Friday, November 30, 2007

Quote of the Day

By my horns, I don't understand humans. I've lived around them close to two decades now. The things they swear by! Sex, excrement, and religion. I'll never understand them.

Kardue'sai'Malloc in Empire Blues: The Devaronian's Tale

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Asian Failure

A little something Edward found while trawling Facebook:

If you get anything less than an A in ANY school subject, your parents are gonna kick your ass because anything less than an A wont get you into university. Congratulations, you have Asian failed. Join the club.

100-90 - "YES!... phew"
90-86 - "Ohhhkayyyyyy"
85-80 - "Damnit!" <--- Asian failure starts here
70-80 - "Aw shit!"
60-70 - "Oh f*ck! My mom's gonna kill me!"
50-60 - "F*ck f*ckedy f*ckf*ckf*ck!"
<50? - Uh, well, if you don't kill yourself, your parents will

100-93 - "Hmm... okay"
93-80 - "Better improve it... NOW"
<80 - AIYAAA WTF LAHHH *pulls out hair*!!!

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Chi pò, non vò; chi vò, non pò; chi sà, non fà; chi fà, non sà; e così, male il mondo và.
Italian Proverb

Who can do, don't want to; who wants to, can't do; who knows how to do, won't do it; who does it, doesn't know how to - and, so, badly goes the world.

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Prayers for Cyprus

"Once again a drought has blighted our country and the people are worried because if the dry spell continues it will bring terrible consequences to farming, livestock and crops," (Archbishop Chrysostomos II) said.

"We are certain that by praying together with the warmest of spirit and deepest of faith it is possible that Almighty God will hear our prayers and grant our request," said a statement from the archbishop on Monday.

Lower-than-average rainfall over the last year has drained the reservoirs on which Cyprus relies heavily for water.

Cyprus' largest dam is expected to run dry if there is no heavy rainfall within the next month, Reuters news agency reports.

- BBC News, Tuesday, 27 November 2007, 11:56 GMT

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Saint Buddha

Today's saints (according to the Roman Catholic calendar; the Orthodox mark it on 26 August) is perhaps the most peculiar commemoration in the Church calendar - East or West:

Barlaam and Josaphat are said to have lived in third or fourth century India, where the Gospel was first preached by St Thomas the Apostle. The religion had grown steadily, but was persecuted by, among others, one King Abenner. This king was told by his astrologers that his son Josaphat would become a Christian. King Abenner kept his son locked away from the outside world to prevent this prophecy from coming true, but a Christian hermit named Barlaam preached the Chrsitian religion to the young prince, and he converted. King Abenner later became a Christian and then a hermit. Josaphat became king, but abdicated soon after to live a life of ascetic piety.

Josaphat's tale was wildly popular in the Middle Ages, and versions of it appeared in nearly all European languages, from Armenian to Icelandic. It was the basis of La vida es sueño (Life is a dream), the masterpiece by Spanish Golden Age playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca. The legend quite nearly circumnavigated the globe; a version of it came into being in the Tagalog language of the Philippines.

The story, it turns out, is a Christianized retelling of the story of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. Before his birth a seer predicted he would either be a great king or a holy man. To ensure the former outcome, his father the king shielded the boy from all forms of religious teaching and from witnessing any form of human suffering. Having accidentally witnessed the latter, he left his palace to lead an ascetic life. The Buddha's story traveled in all four directions. As it traveled west, the Sanskrit "Bodhisattva" became "Bodisav" in Persian, "Budhasaf" or "Yudasaf" in Arabic, "Iodasaph" in Georgian, "Ioasaph" in Greek, and "Josaphat" in Latin.

Thus, the Buddha came to be venerated in Christendom. This remarkable origin of this tale need not be cause for embarrassment. It is a testimony to the faith of the Age of Faith, whose children yearned for holiness and recognized it when they saw it, even in a tale from a faraway land. Without access to a fact-checking resource like Wikipedia, it is easy to see how such a cultus could have developed.

Were the Christians of the Middle Ages who asked for St Josaphat's intercessions praying to the Bodhisattva? Were the many parishes named after St Josaphat erected in honor of the Buddha?

MORE at the Western Confucian's interpretation of what this could mean to the Church.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Real Feminists on Abortion

Here are what early feminists had to say about abortion:

Women... sacrificing to lasciviousness the parental affection... either destroy the embryo in the womb, or cast if off when born. Nature in every thing demands respect, and those who violate her laws seldom violate them with impunity.
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792)

When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, women's suffrage movement leader (1873)

Every woman knows if she were free, she would never bear an unwished-for child, nor think of murdering one before its birth.
Victoria Woodhull, first woman to run for US President (1875)

And what does the modern, liberated feminist say?

"It's essential to make your own decision. No one else has the right to tell you what to do. Listen to your own heart.


Once you have made your decision, believe in yourself for making a good decision. Abortion is the right of every woman."

- Feminist Women's Health Centre

But what kind of a decision, a "choice" is abortion? Again, I quote Victoria Woodhull:

"Abortion is only a symptom of a more deep-seated disorder of the social state. It cannot be put down by law. Normally the mother of ten children is as healthy, and may be as youthful and beautiful, as a healthy maiden. Child-bearing is not a disease, but a beautiful office of nature. But to our faded-out, sickly, exhausted type of women, it is a fearful ordeal. Nearly every child born is an unwelcome guest. Abortion is the choice of evils for such women."

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"Secular" Turkey Strikes Again

A 17th century chapel dedicated to Our Lord’s Transfiguration, which lies in front of the Haliki School of Theology, was almost completely destroyed yesterday by Forest Guards. The church had been recently restored with the permission of local authorities. Demolishers had begun tearing down the building without any prior warning, which is called for in such cases.


The Prior of Halki immediately brought to the attention of the Turkish authorities that these kinds of episodes will provoke international disapproval, including that of the European Union. The authorities' response was stark: "Don’t dare to threaten us!".

-, 17th November, 12:57

Another terrific demonstration of tolerance from secular Turkey, a country committed to upholding freedom and democracy for all (unless, of course, one is Greek, Armenian, Christian or any combination of the above).

The Holy Virgin was distressed, the very icons wept.
Be calm, beloved Lady, be calm and do not weep for them.
Though years, though centuries shall pass, they shall be yours again.

O, when will the City be ours again?

"O you afflicted one,
Tossed with tempest, and not comforted,
Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems,
And lay your foundations with sapphires.

In righteousness you shall be established;
You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
And from terror, for it shall not come near you.

No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
And their righteousness is from Me,"
Says the LORD.
Isaiah 54:11, 14, 17

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Prayer Request

I don't think I've ever done this, but here goes - please pray (or bear in mind, for those of my dear readers for whom that seems the more apt request) for Kseniya, a 5-year-old Ukrainian lass, who passed away in Singapore last Wednesday night, 14th November, from internal bleeding due to leukemia.

Her parents will return to Ukraine for the funeral, as well as to give her a proper Orthodox burial.

Покой, Господи, души усопших раб Твоих.
Give rest, O Lord, to the soul of Thy servant.


Monday, November 12, 2007


In 16th-century Italy there lived Lodovico Gonzaga, a 16-year old seminarian who was very fond of playing ball. Once a certain priest passing by wondered if for a future priest the youth was too keen on his pursuit and asked him: 'What would you do if you learned that in half an hour the end of the world was coming?' To which Lodovico replied: 'I'd play on.'

According to the Russian thinker Georgy Fedotov, the importance of culture lies in precisely that: we go on playing ball on the verge of Doomsday...

Vladimir Barsky, Chromaticism (1996)

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Riot Police in Tbilisi

Armed to the teeth with American-sponsored weapons and equipment, the riot police sent in by the Georgian government to quell protests on Wednesday present a fearsome sight:

"And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed"
John Steinbeck

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If You Don't ... this blog post and forward it to 15 people, unspecified bad things will happen to you. The Paragraph Farmer looks at chain prayer email.

[via The Curt Jester]

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Fading Rose

During a visit to Tbilisi two years ago, American president George Bush proclaimed that Georgia has "taken tough steps to reform... economy and to crack down on corruption", "building a democratic society where the rights of minorities are respected, where a free press flourishes, a vigorous opposition is welcome and unity is achieved through peace."

Today, as thousands rally in Tbilisi against President Saakashvili, calling for his resignation on charges of corruption and authoritarianism, we see heavily armed police forces descend on the protesters, closing down the opposition-leaning Imedi TV channel, arresting opposition leaders, and all TV news (except for the public broadcaster) to be suspended.

Some sources say that even the sanctity of churches are being violated, with tear gas canisters launched into them.

So much for the Rose Revolution.

And when the aforementioned methods don't seem to be working, President Saakashvili does what every US-backed Eastern European leader does in any time of crisis: blame the Russians. I quote, "Evil forces are at work from a country that has great experience in this" - if there has ever been any external forces at work in Georgia, it has been American:

The model US-funded 2003 "Rose Revolution" in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia... Like in 1989 Romania, the 2003 "democratic revolution" in Georgia was just a palace coup.

Though he was brought into office by the mob in the street, Saakashvili has since gotten some old-time religion and decided that this riff-raff demanding early elections must be beaten to a pulp.

However, this latest people power may well be yet another coup by the Inner Party masked as a "people's uprising." It can get dizzying to follow the machinations of US foreign policy.

- the LRC blog

One wonders what Mr Bush thinks of the tide turning against his poster boy in the Caucasus, Mr Saakashvili.

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90th Anniversary of the October Revolution

Dear Comrades:

On the occasion of the ninetieth anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, I have the honour to offer warm fraternal congratulations to my readers, and to all the comrades and friends present.

For thousands of years the working people of the world and all progressive humanity have dreamed of building a society in which there would be no exploitation of man by man, This dream was realized on one-sixth of the earth's land surface for the first time in history by the October Revolution. This revolution proves that, without the landlords and the bourgeoisie, the people are completely capable of building a free and happy new life in a planned way. It also proves that different nations of the world are completely capable of living together amicably once there is no imperialist oppression.

...or so it did, at least for a while.

Socialism is a wonderful idea. It is only as a reality that it has been disastrous. Among people of every race, colour, and creed, all around the world, socialism has led to hunger in countries that used to have surplus food to export.

A more careful review of the facts will show that socialism is not sustainable - it does not work. Period. Every experiment has failed; every treatise has been decisively refuted at its logical roots. Places where we continue to dabble - education, medicine, etc - in our "mixed" economy, are unmitigated disasters.

It comes down to this:

1) Free people are not equal - and equal people are not free. I'm not referring to equality before the law - that is to say, equality in income and material wealth. We shouldn't get hung up about differences in wealth as result of people being themselves. If it's a result of artificial political barriers then we should do what we can to get rid of them - but don't try to place fundamentally unequal people into a homogeneous heap - it won't work and you'll destroy everything in trying. Read up on the histories of Stalin, Khmer Rouge, etc.

2) What belongs to you, you take care of; what belongs to no one or everyone tends to fall into disrepair. This is the magic of private property - and a big reason why socialism fails.

3) If you encourage something you get more of it; if you discourage something you get less of it. We are creatures of incentives and disincentives. What to break up families? Offer a bigger welfare check if the father splits. Want to get less work? Impose such high tax penalties on it that people decide it's not worth the effort... Want to discourage investment? How about a high capital gains tax?

4) Nobody spends somebody else's money as carefully as he spends his own.

5) Government has nothing to give anybody except what it first takes away from somebody, and a government that is big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you've got. This bears some serious reflection for those who think, "we can be different this time..."

To quote Lawrence Reed, president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy: "Liberty isn't just a luxury or a nice idea. It's not just a defensible idea or a happy circumstance. It's what makes just about everything else happen. Without it, life is a bore at best. At worst, there is no life at all."

Nevertheless, for many of those who deal primarily in ideas, socialism remains an attractive idea - in fact, seductive. Its every failure is explained away as due to the inadequacies of particular leaders.

Many of the intelligentsia remain convinced that if only there had been better leaders - people like themselves, for example - it would all have worked out fine, according to plan.

In all the very different societies around the world, however, the story of socialism has been a story of high hopes and bitter disappointments. Attempts to redistribute wealth repeatedly led to the redistribution of poverty.

Attempts to free ordinary people from oppression repeatedly led to what Mikhail Gorbachev frankly called "servility" to new despots.

Human nature has been at the heart of the failures of socialism to produce the results it sought, even when socialist leaders were idealists like Julius Nyerere in Tanzania or Pandit Nehru in India.

Nowhere have people been willing to work as well for the common good as they do for their own benefit. Perhaps in some other galaxy there are creatures who would, but the track record of socialism among human beings on earth shows that this is not the place.

Worst of all, the concentration of political power necessary to try to reduce economic inequalities has allowed tyrants like Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot to impose their notions and caprices on millions of others - draining them economically or slaughtering them en masse or exploiting them sexually.

There is no point blaming the tragedies of socialism on the flaws or corruption of particular leaders. Any system which allows some people to exercise unbridled power over other people is an open invitation to abuse, whether that system is called slavery or socialism or something else.

Socialism has long sought to create a heaven on earth but an even older philosophy pointed out that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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