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Thursday, June 30, 2005
EVIL EYE.......
The terror of the arts of "fascination", i.e. that certain persons can bewitch, injure and even kill with a glance, hasbeen and is still very widely spread. The power was not thought to be always maliciously cultivated. It was as often opposed to be involuntary (cf. Deuteronomy xxviii, 54); and a story is told of a Slav who, afflicted with the evil eye, at last blinded himself in orer that he might be the means of injuring his children (Woyciki, Polish Folklore, page 25). Few of the old classic writers fail to refer to the dread power. In Rome the "evil eye" was so well recognized that Pliny states that special laws were enacted against injury to crops by incantation, excantation or fascination. The power was styled by the Greeks and fascination by the Latins. Childrens and young animals of all kinds were thought to be specially susceptible. Chamrs were worn against the evil eye both by men and beast, and in Judges viii,21 it is thoguht there is a reference to this custom in the allusion to the "ornaments" on the necks of the camels.

In classic times the wearing of amulets was universal.
They were of three classes:

1). those the intention of which was to attract on to themselves, as the lightning rod the lightning, the malignant glance;
2). charms hidden in the bosom of the dress;
3). written words from sacred writings.

Of these three types the first was most numerous. They were oftenest of a grotesque and generally grossly obscene nature. They were also made in the form of frogs, bettles and so on.But the ancients dpes not wholly rely on amulets. Spitting was among the Greeks and Romans a most common antidote to the poison of the evil eye.

According to Theocritus it is necessary to spit three times into the breast of the person who fears fascination. Gestures, too, often intentionally obscene, were regarded as prophylactics on meeting the dreaded individual. The evil eye was believed to have its impulse in Envy and thus it came to be regarded as unlucky to have any of your possessions praised.

Among the Romans, therefore, it was customary when praising anh=ything to add Prefiscini dixerim(Fain Evil! I should say). This custom survives in modern Italy, where in like curcumstances is said Si mal occhio non ci fosse (May the evil eye not strike it) The object of these conventinal phrases was to prove that the speaker was sincere and had no evil eye designs in hism praise. Though there is no set formula, traces of the custom are found in Enlish rural sayings, e.g. the Somersetshire "I don't wish ee no harm, so I on't zay no more". This is what the Scots called "forespeaking", when praise beyond measure is likely to be followed by disease or accident.

In Ireland, to avoid being suspected as "evil eye", it is advisable when looking at a child to say "God Bless It", and when passing a farm-yard where cows are collected at milking time it is usual for the peasant to say, "The blessing of God be on you and all your labour"

The modern Turks and Arabs also think that their horses and camels are subject to evil eye. But the people of Italy, especially the Neapolitans, are the best modern instances of implicit believers. The "jettatore di bambini" (fascination of children) is the most dreaded of all. The evil eye is still much feared for horses in India, China, Turkey, Greece and almost everywhere where horses are found.

In Western India, all witches and wizards are said to be evil eyed. Modern Egyptian mother thus account for the sickly appearance of their babies. In Turkey passages from the Koran are painted on the outside of the houses to save the inmates, and texts as amulets are worn upn the person, or hung upon camels and horses by Arabs, Abyssinians and other peoples. The superstition is universal among savage people.

(abstracted from the book: ALL THERE IS TO KNOW by: Alexander Coleman and Chalres Simmons)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:47 AM   23 comments
Process to beatify John Paul begins to chants: 'Sainthood immediately'.

ROME -- It began as a solemn ritual in Latin to place John Paul II on the path to sainthood, but the joyful crowd could not contain itself -- chanting "Santo Subito", or "Sainthood Immediately", and breaking into applause.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, John Paul's vicar for Rome, presided over the ceremony Tuesday that launched the beatification "cause" at the Basicilia of St. John Lateran.

Key officials stood to recite an oath to keep their work secret and to refuse any gifts that might corrupt the process.

The faithful remained silent during the oaths, but once the casue was declared officially open, applause rang out, Polish and Vatican flags fluttered in the pews and there were chants of "Giovanni Paolo" and "Santo subito!".

Waiting period waived.

Ruini was interrupted repeatedly by applause as he read a testimony to John Paul, tracing hislife from his birth in 1920, through his years as a priest and bishop in communist Poland to his globe tortting papapcy.

"Any words that I can now add...seem superflous, so great and unviersal is the knowledge of him and so profound and uninmous the conviction of his saintliness". Ruini said, "We ask the Lord, with all our heart,that the cause of beatification and canonization that has begun this evening reaches its completion very soon".

Pope Benedict XVI has waived the five year waiting period to allow the church's saint- making process to begin immediately for the Polish born John Paul, who dies April 2.

Church officials have said the process will take its regular course, with an investigation of the pope's life and writings and possible miracles attributed to his intercession. One mirale must be verified for him to be beatified,;a second for him to be made a saint.

(abstraced from Associated Press by: Nicole Winfield)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:30 AM   0 comments
Luxury store refuses to let star enter, later apologizes.

Whether Oprah Winfrey was turned away from a bit of after hours shopping in Paris because of a racist employee or special event, news of the confrontation outside a luxury stores has evoked empathy and anger from many American minorities who say they are routinely treated poorly -- and sometimes with outright suspicion -- by sales staffs in this country.

The Winfrey case has sparked discussion of what many see as a chronic problem for minorities -- particularly in high end stores -- no matter how educated, wealthy or accomplished the customer.

"The presumption in America is that if you have the wealth, you'll get equality -- but where's Ophrah's equality
? asked Bruce D. Haynes, a sociologist at the University of California-Davis.

The incident occured when Winfrey stopped by Hermes in Paris on June 14 to buy a watch minutes after the boutique closed. Though she and three friends said they saw shoppers inside, neither a sales clerk nor manager would let them in.

Winfrey's friend, Gayle King, who was there, told "Entertainment Tonight", "Oprah describes it as 'one of the most humiliating moments of her life'" Harpro says Winfrey plans to discuss the incident in teh context of race relations on her show this fall.

Hermes said in a statement it "regrets not having been able to welcome" Winfrey to store, but that a private public relations event was prepared inside".

'Clearly Bigoted'

Many companions faial to grasp that big spending customers now come from every background imaginable, said Luke Visconti, co-founder of Diversity, a New Jersey based business that advises companies on diversity issues.

Hermes, in its treatment of Winfrey and its response -- "blew it to a degree that's hard to imagine", he said, "It's clearly bigoted ...Think about what this did to their business.Think about all those people who have been oppressed (by this kind of behaviour) whoa re going to be sympathetic to Oprah and not go back there".

Emil Wilbiken, former editor of Vibe Magazine, said it's not uncommon for black celebrities to receive poor treatment at high-end stores. Sean "P.Diddy" Combs had devised a tactic to avoid poor treatment, he said.

"Puffy sends his people ahead to stores and shuts them down so he can shop privately, so this kind of thing does'nt happen", Wilbiken said.

(abstracted from Associated Press by : Erin Texeria)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:14 AM   0 comments
TORONTO -- Canada's House of Commons voted Tuesday to legalized gay mariage, passing landmark legistlation that would grant same sex couples in Canada the same legal rights as those in traditional unions between a man and a woman.

The bill passed as expected, despite opposition from Conversatives and religious leaders. The legislation drafted by Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority Liberal Party government was also expected to easily pass the Senate and become federal law by the end of July.

The Netherlands and Belgium are the only other two nations that allow gay marrigae nationwide.

Some of Martin's Liberal lawmakers voted against the bill, but enough allies rallied to support it.

"This is a victory for Canadian values", said Alex Munter, national coordinator of Canadians for Equal Marriage.

The Roman Catholic Church, Canada's largest Christian denomination, has fought the legislations.

Before teh bill passed, gay marriage was legal in seven provinces. According to polls, a majority in Canada supports gay marriage.

Same-sex marriage is opposed by a majority of Americans, according to an AP-Ipsos poll. Massachussettes is the only U.S. state that allows gay marriages, Vermont and Connecticut have same-sex civil unions.

(abstracted from Associated Press by: Beth Duff-Brown)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:06 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Book boils down males by comparing them to birds.

Let's face it: The concept of comparing men to various birds species seems so obvious, one wonders why some cleaver woman did'nt come up with it earlier!

After all, think of the turkeys out there -- both personally and professionally. Who hasn't observed corporate vultures moving in for the kill? How about self centered, style setting peacocks strutting only the latest fashios? And what woman has't been kept out way toolate by an insomiac night owl or two?

Actually, this seemingly simple -- but right-on-the-money idea comes from two women, Amy Helems and Meg Leder. who bird brainstormed-up the idea of the book BOYS OF A FEATHER: A FIELD GUIE TO NORTH AMERICAN MALES(Berkley Pub Books $12.95) now in bookstores.

"This book sort of morphed out of the way girls talk about guys. We don't use their real names -- One of the most famous examples of a girl talking about a guy she dates would be the way Carrie always called him 'Mr. Big' or 'Sex and the City.'"

Helmes is quick to point out that their book is "not the least bit scientific, it is based on an awful lot of observations -- on how men present themselves to the world".

Here are some of the few choices from the book: Boys of a Feather.

Eagles: are called "the lions of the sky..powerful, respected and strong,"the kind of guy with "toned muscles that show strength, not steroid use" and best seen "in nature"(i.e. among us humans) in the form of the "effortless beautiful" Brad Pitt, Prince William, "the compassionate hottie with royal blood" and CNNs Anderson Cooper, who's not only "handsome and smart as a whip", but he's also a "Vanderbilt".

NIGHT OWLS: are easy to spot and Helmes and Leders' celebrity offerings would get few arguments: The "quickly mysterious" Johnny Depp, the limelight-avoiding Keanu Reeves and the fraternally youthful "loner" Clint Eastwood.

DOVES: are guys who have a strong social conscience - which is why Tim Robbins, Leonardo DiCarpio,Bil Gates and Ralph Nader flock together in that category.

HUMMINGBIRDS: in nature, guys in this group are best knwon for their manic energy and drive., in the world of comedy, that is best exemplified byu the brilliant Robin Williams, cycling hero Lance Armstrong is another non-stop Hummingbird-like fellow.

PARROTS: "always mimicking the latest trends",- count Ashton Kutcher (young men dating older women) musical ripoff "artist" Vanilla Ice and Sean "P.Diddy" Combs ("like his name, his style is ever morphing") in that birdhouse.

CROWS: one does't have to think twice about flushing out Crows -- they're loud and can't seem to shut up. Do Regis Philbin, Dr. Phil McGraw and political pundit Chris Matthews comes into mind?

PARAKEETS: looking for a classic good guy? Try to pick a Parakeet, who exhibit the following traits - "Sweet-natural homebodies who rarely buck the rules or raise a fuss" Guys like Ron Howard, Tom Hanks DO exude a sense of a stability, don't they?

FOWL: when it comes to Fowl, poor hygiene seems to be an issue, "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson, or Kate Hudson's hubby, rocker Chris Robinson seem to fall into that category.

(abstracted from LIFESTYLES lifestyle@suntimes.com by: Bill Zwecker)
posted by infraternam meam @ 2:48 PM   0 comments
Auction of sketches by ex-mistress nets barely believable prices.

PARIS -- A sketch by Pablo Picasso of his mistress reclining nude sold Monday for $575,357 at a Paris auction where the woman sold 20 of the artist's works.

Describing the pencil on paper sketch in the sale catalog, Genevieve Laporte recalled how she had fallen asleep just as Picasso was prepairing to draw" "He waited patiently until I opened my eyes to continue his sketch!".

The Picasso Museum in Paris bought the sensual image entitled "Odalisque" for about three times the estimated price.Art curial auction house said. Altogether, the sale of Laporte's collection reaped $1.87 million.

A similar sketch, entitled "Le Songe" was sold to an unidentified British Collector for $507,239 more than twice the estimated price, said Francis Brest, the auctioneer.

"I am so happy because it has been 50 years that I have had them", said Laporte,who had a two-year secret affair with Picasso in the 1950s, when she was in her 20s.

Laporte, 79, said earlier this month that she kept the sketches Picasso gave her in a safe because she was worried about thieves, but she now was ready to part with them.

"I am at the end of my road", she said.

The two had their on-again, off-again affair when Picasso was with the painter Francoise Gilot, the mother of two of his children.

The sketches of Laport mostly were drawn when Picasso, in the summer of 1951, vacationed in St. Tropez with Laporte, the poet Paul Elaurd and his wife, Dominique.

Many sketches from the vacation bear teh inscription "For Genevieve".

One Cubist-style drwaing shows Picasso's face hidden in Laporte's tangled hair. When the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg showed the sketches, it called them his "Genevieve period," and "Tender period".

(abstracted from The Associated Press by: Rachid Aouli)
posted by infraternam meam @ 2:34 PM   0 comments
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Death Warning , a term used in psychical research for an intimation of the death of another person received by other than the ordinary channels, i.e. by (1) a sensory hallucination or (2) a massive sensation, both being of telepathic origin. Both among civilized and uncivilized peoples there is a wide spread belief that the apparition of a living person is an omen of death; but until the Society of Psychical Research undertook the statistical excamination of the question, thee were no data for estimating the value of the belief. In 1885, a collection of spontaneous cases and a discussion of the evidence was published under the title Phantoms of the Living, and though the standard of evidence was lower than at the present time, a substantioal body of testimony, including many striking cases, was there put forward. In 1889, a furtehr inquiry was undertaken, known as the "Census of Hallucinations", which provided information as to the the percentage of individuals in the general population who, at some period of their lives, while they were in a normal state of health, had had "a vivid impression of seeing or being touched by a living being or inanimate object, or of hearing a voice; which impression, so far as they could discover, was not due to any external cause". To the census question about 17,000 answers were received, and after making all deductions it appeared that death coincidences numbered about 30 in 1300 cases of recognized apparitions; or about 1 in 43, whereas if chance alone operatred the conincidences would have been in the proportion of 1 to 19,000. As a result of the inquiry the committee held it to be proved that "between deaths and apparitions of the dying person a connexion exists which is not due to chance alone". From an evidential point of view the apparition is the most valuable class of Death-Warning, inasmuch as recognition is more difficult in the case of an auditory hallucination, even where it takes the form of spoken words; moreover, auditory halluciantions coinciding with deaths may be mere knocks, ringing of bells,etc...tactile hallucinations are still more difficult of recognition; and the hallucinations of smell which are sometimes found as death-warnings rarely have anything to associate them specially with dead person. Occassionally the death -warning is in the form of an apparition of some other person; it may also take the form of a temporary feeling of intense depression or other massive sensation.

(abstracted from the book:ALL THERE IS TO KNOW by: Alexander Coleman and Charles Simmons)
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:39 PM   0 comments

Just the word Mongolia is enticing, conjuring images of a wild place, wild people and wild horses. And this beutiful country of vast empty steppes, where camels, yaks and nomadic tribes wander freely, is quit eunlike anywhere else. Now sandwiched between Russia and China, in the 13th century Mongolia was the largest and greatest empire eve known.

The best way to get a feel for how hardy Mongols became the most powerful nation in the world under the leadershop of Genghis Khan (Chinngis Khaan) is to sign up for warrier experience in the Khentii Mountains, just to the north west of Ulaan Baatar.

Officially titles 'Chinngis Khaan Warrioer Training', this advetnure should not to be mistaken for a 10-day boot camp. By the time you have finished you will be versed in age-old like bow-making, taught by legendary characters like Matmunkh, one of the only seven bow-makers in all Mongolia. You will learn about traditional vodka distillation, skills like archery, hoser herding and lassoing, and the tactics and campcarft of Mongolia's famous warlords.

Living like a true Mongolian nomad is a "ger"(traditional fetl tent) and traveling across the country's vast plains and though the inspiring Khentii Mountains on horseback feels like a rare priviledge.

Only there are no restaurants, flushing lavatories or television. Life becomes very simple, very quickly, and it feels wonderful. The passing out parade out parade is one final ride on horseback through a landscape hopefully blessed by the Mongol;ian Spirit of the Blue Sky, the warriors favorite deity.

Horses have been central to Mongolian life for centuries, in Mongolian there are more words for these animals than for anything else, and Mongols even drink mare's milk, a salty, sour, fermented concoction. Indeed, horses were the backbone of Genghis Khan's army, by bringing speed and surprise to the battlefield. His communication system was also equine based. Messengers rode vast distance along a network of outposts where fresh horses were always available.

Genghis's soldiers' riding skills, such as the ability to fire bows backwards at full gallop during fake retreats, became legendary and today archery is one fo the three many sports -- the other two traditional national games are weretling and horse racing -- celebrated at annual festivals of the Naadam.

When it comes to learning to control and understand one of the country's horses yourself there can be no better teacher than a Mongolian horseman. You can see a fearlessness in them, a gusto and daredevil spirit as wild as the animals themselves. To be good norseman in Mongolia is to be a great man.

Warrior training involves total commitment -- right down to the clothes you stand up in. Mongolian believe our mordern outdoor clothing sounds strange tot heir finely tuned animals. So, to ride a Mongolian horse you first need to dress like a Mongolian.

Traditional dress, still widely worn, consists of a "del"(long padded gown) -- a cross between a housecoat and a dressing gown. Felt for men and silk for women. Around your waist foes a silk cummberbund and on your feet a pair of leather boots. For Buddhists Mongols, the upturned toes of the boots prevent any unnecessary kiling of insects. One you pass the intial stage and how comfortable you become. Your transition to nomad has begun.

Warrior training is a true adventure in evey sense, though you won't end up fighting anybody unless you fancy a go at Mongolian wrestling techniques. But you will feel the impact of Genghis Khan during this distinctly different and beginning experiences.

(abstracted from the book: UNFORGETTABLE THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE by: Steve Watkins and Clare Jones)
posted by infraternam meam @ 2:08 AM   0 comments
The strange thing about identical twins is not the fact that they're identical, but that they're not, actually, identical. (Another victory for concise writing). Sure, sometimes they freak you out with that dress like Doublemint look, but eventually you can tell which one is Gilbert and which one is Philbert.

"Identical twins are identical only in the sense that they have identical genomes". says Thomas Bouchard, a psychologist at the Unviersity of Minnesota who is famous for his work on twins, separated at birth and raised apart (e.g. Al Gore and Vlark Kent).

So if their genomes (genetic codes) are the same -- notwithstading the occasional spontaneous genetic mutation -- why are't they truly identical? Bouchard answers. "There is what is called developmental noise".

Developmental noise ! An important phrase. (Gubs n'Roses is developmental noise for teenagers). Yhe termsrefers to anything in the environment that affects the way the genetic instructions are translated into an actual living thing. For example, twin embryos don't have equal blood supplies; one embryp grows larger, and so by birth there is a pronounced difference in the weight of the twins.

Development noise probably has an effect at tan even more basic level -- the translation of the DNA code into a biological constrcution project that results in, say, a fingerprint. The fingerprints of identical twins are quite similar, enough to be an indication that twins are idnetical and not fraternal. Bu there are subtle differences that are observable even when theya re still embryos.

The DNA is a precise set of instructuon, but the secretion of growth and hormones and so forth is a matter of approximation, notes Paul Berg, professor of biochemistry at Stanford and author of Genes and Genomes. What the genes say is not a s important as how they are "read", he says. "Minor variations in the environment of two cells could easily influence hos the identical genes in those two cells are read out". he explains.

It's kind of like whispering "fire hose" into someone's ear and asking him to pass it down the line: A dozen people later, the phrase has turned into "nose hairs".

(abstracted from the book:WHY THINGS ARE AND WHY THINGS AREN'T by: Joecl Achenback)
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:52 AM   0 comments
Monday, June 27, 2005
WHY ?.... OH WHY?...... OH WHY?.....
** Why do Bananas spoil if you put them in the refrigerator?

No, no. no....they don't spoil. The peels turn black. But the fruity parts tatys perfectly fresh.

The peels turn black because the cold temperature of the refrigerator kills the surface cells. "They're grown in the tropics, and when you put it at forty two-degrees, obviously it's going to kill some of those cells", says Ernie McCullough, s spokesman for Chiquita Brands INternational.

The prohibition against putting bananas in the fridge is mostly jingle-inspired, he says. The Chiquita Banana Song includes line "Bananas like th climate of the very ,very tropical Equator/ So you shoild never put bananas in the refrigerator.

** Why does a can of Diet Coke float in water, while a can of regular Coke sinks?

We heard this from reader Mary Callahan of Washington, who head about it in a speech by Max called the people at Coca-Cola USA, they said it's true/ Of course, we have a policy in the Why bunker of experiementally verifying we hear, so we obatained two specimens of soda of the specified Coca-Cola brand, one "Diet" and one "Classic", and immersed them in the sink in the men's room.

Not since Galileo dropped weights off the Leaning Tower of Pisa, has an experiment proved so brilliant. Yes, the Diet Coke bobs right to the surface. Definitely the more bouyant of the two. We must note.though, that the Classic did'nt exactly sink. It seemd to have trouble making up its mind whether it coild float. (No doubt both cans were bouyed by the air pocket inside).

The explanation form Coca-Cola: Diet Coke contains aspartame (NutraSweet), which is less dense than sugar and also much sweeter, so less is needed. We could imagine that the second half of that is what really matters here. Aspartanme is two thousand times sweeter than sugar., if it takes nine teaspoons of sugar (sucrose or high fructose corn syrup) to sweeten Coke, then it takes less than a twentieth of a teasponn of aspertame. Check out the ingredients label: There's loess sweetener in a Diet Coke than there is caramel coloring.

So the gobs of dissolved sugar make Classic denser than either water or Diet Coke. But if you drop both cans off a building simultaneouly, they bit the ground at the same time. This time, we'll take Galileo's word for it.

** Why do we presume that human meat tastes worse than, say, cow meat or pig meat?

There we go again -- being tasteless.

Don't be so sure that anthropophagy (cannibalism) is merely the habit of exotic Stone Age tribes and the occasional American psycho. A thousand years ago in France and Germany, professional killers would attack travelers, butcher them, and seel the meat in markets as "two-legged muttons", according to The Consuming Passions: The Anthropology of Eating by: Peter Farb and George Armelagos. (This is the kind of anecdote about which you can say in defense, "Seriously, I read it in a book").

Armelagos, an antropologist at the University of Florida, told us that there's no reason to assume that human meat tastes bad. Indeed, it probably does'nt have a whole lot of flavor because humans are so lean. The fat is what creates much of the flavor we like in the meat.

"Humans probably aren't marbled as well as cow meat," says Armelagos.
What's a humanburger taste like? "Someone would probably say that it tastes like chicken", he said.

Admittedly, people don't refrain from eating human flesh simply because they think it would be unpalatable. There are ethical and religious reasons not to eat the stuff. But the morality of the matter is mixed up with an intersting gut level reaction: it seems so gross! The flip side to this purely psychological bias is that eating other animals doen't seem gross at all, at least to most of us. We are nauseated bu the mere thought of consuming one of our own kind, and yet we think nothing of literally grinding up other critters and trying them in a pan.

You have to wonder if the phobia is a precondition for the philia.

Although we don't do "What" questions as a general rule, we were struck by this one today whole eating a wonderfully healthy lunch (we favor yogurt, carrot sticks, celery, and a double order of onion rings).

** Why do people eat Mushrooms even though they're fungus?

You never feel a craving for fungi, have you ever noticed that? Mushrooms are not what you'd call a "Mouth watering" food. On what grounds do we eat these things? Should'nt they be considered gross and unpalatable?

"We eat lots of fungi. We eat the yeast that we use to brew beer", points out Mark Wach, dirctor of agricultural prodcuts for Penwest Foods in Englewood, Colorado. He says there are as many types of fungi as there are types of plants (fungi aren't plants because they have no chlorophyl and feed off decaying matter.)

"They're as diverse as any plant or animal would be," say this fungus apologist. Look at plants, he says, "You would'nt eat poison oak or ivy, butyou love lettuce".

Chefs say mushrooms are great at soaking up flavors from sauces and other foods. They're widely considered boring only because the standard button mushroom's flavor comes from the spores and the gills, but you rarely find 'shrooms that are old enough to have them. One reason is that spores can carry diseases to have them. One reason is that spores can carry diseases that hamper a commercial crop. But we'd guess the main reason is that fussy Americans don't like the look of the gills.

** What does Yogurt turn into when it spoils?

We've always been suspicious of yogurt. Like maybe we shoiuld be diguisted by it. Like maybe it is not technically edible but we have been brainwashed to think it is. Naturally we called the National Yogurt Association in McLean, Virginia, and the veep of regulatory and technical afairs, Bob Garfield, told us that if you leave yogurt aorund long enough, it will eventually turn into cottage cheese. Not really! What he said was:

"Yogurt is protected because it's a low-acid food. Unlike regular milk products, it has lower acidity so it does'nt spoil as much",

He said if you abandon yogurt in an unrefrigerated place, it will gradually spoil and the "whey" will separate from the rest of the yogurt, giving you lots of that watery stuff on top, not to mention probably some mold and other charming substances. He explained that yogurt is created by adding of "cultures" to skim milk. A "culture" is a nice way of saying "a whole bunch of bacteria".

But they are nice bacteria, unlike the "spoilage bacteria" that can turn milk into a putrid substance. Yhe yogurt bacteria, such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, don't break down themilk the way bad bacteria do.

"There are good and bad bacteria in the universe," Garfield reminds us. He notes, "You can drink spoiled milk, but certainly the smell and taste are not good. The spoilage bacteria are different from the cultures."

We asked whether the cultured bacteria might mutate and turn yoour cup of Dannon fruit-on-the-bottom strawberry yogurt into something that could star in a movie with a little like It Came from teh Bayou.

"They won't mutate", he assured us. "They're made under laboratory conditions".

(abstracted from the book:WHY THINGS ARE AND WHY THINGS AREN'T by: Joel Achenbach)
posted by infraternam meam @ 2:23 AM   0 comments
Sunday, June 26, 2005
** 1972: After dabbing in front of the camera a few times -- in the Beatles films, in "The Magic Christian" with Peter Sellers, in Frank Zappa's "200 Motels" -- Ringo stepped behind it to direct " Born to Boogie", a marathon concert film about pioneering glam rock band T. Rex. The film was painstakingly restored for a DVD release earlier this month, including a nifty studio scene featuring Ringo, T. Rex's Mare Bolan and Elton John jamming on "Tutti Fruitti".

** 1974:John Lennon's fabeld :lost weekend" was in full swing, and lots of celebs went along for the wild rede, including Ringo and buddy Harry Nilsson, Ringo koined Nilsson for the latter's "Pussy Cats" record, then the two made a wacky documentary about their legendary carousing titled "Harry and Ringo's Night Out". It was never released.

** 1975: Ringo appeared as the pope in Ken Russell's film's "Lisztomania", in which the character of the great classical pianist Liszt (played by Roger Daltrey) actually says "Piss off, Brahms!".

** 1977: In his first dabbling in children's entertainment (if you don't count "Yellow Submarine"and "Octopus's Garden"), Ringo provided the voice for Scouse the Mouse for an animated special and an album of the sane name.

** 1978: Ringo played a European movie director in Mae West's final film, "Sextette" (with a wild cast including everyone from Timothy Dalton and Tony Curtis to Alice Cooper and Regis Philbin). He also appeared in Martin Scorsese's concert documentary about the Band. "The Last Waltz".

** 1981: Ringo starred in the primitive comedy "Caveman", on the set of which he met his future wife, Barbara Bach. Meanwhile, Ringo became part owner of a cable TV company in Liverpool.

** 1983: Ringo hosted a 26-part weekly radio show called "Ringo's Yellow Submarine", a series about Beatles music.

** 1984: All aboard! Ringo narrated the animated series "Thomas the Tank Engine" for Britain's ITV. The series lasted until 1991. Later in the year, Ringo hosted "Saturday Night Live", the only Beatle to do so. One of thje skits featured fans snapping up Beatles memorabilia at an auction -- $45,000 for a Lennon guitar pick, $110,000 for a Paul McCartney toothbrush, $800 for Ringo himself.

** 1985: A star studded TV adaptaion of "Alice In Wonderland" found Ringo playing the Mock Turtle.

** 1987: Ringo appeared at the opening of the Brasserie, a restaurant in Atlanta in which he had co-ownership and joined in impromptu jam session with Isaac Hayes, Jermaine Jackson and Jerry Lee Lewis. Also that year, at the height of his alcohol dependency (later successfully treated), he appeared in a series of ads for Sun Country Classic Wine Colors.

** 1989: Ringo played the part of the tiny Mr. Conductor in the children's TV series "Shining Time Station", for which he was nominated for an Emmy.

** 1985: Swipe it! Ringo created a painting for the Private Issue credit card, the company that sponsored his summer tour. The painting itslef brought $33,000 when it was auctioned to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That year, Ringo also designed a line of drumsticks for the ProMark signature series.

** 2005: Ringo, 64, opened up an exhibition of his computer art at Pop International Galleries in Manhattan. The show features 14 different images, all signed. Starr said he started doing computer art to keep him occupied while he was on the road touring.

(abstracted from GLARE: Celebrity News and Gossip by: Thomas Conner)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:14 AM   0 comments
Saturday, June 25, 2005
"I'm going out into the big wide world"

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Britain's Prince William graduated from St. Andrews University on Thursday -- and lost the protection from the media he has enjoyed during his studen years.

From now on, the second in line to the throne can expect intense scrutiny of his behaviour, his career plans and his relationship with fellow St. Andrews graduate, Kate Middleton. "I'm going out into the big wide world -- not just essays now", William said.

The prince's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, and her husband Prince Philip, and his father, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attended the ceremony.

William graduated minutes after Kate Middleton, his former student housemate and current girlfriend. Years ago, Prince Charles office struck an agreement for the media to allow the princes, William and Harry, to complete their education without attention from the media. Now, William we, is stepping into the limelight.

After a trip to New Zealand he plans to join a mountain rescue team; work at a financial institution and learn land management. He has said he plans to sign up for military training at Sandhurst, the military academy where his brother, Harry, began his studies last month.

(abstracted from the Associated Press)
posted by infraternam meam @ 2:53 PM   0 comments
TOKYO -- A fast food chain in northern Japan began offering a whale burger Thursday, even as anti-whaling nations urged Japan to cut back onits catch at an international conference on whaling.

Restaurant chain Lucky Pierrot is serving a deep fried minke whale meat burger with lettuce and mayonnaise for $3.50 at restaurants on Japan's island of Hokkaido, once a whaling hub in the nation.

Japan is facing increasing international criticism for its whaling research program, in which the whales are killed in order to study them and their meat is then sold. Critics sau it is commercial hunting in disguise.

Miku Oh, an official for Lucky Pierrot, said the chain is only utilizing stock meat obtained from the scientific research.

"people in other countries may think (eating whale) is strange, but it is out culture", she said.

(abstracted from the Associated Press)
posted by infraternam meam @ 2:48 PM   0 comments
WHY ARE THERE NO CATHOLIC SERMONS, no statements from the national hierarchy, no papal encyclicals about the abuse of women? Judging from teh almost universal silence of Catholic clergy and hierarchy, there must be no serious sins of abuse of women. The clargy and hierarchy denounce serious sins, right?

The basic premise must be that women are fundamentally equal to men, different perhaps in some ways, but equally human and equally endowed with all the ame inalienable rights as Mr. Jefferson said, with which men are endowed. "Neither Jew nor gentile, neither Greek or Roman, neither male or female, but all one in Christ Jesus", as St. Paul said.

Therefore women are not slaves of men, sexual playthings to be used and discarded, inpaid servants to do the work beneath a man's dignity, chattel with not rights who exist at the pleasure of men. Most women formost of human history have been doomed to this subhuman status. In most places in the world today they still are. Do clergy and hierarchy approve of this principled denial of human dignity? If they do not, why are they silent?

Rapes ia a grievious sin, even spousal rape, especially spousal rape. Date rape is a moratl sin. Physical abuse of a spouse is a grievious sin. So is habitual verbal abuse. Incestous abuse of dauighers, sisters and nieces is a mortal sin. Sexual harassment in the workplace or anywhere else is a mortal sin. Vile sexual "locker room" conversation that demeans women is a serious sin. Job discrimination against women like they are sex objects is a serious sin. Sexual exploitation of women is a mortal sin. So too is the practice of the rich and the famous of replacing a loyal;, faithful wife with a new "trophy wife".

Is there a priest anywhere in the world who would argue publicly that any of these behaviours is not a mortal sin? A bishop? a Cardinal? A pope? Then why is there so much silence about them? Surely they are not so naive as to think that such sins are infrequent. Read the survey date, talk to cops, consult with counselors of battered women, if you have any doubts.

Those sins are legion in our civilized Western world. Clergy and hierarchy delight in sweeping denunciations of "sins of the flesh" and "sins againstlife". But one hears very little condemnation of sins against women's flesh, against the bearers of life, sins that are even in this country routine, commonplace, every day. Why not, I wonder.

I will take the right to life people a lot more seriously wnen they also speak out on the full equality of women and the obligation of society and church to protect and defend their full range of buman rights and to protect their full humanity from abuse.

Some men (even, sad to say, priest and bishops) think that they are not really men, unless theu are the "boss", unless they have the right to be in control, to make decisions, to giver orders that women, perhaps after some discussion, must obey. They apparently can't comprehend that unless a woman is an equal partner, she becomes a seond class human, someone on the slippery slope toward chattel slavery.

In other parts of the world the situation is much worse. A daughter is someone her father may dispose of as he sees fir. Young women are forced into marriages they do not want. Teenage children are sold into prostitution -- in some countries for the pleasure of Western "sexual tourists". Girls on the edge of puberty are given in marraige, only to have their bodies torn apart by pregnancies for which they are not yet ready physically. Fathers and brothers have every right to kill a woman who has somehow brought disgrace to their family.

The Catholic Church hardly approves of such behaviour -- which ceased only recently in some deeply Catholic countries. But how can it remain silent as long as it happens anywhere in the world?

Humankind changes slowly. In the West we deny the right of a human person to own another human person, though John Paul II wa the first pope to say that the abuse of women is also intrinsically eveil? I sure hope so.

(from the commentary of Fr. Andrew Greeley e-mail: agreel@aol.com)
posted by infraternam meam @ 3:49 AM   0 comments
SHANGHAI, China -- He's been called a counterfeti cleric, a usurper who betrayed the Catholic Church while others languised because of their loyalty to the pope.

Shanghai Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian's 27 years in prison and labor camps have done little to ease the bitterness of supporters of China's underground church. Nor has more than a decade of hard work spent rebuilding the Shanghai Diocese through the official Communist Party recognized Catholic association.

Now at age 89, Jin says a tacit agreement between Rome and Beijing on his successor may help heal some of the division -- although he doubts the two sies will be reconciled soon.

Right to appoint bishops.

"The pope in Rome wanted to establosh diplomatic relations with other countries, including China," Jin said this month.

"If both sides don't make some concessions, normalization won't come about immediately," he said.

China ordered Catholics to severe ties with the pope in 1951 and emands that they worship only in the officially sanctioned church. About 4 million do so, while foreign experts says up to 12 million more worhsip in the undergraound church.

Beijing rejects the pope's right to appoint bishops, as he dies around the world, calling that interference in its domestic affairs.

Reviving hopes for reconcilation after assuming the papacy in April, Pope Benedict XVI quicly invited countries wihtout official ties to the Vatican to work on forming them, remarks a Vatican diplomati said were aimed at China.

Beijing responded by demanding the Vatican first end relations with Taiwan, the self governing island that China claims as its territory.

Echoing comments by Vatican officials, Jin said Rome was ready to drop Taiwan -- but not before China showed it would respect its authority over religious matters.

Despite Jin's achievements, many Catholics say the Shanghai Diocese rightly belongs to another man, Joseph Fan Zhongliang, recognized as Shanghai bishop by the undergraound church.

Jin said Rome and Beijing have quietly agreed to close the schism in teh Shanghai Diocese by acceding tot he appointment of Joseph Xing Wenzhi as auxilliary bisop on June 28. The Vatican had no comment.

(abstracted from the Associated Press by: Christopher Bodeen)
posted by infraternam meam @ 3:35 AM   0 comments
Friday, June 24, 2005
Work this way out as your read.

Be sure you don't read the bottom until you've worked it out!!

This is not one of those waste time things, it's fun.

*** 1). FIRST OF ALL, pick the number of times a week that you would like to have chocolate. (more than once but less than 10)

*** 2). MULTIPLY this nos by 2 (just to be bold)

*** 3). ADD 5 (for sunday)

*** 4). MULTIPLY IT BY 50 (I'll wait while you get the calculator)

*** 5). IF YOU HAVE ALREADY HAVE YOUR BIRTHDAY this year, add 1755.... If you have'nt, add 1754.



THE FIRST DIGIT OF THIS WAS YOUR ORIGINAL NUMBER(i.e. how many times you want to have chocolate each week)



(sent by a gay friend)
posted by infraternam meam @ 2:47 PM   0 comments
WHENEVER you make your New Year's resolutions you probably start with a vow to lose weight this year. What you don't realize at that moment is tha you are about to enter what will be, for you, the Year of the Pizza.

Fat's an epidemic. You might be under the delusion that society is slimming down thanks to trends like aerobic exercise and low fat food. The tragic truth is that, despite $33 billion a year spent on dieting, ours is an ever widening society. According to the National Academy of Sciences, in 1980 about 25 percent of Americans were overweight. A decade later, 33 percent of Americans were overweight.

How fat do you have to be to be "overweight"? Scientists say you're overweight if you're 20 percent heavier than you ideal weight. In other words, you're overweight if you're fat. Many of us aren't technically overweight; we just have ten pounds of pudge that we plan to lose very soon, but which, of course, will outlast the pyramids.

"We're getting fatter", says Susan Yanovski, an obesity researcher at the National Institure of Health. "Kids are also becoming more obese".

So why is this?
For a long time there was an idea that people are just weak. They just have no willpower. They are fat because they don't behave, they just eat too much, they can't resist slamming those pizzas and cheeseburgers and whatnot. This theory is wrong.

The fundamental problem is that we are not biologically designed for this world. That is to say, human evolution prepared us for times of feast and famine, for a world in which food was often hard to come by. We have a natural craving for fatty foods, so that we can pork up a little in anticipation of going hungry down the road. We are not designed with Taco Bell in mind. We have paleolithic bodies trapped in a world of fast food.

What no one knew until recently was why some people are fatter than others. Now, finally, there's an explanation, thanks to Jeffrey Friedman and his colleagues at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Rockefeller University.

Friedman found the fat gene, or at least a fat gene.The gene instructs fat celss to make a certain protein, which Friedman calls leptin. From the fat cells, the leptin travels to the brain and tells the brain to stop eating so much and start burning more calories. But if there aren't many fat cells, there won't be much leptin produces, and thus the brain will tell you that you need to keep eating. In mice with a defective copy of the gene, no leptin is produces, and this the brain thinks that it is trapped in a starving body even though the body is morbidly obese.

Friedman's research is stunning because this simple feedback mechanism applies to everyone, whether you're thin or a little bit pudgy or extremely fat. The discovery of leptin confimrs the old theory, whcih is that everyone has a set point for how fat he or she will be. This is the lipostatic model of fat. In the same way that a termostat regulates heat, a lipostat regulates lipids, or fats. Of course there is no organ in the body called lipostat: There is just a tiny protein, found in extremely low concentration in theblood, which travels from fat cells to the brain.

If leptin injections can be proven safe in animals and humans, and proven to be effective in humans, then is a matter of years it may become a widely used treatment for obesity.

What's kind of unnerving, though, is that the same drug would work in those of us who just want to lose five or ten pounds. In the next century will some people stick themselves with a needel every morning just so they can lose their love handles? Will they have their daily leptin injection just so they can have a washboard stomach?

(abstracted from the book:WHY THINGS ARE AND WHY THINGS AREN'T by: Joel Achenbach)
posted by infraternam meam @ 12:52 PM   0 comments
Something tells me a couple of staff members at the Hermes store in Paris may be looking for a new job -- after snubbing Oprah Winfrey last week. The luxury store has issued a public apology to the queen of TV for turning her away from Hermes' flagship store.

In a statement issued Wednesday, a Hermes' spokesman said the store regretted "not having been able to accomodate Ms. Winfrey and her team and to provide her with the service and care that Hermes' strive to provide to each every one of its customers worldwide. Hermes' apologizes for any offense taken due to such circumstances."

The spokewoman explained that Winfrey arrived at the store about 6"45pm June 14 -- around 15 minutes after closing,a nd her visit was further complicated by a private "PR event (being) set up inside" the store at the time.

Hermes' denies a New York daily News report that Winfrey was turned away because the Paris store had been "having a problem with North Africans lately". The store's spokewoam told CNN, "There was never any discussion of North Africans. The story is not true."

However, a spokeswoman for Winfrey disputes that claim and said, "The Daily News story is accurate, and Oprah will tell teh whole story on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" when she returns to the air in September."

Apparently the entire incident was capture on the store's security cameras, which led to Hermes' issuing its apology.

Not only is Winfrey widely regarded as the most powerful woman in the entertainment business -- a status she recently reinforced by topping Forbes magazine list -- she also has long been an extremely good customer of Hermes brand.

The store's North American president Robert Chavez has invited Winfrey to return to Hermes and give the retailer another chance, but her reaction is unknown. Chavez reportedly personally apologized to Winfrey in a phone call following the incident.

(abstracted from GLARE: Celebrity News and Gossip by Bill Zwecker/ email: bzwecker@suntimes.com)
posted by infraternam meam @ 3:57 AM   0 comments
LONDON --- British taxpayers paid the government the equivalent of $1.12 each last year to support Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family, a "goood value" as monarchies go. Buckingham Palace said wednesday.

The palace, which has been under political pressure to control costs in recent years, said the senior royals expenses totaled the equivalent of $67.1 million in the fiscal year ending March 31.

That is down 0.3 percent from the previous year. Considering inflation, spending was down 2.3 percent, the palace said.

"We believe this represents a value for money monarchy. We're not looking to provide the cheapest monarchy. We're looking at one of good values and good quality"., said Alan Reid, keeper of the privy purse, the official responsible for royal finances.

Significant savings has been made on inusrance and through a properly tax rebate on Buckingham Palace, Reid said.

The royal family spoent more money in the last year on employing staff, hosting receptions for visiting heads of state, ceremonial occasions and overseas tours.

$4 million for Catering, Hospitality.
The Queen visited France and Germany and hosted visits from the presidents of Poland, France and South Korea.

Buckingham Palace spent $4million during the year on catering and hospitality, $914,600 of which went to hosting six garden parties attended by about 39,000 people.

Royal tavel expenses totaled $9.15 million, compared with $7.05 million the year before. Prince Charles chartered plane tritp to Sri Lanka, Australia and Fiji in February cost nearly $548,760, while royal train, on which the queen and her family tokk 19 journeys.

Ian Davidson, a government Labor Party lawmaker from Scotland, said spending on the royal train, made up of nine coaches including sleeping and office quarters, was a "gross extravagances".

"It costs far, far more to travel by royal train than by anyother method. There is no justification as far as I can see for the extravagance of the royal tain", Davidson told British Broadcasting Corp, radio.

The Sunday Times Rich List of 2004 estimated the queen's worth at $467 million.

(abstracted from Associated Press report)
posted by infraternam meam @ 3:42 AM   0 comments
Thursday, June 23, 2005
*** Introduction ***
The Secret Book of James relates that 550 days after his (Jesus) resurrection and immediately prior to his ascension, Jesus imparted a private revelation to James and Peter. The account of this revelation is a "secret book"(apocryphon,1:2,5), which James introduces in teh framework of a letter.

Even though Secret James makes no claim to be a priest, it still deserves to be included in a collection of early Christian gospels. It makes use of various sauings traditions, some of which appear in the New Testament gospels, while others are preserved only in Secret James. In addition, the figures of James and Peter lend authority to the "revealed"(1:2,5) status of Jesus' teaching, a device also used in the composition of the New Testament Gospels (Peter in Matt 16:15-19; the eleven in Luke 24:48). Finally, the term "remembering" was widely used to preface the quotation of oral sayings meaterial (Acts 20:35). The dialogue and discourse are essentially a collection of sayings, some relatively primitive in form, others substantially reworked and still others clearly late formulations.

*** Character and Origins of the Papyrus Text ***
There is but a single extant manuscript of Secret James; it has survived in the collection of bound documents (codices) discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945. The text, inscribed on payrus, is a Coptic (native Egyptian) translation of a lost Greek original. Though the manuscript is untitled, the text derives its modern name from its introductory material, in which an unknown author appropriates and speaks through the person of James, the brother of the Lord. Psudonymity of this type was conventional in Antiquity, and is well represented within the Nag Hammadi library itself.

It is difficult to date Secret James. Since it deals with martyrdom (5:3-5) it probably was not written after 313 c.e., when the emperorr Constantine officially ended the persecution o f Christians. Indeed, several factors point to a much earlier date. It witness to the compiling or "remembering" of sayings traditions, the conspicuous deference to James and Peter, and the primitiveness of much of its content suggest that it may well have been written in the first half fo the second century.

*** Message to an Ancient Audiences ***
In enthusiam for martyrdoms (5:3-5) is part of a vigorous exhortation to earnestness likely a challenge to complacency within the community to which it is addressed. The Savior dwells with the believer and urges him or her to participate in the realization of salvation. Salvation consists of the knowlege or "fullness" (8:3-4) of "heaven doman" (8:4,11) or the spirit (3:18).

James himself assures his readers of their connection with and superiority to the braoder church. It is James whp trasmiss the private revelation and narrates it in the first person. During the dialogue,. Peter speaks twice (3:12; 9:1) but misunderstands Jesus; James alone is addressed directly by name (6:20), and he maintains the more dominant voice. It is significant that as James and Peter return to the other disciples after the ascension, it is James who sends "each one" on his way, travels to Jerusalem and prays for inclusuon among theose for whose sake James has received the promise of salvation (10:7,9)

*** A Wedding of Religious Ideas ***
In Secret James, traces of Gnosticism blen with concepts that are more expressly Christian. Eminence into the heaven's domain, for example, pre supposes not childlikeness but being "full", a term associated in gnostic sources with knwledge and salvation. Similarly, heavens' domain is discovered through knowledge, the means of salvation in Gnosticism. The gnostic elements in Secret James, however, donot constitute a special system or doctrine, they are expressed through particular vocabulary and by associaiton with other Christian notions.

*** The Structure ***
Although the document contains a minimum of narrative detail, it has a discernible literary pattern:

1). Introductory Letter (1:1-7).
2). Secret Book (2:1-10-9).
... a. Post-resurrection appearance (2:1-3:1)
... b. Dialogue and Discourse (3:2-9:13).
... c. Ascension (10:1-9).
3). Postcripts (11:1-4).

*** Jesus through the Community of Secret James ***
Secret James is an important witness to the diversity of forms inw hich sayings of Jesus were preserved in teh early church. Parables prophecies and wisdom sayings are easily identifiable within the discourse and dialogue. In Secret James, therefore, we can see how traiditonal sayings of Jesus were handed down and transposed in response to communal requriements, a process that continued until the wide spread adoption of the "Fourfold Gospel". The most ancient of the sayings absorbed into Secret James may well belong to the earliest period of collected sayings traditions.

The cross as a symbol of Jesus' suffering is present in Secret James, thogu the brief account of this condemnation, imprisonment, death and burial has no direct literary relationsip to the New Testament passion narratives. The treaties affirms the redemptive value of the crucifixion: belief in Jesus' "cross and death" leads tolife and God's domain. Still, the death of Jesus is the major concern of the document. Its interst, rather, lies in Jesus teaching andin the furnishing of a foundational revelation for a community of gnstic Christians. In order to accomplis this, Secret James assembles and transforms sayings of Jesus', selectively preserving fragments of the Savior's salvific teaching in "parables" (6:5; Marh 4:2).

Abstracted from the book: THE COMPLETE GOSPELS by Robert J. Miller)
posted by infraternam meam @ 2:16 PM   0 comments
My blog entry about religion is not to preach something that has already been inside the hearts of men, of religious beliefs and religious convictions. I have no intention to distort any persons convictions about his faith and belief, especially in scriptural matters that has been read and preached by Christian churches for a long time. This entry on this blog of mine, is for educational purposes only and for my own readings, that I have entered into my blogspot. I have no credentials or am I a professor of religious or biblical studies. Mine is reading for my own consumption and understanding ---- thus this entry of the Gospel of Mary, that can't be found in any christian bible.

To avoid long narrative, I abstracted the synopsis of the Gospel on how it was presented from the book that I have read and still reading.

*** Introduction ***:
To those familiar with the cannonical New Testament stories of Jesus, much will seem familiar in the Gospel of Mary. Some of the words and most fo the characters evoke memories of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In other matters, the reader may well agree with Andrew's complaint that Mary's teachings are strange. Strange to us, perhaps. But in the first and second centuries, they were firmly embedded in Christian debates about the meaning of Jesus teaching, the roles of women, and how to attain salvation. The Gospel of Mary reproduces the contours of those deabtes, most especially in the contention among the disciples themselves about whether Mary Magdalene's teaching is valid and true. Moreover, the gospel's interpretation of early traditions about Jesus shows some of the fluidity and some of the passion with which such matters were engaged.

*** Story ***
As text opens, the Savior is engaged in dialogue with his disciples, answering questions thay have about the end of the world and the nature of sin. The Savior teaches them that salvation is achieved by seeking the true spiritual nature of humanity within oneself and overcoming the ntrapping material nature of the body and the world. He wanrns them against those who would lead them astray by telling them to follow some heroic leader or a set of fules and laws. After commissioning them to go forth and preach the gospel, he (Jesus) departs.

At the Savior's departure, a controversy erupts. All the disciples except Mary Magdalene and Levi have failed to comprehend the Savior's teachings. Rather than seek peace within, they are distressed at their leader's absence and worried about their own deaths. When Mary tries to comfort them and give them further instruction, Andrew and Peter turn on her. Mary has recounted to them a vision she had in which the Savior described to her how to win the battle against the Power of the world that seek to keep the soul imprisoned in the body and ignorant of its spiritual nature. But their false pride, awakened because Jesus seems to have rpeferred a woman to them, makes it impossible for Andrew and Peter to comprehend the truth of her teaching. When the gospel conclueds, the controversy is far from resolved. Peter, Andrew and all the others have not understood the Savior's teaching. The reader must wonder what kind of good news such proud and ignorant men will announce.

*** The debate over who can speak for Jesus ***
Mary Magdalene's vision of the Savior in the Gospel of Mary probably reflects the same tradition known to John 20:16-18. Yet Andrew's obection to Mary's teaching in the Gospel of Mary raises a core problem much debated in early Christian circles: how can the validity of such teaching be determined? For Andrew, Mary's words did not seem to conform to the Savior's teaching that he knew and which he was using as a standard for the truth. But Mary's teaching concords perfectly with that given by the Savior himself in the first part of the text. The Gospel of Mary clearly affirms the truth and authority of Mary's teaching and thus implicitly affirms the validity of visionary revelations.

The Gospel of Mary cleary doubts the value of Andrew and Peter's witness, at the same time that it identifies the true apostolic witness with Mary Magdalene and Levi. The reliability of apostolic testimony was cleary a problematic issue.

*** The Role of Women ***
The preeminence of Mary Magdalene gives one example of the leadership roles of women in early Christianity, roles that came to be increasingly challenged. The Coptic version of this gospel in particular opposes this challenge in a forceful way. Peter was willing to admit that the Savior loved Mary "more that other women", but he balks at the idea what the Savior may have preferred her, a woman, to the male disciples. The issue is not simply one of sentimentality, however. At the Savior's departure, Mary takes oves his role. She comforts the distressed disciples, turns their hearts toward thoughts about the Savior's words, snd gives thems special teaching that will allow them to overcome the sin of the world. In every way, the text affirms that her leadership of the other disciples is based superior spiritual understanding. Peter, however, cannot see past the superficial sexual differentiation of the flesh to Mary's true spiritual power. He again shows his ignorance of the Savior's true teaching, while the Gospel of Mary unreservedly supports the leadership of spiritually adsvanced women.

*** Theological Outlook ***
In the end, the Gospel of Mary communicates a vision that the world ism passing away, not toward a new creation or a new world order, but toward the dissolution of an illusory chaos of suffering, death, and illegitimate domination. The Savior has come so that eadch soul might discover its own true spiritual nature, its "root" in the Good, and return to the place of eternal; rest beyng the constraints of time, matter and false morality.

Toward the end of the second century, many of the views found in the Gospel og Mary came under sharp attack. Condemned by later Christians as heresy, these strands of early Christian theology receded from view. The rediscovery of the Gospel of Mary restores a fragment of this heritage from early Christian history and theology.

*** The Rediscovery of the Gospel of Mary ***
Unlike the cannonical gospels, each of which is attested by hundreds of manuscripts, no complete copy of the Gospel of Mary exists. Indeed, for centuries, the Gospel of Mary remained completely unknown. Only three fragmentary manuscripts are known to have survived into the modern period, two third centruy Greek fragments (P. Rylands 463 and P. Oxyrhynchus 3525) published in 1938 and 1983, and a longer fifth century Coptic translation (Berolinensis Gnosticus 8052,I) published in 1955.

*** State of the Text ***
The two earlier and shorter fragments are written in the original language of the Gospel pf Mary, Greek. The most complete manuscript of the text, however, is the translation tino Coptic (the form of native Egyptian language written during the Roman period). But even this more complete text is fragmentary. Six pages of the manuscript are missing at the beginning and four more in the middle. In all, perhaps half of the total text is still lost.


(abstracted from THE COMPLETE GOSPELS by Robert J.Miller)
posted by infraternam meam @ 3:55 AM   2 comments
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
When I was in the seminary for the formation to the priesthood, we were studying the bible and the history behind it. We live by what was in the Good Book, we learn from it and practised what was written on it, for the Good Book is the food for the soul and God is speaking thru the very words that is written in the Bible.

Now that I have left the seminary prior to my ordination, I still do practice the regimen and the practices that we have inside. It was good for me, there was a system in my life and I still do lots of readings, plus I have come to build a library of my own at home, collecting all the books that I have read and liked reading.

Here's my latest reading:


This book has the New Translations of the Bible's four Gospels plus the Gospels of Thomas and Mary Magdalene, the Sayings Gospel Q, the Secret Gospel of Mark and twelve other Gospels from the first three centuries.

**Narrative Gospels:
Gospel of Mark
Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Luke
Gospel of John

** Additional Gospel that is not in the present Bible:

GOSPEL OF THOMAS - reveals that Jesus, contrary to the popular image of him as an apocalyptic preacher of damnation and salvation, was actually a widsom teacher who taught about the true origins of humankind.

GOSPEL OF MARY MAGDALENE - suggest that women held prominent roles in the early church, and provides a startling look at what may have been the first attempts to suppress their leadership.

SAYING GOSPEL Q - the controversial reconstruction of the first gospel used by Jesus' original followers, contains only Jesus' saying and none of the dramatic stories about his life later told in the New Testament.

SIGNS GOSPEL - is almost entirely a catalog of Jesus' miracles, intended to demonstrate that he was the Jewish Messiah, the Anointed.

SECRET BOOK OF JAMES - relates that immediately prior to his ascension, Jesus imparted a private revelation ot James and Peter, which James presents as a letter.

GOSPEL OF PETER - contains what may have been the original passion narrative later adapted in the New Testament synoptic gospels accounts.


The word "gospel" translates the Greek evangelion, which literally means "good news". The term first appears in Christian literature in the letters of Paul, where it already has a technical sense, referring to the message about the death, resurrection and return of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:1-5). While two of the New Testament gospels use the word "gospel" (it is missing in Luke and John), they use it to indicate not the written works themselves, but rather the message preached either by Jesus (in Matthew) or about him (in Mark). Not until the middle of the 2nd century are documents about the words and deeds of Jesus called GOSPELS.

The New Testament gospels are complex works of literature that draw on a variety of oral and written sources of tradition, some from Jesus and some about him, such as miracle stories, collections of his parables and sayings, traditions about hisbirth and childhood, and stories about his death and resurrection. These different formals for preserving and transmitting Jesus traditions influenced the shape of the New Testament narrative gospels. But in addition, they each crystallized into distinct literary words in their own right called GOSPELS.

(abstracted from the book: COMPLETE GOSPELS an Annotated Scholars Version by: Robert J. Miller)
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:57 PM   0 comments
LONDON -- Monkey business proved to be lucrative Monday when paintings by Congo the chimpanzee sold at auction for more than US$25,000.

The three abstract, tempera paintings were auctioned at Bonhams in London alongside works by impressonist master Renoir and pop art provocateur Andy Warhol.

But while Warhol's and Renoir's work did'nt seel, bidders lavisehd attention on Congo's paintings.

An American bidder named Howard Hong, who described himself ad an "enthusiast of modern and contemporary painting," bought the lot of paintings for US$26,352, including a buyer's premium.

The sale price far surpassed predictions.

"We had no idea what these things were worth", said Howard Rutkowski, directorof modern ad=nd contemporary art at Bonhams. "We just put them in for oour own amusement".

Congo, born in 1954, produced about 400 drwaings and paintings between ages 2 and 4. He died in 1964 of tuberculosis.

His artwork provoked reactions ranging from scorn to skepticism among critics of the time, but Pablo Picasso is reported to have hung a Congo painting on his studio wall after receiving it as a gift.

"There's no precedent for things like this having been sold before", Rutkowski said.

(abstracted from the Associated Press report)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:52 AM   0 comments
KUWAIT CITY -- Kuwait's first female cabinet member took the oath of office in parliament Monday over the shouts of Muslim fundamentalist and tribal lawmakers opped to women in politics.

The parliament floor was in uproar as conservatives stood and cried out that Massouma al Mubarak's appointment was unconstitutional. Liberal lawmakers then stood as well, shouting back "Congratulations".

Amid the din, al-Mubarak read the oath, seemingly unaffected by the screaming match. The U.S. educated political science teacher was name minister of planning and administrative developm,ent June 12, a month after Kuwait's parliament gave women the right to vote and participate in politics.

Al-Mubarak described the even as a "great day for all Kuwaiti women." She said she was willing to "cooperate with all lawmakers" inthe interest of her country.

Kuwaiti women have reached high positions in the oil industry, education and the diplomatic corps, but until recently, they were kept out of politics.

(abstracted from Associated Press report)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:45 AM   0 comments
BUCHAREST, Romania -- A Romanian Orthodox monk has been indicted in the death of a nun in apparent exorcism in which she was alledgely bound to a cross, had a towel stuffed into her mouth and left without food for three days.

Four nuns also were indicted Sunday in connection with the death of Maricica Irina Cornici, 23, of the Holy Trinity convent in northeast Romania.

Police said Cornici died Wednesday, three days after she was tied to the cross.

Monk Daniel Petru Corogeanu said Sunday he was trying to "take the devil out of her", N24 news television reported.

When asked whether the nun was memtally ill and in need of medical help instead of exorcism, he told the TV station, "You cant' take the devil out of people with pills".

Nuns yelled at avicar who came to suspend Corogeanu on Sunday, and scuffles broke out, N24 reported.

(abstracted from the Associated Press)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:37 AM   0 comments
Researchers believe long lost painting hidden inside wall.

ROME-- "Cerca, trova" -- seek and you shall find -- says a tantalizing five century old message painted on a fresco in the council hall of Florence's Palazzo Vecchio.

Researchers now believe these words could be a clue to the location of a long lost Leonardo da Vinci painting and are pressing authorities to allow them to search for the Renaissance masterpiece.

Maurizio Seracicin, an Italian art resercher, first noticed the message during a survey of the hall 30 years ago, but his teams lacked the technology then to see what lay behind Giorgio Vasari's 16th century fresco. "Battle of Marciano in the Chiana Valley".

However, radar and X-ray scans conducted between 2002 and 2003 have detected a cavity behind the section of the wall the message was painted on, which Seracini believes may conceal da Vinci's unfinished mural painting, "Battle of Anghiari".

Considered one of da Vinci's greatest works, the mural is known today through the master's preparatory studies and copies made by others.

"At the time, this was considered the masterpiece of masterpieces", Seracini said. Recovering it "would be like discovering a new Mona Lisa or a new Last Supper".

Da Vinci's mural was thought to have been destroyed in the mid 16th century when artist, writer and architect Vasari renovated the hall that once served as Florence's seat of power. He then covered the walls with hisown paintings.

'At a standstill'

Da Vinci began working on "Battle of Anghiari" in June 1505, when he was 53. He worked alongside rival Michaelangelo, who has been commissioned to decorate the opposite wall with scenes fo the Florentine republic's military triumphs.

Michaelangelo never went beyond his preparatory work, and da Vinci later abandoned the work. Some chroniclers of the time said the artist had expriemented with unstable paints that had rapidly degraded, leaving the painting irreparably damaged.

"For generations these stories have held us back, but there are documents that say otherwise", Seracini said. "Maybe other parts were damaged, but we know that 60 years later, when Vasari began his works, the painting was still visible and people still came to marvel at it".

Seracini, whose research on another da Vinci painting is quoted in Dan Brown's novel "The Da Vinci Code", is an engineer who has spent the last three decades conducting scientifici investigations on art treasures. He said he would like to continue his search for "Battler of Angjiari", but authorities in Florence hae denied him a permit.

"For months now we have been at a standstill and since all this is paid for by a private company, at no cost to the municipality, it's difficult for me to understand the reason for this behavior," he said.

Chiara Silla, director of the Palazzo Vecchio museum, said Seracini has yet to present a destailed report of his survey.

"Seracini's is a work in progress that is difficult to evaluate." Sill said. "For the last two years we have been waiting for technical and scientific documentations to decide together whether to continue or not".

(abstracted from the Associated Press by: Ariel David)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:16 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, June 21, 2005

During the second Gulf War, hundred of Iraqi soldiers surrendered by waving white flags, the international symbol of capitulation.

How did this tradition originate?

Ancient historians from both China and Rome noted the sue of white flags to signal surrender. In the former empire, the tradition is believed to have originated with the reign of the Eastern Han dynasty ( AD 25-220), though it may be somewhat older. The Roman writer Cornelius mentions a white flag of surrender in his Histories, first published in A.D. 109. His reference concerns the Second Battle of Cremona, fought between the Vitellians and the Vespasians in A.D. 69; at the time, the more common Roman token of surrender was for soldiers to hold their shileds above their heads. It is believed that the tradition developed independently in the East and West.

As for the selection of such a bland color, it was likely just a matter of convenience in the ancient world. Aritificial colors were still centuries away, so white clothes were always handy -- not to mention highly visible against most natural backgrounds. Vexillologist (those who study flags) also opine that plain white provided an obvious contrast to the colorful banners that armies often carried into battle.

The peacemaking symbolism of the white flag is now enshrined in teh Geneva Convention, thoguh it's rarely mentioned in national flag codes. Italy is perhaps the only country whose flag guidelines specifically mention the white flag as an indication that a fighting force wants to call for a parley or surrender negotiations.

Iraqi soldiers were well aware that simply waving a white handkerchief could save their necks. So, too, were their commanders. In the first Gulf War, many Iraqi army officers forced their conscripts to hand over any and all articles of white clothing, including undershirts and socks, lest they be tempted to surrender to American forces. Fortunately for the troops, putting one's hands above one's head is often an equally effective way to cry uncle.

In the latter part of the Civil War, the Confederacy adopted a new national flag known as the Stainless Banner. The flag was predominatly white , with the familiar stars-and-bars design tucked into the upper left-hand corner. Confederate naval commanders detested the flag, as it was often mistaken as a sign of surrender when flying their masts. About a month before Appomattox, the Confederate Congress added a red bar to the banner's right hand side, to reduce the confusion.


During the second Gulf War, cable news viewers grew accustomed to the grisly sight of dead Iraqi Troops.

Do passing U.S. forces stop to bury the enemy's dead, or do they leave the remains alone?

Military regulations stipulate that "Army units will be required to bury enemy soldiers as time permits." Given the hast with which frontline troops must move, however, the somber task is often left up to support units, who sweep in after the heaviest combat has died down. The chief mission for so-called graves-registration units is to collect the American dead so the remains can be shipped back to the United States for proper burial. Their secondary duty is to see that the enemy casualties are buried with respect, in accordance with the Geneva Convention's protocols on the handling of remains. Since the Iraqie military apparently had scant resources available to dedicate to the undertaking, the job was mostly left up to the United States.

American soldiers charged with burying Iraqis would first search the bodies for dangerous items, such as greandes or other explosive ordinance. If the deceased was carrying any sort of personal identification, such as a dog tag or an ID card, the information was recorded and relayed back to mortuary affairs staff in Kuwait. When the war ended, these people were able to locate and notify the next of kin, or at least answer questions if a girving relative required. The remains were then placed in black body bags, and laid to rest in simple graves dug out with the backhoes. Metal posts were used in lieu of headstones.

On occasion, wheh they have a respite frok battle, frontline units will take on burials themselves, provided they have the heavy equipmenmt necessary to dig sufficiently deep tranches. These troops may lack body bags, in which case the enemies are buried without. Still, markers are always left, and identification details are recorded. The idea is that rapid burial, however unadorned, is preferable to letting the remains be picked apart by wild dogs and other scavengers.

American troops did their best to bury Iraqie troops in accordance with Muslim tradition -- with bodies interred to point toward Mecca, for example -- but the rituals can't be perfect. Graves registration untis often feature female soldiers, and Muslim custom forbids women from handling male remains.


Despite the desert conditions of the recent Iraqi campaing, many American soldiers sported deep green comabt fatigues.

Why did troops don woodland camouflage?

Acoording to published reports, the Pentagon simply goofed by not anticipating the demand for sand colored desert fatigues, formally known as battle dress uniforms (BDUs. When Army and Marine untis were prepairing for deployment, several discovered that they lacked enough desert BDUs to outfit each soldier with the requisite three otufits. The UPI reported that the Army's Fourth Infantry Divsion, headquartered at Fort Hood, Texas, chose to dress all its troops in the more traditional green fatigues -- commonly referred to as woodlands BDUs -- rather than have only some don desert dress. Homogeneity is generally preferred among military commanders.

Untis that departed for the Middle East in early 2003 were promised fresh BDUs upon arrival, but shipments were slow to arrive, support commanders reported in March that they had already run out of desert fatigues. The Pentagon's Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia ordered manufacturers to increase production of desert camouflage at the expense of woodland BDUs.

A dearth of appropriately stealthy uniforms was also a problem during the first Gulf War, as many U.S. tropps were forced to were dark green. The Pentagon learned at least one lesson from the 1991 conflict, however: The Marines' anti-chemical-weapons suits, known as mission-oriented protective posture (MOPP) clothing used to be available only in woodland patterns. The latest MOPP gear features a three color desert design.

Military leaders insisted that the shortage of desert BDUs would not affect the safety of American soldiers. They pointed out that the Iraqs' terrain is not entirely Sahara like, and that green camouflage may have actually been ideal near the banks of the Euphrates River, where vegetation and mud are present.

The Pentagon is not alone in its camouflage foibles. The Canadian miliary was heavily criticized for dispatching troops to Afghanistan in woodland dress during Operation Endurin Freedom. In March 2003, Canada red faced Defense Department officially put a rush on an order for desert BDUs which wre to be sent ot the 2,000 peacekeepers the country had committed to Afghanistan.


In a New York Times article about a deadly raid he led while in Vietnam, former Senator Kerry said that during a visit to West Point in 2001, he read the rules of war for the first time.

What are the rules of war?

U.S. military personnel are governed by two sets of guidelines on how to behave during war or lesser conflicts. One is codified in the Army field manual "The Law of Land Warfare", first published in 1956, whcih draws on internationala law, such as the Geneva Conventions. The manuals' basic principle is that military personnel shouild "refrain from employing any kind or degree of violence which is not actually necessary for military purposes and that they conduct hostiliies with regard for the principles of humanity and chivalry". More specifically, it describes such things as the protection of civilians and the sick and the wounded from combat, the proper treatment of prisoners of war, and restrictions on certain types of weapons.

The second set of guidelines, subsidiary to the first, is know as the Rules of Engagement. The Rukles of Engagement are specific to each military situation and can be modified as circumstances change. For example, the Rules of Engagement might state that soldiers cannot fire on suspected enemy positions without positive identification of the enemy (being fired upon is always considered positiive indentification). Or that a U.S. airplane cannot fire on another aircraft because the other craft buzzed it but must wait for a more overty hostile action. Of course, none of the laws and rules is meant to undermine the ultimate right of self defense.

During Vietnam military personnel were given at best cursory leassons about the laws of warfare; today everyone in the armed forces is required to attend a yearly class on the subject. And the whole notion of rules of engagement was far more lax during Vietname that it is now. Today, for example, soldiers get more than just verbal instructions, they might also be issued cards with written instructions on the current Rules of Engagement of their particular missions.

(abstrated from the book: THE EXPLAINER by Slate Magazine)
posted by infraternam meam @ 12:57 AM   0 comments

1... Wheel ---------------------------- 51.. Thermometer.
2... Light Bulb ----------------------- 52.. Incubator.
3... Printing Press ------------------- 53.. CT Scan.
4... Telephone ------------------------ 54.. MRI.
5... Television ----------------------- 55.. Drywall.
6... Radio ---------------------------- 56.. Electric Motor.
7... Gunpowder ------------------------ 57.. Barbed Wire.
8... Desktop Computer ----------------- 58.. Condom.
9... Telegraph ------------------------ 59.. Telescope.
10.. Internal Combustion Engine ------- 60.. EKG Machine.
11.. Pen/Pencil ----------------------- 61.. Pacemaker.
12.. Paper ---------------------------- 62.. Kidney Dialysis Machine.
13.. Automobile ----------------------- 63.. Camera.
14.. Airplane ------------------------- 64.. Global Positioning System.
15.. Plow ----------------------------- 65.. Sewing Machine.
16.. Eyeglasses ----------------------- 66.. Film.
17.. Atomic Reactor ------------------- 67.. Spinning Jenny.
18.. Atomic Bomb ---------------------- 68.. Brick./
19.. Colossus Computer ---------------- 69.. Motion Picture Camera.
20.. Toilet --------------------------- 70.. Dynamite.
21.. Rifle ---------------------------- 71.. Cannon.
22.. Pistol --------------------------- 72.. Balloon Framing.
23.. Plumbing ------------------------- 73.. Typewriter.
24.. Iton-to-Steel Process ------------ 74.. Diesel Engine.
25.. Wire ----------------------------- 75.. Triode Vacuum Tube.
26.. Transistor ----------------------- 76.. AC Induction Motor.
27.. Steam Engine --------------------- 77.. Helicopter.
28.. Sail ----------------------------- 78.. Calculator.
29.. Bow and Arrow -------------------- 79.. Flashlight.
30.. Welding Machine ------------------ 80.. Laser
31.. McCromick Reaper ----------------- 81.. Steamboat.
32.. Jet Engine ----------------------- 82.. Fax Machine.
33.. Locomotive ----------------------- 83.. Tank.
34.. Anesthesia ----------------------- 84.. Rocket.
35.. Battery -------------------------- 85.. Cotton Gin.
36.. Nail ----------------------------- 86.. Windmill.
37.. Screw ---------------------------- 87.. Submarine.
38.. X-Ray Machine -------------------- 88.. Paint.
39.. Compass -------------------------- 89.. Circuit Breaker.
40.. Wooden Ships --------------------- 90.. Washing Machine.
41.. Stethoscope ---------------------- 91.. Threshing Machine.
42.. Skycscraper ---------------------- 92.. Fire Extinguisher.
43.. Elevator ------------------------- 93.. Refrigerator.
44.. Clock ---------------------------- 94.. Oven.
45.. Chronometer ---------------------- 95.. Bicycle.
46.. Microscope ----------------------- 96.. Tape Recorder.
47.. Braile --------------------------- 97.. Oil Derrick.
48.. Radar ---------------------------- 98.. Fire Sprinklers
49.. Air Conditioning ----------------- 100. Video Recorder.
50.. Suspension Bridge

(abstracted from the book of the same title by: Tom Philbin)
posted by infraternam meam @ 12:23 AM   0 comments
Monday, June 20, 2005
I am very particular with the Ballet Perfromances that I watch, espcially if the performances are adoptations of native dances from the Philippines, being interpreted in a very modern way and giving a new native costume in a very different and sometimes a little bit off beat look. This evening, I was asked by my wife to accompany her to watch the performance of BALLET MANILA 2005, for the benefit of "Tahanan", Philippine Museum of Cultural Arts.

"Tahanan, Inc. is a non-profit organization formed to formally establish a Philippine Museum addressing the intercultural fabric of the Filipino people, inclusive of, but not limited to art, music, dance, literature, poetry, culinary arts and civic affairs."

My sister in law, being one of the Board of Directors and President, have made me attend, of course with the insinuation of my wife also. And so I did attend the gala performance, held at The Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance at the Chicago Millenium Park Complex.

I am not a dance critic, nor do I have a degree in Ballet and Theatre and Dance. The only thing I know is to watch and give my own critic analysis afterwards -- silently on my own and in my own way and interpretation and on how I have seen the performance, not to mention the exhorbitant charges that I have to pay for the ticket..

The performance was done in Five Parts, which was done, if not perfectly, but with all the grace and touch if Philippine culture, enriching the colorful costumes and songs and even a short history of the Philippines, from the highlanders to the low-landers, from the indigenous tribe to the pop culture of the what is now the Pinoy genre and the Philippines itself.

PROFILE OF BALLET MANILA (abstracted from the Souvenir Program)

"Critics have referred to Ballet Manila (BM) as the "ballet company of the new millenium" because of its unwavering commitment to excellence in classical dance, both as a professional performing company and as a formidable training ground for young dancers.

Ballet Manila has achieved an impressive track record of over 2,280 loecal performances in 115 cities in the Philippines -- from Abra to Zamboanga. They have brought magic of dance to Filipinos from all walks of life and in all conerners of the archipelago, perfromaing 193 full length classical and 110 neo-classical ballet pieces in non-traditional venues in the Philippines alone without compromising the fine artisty of its craft. Moreover, the company has put on 52 foreign performances out of which were eight full length classical ballet and two contemporary numbers in Russia , the United States and Scotland."

Here are some of the performance, that I have given my own personaly critic and observation(s):

One thing I observe in this Filipino Martial art dance of wielding bamboo sticks to ones' opponent, is the dance pattern, the foot work and the use of the bamboo stick as a method of weaponry. Here, one can see the intricate pattern of movements the martial art dancers are following in cadence and in complete unison, with the reverberating sound of the music that will make one feel the excitement and the climax of each martial arts performer, like as if they are flying with the bamboo stick in their hands and the beat of the music and the cadence it brings, makes the spectators grasp for the jumps and the crawl on the floor while the bamboo stick is being hammered on the floor and to each other opponents. I like the red loose pants, with the black sash and the black head bands of the martial arts dancer, exposing their well built body and muscles that enables the spectator, really see the macho well being of the performers. Performed by nine young men, that really gives meaning to so complicated form of martial arts but looks very easy watching them perform.I studied martial arts and Tai Chi, and this Arnis de Mano is really a site to see.

This dance was performed by nine young ladies, clad in colorful outfit, created exclusively by one of the Philippines Haute Couture' Auggie Cordero. My wife was so enamored by the colorful outfits and the bead works that was done to it. She loves the footworks of the ballet dancers in their ballet shoes, tiptoeing on the dance floor, with a very romantic musical background and the cadence of the dancers, with their over flowing gowns is a sight to see. I love the figure and the flighty movements and sways of the dancers, making my wife elbow me while I was staring directly at the lead dancer, and I did not know that my wife was saying something to me. The dancers show off their glamour and ballet expertise, in a gown created for them and for this particular dance by a Pinoy couturier. I recommend this particular dance to all the (DOM) Dirty Old Men, like me.

This is a dance for two or what they call in the Ballet jargon 'pas de deux'. This is a very superb dance of a couple depicting a spider, doing their fighting, crawling and mating. The dance is very intense and shows off so much contortion on the part of the lady spider. The music is so electrifying, not to mention the intricate costume of black and white with sparkling beads for the female dancer. One will think, just watching the female dancer, that she might not have any bones in her body. The crawling movements, behind the male spider and the floor movements is a site to see. Very contemporary and to sum it all up, very Majestically done by this two dancer. The only thing missing is the cobwebs, but watching these couple dance, one can really envision the invisible spider web. The music is superb and electrifying.

This is a narrative dance about the Igorot highlanders from the Mountain Province. I like the girl dancers, with the clay jars being balanced in their heads and the music instruments and the beat being played by the three male dancers and musicians at the same time. There are sequences in this dance that was actually taped from the the rituals of the Igorot tribal feastings. It was just too long for me and it kinda bore me a little bit, until the dramatic end. I love the beat of the musical instruments, which are just plain slabs of bamboos. Very ingenous, especially the beat.

These are arrays of dances contineously woven together and performed in different segments like: Sagayan: a dance to drive away the evil spirits. Pangalay: a dance to show the beauty and gracefulness of the hands. Kzudaratan: a dance showing the manner of walking. All of these dances are a unique portrayal of Philippine culture at its best, especially the colorful costumes and the intricate use of bamboo poles and the agile foot work of the female lead dancer, while hangin on the two bamboo poles, being carried by two male dancers.

What again got my attention is the Kuntao, another form of martial arts, wherein the male dancers are using their hands and footwork, in a malay outfit, dancing like they are walking in flaming charcoals. Very nice to watch and the music will enthrall you.

The last part of the program are compilations of Original songs of Pinoy artists being interpreted by dancers, based on the mood and the music and the lyrics that the song is conveying.

MAGANDANG GABI... this song and dance was performed with a touch of broadway and the colorful costume blends with the music and the movement of the dancers.

PALASYO... is an off beat tune that makes the audience get focused on the lead dancer.

SANA'Y MAULIT MULI... kind of reminds me of jazz broadway dance step. very off beat and eclectic.

BUTSEKIK... although I never understood the lyrics of this song, nor did I understand if the singer is singing in Mandarin, Cantonese or Fookien. I never asked anybody. One this I liked is the athleticism of the male dancers, giving a comedic and clownish movements, making the audience smile and stomp their feet. Remarkably done, using some martial arts movements, with a colorful costume and acrobatic skills from the dancers.

SABIHIN MO IKAW AY PILIPINO... a touch of nationalism, bringing forth the audience to feel lonely and think about the country that they have left behind. Here, the dancers are clad in different regional outfit, carrying flags during the time of the Pinoy revolt against the Spaniards.

Encore Number:
KAY GANDA NG ATING MUSIKA...from the lyrics alone is self explanatory. Done by the entire casts again in their regional attires and costumes.

The performance was a standing ovation, well applauded and well attended, even if the price of the ticket is a little bit expensive. It's worth it. A showcase of Philippine culture and music.
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:33 AM   0 comments
About Me

Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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