You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2010.

Here are some pictures of children around the world, from the Christian Science Monitor’s Photos of the Day – Tuesday.

If you took a picture of a child, or children,  you saw today, or recently, what would it look like?

http://www.csmonitor.com/CSM-Photo-Galleries/Photos-of-the-Day/2010/Photos-of-the-Day-08-31/(photo)/6

1) Kid in a cup (bucket actually).

 

Sanjev Kumar bathes in a water bucket provided by UNHCR in Pakistan army flood relief camp in Sukkur, Pakistan, on Monday.

2) A young girl whose body is growing up much faster than she is.

 

Fourteen-year-old Elisany Silva (c.), who is 6’9″ tall poses for a picture with her sisters Talicia (r.) and Eliza in Braganca in the Brazilian Amazon state of Para on Sunday. Elisany, one of the world’s tallest teens, who was forced to quit school because she became too big to ride the bus, now dreams of becoming a famous fashion model.

3) A young boy on the road to spiritual growth.

A young Tibetan monk waits to have a glimpse of the spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama (not shown), during “First Tibetan National General Meeting 2010” at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Bylakuppe, India, on Tuesday. The Dalai Lama is on a four-day visit to the town, popularly known as “Mini Tibet.”

I have no real need to watch comedians to get a laugh, looking at my own life is a constant source of amusement.

Sunday I went on-line and my Norton Anti-virus was not working, stupid @#%&* anti-virus.  Tried on-line fix.  Didn’t work, stupid @#%&* on-line support.   After calling Tech Support it turns out the problem was that on my previous PC session, working on my budget, I had changed the month to September, and forgot to change it back to August.  Ed’s stupid @#%&* brain.  🙂

How well do you get along with your PC/Laptop?

Mine is a lot more forgiving than any of my ex-girfriends.  🙂

A) Can a leopard change its spots?

Lou Reed, 1974

Lou Reed 2010

Lou Reed and Lola walking to breakfast in the West Village, NYC.

Have you changed much over your lifetime?

Phase 1 – Angst ridden, suicidal teen. Phase 2 – Confident, egotistical, hedonistic young man.  Phase 3 – Hardworking bee in a very big hive.  Phase 4 –  A perfectly well-rounded, and slightly delusional, older man.  🙂  Phase 5 under construction.

B) Art by the young and old.

Some knitting art from Kate Jenkins, via The Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery

Mini Pork Pie (Crocheted Lambs Wool)

http://www.r-h-g.co.uk/exhibitions/view/kate_jenkins_come_dine_with_kate/124,0.html

From the Chapman Brothers Coloring Competition, a contest for kids aged 6-13.

A Rainbow  Happy Goblin by Susie McGuinness, age 12

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2010/aug/26/chapman-brothers-colouring-competition-winners

I’ll start with a simple question.  🙂 

What aspect of your faith helps you the most in your daily life?

The source of my faith are the natural forces that shape my world.  These forces exist in perfect harmony.  Within this harmony is the catalyst for change, one thing transformed into another.  Without change my world would be static, devoid of life as life as we know it.  Mutation is one of the most beautiful words in the English language.

In studying the natural world I see the great beauty found in every living thing.  The animal that appears ugliest to my eyes is just a beautiful as any other.  In learning to appreciate the beauty found in all things I learn to love everything, everyone, everywhere. 

It is a fact of life that there are people who will try harm me, and I will have to protect myself, but even with these people the DNA in their cells works exactly the same as mine does. 

 We all belong to one family, Homo sapien.  We may call ourselves American, Chinese, Christian, Muslim, but those are just differences we have created with our cultures.

Looking through the lens of the process called science I see how similar we are.  Using the lens of cultural I am more likely to see differences, in our race, religion and country.  Some day we will all come to accept the science, and the barriers we have created will come down.

The better I understand the natural forces, the better I will learn to live in the world.  The more beauty will I see in everything, and everyone, I share my world with.

1) Picture of the Day, from Thursday’s Christian Science Monitor

http://www.csmonitor.com/CSM-Photo-Galleries/Photos-of-the-Day/2010/Photos-of-the-Day-08-25/(photo)/3

 

A baby sleeps in a hammock as her family takes refuge from the flood in a classroom in Sukkur, in Pakistan’s Sindh province, on Wednesday. 

Even as the world around her is in turmoil this little girl is lost in dreams of puppies, and flowers, and the laughter of Angels.

What do you think is a good caption for this photo?

2) In the village of Bunol, Spain, on Wednesday, they had a food fight.  A really, really, big food fight, the “Tomatina Fiesta”.  I really, really, wish I had been there.

I have two conflicting sides when it comes to getting messy.  In a food fight, or playing in mud, my first thought is “This is great fun!”  Followed by, “OMG, OMG I am dirty!”.    🙂  OCD versus my inner child.

Does getting messy bother you?

From Wednesday’s CSM:

http://www.csmonitor.com/CSM-Photo-Galleries/In-Pictures/Tomatina-festival

Revelers throw tomatoes during the annual “tomatina” tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol, near Valencia, Spain, on Aug. 25.

1) The sports world is filled with fierce competition between finely tuned athletes.  Now I bring you the Bunny, excuse me, Rabbit Hopping Championship from Denmark, and for you pervs out there I don’t mean the kind you find in Playboy. 🙂

I don’t see a carrot in sight so I maybe these furry competitors are just trying not to be in the dinner stew.  🙂

Have you ever entered an animal you raised,or took care of, in a competition?  Has anyone in your family done so?

2) I know this is of no consolation to anyone who has to fight the traffic everyday, but the Chinese have over taken the US in traffic gridlock, an honor they are welcome to.

What is the worse traffic jam you have been in?

I have had 6 hour commutes from New Jersey to Connecticut, but there were multiple traffic jams.  I have also been stuck on the highway for as much as 6 hours in a snow storm.   The longest non-weather related gridlock I have experienced was driving, or trying to drive, to a conference in Ventura, California, from the Los Angeles airport, I got stuck for about 3 hours on the 405 Freeway and moved about one mile an hour.  Just exactly why are they called “Freeways” when the never are?

From Tuesday’s Guardian – “Gridlock is a way of life for the Chinese”.  For 10 days, drivers on the Beijing to Mongolia expressway have been stuck in a 60-mile tailback.

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/24/china-60-mile-motorway-tailback

“The trucks were parked up, bumper-to-bumper and mile upon mile of them. No one is going anywhere fast in what has been dubbed the world longest-lasting traffic jam, in China’s Hebei province.

The motorway, part of the Beijing to Tibet expressway, resembles a giant car park – and has done so for the past 10 days. Normally one of the busiest – and noisiest – trunk roads in China, now the only sound that can be heard is the chirrup of the crickets in the nearby wheatfields.

The Chinese authorities are struggling to clear the congestion, now entering its eleventh day and which, at its peak, stretched for more than 60 miles (100km). But the drivers still joining it are not optimistic about reaching their destinations swiftly.

“I have not moved for five hours,” said Zhang Xingping, 27, standing outside his cab near a road traffic sign mockingly warning him to obey the 100km per hour speed limit.”

“Local villagers come on motorbikes to take advantage. They are selling simple boxed meals of rice, vegetables and pork for 10 yuan (£1) each. “It’s not cheap. It’s not filling. But we have no choice,” said Zhang, of the food on offer.

The stranded drivers, who spend their time sleeping, walking around, or playing cards and chess, are a captive market, and the local entrepreneurs are keen to take advantage. A bottle of water, normally 1 yuan, sells for 10 yuan, while the price of a 3 yuan cup of instant noodles had tripled. “It’s more expensive than eating in a restaurant,” complained one driver who gave his surname as Lu.”

Monday’s pictures from the Net:

1) From the Christian Science Monitor’s Photos of the Day

http://www.csmonitor.com/CSM-Photo-Galleries/Photos-of-the-Day/2010/Photos-of-the-Day-08-23

 

A man performs with fire during a Hungry Ghost Festival parade along the streets of Keelung, Taiwan, on Monday. It is believed by some worshipers that the gates of Hell are opened during the month and dead ancestors return to visit their relatives. The Hungry Ghost Festival starts this year from Aug. 10 and ends on Sept. 7 with traditional Chinese operas, puppet shows, and concerts by believers to appease the roaming spirits.

 

Bangladeshi Muslim women shop for clothes during Ramadan in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Monday. Bangladesh’s High Court ordered the government to ensure women will not be forced to wear burqas at educational institutions after one college reportedly barred females without the veil from entering. 

2) From the Guardian 24 Hours In Pictures:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/gallery/2010/aug/23/1

 

Baseera, Pakistan: A man and a boy, displaced by floods, wade through water in Punjab province

 

Guardia Sanframondi, Italy: A penitent representing Jesus carries a cross as he takes part in a religious procession to honour the Virgin Mary

3) A child plays at a sculpture that is a laptop computer with an abacus as its monitor in Shanghai, China, on Friday.

 

My first full time job after high school was as a payroll clerk.  This is the machine I used to count with:

At the start of my career as an auditor this is what we used to prepare our reports:

How much has the technology you worked with changed since your first job?

This weekend I noticed how much my life has changed since I retired, from the daily grand that working for a paycheck can be.  I realized I have no calendar in my condo.  The only clock I use is the one on my computer.  I have no schedule, and don’t need to plan out my day.

My lifestyle is probably as un-American as it can get. 🙂 Even my elderly friends seems to need, or be a lot more comfortable with, a schedule and daily routine.

Could you enjoying living without a clock or calendar?

Pictures from the Net:

1) This image shows the eruption of a galactic “super-volcano” in the massive galaxy M87, as witnessed by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and NSF’s Very Large Array (VLA). At a distance of about 50 million light years, M87 is relatively close to Earth and lies at the center of the Virgo cluster, which contains thousands of galaxies.
 

2) This strange, bearded antelope, a young Thomson’s gazelle, was seen just a few weeks ago in Kenya. It’s not clear why this young creature looks so different from its kin.

 

The fact that this furry gazelle wasn’t rejected by its mother suggests that whatever is causing the excess hair either wasn’t present when the gazelle was born, or that the condition isn’t causing obvious health problems.

3) From The Guardian’s “24 Hours In Pictures”

Muzaffargarh, Pakistan: Women flood victims stand beside their tent as the sun sets at a camp for displaced people

Instead of a Bible study post I want to discuss finding, or losing faith.  Also gaining the self-confidence to have faith in your self.

Unless we are very lucky we are all going to experience the feeling of being lost at some point in our lives.  No idea what to do, other than go hide in a corner somewhere and cry.  That is when we need a source of faith that will give us the hope our lives can get better.  A loss of faith means a loss of hope.

We only need to look at the headlines in the news, or on any street corner, in almost any city, anywhere in the world, to find millions of people who are in need of faith.

The great benefit of religious faith is that having it means you will believe your are never alone.  Your God is always by your side.  The promise of your God is that no matter how desperate your life in this world is , or how hopeless it may seem, you will pass on to a better one in Heaven.

Another great benefit of religious faith is that no matter where you are in the world there will be a church, a community, that will accept and help you.

I don’t see that people of religious faith, overall, act any better, or any worse, are any happier, or sadder, than anyone else.  The advantage that I do see, in terms of living in this world, are communities where you will feel loved, wanted and just as important, needed.  We all need the feeling of belonging.  Religious communities can give us that probably better than any other institution.  Some people say that an institution is exactly where I belong.  🙂

Faith also means having someone, something, you can trust.  In the worst pit of hell you can imagine, your God is by your side.  You are never forgotten, or alone.  If you are a Christian then you believe that Jesus gave you a gift  that is always there to guide you, your indwelling Holy Spirit.

I gained my source of faith in, as far as I can see, a completely different manner from people of religious faith.  I turned inward.  I took my walk to faith alone.  The reason for this was I felt no faith, or trust, in anyone, including myself.  I did not believe I had anyone else I could turn to.  This may not have been true, but it was what I believed.

Religious faith is, or should be, all about love.  Religious faith is a passionate, emotional experience.  My problems were emotional ones, manic depression, suicidal tendencies.  My first step was to remove emotion, as much as possible, and just take on life one step at a time, survive.  Once I proved, to myself, that I could survive, I gained the confidence to take the risk of engaging life.  To allow myself to experience the emotions of joy, passion, love.  To risk trusting other people.  After dealing with used car salesmen, and insurance agents, I am not so sure this trusting business is that great an idea.  🙂

Our experiences in life will determine how we find faith, or if we don’t.  For me the first person I needed to have faith in was myself.

Since almost all of my blog buddies who comment here are Christian, I will direct my question about faith to them.

How do you gained self-confidence when the religious doctrine of your faith is that man is a weak, fallen, sinner?

A question for anyone.  What do you think is the best way to develop self-confidence?

1) Two pictures from the Net today,  reflecting the gap between those who have and those who don’t.

Which group do you think is growing faster?

a. From the Christian Science Monitor Daily Photo slide-show of Aug 18th:

http://www.csmonitor.com/CSM-Photo-Galleries/Photos-of-the-Day/2010/Photos-of-the-Day-08-18

 

A Syrian vendor displays sweets during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan at al-Midan market in Damascus, Syria, on Wednesday. Muslims around the world abstain from eating, drinking and conducting sexual relations from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.

b. From The Guardian’s daily 24 Hours In Picture. 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/gallery/2010/aug/18/1

One of the most upsetting picture I have seen in a long time.  No words are adequate.

 

Sindh, Pakistan: A young girl whose family lost their home in the devastating floods sleeps on the ground in a refugee camp

2) In answer to my question:

Pakistan flood aid is nowhere near the billions needed to deal with a calamity that’s swept through Pakistan, wiped out crops in the agricultural heartland, and affected some 20 million people.

a. Today’s headline from the Pakistani newspaper The Dawn:

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/04-nearly-half-funds-secured-qs-06

“Nearly half the $459 million needed for initial relief in Pakistan’s worst ever floods has been secured after days of lobbying donors and warnings that the country faces a spiralling humanitarian catastrophe, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

But despite the fresh funds, only a fraction of the six million Pakistanis desperate for food and clean water have received help after the worst floods in decades killed up to 1,600 people and left two million homeless.

“There has been an improvement in funding. Donors are realising the scale of the disaster,” UN spokesman Maurizio Giuliano told Reuters. “But the challenges are absolutely massive and the floods are not over.”

“The size of (the area affected by) this disaster is equivalent to Austria, Switzerland and Belgium combined. That’s pretty scary.”

A few days ago, only a quarter of aid pledged had been received, prompting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on a visit to Pakistan to urge foreign donors to speed up funding and avert more deaths.

So far, food rations and access to clean water have only been provided to around 700,000 flood survivors, the UN said.

Children most vulnerable

The damage and cost of recovery could shave more than one percentage point off economic growth, analysts say. Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Britain, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, said the cost of rebuilding could reach up to $15 billion.

Hundreds of villages are isolated, highways and bridges have been cut in half by floods and hundreds of thousands of cattle — the livelihoods of many villagers — have drowned.

The United Nations has warned that up to 3.5 million children could be in danger of contracting deadly diseases carried through contaminated water and insects in a crisis that has disrupted the lives of at least a tenth of Pakistan’s 170 million people.

“Who will treat her? The doctors said she has a hole in the wall of her heart,” said Bakhmina Said, whose one-year-old Naeema slept on a mat in sweltering heat at a fly-infested camp in northwestern Pakistan.

She had no fan, no chance of seeing a cardiologist anytime soon and at risk of catching other potentially fatal diseases in cramped, un-hygienic conditions.

UN Food and Agriculture Organisation says Pakistan could face food shortages if its farmers miss the sowing season which is due to start next month.

Some flood victims blocked highways to demand government help and villagers clashed with baton-wielding police on Tuesday after opposition leader Nawaz Sharif tried to distribute relief in Sindh.

b. From an editorial in Pakistan’s Daily Times, by Dr Manzur Ejaz:

“In the long run, the Pakistani people have to rise above their petty personal interests and start looking for common societal goals. Lessons should be learnt from the disasters Pakistan has been facing for the last few decades. From terrorism to floods, Pakistan is suffering because of a lack of collective consciousness and indifference to the basic rules of self-preservation. The ruling elite must learn to establish good governance if Pakistan is to survive. Basically, Pakistan has to be reinvented. No one said it would be easy, but there is no other way.”

3) Natural disasters will continue to occur, just as they always have.  There is also no question that global warming, the highest since records have been keep, 1880, will likely result in dramatic climate changes, more hurricanes, floods, etc, than we are currently prepared to deal with. 

As far as I can tell most governments seem to think just talking, and setting goals no one really is committed to keep, will make the problem go away.  It seems to me most Americans would just prefer to stick their heads in the sand.

August 13th press release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

“Second Warmest July and Warmest Year-to-Date Global Temperature on Record”

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100813_globalstats.html  

We know what the answers are, change how use and produce energy for one thing.  I am not taking about survival.  Some will be better prepared and thrive.  I am talking about the amount of pain future generations will have to suffer because of our inaction.

1) My two favorite pictures from my Tuesday wanderings around the Net.

Srinagar, India: A Kashmiri boy looks at a rainbow above Babdemb lake.

From today’s Guardian’s Dog Photographer of the Year candidates.

When is the last time you saw a rainbow?

2) Stuff you can not make up.

They sell everything on EBAY, including a witch’s spell for “Enhancing your booty”.  For just $8.95 Amelia, a “very powerful Wiccan Witch”, will cast a spell that is guaranteed to “help you develop that sexy, curvy booty you always wanted”. 

From the EBAY posting:

“Greetings my name is Amelia.  I have been a spellcaster for 20+ years.  All spells are cast by me, sometimes  with the assistance of my Coven.  My spells are strong and very effective.  Upon purchase of a spell I will set up an alter solely for your spell to be cast.  Be assured your desired outcome will receive my undivided attention.   This will include the use of candles, herbs, oils, gemstones, tools and some other items that may be required to bring results.  Your spell will be complete within 24 – 48 hours of purchase depending on the complexity of your spell.  I will send you a confirmation upon completion via ebay message.  You can expect to feel positive energy immediately that will increase in strength daily.  Some of my clients say they experience a tingly sensation while I cast the spell.”

It don’t know if it is more funny or sad that she has sold 22, so far.

Have you ever, for fun, had your fortune told?

3) Chai Ling was a leader of the 1989 student uprising at Tiananmen Square. Now she wants to help women and girls in her native China.  Ling became the second-most-wanted person in China after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. She escaped to Hong Kong, then made her way to the US in 1990. Today she’s a businesswoman as well as a wife and mother of three.

Ling converted to Christianity in April, a process that she says renewed her life. “I thought I’d found a solution to China’s problems by studying the democratic model of Taiwan.” “It turns out God gave me a new calling instead – to help China’s women and girls,”

Her new humanitarian venture, a nonprofit group called All Girls Allowed (www.allgirlsallowed.org), aims to provide legal aid, counseling, and other assistance to victims of forced abortions and sterilizations in China.

From a Christian Science Monitor story about her:

 

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2010/0816/Protecting-women-and-girls-in-China-where-one-child-per-family-is-the-rule-and-a-boy-the-preference

“Twenty-one years ago, Chai Ling was a student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstration, speaking out against China’s oppressive regime.

Lauded as their “commander in chief” by the democratic activists protesting at the vast Beijing public square, Ms. Chai was later denounced by the Chinese government as the second-most-wanted “culprit” of the political upheaval and forced to flee her native land. Hiding in a boat, she first reached Hong Kong and later settled in the United States in 1990.

Today Chai is a savvy businesswoman living near Boston and a mother of three, after marriage to an American citizen.

On June 3, the eve of the 21st anniversary of the Tiananmen bloodshed, she spoke at a church in Falls Church, Va. “[The] Tiananmen massacre is still happening every day!” she said as tears streamed down her face and her agitated hands whipped the balmy night air.

Chai was referring to China’s one-child policy, in which officials force pregnant women to abort their babies. In place since 1979, the “one child” rule has prompted many Chinese to practice sex selection, using ultrasound screenings to determine whether the fetus is a boy or girl and then aborting females or abandoning them after birth to orphanages. More than 35,000 forced abortions were performed in China each day in 2009, Chai says – a death toll that far exceeds the estimated thousands of protesters who died in the 1989 massacre.

 Chai now has begun a new humanitarian venture, a nonprofit group called All Girls Allowed (www.allgirlsallowed.org), which aims to provide legal aid, counseling, and other assistance to victims of forced abortions and sterilizations in China. She also plans to launch a campaign to change minds in China about the preference for male offspring and build orphanages.”

“Chai’s audience in the Virginia church looked on in horror as she screened a slide show filled with photos taken in secret at China’s squalid abortion clinics and detention centers, where disheveled pregnant women sobbed.

Chai said the idea of the charity project stemmed from her assignment last fall as an interpreter at a congressional hearing on China’s one-child policy, where an abused Chinese woman testified.

Shrouding her face with a black veil (for fear of retribution), a soft-spoken woman with the pseudonym Jian Wu recounted how she was tortured by officials in her town. Ms. Wu, carrying her second child, came out from hiding after her father was severely beaten by authorities. She was dragged to an abortion clinic.

“Her [Wu’s] only crime was being a mother,” Chai says.

Now herself a mother of three girls, ages 5, 7, and 9, Chai is using seed money from the Jenzabar Foundation, the charitable arm of her fledging software business, to drive her human rights endeavor. She is partnering with and funding local women’s rights groups in China. One day, she hopes to change the minds of China’s birth control officials.”

“Chai converted to Christianity in April, a process that she says renewed her life.

 “I thought I found a solution to China’s problems by studying the democratic model of Taiwan,” says Chai of the research she did in earning a master’s degree in international relations at Princeton University in New Jersey.

“It turns out God gave me a new calling instead – to help China’s women and girls,” Chai now says”

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