human portraits and a dramatic use of light. .He was born in Milan and his father was a household administrator and architect-decorator to the Marchese of Caravaggio. In 1576 the family moved to Caravaggio to escape a plague which ravaged Milan. Hence his name was Michelangelo Merisi (or Amerighi) da Caravaggio (of Caravaggio)  He was the most famous painter in Rome in 1600.
14. Yasser Arafat's original name was Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa (1929-2004). He was Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization  (PLO),  President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), and leader of the Fatah political party and former paramilitary group, which he founded in 1959. Arafat spent much of his life fighting against Israel in the name of Palestinian self-determination. The majority of the Palestinian people viewed him as a heroic leader and freedom fighter while most Israelis view him a terrorist. His critics accuse him corruption and of secretly amassing personal wealth.
15. Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969) was a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader who was a prime minister (1945–1955) and a president (1945–1969) of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (aka: North Vietnam). His real name was Nguyễn Sinh Côn. He was a key figure in the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945, as well as the People’s Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. The former capital of South Vietnam, Saigon, was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City on July 2, 1976.
16.King George VI of the United Kingdom (1895-1952) was christened with the name Albert Frederick Arthur George. He was also the last Emperor of India and the first Head of the Commonwealth. During George's reign the break-up of the British Empire and its transition into the Commonwealth of Nations accelerated. Within five years of his succession, the Empire and Commonwealth was at war with Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan. After the war, India and Pakistan became independent (1947) and Ireland declared itself a republic and left the Commonwealth (1949). He experienced health problems in the later years of his reign and after he died, his elder daughter, Elizabeth, succeeded him.
17. The woman commonly known as Mother Teresa (1910 -1997) was Roman Catholic nun and missionary.  She was born in Albania but lived most of her life in India and became an Indian citizen in 1948. Mother Teresa  (aka: Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta) founded the Missionaries of Charity a Roman Catholic order of nuns, which runs hospices, soup kitchens, dispensaries, mobile clinics, orphanages and schools in 133 countries. Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Her original name was Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu.
18.  English singer, songwriter, composer, pianist, record producer, and actor Elton John (born: 1947) was born Reginald Kenneth Dwigh. In his fifty-year career, John has sold more than 300 million records, making him one of the most popular and accomplished musical talents in the world. His 1997 recording of Candle in the Wind sold over 33 million copies worldwide and is the best-selling single of all time. He received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for "services to music and charitable services" in 1998.
19. Film star John Wayne (1901-1979) original name was  Marion Robert Morrison. Wayne was among the top box office draws for three decades. An enduring American icon, he epitomized rugged masculinity and is famous for his demeanor, including his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height. He won an Academy Award as best actor in 1969 for the film True Grit. Wayne was married three times and divorced twice. He was a socialist in college and was a Democrat in the 30's and 40's. He became a conservative Republican and was active in right-wing politics and causes from the 60's until his death.
20. Margaretha Geertruida "Margreet" Zelle MacLeod (1876-1917) is better known by her stage name, Mata Hari. She was a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan  who was convicted of being a German spy during World War I and executed by firing squad in France. By 1905, Mata Hari began to win fame as an exotic dancer. Promiscuous, flirtatious, and openly flaunting her body, Mata Hari captivated her audiences. She posed as a Java princess of priestly Hindu birth, pretending to have been immersed in the art of sacred Indian dance since childhood. She was photographed numerous times during this period, nude or nearly so. In January 1917, a German military attaché transmitted radio messages to Berlin describing the helpful activities of a German spy, code-named H-21. French intelligence agents intercepted the messages and, from the information it contained, identified H-21 as Mata Hari. During her trial, she claimed she was innocent, but she was found guilty and executed. German documents unsealed in the 1970s proved that Mata Hari was a German agent. Mata Hari's body was not claimed by any family members and was accordingly used for medical study. Her head was embalmed and kept in the Museum of Anatomy in Paris, but in 2000, archivists discovered that the head had disappeared.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Poem: Panning for Gold



Panning for Gold
by Ben Sollee

I saw God by the river
Panning for gold
I saw God by the river
Weary and old

He said, "Son
I used to know where i put things,
I used to know"

I saw God in the forest
Teaching Tai Chi to the trees
In the wind
And bowing to the seas

He said "Son
I used to know where I put things
I used to know"

I saw God at the mountain
Tearing at the sky
I saw God at the mountain
With tears in his eyes

He said, Son
I used to know where i put things
I used to know
I could have shown you all the beauty in the world
but now i need you to show me"

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Most Sacred Piece of Music Ever Created




The most sacred piece of music ever written was created by the Italian composer Gregorio Allegri in the 1630'sIt is commonly known as the Miserere but its full title is Miserere mei, Deus, Latin for Have mercy on me, O God, the first words of Psalm 51 (in some Bibles, Psalm 50). It was created during the reign of Pope Urban VIII (1568-1644)  for use in the Sistine Chapel on  Holy Wednesday (aka: Spy Wednesday) and on Good Friday (aka: God's  Friday) during the week before Easter commonly called Holy Week.

The Miserere is written for two choirs, one of five and one of four voices. One of the choirs sings a simple version of the original Miserere chant and the other sings an ornamented "commentary" on the words of the chant. The unified whole is a prime example of Renaissance polyphony.

The Holy Wednesday service was call Matins (aka: Lauds) and part of it was called Tenebrae (Latin: darkness). During Tebebrae, candles were extinguished one by one, save for the last candle which remained lighted but was then hidden somewhere in the church. Allegri composed his setting of the Miserere for the final act within the first lesson of the Tenebrae service. Some Catholic, Lutheran, Orthodox and Episcopal (Anglican or Church of England) churches still perform the Tenebrae service.

The story of Allegri's Miserere is as fascinating as the piece of musical history in itself. Originally, the Miserere could only sung at the Vatican in the Sistine Chapel and it was forbidden to be sung anywhere else. The punishment to copying it or disseminating it was excommunication because it was considered so sacred. In 1780, a fourteen year old Catholic was visiting Rome and he heard the piece during the Holy Wednesday service. Later that day, he wrote it down entirely from memory. Then he returned to the Chapel that Friday to hear it again  in order to make minor corrections in what he had written down. Sometime afterward during the young man's travels, he met the British historian Charles Burney and told him what be did.  Burney obtained the piece from him and took it to London where it was published in 1771. Once the piece was published, the ban was lifted. However, the young man was summoned to Rome by the Pope where he expected the worst. But, instead of excommunicating the young man, the Pope praised him for his feat of musical genius. The young man according to family letters and other documents was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791).

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You can hear Gregorio Allegri's Miserere on YouTube: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKj1iK2WKS8

This recording of Miserere is perhaps the purest, most definitive sound ever achieved by a professional choir. It was performed by the Tallis Scholars under the direction of Peter Phillips and was recorded by Gimell Records in the early 1980s.

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English Translation of the Text, Psalm 51

from The King James Bible:

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Great Thinkers, Great Thoughts, No. 40



1. Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous. - Confucius

Confucius (Kong-fu-tzu, literally Master Kong; 551- 479 BC) was a Chinese thinker and philosopher. The philosophy of Confucius emphasized personal morality, governmental morality, correct social relationships, sincerity and justice. He advocated strong family loyalty, ancestor worship, respect for elders, and the family as the model for ideal government. He was one of the first to state the principle, Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself. Confucius' principles became the basis of Chinese beliefs and traditions.

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2. In time we hate that which we often fear. - 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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3. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. - Plato

Plato (424/423-348/347 BC), was an Ancient Greek philosopher, writer, mathematician, student of Socrates and founder of the Academy of Athens, the first institution of higher education in Europe. Along with Socrates and Aristotle, Plato is credited with laying the foundations of Western philosophy and science. Thirteen letters and thirty-six dialogues dealing with philosophy, ethics, logic, rhetoric and mathematics have been ascribed to him.

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4. Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything. - Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922 - 2007) was a 20th-century American novelist, playwright, short story writer, essayist , poet and political activist. Among his most popular novels were Cat's Cradle (1963), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), and Breakfast of Champions (1973). His work tended to be characterized  as blend of satire, gallows humor and science fiction. In addition, he was a liberal and leftist intellectual, a lifelong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and honorary president of the American Humanist Association.

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Aldous Leonard Huxley (1894-1963) was an English writer, humanist, pacifist and satirist. He edited Oxford Poetry magazine. He also wrote short stories, poetry, travel works, and film scripts. Huxley spent the later part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death. His best know work is the novel, Brave New World.

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6. The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.  - 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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Victor Marie Hugo (1802-1885) was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist. He is one the most famous and best-known French writer. Among volumes of poetry, Les Contemplations is one of the most famous. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Miserables (1862) and Notre-Dame de Paris (aka: The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, 1831) are his best-known works. Although a committed royalist when he was young, Hugo's views changed as time passed and he became an ardent supporter of the republican form of government. And, some of his work dealt with the political issues,  social issues and artistic trends of his day. Hugo's many talents did not include exceptional musical ability;  nevertheless, he had a major impact on the music world through the inspiration that his works provided for 19th and 20th century composers. In addition, Hugo loved music and two famous musicians were his friends, Berlioz and Liszt. 

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8. Recommend to your children virtue; that alone can make them happy, not gold. - Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 -1827) was a German composer and pianist. He is viewed as a major figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in classical music. His best known compositions are his 9 symphonies, 5 concertos, 32 sonatas and 16 string quartets. He also composed other chamber music, choral works, and songs. A portion of his Symphony No. 9, The Ode to Joy, is the national anthem of the European Union.

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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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10. Government is an association of men who do violence for the rest of us. - Leo Tolstoy

Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828-1910) was a Russian novelist, playwright, essayist and short story writer. His two most famous works are the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina. He is considered one of the world's greatest novelists. Tolstoy was a moralistic, social reformer, ethicist and ascetic. His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus caused him to become a fervent Christian and pacifist. His ideas on nonviolent resistance are expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You which profoundly affected the non-violent resistance movements of both Gandhi and Martin Luther King.