Sunday, June 26, 2011

A 4th of July Knowledge Quiz

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. 12

A 4th of July Knowledge Quiz

1. After the ratification of The Constitution, what was the first capital of the U.S.?

2. How many U. S. Presidents have been assassinated?

3. Who said, "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country"?

4. What day and year was the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii?

5. Who was Tom Paine?

6. What was the biggest land purchase made by the United States?

7. What was the only American colony?

8. What was The Trail of Tears?

9. Who wrote the Presidential march known as Hail to the Chief?

10. What was The Underground Railway?

11. How many states seceded from the Union to form The Confederacy?

12. What did English King George III write in his dairy on July 4, 1776?

13. Who is known as The Great Compromiser?

14. In what state were more American Presidents born than in any other?

15. What was The Whiskey Rebellion?

16. What great American city was destroyed by an earthquake?

17. Washington D.C. is a planned city. Who created the plan for the city's streets?

18. What is called "The shot heard round the world"?

19. Who designed the first American flag?

20. Who wrote: We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States….?

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1. The first capital of the U. S. was New York City (1789- 1790). The second capital was Philadelphia (1790-1800).

2. Four U.S. Presidents have been assassinated, Abraham Lincoln (Good Friday, April 14, 1985), James A Garfield (Saturday July 2, 1881),William McKinley (Friday, September 6, 1901), and John F. Kennedy (Friday, November 22, 1963). There have also been 12 failed assassination attempts against Presidents Jackson, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt (shot), Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Reagan (shot), George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush.

3. It was Nathan Hale (1755- 1776) of Connecticut who said it. Hale attended Yale, was a teacher and was opposed slavery on ethical grounds. He volunteered to go behind enemy lines to act as a spy during The Revolution. He was captured by the British and said "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country" just before he was executed as a spy by the British in New York City. There is a famous statue of him created by Frederick MacMonnies in City Hall Park in Manhattan, New York City, and there is a plaque honoring him in Yale University's Battell Chapel in New Haven, Connecticut.

4. The sneak attack on Pearl Harbor (on the island of Oahu in Hawaii) by Japan took place on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941. The overall death toll was 2,350, including 68 civilians. Those who were injured in the attack numbered 1,178. Nine ships of the U.S. fleet were sunk and an addition 21 ships sustained damage. In an address to Congress, President Roosevelt call that date "A date which will live in infamy." December 7 is a state holiday in Hawaii.

5. Tom Paine (1737- 1809) was an Englishman by birth who wrote pamphlets to rally support in the colonies for the American Revolution. His most famous pamphlet was called Common Sense.

6. It was the Louisiana Purchase from France. It doubled the size of the U.S., added 828, 800 square miles to the U. S., and cost (in total) $15,000,000. It was President Thomas Jefferson who is responsible for the purchase.

7. It was The Philippines which was captured from Spain during The Spanish-American War. It was a U. S. colony. It remained a colony from 1898 until 1946.

8. The Trail of Tears (1831- 1837) was a forced relocation of Native Americans from southeastern parts of the present-day U.S. to inhospitable lands in present-day Oklahoma. Many Native Americans suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation while on route to their destinations resulting in thousands of deaths. It has been described as an act of genocide by modern historians.

9. The music to Hail to the Chief was written by James Sanderson. The words were written by Albert Gamse but they very rarely used. (For the words, see below answer 20.)

10. The Underground Railroad was an informal network of secret routes and safe houses used by slaves in the U. S. before The Civil War to escape to free states, Canada, Mexico or overseas. They were aided by abolitionists and others.

11. There were 11 states and 3 territories in The Confederacy. The states were: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina. The territories were southern New Mexico, Arizona and Oklahoma. In addition, pro-Confederacy attitudes were high but were suppressed by Union soldier invasions in Kentucky, Missouri, and West Virginia.

12. On July 4, 1776, King George III wrote in his diary, "Nothing of importance happened today."

13. Henry Clay (1777- 1852) was from Kentucky and during his political career was a Congressman, Senator, Speaker of the House, Secretary of State, statesman and a skilled orator. Called "The Great Compromiser," he brokered important compromises on tariff, state's rights and slavery issues.

14. Eight Presidents were born in Virginia. They were Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, William Henry Harrison, Tyler, Taylor and Wilson.

15. The Whiskey Rebellion was a resistance movement in what was the western part of the United States in the 1790s during the Presidency of George Washington. The conflict was rooted in dissatisfaction with various policies of the eastern-based national government. The name of the uprising came from a 1791 tax on whiskey. The tax was a part of program by Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton to fund the national debt. The tax was unpopular and difficult to collect. Thomas Jefferson and his newly formed Democratic Republican Party repealed the tax when it came to power in 1800. (The Democratic Republican Party became known as The Democratic Party. It is the oldest still-functioning party in the U.S. and in the world.)

16. San Francisco was destroyed by an earthquake and its aftermath on April 18, 1906, at 5:12am. The death toll is estimated at over 3,000 and it is the largest loss of life from a natural disaster in California history.

17. Pierre L'Enfant (1704- 1787), a Frenchman, designed the street grid for Washington, D.C. He was also a painter of landscapes and battle scenes.

18. "The shot heard round the world" is a term used for the first shot of the American Revolution at Lexington, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775. No one knows who fired that shot. (Now you know more than Sarah Palin about the start of The Revolution.)

19. The short answer is that no one knows.

According to popular legend, the first American flag was made by Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress who was acquainted with George Washington. In May 1776, so the story goes, Washington and two representatives from the Continental Congress visited Ross at her upholstery shop and showed her a rough design of the flag. Although Washington initially favored using a star with six points, Ross advocated for a five-pointed star, which could be cut with just one quick snip of the scissors. Unfortunately, historians have never been able to verify this story. The story of Washington's visit became popular about the time of the country's first centennial, after William Canby, a grandson of Ross, told the story of Washington's visit in a speech given at the Philadelphia Historical Society in March, 1870.

What is known is that the first unofficial national flag, called the Grand Union Flag or the Continental Colors, was raised at the behest of General Washington near his headquarters outside Boston, Mass., on Jan. 1, 1776. The flag had 13 alternating red and white horizontal stripes and the British flag in the canton (the box in the upper left corner). Another early flag had a rattlesnake and the motto “Don't Tread on Me.”

The first official national flag, also known as the Stars and Stripes, was approved by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The blue canton contained 13 stars, representing the original 13 colonies, but the configuration of the stars varied. Although nobody knows for sure who designed the flag, it may have been Continental Congress member Francis Hopkinson.

20. The words were written by Thomas Jefferson in the final paragraph of The Declaration of Independence. It is the first known use of what would become the nation's name, The United Sates of America.

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Words to Hail to the Chief

Hail to the Chief we have chosen for the nation,

Hail to the Chief! We salute him, one and all.

Hail to the Chief, as we pledge cooperation

In proud fulfillment of a great, noble call.

Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander,

This you will do, that's our strong, firm belief.

Hail to the one we selected as commander,

Hail to the President! Hail to the Chief!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

News You May Have Missed, No. 18

1. When southern Italy's Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, it preserved the buildings, monuments and mosaics of Roman cities Pompeii and Herculaneum forever. But, not everything in the lava's path was quite so picturesque. Herculaneum's pristine cobblestone streets concealed a relatively sophisticated sewer system, which led from resident's homes to huge underground septic tanks. Their contents provide our solidest evidence of what typical Romans ate. For years, teams of archeologists have been sifting through literally tons of ancient excrement to try and find out the nitty-gritty details of the Roman diet. Romans seem to have eaten a fairly typical Mediterranean diet of meat and vegetables, supplemented by delicacies like figs, dormice and sea urchin. The excretory remains supported what scholars had already gathered from literary sources like the Ancient Roman cookbook by Apicius which included six recipes for sea urchin. The cesspit investigation is a long way from being done; archeologists expect to find much more by the time they finish poring through the 2000-year-old feces.

2. A poll done in 17 countries around the world by the charity Oxfam came up with the world's favorite food. It is pasta. In second and third places were meat and rice. The global choices mirrored those of the US and UK quite closely, though some other individual countries liked more spicy foods. The favorite food of Kenya was a maize porridge and Spaniards chose national rice dish paella,. The strangest element of the survey results may be the inclusion of ethnic categories alongside individual dishes, including Italian dishes. Here's the full list of the world's favorite foods:

1. Pasta
2. Meat
3. Rice
4. Pizza
5. Chicken
6. Fish and seafood
7. Vegetables
8. Chinese
9. Italian
10. Mexican

3. A Jewish rabbinical court condemned to death by stoning a stray dog it feared was the reincarnation of a lawyer who insulted its judges, reports say. The dog entered the Jerusalem financial court several weeks ago and would not leave. It reminded a judge of a curse passed on a now deceased secular lawyer about 20 years ago, when judges bid his spirit to enter the body of a dog. One of the judges at the court in the city's ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood had reportedly asked local children to carry out the sentence. An animal welfare organization filed a complaint with the police against a court official. But, a rabbinical court manager told the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot the stoning had been ordered as "as an appropriate way to 'get back at' the spirit which entered the poor dog." The animal is said to have escaped before the sentence was carried out. Dogs are often considered impure animals in traditional Judaism. The incident was reported on the Israeli website, Ynet.

4. A convicted murderer, who was India's oldest inmate, has been released from prison at the age of 108. Brij Bihari Pandey, a Hindu priest, was serving a life sentence for the murder of four people in 1987, when he was 84. Officials at Gorakhpur jail in Uttar Pradesh state say Mr Bihari, who requires regular hospital visits, was freed on humanitarian grounds. As he is unable to walk, relatives carried him from prison to a waiting car. "It was getting difficult to take care of a 108-year-old prisoner," said the jail's Superintendent, SK Sharma. "We moved an application for his release and the court accepted it." In 1987, Bihari and 15 others, many of them his nephews and family members, killed four people over the appointment of a rival as chief priest of a Hindu temple. After a trial, he was sentenced to prison but had to be frequently rushed to hospital. As he was carried from the jail, Bihari hugged fellow inmates, who placed a garland of flowers on him. Prison officials said he received the garland with a broad smile and said: "God is great. Thank you."

5. The oceans are in a worse state than previously suspected, according to an expert panel of scientists. In a new report, they warn that ocean life is "at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history". They conclude that issues such as over-fishing, pollution and climate change are acting together in ways that have not previously been recognized. The impacts, they say, are already affecting humanity. The panel was convened by the International Program on the State of the Oceans (IPSO) and it brought together experts from different disciplines, including coral reef ecologists, toxicologists, and fisheries scientists. "The findings are shocking," said Alex Ross, IPSO's scientific director and professor of conservation biology at Oxford University. "As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had individually realized. We've sat in one forum and spoken to each other about what we're seeing, and we've ended up with a picture showing that almost right across the board we're seeing changes that are happening faster than we'd thought, or in ways that we didn't expect to see for hundreds of years. The challenges are vast; but unlike previous generations, we know what now needs to happen.” The accelerated changes include the melting of Arctic sea ice and the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Also, the coral reefs are subject to "multiple stressors" that could destroy many within a human generation The IPSO's immediate recommendations include: the stopping exploitative fishing now, with special emphasis on the high seas where currently there is little effective regulation; mapping and then reducing the input of pollutants including plastics, agricultural fertilizers and human waste; and making sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

6. Scientists have announced that eating larger portions of healthy food is more important than dieting when it comes to staying slim. The U.S. team of scientists from The Harvard school of Public Health found that people who increased their intake of more high-fiber food like nuts, fruit, yogurt and vegetables actually lost weight. The researchers believe consumption of these products left less room for fatty foods. The study appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine. It involved 120,000 people over a span of 20 years. The food linked to the greatest amount of weight gain was potato chips. A daily portion of chips led to an increase in weight of over 3lbs in four years. Similar results were seen among people who consumed extra portions of salted crackers, sugary drinks and meats. However, there was less weight gain as time went on among people who ate more of certain foods, such as yogurt, vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

7. Officials from Brazil's National Indian Foundation (Fundai) have announced the discovery of uncontacted tribe living deep inside the Amazon jungle. The tribe is estimated to have a population of about 200 people who have continued to live in the same primitive manner for centuries. They are untouched by the modern world. Evidence of the tribe first surfaced when researchers spotted a small clearing while reviewing satellite images of the Amazon. The clearing intrigued them enough to conduct a flyover of the region last April. The flyover produced photographs that showed several small huts clustered together near an area with many banana trees. The tribe is one of several tribes living in the Vale do Javari region of the Amazon, an area which is among the most remote places on the planet. Researchers believe that there are as many as 14 uncontacted tribes still living in that area with a population of roughly 2000 people among.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

News You May Have Missed, No. 17

1. A 780-year-old religious relic of St. Anthony of Padua has been stolen and parishioners at a Southern California Catholic church are praying to the patron saint of lost items and missing persons for its speedy return. The relic was stolen from inside a cabinet beside the altar at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Long Beach on Monday, the feast day of the church's namesake. The Rev. Jose Magana said he decided to bring out the relic this year, on the 780th anniversary of the death of St. Anthony, because many of his parishioners have lost hope in the rough economy. Magana said the relic is invaluable and deeply symbolic to his parish. "It's our history, so it's irreplaceable," Magana said. "It belongs to the church, not just the church here in Long Beach, but the entire Catholic church. "Long Beach police Lt. Paul Arcala said the relic is housed in a 16-inch tall reliquary case with angel-shaped handles made of gold and silver on either side. He declined to describe it further because that might jeopardize the investigation. Father Magana said that some church member told him, "Father, he's the patron saint of lost causes, so he'll come home."

2. Women who do not sleep on their left side on their last night of pregnancy have double the risk of late stillbirth compared with women who do sleep on their left side, according to a study from New Zealand. The researchers who conducted the study said women should not worry because the increased risk is still very small. The chance of the baby being stillborn rises to 3.93 per 1,000 for those who don't sleep on their left from 1.96 per 1,000 for those who do. A significant link was also found between sleeping regularly during the day, or sleeping longer than average at night, and late stillbirth risk, the researchers said. Tomasina Stacey of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Auckland, whose study was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), suggested that restricted blood flow to the baby when the mother lies on her back or right side for long periods may explain the link. But, she said the findings, which were based on a relatively small number of women, needed to be confirmed by larger, more detailed studies before any public health advice could be given. "It's a new hypothesis and means we should start to look at this problem much more closely. It's really a starting point for future research," Stacey said.

3. Every day U.S. residents spend an average of 5 hours watching television, while Australians and some Europeans log 3.5 to 4 hours a day, said researchers led by Frank Hu, at the Harvard School of Public Health. "The message is simple. Cutting back on TV watching is an important way to reduce sedentary behaviors and decrease risk of diabetes and heart disease," Hu said. People who sit in front of the television are not only exercising less, they are likely eating unhealthy foods, he added. "The combination of a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet and obesity creates a 'perfect breeding ground' for type 2 diabetes and heart disease." This is not the first study to associate TV time with ill effects. Many studies have found a strong link to obesity, and one 2007 report found that more TV time was associated with higher blood pressure in obese children. Another study that same year found that overweight children who watch food advertisements tend to double their food intake. For the new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hu and his team reviewed 8 studies examining the link between television time and diseases, that in total followed more than 200,000 people, for an average of 7 to 10 years. Hu and his colleagues found that for every two hours of daily television that people watched, their risk of diabetes increased by 20 percent, while their risk of heart disease rose by 15 percent. Each two hours of television per day increased the risk of dying by 13 percent. Based on those results, Hu and his team estimated that, among a group of 100,000 people, reducing daily television time by 2 hours could prevent 176 new cases of diabetes, 38 cases of fatal cardiovascular disease, and 104 premature deaths -- every year. Hu added that people who watch a lot of television are more likely to eat junk food. But unhealthy diet and inactivity are also consequences of prolonged television watching, so they explain some of the adverse effects of the sedentary behavior

5. A 5cm-wide (2in) fossil may have something big to say about how dinosaurs ranged across the Earth. The 125-million-year-old neck vertebra belonged to a spinosaurid, an animal with a crocodile-like snout that it probably used to prey on fish. The specimen is the first such dinosaur identified in Australia but one that is nearly identical to a UK creature. This suggests northern and southern hemisphere dinosaurs had a lot more in common than previously thought. The traditional idea has been that these ancient animals could be placed into distinctive, geographically separated, groups. This small vertebra undermines that view, says Dr. Paul Barrett from London's Natural History Museum. "After looking at this specimen and having been forced to re-assess the distribution of spinosaurids, we took a look at other dinosaur groups from Australia, including the Tyrannosaur our team announced last year," he told BBC News. "Taking all this evidence into account, we started to realize that a lot of dinosaur groups we'd thought of as either northern specialists or southern specialists actually had more cosmopolitan distributions."

6. Last month it was reported the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscar every year, announced plans to introduce online voting. In addition, next year's best picture category at the Academy Awards will involve a "new twist", organizers have announced. The Academy has voted for a new system which will now produce anywhere between five and 10 nominees in the category. The number of films that will compete will not be revealed until full nominations are announced in January. In a statement, the Academy said the system would introduce a "new element of surprise" to the award show. Academy executives said they studied the voting patterns from previous years. "What stood out was that Academy members had regularly shown a strong admiration for more than five movies," said executive director Bruce Davis. "A Best Picture nomination should be an indication of extraordinary merit. "If there are only eight pictures that truly earn that honor in a given year, we shouldn't feel an obligation to round out the number."

7. They were the most important figures in 20th Century Chile: President Salvador Allende and poet Pablo Neruda. The two men were united in life by their left-wing politics but were divided in death by a matter of days. For years, Chileans have been taught that Allende committed suicide during the military coup of 11 September, 1973, and that Neruda died 12 days later of heart failure brought on by prostate cancer. But now, both deaths are under investigation. In both cases, the Chilean military stands accused of the murders ordered by the country's former dictator General Augusto Pinochet. The evidence against the military is far from conclusive. The case of Pablo Neruda rests largely on the testimony of one man, Manuel Araya, the poet's personal assistant during the last year of his life. But in a recent interview with the Mexican magazine Proceso, the poet's former personal assistant said Neruda was given a lethal injection while being treated in a Santiago clinic in the days after the coup. The case of Salvador Allende, the story is more complicated. There are several conflicting accounts of how the president died. The most widely accepted version is that, as General Pinochet's forces closed in on him, Allende shot himself using an AK-47 rifle given to him as a gift by Cuban leader , Fidel Castro. A judge has ordered both bodies to be exhumed for forensic examinations.

8. Macedonia began assembling a controversial 22-meter-high (72-foot-high) bronze statue of Alexander the Great, a monument seen as a towering challenge to neighboring Greece's claim on the ancient hero. Giant pieces of the monument were brought Tuesday to a cordoned-off area in the heart of Macedonia's capital, Skopje, where construction of a pedestal is still under way. Over the next few days, cranes will be used to put together the parts of the statue, which some critics have accused of being a hubristic waste of money and the government says is an important part of city redevelopment. Although the statue is officially named "Warrior on a Horse," the face closely resembles ancient depictions of Alexander, the warrior king born in Pella, northern Greece, who carved out an empire that reached the Himalayas before his death at age 32 in 323 B.C. Greece and Macedonia remain locked in a 20-year dispute over the right to claim the region's ancient heritage, with conservative Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski on a drive to pin ancient labels on the country's airports, highways and football stadiums and now in Skopje's main square. The two Balkan neighbors have failed to resolve a name dispute that has blocked the tiny republic's accession to NATO and progress toward becoming a member of the European Union. Athens accuses its neighbor of falsely laying claim to its ancient heritage, and demands that the former Yugoslav republic modify its name so that it doesn't imply a territorial claim to its own, larger, northern region of Macedonia. Macedonia gained independence during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in 1991. The statue will cost an estimated euro5.3 million ($7.7 million). The monument, designed by sculptor Valentina Stevkovska, is 12 meters (39 feet) tall and will be placed on a 10-meter (33-foot) fountain pedestal. The statue's parts were built in Florence, Italy.

8. Women in large sections of the U.S. are dying younger than they were a generation ago, reversing nearly a century of progress in public health and underscoring the rising toll of smoking, high blood pressure and record obesity. Nationwide, life expectancy for American men and women has risen over the last two decades, and some U.S. communities still boast life expectancies as long as any in the world, according to newly released data. But over the last decade, the nation has experienced a widening gap between the most and least healthy places to live. In some parts of the United States, men and women are dying younger on average than their counterparts in nations such as Syria, Panama and Vietnam. Overall, the United States is falling further behind other industrialized nations, many of which have also made greater strides in cutting child mortality and reducing preventable deaths. In 737 U.S. counties out of more than 3,000, life expectancies for women declined between 1997 and 2007. Only 227 counties saw women's life expectancy decline between 1987 and 1997, according to the study. For life expectancy to decline in a developed nation is rare. Setbacks on this scale have not been seen in the U.S. since the influenza epidemic of 1918, according to demographers. "There are just lots of places where things are getting worse," said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which conducted the research. "We're not keeping up." Communities with large immigrant populations such as Southern California fared considerably better than average despite relatively high poverty rates. The worst-performing counties were clustered primarily in Appalachia, the Deep South and the lower Midwest. In those places, women died as much as a year younger in 2007 than women did a decade earlier. The research is being published in the journal Population Health Metrics.

9. According to the a study conducted by the University of Iowa, women who lost their virginity in their young teens are more likely to divorce. The study, published in theJournal of Marriage and Family, surveyed the responses of 3,793 women and found that 31 percent who lost their virginity as teens divorced within five years, and 47 percent divorced within 10 years. On the flip side, the divorce rate for women who had waited to have sex was only 15 percent at the five year mark, and 27 percent by the time 10 passed by. But, the study also found that a first sexual experience before the age of 16 whether wanted or not was still strongly associated with divorce. A total of 42 percent of participants claimed that their first sexual experience before the age of 18 wasn't completely wanted. The study's author, Anthony Paik, said in a press release that one explanation for his findings was, "If the sex was not completely wanted or occurred in a traumatic context, it's easy to imagine how that could have a negative impact on how women might feel about relationships, or on relationship skills. The experience could point people on a path toward less stable relationships." The study did not examine the divorce rates for men who lost their virginity in their teens, but Paik said he thinks it would make an interesting follow up.

10. US. Representative Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) will introduce in The U.S. Congress the Religious and Parental Rights Defense Act of 2011 to prevent San Francisco and other municipalities from banning male circumcision which is religious obligation for Jewish males and is a common Muslim and Christian practice. Sherman, who is Jewish, currently has one co-sponsor on the bill, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress. "The Religious and Parental Rights Defense Act of 2011 ensures that Jewish and Muslim families will continue to be able to enjoy the free exercise of their religious beliefs," Sherman said in a statement, adding that proponents of a ban have an obligation to provide compelling medical evidence against male circumcision. In fact, he said, the medical literature shows the opposite. Announcement of the bill comes as the San Francisco "intactivist" effort heats up. Voters won't be able to weigh in until November. The San Francisco effort would ban circumcision for males under the age of 18 in all circumstances and would carry a fine of $1,000 and up to one year in prison

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Pledge of Allegiance

Virtually every American knows The Pledge of Allegiance. Most school-children learn it at an early age and are forced to stand, place their hands on their hearts, and recite it every day. But, it has become mindless repetition without a clear understanding of the history, the intent and the meaning of the words of this pledge. I wonder how many Americans actually understand what they are saying and would object to reciting the pledge if they knew?

Francis Bellamy (1855 - 1931), a Baptist minister, wrote the original Pledge in August 1892. He was a Christian Socialist. In his Pledge, he is expressing the ideas of his first cousin, Edward Bellamy, author of two American socialist utopian novels. Francis Bellamy in his sermons and lectures and Edward Bellamy in his novels and articles described in detail how the middle class could create a planned economy with political, social and economic equality for all.

The Pledge was published in the September 8th issue of a family magazine called The Youth's Companion. Its owner and editor, Daniel Ford, had hired Francis in 1891 as his assistant when Francis was pressured into leaving his Baptist church in Boston because of his socialist sermons.

In 1892 Francis Bellamy was also a chairman of a committee of state superintendents of education in the National Education Association. As its chairman, he prepared the program for the public schools to honor the 400th anniversary celebration Columbus' discovery of America. He created a public school program around a flag raising ceremony and a flag salute, what eventually became known as The Pledge of Allegiance. Bellamy also created a salute similar to the outstretch arm salute which eventually became associated with the Nazis. During World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt changed the gesture to hand-over-heart because the Bellamy salute looked too much like the Nazi salute. Jehovah's Witnesses object to The Pledge as idolatry and after a court suit ruled their favor, they are exempt from reciting The Pledge.

Bellamy's original Pledge was: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all". He considered placing the word "equality" in the Pledge, but he knew that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans. The word "to" before the words "the Republic" was added in October, 1892.

In 1923 and in 1924, the National Flag Conference under the leadership of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, changed The Pledge's words, "my Flag" to " the Flag of the United States of America." Bellamy disliked this change, but his protest was ignored. In 1954, at the height of the Joseph McCarthy (a Catholic) Communist "investigations", purges and hysteria, Congress, after a campaign by the Catholic Knights of Columbus, added the words, 'under God,' to the Pledge. The Pledge then became both a patriotic oath and a public prayer. Bellamy's granddaughter said he also would have resented this change. He had been pressured into leaving his church in 1891 because of his socialist sermons. In his retirement in Florida, he stopped attending church because he disliked the racial bigotry he found there.

I There are continued attempts to change the wording of the Pledge. Some pro-life advocates recite the following slightly revised Pledge: "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, born and unborn". Some liberals recite: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with equality, liberty and justice for all." And, some groups and individuals find "under God" objectionable, but want to substitute "under Law" (as a reference to the Constitution) to make it more secular.

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What is interesting is what The Pledge actually says.

· All national symbols are arbitrary. The flag is no exception. It was patterned after a British flag and its colors were British colors. The box in the upper right (a canton) could just as well contain red stars or white circles to represent the states. And, why the flag? Any symbol of the U.S. would do just as nicely, particularly The Constitution which is a living relevant foundation document.

· What does it actually mean to pledge allegiance to a flag? How many people are really willing to die for a flag as opposed to a country? And is fair, just or rational to require people, especially school-age children, to publically pledge allegiance to a cloth symbol?

· No nation has a pledge of allegiance to a national symbol except the U.S.

· The after-thought to the pledging allegiance to the flag is "to the republic" of United States of America. Shouldn't that be the first and maybe the only thing?

· "One nation"? No, it is a heavily divided nation, politically, regionally, religiously, educationally, racially and in terms of values and class.

· "Under God" is the most egregious statement in the whole pledge. It acknowledges that there is a God. In a secular nation which grants the right to believe or not believe, that is an `affront. It is a disguised attempt to merge patriotism with religion. It also implies that no believers or those with unconventional religious beliefs are not true Americans.

· "With freedom and justice for all". If you believe that, as they say in New York City, "I have a bridge that I would like to sell you".

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If we must have a Pledge of Allegiance, at least make it up to date and a truthful one. I would say, something along the lines of the following:

I pledge allegiance to corporate America and to the corrupt and hypocritical politicians and courts for which it stands, one heavily divided nation, one nation under the Catholic and religious Christian fundamentalist's concept of God, with limited freedom and justice, particularly for the poor and minorities.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Knowledge Quiz, No. 11

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. 11

1. What was Queen Anne's War?

2. What is a diffraction grating?

3. What do AM and FM stand for?

4. What is does the name of the capital of Morocco, Casablanca, mean?

5. What was the real name of the film actor, Cary Grant?

6. Who wrote the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird?

7. What did Alfred Nobel (of The Nobel Prize)invent?

8. What was The Holy Roman Empire?

9. What was the original intended use of The Alamo?

10. Who said, What fools these mortals be ?

11. What is the former nation of Siam known as today?

12. What are whole numbers?

13. From what fish does real caviar come from?

14. What is a sonnet?

15. What language to the people of Iran speak?

16. Where was Alexander, the Great buried?

17. What was Adolph Hitler's real name?

18. What is gout?

19. Where is Lapland?

20. What is The Dome of the Rock?

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1. Queen Anne's War (1702-1713) is a little-remembered war fought in North America between France and England for control of the continent. Various Native American tribes allied themselves with each side and the Spanish allied themselves with the French. It was actually an extension of a European war known as The War of Spanish Succession. The 1713 Treaty of Utrecht ended the war and France gave control of Acadia, Newfoundland, Hudson Bay and the Caribbean island of St. Kitts to England.

2. An diffraction grating is an optical device which splits and diffracts colors into several beams of light travelling in different directions. The directions of the beams depend on the spacing of the grating and the wavelength of the light so that the grating acts as a dispersive element. The principles of diffraction grating were discovered by James Gregory. The first diffraction grating was made in approximately 1785 by David Rittenhouse in Philadelphia, USA.

3. AM means Amplitude Modulation. FM means Frequency Modulation. They are two frequency bands for radio transmission. AM is the lower band. It is less clear and more prone to static than FM.

4. Casablanca means "white house" in Spanish. The Portuguese used the ruins of Anfa (the spot where Casablanca is today) to build a military fortress in 1515. The town that grew up around it was called "Casa Branca", meaning "white house" in Portuguese. Between 1580-1640, the city was part of Spain, hence the Spanish name, Casablanca. Today, residents of the city speak Arabic and call it ad-Dār al-Bayḍāʼ which is Arabic for "white house".

5. Gary Grant's real name was Archibald Alexander Leach. The famous film actor was born in Horfield, (part of the city of Bristol), England, in 1904, and died in Davenport, Iowa, in 1986. Though twice nominated, he never won an Oscar. A statue of him is in Millennium Square in Bristol, UK.

6. Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. It was published in 1959, and she won The Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her book in 1960.

7. Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, and armament manufacturer. He was the inventor of dynamite. In his will, he used his fortune to create and endow the prestigious Nobel Prizes. During his lifetime Norway was part of Sweden That is the reason that every year the announcement of the Nobel Prize winners is made in Norway, but the ceremony of the awarding of the prizes is done in Sweden.

8. The Holy Roman Empire (962-1806) was a central European Empire which lasted approximately 744 years. It encompassed present-day northern France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Poland, Monaco, the Czech Republic, Lichtenstein, Croatia, San Marino, and northern Italy. The first Emperor was Otto I; the last was Francis II.

9. The Alamo was built in 1744 by the Spanish as a Roman Catholic mission and fortress compound. It was originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero. It was secularized in 1793 and shortly after that it was abandoned.

10. The character Puck said "What fools these mortals be" in William Shakespeare's play, A Midsummer Night's Dream.

11. The nation which was called Siam is now known as Thailand.

12. A whole number is a number which is not a fraction nor a number with fractional parts. 1, 2 and 3 are whole numbers. 1/2, 1/3, 2&1/8, and 7& 9/16 are not whole numbers.

13. Real caviar comes from wild sturgeon from the Caspian and Black Seas. Specifically, it is fish black eggs from sturgeon roe. It is an expensive delicacy. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, The World Wildlife Fund, etc., roe from any other species of fish is not caviar, but substitutes of caviar.

14. A sonnet is a type of poetry which 14 lines long, written in Iambic pentameter, and has a end of line rhyme pattern.

15. The people of Iran speak Persian, also known as Farsi. The oldest records in Persian date back to the Persian Empire of the 6th century BC.

16. Alexander, the Great died in Babylon in 323BC. His body was placed in a gold sarcophagus which was in turn placed in a second gold casket. The golden casket eventually wound up in Alexandria, Egypt, a city which he founded and bore his name. Pharaoh Ptolemy IX Lathyros replaced the gold sarcophagus with a glass one so he could melt the original down to create gold coins. Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus allegedly accidentally knocked the nose off the body and the mad Emperor Caligula was said to have taken Alexander's breastplate from the tomb for his own personal use. The body was known to be still in Alexandria in the early AD 200s, but there is no record of what happened to Alexander's body after that.

17. Adolf Hitler (1886-1945), was born in Austria. He was the illegitimate son of Maria Anna Schichlgruber. His birth certificate stated his name as Adolf Schichlgruber.

18. Gout is a medical condition. It is usually acute attacks of inflammatory arthritis characterized by red, tender, and hot swollen joints. The joint at the base of the big the big toe is the most commonly affected. It is caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood which crystallize and are deposited in joints, tendons, and the surrounding tissues.

19. Lapland is not an independent country. It is a cultural region in northern Sweden and Finland. It is largely within the Arctic Circle. The name Lapland refers to the land inhabited by the indigenous and nomadic Sami people, formerly called the Lapp people, a term which is now considered derogatory.

20. The Dome of the Rock is an important Islamic mosque located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The structure was completed in 691AD and is the oldest example of ancient Islamic architecture. The site's significance stems from religious traditions regarding the rock at the heart of the mosque. The rock called The Foundation Rock is site where Muslims believe that the prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven.

Friday, June 10, 2011

News You May Have Missed, No. 16

1. A birth control method for men could finally be on the way. Indian scientist Sujoy Guha has developed a male contraceptive called Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance, and it's starting to get recognition in the U.S where the long process of FDA approval is about to begin. When men receive an injection of the RISUG chemical, it forms a gel along the vas deferens, the pathway that transports sperm. The gel can last for 10 to 15 years. During that time it both reduces the number of sperm making the trip, and also physically disables the ones that do make it safely through the passageway. Despite battling skeptics at each step, Guha "has prevailed because, in study after study, RISUG has been proven to work 100 percent of the time." And, at any time the man can receive a second injection that dissolves the sperm-blocking gel and reverses the contraceptive.

2. When smokers kick the habit, they often gain weight. It is a side effect that many smokers use as a reason for not quitting. According a new study reported in the journal, Science, scientists think they've pinpointed the pathway in the brain through which nicotine helps suppress appetite, suggesting that it's possible to get the same effect without the cigarettes. Nicotine works on many different receptors in the brain, including those in reward regions that contribute to addiction. But, working with mice, a team led by Yale University School of Medicine psychiatrist Marina Picciotto found that nicotine also binds to receptors on appetite-regulating neurons, which aren't involved in addiction. These neurons, located in the hypothalamus, send the "I'm full" message after a meal, helping to regulate how much you eat. It explains why smokers aren't as hungry when they smoke, and why they tend to stay thinner on the habit. When they quit, however, many smokers tend to eat more, typically gaining on average about five pounds after quitting. Picciotto believes that nicotine hijacks various neural circuits in the brain and that understanding how the tobacco compound works on brain cells could lead to better cessation strategies. Understanding the link between nicotine and satiety could lead to new drugs that target the nicotine receptors on appetite-controlling cells, giving smokers a way to quit without the weight gain. Picciotto said that already there are plant-based quit-smoking drugs available in Eastern Europe that may work in this way, but further research needs to be done to determine whether they'd actually help quitters gain less weight. "If we had a medicine targeted at these receptors, then people who are not quitting smoking because they are afraid of gaining weight now might make the attempt," Picciotto says. "That's a really exciting area of drug development."

3. Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, said the slain al-Qaida chief "terrified America" when he was alive and would continue to so in death. He added that bin Laden had "achieved what he wanted to do, which is to incite the Islamic nation to holy war and his message had reached all." The statement was contained in a eulogy that appeared on a militant website. The eulogy also included five poems of praise for bin Laden, describing him alternately as a modest, noble and shrewd commander, and "the vanguard of jihad (holy war) against the Communists and then the Crusaders," a reference to bin Laden's campaign in the Afghan war against the Soviets in the 1980s and the Sept. 11, 2011 attacks against the United States. The message by al-Zawahri, al-Qaida's longtime No. 2 and considered the network's operational head, heaped praise on bin Laden, who was killed in the May 2 raid by U.S. Navy SEALs in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad. Al-Zawahri also blasted the United States for burying bin Laden at sea after the raid and urged the people of Pakistan to rise against the country's rulers, describing them as "traitors." Within days of the bin Laden raid, al-Qaida had issued a statement vowing to keep fighting the United States, a message that was likely designed to convince followers that the organization would remain vigorous and intact even after its founder's demise. Al-Zawahri's eulogy was the first comment on bin Laden's slaying by his potential successor.

4. The Kansas City Star newspaper (USA) reported that French researchers found a significant link to breast milk and a baby's developing metabolism. The researchers found children who breast-feed have lower blood insulin levels than formula-fed babies. The formula-fed babies also had higher blood pressure. When infants cannot be fed breast milk, researchers concluded that they should be fed formula with a metabolic profile as close to human breast milk as possible. The researchers analyzed three years of data on 234 children. One group received only breast milk for the first four months of life. The other two groups were randomly selected to receive either a low-protein formula or a high-protein formula. The children who received breast milk for the first four months had a specific pattern of growth and metabolic profile that differed from the formula-fed babies.

5. Many artists would give anything to have their works exhibited at London's very prestigious Saatchi Gallery. Yet, 7-year-old Leilah Poulain has her painting of a penguin hanging in the gallery because of a mistake. The London newspaper, The Sun, reported that Poulain's mother, Rebekah, just wanted to download the penguin picture to a private online folder at home. Instead, she claims that she accidentally uploaded it to a public file and automatically entered Leilah in a national art competition. Two years later, Leilah Poulain was notified that she was one the winners. Her penguin painting is now hanging alongside works of famous artists."Apparently there were 1,700 entries," Rebekah told the Sun. "It seems it happened because I'm an idiot. Leilah thinks it's brilliant."However, the 7-year-old is not quite sure what it all means. "Does this mean I'm famous?" she asks the newspaper.

6. A drug that makes hearts repair themselves has been used in research on mice. The damage caused by a heart attack had previously been considered permanent. But, a study reported in the journal, Nature, showed the drug, thymosin beta 4, if used in advance of a heart attack, was able to "prime" the heart for repair. In adults epicardium-derived progenitor cells line the heart, but have become dormant. Scientists used a chemical, thymosin beta 4, to "wake them up". The British Heart Foundation described repair as the "holy grail of heart research", but said any treatment in humans was years away. Because of advances in health care the number of people dying from coronary heart disease is falling. The research was conducted at the University College London.

7. It has long been known that getting enough vitamin D is key to bone health, yet vitamin D deficiency remains a common health issue, many experts say. According to the Endocrine Society, very few foods naturally contain or are fortified with vitamin D, and sunlight is one of the best sources of the nutrient. People who don't get enough vitamin D are at risk for calcium, phosphorus and bone metabolism abnormalities, which can lead to a number of diseases, including osteoporosis. Children with a vitamin D deficiency can also develop skeletal deformities known as rickets, the experts pointed out in a society news release. "Vitamin D deficiency is very common in all age groups, and it is important that physicians and health-care providers have the best evidence-based recommendations for evaluating, treating and preventing vitamin D deficiency in patients at highest risk," Dr. Michael F. Holick, of Boston University School of Medicine, said in the news release. Holick chairs a task force that authored the society's new clinical practice guidelines published in the July issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The Endocrine Society issued the guidelines in response to the possible health risks associated with vitamin D deficiency. Among the group's recommendations are that people who are considered at high risk should be routinely screened for vitamin D deficiency and that people who are diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency should be treated with either a vitamin D2 or vitamin D3 supplement.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hidden Secrets of The Roman Catholic Church

The word Catholic means universal. And, the Roman Catholic Church, which touts itself as the one true faith, is a universal church. It is the largest Christian denomination in the world claiming about six billion adherents. It is also the biggest single denomination in the U.S. and all of Latin America. It wields great power both politically and as a moral force. But, because of its political and social stands and because of its hypocrites and contradictions, it is steadily losing ground, especially in Western nations and among the young. It is frequently seen as a reactionary force and a bunch of old men who are out of touch with reality and modern thinking. The following may shed some light on why that is.
Changing Stands on Abortion 

Most people believe that the Roman Catholic church's position on abortion has remained unchanged for two thousand years. Not true. Church teaching on abortion has varied continually over the course of its history. In 1140, Gratian compiled the first collection of Catholic canon law that was accepted as authoritative within the church. Gratian's code included the canon Aliquando, which concluded that "abortion was homicide only when the fetus was formed." If the fetus was not yet a formed human being, abortion was not homicide. In 1581, Pope Gregory XIV revoked the 1588 Papal decree of Pope Sixtus which mandated excommunication and death for both the abortion provider and the pregnant woman. Gregory XVI instated a "quickening" (fetus moving can be felt by the mother) test, which he determined happened 116 days into pregnancy (16½ weeks). Up until the "quikening" could be felt, the fetus was not consider alive and could be aborted. It remained the official church position until 1869. Only since 1869, did the Catholic Church maintain that life began at conception.
                                        Married Clergy

The notion that Roman Catholic priests cannot marry has not always been church policy and is not always enforced today. The first priests were married and Peter, who is considered to be the first "Pope" had a mother-in-law. It was not until The Middle Ages when married clergy became too expensive to maintain and drained money from the power-hungry bishops and Popes that married clergy was forbidden. In modern times, Catholic priests were permitted to marry in the former communist Czechoslovakia and possibly in China today. And, today Anglican priests who become Roman Catholic priests are permitted to keep their spouses.

Gay Married Saints

Saints Sergius and Bacchus were both soldiers in third century officers in Roman Army. They were married to each other in a Christian Church in the ritual of Adelphopoiesis ("brother-making", euphemism for "lovers" ). They were martyred and are saints. Their feast day, October 7, is still celebrated in the Eastern Rite Orthodox Catholic Churches and the Roman Catholic Church has never contradicted their sainthood.
A Female Pope

From the mid-13th century onwards, the story of a female Pope was widely disseminated and believed. She was Pope JohnVIII (John Anglicus) who was Pope for two years, seven months and four days. Today, she is referred to as Pope Joan or Joanna. Bartolomeo Platina, a scholar who was prefect of the Vatican Library, wrote his Vitæ Pontificum Platinæ historici liber de vita Christi ac omnium pontificum qui hactenus ducenti fuere et XX in 1479. The following is his account of the female Pope:
Pope John VIII: John, of English extraction, was born at Mentz and is said to have arrived at Popedom by evil art; for disguising herself like a man, whereas she was a woman, she went when young with her paramour, a learned man, to Athens, and made such progress in learning under the professors there that, coming to Rome, she met with few that could equal, much less go beyond her, even in the knowledge of the scriptures; and by her learned and ingenious readings and disputations, she acquired so great respect and authority that upon the death of Pope Leo IV by common consent she was chosen Pope in his room…. This story is vulgarly told, but by very uncertain and obscure authors, and therefore I have related it barely and in short, lest I should seem obstinate and pertinacious if I had admitted what is so generally talked. I had better mistake with the rest of the world, though it be certain, that what I have related may be thought not altogether incredible.
The Catholic Church dismisses the story of a female Pope as just a legend

Papal Infallibility

Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church which states that by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Pope is preserved from even the possibility of error but only in matters of faith and morals. This doctrine was defined in the First Vatican Council in1870. The notion of Papal infallibility was rejected by many German, Austrian and Swiss Catholics who broke away from the church and formed their own Catholic Church. The notion of Papal Infallibility has been rejected by the Eastern Orthodox and Anglican Churches, and by every Protestant denomination. A few present-day Catholics, including priests, refuse to accept papal infallibility as a matter of faith. A recent (1989–1992) survey of Catholics from the United States, Austria, Canada, Ecuador, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Peru, Spain and Switzerland, aged 15 to 25 showed that 36.9% accepted the teaching on papal infallibility, 36.9% denied it, and 26.2% said they didn't know it even existed.

Papal infallibility is an odd notion which was made up by Pope Leo IX and is nowhere stated or implied in sacred scripture. It is made even more suspect when one takes into account the many instances of contradictions from one Pope to another. For instance, as a matter of faith and morals, Pope Gregory IV permitted abortion through the 16 week of pregnancy, but his successor Pope Pius IX changed the policy to zero tolerance of abortion. Clearly, something is wrong when both Popes were "infallible". (Maybe, one was more "infallible" than the other!)

War on Science: Since the Renaissance, The Catholic Church has indulged in a war on science. Typical of this is the fact that Galileo was forced to retract the idea that the Earth revolved around the Sun. It was not until 1992 that the church expressed "regret" over its handling of Galileo and admitted fully that indeed the Earth revolved around the Sun. But, the war on science continues concerning DNA research, birth control, infertility, dealing with death and coma issues, stem cell research, etc.

Other Items:

 In the Spanish Civil War, the Catholic Church sided with the Fascists.

In Central America, the Catholic Church sided with the wealthy patrons against oppressed and poor peasants. It silenced priests who believed in "liberationist theology" the aim of which was to make the lives of the poor better.

The Papal nuncio (ambassador) to Germany when Adolph Hitler came to power was Cardinal Pacelli, the same man who became Pope Pius XII. In 1938, he referred to the Jews as those "whose lips curse [Christ] and whose hearts reject him even today. Although as Pope he denounced Nazi ideology, he never publicly denounced the genocide of the Jews by the Nazis. And, Pope Benedict XVI ( a former member of Hitler's Nazi Youth and now the current Pope) reinstated a prayer for the conversion of the Jews, a prayer that is offensive to the Jewish people. He did so over the objections of the Jewish community leaders.

In the United States, bishops have instructed priests to tell parishioner from the pulpit in some churches to vote Republican and let Republicans distribute pro-Republican leaflets directly outside of the church doors.

Bishops regularly threaten ex-communication and denial of communion to politicians who are in favor of a free choice when it comes to abortion. Abortion is contrary to church teaching, but so is capital punishment and unjust unprovoked war. No politician has been threatened with excommunication or been denied communion who is an advocate of capital punishment or has voted for or supported a clearly unjust war such as the Bush war of convenience which claimed 600,000 lives in Iraq.

The Catholic bishops and The Vatican covered up the pedophile priest scandal. Both Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger (who became Pope Benedict XVI) were prime movers in the cover-up. And, as a reward for his attempts at covering up the scandal, Cardinal John Law of Boston was promoted and transferred to Rome where he lives a life of luxury immune from prosecution for the cover-up.

The Catholic Church often violates its own creed and teachings. For example, it teaches that there is only "one baptism" and anyone, Catholic or not, can perform it. Yet, the Pope re-Baptized former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Apparently, there are two baptisms, one Catholic and all the others. It is an in-your-face insult to the sacrament of Baptism.

And by the way, Jesus was not a baptized Catholic. His "holy name" wasn't even Jesus. It was (in English) Joshua. So, in spite of the Roman Catholic Church's name change to the Feast of the Holy Name which is celebrated on January 1, it is really not a feast day set aside to honor the name Jesus or Joshua. What took place shortly after Jesus was born was not a naming ceremony. It was a Jewish ritual circumcision. Believe it or not, Joshua-ben-Joseph (aka, Jesus) was born a Jew and died a Jew. And, no amount of rhetorical games played by the Roman Catholic Church can change that fact.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Knowledge Quiz, No. 10

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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The number 3 holds a unique place in the popular mind. It is a symbolic number often associated with the idea of unity or luck. In addition, it is a common practice to count to three in situations where a group of people wish to perform an action together. Often a joke starts with something like "three men were sitting in a bar…." And, there are many superstitions related to the number. Examples of this are superstitions such as deaths come in threes, it is unlucky to strike an unlit match three times, a third attempt at a task is likely to end in success, and a third person doing something forbidden is the most likely to get caught.

So, here is a Knowledge Quiz where all the questions are associated with the number 3.

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1. What three gifts did The Wise Men give to the Christ child?

2. What three horse races make up racing's The Triple Crown?

3. What three islands make up the U. S. Virgin Islands?

4. What three nations were part of Europe's Triple Alliance?

5. What three nations made up Europe's Triple Entante?

6. What three beings make up the Christian Trinity?

7. What three gods make up the Hindu Trinity?

8. What three nations make up NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)?

9. What three provinces of Canada are collectively known as The Maritime Provinces?

10. What were the names of The Three Stooges?

11. What are the three primary colors?

12. What are the three smallest bones in the human body?

13. What three nations are collectively known as Scandinavia?

14. According to the popular children's poem, what three characters sailed off in a wooden shoe to fish among the stars?

15. What were the names of The Three Musketeers?

16. What three nations did President George W. Bush call "The Axis of Evil"?

17. Who were the three children of Henry VIII who all became English monarchs?

18. Who are the Triple Goddesses of Wicca?

19. On most telephone keypads, what three letters of the alphabet correspond to the number 3?

20. What are the Three Jewels of Buddhism?

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1. Gold, frankincense and myrrh.

2. The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes.

3. St. John, St Croix and St. Thomas.

4. Germany, Austria and Turkey.

5. Britain, France and Russia.

6.The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit (aka, The Holy Ghost).

7. Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu.

8. Canada, The United States and Mexico.

9. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

10. Moe, Larry and Curley.

11. Red, yellow and blue.

12. The anvil, the stirrup and the hammer.

13. Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

14. Wynken, Blynken and Nod.

15. Athos, Portos, and Aramis. D'Aartagnon was not one of The Three Musketeers.

16. Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

17. Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I.

18. The Maiden, Mother, and Crone, also known as The Three Fates.

19. D, E, and F.

20. Buddha (the ideal or highest spiritual potential that exists within all beings), Dharma (the teachings of the Buddha), and Sangha (the community of those who have attained enlightenment and who help others to practice Buddhism).