Saturday, April 30, 2011

Knowledge Quiz, No. 6

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. 6

1. What land does France still possess that should be part of Canada?

2. Where did the music come from for the U.S. national anthem?

3. Whose flag has four irises on it?

4. What novel begins with the words, "Call me Ishmael"?

5. What is Shinto?

6. Who said, "Fish and relatives stink after three days"?

7. What was the Land of Nod?

8. Where is The Timex Museum?

9. What is kohl?

10. Who are the Inuit?

11. Where did the popular image of Santa Claus come from?

12. What is The Silk Road?

13. Where is The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

14. Who was Steppin Fetchit?

15. What is a parallelepiped?

16. What was the artist Andy Warhol's real name?

17. Why is it called The Oscar?

18. What physical peculiarity did Hitler have?

19. Who was the last Italian Pope?

20. What nation is between France and Spain?

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1. As a result of The French and Indian War (aka, The Seven Years' War; 1754- 1763) France lost its colony, New France, in what is now Canada to the English. But, France still possess two islands in Canadian territorial waters, St. Pierre and Miquelon. The islands form a collective parliamentary democracy and sent 1 representative to the French Chamber of Deputies. They are the only remnants of New France still under French control.

2. The Star Spangled Banner is the national anthem of the U. S. since the passage of a congressional resolution in 1931. The lyrics come from an 1814 poem written by Francis Scott Key entitled Defense of Fort McHenry. The music was written by Englishman John Stafford Smith. It was popular beer drinking song, To Anacreon in Heaven, and was written for London men's social club, The Anacreontic Society. In 2005, a government-sponsored program, the National Anthem Project poll indicated many adults knew neither the lyrics nor the history of the national anthem.

3. The flag of Quebec, Canada, has four white irises on it. The flag which also has a white cross on it is called the Fleurdelisé because in French the word for iris is fleur-de-lis It has been the official flag of Quebec since 1948. The white fleur-de-lis is a symbol of the purity of the Virgin Mary.

4.The 1851 novel, Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, starts with the words, "Call me Ishmael". The three words are one of the most famous opening lines in literature and indicate the symbolic nature of the book.

5. Shinto or kami-no-michi is the native religion of Japan. The word Shinto means "the way of the gods". The first recorded rituals of the religion date back to the 7th and 8th Centuries. There are about 119 million Shinto adherents in Japan today.

6. Benjamin Franklin said it in his publication Poor Richard's Almanack (1732-1757).

7. The Land of Nod is a place mention in the Biblical book of Genesis. It was located "east of Eden" and it was the place to which Cain fled after killing his brother Abel, supposedly the first murder. The word "nod" is the Hebrew root of the word "to wander". It is possibly meant to indicate that Cain became a nomad and wandered in the wilderness.

8. The Timex Museum is in Waterbury, Connecticut, USA. It contains a vast collection of old Timex clocks, wristwatches, novelty clocks, and old advertisements. It is situated in Waterbury because it was site of The Great American Clock Company which became Timex.

9. Kohl is an ancient eye cosmetic. I was used by the Ancient Egyptians as an eyeliner. It is still widely used in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia today. It is most commonly used by women, but also used by some men and children. The recipe and content of kohl vary widely.

10. The Inuit are the indigenous people of the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada and Russian Siberia. The word "Inuit" means “the people” in the Inuktitut language. An Inuit person is called an Inuk.

11.The modern image of Santa Claus as a jolly, fat white-bearded man wearing a red outfit with a bleak belt was created by Coca Cola for an advertisement in 1931. Prior to that, images of Santa Claus ranged from fat to thin, from being tall to being an elf, and wearing everything from a bishop's robe to a Norseman's animal skins.

12. The Silk Road were trade routes across the Asian continent connecting East and South Asia with Europe and Northeast Africa. It extended 4,000 miles (6,500 km). It has existed for nearly 3000 years and gets its name from the prized Chinese silk which was part of the commodity trading.

13. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. it was started in 1995 and it houses a large collection of rock and roll memorabilia. From 2008 to 2010, there was an annex of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York City.

14. Steppin Fetchit (1902 -1985) was the stage name of the American comedian and film actor Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry. He created the Fetchit character and had a successful film career using it. He became the first black actor to become a millionaire and was the first black actor to receive a screen credit. However, he was forced to claim bankruptcy in 1947. The Steppin Fetchit character is viewed by many as re-enforcing negative stereotypes of African-Americans as ignorant and lazy. Perry's films are rarely seen in public today because of the controversial nature of the character he created.

15. A parallelepiped is three-dimensional parallelogram. A parallelogram is a quadrilateral with two pairs of parallel sides. The opposite or facing sides of a parallelogram are of equal length and the opposite angles of a parallelogram are of equal measure.

16. The real name of Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was Andrew Warhola. He was of Slovakian heritage, was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and died in New York City. He was famous a pop artist, a film-maker and commercial illustrator. He is also remember for his 1968 statement, "In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes". The Andy Warhol Museum is in Pittsburg.

17. No one really knows why the name of the gold statuette awarded by the Acadamy of motion picture arts and Science is call The Oscar. Actress Bette Davis claimed that she named the Ocar after her first husband Herman Oscar Nelson. Also, the Academy's Executive Secretary in 1931, Margaret Herrick, said that the statuette looked like her "Uncle Oscar". Another story is that the secretary to motion picture executive Louis B. Mayer, Eleanor Lilleberg, said that it looked like King Oscar of Norway The only fact connected with the name is that it was officially name "Oscar" in 1939 by the motion picture Academy.

18. Hitler was missing one testicle. The Russian discovered that Hitler had only a left testicle when they examined his dead body. And, a soldier who served with him in World War I confirmed the fact.

19. It was Pope John Paul I. His real name was Albino Luciani (1912-1978) and he was Pope for only 33 days in I978. He died at the age of 65. His brief Papacy ended 455 years of Italian Popes. In all, there were 175 Italian and 5 Sicilian Popes.

20. The small landlocked nation of Andorra (The Principality of Andorra) is situated between France and Spain. It is 181 square miles and has a population of 83,000. The principality was formed in 1278 and it is a monarchy ruled by 2 "princes", The President of the French Republic and The Catholic Bishop of Ugell, Catalonia, Spain. The major source of income is tourism, but Andorra is also a tax haven. The people of Andorra have one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Superman Gives Up American Citizenship

Superman has been considered the quintessential American hero and as American as apple pie. He has served as a prime representation of all things to which America aspires and stood for like "truth, justice and the American way." He has been in comic books since 1938 and been portrayed on TV shows and movies. But, the so-called the Man of Steel who is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall building with a single bound has now decided to give up his national identity.

In "Action Comics #900," Superman will renounce his American citizenship and reject the notion that his actions reflect American values and policies. The shift comes after Superman visits Iran to support protestors of President Ahmadinejad and is accused of being a tool of US foreign policy, a policy which will lead eventually to America declaring war on the Iranian people and the current government in Tehran. By rejecting his citizenship, Superman will now work on a grander international scale because, as he says, "truth, justice and the American way it's not enough anymore."

To all of this, there has been a very tepid response from The Tea Party, The Republican conservatives and the religious fundamentalists. This is baffling because they should be delighted. After all:

· Superman was an illegal alien. He was born on Krypton and never was admitted legally to the U.S.

· His parents were guilty of a criminal offense by harboring a person who entered the country illegally.

· He had no birth certificate which must have infuriated Donald Trump, Sarah Palin and Fox News.

· As a newspaper reporter, he was part of the "liberal media".

· He often saved the down-trodden, the laborer and the common man from the effects of shoddy construction created by corporations.

· His arch-enemy, Lex Luther, was a real American. He was the American dream, arrogant, accustomed to getting his own way, greedy, extremely wealthy and head of a giant corporation. One would assume that he was a Republican and anti-union. By attacking Luther, Superman was attacking the very essence of what it means to be an American.

· He showed gay tendencies in his attire , particularly his tights which showed his assets and his flamboyant cape. He also constantly rebuffed the tepid advances of Lois Lane.

· He never enter Arizona where he would have to produce alien papers, a passport, or a green card.

· He was a member of no religion, never mention God, and never regularly attended church.

· He has super-human powers but never attributed them to God. The religious zealots attacked Harry Potter for less.

· He reaped fame and fortune in America and then turned his back on the country, presumably stashing all his money in a Swiss bank account.

I am really surprised given all of the above that The Tea Party, the conservatives and the fundamentalists are not dancing in the streets and saying to Superman, "We always suspected you and now the truth comes out. America, love it leave it! You have chosen to leave it, so good-bye and good riddance!'

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Thought to Ponder

William Butler Yeats (1865–1939) was an Irish poet and playwright. He was also one of the major figures in 20th Century literature. In 1923,Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for what the Nobel committee called "inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation." In his later years, Yeats served as an Irish Senator for two terms.

In his 1920 poem, The Second Coming, Yeats writes some of literature's most potent and compelling images of the twentieth century. In this brief excerpt, Yeats' thoughts still have profound meaning today.


by William Butler Yeats

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

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Imagine a great thinker, a great mind, a poet or a playwright sitting in the U. S. Senate. The opposition would be formitable. They would accuse him or her of living in an ivory tower, of elitism, of being out of touch with reality or being an "egg head". The very thought of a real thinker in political office reeks of improbability and fantasy.

News You May Have Missed, No. 12

1.On Easter, Chinese police were out in force to stop the worshippers from celebrating the holyday. At least 20 Chinese Protestants were arrested as they tried to gather for an Easter service in Beijing. The worshippers from the non-government sanctioned Shouwang church were arrested while trying to hold an outdoor service because they own no premises. China's constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but the Communist Party tries to control where people worship. There are an estimated 70 million Christians in the country, about 20 million of whom attend government-approved churches. The rest worship with unregistered groups known as "house" churches. The underground churches are generally tolerated, but Shouwang church leaders have annoyed Chinese authorities by their trying to hold services in the open.In weeks leading up to Easter, police have arrested dozens of people from the church, which has about 1,000 members. Recently, Chinese authorities have been carrying out a wider suppression of dissents, harassing foreign reporters, and detaining lawyers and activists. The most high-profile detainee, artist Ai Weiwei, was taken by police as he tried to board a flight. His family says they do not know where he is.

2. KUA state in Malaysia send 57 school-boys with so-called "effeminate tendencies" to a boot camp aimed at counseling them on masculine behavior. The action has outraged rights groups in that country. The schoolboys, aged 13 to 17 and all living in the northeastern Malaysian state of Terengganu, were selected for the boot camp for displaying "some feminine characteristics," state education department director Razali Daud was quoted as saying in the New Straits Times newspaper. The camp's establishment was prompted by what Razali said was a rising number of effeminate schoolboys in the state. The four-day camp included religious lectures, visiting local mosques and aerobics workouts. "They have crossed the line" said Ivy Josiah, a child's rights campaigner and the executive director of Malaysia's Women's Aid Organization. "We are disgusted and offended that a child's feminine traits or behavior is seen as being something that is evil and that should be purged," Homosexuality is a taboo subject that is rarely discussed in this mainly Muslim country and sex between males is an offence punishable under criminal law.

3. When New York City taxi driver, Mohammed Alam, picked up John Belitsky, an investment banker, Belitsky said he and friend Dan Wuebben wanted to do something "magical". They decided that a cab ride to Los Angeles in California was what they wanted and struck the deal with Alam after getting into his taxi at New York's LaGuardia Airport. The 2,448-mile trip took six days and included a stop in the gambling town of Las Vegas, Nevada, where the friends won $2,000. Alam settled a flat-rate fare of $5000. Had the meter been running, the estimated cost of the trip would have been around $17,000. Alam said that a friend will help him in the drive back to New York.

4. In Pakistan, five of six men charged with a village council-sanctioned gang rape in Pakistan have been acquitted by the Supreme Court. The same court upheld the decision of a lower court, which included commuting the death penalty of the sixth man to life imprisonment. After speaking out about her ordeal in 2002, the victim, Mukhataran Mai, seports about her story made world news. Mai still lives in her village, runs a school for girls, has become a women's rights advocate, and says she fears for her life."The police never even recorded my own statements correctly," she said. "I don't have any more faith in the courts. I have put my faith in God's judgment now." Mukhtaran Mai was attacked on orders of the powerful Mastoi clan as a punishment because her brother who was 12 at the time had allegedly been having an affair with a Mastoi woman. This, they said, had brought shame to the entire clan. Many other Pakistani women who are raped commit suicide.

5. The Antarctic ozone hole is about one-third to blame for Australia's recent series of droughts, scientists say. Writing in the journal Science, the scientists stated their conclusion that the hole has shifted wind and rainfall patterns right across the Southern Hemisphere, even the tropics. Their climate models suggest that the effect has been notably strong over Australia. Many parts of that country have experienced droughts in recent years. As a result, many cities have been forced to invest in desalination. And, in the countryside, many farms have closed down. The scientists led by scientists from Columbia University in New York added the ozone hole into standard climate models to investigate how it might have affected winds and rains."The ozone hole results in a southward shift of the high-latitude circulation and the whole tropical circulation shifts southwards too," said Columbia's Sarah Kang. "There is also the rising trend in carbon dioxide, and that is acting in the same direction as the ozone hole”, she added. The team's modeling indicated that global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions and natural climate cycles were also thought to be important in the climate change.

6. Concerns about aircraft safety during the eruption of an Icelandic volcano in 2010 were well founded, according to a new scientific study. Ash particles from the early part of the eruption were especially sharp and abrasive and posed a possible threat to aircraft flying through the cloud. In addition, the particles were so small they could have melted quickly inside jet engines potentially causing them to fail mid-flight. At the height of the eruption the ash blocked out the sun turning day to night and about 10 million travellers were affected by the shutdown. The researchers analyzed the sizes and structures of ash particles using a variety of techniques such as atomic force microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction. The research was carried out by researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and the University of Iceland in Reykjavik. The report was published in the PNAS journal.

7. An Austrian museum is set to return a Gustav Klimt painting to the grandson of its original owner, a victim of the Nazis during World War II. Experts from the Museum of Modern Arts in Salzburg said that they believed the painting, Litzlberg on the Attersee, was thought to be worth up to 30 million Euros. It is believed the 1915 work was seized from Amalie Redlich after she was deported to a concentration camp in 1941 and killed. Georges Jorisch, an 83-year-old living in Montreal, Canada, is Redlich's only living heir. Under a 1998 restitution law, Austria has returned some 10,000 paintings confiscated by the Nazis to the descendants of their former owners. The Salzburg's government will now decide whether to proceed with the restitution.

8.A gym in Spain's Basque region has come up with an interesting way to battle Spain's recession. It has begun offering naked workouts. Easy Gym in Arrigorriaga is the first of its kind in Spain. "With the crisis, we noticed there were fewer people using the gym," said the gym owner, Merche Laseca. "I'm not a nudist myself, though I have no problem with it. But this initiative is about the money", he added. The gym discovered that two local swimming pools already offered popular monthly sessions for bathing nude. Also, every year, in nearby Sopelana, there is a mass naked run and there are at least 12 naturist beaches in the Basque region. Easy Gym stresses it does provide towels for comfort and "to prevent slippage" on the equipment. "Each to his own," the owner of a traditional gym in Bilbao, Spain,, said. He added,"But I think it's the most unhygienic thing in the world."

9. A man who was causing a disturbance outside Universal Studios theme park in Florida died after being shocked with a Taser stun gun by off-duty police, US authorities have said. Adam Spencer Johnson, 33, was said to have been acting irrationally when the five officers approached, police said. The officers used a stun gun because Johnson was "violently" resisting arrest, said Sgt. Barb Jones. Johnson became unresponsive on the ground and was later pronounced dead. "He was kind of pacing around, grabbing his beard, grabbing his head and hair, and they were trying to get a hold of him. He was being disorderly," said Sgt Jones, of the Orlando Police Department.

10. A New York mother of a special needs first-grader wants to know why her son was handcuffed when he became upset while decorating an Easter egg at his New York City school. Jessica Anderson told New York newspaper, The Daily News, that her 7-year-old son, Joseph, became upset because his egg-painting didn't look the way he wanted. She says he was taken to the hospital wearing metal handcuffs even though she told the school she was on her way to get him. Police told the newspaper that the boy was spitting, cursing and acting in a threatening manner. New York City Department of Education spokeswoman, Marge Feinberg, said school officials tried to defuse the situation but called for help when they became worried he would hurt himself or others. The incident occurred at Public School153 in the New York City borough of Queens.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Knowledge Quiz, No. 4

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. 4

The answers are at the bottom.

1. Who was Euclid?

2. What is a stalagmite?

3. Who said, "Power corrupts"?

4. Who was "The Man without a Country"?

5. What is a sarcophagus?

6. What is the capital of Australia?

7. What is a cotton gin?

8. What language do the people of Brazil speak?

9. Who was England's "Nine Day Queen"?

10. How many films did James Dean make?

11. What was the original use for the tissues known as Kleenex?

12. What is a bumbershoot?

13. Who was the only American President who was not married?

14. What is a Dussenberg?

15. What is Holi?

16. What is The Prime Meridian?

17. Who was Ansel Adams?

18. What is a puffin?

19. What was Seward's Folly?

20. Who wrote the poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

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1. Euclid was an Ancient Greek mathematician who is often refer to as "The Father of Geometry". In his work, Elements, Euclid deduced the principle of what became known as Euclidean Geometry. He also wrote about perspective, shapes, and number theory. He lived in Alexandria, Egypt, and lived and worked around 300 BC. His name means "good glory".

2. A stalagmite is a type mineral deposit that rises from the floor of a limestone cave. It is created by the dripping of mineralized solutions and from deposits of calcium carbonate. When they hang from a cave ceiling, they are called stalactites. The largest stalagmite is 204 feet tall and it is a cave in Cuba called Cueva Martin Infierno, The word stalagmite is taken from the the Greek word "stalagmites" meaning "drop" or "drip".

3. The phase "power corrupts" was said by Sir John Dalberg-Acton, aka Lord Acton, 1834-1902. The entire statement is "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." He also is known for having said "Great men are almost always bad men", "There is no error so monstrous that it fails to find defenders among the ablest men" , and "Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought."

4. It was Philip Nolan. He was a character in a short story The Man Without a Country by the American writer Edward Everett Hale, published in 1863. In the story, during his trial as an accomplice of Aaron Burr (who was accused of treason), Nolan angrily shouted "Damn the United States! I wish I may never hear of the United States again!" Upon his conviction, the judge grants his wish. Nolan spent the rest of his life in exile on a United States Navy warship and no one on the ship could ever speak about The United States to him again.

5. A sarcophagus is a coffin which is usually made of stone. They were common in Ancient Egypt and Rome. Most mummies were entombed in a sarcophagus. The word is Greek in origin and means "flesh eating" because a popular stone for creating a sarcophagus was limestone, a destroyer of human flesh. The plural of "sarcophagus" is "sarcophagi".

6. The capital of Australia is Canberra.

7. The cotton gin is a machine that separates cotton seeds from cotton fiber. Cotton gins existed in the 5th Century in India. A modern cotton gin machine invented by an American, Eli Whitney, in 1793. There is a ghost town named Cotton Gin Port in the northern part of the state of Mississippi, USA.

8. Brazilians speak Portuguese. It is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas.

9. England "Nine Day Queen" was Lady Jane Grey (1536- 1557). She was executed for high treason. When 15 year-old King Edward VI was dying, he named Lady Jane Grey as his successor bypassing his eldest half-sister, Mary. But, Mary was proclaimed Queen nine days after the young King died.

10. James Dean (1931-1955) made only 3 films: Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden, and Giant. He also appeared on Broadway in the play, The Immoralist, on a Pepsi Cola commercial, and in several roles on television. He was the first actor to posthumously be nominated for an Oscar.

11. The Kimberly-Clark Corporation created Kleenex in 1924. It was originally marketed them as a way to remove makeup and cold cream. The material from which Kleenex is made was originally called "Cheesecloth UGG," and was created by Kimberly-Clark during world War I as a gas mask filter.

12. It is another word for an umbrella.

13. The only American President was not married was James Buchanan (1791- 1868). He was the 15th President and was in office from 1857- 1861. He was the only President from Pennsylvania.

14. A Dussenberg was a famous high quality automobile produced from 1913 to 1937. The same company produced record-breaking racing cars. It was often nicknamed the "Duesy". The word "doosy" pre-dates the Dussenberg, but the car high quality re-enforced the word's meaning of something of exceptional excellence and power.

15. Holi is a Hindu religious festival celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of a lunar month called Phalguna (February or March). It is also known as Dhuli Vandana. It is celebrated by people throwing colored powder and colored water at each other. Also bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape of Prahlad when the Demoness Holika carried him into a fire. Holika was burned to death but Plahlad was protected by the god Vishnu, the all-pervading essence of all beings.

16. The Prime Meridian is a line of global longitude of defined as 0°. The Prime Meridian and its opposite, the 180th meridian (the International Date Line where the day and date begin) create a great global circle dividing the eastern hemisphere from the western hemisphere. The Prime Meridian passes through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England.

17. Ansel Adams (1902-1984) is a well-known American photographer and environmentalist. Although he created some color photographs, he is best known for his black-and-white photography of The American West. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980 and was made a Doctor of Arts by Harvard and Yale.

18. A puffin is a North American bird that has mostly black or black and white plumage and large colorful beaks. They live and breed on coastal cliffs or offshore islands and feed on fish by diving in coastal waters.

19. Seward's Folly was a derisive term used to describe the U.S. purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. The deal for the purchase was made by U. S. Secretary of State William Seward at the cost of $7,200,000. It was also referred to as "Seward's Icebox".

20. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening was written by the poet, Robert Frost (1874-1963). The poem is written in iambic tetrameter. The poem is below.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter: Facts, Quotes, and Poems

Easter Facts

· The word Lent means spring. The last of the 40 days of Lent is the Saturday before Easter.

· Easter, not Christmas, is the most important holyday on the Christian calendar. The word Easter developed out of the Old English word Eastre or Eostre. The name refers to Eostur-monath, a month named after the pagan goddess, Eostre. Most of Western Europe does not use the word Easter. Instead, it uses variations on the Hebrew word for Passover, Pesach.

· The date of Passover is variable as it is dependent on the phases of the moon, and thus Easter is also a movable feast.

· Easter is now celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon which happens on or after March 21, the Spring Equinox. This is according to The Book of Common Prayer.

· Americans spend approximately 2 billion dollars on Easter candy each year.

· Each Easter, approximately ninety million chocolate Easter bunnies are sold in the U. S.

· Americans consume 16 billion jellybeans at Easter, many of them hidden in baskets. If all the Easter jellybeans were lined end to end, they would circle the globe nearly three times.

· Jellybeans were probably first made in America by Boston candy maker William Schrafft, who ran advertisements urging people to send jellybeans to soldiers fighting in the Civil War. Jellybeans did not become an Easter tradition until the 1930s

· Hot cross buns were among the earliest Easter specialties. They were made by European monks and given to the poor during Lent.

· Pretzels were originally associated with Easter. The twists of a pretzel were thought to resemble arms crossed in prayer.

· The first Easter baskets were made to look like bird's nests.

· The traditional act of painting eggs is called Pysanka.

· The custom of giving eggs at Easter time has been traced back to Egyptians, Persians, Gauls, Greeks and Romans, to whom the egg was a symbol of life.

· In medieval times a festival of egg-throwing was held in church, during which the priest would throw a hard-boiled egg to one of the choir boys. It was then tossed from one choir boy to the next and whoever held the egg when the clock struck 12 was the winner and retained the egg.

· Easter bonnets or ornate Easter hats are a throwback to the days when the people denied themselves the pleasure of wearing fine hats and clothing during Lent.

· Some churches in the U. K. still maintain the old tradition of using evergreens, symbolic of eternal life.

· The tradition Easter Parade on New York's City's Fifth Avenue is not a parade at all. It is ordinary people strolling up and down the avenue showing off their new, stylish and often bizarre Easter hats and clothing.

· Most churches around the world decorate using colorful spring flowers.

· The most popular Easter hymn in The U.S., Canada, and the U. K. is known by two titles, Jesus Christ is Risen Today and Christ the Lord is Risen Today. Most of the words of the original hymn (Christ the Lord is Risen Today) were written by Charles Wesley. The melody was a 14th Century Latin carol. It was first published in 1739. In most churches, it is the first hymn or the processional hymn of Easter.

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Easter Quotes

Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there. - Clarence W. Hall

He takes men out of time and makes them feel eternity. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life. - S.D. Gordon

Those have a short Lent, who owe money to be paid at Easter. - Benjamin Franklin

Easter tells us that life is to be interpreted not simply in terms of things but in terms of ideals. - Charles M. Crowe

We live and die; Christ died and lived! - John Stott

Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time. - Martin Luther

Easter is not a time for groping through dusty, musty tomes or tombs to disprove spontaneous generation or even to prove life eternal. It is a day to fan the ashes of dead hope, a day to banish doubts and seek the slopes where the sun is rising, to revel in the faith which transports us out of ourselves and the dead past into the vast and inviting unknown.

- author unknown, as quoted in The Lewiston Tribune

It is the hour to rend thy chains,
The blossom time of souls.

- Katherine Lee Bate

Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer;
Death is strong, but Life is stronger;
Stronger than the dark, the light;
Stronger than the wrong, the right...
- Phillips Brooks, from An Easter Carol

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Easter Poetry

from the cantata

Saint Nicholas

by Benjamin Brittan.

God moves in a mysterious way

Loves wonders to perform;

God plants footsteps in the sea,

and rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines

Of never failing skill

God treasures up all bright designs,

and guards with sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,

The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy, and shall break

In blessings on your head.



by Joyce Kilmer

The air is like a butterfly
With frail blue wings.
The happy earth looks at the sky
And sings.

An Easter Hymn

by Thomas Blackburn

Awake, thou wintry earth -
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!

Easter Morn

by Louis Lewin Matthews

Easter morn with lilies fair

Fills the church with perfumes rare,

As their clouds of incense rise,

Sweetest offerings to the skies.

Stately lilies pure and white

Flooding darkness with their light,

Bloom and sorrow drifts away,

On this holy hallow'd day.

Easter lilies bending low

in the golden afterglow,

Bear a message from the sod

To the heavenly towers of God.

Monday, April 18, 2011

News You May Have Missed, No. 11

1. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (Ind.) of Vermont made known a list of major corporations who have who have not paid any taxes. At the Same time, The Republicans in The House, The Senate, and State government advocate reducing corporate taxes further and reducing taxes on the extremely wealthy to 21%, the lowest tax rate since 1931. Meantime, the average middle class individual pays 35% of income in taxes.

Sanders calls his list A Guide to Corporate Freeloaders. It contains the following information:

· Exxon Mobile profits were 19 billion dollars last year. It paid no Federal taxes and managed to get a $167,000,000 rebate.

· Bank of America made 4.4 billion dollars last year and received a 1 trillion dollar tax-payer Federal government bailout. It paid no taxes and received a 1.6 billion dollar rebate.

· General Electric made 26 billion dollars in profits in the U.S. alone over the last 5 years. It also cut a fifth of its job force in the last 9 years in the U.S. while shipping the same jobs overseas, principally to China. It paid no taxes this year and received a 1.4 million dollar refund.

· Chevron oil had profits of 10 billion dollars but it received a refund of 19 million dollars.

· Boeing aircraft received a 30 billion dollar contract from the U.S. military. It received a 14 million dollar refund.

· Valero Energy received a 138 million dollar tax break because of gas and oil recent reductions in taxes. It made 168 billion dollars in sales and got a 67 million dollar tax refund.

· Goldman Sachs received a U.S. tax-payer bailout of 800 billion dollars. Yet, it paid only1.1% of its total income in taxes and made profits of 2.3 billion dollars.

· Citigroup (banking) received a bailout of 2.5 trillion tax-payer dollars and made 4 billion dollars last year. It paid no taxes.

· Conoco Phillips petroleum from 2007 to 2009 made 16 billion dollars. But in the same time period, it was given a 451 million dollar tax break.

· Carnival Cruises Lines made 11 billion dollars in the last 5 years, but it paid just 1.1% percent of its profits in taxes.

2. U. S. State Department leaked cables that indicate that the U.S. is secretly financing the opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad. One of the outfits that receives the funding is Baranda TV, a London-based satellite channel that broadcasts anti-Syrian government news. Baranda' chief editor is Malik al-Abdah, co-founder of the Syrian exile Movement for Justice and Development. The leaked documents indicate that at least $6,000,000 has been given to Baranda. The Obama administration has reached out to Assad's regime, hoping to persuade it to change its policies regarding Israel, Lebanon, Iraq and support for extremist groups. In January, the U.S. stationed an ambassador in Damascus, the capital, for the first time in five years. Syrian activists have been staging protests against Assad's authoritarian regime for more than a month. More than 200 people have been killed as security forces tried to crush the protests. The Washington Post reported the information about secret funding and it cited previously undisclosed diplomatic documents provided to the newspaper by the WikiLeaks website.

3. Christians commemorate Jesus' Last Supper on Maundy Thursday (aka Holy Thursday), but new research suggests it took place on the Wednesday before his crucifixion. Colin Humphreys of Cambridge University says discrepancies in The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke as compared with The Book of John arose because they used an older calendar than the official Jewish one. He concluded the date was 1 April, 33AD. This could also mean Jesus' arrest, interrogation and separate trials did not all take place on one night only. Prof Humphreys believes his findings could present a case for finally fixing Easter Day to the first Sunday in April. In his new book, The Mystery Of The Last Supper, the metallurgist and materials scientist uses Biblical, historical and astronomical research to address the fundamental inconsistency about the event. While Matthew, Mark and Luke say the Last Supper coincided with the start of the Jewish festival of Passover, John claims it took place before Passover. Prof Humphreys argues that Jewish people would never have mistaken the Passover meal for another meal because it is so important. He suggests that Matthew, Mark and Luke used an old-fashioned Jewish calendar, adapted from Egyptian usage at the time of Moses, rather than the official lunar calendar which was in widespread use at the time. But, in John's Gospel, the professor believes that is correct in asserting that The Last Supper was before the Passover meal.

4. Aromatic ginger is a traditional medicine in Asia where it has been treasured for thousands of years for its impressive health benefits. Ginger contains dozens of the most potent inflammation fighting substances known, phytonutrients called gingerols. Japanese researchers writing in the Journal of Medicinal Food explain that red ginger (Zingiber officinale var. Rubra) is used in Indonesian traditional medicine as a painkiller for arthritis. In research done over the past 30 years, science has found support for the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger, according to a review published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. The authors found that ginger inhibits the enzymes cyclooxygenase. Further discoveries revealed that an extract of ginger (Zingiber officinale) also inhibits several genes that contribute to inflammation. Inflammation causes or contributes to arthritis, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease and many types of cancer.

5. Twenty thousand teachers and their supporter clogged Broadway in mid-town Manhattan, New York City, in April and there was no media coverage of the event. The teachers marched in support of union and collective bargaining rights. This was a major event and not one newspaper of television station covered it. Said one former teacher from Jericho, New York, "Nobody in the media gave a damn as to what was going on. It seems the media only covers people like those who burn the Koran or carry tea bags, flashing them in people's faces or walk around with signs saying" shut down the government. It is the billionaires who get their message across…. They use the media to break the unions. They are doing a pretty good job of it too."