Monday, April 30, 2012

News You May Have Missed, No. 31

1. A judge In The Netherlands has upheld a government plan to ban foreign tourists from buying marijuana by introducing a "weed pass" available only to Dutch citizens and permanent residents. The new regulation reins in one of the country's most cherished symbols of tolerance,  its laissez-faire attitude toward soft drugs. The ruling reflects the drift away from a long-held view of the Netherlands as a free-wheeling utopia. For many tourists visiting Amsterdam the image endures, and smoking a joint in a canal-side coffee shop ranks high on their to-do lists, along with visiting cultural highlights like the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House. Worried that tourism will take a hit, the city's mayor, Eberhard van der Laan, is hoping to hammer out a compromise with the national government, which relies on municipalities and local police to enforce its drug policies. A lawyer for owners of shops which sell marijuana, Maurice Veldman, said he would file an appeal against the ruling by The Hague District Court. If the government gets its way, the pass will be available next year. It would turn coffee shops into private clubs with membership open only to Dutch residents and limited to 2,000 per shop. The Netherlands has more than 650 coffee shops which sell marijuana, 214 of them in Amsterdam. The number has been steadily declining as municipalities imposed tougher regulations.
2. At Bob Jones University, a Southern Baptist institution in Greenville, South Carolina, Chris Peterman was a senior. He watched the TV show, Glee, on his computer at an off-campus Starbucks coffee shop and it got him in big trouble with the school. So much trouble in fact, that they banned him from graduating by suspending him. The objection to what Peterman did is twofold . The television show contains positive portrayals of LGBT students and is very open when it comes to discussing teen sexuality. The second reason is that Starbucks has endorsed gay marriage and there is a political right wing and Christian Fundamentalist boycott of Starbucks for taking that position.
3. The U.S. state of Maine's governor is again creating a controversy with his offhanded remarks,  this time by calling state government middle-level managers "about as corrupt as can be." At a town hall-style meeting in Newport on Thursday night, Republican Gov. Paul LePage was asked why there are so many fees associated with getting a cosmetologist license. In response, the governor said state government is too big and too costly and that the state workforce is part of the problem. LePage told the crowd that he has control over appointed state workers, but has little authority over middle managers and other unionized state employees. "The problem is, middle management of the state is about as corrupt as can be," LePage's remarks were first reported by MaineToday Media. Offering no apologies, LePage had a blunt message for those workers who've been "corrupted" by a bureaucratic mindset that's intent on "doing the same thing because it was always done that way" and for the "union bosses" who he said have urged workers to resist the administration's changes. "If you are dragging your feet because you do not like the direction the administration is headed, then it is time to either get on board or get out of the way," he wrote.Maine State Employees Association President Ginette Rivard said state employees are "honest public servants" and that she was unaware of any corruption within the ranks of state government. "These public workers do important work for all Maine people," Rivard said. "For Gov. LePage to call them `corrupt' is baseless and insulting to every public worker who has dedicated their lives to making Maine a great place to live, work and raise a family." LePage was elected Governor in a multi- candidate race with approximately only 35% of the vote.
In less than 16 months as governor, LePage has earned a reputation for rudeness and incivility . Even before he was elected, LePage caused a stir when he told a crowd that he would tell President Barack Obama to "go to hell." Two weeks after taking office, he stirred up a controversy when he called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People a special interest group and told critics to "kiss my butt" over his decision to not attend the NAACP's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Portland. He later raised eyebrows when he dismissed the dangers of a chemical additive used in some plastic bottles by saying the worst that could happen was "some women may have little beards." A year ago, he riled labor groups, artists and others by removing a huge mural depicting the state's labor history from the Labor Department headquarters. When asked what he'd do if anybody tried to block the mural from being taken down, he said, "I'd laugh at them, the idiots."
4. Lena Davis of  Nicholasville, Kentucky (USA), is suing her dentist. She is accusing him of dropping a small screwdriver down her throat that migrated to her digestive tract and later required surgery to remove. The lawsuit was filed in Fayette Circuit Court in Lexington by the 71-year-old woman. Davis claims Dr. W.B. Galbreath told her to try to regurgitate the screwdriver, and when that did not work, he sent her for X-rays. Galbreath did not return a message left at his office Friday by The Associated Press. The lawsuit says that the X-rays showed the screwdriver in David's stomach, and that the dentist discharged her with instructions to "eat a diet high in fiber." In June 2011, about a month after swallowing the screwdriver, Davis checked into a hospital with abdominal pain and had to have the screwdriver removed.
5. It must have seemed like an aerial invasion to the many eyewitnesses who gazed skyward in St. Petersburg, Russia, on the nights of April 9 through 11. Reports of the UFO activity didn't initially receive wide coverage outside of St. Petersburg, but have since trickled out. Most of the strange light formations were seen and videotaped by many people in and around Russia's second-largest city, including one ball-shaped object seen hovering above St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Airport. According to the Russian news site LifeNews, airport employees were concerned the UFO might cause a disruption during takeoff and landing of aircraft. A short time later, before any action could be taken, the UFO vanished. As strange lights danced around in the sky above the city, citizens aimed their cameras, the Moscow Times reported. One video shows four bright lights hovering in the evening sky near a tall building before eventually disappearing behind the structure. The Baltinfo news agency -- which covers the news in the Baltic Sea region  reported receiving phone calls from concerned people from as far away as St. Petersburg. Authorities have yet to make any pronouncements on the various UFO sightings, despite unconfirmed reports that local army officials hinted the aerial activity was some sort of training exercise. And, according to the Moscow Times, at least one local scientist has gone out on a limb with his personal UFO views. "Aliens look at us as if we are idiots, undeveloped people," said Sergei Smirnov of the Pulkovo Observatory outside of St. Petersburg. "Perhaps they have fenced us in with their own sort of screen for the whole galaxy and are sending warnings to hundreds of billions of stars that the civilization near the dwarf star (which we call the Sun) is dangerous."
6. A Chinese man was reportedly killed last week when a woman squeezed his testicles until he collapsed during a fight over a parking space. An unidentified 41-year-old woman in China's Haiku City in the Hainan Province rode into town on her scooter to pick her child up from school. The woman tried to park in front of a local store, but the store owner, the 42-year-old victim, refused to allow it, China News 24 reported. The resulting fight escalated, leading the woman to call her husband and brother, who in turn got into a more violent fist fight with the shopkeeper, according to the website. At some point in the fracas, the woman grabbed the man's testicles and squeezed them until he collapsed. He was taken to a hospital for treatment and later died.
Related Story:
On March 26, 2012, Louisiana resident Shawntay Brown, 19, was arrested for biting a 15-year-old's breast during a brawl in Monroe. An affidavit in the case included a police officer's statement that the 15 year old "showed me the bite mark." A video is said to show Brown running after the younger girl and biting her on a tender spot, The Smoking Gun reported. Brown contends that the other girl bit her first.
7. The fried-chicken restaurant chain KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) has halted operations in Fiji because of a dispute over imports of the ingredients used to make its flavored crumb coating. The multinational company said Fiji's military government had stopped it from importing herbs, milk and eggs. Fijian officials said two cartons of eggs and milk had been delayed because KFC needed to provide documentation. They accused the firm of exaggerating the row, and say KFC is pulling out because its operation has gone bust. Agriculture permanent secretary Colonel Mason Smith said the firm was using mischievous public relations tactics. "The onus is on KFC to provide us with a simple veterinary certificate, that is all we ask," he said. KFC said that the military government had stopped imports of its herb salt, milk and eggs late last year. The firm, which has three restaurants in Fiji, said the import problems coupled with rising food prices had made it impossible to make a profit.
8. In one New Mexico (USA) town you won’t just be in hot water for not paying your traffic fines, you won’t have any water at all. Traffic violators in Las Cruces, New Mexico owe the city $600,000 in unpaid fines for running red lights.  Faced with budget problems, the town officials are making some big threats to get violators to pay up: Settle your fines or be forced to live without water, sewage and gas utilities, ABC News reported. By law the town can’t rely on the courts to recover the traffic fines, but thanks to a loophole they can stop providing residents with utilities if they are in debt to the town. Las Cruces is just one of many cities across the country facing budget woes. Since 2009, Las Cruces' budget has shrank by $3.6 million, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported. School budgets were hit especially hard, with 135 teachers laid off in 2010, according to the same source.
Related Story:
In the USA, the world's wealthiest country, other towns have cut some municipal utilities outright due to budget constraints. New Hampshire recently announced it would be turning off some 100 street lamps this summer after the state's department of transportation saw its budget cut in half, according to the Nashua Telegraph. And, the  severely economically depressed Detroit (known as 'the motor city because it is the home of General Motors) is currently debating a measure to privatize public utilities in order to save $250 million in lighting costs, the Detroit Free Press reported.  Baltimore, Maryland, has put several historic buildings for sale to get its budget woes under control. Finally, the police department in Smithfield, North Carolina, said it would stop responding to 911 emergency calls because the town is short on gas money.
9. For the couples struggling with infertility, the arrival of new technology and medical breakthroughs that can both identify the issue and help them to get pregnant is welcome news. Artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, sperm washes, donor eggs and surrogacy have assisted many to either carry children with some or all of their DNA, or to have others bear biological children for them. But, Pope Benedict XVI has called that “arrogance” and is telling them that if God doesn’t want them to have their own babies, they should just accept His will." According to the London Daily Mail, “The Pope reiterated the Church’s stance against artificial procreation, telling infertile couples they should refrain from trying to conceive through any method other than conjugal relations. "The human and Christian dignity of procreation, in fact, doesn’t consist in a 'product', but in its link to the conjugal act, an expression of the love of the spouses of their union, not only biological but also spiritual," Benedict said. He told the specialists in his audience to resist "the fascination of the technology of artificial fertility", warning against "easy income, or even worse, the arrogance of taking the place of the Creator".
Not all Catholics are willing to simply accept his condemnation of infertility treatments, however. Jon O'Brien, President of Catholics for Choice, dismissed the Pope’s comments as another sign of the church being out of touch with the realities of everyday believers. “Catholics around the world will be saddened at the label ‘arrogant’ being applied to couples seeking help to have children and the doctors who try to help them. The Pope’s remarks only serve to drive another wedge between people of faith and the church hierarchy. This attack on reproductive technologies is yet another display of the Vatican’s lack of empathy and understanding and a vain attempt to hold back scientific development as well as impede access to reproductive technologies for couples around the world.”
Related Story:
Emily Herx, a former English teacher at St. Vincent de Paul School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, (USA) is suing the school and the Archdiocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend after she was fired because she is receiving in vitro treatments. The sperm donor was her husband. Herx says that she lost her job in 2011 after the school’s priest, Msgr. John Kuzmich, learned that she had begun treatments with a fertility doctor. Kuzmich told her that she was a “grave, immoral sinner” and that it would have been better if she had not discussed her fertility treatments because they could create a “scandal.” According to the complaint, Herx was told that some things are “better left between the individual and God.” As Herx said to CNN, “I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. I had never had any complaints about me as a teacher.” Herx had begun the treatments in March of 2010 and immediately told the school’s principal whose response was “‘You are in my prayers.’” Herx said that she took these words as “support.” More than a year later, she requested time off for her second treatment; only then did Kuzmich request to see her. Eleven days later, Herx was informed that her contract would not be renewed because of “improprieties related to church teachings or law.” At issue is whether the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to the employment, and the firing, of “ministerial employees.” Herx and her lawyer, Kathleen DeLaney, are arguing that, because she taught a secular subject (English) she should be exempt from the “ministerial exception.”
Some, including University of Notre Dame law professor Richard Garnett, say that simply because Herx was working at a Catholic institution, her undergoing in vitro treatments was in conflict with the teachings of the school. According to a statement from the diocese, in vitro fertilization is “not morally licit according to Catholic teaching” and, therefore, the “core issue” in the lawsuit is “a challenge to the diocese’s right, as a religious employer, to make religious based decisions consistent with its religious standards on an impartial basis.” Teachers working in the diocese are to “have a knowledge and respect for the Catholic faith, and abide by the tenets of the Catholic Church.” But, St. Vincent de Paul School had continued to employ Herx after she told the school’s principal in 2010 about receiving in vitro treatments. Only when she requested time off for a second treatment in the following year did the treatments become an issue, such that Herx was fired and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend felt the need to invoke church teachings that had not previously been referenced. The monsignor also told Herx that she was a “grave, immoral sinner” for undergoing fertility treatments and that she could create a “scandal”.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Great Thinker, Great Thoughts No. 13

1. It's not true that life is one damn thing after another; it is one damn thing over and over. - Edna St. Vincent Millay
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 -1950) was an American lyrical poet, playwright and feminist. She received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923 and she won The Frost Medal in 1943. She was also known for her activism and her many love affairs. She used the pseudonym Nancy Boyd for her prose work. Among her most famous poetry collections are Renascence, and Other Poems,  A Few Figs From Thistles, Fatal Interview and Second April. Among her plays are Aria da capo and The Lamp and the Bell.  Letters of Edna St. Vincent Millay was published posthumously in 1952.
2. If A is success in life, then A equals X plus Y plus Z. Work is X; Y is play; and Z is keeping your mouth shut. -Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born physicist who developed the theory of general relativity. Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the great intellects of modern history. He received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect  which later was pivotal in establishing the quantum theory. Einstein published more than 300 scientific papers and over 150 non-scientific works.  He once pointed out that Buddhism was the tradition that he felt fulfilled the criteria he thought necessary for a spiritual path adapted to the twentieth century. His great intelligence and originality have made the word "Einstein" synonymous with "genius".
3. A kiss is a lovely trick, designed by nature, to stop words when speech becomes unnecessary. -Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman (1915 - 1982) was a Swedish actress who starred in European and American films. She won three Academy Awards, two television Emmy Awards, and Broadway's Tony Award for Best Actress. She is ranked as the 4th Greatest female star of American cinema of all time by the American Film Institute. She is best remembered for her roles in Casablanca (1942) and in Alfred Hitchcock's film, Notorious (1946). Although known chiefly as a film star, Bergman appeared on stage in London in A Month in the Country (1965) and in The Constant Wife (1973). Her final role was playing Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in a television min-series called A Woman Called Golda in 1982 for which she posthumously was awarded her second Emmy Award for Best Actress.
4. Nothing endures but change. - Heraclitus
Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535 - c. 475 BC) was an Ancient Greek philosopher. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught. Because of the lonely life he led, his obscure notions and his contempt for humankind, he was called Heraclitus the Obscure and The Weeping Philosopher. Heraclitus is famous for his insistence on a continuously changing universe typified by his famous saying, No man ever steps in the same river twice. He also believed in the unity of opposites and stated that the path up and down are one and the same.
5. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization. - Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (aka: FDR; 1882 -1945) was the 32nd President of the United States  (1933–1945). He was elected 4 times and became the longest serving President. He led the nation during The Great Depression and for most of World War II. FDR was a polio victim who exhibited optimism, leadership and activism which were important during the dark days of nation's economic crisis and war. Roosevelt was a hero to major minority groups, especially African-Americans, Catholics, and Jews. A majority of polls rank Roosevelt as the second or third greatest President in U.S. history and a Gallop poll U.S. citizens rated Roosevelt is the sixth most admired person of the 20th century. FDR also served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and as Governor of the State of New York.
6. The foundation of every state is the education of its youth. -Diogenes Laertius 
Diogenes Laertius (c. 3rd Century AD) was a biographer of the Ancient Greek philosophers.  Nothing is known about his life, but his work, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, is one of the principal surviving sources for the lives and sayings of Greek philosophy.
7. But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself. - Albert Camus
Albert Camus (1913 -1960) was a French author, journalist, and philosopher. Camus received the 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times". He is often called an existentialist, a philosophy which Camus said he rejected. Instead, Camus' views were more in line with the philosophy known as absurdism. His most famous book is the novel, The Stranger. Camus died in an automobile accident just over two years after receiving the Nobel Prize.
8. Everything is clearer when you're in love. - John Lennon
John Winston Lennon (1940 -1980) was an English musician and singer-songwriter. He a member of The Beatles, one of the most successful and critically acclaimed pop music groups in the history of recorded music. Lennon revealed a rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, his writing, his drawings, on film, and in interviews. He became a controversial figure because of  his political, anti-war and religious views and also because of his peace activism.  His music reached iconic stature with such songs as Give Peace a Chance and Imagine. After his marriage to Yoko Ono in 1969, he changed his name to John Ono Lennon. He was murdered in New York City three weeks after his final album was released. In 2002, a BBC poll on the 100 Greatest Britons voted him number eight, and in 2008, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him the fifth-greatest singer of all-time.
9. How poor are they who have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees.  -William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare  (1564 -1616) was an English poet and playwright . He is often regarded to be the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 152 sonnets, two long narrative poems and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Among his greatest plays are Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet.
10. I think that I shall never see
a billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.
- Ogden Nash
Frederic Ogden Nash (1902 -1971) was an American light verse poet and Broadway musical lyricist. When he died, the New York Times commented by saying that his "droll verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country's best-known producer of humorous poetry." Typical of his poetry is this:
Reflection on Ice-Braking
is dandy
But liquor
is quicker.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Knowledge Quiz, No. 35

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.

* * * *

Knowledge Quiz, No. 35

The answers are at the bottom.

1. What is the Tarantella?

2. Who is the current King of Thailand?

3. What were the names of The Marx Brothers?

4. What is alchemy?

5. Who was Rasputin?

6. Who wrote the novel East of Eden?

7. How many English Tudor Kings and Queens were there?

8. What is Noh?

9. What is the capital of Chili?

10. Who painted the painting, View of Toledo?

11. What is the difference between an umbrella and a parasol?

12. Who was the Maid of Orleans?

13. What is the most consumed alcoholic beverage?

14. What two independent island nations are in the Mediterranean Sea?

15. What is a parallelogram ?

16. Who were Romulus and Remus?

17. What is the Richter Scale?

18. What is fool's gold?

19. Who authorized the use by Christians of The Four Gospels?

20. Who wrote the Baroque piece of music, The Four Seasons.


1. The term tarantella is a group of folk dances characterized by a fast upbeat tempo and accompanied by tambourines. The tarantella is popular in Italy and is among the most recognized of traditional Italian music. It is also popular in Argentina. The tarantella has its roots in Ancient Greece. It was a ritualistic dance in honor of the god of music and sun, Apollo, and god of wine, Dionysus. Ancient Greeks settled in southern Italy, and continued to perform the dance. In the parts of southern Italy, the bite of the wolf spider which was called the tarantula was popularly believed to be highly poisonous and to lead to a hysterical condition. The belief in the 16th and 17th centuries was that victims needed to engage in frenzied dancing using a very rhythmic and fast music to prevent death from tarantism. The particular type of dance and the music played became known as tarantella.

2. The current King of Thailand is King Bhumibol Adulyadej (born:1927) . The king has reigned since 1946, making him the world's longest reigning monarch and the world’s longest serving head of state. He is also the defender of the Buddhist faith in Thailand. The Thai monarchy has been in continuous existence since the founding of the Kingdom of Sukhothai in 1238.

3. There were 5 Marx Brothers. They were Chico (Leonard Marx;1887-1961), Harpo (Adolph Marx; aka Arthur Marx; 1888-1964), Groucho (Julius Henry Marx;1890-1977), Gummo (Milton Marx; 1892 or 1893-1977), and Zeppo (Herbert Manfred Marx; 1901-1979). The core of the stage act were the three eldest brothers, Chico, Grouch and Harpo. The two other brothers, eventually left the act to pursue other careers. Gummo was not in any of the movies; Zeppo appeared in the first five.

4. Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied. These include possessing powers including the capability of turning metals into gold or silver and creating youth and immortality through the use of an elixir of life. Alchemy contributed to the development of modern chemistry and medicine.

5. Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin (1869 - 1916) was a Russian Orthodox Christian mystic who influenced the Russian Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, and their only son Alexei. Some called Rasputin the Mad Monk while others considered him a strannik (religious pilgrim) a psychic and a faith healer. Some historians maintain that Rasputin helped to discredit the tsarist government, leading to the fall of the monarchy in 1917. Others saw Rasputin variously as a saintly mystic, visionary, prophet, a debaucher, and religious charlatan. There has been much uncertainty over Rasputin's life and influence as accounts of his life have often been based on dubious memoirs, hearsay and legend.

6. The novel East of Eden was written by John Steinbeck (1902-1968). It was published in September 1952. It has been described as Steinbeck's most ambitious novel and the author told his wife that it was his greatest novel. East of Eden interweaves the stories of two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons. The Hamilton family in the novel is said to be based on the real-life family of Samuel Hamilton, Steinbeck's maternal grandfather. A young John Steinbeck also appears briefly in the novel as a minor character. Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

7. There were 5 Tutor monarchs of England. They were Henry VII (1457-1509), Henry VIII (1491-1547), Edward VI (1537-1553), Mary I (1516-1558) and Elizabeth I (1533-1603).

8. Noh (pronounced:, ), or Nogaku is derived from the Sino-Japanese word for skill or talent. It is a major form of classical Japanese musical drama that has been performed since the 14th Century. Many characters are masked and men play both male and female roles. Traditionally, a Noh "performance day" lasts all day and consists of five Noh plays interspersed with shorter, humorous (Kyōgen) pieces. However, present-day Noh performances often consist of two Noh plays with one Kyōgen play in between.

9. The capital of Chili is Santiago.

10. The View of Toledo was painted by the Spanish painter, El Greco. El Greco was born Doménikos Theotokópoulos, (1541-1614) was born on the Greek island of Crete and was a Spanish Renaissance painter, sculptor and architect. He became known as El Greco (Spanish for The Greek) because he often signed his paintings with his full birth name in Greek letter, Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος and frequently added the word Κρής (Cretan). In 1577, he moved to Toledo, Spain, where he lived and worked until his death. In Toledo, El Greco received several major commissions and produced his best-known paintings. El Greco has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school. He is best known for his elongated figures.

11. The word parasol usually refers to an item designed to protect from the sun and the word umbrella refers to a device more suited to protect from rain. Often the difference is the material. Most parasols are not waterproof. Bumbershoot is an archaic term for umbrella and was a a popular Americanism in the late 19th Century.

12. The Maid of Orleans is Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc; aka: The Maid of Orléans; ca.1412 - 1431). She was a peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed divine guidance, said she heard voices and had visions from God, led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Year's War, was captured by the French Burgundians, transferred to the English in exchange for money, put on trial by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais for charges of "insubordination and heterodoxy," and burned at the stake as a heretic when she was 19 years old. Twenty-five years after the execution, an Inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, pronounced her innocent and declared her a martyr. Nearly 449 years later, Joan of Arc was beatified in 1909 and canonized as a saint in 1920. She is now considered one of the patron saints of France.

13. Beer is the world's most widely consumed alcoholic beverage. It is also the third most popular drink overall after water and tea. The preparation of beer is called brewing. Most beer is flavored with the flowers of a plant known as hops which add bitterness and act as a natural preservative. Some of humanity's earliest known writings refer to the production and distribution of beer.

14. The two independent island nations in the Mediterranean Sea are Malta and Cyprus. However, Cyprus was invaded by Turkey in 1974 and still occupies the north of the island nation.

15. In Euclidean geometry, a parallelogram is a convex quadrilateral with two pairs of parallel sides. The opposite or facing sides of a parallelogram are of equal length and the opposite angles of a parallelogram are of equal measure.

16. According to Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus were the City of Rome's twin founders. Their maternal grandfather was Numitor, a descendant of the Trojan prince Aeneas. When the twins were born, they were left to die but a she-wolf (lupa) found them and suckled them. A shepherd and his wife then raised them until manhood to be shepherds. The twins proved to be natural leaders and acquired followers. When told of their identities, they eventually decided to found a new city for themselves. The image of the she-wolf suckling the twins became an iconic representation and symbol of the city and its founding legend.

17. The expression Richter Magnitude Scale refers to a number of ways to assign a single number to quantify the energy and magnitude of an earthquake. In all cases, the magnitude is a base-10 logarithmic scale obtained by calculating the logarithm of the amplitude of waves measured by a seismograph.

18. Fool's gold is the mineral pyrite, or iron pyrite. It is an iron sulfide with a metallic luster and pale-to-normal, brass-yellow hue. It is called fool's gold because of its resemblance to gold.

19. It was the Roman Empire Emperor Constantine and not the early Christians or church fathers who determined what Gospels could be used by Catholics and other Christian denominations. Although he never converted, the Roman Emperor Constantine (Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus; c. 272 - 337AD; emperor: 306 - 337AD), made Christianity the state religion of The Roman Empire. But, he wanted to only deal with a centralize Christian church authority, wanted the religion not to challenge his authority, and wanted to form an alliance between Roman Empire leaders and the Christian bishops. He also wanted the a unified dogma and not the fragmented dogma that already existed. That was a hard thing to demand at that time because Christianity was a loose confederation of church and teachings under regional Bishops. There were also many Gospels and other documents that were often contradictory concerning incidents in Jesus' life, Christ teachings, interpretations, etc. A conference was called which is known today as the First Council of Nicaea (325AD). Constantine participated in the council sessions and had veto power over any decision. That was in spite of the fact that he did not have much theological understanding of the religious issues and still was the head of the Roman polytheistic pagan religion. In the end, Constantine exercised his veto power over many of the other existing Gospels and accepted only the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John.

20. The Four Seasons (Italian: Le quattro stagioni) was composed in 1723 by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741). It is a set of four violin concertos. The texture of each concerto is varied, each resembling its respective season. The four concertos were written to accompany four sonnets. Though it is not known who wrote these sonnets, there is a theory that Vivaldi wrote them himself, given that each sonnet is broken down into three sections, neatly corresponding to a movement in the concerto. The Four Seasons is Vivaldi's best-known work and is among the most popular pieces of Baroque music.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Political Slanders: The Low Level of Political Discourse in The United States

1. Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois (Barack Obama's home state) compared the proposed health care policies of the Obama administration to the actions of such despots as Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. Here is the portion of Jenky's homily that has started a firestorm.

"Remember that in past history other governments have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches like the first disciples locked up in the Upper Room…. Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care. In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama - with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path. Now things have come to such a pass in America that this is a battle that we could lose, but before the awesome judgment seat of Almighty God this is not a war where any believing Catholic may remain neutral. This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries -- only excepting our church buildings - could easily be shut down. Because no Catholic institution, under any circumstance, can ever cooperate with the intrinsic evil of killing innocent human life in the womb. No Catholic ministry - and yes, Mr. President, for Catholics our schools and hospitals are ministries - can remain faithful to the Lordship of the Risen Christ and to his glorious Gospel of Life if they are forced to pay for abortions".

The Bishop statement is inaccurate on several counts. Present Obama is not "pro-abortion". He believes in freedom of choice based on an individual's determination concerning when life begins. Furthermore, Federal law mandate that no Federal money can be used for abortions. Finally, the fight is over contraception and not abortion.

Also. the Bishop seems to have forgotten that Hitler was a Catholic, was never excommunicated, and imposed a special tax on Catholics which went directly into the coffers of The Vatican., And, the Catholic Church has a former Nazi as its Pope. Finally, the Catholic Church is a tax exempt institution and as such should not get involved in politics ,preaching politics from the pulpit, and implying how Catholics should vote..


2. West Virginia GOP Senate candidate John Raese is defending his comment that compared a smoking ban to Hitler forcing Jews to wear the Star of David. "I am not going to be intimidated by a bunch of bullshit," Raese told the Charleston Daily Mail newspaper. Raese blamed the controversy on "gotcha" tactics by his opponent, Senator Joe Manchin (Democrat)."I'm not apologizing to anybody or any organization. It's my perfect right to make a speech about meaningful subject matters in this country," Raese said, according to the Daily Mail. During an April 12 dinner, Raese called a smoking ban government overreach and said, "But in Monongalia County now, I have to put a huge sticker on my buildings to say this is a smoke-free environment. This is brought to you by the government of Monongalia County. Okay?" he remarked. "Remember Hitler used to put Star of David on everybody’s lapel, remember that? Same thing."Raese's comments were condemned by the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation.

Smoking bans are not new. One of the world's earliest smoking bans was a 1575 Mexican ecclesiastical council regulation which forbade the use of tobacco in any church in Mexico and Spanish colonies in the Caribbean. Pope Urban VII also prohibited smoking in the Church in 1590 followed by Urban VIII in 1624. Pope Urban VII in particular threatened to excommunicate anyone who "took tobacco in the porch-way of or inside a church, whether it be by chewing it, smoking it with a pipe or sniffing it in powdered form through the nose". The first modern attempt at restricting smoking was imposed by the Nazis in every university, post office, military hospital, and Nazi Party office, under the auspices of the Institute for Tobacco Hazards Research. In the U.S. in latter part of the 20th century, research on the risks of second-hand tobacco smoke became public and states were encouraged to pass laws providing separate smoking sections. No Federal level anti-smoking law was ever instituted by President Obama (a smoker who managed to stop the habit) or any other President.


3. Continuing his history of courting political controversy, singer Ted Nugent railed against President Obama’s “vile, evil, America-hating administration” and the U.S. Secret Service which protects the President took notice. Nugent showed up at an National Rifle Association rally and spouted an anti-Obama rant, culminating in the declaration, “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will be either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” He has also called the Obama White House the "Mao Zedong Fan Club" and threatening a reporter by saying he would "slap the shit out of him".

The Secret Service, which is tasked with protecting the U.S. president, senior officials and other figures, confirmed that they met with Nugent. "The Secret Service interview of Ted Nugent has been completed," agency spokesman Brian Leary said. "The issue has been resolved. The Secret Service does not anticipate any further action." Nugent who has endorse Republican Presidential challenger, Mitt Romney, drew Secret Service attention with his blunt remarks about Obama and administration officials at the NRA Convention at which Romney spoke."We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November," Nugent said at the convention. U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Convention whom Nugent also insulted and attacked, responded earlier this week, saying "threatening violence… is clearly beyond the pale." A Romney spokeswoman said the Republican candidate believed "everyone needs to be civil," but stopped short of condemning Nugent's original remarks.


4. A freshman Republican congressman currently campaigning for his second term recently suggested that President Barack Obama will violate his Oath of Office and reveal sensitive information relating to national security if he wins re-election in November. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), a Tea Party favorite who in 2010 unseated the first Iraq War veteran to serve in Congress, was caught on video at a fundraiser last week telling supporters why Obama should not be re-elected. “Finally the third reason is… the things that the President may do in a second term," Fitzpatrick says in the video. "Left unrestrained, without the inhibitions of the next election, he’d have flexibility," he said, "flexibility to do what he wants to do. Whether it’s trade away… the secrets of our national intelligence, to, what he could do to the United States Supreme Court in the next four years." Fitzpatrick was referring to remarks Obama made to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, which he intended to be private but were picked up by a live microphone. Obama said he would have 'more flexibility' in missile defense negotiations after the 2012 elections, but the comments did not appear to touch on classified secrets the president might consider sharing with Russia. The video of Fitzpatrick was provided to The Huffington Post by CREDO SuperPAC. The group called Fitzpatrick "the ultimate embarrassment" in a statement to the Huffington Post. "This isn’t the first time Fitzpatrick has peddled a wild conspiracy theory. Last year, Fitzpatrick questioned whether the U.S. Government orchestrated the downgrade of the U.S. government’s credit rating."


5. Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, who is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department and is also up for re-election, said he and his investigators have evidence that President Obama's birth certificate is a forgery. He also raised questions about the authenticity of Obama's selective service registration."We believe probable cause exists indicating that forgery and fraud may have been committed, not only in President Obama's long-form birth certificate, but more disturbing evidence suggests that another fraud may have been committed regarding his selected service registration card," Arpaio, who is 79 and a Republican, said at a press conference. "Based on all of the evidence presented and investigated I cannot in good faith report to you that these documents are authentic." The findings come after a six month investigation by Arpaio's Cold Case Posse, a group of volunteers. "My investigators believe that the long-form birth certificate was manufactured electronically and that it did not originate in a paper format as claimed by the White House," Arpaio said. Arpaio's investigators said the issue they are most concerned with is that the "date stamp and registrar's stamp appear to have been imported from unknown outside sources." Arpaio said he decided to undertake the investigation last August after some members of his party asked him to do so. However, some critics say sheriff is using it as a way to distract from his own legal problems as he seeks a sixth term in office. Arpaio faces a federal grand jury investigation on criminal abuse-of-power allegations; the Justice Department has accused him of racial profiling Latinos. And there has been an accusation that hundreds of sex-crime cases were inadequately investigated by his department.

Interestingly, the State of Arizona does not issue birth certificates, so anyone born in the state would have a tough time complying with The Constitution which states that to be President, a person must be born in the U.S. And, John McCain of Arizona, Republican nominee for President in 2008, was not born in the continental U.S.; he was born in the U.S. occupied Panama Canal Zone. Finally, up to 50% of Republicans in the Southern part of the U.S. believe that Obama is an illigmate President because he was not born in the country. The issue is being kept alive by Rupert Murdoch's right-wing mouth-piece Fox News, Republican politicians, and celebrities like Donald Trump

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hidden Secrets of The Roman Catholic Church, No. 3: The Popes

Homosexual Popes

Catholics are told that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and infallible in faith and morals. And, that the Holy Spirit guides the College of Cardinals in their selection of the Pope. There have definitely been 3 gay and sexually active Popes: Paul II, Sixtus IV and Julius III.

Pope Paul II (1464-1471) was both very handsome and extraordinarily vain. He wished to be known as Pope Formosus, the latin adjective formosus meaning, beautiful, handsome. However, after much persuasion, he settled for the more ordinary name of Paul. He loved the theater and theatrics. He delighted the public with extravagant sporting events and entertainments, spent lavishly on clothes, jewels, and papal furnishings. He was famous for the promotion of spectacular carnivals to which he forced the Jews to contribute heavily. Knowledge of Paul's sex life comes primarily from the papal biographer Bartolomeo Sacchi, who called himself Platina and wrote five years after Paul's death. Platina paints a portrait of a fun-loving pontiff, "prone to lust" who surrounded himself with attractive young men and shunned the close company of women. Because he could easily be moved to tears by the sight of one of his favorite Italian boys, his cardinals referred to him as "Our Lady of Pity".

Paul was succeeded by another gay Pope, Sixtus IV (1471-1484). According to the Oxford Dictionary of Popes, once in office, he was ruthless and unscrupulous and "inaugurated a line of pontiffs who systematically secularized the papacy". Immediately after his election, he violated his papal oath by appointing two handsome nephews, Pietro Riario and Giuliano della Rovere (who later became Pope Julius II), as cardinals. By all accounts, Pietro was the Pope's lover, and the pontiff enriched his nephew on a scale unprecedented in the history of the papacy. Pietro was a 'party animal' who lived a life of extravagant excess and debauchery which was scandalously chronicled by the writers of the day; he died at age 28. In 1478, Sixtus was implicated in a messy conspiracy to murder Lorenzo and Giuliano de Medici; Lorenzo escaped with a wound, but Giuliano was killed. Sixtus founded the Sistine choir, filling it with beautiful young boys.

Pope Julius III (1550-1555) carelessly and openly practiced homosexuality, especially as he got older, and created a monstrous scandal for the papacy. In his sixties, he picked up a 14-year-old boy on the streets of Parma. The boy, ironically named Innocenzo, was stunningly beautiful and Julius was so enraptured with him that he forced his brother to adopt Innocenzo. Julius then named the unschooled youth to the rank of Cardinal. Still later, Julius promoted him to secretariat of state, though without executive function. Eventually, Innocenzo's income was one of the highest in Europe. The Venetian ambassador to Rome reported that Innocenzo shared the pope's bedroom and bed. The relationship became a staple of anti-papal polemics for over a century. It was said that Julius, awaiting Innocenzo's arrival in Rome to receive his cardinal's hat, showed the impatience of a lover awaiting a mistress, and that he boasted of the boy's prowess.

There may have been other gay Popes, but these three are the most well-documented.


The Pope Who Committed Murder

Pope Celestine V (1215 -1296), was a hermit and was elected Pope at age of 80 in 1294. But, overwhelmed by his duties as Pope resigned after only 5 months, 1 week and 1 day. His successor Pope Boniface VIII (c. 1235-1303), had Celestine imprisoned and then murdered. Celestine was later canonized as a saint. Boniface was Pope from 1294 to 1303. Today, he is probably best remembered for his feuds with the poet Dante (Durante degli Alighieri; c1265-1321), who placed Boniface in the Eighth Circle of Hell among the simonist (those who paid for high religious offices) in his epic poem, The Divine Comedy (Divina Commedia; written; 1308-1321).


The Pope Who Kidnapped a Jewish Boy

In Bologna, Italy, in 1858, a police squad acting on the orders of the Catholic Inquisitor invaded the home of a Jewish merchant, Momolo Mortara, wrenched his fearful six-year-old son from his arms and rushed him off in a carriage bound for Rome. Years earlier, the family's Catholic serving girl, fearful that the infant might die of an illness, had secretly baptized him, or so she claimed. Edgardo recovered, but when the story reached the Bologna Inquisitor, the result was his order for Edgardo to be seized and sent to a special monastery where Jews were converted into good Catholics. The Inquisitor's justification for taking the child was based on Catholic Church teaching that no Catholic child could be raised by Jewish parents. The case of Edgardo Mortara became an international cause célèbre. Although such kidnappings were not uncommon in Jewish communities across Europe, this time the political climate had changed. As news of the family's plight spread to Britain, where the Rothschilds got involved, to France, where it mobilized Napoleon III, and even to America, public opinion turned against the Vatican. Refusing to return the child to his family, Pope Pius IX kept the child at his residence and treated the boy as his own child. At age 17, Edgardo went to Bologna to spend a month with his parents, but decided to return to Rome and became a Catholic priest.


Popes with Mistresses

At least 5 Popes were sexually active with women during their Pontificate. They were: Sergius III (904-911), John X (914-928), John XII (955-963), Benedict IX (1044, 1045 and 1047-1048), and Alexander VI (1492-1503).


The Pope who Put on Trial a Dead Pope

Pope Stephen VI was consecrated by Pope Formosus. During Formosus' reign as Pope , was excommunicated for leaving the Papal seat and “conspiring to destroy the papal see”. He was eventually forgiven and returned to Rome. When Stephen VI came the Papal Throne, he had the body of Formosus exhumed and put on trial. Formosus was accused of transmigrating sees in violation of canon law, of perjury, and of serving as a bishop while actually a layman. Stephen had Formosus’ papal vestments removed and two fingers from his right hand cut off. Formosus’ body was thrown in to the Tiber. Later, public opinion turned against Stephen. He was deposed in an uprising and strangled to death.


The Most Immoral Pope

Benedict IX was Pope from 1032 to 1044, again in 1045, and finally from 1047 to 1048, the only man to have served as Pope for three discontinuous periods. He was also one of the youngest Popes (reigning from around age 18-20). He reportedly led an extremely dissolute life, and also allegedly had few qualifications for the papacy other than connections with a socially powerful family, although in terms of theology and the ordinary activities of the Church he was entirely orthodox. St. Peter Damian described him as “feasting on immorality” and “a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest” in the Liber Gomorrhianus, a treatise on papal corruption and sex that accused Benedict IX of routine homosexuality and bestiality. He was also accused by Bishop Benno of Piacenza of “many vile adulteries and murders.” Pope Victor III referred to “his rapes, murders and other unspeakable acts. His life as a Pope so vile, so foul, so execrable, that I shudder to think of it.”

Benedict gave up his papacy for the first time in exchange for a large sum of money in 1044. He returned in 1045 to depose his replacement and reigned for one month, after which he left again, possibly to marry, and sold the papacy for a second time, to his Godfather (possibly for over 650 kg /1450 lb of gold). Two years later, Benedict retook Rome and reigned for an additional one year, until 1048. Poppo of Brixen (later to become Pope Damascus II) eventually forced him out of Rome. Benedict’s place and date of death are unknown.


The Most Corrupt Pope

Born Roderic Llançol i de Borja, Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503; Pope:1492-1503) is so famous for his debased reign that his surname has become synonymous with the debased standards of the papacy in his era. Alexander’s elevation did not at the time excite much alarm, and at first his reign was marked by a strict administration of justice and an orderly method of government. But it was not long before his passion for endowing his relatives at the church’s and his neighbors’ expense became manifest. To that end he was ready to commit any crime and to plunge all Italy into war.

Alexander VI had three sons in addition to his famous daughter Lucrezia. During his pontificate virtually everything he did was to further the position of his children and family in the world. In order to dominate the Sacred College of Cardinals more completely, Alexander, in a move that created much scandal, created twelve new cardinals, among them his own son Cesare, then only eighteen years old, and Alessandro Farnese (later Pope Paul III), the brother of one of the Pope’s mistresses, the beautiful Giulia Farnese.

The death of the Pope is well recorded by Burchard: Alexander VI’s stomach became swollen and turned to liquid, while his face became wine-coloured and his skin began to peel off. Finally his stomach and bowels bled profusely. After more than a week of intestinal bleeding and convulsive fevers, and after accepting last rites and making a confession, the despairing Alexander VI expired on 18 August 1503 at the age of 72. It is highly likely that he was poisoned, though others speculate that he may have died of malaria.


Pope Pius XII

Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli:1876-1958) was the Pope during World War II and his actions during the Holocaust remain controversial today. For much of the war, Pius XII maintained a public front of indifference and remained silent while German atrocities were committed. He refused pleas for help on the grounds of neutrality, while making statements condemning injustices in general. Privately, he sheltered a small number of Jews and spoke to a few select officials, encouraging them to help the Jews.

Pacelli lived in Germany from 1917, when he was appointed Papal Nuncio in Bavaria in Germany until 1929. He understood what the Nazis and Hitler stood for and on July 20, 1933, Pacelli and German diplomat Franz Von Papen signed a concordat that granted freedom of practice to the Roman Catholic Church. In return, the Church agreed to separate religion from politics. This diminished the influence of the Germany's Catholic Center Party and the Catholic Labor unions. The concordat was a diplomatic victory for Hitler.

Pacelli was elected Pope in 1939 (the year that Hitler invaded Catholic Poland) but said very little about Hitler or Nazi ideology. His only public statement concerning the Nazis was in a 1935 speech in Lourdes, France, where he said about the Nazis, It does not make any difference whether they flock to the banners of the social revolution, whether they are guided by a false conception of the world and of life, or whether they are possessed by the superstition of a race and blood cult.

Pius XII issued no condemnation of the November, 1938, massive Nazi anti-Semantic violence known as Kristellnacht (the night of broken glass) and there is some evidence that shows he was informed in advance about it by Berlin's papal nuncio. Pius XII did intervene the month he was elected Pope (March 1939) and obtained 3,000 visas to enter Brazil for European Jews who had been baptized and converted to Catholicism. Two-thirds of these visas were later revoked by the Nazis. But, the Pope did nothing to save practicing Jews in Germany. And he never excommunicated Hitler or any other Catholic who was a Nazi either.


Tony Blair and Pope Benedict XVI

The Catholic Church maintains that anyone can perform a baptism. Even non-Catholics can perform a baptism. And, there is only baptism, not one baptism for Catholics and one baptism for the rest of humanity. Finally, you cannot be baptized twice. But it violated its own creed (Nicene Creed, 325AD) which says, we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins, when the Pope re-baptized former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (born: 1953). Blair was baptized as an Anglican (Church of England), married a Catholic, and started attending a Catholic Church and even received Communion once with her. But, he decided to wait to convert to Catholicism until he left office. (He would have been the first Prime Minister in history who was not a member of the Church of England or a Protestant.) Almost immediately after leaving office, he had informed Pope Benedict XVI that he wanted to become a Catholic. The Pope followed up the request with an unprecedented red-carpet welcome. After the re-baptism, there was much talk that the staged event was intended to be a direct slap in the face to The Church of England.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Great Thinkers, Great Thoughts, No. 12

1. A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin. - H.L. Mencken

Henry Louis "H. L." Mencken (1880 -1956) was an American journalist, essayist, editor, culture critic and English language scholar. He is regarded as one of the most influential American writers of the first half of the 20th century. He commented widely on the social scene, literature, music, prominent politicians, and pseudo-experts. He was enthusiastic about scientific progress but skeptical about economic theories. He was critical of anti-intellectualism, bigotry, organized religion, Christian Fundamentalism, creationism and chiropractic medicine. He was also not a proponent of representative democracy which he believed enabled inferior men to dominate their superiors.


2. Absurdity, n.: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion. - Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (born 1842; died sometime after December 26, 1913) was an American journalist, short story writer, satirist, editorial writer and fable writer. Today, he is probably best-known for his short story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and his stirical work, The Devil's Dictionary . His motto was Nothing Matters and was often called Bitter Bierce. His writing style often embraced an abrupt beginning, dark imagery, vague references to time, limited descriptions, impossible events and the theme of war. In 1913, he went to Mexico to experience of the Mexican Revolution. While traveling with rebel troops, he disappeared.


3. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. -Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln (1809 -1865) was the 16th President of the United States and was in office from March 1861 until his assassination in April, 1865. He successfully led his country through the American Civil War, a great Constitutional, military and moral crisis. He provided moral leadership, preserved the union of states, ended slavery, and promoted economic and financial modernization. Brought up by a poor family, Lincoln was mostly self-educated. He became a country lawyer, a state legislator and a one-term member of Congress. His most famous statement is The Gettysburg Address. He is one of the most beloved U. S. Presidents.


4. People ask for criticism, but they only want praise. - W. Somerset Maugham

W. Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965) was an English playwright, novelist and short story writer. Among his most popular works are The Razor Edge, Of Human Bondage, Rain, Cakes and Ale, and The Moon and Sixpence. He was among the most popular writers of his day.


5. I must take issue with the term 'a mere child,' for it has been my invariable experience that the company of a mere child is infinitely preferable to that of a mere adult. - Fran Lebowitz

Frances Ann "Fran" Lebowitz (born:1950) is an American author. Lebowitz is best known for her sardonic social commentary on American life. Lebowitz was born and raised in New Jersey to an observant Jewish family. After being expelled from high school, Lebowitz work at a number of odd jobs. Her first book, a collection of essays titled Metropolitan Life, was released in 1978. It was followed by Social Studies in 1981. Both works were published under the title The Fran Lebowitz Reader. She has also appeared on late night talk shows and as an actress on the television series, Law and Order. Lebowitz is a heavy smoker and is known for her advocacy of smokers' rights. In September 2007, Fran Lebowitz was named one of the year's most stylish women in Vanity Fair magazine's 68th Annual International Best-Dressed List.


6. Television has raised writing to a new low. - Samuel Goldwyn

Samuel Goldwyn (born: Schmuel Gelbfisz; 1879 - 1974) was an important American film producer and founding contributor executive of several motion picture studios. He was born in Warsaw, Poland, was Jewish, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1898. He co-founded Paramout Pictures and Samuel Goldwyn Studio. In 1946, Goldwyn was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. In 1957, he was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his outstanding contributions to humanitarian causes. And, in 1971, Goldwyn was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Nixon. In addition, Samuel Goldwyn is also known for his malapropisms, paradoxes, and other speech errors called Goldwynisms (a humorous statement or phrase resulting from the use of incongruous or contradictory words, etc.)


7. We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968) was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world by using non-violence. King's efforts led to the 1963 March on Washington where he delivered his I Have a Dream speech which firmly established him as one of the greatest orators in American history. In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Prize. By the time of his death in 1968, he had refocused his efforts on ending poverty and stopping the Vietnam War. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Metal in 2004. In spite of considerable resistance from Southern former slave-owning states, previous segregated states, and Arizona, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a US Federal Holiday in 1986. Most states established it as a state holiday soon after.


8. Nothing is worse than active ignorance. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 -1832) was a German writer, artist, biologist and physicist. His literary works involved the fields of poetry, drama, science and philosophy. His long poem, Faust has been called the greatest long poem of modern European literature. His other literary works include the Bilddunsroman Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship and the Sorrows of Young Werther. His scientific works include Theory of Colors. Politically conservative, he served as the Privy Councilor of the duchy of Saxe-Weimar, raised questions about the French Revolution and its aftermath, remained aloof from the patriotic efforts to unite the various parts of Germany into one nation and advocated rule by benevolent despots. Eventually, Goethe's influence spread across Europe, and for the next century his works were a major source of inspiration in music, drama, poetry and philosophy.


9. Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself. - old Chinese proverb


10. The young man who has not wept is a savage,
and the old man who will not laugh is a fool
. - George Santayana

George Santayana (born: Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás; 1863-1952) was a philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist. A lifelong Spanish citizen, Santayana was raised and educated in the United States and identified himself as an American although he always kept a Spanish passport. He wrote in English and is generally considered an American man of letters. At the age of forty-eight, Santayana left his position at Harvard and returned to Europe permanently. He never returned to the United States. Santayana is best known for the sayings, Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it which appears in Reason in Common Sense, the first volume of Santayana's five-volume Life of Reason (1905).