Monday, May 23, 2011

News You May Have Missed, No. 14

1. A massacre took place on a ranch in Guatemalan town of Caserio La Bomba. The town is in Peten province near the Mexico border. At least 29 people were killed and most were decapitated. The area has been plagued by drug cartels, national police said Sunday. Among the 29 dead were two children and two women. It is one of the worst massacres since the end of Guatemala's 36-year civil war in 1996. The police are investigating whether the attack is related to the killing in Peten of Haroldo Leon, the brother of alleged Guatemalan drug boss Juan Jose "Juancho" Leon. "Juancho" Leon was killed in 2008 in an ambush that Guatemalan authorities blame on Mexico's Zetas drug cartel, which has increasingly wrested control of the drug trade outside Mexico, at times by eliminating their competition. Guatemalan police said the victims of Sunday's massacre were bound and their bodies showed signs of torture. The victims were believed to have worked on the farm. Police found a message written in blood at the scene saying: "Salguero, we're coming for you." Police did not say who Salguero was.

2. Pope Benedict XVI has finally told Catholic bishops around the world to promptly report all suspected cases of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests to local police in new guidelines he has issued. Set out in a letter, the guidelines are the latest effort to eradicate child sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. It incorporates sweeping revisions made last year to the Church's laws on sexual abuse. Sex abuse of minors is not just a canonical delict [crime], but also a crime prosecuted by civil law", the letter said, stressing that local civil law "should always be followed." The new guidelines say bishops should seek to protect minors and help victims of pedophile priests find assistance and reconciliation. But victims' groups, who have deplored the Vatican's secrecy over sex crimes, have condemned the guidelines. "As an absolute minimum, there should be a global no-tolerance policy," said the US victims' group Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). "Fundamentally, the reason that Church officials ignore, conceal and mishandle sex crimes is because they can."

3. Egyptian officials said the wife of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Suzanne Mubarak, has agreed to hand over assets to the state after being held in a corruption probe. The officials also said that Mrs. Mubarak will turn over a villa in a Cairo suburb and about $3,000,000 held in bank accounts in Egypt to the government. The Mubaraks face allegations of illegally acquiring wealth while Hosni Mubarak was in power for 30 years. By relinquishing her assets, Suzanne Mubarak stop[s a probe into her possible financial misdealing. Under articles in Egyptian law, a person who is accused of illegal financial gains can turn over assets to the government in return for the government's dropping its investigation into financial wrong-doing. The Mubaraks are currently under detention in hospital the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh . Mrs. Mubarak is half-Welsh.

4. Voters in Zurich, Switzerland, have rejected proposed bans on assisted suicide and "suicide tourism". About 85% of the 278,000 votes cast opposed the ban on assisted suicide and 78% opposed outlawing it for foreigners, Zurich authorities said. About 200 people commit assisted suicide each year in Zurich, including many foreign visitors. It has been legal in Switzerland since 1941 if performed by a non-physician with no vested interest in the death. But, the assistance can be provided only in a passive way, such as by providing drugs. Active assistance, such as helping a person to take or administer a drug is prohibited. Many citizens from Germany, France and other nations come to die in Switzerland because the practice remains illegal abroad.

5. An Israeli couple have named their baby daughter Like, taking their inspiration from a Facebook social networking site. Lior Adler and his wife Vardit said they were looking for a name that was "modern and innovative". Facebook allows users to "like" their friends' statuses, pictures and posts. Like Adler's father said originality was a key factor in the choice. He said he had checked and no-one else in Israel had the same name. "In our opinion it's the modern equivalent of the name Ahava [Love]," he added. "It's just my way of saying to my fantastic daughter, 'Love'."

6. Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene have returned. Or, at least that's what one Australian couple wants you to think. The actually names of the two people who claim to be Jesus and Mary Magdalene are Alan John Miller, age 47, and Mary Suzanne Luck, age 32. They claim to be the second coming of the Biblical personages. "Just a little over 2000 years ago, we arrived on the Earth for the first time," Miller said on his web-site, Divine Truth. "Because of my personal desire and passion for God, as I grew, I recognized not only that I was the Messiah that was foretold by ancient prophets, but also that I was in a process designed by God that all humans could follow, if they so desired." Miller and Luck have between 30 and 40 disciples. Australia's Cult Awareness and Information Centre as well as both the Anglican and Catholic churches are concerned that the couple, relying on supporter donations to sustain themselves, appeals to the vulnerable.

7. For the past few summers, New York City has been struggling with an epidemic of bedbugs, tiny bloodsucking insects that hide during the day, but come out to feed at night. Unfortunately, an infestation of bedbugs is very easy to acquire, and very difficult to eradicate. They can be picked up not only on beds , but also in taxis or theaters, restaurants, airplanes, subway trains, etc. Last year, some of the city's flagship retailers were affected. Lingerie retailer Victoria's Secret and teen fashion store Hollister were among those that had to close outlets while pest controllers were called in. Getting rid of bedbugs can be very expensive, with treatment of commercial premises sometimes costing tens of thousands of dollars. And, bedbugs are becoming more resistant to chemical treatments, experts say. Six years ago, bedbug-related services made up less than 1% of a typical New York City exterminator's total revenue. Today, it's more than 25%. Bedbug activity increases during warm weather, and experts say this summer will be no exception. New York is bracing itself for another irritating onslaught. Bedbugs are notoriously good travelers, and signs of similar epidemics are already emerging in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington, London and Paris. The uncomfortable fact is that, as in so many areas, where New York leads, other cities look set to follow.

8. Farmers in eastern China have been left perplexed after their watermelons began to explode one by one. An investigation by state media found farms in Jiangsu province were losing acres of fruit because of the problem. And, the overuse of a chemical that helps fruit grow faster was blamed in one report by China Central Television. However, agriculture experts were unable to explain why chemical-free melons were exploding. They cited the weather and abnormal size of the melon as factors. Farmer Liu Mingsuo told Xinhua that more than two-thirds of his crop had blown up. But, Wang Dehong, who has been farming watermelons for 20 years, couldn't understand why his fruit also exploded as he had not used any chemicals. According to the Xinhua news agency, 20 farmers in a village in Jiangsu province planted imported seeds from Japan. Agricultural experts investigating the incident were unable to offer an explanation.

9. Coffee has been linked to a reduced risk of dying from prostate cancer in a study of nearly 50,000 US men. Those who drank six or more cups a day were found to be 20% less likely to develop any form of the disease - which is the most common cancer in men. They were also 60% less likely to develop an aggressive form which can spread to other parts of the body. But, some health organization say that the evidence which was reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute is still unclear. They do not recommend that men take up coffee drinking in the hope of preventing prostate cancer. The study looked at about 48,000 men in the US who work as health professionals. Every four years between 1986 and 2006, they were asked to report their average daily intake of coffee. During this 20-year period, 5,035 of the men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, including 642 fatal cases. No difference was seen between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, suggesting caffeine itself was not the cause. But even relatively small amounts of coffee (one to three cups per day) were found to lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer by 30%.

10. The U.S. government is suing Starbucks Coffee Company for firing a barista in El Paso because she is a dwarf. When the employee asked for a stool or small stepladder to perform her job, Starbucks denied the request and fired her that same day, claiming that she could be a danger to customers and workers, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The commission said that Starbucks violated federal law by denying a reasonable accommodation to the employee, who was hired in July 2009 and was fired after three days of training. Stacey Krum, a spokeswoman for Starbucks, said that the woman was hired on a trial basis. After three days, the store manager decided that the work was too physically demanding for her to perform."Using the stool in that environment just wasn't a reasonable accommodation in that store," she said.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Doomsday, Déjà Vu

A radio evangelist, multi-millionaire (Just send money folks,,,,), and religion charlatan who lives off the ignorant, the fearful and gullible, Harold Camping, has made another dire prediction about the end of the world. His prediction has reached as far as India, and has caused fear and panic among many. Camping (87) is claiming to have calculated the exact date of "the Rapture" and, because The Rapture marks the beginning of a very specific timeline, the exact date of the end of the world. Camping and his followers have spent the past several months (or more) traveling the country, posting billboards and otherwise proclaiming that the big day is May 21, 2011. While it may seem like this is the end of the world, in fact, Camping doesn’t claim the end of the world will come until five months later on Oct. 21. (Just send money folks…)

By definition, the Rapture is different than the end of the world and is a phenomenon subscribed to by dispensational pre-millenialists. What the dispensational pre-millennialism teaches is that the Rapture is the removal of all true believers from the world leaving all the rest of the dirty sinners down here. While all the believers will just be up with God somewhere, those who will be left behind on Earth will suffer a seven-year tribulation period in which Satan rules and horrors abound. Following that seven years period, it is believed that Jesus will return and the Battle of Armageddon will occur. Christ will conquer and set up a 1,000-year (millennial) kingdom on Earth. ( Just send money folks…)

Much of the End Times debate ( the study of the End Times is called "eschatology") is based on the Biblical books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation, Pocock. Those texts feature examples of apocalyptic literature, a characteristic of which contains symbolism that would have been clearly understood by first century Christians. However, much of that symbolism is largely lost to some modern readers. They believe that The Bible is the literal world of God (a concept that is only about a thousand years old), and that every word in The Bible is meant to be taken literally, contradictions, historical data and scientific data not with-standing. However, the literalists conveniently ignore the statement by Jesus in The Bible, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”, Matthew 24:36. ( Just send money folks…)

But, he is not the first to make such a prediction and make money in the process. There have been people like Harold Camping for years despite what Jesus said about trying to predict the end of time. In the U.S. alone:

· There was Millerite movement in Vermont that put the end of days in the mid-1800s. Between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844, Millerite movement founder William Miller predicted the end of the world as falling somewhere between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844, but when that didn’t pan out, the failed predictions led to a historical period that is now known as the “Great Disappointment.”

· In a sermon given on Feb. 14, 1835, and recorded in “The History of the Church,” Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church stated that sometime in the next 56 years, the Lord would return.

· Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, began publishing a magazine in 1879 which came to be known as The Watchtower. He predicted in that publication that the battle of Armageddon would take place in 1914. When World War I began in 1914, Russell believed his prophecy on the verge of coming true.

· in 1939, an unintentional end-of-the-world situation happened. Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the Air gave a radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ story “The War of the Worlds.” The result was mass panic and hysteria.

· NASA engineer and Bible student Edgar C. Whisenant went so far as to write a book about his prediction. “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988” captured quite a few followers, even leading the Trinity Broadcast Network to interrupt programming to offer instructions on preparing for the Rapture. When the dates passed uneventfully, Whisenant made other end-of-days predictions including dates in ’89, ’93 and ’94.

· Harold Camping published a book in 1992 entitled 1994? in which he predicted the end of the world was likely to occur in 1994..

· There were a lot of predictions that the world would end on January 1, 2000. Part of it was the Y2K hysteria. The scarcity of Spam, bottled water and toilet paper on grocery shelves indicated plenty of people were preparing for something dramatic.

· Harold Camping is now certain about this date for the Rapture. It is May 21, 2011. He has publicly said that it is because of immorality and "gay pride" that God has chose this time to end the world. His followers have the announcement and ads for his church plastered on their cars and T-shirts and have helped fund 2,200 billboards around the U.S. warning of the judgment day.

· Thanks to the Mayans and with some additional help from Hollywood, we are faced with still another end of the world date. It is at the end of 2012. Of course, that 2012 date would become a moot point if the Camping prediction proved to be correct.

What fools these mortals be.

William Shakespeare,

A Midsummer Night's Dream

( Just send money folks…)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Knowledge Quiz, No. 8

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. 8

1. What is the capital of Romania?

2. What sign was put on the cross when Jesus was crucified?

3. Who was Mata Hari?

4. Who invented the sport of La Crosse?

5. What is the Bhagavad Gita?

6. Where is The Dardanelles?

7. Who wrote the novel, The Old Man and The Sea?

8. Who was Lilith?

9. What was the first feature-length cartoon film?

10. Who was the first African-American baseball player in the major leagues?

11. What was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution?

12. What are the 5 modern languages which trace their roots to Latin?

13. Who was the last king of France?

14. Who wrote the music to West Side Story?

15. Who is The Emperor of Japan?

16. What is the Cannes Film Festival grand prize called?

17. What is Tagalog?

18. Who were the Gemini twins?

19. Who was The Elephant Man?

20. Who is reputed to be the most prolific classical music composer?

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1. The capital of Romania is Bucharest.

2. According to the Gospel according to John, a sign was placed at the top of the cross saying, IESVS·NAZARENVS·REX·IVDÆORVM (translation: Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.). It is often abbreviated to INRI. Slightly different versions appear in other Gospels: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews (Matthew), The King of the Jews (Mark); and, This is the King of the Jews (Luke).

3. Mata Hari (1876- 1917) was the stage name of Margaretha Geertruida Zelle MacLeod, an exotic dancer who was also an accused German spy during World War I. She was born in The Netherland and w as executed by firing squad in France.

4. Modern day La Crosse originated as a team sport played by Native Americans (Indians), particularly by the Onondaga, Cherokee, Mohawk and Ojibwe tribes. The sport involves a small rubber ball and a long handled stick containing a loose mesh pouch designed to catch the ball. It is mostly played in Canada and in the eastern United States.

5. The Bhagavad Gita is a sacred Hindu scripture. Hindus believe that it was given by Sri Krishna (a manifestation of God) to a human being, Arjuna. It is a book of religion, philosophy and insights intended to be a guide for all humanity. It contains 700 verses. The words "Bhagavad Gita" mean "Song of God".

6. The Dardanelles is a 38 mile long and 4 mile wide waterway in northern Turkey. It is a strait which connects the Aegean Sea with the Sea of Marmara and it is a dividing line between Europe and Asia. Although it is in Turkey, it is an international waterway. It was previously known as the Hellespont.

7. Ernest Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea in 1951. It was first published in 1952 and was Hemingway's last major work of fiction. The "old man" was a Cuban named Santiago.

8. According to Hebrew mythology, Lilith was Adam's first wife. According to the myth, Lilith was created when Adam was created. She left Adam after she refused to become subservient to him and then would not return to the to The Garden of Eden after she mated with the Archangel Samael. So, Eve was created out of Adam's rib to replace her.

9. The first feature-length cartoon movie was Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was released in 1937, took 3 years to make, and is reputed to have been seen by more people than any other feature film in history.

10. It was Jackie Robinson in 1947. He played with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

11. It was Delaware on December 7, 1787. Delaware is often referred to as The state that started a nation. December 7 is celebrated by some people in the state as Delaware Day.

12. Collective know as the Romance Language (The term has nothing to do with love. Instead, it refers to city of Rome.), the modern languages rooted in Latin are Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Romanian.

13. The last King of France was not Louis XVI. It was King Louis Philippe I (1830-1848). He was forced to abdicate and lived in England until his death in1850. However, he was not the last French monarch. That was Emperor Napoleon III (1852-1870).

14. The music for West Side Story was composed by Leonard Bernstein. The lyrics were written by Stephen Sondheim and the script which was based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet was written by Arthur Laurents. The musical premiered on Broadway in 1957.

15. The current Emperor of Japan is Akihito. In Japanese, he is called the Tenno, literally meaning "Heavenly Sovereign". He is also called the Mikado.

16. Since 1955, the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) has been the highest prize awarded at The Cannes Film Festival. It goes to the director of the best feature film entered in the competition.

17. Tagalog is one of the official languages of The Philippines. It is a native language spoken as the first language of by one-third of the people and as a second language by nearly all the rest of the people of that country. It is also known as Filipino. The word Tagalog derived from tagailog, tagá, meaning "native of", and ílog meaning "river." So, the word Tagalog literally means "river dweller". Very little is known about the origin or history of the language .

18. According to Greek mythology, the Gemini were twin brothers, one a god, Pollux, and one a mortal, Castor. They were also brothers of Helen of Troy. Pollux and Castor were the sons of Leda, but they had different fathers. Pollux's father was the god Zeus, but Castor's father was the mortal, Tyndareus. In the myth, the twins were so devoted to each other that when Castor died, Pollux asked Zeus to let him share his own immortality with his twin to keep them together. They were transformed into the Gemini Constellation. In ancient times, the pair were regarded as the patrons of sailors.

19. The Elephant Man was Englishman Joseph Merrick (1862-1890). He had severe deformities of unknown origin and Merrick was frequently on exhibition as a freak and curiosity. Merrick's death was ruled accidental and the cause of death on death certificate was asphyxia caused by the weight of his oversized head as he lay down. Two theories about his deformities is that either he suffered from only neurofibromatosis type I or both neurofibromatosis type I and Proteus syndrome.

20. The post prolific composer of classical music is reputed to be Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767). He created 3000 pieces in his lifetime. He is classified as a late Baroque and Early Classical period composer.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hating Our Ancestors

Ancestor worship takes many forms and is a common characteristic of most people, past and present, on this planet. All religions have ancestor worship, though very few call it that. The creator of all things is a not only a spiritual ancestor, but in a very real sense, physically too. Whether it is The Bible, The Koran, the Ancient Greeks, or The Hindus, each religion says we are created by God or the Gods and we mirror the image of God or the Gods. In Christianity, it is so blatant to the extent that God is even called The Father.

Humans go much further in their desire to acknowledge their ancestors and those who created us both physically and spiritually. The Confucians worship their ancestors because if it wasn't for them, the individual would not be alive today. Almost all religion-founders are more than honored and some are even worshiped as spiritual ancestors. The canonization of saints is a type of ancestor "worship" and so is Mother's Day, Father's Day, Memorial Day and Washington's Birthday.

The words myth and theory are often misunderstood, misused used and interchangeable. A myth is a belief which cannot be proven or substantiated. When it is proven, it becomes a fact. The existence of Troy was a myth. But, when the German archeologist Schliemann found the lost city of Troy in modern-day Turkey, the existence of Troy became fact. A theory is a scientific belief which has not or cannot be proven. the process of turning a theory into a fact depends on an experiment involving a control. For instance a new medicine in theory will work. But it is tested and as part of the test, a placebo is also used. If the results are the same, then the medicine is no good, but if the medication works and the placebo does not, the drugs is placed on the market. Unfortunately, not all myths and theories can be proven. Germ theory has never been proven because you cannot have a control factor. But, only an idiot would say that germs do not exist and are potentially harmful.

The Theory of Evolution remains a theory because it cannot be prove using a control. And, the ultra-religious and Bible literalists are fond of saying, "It's just a theory." They prefer to believe their own religions human origin stories. Never mind that the religious versions are totally unsubstantiated and often stretch credulity. Never mind that there is more evidence of human evolution than of the existence of Adam and Eve. They prefer to believe, and therefore it becomes a "fact" for them.

What does myth and theory have to do with ancestor worship? When confronted with the facts about evolution, the nay-sayers rely on their beliefs in religious myth and yet they dismiss evolution as "just a theory". And, by denying since, they are really not paying homage to their actual ancestors and in some cases, creating racial bigotry.

DNA research around the world has confirmed the Out-of-Africa model developed by Chris Stringer and Peter Andrews that modern Homo-sapiens are all related, the meaning on the Latin word "homo" being "one". We evolved as a species in Africa about 200,000 years ago. Homo-sapiens began migrating from central Africa between 70,000 and 50,000 years ago and eventually replaced existing hominid species in both Europe and Asia. Out-of-Africa and not the religious myths has gained support from research using female mitochondrial DNA and the male Y chromosome. After analyzing genealogy trees constructed using 133 types of DNA, researchers concluded that all were descended from a woman from Africa, dubbed the Mitochondrial Eve, the name Eve means "the mother of all living". Furthermore, if one looks at the physical characteristics of one of 14 primal tribes still existing in Africa as researchers did, the San people, one sees all of the physical characteristics of the various ethic people who populate the world today. The differences in hair, eye and skin color; eye shape; stature; body fat; etc., can be attributed to mutations. And, the Home-sapiens are still slowly undergoing mutations and change today thanks in part to globalization and medical breakthroughs.

Many religious literalists and bigots discount all of this evidence because they either don't like it or it conflicts with myths. Bigots particularly have a tough time with the idea that their hereditary ancestors are "black" Africans. It clashes too much with their notion of white superiority. Politicians particular play "the race card" and pit one group against another. In the extreme, it leads to irrational hate, murder and genocide.

It is unfortunate in the extreme that we have so much difficulty dealing with idea that we are one race and people, that we trace our genetic hereditary to a common place and people. And if we must indulge in some form of ancestor worship, maybe we should thank our real human ancestors who lived in central Africa without whom we would not be alive today.

Monday, May 9, 2011

News You May Have Missed, No. 13

1. According to estimates by The National Institute for Literacy, approximately 47 percent of adults in "The Motor City", Detroit, Michigan are "functionally illiterate". That translates to about 200,000 people who have trouble with reading, speaking, writing and computational skills. Even more surprising, the Detroit Regional Work Force found that half of that illiterate population has obtained a high school diploma. The DRWF report places particular blame on the lack of resources available to those hoping to better educate themselves, with fewer than 10 percent of those in need of help actually receiving it. Only 18 percent of the programs surveyed serve English-language learners, despite 10 percent of the adult population of Detroit speaking English "less than very well." Additionally, the report found that one in three workers in the state of Michigan lack the skills or credentials to pursue additional education beyond high school. Recently, the unemployment rate in Detroit hit 11.8 percent, one of the highest in the U.S. according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2. A Jewish Hasidic newspaper in Brooklyn, New York City, removed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and counterterrorism director, Audrey Tomason, from the photo of the Obama national security team in The White House Situation Room while they were watching the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The original photo taken as the raid was occurring shows Mrs. Clinton with her hand over her mouth in the center of the room. This was done in spite of The White House forbidding from altering the picture in any way. But the orthodox Jewish newspaper, Der Tzitung, has a policy of never printing photos of women in its pages because it thinks picture of a woman could be sexually suggestive. The newspaper defended itself by saying, “In accord with our religious beliefs, we do not publish photos of women, which in no way relegates them to a lower status.... Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging to women, which is certainly never our intention. We apologize if this was seen as offensive.” Of course, the newspaper could simply have not used the picture at all. The blogger Failed Messiah was the first to notice the altered photograph.

3. Coffee, sex and blowing your nose could increase the risk of a type of stroke, say researchers in the Netherlands. The study of 250 patients published in the journal, Stroke, identified eight risk factors linked to bleeding on the brain. Bleeding can happen when a weakened blood vessel, known as a brain aneurysm, bursts. This can result in brain damage or death. They found that coffee was responsible for 10.6% of burst brain aneurysms. It was followed by vigorous exercise (7.9%), nose blowing (5.4%), sex (4.3%), straining to defecate (3.6%), drinking cola (3.5%), being startled (2.7%), and being angry (1.3%). The patients all had increase blood pressure which could result in blood vessels bursting. The research was carried out at the University Medical Center in Utrecht.

4. An official at China's state TV regulator has ordered TV stations across the country not to air any detective shows, spy thrillers or dramas about time-travel for the next three months. All have been ordered off-air with immediate effect. China's Communist Party is preparing to celebrate the 90 anniversary of its founding and the authorities want TV stations to air programs praising the party instead. The government wants China's one billion television viewers to tune in to a wholesome diet of patriotic propaganda that will glorify the party ahead of the anniversary on July 1. Wang Weiping, the deputy chief of the drama department at China's state TV, called this a "propaganda period". A TV official said the government often issues orders about which programs should and should not be aired.

5. China has banned newspapers, publishers and website-owners from using foreign words, particularly English ones. China's state press and publishing body said such words were sullying the purity of the Chinese language. It said standardized Chinese should be the norm: the press should avoid foreign abbreviations and acronyms, as well as "Chinglish" - which is a mix of English and Chinese. If words must be written in a foreign language, an explanation in Chinese is required, the state body said. The order also extends existing warnings that applied to radio and TV.

6. Gay men are twice as likely to have had cancer than heterosexual men says a study reported in the US journal, Cancer. The study of more than 120,000 people in California has led to calls for more specialist support. Lesbians and bisexual women also had poorer health after they had cancer than heterosexuals according to the research. Dr Ulrike Boehmer of the Boston University School of Public Health said it was not possible to conclude "gay men have a higher risk of cancer" because the underlying reasons for the higher incidence could be more complicated. Further research would be needed to determine if homosexual men were actually getting more tumors or had greater survival rates, she said.

7. The Italian army has arrived in Naples to help the city deal with its continuing rubbish collection crisis. This is the second time in three years that the army has cleared Naples' rubbish. About 170 troops have been deployed in Naples and they brought more than 70 trucks to help move refuse. About 2,000 tons of refuse has now been left on the streets. Angry Naples residents have set fire to the piles several times. The refuse has been piled on Naples' streets after nearby landfill sites have become too full. The problem is in part because of technical failures in local incinerators and the lack of investment in new landfill sites. And, even the mafia is said to have played a part in the crisis. Some Neapolitans claim mobsters have infiltrated waste management in Naples and dumped toxic waste on the sites, making residents even more nervous about living next to them.

8.A South Korean study suggests about 1 in 38 children have traits of autism, higher than a previous U.S. estimate of 1 in 100.By casting a wider net and looking closely at mainstream children, the researchers expected to find a higher rate of autism characteristics. But they were surprised at how high the rate was. They don't think South Korea has more children with autism than the US, but instead that autism often goes undiagnosed in many nations. U.S. estimates are based on education and medical records, not the more time-consuming survey conducted in South Korea. Two-thirds of the children with autism traits in the study were in the mainstream school population, hadn't been diagnosed before and weren't getting any special services. Many of those undiagnosed children likely have mild social impairments, rather than more severe autism. "It doesn't mean all of a sudden there are more new children with (autism spectrum disorders)," said co-author Dr. Young-Shin Kim of the Yale Child Study Center. "They have been there all along, but were not counted in previous prevalence studies." It's not clear whether the children need special services or not, other experts said."I'm sure some of these children probably could benefit from intervention, but I don't think we could make a statement that all would benefit from intervention," said Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's developmental disabilities branch. The CDC wasn't involved in the new study, although another federal agency, the National Institute of Mental Health provided some funding. The group Autism Speaks which advocates for more aggressive autism screening also helped pay for the study. Autism Speaks had no role in the study's design. The research, published Monday in the American Journal of Psychiatry, attempted to screen all 55,000 schoolchildren, ages 7 to 12, in a district of Goyang City near Seoul.

8.Chocolate milk has long been seen as the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down, but the nation's childhood obesity epidemic has a growing number of people wondering whether that's wise. With schools under increasing pressure to offer healthier food, the staple on children's cafeteria trays has come under attack over the very ingredient that makes it so popular, sugar. Some school districts have gone as far as prohibiting flavored milk, and Florida considered a statewide ban in schools. Other districts have sought a middle ground by replacing flavored milks containing high-fructose corn syrup with versions containing sugar, which some see as a more natural sweetener. Los Angeles Unified, the nation's second-largest school district, is the latest district to tackle the issue. Superintendent John Deasy recently announced he would push this summer to remove chocolate and strawberry milk from school menus. But nutritionists and parents are split over whether bans make sense, especially when about 70% of milk consumed in schools is flavored, mostly chocolate, according to the industry-backed Milk Processors Education Program. Many, including the School Nutrition Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dietetic Association, American Heart Association, and National Medical Association, argue that the nutritional value of flavored low-fat or skim milk outweighs the harm of added sugar. Milk contains nine essential nutrients including calcium, vitamin D and protein. A joint statement from those groups points to studies that show kids who drink fat-free, flavored milk meet more of their nutrient needs and are not heavier than non-milk drinkers."Chocolate milk has been unfairly pegged as one of the causes of obesity," said Julie Buric, vice president of marketing for the Milk Processors Education Program. Others note the nation's child obesity epidemic and say flavored milk simply needs to go. Eight ounces of white milk served in Los Angeles public schools contains 14 grams of natural sugar or lactose; fat-free chocolate milk has an extra six grams of sugar for a total of 20 grams, while fat-free strawberry milk has a total of 27 grams, the same as eight ounces of Coca-Cola.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Knowledge Quiz, No. 7

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. 7

1. What did Thomas Jefferson, James Earl Jones, Joe Biden, Winston Churchill, King George VI, Reuben "Hurricane" Carter, Lewis Carroll, Isaac Newton, and Aristotle have in common?

2. What distinction do Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth I, and Queen Caroline share in common?

3. What do Janet Gaynor, Marie Dressler, Louise Rainer, Jennifer Jones, Shirley Booth and Marlee Matin have in common?

4.What do Diego Garcia, Mindanao, Tasmania, Nihau, Borneo, and Madagascar have in common?

5. What do Earl Campbell, Matt Leinart, Archie Griffin, Charles White, and Rashaad Saleem have in common?

6. What do Katmandu, Montevideo, Asuncion, Vaduz, Yamoussoukro, and Oslo have in common?

7. What do the names Victor, Fabian, Leo, Sixtus, Clement, Urban, Telesphorus, Soter, and Alexander have in common?

8. What do Andrew Marvell, John Donne, Percy Shelley, Thomas Hardy, William Wordsworth, and Christina Rossetti have in common?

9. What do the words immune, circulatory, endocrine, lymphatic, and reproductive share in common?

10. What do the words rodeo, flounder, pajama, apartment, pretzel, aloha, and cabal share in common

11. What do the glockenspiel, guqin, triangle, koto, lyre, kugo and shawn have in common?

12. Who were the following: Vespasian, Claudius. Domitian, Caracalla, and Constantine?

13. What do King John; Timon of Athens; Pericles, Price of Tyre; Coriolanus; and Titus Andronicus have in common?

14. What do Adele Kindt, Artemisia Gentileschi, Georgia O'Keeffe, Judy Watson Napangard, Marietta Robesti, and Mary Cassatt have in common?

15. What do pumpkin, tobacco, cocoa, tomatoes, corn (maize), squash, and potatoes have in common?

16. What were the Kaiser, Frasier, Nash, Austin, Yugo, and Studebaker?

17. What are the following: fusilli, tagliatelle, gemelli, capanelli, mostacciole, and penne rigate?

18. What are the following collective know as: hyperbole, onomatopoeia, rhyme, simile and metaphor?

19. What do the following words have in common: Red, Black, White, Baltic, Barents, Dead, and Caspian?

20. What do the following individuals share in common: Peter, the Great; Ivan, the Terrible; Catherine, the Great; Boris; and Nicholas?

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1. They all are stutterers.

2. They all have US states named after them: Maryland (Queen Mary), Virginia and West Virginia (Queen Elizabeth I, known as "The Virgin Queen"), and North Carolina and South Carolina (Queen Caroline).

3. They all won Oscars for Best Actress.

4. They are all islands.

5. They are all Heisman Trophy winners.

6. They are all capital cities of their nations: Katmandu (Nepal), Montevideo (Uruguay), Asuncion (Paraguay), Vaduz (Lichtenstein) , Yamoussoukro (Ivory Coast), and Oslo (Norway).

7. They were all Pope's names.

8. They were all British poets.

9. They are all systems in the human body.

10. They are all foreign words which are now part of standard English; rodeo (Spanish), flounder (Dutch), pajama (Hindi), apartment (French), pretzel (German), aloha (Hawai'ian), and cabal (Hebrew).

11. They are all musical instruments.

12. They were all Roman Emperors.

13. They are all plays by William Shakespeare.

14. They were all female painters.

15. They are native to North and South America.

16. They were all former brands of automobiles.

17. They are all types of pasta.

18. They are used as poetic devices.

19. They are all the names of seas.

20. They were all Russian Tsars or Tsarinas.